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Putin tests West

Dimitris Giannakopoulos

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

1As Vladimir Putin makes a rare trip to Western Europe, meeting Prime Minister Matteo Renzi in Milan on Wednesday, what does he hope to achieve? “In truth, it’s been apparent since the spring that European leaders were likely to renew sanctions, but this hasn’t prevented Mr Putin from seeking out chinks in Europe’s armour, whether by wooing cash-strapped Greece or developing ties with Europe’s far-right parties, like France’s National Front.UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond warned of this last week.”Of course we are concerned about what is clearly a Kremlin strategy of trying to pick off, shall we say, the brethren who may be less committed or more vulnerable in the run-up to the June decision,” he told an audience at the London think-tank Chatham House. [BBC]

2Kazakhstan is interested in investment in Iran’s Shahid Rajaee Port in order to facilitate transit of its goods to world markets via the Persian Gulf. Head of the country’s national railway company, Kazakhstan Temir Zholy, was visiting the port and the nearby Bandar Abbas on Wednesday for discussions with local officials.“The Kazakh side is interested in investing in Bandar Shahid Rajaee for construction of silos in order to store its wheat crop in the port and facilitate shipments,” head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Railways (IRIR) Abbas Nazari said. Kazakhstan currently uses Iran’s transit railway linking the Caspian Sea to the Persian Gulf to ferry about 11 million metric tons of wheat per year. As Central Asia’s largest grain producer, Kazakhstan is looking for shipment routes by sea which is very cheaper for its growing flow of goods.

3Games and Politics: Hearings on the issue of human rights in Azerbaijan are also expected to be held in the United States, and in Baku they already described it as an international campaign against Azerbaijan. What is the reason for such a distinct change in the international community’s attitude towards the Aliyev regime? It is noteworthy that out of the “European leaders” only the presidents of Russia and Turkey, Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, will be attending the Games opening in Baku. Some analysts believe it is Putin’s visit that “scared” European leaders, who would rather avoid meeting him. Besides, many international experts consider the Putin-Erdogan-Aliyev triumvirate to be provocative for the West and dangerous in terms of changes in the situation in the western Eurasian region. [ArmeniaNow]

4Why the G-7 Warning of More Sanctions Won’t Worry Russia. “Aside from the structural problem, it is also not clear how far the sanctions can be expanded: Would they be prolonged, or would they target more individuals, or both? In March 2015, the U.S. State Department declared that U.S. sanctions will remain in place until Crimea is returned to Ukraine. That makes U.S. sanctions de facto indefinite. Continental Europe is divided on the issue. As Angela Merkel has said, sanctions should be relied on as only one of the methods of resolving the conflict. The U.K., while adopting a harsh political stance, is open for business with Russia by accepting money that originates from Russia through its tax havens” writes Anastasia Nesvetailova for the Epoch Times.

5Iran, Russia step up trans-Caspian trade. Iran has prepared three ports in the Caspian Sea and added six ships to its fleet for cargo trade with Russia as the two countries are forging stepped-up commercial relationship to counter Western sanctions on both countries. The new shipping route is unprecedented in the chequered history of the two countries’ relations and follows a trade agreement signed in March. It allows Russia to sell Iran’s crude oil abroad and deposit the money in a fund which Tehran would use to buy goods from Moscow. A separate deal allows Iran to import increased quantities of Russian grain in exchange for Iranian foodstuff, including fish from the Caspian Sea, the Sputnik news agency reported.”The most important thing is that by exporting oil, we can gain access to the financial resources we need to buy goods from Russia,” Iran’s consul to the Russian city of Astrakhan Ali Mohammadi said.

6The Government of Kazakhstan signed a $88 million loan agreement today with the World Bank to foster productive innovation in Kazakhstan. The five-year project will be implemented by the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan to promote high-quality and nationally relevant research and commercialization of technologies. The loan agreement was signed by Bakhyt Sultanov, Minister of Finance, on behalf of the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan, and Ludmilla Butenko, Country Manager for Kazakhstan, on behalf of the World Bank (International Bank for Reconstruction and Development). The project is the first in a series under the Partnership Framework Arrangement signed in May 2014 between the World Bank and the Government of Kazakhstan, according to the World Bank.

