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What does the Iran nuclear deal mean for Iraq?

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

1“Those favouring the deal were mostly Shia muslims. They suggested that a better relationship between Iran and the United States would improve security in their own country, where competition between US-backed Sunni and Iran-backed Shia proxies often contributes to instability. Detente between Iran and the United States – Iraq’s two strongest allies – could allay sectarian conflict and unify resistance to the Islamic State, their argument goes.” [the guardian]

2Why Vladimir Putin’s ‘gas weapon’ may be his most powerful foreign policy tool. “Gazprom is first and foremost a tool of Russian foreign policy, which Putin is not shy about wielding to pursue Russian interests. During Putin’s years in power, the Kremlin has used its control over Gazprom — increasing or decreasing the cost of energy — to maintain influence over Russia’s neighbors. Putin once described Gazprom as “a powerful political and economic lever of influence over the rest of the world,” and a team of Russian foreign policy experts noted that “if the leaders of this or that country decide to show good will towards the Russian Federation, then the situation with gas deliveries, pricing policy and former debts changes on a far more favorable note to the buyer” writes Josh Cohen for Reuters.

3Kazakhstan Formally Joins WTO. The WTO General Council has approved oil-rich Kazakhstan’s membership, finalizing almost 20 years of negotiations. Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev was present at the formal acceptance event at WTO headquarters in Geneva. Kazakhstan has agreed to lower import tariffs and take further steps to attract more foreign investors.However, Kazakhstan’s domestic industrial and agricultural production levels remain relatively weak, as the country mainly relies on its oil revenue.Experts say domestic firms may struggle if the market is flooded with foreign goods once the WTO terms are implemented.Kazakhstan began WTO accession talks in 1996, but negotiations were repeatedly stalled, in part because of Kazakhstan’s membership in the Russia-led Eurasia Economic Union.

4What Does Greek Crisis Mean For Azerbaijan’s Energy Interests? The near collapse of Greece’s economy has raised pressing questions for energy power Azerbaijan, which had viewed the country as a potential turbo boost for its energy ambitions in the European Union. Now, as Athens cleans house financially and talks deeper energy ties with Russia, Azerbaijan, which has an agreement to purchase a majority share in Greece’s gas distribution network, needs to protect its own interests, energy analysts say. [EurasiaNet]

5Iran and Turkmenistan signed a couple of MoUs to boost cooperation in economic, cultural, and educational areas. The documents were signed by Iranian Transport and Urban Development Minister Abbas Akhoundi and Turkmen Foreign Affairs Minister Rashid Meredov at the end of the 14th Iran-Turkmenistan Joint Economic Committee Meeting, which was held in Tehran on July 27, Iran’s IRNA news agency reported. During the meeting, the Turkmen minister said Iran and Turkmenistan, as the two neighboring countries, will expand their bilateral, regional and international cooperation.

6The Russian Arctic: Potential for International Cooperation. The report looks into the network of circumpolar territories including new industrial regions on the Arctic continental shelf, analyses key goals of educational cooperation and identifies opportunities for international collaboration among small and medium-sized businesses in the Arctic. Authors present their vision for strategic governance in the Russian Arctic and inter-municipal cooperation in the coastal zone of the Russian Federation. Authors: A.N. Pelyasov, Dr. of Geography (Head); A.V. Kotov, Ph.D. in Economics. [RIAC]

7Azerbaijan, Iran to sign new agreement on electric power transmission. Iran’s Deputy Minister of Energy Houshang Falahatian intends to pay a visit to Azerbaijan.The objectives of the upcoming visit are to complete the conducted work on the synchronization of energy systems of the two countries and to sign a new treaty in this area, Falahatian told Trend.az.“The setting of electricity tariffs will be discussed at the meetings to be held in Azerbaijan,” he said. “Previously Iran and Azerbaijan have distributed all work on the synchronization of energy systems among themselves.The power plants and transmission lines have been built,” he said. “The infrastructure is fully ready. We hope that a final agreement will be reached and an agreement on the synchronization of the energy systems will be signed during this visit.”

8Russia is expected to see a positive growth of 2.3 percent in its economy next year, Russian economic development minister Alexei Ulyukayev said while addressing a joint meeting of Russian and Belarusian ministries of economic development held at the Belarusian port city of Brest on Monday.Ulyukayev based his assumption on the average oil price standing at $60 per barrel, Xinhua reported. The decline of inflation rate indicated improvement in Russian economy, predicting that inflation would slow down to 15.7-15.8 percent by August 1.”We think that the inflation rate will range between 10-10.5 percent at the end of this year, and according to the forecast of the Central Bank, by the end of the first quarter of 2016, it will be back to seven percent.”The minister was confident that the economic situation in Russia is getting better and the month-on-month recession is almost over.

9Ziraat Bank Azerbaijan has started its operation in Baku. According to sources in the bank, having the founding capital of AZN 50 mln, the bank has only one affiliate in Isherisheher. The activity of the bank will be aimed at strengthening the economy of the country and improving the foreign trade and development of economic ties with other countries.

