• KGS/USD = 0.01142 -0.87%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00217 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09344 0.86%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01142 -0.87%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00217 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09344 0.86%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01142 -0.87%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00217 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09344 0.86%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01142 -0.87%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00217 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09344 0.86%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01142 -0.87%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00217 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09344 0.86%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01142 -0.87%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00217 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09344 0.86%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01142 -0.87%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00217 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09344 0.86%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01142 -0.87%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00217 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09344 0.86%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%

Viewing results 1 - 6 of 13

Eurasian Connectivity Comes One Step Closer at the 2024 CAMCA Forum in Bishkek

The wider Eurasia region took another step towards cooperation and connectivity last week, as the 10th annual CAMCA Regional Forum was held in Bishkek. CAMCA – standing for Central Asia, Mongolia, the Caucasus and Afghanistan – is an initiative to accelerate dialogue between governments, private enterprises and media figures from these ten nations. Organized by the Washington, D.C.-based Central Asia-Caucasus Institute and the Rumsfeld Foundation, this year’s Forum – the first such event to take place in Kyrgyzstan – featured over 300 delegates across its two days, and presented insights from over 70 speakers. Attendees came from 25 countries in total. Professor Frederick Starr, the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute’s chairman, used his opening address to call on the countries of the region to start preparing for a future within a cohesive international bloc. Dr Starr reasoned that Russia and China, imperial powers that have traditionally had a controlling presence in Central Asia, may see their global influence wane in the coming decade. This would give the countries of Central Asia, and their neighbors, more space to create projects that serve their economies directly. A leading CAMCA regional project is the ‘Middle Corridor’ trade route, which bypasses Russia to transport goods more efficiently between Europe and China. Discussions are also taking place concerning the creation of single business and tourist visas for the whole Central Asia region. The importance of collaboration between countries in the Caucasus and Central Asia to mitigate the impact of climate change has never been so great. Addresses by senior members of the Kyrgyz government highlighted the progress that Kyrgyzstan has made since the administration of president Sadyr Japarov began its work in 2021. The country’s deputy prime minister Edil Baisalov reported that Kyrgyzstan is on track to double its GDP to $30 billion by 2030, while the minister for digital development, Nuria Kutnaeva, spoke about the rapid digitalization of the country’s government services.  In a noticeably warm and collaborative atmosphere, the event nonetheless highlighted the barriers that prevent the ten countries from forming a tangible ‘CAMCA’ space in the present. A key goal is the harmonization of their legislation and policy directions; however, no delegates from Tajikistan could travel to Bishkek for the Forum, as otherwise solid relations between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan are still strained by a dispute over their common border. Likewise, Armenian voices were also absent this time, in light of several of the sessions featuring Azerbaijani speakers and talking points. The event featured only one guest from Turkmenistan.  Even in these conflicts, however, Central Asian diplomacy is at work. The conflict on the Kyrgyz-Tajik border, mainly in Tajikistan’s Vorukh district, is being resolved through negotiations between the two countries’ governments, which would have been unthinkable even five years ago. Meanwhile, Kazakhstan is acting as a mediator between Baku and Yerevan in the aftermath of the war in Nagorno-Karabakh. Other topics on the agenda included security priorities for Central Asia, digital innovation in business, cooperation with Afghanistan, transitions in global energy markets, and infrastructure projects...

