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NATO breaks treaty with Russia deploying troops in Latvia

Dimitris Giannakopoulos

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The 10 most important things you need to know on Caspian Sea Region for Friday, May 29:

1NATO breaks treaty with Russia deploying troops in Latvia. NATO forces will be deployed in Latvia, as NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander of Europe, Philip Breedlove claimed. The special request has been already approved by the Latvian government. Latvian Prime Minister, Laimota Straujuma confirmed the permanent presence of the NATO military force in the country. Lithuanian military spokesman Captain Mindaugas Neimontas said: “We are seeking a brigade-size unit so that every Baltic nation would have a battalion.” However, the deployment of permanent forces flies in the face of the Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security between NATO and the Russian Federation which was signed in Paris, France on 27 May 1997. It declared that “NATO and Russia do not consider each other as adversaries” and that the two parties will work together to prevent any potentially threatening build-up of conventional forces in agreed regions of Europe, to include Central and Eastern Europe. The Act states that NATO “will carry out its collective defense and other missions by ensuring the necessary interoperability, integration, and capability for reinforcement rather than by additional permanent stationing of substantial combat forces.” [PRAVDA]

2The new generation of Iranians, the real Islamic Republic that is far less Islamic than its rulers want and ambitious in a different way — not through making mischief or muscle flexing, but through higher education, ideas and its people’s hunger to be citizens of the world. Curious, wired, and desperate for normality, Iran’s youth — under-40s make up 60 per cent of the 80 million-strong population — have been taking the country in a direction that horrifies its rulers. The pace of change among them has been so fast and dramatic, particularly over the past decade, that Iran’s sociologists say they are still trying to understand them and Islamic leaders regularly blame the west for corrupting them,” writes Roula Khalaf for the Financial Times.

3Is Belarus and Russia’s ‘brotherly love’ coming to an end? “Belarusians now fear they’re trapped in a no-win situation: if Lukashenko cows to Moscow, Belarus could return to its place as a Russian frontier land, as it was during Soviet rule. But if Lukashenko tries to diversify his foreign policy and makes new friends in Europe, it’s possible the Kremlin could respond with aggression – both pose a threat to Belarus’s independence.” Writes Mikalai Anishchanka for the guardian.

4“100 Concrete Steps,” a plan to implement five reforms proposed by Nursultan Nazarbayev during his election campaign, has been released, Tengrinews reports. The five reforms, according to Nazarbayev, are Kazakhstan’s answer to the global and internal challenges. These reforms are called to help Kazakhstan join the club of 30 most developed countries of the world. These include formation of an effective state apparatus; ensuring rule of law; facilitating industrialization and economic growth; developing national identity and unity; and enhancing government accountability. In order to implement these reforms, the National Commission for Modernization was established. It is led by Prime Minister Karim Massimov. The commission is composed of five working groups consisting of domestic and foreign experts. [TENGRI NEWS]

5On May 28, the State Agency on Alternative and Renewable Energy Sources, SAARES conducted a full test of all stations in a wind park “Yeni Yashma” with a capacity of 59 MW in the Khizi region and launched a wind turbine with a capacity of 2.5 MW, APA reports.The wind turbine, which was launched on the Republic Day, has already started to transfer electricity, generated from wind power, into the general power grid of the Republic. In the near future a wind park “Yeni Yashma” will be connected into the electrical grid of the country.

6Gazprom Retreats on Europe Export Outlook as Russian ADRs Drop. Gazprom, Russia’s biggest company, fell after the Economy Ministry said the state-controlled natural gas producer will probably see lower gains in Europe, its biggest market, for at least four years amid lower prices and increasing competition. Brent crude, the oil grade traders use to price Russia’s main export blend, rose 0.8 percent to $62.58 a barrel after dropping 5.3 percent in the prior two days. “Europe will remain the main market for Gazprom for a considerable period of time, and lower gas prices in the region will negatively impact the company’s revenue,” Andrey Polischuk, an oil analyst at Raiffeisenbank ZAO who rates the stock hold, said by phone Thursday. “It might mean that Gazprom will have to seek additional funding for its investments, from advance payments from its partners in the east or from loans.”writes Elena Popina for Bloomberg.

7Turkmenistan mulls constitution changes extending presidential term.The speaker of ex-Soviet Turkmenistan`s pliant parliament has proposed constitutional changes extending the presidential term limit and removing the maximum age for the presidency, state media reported Friday. The amendments — which look aimed at expanding the already iron grip of 57-year-old incumbent strongman President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov in the gas-rich republic — would increase the presidential term from five to seven years and remove the presidential age limit of 70 from the constitution.