7Business first and foremost. Italy has long had an important economic relationship with Russia and political ties were sufficiently close before the Ukraine crisis. Italy is Russia’s third-biggest trading partner after China and Germany with deals between the two countries worth just over 30 billion euros last year. Renzi has said he will not be lecturing the Russian leader, while stressing that Italy stands fully behind international demands that Moscow ensure the respect of a second ceasefire between Kiev and the rebels that was agreed in Minsk in February.

8Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic of Azerbaijan is ready to provide guarantees for Iranian investors, Vasif Talibov, chairman of the Supreme Majlis of Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic said. He made the remarks during the meeting with the governor of Iran’s East Azerbaijan province Esmail Jabbarzadeh in Iran. During the meeting with the province’s governor, Talibov said that Azerbaijani businessmen are interested in making investments in Iran, including in Aras free economic and industrial zone. There are many spheres for expanding the economic and trade relations between the two countries, he said. Talibov said the bilateral relations between Azerbaijan and Iran are at a satisfactory level and the cooperation between the two countries will develop in the future as well.

9Peeling back Iran sanctions onion no easy task. The Obama administration may have to backtrack on its promise that it will suspend only nuclear-related economic sanctions on Iran as part of an emerging nuclear agreement, officials and others involved in the process tell The Associated Press. The problem derives from what was once a strong point of the broad US sanctions effort that many credit with bringing Iran to the negotiating table in the first place. Under the sanctions developed over decades, hundreds of companies and individuals have been penalized not only for their role in the country’s nuclear programme but also for ballistic missile research, terrorism, human rights violations and money laundering. Now the administration is wending its way through that briar patch of interwoven economic sanctions. [GulfNews]

10The Caucasian Cold War.“The main security concern for Azerbaijan comes from Armenia. Conflicts in the 1990s and recent border clashes still are fresh wounds in Azerbaijan. Having a defense relationship with a regional power like Turkey will act as a deterrent for Azerbaijan. This deterrent is particularly in regards to Armenia’s relationship with Russia that involves large amounts of Russian troops being stationed in Armenia. Therefore similarly to the Georgian case, Azerbaijan and Turkey both want to keep the Russians out to ensure security and influence in the Caucasus respectively” writes Taylor Morse for the Modern Diplomacy.

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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Eurasian Research on Modern China-Eurasia Conference

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October 26-27, 2018,National Academy of Sciences, Armenia.

Address: Marshal Bagramyan 24, Yerevan, Armenia.

Organizers:“China-Eurasia” Council for Political and Strategic Research, Foundation, Armenia,Institute of Oriental Studies,National Academy of Sciences, Armeniaand Department of Oriental Studies, ISEC, National Academy of Sciences, Armenia.

Supported by:“Transport Project Implementation Organization” SNCO,Armenia,“Diplomatic Foundation of Armenia” and “Modern Diplomacy”, Greece.

Table of Contents

(English Language Panels)

  • Panel 1։ China and Eurasian Economics
  • Panel 2։China’s One Belt, One Road and the World
  • Panel 3։ China and One Belt One Road Initiative
  • Panel 4։ China, Eurasia and Politics
  • Panel 5: The History of Interaction between China and Eurasia
  • Panel 6։ China and the South Caucasus
  • Panel 7:China and Eurasia (International Relations)

October 26, 2018

Welcome Address (11:00-11:30)

Panel 1: (English Language). China and Eurasian Economics(11:45-13:40)

Ma Bin, (Fudan University, China), “Railway Express between China and EU:New Model of International Transportation or Traditional tool of Economic Growth?”.

Connor Judge (SOAS, University of London, Great Britain), “Competing Narratives for Chinese Investment: Serbia and Mongolia”.

