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Saudi Arabia Plans to Build Canal to Bypass Strait of Hormuz

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

1Saudi Arabia is planning to construct a water canal in Yemen named Salman to use it as a link between the Persian Gulf and the Arabian instead of the Strait of Hormuz.”Studies are underway on the construction of a waterway which starts from a part of Saudi Arabia’s water border in Khour al-Adid area between the UAE and Qatar and stretches 950km to the Arabian Sea,” Sa’ad Ibn Omar, the head of Arab Studies Center in Riyadh, revealed on Wednesday. Omar said that the Salman Canal is due to be built so that Qatar, the UAE and Kuwait can export their oil to other world states through this canal instead of the Strait of Hormuz which is controlled by Iran.”Saudi Arabia has also considered two other alternative paths for the canal which include Oman to replace Yemen if necessary,” Omar said.

2Reports say Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko will meet with the French and German leaders in Paris in early October to discuss efforts to resolve the Ukraine conflict. The meeting would be the first face-to-face talks by the four since they met in mid-February to forge a cease-fire agreement in Minsk. The Elysee Palace said in a statement that the four leaders had spoken via phone on September 9 for about 90 minutes and that they agreed that a general cease-fire in eastern Ukraine between government troops and Russian-backed separatist fighters has generally held since September 1.

3Greece and Iran have reportedly granted Russia permission to fly over their territory when supplying aid to Syria. The Interfax news agency quoted a Russian Embassy official in Tehran as saying on September 9 that Iran approved all of Moscow’s requests on flights delivering humanitarian aid to Syria. Separately, a Russian Embassy official in Athens told TASS that Greece granted Russia the right to use its airspace for humanitarian flights to Syria on August 31. Greece said this week that the United States had asked it to close its airspace to Russian aid flights to Syria because of concerns that Moscow might be building up military forces to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

4A conference titled “Religious tolerance: the culture of coexistence in Azerbaijan” has been organized in the French capital as part of the “Azerbaijan in the heart of Paris” project implemented by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation. Azerbaijan’s First Lady, President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, Mehriban Aliyeva, as well as representatives from Azerbaijani and French religious organizations attended the conference.Addressing the event, Mehriban Aliyeva said Azerbaijan is located at the crossroads of civilizations and cultures, serving as a bridge between Asia and Europe, and this plays an important role in the development of cultural diversity.“Traditions of tolerance are alive in our country today. Azerbaijan is a member of both the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Council of Europe. We are proud of our cultural and historical heritage,” the first lady said.

5In January-August 2015, Kazakhstan produced 30.2 billion cubic meters of natural gas, which is 6 percent more than in the same period last year, Deputy Minister of Energy of Kazakhstan Uzakbai Karabalin said during a press conference at the office of the Central Communications. He said that the growth of gas production in Kazakhstan has been observed not for the first time. Last year, gas production in the country amounted to 43.2 billion cubic meters, which is 2.2 percent more than the same period of 2013. The main growth of gas production is provided by such large mining companies as Karachaganak Petroleum Operating, Tengizchevroil, CNPC-Aktobe.

6Turkmenistan has seen a 8.3 percent GDP growth in social and economic development from January to August of this year, according to a recent meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers. Summarizing the results from various sectors of the national economy for the first eight months of the current year, production was cited to have grown by 7.2 percent, reported Review.uz website. The high economic potential and stable GDP growth will allow the government to provide a wide range of additional social benefits to citizens of Turkmenistan.

7NATO and the United States have expressed concern over reports of growing Russian military activity in Syria. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that, if confirmed, Russia’s involvement would “not contribute to solving the conflict.”U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, to reiterate his concerns. Spokesman John Kirby said Kerry made clear to Lavrov that if the reports were true “it could lead to greater violence and are not helpful at all” to efforts by the international community to end the conflict.The Russian Foreign Ministry said Lavrov “highlighted the significance of a consolidated response to terrorist groupings that have seized a sizable part” of Syria.” Russia acknowledges it has sent military experts to assist with Russian arms deliveries.

8Azerbaijan is ready to continue supporting fraternal Afghanistan in developing the transport, energy, information and communication technologies, Ashraf Shikhaliyev, the head of the Azerbaijan International Development Agency (AİDA) under the Azerbaijani foreign ministry, said Sept. 9. He said that the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway and new Baku International Sea Trade Port will create favorable opportunities for Afghanistan to enter the world markets. This will revive and contribute to the sustainable development of the economy of Afghanistan.

