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Azerbaijan has become a global energy player

Dimitris Giannakopoulos

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The 10 most important things you need to know on Caspian Sea Region for Wednesday, June 3:

1Azerbaijan has become a global energy player, Minister of Energy of Azerbaijan Natig Aliyev said June 3 within the framework of the Caspian Oil & Gas 2015 international conference held in Baku. He said that today, Europe is very concerned about the question of its energy security.“In particular, this was affected by tense relations between Ukraine and Russia, high dependence on [gas] supplies from Russia and the decline in production in the North Sea,” said Aliyev. “Europe imports about 90 percent of oil, 60 percent of gas and 42 percent of coal. Azerbaijan is also a new source of energy for Europe, and it offers Europe new routes,” the minister said. He said that not only Azerbaijani gas can be supplied via these routes, but also gas from Central Asia and the Middle East.

2Russian state arms producer Almaz-Antey said on Tuesday it would supply Iran with the advanced S-300 missile system once a commercial agreement is reached. The company’s chief executive, Yan Novikov, confirmed Moscow had removed restrictions on deliveries to Tehran that were imposed under pressure from the West in 2010. “All restrictions have been lifted by the political authorities. When there is a contract, we will supply the system, including to Iran,” he told a news conference when asked whether Almaz-Antey would supply the missile system to Iran. [REUTERS]

3Iran looks for steady customers for its crude oil under a new export strategy which is based on constructing refineries abroad, Deputy Minister of Petroleum Abbas Kazemi said. “Building refineries abroad with the participation of international investors can guarantee the security of sales and exports of crude oil from Iran for a period of 20 to 25 years,” he told the Mehr news agency. “In other words, with the construction of refineries abroad, Iran can count on permanent and stable customers for a couple of decades and guarantee demand and supply for long terms.”Negotiations have been held with several groups of investors, including from China, Brazil and India, for the purpose. So far, Iran has signed an MoU with Brazil to construct a refinery in the Latin American country for processing 300,000 barrels per day of crude oil. [PRESSTV]

4Kazakhstan Pharmaceutical Market Overview 2015. Kazakhstan’s pharmaceutical market remains the most accessible, transparent and, from a legislative point of view, progressive in Central Asia. In terms of market size, its potential is limited by its relatively small population (15mn) and logistical challenges. In the short term, Kazakhstan’s market development is driven by a balanced policy of import substitution and integration into regional (Customs Union) and global (World Trade Organisation) systems. Over the longer term, the country could leverage its favourable business environment and regional ties to supply neighbouring states, such as Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan, all of which have growing populations and lack domestic production capacity. [RESEARCH AND MARKETS]

5Iran, Iraq, Israel and Cyprus can deliver their gas to Europe via Azerbaijan’s infrastructure. Iran can join the Trans Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline Project (TANAP), and supply its gas to Europe via TANAP or other routes. Azerbaijani Minister of Energy Natig Aliyev made the remarks Wednesday at the Caspian Oil & Gas 2015 conference in Baku.“We have repeatedly seen that the US and the EU supports energy projects in Azerbaijan. Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President of the European Commission, often attends our events and supports these projects. Moreover, he also provides support in the supply of Turkmen gas to Europe,” the minister added. Iraq, a country with immense energy resources, is also interested in cooperating with Azerbaijan and may play a key role in boosting energy security of Europe, minister Aliyev said. The minister noted that Israel and Cyprus too can deliver their gas to Europe by using Azerbaijan’s infrastructure. “We have negotiated with Israel and Cyprus, and they say they can deliver their gas to Europe via Azerbaijani infrastructure which passes through Turkey”.

6Turkmenistan’s constitutional commission is considering two changes to the country’s constitution. The first one would extend the presidential term from five to seven years; the second would remove the 70-year age limit for presidential office holders, this according to Parliamentary Speaker Akdzha Nurberdyeva who last Friday spoke on television. If accepted, these changes would allow President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, 57, to serve indefinitely. [ASIANEWS]

7Why Russia protects North Korea from the West. “Russia benefits by developing a special relationship with North Korea, because it would give her a trump card in bargaining with the United States, and the ability to demand concessions from Washington in other areas of foreign policy”. Writes Sergei Dolmov, special to RBTH.