Cannes Award-Winning Film, “Anora” Vexes Uzbek Public

American director Sean Baker’s film “Anora” was awarded the Palme d’Or at the 77th Cannes Film Festival for the comedy-drama genre. The film, about a prostitute from Uzbekistan, has sparked discussions in Uzbekistan on social networks. Starring Mikey Madison, Mark Eidelshtein, and Yura Borisov, the film premiered on May 21st, 2024, at the 77th Cannes Film Festival, with the audience applauding the filmmakers for nine minutes after the screening. As a result, the film was awarded the “Golden Palm Leaf” on May 25th. The movie's events take place in Brooklyn, New York, USA. The main character, Anora, introduces herself as Ani, a 23-year-old Uzbek girl working as a dancer and sex worker in a nightclub. Ani meets a Russian, Vanya, in a club and starts a conversation, following which Vanya brings Ani to a luxurious house, where they drink alcohol, play video games, and enjoy the night together. The audience then learns that Vanya is the son of a wealthy Russian oligarch, and suddenly, he offers Ani the chance to fly to Las Vegas and marry him, presenting her with a four-carat diamond ring as proof of his intentions. Ani agrees, but the story does not end happily. Having learned about his son’s plan, Vanya's father and his wife immediately fly from Russia to New York to persuade their son to cancel the marriage. The interpretation of Ani has caused much conversation on the internet in Uzbekistan, and many expressing their displeasure with the movie's portrayal of her. “I didn’t see any image or reality in this film or in the comments about the film that indicate that Anora is Uzbek. I didn't even read such a concept in the review. On the contrary, the comments talk about the novel of an American woman and a Russian man. Russian commentators are currently criticizing the subject of this film as an attempt to confuse Russian life without knowing Russian life. So, the heroes are an American woman and a Russian man, and the word Uzbek comes from the name only,” journalist Chori Latipov said on his Facebook page. Social network users are worried that the film portrays Uzbek girls in a negative light. Lochinbek Amanov remarked that, “This is a complicated issue for an honorable nation.” “There can be various reasons why such a film is developed and won at the festival,” journalist and screenwriter Sarvar Rahimi said. “First of all, they are angry that we are holding onto national and religious values instead of following their lead. Secondly, they have wrong assumptions about our nation.” Shahrukh Abdurasulov, senior researcher in the Department of Theater and Choreography of the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Uzbekistan and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Art Studies, told The Times of Central Asia that it is true that some Uzbek girls make a living as prostitutes not only in the USA but in dozens of corners of the world. “This is the tragedy of our nation. However, many of our girls have studied...

The Aral Sea: Addressing Water Issues, Crisis, and Striving for a Better Life in Central Asia

By Arindam Banik and Muhtor Nasirov   The world is currently grappling with the devastating impact of climate change, as rising temperatures have become an undeniable reality. In January 2024, the global temperature exceeded normal levels for the second consecutive month, pushing the global average temperature over the 1.5-degree threshold for the first time. Many human activities, such as unplanned water use, excessive groundwater extraction, and climate change, are thought to be contributing to this situation. One poignant example is the case of the Aral Sea in Central Asia. This once breathtaking and teeming endorheic lake, nestled between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, was not just a body of water. It was a symbol of life, a testament to the beauty and resilience of nature. Its azure waters and diverse marine life were a source of sustenance and livelihood for the region's people. It was a vibrant ecosystem, nourished by the almost entire flow of the two main rivers, the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya, in the upstream region of Central Asia. Interestingly, the Amu Darya River used to flow into the Caspian Sea through Uzboy Channel. However, a significant shift occurred during human settlement when the flow of these rivers was redirected into the Aral Sea, marking a crucial turning point in the region's hydrological history. Despite its former glory as the third-largest lake in the world, covering an area of 68,000 km2 (26,300 sq miles), the Aral Sea began shrinking in the 1960s after the rivers that fed it were diverted to support large-scale irrigation for cotton production intended for export. The irrigated area in the Aral Sea Basin has now expanded to eight million hectares. By 2007, it had decreased to only 10 percent of its original size, dividing into four lakes. By 2009, the southeastern lake had vanished, and the southwestern lake had shrunk to a thin strip at the western edge of the former southern sea. In the following years, occasional water flows partially replenished the southeastern lake. In August 2014, NASA satellite images revealed that the eastern basin of the Aral Sea had completely dried up, leading to the formation of the Aralkum Desert. This dramatic change has severely impacted the ecology, risking the survival of numerous fish subspecies and three endemic sturgeon species. The loss of these species disrupts the natural balance and affects the livelihoods of the local communities that depend on fishing. The herring, sand smelt, and gobies were the first planktivorous fish in the lake, and their decline led to the lake's zooplankton population collapse. Consequently, the herring and sand-smelt populations have not recovered. Except for the carp, snakehead, and possibly the pipefish, all introduced species survived the lake’s shrinkage and increased salinity. In an attempt to revive fisheries, the European flounder was introduced. This situation is urgent as the delicate balance of this ecosystem is on the verge of collapse. The region's once-prosperous fishing industry has been devastated, leading to unemployment and economic hardship. Additionally, the diverted Syr Darya River...

