PILOT PROJECT OF THE GLOBAL TRANSIT DOCUMENT LAUNCHED IN TURKMENISTAN
The launch ceremony of the pilot project of the Global Transit Document took place on August 17, 2022 at the Berkarar Hotel of the Avaza National Tourist Zone.
The Global Transit Document (GTrD), which is a universal digital solution for the development of multimodal transportation, is the result of fruitful cooperation between the Permanent Secretariat of the Intergovernmental Commission of the International Transport Corridor Europe-Caucasus-Asia (TRACECA) with the International Center for Transport Diplomacy, the Intergovernmental Council of Road Workers of the CIS, and the world's largest developers of IT technologies, as well as with countries that have shown interest in piloting the GTrD.
The launch ceremony of the pilot project of the Global Transit Document was attended by the Executive Secretary of the International Center for Transport Diplomacy I.Runov, the Chairman of the Intergovernmental Council of Road Workers of the Commonwealth of Independent States B.Karimov, as well as representatives of the countries of the region - Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
The speakers emphasized that at the turn of the third decade of the 21st century, economic realities and trends in the development of the world economy created an obvious need for the development and implementation of a unified Global Transit Document in order to optimize the management of the transport process along multimodal corridors connecting states of different regions and continents.
The introduction of a digital platform of the global transit network based on the latest technologies using the Global Transit Document will make it possible to extend the customs guarantee and insurance regime, as well as ensure the traceability of goods and vehicles along the entire route from the starting point to the destination.
At the end of the official launch ceremony of the pilot project of the Global Transit Document, its participants adopted a Joint Statement, in which they confirmed the readiness of the parties for further cooperation in promoting the proposal to create a global digital transit network at various levels, as well as within the United Nations.
1st National Peace Convention Held to Promote Unity
PASAY CITY—The 1st National Peace Convention was held on January 25, 2023 with the theme, “Peace Builds One Nation, One Future: Peace is Here”, attended by over 1,500 peace advocates to build a holistic roadmap towards the attainment of national unity through peace in consonance with the Marcos Administration’s agenda.
Dr. Ronald Adamat, Commissioner of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and Founding Chairman of Volunteer Individuals for Peace (VIP), spearheaded the event.
"We want peace to reign in our country. We want peace to be the language everyone of us will speak and every Filipino and every foreigner will understand. Today, let's declare peace as a pandemic. Infect people not to rest in peace but to live in peace," said Dr. Adamat.
Dr. Adamat is the first Filipino recipient of the prestigious Mahatma MK Gandhi Prize for Non-Violent Peace awarded last year in recognition of his contributions to peace-building including the higher education
In attendance also is Chairman Lee Man-hee of Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light (HWPL), a 92-year old Korean war veteran.
“Peacebuilding in Mindanao after conflict is becoming known worldwide. This is the case of transforming death into life for peace. Starting with Mindanao and the Philippines, when we unite in love, peace will come to our world. For this reason, everyone in the Philippines has to become one and work together as messengers of peace,” said Chairman Lee.
The two peace advocates first met in 2017 during HWPL World Peace Summit held in South Korea. As an expression of their shared commitment to promoting peace, CHED and HWPL signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) in 2018 to integrate peace education in the higher education curricula.
The convention commenced with the first Plenary Session followed by parallel sessions in the afternoon. The parallel sessions were conducted separately for five sector groups—lawmakers and non-government organizations, academe and youth, religious and ethnic groups, women, and media. Each session drafted a resolution which contained their solidarity with the organizers’ peace-building efforts.
The five resolutions were consolidated during the second Plenary Session to call for President Bongbong Marcos to proclaim January 24 as ‘National Peace Day’ or “Truce Day”.
The date January 24 was proposed in commemoration of a civilian-led peace agreement signed at General Santos City in 2014 to boost reconciliation among the local communities. It was proposed by Chairman Lee to mediate between the existing conflict in Mindanao at the time. The date was later declared as ‘HWPL Peace Day’ by then Maguindanao governor Toto Mangudadatu in 2015 and BARMM Chief Minister and MILF Chairman Ahod Ebrahim in 2016.
The organizers believe that the declaration of a National Peace Day shall be the mechanism by which every year, peace-related activities are observed and celebrated across the country.
