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Eastern Partnership summit, Astana Economic Forum and more

Dimitris Giannakopoulos

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The 10 most important things you need to know on Caspian Sea Region for Friday, May 22.

1Riga. EU leaders meet representatives of the Eastern Partnership partner countries at the fourth Eastern Partnership summit in Riga to reconfirm the importance the EU attaches to its Eastern Partnership.

2Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has called on Russia to further help his country in the battle against Takfiri ISIL terror group, saying terrorism poses a serious threat to the security of all its neighboring states. Abadi also said he decided to go ahead with his visit to Russia “despite recommendations by some forces to cancel this trip. We highly value relations with Russia and consider them promising, and I think our visit directly proves this,” he went on to say. Medvedev, for his part, voiced Moscow’s readiness to boost ties with Baghdad, saying, “We are glad to support and advance cooperation with Iraq at the government level.”

3“As long as Russia does not commit itself, and act according to, the fundamental values of international law, a return to the G8 format is unimaginable for us,” Merkel said. “The G8 is an informal club, no one gives out membership cards and no one can expel members,” Lavrov said, in an apparent response to Merkel’s comments.

4Avaza gas congress. Mukhammetnur Khalylov, Turkmenistan’s oil and gas industry and mineral resources minister: “Thanks to the Turkmen geologists’ discovery of gas fields that are unique for their reserves, the country’s potential hydrocarbon resources today stand at 71.2 billion metric tons of oil equivalent, of which 53 billion metric tons account for the onshore, and 18.2 billion metric tons for the offshore areas” Today, Turkmenistan, in terms of the size of proven gas reserves, ranks fourth in the world.

5Asian Development Bank (ADB) Vice-President Wencai Zhang is in Kazakhstan for a 2-day visit where he has been holding talks with government officials on partnership opportunities. He also delivered the keynote address at the 8th Astana Economic Forum. “ADB will continue to support the Government of Kazakhstan’s development agenda through appropriate investment projects under the Partnership Framework Arrangement signed in May 2014,” said Mr. Zhang. “We will also pursue further knowledge cooperation to enhance the efficiency and competitiveness of the country’s economy.”

6“Some circles in the West, Europe don’t demonstrate fair approach toward Azerbaijan” said Novruz Mammadov, Deputy Head of the Azerbaijani Presidential Administration, Head of the Administration’s Foreign Relations Department.“An organized and coordinated campaign is being held against Azerbaijan on some issues. Within a few weeks, there were a number of various processes, hearings, media reports, TV programs which do not reflect the real situation. The Azerbaijani side promptly responds and will respond to it,” he added.

7U.S. President Barack Obama sees a nuclear deal being negotiated with Iran as a key part of his legacy, stressing in an interview with Atlantic magazine May 21 that his reputation is on the line should Iran acquire a nuclear weapon. “Look, 20 years from now, I’m still going to be around, God willing. If Iran has a nuclear weapon, it’s my name on this,” Obama said.

8Iranian Minister of Cooperative, Labor, and Social Welfare Ali Rabiei has expressed hope that the country would be able to import water from Georgia. During a meeting with Giorgi Kvirikashvili, Georgia’s Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development, also signed a memorandum of understanding. He also pointed out that transiting Iranian gas via Georgian soil is possible, adding that doing so will benefit regional countries. Bilateral trade between the two countries stands at $200 million annually, and there is potential to increase it.

9Azerbaijan, Georgia discuss issues of cooperation in military sphere

10Eradicating chronic hunger and malnutrition worldwide will require the collaboration of both developed and emerging economies, and Kazakhstan is well positioned for leadership in this area. These were among the points highlighted by FAO Director-General Jose’ Graziano da Silva as he addressed the VIII Astana Economic Forum today. Kazakhstan is a key grain producer and exporter in the region, significantly contributing to the food security of neighboring countries. It participates in the FAO-based Agriculture Market Information System (AMIS) under the aegis of the G20, and is a member of the Eurasian Economic Union which has set food security as a key area of interest. It played a leadership role in developing a regional food bank.

 

ANALYSIS

Russia and Ukraine Battling for Historical Truth

“The use of historical facts is a long applied instrument for fueling an entire political context, usually with quite material consequences. In fact, turning the status of Crimea into the historical center of Russian statehood may create a stumbling block during zero-sum international negotiations” writes Ekaterina Chimiris for RIAC.

Azerbaijan: What awaits beyond sticks and carrots

“When it comes to Azerbaijan, the country has many different aspects of applicable power tactics. Since hard power relies on displays of military might and economic strength, we can argue that Azerbaijan displayed both in the armed conflict over the Nagorno- Karabakh region with neighbouring Armenia” writes Petra Posega for Modern Diplomacy

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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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The COVID-19 Shock to Kazakhstan’s Economy Largest in Two Decades

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For the first time since the late 1990s Kazakhstan’s economy is expected to contract by projected 3 percent in 2020 with a moderate recovery by 2.5 percent in 2021, according to the World Bank’s latest Kazakhstan Economic Update (Summer 2020) – Navigating the Crisis report.

Although Kazakhstan’s GDP showed mild growth at 2.3 percent in the first quarter, economic activities weakened in the following months as commodity prices dropped, trade declined, and COVID-19 preventive measures slowed economic activity. Consumer demand showed moderate growth at  at 1.2 percent,  reflecting growing concerns over COVID-19 and the restriction measures. Investment is expected to ease to 1.0 percent annually, supported mostly by the on-going foreign direct investments into the oil and gas industry and residential construction. Supply disruptions and currency depreciation pushed up inflation to above the upper bound of the National Bank target range.

