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Turkey, Russia blames West for migrant crisis

Dimitris Giannakopoulos

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Welcome to the Caspian Daily, where you will find the 10 most important things you need to know on Caspian Sea Region. We appreciate ideas, reports, news and interesting articles. Send along to Caspian[at]moderndiplomacy.eu or on Twitter: @DGiannakopoulos

1Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian leader Vladimir Putin both point the finger at Europe and the United States for what has now become one of the biggest mass migrations of people in modern times.”To be honest, the whole Western world is to be blamed in my opinion on this issue,” Erdogan told CNN on Thursday. Putin, talking to reporters Friday, said it’s the West’s wrong-headed foreign policy in the Middle East and Northern Africa that’s at the root of the crisis.The image of 2-year-old Aylan Kurdi’s body, face down in the surf of a Turkish beach, rocketed around the world. He died along with his 4-year-old brother and mother — three of several thousand refugees and migrants who have perished while trying to find safety in Europe.Europe’s response so far has been disjointed and divided, prompting nations to scramble for a cohesive response. The crisis will be front-and-center when EU foreign ministers meet at an informal gathering in Luxembourg on Friday. The nations will send their home ministers for emergency talks in Brussels on September 14.

2Russia is interested in both foreign and domestic investment, especially in the country’s Far East region, President Vladimir Putin told the Eastern Economic Forum on Friday.Making an appeal to countries from the Asia-Pacific region, Putin said his government will increase efforts to develop Russia’s Far East.”(We) will provide to investors the best conditions to do business so the Far East of Russia can successfully compete in terms of efficiency and return on capital with leading business centers,” Putin told the conference in Vladivostok. He added that the country’s largest oil firm, Rosneft , will invest 1.3 trillion roubles ($19.56 billion) in projects in the region.

3Misrepresenting Azerbaijan. “Over the last several years, the Republic of Azerbaijan, widely acknowledged and praised for its commitment and pursuit of religious tolerance, has become a target of harsh criticism by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIF). Apparently, somewhat confused about its mandate, the commission issues statements about political issues, which have nothing to with religion and religious freedom, refers to places within Azerbaijan by Armenian names revealing, inadvertently perhaps, its sources of information. Also, in its criticism of the country it follows the lines used frequently by the Iranian mullahs. Sadly, this reflects both the apparent personal bias and the lack of expertise and first-hand knowledge by the commission’s staff” Maayan Jaffe- The Washington Times.

4Azerbaijan: Is It Time to Consider Sanctions? “Some regional experts want the United States and European Union to consider imposing economic and political penalties on Azerbaijan to put pressure on Baku to respect basic individual freedoms. The sentencing of investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova to a seven-and-a-half-year prison sentence on September 1 should be seen as a tipping point in relations between the United States and European Union and Azerbaijan, some rights advocates contend. Ismayilova was convicted on criminal charges of embezzlement, abuse of power and illegal business practices. Her supporters contend the case against her was fabricated to stop her investigations into the corrupt practices of top Azerbaijani officials and their family members” Giorgi Lomsadze- Eurasianet.

5Rocky economy tests friendship of Putin and Xi. “Mr. Putin has enjoyed basking in the stature of Mr. Xi, who leads one of the world’s largest economies. But with the recent stock market turmoil in China and the slowest economic growth in a quarter-century, Beijing will be unable to provide the ballast that Mr. Putin has sought against economic sanctions imposed on Russia by Europe and the United States after its annexation of Crimea, not to mention plummeting oil prices worldwide. “Russia was dependent on China growing and driving the demand for its commodities: oil, gas and minerals,” said Fiona Hill, a Russia specialist at the Brookings Institution in Washington. “China was an alternative to Europe.” JANE PERLEZ and NEIL MacFARQUHAR- The New York Times.

6Saudi King Salman will meet with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington on Friday to seek more support in countering Iran, as the Obama administration aims to use the visit to shore up relations after a period of tensions. The visit is the king’s first to the United States since ascending to the throne in January, and comes after the United States agreed to a nuclear deal with Iran in July, raising Gulf Arab fears that the lifting of sanctions on Iran would enable it to pursue destabilising policies in the Middle East. Despite the tensions, the two countries depend on each other on crucial security, business, and economic issues. Saudi Arabia remains the world’s largest oil exporter, and its commitment to pumping oil freely despite a recent price decline has helped contribute to sustaining the U.S. economic recovery. Obama and Salman will discuss global energy markets during the visit, the White House said.

7Russia is condemning itself to repeat history. “Russia, flexing old imperial muscles, now sees history as a weapon in the neo-imperialist armory. Not for the present regime the muddled forays into the dark — Soviet — past. Unlike the government of President Boris Yeltsin, which came to power through the ruins of the Soviet Union, President Vladimir Putin needs the past to be scrubbed clean of all possible embarrassments. The Soviet period — in which the working class lad he was rose to be a lieutenant colonel in the KGB — is seen again, with some regrettable lapses, as a period of heroism and global power” John Lloyd- Reuters.

8Azerbaijan`s Minister of Defense Zakir Hasanov has met with British Ambassador to the country Irfan Siddiq. The sides discussed the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, as well as exchanged views over military and political situation in the region, military cooperation between the two countries and regional security. They also discussed issues related to Minister Zakir Hasanov`s upcoming visit to Great Britain, AzerTac state news agency reported.

9Mr. Masood Ahmed, Director of the IMF’s Middle East and Central Asia Department visited Kazakhstan on September 2–4, for meetings with the authorities and other stakeholders. At the conclusion of his visit, Mr. Ahmed made the following statement: “Like other countries in the region, Kazakhstan has been hit by large external shocks (oil prices, Russia and China slowdown). Against the backdrop of these shocks, economic growth has decelerated sharply and financial conditions have tightened. As a result, the growth outlook has weakened. However, I was impressed by the authorities’ determination to put in place the policies needed to ensure macroeconomic and financial stability”

10The President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhammadov received Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Germany Ralf Andreas Brett, who presented his credentials. During the meeting, the sides exchanged views on a wide range of issues of cooperation, given the priorities of the state development of the two countries. It was earlier reported that the trade turnover between Turkmenistan and Germany has increased by 11 percent in recent years. Over 60 business entities with German share have opened their branches and representative offices in Turkmenistan.

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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