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
1The deputy head of Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev’s administration said that recent actions and positions made by the Council of Europe may make the country leave the organization. The Azerbaijani President’s foreign relations chief Novruz Mammadov condemned the Council of Europe’s position on the country’s democratic institutions and the Nagorno-Karabakh issue. Novruz suggested that the organization’s positions on the issues could make Azerbaijan leave the Council of Europe. On Tuesday, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) condemned what it called Azerbaijan’s “systemic repression” of activists and government critics. [SputnikNews]
2Russian President Vladimir Putin phoned U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday, their first call since February, to discuss Iran nuclear talks, “the increasingly dangerous situation in Syria” and the need to counter Islamic State militants, the White House said in a statement. “The leaders discussed the increasingly dangerous situation in Syria, and underscored the importance of continued P5+1 unity in ongoing negotiations to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon,” the White House said.
3Can Kazakhstan prove Huntington wrong? “Astana is very keen in building bridges. Being located on the intersection of civilizations, Kazakhstan likes to see its global role as the gateway to rapprochement of East and West, Europe and Asia, Christianity and Islam and much more. The relevance of this is additionally determined by the course of history itself, hereby especially referring to the globalization processes of the modern world, increased migration flows, the emergence of new national, cultural, religious and other minorities, ethnic and religious conflicts. In such terms efforts, continuously made by Kazakhstan and its leadership, are even more important” editorial from the Modern Diplomacy.
4The annual report of the US Department of State isn’t based on the data of objective sources, Aydin Mirzazadeh, the member of the political council and the head of the political analysis and forecasting department at the executive secretariat of Azerbaijan’s ruling New Azerbaijan Party, told Trend on June 26. The MP said that accusing Azerbaijan of violating human rights is fundamentally wrong. “Human rights are enshrined by law in Azerbaijan. There is freedom of speech, press and political activity in Azerbaijan,” Mirzazadeh said, adding that Azerbaijan is an open society.
5Arms Control and International Security. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Nonproliferation Programs Simon Limage initialed on behalf of the United States the Agreement Continuing the International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) along with the European Union, Georgia, Japan, the Kingdom of Norway, Kyrgyz Republic, the Republic of Armenia, the Republic of Kazakhstan, and the Republic of Korea. The ISTC, with its new headquarters at Nazarbayev University in Astana, Kazakhstan, seeks to minimize incentives for scientists and engineers in states with technologies, expertise, and related materials applicable to WMD to engage in activities that could result in the proliferation of WMD or related materials by supporting and cooperating in research and development activities for peaceful purposes. The initialing of the agreement sets the stage for signing the agreement once all parties have completed their internal procedures.
6The United States must not accede to Iran’s red lines. “Discussing the dilemma of negotiating with Tehran, former secretary of state Henry Kissinger famously remarked that Iran had to decide whether it wanted to be a nation or a cause — a member of a rules-based global order or a revolutionary outlier. As the nuclear negotiations near a climax, Iran seems to want to be both. This Janus-like approach won’t work much longer. It will generate suspicion rather than confidence. Now is the time for clarity, not ambiguity” writes David Ignatius for the Washington Post.
7The narrowing Persian gulf. “Sealing the Iranian nuclear deal will mark the triumph of diplomacy over a military solution, with wider global implications in the form of a more normal relationship between the U.S. and Iran. India will also be a beneficiary” writes Gen. Ashok K. Mehta for the Hindu.
8The resolution on “The functioning of democratic institutions in Azerbaijan” adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) during its summer session June 23 is another example of the biased and unfounded attitude towards Azerbaijan, Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said. Despite the occupation of the country’s territories as a result of Armenian aggression, presence of more than a million refugees and IDPs expelled from their lands as a result of the ethnic cleansing on the occupied territories, as well as Armenia’s terrariums, Azerbaijan has provided the political stability, economic development, social welfare, freedom of speech and thought and has ensured the operation of numerous political parties, non-governmental organizations and press agencies in the country, said the Foreign Ministry.
9Iran and Russia are still bound to support Syria, said Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab-African Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian. The common policy between Iran and Russia has not changed and the support from Syria will continue, Iran’s IRNA news agency quoted Amir-Abdollahian as saying on June 26. It will not allow terrorists to topple the legitimate government in Syria and turn the country into another Libya, he said. China also pursues the same policy toward Syria, he said, adding that Tehran, Beijing, and Moscow advocate sustainable security in the region.
10“Kazakhstan was once an impoverished and isolated nation, and not much was known about it until the last two decades. Today, the country, which is the ninth largest in the world, is Central Asia’s most developed state” writes Sulaiman Jaafar for the NST.
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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