LONDON (TCA) — It is a warm, sunny and lazy Sunday afternoon in the Kyrgyz capital and all is quiet. The ominous spectre of mass demonstrations, burning vehicles, charging security forces and shootouts invoked by western “revolution manufacturers” and mass media parroting them is as remote as remote could ever be. Kyrgyz people go or do not go to vote, with both categories expressing a pragmatic approach to politics: let things go on as they do, let leaders govern and leave business to the population. This overall attitude explains why hardly more than half of the voters bothered to vote in the first place.
OSH, Kyrgyzstan (TCA) — How far stretches the might of war profiteers in the global economy? Further than many people think, and Central Asia’s ex-Soviet republics bordering the world’s staunchest zone of large-scale bloodshed are particularly exposed to it.
LONDON (TCA) — Has Kyrgyzstan managed to accomplish what failed to happen in Russia and Kazakhstan (though both of them came close) – namely the position of a plutocracy under the guise of democracy, with the country’s rich having become powerful as well? For a country where up to one-third of the population still lives just on or way under the poverty line, this is bound to raise eyebrows. The worst thing is that those wielding the sceptre in a my-turn, your-turn sequence of top state functions, are not industrial barons who could lift the country’s economy up to better levels, but self-made tycoons feeding on largely speculative business.
Destination CIS: India looks to trade with Central Asia
Written by Aditi Bhaduri*
NEW DELHI (TCA) — How important the Central Asian Republics (CARs) are becoming to India was evident when a two-day long conference was held in the Indian capital New Delhi late in September to encourage trade and tourism with these countries. While titled ‘Destination CIS’, the emphasis was clearly on Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, which were also the partner countries of the conference. Only one single session was devoted to business with the Russian region of Rostov. The rest of the sessions of the conference, which was the first of its kind, were focused on the CARs mentioned above. Turkmenistan did not participate.
With India’s efforts to increase exports and make the country a manufacturing hub with different schemes like Make in India, Skill India and others, increasingly new opportunities are being created for enhancing international economic cooperation. “At this juncture, where the traditional and the developed markets are getting saturated, it is essential for the developing economies to find ways to boost trade and investment between them. The CIS region, one of the fastest growing regions of the world, offers India tremendous opportunities across various sectors,” explained Mr. Niraj, who is Secretary, International Affairs, of the PHD Chamber of Commerce, which had organized the conference.
What made the conference particularly opportune was that this year also marks the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between India and most of the CIS countries.
The CARs have had trade and cultural links with India going centuries back. The current government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is keen to revive these links to the resource rich region, formulating the Connect Central Asia policy. To that end he has visited all the CARs, with Kazakhstan being the most recent destination. With an increasing Chinese footprint in the region – with $10 billion in grants and aid – India is also keen to seize the opportunities present there. Indian trade turnover with the region on the other hand is only about 2.5 billion dollars.
Four major areas with great potential for bilateral trade and cooperation that were identified were: food security in the CIS countries, promotion of two way tourism, finance and logistics, and promotion and delivery of affordable world class healthcare.
While India offers the CARs a huge market for their goods – mainly dry fruits, handicrafts, and tourists, particularly those looking for affordable but quality healthcare, the country is also interested in the minerals and hydrocarbons of the Central Asia region.
A major drawback for the country to strengthen and enhance ties with the region is connectivity. India has no direct access to the CARs, and any overland route has to go through Pakistan, its arch rival.
To that end India is pinning its hopes on the International North South Transport Corridor which is to link India via Iran and the Caspian Sea through a multi-modal transport system to Central Asia, and beyond to Astrakhan and Russia.
India is also looking into a free trade agreement with the Eurasian Economic Union which will significantly increase trade profitability.
At the same time, as Dr. Ram Upendra Das, Head and Professor for Centre for Regional Trade, Department of Commerce, the Indian Ministry of Commerce and Industry, pointed out, for most Indian businesses the CARs were an alien entity with many even unable to pronounce the names properly.
The conference was therefore an attempt to bridge the information gap and clear misconceptions about doing trade with the region.
As Ms. Samargul Adamkova pointed out, manufacturing in the Kyrgyz Republic, for instance, would instantly find a ready market of 183 million people in the Eurasian Economic Union member countries, thereby offering huge incentives for Indian investments.
