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Is this the moment of truth for an Iran deal?

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

1“One of the most difficult disputes appears to deal with conventional, not nuclear weapons – the arms embargo enshrined in the UN Security Council Resolutions on Iranian sanctions adopted in 2006. Iran argues that ending the ban is central to its quest to end its pariah status in the region and restore its national pride.But the P5+1 is clearly divided. Western countries, mindful of significant regional tensions, have opposed lifting a ban which would allow Tehran to buy and sell arms. “We have always said this would one of the most sensitive issues,” said one senior Western diplomat last week.Russia and China are known to back Iran’s view that the embargo should now end. Russia’s foreign ministry even spelled it out in a tweet: “#Lavrov: The arms embargo on Iran must be one of the first sanctions to be lifted.” Writes Lyse Doucet for BBC.

2Russia, China benefit from Iran nuclear deal. US Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina has criticized Russia and China over nuclear negotiations with Iran, saying those countries will benefit from a possible agreement with Tehran.“China and Russia have not been negotiating on our side of the table,” she told ABC News on Sunday.“It is in those two countries’ interests that Iran’s economy is open,” she said. “And so in many ways they have been negotiating on Iran’s side of the table.”The former chief executive of Hewlett-Packard software company also attacked American negotiators for caving in to President Barack Obama’s goals.“I would have walked away because if you can’t walk away from the negotiating table, the other side just keeps negotiating,” Fiorina said.“We have caved on every major goal that President Obama set,” she claimed.The Obama administration’s critics have voiced concern as Washington and its negotiating partners are in talks with the Islamic Republic in Vienna to finalize a nuclear deal.

3The U.S., a strategic partner and friend of Azerbaijan, will continue cooperating on the Southern Gas Corridor project and other projects to be implemented in the future. This remark was made by Amos Hochstein, a Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs at the U.S. Department of State on July 11. “Today, the delegation has met with President Ilham Aliyev,” he told reporters. “We have discussed the energy security and the role of Azerbaijan and the U.S. in partnership, Azerbaijani gas supply to Europe. This is part of the solution to the energy security problem of Europe.” Hochstein noted under the leadership of President Aliyev, Azerbaijan has played an important role in transforming an idea into reality.

4Kazakh President Nurusltan Nazarbayev underlined Iran’s important role in regional and international security, Irna reported.’The Islamic Republic of Iran has a high status in restoration of regional and international security,’ the Kazakh president said, addressing the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Ufa, Russia, on Friday. The Kazakh president also highlighted Iran’s role in SCO’s economic and trade cooperation structure, and said, ‘I hope the ongoing negotiations between Iran and the Group 5+1 would end successfully and final agreement would be struck by the negotiating sides.’ President Nazarbayev pointed to the complicated and tense situation of the Middle East, and said, ‘The conditions of Syria, Yemen, Libya and Iraq is the cause of concern and there are still differences between the Palestinians and Israel.’

5Prime Minister Narendra Modi on a visit to Turkmenistan yesterday backed stronger energy ties with the gas-rich ex-Soviet state. Meeting Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov for talks in Ashgabat, the premier backed an ambitious project to build a pipeline from Turkmenistan to deliver its vast energy resources to India. The long-planned gas pipeline project, named TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India), would be “a key pillar of economic engagement between the two countries” and have a “transformational impact,” the leaders said in a joint statement. The leaders “reaffirmed their strong commitment towards timely implementation of this strategic project for the common benefit of peoples of the four countries.” Berdymukhamedov said after the talks that the gas pipeline project “is already entering the final stage and soon we will start the practical implementation.We are standing on the threshold of a remarkable event,” the Turkmen leader said.

6Normalization of Georgian-Russian relations. Russian State Secretary, Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin and Georgian prime minister’s special representative for relations with Russia Zurab Abashidze will discuss the issues of cooperation between the two counties in transport sphere, Sputnik reported. The announcement about the discussions was made by Karasin himself. The diplomat said the results of normalization of Georgian-Russian relations are obvious for everyone. “Bilateral trade between the two countries has increased by 1.5 times over two years and reached $850 million,” said Karasin. “Georgia’s export to Russia has increased more than fivefold as a result of lifting the restrictions on supply of wine and agricultural products.”Furthermore, he said that the two countries have resumed cooperation in the international road transport sphere.

7Real estate prices decrease in Azerbaijan. Real estate expert Rashad Aliyev believes there are several reasons leading to the price decrease in Azerbaijan’s real estate market.”First, oil prices have decreased, and this factor has affected the whole economy: government expenditures reduced, revenues from abroad decreased,” he said. “Low liquidity also played a role. Also, flow of capital in the real estate market has reduced. This was due to the fact that many banks have restricted the allocation of loans in manat, which led to a shortage of funds.” [AzerNews]

8South Africa nuclear energy deal with Moscow. South Africa has given its clearest indication yet of a possible nuclear energy deal with Moscow, with the signing of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the two countries that would see 200 locals going to Russia for training. The Department of Energy last week revealed that a deal with Russia was signed on the sidelines of the Brics summit in Russia, where Moscow would provide training for South African nuclear power plan personnel, engineers and construction workers in preparation for the launch of South Africa’s nuclear power plants. The deal that is expected to cost South Africa more than R1.2 trillion will see Russia build South African nuclear power plants to alleviate the electricity crisis in the country. South Africa put a six-month deadline to award the contracts.

9What Azerbaijan and Central Asia Have in Common. “While not nearly as remittance-dependent as Kyrgyzstan or Tajikistan, Azerbaijan nonetheless maintains warming relations with Russia, both due to general autocratic consolidation as well as Russia’s swelling arms trade with Baku’s regime. Azerbaijan doesn’t maintain quite the level of relations that Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan know with China, though with the ever-expanding breadth of China’s Silk Road Economic Belt initiative, Baku’s relations with Beijing will only continue to swell.” Writes Casey Michel for The Diplomat.

