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 will guarantee a permanent naval presence in the Mediterranean and boost its strength in the Atlantic and Arctic under a new strategy to counter “unacceptable” Nato expansion.The plans, which also include ambitious ship-building targets and expansion of infrastructure for the country’s fleet in the Black Sea, were laid out in a new naval doctrine approved by Vladimir Putin on Sunday.Dmitry Rogozin, the deputy prime minister with a portfolio for defence, emphasised the “accent put on the Atlantic and the Arctic” in a meeting with Mr Putin on Sunday. Mr Rogozin, a strong critic of Nato, said that the new doctrine reflects “changes in the international political situation and the objective strengthening of Russia as a great naval power. Our attention towards the Atlantic is justified by the expansion of Nato in the east,” he told Russian news agencies. [Telegraph]
2Why is Russia sending bombers close to U.S. airspace? Two Russian bombers intercepted by U.S. fighter jets off the California coast on July Fourth could be seen as having raised a metaphorical middle finger to the United States.”Good morning, American pilots. We are here to greet you on your Fourth of July Independence Day,” they said, according to the North American Aerospace Defense Command.U.S. fighters also intercepted two other Russian Tu-95 bombers the same day off the southern coast of Alaska. In both instances, American fighter jets flew up to intercept the Russian bombers, and the aircraft turned away. [CNN]
3Azerbaijan is a strategic partner of the EU in peace-building processes and the fields of energy, culture and sport, Novruz Mammadov, the deputy head of Azerbaijani Presidential Administration said.“All this is reality. There is a strange situation. From ambassadors to heads of state, all say Azerbaijan is a country to be cooperated. However, they say that it’s a newspaper and wrote this article, it’s a NGO and made this statement. This breaks the balance of justice. Officials say Azerbaijan is at high level, but if any newspaper or NGO release any information, it undermines Azerbaijan’s reputation. I’m in doubt that such mechanism will bring a success to the West. Most of world countries are in doubt about these approaches,” Mammadov noted.
4Kazakhstan Wind Power Market: Outlook 2015 – 2025.This market report offers an incisive and reliable long-term overview of the wind power sector of the country for the period 2015-2025. Current cumulative installed wind capacity in the country is insignificant, but a number of fully permitted and ready to build projects will promptly increase in 2015 and next years. First MW szie wind power plants have been launched into commerical operation, whilst pipeline of over 1,300 MW (1.3 GW) wind projects pipeline are progressing in different stages of permitting process. Feed-in tariff for wind energy has been approved in Kazakhstan in June 2014, and combined with 15 years PPA period are expected to pave the way for fast further growth of wind power market in Kazakhstan. [Research And Markets]
5Iran announced that it will invest $6 billion in Kazakhstan at the latest Kazakh-Iranian forum held in Almaty on July 22-24. The Islamic Republic also plans to establish a center for the exchange of technologies in Kazakhstan’s special economic zone, the “Park of innovative technologies,” where it will present the country’s latest achievements in the mining and oil and gas industries, and the agriculture and healthcare sectors.”Your country has great economic prospects. And we would like to join our efforts for dynamic development in the field of innovative technologies. This forum should be a first step in this work,” Iranian Deputy Minister of Science, Research, and Technology Vahid Ahmadi said. Kazakhstan and Iran cooperate fruitfully in international and regional organizations, including the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
6Kazakhstan: 100 Steps Toward a New Nation. “The 100 Concrete Steps program, called Plan of the Nation, was unveiled soon after President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s re-election and is designed to provide the strong national platform needed to overcome both short-term challenges and achieve the country’s ambition of joining the top 30 developed countries by 2050. It is a comprehensive reform package that builds on past progress to drive improvements in all the country’s institutional pillars” writes Erlan Idrissov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan. [The Diplomat]
7Azerbaijan was effective in countering radicalisation. “Azerbaijan continues to be a beacon of secularism and tolerance notwithstanding the recent turbulence in the Muslim world. Walking in the streets of the Azerbaijan, a country with a predominantly Muslim population, one cannot help admiring the culture of acceptance. Even during the holy month of Ramadan, all the restaurants and cafes in Baku are open with plenty of people in them. Some people wear modern dresses, others more traditional ones. Some are drinking alcoholic beverages whereas others prefer soft drinks. Judgement and enforced values are absent here” [Euractiv]
8Iran ready to sign $1bn worth of contracts with Turkmenistan. Irans oil minister, Bijan Zanganeh held talks with Turkmenistan’s Foreign Minister, Rashid Muradov in Tehran on Sunday, discussing further expansion of trade exchanges between Tehran and Ashgabat.On the sidelines of the meeting, Iran’s deputy oil minister for international affairs and trade said Iran is ready to sign about $1 billion worth of contracts with Turkmenistan for the export of technical and engineering goods and services to the Central Asian country .Turkmenistan has been always a good trade partner for Iran and we hope it would remain the same in the future,” Amir Hossein Zamaninia added .
9UAE’s Alpha Destination Management Company hosted a series of roadshows in Russia in a bid to promote the Gulf region as an all-encompassing tourism destination. Russia is among Dubai’s top 10 tourism source markets with the number of weekly flights from to UAE almost tripling in the past two years, reaching 124 flights last year. The promotional and marketing initiative was held over a 10-day period in eight Russian cities and evoked strong response from the travel trade professionals.
