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Central Asia Digest | January 2021

HIGHLIGHTS

● INDIA-UZBEKISTAN PARTNERSHIP: TOWARDS NEW HEIGHTS

Introduction

PM Modi held a virtual Summit with President Shavkat Mirziyoyev of Uzbekistan on 11th December, 2020. This is the first Summit in virtual format that PM Modi has conducted with any leader of Central Asia. PM Modi was earlier scheduled to travel to Uzbekistan in July, 2020 but because of the coronavirus pandemic, this visit could not be undertaken. Rather than wait indefinitely for the global health situation to normaliz

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SPECIAL ISSUE III

● INDIA CHAIRS THE SCO SUMMIT

Introduction

India Chaired the meeting of the Council of Heads of Government (CHG) (Prime Ministers) of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) on a virtual platform on 30th November, 2020. This was the first Summit level interaction that was hosted by India since it became a full member of the Organization at the meeting of the Council of Heads of State in 2017 in Astana (now Nur-Sultan) in Kazakhstan. Prior to this meeting, India has hosted s

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Central Asia Digest | December 2020

H I G H L I G H T S

 Political Developments

● Economic Developments

● India-Central Asia Relations

Political Developments

Transformation of Kyrgyzstan from an authoritarian state to a semi-parliamentary form of government has been short-lived. Since 5 October 2020, Kyrgyzstan was torn apart by the third revolution leading to widespread protests following elections which were alleged to be rigged. Kyrgyzstan has been heavily impacted by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and its economic implicat

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Central Asia Digest | November 2020

H I G H L I G H T S

● Political Developments

● Economic Developments

● India-Central Asia Relations
 

Political Developments

Twists and turns continued at lightning speed in Kyrgyzstan after protests against results of the October 4 parliamentary elections brought down the government. President Sooronbai Jeenbekov tendered his resignation on 15th October. Sadir Japarov a nationalist leader who was undergoing a prison sentence of 11 years plus was freed from the prison by his supporters and as

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SPECIAL ISSUE II

● THE SECOND INDIA-CENTRAL ASIA DIALOGUE: TOWARDS GREATER COOPERATION

Introduction

The five countries of Central Asia viz Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, have but rarely appeared in the headline global news over the last 29 years since they got their independence in the aftermath of the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991. Possibly the success of these countries over this period in developing their identity, maintaining peace and stabil

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SPECIAL ISSUE

● KYRGYZSTAN IN TURMOIL

Introduction

It was hoped and expected when the Constitution of Kyrgyzstan was amended in June, 2010 that democracy would develop strong roots and that Kyrgyzstan’s days of coups and forced change of governments would be over.

The change in the Constitution in 2010 took place in the aftermath of what is called the Kyrgyz Revolution which saw the ouster of the then President Kurmnabek Bakiyev who had assumed power after his predecessor Askar Akayev fled the

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Central Asia Digest | October 2020

H I G H L I G H T S

● Political Developments

● Economic Developments

● India-Central Asia Relations

Political Developments

On September 1, 2020, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev delivered his annual state-of-the-nation address highlighting seven key principles of the new economic course Kazakhstan is set to embark on in the near future. These are: equitable distribution of wealth and responsibilities, leading role of private entrepreneurship through support and development of SMEs, effe

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Central Asia Digest | September 2020

H I G H L I G H T S
 

 Political Developments

● Economic Developments

● India-Central Asia Relations

 

Political Developments

An article appeared in Chinese news outlets recently claiming that Tajikistan’s Pamir mountains historically belonged to China and should be returned. The article was penned by a nationalist historian. The message hit Dushanbe hard. Tajik officials are perennially concerned about the Pamirs as this is a region where they have tenuous authority over the local populati

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Central Asia Digest | August 2020

Political Developments

On July 8, Chinese embassy in Kazakhstan warned Chinese citizens that Kazakhstan had an “unknown pneumonia” outbreak more deadly than COVID-19. Chinese embassy said that “unknown pneumonia in Kazakhstan caused 1,772 deaths in first six months of the year, including 628 people in June alone.’’ The following day, Kazakh health ministry acknowledged the presence of viral pneumonias of “unspecified” cause, but denied that outbreak was new or unknown. The newly appointed healt

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Central Asia Digest | July 2020

H I G H L I G H T S

 Political Developments

● Economic Developments

● India-Central Asia Relations

 

Political Developments

Many analysts suggest that there is a strict division in Central Asia where Russia deals with security and China does economics. That division is fading. China is already a hard power in the region. This is visible in Chinese arms sales to Central Asian governments. It accounts for 18% of region’s military hardware over past five years, a dramatic increase from the mini

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Central Asia Digest | June 2020

Political Developments

China has made “significant inroads in the security sector” in Central Asia in recent years, disrupting the nebulous separation of powers between it and Russia and setting the stage for increased friction in the future. It is often thought that there is a strict division in Central Asia where Russia deals with security and China does economics, but actually that division is fading. China is already a hard power in the region. This shift can be seen in Chinese arms sales t

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Central Asia Digest | May 2020

Political Developments

Statements by terrorist groups based in Central Asia and Afghanistan welcoming the US-Taliban “Peace Deal’’ signed on 29th February and congratulating the Taliban for evicting the occupying forces have impelled Afghanistan’s northern neighbours to extend their cooperation beyond rhetoric and multilateral meetings. Uzbekistan and Tajikistan signed a “Partnership 2020” agreement on military cooperation. Large-scale Tajik-Uzbek anti-terror exercises, extending over four days

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Central Asia Digest | April 2020

Political Developments

Kazakh President made a televised Address to the nation on fresh measures to soften the blow of the coronavirus epidemic on private enterprises and pledged more support for healthcare workers and vulnerable people. 
 
Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev went out of his way to connect with the Presidents of most neighbouring countries including Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan to discuss collaborative plans and share Best Practices to deal with the coron

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Central Asia Digest | March 2020

Political Developments

Tajikistan’s parliamentary election, held on March 1, delivered the expected victory to President Emomali Rahmon’s party and a small array of pro-government outfits. The Social Democratic Party of Tajikistan, the only opposition party left in the country following the 2015 banning of the Islamic Renaissance Party, failed to meet the threshold to gain a single seat. Tajikistan’s Central Election Commission announced that the People’s Democratic Party — Rahmon’s party — cap

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Political Developments

Violence broke out in Masanchi village in South-East Kazakhstan among local Kazakhs and a group of ethnic Chinese Muslims called Dungans who number more than 150,000 across Central Asia. The rampage, which resulted in 11 deaths, saw hundreds of ethnic Kazakh assailants descend on the Dungans, setting fire to homes, shops and livestock. In the worst such violence since Kazakhstan's independence, at least nine of the dead were Dungans, while one was a Kazakh.  The bloody cl

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Central Asia Digest | December 2019

Political Developments

The second Consultative Meeting of Heads of Central Asian States was held in Tashkent under Chairmanship of Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev. Uzbek President noted that the meeting reflected the sincere desire of people of the 5 countries to expand partnership, strengthen friendship and good-neighborliness, and jointly solve common problems. He said that solutions to many complex and controversial issues had been found. All these positive changes were supported by the po

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Central Asia Digest | September 2019

Political Developments

Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev paid his first State visit to China. It was decided to forge a long-term, permanent comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries. Several agreements were signed including an agreement on cooperation in aviation search and rescue of civil aircrafts; an MoU on implementation of cooperation plan for connectivity of Nurly Zhol (Bright Path) Infrastructure Development and construction of Silk Road Economic Belt; an agreeme

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Central Asia Digest | August 2019

Political Developments

A political turmoil shook Kyrgyzstan when after hours of tense confrontation between supporters of former Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev and police, former President Atambayev was detained. The arrest culminated a six-week standoff, which started when current President Sooronbay Jeenbekov lifted Atambayev’s immunity from prosecution last June. Atambayev is charged with corruption schemes related to reconstruction of Bishkek’s thermal power plant and Historical Museum,

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Central Asia Digest | July 2019

Political Development

Kazakhstan's President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev is likely to pursue main economic policy priorities of his predecessor. These include structural reforms and, more recently, increasing social spending. Kazakhstan's budget encompasses the large programme of social expenditure announced by Nazarbayev in February 2019 that includes a 50% increase in minimum wage, tax cuts for low-income earners, and investment in housing and transport infrastructure. Government debt is low and

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Central Asia Digest | June 2019

Political Development

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev was elected as President of Kazakhstan on 9th June, 2019 receiving 71% of votes polled. His nearest rival Amirzhan Kosanov of United National Patriotic Movement ('Ult Tagdyry') received 16% of votes. Tokayev succeeded Nursultan Nazarbayev, who announced his resignation in March after 30 years in power. Police arrested nearly 4,000 people during protests before and after the election. About 1,000 were detained for several days.

Protests took place on el

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About the Author

Ambassador Ashok Sajjanhar

Former Ambassador of India to Kazakhstan, Sweden and Latvia; President, Institute of Global Studies and Distinguished Fellow, Ananta Centre

Ambassador Ashok Sajjanhar belongs to the Indian Foreign Service and has acquitted his responsibilities in the diplomatic service for 34 years. He was Ambassador of India to Kazakhstan, Sweden and Latvia and has worked in senior diplomatic positions in Indian Embassies/Missions in Washington DC, Brussels, Moscow, Geneva, Tehran, Dhaka and Bangkok and also at Headquarters in India. He negotiated for India in the Uruguay Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations and in negotiations for India-EU, India-ASEAN and India-Thailand Free Trade Agreements.

He contributed significantly to strengthening strategic ties and promoting cultural cooperation between India and USA, EU, Russia and other countries.Ambassador Sajjanhar worked as head of National Foundation for Communal Harmony to promote amity and understanding between different religions, faiths and beliefs. Ambassador Sajjanhar has been decorated by Governments of Kazakhstan and Latvia with their National Awards and by Universal Peace Federation with Title of ''Ambassador of Peace.'' Currently Ambassador Sajjanhar is President of Institute of Global Studies, New Delhi. He writes, travels and speaks extensively on issues relating to international relations, foreign policy and themes of contemporary relevance and significance. He appears widely on TV panel discussions. Ambassador Sajjanhar is interested in reading, music and travelling. His wife Madhu is an economist and an educationist. They have a son and a daughter both of who are accomplished singers. Their son passed out of Yale University and their daughter is pursuing her PhD at University of Minnesota.