News Digest: Foreign Media on Kazakhstan’s Media Freedom, Trans-Caspian International Transport Route, and More

ASTANA – The Astana Times has selected articles from global media outlets covering Kazakhstan. This week’s foreign media digest covers Kazakhstan’s media freedom, the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route, cooperation with Armenia, and more.

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Kazakhstan’s efforts to balance media freedom with protecting national interests

Atalayar, a Spanish media outlet, released an extensive article on April 18 about media freedom in Kazakhstan and a new draft law on mass media. 

“In many fledgling democracies, the issue of media freedom does not attract too much global interest. However, in Kazakhstan, it’s a pressing matter due to the country’s increasing geostrategic significance given the country’s substantial wealth, abundant natural resources and shared borders with Russia and China. Consequently, powerful domestic and external interests face off in Kazakhstan’s media space to sway local and international public opinion in favor of competing political, and sometimes even personal, agendas,” the article notes. 

IRU and Kazakhstan’s WTO Ambassador exchange on road transport and trade

Road transport’s pivotal role in trade topped the agenda during a recent meeting between the Secretary General of the International Road Transport Union (IRU) and Kazakhstan’s Ambassador to the World Trade Organization (WTO), as reported by the IRU, a Geneva-based world road transport organization, on April 15.

A landlocked country at the heart of east-west trade, Kazakhstan is playing an increasingly pivotal role as a transit country, particularly as an essential part of the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route (TITR), also known as the Middle Corridor.

IRU’s Secretary General, Umberto de Pretto, and the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Kazakhstan to the WTO, Zhanar Aitzhan, recently discussed road transport and the role of the TITR in ensuring that trade is both efficient and secure.

TITR is continuing to expand in Asia and beyond. Corridors connecting Kazakhstan to China are of particular importance. 

Pope asks for prayers for those affected by flooding in Kazakhstan

During his General Audience, Pope Francis requested prayers for those affected by massive flooding in Kazakhstan, which has impacted many regions of the Central Asian country and forced thousands of people to evacuate, reported Vatican News on April 10. He also asked for prayers for those suffering from conflicts in the Holy Land, Ukraine, and Myanmar.

“I wish to convey to the people of Kazakhstan my spiritual closeness at this time,” Pope Francis stated.

Middle Corridor holds significant importance for Kyrgyz Republic – Ambassador

The Middle Corridor holds significant importance for the Kyrgyz Republic, the country’s Ambassador to Azerbaijan, Kairat Osmonaliyev, told Kyrgyz media, as reported by Trend on April 16.

“The topic of the Middle Corridor is currently under active discussion. Essentially, it revives the operation of the old classical Silk Road, which originally passed through Central Asian countries, including the Caucasus. We are continuously working on this issue, including maximizing multimodal transportation along the corridor,” the Ambassador said.

He noted that Baku is now becoming a regional logistics hub, with the Baku Alat International Sea Trade Port and the Baku Hovsan International Sea Trade Port. According to him, discussions are currently underway for cooperation between the Kyrgyz Republic and both ports.

Kazakhstan’s compensation claims against Kashagan oil firms jump to $150 billion

Kazakhstan has increased its arbitration claims against international oil companies that developed the Kashagan oil field to more than $150 billion, demanding compensation for lost revenue in addition to a dispute over costs, according to people familiar with the matter, reported Bloomberg on April 17.

Kazakhstan’s government was already involved in a $15 billion arbitration over production costs at the giant field, which has been beset by delays, technical difficulties and cost overruns since development began more than 20 years ago.

Kazakhstan seeks investment from South Korea

The Times of Central Asia published an article on April 17 about Kazakh-South Korean cooperation.

Over the past ten years, South Korea’s investments in Kazakhstan’s economy have exceeded $6.8 billion and several joint Kazakh-Korean projects with investments of around $1 billion are currently under implementation. 

The potential to increase and diversify bilateral trade and expand investment cooperation was the focus of a meeting on April 16 between Gabidulla Ospankulov, Chairman of the Investment Committee of the Kazakh Foreign Ministry, Yerzhan Yelekeyev, Chairman of the Management Board of National Company Kazakh Invest, and Joe Tae-Ik, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Kazakhstan.

During the meeting, Ospankulov spoke of the large number of Korean companies working in Kazakhstan and emphasizing that developing economic and investment relations with South Korea is a priority, pledged comprehensive support to companies implementing projects in the country.

Kazakhstan targets $350 million export surge to Armenia, strengthening economic bonds

Kazakhstan is prepared to boost its exports to Armenia up to $350 million, as stated by Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev after bilateral talks with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, reported on April 16, citing the Akorda.

The core focus of the negotiations centered on expanding trade, economic, and investment cooperation. The leaders acknowledged the steady growth in mutual trade over the past five years and identified areas for further collaboration, including industry, construction, transport, logistics, agriculture, finance, innovation, and tourism.

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