10Azerbaijan supports Turkey in its fight against ISIL. “The Syrian crisis and the operations of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) are taking place in Turkey’s neighborhood. Other processes, respectively, also affect Turkey. It is normal that the Turkish government is taking actions against ISIL” said Novruz Mammadov, deputy head of Azerbaijani Presidential Administration, chief of the Administration’s Foreign Relations Department.
Philippine PPP Policy Gets a Boost from ADB’s $300 Million Loan
The Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) Board of Directors has approved a $300 million policy-based loan to support the Philippines’ efforts to strengthen the framework under which the private sector can participate in the government’s “Build, Build, Build” (BBB) infrastructure development program.
Government reforms supported by ADB under the Expanding Private Participation in Infrastructure Program (EPPIP) subprogram 2 seek to create the enabling policy environment that will allow public-private partnership (PPP) projects to flourish using private sector expertise and innovation.
“PPPs can raise the quality of life for citizens by providing reliable public services through efficient infrastructure. Reforms under the EPPIP program have been successful in stimulating the PPP market and improving the quality of infrastructure projects in the Philippines,” said ADB Senior Trade Specialist Ms. Cristina Lozano.
With its fast-growing economy, archipelagic geography, expanding population, and rapid urbanization, the Philippine government aims to raise infrastructure investments to 7.4% of gross domestic product by 2022 from 5.1% in 2016.
The BBB program, part of the medium-term Philippine Development Plan, is estimated to require a total $168 billion in investments for 75 high-impact priority projects nationwide. To finance this, the government wants to use an optimal funding mix composed of government spending, official development assistance, and private capital.
ADB has been supporting reforms that have helped ensure sustainable funding for government direct and contingent support to PPPs, improve long-term infrastructure planning, strengthen the government’s capacity to manage the PPP program, and enhance the legal framework for PPP preparation, approval, and implementation.
Reforms also helped facilitate the use of PPPs by local government units (LGUs) as an alternative in pursuing infrastructure development. The government-run PPP Center provided support to LGUs to develop and implement PPP projects in priority sectors such as water supply and sanitation, solid waste management, and urban transport.
“The Philippines has made significant progress since the PPP program was launched in late 2010,” said ADB Country Director for the Philippines Mr. Kelly Bird. “With a huge project pipeline being rolled out under the BBB program of President Rodrigo Duterte, leveraging public resources via private sector participation remains relevant.”
Since 2010, the government has awarded a total of 16 national PPP projects worth around $6.2 billion, of which 12 were tendered and awarded during the implementation of EPPIP. Feasibility studies for six projects were also completed during the program period.
Classified in 2011 as an emerging country in terms of PPP readiness, the Philippines now ranks seventh in the overall ranking, joining India, Japan, and the Republic of Korea in the group of developed PPP markets, according to the 2014 Infrascope report of The Economist Intelligence Unit. The PPP market review conducted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development considers the Philippine PPP framework a success.
European Commission approves 3 support measures for renewable energy in Denmark
The European Commission has approved under EU State aid rules three schemes to support electricity production from wind and solar in Denmark in 2018 and 2019.
Denmark has a goal of supplying 50% of its energy consumption from renewable energy sources by 2030 and to become independent from fossil fuels by 2050. In line with this goal, the Danish authorities will implement three measures supporting renewable energy:
- A multi-technology tender scheme for onshore and offshore wind turbines and solar installations, with a budget of DKK 842 million (€112 million). The beneficiaries of the aid will be selected through two tenders organised in 2018 and 2019, with the different technologies competing with each other. The selected installations will offer their electricity on the market and receive support in the form of a premium on top of the market price (top-up payment).
- An aid scheme for onshore wind for test and demonstration projects outside the two national test centres for large wind turbines, with an expected budget of DKK 200 million (€27 million), and a transitional aid scheme for onshore wind, with a budget of DKK 40 million (€5 million).
The aid for the three schemes will be granted for a period of 20 years from the time of the connection to the grid. The renewable support schemes are financed from the State budget.
The Commission assessed all three schemes under EU State aid rules, in particular the Commission’s 2014 Guidelines on State Aid for Environmental Protection and Energy. It found that the three Danish schemes will encourage the development of offshore and onshore wind and solar technologies, in line with the requirements of the Guidelines.
On this basis, the Commission concluded that the measures will help Denmark boost the share of electricity produced from renewable energy sources, in line with the environmental objectives of the EU, while any distortion of competition caused by the state support is minimised.
The Commission’s 2014 Guidelines on State Aid for Environmental Protection and Energy allow Member States to support the production of electricity from renewable energy sources, subject to certain conditions. These rules are aimed at meeting the EU’s ambitious energy and climate targets at the least possible cost for taxpayers and without undue distortions of competition in the Single Market.
The Renewable Energy Directive established targets for all Member States’ shares of renewable energy sources in gross final energy consumption by 2020. For Denmark, that target is 30% by 2020. Furthermore, Denmark has a goal of supplying 50% of its energy consumption from renewable energy sources by 2030 and to become independent from fossil fuels by 2050. All three schemes aim to contribute to reaching those targets.
More information on today’s decision will be available, once potential confidentiality issues have been resolved, in the State aid register on the Commission’s competition website under the case numbers SA.49918, SA.50715 and SA.50717. The State Aid Weekly e-News lists new publications of State aid decisions on the internet and in the EU Official Journal.
UN mourns death of former Secretary-General Kofi Annan, ‘a guiding force for good’
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.
“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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