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
1As the critical vote on the Iranian nuclear deal nears, politicians of all ilk keep calling for military action against Iran as the alternative. The necessity appears to be more driven by the need to curry favor with Israel, than any other reason. John McCain thought it was cute when he publicly used a parody of a 1965 Beach Boys release of Barbara Ann and sang “Bomb, Bomb, Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran.” John B. Alexander, Ph.D. for The Huffington Post.
2Six NATO hubs being established along the alliance’s eastern flank went into operation on September 1, the alliance said, in a move responding to a perceived new security threat from Russia. The six NATO centers — in Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Romania — are to help on the ground with exercises and planning activities. Each should be staffed with around 40 people by the end of the year.”They have begun work, but are not yet operating at full capacity,” a NATO spokesman said.
3The development of economic partnership, implementation of joint projects in the gas sector were discussed during Turkmen-Japanese talks in Ashgabat.The talks were held among Turkmengas State Concern and representatives of Japanese corporations such as Mitsubishi, Chiyoda, Sojits, Itochu and JGC.The matter rested in the upcoming work as part of the third phase of developing Galkynysh super-giant field. The upcoming work is directly related to the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) main pipeline.
4An Azerbaijani court has sentenced investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova to 7 1/2 years in prison after convicting her on charges that rights groups have called retribution for her reports on corruption involving senior government officials. The verdict drew swift condemnation from colleagues, human rights groups, and media freedom organizations, while Western governments and officials said they were “deeply troubled” by the outcome of the case. Ismayilova, who has reported extensively on the financial dealings of long-ruling President Ilham Aliyev and members of his family, has strongly denied the charges and called the trial a “scam” meant to silence her work.[RFE/RL]
5Kazakhstan and China signed 25 agreements worth $23 billion, aiming to move cooperation dominated by raw materials to products with greater added value, the Kazakh president’s office said on September 1. China has invested billions in mineral-rich Kazakhstan, mainly in oil and gas, and in infrastructure projects serving the industry.”I think this visit is a turning point in the Kazakh-Chinese relationship,” Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev was reported as saying during a meeting with Chinese businessmen in Beijing, including the chairman of Huawei Corporation and heads of several Chinese development banks.”For over 20 years we have actively cooperated with China, mainly in the energy and resource-extraction industries. At the new stage, we are beginning to intensify our interaction in the processing sectors of the economy, including mechanical engineering and resource processing,” he said.
6Can Kazakhstan Learn to Fight Corruption from China? The Chinese government has spent the last three years in a deliberate fight against corruption–arresting big-name “tigers” and squashing countless “flies.” The debate continues to rage among China watchers about the intentions and ultimate impact of the country’s anti-corruption campaign, but the Kazakh president, for one, sees China as an example to be emulated. [The Diplomat]
7Kazakhstan’s Capital Serves as Inspiration for Growth. Following a tumultuous period following independence, and with the introduction of a new currency (the tenge), the city has emerge – and continues to evolve – into an important cultural and financial center. Unlike its counterpart, former capital Almaty, there is room for growth and the government has tapped into the city’s vast potential and has, thus far, created a space that has captured the interest of regional and world leaders. [JakartaGlobe]
8Will Russia, China Beat U.S. In The Arctic? President Barack Obama should be applauded for gathering world leaders in Anchorage, Alaska, this week for a U.S.-led conference on “Global Leadership in the Arctic.” Yet the summit’s limited focus on climate change, though undoubtedly important, belies the significance of the broader U.S. interests and responsibilities in the Arctic.As ice turns to navigable ocean, the Arctic is becoming the U.S.’s third great ocean border, creating vexing strategic challenges and unprecedented opportunities. These include not only climate change, but threats to national sovereignty and security, revolutions in international commerce and a Klondike-like rush to control vast undersea resources. James M. Loy for Hartford Courant.
9Azerbaijani and Turkish air forces’ joint tactical drills, entitled ‘TurAz Qartali 2015’, continue, Azerbaijan’s defense ministry reported on September 1.The exercises involved the combat helicopters Mi-35, Mi-17, transport and combat helicopters Sikorsky UH-60, as well as search-and-rescue helicopters Cougar AS532.The exercises, which are held as part of a joint annual military plan will last until September 18.Baku and Ankara enjoy strategic relations in many fields, including the military.
