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The EU will soon make a U-turn in its approach to Russia

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

1The European Union will soon review its sanctions policy toward Russia and shift its focus to cooperation, president of the Greek-Eurasian Business Council and Greece’s former Deputy Foreign Minister Spyros Kouvelis told Sputnik.”The EU will gradually start reviewing its position towards the sanctions… I believe it is not a thing that will last for a very long time,” Kouvelis said.He stressed that cooperation with Russia had been made more complicated because of the sanctions, but expressed certainty that it is always possible to find ways of working together, even under such conditions. According to Kouvelis, the sanctions regime “hampers the economy of not only the Russian Federation, but also the European Union” as it “does not serve the building of bridges between two very important potential partners, like the European Union and the Russian Federation”.

2Iran’s economy will grow whether sanctions are lifted or not and that Tehran will not forget those countries which maintained relations during the worst of times. Deputy Foreign Minister Majid Takht Ravanchi says less reliance on oil revenues and better tax revenues will drive Iran’s economic growth.“While sanctions relief is important to make the economy better, that is not the only instrument that the government has at its disposal,” Ravanvhi was quoted by Bloomberg as saying in an interview.Since late 2013, oil exports have declined by more than one million barrels per day, taking more than $100 billion from the revenue stream. Crude price slump by about 60% over the past year has dealt an added blow. President Hassan Rouhani says his government has reduced reliance on oil revenues from an average of 45% over the past two decades to about 31.5% next year.

3President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev and Chinese leader Xi Jinping signed a declaration on a new stage in the bilateral strategic partnership during a meeting Monday. Issues of bilateral cooperation in trade, economic, investment, credit, finance, culture and humanitarian spheres were discussed during the meeting.In May, Xi visited the Kazakh capital Astana to discuss the Silk Road Economic Belt, Chinese government’s economic development framework, announced in 2013, with the primary aim of integrating trade and investment in Eurasia.

4Azeri borders are safe as long as Baku has the support of Turkey, there can be no problems between the two states, Turkish Prime Minister said, according to Hurriyet Daily.“We are always together,” Ahmet Davutoglu told reporters on Sunday, August 30, Turkey’s Victory Day. “Azerbaijan’s holidays are our holidays, and vice versa.”The Agreement on Strategic Partnership and Mutual Support between Azerbaijan and Turkey for strategic partnership and security co-operation was signed in 2010 in Baku by Presidents Ilham Aliyev and Abdullah Gül. Azerbaijan and Turkey often describe their relations as “one nation with two states”.

5The issues of interaction and preparation of a new strategy of partnership between Turkmenistan and the World Bank (WB) have been discussed in the ministry of foreign affairs of Turkmenistan during the meeting with the World Bank Regional Director for Central Asia Saroj Kumar Jha, who arrived with a working visit to Ashgabat. A constructive dialogue on the global agenda and the rational use of water resources in the region was held during the meeting. Saroj Kumar Jha mentioned the importance of capacity building for regional cooperation and said that the World Bank Group (WB Group) is ready to provide full support to the initiatives of Turkmenistan in this direction.

6A Perfect Cyber Storm: Russia and China Teaming Together.“China and Russia, by far, have the most sophisticated cyber capabilities in the world. The offensive cyber capabilities of each individual country was a threat already to the United States but if they now work together in earnest the United States could be facing an unprecedented cyber danger. According to senior military officials, Russia’s Ministry of Defense is establishing its own cyber command that will be responsible for conducting offensive cyber activities such as propaganda operations and inserting malware into enemy command and control systems” Laura Garrido for Modern Diplomacy.

7The Kazatomprom National Atomic Company has approved a new development strategy for 2015-2025, which provides for the preservation of the leading positions of the company and Kazakhstan on the extraction of natural uranium. Implementation of the strategy will make it possible for Kazatomprom and Kazakhstan to preserve the achieved leading positions on production of natural uranium in the world.In order to do that, the company will develop existing mines and build the new ones, as well as introduce advanced technologies in order to improve the efficiency and reduce the prime cost of uranium extraction. One of the strategic directions of Kazatomprom is the business diversification in all subsequent stages of front-end nuclear fuel cycle.

8Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Iran and Azerbaijan have worked a lot toward attaining mutual interests. “We can have a lot of relations with Azerbaijan. We have established very friendly relations for common good,” he told the Trend news correspondent during a press conference in Tehran August 29. Effort has been made to have economic relations and joint cooperation around the Caspian Sea, he noted. Now the two governments are sure that they can cooperate, and it is hoped that the efforts can help regional security, including the Nagorno-Karabakh issue, he said.

9Turkmenistan is developing a draft investment program of the country for 2016. This was noted at a meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers of the country chaired by President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, the government reported last week.According to the preliminary calculations, the volume of domestic investments in Turkmenistan’s economy will amount to 51.5 billion manats ($14.72 billion) for 2015. The government plans to allocate 56.2 billion manats ($16.06 billion) to the development of the sectors of the national economy at the expense of all sources of financing in 2016. Some 65.5 percent of these investments will be allocated to the construction of production facilities, and 34.5 percent in social and cultural facilities.

