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NATO: Azerbaijan’s importance is growing

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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 is going to be an important component of global energy security market place, according to NATO Liaison Officer in the South Caucasus William Lahue. It is important that countries have multiple sources of supply in order to protect themselves from fluctuations in available sources of supply,” he said. “In this process Azerbaijan is going to be important, and its importance is growing.”

2A report on the results of the recent talks with Turkmenistan’s official delegation led by Deputy Prime Minister Baimurad Hodzhamuhammedov in Tokyo was heard at the recent meeting of the country’s Cabinet of Ministers. During the working visit, there were held meetings with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and business representatives. The meetings focused on the prospects for attracting Japanese investments in the implementation of the projects for developing fields in Turkmenistan, modernization of the oil and gas industry and diversification of the supply routes of Turkmen gas, as well as cooperation within other bilateral agreements and contracts.

3Russia has become the most attractive market among BRICS countries for investors in 2015, replacing China as the top earner, this according to the Bloomberg news agency. Concerns over falling oil prices and the collapse of the ruble at the end of 2014 have largely dissipated, with investors betting on fewer political risks for Moscow.According to Bloomberg, “the tables have turned in these seven months.” Crude has rebound, and investors have calmed down over the country’s troubles. Oil has stabilised above US$ 55 a barrel and a cease-fire is holding in eastern Ukraine, whose crisis the West has blamed on Russia.“Most Russian stocks are fundamentally undervalued,” said Mattias Westman, the London-based founder of Prosperity Capital Management, a major asset investment firm heavily involved in former Soviet republics. “There is potential for further recovery,” he explained. Russia’s economy, set to contract this year for the first time since 2009, may rebound 0.5 per cent in 2016. At the same time, European economic sanctions over the Ukraine are likely to be relaxed, as it will not be “easy to convince everyone to prolong them” next year, Westman said.

4Iran set for significant investment. A few investors are racing to establish funds for Iran following last week’s nuclear deal with world powers, and many others are tapping into multinationals already present in the $400bn economy. The agreement has made some seek a foothold in Tehran’s $100bn stock market even before sanctions are lifted, although others are taking a more cautious approach. Classified as an upper-middle income country, with a population of 78m and annual output higher than that of Thailand or the United Arab Emirates, Iran is set to be the biggest economy to rejoin the global trading and financial system since the break-up of the Soviet Union over 20 years ago.

5“Hybrid war” – a Scholarly Term or a Propaganda Cliché? “In June 2015 the Finnish Institute of International Affairs (FIIA) published a report entitled “Russia’s Hybrid War in Ukraine: Breaking the enemy’s ability to resist”, by András Rácz, a senior research fellow at the institute [1]. As the title indicates, the subject of the paper is the phenomenon of “hybrid war”. Following Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the start of military actions between Ukrainian security forces and units of the non-recognised Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics in 2014, this phenomenon has attracted the close attention of political, military, academic and journalistic circles in western countries and in Russia” writes Pyotr Topychkanov for RIAC.

6Russia’s Coming Regime Change. Regime change in Russia is inevitable, maybe imminent. But the West should not bet on that eventuality or make it a policy goal. The Russian people will rise up again, but the path to a sustainable democracy and stable economy will be challenging. The West should be ready to help then” writes Andrei V. Kozyrev for the New York Times.

7Your Time Is Over Mr. Netanyahu. “Three years ago, when the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu displayed an imaginary map of Iran’s effort to build nuclear bomb at the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly to the attendees, he was not taken seriously by anybody, even his own American friends. At that time, some politicians told Netanyahu that “your time is over,” though he did not believe them” writes Haroun Yashayaei, Leader of Iran’s Jewish Community for Iran Review.

