Tag Archives: Azerbaijan

Tajikistan Mulling CentAsexit?

24 May

Lord Venal is just back from observing Tajikistan’s referendum, which gave a resounding yes vote to some controversial proposals.

After the referendum, that was conducted in a spirit of tolerance and democracy on 22 May, it is looking increasingly likely that Tajikistan will opt to leave Central Asia in a move dubbed CentAsexit.

Dushanbe has long contended that Central Asia in its current form is an undemocratic, Turkic-speaking club with the other members bullying poor little Tajikistan over water and its right to construct the Rogan dam.

Long-time leader, Shah Rahmon, whose unlimited term rights  were confirmed in the referendum, argues that Tajikistan would be a better fit in a Farsi-centric bloc called Middle Asia, comprising Iran, Afghanistan and the Tajik nation.

The referendum also paved the way for the Shah’s son to ascend the throne in good time. This will be following in the footsteps of other regional potentates such as Azerbaijan’s Ilam Aliyev who succeeded his father Heydar Aliyev, and Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, who ascended to the throne after the demise of his father, Hafez al-Assad. That all went well, didn’t it …

 

 

 

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Moscow: Eurasian Economic Union Name Dispute Rumbles on

8 May

More top-level meetings are taking place in Moscow as the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan talk with other possible member states about the expanding Eurasian Economic Union project. The sides are believed to be trying to come up with an acronym for the regional grouping.

Kazakhstan is said to favour KRB while Belarus is said to be leaning towards BRK. Russia has proposed Armenia be fast-tracked into the fledgling economic union to bring a much-needed vowel to the possible acronyms. Kazaxia likes the sound of BARK, other observers are keen on KRAB.

This ‘A’ is a significant development as ‘U’ is currently off the agenda as it doesn’t look like Ukraine or Uzbekistan will be joining any time soon, and Azerbaijan won’t join anything that involves its arch rival Armenia.

Further complications could be on the horizon as Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are possible contenders for membership. It is not clear where these letters would go. Syria is an outside bet for inclusion in this intercontinental economic club – an ‘S’ is always useful, as any scrabble player knows.

Kazakhstan Cool on Links with Georgia, Azerbaijan Football League

17 Apr

Could Kazakhstan be on the verge of joining forces with Georgia and Azerbaijan to form a trans-Caspian football league?

If reports from NEWS.am, an Armenian source, are to be believed then the Georgian Football Federation is about to submit plans to the Union of European Football Unions (UEFA) for a super league combining the leagues of Georgia, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. It appears that the Armenians are not invited.

The report ends with a denial from the Kazakhstan Football Federation, announcing that it has no plans to join such a league. This is probably a wise move as the travel for away matches would be huge. If, for instance, FC Dinamo Batumi were to face Almaty’s FC Kairat, they would be looking at an 8,600 km round trip. Not a very attractive prospect for either the players or the travelling supporters.

An added complication would be the fact that Kazakhstan’s top division plays its football from March to November, while Georgia and Azerbaijan play in the winter months from September to May.

Kazakhstan’s Eurovision Blues

25 May

Kazakhstan is eyeing Azerbaijan jealously across the Caspian Sea as its energy-rich rival prepares to host the Eurovision song contest on 26 May. Kazakhstan’s position between Europe and Asia allows it to pick and choose between competitions in the two continents, for instance it plays its football in European qualifiers but rugby in Asian tournaments.

When it comes to music, however, it chose to chance its luck in Asia, with events such as the Voice of Asia festival, sporadically held in Almaty, rather than Europe’s annual extravaganza of kitschy music. This is a shame for the good viewers of Eurovision who are denied aural treats such as this unusual dombra-based ditty (the two-stringed dombra is Kazakhstan’s national instrument).

In light of the events in Zhanaozen last December this little number – the Ballad of Zhanaozen – would possibly have made a good entry for Kazakhstan. It certainly ticks all the right boxes for a Eurovision entry – catchy and excruciating. Imagine it set to a dombra backing and translated into Kazakh – a surefire Eurovision winner!

Kazakhstan Victory Sparks Fury in Baku

6 Jun

Astana Arena ... the new home of Kazakh football

Football fans in Kazakhstan are in a state of shock after the national team managed to beat Azerbaijan 2-1 in Astana last Friday. The victory gave Kazakhstan its first points in attempting to qualify for Euro 2012. In its five previous outings, the Kazakhs had failed to even score a goal.

Across the Caspian Sea in Baku, the reaction was one of anger at Azerbaijan manager Berti Vogts, who had toilet paper thrown at him at a press conference on his return from Kazakhstan. He was also presented with a ceremonial pitcher used for ritual ablutions.

There were other reports that Vogts had an ’emotional conversation’ with head of Azeri football Rovnag Abdullayev on his return to Baku. This result was a blow to the pride of the Azeris who now find themselves in a desperate struggle with the Kazakhs for the wooden spoon.

On the night in Astana, Kazakhstan’s hero was Sergei Gridin,  who was making his international debut He marked the occasion in great style with two second-half goals. The 24-year-old is a midfielder with FC Tobol Kostanay, who won the Kazakhstan league in 2010.

Vogts’s charges now have to play Germany on 7 June on home soil. When the teams met in Cologne in September 2010, the Azeris suffered a 6-1 defeat, so things do not look too bright for Vogts’s future on the shores of the Caspian Sea.