Region

Central Asia

Stories under this heading cover Central Asia – a region of Asia, stretching from the Caspian Sea in the west to Mongolia in the east, from Afghanistan in the south to Russia in the north.

Opinion: Kazakhstan’s "Yurts of Invincibility" are more than just a humanitarian initiative for Ukraine

In early January 2023, amid the freezing temperatures and power blackouts of Bucha - the Kyiv suburb now infamous for it being the location of Russian massacres of Ukrainian civilians in early 2022 - there popped up a Kazakh yurt where residents were served free traditional Kazakh food and tea, could keep warm and could charge their electronic devices. Soon after, another yurt appeared in downtown Kyiv.

patrickn97 Tue, 01/24/2023 - 09:56 Kazakhstan tightens entrance rules for citizens of EEU countries, including Russia

Kazakhstan has announced that they will tighten entrance rules for citizens of countries of the Eurasian Economic Union, including Russians.

A draft resolution adopted on 31 December, published on Tuesday (17 January), and which will become effective on 27 January will restrict citizens of countries of the Eurasian Economic Union to 90 days visa-free in Kazakhstan within any 180-day period.

patrickn97 Wed, 01/18/2023 - 13:25

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Analysis
Questions remain as to who was behind deadly protests in Uzbekistan’s Karakalpakstan region

Questions remain as to who was behind deadly protests in Uzbekistan’s Karakalpakstan region

Two weeks after violent protests rocked Uzbekistan’s Karakalpakstan region, speculation continues about who was behind the turmoil that appeared to take officials in the capital, Tashkent, completely by surprise. This despite the fact that the reasons that triggered the unrest appear to be clear, namely proposed constitutional changes that promised to weaken the autonomy of the region, which occupies a territory, of 166,590 sq kms, and has a population of 1.9 million. Official reports say that 18 civilians were killed during the protests, 94 hospitalised, and hundreds more injured. The Uzbek Government has blamed unspecified foreign forces for being behind the unrest. Uzbekistan is a tightly managed country, where such unrest is by and large unheard of, and where the only country that has the potential to provoke such wide-spread disturbances is Russia, given its longstanding and deep rooted influence in Central Asia. Some Uzbek diplomats in Europe have been briefing that the disturbances were part of a planned “colour revolution”, although they did not quite explain what they meant by that. Uzbekistan is known to have been under considerable pressure from  Moscow in recent years to join Russia-led regional structures, such as the Eurasian Economic Union and the CSTO military alliance, but president Shavkat Mirziyoyev has so far resisted the pressure.
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News
Leaders of “Caspian Five” hold their sixth summit in Ashgabat

Leaders of “Caspian Five” hold their sixth summit in Ashgabat

The leaders of the five Caspian littoral states, participated in a summit meeting in the capital of Turkmenistan, Ashgabat on Wednesday (29 June). The Caspian “five” are Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan. Addressing the gathering, Russian president Vladimir Putin said: “Russia unfailingly supports expanding partnerships within the Caspian “five” – in politics, security, the economy and nature conservation, as well as many other items on the humanitarian agenda.” Putin quickly reminded his four colleagues of Russia’s first priority when it comes to the Caspian, namely the exclusion of anyone else apart from the littoral states: “At the same time, we believe that prosperity in our shared region can only be guaranteed by an unfailing commitment to the principles enshrined in the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea. The Convention stipulates the crucial provision, which is that the countries of the Caspian “five” are responsible for the Caspian region’s preservation and its sustainable development for current and future generations.”
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Tajikistan and Iran signal start of new era of co-operation

Tajikistan and Iran signal start of new era of co-operation

Iran and Tajikistan, in a change of course, appear to have opened a new chapter of friendly relations. After years of accusations from the Tajik government that Iran was supporting militant activity, the two countries, over the past month, have signed several agreements increasing co-operation in various areas. Tajik President, Emomali Rahmon, travelled to Tehran on an official visit at the end of last month to sign the documents. While no agreements were signed on security, there is a feeling among analysts that one may come soon. The accords illustrate the weakening of the Kremlin’s influence in Central Asia and the downstream effects of their invasion of Ukraine. They also reflect a widespread desire, noticed across the whole Central Asia region, to lessen dependence on Moscow and develop a more diversified relationship with other countries and blocs, including the US, the EU and Japan.
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Interview
Interview with the Ambassador of Kazakhstan to the EU:  "We have very high hopes that the results of the referendum will have deep positive consequences for the future of our country"

Interview with the Ambassador of Kazakhstan to the EU: "We have very high hopes that the results of the referendum will have deep positive consequences for the future of our country"

On Sunday, 5 June, the people of Kazakhstan voted overwhelmingly in favour of big changes to the country's constitution which envisage a redistribution of presidential powers to various other state organs and a system of checks and balances. The changes complement other ongoing political and economic reforms that have been initiated by president Kassym-Jomart Tokayev over the last three years. Commonspace.eu interviewed Ambassador Margulan Baimukhan, Head of the Mission of Kazakhstan to the EU about the importance of the constitutional changes, the role of Kazakhstan in Central Asia and the changes taking place in his country. "We have very high hopes that the results of the referendum will have deep positive consequences for the future of our country. It brings us one step closer to become a democratic state. Most importantly for me is that the referendum result paves the way for increasing the participation of the population in the governance of the country. It will nurture the culture of people in standing and defending their rights", the Ambassador said. Ambassador Baimukhan also spoke about the relations of his country with the European Union.  "The European Union was, is and will be at the forefront of our foreign policy agenda."
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News
Enchanting but distant Tajikistan says it is ready for increased co-operation with Europe

Enchanting but distant Tajikistan says it is ready for increased co-operation with Europe

At a recent promotion forum in Brussels senior Tajik officials emphasised that their country was business friendly and tourist welcoming. Young and eager Tajik entrepreneurs also highlighted that both country and society were ready for qualitative step-change in relations with Europe. On its part the EU has signalled it is ready to increase co-operation with the strategically located country, including through enhanced partnership agreements.
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Tokayev sets the date for constitutional referendum that promises to hail a new era for Kazakhstan

Tokayev sets the date for constitutional referendum that promises to hail a new era for Kazakhstan

President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev of Kazakhstan announced Thursday (5 May) that on 5 June, a constitutional referendum will take place. The referendum will ask voters to approve an overhauled constitution that the government say will launch Kazakhstan’s Second Republic. To modernize Kazakhstan, Tokayev will need to implement deep-rooted reforms to institute substantial reforms, in practice and not merely in a declaratory fashion as was the habit with his predecessor. The constitutional changes are seen as a good start, but can certainly not be the end of the story if the promise of a new Kazakhstan is to be delivered.