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
1Nefarious scenarios that are being implemented in the Middle East today, were prepared for Azerbaijan as well, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev said Sept.8, addressing the meeting on economic issues and preparation of the state budget for 2016. Some foreign circles were talking about the “Arab Spring” in Azerbaijan in 2011 and then in 2012 and were stating that it is unavoidable, Aliyev noted. The head of state said that much has been done to exacerbate the situation and disrupt the stability in the country, adding that however, all this was revealed by the country’s law enforcement agencies.They wanted to create ‘Maidan’ in Azerbaijan, involve the youth in these nefarious activities and made them miserable, President Aliyev said. The president said lots of funds were spent to exacerbate the situation in Azerbaijan.“There were revealed tens of millions of dollars that were supposed to be brought to Azerbaijan illegally, through the local ‘fifth column’ and with the help of NGOs in order to exacerbate the situation and bring to power the people serving some foreign circles here,” he added.
2Russia and Kazakhstan want to unite their air defense systems, Pavel Kurachenko, the head of the Russian Aerospace Forces, said on Tuesday, TASS reports.The two countries signed an agreement on creation of a united air defense system in 2013.”At this stage, we are rehearsing coordination among groups of troops and are laying down the legislative framework for this unified system,” Kurachenko said.Russia also wants to create united regional anti-aircraft defense system with Armenia, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, Kurachenko said. A draft agreement between Armenia and Russia on creation of a united regional air defense system in the Caucasus has been approved by both states, which are ready to sign it.
3Hic Dracones: Corruption across the Caspian. “A region clearly struggling to make progress in fundamental aspects of structural freedom and guarantees, which signal a lack of real opportunity for popular prosperity and stability” Dr. Matthew Crosston- Modern Diplomacy.
4Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan are discussing the establishment of a “green corridor” to facilitate the cargo transportation between the two countries, Aydin Aliyev, the head of the Azerbaijani State Customs Committee, told reporters Sept. 8.”We have already established a similar corridor with Russia,” he said. “In the near future we plan to start official negotiations with Kazakhstan.”As for the delay of Azerbaijani businessmen’s goods on Kazakhstan’s border, he said that the problems have been solved. The entrepreneurs transported the goods from China to Kazakhstan’s Aktau port.
5The National Fund for Development of Financial Services has offered its plan for tackling the situation created by the depreciation of the national currency and transition to the floating exchange rate of the tenge, Tengrinews reports. The Fund was established in November 2014. Its main objectives are to help customers use banking and financial services, control the quality of services provided by banks and financial institutions, and improve the financial literacy of the population of Kazakhstan.
6Social Media Terrorism: DAESH’s New Caucasian Province. “DAESH relies heavily on an innovative and polarizing message to recruit and expand its illusory borders. In the North Caucasus, it has relied on sympathy for the so-called fight for Islamic independence and an ardent rejection of Kremlin influence. With this message, it has aligned itself with al-Qaeda’s Islamic Emirate of the Caucasus, with four of the six most powerful divisions formally aligning themselves with DAESH after the announcement” Brian Hughes- Modern Diplomacy.
7Obama hits 41, cements Iran victory. President Obama cleared a significant political hurdle Tuesday when several undecided Democrats came out in favor of the Iran nuclear deal, giving him enough votes to block a Senate resolution of disapproval. Three of the five remaining swing votes, Sens. Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Gary Peters (Mich.) and Ron Wyden (Ore.), announced their support for the accord in a flurry of near-simultaneous press releases on Tuesday morning, increasing the number of pro-deal Democrats to 41. The Hill.
8The National Agency for Technological Development of Kazakhstan has been accepting bids from inventors for innovation grants on new priorities as of September, the national agency said. The list of areas has been expanded from eight to 16 in accordance with the order of the Ministry of Investment and Development of Kazakhstan.The inventors can apply with innovative projects in the fields of nanotechnologies and space industry, the advanced technologies in woodworking and furniture industry, pharmaceutical industry, medical industry, bioengineering, genetic engineering, agricultural chemistry, robotics.