Nuclear Power in Uzbekistan Has a Political Aspect – Economist Behzod Hoshimov

A Russian-built and managed nuclear power plant (NPP) is under construction in Uzbekistan's Jizzakh region. However, some experts are not convinced about the project's feasibility. One of them is Uzbek economist Behzod Hoshimov, who has been speaking recently about the economic and political aspects of Rosatom's foray into Uzbekistan. According to Hoshimov, the problem is not the lack of reform in the electricity and energy sectors, but rather poor policy and management. “Even now, without any nuclear power plants, we can import electricity or fuel for its production, and we can attract companies that produce solar energy at fairly normal prices. Therefore, the problem of "lack of electricity" results from artificially created, mismanaged, and wrongly constructed electricity policy. The construction of NPP is not a technological problem that can be solved,” the economist writes on his Telegram channel. He raises questions such as whether the decision to build a nuclear power plant was economically feasible, and how much money the Uzbek government will spend on its construction. “Will it be financed from other financial sources, including the state debt, and most importantly, if the state is building, how much will it cost the people of Uzbekistan?" The amounts intended to be used from all state and non-state financial sources must be fully and completely disclosed. This fiscal requirement is also defined in our constitution,” Hoshimov adds. “But more importantly, there are other conditions in the deal, which are more important than the station's price. We need to talk about them. It is very important who manages the station and at what price electricity is sold. In Turkey, Russia has built entirely at its own expense and made a deal for 12.5 cents per 1 kilowatt hour of energy. There is a reasonable question about whether we should take it under the same conditions. Today, if there are cheaper generation sources in Uzbekistan, how much more expensive nuclear energy is necessary?” Hoshimov has noted that there are also political aspects to the issue: “The second thing that applies to all state expenditures, especially large and important ones, is choosing a contractor. Did companies other than "Rosatom" participate in the tender? Countries like France and Japan have highly developed atomic energy, and they also build excellent stations. What did their companies offer to our government? Why "Rosatom?" The reason I ask this question is, of course, that there is no place for politics in such a thing. Europe has almost completely abandoned Russian energy – the reason for this was the full-fledged war in Europe. Once upon a time, Germany decided that Russian energy was cheap, not considering political calculations but relying only on economic calculations, and this decision cost a lot. But for a much smaller country like ours, the fact that the main contractor in the NPP is the Russian state and a state-owned enterprise should be a very big question.” He also points out: "If the Japanese and the Russians offer the same price, I would say that the Japanese should be...

What Will Uzbekistan’s Role in Central Asia’s Connectivity Be?

