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Russia Plans to Unite World to Solve Syrian Conflict

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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

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.

Journalist, specialized in Middle East, Russia & FSU, Terrorism and Security issues. Founder and Editor-in-chief of the Modern Diplomacy magazine.

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Fight against human trafficking must be strengthened in Ethiopia

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A group of internally displaced people due to the Tigray conflict gather in a site in Ethiopia's Afar region, Ethiopia. © UNHCR/Alessandro Pasta

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.

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“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.

Identifying victims

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.

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35 years of Cultural Routes: Safeguarding European Values, Heritage, and Dialogue

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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:

  1. Promoting European Values and Intercultural Dialogue;
  2. Safeguarding Heritage in Times of Crisis;
  3. 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.

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Little progress combating systemic racism against people of African descent

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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.

Triggering change

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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