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The Iranian Nuclear Deal and U.S. National Security

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“The so-called P5+1 (or E3+3) coalition engaged in arduous, painstaking negotiations to resolve the problem of an Iranian nuclear weapons program. Within a multilateral framework, the Obama administration used diplomacy to achieve an agreement that served U.S. interests. The goals were to end the nuclear weapons program in the short-term and block Iran’s path to a bomb in the longer-term. Despite its limitations, this agreement certainly achieves those objectives” writes David W. Kearn for Huffington Post.

2Russia calls for global coordination to counter cyber terrorist activity. Security services worldwide must coordinate their efforts in cyberspace to prevent the Internet from becoming a weapon for terrorists, Russian Federal Security Service chief Alexander Bortnikov said Wednesday.”Internet, in effect, is becoming a principal tool of the formation of ultra-radical ideology,” Interfax news agency quoted Bortnikov as saying at the international security conference.The meeting in the central Russian city of Yaroslavl gathered 92 security services delegations from 64 countries and four international and regional organizations, namely the United Nations, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the European Union and the Commonwealth of Independent States.According to Bortnikov, terrorist groups maintain their websites in over 40 languages, using the most advanced information technologies to reach their potential audience.

3Azerbaijan Oil and Gas Exploration and Production Analysis and Outlook to 2025. Azerbaijan upstream oil and gas analysis and outlook report provides complete information on Azerbaijan exploration and production blocks, fields, companies and future prospects. Azerbaijan oil and gas reserves, replacement ratios, proven volumes along with detailed insights into the role of Azerbaijan in region and global upstream markets is provided in detail. Further, complete infrastructure details of Azerbaijan field wise production, field by field details, exploration blocks on offer, available blocks and existing block details in Azerbaijan are provided in the research work. [Research and Markets]

4How Does Kazakhstan Plan to Pay for the Olympics? “Wednesday, Kazakh Prime Minister Karim Massimov seemed fairly confident in Kuala Lumpur that his country’s $70 billion oil fund would be able to financially back up the 2022 Winter Olympics should they win the vote Friday to host over Beijing, long-considered–despite a lack of real snow–the front-runner. Other news that broke Wednesday paints a distinctly less confident picture. The Financial Times’s Moscow correspondent Jack Farchy reported that the Kazakh central bank would be buying a 10 percent stake in KazMunaiGaz, the state oil company, and the money would be paid into the country’s sovereign wealth fund” [The Diplomat]

5Russia vetoes tribunal for downed flight MH17. Russia vetoed a United Nations Security Council draft resolution on Wednesday that would have set up an international tribunal to prosecute those suspected of downing a Malaysia Airlines passenger airliner last year in eastern Ukraine. Russia had proposed its own rival draft resolution, which pushed for a greater U.N. role in an investigation into what caused the downing of the aircraft and demanded justice, but it would not have set up a tribunal. Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said it was premature to set up an international tribunal. He said the draft resolution was submitted for a vote by Malaysia and its co-sponsors with the knowledge that it would be vetoed.

6Armenia exchanges “smiles” with Iran, but has no concrete agreements yet . Analysts wonder why Armenia rejects proposals for cooperation with Middle Eastern countries, especially that initiative in the region is clearly moving from Turkey, a state unfriendly to Armenia, to Iran, an Armenia-friendly state. Some even wonder if the whole matter is about “orders” from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia, which does not hide the fact that Iran is becoming a competitor for Moscow. [ArmeniaNow]

7The development of alternative energy is of significant importance for Azerbaijan and therefore, the government seeks to introduce modern technology and involve foreign investors in its renewables sector, says Rasul Suleymanov, the chairman of the Association of engineers and energy specialists of Azerbaijan.”Many countries develop this sector in this way. They only provide a territory, so to say, ‘an object of work,’ and guarantee to purchase this energy in the future. In order to encourage companies to work in our market, the government should adopt laws that will regulate this issue legally. Thus, private investors will not have any doubts and fears in financing of alternative energy in our country,” he told local media.

8The National Bank of the Republic of Kazakhstan will become one of the shareholders of the country’s KazMunaiGas national oil and gas company.The country’s Samruk-Kazyna National Welfare Fund which owns 100-percent share of the company will sell 10 percent block of shares and one common stock of KazMunaiGas to the National Bank at the price determined by an independent appraiser.However, the price won’t be below 750 billion Kazakh tenge (187.45 tenge = $1).

9Kuwaiti Shias’ adventures with Iranian policy. “How could the political Shia movement and the Hezbollah and “Islamic revolution” streams so easily kidnap the views and emotions of the Shias in the Gulf Arab region?Why don’t we hear an opposing voice or come across a decisive stance against some of Iran’s foreign policy, especially those that pan Shias outside Iran pay for, so that everyone knows that such policies do not represent the views of all the Shias in the Arab world? Many Shias of Kuwait, Iraq, Bahrain, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia are convinced that not all Iranian policies represent the Shia view, and that, since 1979, the policies of this “Islamic State” exposed the interests of Shias in their Arab countries and the whole world, to political risk, social isolation and possibly threats and reprisals” writes Khalil Ali Haydar for The Peninsula.

