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
1NATO is going to carry out its largest military drills in over 10 years, focusing on battling ISIS, according to NATO commanders. NATO forces will be deployed across the Mediterranean, while Russia is invited to observe the drills. It is unclear whether this is some kind of ruse or NATO just wants to show off in front of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Alliance’s largest military drills named ‘Trident Juncture’ will be carried out from September 28 to November 6 in Spain, Italy and Portugal as well as in the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. “We cannot choose between the eastern threat and the southern threat, we have to train for both,” said commander of the NATO military command in Brunssum, Netherlands General Hans-Lothar Domrose, who is in charge of the exercise, as quoted by Reuters.
2Major European nations have no appetite for conflict with Russia“In the final analysis the European powers closest to the Russian threat – Germany and France – have demonstrated they are not prepared to go to war over Ukraine. UN sanctions have been imposed, and that’s about it” [Independent]
3During the recent talks between Japan and Turkmenistan, Japanese partners expressed their intention to invest in the construction of a new international sea trade port in Turkmenistan’s city of Turkmenbashi.This port is designed to become not only the “sea gates” of the country, but also an important and integral part of the high-capacity regional transport infrastructure that is being created today.Earlier, it was reported that following the international tender, Turkish company Gap Insaat, which is part of the Calyk Holding, was named the general contractor for the project for construction of a new Caspian Sea port in Turkmenbashi.
4Almaty-Cholpon-Ata highway. Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan Temir Sariev during a meeting with his Kazakh counterpart Karim Masimov raised the issue of construction of the Almaty-Cholpon-Ata highway, Kabar news agency reported on July 21. “We have established direct flight from Almaty to Tamchy, but it is not enough. We need to build high-speed road from Almaty to Cholpon-Ata. Then Kazakh people will drive to Issyk-Kul lake in 2.5 hours,” said Sariev.Prime Minister of Kazakhstan instructed relevant state agencies to expedite the construction of the highway.
5Foreign investments in Azerbaijan’s fixed capital increased by 46.3 percent in January-June 2015, according to a report by the Azerbaijani State Statistics Committee. Under the report covering a period of six months, the total volume of foreign investments made in Azerbaijan’s fixed capital amounted to 3.2 billion manats(approximately $3.05 billion). More than 2.85 million manats (over 88.5 percent) of investments made in county’s fixed capital by the foreign countries and international organizations over the first half of this year belonged to investors from the UK, Norway, Russia, Iran, Sweden, USA, Turkey, and Japan.
6Kazakhstan is ranked 50th in the Government Efficiency Index. The efficiency index considers expenditures, workload regulations and political transparency. The Government Efficiency Index is led by Qatar that is followed by Singapore and Finland. The outsiders of the list are Argentina, Italy and Venezuela that landed on the last lines of the ranking. Kazakhstan beats of a number of European countries in government efficiency, according to the list. In particular, Kazakhstan is ahead of Belgium, France, the Check Republic, Hungary, Spain, Portugal, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Serbia and Romania. South Korea, Israel and India were, too, beaten by Kazakhstan in the ranking. Russia, Armenia, Latvia, Moldova, Ukraine, Lithuania and Kyrgyzstan are also ranked below the 50th place.
7Netanyahu steered U.S. toward war with Iran – the result is a deal he hates. “Much of the criticism of the Iran nuclear deal has focused on the fact that it is entirely limited to the nuclear issue, which leaves Iran a free hand — and new resources — to continue policies that have angered regional and international players. There is no denying that if Iran plays its hands well and uses the next decade to build its economic and political potential, its regional influence is likely to expand, as is its capacity to do the sort of things that have angered Israel and Gulf Arab states” writes Shibley Telhami for Reuters.
8Turkmenistan will start producing high-quality Euro-5 gasoline at the Seidi refinery from 2016, the country’s Oil and Gas Industry and Mineral Resources Ministry reported.The U.S. Westport Trading Europe Limited company won the tender for the design and reconstruction of a production facility for the new generation gasoline.This novel motor fuel is distinct from the previous generations in that it has a lower content of sulfur and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. With Euro-5, engines work quieter, they can be started much more quickly and easily, corrosion is prevented, and vibration and fuel consumption is reduced.
9Why is the Iran deal bad? “Think North Korea. Perhaps Iran will cooperate, but so far, it has not come clean with the IAEA about 12 existing “areas of concern” regarding the “possible military dimensions” of its nuclear program. That is not a good sign. It suggests that Iran, like North Korea (or, for that matter, Iraq during the 1990s), is likely to play a game of cat-and-mouse with inspectors — and that if it does cheat, as North Korea did, the world will again discover it is too late to do anything about it” writes Max Boot for the Los Angeles Times.
10Almaty 2022 Accommodation Plan A Key Asset. After a nearly two year bidding race, Almaty 2022 is ready and excited to welcome the international community to its beautiful city. Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest city has seen a rapid rise in its tourism sector. With annual growth rates of almost 11% in hotel rooms, Almaty is one of the fastest growing tourism destinations in all of Central Asia.
Scholz and Macron threaten trade retaliation against Biden
After publicly falling out, Olaf Scholz and Emmanuel Macron have found something they agree on: mounting alarm over unfair competition from the U.S. and the potential need for Europe to hit back, – writes POLITICO.
The German chancellor and the French president discussed their joint concerns during nearly three-and-a-half hours of talks over a lunch of fish, wine and Champagne in Paris.
They agreed that recent American state subsidy plans represent market-distorting measures that aim to convince companies to shift their production to the U.S., according to people familiar with their discussions. And that is a problem they want the European Union to address.
