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NATO: Azerbaijan’s importance is growing

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 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. follow @DGiannakopoulos

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EU Politics

Erasmus+: a turning point in the lives of 5 million European students

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New evidence shows that Erasmus+ makes students more successful in their personal and professional lives and helps universities to become more innovative, according to two new independent studies released today by the European Commission.

The large-scale studies based on the feedback from nearly 77 000 students and staff and over 500 organisations measure and analyse the impact the Erasmus+ programme has on its main beneficiaries. Results show how the EU programme helps prepare young Europeans for the new digital era and thrive in their future careers. Erasmus+ also boosts innovation capacity of universities, their international engagement and ability to answer the needs of the labour market.

Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Tibor Navracsics said: “It is impressive to see how Erasmus+ enables young people to thrive in the modern labour market and in a more diverse society. I am happy to see that Erasmus+ graduates feel more ready to take on new challenges, have better career prospects and are more aware of the benefits the EU brings to their daily lives. At the same time, universities that take part in Erasmus+ are not only more international but also better placed to respond to the needs of the world of work.”

The key findings of the studies are:

Erasmus+ helps students find their desired careers and get jobs quicker

Over 70% of former Erasmus+ students say that they have a better understanding of what they want to do in their future careers when they return from abroad. Their experience abroad also enables them to re-orient their studies to better match their ambitions. The higher education impact study further reveals that 80% were employed within three months of graduation and 72% say their experience abroad helped them get their first job. Nine in ten Erasmus+ alumni say they make use of the skills and experiences acquired abroad in their daily work. Erasmus+ addresses skills mismatches by focusing on soft and interdisciplinary skills development businesses need.

Erasmus+ boosts European sense of belonging

More than 90% of Erasmus+ students also improve their ability to work and collaborate with people from different cultures and feel they have a European identity. The biggest impact is on the students who felt less convinced about the EU prior to their exchange and the students that spent time in a more culturally different country. Of all Erasmus+ students those coming from Eastern Europe identify the most with the EU. 

Erasmus+ supports digital transformation and social inclusion

Erasmus+ cooperation projects make the majority of participating universities better prepared for digital transformation. Making use of new technologies and innovative teaching and learning methods helps strengthen their international cooperation and innovation capacity. Academic staff, who made use of Erasmus+ are more open to involving staff from enterprises in their courses than their non-mobile peers, around 60% compared to 40%. More than 80% of academics report that their experience abroad has led to the development of more innovative curricula. Moreover, two out of three participating universities stated EU-wide projects also contribute to increasing social inclusion and non-discrimination in higher education.

Other findings show that former Erasmus+ students are more satisfied with their jobs compared to those who have not gone abroad. They also have careers that are more international and are almost twice as likely to work abroad. Erasmus+ also supports entrepreneurship. One in four cooperation projects contributed to entrepreneurial education and strengthened entrepreneurship. A third of projects helped create spin-offs and start-ups.

Background

Between 2014 and 2018, more than 2 million students and staff in higher education undertook a learning, training or teaching period abroad as part of the Erasmus+ programme. During the same period, almost 1 000 Erasmus+ Strategic Partnerships between higher education institutions and 93 Knowledge Alliances between universities and businesses received EU funding. More than 40% of these trained students and academic staff in forward-looking skills related to environment and climate change, energy and resources, digital (ICT and digital skills) and entrepreneurship.

The two studies (Erasmus+ Higher Education Impact study and the Erasmus+ Higher Education Strategic Partnerships and Knowledge Alliances study) assessed the impact of the programme on its two main beneficiaries: individuals and organisations.

For the first study, almost 77 000 responses, including from around 47 000 Erasmus+ students, 12 000 graduates and 10 000 staff members with Erasmus+ experience were analysed. The findings of the second study are based on responses from 258 Erasmus+ Strategic Partnerships and Knowledge Alliances (representing 504 organisations) awarded funding in 2014-2016 as well as 26 detailed case studies.