Srdjan Uljevic, (American University of Central Asia, Kyrgyz Republic),

“India’s Foreign Policy in the Age of China’s Dominance in Asia”.

Arjun Chapagain, June Wang, Linda Che-lan Li, (City University of Hong, China),

“The Trans-Himalayan Trade of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants: AGeo-Historical Political Lens”.

Anna Zalinyan, (Armenia), “Peculiaritiesbetween China and European Countries on Public Administration Reforms”.

Key note Speech 13:40-14:00

Zachary Paikin (University of Kent, Great Britain, Senior Editor at Global Brief Magazine)

“The Future of Liberal Order: Russia-China Relations and Eurasian Consequences”.

October 26, 2018 (11:50-12:30)

Panel 2: (Russian Language) China’s One Belt, One Road and the World-Панель 2 Китайская инициативаОдин пояс, один путь и мир

AnatolyTsvyk, (RUDN University, Russia),

“The EU and OBOR: Mutual Benefit or Competition?” / ЦвыкАнатолий. (Российский университет дружбы народов, Россия).«Европейский союз и инициатива «Один пояс, один путь»: взаимная выгода или конкуренция?».

Konstantin Tasits,(Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, Russia),

“Sino-Georgian Economic Relations in Modern Era”. Тасиц Константин. (Российский институт стратегических исследований Россия).  «Экономические отношения Грузии и Китая на современном этапе».

Coffee/Pastries (14:00-14:30)

October 26, 2018

Panel 3։ (English Language) China and One Belt One Road Initiative (14:30-17:00)

Jukka Aukia, (University of Turku, Finland),

“Belt and Road: the Baltic States within the 16+1”.

Uzma Siraj,(Federal Urdu University Islamabad, Pakistan),

“Eastern Europe Between Constraints, Coercion, and Opportunities: BRI and China Challenging Russia and EU in their Backyard”.

Mher Sahakyan, (“China-Eurasia” Council for Political and Strategic Research, Armenia).

“China’s One Belt, One Road Initiative and Armenia”.

Ma Xiaoyun, (Party School of CPC Tongling Municipal Committee, China),

“OBOR and China’s Midland Open Economy Development-A Case Study on Anhui”.

Gabriel de Rezende Piccinini, Alena Vysotskaya Guedes Vieira(University of Minho, Portugal),

“The Eurasian Economic Union and the One Belt, One Road Initiative: how Brazil and the European Union See It”.

Clayton HazvineiVhumbunu, (University of KwaZulu-Natal, Republic of South Africa).

“The Economic Impact of China’s One Belt, One Road Initiative on Eurasia”.

Ani Hakhverdyan (Russian-Armenian University, Armenia), “The Energy Silk Road”.

October 26 (17:20) ****Drinks and Pizza (Reception).

October 27

Panel 4։ (English Language) China, Eurasia and Politics(10:00-12:20)

Anahit Parzyan, (“China-Eurasia” Council for Political and Strategic Research, Foundation, Armenia), “Some aspects of Digitalization of China”.

Maximilian Ohle, (Nankai University), Richard J. Cook, (Nankai University), Zhaoying Han, (Nankai University China, the Editor-in-Chief of the Nankai Journal),

“China’s Engagement with Kazakhstan and Russia’s Zugzwang: Why is Astana Incurring Regional Power Hedging?”

Izabella Muradyan, (Chinese Centre Culture and Science, Armenia),

“Geo-Economic Cooperation with China under One Belt, One Road Initiative: Armenian Keys from EAEU”.

Luiza Grigoryan, (European University in Armenia),

“China and the Brics”.

October 27, 2018 (10:00-11:20)

Panel 5: (Russian Language) The History of Interaction between China and Eurasia-Панель 5. Историясношения (Китай-Евразия)

Sergey Kozlovsky, (The Ivan Franko National University of Lviv, Ukraine), “The Theory and genesis of Pax Sinica”/КозловскийСергей. (Львовский национальный университет имени Ивана ФранкоУкраина). «Теория фронтира и генезис PaxSinicia».