By Robert M. Cutler A new World Bank report on Central Asian connectivity published in April 2024 highlights the importance of the Middle Corridor, a trade route spanning Central Asia, the Caspian Sea, and the Caucasus, connecting China and East Asia with Georgia, Turkey, and Europe. This corridor is seen as a critical alternative to Russian-controlled routes, especially in light of recent geopolitical tensions. The World Bank identifies ten steps to address bottlenecks in the Middle Corridor, aiming to increase trade volumes by tripling them by 2030. This would significantly reduce travel times and increase trade volumes to 11 million tons, with proper investment and efficiency measures in place.   Uzbekistan and the Middle Corridor The report emphasizes the need for a "holistic" approach to improving transport connectivity in Central Asia. By this, it means a comprehensive and integrated strategy that combines improvements in infrastructure and logistics improvements with a reduction in border delays and tariffs, along with the harmonization of standards across countries. This includes improving both physical and digital infrastructure, enhancing governance and efficiency and addressing productivity issues amongst the state-owned enterprises that dominate the transport sectors in the region. The World Bank notes that Uzbekistan would profit from better rail connections with Kazakhstan; yet it does not identify any potentials for such projects. That is likely because a report by the Bank identified the Trans-Caspian International Trade Route (TITR) through southern Kazakhstan as the preferred program for international support.  Uzbekistan's participation in the Middle Corridor is still in a developmental stage. Tashkent has an active interest and a strategic geographic location, but concrete actions and project details are still emerging. There have been no public announcements about specific infrastructure projects or investments that Uzbekistan is undertaking within the Middle Corridor framework. It can be foreseen, however, that railway modernization should be high on the list of programs. There is, however, a new railway project - the Darbaza–Maktaaral line - currently underway in Kazakhstan that could be extended to improve connectivity with Uzbekistan. It is projected for completion in 2025. A second phase including an extension to Kazakhstan's Syrdarya station could then facilitate a further branch line from Syrdarya to Zhetysai, on the border with Uzbekistan. This project would reduce congestion at the existing Saryagash border crossing between the two countries and thus increase the capacity for transporting goods between the two countries by as much as 10 million tons per year.   The Middle Corridor and improvements to digital connectivity At present, the region has only limited connectivity.  The Central Asian countries have heavily invested in infrastructure since the turn of the century, but the region still lags behind middle-income countries in both investment and maintenance. Most areas continue to suffer from insufficient infrastructure and expensive services. These in turn hinder the potential for internal and external trade. The World Bank's report also provides a comprehensive analysis of the challenges and opportunities for enhancing connectivity in Central Asia. For this purpose, it focuses on both physical and...

Uzbekistan Seeks to Expand Trade Horizons with Europe

- Opinion by Robert Cutler   Uzbekistan's economic landscape has been evolving, with announcements of major reforms and international cooperation aimed at economic modernization and increasing its profile in global markets. Its partnership with the European Union (EU) has focused on critical raw materials. At the same time, Tashkent plans to reduce gas exports in favour of expanding petrochemical production and inviting foreign investment into its mining sector. In October 2023, the European Parliament (EP) had endorsed this policy direction by adopting a resolution on Uzbekistan based on a series of broad programmatic documents regarding Central Asia, including a previous Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Uzbekistan on energy cooperation. The EP also favorably mentioned the Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (EPCA) concluded in July 2022 to "modernize" the EU's Partnership and Cooperation Agreement signed with Uzbekistan in 1999. A new MoU signed earlier this month by the European Commission’s Executive Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis and Uzbekistan's Minister of Investment, Industry and Trade Laziz Kudratov foresees an ambitious intensification of the partnership. The agreement is touted as a step towards diversifying supply chains to Europe for critical raw materials (CRMs) required for the energy transition.   The EU's strategic economic partnership with Uzbekistan The new MoU follows on the EU's 25 October 2023 agreement with Uzbekistan during the Global Gateway Forum. That agreement had confirmed that Uzbekistan, with its reserves of metals such as silver, titanium, and lithium, would join the so-called Critical Raw Materials Forum. However, a critical evaluation of the MoU shows that a lot of hard work will be necessary to realize its plans and promises. In fact, the MoU represents a list of possibilities for cooperation without a guarantee of follow-through. The new partnership focuses on a number of areas of potential collaboration. These may be grouped under three general categories: (1) integrating CRM value and supply chains and their resilience; (2) mobilization of funding; and (3) cooperation on production, research, innovation and capacity building. The MoU itself admits that further specific cooperation is required to establish an operational roadmap that would specify particular joint actions for implementation. This partnership is in line with the EU's Global Gateway Initiative, which seeks to mobilize up to €300 billion in investments by 2027, although the initiative has been criticized for largely being a re-packaging of previously established programs without significant new funding. As far as Uzbekistan is concerned, the big unspoken problem is the need to enhance the country's economic competitiveness in global markets.   Uzbekistan's mineral resources exploration Only about 20 percent of Uzbekistan’s territory has been explored. Potential mineral resources are evaluated at US$5.7 billion, with the country’s explored reserves representing about US$1 billion of this amount. This unexplored potential represents a significant opportunity for further enhancing Uzbekistan's potential global competitiveness in the mineral resources sector, but only if transportation logistics can be economically put into place. According to the U.S. Geological Service, Uzbekistan also has reserves of other minerals - such as calcium, kaolin, rhenium and vermiculite...

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