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EU uses energy for political purposes in relations with Russia

Dimitris Giannakopoulos

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The 10 most important things you need to know on Caspian Sea Region for Wednesday, May 27:

1Azerbaijan’s prestige on the international arena is growing. Statements on the occasion of Republic Day. Vladimir Putin: “Azerbaijan is confidently moving forward on the path of socio-economic, scientific, technological and cultural development. I note with satisfaction the high level of Russian-Azerbaijani relations, which are based on strong traditions of friendship, good neighborliness and mutual respect. I am confident that through joint efforts we will ensure further expansion of constructive political dialogue, development of productive cooperation in all areas. This is in the vital interests of the people of our countries, and serves the strengthening of international stability and security”. Barack Obama: “Since Azerbaijan`s independence, the United States has strongly supported the security and democratic and economic development of Azerbaijan. We do so because we value our bilateral relationship and appreciate our partnership in many areas, including in promoting the peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, stability in Afghanistan, and European energy diversification.”

2“The world needs to realize that Russia plays an essential role in the global political process”, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev told Rossiya-24 television. “A country becomes a great power not because of its gas and oil riches… but because of its participation in global affairs in order to resolve problems that occur here and there in the world, to help promote peace around the world. Here, Russia’s role is indispensable, and the world needs to understand it. Russia has enough resources to cope with the repercussions of the Western economic sanctions.” he added.

3Tensions rise as Russia and Nato launch rival war games. About 250 aircraft and 12,000 servicemen will take part in Russian combat readiness drills over the Urals mountains and Siberia in what the country’s defence ministry has described as a “massive surprise inspection”. The snap exercises launched yesterday in Russia’s central military district began on the same day Nato launched its own long-planned exercises in the Arctic. About 100 aircraft and 4,000 servicemen will take part in “Arctic Challenge”, a Norwegian-led aviation exercise described as the “largest of its kind”. Dmitry Rogozin, the deputy prime minister with responsibility for defence, further raised tensions over the weekend when he joked on national television that “tanks don’t need visas”. The comment came in response to a question about US and EU sanctions and visa bans imposed on several prominent Russian politicians and businessmen. [Independent]

4Turkmenistan extends export of electricity. In order to increase the volume of electricity exported to Afghanistan, construction of an overhead transmission line with a voltage of 500 kilovolts is underway in Turkmenistan, which is currently in the final stage, said the message of the government of Turkmenistan May 27.“However, with the implementation of this ambitious project, the export of Turkmen electricity to Tajikistan and Pakistan via Afghanistan will become technically possible,” said the message.

5Kazakhstan’s energy sector is experiencing the growth in investments, according to a message from the analytical service, Ranking.kz. The analytical service said that since the start of realization of a program called “Tariff in Exchange for Investments” in 2009, the investments in the energy sector grew by over 2.5 times (264 percent). Among the sources for the investments to the fixed capital of Kazakhstan’s energy sector companies, two types of sources are distinguishable (they provided 87 percent of investments). These are the own funds of the market participants and the funds from the budget.

6“In Azerbaijan we don’t see an obstacle for bringing gas from Turkmenistan under the Caspian Sea”, Vitaly Baylarbayov, deputy Vice President of SOCAR told EurActiv online magazine in an exclusive interview. He was commenting on Russia’s possible obstruction of such a project, due to the unfinished delimitation of the Caspian Sea. “We recognize that the borders of the sectors between Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan have not been delimited,” he said. “But laying down a pipe doesn’t in any way interfere with the legal status. It doesn’t matter on which seabed the pipe is running, fees and taxes are not due offshore.”

7EU uses energy for political purposes in relations with Russia. Vladimir Chizhov, Russia’s envoy to the European Union, said on Wednesday that in its relations with Moscow the EU was doing exactly the same thing which Russia was usually accused of, namely using energy for political purposes.”There is every indication that the EU is trying to put into practice those things it used to accuse Russia of, namely the use of energy for political purposes,” said in an exclusive interview with TASS. “There is no other possible explanation for attempts to reduce Russia’s share in the EU’s energy balance at any cost,” he said. [TASS]

8Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has urged the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to take serious action to deal with problems facing the Muslim world, particularly the ongoing war in Yemen.“The Organization of Islamic Cooperation should seriously address this important issue of the Muslim world and bring Yemeni groups to the [negotiating] table to end this disaster,” Zarif said in a meeting with OIC Secretary General Iyad Ameen Madani in Kuwait City, the capital of Kuwait, on Tuesday.

9Tentative agreements, which could initiate the signing of a great peace agreement on the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, may have been reached at the talks in Moscow between the foreign ministers of Azerbaijan and Russia, Fikrat Sadikhov, the political scientist, professor of Azerbaijan’s Western Universiy, told Trend.az. “Russia understands Azerbaijan’s value as a key player in the region, an important partner, with which it is beneficial to cooperate,” he said.

