• KGS/USD = 0.01150 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00222 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09386 0.64%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01150 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00222 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09386 0.64%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01150 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00222 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09386 0.64%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01150 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00222 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09386 0.64%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01150 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00222 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09386 0.64%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01150 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00222 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09386 0.64%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01150 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00222 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09386 0.64%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01150 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00222 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09386 0.64%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%

Viewing results 1 - 6 of 8

Kazakhstan’s President Tokayev Foresees a Bigger Role for Middle Powers in Solving the World’s Problems

Middle powers, sometimes called “swing states”, may rank below superpowers and great powers in terms of their international influence and capacity, but are still quite instrumental in world affairs as they can often remain neutral in big conflicts and benefit from such factors as their geostrategic location, natural resource wealth, diplomatic and economic strength, and/or military capabilities. They can play a key role in overcoming fragmentation of the world economy and secure supply chains through such transit routes as the Middle Corridor. Today, middle powers have the agility to navigate complex political situations in many parts of the world that greater powers simply lack whether due to their own internal dynamics or because they lack the trust of the parties involved in certain conflicts and issues. In terms of realizing the green transition, middle powers can help secure supplies of critical minerals and other key materials. These countries are also often proponents of finding multilateral solutions to international problems.  Kazakhstan is currently among the world’s influential middle powers. On the positive role his country can play, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev recently wrote in a Euronews opinion piece that, “nations like ours possess the economic strength, military capabilities, and, perhaps more importantly, political will and diplomatic acumen necessary to exert significant sway in the global arena on issues ranging from food and energy security, green transition, and IT to the sustainability of supply chains.” These strengths are particularly relevant amidst a global discord where, in Tokayev’s words, “the traditional powerhouses – the world’s economic and political behemoths – are increasingly unable to work together”. Countries like Kazakhstan, on the other hand, “can ensure stability, peace and development in their immediate regions and beyond” and “carve paths toward compromise and reconciliation”. Kazakhstan has deepened its cooperation with other middle powers within Central Asia and the Caucasus to address cross-border challenges such as water security and countering terrorism and narcotrafficking. Its collaboration with Azerbaijan and Turkey has been critical to actualizing the Middle Corridor project that opens Central Asia to Western markets. Kazakhstan is working closely with European states to guarantee their energy needs. For Asian countries, Kazakhstan has come into focus as an attractive foreign investment destination. These middle power collaborations have been formalized through highest-level bilateral meetings. Tokayev has carried out dozens of such meetings in 2024 year alone.  Having come from a long diplomatic career himself, it is encouraging to see President Tokayev’s ongoing support for multilateralism and international cooperation. Kazakhstan will co-chair the inaugural One Water Summit later this year with France to address the global water crisis including the effects of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution. The event is key to bringing together affected countries and communities from around the world. Additionally, leading regional efforts to counter the effects of climate change, Kazakhstan has offered to host a UN Regional Centre for Sustainable Development Goals on Central Asia and Afghanistan. The country is also undertaking initiatives to advance peace talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan. “With major powers increasingly unwilling to...

