26.Feb .2023 19:46

The Week in the Neighbourhood

The Week in the Neighbourhood
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Turkey issued quake rebuild rules as new housing construction starts. An international court has ordered Azerbaijan to “ensure unimpeded movement” on the highway connecting Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh, which has been virtually closed for more than two months as a result of government-backed protests blocking the road. US State Department spokesman Ned Price said that in the coming days, a meeting is planned with the participation of Armenia and Azerbaijan in Brussels, which will be held by EU President Charles Michel.


Turkey issued regulations for earthquake rebuilding work in the southeastern region as the government focuses on building new homes for the millions who need rehousing after this month’s devastating tremors. Marking the first significant endeavor, the government announced it started construction on 855 housing units in Gaziantep, one of the 11 provinces affected by what is described as the worst disaster in Turkey’s modern history. The magnitude 7.7 and 7.6 quakes struck on Feb. 6, killing more than 44,218 people in Turkey and nearly 6,000 in neighbouring Syria, and destroying 164,000 buildings, containing some 520,000 apartments. The U.N. Development Program (UNDP) said it estimated that the destruction had left 1.5 million people homeless, with 500,000 new homes needed. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vowed that the state would complete housing reconstruction within a year and said the government was preparing a program to “make the country stand up again.” Direct costs from destroying physical structures could amount to 2.5% of the growth of domestic product, or $25 billion, according to Wall Street bank JPMorgan.

After post-quake govt backing Turkish firms’ stock buybacks top $1.3B. The repurchase of shares by the listed Turkish companies has exceeded TL 25 billion ($1.32 billion) in more than a week after the government unveiled measures to support the stock market in the aftermath of the devastating earthquakes. Borsa Istanbul Stock Exchange (BIST) on Feb. 8 suspended trading for five days after steep losses in the wake of the worst disaster in Turkey’s modern history and canceled trades made that day.

On Thursday, the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey (CBRT) slashed its benchmark policy rate by 50 basis points after keeping it unchanged for two consecutive months. The central bank lowered its one-week repo rate to 8.5% from 9%.

Buoyant arrivals of foreigners in the first month of 2023 have helped Turkey surpass pre-COVID-19 levels, official data showed, making an encouraging start to the new year. Marking a complete rebound from a pandemic fallout, foreign arrivals neared record and all-time high revenues in 2022 and prompted the government to raise its tourism estimates for this year. The number of foreign visitors arriving in January jumped 56.51% from a year earlier to 2 million, the Culture and Tourism Ministry said Friday.

Russia's Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin approved a decree enabling a facilitated visa regime for citizens of 19 countries, including Turkey. Citizens of the specified countries may get a tourist visa for up to six months if they have a hotel reservation, the decree published on the government portal reads.


Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan had a telephone conversation with the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin late on Thursday, the Armenian government said. It said the interlocutors referred to the humanitarian, environmental and energy crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh resulted from Azerbaijan's illegal blockade of the Lachin Corridor. Nikol Pashinyan had also telephone conversation with UN Secretary General António Guterres․ The interlocutors touched upon the humanitarian crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh resulted by Azerbaijan's illegal blockade of the Lachin Corridor and issues of how to overcome it. In particular, issues related to sending a UN fact-finding mission to Nagorno-Karabakh and Lachin Corridor were discussed.

Billionaire Ruben Vardanyan has been dismissed from the post of state minister of the unrecognized NKR. He stated that although he is aware of the pressure exerted from external forces to make him leave Nagorno-Karabakh, he has no intention of doing so.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price said that in the coming days, a meeting is planned with the participation of Armenia and Azerbaijan in Brussels, which will be held by EU President Charles Michel.

The government of China will provide Armenia with 100 million yuan ($14.4 million) free aid after Armenian parliament ratifies the agreement on technical and economic cooperation signed between the governments of the two countries on November 15, 2021, Armenian Deputy Foreign Minister Mnatsakan Safaryan said. Safaryan added that the development of cooperation with China is one of the priorities of the Armenian government's foreign policy.