A parallel exhibition showcasing the achievements, tourism industry and handicrafts of the region added to the knowledge about the CARs that the conference sought to disseminate.
* Aditi Bhaduri is an independent journalist and political analyst specializing in international affairs and foreign policy. She writes for many national and international publications
TASHKENT (TCA) — On his path to political and economic reforms, the new Uzbek president Mirziyoyev is facing many risks and challenges, and many of them are beyond his control which makes his task even more difficult. We are republishing this article on the issue, originally published by Stratfor:
ASTANA (TCA) — A giant globe flanked by a pair of hardly less modest looking humps on either side, surrounded by several blocks of square buildings on the desolate outskirts of Astana – itself not exactly an organic urban centre and in turn located in an endless barren environment. This is what is left of the complex hosting this year’s EXPO through summer. What to do with it next only exists on the minds of people in high places, and it remains unclear whether the structure can endure the region’s harsh winters when snow is man-high and temperatures are down to minus 20 during the day and minus 35 at night for half of the year.
BISHKEK (TCA) — Whenever you hear a country which ends in ‘Stan', you might associate things with war and terrorism. It might be the association with the situation in Afghanistan. But what is the life like in my home country, Kyrgyzstan, located just a bit over a 1,000 km to the northeast of Afghanistan?
NEW DELHI (TCA) — On September 17 Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani emphasized the significance of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline, lauding the contribution that such large-scale projects could make to the peaceful settlement of the situation in Afghanistan and the sustainable social and economic development of the entire Central Asian region.
ASTANA (TCA) — Whatever the reasons for Kazakhstan’s planned transition to the Latin alphabet — from defining the nation’s identity to departing from the Imperial colonialism and Soviet-era dominance of the Russian language and Cyrillic alphabet — Kazakhstan has made the decision and the transition process is now irreversible. We are republishing this article by Uli Schamiloglu* on the issue, originally published by EurasiaNet.org:
TASHKENT (TCA) — During his first year in power, Uzbekistan’s President Mirziyaev has undertaken a number of reforms to open up his country to better relations with Central Asia neighbors and the international community. Although many of the reforms could be considered cosmetic, one thing is certain — Uzbekistan has begun to change and this change will benefit all countries in the region. We are republishing this article by Paul Goble on the issue, originally published by The Jamestown Foundation’s Eurasia Daily Monitor:
LONDON (TCA) — In Central Asia job supplies do not match job demand since governments and their investment policy do not offer the required political stability and sufficient incentives to attract local and foreign investors. This simply means that migration of Kyrgyz, Tajik and Uzbek working forces toward Russia and in less number other countries is here to stay for quite a while.
OSH, Kyrgyzstan (TCA) — Known as the battleground of the USA’s “longest war”, America seems committed to keep its foothold in the war-torn Central Asian state for an indefinite number of years to come, and to send even more troops in to strengthen its grip on the turbulent country and its population.
BISHKEK (TCA) — Authorities in China are taking tough measures against what they say are Uighur separatists and extremists in Xinjiang, but the persecution and crackdowns can backfire, making more Uighur Muslims join the ranks of such terrorist organizations as the Islamic State. We are republishing this article by Zachary Abuza* on China’s counter-terrorism policies, originally published by The Jamestown Foundation’s Terrorism Monitor:
LONDON (TCA) — A radical shift in domestic policy in and regarding China’s northwestern autonomous region of Xinjiang, replacing communal coexistence between Chinese “colonials” and the indigenous Uyghur population, is claimed by central authorities in Beijing to be aimed at lifting development and living standards of the entire population. This could negatively affect the mood among exiled Uyghur communities in neighboring states, and drive increasing parts of the Uyghur nation straight into the arms of sinister extremist organizations such as Daesh, Al-Qaeda and Taliban. Xinjiang has been a place of multiple headaches for the Chinese Government and here security and economics should complement rather than contradict each other and the current pressures of varying sources leave plenty of room for improvement.
LONDON (TCA) — Increasing discrepancies between a growing avalanche of economic forecasts by more and more institutional lenders and sideliners for the wider Central Asian region have revived the debate on criteria used in macroeconomic assessments. Sharing a border with the world’s most dangerous troublemaker Afghanistan can hardly be considered a comfortable thought. Yet, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan (Kyrgyzstan has no direct frontier with Afghanistan but its southernmost areas are only a short distance away from it) have shown economic performance over the last couple of years that even among so-called emerging economies looks exemplary.