Georgia Receives Around €55.6 Million from EBRD to Modernize Metropolitan Transport in Tbilisi
Agreements were signed today by and between Georgia and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) envisaging the modernization of metropolitan transport in Tbilisi.
Loan and Grant Agreements were signed by H.E. Lasha Khutsishvili, Minister of Finance of Georgia and Mark Bowman, EBRD Vice President for Policy and Partnerships during his working visit to Georgia held within the scope of a Caucasus Tour.
Financial resources in the volume of around 55.6 million Euros will be used for the rehabilitation of underground metropolitan stations in Tbilisi and refurbishment of escalators.
Project will be implemented by the Mayor’s Office in the Municipality of Tbilisi through Tbilisi Transport Company (TTC).
Mark Bowman, EBRD Vice President for Policy and Partnerships is visiting Georgia together with Matteo Patrone, EBRD Managing Director for Eastern Europe and the Caucasus (EEC).
This visit was preceded by a series of meetings held by H.E. Odile Renaud-Basso, EBRD President in Tbilisi in September 2022.
The current visit aims to review the upcoming projects of EBRD to be implemented both in the private and public sectors of the country.
Kazakhstan New Geopolitics and Its Version of “New Silk Road” – “Bright Road” Strategy
By Daniel Szkarupski and Vakhtang Maisaia
The step landmass of today’s Kazakhstan was a home to nomadic people for a very long time, governed by numerous external forces, for example the empire of the Mongols, the Russian Empire and later on the Soviet Union these nomads were used to being ruled by others rather than to self-govern its territory. This unfortunate trend was broken after the collapse of the USSR when the Republic of Kazakhstan was proclaimed. Kazakh people had a little time to celebrate though as the new challenging times were before them. From the step nomads occupied only with agriculture Kazakh people had to take the role of the host of their own land in the new, unknown, world order that lied ahead.
Each state had to find its own place in the new design of the Eurasia space. For Kazakhstan the formal and planned beginning of this journey was year 1997 when a strategy Kazakhstan 2030 was introduced. Its main goals were to restore an order after the collapse of the Soviet system by transforming into the market economy, preparing an entirely new social system but most of all creating a new Nation in terms of so-called “Noosphere” (Near Sphere), a Nation free from the grasp of foreign influences which was bound to go its own way. This was a strategy outlined during the disturbing times following the downfall of the soviet empire. The most visible symbol of the present day Kazakhstan way to the future emerged in 2012 when the then president Nursultan Nazarbayev in his address to the Nation outlined the Strategy “Kazakhstan 2050” presenting a far-reaching and multidimensional strategy which was bound to guarantee that Kazakhstan will be a prosperous country in various spheres of political existence.
To very first idea which comes to a mind is the geopolitical position between two superpowers, Russia and China, and further a huge European market, this gave Kazakhstan a chance to take a role of the east – west corridor, a role they decided to take without any hesitation. Just two years after announcing Strategy 2050 the authorities published a “Нұрлы Жол” / Bright Path plan to stimulate its economy by modernizing the existing infrastructure and create new roads, railways, ports, airports and IT infrastructure. The estimated budget was nine billion dollars. The major reason behind this initiative was to link with One Belt, One Road programme especially when it comes to the railway modernization. The main aim of the Astana was to serve as a gateway to Europe for the People’s Republic of China. The goal of being a buckle for the One Belt One Road initiative can be marked as achieved, Kazakhstan used its favourable geographical situating to its advantage and it worked perfectly as the Bright Road programme was not just a wishful thinking. Both Kazakh and Chinese officials realized that route through Kazakhstan gives more security and stability than the alternative route through the Middle East, especially after the Arab Spring and the offensive of The Islamic State, which both make the region unstable till the the present, broke out. The circumstances were almost ideal for the Government in Astana and this ended up in a dynamic cooperation. Wave of international financing started floating to Kazakhstan from various institutions, for instance, Asian Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction & Development (EBRD) and the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), the total number of projects carried out in Kazakhstan on 2020-10-05 reached 32. As it can be read in the outline published by the United States International Trade Administration the programme cover a variety of sectors including Architectural, Construction and Engineering Services, development of roads, railways and ports. What is particularly interesting is the case of airports as the number of such facilities with automated control systems is planned to rise from three to fifteen by the end of 2025. All this measures were implemented to strengthen the position of Kazakhstan as a main hub between the Asian space and European market. The first results are already visible in the official statistics of Bureau of National statistics of Kazakhstan, the number of operating railways dropped in 2011 to 14 892 kilometers, however in the following year it raised to 15 333 kilometers and was slowly but constantly increasing to the value of 16 635 km in 2019. The expansion of railway system connecting PRC and Republic of Kazakhstan is not slowing down even during the COVID pandemic as the new railway connecting China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region with Nursultan was opened March 13, 2021.
