The 10 most important things you need to know on Caspian Sea Region for Tuesday, June 23:
1The West is mean to Russia, but let’s be friends. “If we accept the so-called Heartland theory of that great 19th-century strategist Sir Halford Mackinder that, in a continuous struggle between land and sea powers, the ultimate victory will go to the land power, Russia is in the right place geographically and geopolitically – she occupies the global Heartland. What else need we aspire to? None of our interests is fundamentally incompatible with Europe’s common good, in 21st-century terms, when it comes to regional security. The other day, the British Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, spoke of “the fragility of the EU’s democratic legitimacy”. Indeed, you can see this in how Brussels bureaucracy acted in Ukraine, without public debate, real talks, honest assessment of the costs and consequences – trying to get its expansionism on the cheap” writes Alexander Yakovenko the Russian Ambassador to Britain for the Telegraph.
2President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan on completion of the talks for Kazakhstan to enter the WTO: “WTO membership opens new opportunities for Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan-based enterprises will enjoy an easier access to foreign markets, while consumers will enjoy a wider selection of goods and services. WTO member states are responsible for 90% of Kazakhstan&rsquos overall foreign trade figure. So the completion of the talks is an important milestone for us. With the membership, Kazakhstan is set to be more attractive for both foreign and domestic investors. There is an ample opportunity to launch new industries and create more jobs.” The negotiations had been going on for 19 years. Kazakhstan submitted its bid January 29, 1996.
3Norway’s FMC Kongsberg Subsea AS and Britain’s OneSubsea (UK) Ltd have won contracts for subsea infrastructure totalling $363 million for Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz gas field. A consortium led by BP said it awarded the construction contracts to help develop the Shah Deniz II project under the Caspian Sea, which offers Europe a chance to reduce reliance on Russian gas. Shah Deniz, Azerbaijan’s biggest gas field, is being developed by partners including Britain’s BP, Norway’s Statoil , Azeri state energy company SOCAR and the South Caucasus Pipeline Company.
4The government of Turkmenistan expects the selection of the consortium that will finance the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project to be finalized by September 1, the Central Asian country’s ambassador to India told Sputnik Tuesday. TAPI project is a proposed 1,078-mile pipeline to transport Caspian Sea natural gas from Turkmenistan to India. Originally, the cost of the project was estimated at $7.5 billion, however, recent media reports have readjusted this calculation to $10 billion.
5Time for a Reset in Russian-Saudi Relations. “Russia should carry out at least two important foreign policy tasks. The first relates to the timely and properly forecasting of regime change in Syria which will sooner or later take place. If this happens contrary to Moscow’s efforts, the need for Russia will considerably subside, while the Russian Federation might lose its only outpost in the region and suffer major reputational damage as a state that has misplaced its bets and has been defeated after nonstop wrangling. If Moscow still views President Assad as the least of all evils, the relevant argumentation must be revised. As a matter of fact, current cooperation is reasonable with regards to the domestic audience but is hardly convincing elsewhere” writes Maxim Suchkov for RIAC.
6The leaders of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) are scheduled to convene in Tehran on November 23, IRNA news agency reported June 23. The GECF has 18 permanent and observing members and its permanent headquarters is in Doha, Qatar. Iran, Russia, Qatar, Algeria, Bolivia, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Libya, Nigeria, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela, Peru, the United Arabic Emirates and Oman are the permanent members. The Netherlands, Kazakhstan, Iraq and Norway are observing members. Iran has also invited the UAE to the summit. The GECF members have in possession 42 percent of the world’s gas production, 70 of its gas reserves, 40 percent of the world’s gas transfer through pipelines, and 65 percent of the world trade in LNG.
7The Iran Deal’s Fatal Flaw. “President Obama’s main pitch for the pending nuclear deal with Iran is that it would extend the “breakout time” necessary for Iran to produce enough enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon. In a recent interview with NPR, he said that the current breakout time is “about two to three months by our intelligence estimates.” By contrast, he claimed, the pending deal would shrink Iran’s nuclear program, so that if Iran later “decided to break the deal, kick out all the inspectors, break the seals and go for a bomb, we’d have over a year to respond.” Unfortunately, that claim is false, as can be demonstrated with basic science and math. By my calculations, Iran’s actual breakout time under the deal would be approximately three months — not over a year. Thus, the deal would be unlikely to improve the world’s ability to react to a sudden effort by Iran to build a bomb.” writes Alan J. Kuperman for the New York Times.
8The Group of the European People’s Party held a meeting in Strasbourg on June 22, APA reports. The report on the functioning of democratic institutions in Azerbaijan developed by PACE co-rapporteurs Pedro Agramunt and Tadeusz Iwiński was discussed at the meeting. The main discussions were about Azerbaijan’s Nagorno-Karabakh region and other occupied territories. Member of the Azerbaijan Delegation to PACE, MP Elkhan Suleymanov has addressed the meeting. “I’m very disappointed with your attitude toward the Armenian occupation of Azerbaijani lands. With this attitude, you ignore the judgment dated 16 June 2015 of the European Court of Human Rights. The ECHR judgment proved the fact that the Armenian government exercises effective control over Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding districts,” said Suleymanov.
9Russia surpassed Saudi Arabia to become China’s top crude supplier as the fight for market share in the world’s second-largest oil consumer intensifies. China imported a record 3.92 million metric tons from its northern neighbor in May, according to data emailed by the Beijing-based General Administration of Customs on Tuesday. That’s equivalent to 927,000 barrels a day, a 20 percent increase from the previous month. Saudi sales slumped 42 percent from April to 3.05 million tons. China is becoming a key market for global oil exporters as surging output from shale fields from Texas to North Dakota allows the U.S., the biggest crude consumer, to rely less on overseas supplies. The Asian nation will account for more than 11 percent of world demand this year, the Paris-based International Energy Agency predicted this month. [Bloomberg]
10Nur Telecom starts internet roaming promotion in Kazakhstan. Kyrgyzstan mobile operator Nur Telecom, working under the O! brand, has introduced a mobile internet roaming promotion for using services in Kazakhstan. The service costs KGS 1 per MB rate and is now accessible under coverage of the Altel network. Altel is a subsidiary of national operator Kazakhtelecom.
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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