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The U.N. is turning 70, but Obama and Putin might spoil the party

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

1The annual General Assembly session is expected to draw more world leaders than ever before. Pope Francis will speak at the U.N. on Friday morning before many heads of state even arrive. But the main event will come Monday when Obama, Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping and other world leaders take turns on the podium to begin a debate on how to end Syria’s bloodletting, battle the violent extremist groups emerging from it and stem the flood of refugees and economic migrants flowing from it. At the center will be Putin, whom the West has tried to isolate for the last year for his aggressive support of armed separatists in eastern Ukraine. Paul Richter and Christi Parsons –Los Angeles Times

2Syria: As the West dithers, Putin makes his move. “As we have seen in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, Mr Putin is not shy about using military force when it suits his geo-political agenda. And with President Bashar al-Assad’s regime reportedly on the brink of collapse, the Russian leader has clearly decided that the deployment of Russian warplanes and armoured vehicles is vital to prevent the Syrian capital falling into the hands of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) militants, with all the implications that would have for the region” Telegraph

3Tehran continues its efforts on connection of Iranian Astara to the railway network of Azerbaijan. Oxu.Az reports with reference to the “News of the Caucasus” that the governor of the province of Gilan Mohammed Ali Najaf. According to him, the policy of the government of Iran is aimed at comprehensive development of the country in view of the potential of different regions. Speaking about the project for the construction of the railway Rasht – Astara, which is implemented by the order of the Iranian president, the governor pointed out that in this regard, Azerbaijan has agreed to extend its railroad to 8 km, which will allow to link its railway network to Astara. At that the improvement of customs service, sea port and special economic zone in Iranian Astara continues.

4Russia planning military drills in eastern Mediterranean. The Russian defence ministry on Thursday said it was conducting drills involving a guided missile cruiser in the eastern Mediterranean, which could be near the Syrian coast. Pre-empting possible questions about the sensitive timing of such manoeuvres, the ministry said Russia always holds an array of military drills at this time of the year and that the government approved the Mediterranean manoeuvres a year ago.

5Chessboard Strategy: Russia and UN Resolution 2117. “Two notable sectors were kept under government control: the energy and defense-related sectors. The purpose of this brief paper is to examine the current actions of Russian approaches to influence the transnational weapons market throughout the Caucasus, Central Asia, and the Middle East. This will be accomplished through critically analyzing Russia’s actions associated with U.N. resolution 2117, where it abstained from voting and honored instead an arms sale plan with Iran, shipping a modern-day missile-defense system, and a recent sale to Iraq that provided fighter jets for the fight against DAESH” ZR–Modern Diplomacy

6Here are the winners and losers of Iran’s return to the oil market. “Although the Iranian sanctions will probably only start to be lifted by spring next year, there is one nation particularly eager to see sanctions removed: South Africa.”We are definitely negotiating and looking at when to fully resume oil imports from Iran. For South Africa, if there’s a process of doing that lawfully, tomorrow we will do it, if there are no obstacles to that,” said Nomaindia Mfeketo, South Africa’s deputy foreign minister. As the second-largest economy on the continent, South Africa also has the highest rate of energy consumption. In the year 2014, South Africa imported close to 425,000 barrels of crude oil. Until 2011, Iran was South Africa’s largest supplier of crude oil, contributing around 25 percent of its total crude oil imports” Gaurav Agnihotri –OilPrice.com

7Azerbaijan has left Europe behind in the implementation of energy projects and launched the TANAP project, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Sept. 25. He made the remarks while answering questions of reporters, according to the Turkish TRT Haber TV channel.Erdogan went on to add that while Europe remained inactive regarding the Nabucco project, Azerbaijan has successfully launched the TANAP project in which Turkey has its share as well.

8Leaving the Euronest: Why Azerbaijan is Unhappy. “When the Euronest decided to hold the 2015 session in Armenia, it left Azerbaijan feeling like it had no place within the assembly. Azerbaijan did not understand how the Euronest would claim such atrocities committed by the Azeris while turning a blind eye toward the Armenians’ bad behavior and even giving them a great honor by holding the next session in their state” Dayna Rice –Modern Diplomacy

9Kazakhstan’s oil dreams. “Just a few years ago, Kazakhstan had ambitious plans to join the world top ten oil-producing countries. However, it seems that these plans are destined to remain unfulfilled. At present, oil production is not expected to be increased in the country. On the contrary, for several consecutive years, oil production has been slowly but steadily falling in Kazakhstan” Elena Kosolapova –Trend.

10The world’s largest gas-chemical complex is being constructed in the territory of the Derveze District of Turkmenistan’s Akhal province.The facility, equipped with the latest technologies from the famous Danish Haldor Topsoe Company, will annually recycle 1.782 billion cubic meters of natural gas and produce 600,000 tons of gasoline of the A-92 brand, which will meet the ecological requirements of the Euro-5 standard.The commissioning of the complex in 2018 will create about 800 new jobs, according to Turkmen media.The construction of the complex is being conducted by Turkmenistan’s State Concern Turkmengaz and a consortium created by the Japanese Kawasaki Company and Turkish Rönesans Holding.

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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Mexico officially joins IEA: First member in Latin America

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Mexico officially became the International Energy Agency’s 30th member country on 17 February 2018, and its first member in Latin America. The membership came after the signed IEA treaty (the IEP Agreement) was deposited with the government of Belgium, which serves as the depository state, following ratification by the Mexican Senate.

Mexico’s accession is a cornerstone of the IEA’s on-going modernization strategy, including “opening the doors” of the IEA to engage more deeply with emerging economies and the key energy players of Latin America, Asia and Africa, towards a secure, sustainable and affordable energy future.

The IEA Family of 30 Member countries and seven Association countries now accounts for more than 70% of global energy consumption, up from less than 40% in 2015.

“With this final step, Mexico enters the most important energy forum in the world,” said Joaquín Coldwell, Mexico’s Secretary of Energy. “We will take our part in setting the world’s energy policies, receive experienced advisory in best international practices, and participate in emergency response exercises.”

“It is a historic day because we welcome our first Latin American member country, with more than 120 million inhabitants, an important oil producer, and a weighty voice in global energy,” said Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA’s Executive Director. “The ambitious and successful energy reforms of recent years have put Mexico firmly on the global energy policy map.”

At the last IEA Ministerial Meeting, held in Paris in November 2017, ministers representing the IEA’s member countries unanimously endorsed the rapid steps Mexico was taking to become the next member of the IEA, providing a major boost for global energy governance.

They recognized that Mexico had taken all necessary steps in record time to meet international membership requirements since its initial expression of interest in November 2015. In December, the Mexican Senate ratified the IEP Agreement paving the way for the deposit of the accession instrument and for membership to take effect.

Mexico is the world’s 15th-largest economy and 12th-largest oil producer, and has some of the world’s best renewable energy resources. The IEA family will benefit greatly from Mexico’s contribution on discussion about the world’s energy challenges. The IEA is delighted to continue supporting implementation of Mexico’s energy reform with technical expertise, and further intensifying the fruitful bilateral dialogue of energy policy best practice exchange.

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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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