Iran plans to increase natural gas supplies to Armenia. Every year, 365 million cubic meters of natural gas are imported from Iran to Armenia as part of the natural gas for electricity swap agreement, Deputy Chairman of the Armenian parliamentary committee on regional and Eurasian integration Vagharshak Hakobyan said. Iran’s Oil Ministry said in November 2022 that Iran and Armenia renewed a contract for swap of Iranian gas for Armenian electricity during Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s official visit to Iran. Under the new agreement, gas supplies from Iran to Armenia will grow to 2 million cubic meters per day.

Armenia targets to export cut diamonds worth over 1 billion US dollars in 2023, the country’s economic minister said.

The first French-Armenian economic forum was held in Paris on February 24. A delegation headed by Armenian Minister of Economy Vahan Kerobyan as well as Armenian and French businessmen took part in the forum. They had an opportunity to get acquainted with Armenian products, as well as establish new business ties.

British-Dutch Shell company enters Armenia: Shell has confirmed the launch of a chain of petrol stations in Armenia in March 2023. The company’s petrol stations will meet the highest quality and other standards. The petroleum will be fully imported from Greece.

Armenia's GDP in 2022 saw a growth of 12.6% compared to 2021, according to the National Statistical Committee (NSC). In current prices, the 2022 GDP amounted to around AMD 8.5 trillion ($21.8 billion), while GDP per capita in market prices amounted to 2,861,735 drams (or $6,569 and 6,210 euros).


The volume of industrial products increased by 4.3 percent totaling AZN 6.5 bn ($3.8bn) in January 2023, the State Statics Committee said.

Azerbaijan intends to increase the share of renewable energy in total electricity generation and reach 30 percent by 2030, says Economy Minister Mikayil Jabbarov.

Azerbaijan's banking sector made a net profit of 90.3 million manats ($53.1 million) in January of this year (+54.1%), according to the Central Bank of Azerbaijan.

As of February 1, 2023, the overdue loans in Azerbaijan stood at 583.8 million manats ($343.41 million), down 1.7% from the previous month.

The assets of Azerbaijan-based banks amounted to over 45,861.9 million manats (over $27 billion), up 20.7% from a year earlier.

In January 2023, Azerbaijan’s budget revenues stood at 4,006.5 million manats ($2.36 billion) and expenditures at 1,457.9 million manats ($0.86 billion), respectively, up 45.9% and 48.3% from the previous year. The surplus amounted to 2,548.6 million manats (nearly $1.5 billion), 44.5% more than the previous year.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will visit Azerbaijan on February 27-28. Negotiations are expected with Ilham Aliyev and Foreign Minister Jeyhyn Bayramov.

The special quarantine regime in Azerbaijan has been extended to May 1, 2023. This makes Azerbaijan the only country in the world whose land borders have remained closed for three years.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hosted his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev for talks in Istanbul on Saturday. Erdogan and Aliyev held a closed-door meeting at the Vahdettin Mansion, according to Turkey’s Communications Directorate. No further information was released on the meeting.

An international court has ordered Azerbaijan to “ensure unimpeded movement” on the highway connecting Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh, which has been virtually closed for more than two months as a result of government-backed protests blocking the road. But the ruling appears to have little immediate prospect of lifting the blockade, as Azerbaijan argues that it is not in fact blocking the road and so is not obliged to do anything it isn’t already doing. The International Court of Justice, the top court of the United Nations, ruled on February 23 that “Azerbaijan shall … take all measures at its disposal to ensure unimpeded movement of persons, vehicles and cargo along the Lachin Corridor in both directions.”

Armenia had asked the court in January to impose provisional measures against Azerbaijan for the blockade. Following the decision, Yerevan declared victory. “[I]n accordance with the Court’s orders, Azerbaijan's blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh and other actions must now come to an immediate end,” Armenia’s foreign ministry said in a statement following the ruling. “Armenia will closely monitor the situation and inform the Court of any violations as Armenia’s case against Azerbaijan proceeds.” Azerbaijan’s foreign ministry sidestepped the main thrust of the ruling – that the court demanded it ensure free movement on the road – but pointed out that the court “took note” of Baku’s argument that it “has and undertakes to continue to take all steps within its power and at its disposal to guarantee safe movement along the Lachin Road.” The ruling “will have little effect on the situation on the ground until peace [is] reached [between] the two countries as every [document] interpreted differently by the parties,” tweeted Farid Shafiyev, the head of the Azerbaijan state-run think tank Center for Analysis of International Relations.