10The 2016 Formula One season could start nearly a month later than usual and feature a record 21 races, with Azerbaijan hosting one for the first time, the sport’s governing body said on Friday. Azerbaijan’s capital Baku was chosen to host its first race on July 17, while Germany is due to return to the fold on July 31 after abruptly dropping out of the 2015 schedule.

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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UN mourns death of former Secretary-General Kofi Annan, ‘a guiding force for good’

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Kofi Annan was the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations. In this photo from 2003, he is addressing reporters at Headquarters. UN Photo/Evan Schneider

The United Nations is mourning the death of former Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who passed away peacefully after a short illness, according to a statement published on his official Twitter account on Saturday. The renowned Ghanain diplomat was 80 years old.

The current UN chief, Antonio Guterres hailed him as “a guiding force for good” and a “proud son of Africa who became a global champion for peace and all humanity.”

“Like so many, I was proud to call Kofi Annan a good friend and mentor. I was deeply honoured by his trust in selecting me to serve as UN High Commissioner for Refugees under his leadership. He remained someone I could always turn to for counsel and wisdom — and I know I was not alone,” Mr. Guterres said in a statement.

“He provided people everywhere with a space for dialogue, a place for problem-solving and a path to a better world.  In these turbulent and trying times, he never stopped working to give life to the values of the United Nations Charter. His legacy will remain a true inspiration for all us.”

Kofi Annan was born in Kamasi, Ghana, on 8 April 1938.

He joined the UN system in 1962 as an administrative and budget officer with the World Health Organization in Geneva, rising through the ranks to hold senior-level posts in areas such as budget and finance, and peacekeeping.

He served as UN Secretary-General for two consecutive five-year terms, beginning in January 1997.

Mr. Annan joined the UN system in 1962 as an administrative and budget officer with the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, rising to hold senior-level posts in areas such as budget and finance, and peacekeeping.

As Mr. Guterres noted: “In many ways, Kofi Annan was the United Nations. He rose through the ranks to lead the organization into the new millennium with matchless dignity and determination.”

From his beginnings in Geneva, Mr. Annan held UN posts in places such as Ethiopia, Egypt, the former Yugoslavia and at Headquarters in New York.

Following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990, he was tasked with facilitating the repatriation of more than 900 international staff as well as the release of Western hostages.

He later led the first UN team negotiating with Iraq on the sale of oil to fund purchases of humanitarian aid.

Immediately prior to his appointment as Secretary-General in January 1997, Mr. Annan headed the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations during a period which saw an unprecedented growth in the Organization’s field presence.

His first major initiative as UN chief was a plan for UN reform, presented to Member States in July 1997.

Mr. Annan used his office to advocate for human rights, the rule of law, development and Africa, and he worked to bring the UN closer to people worldwide by forging ties with civil society, the private sector and other partners.

As Secretary-General, he also galvanized global action to fight HIV/AIDS and combat terrorism.

Mr. Annan and the United Nations jointly were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001.

In his farewell statement to the UN General Assembly in December 2006, Kofi Annan expressed emotion over leaving what he called “this mountain with its bracing winds and global views.”

Although the job had been difficult and challenging, he admitted that it was also “thrillingly rewarding” at times.

“And while I look forward to resting my shoulder from those stubborn rocks in the next phase of my life, I know I shall miss the mountain,” he said.

However, Mr. Annan did not rest, taking on the role of UN Special Envoy for Syria in the wake of the conflict which began in March 2011.

He also chaired an Advisory Commission established by Myanmar in 2016 to improve the welfare of all people in Rakhine state, home to the minority Rohingya community.

His homeland, Ghana, established an international peacekeeping training centre that bears his name, which was commissioned in 2004.

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Waste-to-energy and circular economy workshops to be held in Uruguay

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photo: UNIDO

The Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the Technology Executive Committee (TEC), and the Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN) are organizing two workshops during the Latin America & Caribbean Climate Week (LACCW), which will take place between 20 and 23 August in Montevideo. The sessions, titled: “Enabling circular economy solutions to boost climate action” and “Enabling waste-to-energy, industrial waste reuse and prevention solutions to achieve circular economy and boost climate action”, will be held as part of the Regional Technical Expert Meetings on Mitigation (TEMs-M) and the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action.

The first workshop will present the concept of “circular economy”, an alternative to a traditional linear economy (make, use and dispose), which is restorative and regenerative by design and redefines products and services to design waste out, being ultimately powered by renewables. The second workshop will then discuss how waste-to-energy, industrial waste reuse and prevention solutions are integral parts to achieving a circular economy and its associated economic and environmental benefits.

The events will bring together members from the civil society, UN agencies and financial institutions. The high-impact case studies presented will serve as a basis for discussion on the vision/goal in terms of harnessing mitigation potential and co-benefits of circular economy related policies, practices and actions as well as on innovative approaches to waste-to-energy and waste reuse/prevention that are actionable in the short term for the region. Participants will learn the necessary elements for replication and upscaling of circular economy and specifically waste-to-energy solutions, such as policy, partnerships and the need of financial, technical and capacity building resources.

Manuel Albaladejo, UNIDO Representative in Uruguay, said, “It is important to understand that the circular economy starts at the design stage and that profitability rarely comes by bending a linear model into a circular one.”

With the Latin America Carbon Forum as a cornerstone event, the focus of Latin America & Caribbean Climate Week (LACCW) will be placed on market-based approaches, economic instruments and climate-aligned finance to drive investment in climate action.

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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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