10Russian Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov will soon pay a visit to Azerbaijan.Oxu.Az reports citing the Foreign Ministry of Russia that the statement came from Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during his meeting with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.”Everything proceeds on rise in our economic relations. Despite the international conjuncture, the intergovernmental commission functions and Minister of Industry and Trade of Russia D.V.Manturov is expected to visit Azerbaijan.
The COVID-19 Shock to Kazakhstan’s Economy Largest in Two Decades
For the first time since the late 1990s Kazakhstan’s economy is expected to contract by projected 3 percent in 2020 with a moderate recovery by 2.5 percent in 2021, according to the World Bank’s latest Kazakhstan Economic Update (Summer 2020) – Navigating the Crisis report.
Although Kazakhstan’s GDP showed mild growth at 2.3 percent in the first quarter, economic activities weakened in the following months as commodity prices dropped, trade declined, and COVID-19 preventive measures slowed economic activity. Consumer demand showed moderate growth at at 1.2 percent, reflecting growing concerns over COVID-19 and the restriction measures. Investment is expected to ease to 1.0 percent annually, supported mostly by the on-going foreign direct investments into the oil and gas industry and residential construction. Supply disruptions and currency depreciation pushed up inflation to above the upper bound of the National Bank target range.
“The authorities acted early to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, and the accumulated fiscal buffers allow the government to introduce a relief package to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 on the economy,” said Sjamsu Rahardja, Senior Country Economist, World Bank in Kazakhstan. “Weak demand and oil prices, as well as the protacted pandemic expose significant risks to the economic outlook. Authorities may want to consider using the available resources to provide relief to the poor and vulnerable, protect productive assets, and introduce reforms to sustain economic recovery.”
A prolonged crisis is likely to increase poverty and can increase inequality in Kazakhstan. Preliminary estimates suggest that poverty rate may rise in 2020 from a projected 8.3 to 12.7 percent – equating to more than 800 thousand additional people living in poverty. The shock to the labor market in Kazakhstan due to both the pandemic and the mitigation measures, is expected to have severe implications for jobs, particularly in sectors that employ low-skilled workers.
The report also argues that COVID-19 has a negative impact on human capital development in Kazakhstan. Unequal access to quality education, especially during lockdown, can negatively impact human capital development for the poor. School closures could result in learning loss of more than one-third of a school year and the impact could mean a decline in the Program for International Student Assessement (PISA) points. As most students in the country currently perform around the threshold for functional literacy and assuming some will lose more than others, the estimates suggest that the percentage of students performing below functional literacy will increase by 3 percentage points (from 64 to 67 percent).
“The impact of COVID-19 on education and learning losses will have a decades-long impact on the economy by an estimated 2.9 percent, amounting to an overall economic loss of up to $1.9 billion every year”, says Jean-Francois Marteau, World Bank Country Manager for Kazakhstan. “A focus on improving access to quality education, including distance learning, would be important to prevent a decline in the quality of human capital, especially among Kazakhstan’s low-income population.”
The report concludes that under the risk of a prolonged slump in the global oil market, Kazakhstan’s pathway for a resilient recovery may focus on strengthening the effectiveness of public administration and services, including the use of e-platforms to deliver key public services, better tax administration, and a mechanism to review and redeploy fiscal resources toward better state programs. A renewed emphasis on reforms in the logistics, digital telecommunications, and financial sectors could help the overall private sector explore new opportunities.
China-Eurasia Council condemns aggression of Azerbaijan
China-Eurasia Council for Political and Strategic Research strongly condemns Azerbaijani aggression which Baku started on July 12, 2020. Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense is a threat for the entire World as it is speaking about its aims to strike Metsamor Nuclear Plant, which is located in Armenia. Baku must understand that this is a crime against humanity, and it is equal to nuclear strike.The destruction of Metsamor Nuclear plant will be a disaster not only for Armenia, but also for Iran, Georgia and Azerbaijan, it will harm World’s environment and stand a real problem for several generations of the World. It is worth mentioning, that this time Baku attacked the Northern borders of Armenia, which are sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia according to International law. Azerbaijan violated the principle of territorial integrity of a sovereign state, which is one of the important pillars of International law.