9The depreciation of Kazakhstan’s national currency, the tenge, after the abolition of the currency corridor has put additional pressure on the balance sheets of the country’s banks, but the entire market implements prudential and other regulations, and the situation in the banking sector is under control. This remark was made by the Deputy Chairman of the National Bank of Kazakhstan, Kuat Kozhahmetov at a press-conference in Almaty on September 9. The official also said that the conducted stress tests showed that “the adequacy of the capital is good.” For several months the National Bank has developed a package of legal acts aimed at facilitating conditions for banks in the current economic situation.

10The Ministry of Culture and Tourism has prepared a new bill ‘On tourism’ for improvement of legislative base in the sphere of tourism. In line with the sources in the ministry, the new bill ‘On tourism’ which reflected proposals and recommendations of the Twinning project experts of the World Tourism Organization and European Union, features the major institutional, regulatory and advanced experience for a more effective control of the tourism sphere. According to the ministry, application of this bill will promote further development of the tourism potential of Azerbaijan, raising effectiveness of business processes, regulation of tourism activity by the state and creation of broad opportunities on support of tourism industry.

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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Eurasian Research on Modern China-Eurasia Conference

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October 26-27, 2018,National Academy of Sciences, Armenia.

Address: Marshal Bagramyan 24, Yerevan, Armenia.

Organizers:“China-Eurasia” Council for Political and Strategic Research, Foundation, Armenia,Institute of Oriental Studies,National Academy of Sciences, Armeniaand Department of Oriental Studies, ISEC, National Academy of Sciences, Armenia.

Supported by:“Transport Project Implementation Organization” SNCO,Armenia,“Diplomatic Foundation of Armenia” and “Modern Diplomacy”, Greece.

Table of Contents

(English Language Panels)

  • Panel 1։ China and Eurasian Economics
  • Panel 2։China’s One Belt, One Road and the World
  • Panel 3։ China and One Belt One Road Initiative
  • Panel 4։ China, Eurasia and Politics
  • Panel 5: The History of Interaction between China and Eurasia
  • Panel 6։ China and the South Caucasus
  • Panel 7:China and Eurasia (International Relations)

October 26, 2018

Welcome Address (11:00-11:30)

Panel 1: (English Language). China and Eurasian Economics(11:45-13:40)

Ma Bin, (Fudan University, China), “Railway Express between China and EU:New Model of International Transportation or Traditional tool of Economic Growth?”.

Connor Judge (SOAS, University of London, Great Britain), “Competing Narratives for Chinese Investment: Serbia and Mongolia”.

Srdjan Uljevic, (American University of Central Asia, Kyrgyz Republic),

“India’s Foreign Policy in the Age of China’s Dominance in Asia”.

Arjun Chapagain, June Wang, Linda Che-lan Li, (City University of Hong, China),

“The Trans-Himalayan Trade of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants: AGeo-Historical Political Lens”.

Anna Zalinyan, (Armenia), “Peculiaritiesbetween China and European Countries on Public Administration Reforms”.

Key note Speech 13:40-14:00

Zachary Paikin (University of Kent, Great Britain, Senior Editor at Global Brief Magazine)

“The Future of Liberal Order: Russia-China Relations and Eurasian Consequences”.

October 26, 2018 (11:50-12:30)

Panel 2: (Russian Language) China’s One Belt, One Road and the World-Панель 2 Китайская инициативаОдин пояс, один путь и мир

AnatolyTsvyk, (RUDN University, Russia),

“The EU and OBOR: Mutual Benefit or Competition?” / ЦвыкАнатолий. (Российский университет дружбы народов, Россия).«Европейский союз и инициатива «Один пояс, один путь»: взаимная выгода или конкуренция?».

Konstantin Tasits,(Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, Russia),

“Sino-Georgian Economic Relations in Modern Era”. Тасиц Константин. (Российский институт стратегических исследований Россия).  «Экономические отношения Грузии и Китая на современном этапе».

Coffee/Pastries (14:00-14:30)

October 26, 2018

Panel 3։ (English Language) China and One Belt One Road Initiative (14:30-17:00)

Jukka Aukia, (University of Turku, Finland),

“Belt and Road: the Baltic States within the 16+1”.

Uzma Siraj,(Federal Urdu University Islamabad, Pakistan),

“Eastern Europe Between Constraints, Coercion, and Opportunities: BRI and China Challenging Russia and EU in their Backyard”.

Mher Sahakyan, (“China-Eurasia” Council for Political and Strategic Research, Armenia).

“China’s One Belt, One Road Initiative and Armenia”.

Ma Xiaoyun, (Party School of CPC Tongling Municipal Committee, China),

“OBOR and China’s Midland Open Economy Development-A Case Study on Anhui”.

Gabriel de Rezende Piccinini, Alena Vysotskaya Guedes Vieira(University of Minho, Portugal),

“The Eurasian Economic Union and the One Belt, One Road Initiative: how Brazil and the European Union See It”.

