Turkmenistan, China sign 14 bilateral agreements for cooperation in various sectors; Kyrgyz and Indian forces to hold joint anti-terror exercises next month; Customs Union members consider single currency; Kazakhstan Temir Zholy (KTZ) and ArcelorMittal si
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  • Reports noted that Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, on a three-day official visit to China from November 22-24, met his counterpart Hu Jintao, business leaders and other high-ranking government officials. A major natural gas supply deal was forged on November 23 in Beijing that will ramp up exports by two-thirds which means an increase in the supply of Turkmen gas by 25 billion cubic meters (bcm) to a total of 65 bcm.1 Apart from this, he signed 13 more bilateral agreements with Hu Jintao on securing loans for oil and gas equipment, collaborating on internal affairs, police training, anti-terrorism etc. and participated in the ceremonial opening of a massive Chinese-built natural gas pipeline that in June began pumping Turkmen gas to customers to the South China Sea coast province.2 Both leaders wound up a summit meeting in the Chinese with a joint statement vowing their determination to promote development and prosperity in Central Asia. 3

    In a significant development, reports noted that Kyrgyz and Indian forces will hold joint anti-terror exercises— Khanjar (Danger) 2011— in December this year involving special armed forces from both countries to improve cooperation and exchange experience against terrorism in mountainous environments. The exercises will be held at the Indian Special Forces School in Nahan wherein expenses and resources for the Kyrgyz forces will be paid for by the Indian side. 4

    Also, the Indian government has decided to open a military or a field hospital in Tajikistan before winter sets in. An army team has already completed reconnaissance in Tajikistan and has identified a location outside Dushanbe, identified personnel from its medical corps to set up a 20-bed field hospital who are ready to leave on a short notice. 5 New Delhi had earlier closed down its hospital at the Farkhor Airbase.

    According to reports, the presidents of Kazakhstan, Russia, and Belarus considered adopting a common currency for its newly formed Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), the Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko said last week wherein the three leaders discussed modeling the currency on the lines of the predecessor of the European Union euro, the European Currency Unit (ECU). The subject was mooted in Moscow on Friday, the day they signed a pact to create an EU-style Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) by 2015. The three will establish a commission in January 2012 to manage economic integration and oversee currencies as a preliminary step toward that vision.6

    Reports noted that the railway company Kazakhstan Temir Zholy (KTZ) and ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steelmaker signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) during a working visit by the Kazakh leader Nursultan Nazarbayev to the industrial city of Karaganda to produce rails and long products for export. The venture, if realized, plans to produce around 440,000 tons of rails and long products annually, and will begin operating at the end of 2013.7

    In another development, Saudi Arabia and Kazakhstan signed an agreement last week to work on programs and projects in space exploration and its potential uses for peaceful purposes wherein the bilateral cooperation agreement was forged in Riyadh at the end of talks between a visiting delegation of Kazakh space agency KazCosmos and Saudi’s science and technology representatives.8 In a related development, the Kazakh and Ukrainian governments signed a raft of bilateral deals during the state visit of Ukrainian premier Nikolai Azarov to the Kazakh capital Astana last week wherein among the deals is an agreement to jointly produce Antonov-140 planes.9 In the meanwhile, South Korean state energy explorer Korea National Oil Corp (KNOC) has located a further 11 million barrels of oil at its Ada project in Kazakhstan bringing the estimated crude reserve at Ada oil as high as 42 million barrels.10

    In other developments, reports noted that Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s eldest daughter Dariga will run in the January 15 parliamentary election from ruling Nur-Otan party, marking her return to the political sphere after a prolonged absence. Analysts emphasize that her inclusion does not point to a succession to Nazarbayev but to appease some sections of society particularly the ruling elite.11