KhusnutdinovaLiailia, (Ufa State Petroleum Technological University, Russia), “On Historical Aspect of Chinese nation in Republic of Bashkortostan”. /ХуснутдиноваЛяйля. (Уфимский государственный нефтяной технический университет. Россия).«К проблеме истории Китайского народа в Республике Башкортостан».

Coffee/Pastries (12:30-13:00)

Panel 6: (English Language)China and South Caucasus (13:10-14:30)

Vakhtang Charaia,(Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University, Georgia),

“Trade and Investment between South Caucasus, China and EU”.

Gabriela Radu, (Strategic Analyst,Romania),

“Foreign Direct Investment Trends in the Southern Caucasus”.

Saren Abgaryan. (Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China),

“China-Armenia Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) in the Context of Chinese Evolving BIT Practice and Jurisprudence”.

October 27 (11:20-12:30)

Панель 7. (Russian Language)КитайиЕвразия (Внешняяполитика)- China and Eurasia (International Relations)

Andranik Hovhannisyan, (Russian-Armenian University, Armenia), “The Pivot towards Asia: Perspectives of Formation of Asian NATO”. /ОваннисянАндраник(Российско-Армянскийуниверситет, Армения).«ПовороткАзии: перспективыформирования «АзиатскогоНАТО»».

OganesyanArusyak, (RUDN University, Russia), “The Role of Eastern Asia in China’s Foreign Policy”. /ОганесянАрусяк.(Российский университет дружбы народов, Россия).«Роль Восточной Азии в современной китайской внешней политике».

KhubrikovaBadma, (BuryatStateUniversity, Russia), “SoftPowerintheEraofXiJinping”. /ХубриковБадма, Бурятскийгосударственныйуниверситет.

«Мягкая сила» в эпоху Си Цзиньпина».

October 27 (15:00) ****Drinks and Pizza (Reception).

National Academy of Sciencesis in the Center of the city, in the front of National Assembly of Armenia.Address: Marshal Bagramyan 24, Yerevan, Armenia.

Nearest Subway station is “Marshal Bagramyan”.

Working languages in different panels are English or Russian.

All audience members are required to register for the conference. Please contact info@chinastan.org

Conference Facebook Page:

https://www.facebook.com/ChinaEurasiacouncil/ and

https://www.facebook.com/DiscoverChinastan/

Conference Website:

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A new bioeconomy strategy for a sustainable Europe

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European Commission has put forward an action plan to develop a sustainable and circular bioeconomy that serves Europe’s society, environment and economy.

As announced by President Juncker and First Vice-President Timmermans in their letter of intent accompanying President Juncker’s 2018 State of the Union Address, the new bioeconomy strategy is part of the Commission’s drive to boost jobs, growth and investment in the EU. It aims to improve and scale up the sustainable use of renewable resources to address global and local challenges such as climate change and sustainable development.

In a world of finite biological resources and ecosystems, an innovation effort is needed to feed people, and provide them with clean water and energy. The bioeconomy can turn algae into fuel, recycle plastic, convert waste into new furniture or clothing or transform industrial by-products into bio-based fertilisers. It has the potential to generate 1 million new green jobs by 2030.

Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness Jyrki Katainen said: “It has become evident that we need to make a systemic change in the way we produce, consume and discard goods. By developing our bioeconomy – the renewable segment of the circular economy – we can find new and innovative ways of providing food, products and energy, without exhausting our planet’s limited biological resources. Moreover, rethinking our economy and modernising our production models is not just about our environment and climate. There is also great potential here for new green jobs, particularly in rural and coastal areas.”

Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, Carlos Moedas, added: “The EU aims to lead the way in turning waste, residue and discards into high value products, green chemicals, feed and textiles. Research and innovation plays a key role in accelerating the green transition of the European economy and in meeting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.”

