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
1Russia Quickly Maneuvers to Capitalize on Iran Nuclear Deal. “The deal reopens the door for lucrative contracts to expand Iran’s civilian nuclear energy program, which Russia has been looking forward to for years. And it may neutralize a major reason the United States has offered for developing a missile defense system in Europe, a project that President Vladimir V. Putin and other Kremlin officials have said was a threat to Russian security. “We all probably remember how in April 2009, giving a speech in Prague, the U.S. president, Barack Obama, said that if Iran’s nuclear program is successfully regulated, then the aim of the European segment of the missile defense will be dropped,” Mr. Lavrov said straight into the cameras of state-controlled Russian television. “This is why today we drew the attention of our American colleagues to this fact. We will expect a reaction” writes David M. Herszenhorn for the New York Times.
2Enemy of My Enemy: Keeping Iran Cornered through Saudi-Israeli Strategy. “What mitigating allies’ concerns truly means in this case is America may ultimately betray its promises and principles on stage today for other promises made to friends tomorrow. It just depends on how important the friends are. And Israel and Saudi Arabia are banking on always being very good friends. This is the true Great Game of the Middle East that no one likes to talk about. It is a game of strategic doubletalk” writes Dr. Matthew Crosston for Modern Diplomacy.
3Good Time to Have Foot in Iran as Nuclear Deal Boosts Stocks. “The deal is “bad for oil and related markets, and rather good for those interested in investing in quite possibly the most interesting market in the world,” said Emad Mostaque, a London-based strategist at emerging-market consultancy Ecstrat. Lower oil prices “will put real pressure on energy equities” as “the near-term impact of floating Iranian barrels and medium-term impact of increased Iranian production is absorbed by the market,” he said” [Washington Post]
4Turkmenistan takes concrete steps to resolve water issues at the national level and contributes to regional and international cooperation in this sphere, “Neutral Turkmenistan” newspaper reported. The constant growth of water consumption requires coordinated efforts and complex programs, as well as implementation of projects able to bring long-term effect, said the article. The large-scale project for creating artificial water reservoir – Altyn Asyr (Golden Age) lake – in Karakum desert is one of these projects. Currently, intensive work is underway as part of the second phase of this project. The collector’s branches are expanded and deepened, hydraulic structures, bridges, roads are constructed.
5Minister of Energy Natig Aliyev: 50% of works on Southern Gas corridor completed in Azerbaijan. “Though it is 2015, we are ahead of the schedule. Our work is to expand the Southern Gas Corridor. We must complete all projects by 2019. However, we have already done 50% of works. It encourages us”, the Minister said. Aliyev also noted that the works on TANAP are also carried out within the schedule: “We also control this project. We often hold meetings in Istanbul and Ankara. Our partners inform us about the works. There is no delay in that project either”.
6In January-June, 2015 Kazakhstan GDP increased by 1.7%, reported the Statistics Committee of the Ministry of the National Economics of the Republic of Kazakhstan, according to APK Inform. The bullish trend is based on the production growth in major industries, In particular, actual volume index totaled 100.6%, in agriculture – 103%, trade – 102.1%, transports – 106.7%.
7KHORASAN: Where DAESH, Caspian Energy, and Great Power Politics Meet. “Khorasan is a region that encompasses much of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Iran. To DAESH, Khorasan represents the first battleground of its end-of-days scenario. To regional powers, Khorasan represents the future of energy” writes Evan Thomsen for Modern Diplomacy.
8 ‘Rising’ Iran asserts right to play constructive Middle East role. “Now that the nuclear marathon is over, encouraging hopes for a better relationship with its old American enemy, Iran is projecting itself as an island of stability in a sea of trouble and demanding to be treated as an equal. The supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, continues to excoriate “global arrogance”, as he always has, but has hinted clearly at cooperation with the US once sanctions end, and dignity – a recurrent word – has been restored” writes Ian Black for the guardian.
