The capital amnesty that ended in Kazakhstan in mid July resulted in legalization of about $480 million, according to officials. National Bank Chairman Grigoriy Marchenko reported that 88 percent of all deposits were made in cash and that about 3,000 Kazakhstani citizens participated in the month-long program.
A recent article by Seymour Hersh, published in The New Yorker magazine, profiled lobbyist James Giffen, helping to highlight the pervasive nature of corruption in Central Asia and the Caucasus. Giffen, who's under investigation for shepherding payments by ExxonMobil through Kazakhstan to Iran, appeared in the article as an embodiment of corruption in the region. If only it were that simple.
The OSCE-sponsored effort to promote a political settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is stalemated, with Armenian and Azerbaijani officials engaging in mutual recrimination over the breakdown in negotiations. Given the economic possibilities, especially in the oil and gas sector, the inability of Armenia and Azerbaijan to reach an agreement is seriously damaging development efforts.
In the Black Sea town of Bafra, the talk is of President Ahmet Necdet Sezer's veto on July 6 of the controversial Tobacco Law. This is tobacco country, home of the unfiltered cigarette and the heady, aromatic leaf that goes into it. At the offices of the Chamber of Agriculture, the state-sponsored body that claims to represent farmers' interests, the mood is one of jubilation.
In a cautiously worded speech at Columbia University on July 10, Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi declared his country's "religious democracy" was eager to promote trade and encourage regional friendships.
A key element of Armenia's economic development strategy involves the privatization of the country's energy distribution networks (EDN). But privatization efforts have hit numerous snags during the past few years.
In the Commonwealth of Independent States, experience has shown that a signing ceremony alone does not ensure future success for a trade initiative. Such is the case with two competing economic blocs comprising former Soviet states. One, a four-year-old entity called GUUAM, incorporating Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Moldova, is virtually moribund.
The newly formalized Eurasian Economic Community (EEC) represents the most ambitious effort to create a customs union and free trade zone among Newly Independent States since the break-up of the Soviet Union.