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.
Digital Technology Will Help Djibouti Leap into the Future
Digital technology will have a critical part to play in boosting Djibouti’s socio-economic development and meeting the ambitious goals set out in its national strategy, Vision Djibouti 2035. As a key step toward building a strong, inclusive digital economy, the Government of Djibouti and the World Bank are co-hosting a high-level event that will explore the potential benefits of digital development and propose a concrete roadmap of action.
“Disruptive technologies are creating new business models, opening up new markets, and giving consumers access to more products and services than ever before. It is hard to overstate the economic potential of these transformations,” said Ilyas Moussa Dawaleh, Djibouti’s Ministry of Economy and Finance. “In a country like ours, developing a high-performing digital ecosystem will provide a unique chance to stimulate the economy and create jobs. The Digital Economy conference starting today will bring us one step closer to this vision.”
“The digital sector will be key to improving the lives of Djiboutian people, expanding our economy, and strengthening our position as a logistics and commercial hub. With eight submarine cable landing on our shores, there is no doubt Djibouti has what it takes to become a digital leader in the region,” noted Abdi Youssouf Sougueh, Minister of Communications. “We are keen to bring in development partners like the World Bank to leverage this infrastructure to the fullest and reinforce all the other fundamentals that are necessary to nurture a vibrant digital economy.”
The conference will bring together a wide range of government representatives, technology pioneers, and development partners. Building on this uniquely diverse combination of knowledge and global perspectives, participants will assess Djibouti’s digital landscape, share international best practices, discuss how technology can help modernize all sectors of the economy, and outline a clear strategy and action plan for digital development in the country.
“Countries around the world are leveraging digital innovation to accelerate economic growth and build a better future for people, and Djibouti is very well positioned to gain from that approach,” said Boutheina Guermazi, World Bank Director for Digital Development. “I am confident this event will pave the way for close collaboration on digital development between the Word Bank, Djibouti, and countries across the Middle East and Africa.”
In addition to discussing Djibouti’s opportunities and challenges, the event will also highlight the need for bolder action on digital development engagement across the region.
Sessions will cover all key dimensions of digital development, with a focus on how to strengthen the five pillars of the digital economy: digital infrastructure; innovation and entrepreneurship; digital financial services and identification; digital platforms; and digital literacy and skills.
“Technological innovation holds great promise for Djibouti. By harnessing the full power of the digital economy, the country could see significant GDP growth, create a future-proof labor market, and raise living standards for all segments of the population. We stand ready to work hand in hand with Djibouti on this journey, to help create the right conditions for a thriving digital sector,” said Atou Seck, World Bank Resident Representative in Djibouti.
The first shopping tourism project in Mexico
The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the Municipality of León (Guanajuato, Mexico) have signed an agreement to carry out the country’s first project to develop Shopping Tourism, with the support of the Ministry of Tourism of the State of Guanajuato.
The project is expected to serve as an international reference point and as a showcase at major tourism forums.
The Tourism Observatory of the State of Guanajuato has been a member of the UNWTO International Network of Sustainable Tourism Observatories since 2014. At the World Tourism Organization’s General Assembly held in Medellín, Colombia, in September 2015, Guanajuato expressed its interest in being one of the destinations to develop a project on shopping tourism, and León was the selected destination in light of the fact that 27% of its tourists visit the city to go shopping.
The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is the United Nations agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism.
The project will help León (Guanajuato, Mexico) to develop innovative shopping tourism offerings that link the public and private sectors and that highlight the destination’s tourism attractions and products as well as tourism’s contribution to socio-economic development, which includes the creation of jobs directly in the tourism sector and in the many activities related to the sector.
Smart city matchmaking in Barcelona
This year’s Smart City Expo World Congress (SCEWC), Europe’s biggest Smart City related event, takes place from 13 to 15 November in Barcelona and will, like previous editions, attract several thousand stakeholders.
During the congress, on November 14, the Smart Cities Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities (EIP-SCC) will organise its next matchmaking event, seeking to bring projects and investors together to stimulate action. It is especially tailored to match individual projects with financing.
To take part, stakeholders must register on the matchmaking platform where they will join other cities, industry and financial players. Registered users need to submit short descriptions of their upcoming projects. A dedicated team will then process and match them with financiers’ interests, leading to one-to-one meetings, organised specifically and individually for them and their projects.
Should participation in above-mentioned event not be possible, the matchmaking platform will remain available also after the Barcelona congress, as the EIP-SCC will organise further matchmaking events in the future.
In addition, there will be an exhibition stand, where interested stakeholders can meet any of the 12 Horizon 2020 Lighthouse projects (representing € 270 million of EU funding), experts from the EIP-SCC, the Smart Cities Information System, as well as the European Commission.
Finally, there will be a number of sessions organised at the mentioned exhibition stand as part of the SCEWC programme covering a wide range of Smart City related topics. The full programme is available at http://www.smartcityexpo.com/en/agenda-2018.
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