9Greek Agreement and Iranian Deal Leave Russia Disappointed and Irrelevant. “Moscow was, in fact, more interested in the talks breaking down, so that the EU would plunge into a deep mess marked by a “Grexit” and Iran would remain isolated by the sanctions regime. However, the two landmark compromises signify a big step forward in enhancing the governability of world order, which leaves Russia—as a revisionist power that favors a crisis of the West-imposed global order—quite irrelevant” writes Pavel K. Baev for the Jamestown.
10An Archaeology Festival dedicated to the International Archaeology Day will be held in Azerbaijan’s medieval city of Agsu on July 24-25. The city’s archaeological and tourist complex will host the event. It is being organized by the Agsu archaeological expedition of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography and the “Miras” Public Union, dedicated to assisting the study of cultural heritage. The festival will include joint archaeological investigations within the complex, various competitions, and meetings with famous archaeologists.The aim of the event is to promote national heritage and ancient architecture, as well as to help develop Azerbaijan’s tourism industry.
EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey: Solid progress in supporting refugees
The Commission reported today good progress in the implementation and programming of €6 billion of the EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey. More than 80 projects are currently up and running delivering tangible results to refugees and host communities in particular on education and health. Out of the €6 billion, some €4.2 billion has been allocated, of which €3.45 billion has been contracted and €2.22 billion disbursed to date.
Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations,said: “We continue to make good progress in the implementation and programming of the Facility. More than 80 projects to date provide vital assistance in the areas of education, health, protection and socio-economic support, and more projects are in the pipeline. We remain committed to continue our support to refugees and host communities in Turkey, addressing current needs and increasing resilience and self-reliance for the longer term.”
Christos Stylianides, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management,added: “The European Union is continuing to support refugees in Turkey, in line with its commitment. 1.6 million refugees are receiving humanitarian assistance to meet their basic needs. Looking ahead to the future, we are working to make our support more sustainable. We remain committed to continue working closely with Turkey to make this possible.”
Today, the twelfth Steering Committee meeting of the EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey took place in Brussels. It was chaired by the Commission and brought together representatives of EU Member States and Turkey.
The Committee reviewed the third annual monitoring report on the implementation of the Facility and confirmed the progress made in the programming of the second €3 billion tranche of the budget of the Facility. It completed the evaluation of project proposals in the areas of socio-economic support and municipal infrastructure to the tune of €845 million.
The 84 projects set up in the framework of the Facility bring forth concrete outcomes and a significant positive impact for refugees and host communities alike, facilitating the integration of refugees in the Turkish society.
For education, one of the priority areas of action, the EU signed a €400 million contract to continue its support to existing programmes, which is to be complemented by a further €100 million before the summer. This involves the construction of 136 school buildings and 50 prefabricated schools well under way. This progress in education infrastructure goes hand in hand with the implementation of the project for Promoting Integration of Syrian Children into Turkish Education System (PICTES), which benefits 400,000 students.
In the area of health, 5 million healthcare consultations have been carried out, with 178 migrant health centres now operational, employing over 2,600 staff, two thirds of which are Syrian refugees.
The EU is highly focused on ensuring the sustainability of the Facility’s humanitarian and development activities, which aim to support the Turkish authorities in a structural manner and to facilitate refugee integration. Under the humanitarian strand of the second tranche, the EU is implementing projects for a total of €50 million in addition the ongoing projects under the first tranche, those have already delivered tangible results for refugees and host communities.
The EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey was set up in 2015 in response to the European Council’s call for significant additional funding to support Syrian refugees in Turkey.
It has a total budget of €6 billion divided into two equal tranches of €3 billion each, allocated over two periods: 2016-2017 and 2018-2019.Out of the operational funds of €6 billion, €2.22 billion has already been disbursed, €3.45 billion contracted, with over 80 projects rolled out.