9The ways of developing relations between Azerbaijan and Pakistan were explored as the first deputy chair of the Azerbaijan State Committee on Religious Organizations, Sayyad Salahli, has met Pakistani ambassador to the country Khalid Usman Qaiser. Salahli hailed relations between Azerbaijan and Pakistan, stressing that there was mutual interest in developing the bilateral ties. Qaiser said that the foundations of strong relations between Azerbaijan and Pakistan were laid by national leader Heydar Aliyev. The diplomat stressed that Pakistan has always backed Azerbaijan`s just position on the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.Goods turnover between Azerbaijan and Pakistan has reached about $1,318 mln from January to July, 2015, according to the State Customs Committee.
10Why do Vladimir Putin and his Kremlin cronies look so nervous? Putin’s resort to theatrics clearly indicates he is gearing up to run for re-election in 2018. The annexation of Crimea and surge in Russian patriotism have pushed his approval rating to levels no Western leader can hope to replicate. The only place they can really go is down. Yet despite having no serious domestic political opponents, Putin’s path to re-election may prove complicated. Andrei Kolesnikov and Andrew S. Weiss- Reuters.
Fight against human trafficking must be strengthened in Ethiopia
Throughout Ethiopia’s Tigray, Afar and Amhar regions, women and girls are becoming increasingly vulnerable to abduction and sex trafficking as they flee ongoing armed conflict, a group of UN-appointed independent human rights experts warned on Monday.
The protracted conflict in the three northern regions have heightened risks of trafficking for sexual exploitation as a form of sexual violence in conflict, the experts said in a statement.
“We are alarmed by reports of refugee and internally displaced women and girls in the Tigray, Afar, and Amhara regions being abducted while attempting to move to safer places,” they said.
“We are concerned at the risks of trafficking, in particular for purposes of sexual exploitation, including sexual slavery.”
Women and children in crosshairs
Amidst abductions and displacement, the UN experts raised serious concerns over Eritrean refugee women and children being at particular risk of sex trafficking.
“Urgent action is needed to prevent trafficking, especially for purposes of sexual exploitation, and to ensure assistance and protection of all victims, without discrimination on grounds of race or ethnicity, nationality, disability, age or gender,” they said.
Meanwhile, the hundreds of children who have been separated from their families, especially in the Tigray region, are particularly vulnerable, warned the independent experts.
“The continuing lack of humanitarian access to the region is a major concern,” the experts continued, urging immediate national, bilateral and multilateral measures to prevent all forms of trafficking of children and to ensure their protection.
They added that sufficient measures were not being taken to identify victims of trafficking, or support their recovery in ways that fully takes account of the extreme trauma being suffered.
“The failure to provide accountability for these serious human rights violations and grave crimes creates a climate of impunity, allows trafficking in persons to persist and perpetrators to go free,” underscored the six UN experts.
They urged all relevant stakeholders to ensure that victims of trafficking can adequately access medical assistance, including sexual and reproductive healthcare services and psychological support.
The experts said they had made their concerns known to both the Governments of Ethiopia and neighbouring Eritrea.
35 years of Cultural Routes: Safeguarding European Values, Heritage, and Dialogue
A Europe rich in history, heritage, dialogue and values: the Council of Europe Cultural Routes’ programme celebrates its 35th anniversary, on the occasion of the 11th Advisory Forum in Minoa Palace Hotel, Chania, Crete (Greece) on 5-7 October, with a special event to highlight the relevance of Cultural Routes for the promotion of cultural diversity, intercultural dialogue and sustainable tourism.
The Forum is organised by the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe and the European Institute of Cultural Routes, in co-operation with the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports, the Hellenic Ministry of Tourism, the Greek National Tourism Organization, the Region of Crete, the Municipality of Chania, the Chamber of Industry and Commerce of Chania, and the Historic Cafes Route. The 2022 edition will be the opportunity to underline the growing relevance of the Cultural Routes methodology and practices in promoting Europe’s shared cultural heritage while fostering viable local development.