Clayton HazvineiVhumbunu, (University of KwaZulu-Natal, Republic of South Africa).

“The Economic Impact of China’s One Belt, One Road Initiative on Eurasia”.

Ani Hakhverdyan (Russian-Armenian University, Armenia), “The Energy Silk Road”.

October 26 (17:20) ****Drinks and Pizza (Reception).

October 27

Panel 4։ (English Language) China, Eurasia and Politics(10:00-12:20)

Anahit Parzyan, (“China-Eurasia” Council for Political and Strategic Research, Foundation, Armenia), “Some aspects of Digitalization of China”.

Maximilian Ohle, (Nankai University), Richard J. Cook, (Nankai University), Zhaoying Han, (Nankai University China, the Editor-in-Chief of the Nankai Journal),

“China’s Engagement with Kazakhstan and Russia’s Zugzwang: Why is Astana Incurring Regional Power Hedging?”

Izabella Muradyan, (Chinese Centre Culture and Science, Armenia),

“Geo-Economic Cooperation with China under One Belt, One Road Initiative: Armenian Keys from EAEU”.

Luiza Grigoryan, (European University in Armenia),

“China and the Brics”.

October 27, 2018 (10:00-11:20)

Panel 5: (Russian Language) The History of Interaction between China and Eurasia-Панель 5. Историясношения (Китай-Евразия)

Sergey Kozlovsky, (The Ivan Franko National University of Lviv, Ukraine), “The Theory and genesis of Pax Sinica”/КозловскийСергей. (Львовский национальный университет имени Ивана ФранкоУкраина). «Теория фронтира и генезис PaxSinicia».

KhusnutdinovaLiailia, (Ufa State Petroleum Technological University, Russia), “On Historical Aspect of Chinese nation in Republic of Bashkortostan”. /ХуснутдиноваЛяйля. (Уфимский государственный нефтяной технический университет. Россия).«К проблеме истории Китайского народа в Республике Башкортостан».

Coffee/Pastries (12:30-13:00)

Panel 6: (English Language)China and South Caucasus (13:10-14:30)

Vakhtang Charaia,(Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University, Georgia),

“Trade and Investment between South Caucasus, China and EU”.

Gabriela Radu, (Strategic Analyst,Romania),

“Foreign Direct Investment Trends in the Southern Caucasus”.

Saren Abgaryan. (Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China),

“China-Armenia Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) in the Context of Chinese Evolving BIT Practice and Jurisprudence”.

October 27 (11:20-12:30)

Панель 7. (Russian Language)КитайиЕвразия (Внешняяполитика)- China and Eurasia (International Relations)

Andranik Hovhannisyan, (Russian-Armenian University, Armenia), “The Pivot towards Asia: Perspectives of Formation of Asian NATO”. /ОваннисянАндраник(Российско-Армянскийуниверситет, Армения).«ПовороткАзии: перспективыформирования «АзиатскогоНАТО»».

OganesyanArusyak, (RUDN University, Russia), “The Role of Eastern Asia in China’s Foreign Policy”. /ОганесянАрусяк.(Российский университет дружбы народов, Россия).«Роль Восточной Азии в современной китайской внешней политике».

KhubrikovaBadma, (BuryatStateUniversity, Russia), “SoftPowerintheEraofXiJinping”. /ХубриковБадма, Бурятскийгосударственныйуниверситет.

«Мягкая сила» в эпоху Си Цзиньпина».

October 27 (15:00) ****Drinks and Pizza (Reception).

National Academy of Sciencesis in the Center of the city, in the front of National Assembly of Armenia.Address: Marshal Bagramyan 24, Yerevan, Armenia.

Nearest Subway station is “Marshal Bagramyan”.

Working languages in different panels are English or Russian.

All audience members are required to register for the conference. Please contact info@chinastan.org

Conference Facebook Page:

https://www.facebook.com/ChinaEurasiacouncil/ and

https://www.facebook.com/DiscoverChinastan/

Conference Website:

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A new bioeconomy strategy for a sustainable Europe

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European Commission has put forward an action plan to develop a sustainable and circular bioeconomy that serves Europe’s society, environment and economy.

As announced by President Juncker and First Vice-President Timmermans in their letter of intent accompanying President Juncker’s 2018 State of the Union Address, the new bioeconomy strategy is part of the Commission’s drive to boost jobs, growth and investment in the EU. It aims to improve and scale up the sustainable use of renewable resources to address global and local challenges such as climate change and sustainable development.

In a world of finite biological resources and ecosystems, an innovation effort is needed to feed people, and provide them with clean water and energy. The bioeconomy can turn algae into fuel, recycle plastic, convert waste into new furniture or clothing or transform industrial by-products into bio-based fertilisers. It has the potential to generate 1 million new green jobs by 2030.

Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness Jyrki Katainen said: “It has become evident that we need to make a systemic change in the way we produce, consume and discard goods. By developing our bioeconomy – the renewable segment of the circular economy – we can find new and innovative ways of providing food, products and energy, without exhausting our planet’s limited biological resources. Moreover, rethinking our economy and modernising our production models is not just about our environment and climate. There is also great potential here for new green jobs, particularly in rural and coastal areas.”

Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, Carlos Moedas, added: “The EU aims to lead the way in turning waste, residue and discards into high value products, green chemicals, feed and textiles. Research and innovation plays a key role in accelerating the green transition of the European economy and in meeting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.”

Delivering a sustainable circular bioeconomy requires a concerted effort by public authorities and industry. To drive this collective effort, and based on three key objectives, the Commission will launch 14 concrete measures in 2019, including:

Scaling up and strengthening the bio-based sectors:

To unleash the potential of the bioeconomy to modernise the European economy and industries for long-term, sustainable prosperity, the Commission will:

  • establish a €100 million Circular Bioeconomy Thematic Investment Platform to bring bio-based innovations closer to the market and de-risk private investments in sustainable solutions;
  • facilitate the development of new sustainable bio-refineries across Europe.

Rapidly deploying bioeconomies across Europe:

Member States and regions, particularly in Central and Eastern Europe, have a large underused biomass and waste potential. To address this, the Commission will:

  • develop a strategic deployment agenda for sustainable food and farming systems, forestry and bio-based products;
  • set up an EU Bioeconomy Policy Support Facility for EU countries under Horizon 2020 to develop national and regional bioeconomy agendas;
  • launch pilot actions for the development of bioeconomies in rural, coastal and urban areas, for example on waste management or carbon farming.

Protecting the ecosystem and understanding the ecological limitations of the bioeconomy

Our ecosystem is faced with severe threats and challenges, such as a growing population, climate change and land degradation. In order to tackle these challenges, the Commission will:

  • implement an EU-wide monitoring system to track progress towards a sustainable and circular bioeconomy;
  • enhance our knowledge base and understanding of specific bioeconomy areas by gathering data and ensuring better access to it through the Knowledge Centre for the Bioeconomy;
  • provide guidance and promote good practices on how to operate in the bioeconomy within safe ecological limits.

The Commission is hosting a conference on 22 October in Brussels to discuss the action plan with stakeholders and highlight tangible bio-based products.

Background

In their letter of intent to the Presidencies of the European Council and Parliament, President Juncker and First Vice-President Timmermans announced this Communication as part of the Commission’s priority to boost jobs, growth and investment in the EU. It is an update to the 2012 Bioeconomy Strategy.

The bioeconomy covers all sectors and systems that rely on biological resources. It is one of the EU’s largest and most important sectors encompassing agriculture, forestry, fisheries, food, bio-energy and bio-based products with an annual turnover of around €2 trillion and around 18 million people employed. It is also a key area for boosting growth in rural and coastal areas.

The EU already funds research, demonstration and deployment of sustainable, inclusive and circular bio-based solutions, including with €3.85 billion allocated under the current EU funding programme Horizon 2020. For 2021-2027, the Commission has proposed to allocate €10 billion under Horizon Europe for food and natural resources, including the bioeconomy.

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UN resolution paves way for mass use of driverless cars

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A resolution to ensure the safe use of automated vehicles was passed at the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Global Forum on Road Traffic Safety in Geneva, on Wednesday.

In a statement, the UNECE said that automated vehicles have the potential to create safer, more efficient and environmentally friendly transport, which could reshape entire sectors of the economy and improve the lives of millions of people, notably those unable to drive or with limited access to mobility.

However, there are still many questions relating to areas such as road safety standards, traffic rules, insurance regimes, cybersecurity and data protection, which must still be addressed before the mass introduction of driverless cars to the market.

The resolution offers recommendations to ensure the safe interaction between automated vehicles, and road users, and stress the key role that people need to play, whether as responsible drivers, occupants or on the road in general.

These include making road safety a priority, safely interacting with the surrounding traffic environment and safely tolerating user error.

The resolution also recommends that the high-tech cars should be able to communicate with their users and other road users, in a clear, effective and consistent way, react to unforeseen situations, and enable their deactivation in a safe manner.

“With this resolution, we are paving the way for the safe mobility of the future, for the benefit of all road users” said UNECE official Luciana Iorio.

In September, a UNECE automated/autonomous and connected vehicles working group met for the first time in Geneva, to begin addressing issues such as technical requirements, cyber security and software updates, and innovative testing methods.

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