10Iran’s grand ayatollah Hossein Nouri Hamedani visits Azerbaijan to meet with country’s Shia clerics and visit historic Azerbaijani cities. Nouri Hamedani arrived in Baku on August 31 for a 6-day visit at an invitation of the Caucasian Muslims Office. Nouri Hamedani is scheduled to meet Shia clerics at Teze Pir mosque in Baku and visit the historic cities of Ganja and Shamakhi. He will meet with local religious leaders in these cities.Previously, the grand ayatollah had traveled to Russia, Kenya, and Tanzania.

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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UN mourns death of former Secretary-General Kofi Annan, ‘a guiding force for good’

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Kofi Annan was the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations. In this photo from 2003, he is addressing reporters at Headquarters. UN Photo/Evan Schneider

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.

The current UN chief, Antonio Guterres hailed him as “a guiding force for good” and a “proud son of Africa who became a global champion for peace and all humanity.”

“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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Waste-to-energy and circular economy workshops to be held in Uruguay

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photo: UNIDO

The Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the Technology Executive Committee (TEC), and the Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN) are organizing two workshops during the Latin America & Caribbean Climate Week (LACCW), which will take place between 20 and 23 August in Montevideo. The sessions, titled: “Enabling circular economy solutions to boost climate action” and “Enabling waste-to-energy, industrial waste reuse and prevention solutions to achieve circular economy and boost climate action”, will be held as part of the Regional Technical Expert Meetings on Mitigation (TEMs-M) and the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action.

The first workshop will present the concept of “circular economy”, an alternative to a traditional linear economy (make, use and dispose), which is restorative and regenerative by design and redefines products and services to design waste out, being ultimately powered by renewables. The second workshop will then discuss how waste-to-energy, industrial waste reuse and prevention solutions are integral parts to achieving a circular economy and its associated economic and environmental benefits.

The events will bring together members from the civil society, UN agencies and financial institutions. The high-impact case studies presented will serve as a basis for discussion on the vision/goal in terms of harnessing mitigation potential and co-benefits of circular economy related policies, practices and actions as well as on innovative approaches to waste-to-energy and waste reuse/prevention that are actionable in the short term for the region. Participants will learn the necessary elements for replication and upscaling of circular economy and specifically waste-to-energy solutions, such as policy, partnerships and the need of financial, technical and capacity building resources.

Manuel Albaladejo, UNIDO Representative in Uruguay, said, “It is important to understand that the circular economy starts at the design stage and that profitability rarely comes by bending a linear model into a circular one.”

With the Latin America Carbon Forum as a cornerstone event, the focus of Latin America & Caribbean Climate Week (LACCW) will be placed on market-based approaches, economic instruments and climate-aligned finance to drive investment in climate action.

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Multilateralism: The only path to address the world’s troubles

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Secretary-General António Guterres (center) meets with Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh. Photo: UNFPA Bangladesh/Allison Joyce

As the world’s problems grow, multilateralism represents to best path to meet the challenges that lie ahead, said United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on Tuesday, launching his annual report.

The Report of the Secretary-General on the Work of the Organization  for 2018, also tracks the progress made over the last year in maintaining peace and security, protecting human rights, and promoting sustainable development.

“I started my tenure calling for 2017 to be a year of peace, yet peace remains elusive,” said the UN chief in the report’s introduction, noting that since January last year “conflicts have deepened, with grave violations of human rights and humanitarian law; inequality has risen, intolerance has spread, discrimination against women remains entrenched and the impacts of climate change continue to accelerate.”

“We need unity and courage in setting the world on track towards a better future,” stressed Mr. Guterres, crediting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for generating coordinated efforts by Member States and civil society to “alleviate poverty and build peaceful, prosperous and inclusive societies.”

Wide-ranging reform

The most comprehensive reform of the UN development system in decades already underway, led by Mr. Guterres and his deputy, Amina Mohammed, aims to strengthen the Organization’s capacity to support Member States in achieving the 17 SDGs.

While the report points to gains, such as increased labour productivity, access to electricity and strengthened internet governance, it also illustrates that progress has been uneven and too slow to meet the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals within the given time frame.

For example, in 2015, three out of 10 people did not have access to safe drinking water, and  60 per cent lacked safe sanitation. Moreover conflicts, disasters and climate change are also adversely affecting populations.

The report underlines the importance of building stronger multilateral partnerships with Member States; regional and international organizations; and civil society; to “find solutions to global problems that no nation alone can resolve.”

Although the 2018 High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development of 2018 reflected some positive initiatives, it also showed the urgent need to step up efforts in areas such as energy cooperation, water and terrestrial ecosystems.

According to the report, “partnerships are key to achieving the SDGs” – and as of June, 3,834 partnerships had been registered with the Partnerships for the SDGs online platform from different sectors across all the 17 goals.

With regard to technology, last October a joint meeting of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and the Second Committee welcomed Sophia, the first robot to sit on a UN panel. This gave a glimpse into the advances being made in the realm of Artificial Intelligence.

Turning to young people, UN Youth Envoy, Jayathma Wickramanayake, of Sri Lanka, is continuously advocating for their needs and rights, including in decision-making processes at all levels, and in strengthening the UN system’s coordination on delivering for youth, and with their increased participation.

The UN report also spoke to the growing scale, complexity and impact of global migration. In July, the General Assembly agreed a Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, which will be presented for adoption in December at an Intergovernmental Conference in Morocco.

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