Weekly Digest of Central Asia

BISHKEK (TCA) — The Publisher’s note: Central Asia is an important geopolitical area between Europe, Russia and China. It is in Central Asia that world powers have confronted each other for centuries; it is here that China needs to succeed with its new Silk Road Belt for direct access to the Western markets; and it is here that a large wealth of raw materials has its origin. Every week thousands of news appears all over the world in printed and online media and it is quite understandable that many of them may escape the attention of busy readers. At The Times of Central Asia, we strongly believe that more information can better contribute to peaceful development and better knowledge of the region, and for this reason we are presenting this Weekly Digest of Central Asia which compiles what other media have reported during the past week.


Kazakhstan: Paradise for investment

A Pakistani researcher says that Kazakhstan is a model for other countries in the Central Asia region in terms of creating a conducive environment for foreign investors

April 29 — “KAZAKHSTAN is the leader in investment attractiveness in Central Asia. Its profile is improving every passing day due to exploration of its rich natural resources and adoption of liberal policies to attract investment. Kazakhstan is a leading country in Central Asia economically, generating 60% of the region’s GDP, mainly through its oil/gas industry and other vast mineral resources.” READ MORE: http://pakobserver.net/kazakhstan-paradise-investment/

IMF forecasts higher oil output in Kazakhstan

Despite its committment to cut oil output, Kazakhstan can only increase crude production this year

May 3 — “The International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecasts oil production in Kazakhstan to increase to 1.69 million barrels per day in 2017. In 2016, 1.62 million barrels of oil were daily produced in Kazakhstan, said the IMF’s updated Regional Economic Outlook for the Middle East and Central Asia.” READ MORE: https://www.azernews.az/region/112393.html

Free trade zone links consumers in China, Kazakhstan

Khorgos, once a small station on the ancient Silk Road on the Kazakh-Chinese border, has become a crucial place in China’s Belt and Road initative

May 3 — “In the remote city of Horgos in Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, a China-Kazakhstan cross-border free trade zone has become the highlight of the city’s economic development and its efforts to support the country’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative, local officials said in recent interviews with the Global Times.” READ MORE: http://www.ecns.cn/business/2017/05-03/255874.shtml

Kazakhstan’s biggest automobile holding celebrates 25th anniversary

The automobile plant in Kazakhstan’s Ust-Kamenogorsk now manufactures more than three dozen models of four car brands – Skoda, Chevrolet, LADA and KIA

May 3 — “Bipek Avto-Azia Avto, Kazakhstan’s largest automobile holding, celebrated its 25th anniversary in April. During the quarter century, the company went from a modest AvtoVAZ dealer to the auto-retail leader and has even launched the new direction of country’s machine-building industry.” READ MORE: http://astanatimes.com/2017/05/kazakhstans-biggest-automobile-holding-celebrates-25th-anniversary/

M’sia, Kazakhstan forging stronger economic partnership

Malaysia and Kazakhstan can cooperate in the spheres of Islamic finance, halal products, e-commerce, aerospace, and engineering

May 3 — “Malaysia and Kazakhstan plan to further strengthen bilateral economic ties after both countries saw an over 30 per cent increase in two-way trade last year. Malaysian External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE) deputy chief executive officer, Sharimahton Mat Salleh, said there are many business areas that Malaysia and Kazakhstan can explore together.” READ MORE: http://www.nst.com.my/business/2017/05/236199/msia-kazakhstan-forging-stronger-economic-partnership

Kazakhstan: Experts about initiatives of Mukhtar Ablyazov

Experts comment on plans of fugitive Kazakh tycoon and opposition figure Mukhtar Ablyazov to revive the Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan movement and oust President Nazarbayev

May 3 — “On 22 April 2017, active users of social networks in Kazakhstan noticed a slow down access to the internet in the evening. Those using Chrome browser even saw small T-rexes jumping on the monitors. It has been so several times in a row for two hours.” READ MORE: http://enews.fergananews.com/articles/3005