8A landmark event, part of the project to bring Azeri gas supplies to Europe, could take place next month – the signing of the final investment decision on the construction of the interconnector Greece-Bulgaria (IGB), according to an article carried by rosinvest.com. The IGB construction is projected to start in March 2016 and close in 2018. The interconnector with Greece will enable Bulgaria to make a big step toward reducing its almost total dependence on Russia for gas supplies, the article “Azerbaijan and the Gas Hopes of Bulgaria” reads. With the South Stream gas pipeline project now abandoned by Russia and the risk of potential disruption of Russian gas supplies via Ukraine still existing, Bulgaria now has all its hopes of energy diversification pinned on Azeri gas which the country could start receiving via the IGB. [rosinvest.com]

9Azerbaijan expands cooperation with Turkey, Russia and Macedonia in fighting the financing of terrorism and money laundering. In accordance with the agreements Azerbaijan will cooperate with Turkey and Macedonia in the field of exchange of financial information. The agreement with Russia provides for cooperation in the fight against terrorism financing and money laundering.

10Absheron Hotel Group launches its fourth hotel – BOULEVARD HOTEL BAKU in the capital of Azerbaijan. The hotel is affiliated with the Autograph Collection, Marriott’s brand featuring an exclusive portfolio of upscale independent hotels and resorts. Named after the eponymous seafront walking promenade, Boulevard Hotel offers 818 comfortable rooms and it will be the largest conference hotel in Azerbaijan. It provides perfect accessibility to all major business and cultural sites of the city as well as the finest facilities that are designed to suit a wide variety of occasions and functions. Boulevard Hotel is one of four hotels Absheron Hotel Group will operate in Azerbaijan. The first hotel, the 167-room Pik Palace, was opened in December 2013 in Shahdag Mountain Resort, followed by the opening of a 164-room Park Chalet in January 2015 and a 150-room Intourist Hotel Baku, in May 2015. Absheron Hotel Group is a young hotel management company in Azerbaijan. It aims to become a strategic hospitality industry player with a medium-term aspiration of taking a leading position in national and regional markets, through establishing a world-class portfolio of hotels and resorts.

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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Knowledge Exchange Program between World Bank and Parliamentarians of Nepal

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photo: World Bank

Members of the Federal Parliament in Nepal and officials from the World Bank held consultations and development policy dialogue at a knowledge exchange program held today. Over 40 members of the Parliamentary Finance Committee and the Parliamentary Secretariat took part in the program.

“These engagements with the representatives of the people of Nepal are a key part of our role and responsibility as trusted partners in Nepal. They allow us to exchange ideas, and to better understand the vision of the Nepali people in reducing extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity. It also allows us to share experiences on development narratives from the rest of the world.” said Qimiao Fan, World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal, “The country’s path of nation-building and sustainable development relies on sound policies and institutions, and the Parliament is key in ensuring that these are both in place.”

During the program supported by the World Bank and facilitated by the Parliament Secretariat, the Country Manager Faris H. Hadad-Zervos introduced the World Bank Group operations in Nepal, its instruments, country partnership framework and areas of development support. This was followed by a synopsis of the Bank’s analysis of latest macroeconomic and development updates, presented by World Bank Senior Country Economist Kene Ezemenari. Xiaoping Wang and Rabin Shrestha, Senior Energy Specialists from the World Bank then presented on the current scenario of the power sector in Nepal.

“The program was a great opportunity to understand the World Bank Group operations and explore avenues of cooperation and support in the days to come,” said Krishna Prasad Dahal, Chairperson of the Parliamentary Finance Committee, “Extensive sharing of data, information and practical knowledge will help pinpoint the direction of future policies and refine our responsibilities as lawmakers.”

The World Bank is engaging the Nepali Parliament in various ways. Through the Integrated Public Financial Management (PFM) Project supported by the Multi-Donor Trust Fund (financed by Australia, Switzerland, DFID, EU, Norway and USAID), The World Bank is currently supporting the Parliament of Nepal through strengthening of the PFM capacity of technical staff in the Secretariat. Knowledge exchange opportunities will be provided to MPs within this program. Provincial Parliaments will also be progressively targeted since they can benefit from the expertise of the Federal Parliament to build their own.