8A Russian Smartphone Has to Overcome Rivals and Jokes About Its Origin. “The YotaPhone prototype introduced in 2012 wowed international tech conferences with its novel two-screen design, with one face acting like a standard smartphone and the other like an e-reader. The second screen supports various functions without draining the battery, such as keeping a boarding pass handy or tracking every ripple in the dollar-ruble exchange rate — a local fixation”. Writes Neil MacFarquhar for The New York Times.

9The International Olympic Committee (IOC) cited serious challenges facing the two bids for the 2022 Winter Olympics, including pointed concerns over Beijing’s air pollution and lack of natural snow and Almaty’s budget risks and limited experience in hosting major events. The IOC issued a 136-page report that assessed the bids from the Chinese capital and the Kazakh city, underlining strengths and weaknesses of both. The report by the IOC evaluation commission did not rank or grade the bids or make direct comparisons. Almaty was portrayed favorably for its winter setting, natural snow and compact layout. Beijing was praised for its high-quality venues, experience from hosting the 2008 Summer Games and plans to develop a winter sports market for more than 300 million people in northern China. While the report did not include any major surprises, it did not hold back in listing drawbacks, notably for Beijing and its climate, heavy reliance on water for snow-making and spread out venues.

10Iranian Minister of Communications and Information Technology Mahmoud Vaezi said that political will of the Azerbaijani and Iranian leaders is an important factor for promotion of bilateral relations, so their cooperation should expand in all spheres. He said Iran considers no limit for more cooperation with Azerbaijan, trying to upgrade cooperation in all dimensions. He also emphasized joint campaign against extremism and terrorism in the region and said consolidation and cooperation between the two countries in various fields will be effective in regional security and stability.

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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EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey: Solid progress in supporting refugees

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The Commission reported today good progress in the implementation and programming of €6 billion of the EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey. More than 80 projects are currently up and running delivering tangible results to refugees and host communities in particular on education and health.  Out of the €6 billion, some €4.2 billion has been allocated, of which €3.45 billion has been contracted and €2.22 billion disbursed to date. 

Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations,said: “We continue to make good progress in the implementation and programming of the Facility. More than 80 projects to date provide vital assistance in the areas of education, health, protection and socio-economic support, and more projects are in the pipeline. We remain committed to continue our support to refugees and host communities in Turkey, addressing current needs and increasing resilience and self-reliance for the longer term.”

Christos Stylianides, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management,added: “The European Union is continuing to support refugees in Turkey, in line with its commitment. 1.6 million refugees are receiving humanitarian assistance to meet their basic needs. Looking ahead to the future, we are working to make our support more sustainable. We remain committed to continue working closely with Turkey to make this possible.”

Today, the twelfth Steering Committee meeting of the EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey took place in Brussels. It was chaired by the Commission and brought together representatives of EU Member States and Turkey.

The Committee reviewed the third annual monitoring report on the implementation of the Facility and confirmed the progress made in the programming of the second €3 billion tranche of the budget of the Facility. It completed the evaluation of project proposals in the areas of socio-economic support and municipal infrastructure to the tune of €845 million.

The 84 projects set up in the framework of the Facility bring forth concrete outcomes and a significant positive impact for refugees and host communities alike, facilitating the integration of refugees in the Turkish society.

For education, one of the priority areas of action, the EU signed a €400 million contract to continue its support to existing programmes, which is to be complemented by a further €100 million before the summer. This involves the construction of 136 school buildings and 50 prefabricated schools well under way. This progress in education infrastructure goes hand in hand with the implementation of the project for Promoting Integration of Syrian Children into Turkish Education System (PICTES), which benefits 400,000 students.

In the area of health, 5 million healthcare consultations have been carried out, with 178 migrant health centres now operational, employing over 2,600 staff, two thirds of which are Syrian refugees.

The EU is highly focused on ensuring the sustainability of the Facility’s humanitarian and development activities, which aim to support the Turkish authorities in a structural manner and to facilitate refugee integration. Under the humanitarian strand of the second tranche, the EU is implementing projects for a total of €50 million in addition the ongoing projects under the first tranche, those have already delivered tangible results for refugees and host communities.

Background

The EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey was set up in 2015 in response to the European Council’s call for significant additional funding to support Syrian refugees in Turkey.

