The 10 most important things you need to know on Caspian Sea Region for Thursday, May 28:
1Azerbaijan celebrates 28 May – Republic Day. Azerbaijan is marking one of the most striking and significant days in its history – the creation of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, which was the first secular republic in the Muslim East.
2Ilham Aliyev: “The rich gas resources of Azerbaijan will provide us and our partners at least for 100 years”. President expressed his hope that no artificial obstacles to TAP – the Trans Adriatic project will arise: “As if such obstacles appear, in this case, there will not be the winning party, of course. I should also note that the rich gas resources of Azerbaijan will provide us and our partners at least for 100 years. Of course, concrete measures are taken for our market entry. If there is problem with TAP project, then we will export our gas to the Turkish market mainly. Anyway, I should note that we have no concern about the markets. Just all TAP participants should act responsibly and not to create artificial problems. In the future, of course, our strategic goal is the full implementation of the Southern Gas Corridor, together with the development of “Shah Deniz” gas field.”
3Building the New Silk Road. China has multiple reasons for pursuing the New Silk Road. Xi has promoted a vision of a more assertive China, while the “new normal” of slowing growth puts pressure on the country’s leadership to open new markets for its consumer goods and excess industrial capacity. Promoting economic development in the troubled western province of Xinjiang, where separatist violence has been on the upswing, is another major concern, as is securing long-term energy supplies. China’s strategy is conceived as a two-pronged effort. The first focuses on overland infrastructure development through Central Asia—the “Silk Road Economic Belt”—while the second foresees the expansion of maritime shipping routes through the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf—the “Maritime Silk Road.” In 2013, Xi told an audience in Kazakhstan that he wants to create a vast network of railways, energy pipelines, highways, and streamlined border crossings, both westward—through the mountainous former Soviet republics—and southward, toward Pakistan, India, and the rest of Southeast Asia. Writes James McBride for the Council on Foreign Relations.
4Russian gas industry looks east to strengthen position. “Russia has been talking to China for 10 years about exporting gas, but for various reasons they couldn’t find alignment,” says John Lough, of the Chatham House. “It has not been prepared to go the last mile, but the pressure to sidle up to China has now increased.” Feeling ever more isolated in Europe and suffering from wider economic sanctions, Russia signed two significant gas deals with China last year. The first, worth $400bn at the time, provides for 38bcm a year from 2018. Construction of the pipeline to transport the gas from East Siberia began in September. A provisional deal for a further 30bcm was signed a month later, with gas potentially being delivered from West Siberia through the Altai region in southern Russia. Writes Richard Anderson for the BBC
5Venezuela and Russia gave new impetus on Wednesday to their strategic cooperation as Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez concluded a visit to Moscow. Relations between the two countries have matured over the past 11 years in all areas, Rodriguez said after meeting with Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov. Venezuela and Russia are cooperating in the construction of a “new geopolitical order,” she said, highlighting the role of the BRICS group: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Military and technical cooperation and agriculture are among the focal areas for Russian participation, according to Rodriguez. Ties with Latin America are a priority for Moscow, Lavrov said, expressing appreciation for Venezuela’s support of a proposed mechanism to establish constant dialogue between Russia and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States.[Latin American Herald Tribune]
6Kazakhstan is interested in Croatia’s military industry, Croatian Defence Minister Ante Kotromanovic said on Wednesday in Astana where he arrived for a visit to Kazakhstan. Kotromanovic, held talks with his Kazakh counterpart Imangali Tasmagambetov on bilateral defence cooperation notably in the defence industry. The talks also revolved around security cooperation and cooperation within NATO, the Croatian Defence Ministry stated in a press release. Croatia and Kazakhstan are keen to advance the relations and intensify cooperation in all sectors, including the defence industry, training and education and economic cooperation, Kotromanovic was quoted as saying. He praised Kazakhstan for its impressive development and attraction of foreign investments. He and the Kazakh defence minister signed a memorandum of cooperation in the defence sector. [dalje.com]
7Stress Tests for Kazakhstan.How can Kazakhstan maintain friendly ties with Russia and yet continue to build its own national identity? The International Crisis Group thinks that Astana should take a more ‘recognizable’ role in trying to resolve the Ukraine crisis, pursue a balanced foreign policy and perform several other steps. [International Crisis Group]
8Indonesia interested in boosting energy co-op with Azerbaijan. “Azerbaijan is an important trading partner of Indonesia, especially in the energy sector,” Economic Minister of Indonesia Sofyan Djalil said during Azerbaijan’s National Republic Day celebration at the JW Marriott Hotel in Jakarta.“We will soon send our energy and mineral resources minister to Azerbaijan to explore more opportunities and boost cooperation,” said the minister.
9“Russia’s nuclear saber-rattling is unjustified, destabilizing and dangerous,” NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said during public remarks at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “We learned during the Cold War that when it comes to nuclear weapons, caution, predictability and transparency are vital.”Moscow’s signaling that it would place nuclear-capable missile systems in Kaliningrad, the Russian exclave bordering Poland, and the Crimean Peninsula, “would fundamentally change the balance of security in Europe”, Stoltenberg said. He also warned of increased “provocative” flights by Russian nuclear-capable bombers from “Japan to Gibraltar” and “Crete to California,” saying Russia has stepped up its air activity by roughly 50 percent. [TURKISH WEEKLY]
10Foreign Ministers of Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Turkey Elmar Mammadyarov, Rashid Meredov and Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu held a trilateral meeting on the sidelines of the 42nd Foreign Ministerial Council of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. At the meeting the importance of trilateral meeting of Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Turkey was stressed in terms of development of regional cooperation. [apa.az]
The COVID-19 Shock to Kazakhstan’s Economy Largest in Two Decades
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.
China-Eurasia Council condemns aggression of Azerbaijan
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.
Condemnation Of Armenian Aggression By Friends Of Azerbaijan (FoA)
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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