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How to Reduce the Risk of a Military Encounter Between Russia and NATO

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

1A Pan-European Task Force on Cooperation in Greater Europe, including former foreign and defence ministers from the U.K., Poland, Russia, Germany, Turkey and France has expressed its concern over a possible military escalation in the crisis between Russia and the West and has called for a new agreement between NATO and Russia to prevent accidental incidents or miscalculations leading to an escalation of tension and even confrontation. In its paper on Avoiding War in Europe: How to Reduce the Risk of a Military Encounter between Russia and NATO the Task Force describes some of the increased military activity in Europe in recent months and outlines a required new military agreement modelled on a recent US-China deal to avoid dangerous incidents in the East China Sea and elsewhere. [European Leadership Network]

2Kazakhstan, EU to sign new deal. The new EU-Kazakhstan Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement will help Kazakhstan to implement the government programs aimed at strengthening the national economy. The implementation of the new Agreement has significant importance for the country, particularly in the current context of regional tension and global economic crisis.The new Agreement will replace the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement in force since 1999, and will give EU-Kazakhstan relations a new up-to-date and stronger foundation.Over the past decades, the EU has become Kazakhstan’s first trading partner and first foreign investor, representing over half of total Foreign Direct Investments(FDI) in Kazakhstan.

3Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation Iyad bin Ameen Madani has applauded Azerbaijan`s role as an active member of the organization, AzerTag reports.“Azerbaijan is making a considerable contribution to the efforts to address economic, humanitarian and political challenges faced by the OIC,” Mr Ameen Madani told Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov as they met in Baku. The OIC Secretary General also congratulated Azerbaijan on “excellent” organization of the first European Games. He expressed confidence that the country will successfully host the Islamic Solidarity Games in 2017.

4Turkmenistan will propose to consider the issue of holding the ‘International Forum on Security and Cooperation in Central Asia’ in Ashgabat in 2016 during the forthcoming 70th session of the UN General Assembly. The forum aims at establishing a regular multilateral dialogue on the problems of the region, working out the common approaches to the creation of a permanent mechanism of political consultations in Central Asia in the future.The international non-military, non-block organizations, primarily, the UN and OSCE, could also take part in the forum.

5Tehran and Moscow started talks on the supply of the Russian-made Sukhoi 30 fighter jets to Iran. The talks were held on Tuesday on the sidelines of the MAKS 2015 air show in the town of Zhukovsky near Moscow during which Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iranian Vice-President for Science and Technology Sorena Sattari were present. The Sukhoi Su-30 is a twin-engine, two-seat supermaneuverable fighter aircraft developed by Russia’s Sukhoi Aviation Corporation. It is a multirole fighter for all-weather, air-to-air and air-to-surface deep interdiction missions.

6Why the JCPOA Won’t Turn Iran Into the Next Saudi Arabia. “Yet it is far from certain that the JCPOA will have anything like the cataclysmic effect some have predicted. Moreover, it is questionable how far Iran will push its newly-freed oil economy once sanctions are lifted, with a host of infrastructural challenges, as well as some compelling historical experience, potentially foiling the country’s rise into major petro-state status” Gregory Brew for Modern Diplomacy

7Former Executive Director of the International Energy Agency has predicted Iran will become one of the leading powers in the world oil and gas market by 2040. During a visit from Iranian petroleum ministry’s Institute of International Energy Studies (IIES) in Tehran, Nobuo Tanaka said, “We believe that Iran is the most important player in the world oil and gas market because of its exemplary geopolitical situation which is worth any kind of energy investments. I hope the Strait of Hormuz is never blocked and the world is never deprived of Iran’s energy resources,” said Tanaka, who currently serves as executive director at the Sasakawa Peace Foundation., Iran’s SHANA news agency reported.

8The United States-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. Commercial Service has started the formation of the American trade mission to Azerbaijan. The mission, that will take place on November 18-20, is a response to the rapid growth and potential of Azerbaijan.The mission is open to U.S. companies, investors, consultants specializing in the field of agriculture, banking and financial services, chemicals and petrochemicals, education, energy, food processing, healthcare, telecommunications and IT, infrastructure and construction, light industry, machinery, pharmaceuticals, transport and logistics, and tourism. The trade turnover between Azerbaijan and the U.S. increased by 7.7 percent in the annual quantities – up to $877.07 million – in January-July, according to the Azerbaijan State Customs Committee.

9Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli and First Deputy Prime Minister Bakytzhan Sagintayev of Kazakhstan reached a six-point consensus to advance bilateral cooperation on Tuesday. Zhang and Sagintayev co-chaired the seventh session of the China-Kazakhstan Cooperation Commission in Beijing, at which they summarized the results and planned future cooperation in the areas of manufacturing capacity, energy and resources, trade and investment, inter-connectivity, technology and people-to-people contact. The two sides agreed to step up integration of the China-proposed Silk Road Economic Belt with Kazakhstan’s new economic policy of the Bright Road. They will establish a joint work group on building the Silk Road Economic Belt as soon as possible and start drafting a guideline on bilateral cooperation at the earliest possible date.

10International Conference InvestPro Azerbaijan 2015. This autumn the Bosco Conference Company for the third time holds an international b2b conference and exhibition devoted to international investments, finance, corporate solutions, wealth management and asset protection: 26th of October 2015 – InvestPro Azerbaijan Baku 2015 (JW Marriott Hotel Absheron Baku)

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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COVID-19: Countries support ‘one-stop shop’ to share science and research

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Thirty countries and numerous international partners have underlined the need to make tests, treatments and other technologies to fight COVID-19, available to people everywhere.

They have signed up to support the COVID-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP), a “one-stop shop” for sharing scientific knowledge, data and intellectual property in efforts to beat back the disease.

“Tools to prevent, detect and treat COVID-19 are global public goods that must be accessible by all people”, said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the World Health Organization (WHO), speaking at the virtual launch held on Friday.

Equal access to technology critical

C-TAP is a sister initiative to the ACT Accelerator, established last month, to speed up development of vaccines and other tools against the pandemic.

It was first proposed in March by President Carlos Alvarado of Costa Rica.

“The promise of sure and safe and effective affordable health care solutions, such as treatments and vaccines, must be the guide for our actions, and it will allow us to overcome a crisis which has left behind so much pain in so many communities throughout the world”, he said, speaking through an interpreter.

“Nevertheless, there is no point in achieving these amazing technological developments if we cannot guarantee affordable access to technology.”

Voluntary ‘one-stop shop’

The UN health agency has described C-TAP as “a one-stop shop” that will be voluntary and based on the principle of solidarity.

WHO said it builds on the success of the Medicines Patent Pool in expanding access to treatments for HIV and the debilitating inflammatory liver disease, hepatitis.

There are five key elements to the initiative, starting with public disclosure of gene sequences and data, as well as clinical trial results.

Governments and research funders are also encouraged to include clauses in contracts with pharmaceutical companies that stress equitable distribution and publication of trial data.

Additionally, treatments and vaccines should be licensed to both large and small producers.

C-TAP also promotes open innovation models and technology transfers that increase local manufacturing and supply.

“Through C-TAP, we are inviting companies or governments that develop an effective therapeutic to contribute the patent to the Medicines Patent Pool, which would then sub-license the patent to generic manufacturers”, said Tedros.

WHO, Costa Rica and all the countries that have sponsored the initiative also issued a ‘Solidarity Call to Action’ urging other stakeholders to join C-TAP.

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ADB Study Maps Supply Chains for Key Products in COVID-19 Response

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The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has released a landmark study which maps supply chains for critical products in the global response to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, clearing the way for the identification and removal of blockages in their production and distribution.

The interactive maps will enable banks, investors, governments, and healthcare professionals to pinpoint key companies in the supply of portable ventilators, N95 respirators, face shields, goggles, aprons, surgical masks, and gowns. The maps consider the elements of each product down to its component metals and fabrics.

“To fix any supply chain problems, we need an in-depth description of what goes into these products and which companies are involved,” said ADB’s Head of Trade and Supply Chain Finance Steven Beck. “Mapping these supply chains means that if help is needed, banks, investors, and governments can use the data to quickly relieve bottlenecks and ramp up supplies.”

