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Azerbaijan shows interest in SCO

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 shows interest in SCO. Azerbaijan, Cambodia and Syria are showing interest in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), but there are clear criteria for joining which should be observed, Anton Kobyakov, the advisor to the Russian president, the executive secretary of the organizing committee on preparation and chairmanship of the Russian Federation in the BRICS and the SCO, told TASS.

2The UN Security Council has delayed a vote on a British-drafted resolution that would condemn the 1995 massacre at Srebrenica during the Bosnian war as “a crime of genocide” after Russia informed council members it would veto the measure. Russia has circulated a rival draft resolution which does not mention either Srebrenica or genocide, but no vote has been scheduled on it. Last week, Russia’s deputy UN ambassador Petr Iliichev called the British draft “divisive”, saying the Russian draft was “more general, more reconciling”. [the guardian]

3North Caucasus — a Wall Against or a Bridge for IS? “Amid the vast ocean of Islamist radicalism, the particular focus given to Islamic State (IS) is merited by its role as the main center of gravity in the transformation of transnational violent jihadism today. Before exploring how this phenomenon is linked to and affects Russia in and beyond the North Caucasus and in the broader Eurasian context, and before examining the character, scale and the contextual limits of such links, it makes sense reflect on IS itself and the plethora of views and interpretations of this movement” writes Ekaterina Stepanova for the RIAC.

4Russia is set on Wednesday to host summits for the BRICS emerging economies and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a Eurasian economic and military alliance. Putin is expected to meet with the leaders of China and Iran during the event, which runs until Saturday in the Russian city of Ufa, about 1,200 kilometres east of Moscow. One of the event’s highlights is the expected launch of a BRICS bank, seen as a challenge to Western financial dominance.

5Ashgabat has hosted a forum on rational use of water resources. The forum was organized by Turkmenistan’s Water Industry Ministry and the embassy of South Korea in the country. The main purpose of the forum was to exchange experience and present projects and services based on the latest technologies and research in this sphere.South Korean companies presented projects on creating advanced integrated water supply management systems, purification and desalination of water and controlling its quality. South Korea’s leading “K-water” company which is the provider of services in this sphere presented projects on river restoration, including the construction of multipurpose dams and other facilities.

6The European Azerbaijan Society addresses open letter to Chatham House. The letter says: “Your invitation to this man (Bako Sahakyan) is an outrageous slap in the face to a people who have surely suffered enough for the past 23 years and, especially given the current situation in Armenia, is certainly a blow to the prospects for peace and democracy in the region… your credibility is shot; you should be ashamed to claim the status of an independent policy institute”

7How the Senate could make or break the Iran nuclear deal. “Under the terms of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act passed in May, if President Obama sends an agreement to Congress after July 9, the length of time Congress has to review the deal doubles from 30 to 60 days. Lawmakers can’t stop the U.S. from implementing the agreement entirely. But they can block the president from lifting some of the toughest sanctions against key sectors of Iran’s economy that were implemented by Congress, which would almost certainly cause the deal to fall apart” writes Rebecca Kaplan for the CBS.

8India Signs Five Key Agreements With Kazakhstan to Enhance Ties. “India and Kazakhstan today inked five key agreements including a defence pact to enhance military cooperation and a contract for supply of uranium after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev held comprehensive talks in which they decided to actively engage in the fight against terrorism and extremism” [NDTV]

9Why Russia’s turn to China is a mirage. “Since Japan has joined the West in imposing economic sanctions against Russia, and India’s trade with Russia remains small by comparison, the Kremlin’s turn to Asia has in essence been a turn to China. In the months following the escalation of the crisis in Ukraine, Moscow announced plans for a number of projects with China — ranging from a new method of inter-bank transfers, to a joint credit agency — that seek to create a shared financial and economic infrastructure between the two countries that would allow them to function independently of Western-dominated financial institutions” writes Björn Düben for Reuters.

10A delegation led by the minister of State for Foreign Trade of France, state secretary on the Promotion of Tourism and French Nationals Abroad Matthias Fekl visited Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Energy. The sides discussed issues of energy cooperation between Azerbaijan and France. Deputy Minister of Energy Gulmammad Javadov emphasized that, “Shah Deniz-2” field will allow the wide range of export of gas reserves through TANAP and TAP. Deputy Minister also spoke of the works carried out in the direction of reducing the country’s economy’s dependence on oil and gas, programs and projects realized in the field of alternative energy. He noted that, there is a need to benefit from the French experience in this direction. Mr. Matthias Fekl said that, energy cooperation with Azerbaijan covers the areas of oil production, geological exploration, petrochemical and gas industry. Speaking about the activities of Total in Absheron field, Matthias Fekl said that France is ready to provide financial support to gas projects.

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

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Multilateralism: The only path to address the world’s troubles

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Secretary-General António Guterres (center) meets with Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh. Photo: UNFPA Bangladesh/Allison Joyce

As the world’s problems grow, multilateralism represents to best path to meet the challenges that lie ahead, said United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on Tuesday, launching his annual report.

The Report of the Secretary-General on the Work of the Organization  for 2018, also tracks the progress made over the last year in maintaining peace and security, protecting human rights, and promoting sustainable development.

“I started my tenure calling for 2017 to be a year of peace, yet peace remains elusive,” said the UN chief in the report’s introduction, noting that since January last year “conflicts have deepened, with grave violations of human rights and humanitarian law; inequality has risen, intolerance has spread, discrimination against women remains entrenched and the impacts of climate change continue to accelerate.”

