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 annual General Assembly session is expected to draw more world leaders than ever before. Pope Francis will speak at the U.N. on Friday morning before many heads of state even arrive. But the main event will come Monday when Obama, Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping and other world leaders take turns on the podium to begin a debate on how to end Syria’s bloodletting, battle the violent extremist groups emerging from it and stem the flood of refugees and economic migrants flowing from it. At the center will be Putin, whom the West has tried to isolate for the last year for his aggressive support of armed separatists in eastern Ukraine. Paul Richter and Christi Parsons –Los Angeles Times
2Syria: As the West dithers, Putin makes his move. “As we have seen in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, Mr Putin is not shy about using military force when it suits his geo-political agenda. And with President Bashar al-Assad’s regime reportedly on the brink of collapse, the Russian leader has clearly decided that the deployment of Russian warplanes and armoured vehicles is vital to prevent the Syrian capital falling into the hands of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) militants, with all the implications that would have for the region” Telegraph
3Tehran continues its efforts on connection of Iranian Astara to the railway network of Azerbaijan. Oxu.Az reports with reference to the “News of the Caucasus” that the governor of the province of Gilan Mohammed Ali Najaf. According to him, the policy of the government of Iran is aimed at comprehensive development of the country in view of the potential of different regions. Speaking about the project for the construction of the railway Rasht – Astara, which is implemented by the order of the Iranian president, the governor pointed out that in this regard, Azerbaijan has agreed to extend its railroad to 8 km, which will allow to link its railway network to Astara. At that the improvement of customs service, sea port and special economic zone in Iranian Astara continues.
4Russia planning military drills in eastern Mediterranean. The Russian defence ministry on Thursday said it was conducting drills involving a guided missile cruiser in the eastern Mediterranean, which could be near the Syrian coast. Pre-empting possible questions about the sensitive timing of such manoeuvres, the ministry said Russia always holds an array of military drills at this time of the year and that the government approved the Mediterranean manoeuvres a year ago.
5Chessboard Strategy: Russia and UN Resolution 2117. “Two notable sectors were kept under government control: the energy and defense-related sectors. The purpose of this brief paper is to examine the current actions of Russian approaches to influence the transnational weapons market throughout the Caucasus, Central Asia, and the Middle East. This will be accomplished through critically analyzing Russia’s actions associated with U.N. resolution 2117, where it abstained from voting and honored instead an arms sale plan with Iran, shipping a modern-day missile-defense system, and a recent sale to Iraq that provided fighter jets for the fight against DAESH” ZR–Modern Diplomacy
6Here are the winners and losers of Iran’s return to the oil market. “Although the Iranian sanctions will probably only start to be lifted by spring next year, there is one nation particularly eager to see sanctions removed: South Africa.”We are definitely negotiating and looking at when to fully resume oil imports from Iran. For South Africa, if there’s a process of doing that lawfully, tomorrow we will do it, if there are no obstacles to that,” said Nomaindia Mfeketo, South Africa’s deputy foreign minister. As the second-largest economy on the continent, South Africa also has the highest rate of energy consumption. In the year 2014, South Africa imported close to 425,000 barrels of crude oil. Until 2011, Iran was South Africa’s largest supplier of crude oil, contributing around 25 percent of its total crude oil imports” Gaurav Agnihotri –OilPrice.com
7Azerbaijan has left Europe behind in the implementation of energy projects and launched the TANAP project, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Sept. 25. He made the remarks while answering questions of reporters, according to the Turkish TRT Haber TV channel.Erdogan went on to add that while Europe remained inactive regarding the Nabucco project, Azerbaijan has successfully launched the TANAP project in which Turkey has its share as well.
