Diplomacy came first, now it’s money’s turn

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

1Two months after Iran and six world powers signed a landmark nuclear agreement, foreign companies are seeking to secure a foothold in an economy bigger than Thailand’s and oil reserves rivaling those of Canada. With the nuclear accord all but certain to overcome domestic opposition in Iran and the U.S., scores of foreign investors are visiting Tehran to scour foropportunities to expand into one of the largest untapped frontier markets in the world. The agreement curbs Iran’s nuclear program in return for easing sanctions that have crippled its economy and cut off its banks from the international financial system.“Iran is a country that has great potential and hasn’t been tapped,” Sowmya Rajagopalan, an analyst at market researcher Frost & Sullivan in Chennai, India, who estimates the size of Iran’s healthcare industry at about $30 billion. “They want to grow economically, to be able to cater to their population, and also to export to African countries and other neighboring countries.” Bloomberg

2Satellite photos taken in mid-September and obtained by IHS Jane's show Russian forces developing two additional military facilities near Syria's Mediterranean coast, Rob Munks, editor of IHS Jane's Intelligence Review, said on Tuesday. Munks said the previously undisclosed work was taking place at a weapons storage facility and a military base north of Latakia, suggesting Russia is preparing to place troops at both locations. Russia has been dramatically increasing its forces at an air base south of Latakia, a stronghold of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, including positioning combat planes and helicopters as well as tanks and accommodation blocks.

3Pentagon officials planning for war with Russia – just in case. “For the first time since the Cold War ended, American officials are preparing contingency plans for war with Russia, Foreign Policy magazine reported Friday.The respected U.S.-based publication quoted current and former Pentagon officials who said the Department of Defense had begun to revisit long-abandoned strategies for armed conflict with the powerful nation. It comes five years after then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates dismissed any need for inclusion of battle with Russia in the Pentagon's long-term defense plan, and months into a heavy arms buildup near Russia's border in Eastern Europe” Chron.com

4Azerbaijan was in the spotlight of OSCE's Human Dimension Implementation Meeting (HDIM) that kicked off Monday, September 21 in Warsaw, Contact.az reports.At the meeting, the official representative of Azerbaijan and a number of NGO leaders characterized the criticism as “biased,” citing human rights abuses in Western Europe and the United States. They noted, in particular, the intolerance towards migrants and pressure on journalists.Although European politicians focused on a large-scale refugee influx from the Middle East and Asia to EU, more attention was paid to the human dimension of overriding principles: freedom of expression and freedom of information and the press.

5Astana-2 conference. Representatives of the Syrian opposition will hold a fresh round of consultations in the Kazakh capital, Astana, on October 2-4, a prominent opposition politican said Tuesday. "During a meeting with President Nazarbayev, I asked him about hosting a new round of talks in Astana," Randa Kassis, head of the Movement of the Pluralistic Society, told Sputnik. The conference will be mediated by Kazakh Deputy Foreign Minister Askar Musinov and director of the French Center for Political and Foreign Affairs Fabien Baussart.

6How will Greek election impact Azerbaijan’s TAP project ? The second appearance of the radical left party, however, may greatly differ from the first one. In particular, this concerns the economy and energy projects, including the main point of contact between Greece and Azerbaijan. Therefore, the main question arises. What should be expected from the Greek election towards the Azerbaijani energy projects? Maksim Tsurkov – Trend

7Launching the new Women in Business program in Kazakhstan, the EBRD is providing a local currency credit line for women entrepreneurs which will be on-lent via Bank CenterCredit, one of the EBRD’s partner banks in Kazakhstan. The 3.7 billion tenge financing package will support female entrepreneurship and participation in the economy by helping women-led small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to access finance, know-how and advice.

8In Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, the Legacy of Soviet Rule Endures. “Turkmenistan’s first president, Saparmurat Niyazov, made the same smooth transition from Communist Party first secretary to president, keeping a tight lid on his country of 5.1 million while cultivating a bizarre cult of personality. Before he died in 2006, he ordered the construction of his own mausoleum, next to a giant mosque, now guarded by the same kind of goose-stepping soldiers who keep watch over Lenin’s tomb on Red Square in Moscow” Celestine Bohlen, The New York Times

9Leading international publishing and research firm The Business Year (TBY) has recently appointed Anna Matskevits as CountryManager for The Business Year: Azerbaijan 2016.This annual publication, being developed in collaboration with the Administration of the President of Azerbaijan, aims to highlight the ongoing economic development and showcase the most exciting investment opportunities in the country.The 2016 edition will highlight the growing contribution of Azerbaijan’s non-oil sector and the important roles that technology and industry play in the Azerbaijan economy. This special edition of TBY will also be showcasing the Formula One Grand Prix, which will take place in Baku in the summer of 2016. This huge event, coming a year after the success of the 2015 European Games in Baku, will attract racing aficionados from all over the world.

10Azerbaijan is leading the region in fixed broadband Internet, says a report from the International Telecommunication Union. The country is in 52th place among 189 countries in fixed broadband internet, according to the ITU report. The “State of broadband 2015” report, published on September 22, provides data on the telecom industry for 2014. Azerbaijan has improved its position by six points from 2011. ITU said that there are 19.8 Internet connections for every 100 people in Azerbaijan.

Dimitris Giannakopoulos

Modern Diplomacy Editor-in-chief

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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