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What Obama can learn from Vladimir Putin

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

1Obama should ask himself one basic question: Would the United States benefit from diplomatic engagement from Russia? Looked at from this perspective, it’s obvious that the answer is yes. In a number of global trouble spots, including Syria, Ukraine and others, the two powers’ interests potentially overlap in a number of ways. The reality is that in the last decade, from Iraq to Libya and Syria to Ukraine, the United States has consistently misjudged its ability to control and manage events on its own. It’s now time for Obama to bite the bullet, meet Putin, and see if any concrete scope for furthering American national interests via engagement with Russia exists. Josh Cohen –Reuters

2Wanting Peace, Preparing for War:The Military Issue. “Diplomacy and politics are still the chief tools of the trade for how Caspian littorals try to remedy their problems, both with each other and with external nations. This is a good thing. But it does not mean no Caspian state is prepared to go to war or is unwilling to wage it. This issue proves that supposition false and misleading. Thus, Modern Diplomacy offers this edition with the expectation that better information leads to greater understanding. And it is only better understanding that can ensure the limitation of misperception, that one eternal flaw that always seems to weigh heavily on the initiation of war” Read the new issue of The Caspian Project

3President Bashar al-Assad’s key backers declared victory on Sunday night after Western leaders who had previously backed Syrian rebels, including David Cameron, said they accepted he would stay in power, at least for the time being. Speaking to reporters on his way to attend the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Cameron said Mr Assad had no “long-term” future but suggested he could remain in place during a transition period. Germany and America have also talked up the possibility of keeping him in place in a deal to end the four-year Syrian civil war and help defeat Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

4Political divisions prevent the global community from reversing the rise of the Islamic State group, Kazakhstan’s top diplomat said, urging world leaders to unite efforts to combat extremism. Foreign Minister Erlan Idrissov said in an interview with The Associated Press on Saturday night that his country was until recently “100 percent immune from fundamentalism and extremism,” but prosperity and growth had made it easier for what he called “crazy, extreme ideas” to take root in some parts of the population. He said it was “a culture shock” that estimated 200 Kazakh nationals are now fighting in Syria. Describing political divisions as a key impediment to overcoming the threat posed by Islamic State, Idrissov called on major international players to come together to fight the organization that controls a third of Syria and Iraq and has spread to North Africa, the Sinai and Afghanistan. He said it was unimaginable that the United States, China, Russia and Europe were unable to “overcome a relatively small group.”

5The 3rd Azerbaijan and Caspian Sea Oil and Gas Week has kicked off in Baku, on September 28. Over 250 delegates and more than 30 high-level speakers attend the event organized by the Oliver Kinross, a business research organization operating in the UK. Oil and gas week aims to create conditions for using new business opportunities for oil and gas corporations, government officials, experts. The main topic of the event is development, opportunities and problems of Azerbaijan and CIS countries. An exhibition of modern industrial technologies and services has been organized within the Oil and Gas Week.

6Vast oil and gas reserves in the Caspian Sea region and its potential to supply the world energy market make this area relevant for investments, John W. Harkins, chief executive officer and president of Greenfields Petroleum Corporationbsaid. He made the remarks addressing the 3rd Azerbaijan and Caspian Sea Oil and Gas Week 2015 in Baku Sept.28. In particular, Azerbaijan has proved to be relevant economically and politically in the world energy markets, Harkins added.“Azerbaijan is poised to be a transportation hub for oil and gas,” he said.The Southern Gas Corridor will allow Europe to diversify its hydrocarbon supply sources and strengthen energy security and also will allow Azerbaijan to obtain a new market in Europe.

7Why Kazakhstan Is Running for a Non-Permanent Seat on the UN Security Council. No UN member state from Central Asia has ever sat on the UNSC. Time to correct this oversight. Kazakhstan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Erlan Idrissov –The Diplomat

8A plant for producing gasoline from natural gas is under construction in Turkmenistan’s Ahal province. The enterprise supplied with the latest technology will annually process 1.782 billion cubic meters of natural gas and produce 600,000 tons of A-92 gasoline meeting the highest environmental requirements on Euro-5 standard. This industrial facility will be the first gas chemical complex in the world producing high quality, environmentally friendly gasoline from processing natural gas, once commissioned in 2018, this facility will allow to create 800 new jobs.

9The PACE Bureau held its meeting on the first day of the autumn session on Monday. The issue of sending an observation mission for the parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan was discussed at the meeting. After long discussions, the participants – 17 of them in favor of and 10 against the decision – agreed on sending a 32-person delegation led by Jordi Chukla, a Spanish parliamentarian, to Azerbaijan. The decision is expected to be approved at the plenary meeting of the PACE session.

10Oil Dependency No More: Iran Goes for Taxation, Resists Oil Curse. “Tax overtakes oil in providing more revenues in Iran, promising to lead to the country’s new economic growth. Oil appears to have been downgraded in its position as the main source of the Iranian government’ revenues for the first time since the 1960’s, a sign the country is getting rid of the ‘oil curse’ thanks to a ‘tax revolution’ launched by President Hassan Rouhani” Sputniknews

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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