With the development of infrastructure, the second strategical direction of expanding the trade by exporting should be an easy task, yet this was not a case in this particular area of development. According to statistics by the World Trade Organization there was a continuous growth in value of the export however since 2013 a constant drop can be observed, the decline ranged from 84,700 million dollars to 36,685 million dollars in 2016, a slight improvement occurred in the two-year period preceding the outbreak of COVID-19 to drop again when the pandemic started. This drop may put a strain on a formidably ambitious plan of the ex-president Nazarbayev, in his vision place Kazakhstan would be on the list of thirty most developed countries in the world in just thirty-eight years. The COVID -19 outbreak is bound to delay those plan as it had a deteriorating effect on both global and local economies alike.
Much stress was put on economics and building the welfare of Kazakh, however, this point was not the only goal set in the aforementioned document, politicians in Astana realized that after Bolsheviks imposed a Russian cultural code in their homeland a tactic to counter the effects of the Soviet Russia policy has to be implemented. The main effect of the USSR’s ulve over Eurasia was making a Russian language dominant in this region, changing this situation by 2025 was one of the milestones presented in the main document by Nazarbayev. The whole idea of restoring a national Kazakh diversity and tradition was directly named as creating a New Kazakhstan Patriotism. Despite the plan to adjust itself to the wide trend of globalization the government thrives in the concept of New Kazakhstan Patriotism based on non-communist origin till the present day.
Being a largest landlocked country beside Russia in what sir Halford Mackinder described as Heartland required a lot of intelligent and long distance planning, on one hand Kazakhstan was strongly connected with Russia through the seventy years of the Soviet dominance in that region, on the other, it faced being a fully independent country on the border of two pan-regions, that is, Russian and Japanese as the Haushofer presented it in his works although in the XXI century it should be called rather a China pan-region as the shift of political and cultural power occurred in this area. Putting a currently dominating political and cultural center of power aside, Kazakhstan quickly realized that isolation is not an option, just as the states in Central Europe realized full security depends on NATO and to some extent on the European Union the eastern people decided to join new international organizations of both military and civil nature such as the Commonwealth of Independent States, Collective Security Treaty Organization, Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the United Nations. Such a wide range of alliances clearly shows that the foreign policy of the Kazakh’s state is based on multilateral relations.
A quick look at the map and yet another important issue can be observed, the geographical position is crucial not only in trade but also in defence, Kazakhstan position on the map makes it buffer zone between Russia and regions which show an instability in comparison to the Kazakh’s state. Losing such a “soft underbelly” as Churchill called similar phenomena in Europe would open a way for a potentially hostile forces to both European and West Siberian Plains, such a threat combined with growing tension with NATO alliance would shake the entire Russian defensive system grounded in favourable geography which saved Soviets during World War Two when they evacuated their industry behind the immense wall of the Ural Mountains. This gives the Kazakhstan authorities a leverage on Russia as they may be crucial to many major players in the world.
With the initial success of the Bright Road strategy in the field of infrastructure and not having too much of a success in the field of export, the government in Nur-Sultan decided it will not only serve as a hub between bigger players but also it has to build its own regional power. Allowing foreign investors to enter their market resulted in taking yet another step in ensuring a growth of the Kazakh’s economy as well as its attachment to the global supply chains, a perfect example of such a cooperation occurred on March 26, 2021 when a factory of KIA was opened in Kustanay in the presence of the then Prime Minister Askar Mamin, thanks to this factory and cooperation between KIA and KAMAZ PTC the government is showing the realization of their grand strategy in practice as the increase of welfare and industrial development are considered one of the key branches of the “Kazakhstan 2050” and “Нұрлы Жол” strategies.