Kazakhstan Works with Armenia and Azerbaijan for South Caucasus Peace

By Robert M. Cutler On May 10–11, Kazakhstan's President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev hosted peace talks between the Azerbaijani and Armenian foreign ministers. These constructive negotiations were strictly bilateral, with Kazakhstan absent from the room and only providing the venue for the meeting. The event illustrates the dedication by Tokayev and his foreign policy to regional stability and mediation. Kazakhstan has done this sort of thing in the past; it hosted Russia–Turkey–Iran talks over Syria until last year. It was also mentioned as a place for bilateral Russia–Ukraine negotiations, although that idea never materialized.   Armenia's Future is in the South Caucasus and Asia Tokayev had offered to provide the venue during his first official visit to Armenia, which took place on April 15 this year. His trip to Armenia may in retrospect be seen as a turning point. Former President Nursultan Nazarbayev had been forced to cancel a visit in 2016, following protests in Yerevan against Astana's support of Baku in the Karabakh conflict. Armenia’s participation in the new peace efforts, now under way for a couple of years, marks a significant shift after decades of rejecting such cooperation. It offers the prospect of renewed regional relations. Under Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, Armenia has lately been trying to shift its foreign policy, reaching out to Western countries such as France and the U.S. in order to decrease its long-standing dependence on (some would say, vassalage to) Russia. But Armenia is a state in the South Caucasus, not in Europe or America. For this reason, the state’s objective interests (as opposed to those of the far-flung diaspora) are geopolitically compatible with those of Azerbaijan and Turkey, and also of Kazakhstan more distantly. Astana’s ties with Baku and Ankara, and Azerbaijan’s strengthening of its own ties with Central Asia, reflect strategic manoeuvring in the region. These partnerships enhance Kazakhstan's and Turkey's roles in promoting stability and development in the South Caucasus. They consequently offer Armenia a new path to prosperity. Peace with Azerbaijan would lead to the lifting of the Turkish embargo on Armenia and open the possibility of Armenia's integration into the Trans-Caspian International Trade Route (TITR, "Middle Corridor"). Such an opening would further widen Armenia's diplomatic vistas and decrease its dependence on Russia. Turning to Europe and the U.S. can offer some advantages, but Armenia must be cautious of the influence of a bellicosely irredentist Armenian diaspora, whose interests are not first and foremost the well-being of Armenians living in Armenia. Prioritizing regional integration and cooperation with its South Caucasus neighbours and other TITR participants will enable Armenia proper to build a more stable and prosperous future.   Infrastructure and Connectivity Initiatives With the assistance of the international financial institutions, the European Union and Central Asia are developing the TITR as a critical trade corridor that will also contribute significantly to the prosperity and stability of the countries lying along its route. Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan have long been key players in the promotion and realization of this plan. The Middle Corridor,...

The Middle Corridor is Being Funded Faster than Expected

By Robert M. Cutler   According to Samuel Doveri Vesterbye, director of the independent think-tank, European Neighbourhood Council (ENC), a small group of high-ranking cabinet officials, ambassadors and other diplomats met in a closed-door round-table on May 15, representing the EU, Türkiye and countries in the South Caucasus and Central Asia. The meeting, organized by Turkish organizations International Transporters Association (UND) and the Turkish Industry and Business Association (TUSIAD), focused on the synergy between the EU's Global Gateway initiative and the projects of the Trans-Caspian International Trade Route (TITR). The fact of the meeting taking place has been confirmed by Türkiye’s Permanent Delegate to the EU. Doveri Vesterbye writes that the meeting "consisted of less than 30 individuals mostly linked to diplomacy, transport, logistics, business, critical infrastructure security, policy-making and supply chains" and "brought together four different Directorate Generals (DGs) and more than 10 nationalities of Director-and-Ambassador level." Significantly, also according to Doveri Vesterbye, the development of high-level coordination committees is under way. The meeting’s assessment that the TITR is being funded faster than expected is an extremely positive development. Dr. S. Frederick Starr, a well-known American expert and a Distinguished Fellow for Eurasia at the American Foreign Policy Council, told The Times of Central Asia that "the activation and coordination of both European and Turkish institutions is essential not only for the financing and construction of this mega-project, but also for its successful management thereafter." This is a very stabilizing development for international commerce. As other corridors are increasingly volatile, it would help to insulate trade between China and Europe from supply-chain shocks. It will also benefit the participating states themselves. Starr explained that the continuing European and Turkish involvement in building out the TITR "will help the transit states of Central Asia and the [South] Caucasus to balance their relations with China and Europe and will thereby undergird their sovereignties. Such balance creates what is literally a 'win-win-win' situation." According to a mid-2023 report, prepared jointly by the EBRD and the EU Commission, an estimated €18.5 billion is required in infrastructure investments in order to improve Central Asia's transport connectivity. Potential growth in transit container traffic by 2040 could be over 40-fold, with significant spill-over effects on education, tech hubs, business and middle-class development. At the same time, the TITR has been reconceptualized as a driver of regional trade and economic growth along the entire Europe–Türkiye–South Caucasus–Central Asia trajectory, with special attention given to the latter two regions. The EU Commission and the EBRD have already funded €10.5 billion in Central Asia via loans and grant investments promised only a few months ago, in January this year, at the Global Gateway Investment Forum in Brussels. This pace suggests significant commitment by such large bureaucratic organizations, and it augurs well for the unlocking of funds from the European Investment Bank (EIB) for investment in Turkey. Doveri Vesterbye writes that the heads of EU member-state missions in Brussels (COREPER) will work to synchronize EIB investments, with special attention on reforming...