It has a total budget of €6 billion divided into two equal tranches of €3 billion each, allocated over two periods: 2016-2017 and 2018-2019.Out of the operational funds of €6 billion, €2.22 billion has already been disbursed, €3.45 billion contracted, with over 80 projects rolled out.

The Facility provides a joint coordination mechanism, designed to ensure that the needs of refugees and host communities are addressed in a comprehensive and coordinated manner. The support seeks to improve conditions for refugees in Turkey as part of the EU’s comprehensive approach to addressing the refugee crisis inside and outside the EU.

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European Union and World Bank Support to Help Enhance Georgia’s Innovation Ecosystem

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The European Union (EU) and the World Bank launched today the Increasing Institutional Capacity for Innovation (IICI) project, at an event held at Tech Park Georgia. Nika Alavidze, Deputy Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia, Mercy Tembon, World Bank Regional Director for the South Caucasus, and Stig Kjeldsen, First Secretary at Delegation of the European Union to Georgia offered opening remarks at the event.

“The World Bank is proud to continue to stand by GITA as it transforms from a young ‘startup’ agency into a mature framework for Georgia’s coordination of its innovation and entrepreneurship policy and practice,” said Mercy Tembon, World Bank Regional Director for the South Caucasus. “With support from the EU, and the Bank’s technical assistance, this project will allow GITA to take the next step toward greater institutional capacity and effectiveness, test the potential for technology transfer, and improve opportunities for investing in innovative, early stage companies in Georgia.”

“Innovation increases SME competitiveness and creates jobs, and innovation policy is actually at the heart of the EU’s own Europe 2020 strategy for growth and job creation,” said Stig Kjeldsen, Cooperation Officer at the EU Delegation to Georgia. “Further assisting GITA in building Georgia’s innovation ecosystem falls naturally in line with the EU’s commitment to supporting business development in Georgia.”

The IICI project is financed by the EU to the amount of €2.7 million and will be implemented by the World Bank. The overall objective of the project is to increase GITA’s capacity to develop and implement innovation and entrepreneurship policies and programs with medium- and long-term strategies and results; test and demonstrate the viability of technology transfer between educational institutions and the private sector in Georgia; improve the deal flow of innovative start-ups ready for investment, and fund availability for early-stage companies.

The IICI project is expected to generate important results, including: easier access to support and finance for a greater number of small and medium enterprises and innovative firms, a more coherent public approach to supporting entrepreneurs and SMEs and a boost in overall innovative economic activity.

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World Bank Group Releases Little Data Book on Gender

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The World Bank Group today released the Little Data Book on Gender 2019 to provide an easily accessible entry point to statistics tracking gaps between men and women, boys and girls for 217 economies around the world with comparable data for 2000 and 2017.

In addition to demographic and economic information, the Little Data Book on Gender indicators include the proportion of women and men who use the internet, sex-disaggregated smoking prevalence, and the percentage of female graduates from science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs in tertiary education.

The book includes two indicators from the Women, Business and the Law database: the length of paid maternity leave and whether women are legally able to work in the same industries as men.

“Progress in eliminating poverty and ensuring shared prosperity can be enhanced and accelerated when we have good data,” said Caren Grown, World Bank Group Senior Director for Gender. “The Little Data Book on Gender offers policymakers and development practitioners easy access to data on males and females in the domains in which we work – health, education, and economic life.  As sex-disaggregated data becomes increasingly available, there is no excuse to not use it in our policy dialogue and to inform choices about interventions.”

This edition of the Little Data Book on Gender also features online tables that will be updated quarterly.

“Regular online updates will make it easier than ever to see how women and men are faring across a range of global indicators, and to track progress over time,” said Haishan Fu, Director, Development Data Group. “This supplements the fuller, curated data and analysis tools provided by the World Bank Group, including through the Gender Data Portal.”

The Little Data Book on Gender shows remarkable broad progress toward gender equality in education enrollment and health, while gender inequality remains stubbornly persistent in access to economic opportunities. On virtually every global measure, the Little Data Book on Gender reveals that women are more likely than men to be engaged in low productivity activities, and to work more in vulnerable employment.

The Little Data Book on Gender can be accessed online through the World Bank’s Gender Data Portal, and can be used by researchers, journalists, policy makers, and anyone interested in gaps between men and women.

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