10Azerbaijan is ready to take advantage of lifted sanctions on Iran that will happen approximately in 50 days.According to Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Economy and Industry, on August 3-4 Minister Shahin Mustafayev will visit Iran.“The visit will be aimed to discuss the current situation and prospects for bilateral relations and cooperation,” the Ministry says.

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

EU Politics

PES Europe Ministers call for a European Budget that rises to the challenge

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President of FEPS Maria João Rodrigues MEP, First Vice President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans, and Germans Minister of State for Europe Michael Roth photo: PES

Europe needs ambitious short- and long-term planning, the Ministers of European Affairs from the PES agreed today during their discussion of the European budget for 2021-2027.

The chair of the network, German Minister for Europe Michael Roth, called for a European budget that promotes social wellbeing, innovation and sustainability across Europe.

Roth said:“The fundamental role of the European budget is to ensure cohesion, convergence and growth. It is the main tool Europe has to invest in the future, to bring countries closer together, and to make sure our children and grandchildren have a good life. When negotiating the European Budget both the short and long term must be kept in mind. Our ambition today, shapes the Europe of tomorrow. I want a bright Europe for tomorrow.”

The Ministers continued their discussion on the state of the rule of law in Europe.

Roth added:“Democracy and the rule of law cannot be interpreted freely. All Member States have to abide to the same clear set of rules. We will continue keeping a close eye on the issue. And we will continue supporting the great work that the EU Commission’s First Vice President Frans Timmermans is carrying out.”

The meeting was attended by:

  • Michael Roth, Minister of State for Europe, Chair, Germany
  • Helena Dalli, Minister for European Affairs and Equality, Malta
  • Ana Paula Zacarias, Secretary of State for European Affairs, Portugal
  • Hans Dahlgren, Minister for EU Affairs, Sweden
  • Frans Timmermans, First Vice President of the European Commission, European Commission
  • George Katrougalos, Foreign Affairs Ministers, Greece (observer)
  • Maria Joao Rodrigues, Vice President of the S&D Group, chair of the PES FEN Network, European Parliament
  • Javier Moreno, Secretary General of the S&D Group, European Parliament
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EU Politics

Migration and asylum: EU funds to promote integration and protect borders

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MEPs backed on Tuesday increasing the EU budget for migration and asylum policies and to reinforce borders.

The Civil Liberties Committee endorsed the renewed Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF), the 2021-2027 budget of which will increase up to €9.2 billion (€10.41 billion in current prices, 51% more than in the previous financial framework). It also backed the creation of a new Integrated Border Management Fund (IBMF) and agreed to allocate €7.1 billion (€8 billion in current prices) to it.

The AMIF should contribute to strengthen the common asylum policy, develop legal migration, in line with the member states’ economic and social needs, contribute to countering irregular migration and ensure effective, safe and dignified return, readmission and reintegration in non-EU countries.

But it should also ensure “solidarity and fair sharing of responsibility between the member states, in particular towards those most affected by migration challenges, including through practical cooperation”, MEPs state.

MEPs also want to make sure that funds can be allocated to local and regional authorities, and to international and non‑governmental organisations, working in the field of asylum and migration.

Integrated Border Management Fund to secure EU’s external borders

IBMF will provide funding to build and enhance member states’ capacities in border management and visa policy. The funding dedicated to member states (60 % of the total envelope) will reflect their needs and take into account additional pressures. Furthermore, a new EU thematic facility (40% of the total envelope) will ensure flexibility to channel emergency funding to member states and EU-level projects when urgent action is needed.

MEPs also added safeguards to ensure that actions and measures funded through the Instrument comply with the EU’s fundamental rights obligations, in particular with the principles of non-discrimination and non-refoulement.

Both funds will operate in full synergy. They will also work closely with the reinforced Internal Security Fund (ISF) focusing on tackling terrorism, organised crime and cybercrime.

Next steps

The draft proposal on the renewed AMIF passed with 31 votes to 23 and 1 abstention. The new IBMF was backed by 41 MEPs, 9 voted against and 2 abstained. The full House will have to confirm its position in the first March plenary, ahead of the negotiations with the Council of the EU.

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EU Politics

Trade negotiations with US can start under certain conditions

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The Trade Committee on Tuesday endorsed the mandate to start limited EU-US trade talks, but set conditions on the conclusion of a deal.

Starting talks is in the interest of European citizens and companies, as it would ease current tensions in EU-US trade relations, brought about by the US administration’s actions, said International Trade Committee MEPs in the report adopted by 21 votes to 17, with one abstention.

They nevertheless note that the conclusion of a trade agreement based on the current negotiating mandate can only be successful if the following conditions are met:

  • the US must lift tariffs on aluminium and steel;
  • a comprehensive consultation process with civil society and a sustainability impact assessment are carried out;
  • the EU insists on including cars and car tariffs in the talks, and on excluding agriculture;
  • talks will be suspended if the US levies another tariff;
  • more clarity on how rules of origin (which lock in how much of the value of a product must be created locally for trade preferences) are handled during the talks.

Background

The European Commission submitted its draft negotiating mandates to the Council for approval on 18 January. The mandates will authorise the Commission to negotiate with the US on eliminating tariffs on industrial goods and on harmonising conformity assessment.

Next steps

Parliament will vote on its stance on the mandates in March. EU Council of Ministers is expected to adopt the draft negotiating mandates in the same month. The Commission will start negotiations on the basis of the final mandate.

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