Both leaders agreed that the EU cannot remain idle if Washington pushes ahead with its Inflation Reduction Act, which offers tax cuts and energy benefits for companies investing on U.S. soil, in its current form. Specifically, the recently signed U.S. legislation encourages consumers to “Buy American” when it comes to choosing an electric vehicle — a move particularly galling for major car industries in the likes of France and Germany.
The message from the Paris lunch is: ‘If the U.S. doesn’t scale back, then the EU will have to strike back. That move would risk plunging transatlantic relations into a new trade war.’
Crucially, Berlin — which has traditionally been more reluctant when it comes to confronting the U.S. in trade disputes — is indeed backing the French push. Scholz agrees that the EU will need to roll out countermeasures similar to the U.S. scheme if Washington refuses to address key concerns voiced by Berlin and Paris, according to people familiar with the chancellor’s thinking.
Before bringing out the big guns, though, Scholz and Macron want to try to reach a negotiated solution with Washington. This should be done via a new “EU-U.S. Taskforce on the Inflation Reduction Act” that was established during a meeting between European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser Mike Pyle.
Uzbekistan’s Artel joins UN’s ‘Orange The World’ campaign against gender-based violence
Artel Electronics LLC (Artel), Central Asia’s largest home appliance and electronics manufacturer, has teamed up with the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) on a public information campaign against gender-based violence.
The campaign is in line with the UN’s 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, which utilizes the color orange to symbolize a brighter future. Artel’s green branding turned orange for several days in advertising material throughout Uzbek capital Tashkent, and public figures made statements to raise awareness.
Artel joins an international movement that kicked off on 25th November and lasts for 16 days. Since 1991, it has been used by individuals and organizations to call for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls.
This is the second year the company has ‘gone orange’. Artel Electronics HR Director, Lazizbek Mamatov, also took part in a panel discussion about Gender Equality in the Workplace hosted by the UNFPA at Westminster International University in Tashkent in line with the campaign.
Shohruh Ruzikulov, CEO of Artel, said “It is a privilege to once more work with the UN in raising awareness about the issue of Gender Based Violence. In Uzbekistan, this conversation is at a relatively young stage. We are proud to stand against domestic violence and continue Artel’s work in all areas to contribute to a better society.”
Mr. Yu Yu, Country Representative of the United Nations Population Fund, said “We are delighted to partner with a company like Artel on such an important issue. The public reach of the private sector is vital in ensuring our message to stand against domestic violence can be heard across all segments of society. We are grateful to Artel for taking leadership on this important issue in Uzbekistan. Together, we can make the change.”
The true rate of domestic violence in Uzbekistan is not known. However, the government alongside diplomatic partners and aid organizations are prioritizing the issue. In recent years the Presidential Administration has issued decrees targeted at domestic violence prevention, the government has adopted laws guaranteeing equal rights for women, and funding has been provided for information campaigns and rehabilitation centers.
Support for this campaign is just one of Artel’s initiatives to support women’s empowerment. Internally, the company has introduced whistle-blowing mechanisms, and is implementing an internal legal clinic to improve the legal literacy of employees. Over the last year, the proportion of women in the company’s 10,000 employees has risen by 5%, to 35%. The global average for the manufacturing industry is thought to be around 30%.
In 2021, Artel became a full participant of the UN Global Compact (UNGC), the world’s largest business community focused on sustainable development. In doing so, the company committed to promoting ten principles covering human rights, labor rights and environmental protection.
Douglas Macgregor: ‘Russia will establish Victory on its own terms’
The Biden administration repeatedly commits the unpardonable sin in a democratic society of refusing to tell the American people the truth: contrary to the Western media’s popular “Ukrainian victory” narrative, which blocks any information that contradicts it, Ukraine is not winning and will not win this war, notes in his new article Douglas Macgregor, Col. (ret.), who was the former advisor to the Secretary of Defense in the Trump administration.
Months of heavy Ukrainian casualties, resulting from an endless series of pointless attacks against Russian defenses in Southern Ukraine, have dangerously weakened Ukrainian forces.
Predictably, NATO’s European members, which bear the brunt of the war’s impact on their societies and economies, are growing more disenchanted with Washington’s Ukrainian proxy war.
European populations are openly questioning the veracity of claims in the press about the Russian state and American aims in Europe.
The influx of millions of refugees from Ukraine, along with a combination of trade disputes, profiteering from U.S. arms sales, and high energy prices risks turning European public opinion against both Washington’s war and NATO.
After concluding that the underpinning assumptions regarding Washington’s readiness to negotiate and compromise were invalid, Putin directed the STAVKA to develop new operational plans with new goals:
– first, to crush the Ukrainian enemy;
– second, to remove any doubt in Washington and European capitаls that Russia will establish Victory on its own terms;
– and, third, to create a new territorial Status Quo commensurate with Russia’s national security needs.
It is now possible to project that the new Russian armed forces that will evolve from the crucible of war in Ukraine will be designed to execute strategically decisive operations.
The new military establishment will consist of much larger forces-in-being that can conduct decisive operations on relatively short notice with minimal reinforcement and preparation.
Put differently, by the time the conflict ends, it appears Washington will have prompted the Russian State to build up its military power, the very opposite of the fatal weakening that Washington intended when it embarked on its course of military confrontation with Moscow.
Biden’s “take no prisoners” conduct of U.S. foreign policy means the outcome of the next phase of the Ukrainian War will not only destroy the Ukrainian state. It will also demolish the last vestiges of the postwar liberal order and produce a dramatic shift in power and influence across Europe, especially in Berlin, away from Washington to Moscow and, to a limited extent, to Beijing, writes Douglas Macgregor.
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