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Azerbaijan wants to ‘revise’ ties with EU

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

1Azerbaijan on Friday fiercely rejected European criticism of its human rights record and threatened to “revise” relations over a European Parliament’s resolution calling for sanctions against Azeri authorities.“(Azerbaijan’s) relations with the European Union should be revised due to its anti-Azeri and anti-Islamic tendencies,” the oil-rich Caucasus nation’s foreign ministry said in a statement.The European Parliament passed on Thursday a non-binding resolution strongly condemning the “unprecedented repression against civil society in Azerbaijan.”It called on the EU’s executive body to “consider targeted sanctions and visa bans on all politicians, officials and judges involved in the political persecutions.”MEP also urged the EU to “conduct a thorough investigation into the corruption allegations against President (Ilham) Aliyev and members of his family.”Baku said Friday it has decided to postpone the visit of a European Commission delegation which was due to arrive in Baku for talks on planned EU-Azerbaijan “strategic partnership” agreement.

2Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev on Friday kicked off the first of a series of events commemorating the 550th anniversary of the Kazakh Khanate, the roots of present-day Kazakhstan.Speaking at the Palace of Independence, Nazarbayev paid tribute to the ancestors who laid the country’s foundations through the khanate (political entity ruled by a khan) of Kazakh.The Kazakh Khanate was founded in 1465 in Tazar, southern Kazakhstan, by a joining of the tribes of Janybek Khan and Kerey Khan and endured until it was absorbed by the Russian Empire in the mid-19th century.The president stressed the need to know the past in order to “respect and interpret the present.”Nazarbayev said that Kazakh means “free,” “a freedom that characterizes the Kazakhs,” a people made up of more than 130 ethnic groups, among which he highlighted “Russians, Ukrainians, Belarusians and Uzbeks.”

3The European Commission estimates that Iran could become a major natural gas supplier to the European Union by the next decade, a new report says. According to an EU official, cited by the Wall Street Journal, the bloc could import up to 35 billion cubic meters of gas a year from Iran by 2030 that would help reduce dependence on Russian shipments.The conclusion of nuclear talks with Iran has set off a race among the Europeans to search for new business opportunities in the energy-rich country which owns the world’s largest natural gas reserves.According to the Journal, EU Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete met representatives of major European energy companies last week to encourage them “to actively pursue ties in Iran”.

4Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said his country was moving towards peace with Russia. According to Poroshenko, he had been working “day and night” in the last 15 months since Ukraine clashed with Russia. While he does not want to dream about peace yet, he said there was “a change in tactics.”“We know where the Russians and their proxies are still hiding their weapons, their tanks and their artillery – for now the order has been given to cease fire, but for how long?” the Ukrainian president told The Independent. “This is not the end of the war, but instead a change in tactics.” Russian news agency Tass reported that the Ukrainian defense ministry and the general headquarters had started the process of demobilization in September upon Poroshenko’s order.

5The energy-rich Azerbaijan is expected to slightly increase oil production by late 2015.The country’s oil production will hit 0.88 million barrels a day in the third and fourth quarters of the year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s Short-Term Energy Outlook.The country’s oil production stood at 0.86 million barrels a day in the first quarter and 0.87 million barrels a day in the second quarter of this year, according to the EIA’s forecasts.

6The European Parliament has carried out another political campaign against Azerbaijan. During the meeting on Sept.10, the rules of etiquette were violated, and slanderous statements were made against Azerbaijan, Speaker of the Azerbaijani Milli Majlis (Parliament) Ogtay Asadov said at the parliament’s extraordinary session on Sept.14.The European Parliament’s resolution is fully biased and fictitious, the speaker said, adding organization’s previous meetings were attended by 50-60 deputies, but this time more than 600 deputies were involved in the meeting on Sept.10. Asadov said over the past two years the European Parliament has adopted a number of biased documents against Azerbaijan. “We were silent for a long time. However, it is impossible to be silent. This time, Europe has broken all the rules of conduct,” noted the speaker. Morover, Asadov said that the parliament will appeal to the Cabinet of Ministers to reconsider Azerbaijan’s cooperation with Euronest.

7Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev signed off on daughter Dariga’s appointment as deputy-prime minister Friday, in a move that could be linked to the ex-Soviet republic’s looming succession issue. Nazarbayeva, 52, was an MP and vice-speaker of the Kazakh parliament before the Friday decree. Her appointment to the position comes months after Nazarbayev secured a new five-year term in April presidential elections many believe were his last.

8With China slowing down, Russia is trying to sell its oil to India. “With the China story fizzling out, Russia is now planning to build up its presence in China’s neighbor India. With huge internal energy consumption and a bustling economy, India is set to grow faster than China in 2015 and 2016 according to the recent projections from the IMF.After China, India is the next best logical alternative for Russia to strengthen its Asian ties and move away from western sanctions” Gaurav Agnihotri –Oilprice.com

9Azerbaijan’s state energy company SOCAR is interested in establishing a full-scale cooperation with Turkmenistan – a reliable and promising partner, which has huge energy resources and economic potential. This was stated at a meeting held between Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov and President of Azerbaijan’s state energy company SOCAR Rovnag Abdullayev in Turkmenistan’s national tourism zone Avaza on September 11.The sides discussed cooperation issues between the two countries in the fuel-energy, transport and communication sectors.

10The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said it will not monitor Azerbaijan’s November parliamentary election because restrictions imposed by authorities have rendered credible poll monitoring impossible. Azeris are due to vote for the new parliament on Nov. 1. Previous elections in the ex-Soviet state, led by President Ilham Aliyev for the last 12 years, have been criticized by international observers. “The restriction on the number of observers taking part would make it impossible for the mission to carry out effective and credible election observation,” Michael Georg Link, Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), said in a press release on the OSCE website.

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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