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.

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Kassym-Jomart Tokayev ratifies treaty on allied relations with Uzbekistan

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev ratifies treaty on allied relations with Uzbekistan

Kazakhstan's President, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, officially ratified on Monday (20 May) a significant treaty on allied relations with Uzbekistan, to elevate the bilateral relationship to a new strategic level. This pivotal agreement, initially signed in Tashkent on 22 December 2022, underscores a commitment to mutual independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity, along with fostering sustainable economic growth between the two nations.
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The fate of Central Asia may be decided on the steppes and in the forests of Ukraine

The fate of Central Asia may be decided on the steppes and in the forests of Ukraine

Vladimir Putin was sworn in for another six-year term as the President of Russia on Tuesday, 7 May. With Putin having been the undisputed leader of Russia for decades, continuity, one would have thought, was assured. Yet Putin himself, on Monday (13 May) speaking at a meeting of the Security Council spoke of “a new political cycle” in Russia. Some of the first decisions of the re-elected president give us a sense of what is to come. First, there was the surprise dismissal of Sergei Shoigu as Minister of Defence, and his transfer to be the Secretary of the Security Council. There had been speculation for some time that Shoigu’s time at the Ministry of Defence was up. But what was surprising was the appointment of Andrei Belousov, former Deputy Prime Minister – an efficient technocrat with an economic background to replace him. That the Russian Ministry of Defence has needed a shake-up for some time has been abundantly clear, but Andrei Belousov’s mission seems to be more ambitious than that: He is tasked with transforming the Russian Defence Ministry into a modern institution that can embrace new ideas and techniques, and that has enough flexibility to conduct the sort of hybrid warfare that is likely to be the order of the day going forward. So despite all of Putin’s bravados about the Russian nuclear arsenal, it seems he is putting his faith in a more innovative, agile, and versatile force. Then on Monday, 13 May, Putin held his first meeting of the Security Council since his inauguration. The Kremlin website only referred to one item out of apparently several that were discussed, namely relations with the post-Soviet Republics, a subject much close to the heart of the president. Putin reiterated that this was a priority in foreign policy. Putin said, “we should pay even more attention to this area in the new political cycle in Russia and discuss the way we will organise this work from all points of view, including organisational”. So it appears that there is new thinking in this sphere, details of which is not yet known.

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Ruling Amanat party wins Kazakh parliamentary vote after election reforms

Ruling Amanat party wins Kazakh parliamentary vote after election reforms

Six parties have been elected to the Mazhilis, Kazakhstan's national parliament after elections were held on Sunday (19 March). The six parties are the ruling Amanat party, who won 53.9% of the vote; the Auyl People's Democratic Patriotic Party (10.9%); Respublica Party (8.59%); Aq Jol Democratic Party of Kazakhstan (8.41%); People's Party of Kazakhstan (6.8%); National Social Democratic Party (5.2%). The Baytaq party won only 2.3% of the vote, and, with a 5% threshold necessary to win seats in parliament, will not be represented. 3.9% voted against all parties. The Astana Times reports that over 6.3 million people out of more than 12 million eligible voters cast their ballots in the elections to the parliament and local representative bodies on Sunday, representing a turnout of over 54%.
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Organization of Turkic States convenes in Ankara to discuss disaster preparation and humanitarian relief

Organization of Turkic States convenes in Ankara to discuss disaster preparation and humanitarian relief

Today on Thursday (16 March), the Organization of Turkic States (OTS) will meet in the Turkish capital of Ankara to discuss regional disaster preparation, joint humanitarian relief, and the interoperability of Turkic State disaster responses. The meeting comes some six weeks after a devasting earthquake in Turkey and Syria that has killed over 50,000 people. Established in 2009 as the Cooperation Council of Turkic Speaking States, the OTS is an intergovernmental organisation that has as its "overarching aim" the promotion of "comprehensive cooperation among Turkic States". It has five member states - Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey and Uzbekistan - as well as three observer states, namely Turkmenistan, Hungary and the internationally unrecognised Turkish Republic of Northern Cyrpus. The precise theme of Thursday's extraordinary summit is "Disaster-Emergency Management and Humanitarian Assistance". Among those attending the summit are President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov, and Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev.
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Kazakh parliamentary election polls project victory for ruling party despite big losses