Kyrgyzstan: President Bolsters Protections Against Domestic Violence

The new legislation requires that police to respond to every reported instance of domestic violence

April 28 — “Kyrgyzstan has in a landmark decision adopted legislation designed to provide greater protections for victims of domestic abuse. Kyrgyzstan already has laws in place criminalizing violence in the home, but the legislation approved by President Almazbek Atambayev on April 28 constitutes a substantial and important revision.” READ MORE: http://www.eurasianet.org/node/83391

Silk Road Economic Belt: deepening cooperation between EEU and China

Cooperation with China is among the Eurasian Economic Union’s, and Kyrgyzstan’s, priorities in cooperation with third countries

April 30 — “Elimination of internal barriers is a priority for the Eurasian Economic Union, the EEU Chairperson for 2017, President of Kyrgyzstan Almazbek Atambayev said.” READ MORE: https://timesca.com/index.php/news/17969-silk-road-economic-belt-deepening-cooperation-between-eeu-and-china

Kyrgyzstan Mourns Victims of Landslide Tragedy

Landslides occur almost every spring in Kyrgyzstan’s countryside, often causing the loss of human lives and major destruction

May 1 — “Kyrgyzstan observed a day of mourning on 30 April to commemorate the victims of a landslide that struck the village of Ayu in the Osh region Saturday, killing at least 24 people. The Emergencies Ministry said nine children were among the dead. Snow and rain in the area hampered search and rescue operations Sunday morning” READ MORE: http://www.tol.org/client/article/26885-kyrgyzstan-landslide-avalanche-asia-climate.html

Russia to write off Kyrgyzstan’s debt of $240 million

With Kyrgyzstan’s huge foreign debt, a write-off of part of the debt to Russia will help reduce the country’s debt burden

May 3 — “Russia plans to write off Kyrgyzstan’s debt worth $240 million, as it follows from a draft protocol to the relevant agreement of the two governments.” READ MORE: http://russianconstruction.com/news-1/27442-russia-to-write-off-kyrgyzstans-debt-of-240-million.html


Tajikistan: Taliban Advances But Dushanbe Sanguine

Taliban militants have come very close to the border of Tajikistan, which may pose a potential threat to the Central Asian country

May 2 — “Reports that the Taliban have captured the Zebak district Afghanistan’s Badakhshan province, under 40 kilometers from the Tajik town of Ishkashim, is eliciting no evident alarm in Dushanbe.” READ MORE: http://www.eurasianet.org/node/83431

Saudi Arabia allocates $200m to build new Parliament in Tajikistan

The money for construction will be provided by Saudi Arabia as a grant

May 2 — “Saudi Arabia will allocate nearly $200 million for the construction of new parliamentary and governmental buildings of Tajikistan.” READ MORE: http://russianconstruction.com/news-1/27422-saudi-arabia-allocates-200m-to-build-new-parliament-in-tajikistan.html

Uzbek Cultural Celebration In Tajikistan Marks Fence-Mending Effort

Tajikistan will stage the Uzbekistan Culture Days on May 9-13, the first such event since the two countries gained independence in 1991

May 2 — “Tajikistan is set to hold a five-day celebration of culture from neighboring Uzbekistan, an apparent sign of warming ties following the death of longtime Uzbek autocrat Islam Karimov last year.” READ MORE: http://www.rferl.org/a/uzbek-cultural-celebration-tajikistan/28463665.html

Tajikistan’s Recapitalized Banks Struggling Once More

Tajikistan’s banking system continues experiencing a liquidity crisis amid the ongoing depreciation of the Tajik currency against the US dollar

May 5 — “Since the start of the month, Agroinvestbank, Tajikistan’s largest lender, began telling its clients that as of May 4 they will only be able to withdraw 500 somoni ($58) daily on their cards. Since February, the bank had been allowing account-holders to withdraw double that amount.” READ MORE: http://www.eurasianet.org/node/83466


