Plagued by the aftermath of a five year civil conflict, by two years of drought, and by the spiraling effects of both circumstances, Tajikistan is left with an unhealthy reliance on imports from its world neighbors. According to the International Monetary Fund's annual report, economic growth in Tajikistan was 8.3 percent in 2000, but inflation had reached 60 percent.
The imminent prospect of a three-fold increase in the volume of oil passing through the Turkish straits has heightened concerns in Turkey about the wisdom of shipping so much hazardous liquid through the center of Istanbul, a city of 15 million people.
The International Monetary Fund's (IMF) recent decision to scale back its activities in Uzbekistan is a reflection of the Fund's long-standing dissatisfaction with Uzbekistan's monetary policies. There are indications that the IMF move may succeed in jolting Uzbekistan into action on long-promised fiscal reforms.
Turkey's newly appointed economy boss is trying to sell his economic reform ideas to foreign lenders during a visit to Washington which began March 26. Tucked away in the details of Kemal Dervis's revival program is a bold commitment to completely privatize Turk Telekom, the country's monopoly fixed line operator.
Iran has reason to be hopeful and Western business interests have cause for concern as the five Caspian Basin states gear up for a critical conference that aims to create a framework for the division of the sea's natural resources.
Azerbajani President Heidar Aliyev on March 12 began a state visit to Turkey. The same day, Iranian President Mohammad Khatami was wrapping up a landmark summit meeting in Moscow with Russian leader Vladimir Putin. The travels of these two key Caspian region leaders indicate that the competition over the region's vast oil and gas resources is kicking into high gear.
Turkey's ongoing financial crisis threatens not only the country's domestic stability, but also a variety of Western economic and strategic interests in the Middle East, Caspian Basin and Central Asia. Despite the high stakes, the Turkish president and prime minister, whose shouting match sparked the country's economic implosion, have been slow to reconcile.
Kazakhstan is undertaking a controversial overhaul of its oil and gas sector that appears to place additional financial burdens on foreign oil producers. Instead of promoting the state-owned oil company, Kazakhoil, to become a major oil producer, the Kazakh government is now to earn its cut from the oil sector by adding hidden export taxes.