BISHKEK (TCA) — Kazakhstan’s economy, Central Asia’s largest, witnessed an overall economic growth of 4.2 per cent on-year through the first half of the current year, according to the country’s national statistics agency. In the first quarter of the year, growth stood at 3.6 per cent, and in the first half of 2016 at only 0.1 per cent.
WASHINGTON (TCA) — Fears of a ‘spillover’ of extremists from Northern Afghanistan into the states of Central Asia is nothing new. These claims have been echoed by Russia and the leaders of Central Asia for years; however there is little evidence to suggest genuine concern. For the Central Asian elite, this claim attracts foreign aid from wealthy states, while allowing regimes to squash both religious and secular dissent. The late ruler of Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov, used this very tactic to eliminate threats to his regime in the early 2000s by coordinating with the United States to extinguish Islamists. The Central Asian elite commonly use their security apparatus against political dissenters, and Karimov jailed hundreds of opponents under the disguise of counterterror.
BISHKEK (TCA) — The cards may not have been completely shuffled but it is already clear who hold the trump card in the upcoming presidential polls in Kyrgyzstan scheduled for October 15: current Prime Minister Sooronbai Jeenbekov and outgoing President Almazbek Atambayev. The former is the leading candidate for the presidency, while the latter may occupy the post of PM in a new coalition government to be formed after the polls.
LONDON (TCA) — In a move presented as glorious and spectacular, oil companies from Russia (Rosneft), China (CNPC), Kazakhstan (Kazmunaygas), Azerbaijan (SOCAR) and Italy (Eni) have teamed up to form a consortium for the exploration and exploitation of what is expected to be a new “giant” located in the very heart of the northern Caspian tectonic structure. The project, if successful and market demand to remain unchanged, should prolong the position of Kazakhstan as a global-scale oil supplier from 2040 till 2080. The Kazakhs are committed to contribute in the order of a billion greenbacks each year from now to the project. No overall picture of the total price tag has been presented so far.
LONDON (TCA) — The wider Caspian region, which comprises the Caspian littoral states and the lands to their east, is sitting on a vast riches of subsoil resources of which combustibles are made to quench the world’s ever increasing thirst for energy. Those who dedicate their lives and/or cash to such resources hardly ever miss an occasion to stress the need for them, downplaying the growing importance of alternative resources, located not under but on and above the earth’s surface and being infinite.
Written by Bilahari Kausikan, S. Frederick Starr, and Yang Cheng
BISHKEK (TCA) — Strategically located at the heart of Eurasia, Central Asia has been and will remain an important geopolitical region and a place where the interests of the world’s great powers confront each other. Yet, the region still has to forge its collective identity, and develop into what is called Greater Central Asia, which, besides Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, also includes Afghanistan. We are republishing this article by Bilahari Kausikan, S. Frederick Starr, and Yang Cheng* on the issue, originally published by The American Interest:
WASHINGTON (TCA) — The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) targets Central Asians in their home countries online and abroad, and thousands are believed to be fighting for ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Culturally vibrant and famously unstable, the Ferghana Valley is notorious for being a hotbed for terrorism in Central Asia — and it is the origin for many Central Asian fighters in the Middle East. Infamous for birthing the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, this valley is shared between Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, and the porous borders make it easy for insurgents to pass between countries under the radar.
BISHKEK (TCA) — As Central Asia lies at the crossroads of trade and transit routes between China and Europe, and is the place of a power struggle between several global players, we are republishing this article, originally published by Stratfor:
ALMATY/BISHKEK (TCA) — Language is one of those issues over which emotions often prevail over the voice of reason. Yet, coexistence of more than one language on a single national territory is far more common than many people seem to think.
LONDON (TCA) — All eyes of the world seem to be focused on Kazakhstan and its less known capital of Astana for once. The coincidence is the opening of the World Exhibition EXPO-2017 and a quite unique political summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) which strikes attention by the absence of any western “leader” – no Trump, no May, no Merkel, no Macron here, and even Erdogan is staying home.