“The authorities acted early to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, and the accumulated fiscal buffers allow the government to introduce a relief package to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 on the economy,” said Sjamsu Rahardja, Senior Country Economist, World Bank in Kazakhstan. “Weak demand and oil prices, as well as the protacted pandemic expose significant risks to the economic outlook. Authorities may want to consider using the available resources to provide relief to the poor and vulnerable, protect productive assets, and introduce reforms to sustain economic recovery.”

A prolonged crisis is likely to increase poverty and can increase inequality in Kazakhstan. Preliminary estimates suggest that poverty rate may rise in 2020 from a projected 8.3 to 12.7 percent – equating to more than 800 thousand additional people living in poverty. The shock to the labor market in Kazakhstan due to both the pandemic and the mitigation measures, is expected to have severe implications for jobs, particularly in sectors that employ low-skilled workers.

The report also argues that COVID-19 has a negative impact on human capital development in Kazakhstan. Unequal access to quality education, especially during lockdown, can negatively impact human capital development for the poor. School closures could result in learning loss of more than one-third of a school year and the impact could mean a decline in the Program for International Student Assessement (PISA) points. As most students in the country currently perform around the threshold for functional literacy and assuming some will lose more than others, the estimates suggest that the percentage of students performing below functional literacy will increase by 3 percentage points (from 64 to 67 percent).

“The impact of COVID-19 on education and learning losses will have a decades-long impact on the economy by an estimated 2.9 percent, amounting to an overall economic loss of up to $1.9 billion every year”, says Jean-Francois Marteau, World Bank Country Manager for Kazakhstan.  “A focus on improving access to quality education, including distance learning, would be important to prevent a decline in the quality of human capital, especially among Kazakhstan’s low-income population.”

The report concludes that under the risk of a prolonged slump in the global oil market, Kazakhstan’s pathway for a resilient recovery may focus on strengthening the effectiveness of public administration and services, including the use of e-platforms to deliver key public services, better tax administration, and a mechanism to review and redeploy fiscal resources toward better state programs. A renewed emphasis on reforms in the logistics, digital telecommunications, and financial sectors could help the overall private sector explore new opportunities.

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China-Eurasia Council condemns aggression of Azerbaijan

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China-Eurasia Council for Political and Strategic Research strongly condemns Azerbaijani aggression which Baku started on July 12, 2020.  Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense is a threat for the entire World as it is speaking about its aims to strike Metsamor Nuclear Plant, which is located in Armenia. Baku must understand that this is a crime against humanity, and it is equal to nuclear strike.The destruction of Metsamor Nuclear plant will be a disaster not only for Armenia, but also for Iran, Georgia and Azerbaijan, it will harm World’s environment and stand a real problem for several generations of the World. It is worth mentioning, that this time Baku attacked the Northern borders of Armenia, which are sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia according to International law. Azerbaijan violated the principle of territorial integrity of a sovereign state, which is one of the important pillars of International law.

China-Eurasia Council for Political and Strategic Research condemns Azerbaijan for using force against civilian population of Armenia and calls for peaceful negotiations. Baku must show solidarity and join global ceasefire initiated by the UN secretary general Antonio Guterres and must not try to escalate the situation on the border to deflect public attention from the situation concerning the outbreak of Covid-19 in Azerbaijan. We call official Baku to take care of Azerbaijani people in the hard times of Coronavirus and not send its soldiers to real death.  Being multinational Council, for us It’s terrible to hear about lossfrom both sides and we express our sincere condolences. Hopefully peace will come to South Caucasus, which is an important crossroad in Eurasian mainland and it can stand a very important link for Belt and Road Initiative, if all problems solved in a peaceful way.

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Condemnation Of Armenian Aggression By Friends Of Azerbaijan (FoA)

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Friends of Azerbaijan (FoA) strongly condemns the coward act of Armenians aggression in the Tovuz district of Azerbaijan that is a sheer violation of international borders and law. The act is an attempt of Armenia to drive global attention from the peaceful dialogue and negotiation process on Nagorno Karabakh.

In an online meeting of the delegates of the Friends of Azerbaijan (FoA), a joint declaration of condemnation has been issued by the honorable members of Friends of Azerbaijan (FoA). 

According to this declaration, Armenian aggression can jeopardize the whole South Caucasus region. The incident on July 12, 2020, is being considered as a direct attack on Azerbaijan and the repercussions of this incident can result in massive catastrophe in the entire region.


The delegates of Friends of Azerbaijan (FoA) stressed the global powers to come forward and take serious action on Armenian intervention by violating the international border of Azerbaijan. The act of Armenia is an open challenge to the sovereignty of Azerbaijan.

Malik Ayub Sumbal founder of Friends of Azerbaijan (FoA) termed that Armenia is losing its legal and moral position on Nagorno Karabakh and there is mounting pressure on Armenia by the international community for the peaceful solution of Nagorno Karabakh according to the UN Resolutions. At this time to get rid of such kind of diplomatic moves, Armenia has launched another major front in Tovuz. 

When the whole world is busy against the Covid19 Armenian Prime Minister has chosen a very dangerous path that can take the whole region into war and bloodshed. 

Friends of Azerbijan (FoA) is firmly standing with shoulder by shoulder to the people of Azerbaijan and martyr’s families at this hour.

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