Kazakh parliamentary election polls project victory for ruling party despite big losses

A poll released by the Strategy Center for Social and Political Studies in Kazakhstan has projected victory for the ruling Amanat party despite heavy losses in the upcoming 19 March parliamentary election. In the poll that surveyed 1,600 people between 17 and 27 February, 43.6% said they would vote for the ruling Amanat party, the former party of the current president Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. This is however considerably lower than what the party received in the 2021 elections, when it received 71.09% of the vote, according to the Central Electoral Commission. Madi Omarov, political scientist and project coordinator at the Strategy Center, said that the "significant decrease in the support for the party is most likely due to several factors, including President Tokayev’s resignation as party leader, rebranding, and the decline in popularity after the events of January 2022." Meanwhile, 11.3% said they would vote for the Aq Jol party, 9.9% said they would vote for the Auyl party, 6.3% said they would vote for the People's Party, and 6.2% would vote for the Respublika party.
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Commentary: Central Asia is safer together

Commentary: Central Asia is safer together

Whilst it is often the case that the five Central Asian republics are lumped together and seen by outsiders as one group, in truth there are between them huge differences, a lot of competition, some rivalry, and every now and then, some conflict, writes the commonspace.eu editorial team. The big two, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, are often perceived to be in competition with each other. The two have different strengths and weaknesses, which means that if they play their cards right they can turn this competition into a healthy collaborative relationship with a win-win situation. This is what appears to be happening at the moment. Kazakh President, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, met his Uzbek counterpart Shavkat Mirziyoyev in Shymkent on 3 March to discuss “trade and prospects for strengthening allied relations between the two countries”. The Kazakh presidential administration described the meeting as “informal”. The two leaders appear to have two priorities. The first is to co-ordinate positions in the face of what appears to be considerable pressure from Moscow for the two countries to tow the line and stay in the fold, at a time when the Kremlin feels embattled due to the ongoing war in Ukraine. 
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Kazakh parties outline priorities in TV debate ahead of 19 March election

Kazakh parties outline priorities in TV debate ahead of 19 March election

Representatives of seven political parties in Kazakhstan debated live on TV on Wednesday (1 March) ahead of the country's 19 March elections to the lower house of parliament, the Mazhilis. The debate lasted 70 minutes and consisted of four rounds. The first round focused on the main priorities of the parties’ election programmes. In the second round, participants asked and responded to each other’s questions. In the third round, debate moderator Armangul Toktamurat challenged the participants to identify three issues they would try to resolve first if elected to the Mazhilis. And finally, in the fourth round, each party leader made a personal address to the audience.
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Blinken heads to Central Asia on charm offensive amid increasing international interest in the region

Blinken heads to Central Asia on charm offensive amid increasing international interest in the region

The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has headed to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan on his first official visit to the region as President Biden’s top diplomat. Announcing his departure from US soil overnight on 26-27 February, Secretary of State Blinken said that he was looking forward to “advancing our Central Asian partnerships”. After visiting the Kazakh and Uzbek capitals, he would then head to India for the coming G20 summit. The timing of the visit is notable, coming only days after the first anniversary of Russia’s disastrous full-scale invasion of Ukraine, which as one of its consequences has seen Central Asia reassert itself regionally and rapidly explore ties with other neighbouring power blocs including the EU, the Middle East, and China. On 28 February, Blinken had a joint meeting in Astana with the foreign ministers of all five Central Asian nations: Mukhtar Tileuberdi of Kazakhstan; Jeenbek Kulubaev of Kyrgyzstan; Rasit Meredov of Turkmenistan; Sirojiddin Muhriddin of Tajikistan; and Bakhtiyor Saidov of Uzbekistan. He also met with each FM in person in Astana, with the exception of the latter, whom he met later in Tashkent.