Supporting private sector – main aim of reforms in Turkmenistan

As Turkmenistan’s economy is experiencing difficulties caused by lower gas prices, the Turkmen president speaks for increasing the share of private enterprises in the country’s GDP

May 2 — “Support to the private sector of economy is among important priorities in Turkmenistan, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov said in his message to participants of the international exhibition of household goods, opened in Ashgabat on May 2.” READ MORE: http://en.trend.az/casia/turkmenistan/2749044.html

Turkmenistan Braces for More Cost of Living Increases

Turkmen authorities are moving towards cancellation of the existing quota of free natural-gas use by households, as the economic situation in the country is getting more difficult

May 2 — “Life is getting dearer in Turkmenistan. President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov last week instructed a deputy prime minister in charge of the domestic energy industry to begin the process of installing gas meters in people’s homes.” READ MORE: http://www.eurasianet.org/node/83416


When completed, TAPI pipeline will give Turkmenistan a much-needed new export route for its main export item — natural gas, which is currently bought by China alone

May 3 — “The ambitious Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline will be complete by December 2020, as per schedule, Pakistani state-owned Associated Press of Pakistan reported May 2, citing government sources who said the project would be completed in time and within the cost.” READ MORE: https://www.naturalgasworld.com/tapi-pipe-to-be-complete-by-2020-37369


Uzbekistan: Police to Place Cameras in Interrogation Rooms

Police has been one of the most corrupt government agencies in Uzbekistan since the Soviet time, and it badly needs reform

May 1 — “Police in Uzbekistan will soon be required to install close circuit cameras in interrogation rooms in the latest measure to reform the law enforcement system, local media reported on May 1. News website Podbrobno.uz reported that under an order signed by President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, the measure is due to take effect from January 1, 2018.” READ MORE: http://www.eurasianet.org/node/83411

Uzbekistan Says Uncovering Militants Daily Among Returning Migrants

Uzbek Interior Minister says most Islamist suspects returning to Uzbekistan had been radicalized while living in Russia and Turkey

May 2 — “Uzbekistan’s police routinely uncover militant Islamists among Uzbek migrants returning home and plan to expose those who remain abroad via social networks, Interior Minister Abdusalom Azizov said on Tuesday.” READ MORE: https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2017-05-02/uzbekistan-says-uncovering-militants-daily-among-returning-migrants

Uzbekistan: Moscow Show Brings Avant-Garde Collection to Wider Audience

The “Treasures of Nukus” exhibition in Moscow marks the first time the Savitsky Museum has shown its works beyond Uzbekistan since 1966

May 2 — “Art lovers making the trip to the remote town of Nukus in western Uzbekistan to see the improbable collection of early Soviet avant-garde paintings should brace for disappointment. The Karakalpakstan State Museum of Art — best known as simply the Savitsky Museum — has temporarily sent 233 of its masterpieces to Moscow for a landmark show.” READ MORE: http://www.eurasianet.org/node/83426

Uzbekistan to Embark on Hydropower Station Building Drive

As Uzbekistan is facing a deficit of crude oil and natural gas for domestic use, the country plans to make use of its hydro power potential

May 4 — “Uzbekistan, a long-time opponent to neighboring nations building hydropower plants, has declared its own ambitious plans to harness the power-generating potential of rivers.” READ MORE: http://www.eurasianet.org/node/83456


Making Afghanistan great again

The new US strategy in Afghanistan would cost American taxpayers at least $23 billion a year

May 3 — “US President Donald Trump will soon have to decide what to do about Afghanistan. After weeks of wrangling inside his national security cabinet, top officials on Friday agreed on the broad outlines of a strategy to prosecute America’s longest war. The interventionists prevailed.” READ MORE: http://www.livemint.com/Opinion/gVCamviLBCeynfezR4wu4M/Making-Afghanistan-great-again.html

What Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s Return Means for Afghanistan

The Afghan government’s peace agreement with the notorious warlord may help establish peace in the war-torn country