“We need unity and courage in setting the world on track towards a better future,” stressed Mr. Guterres, crediting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for generating coordinated efforts by Member States and civil society to “alleviate poverty and build peaceful, prosperous and inclusive societies.”

Wide-ranging reform

The most comprehensive reform of the UN development system in decades already underway, led by Mr. Guterres and his deputy, Amina Mohammed, aims to strengthen the Organization’s capacity to support Member States in achieving the 17 SDGs.

While the report points to gains, such as increased labour productivity, access to electricity and strengthened internet governance, it also illustrates that progress has been uneven and too slow to meet the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals within the given time frame.

For example, in 2015, three out of 10 people did not have access to safe drinking water, and  60 per cent lacked safe sanitation. Moreover conflicts, disasters and climate change are also adversely affecting populations.

The report underlines the importance of building stronger multilateral partnerships with Member States; regional and international organizations; and civil society; to “find solutions to global problems that no nation alone can resolve.”

Although the 2018 High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development of 2018 reflected some positive initiatives, it also showed the urgent need to step up efforts in areas such as energy cooperation, water and terrestrial ecosystems.

According to the report, “partnerships are key to achieving the SDGs” – and as of June, 3,834 partnerships had been registered with the Partnerships for the SDGs online platform from different sectors across all the 17 goals.

With regard to technology, last October a joint meeting of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and the Second Committee welcomed Sophia, the first robot to sit on a UN panel. This gave a glimpse into the advances being made in the realm of Artificial Intelligence.

Turning to young people, UN Youth Envoy, Jayathma Wickramanayake, of Sri Lanka, is continuously advocating for their needs and rights, including in decision-making processes at all levels, and in strengthening the UN system’s coordination on delivering for youth, and with their increased participation.

The UN report also spoke to the growing scale, complexity and impact of global migration. In July, the General Assembly agreed a Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, which will be presented for adoption in December at an Intergovernmental Conference in Morocco.

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Youth Calls for Action to Build the Workforce of the Future

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Special Senior Advisor to the ADB President Mr. Ayumi Konishi (4th from right) on behalf of ADB signs the Incheon Youth Declaration on The Future of Work at the 6th Asian Youth Forum. Photo: ADB

Over 400 youth representatives from Asia and the Pacific launched the Incheon Youth Declaration on the Future of Work, which calls upon the international community to invest in more inclusive, large-scale, and market-relevant solutions for youth employment and entrepreneurship.

The declaration, launched during the 6th Asian Youth Forum (AYF6) and coinciding with the celebration of the International Youth Day on 12 August, reflects the shared vision, commitments, and calls to action of the youth to inform future policy strategies and project initiatives to promote decent work. AYF6, with the theme “Building the workforce of the future,” was organized by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Incheon Metropolitan City, Incheon Tourism Organization, Plan International, and AIESEC.

“We at ADB commit to continue investing in youth through our operations, including through our work in education, and in many other sectors we are supporting. We appreciate that the declaration today covers various issues including partnerships, entrepreneurship, as well as environment,” said Special Senior Advisor to the ADB President Mr. Ayumi Konishi, who also emphasized that the declaration will help guide ADB in advancing efforts to invest in education and empowering youth as key development partners in the region.

“Incheon will further boost its efforts to support youth employment and startups through various policies, such as the establishment of youth policy organization, cluster for startup incubators, funds, and forum for startups,” said Vice Mayor of Incheon Metropolitan City Mr. Jong Sik Heo. Acting President of the Incheon Tourism Organization Mr. Yong Sik Lee also attended the event.

The declaration highlights several key issues affecting youth employment and the future of work and what several stakeholders including governments, private sector, civil society, multilateral institutions, academe, and the youth themselves can do to address them. These issues include ensuring decent work and inclusion; transitioning from education and training to work; fostering youth entrepreneurship; and preparing for jobs of the future.

Youth delegates from 20 developing member countries of ADB have expressed their commitment in carrying out the efforts outlined in the declaration. Ms. Priscilla Caluag, a delegate from the Philippines, shared that the Asian Youth Forum has given her and other young people from the region a unique opportunity to act in ways beyond their own personal interests but ultimately for the betterment of society.

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Are Real Estate CEOs missing out on the technology opportunity?

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In its 21st annual survey of CEOs from around the world PwC found that technology does not top the agenda for real estate CEOs either as a threat or an opportunity.

Only 17% of real estate CEOs cite cyber threats as a danger to their growth prospects, compared with 40% of all CEOs who took part in the survey.  While even fewer, only 10% of real estate CEOs, view the speed of technological change as a threat to their organisations compared with 38% of all CEOs.

Looking at opportunities only 20% of real estate CEOs said they clearly understood how robotics and artificial intelligence can improve customer services compared with 47% of all CEOs.

Real estate also appears to be a bit behind the curve when it comes to future talent with  just 43% of real estate CEOs rethinking their human resources function to attract digital talent compared with 60% of CEOs overall.

“For most of its history, the capital-intensive real estate industry has had good reason to be slow moving and conservative. But times are changing.  Technology, urbanisation and social changes are transforming how we live, work and play and therefore how we use real estate, meaning business leaders need to be bold and innovative if they will continue to succeed”, said Craig Hughes, global real estate leader, PwC.

“Our survey results suggest that real estate CEOs have some way to go if they are to meet digital disruption head on and reap the benefits.  In our view, this process should start through building a more diverse group of talent, including data scientists and behavioural experts, to work alongside their existing talent and build the real estate champions of tomorrow.”

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