10Kazakhstan Opening Itself to Africa. Kazakhstan is working to expand its cooperation with African nations across the board, Kazakh Minister of Foreign Affairs Erlan Idrissov told a number of African journalists who participated in the recent Astana Economic Forum. “The African continent is not the same as it was earlier. Everything is changing now,” said Idrissov. “Our country intends to further widen its presence through sub-regional centres of the continent.” he added. Africa has significant natural resources and a huge market for different industrial and agricultural goods. According to some respected international research centres, in the 21st century the African continent will occupy a leading position by its economic development temps and can become the most important commercial partner and economic destination for Kazakhstani businesses. Experts believe if the current development temps are constant by 2025, some African countries will reach a status of a state with an average population income. [The Astana Times]

 

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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Clean energy transition in Ukraine

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On 18 December 2018, the EU-Ukraine Renewable Energy Investment Forum takes place in Kyiv, co-organised by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Energy, Ukraine’s Parliament’s (Verkhovna Rada) Energy Committee, the Ukrainian State Agency on Energy Efficiency and Energy Saving, and Ukraine’s energy think-tank, Dixi Group.

The forum’s aim is to showcase the EU’s best practices on its uptake of renewable energy sources and discuss policy measures to boost the market and increase the share of renewables in Ukraine by 2020. The EU is leading the way in the global clean energy transition, in the process becoming the world number one in renewables. By agreeing in 2018 on ambitious renewable energy and energy efficiency targets and a new supporting regulatory framework, the EU is keeping its leadership role in the fight against climate change, and upholding its commitments under the Paris Agreement. In addition, the EU has now put on the table its long-term vision for 2050, aiming to become the world’s first major economy to go climate neutral by mid-century.

As Ukraine reforms its energy policy in line with the EU energy acquis, provided for in the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement and undertaken by Ukraine in the Energy Community Treaty, the Renewables Investment Forum is an excellent opportunity to discuss and share best practices from the EU as well as from other parts of the world. The event will gather some 200 key Ukrainian and European stakeholders working on energy policy and renewable energy policy in particular, as well as members of the international community active on renewable energy policy in Ukraine.

Speaking before the start of the forum, the European Commission Director-General for Energy, Dominique Ristori, said: “The EU’s vision to put Europe at the forefront of clean and renewable energy production and the fight against climate change is now becoming a reality. Our policies are accelerating public and private investment in renewables, creating jobs and growth, and enabling citizens to benefit from the transition to a modern and clean economy. Our Ukrainian partners have also come a long way in this path, and it is solid proof of the European commitment of the Ukrainian nation. I believe this event will be a catalyst to unlock all the potential Ukraine has in the field of renewable energy sources. In particular I hope the discussions will focus on innovative approaches on renewable energy and the use of cutting-edge technology.”

Head of the EU Delegation to Ukraine, Ambassador Hugues Mingarelli added: “Renewable energy will contribute to the establishment of a more competitive and sustainable electricity market in Ukraine. It will help reducing emissions and air pollution, and it will facilitate the integration with the EU electricity system. The European Union will continue to support the development of a sustainable electricity market in Ukraine, and I am convinced that this forum can make a very useful contribution on this way.”

On Ukrainian side, the Acting Head of Ukraine’s Parliament’s Energy Committee Oleksandr Dombrovskyi commenting on legislative initiatives aimed at boosting RES development in Ukraine noted: “Introduction of auction system will reduce the cost of “green” energy for consumers and will create the conditions for effective competition. Today, renewable energy sector in Ukraine is developing rapidly, especially this is relevant for solar and wind electricity generation. So, installed capacity of solar power stations at the end of the III quarter 2018 reached approximately 1100 MW, while at the end of 2014 it was at the level of 411 MW. Recently,   the cost of electricity generated from RES has been reduced in the world considerably as active development of technologies in this area contributes to making equipment cheaper. Therefore, the need in changing the approaches in support of RES generation in Ukraine has appeared. We have to define the new strategic horizons for planning and perspectives for Ukrainian and foreign investors. New support system, proposed in the text of our revised draft law shall balance the interests of electricity consumers and other market participants by providing further development of renewable energy sector and by reducing the growth of financial pressure on the end electricity price. The electricity price will be defined in the process of competition – from introduction of auctions the consumers, the participants of competitive market and investors will win“.

Head of the State Agency for Energy Efficiency and Energy Saving of Ukraine Sergiy Savchuk speaking about renewable energy status and results informed that: “Over the past 4 years, about 1.5 billion euros have been invested in new renewable energy projects in Ukraine. In particular, 1 billion euros are invested in more than 1000 MW of new renewable power generation and 460 million euros – in 2000 MW of new biomass-to-heat generation capacities.  It is a great contribution into energy independence and economic development of Ukrainian communities. Today, we continue improving the legislation with the aim to create favourable conditions for renewable energy development, attracting the best European experience“.

Among the main participants on the Ukrainian side were Vsevolod Kovalchuk, Acting CEO of Ukrenergo, and on the EU side, Gerassimos Thomas, Deputy Director-General, DG ENER.