8Market study: Home Care in Kazakhstan. Home care saw a good sales growth during the review period benefiting from economic growth in Kazakhstan and rising income levels. There was strong expansion in the country’s mid-income group while many low-income consumers also benefited from increased household budgets. Consequently low-income consumers became able to buy a wider range of home care while mid- to high-income consumers continued to trade up to more specialised and value-added products. Urbanisation also contributed to sales. [Euromonitor]

9Turkmenistan, India to hold talks on TAPI project. Talks on Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project will be held in India’s New Delhi city July 21. For this purpose, a Turkmen delegation has been sent on an official visit to India in accordance with the order of Turkmenistan’s President Gurbanguly Berdimuhammadov. TAPI project was one of the key issues during the negotiations between Turkmenistan’s president and India’s prime minister in Ashgabat July 11.

10Azerbaijan specifies requirements on state secrets protection. The activities of state authorities of Azerbaijan in the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan and beyond, regardless of legal form of the organization and types of property, all enterprises, institutions and organizations performing activities related to state secret, formations, military units and institutions of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces and other military agencies established in accordance with the legislation shall be based upon the provisions of the Requirements.

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

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Fight against human trafficking must be strengthened in Ethiopia

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A group of internally displaced people due to the Tigray conflict gather in a site in Ethiopia's Afar region, Ethiopia. © UNHCR/Alessandro Pasta

Throughout Ethiopia’s Tigray, Afar and Amhar regions, women and girls are becoming increasingly vulnerable to abduction and sex trafficking as they flee ongoing armed conflict, a group of UN-appointed independent human rights experts warned on Monday.

The protracted conflict in the three northern regions have heightened risks of trafficking for sexual exploitation as a form of sexual violence in conflict, the experts said in a statement.

“We are alarmed by reports of refugee and internally displaced women and girls in the Tigray, Afar, and Amhara regions being abducted while attempting to move to safer places,” they said.

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“We are concerned at the risks of trafficking, in particular for purposes of sexual exploitation, including sexual slavery.” 

Women and children in crosshairs

Amidst abductions and displacement, the UN experts raised serious concerns over Eritrean refugee women and children being at particular risk of sex trafficking.

“Urgent action is needed to prevent trafficking, especially for purposes of sexual exploitation, and to ensure assistance and protection of all victims, without discrimination on grounds of race or ethnicity, nationality, disability, age or gender,” they said.  

Meanwhile, the hundreds of children who have been separated from their families, especially in the Tigray region, are particularly vulnerable, warned the independent experts.

“The continuing lack of humanitarian access to the region is a major concern,” the experts continued, urging immediate national, bilateral and multilateral measures to prevent all forms of trafficking of children and to ensure their protection.

Identifying victims

They added that sufficient measures were not being taken to identify victims of trafficking, or support their recovery in ways that fully takes account of the extreme trauma being suffered.

“The failure to provide accountability for these serious human rights violations and grave crimes creates a climate of impunity, allows trafficking in persons to persist and perpetrators to go free,” underscored the six UN experts.

They urged all relevant stakeholders to ensure that victims of trafficking can adequately access medical assistance, including sexual and reproductive healthcare services and psychological support.

The experts said they had made their concerns known to both the Governments of Ethiopia and neighbouring Eritrea.

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35 years of Cultural Routes: Safeguarding European Values, Heritage, and Dialogue

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A Europe rich in history, heritage, dialogue and values: the Council of Europe Cultural Routes’ programme celebrates its 35th anniversary, on the occasion of the 11th Advisory Forum in Minoa Palace Hotel, Chania, Crete (Greece) on 5-7 October, with a special event to highlight the relevance of Cultural Routes for the promotion of cultural diversity, intercultural dialogue and sustainable tourism.

The Forum is organised by the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe and the European Institute of Cultural Routes, in co-operation with the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports, the Hellenic Ministry of Tourism, the Greek National Tourism Organization, the Region of Crete, the Municipality of Chania, the Chamber of Industry and Commerce of Chania, and the Historic Cafes Route. The 2022 edition will be the opportunity to underline the growing relevance of the Cultural Routes methodology and practices in promoting Europe’s shared cultural heritage while fostering viable local development.

