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Eastern Partnership summit, Astana Economic Forum and more

Dimitris Giannakopoulos

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The 10 most important things you need to know on Caspian Sea Region for Friday, May 22.

1Riga. EU leaders meet representatives of the Eastern Partnership partner countries at the fourth Eastern Partnership summit in Riga to reconfirm the importance the EU attaches to its Eastern Partnership.

2Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has called on Russia to further help his country in the battle against Takfiri ISIL terror group, saying terrorism poses a serious threat to the security of all its neighboring states. Abadi also said he decided to go ahead with his visit to Russia “despite recommendations by some forces to cancel this trip. We highly value relations with Russia and consider them promising, and I think our visit directly proves this,” he went on to say. Medvedev, for his part, voiced Moscow’s readiness to boost ties with Baghdad, saying, “We are glad to support and advance cooperation with Iraq at the government level.”

3“As long as Russia does not commit itself, and act according to, the fundamental values of international law, a return to the G8 format is unimaginable for us,” Merkel said. “The G8 is an informal club, no one gives out membership cards and no one can expel members,” Lavrov said, in an apparent response to Merkel’s comments.

4Avaza gas congress. Mukhammetnur Khalylov, Turkmenistan’s oil and gas industry and mineral resources minister: “Thanks to the Turkmen geologists’ discovery of gas fields that are unique for their reserves, the country’s potential hydrocarbon resources today stand at 71.2 billion metric tons of oil equivalent, of which 53 billion metric tons account for the onshore, and 18.2 billion metric tons for the offshore areas” Today, Turkmenistan, in terms of the size of proven gas reserves, ranks fourth in the world.

5Asian Development Bank (ADB) Vice-President Wencai Zhang is in Kazakhstan for a 2-day visit where he has been holding talks with government officials on partnership opportunities. He also delivered the keynote address at the 8th Astana Economic Forum. “ADB will continue to support the Government of Kazakhstan’s development agenda through appropriate investment projects under the Partnership Framework Arrangement signed in May 2014,” said Mr. Zhang. “We will also pursue further knowledge cooperation to enhance the efficiency and competitiveness of the country’s economy.”

6“Some circles in the West, Europe don’t demonstrate fair approach toward Azerbaijan” said Novruz Mammadov, Deputy Head of the Azerbaijani Presidential Administration, Head of the Administration’s Foreign Relations Department.“An organized and coordinated campaign is being held against Azerbaijan on some issues. Within a few weeks, there were a number of various processes, hearings, media reports, TV programs which do not reflect the real situation. The Azerbaijani side promptly responds and will respond to it,” he added.

7U.S. President Barack Obama sees a nuclear deal being negotiated with Iran as a key part of his legacy, stressing in an interview with Atlantic magazine May 21 that his reputation is on the line should Iran acquire a nuclear weapon. “Look, 20 years from now, I’m still going to be around, God willing. If Iran has a nuclear weapon, it’s my name on this,” Obama said.

8Iranian Minister of Cooperative, Labor, and Social Welfare Ali Rabiei has expressed hope that the country would be able to import water from Georgia. During a meeting with Giorgi Kvirikashvili, Georgia’s Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development, also signed a memorandum of understanding. He also pointed out that transiting Iranian gas via Georgian soil is possible, adding that doing so will benefit regional countries. Bilateral trade between the two countries stands at $200 million annually, and there is potential to increase it.

9Azerbaijan, Georgia discuss issues of cooperation in military sphere

10Eradicating chronic hunger and malnutrition worldwide will require the collaboration of both developed and emerging economies, and Kazakhstan is well positioned for leadership in this area. These were among the points highlighted by FAO Director-General Jose’ Graziano da Silva as he addressed the VIII Astana Economic Forum today. Kazakhstan is a key grain producer and exporter in the region, significantly contributing to the food security of neighboring countries. It participates in the FAO-based Agriculture Market Information System (AMIS) under the aegis of the G20, and is a member of the Eurasian Economic Union which has set food security as a key area of interest. It played a leadership role in developing a regional food bank.

 

ANALYSIS

Russia and Ukraine Battling for Historical Truth

“The use of historical facts is a long applied instrument for fueling an entire political context, usually with quite material consequences. In fact, turning the status of Crimea into the historical center of Russian statehood may create a stumbling block during zero-sum international negotiations” writes Ekaterina Chimiris for RIAC.

Azerbaijan: What awaits beyond sticks and carrots

“When it comes to Azerbaijan, the country has many different aspects of applicable power tactics. Since hard power relies on displays of military might and economic strength, we can argue that Azerbaijan displayed both in the armed conflict over the Nagorno- Karabakh region with neighbouring Armenia” writes Petra Posega for Modern Diplomacy

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Journalist, specialized in Middle East, Russia & FSU, Terrorism and Security issues. Founder and Editor-in-chief of the Modern Diplomacy magazine. follow @DGiannakopoulos

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Guterres: Korean nuclear crisis, Middle East quagmire eroding global security

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Credit: Wikimedia Commons

“Conflicts are becoming more and more interrelated and more and more related to a set of a new global terrorism threat  to all of us,” Mr. Guterres said in his keynote address at the opening ceremony on Friday of the Munich Security Conference.

For the first time since the end of the Cold War, the world is facing the threat of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles posed by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), which he called “a development made in total contradiction to the will of the international community and in clear violation of several resolutions of the Security Council.”