8Leaving the Euronest: Why Azerbaijan is Unhappy. “When the Euronest decided to hold the 2015 session in Armenia, it left Azerbaijan feeling like it had no place within the assembly. Azerbaijan did not understand how the Euronest would claim such atrocities committed by the Azeris while turning a blind eye toward the Armenians’ bad behavior and even giving them a great honor by holding the next session in their state” Dayna Rice –Modern Diplomacy
9Kazakhstan’s oil dreams. “Just a few years ago, Kazakhstan had ambitious plans to join the world top ten oil-producing countries. However, it seems that these plans are destined to remain unfulfilled. At present, oil production is not expected to be increased in the country. On the contrary, for several consecutive years, oil production has been slowly but steadily falling in Kazakhstan” Elena Kosolapova –Trend.
10The world’s largest gas-chemical complex is being constructed in the territory of the Derveze District of Turkmenistan’s Akhal province.The facility, equipped with the latest technologies from the famous Danish Haldor Topsoe Company, will annually recycle 1.782 billion cubic meters of natural gas and produce 600,000 tons of gasoline of the A-92 brand, which will meet the ecological requirements of the Euro-5 standard.The commissioning of the complex in 2018 will create about 800 new jobs, according to Turkmen media.The construction of the complex is being conducted by Turkmenistan’s State Concern Turkmengaz and a consortium created by the Japanese Kawasaki Company and Turkish Rönesans Holding.
EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey: Solid progress in supporting refugees
The Commission reported today good progress in the implementation and programming of €6 billion of the EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey. More than 80 projects are currently up and running delivering tangible results to refugees and host communities in particular on education and health. Out of the €6 billion, some €4.2 billion has been allocated, of which €3.45 billion has been contracted and €2.22 billion disbursed to date.
Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations,said: “We continue to make good progress in the implementation and programming of the Facility. More than 80 projects to date provide vital assistance in the areas of education, health, protection and socio-economic support, and more projects are in the pipeline. We remain committed to continue our support to refugees and host communities in Turkey, addressing current needs and increasing resilience and self-reliance for the longer term.”
Christos Stylianides, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management,added: “The European Union is continuing to support refugees in Turkey, in line with its commitment. 1.6 million refugees are receiving humanitarian assistance to meet their basic needs. Looking ahead to the future, we are working to make our support more sustainable. We remain committed to continue working closely with Turkey to make this possible.”
Today, the twelfth Steering Committee meeting of the EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey took place in Brussels. It was chaired by the Commission and brought together representatives of EU Member States and Turkey.
The Committee reviewed the third annual monitoring report on the implementation of the Facility and confirmed the progress made in the programming of the second €3 billion tranche of the budget of the Facility. It completed the evaluation of project proposals in the areas of socio-economic support and municipal infrastructure to the tune of €845 million.
The 84 projects set up in the framework of the Facility bring forth concrete outcomes and a significant positive impact for refugees and host communities alike, facilitating the integration of refugees in the Turkish society.
For education, one of the priority areas of action, the EU signed a €400 million contract to continue its support to existing programmes, which is to be complemented by a further €100 million before the summer. This involves the construction of 136 school buildings and 50 prefabricated schools well under way. This progress in education infrastructure goes hand in hand with the implementation of the project for Promoting Integration of Syrian Children into Turkish Education System (PICTES), which benefits 400,000 students.
In the area of health, 5 million healthcare consultations have been carried out, with 178 migrant health centres now operational, employing over 2,600 staff, two thirds of which are Syrian refugees.
The EU is highly focused on ensuring the sustainability of the Facility’s humanitarian and development activities, which aim to support the Turkish authorities in a structural manner and to facilitate refugee integration. Under the humanitarian strand of the second tranche, the EU is implementing projects for a total of €50 million in addition the ongoing projects under the first tranche, those have already delivered tangible results for refugees and host communities.
The EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey was set up in 2015 in response to the European Council’s call for significant additional funding to support Syrian refugees in Turkey.
It has a total budget of €6 billion divided into two equal tranches of €3 billion each, allocated over two periods: 2016-2017 and 2018-2019.Out of the operational funds of €6 billion, €2.22 billion has already been disbursed, €3.45 billion contracted, with over 80 projects rolled out.
