All Posts (94)

Indian citizens transiting through Nur-Sultan (Astana) and Almaty can stay in Kazakhstan visa-free for 72 hours. Kazakh citizens can also obtain electronic visas to visit India. In 2018, Kazakh embassy in New Delhi issued more than 25,000 visas to Indian citizens, which is four times more than in 2014.

In November-December 2019, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev is expected to visit India. This is expected to significantly expand bilateral cooperation.

A new…

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Economic Developments - July 2019

World Bank is increasing its support for Uzbekistan and has praised reforms to promote a market economy. The Bank announced loan and grant agreements totalling US$656 million for projects in Uzbekistan. It said that energy sector is key to growth but the country suffers from weak financial and operational performance, infrastructure bottlenecks, and an incomplete policy and regulatory framework. 

During recent visit of Kazakh Prime Minister to Bishkek and his meeting with Kyrgyz…

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Political Development - July 2019

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 favourable oil prices…

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India-Central Asia Relations

Prime Minister Narendra Modi participated in the 19th Summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in Bishkek. In his address, PM Modi outlined India’s vision for the SCO through an acronym ‘HEALTH’ (healthcare cooperation, economic cooperation, alternate energy, literature and culture, terrorism-free society and humanitarian cooperation). With Pakistani PM listening, Modi said the countries which "promote, support and fund" terrorism must be held accountable. He also pitched for an…

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Economic Developments - June 2019

Hevel has signed several agreements to buy stakes in many companies in Kazakhstan, expanding the Russian PV group’s presence to 178 MW. Upon completion in 2020, the project will be one of the biggest solar installations in Commonwealth of Independent States.

World Bank has approved a US$ 500 million loan to support Uzbekistan's ongoing economic transformation and market reforms, aimed at increasing jobs and well-being of its people. World Bank supports Uzbekistan through 22…

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Political Development - June 2019

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 election…

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Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, a loyal associate of the first President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev emerged as the winner by polling 70.8% of the votes cast in Presidential election on 9th June, 2019. The outcome was never in doubt. What was of interest was the percentage of votes that Tokayev would be able to garner and the margin that he would be able to register over his closest adversary. 

Early presidential elections were held following the sudden and unexpected resignation…

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi held wide-ranging talks with Kyrgyz President Sooronbay Jeenbekov who was invited to participate in oath taking ceremony of new government in his capacity as current Chair of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Kyrgyz President reiterated invitation to PM Modi to visit Kyrgyzstan for SCO Summit and a bilateral visit during 13-15 June, 2019. The two leaders held deliberations on diversifying economic and social cooperation for mutual benefit of both nations.…

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Economic Developments - May 2019

In a meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister, Kyrgyz President said that Kyrgyzstan is ready to align its development strategies with Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and strengthen practical cooperation with China in various sectors. He said that China has been providing Kyrgyzstan with huge selfless and sincere assistance for a long time without imposing its will, adding that China is indeed Kyrgyzstan's good neighbour, good friend and good partner. He said that Kyrgyzstan firmly adheres to…

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During his visit to Uzbekistan, the German President held discussions with his counterpart and commended political, economic, and social change and reforms introduced by Uzbek President. The two sides discussed issues of further expanding political, trade, economic, investment, financial, technical, cultural, humanitarian relations, combating terrorism and extremism, building up security and international and regional cooperation. The Presidents welcomed launch of Uzbekistan – Germany…

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Economic Developments - April 2019

Turkmenistan is offering public-sector office employees street-sweeping work as an alternative to complete dismissal as part of an ongoing downsizing of its government. Among those asked to consider this occupation are state accountants, economists and engineering staff. Reports throughout last year indicated that stretched government finances had prompted public sector agencies in Turkmenistan to cut their workforce.

ADB has commended Uzbekistan on its reform agenda and…

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Raksha Mantri (RM) Nirmala Sitharaman participated in meeting of Defence Ministers of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation countries. In addition to SCO Defence Ministers meeting and joint call on Kyrgyz President, RM also met Chief of General Staff of Armed Forces of Kyrgyzstan where wide-ranging discussions on bilateral defence cooperation, training, capacity building, military technical cooperation and assistance to Kyrgyz Level II Field Hospital for UN deployment were held. She delivered a…

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Political Developments - April 2019

Kazakh ruling Nur Otan party unanimously nominated interim President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev as its candidate for upcoming June 9 snap Presidential elections. Decision was made under leadership of former President Nursultan Nazarbayev. Tokayev will hence be the next president. At previous elections, other parties won only single-digit percentages of the vote. Nazarbayev described Tokayev as “the best suited candidate.” Tokayev had called snap elections for June 9, bringing forward the vote…

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First shipment under United Nations ‘Transports Internationaux Routiers’ (TIR) convention recently arrived at port of Nhava Sheva, Mumbai and Mundra in India from Afghanistan through Iran’s Chabahar Port. TIR convention will help in fast and easy movement of goods across multiple countries under a common customs document and guarantee. TIR will play a pivotal role in improving ease of doing business and pave the way for smoother and safer transport of goods across international borders and…

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Economic Developments - March 2019

Turkmen President in a meeting with King of Bahrain invited Bahraini companies to participate in implementation of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India gas pipeline (TAPI). It was noted that construction of TAPI gas pipeline is proceeding at a brisk pace. 

Turkmen foreign minister during his visit to Pakistan to conclude the Host Government Agreement (HGA) on Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline with Pakistan declared that Turkmenistan plans to…

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Political Developments - March 2019

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev dropped a geo-political bombshell on 19th March when he announced his resignation from position of President of country after having led it for about 30 years. In his televised Address he said that "concerns of the country and the people will remain my concerns" and that as founder of an independent Kazakhstan, his future task would be to ensure "the coming to power of a new generation of leaders who will continue the transformation" of Kazakhstan.…

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President Shavkat Mirziyoyev of Uzbekistan was a key guest at the Vibrant Gujarat investment summit. This was his second visit to India in four months. The first was the state visit in September/October, 2018 and the second to Gandhinagar, Gujarat in January, 2019. This was clear indication of growing ties between India and Uzbekistan. Uzbekistan can help India in protecting its interests in Afghanistan. Participation of Uzbekistan in Vibrant Gujarat summit included government and business…

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Political Developments - February 2019

Two anti-Chinese protests took place in Kyrgyzstan in January, 2019. These were directed against Beijing’s current crackdown on Muslims in western Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in which 1 million people — ethnic Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and Kyrgyz, have been sent to political re-education camps. Rally organizers, who had anticipated a larger turnout, laid out three demands: inspection of companies employing Chinese workers, a halt to Kyrgyz citizenship being granted to anybody but ethnic Kyrgyz…

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Economic Developments - February 2019

According to World Bank, growth of Kazakhstan’s economy will decrease to 3.5% this year as oil production growth levels off and further fiscal consolidation efforts continue. Global growth slowdown could decrease remittances from Russia and Kazakhstan to Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan lead the region in share of remittances to GDP at 35% and 32% respectively.

China and Central Asia have been witnessing a boom in trade volume, especially in…

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Economic Developments - January 2019

Uzbekistan is planning to get US$ 4.1 billion in foreign direct investment in 2019, which is 71% more compared to 2018 (US$2.4 billion). Several tax and financial reforms were implemented to further improve the investment climate. Main investors are Russia, Turkey, China, Kazakhstan and South Korea. Tourism, agriculture, light industry, construction industry, oil and gas industry, etc. are most popular sectors for foreign investment. 

Kazakhstan is not in favour of Russian…

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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.