10A look at Almaty’s bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics. The Central Asian city of Almaty is vying with Beijing to host the 2022 Winter Olympics. The winner will be selected Friday in a vote of the International Olympic Committee in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Here’s a quick look at Almaty’s bid. [Washington Times]

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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Digital Technology Will Help Djibouti Leap into the Future

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Digital technology will have a critical part to play in boosting Djibouti’s socio-economic development and meeting the ambitious goals set out in its national strategy, Vision Djibouti 2035. As a key step toward building a strong, inclusive digital economy, the Government of Djibouti and the World Bank are co-hosting a high-level event that will explore the potential benefits of digital development and propose a concrete roadmap of action.

“Disruptive technologies are creating new business models, opening up new markets, and giving consumers access to more products and services than ever before. It is hard to overstate the economic potential of these transformations,” said Ilyas Moussa Dawaleh, Djibouti’s Ministry of Economy and Finance. “In a country like ours, developing a high-performing digital ecosystem will provide a unique chance to stimulate the economy and create jobs. The Digital Economy conference starting today will bring us one step closer to this vision.”

“The digital sector will be key to improving the lives of Djiboutian people, expanding our economy, and strengthening our position as a logistics and commercial hub. With eight submarine cable landing on our shores, there is no doubt Djibouti has what it takes to become a digital leader in the region,” noted Abdi Youssouf Sougueh, Minister of Communications. “We are keen to bring in development partners like the World Bank to leverage this infrastructure to the fullest and reinforce all the other fundamentals that are necessary to nurture a vibrant digital economy.”

The conference will bring together a wide range of government representatives, technology pioneers, and development partners. Building on this uniquely diverse combination of knowledge and global perspectives, participants will assess Djibouti’s digital landscape, share international best practices, discuss how technology can help modernize all sectors of the economy, and outline a clear strategy and action plan for digital development in the country.

“Countries around the world are leveraging digital innovation to accelerate economic growth and build a better future for people, and Djibouti is very well positioned to gain from that approach,” said Boutheina Guermazi, World Bank Director for Digital Development. “I am confident this event will pave the way for close collaboration on digital development between the Word Bank, Djibouti, and countries across the Middle East and Africa.”

In addition to discussing Djibouti’s opportunities and challenges, the event will also highlight the need for bolder action on digital development engagement across the region.

Sessions will cover all key dimensions of digital development, with a focus on how to strengthen the five pillars of the digital economy: digital infrastructure; innovation and entrepreneurship; digital financial services and identification; digital platforms; and digital literacy and skills.

“Technological innovation holds great promise for Djibouti. By harnessing the full power of the digital economy, the country could see significant GDP growth, create a future-proof labor market, and raise living standards for all segments of the population. We stand ready to work hand in hand with Djibouti on this journey, to help create the right conditions for a thriving digital sector,” said Atou Seck, World Bank Resident Representative in Djibouti.

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The first shopping tourism project in Mexico

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The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the Municipality of León (Guanajuato, Mexico) have signed an agreement to carry out the country’s first project to develop Shopping Tourism, with the support of the Ministry of Tourism of the State of Guanajuato.

The project is expected to serve as an international reference point and as a showcase at major tourism forums.

The Tourism Observatory of the State of Guanajuato has been a member of the UNWTO International Network of Sustainable Tourism Observatories since 2014. At the World Tourism Organization’s General Assembly held in Medellín, Colombia, in September 2015, Guanajuato expressed its interest in being one of the destinations to develop a project on shopping tourism, and León was the selected destination in light of the fact that 27% of its tourists visit the city to go shopping.

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is the United Nations agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism.

The project will help León (Guanajuato, Mexico) to develop innovative shopping tourism offerings that link the public and private sectors and that highlight the destination’s tourism attractions and products as well as tourism’s contribution to socio-economic development, which includes the creation of jobs directly in the tourism sector and in the many activities related to the sector.

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Smart city matchmaking in Barcelona

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This year’s Smart City Expo World Congress (SCEWC), Europe’s biggest Smart City related event, takes place from 13 to 15 November in Barcelona and will, like previous editions,  attract several thousand stakeholders.

During the congress, on November 14, the Smart Cities Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities (EIP-SCC) will organise its next matchmaking event, seeking to bring projects and investors together to stimulate action. It is especially tailored to match individual projects with financing.

To take part, stakeholders must register on the matchmaking platform where they will join other cities, industry and financial players. Registered users need to submit short descriptions of their upcoming projects. A dedicated team will then process and match them with financiers’ interests, leading to one-to-one meetings, organised specifically and individually for them and their projects.

Should participation in above-mentioned event not be possible, the matchmaking platform will remain available also after the Barcelona congress, as the EIP-SCC will organise further matchmaking events in the future.

In addition, there will be an exhibition stand, where interested stakeholders can meet any of the 12 Horizon 2020 Lighthouse projects (representing € 270 million of EU funding), experts from the EIP-SCC, the Smart Cities Information System, as well as the European Commission.

Finally, there will be a number of sessions organised at the mentioned exhibition stand as part of the SCEWC programme covering a wide range of Smart City related topics. The full programme is available at http://www.smartcityexpo.com/en/agenda-2018.

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