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UNIDO, Italy support small manufacturers in Iran to comply with global environmental agreements

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The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and Iran’s National Ozone Unit (NOU) today organized a workshop in Tehran to formulate a technical and business strategy to support small manufacturers of refrigeration equipment and insulation material with the adoption of new ozone- and climate-friendly substances and technologies. This will contribute to Iran’s efforts to comply with its commitment, under the Montreal Protocol, to reduce its use of ozone-depleting substances – specifically, hydro-chlorofluorocarbons (HCFC) – commonly used in this sector.

Through the Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol, UNIDO and Italy assist small manufacturers of refrigeration equipment in Iran – ranging from small chillers to domestic and commercial-scale refrigerators – to adapt their manufacturing processes and products in compliance with the second stage of the HCFC phase-out plan set by the Iranian government.

During the workshop, technology suppliers explained how small manufacturers can continue their operations with alternative chemical substances, while maintaining safety. “The NOU will consider the outputs of this workshop in the national strategy, hoping to successfully meet challenges ahead, specifically for small and medium-sized enterprises,” said Medi Bakhshizade, project coordinator of Iran’s National Ozone Office.

Several alternatives to HCFCs are readily available, but some of them are known to have high global warming potentials (GWP). Under the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, a direct switch to natural refrigerants, which have zero ozone depleting potential (ODP) and low GWP, is encouraged.

In the case of Iran, the most promising alternative for small companies is cyclopentane, which could be locally produced if there is enough demand. However, the substance is high flammable, meaning new technical skills and safety installations and equipment would be required and these constitute a major financial barrier for small companies. Active cooperation between companies, local chemical formulators and technology suppliers could help tackle this barrier.

UNIDO project manager Fukuya Iino said, “UNIDO would like to promote energy-efficient technologies while phasing out HCFCs. Small companies are faced with challenges to adopt new technologies, and this is why we are asking possible technology suppliers to share their know-how with them.”

A number of technology and financing options to support small manufacturing companies were presented during the workshop. The event offered a platform for small beneficiary manufacturers, technology suppliers, chemical material formulators, governmental focal points, and other stakeholders, to share knowledge and develop partnerships.

Among participating speakers were technology suppliers from Italy (two), Australia (one) and Iran (one). Forty-five participants actively joined the discussion between speakers, panel members, and the audience.

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The Future of the Armenian-Chinese Relations

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December 13-16, 2018, Yerevan- leading scholars from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences were invited by the “China-Eurasia” Council for Political and Strategic Research, foundation to visit Armenia. Within the framework of the visit with their Armenian colleagues Dr. Xiao Bin, Dr. Bao Yi and Dr. Wu Hongwei participated in an academic seminar “China, Eurasia and Armenia: Views from Yerevan and Beijing.” It is worth mentioning that Chinese initiative “One Belt, One Road” provides a lot of opportunities to other states to get Chinese investments, but they are not any big Chinese investments in Armenia, even if we compare with other South Caucasian countries. Professor Wu Hongwei emphasized that the Chinese-Georgian relations have developed dynamically, and the Chinese side is making huge investments there. He expressed hopes that through the information and contacts with Armenian specialists obtained during the visit, it will be possible to draw new recommendations through which it will be possible to develop economic relations with Armenia. In turn, Dr. Bao Yi presented her research on China’s humanitarian cooperation with Central Asian countries and noted that this successful experience can also be used in the South Caucasus. Dr. Xiao Bing introduced his paper on promotion of the cooperation of international capacity under One Belt, One Road initiative in the era of technological transformation.

The head of the ARMACAD, Dr. Khachik Gevorgyan told  about the  prospects of the ARMACAD in the  development of Sino-Armenian academic relations in the framework of the One Belt, One Road.

The organizer of this academic event, Dr. Mher Sahakyan, head of the “China-Eurasia” Council for Political and Strategic Research, foundation, spoke about the prospects for the development of the Armenian-Chinese relations in the framework of the Chinese initiative. As he noted, if a branch of one of the leading Chinese banks opened or if Armenia and China establish a joint bank, the result will be significant financial investments in Armenia. The financial field of the country will be diversified, and if Dram-Renminbi conversion is implemented, bilateral trade between Armenia and China will be realized in their own currencies. He recommended, that Armenia can try to stand a Regional member of the Asian Infrastructure bank and after get sovereign backed or non-sovereign backed loans for its state-owned noncommercial organizations, private organizations, and international organizations which works in the territory of Armenia, that they invest this money in Armenian North-South Road Corridor, whichwill significantly enhance Armenia’s capabilities to be involved in the Silk Road Economic Belt’s China-Central Asia-West Asia Economic Belt. Armenia and China can also start cooperation in UN peacekeeping missions, as both states are interested in it.

Dr. Mher Sahakyan, also talked about the possibility of creating an Armenian-Chinese joint military-industrial center in Armenia, which will produce military robots, drones and so forth.

He also noted that Armenia can negotiate with China for its participation in the “Digital Silk Road,” Armenia and China can also cooperate on the research of the development of the 5G.

After the academic seminar Chinese and Armenian scholars agreed to strengthen cooperation between the Armenian Foundation “China-Eurasia” Council for Political and Strategic Research and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, to conduct joint research and make recommendations for the development of Armenian-Chinese relations.

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