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Nato’s Russian city

Dimitris Giannakopoulos

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Welcome to the Caspian Daily, where you will find the 10 most important things you need to know on Caspian Sea Region. We appreciate ideas, reports, news and interesting articles. Send along to Caspian[at]moderndiplomacy.eu or on Twitter: @DGiannakopoulos

1Nato’s Russian city. “Estonia is one of the countries in Eastern Europe where US tanks, artillery and other military equipment will soon start arriving, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said on Tuesday in the Estonian capital, Tallinn. But there is one community in Estonia that may have mixed feelings about these new US deployments. Narva and its castle are in Estonia, which means they’re in the EU and Nato. But Narva’s people are almost entirely – and often resolutely – Russian” writes Neal Razzell for the BBC.

2Business opportunities move Russia-Asia cooperation forward. Russia’s Asian Pivot is as much about economics as it is about politics. Although trade and investments between Russia and ASEAN countries are well below potential, there are several important projects in the pipeline” writes Alexandra Katz for the RBTH

3Iran is building a multi-purpose port near the Strait of Hormuz with 700 million euros of foreign investment, the state news agency IRNA reported on Thursday. The new port on the shores of Suza on the Qeshm island “will definitely become a shipping hub for international trade and transit”, deputy head of the Qeshm Free Zone Organization Farzin Haqdel said. The Qeshm island on the Persian Gulf lies along the North-South Transport Corridor which provides a rail, road and sea route for moving freight across Iran, Pakistan, India, Russia, the Central Asia, the Arabian Peninsula and Europe. “The new port in Suza can turn into one of the biggest and most discussed international ports in the world due to many advantages it has, including a draught of 50 meters,” Haqdel said.

4The Foundation of Central Asia: Kazakhstan’s Journey from Past to Future. “with projects such as the Caspian pipeline that links the Tengiz oilfield across the Caspian Sea to the Russian Black Sea port of Novorossiysk and the Kazakhstan-China pipeline that pumps oil to Alashankou and western China, Kazakhstan has become one of the largest producers of oil in the world. It is also quite possible that, in time, Kazakhstan will also become the world’s foremost producer of uranium” writes Jeanette JJ Harper for the Modern Diplomacy.

5“Works are underway to purchase new weapons, equipment, military property and include them into the inventory in order to increase the capabilities of the Armed Forces and improve the quality of comprehensive and continuous logistic support of troops”. Azerbaijani Defense Minister, Colonel-General Zakir Hasanov made this statement on the 97th anniversary of the country’s Armed Forces. Hasanov said that military products are repaired, modernized and re-processed under the development program.

6Turkmenistan Oil and Gas Strategic Analysis and Outlook 2015-2025. Amidst downfall in oil prices creating uncertainty on the future of Turkmenistan industry growth, the report details key strategies of government, oil and gas companies and investors in the country. Detailed outlook of the industry in terms of production forecasts of oil, gas, LNG, LPG, gasoline, diesel, fuel oil along with supporting parameters of primary energy demand, GDP and population are included. Current status of planned projects along with the possible commencement of the projects, feasibility of developing those projects in current market conditions, expected start up, impact of competing assets in other countries and overall industry developments, investments required and other related information on planned projects is provided in detail. [Research and Markets]

7Not Waiting For Nuclear Deal, Shell, Other Oil Firms In Talks With Iran.Executives from Royal Dutch Shell and Eni have met Iranian officials in Tehran to discuss investing in the country’s energy industry, the first time international oil firms have publicly confirmed such talks ahead of a possible nuclear deal with the West, the Financial Times has reported. The meetings, which took place in May and June, are evidence of the growing interest among big oil companies in Iran, which boasts the world’s third-largest oil and natural-gas reserves but which will need tens of billions of dollars of foreign investment to realize its ambitions to nearly double production by the end of the decade.

8Car insurance market grows in Kazakhstan. The car boom in Kazakhstan contributed to the growth of the insurance market, according to a report released by the Ranking.kz analytical service. “In January-April 2015, the volume of sales of policies of civil liability of car owners in Kazakhstan was 13.4 billion tenge (185, 95 tenge = $1), which is 40 percent more than in the same period of 2014,” said the report. There are 23 companies on the car insurance market in Kazakhstan, and an increase in sales has been recorded at all of them. Only in April 2015, the amount of premiums collected on policies of civil liability of vehicle owners in Kazakhstan increased by 3.8 billion tenge. Two new “billionaire” companies – Oil Insurance Company and Alliance policy came to the market, the report said.

9The “BRICS Bank”: Many challenges and many opportunities. “A significant challenge for the Bank is to not let the strategic interplay of China and India affect its working. The first few months since the announcement have seen no major hiccups but as the Bank grows in scale this will be something to watch out for. The Bank recently even announced the appointment of its first president KV Kamat a veteran and respected banker from India. On the other hand the opportunities for a financial institution that brings together five key developing countries are immense” writes Pallavi Roy for the Modern Diplomacy.

10On June 23-26th city of Medellin, Colombia hosts the 2015 United Nations Public Service Forum which is being attended by the Azerbaijani delegation headed by Mr. Inam Karimov, the Chairman of State Agency on Public Service and Social Innovations. During the forum “ASAN Service” will be granted the United Nations Public Service Award 2015 for the improvement of public services in the Republic of Azerbaijan. It is worth to note that only 18 of 71 states represented with 638 nominations have been awarded the highest prize.

Journalist, specialized in Middle East, Russia & FSU, Terrorism and Security issues. Founder and Editor-in-chief of the Modern Diplomacy magazine. follow @DGiannakopoulos

Greater Caspian News

The COVID-19 Shock to Kazakhstan’s Economy Largest in Two Decades

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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.

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Greater Caspian News

China-Eurasia Council condemns aggression of Azerbaijan

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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.

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Condemnation Of Armenian Aggression By Friends Of Azerbaijan (FoA)

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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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