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
1Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned about dangers of playing games with terrorists in his speech at the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly. He said that some countries tried to use terrorists for achieving their own goals in the hope of “dealing with them or ,in other words, liquidating them later. To those who do so I would like to say: dear Sirs, no doubt, you are dealing with rough and cruel people, but they are in no way primitive. They are just as clever as you are and you never know who is manipulating whom. The recent data on arms transfer to this most “moderate” opposition is the best proof of it.”We believe that any attempts to play games with terrorists, let alone to arm them, are not just short-sighted, but “fire-hazardous”. This may result in the global terrorist threat increasing dramatically and engulfing new regions. “We cannot allow these criminals who have already felt the smell of blood to return back home and continue their evil doings. No one wants this to happen, does he?” Putin said posing a rhetorical question.
2Russia’s fight in Syria reflects the Kremlin’s fears at home. Both Russia and the United States should face the fact that neither country’s policy is working. The fight in Syria has become a conflict between Assad’s struggling army and a collection of radical Islamic militant groups, of which Islamic State is the most dangerous. Some of these groups hate and fight each other, as well as Assad. But that does not make any of them palatable. The Assad regime’s collapse would be a big problem for Putin. Moscow increased its support for that brutal regime after the 2011 Syrian uprising. This was less out of love for Assad than because the Kremlin views Washington as the source of regional instability – orchestrating not only the Arab Spring but the other uprisings that brought down authoritarian leaders along Russia’s southern borders. Paul Stronski –Reuters
3Moody’s: Azerbaijan could benefit from lifted anti-Iranian sanctions. The nuclear deal and the associated lifting of economic and financial sanctions offer Azerbaijan the opportunity to boost foreign trade and investment with neighboring Iran, Moody’s Investors Service says in a report. According to the report, these new trade and investment opportunities could partially offset the credit negative effects: “The nuclear deal, potentially leading to lower oil prices and pressures on Azerbaijan’s government and export revenues.Thanks to its close geographic location and strong trade ties in the pre-sanctions period, Azerbaijan could benefit from a lifting of sanctions on Iran by increasing foreign trade and investment with its neighbor.
4Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbaev has urged the world to abandon nuclear weapons by the UN centenary in 2045. Addressing the UN General Assembly in New York on September 28, Nazarbaev said a world without nuclear weapons should become “the main goal of the humankind in the 21st century.” The president said Kazakhstan was the first country in history to close a nuclear site as it renounced the world’s fourth-largest nuclear arsenal. The weapons were part of the arsenal of the Soviet Union before it collapsed in 1991.Nazarbaev also urged the international community to find a swift resolution to the Ukrainian conflict and called for the “full implementation” of a cease-fire agreement reached in Minsk in February. Nazarbayev also proposed a “unified global network to counter international terrorism and extremism.”
5Turkmenistan has entered a new stage of strategic partnership with China by becoming its main gas supplier, according to the Turkmen Ministry of Oil and Mineral Resources. Turkmenistan had supplied more than 125 billion cubic meters of gas as of August of 2015 through the Turkmenistan-Uzbekistan-Kazakhstan-China gas pipeline, also known as the Central Asia-China Gas Pipeline. This is more than 35 percent of the total volume of Chinese natural gas purchased by the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) after the commissioning of the first two, A and B, segments of the gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to China through Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.
6Iranian’s U.N. Speech Appears to Favor Engagement. “President Hassan Rouhani of Iran suggested on Monday in his United Nations speech that the nuclear agreement with major powers including the United States had helped create the basis for a broader engagement, in what appeared to be a difference — in tone, at least — with his own leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei” Rick Gladstonesept –The New York Times
7OSCE chairperson-in-office, Serbia’s Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic met the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group Igor Popov of the Russian Federation, James Warlick of the United States of America, and Pierre Andrieu of France, and the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office, Ambassador Andrzej Kasprzyk, in New York, OSCE press-service reported Sept. 29. Ambassadors informed Dacic about the latest surge in violence and the talks they have held with Azerbaijani and Armenian officials since. He strongly condemned the recent escalation, offering his condolences to the families of the victims, appealing to all to show maximum restraint and work towards de-escalation. Dacic expressed his full support to the work of the OSCE Minsk Group, and reiterated their call for advancing negotiations on a lasting settlement for the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, as well as for implementing confidence-building measures.
8Head of Tehran Chamber of Commerce Masoud Khansari said Oman is interested to launch joint ventures with Iran in the strategic Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf. “Both sides can benefit from expansion of trade ties in this strait; Oman would be Iran’s gateway to African countries while Iran connects the Arab country to its other 15 neighbors such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, etc.,” Khansari said. He referred to the trade turnover between Iran and Oman during the past years, which stood at most at $400mln, and underlined that the amount should increase in future regarding the existing capacities. The Iranian official expressed content that construction of joint free and special zones in recent years has multiplied the opportunities for common investments between Tehran and Muscat since both enjoy tax exemption or even customs relief in such zones.
9Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev discussed issues of cooperation with major US companies. Nazarbayev met, in particular, with managers of the leading American companies, investment funds and financial institutions, such as the Guggenheim Partners LLC, JP Morgan, Pfizer, Blackstone, Cisco Systems and others, according to the press service of the president of Kazakhstan. The meeting reviewed the ways to increase the US companies’ participation in the further development of Kazakhstan’s economy and the possibilities to cooperate in creation of an international financial center in Astana. Nazarbayev drew the meeting participants’ attention to the fact that today the US companies are represented in almost all sectors of Kazakhstan’s economy, and urged the US side to assist the development of cooperation on a mutually beneficial ground.
10Azerbaijan and Serbia will establish a joint working group on cooperation in the information and communication technologies. The issue was discussed as part of the meeting between the Azerbaijani Minister of Communications and High Technologies Ali Abbasov and Serbian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications Rasim Ljajic, who is on visit to Baku as part of the IV meeting of the Joint Intergovernmental Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation. The sides agred to hold the first meeting of the working group in Belgrade, and the second meeting in Baku as part of the 21st international exhibition and conference Bakutel-2015 on December 2-5. The ministers expressed their interest in developing cooperation in the field of telecommunications and information technologies.
Mexico officially joins IEA: First member in Latin America
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.
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.
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