The Facility provides a joint coordination mechanism, designed to ensure that the needs of refugees and host communities are addressed in a comprehensive and coordinated manner. The support seeks to improve conditions for refugees in Turkey as part of the EU’s comprehensive approach to addressing the refugee crisis inside and outside the EU.
European Union and World Bank Support to Help Enhance Georgia’s Innovation Ecosystem
The European Union (EU) and the World Bank launched today the Increasing Institutional Capacity for Innovation (IICI) project, at an event held at Tech Park Georgia. Nika Alavidze, Deputy Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia, Mercy Tembon, World Bank Regional Director for the South Caucasus, and Stig Kjeldsen, First Secretary at Delegation of the European Union to Georgia offered opening remarks at the event.
“The World Bank is proud to continue to stand by GITA as it transforms from a young ‘startup’ agency into a mature framework for Georgia’s coordination of its innovation and entrepreneurship policy and practice,” said Mercy Tembon, World Bank Regional Director for the South Caucasus. “With support from the EU, and the Bank’s technical assistance, this project will allow GITA to take the next step toward greater institutional capacity and effectiveness, test the potential for technology transfer, and improve opportunities for investing in innovative, early stage companies in Georgia.”
“Innovation increases SME competitiveness and creates jobs, and innovation policy is actually at the heart of the EU’s own Europe 2020 strategy for growth and job creation,” said Stig Kjeldsen, Cooperation Officer at the EU Delegation to Georgia. “Further assisting GITA in building Georgia’s innovation ecosystem falls naturally in line with the EU’s commitment to supporting business development in Georgia.”
The IICI project is financed by the EU to the amount of €2.7 million and will be implemented by the World Bank. The overall objective of the project is to increase GITA’s capacity to develop and implement innovation and entrepreneurship policies and programs with medium- and long-term strategies and results; test and demonstrate the viability of technology transfer between educational institutions and the private sector in Georgia; improve the deal flow of innovative start-ups ready for investment, and fund availability for early-stage companies.
The IICI project is expected to generate important results, including: easier access to support and finance for a greater number of small and medium enterprises and innovative firms, a more coherent public approach to supporting entrepreneurs and SMEs and a boost in overall innovative economic activity.
World Bank Group Releases Little Data Book on Gender
The World Bank Group today released the Little Data Book on Gender 2019 to provide an easily accessible entry point to statistics tracking gaps between men and women, boys and girls for 217 economies around the world with comparable data for 2000 and 2017.
In addition to demographic and economic information, the Little Data Book on Gender indicators include the proportion of women and men who use the internet, sex-disaggregated smoking prevalence, and the percentage of female graduates from science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs in tertiary education.
The book includes two indicators from the Women, Business and the Law database: the length of paid maternity leave and whether women are legally able to work in the same industries as men.
“Progress in eliminating poverty and ensuring shared prosperity can be enhanced and accelerated when we have good data,” said Caren Grown, World Bank Group Senior Director for Gender. “The Little Data Book on Gender offers policymakers and development practitioners easy access to data on males and females in the domains in which we work – health, education, and economic life. As sex-disaggregated data becomes increasingly available, there is no excuse to not use it in our policy dialogue and to inform choices about interventions.”
This edition of the Little Data Book on Gender also features online tables that will be updated quarterly.
“Regular online updates will make it easier than ever to see how women and men are faring across a range of global indicators, and to track progress over time,” said Haishan Fu, Director, Development Data Group. “This supplements the fuller, curated data and analysis tools provided by the World Bank Group, including through the Gender Data Portal.”
The Little Data Book on Gender shows remarkable broad progress toward gender equality in education enrollment and health, while gender inequality remains stubbornly persistent in access to economic opportunities. On virtually every global measure, the Little Data Book on Gender reveals that women are more likely than men to be engaged in low productivity activities, and to work more in vulnerable employment.
The Little Data Book on Gender can be accessed online through the World Bank’s Gender Data Portal, and can be used by researchers, journalists, policy makers, and anyone interested in gaps between men and women.
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