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
1Azerbaijan on Friday fiercely rejected European criticism of its human rights record and threatened to “revise” relations over a European Parliament’s resolution calling for sanctions against Azeri authorities.“(Azerbaijan’s) relations with the European Union should be revised due to its anti-Azeri and anti-Islamic tendencies,” the oil-rich Caucasus nation’s foreign ministry said in a statement.The European Parliament passed on Thursday a non-binding resolution strongly condemning the “unprecedented repression against civil society in Azerbaijan.”It called on the EU’s executive body to “consider targeted sanctions and visa bans on all politicians, officials and judges involved in the political persecutions.”MEP also urged the EU to “conduct a thorough investigation into the corruption allegations against President (Ilham) Aliyev and members of his family.”Baku said Friday it has decided to postpone the visit of a European Commission delegation which was due to arrive in Baku for talks on planned EU-Azerbaijan “strategic partnership” agreement.
2Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev on Friday kicked off the first of a series of events commemorating the 550th anniversary of the Kazakh Khanate, the roots of present-day Kazakhstan.Speaking at the Palace of Independence, Nazarbayev paid tribute to the ancestors who laid the country’s foundations through the khanate (political entity ruled by a khan) of Kazakh.The Kazakh Khanate was founded in 1465 in Tazar, southern Kazakhstan, by a joining of the tribes of Janybek Khan and Kerey Khan and endured until it was absorbed by the Russian Empire in the mid-19th century.The president stressed the need to know the past in order to “respect and interpret the present.”Nazarbayev said that Kazakh means “free,” “a freedom that characterizes the Kazakhs,” a people made up of more than 130 ethnic groups, among which he highlighted “Russians, Ukrainians, Belarusians and Uzbeks.”
3The European Commission estimates that Iran could become a major natural gas supplier to the European Union by the next decade, a new report says. According to an EU official, cited by the Wall Street Journal, the bloc could import up to 35 billion cubic meters of gas a year from Iran by 2030 that would help reduce dependence on Russian shipments.The conclusion of nuclear talks with Iran has set off a race among the Europeans to search for new business opportunities in the energy-rich country which owns the world’s largest natural gas reserves.According to the Journal, EU Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete met representatives of major European energy companies last week to encourage them “to actively pursue ties in Iran”.
4Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said his country was moving towards peace with Russia. According to Poroshenko, he had been working “day and night” in the last 15 months since Ukraine clashed with Russia. While he does not want to dream about peace yet, he said there was “a change in tactics.”“We know where the Russians and their proxies are still hiding their weapons, their tanks and their artillery – for now the order has been given to cease fire, but for how long?” the Ukrainian president told The Independent. “This is not the end of the war, but instead a change in tactics.” Russian news agency Tass reported that the Ukrainian defense ministry and the general headquarters had started the process of demobilization in September upon Poroshenko’s order.
5The energy-rich Azerbaijan is expected to slightly increase oil production by late 2015.The country’s oil production will hit 0.88 million barrels a day in the third and fourth quarters of the year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s Short-Term Energy Outlook.The country’s oil production stood at 0.86 million barrels a day in the first quarter and 0.87 million barrels a day in the second quarter of this year, according to the EIA’s forecasts.
6The European Parliament has carried out another political campaign against Azerbaijan. During the meeting on Sept.10, the rules of etiquette were violated, and slanderous statements were made against Azerbaijan, Speaker of the Azerbaijani Milli Majlis (Parliament) Ogtay Asadov said at the parliament’s extraordinary session on Sept.14.The European Parliament’s resolution is fully biased and fictitious, the speaker said, adding organization’s previous meetings were attended by 50-60 deputies, but this time more than 600 deputies were involved in the meeting on Sept.10. Asadov said over the past two years the European Parliament has adopted a number of biased documents against Azerbaijan. “We were silent for a long time. However, it is impossible to be silent. This time, Europe has broken all the rules of conduct,” noted the speaker. Morover, Asadov said that the parliament will appeal to the Cabinet of Ministers to reconsider Azerbaijan’s cooperation with Euronest.
7Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev signed off on daughter Dariga’s appointment as deputy-prime minister Friday, in a move that could be linked to the ex-Soviet republic’s looming succession issue. Nazarbayeva, 52, was an MP and vice-speaker of the Kazakh parliament before the Friday decree. Her appointment to the position comes months after Nazarbayev secured a new five-year term in April presidential elections many believe were his last.
8With China slowing down, Russia is trying to sell its oil to India. “With the China story fizzling out, Russia is now planning to build up its presence in China’s neighbor India. With huge internal energy consumption and a bustling economy, India is set to grow faster than China in 2015 and 2016 according to the recent projections from the IMF.After China, India is the next best logical alternative for Russia to strengthen its Asian ties and move away from western sanctions” Gaurav Agnihotri –Oilprice.com
9Azerbaijan’s state energy company SOCAR is interested in establishing a full-scale cooperation with Turkmenistan – a reliable and promising partner, which has huge energy resources and economic potential. This was stated at a meeting held between Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov and President of Azerbaijan’s state energy company SOCAR Rovnag Abdullayev in Turkmenistan’s national tourism zone Avaza on September 11.The sides discussed cooperation issues between the two countries in the fuel-energy, transport and communication sectors.
10The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said it will not monitor Azerbaijan’s November parliamentary election because restrictions imposed by authorities have rendered credible poll monitoring impossible. Azeris are due to vote for the new parliament on Nov. 1. Previous elections in the ex-Soviet state, led by President Ilham Aliyev for the last 12 years, have been criticized by international observers. “The restriction on the number of observers taking part would make it impossible for the mission to carry out effective and credible election observation,” Michael Georg Link, Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), said in a press release on the OSCE website.
Guterres: Korean nuclear crisis, Middle East quagmire eroding global security
“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.”
Supporting tourism development in Africa through better measurement
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.
Causes of Rohingya refugee crisis originate in Myanmar- solutions must be found there
“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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