Deputy Secretary General Bjørn Berge will participate in the high-level dialogue, together with Minister of Culture and Sports of Greece Lina Mendoni, Minister of Tourism of Greece Vassilis Kikilias, Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) Vice-President and Chairperson of the Greek Delegation Dora Bakoyannis and Chair of the Statutory Committee of Cultural Routes Ambassador Patrick Engelberg (Luxembourg). 

Over three days of workshops and interactive debates, three main general sessions will be explored:

  1. Promoting European Values and Intercultural Dialogue;
  2. Safeguarding Heritage in Times of Crisis;
  3. Fostering Creative Industries, Cultural Tourism, Innovative Technologies for Sustainable Communities.

The Forum will discuss trends and challenges in relation to Cultural Routes, providing a platform for sharing experiences, reviewing progress, analysing professional practices, launching new initiatives and developing partnerships across Europe and beyond. Participants range from managers among the 48 cultural routes to representatives of national ministries, International Organisations, academics, experts and tourism professionals.

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Little progress combating systemic racism against people of African descent

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More than two years since the murder of George Floyd by a police officer in the United States sparked the global Black Lives Matter movement, there’s been only “piecemeal progress” in addressing systemic racism, the UN human rights office (OHCHR) said on Friday, in a new report.While more people have been made aware of systemic racism and concrete steps have been taken in some countries, the Acting High Commissioner for Human Rights called on States to demonstrate greater political will to accelerate action.

“There have been some initiatives in different countries to address racism, but for the most part they are piecemeal. They fall short of the comprehensive evidence-based approaches needed to dismantle the entrenched structural, institutional and societal racism that has existed for centuries, and continues to inflict deep harm today,” said Nada Al-Nashif, who will present the report to the UN Human Rights Council on Monday.

Triggering change

The report describes international, national and local initiatives that have been taken, towards ending the scourge of racism.

These include an Executive Order from the White House on advancing effective, accountable policing and criminal justice practices in federal law enforcement agencies; an Anti-Racism Data Act in British Columbia, Canada; measures to evaluate ethnic profiling by police in Sweden; and census data collection to self-identify people of African descent in Argentina.

The European Commission has issued guidance on collecting and using data based on racial or ethnic origin; formal apologies issued, memorialization, revisiting public spaces, and research, to assess links to enslavement and colonialism in several countries.

‘Barometer for success’

The report notes that poor outcomes continue for people of African descent in many countries, notably in accessing health and adequate food, education, social protection, and justice – while poverty, enforced disappearance and violence continues.

It highlights “continuing…allegations of discriminatory treatment, unlawful deportations, excessive use of force, and deaths of African migrants and migrants of African descent by law enforcement officials”

The barometer for success must be positive change in the lived experiences of people of African descent,” continued Ms. Al-Nashif.

“States need to listen to people of African descent, meaningfully involve them and take genuine steps to act upon their concerns.”

Higher death rates

Where available, recent data still points to disproportionately high death rates faced by people of African descent, at the hands of law enforcement, in different countries.

“Families of African descent continued to report the immense challenges, barriers and protracted processes they faced in their pursuit of truth and justice for the deaths of their relatives”, the report says.

It details seven cases of police-related deaths of people of African descent, namely George Floyd and Breonna Taylor (US); Adama Traoré (France); Luana Barbosa dos Reis Santos and João Pedro Matos Pinto (Brazil); Kevin Clarke (UK) and Janner [Hanner] García Palomino (Colombia).

While noting some progress towards accountability in a few of these emblematic cases, “unfortunately, not a single case has yet been brought to a full conclusion, with those families still seeking truth, justice and guarantees of non-repetition, and the prosecution and sanction of all those responsible,” the report says.

Ms. Al-Nashif called on States to “redouble efforts to ensure accountability and redress wherever deaths of Africans and people of African descent have occurred in the context of law enforcement, and take measures to confront legacies that perpetuate and sustain systemic racism”.

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