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China and Russia: the world’s new superpower axis?

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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

1China and Russia: the world’s new superpower axis? “Forget euro summits and G7 gatherings: for the countries that like to style themselves as the world’s rising powers, the real summitry takes place this week in central Russia, where Vladimir Putin will hold court. Leaders of the Brics countries (Brazil, India, China and South Africa) will meet Putin in Ufa on Wednesday, then make way for the Asian powers grouped in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation” [The Guardian]

2Brics to set up $100bn New Development Bank in Russia. Ufa, the capital of Bashkortostan in Russia, will witness the establishment of New Development Bank (NDB), a joint initiative of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (Brics) with an initial capital of 100bn. The signing of documents on the establishment of NDB – which will have its headquarter in China and whose first president elect is an Indian veteran banker K V Kamath – will take place along the VII Summit of Brics during July 8-10. The summit is also expected to see the establishment of “Fund of Reserve Currencies” with a capital of 100bn, which is an alternative to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which “depends on the pressure of the US and EU countries”, Russian Ambassador to Qatar HE Nurmakhmad Kholov told the media here yesterday.

3India to renew contract with Kazakhstan for uranium supply. Sources said the two countries will renew their old contract under which Kazakhstan supplied uranium to India. India and Kazakhstan already have civil nuclear cooperation since January 2009 when NPCIL and Kazakh nuclear company KazAtomProm signed an MoU under which KazAtomProm supplies uranium for Indian reactors.

4Azerbaijani Minister of Culture and Tourism Abulfas Garayev met the delegation headed by the Minister of State for Foreign Trade, the Promotion of Tourism and French Nationals Abroad Matthias Fekl. At the meeting, the sides discussed the current state and prospects of cooperation between Azerbaijan and France in the sphere of tourism, AzerTag reports. Abulfas Garayev noted that in the sphere of tourism there are wide opportunities for cooperation between the two countries, as well as in the field of culture. According to him, activity of the First Lady of Azerbaijan, the head of the Azerbaijan-France inter-parliamentary friendship group, President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation Mehriban Aliyeva, the realized projects are extremely important for development of relationship between France and Azerbaijan.

5PM Modi arrives in Astana. Prime Minister Modi is in Kazakhstan for the second leg of his eight-day tour to five central Asian countries and Russia. A high powered FICCI delegation, representing sectors such as construction, pharmaceuticals, mining, banking, power transmission and IT, has accompanied him on his visit. Top Indian companies such as Essar group, GMR, BHEL, NASSCOM, Punjab National Bank, Lupin, Punj Llyod and SUN Group are being represented in the business delegation. During the visit, the CEOs will meet leading companies from Kazakhstan and discuss a comprehensive strategy to enhance our mutual trade and investment.

6Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund has agreed to invest $10 billion (Dh36.7 billion) in Russia, in a powerful sign of the rapprochement between Moscow and Riyadh. The Public Investment Fund signed a deal with the Russian Direct Investment Fund for the largest foreign direct investment yet in Russia, RDIF said late on Monday. “The first seven projects have received preliminary approval, and we expect to close 10 deals before the end of the year,” said Kirill Dmitriev, RDIF chief executive. [Gulf News]

7Beware The Iranian Oil Mirage. “Investors are jittery at the prospect of Iran suddenly adding millions of barrels of oil to an oversupplied market if sanctions are lifted. This, according to many, is the primary cause of Monday’s oil sell-off. Iran is projecting oil strength in advance of a possible deal in the nuclear talks and the possibility that all sanctions will be lifted. However, Iran is not trustworthy and information that comes out of government ministries is not reliable. Iran’s goal here is to portray power” writes Ellen Wald for the Investing.com

8Turkmenistan seeks investments in textile industry. President Gurbanguly Berdimuhammadov of Turkmenistan has said that the main purpose of restructuring in the textile industry is to increase the manufacturing of competitive products and attract investments, according to the country’s national television channel. The issues of development of the textile industry were discussed during the last meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers, the channel said. Turkmenistan traditionally grows cotton, which serves as a basis for developing the textile industry. In 2014, the annual turnover of the textile industry was about $400 million.

9Russia seen as biggest oil market loser when Iran returns. “The return of Iranian barrels would increase availability of heavy sour crude and would be positive for refiners,” said Vasilis Tsaitas, a spokesman for Hellenic Petroleum. The company operates three of the five refineries in Greece, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

10Turkistan, a cultural gem in the south of Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan’s southern city of Turkistan is an ancient Silk Road destination, with a history that goes back to the 4th century. With a population of more than 230,000, the city is about 160 kilometres from Shymkent and its medium-sized airport.Back in the 16th and 17th centuries, Turkistan was the capital for the Kazakh Khans. [Euronews]

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

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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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Kyrgyz Republic to Enhance Quality of Education with World Bank Financing

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The Kyrgyz Republic will receive World Bank financing for the Learning for the Future Project in the amount of $50 million, on highly concessional terms. $25 million is allocated in the form of a grant, which requires no repayment, while the other $25 million is credit with a 0.75% interest rate, with repayments eased over 38 years, and a six-year grace period.

“The Learning for the Future Project aims to help raise the Kyrgyz Republic’s human capital through enhancing school readiness and teacher effectiveness,” says Bolormaa Amgaabazar, World Bank Country Manager for the Kyrgyz Republic. “The project puts special emphasis on distance and online learning, increasing digital literacy and building teacher capacity for best teaching-learning practice. Such support will help the country’s education system better respond to learning from home during the current school closures and recovery period from the COVID-19 pandemic. In the long run, this approach will help better prepare children for learning and adapting to a fast-changing future economy.”

The project has four main areas of support: expanding school readiness for underserved children; increasing effectiveness in teaching practice; enhancing technology-enabled support for learning; and enhancing measurement of learning. In the coming five years, the project will specifically help:

  • Establish 500 fully equipped community-based kindergartens in rehabilitated premises, thus enabling a successful transition to school for 20,000 children aged 3-5 years, in poor communities countrywide; 
  • Build teacher competencies for more effective teaching of reading, mathematics and sciences in primary and secondary schools, through training in effective pedagogy and assessment, provision of digital learning content, resources and materials in 1,200 schools (53 percent of the total number of schools in the country);
  • Provide digital literacy training for 36,000 teachers to enhance their capacities to use digital technologies for professional development and effective teaching;
  • Equip 1,200 schools with an IT platform to support technology-enabled teaching and learning. The Republican Institute of In-Service Teacher Training will assist in developing digital content for teaching and learning;
  • Introduce a new criteria-based assessment instrument and methodology, develop and introduce standardized tests aligned with new learning standards, conduct the National Learning Assessment in 2023 for grades 4 and 8, and participate in the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2024.

The project will be implemented by the Ministry of Education and Science of the Kyrgyz Republic during 2020-2025, using its existing institutional structures and in compliance with relevant World Bank procedures and standards.

The project supports the World Bank’s 2019-2022 Country Partnership Framework for the Kyrgyz Republic and is closely aligned with the National Education Sector Strategy-2040 of the Ministry of Education and Science, which is now under development. The project was approved by the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors on March 31, 2020 and was ratified by the Parliament of the Kyrgyz Republic on June 11, 2020.

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