He said that it was essential to maintain “meaningful pressure over North Korea” to create an opportunity for diplomatic engagement on the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean peninsula within a regional framework.

“The two key stakeholders in relation to this crisis, the United States and [DPRK]” must be able to “come together and have a meaningful discussion on these issues,” he said, adding that it is “important not to miss the opportunity of a peaceful resolution through diplomatic engagement as a military solution would be a disaster with catastrophic consequences that we cannot even be able to imagine.”

The situation in the broader Middle East, which the UN chief said had become a “Gordian knot,” was also eroding global security, with that are crises that are “crossing each other and interconnected.”

Pointing to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and wars in Syria, Yemen and Libya, among others, Mr. Guterres said the entire Middle East has “became a mess,” with varied and intersecting fault lines.

He warned of the absence of a common vision in the region and said that even if interests are contradictory, the threats these conflicts represent would justify some efforts to come together.

Turning to cyber-security, Mr. Guterres called for a serious discussion about the international legal framework in which cyberwars take place.

“I can guarantee that the United Nations would be ready to be a platform in which different actors could come together and discuss the way forward, to find the adequate approaches to make sure that we are able to deal with the problem of cybersecurity,” he said, noting that artificial intelligence provides “enormous potential for economic development, social development and for the well-being for all of us.”

The Secretary-General said that Governments and others have been unable to manage human mobility. He warned that this had created mistrust and doubts about globalism and multilateralism.

“This is a reason why,” he said, “we need to be able to unite, we need to be able to affirm that global problems can only be addressed with global solutions and that multilateralism is today more necessary than ever.”

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Supporting tourism development in Africa through better measurement

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In an effort to better measure tourism growth and development in Africa, UNWTO signed a Cooperation Agreement with the Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation for the Strengthening of the National Tourism Statistical System of Nigeria and the Development of a Tourism Satellite Account.

UNWTO is committed to developing tourism measurement for furthering knowledge of the sector, monitoring progress, evaluating impact, promoting results-focused management, and highlighting strategic issues for policy objectives.

On the occasion of the meeting between UNWTO Secretary-General, Zurab Pololikashvili, and the Minister of Information and Culture of Nigeria, Mr. Lai Mohammed, the agreement to host the Sixty-First meeting of the UNWTO Commission for Africa and the Seminar on ‘Tourism Statistics: A Catalyst for Development’ in Nigerian capital, Abuja, from 4 to 6 June 2018, was signed.

The meetings will be open to the participation of UNWTO Member States and Affiliate Members, as well as invited delegations and representatives of the tourism and related sectors. Officials of immigration departments, national statistics bureaus, central banks and other relevant stakeholders will be invited to join.

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Causes of Rohingya refugee crisis originate in Myanmar- solutions must be found there

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“We are now in a race against time as a major new emergency looms,” United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi told the Security Council via videolink from Geneva, Switzerland.

He said that the Kutupalong area in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar is now the largest refugee settlement in the world, and with the monsoon season to start in March, 107,000 refugees are estimated to be living in areas prone to flooding or landslides.

“The [Bangladeshi] Government is steering a massive emergency preparedness effort, but international support must be stepped up to avert a catastrophe,” he said, stressing that “as we have repeatedly said, resolving this crisis means finding solutions inside Myanmar.”

He said that conditions are not yet conducive to the voluntary repatriation of Rohingya refugees to Myanmar.

The refugee crisis erupted in late August when Myanmar armed forces launched a security operation in the north of Rakhine State, driving thousands of children, women and men to flee over the border to Bangladesh in search of safety.

“The causes of their flight have not been addressed, and we have yet to see substantive progress on addressing the exclusion and denial of rights that has deepened over the last decades, rooted in their lack of citizenship,” Mr. Grandi said.

“It is time to bring an end to this repeated, devastating cycle of violence, displacement and statelessness to invest in tangible, substantial measures that will start to overcome the profound exclusion that the Rohingya community have endured for far too long,” he added.

Also addressing the Council was UN Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Miroslav Jenca, who said that while there has been certain progress on the three priorities laid out by the Secretary-General, not all have been implemented thus far.

Turning first to the need to end violence and improve the security situation, he said that although large-scale acts of violence have subsided, concerns about threats and intimidation against the remaining Rohingya population from Bamar and Rakhine communities, as well as from militia and security forces in Rakhine state, persist.

Second, the UN does not have sufficient access to make a meaningful assessment of the humanitarian or human rights situation in Rakhine.

As for the third point, which is voluntary, safe, dignified and sustainable return of refugees and internally displaced people to their places of origin or choice, Mr. Jenca said the Government has taken some high-level steps to advance this process, including the convening of an Advisory Board, whose recommendations include the inclusion of the UN at an early stage, soonest full humanitarian access, wider media access, and the formation of an independent fact-finding commission.

Mr. Jenca called on the authorities in Myanmar to release the arrested two Reuters journalists and respect the right to freedom of expression and information.

Reuters has now published the story these journalists were working on, a deeply disturbing account of the execution of 10 Rohingya men in Inn Din village (Maungdaw) in northern Rakhine state,he said, while the Associated Press (AP) has also published a report of five mass graves in Gudar Pyin village (Buthidaung).

“These and other shocking reports of grave abuses demand our attention and action, for the sake of lasting peace and justice,” he said.

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