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Africa Industrialization Day 2018 celebrated in Côte d’Ivoiren

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On the occasion of Africa Industrialization Day’s (AID) worldwide celebrations, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and Côte d’Ivoire’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and SME Promotion organized an event to discuss the importance of industrialization for the development of Africa with a particular focus on Côte d’Ivoire.

“Industrialization represents the best means to create more employment and to improve the living conditions of the population,” said Souleymane Diarrassouba, Côte d’Ivoire’s Minister of Trade, Industry and SME Promotion, during his welcome speech. “The government of Côte d’Ivoire, in collaboration with the financial and technical partners, is engaged in promoting the industrialization of the country.”

After reading a Joint Statement of the African Union Commission, the United Nation Economic Commission for Africa and UNIDO on the occasion of the AID event held in Vienna, Tidiane Boye, UNIDO’s Representative in Côte d’Ivoire, quoted UNIDO’s Director General, LI Yong: “AID 2018 represents an important occasion to raise awareness of the importance of a concerted programmatic approach to the promotion of rapid and inclusive industrialization in Africa.” Boye also paid tribute to H.E. Alassane Ouattara, President of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, for his engagement as Champion of the Third Industrial Development Decade for Africa.

The event was an opportunity to present the main findings of UNIDO’s Industrial Development Report 2018 – which focuses on the importance of demand as a driver of industrial development – and perspectives on the development of the pharmaceutical global value chain in Africa.

Nicola Cantore, UNIDO Research and Industrial Policy Officer, pointed out that under the right set of conditions, the consumption of manufactures can set in motion a virtuous circle of industrial development – comprising income creation, demand diversification and massification of consumption – but that this virtuous circle often requires specific policy measures to attain socially inclusive or environmentally sustainable industrialization.

”For Côte d’Ivoire, a gap still needs to be filled in terms of increasing the share of manufacturing exports in total exports and the technological contents of exports, which are still too dependent on primary goods,” Cantore said.

The social dimension of industrialization was well-captured by the presentation of Assane Coulibaly, UNIDO’s Lead ECOWAS Coordinator for Pharmaceuticals GMP Roadmap Initiative, who explained how the development of local capabilities in the pharmaceutical industry is a key step to ensure affordability and availability of medicines essential to the development of an effective health system.

The event was attended by representatives of the government and the private sector.

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World Bank Group Announces $50 billion over Five Years for Climate Adaptation and Resilience

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The World Bank Group today launched its Action Plan on Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience. Under the plan, the World Bank Group will ramp up direct adaptation climate finance to reach $50 billion over FY21–25. This financing level—an average of $10 billion a year—is more than double what was achieved during FY15-18. The World Bank Group will also pilot new approaches to increasing private finance for adaptation and resilience.

“Our new plan will put climate resilience on an equal footing with our investment in a low carbon future for the first time. We do this because, simply put, the climate is changing so we must mitigate and adapt at the same time,” said World Bank Chief Executive Officer Kristalina Georgieva.We will ramp up our funding to help people build a more resilient future, especially the poorest and most vulnerable who are most affected.”

The increase in adaptation financing will support activities that include:

  • Delivering higher quality forecasts, early warning systems and climate information services to better prepare 250 million people in at least 30 countries for climate risks;
  • Supporting 100 river basins with climate-informed management plans and/or improved river basin management governance;
  • Building more climate-responsive social protection systems; and
  • Supporting efforts in at least 20 countries to respond early to, and recover faster from, climate and disaster shocks through additional financial protection instruments.

In addition to boosting finance, the Plan will also support countries to mainstream approaches to systematically manage climate risks at every phase of policy planning, investment design, and implementation.

“This Action Plan is a welcome step from the World Bank,” said Ban Ki-moon, former Secretary-General of the United Nations and co-chair of the Global Commission on Adaptation. “The world’s poorest and most climate vulnerable countries stand to benefit from its increased finance and support for longer term policy change.”

The Action Plan builds on the link between adaptation and development by promoting effective and early actions that also provide positive development outcomes. For example, investing in mangrove replanting may protect a local community against sea level rise and storm surges, while also creating new opportunities for eco-tourism and fisheries. Early and proactive adaptation and resilience-building actions are more cost-effective than addressing impacts after they occur.

The Action Plan also includes the development of a new rating system to create incentives for, and improve the tracking of, global progress on adaptation and resilience. The new system will be piloted by the World Bank in FY19-20 and rolled out to projects in relevant sectors by FY21.

The Action Plan on Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience forms part of the World Bank Group’s 2025 Targets to Step Up Climate Action which were launched in December 2018, during the UN’s COP24 in Poland.

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