May 3 — “The Hezb-i-Islami leader’s return threatens to further upset Afghanistan’s already precarious ethnic balance.” READ MORE: http://thediplomat.com/2017/05/what-gulbuddin-hekmatyars-return-means-for-afghanistan/

Afghanistan: The Longest U.S. War is Deadlier Than Ever

Matthew Hoh, a military veteran and diplomat who resigned his State Department post in protest of U.S. policy in Afghanistan, says the 16-year Afghan war won’t end until the U.S. drops its strategy of sporadic escalation and insistence on Taliban surrender, with Afghan civilians suffering the worst consequences

May 3 — “The 16-year war in Afghanistan is deadlier than ever. A new US government report says, “Last year was the worst so far for Afghan civilians and soldiers. A recent Taliban attack killed more than 160 Afghan recruits and the violence could grow as the spring fighting season begins. In a recent visit, Defense Secretary, James Mattis, said he expects a tough year ahead.” READ MORE: http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=18993

At Least 14 Media Workers Killed In Afghanistan Since 2016, Watchdog Says

As the Taliban controls almost half of Afghanistan’s territory, the amount of violence against media workers in the country tripled in 2016

May 4 — “Afghanistan’s independent media watchdog NAI says there have been more than 14 fatal attacks against reporters and other media workers since 2016. The organization told RFE/RL on May 3 that more than 415 cases of violence — including murder, harassment, short-term detentions, and torture of journalists and media workers — were registered over this period.” READ MORE: http://www.rferl.org/a/over-14-media-workers-killed-afghanistan-since-2016-watchdog-says/28467008.html

Pakistan-Afghanistan Border Clashes Leave Many Dead

Relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan have deteriorated in recent years over mutual allegations that Pakistani and Afghan spy agencies support militants conducting terrorist attacks in both countries

May 5 — “Border clashes between Pakistan and Afghanistan killed at least 13 people and wounded more than 80 others Friday in a disputed area, officials said. A Pakistan army spokesman said the fighting erupted after Afghan forces fired at a government census team near the southwestern border town of Chaman.” READ MORE: https://www.voanews.com/a/pakistan-closes-border-crossing-with-afghanistan/3838993.html


Trump To Cut Foreign Aid Budgets, Opening South And Central Asia’s Door To Chinese Influence

As China’s assistance and investments in Central Asia is on the rise, the US plans to reduce its aid to this important region

May 4 — “It looks like U.S. President Donald Trump’s plan to reduce the foreign aid budget will come at a cost to his administration’s other aims in South and Central Asia.” READ MORE: https://www.forbes.com/sites/alyssaayres/2017/05/04/trump-to-cut-foreign-aid-budgets-opening-south-and-central-asias-door-to-chinese-influence/#3cfae9b95f50

Deciphering Central Asia

A leading Islamic world guide, Diana Driscoll conducts guided tours with an emphasis on the five ‘Stan’ countries

May 4 — “For most people, Central Asia is a blur. Rarely in the news, it’s a hard-to-define region of five “Stan” nations that sprang up seemingly out of nowhere when the former Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. Then, the former Soviet republics of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan all gained independence.” READ MORE: http://gulfnews.com/culture/people/deciphering-central-asia-1.2021452

Expand multitiered relationships with Central Asia, eyeing China and Russia

Japan is making inroads to Central Asia in an effort to prevent the region from leaning too much toward China and Russia

May 4 — “Central Asia, wedged between China and Russia, is located in an important position geopolitically. Building strategic relations with countries in Central Asia will have a positive impact on Japan’s diplomacy toward China and Russia.” READ MORE: http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0003678312

Sergey Kwan


Sergey Kwan has worked for The Times of Central Asia as a journalist, translator and editor since its foundation in March 1999. Prior to this, from 1996-1997, he worked as a translator at The Kyrgyzstan Chronicle, and from 1997-1999, as a translator at The Central Asian Post.
Kwan studied at the Bishkek Polytechnic Institute from 1990-1994, before completing his training in print journalism in Denmark.

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