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
1Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to become the “hero,” the main protagonist who saves the day and stops the bloodshed in Syria, Swiss newspaper Le Temps reported.Moscow plans to stop the Syrian Civil War by bringing together and promoting international cooperation. Currently, the Kremlin is said to be actively working on diplomatic front, carrying out “secret” talks and striking deals with several confronting sides, the newspaper said.”The idea is to unite the world in a fight against Islamic extremism, and at the same time Vladimir Putin wants to become a hero by becoming the man who solved the Syrian conflict,” Le Temps cited Syrian journalist and human rights activist Haytham Manna.The question is — will Russia manage to bring together all the “scattered sons” of the Syrian war, whose disagreements fuel the conflict, make them talk to each other and find the middle ground? –Sputniknews
2Uneasy Obama administration officials said they plan to accept an offer from Russia for direct talks on its military buildup in Syria, while Moscow strongly urged the U.S. and its allies Thursday to engage the Syrian government as a “partner” in the fight against the Islamic State. Seeking answers about the precise reasoning behind Moscow’s recent deliveries of materiel and manpower to a base in northern Syria, U.S. officials said they expect the administration to begin a military-to-military dialogue with Russia in the coming days. The Pentagon will take the lead in the discussions, but the exact level, venue and timing have yet to be determined, U.S. officials told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
3Why Putin Wants To Tar IS And All Assad’s Enemies With The Same Brush. “Both Moscow and Damascus have blamed the West for the rise of IS (and other Islamist groups in Syria), saying that while Washington is quick to say Islamic State is a terror group, it has backed other armed groups against Assad.In February, Putin said the rise of IS was the result of Western “interference” in Syria as well as “double standards” over who it deemed terrorists.Assad repeated this narrative in an interview with Russian media this week.”What are IS and the other groups? A Western extremist project,” the Syrian leader said” Joanna Paraszczuk –RFE/RL
4Azerbaijan will participate in the World Islamic Economic Forum, chairman of the forum Tun Musa Hitam said at a press conference in Baku Sept. 17.”Azerbaijan is a leader in the region, so it can become a valuable partner of the forum, moreover, there is well-developed infrastructure that opens up great opportunities for Azerbaijan.” Finance, trade and tourism are discussed at the World Islamic Economic Forum. This forum brings together entrepreneurs from Islamic countries.”
5The foreign ministry of Turkmenistan hosted a meeting with Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Swiss Confederation Pascal Aebischer. Having noted the progress made in the political, economic and trade fields, the two sides exchanged views on a wide range of interstate cooperation. In addition, the sides discussed issues of further strengthening of political dialogue by intensifying ties between the ministries and state agencies of Turkmenistan and the Swiss Confederation, as well as expanding the bilateral legal framework. There are more than 30 companies with Swiss capital in Turkmenistan.
6Russia has decreased tariffs for goods imported from Iran to boost mutual trade, Mehdi Sanaei, Iranian Ambassador to Russia said. Moscow has decreased the customs tariffs from 27 percent to 3-7 percent, Sanaei said, Iran ’s official IRNA news agency reported Sept. 17. The ambassador made the remarks in a meeting with Iranian trade delegation, which is in Russia to seek business opportunities.
7Over the past two decades, America’s Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) has invested around $230 million in Azerbaijan in 24 various projects. While Azerbaijan’s financial services has been the major sector for investments, OPIC is very interested in tapping into other industries as well, such as high technologies, start-ups, agriculture, renewable energy, real estate and tourism. OPIC is not only mandated to lend capital, but also provide skills, knowledge and technology transfers.
8The total amount of the Kazakh-Chinese projects to be implemented before the end of 2015 will reach $50 billion, according to a statement made by the Director of the Kazakhstan Institute of Strategic Research, Yerlan Karin, at the Kazakhstan-China Expert Forum on September 16. The delivery of goods and cargo from the Kazakh-Chinese border to the Caspian seaport of Aktau has reduced by three days, which allows for increasing the turnover by around 40 percent.
9Russia will spare no effort to break deadlock over the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.The statement came from Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson at a briefing yesterday.”As you know, Russia is actively involved in the conflict settlement, and it is one of the countries that are in charge of the peace process,” said Zakharova.Azerbaijan is a partner of Russia in not only the political field but also the economic and other spheres, the spokesperson said, adding there is high-level political dialogue between the two countries.
10Romania’s business circles intend to expand their presence in the promising Turkmen market with favorable investment climate. The remarks were made during the meeting of Turkmenistan’s President Gurbanguly Berdimuhammadov with Romania’s Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu. Among the priority areas of partnership, the sides mentioned the energy, transport and communications sphere taking into account the large-scale projects initiated by Turkmenistan.The two countries agreed to create a joint working group to study the optimal routes of the Black Sea-Caspian Sea corridor by using the ports of Constanta and Turkmenbashi.
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.
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