Deputy Secretary General Bjørn Berge will participate in the high-level dialogue, together with Minister of Culture and Sports of Greece Lina Mendoni, Minister of Tourism of Greece Vassilis Kikilias, Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) Vice-President and Chairperson of the Greek Delegation Dora Bakoyannis and Chair of the Statutory Committee of Cultural Routes Ambassador Patrick Engelberg (Luxembourg).
Over three days of workshops and interactive debates, three main general sessions will be explored:
- Promoting European Values and Intercultural Dialogue;
- Safeguarding Heritage in Times of Crisis;
- Fostering Creative Industries, Cultural Tourism, Innovative Technologies for Sustainable Communities.
The Forum will discuss trends and challenges in relation to Cultural Routes, providing a platform for sharing experiences, reviewing progress, analysing professional practices, launching new initiatives and developing partnerships across Europe and beyond. Participants range from managers among the 48 cultural routes to representatives of national ministries, International Organisations, academics, experts and tourism professionals.
Little progress combating systemic racism against people of African descent
More than two years since the murder of George Floyd by a police officer in the United States sparked the global Black Lives Matter movement, there’s been only “piecemeal progress” in addressing systemic racism, the UN human rights office (OHCHR) said on Friday, in a new report.While more people have been made aware of systemic racism and concrete steps have been taken in some countries, the Acting High Commissioner for Human Rights called on States to demonstrate greater political will to accelerate action.
“There have been some initiatives in different countries to address racism, but for the most part they are piecemeal. They fall short of the comprehensive evidence-based approaches needed to dismantle the entrenched structural, institutional and societal racism that has existed for centuries, and continues to inflict deep harm today,” said Nada Al-Nashif, who will present the report to the UN Human Rights Council on Monday.
The report describes international, national and local initiatives that have been taken, towards ending the scourge of racism.
These include an Executive Order from the White House on advancing effective, accountable policing and criminal justice practices in federal law enforcement agencies; an Anti-Racism Data Act in British Columbia, Canada; measures to evaluate ethnic profiling by police in Sweden; and census data collection to self-identify people of African descent in Argentina.
The European Commission has issued guidance on collecting and using data based on racial or ethnic origin; formal apologies issued, memorialization, revisiting public spaces, and research, to assess links to enslavement and colonialism in several countries.
‘Barometer for success’
The report notes that poor outcomes continue for people of African descent in many countries, notably in accessing health and adequate food, education, social protection, and justice – while poverty, enforced disappearance and violence continues.
It highlights “continuing…allegations of discriminatory treatment, unlawful deportations, excessive use of force, and deaths of African migrants and migrants of African descent by law enforcement officials”
“The barometer for success must be positive change in the lived experiences of people of African descent,” continued Ms. Al-Nashif.
“States need to listen to people of African descent, meaningfully involve them and take genuine steps to act upon their concerns.”
Higher death rates
Where available, recent data still points to disproportionately high death rates faced by people of African descent, at the hands of law enforcement, in different countries.
“Families of African descent continued to report the immense challenges, barriers and protracted processes they faced in their pursuit of truth and justice for the deaths of their relatives”, the report says.
It details seven cases of police-related deaths of people of African descent, namely George Floyd and Breonna Taylor (US); Adama Traoré (France); Luana Barbosa dos Reis Santos and João Pedro Matos Pinto (Brazil); Kevin Clarke (UK) and Janner [Hanner] García Palomino (Colombia).
While noting some progress towards accountability in a few of these emblematic cases, “unfortunately, not a single case has yet been brought to a full conclusion, with those families still seeking truth, justice and guarantees of non-repetition, and the prosecution and sanction of all those responsible,” the report says.
Ms. Al-Nashif called on States to “redouble efforts to ensure accountability and redress wherever deaths of Africans and people of African descent have occurred in the context of law enforcement, and take measures to confront legacies that perpetuate and sustain systemic racism”.
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