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 West is culpable for the bloodshed in Ukraine and Syria – and Putin holds the key to any breakthrough. “There are significant developments in two proxy wars in which the West is involved. The ceasefire in eastern Ukraine now appears to be holding, with flickering hopes of a future peace. New efforts are meanwhile under way to reach a settlement in Syria’s savage strife, but that is unlikely to be for some considerable time. Russia, too, is involved in these wars and, at present, is in a strategically strong position. A frozen conflict in the Donbas will suit the Kremlin, which wants sanctions imposed over its annexation of Crimea and activities in the Donbas to be eased. In Syria it is openly stepping up its military presence while, at the same time, taking a leading role in diplomatic initiatives” The Independent.
2The resolution of the European Parliament on Azerbaijan is completely baseless, and is a political provocation built on lie, slander and biased attitude, said Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev Sept. 15.“We know which forces stand behind this. Certainly, here we see the role of the Armenian lobby as well and I believe that it won’t be bad if the relevant law enforcement agencies of Europe investigate the secret relations between the European Parliament members and the Armenian lobbyists,” said Aliyev. “Meanwhile, I want to say once again that unfortunately, today, an anti-Azerbaijani group has been created in Europe, especially, in the European Parliament and this group tries to do everything possible to defame Azerbaijan and tarnish its image,” the president said.“For us, for me as a president, the resolution adopted by the European Parliament is no more than a piece of paper,” said Aliyev. “I do not attach any importance to it and of course, condemn it.”
3The EU Eastern Partnership program will lose a key component if Azerbaijan leaves it, Czech President Milos Zeman said during the press conference in Baku, Sept.15. Zeman said he considers the Eastern Partnership a useful program and praises the role that Azerbaijan has played in this organization up to now. Zeman said he has been informed about the recent resolution of the European Parliament on Azerbaijan and the country’s reaction to it. However, the EU Eastern Partnership program has nothing to do with this position, said the Czech president, adding that such initiatives have never been discussed within this program.
4Oil production in Kazakhstan is projected at 92 million tons in 2020, the vice-minister of national economy of Kazakhstan Marat Kusainov said Sept.15, Novosti-Kazakhstan information agency reported.“Oil production forecast of the ministry of energy in 2016 will amount to 77 million tons, followed by an increase to 92 million tons in 2020, which is lower than the previously forecasted data about 3.8 million tons and 12 million tons respectively,” Kusainov said during presentation of the draft state budget for 2016-18 in the Majilis of Parliament. The three-year budget project is based on the forecast of socio-economic development for 2016-2020 approved by the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Kazakhstan in August 2015.
5Ashgabat hosted the 13th meeting of the Coordination Committee on operation of the Turkmenistan-Uzbekistan-Kazakhstan-China pipeline. Reports on the current technical condition of the pipeline route were presented at the meeting. The speakers were representatives of the Beijing Coordination Center, Turkmengaz State Concern, as well as the Turkmen branch of CNPC International. The schedule for the transportation of natural gas and the work schedule for the fourth quarter 2015, as well as the schedule of maintenance of the gas pipeline for 2016 presented by a working group of the Coordinating Committee, was discussed. Currently, work is underway to construct the additional fourth branch (D) on the new route through Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.
6Russia in ‘information war’ with West to win hearts and minds. The crisis in Ukraine has unleashed what some see as a new bout of information warfare between Russia and the West. Stephen Ennis –BBC.
7Iran has produced more than 69.9 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas during the first five months of the current Iranian calendar year (started March 21, 2015). Abdolhossein Samari, National Iranian Gas Company’s deputy managing director for operations, said on Tuesday that the figure is up by five percent compared to the production figure for the corresponding period of the preceding year. The official added that the country has also produced more than 1.17 million tonnes of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) during the same period, up by about 102 percent compared to the same period last year.
8Chairman of Central Bank Elman Rustamov has met World Bank Regional Director for the South Caucasus Mercy Tembon to discuss the bank`s programs and projects in the country. Rustamov stressed the role of the World Bank in supporting economic reforms and institutional building in Azerbaijan. Tembon praised the development programs carried out in Azerbaijan over the last 20 years.
9How Americans see Kazakhstanis. “Kazakhstanis never look like Kazakhstanis. At least, it is true when you travel abroad and being a Kazakhstani you are constantly mistaken for anyone but a Kazakhstani.”Oh, Kazakhstan? But shouldn’t you look more Russian?” confused Americans say if you look too Asian. “But you do not look Asian!” they say in no less confusion if you are of a Slavic or Caucasian descent.What do others see aside from silly Borat-jokes, “too-Asianness” or lack of it when they meet Kazakhstanis? Tengrinews.
10What Happened to Turkmenistan’s Tiger Economy? “Earlier this year, it appeared that Turkmenistan, of all the Central Asian states, might be the one to weather the storm of depressed oil prices and decimated remittance returns battering the region. Buoyed by the lifeblood of Chinese energy demands and without relying on the Russia-based migrant labor propping up Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, Turkmenistan seemed positioned to outpace its neighbors and outlast this Eurasian recession. Turkmenistan, for a spell, looked positioned to be the “next Central Asian tiger.” The Diplomat.
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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