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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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EU Politics

EU and 16 WTO members agree to work together on an interim appeal arbitration arrangement

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EU and Ministers from 16 Members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) have agreed to develop a multi-party interim appeal arrangement that will allow the participating WTO members to preserve a functioning and two-step dispute settlement system at the WTO in disputes among them. This initiative was launched in mid-December 2019 by the EU and a number of other WTO members following the effective paralysis of the WTO Appellate Body, due to the blockage of any new appointments since 2017.

Commissioner for Trade Phil Hogan said: “This statement testifies to the high importance that the EU and the participating WTO members attach to retaining a two-step dispute settlement process in WTO trade matters. The multiparty appeal arbitration arrangement will guarantee that the participating WTO members continue to have access to a binding, impartial and high-quality dispute settlement system among them. Let me underline again that this remains a contingency measure needed because of the paralysis of the WTO Appellate Body. We will continue our efforts to seek a lasting solution to the Appellate Body impasse, including through necessary reforms and improvements.”

The multi-party interim arrangement will be based on Article 25 of the WTO Dispute Settlement Understanding (DSU). It will secure the participating WTO members (Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the European Union, Guatemala, Republic of Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Singapore, Switzerland, and Uruguay) an effective and binding dispute settlement process for potential trade disputes among them.

The arrangement is a contingency measure and it will only apply until the WTO Appellate Body becomes operational again. The EU believes that an independent and impartial appeal stage, giving the necessary guarantees of rulings of the highest quality, must continue to be one of the essential features of the WTO dispute settlement system.

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Tech News

CTCN publication explores role of technology transfer in raising climate ambition

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The Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN) has published a report titled, ‘Climate Change Strategies 2020′, which highlights the role of technology transfer in the fight against climate change. The publication includes contributions from Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), as well as a foreword by CTCN Director, Rose Mwebaza, on how CTCN connects countries with the know-how, technology and finance to achieve their climate goals.There are different sections introducing best practices and cases stories regarding the action, technology, systematic change and making it happen.

The publication outlines the organizational structure and operating modalities of the CTCN in fulfilling its technology support and financing mandate for Parties to the UNFCCC. It explains how CTCN interventions help to build country capacities to adopt and use climate technology,  including through engaging local partners to develop context-specific solutions that are implemented through the global network of more than 500 specialized technical partners. 

It discusses the role of CTCN members in disseminating knowledge products, such as technology assessments, and information on new technologies and approaches, through the ctc-n.org online portal, which also serves as a clearinghouse for information on technical assistance interventions undertaken by the CTCN and its partners.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment) hosts the CTCN in collaboration with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the support of a consortium of partners that are engaged in some 1,500 activities related to climate technologies in over 150 countries.

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Mongolia, ADB Sign Grant to Develop Participatory Food Waste Recycling

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The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of Mongolia have signed a $3 million grant agreement to improve food waste recycling in local communities in the capital city, helping to keep Ulaanbaatar cleaner.

“Discarded food waste sullies the city and can be unhealthy for the people living here,” said ADB Country Director for Mongolia Mr. Pavit Ramachandran. “Implemented jointly with the government, the grant will help improve the living conditions in Ulaanbaatar by introducing participatory food waste recycling practices. It supports national programs and policies of Mongolia on solid waste management and the operational priorities of ADB’s long-term strategy—Strategy 2030.”

Around 1.2 million tons of solid waste are generated annually in Ulaanbaatar. Although close to 20% of the waste is recycled, food waste is typically dumped in formal or informal landfills. This large quantity of food waste pollutes the soil and groundwater and damages the health of urban communities, particularly in ger areas, where there are few water, sanitation, and waste disposal services.

The Ulaanbaatar Community Food Waste Recycling Project, with the participation of local communities, will identify food waste generation and composting options based on current food waste recycling practices. It will also pilot both smaller and larger food waste recycling activities, scale-up existing projects across Ulaanbaatar, and raise overall awareness of the need to recycle food waste.

The project is funded by the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction, which has supported projects in Mongolia in poverty alleviation, improving livelihoods, and safeguarding the environment over the past 20 years.

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