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Why did Obama praise Putin?

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

1Why did Obama praise Putin? “Putin may be expecting to see a new international order, hoping that Obama will agree to a throwback to the days of “spheres of influence,” in which the United States gives latitude so certain countries can exercise influence in certain regions. Under that geopolitical structure, Russia would be tacitly allowed by the United States to be the dominant power in its neighborhood including, say, Ukraine, and other former Soviet Republic states, while Iran would call the shots in its part of the world, much as it tries to do with some success now in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and elsewhere” writes Frida Ghitis for CNN.

2The oil and gas sector of Kazakhstan. Organization of procurements at key E&P companies 2014 – this research study provides an overview of the country’s oil and gas industry with a breakdown into key performance indicators over the last five years and an overview of the procurement system for goods services and expendables in the industry. The report examines domestic ways and means by which the major industry players arrange procurements devoting due attention to subtle features and fine details. [ResearchMoz.us]

3Azerbaijan Country Profile. An instant guide to the political, economic, demographic, industrial, and business environment of Azerbaijan. The report provides a range of quantitative and qualitative information on a variety of national aspects including geography, education, labor, infrastructure, tax, trade, investment, and ease of doing business. It also provides a PESTLE analysis of the country’s business climate. The profile can be an effective tool for businesses in their marketing, strategy, and planning exercises when studying the future prospects of an economy. [Research and Markets]

4Kazakhstan Expands Visa-Free Travel Program. The former Soviet republic in Central Asia, bordered by Russia and China, among others, said the new rules would eliminate visa requirements for travelers from Australia, Belgium, Britain, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Monaco, the Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates and the United States. The new policy will remain in effect until at least the end of 2017.

5Obama echoes Reagan on Iran. “When President Ronald Reagan met Mikhail Gorbachev in Geneva in November 1985, he whispered to the Soviet leader: “I bet the hard-liners in both our countries are bleeding when we shake hands.” Iran is not the Soviet Union. But the Reagan legacy is worth pondering to understand why, barely hours after the nuclear deal with Iran was announced, so many of President Obama’s critics leapt to conclude that the accord, as House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said, would “only embolden Iran — the world’s largest sponsor of terror.” Many of the president’s supporters were just as fast off the mark in backing him” writes E.J. Dionne Jr. for Washington Post.

6Turkmenistan must find way to sell its gas to Europe. Bruce Pannier an expert on Central Asia, stressed that Turkmenistan does have long-term contracts with China to sell at least 65 billion cubic meters (bcm) annually and possibly up to 80 bcm.“But the modest contracts Turkmenistan has with Iran are likely to vanish completely in just a few years as Iran develops its own internal gas pipeline network. Gas exports to Russia have fallen from some 42 bcm in 2008 to 4 bcm now and it could fall even further,” he said. Expert is also skeptical about TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India gas pipeline) project, which, he believes might never be built. “So for Turkmenistan it is not just a question of it would nice to sell gas to Europe, it is more a matter of Turkmenistan must find a way to sell gas to Europe or the country will be left with only China as a customer,” Pannier said adding that in such a situation the advantage in negotiating price will be with Beijing. [trend.az]

7Putin Flexes Diplomatic Muscle on Iran. “Some analysts questioned why Russia would be so eager to help bring about the nuclear accord, as the return of Iran to the world oil market could further depress prices and hurt the Russia economy, which is heavily dependent on petroleum sales and already in recession.“Russia has been rather ambivalent about striking the deal, not because it is worried about the Iranian nuclear program, but because it is worried about the Iranian oil,” said Pavel K. Baev, a researcher at the Peace Research Institute in Oslo” David M. Herszenhorn and Steven Lee Myers for the New York Times.

8Azerbaijan to develop tourism industry. Azerbaijan’s tourism industry will receive a fresh boost as the country plans to cut airfare, hotel prices, and facilitate is visa process, while constructing additional budget hotels. Vugar Shikhammadov, the head of the Information and Public Relations Department of Azerbaijani Culture and Tourism Ministry, has said that the Ministry has begun to execute instructions on developing tourism given by President Ilham Aliyev during the Cabinet meeting. President Aliyev has ordered to speed up the procedure of issuing visas to tourists, and reduce air and hotel fares in the country.

9Obama and Putin: Does the Iran deal predict future cooperation? “Tuesday’s Iran deal may have paved the way for a new partnership – not between Iran and the P5+1 countries, but between two of the P5+1 countries themselves. President Barack Obama said that during the long-awaited deal’s negotiations he found an unlikely ally in Russian president Vladimir Putin. In an interview with The New York Times’ Thomas Friedman, Mr. Obama said Mr. Putin’s cooperation “surprised” him and was critical to the agreement’s realization. He also referenced a recent phone call from Putin that made him optimistic for future cooperation over Syria. “Russia was a help on this,” Obama said. “I’ll be honest with you. I was not sure given the strong differences we are having with Russia right now around Ukraine, whether this would sustain itself. Putin and the Russian government compartmentalized on this in a way that surprised me, and we would have not achieved this agreement had it not been for Russia’s willingness to stick with us and the other P5-Plus members in insisting on a strong deal.” writes Sarah Caspari for the Christian Science Monitor.

10Azerbaijan sees 13% growth in commodity market. In January-June 2015, AZN 12 bln-good were sold to consumers in the retail trade subjects, up 13.4% from previous year. State Statistical Committee says AZN 49.5% of the sold products fell to share of food products, drinks and tobacco products, 50.5% – to share of non-food products. Share of non-food products rose 1.3 percentage points.

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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