Kyrgyzstan and NATO have signed an agreement on the transit of land cargo through Kyrgyzstan’s territory for NATO’s International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) in Afghanistan. The agreement was signed by the Kyrgyz Foreign Minister Ruslan Kazakbaev and the NATO Deputy Secretary General Ambassador Alexander Vershbow during the NATO Summit in Chicago on May 22. While signing the document, Kazakbaev said that Kyrgyzstan will continue to support the international community and regional and international organizations, including NATO, in the efforts to ensure security, peace and stability and further socio-economic development of Afghanistan.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan paid an official visit to Kazakhstan coinciding with the first days of the Fifth Astana Economic Forum, which was officially launched on May 23. During his stay in Kazakhstan’s capital, the Turkish leader met with President Nursultan Nazarbayev, took part in the Kazakh-Turkish Business Forum and also attended the inaugural session of a large-scale economic gathering traditionally held in the last weeks of May.
“Euphoria,” sung by Swedish entry Loreen won the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest hosted by Azerbaijan on May 26. By singing of freedom, “where everything’s allowed,” Loreen was the only contestant to meet with Azerbaijani human rights activists on the eve of the final, which was met objections from Azerbaijani officials.
On May 4, 2012, Tajikistan’s Minister of Internal Affairs, Lieutenant-General Ramazon Rakhimov, made an appeal to the European Parliament during the second session of the Parliamentary Cooperation Committee between the EU and the Republic of Tajikistan. Repeating a proposal previously made during the conference on border management and security in Central Asia held in Vienna, the Minister proposed to buy up the opium yield from Afghan farmers for immediate destruction or for use in pharmaceutical production. According to the Minister, this would present an efficient means for fighting drug production in Afghanistan.
On May 8, the chairman of the Islamic Revival Party of Tajikistan (IRPT) Muhiddin Kabiri sent an open letter to President Emomali Rahmon, urging him to pardon all inmates who remain in jail for crimes committed during the country’s civil war. This year, Tajikistan celebrates the 15th anniversary of the peace deal that put an end to the violent conflict which claimed an estimated 50,000 lives from 1992-1997. In his letter, Kabiri asked the Tajik leader to show mercy and to mark the anniversary by granting a full amnesty to all opposition and pro-government militants who are still in jail.
On May 10, the recently elected President of Kyrgyzstan, Almazbek Atambayev, paid an official visit to his country’s northern neighbor, Kazakhstan, to discuss bilateral economic cooperation and regional integration in Central Asia. In his welcoming address, Nursultan Nazarbayev reiterated Kazakhstan’s vision of the Kyrgyz Republic as a strategic ally and partner in the region. He also applauded Atambayev’s personal efforts to stabilize the economic situation and restore public order in a country whose political life has been marked by two revolutionary regime changes since 2005.
The de facto Abkhaz government has demanded that the head of the European Union Monitoring Mission in Georgia (EUMM) Andrzej Tyszkiewicz be substituted as a sine qua non condition to participate in the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM) meetings, Apsnipress reported on May 3. Moscow backed Sukhumi’s move, suggesting that the EU seek “a compromise solution” directly with the Abkhaz side. In response, the EU has expressed its “full confidence” in the mission’s present leadership. Meanwhile, Tbilisi considers Sukhumi’s demands to be an attempt by the Kremlin to undermine the EUMM’s institutional capacity on the territory of Georgia.
Kyrgyzstan’s opposition has ended its series of anti-governmental rallies in the country's regions, claiming that it has tried to make the government respond to the needs of ordinary people, but saw no reaction. However, most experts believe that the opposition leaders, after experiencing their inability to mobilize people, simply decided to wait for “better times.”
The BP-led consortium developing the Shah Deniz gas field has launched the Front End Engineering and Design (FEED) phase of the US$ 25 billion stage II project. This has increased the competition between pipeline systems for future gas transportation from Azerbaijan to the European market.
On April 14, 2012, media in Tajikistan reported that local residents of the Mastcha district in Northern Tajikistan had observed multiple heavy military vehicles gathering on Uzbekistan’s territory close to its state border with Tajikistan. Observers believe that Uzbekistan’s concentration of military hardware on its border with Tajikistan is another sign of increased tension between the two neighboring countries.