Kazakh PM Meets With German Rhenus Group to Discuss Middle Corridor

Cooperation in the transport and logistics sectors were discussed at a recent meeting between prime minister of Kazakhstan Olzhas Bektenov and the chairman of Rhenus Group Tobias Bartz. Rhenus Group is one of the 25 largest logistics companies in the world, and has a network of 70 terminals in Europe, as well as 22 container types. At the meeting, the parties considered the current projects and discussed the prospects of the creation of new Kazakh-German enterprises to increase the transit capacity of Kazakhstan through the modernization of warehousing infrastructure and the development of railway transportation. Tobias Bartz noted Kazakhstan's increasing role in global logistics and expressed interest in the creation of new territories with the involvement of Kazakh companies to increase terminal capacity. This will connect the supply chain of Europe with Central Asia. Olzhas Bektenov emphasized the readiness to work openly with investors to fully disclose the transport logistics and transit potential. He added: "The Government of Kazakhstan intends to maximize the transport and logistics potential of the country. We are open to cooperation in the realization of joint investment projects. For our part, we guarantee a stable and predictable investment climate with the creation of favorable conditions for business." Bektenov also noted that major transcontinental transportation corridors -- the shortest routes from Europe to China and Southeast Asia -- pass through the territory of Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan is actively working with Azerbaijan and Georgia to reduce the time of passage of goods along the Trans-Caspian international transportation route. Over the year, the total transit time along the Middle Corridor has almost halved.

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...

The New Silk Road

In light of the current geopolitical situation in the world, many countries are puzzled by the search for new alternative transport routes. One of these is the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route (TITR), which runs through China, Kazakhstan, the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and further to Turkey and European countries. New transport corridors through which goods and raw materials can be exported by all modes of transport are a vital task for many countries, today. Such routes must first of all be safe, beneficial to all partners, and economically feasible. The TITR, or the “Middle Corridor”, as it is also called, falls into these criteria. It was conceived more than ten years ago and began operating in 2017. In recent years, this route has been experiencing a new round of development, and this is not surprising since it connects East and West whilst bypassing Russia. Today, this is a flagship cooperation project for many states. This transport artery, connecting China, Central Asia and Europe, can become a continental bridge of the Belt and Road, halving the time of cargo transportation and significantly reducing transport costs. The route encompasses 11,000 km of rail, and includes ten seaports. It originates in China at the port of Lianyungang, passing through Xi'an to Urumqi, through Kazakhstan - from the dry ports of Khorgos and Dostyk - to the ports of Aktau and Kuryk, the Azerbaijan (port of Alyat), Georgia (Tbilisi), and then through the Black Sea it continues onto Europe. It is noteworthy that this route is multimodal, that is, rail, sea and road transport can be used. The current capacity of the Trans-Caspian international transport route is 6 million tons per year. By 2025, it is planned to reach a level of 10 million tons per year. So, the potential is great. Assessing all possibilities, interested states intend to invest financial resources in the further development of this corridor and the expansion of its port and railway infrastructure, which will have a positive impact on the quality of services provided and reduce transportation times. Each side – China, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan – has its own benefit, and these countries have something to offer each other in much larger volumes than the current supplies. China intends to develop its western provinces, providing them with access to regional markets. Azerbaijan sees an opportunity to strengthen its transit role and become the largest transport hub. Türkiye, in turn, continues to extend its influence in Azerbaijan and Central Asia. As for Kazakhstan, there are fears that attacks by the Ukrainian Army on Russian oil refineries could lead to a blockage of the Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC), which supplies Kazakh oil to international markets. In this regard, a huge amount of work is being done to diversify, and the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route comes in handy here. The Kazakh company, KazMunaiGas has already purchased tankers, and there are agreements with Azerbaijan on access to the Baku-Supsa and Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipelines, through which Kazakhstan can transport about 2 million tons...

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