Eurasia News Week in Review

A roundup of some of the top articles and news highlights from around Central Eurasia over the last week:

Central Asia:

  • The lower house of Tajikistan’s parliament approved the ratification of the deal to extend the presence of Russia’s military base in that country until 2042. The measure passed on a 57-2 vote, and now must be approved by the upper house of parliament. The leading opposition candidate in Tajikistan’s upcoming presidential elections, Oynikhol Bobonazarova, said the measure should have been discussed more thoroughly in the country, and that the length of the agreement was too long. “It would have been better had the term been extended for ten years, with the right to extend it in the future,” she said, but added that “any step leading toward the preservation of stability and peace in Tajikistan and in the region as a whole, deserves support.”

  • During its speech at the United Nations General Assembly, Uzbekistan criticized plans of neighboring Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to build hydropower plants. “The implementation of such plans … shall lead to disruption of the natural flow of the rivers which is fraught with most dangerous ecological and social-economic consequences. The already fragile water and ecologic balance in Central Asia shall radically be disrupted,” said Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov.

  • The International Monetary Fund warned that Kyrgyzstan’s decision to close the United States’ Manas air base will create budget problems for the country. “The closure of the Manas Transit Center in 2014 is creating headwinds for medium-term fiscal adjustment,” the IMF noted in a new report.

Turkey and the Caucasus 

  • After Turkey’s U.S. and NATO allies expressed concern about Turkey’s choice to purchase a Chinese air-defense system, Turkish officials emphasized that the system would be compatible with NATO systems. “As part of this program, a Turkish defense company will be tasked with integrating the air defense system into a network operated by the Turkish Air Force. That integration will mean integration with NATO assets, too, since the Turkish system is fully integrated with the NATO system,” said Murad Bayar, head of the Undersecretariat for Defense Procurement.

  • The United States and European Union criticized Russian moves to build a fence on the de facto boundary between Georgia and the breakaway territory of South Ossetia. The U.S. government notes “with concern the continued and increasing activities by Russian security forces to erect fences and other physical barriers along the administrative boundary lines of the occupied territories in Georgia,” a State Department spokesperson said. “The High Representative notes with profound concern the continued and increasing activities by Russian security forces to erect fences and other obstacles” on the boundary, said a spokesperson for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

  • Georgia will join NATO’s South-Eastern Europe Defense Ministerial as an official member, said Defense Minister Irakli Alasania. “I am confident that this is a big step forward for integration into NATO,” Alasania said. Georgia has been an observer of the group since 2006.

Quick Hits from Central Asia and the South Caucasus:

  • About 500 troops from Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan carried out “anti-terror” exercises in northern Tajikistan.

  • The Shanghai Cooperation Organization said it intends to step up the fight against transnational organized crime.

  • Russia expects that India and Pakistan will “soon” become members of the SCO. 

  • An Iranian naval official said the country plans to launch new frigates into the Caspian Sea, though did not provide any details.

  • Russia’s chief of general staff said that the types of equipment involved in military aid packages for Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan have been worked out.

  • Kazakhstan’s minister of defense, visiting Turkey, discussed increasing naval cooperation between the two states.

  • Military contingents began arriving in Chelyabinsk, Russia, for the October 7-12 joint military exercises of the Collective Security Treaty Organization.

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