The Facility provides a joint coordination mechanism, designed to ensure that the needs of refugees and host communities are addressed in a comprehensive and coordinated manner. The support seeks to improve conditions for refugees in Turkey as part of the EU’s comprehensive approach to addressing the refugee crisis inside and outside the EU.
European Union and World Bank Support to Help Enhance Georgia’s Innovation Ecosystem
The European Union (EU) and the World Bank launched today the Increasing Institutional Capacity for Innovation (IICI) project, at an event held at Tech Park Georgia. Nika Alavidze, Deputy Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia, Mercy Tembon, World Bank Regional Director for the South Caucasus, and Stig Kjeldsen, First Secretary at Delegation of the European Union to Georgia offered opening remarks at the event.
“The World Bank is proud to continue to stand by GITA as it transforms from a young ‘startup’ agency into a mature framework for Georgia’s coordination of its innovation and entrepreneurship policy and practice,” said Mercy Tembon, World Bank Regional Director for the South Caucasus. “With support from the EU, and the Bank’s technical assistance, this project will allow GITA to take the next step toward greater institutional capacity and effectiveness, test the potential for technology transfer, and improve opportunities for investing in innovative, early stage companies in Georgia.”
“Innovation increases SME competitiveness and creates jobs, and innovation policy is actually at the heart of the EU’s own Europe 2020 strategy for growth and job creation,” said Stig Kjeldsen, Cooperation Officer at the EU Delegation to Georgia. “Further assisting GITA in building Georgia’s innovation ecosystem falls naturally in line with the EU’s commitment to supporting business development in Georgia.”
The IICI project is financed by the EU to the amount of €2.7 million and will be implemented by the World Bank. The overall objective of the project is to increase GITA’s capacity to develop and implement innovation and entrepreneurship policies and programs with medium- and long-term strategies and results; test and demonstrate the viability of technology transfer between educational institutions and the private sector in Georgia; improve the deal flow of innovative start-ups ready for investment, and fund availability for early-stage companies.
The IICI project is expected to generate important results, including: easier access to support and finance for a greater number of small and medium enterprises and innovative firms, a more coherent public approach to supporting entrepreneurs and SMEs and a boost in overall innovative economic activity.
World Bank Group Releases Little Data Book on Gender
The World Bank Group today released the Little Data Book on Gender 2019 to provide an easily accessible entry point to statistics tracking gaps between men and women, boys and girls for 217 economies around the world with comparable data for 2000 and 2017.
In addition to demographic and economic information, the Little Data Book on Gender indicators include the proportion of women and men who use the internet, sex-disaggregated smoking prevalence, and the percentage of female graduates from science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs in tertiary education.
The book includes two indicators from the Women, Business and the Law database: the length of paid maternity leave and whether women are legally able to work in the same industries as men.
“Progress in eliminating poverty and ensuring shared prosperity can be enhanced and accelerated when we have good data,” said Caren Grown, World Bank Group Senior Director for Gender. “The Little Data Book on Gender offers policymakers and development practitioners easy access to data on males and females in the domains in which we work – health, education, and economic life. As sex-disaggregated data becomes increasingly available, there is no excuse to not use it in our policy dialogue and to inform choices about interventions.”
This edition of the Little Data Book on Gender also features online tables that will be updated quarterly.
“Regular online updates will make it easier than ever to see how women and men are faring across a range of global indicators, and to track progress over time,” said Haishan Fu, Director, Development Data Group. “This supplements the fuller, curated data and analysis tools provided by the World Bank Group, including through the Gender Data Portal.”
The Little Data Book on Gender shows remarkable broad progress toward gender equality in education enrollment and health, while gender inequality remains stubbornly persistent in access to economic opportunities. On virtually every global measure, the Little Data Book on Gender reveals that women are more likely than men to be engaged in low productivity activities, and to work more in vulnerable employment.
The Little Data Book on Gender can be accessed online through the World Bank’s Gender Data Portal, and can be used by researchers, journalists, policy makers, and anyone interested in gaps between men and women.
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