China-Eurasia Council for Political and Strategic Research condemns Azerbaijan for using force against civilian population of Armenia and calls for peaceful negotiations. Baku must show solidarity and join global ceasefire initiated by the UN secretary general Antonio Guterres and must not try to escalate the situation on the border to deflect public attention from the situation concerning the outbreak of Covid-19 in Azerbaijan. We call official Baku to take care of Azerbaijani people in the hard times of Coronavirus and not send its soldiers to real death. Being multinational Council, for us It’s terrible to hear about lossfrom both sides and we express our sincere condolences. Hopefully peace will come to South Caucasus, which is an important crossroad in Eurasian mainland and it can stand a very important link for Belt and Road Initiative, if all problems solved in a peaceful way.
Condemnation Of Armenian Aggression By Friends Of Azerbaijan (FoA)
Friends of Azerbaijan (FoA) strongly condemns the coward act of Armenians aggression in the Tovuz district of Azerbaijan that is a sheer violation of international borders and law. The act is an attempt of Armenia to drive global attention from the peaceful dialogue and negotiation process on Nagorno Karabakh.
In an online meeting of the delegates of the Friends of Azerbaijan (FoA), a joint declaration of condemnation has been issued by the honorable members of Friends of Azerbaijan (FoA).
According to this declaration, Armenian aggression can jeopardize the whole South Caucasus region. The incident on July 12, 2020, is being considered as a direct attack on Azerbaijan and the repercussions of this incident can result in massive catastrophe in the entire region.
The delegates of Friends of Azerbaijan (FoA) stressed the global powers to come forward and take serious action on Armenian intervention by violating the international border of Azerbaijan. The act of Armenia is an open challenge to the sovereignty of Azerbaijan.
Malik Ayub Sumbal founder of Friends of Azerbaijan (FoA) termed that Armenia is losing its legal and moral position on Nagorno Karabakh and there is mounting pressure on Armenia by the international community for the peaceful solution of Nagorno Karabakh according to the UN Resolutions. At this time to get rid of such kind of diplomatic moves, Armenia has launched another major front in Tovuz.
When the whole world is busy against the Covid19 Armenian Prime Minister has chosen a very dangerous path that can take the whole region into war and bloodshed.
Friends of Azerbijan (FoA) is firmly standing with shoulder by shoulder to the people of Azerbaijan and martyr’s families at this hour.
The fall of the Montenegrin dictator and its impact on the Balkans geopolitical balance
At parliamentary elections held in Montenegro on August 30, for the first time in history, the government was replaced in...
Enough Of Double Standards!
Deutsche Welle recently published a comment on Bosnia-Herzegovina written by Stefan Schwarz,a renowned German politician. In this text, the author...
Community Empowerment During Covid-19 Pandemic
During the covid-19 pandemic has resulted in the economic condition of the world community becoming destroyed, social empowerment of the...
Targeting the ‘Heart of Eurasia’: China’s Xinjiang and US’ Game Plan
The cat is out of the bag now, clearly! While it never was a secret, it is becoming increasingly evident...
IRENA’s Collaborative Framework on Hydropower Takes Shape
Advancing the discussion from June 2020, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) held its second meeting of the Collaborative Framework...
China’s Belt and Road pinpoints fundamental issues of our times
Based on remarks at the RSIS book launch of Alan Chong and Quang Minh Pham (eds), Critical Reflections on China’s...
A Middle Eastern Westphalia
This book, Towards a Westphalia for the Middle East, is a product of many conferences and seminars between government officials,...
International Law2 days ago
Why Human Rights Abuses Threaten Regional and Global Security
Economy3 days ago
Pandemic Recovery: Upskilling Government Saves Nations
Europe2 days ago
An Austro-Franco-German Proposal for a European Post Covid-19 Recovery Programme
Europe3 days ago
Britain, Greece, Turkey and The Aegean: Does Anything Change?
Eastern Europe3 days ago
Perestroika Belarusian-Style: The Logic of the Systemic Crisis
South Asia2 days ago
Rohingya repatriation: Has the world forgotten about the Rohingya crisis?
Russia3 days ago
Did Russia-China Relations Successfully Pass the “COVID,” “Hong Kong,” “India” and “Belarus” Tests?
South Asia2 days ago
Regional Power politics and Pakistan foreign policy