Delivering a sustainable circular bioeconomy requires a concerted effort by public authorities and industry. To drive this collective effort, and based on three key objectives, the Commission will launch 14 concrete measures in 2019, including:

Scaling up and strengthening the bio-based sectors:

To unleash the potential of the bioeconomy to modernise the European economy and industries for long-term, sustainable prosperity, the Commission will:

  • establish a €100 million Circular Bioeconomy Thematic Investment Platform to bring bio-based innovations closer to the market and de-risk private investments in sustainable solutions;
  • facilitate the development of new sustainable bio-refineries across Europe.

Rapidly deploying bioeconomies across Europe:

Member States and regions, particularly in Central and Eastern Europe, have a large underused biomass and waste potential. To address this, the Commission will:

  • develop a strategic deployment agenda for sustainable food and farming systems, forestry and bio-based products;
  • set up an EU Bioeconomy Policy Support Facility for EU countries under Horizon 2020 to develop national and regional bioeconomy agendas;
  • launch pilot actions for the development of bioeconomies in rural, coastal and urban areas, for example on waste management or carbon farming.

Protecting the ecosystem and understanding the ecological limitations of the bioeconomy

Our ecosystem is faced with severe threats and challenges, such as a growing population, climate change and land degradation. In order to tackle these challenges, the Commission will:

  • implement an EU-wide monitoring system to track progress towards a sustainable and circular bioeconomy;
  • enhance our knowledge base and understanding of specific bioeconomy areas by gathering data and ensuring better access to it through the Knowledge Centre for the Bioeconomy;
  • provide guidance and promote good practices on how to operate in the bioeconomy within safe ecological limits.

The Commission is hosting a conference on 22 October in Brussels to discuss the action plan with stakeholders and highlight tangible bio-based products.

Background

In their letter of intent to the Presidencies of the European Council and Parliament, President Juncker and First Vice-President Timmermans announced this Communication as part of the Commission’s priority to boost jobs, growth and investment in the EU. It is an update to the 2012 Bioeconomy Strategy.

The bioeconomy covers all sectors and systems that rely on biological resources. It is one of the EU’s largest and most important sectors encompassing agriculture, forestry, fisheries, food, bio-energy and bio-based products with an annual turnover of around €2 trillion and around 18 million people employed. It is also a key area for boosting growth in rural and coastal areas.

The EU already funds research, demonstration and deployment of sustainable, inclusive and circular bio-based solutions, including with €3.85 billion allocated under the current EU funding programme Horizon 2020. For 2021-2027, the Commission has proposed to allocate €10 billion under Horizon Europe for food and natural resources, including the bioeconomy.

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UN resolution paves way for mass use of driverless cars

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A resolution to ensure the safe use of automated vehicles was passed at the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Global Forum on Road Traffic Safety in Geneva, on Wednesday.

In a statement, the UNECE said that automated vehicles have the potential to create safer, more efficient and environmentally friendly transport, which could reshape entire sectors of the economy and improve the lives of millions of people, notably those unable to drive or with limited access to mobility.

However, there are still many questions relating to areas such as road safety standards, traffic rules, insurance regimes, cybersecurity and data protection, which must still be addressed before the mass introduction of driverless cars to the market.

The resolution offers recommendations to ensure the safe interaction between automated vehicles, and road users, and stress the key role that people need to play, whether as responsible drivers, occupants or on the road in general.

These include making road safety a priority, safely interacting with the surrounding traffic environment and safely tolerating user error.

The resolution also recommends that the high-tech cars should be able to communicate with their users and other road users, in a clear, effective and consistent way, react to unforeseen situations, and enable their deactivation in a safe manner.

“With this resolution, we are paving the way for the safe mobility of the future, for the benefit of all road users” said UNECE official Luciana Iorio.

In September, a UNECE automated/autonomous and connected vehicles working group met for the first time in Geneva, to begin addressing issues such as technical requirements, cyber security and software updates, and innovative testing methods.

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