Encouraging big, international capital to invest in Kazakhstan was one of the steps to boost its economy, however, the government set out a special position for small and medium-sized enterprises, the strategy assumed that those will constitute 50 % of GDP till 2021, as it could be observed this part of the strategy was not achieved as planned, the increase of small and medium sized companies is visible, as it moved form 10,5 percent in 2005 to nearly 32 percent in 2019 showing that the Kazakh Government takes the realization of the Nazarbayev’ s plan with a great dose of persistence even as the pandemic continues. The recent meeting of the state Commission of Economic Growth clearly indicates that the state is going to continue the strategy to aid the native companies survive by deferring tax, bank loans and microcredits payments during the Covid 19 crisis in order to help the native economy get back on track after the virus is contained in the region.
Implemented strategy and programmes bound to carry it out were originally oriented to the east and west, nevertheless, they may not be the only directions which Nur-Sultan is having in mind, recent visit of Roman Sklyar at XVI meeting of Intergovernmental Kazakh-Tajik Commission on Economic Cooperation clearly indicated that the cooperation between Kazakhstan and its smaller neighbors is to be maintained and developed, it is obvious that in the minds of Astana’s decision makers it is their country that will play a leading role as a regional power. Going even further, Kazakhstan authorities turn their eyes into the Middle East, no strategic document concerning this vector of expansion was released, and however, the recent visit to United Arab Emirates may indicate that Kazakhstan is planning to expand in the axis south – north as well. In addition to existing geopolitical position of Kazakhstan a new potential way of advancing is likely to occupy the thoughts of politicians in the Eurasia, including Mamin’s Government, namely the Northern Sea Route which is strongly advertised by Russia, opening a new sea route is something that has not happened on such a scale since the great geographical discoveries of XV and XVI centuries. The recent incident in the Suez Canal served as a trigger to yet another wave of promoting this new, cold sea road as an ideal alternative for sea routes widely used in the XXI century.
To summarize all of the above, both the “Strategy 2050” and “Bright Road” initiative proved to be a well-designed document which evaluated the geopolitical potential properly and outlined the directions in which the new, independent Kazakhstan, should proceed in the XXI century. It cannot be denied that certain aspects of the plan were not achieved, nevertheless, the persistence combined with the ability to adjust to the dynamically changing circumstances occurring in the Eurasian space paved the way for the Kazakhstan to be a self-governed regional player which uses its geopolitical advantages in a variety of the spheres of the country’s current political existence and further development.
MEETING OF THE MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF TURKMENISTAN WITH THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF IRAN
On January 9, 2023, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan Rashid Meredov met with the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iran for Economic Diplomacy Mahdi Safari in the Foreign Ministry of Turkmenistan.
A wide range of issues of bilateral cooperation in the political, diplomatic, trade, economic, cultural and humanitarian spheres was discussed at the meeting.
The parties noted the importance of meetings at the highest and high levels in expanding bilateral friendly relations.
During the negotiations, the importance of the activities of the intergovernmental Turkmen-Iranian commission for economic cooperation was emphasized. The agenda also included issues of developing cooperation in the fuel and energy sector, building up transport and transit potential.
The diplomats paid attention to the upcoming joint events and meetings scheduled for this year.
At the end of the meeting, the sides reaffirmed their mutual commitment to the further course of strengthening the Turkmen-Iranian partnership, based on the age-old principles of friendship, good neighborliness and mutual respect.
Turkmenistan and PRC agreed to intensify the development of cooperation in the gas sector
Turkmenistan and China agreed to intensify the development of bilateral cooperation in the gas sector. This is stated in the Joint Statement of Turkmenistan and the People's Republic of China, signed by President Serdar Berdimuhamedov and PRC President Xi Jinping following the talks in Beijing.
In the document, the parties noted the importance of cooperation between Turkmenistan and China in the gas field and stressed that a scheme of comprehensive cooperation in this area is being formed - production, pipeline transportation, trade, financing and technical support.
The document emphasizes that Turkmenistan and China are strategic partners in the energy sector.
«Adhering to the principles of mutual understanding, sincerity, openness and mutual benefit, the Parties will further fully implement the existing agreements, advance the process of negotiations on gas cooperation, accelerate the implementation of the second stage of the industrial development of the «Galkynysh» gas field, the construction of line D of the «Turkmenistan-China» gas pipeline and other major joint projects, to intensify cooperation in the gas industry», the Joint Statement of Turkmenistan and China says.