Eurasia News Week in Review - September 27, 2013

Central Eurasia

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

Central Asia:

  • At a summit of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), member states vowed to give aid to Tajikistan's border service to help it strengthen its frontier with Afghanistan. The aid would include “constructing new buildings of frontier posts, restoring warning and signaling systems and providing border troops with means of air patrol and surveillance as well as radar,” said Tajikistan President Emomali Rahmon, speaking at the event. Russian President Vladimir Putin, speaking at the summit in Sochi, warned that as a result of the upcoming withdrawal of U.S. and NATO forces from Afghanistan, “unfortunately, there is reason to expect a considerable rise in Afghan drug trafficking activity and in terrorist groups’ activeness. Extremists are already attempting to spread their activity into neighboring countries, including the Central Asian countries that are CSTO members.”
  • Tajikistan's authorities said they thwarted a terrorist plot to bomb several buildings in the capital, Dushanbe, with the aim of disrupting the country's presidential elections. In a televised confession, the alleged ringleader of the group said that it was organized by the Pakistan-based Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.
  • A Turkish-Kazakhstani joint venture to produce night-vision equipment in Kazakhstan is scheduled to begin operations by the end of the year, according to Kazakhstan defense officials. Previously they had said the factory, set up by Turkish manufacturer Aselsan in Kazakhstan's capital of Astana, would start production in 2012. Kazakhstan's defense minister visited Turkey and called for increasing defense cooperation between the two countries.


The Caucasus and Turkey:

  • Russia accused Georgia's government of fanning “propagandic hysteria” around the construction of a fence on the de facto border between the Russia-backed breakaway province of South Ossetia and Georgia proper. Georgia's foreign ministry issued a statement on September 24 condemning “the continuous illegal activities of the Russian occupation forces along the occupation line in the Tskhinvali region in flagrant violation of the fundamental principles of international law.” Georgia's prime minister, however, downplayed the construction of the border fence, saying it was connected with Russia's security concerns around the Winter Olympics being held in Sochi in 2014, and that Georgia and Russia could resolve the issue after the games.
  • Turkey has agreed to buy a Chinese air defense system, rejecting bids by Russia, the U.S., and a French-Italian consortium. NATO officials have warned in the past that such a move would make it impossible to integrate the system into the air defense equipment the alliance already operates in Turkey. But Turkey appeared to have been attracted by the fact that the Chinese bidder, China Precision Machinery Export-Import Corp., offered to jointly produce its HQ-9 system with Turkish firms, a level of technology transfer the Western companies were unwilling to match.
  • Armenia's president Serzh Sargsyan criticized allies in the CSTO for taking a pro-Azerbaijan stance in the Nagorno Karabakh conflict, which contradicts the organization's official position. “Despite the spirit of decisions made by us, some CSTO member states make statements in other platforms and other organizations which are discordant with the CSTO decisions,” Sargsyan said. While Sargsyan didn't name names, he appeared to be talking about Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, which at a summit of Turkic-speaking states in Azerbaijan in August supported a statement calling for a resolution of Karabakh's status “within Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized borders.” Sargsyan complained about statements made “at the behest of the Azerbaijani side [which] selectively single out the principle of territorial integrity to the detriment of other principles.”


Quick Hits from Central Asia and the South Caucasus:

  • The International Crisis Group issued a report (pdf) on the Nagorno Karabakh conflict arguing “the near-term threats to stability are becoming more acute.”
  • Joint CSTO military exercises concluded in Belarus, and it was announced that the organization's 2014 exercises would be held in Kazakhstan.
  • Tajikistan will hold a military parade involving 7,000 service members on the occasion of its presidential inauguration in November.
  • French defense manufacturer Thales has denied media reports that it is replacing all of Armenia's military communications equipment with NATO standard gear.
  • Kazakhstan's parliament considered a bill to provide military aid to Tajikistan.
  • Counterterror exercises involving all members of the Commonwealth of Independent States, excluding Uzbekistan, were held in Kyrgyzstan.
  • China and Uzbekistan declared their intention to increase military cooperation at a meeting of the defense ministers of both countries.
  • The Shanghai Cooperation Organization's anti-terror structure announced partnership agreements with Turkey and the African Union.
  • A senior Ukrainian government official, returning from a visit to China, said the country wants to become a “dialogue partner” of the SCO.
  • A banned Islamist group in Tajikistan issued a statement opposing the extension of the lease agreement for the Russian military base in that country.
  • Azerbaijan will start producing fuel air bombs.