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Azerbaijan and the New Energy Geopolitics of SE Europe

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

1Azerbaijan and the New Energy Geopolitics of Southeastern Europe. The book focuses attention on Azerbaijan’s aspiring role as an energy supplier and contributor to energy security in Southeastern Europe, its evolving relations with countries in the region—from Greece to Croatia—and consequently Baku’s expanding relations with the European Union and the United States. As Greece’s financial troubles threaten to impose new challenges to the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline, which is a part of the Southern Gas Corridor, we can expect further developments pertaining to energy security in the region. [Jamestown Foundation]

2Is the military option to strike Iran (legally) on the table? “As major hurdles appear to remain in coming to an agreement with Iran to bar its acquisition of nuclear weapons, discussion has reignited about the “military option” should the diplomats fail to reach a settlement. President Obama has long declared that the military option was on the table as a last resort, and as recently as last April, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter seemed to reaffirm that position. He insisted that the U.S. has “the capability to shut down, set back and destroy the Iranian nuclear program,” adding that he believed that “the Iranians know that and understand that.” Writes Charles J. Dunlap Jr for the Hill.

3Russia’s stance on Pakistan surprises India. “There is unease in Delhi over recent stand that old ally Russia took at a recent anti-terror financing meet organised at Brisbane by opposing move by India to demand censure against Pakistan for its inaction against JuD & LeT. While New Zealand and Australia also opposed the move, India is surprised with Russia’s position which in the past has been very supportive of India’s stand on Kashmir to the extent of vetoing resolutions in UN Security Council” [The Economic Times]

4Azerbaijan starts investing in yuan. The State Oil Fund of Azerbaijan (SOFAZ) started investing in yuan in order to expand its investment portfolio. According Oxu.Az, to this end, in 2014, China’s central bank issued a license to an investment of 3 billion yuan. Also, an agreement was signed on the purchase / sale bonds and storage of state bonds.

5New Kazakh airline presented. A presentation of the new Kazakh airline, Qazaq Air JSC, took place July 6 at the international airport of Astana, according to the National Welfare Fund of Kazakhstan Samruk-Kazyna. The shares of the new airline fully belong to Samruk-Kazyna JSC. The route network of the Qazaq Air airline will consist of 12 destinations, mostly non-stop flights between the regions of Kazakhstan.

6Vice-President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation Leyla Aliyeva may be a candidate for deputy from the party “New Azerbaijan Party” in the upcoming parliamentary elections in November. According to Oxu.Az, the statement came from the secretary of “New Azerbaijan Party”, MP Siyavush Novruzov speaking to modern.az

7State Agency for Management and Use of Hydrocarbon Resources under the president of Turkmenistan plans to hold oil & gas road show in London Sept.29-30. The discussions will be held on the prospects for development, organizational and legal framework for investments in Turkmenistan’s oil and gas sector with a special focus on cooperation in the offshore Turkmen sector of the Caspian Sea.

8Reading Russia Is Never Easy. “While understanding Russia may not be easy, the country’s Europaversteher (understanding of Europe) is dubious at best. Dennis Machsane partly attributes this problem to the country’s political culture and the unwillingness of Russian foreign policy analysts to criticize the Putin regime” Writes Denis MacShane for OpenDemocracy

9The BRICS emerging economies will launch a development bank at a summit this week which President Vladimir Putin hopes will help reduce Western dominance of world financial institutions and show Moscow is not isolated. [Reuters]

10Kazakhstan beckons with reopening of old Silk Road. “The ancient land routes that once linked Europe to China are back in vogue, as China shifts more of its factories inland and businessmen look to transport goods to and from Europe via Central Asia and Russia instead of by sea, following the paths taken by merchants from the Han Dynasty to the time of Marco Polo” writes Kevin Lim for Today.

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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Greater Caspian News

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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