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Energy News

IEA holds Energy Efficiency Training Week in Paris

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Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA's Executive Director (second from right), kicked off the event by stressing the importance of energy efficiency as the first fuel. Photo: IEA

The International Energy Agency is hosting its 11th Energy Efficiency in Emerging Economies Training Week from 20 to 24 May. More than 120 energy efficiency professionals from 40 countries have come together in Paris for the event.

The objective of the training week is to enable participants to learn from leading experts in the field and from each other, strengthening the knowledge and networks needed to meet some of today’s most pressing challenges. The weeklong activities focus on the critical role of energy efficiency in mitigating growing energy demand across all sectors in the world’s fastest‑growing economies.

Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA’s Executive Director, kicked off the event by stressing the importance of energy efficiency as the first fuel. “Many of the challenges the world is facing today – climate change, energy security, access to electricity – can be met at a large scale only by implementing the right energy efficiency policies,” he said.

Ambassadors from Brazil, Switzerland and the United Kingdom joined Dr Birol in the open plenary session to share their experiences and support for the training week. His Excellency, Mr. Carlos Márcio Cozendey, Ambassador and Delegate of Brazil to International Economic Organisations in Paris, commended the opportunity that the training week presents. “Energy efficiency will remain very important in Brazil, and international cooperation through the IEA and bilateral cooperation with different countries will be an important part of that,” he said.

Participants are engaged in one of five parallel courses, which focus on energy efficiency in buildings, industry, appliances and equipment, cities, and indicators and evaluation. Experts from the IEA are guiding participants through an interactive agenda, with lectures, discussions, practical exercises, site visits and group activities.

The IEA will host its first Energy Efficiency Training Week for Africa later this year and a specialised training programme on green buildings in Singapore from 16 to 18 July. Please keep an eye on our website for registration opening dates.

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EU Politics

Aviation Strategy for Europe: Commission signs landmark aviation agreements with China

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The European Union and China have today signed an agreement on civil aviation safety and a horizontal aviation agreement to strengthen their aviation cooperation.

The agreements follow up on the EU-China Summit of 9 April and will serve to boost the competitiveness of the EU’s aeronautical sector and enhance overall EU-China aviation relations. This marks yet another key deliverable under the Juncker Commission’s Aviation Strategy for Europe – designed to generate growth for European business, foster innovation and let passengers profit from safer, cleaner and cheaper flights.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: “In an increasingly unsettled world, Europe’s partnership with China is more important than ever before. The EU firmly believes that nations working together makes the world a stronger, safer and more prosperous place for all. Today we took a first big step in this direction by signing two aviation agreements with China that will create jobs, boost growth and bring our continents and peoples closer together. Today’s agreements show the potential of our partnership and we should continue on this path of cooperation. For it will always be in unity that we find strength.”

Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc said: “China is one of the European Union’s most important strategic partners and we attach a lot of importance to our excellent relations on transport matters. We are mutually interested in better connecting Europe and Asia and making it easier to move goods, services and people between Europe and China. That applies to aviation, too. Today’s agreements will boost the European Union’s trade in aircraft and related products, and ensure the highest levels of air safety.

The main objective of the bilateral civil aviation safety agreement (BASA) is to support worldwide trade in aircraft and related products. This agreement will remove the unnecessary duplication of evaluation and certification activities for aeronautical products by the civil aviation authorities, and therefore reduce costs for the aviation sector. The BASA will also promote cooperation between the EU and China towards a high level of civil aviation safety and environmental compatibility.

The second agreement signed today is a so-called horizontal aviation agreement. It marks China’s recognition of the principle of EU designation, whereby all EU airlines will be able to fly to China from any EU Member State with a bilateral air services agreement with China under which unused traffic rights are available. Up until now, only airlines owned and controlled by a given Member State or its nationals could fly between that Member State and China. The conclusion of a horizontal agreement will thereby bring bilateral air services agreements between China and EU Member States into conformity with EU law – a renewed legal certainty which will be beneficial to airlines on both sides.

Next steps

Both the European Commission and the Chinese transport administration will now proceed with their respective internal procedures to put the conclusion of the agreement in place.

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