The mapping project feeds data that already exists from many sources into an algorithm that sorts the information by applying various industry and product codes. Until now, that data has existed in multiple forms on a variety of separate databases, but never brought together in a user-friendly format. A future phase of this initiative will look at blockages at ports, tariff requirements, and other impediments to the efficient functioning of supply chains for these critical goods.

ADB announced on 13 April a tripling in the size of its response to the pandemic to $20 billion. The package expands on the $6.5 billion initial response announced on 18 March, adding $13.5 billion in resources to help ADB’s developing member countries counter the severe macroeconomic and health impacts caused by COVID-19.

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Human Rights

More ‘can and must be done’ to eradicate caste-based discrimination in Nepal

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People walk down a street of shops in Kathmandu, Nepal. (file) photo World Bank/Peter Kapuscinski

Shocked over the killing last weekend of five men in Nepal, who had planned to escort home one of their girlfriends from a higher caste, the UN human rights chief on Friday stressed that ending caste-based discrimination is “fundamental” to the overall sustainable development vision of leaving no one behind.

“It is distressing that caste-based prejudices remain deeply entrenched in our world in the 21st century, and I am filled with sadness for these two young people who held high hopes of building a life together despite the obstacles presented by their accident of birth” said High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, referring to the couple at the centre of the tragedy.

Last Saturday, a 21-year-old man from the ‘untouchable’ Dalit caste, known as Nawaraj BK, and his friends, traveled some 32 km from Jajarkot district, to Western Rukum district, the home of the man’s girlfriend, who belongs to a higher social caste.

They intended to escort the young woman back to their home district, reportedly at her request, but were attacked and chased into a river. Five men, four of whom were also Dalits, were later found dead, while another is still missing.

“Caste-based discrimination remains widespread, not only in Nepal but other countries, and often leads to serious harm and, as in this case, even loss of life”, lamented Ms. Bachelet. 

Dalits under attack

Nawaraj’s case is not an isolated one.

Dalits, formerly known as “untouchables”, have suffered for generations of public shaming at the hands of upper-caste Hindus and continue to face widespread atrocities across the country, with any seeming attempts at upward social mobility, violently shut down.

In a similar case, disturbing reports have also emerging about a 12-year-old Dalit girl who was killed in a separate attack in the village of Devdaha, in the Rupandehi district in southern Nepal.

She is said to have been forcibly married to her alleged rapist from a dominant caste. The girl’s body was reportedly left hanging from a tree on Saturday.

The High Commissioner called for an independent investigation into the attacks, underscoring that the victims and their families have the right to justice, truth and reparations.

Searching for justice

The killings have triggered outrage in Nepal, prompting the federal Ministry of Home Affairs to establish a five-member “high-level investigation committee” to look into the incident. 

On Tuesday, police reportedly filed a complaint against 20 alleged perpetrators. 

“Despite constitutional guarantees, impunity for caste-based discrimination and violence remains high in Nepal”, according to the UN human rights office (OHCHR). 

And while the country has taken “big strides to address this scourge”, she maintained that “so much more can and must be done, to eradicate this blight on society”.

The Nepali Parliament’s Law, Justice and Human Rights Committee has asked authorities to immediately investigate two cases of gang-rape of Dalit women, as well as other caste-based cases involving murder, enforced disappearances and forced abortion.

Although Nepal is party to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Committee tasked with monitoring the treaty observed that despite the abolition of “untouchability” in Nepal, Dalits continue to face deep-rooted discrimination, including issues surrounding inter-caste marriages.

Discrimination at every turn

And the risks for this vulnerable caste has only increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

On Monday, the parliamentary committee directed the Government to investigate all incidents of caste-based discrimination and violence during the coronavirus lockdown. 

Dalits in Nepal and other countries experience discrimination at every level of their daily lives, limiting their employment and educational opportunities, the places where they can collect water or worship, and their choice of who to marry, says OHCHR.

Structural barriers and discrimination force Dalits to continue low-income and dehumanizing employment, such as manual scavenging, disposing of dead animals, digging graves or making leather products.

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