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 has warned about dangers of playing games with terrorists in his speech at the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly. He said that some countries tried to use terrorists for achieving their own goals in the hope of “dealing with them or ,in other words, liquidating them later. To those who do so I would like to say: dear Sirs, no doubt, you are dealing with rough and cruel people, but they are in no way primitive. They are just as clever as you are and you never know who is manipulating whom. The recent data on arms transfer to this most “moderate” opposition is the best proof of it.”We believe that any attempts to play games with terrorists, let alone to arm them, are not just short-sighted, but “fire-hazardous”. This may result in the global terrorist threat increasing dramatically and engulfing new regions. “We cannot allow these criminals who have already felt the smell of blood to return back home and continue their evil doings. No one wants this to happen, does he?” Putin said posing a rhetorical question.
2Russia’s fight in Syria reflects the Kremlin’s fears at home. Both Russia and the United States should face the fact that neither country’s policy is working. The fight in Syria has become a conflict between Assad’s struggling army and a collection of radical Islamic militant groups, of which Islamic State is the most dangerous. Some of these groups hate and fight each other, as well as Assad. But that does not make any of them palatable. The Assad regime’s collapse would be a big problem for Putin. Moscow increased its support for that brutal regime after the 2011 Syrian uprising. This was less out of love for Assad than because the Kremlin views Washington as the source of regional instability – orchestrating not only the Arab Spring but the other uprisings that brought down authoritarian leaders along Russia’s southern borders. Paul Stronski –Reuters
3Moody’s: Azerbaijan could benefit from lifted anti-Iranian sanctions. The nuclear deal and the associated lifting of economic and financial sanctions offer Azerbaijan the opportunity to boost foreign trade and investment with neighboring Iran, Moody’s Investors Service says in a report. According to the report, these new trade and investment opportunities could partially offset the credit negative effects: “The nuclear deal, potentially leading to lower oil prices and pressures on Azerbaijan’s government and export revenues.Thanks to its close geographic location and strong trade ties in the pre-sanctions period, Azerbaijan could benefit from a lifting of sanctions on Iran by increasing foreign trade and investment with its neighbor.
4Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbaev has urged the world to abandon nuclear weapons by the UN centenary in 2045. Addressing the UN General Assembly in New York on September 28, Nazarbaev said a world without nuclear weapons should become “the main goal of the humankind in the 21st century.” The president said Kazakhstan was the first country in history to close a nuclear site as it renounced the world’s fourth-largest nuclear arsenal. The weapons were part of the arsenal of the Soviet Union before it collapsed in 1991.Nazarbaev also urged the international community to find a swift resolution to the Ukrainian conflict and called for the “full implementation” of a cease-fire agreement reached in Minsk in February. Nazarbayev also proposed a “unified global network to counter international terrorism and extremism.”
5Turkmenistan has entered a new stage of strategic partnership with China by becoming its main gas supplier, according to the Turkmen Ministry of Oil and Mineral Resources. Turkmenistan had supplied more than 125 billion cubic meters of gas as of August of 2015 through the Turkmenistan-Uzbekistan-Kazakhstan-China gas pipeline, also known as the Central Asia-China Gas Pipeline. This is more than 35 percent of the total volume of Chinese natural gas purchased by the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) after the commissioning of the first two, A and B, segments of the gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to China through Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.
6Iranian’s U.N. Speech Appears to Favor Engagement. “President Hassan Rouhani of Iran suggested on Monday in his United Nations speech that the nuclear agreement with major powers including the United States had helped create the basis for a broader engagement, in what appeared to be a difference — in tone, at least — with his own leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei” Rick Gladstonesept –The New York Times
7OSCE chairperson-in-office, Serbia’s Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic met the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group Igor Popov of the Russian Federation, James Warlick of the United States of America, and Pierre Andrieu of France, and the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office, Ambassador Andrzej Kasprzyk, in New York, OSCE press-service reported Sept. 29. Ambassadors informed Dacic about the latest surge in violence and the talks they have held with Azerbaijani and Armenian officials since. He strongly condemned the recent escalation, offering his condolences to the families of the victims, appealing to all to show maximum restraint and work towards de-escalation. Dacic expressed his full support to the work of the OSCE Minsk Group, and reiterated their call for advancing negotiations on a lasting settlement for the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, as well as for implementing confidence-building measures.
8Head of Tehran Chamber of Commerce Masoud Khansari said Oman is interested to launch joint ventures with Iran in the strategic Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf. “Both sides can benefit from expansion of trade ties in this strait; Oman would be Iran’s gateway to African countries while Iran connects the Arab country to its other 15 neighbors such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, etc.,” Khansari said. He referred to the trade turnover between Iran and Oman during the past years, which stood at most at $400mln, and underlined that the amount should increase in future regarding the existing capacities. The Iranian official expressed content that construction of joint free and special zones in recent years has multiplied the opportunities for common investments between Tehran and Muscat since both enjoy tax exemption or even customs relief in such zones.
9Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev discussed issues of cooperation with major US companies. Nazarbayev met, in particular, with managers of the leading American companies, investment funds and financial institutions, such as the Guggenheim Partners LLC, JP Morgan, Pfizer, Blackstone, Cisco Systems and others, according to the press service of the president of Kazakhstan. The meeting reviewed the ways to increase the US companies’ participation in the further development of Kazakhstan’s economy and the possibilities to cooperate in creation of an international financial center in Astana. Nazarbayev drew the meeting participants’ attention to the fact that today the US companies are represented in almost all sectors of Kazakhstan’s economy, and urged the US side to assist the development of cooperation on a mutually beneficial ground.
10Azerbaijan and Serbia will establish a joint working group on cooperation in the information and communication technologies. The issue was discussed as part of the meeting between the Azerbaijani Minister of Communications and High Technologies Ali Abbasov and Serbian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications Rasim Ljajic, who is on visit to Baku as part of the IV meeting of the Joint Intergovernmental Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation. The sides agred to hold the first meeting of the working group in Belgrade, and the second meeting in Baku as part of the 21st international exhibition and conference Bakutel-2015 on December 2-5. The ministers expressed their interest in developing cooperation in the field of telecommunications and information technologies.
Ethiopian airlines pledges to plant 9 million trees: “one for every passenger”
Exploring innovative ways in which the airline industry can be combined with a sustainable business outlook, UN Environment and Ethiopian airlines have forged a partnership that will focus on greening the airlines operations.
The MoU, signed in Addis Ababa this week, outlines several action areas to promote sustainability, most notably the development of the ‘Plant one tree for every passenger flown’ project, in collaboration with UN environment’s ongoing REDD+ programme in Ethiopia. The objective of the project is to plant 9 million trees in the name of Ethiopian Airlines in different regions of Ethiopia.
“We’re delighted to launch one of the first such agreements of its kind, with Ethiopian Airlines really raising the bar on environmental responsibility and green business,” said Erik Solheim, Head of UN Environment. “This sends a strong, positive message across the aviation sector.”
Other areas of collaboration include:
- Greening Ethiopian Airline business through the provision of training on sustainable consumption and production, integrated waste management, hazardous chemical treatment and capacity development on air quality monitoring.
- Development of environmental awareness raising materials for use in- flight entertainment.
- Support for the Ethiopian Aviation Academy, with the introduction of a course on the UN Environment Sustainable Consumption and Green Economy Programme.
“Because UN environment and Ethiopian Airlines share common goals and objectives […] we wish to collaborate in areas of mutual concern,” said Juliette Biao, head on UN Environment’s regional office for Africa.
The signing of the MoU took place in the margins of the African Civil Aviation Biofuel Summit held in the Ethiopian capital this week, and follows the adoption of the “Single Air Transport Market” by African nations last January.
World Bank Signals Strong Support for Nepal’s Transition to Federalism
The World Bank today signaled strong support for Nepal’s ambitious transition to federalism when its Board of Executive Directors approved a $200 million credit to improve public financial management.
The Fiscal and Public Financial Management Development Policy Credit is the first in a two-part program to support the Government of Nepal in establishing a framework for fiscal federalism and improved public financial management.
“Nepal today is at a historic juncture as it transitions from a unitary to a federal democratic republic. Expectations are high that the new structure will deliver on greater equity and accountability,” said Qimiao Fan, World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal. “This operation will help establish a fiscal framework that will ensure that the newly elected governments can deliver better services to all Nepali citizens.”
This operation will support implementation of the Intergovernmental Fiscal Arrangement Act; establishment of the National Natural Resources and Fiscal Commission; adoption of the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Bill; strengthening of public financial management systems; improvements in budget execution; and reforms to improve revenue collection.
Commending Nepal for successfully concluding local, state and federal elections under the new constitutional framework, the Executive Directors welcomed the Bank’s strategic shift to supporting federalism to help avoid disruptions, improve service delivery and promote transparency and accountability. Directors encouraged the Bank to fully support Nepal’s transition to achieve inclusive development, especially in traditionally underserved areas, in coordination with other development partners.
This Development Policy Credit approved today is one of several components in the World Bank’s overall support on federalism in Nepal. Other support includes policy advice, new investment lending to improve service delivery and improve capacity, as well as restructuring of the existing portfolio to align with the new federal structure.
The World Bank also approved a $66 million credit to modernize Phase 2 of the Rani Jamara Kulariya Irrigation Scheme. The project will modernize sub-branches, tertiary canals and water courses so that irrigation water can reach farmer fields with optimal flows. It will also help strengthen Water User Associations and provide agriculture production support. During Phase 1, which closed in September 2017, the project upgraded intakes and feeder canals and initiated an agriculture development program. Spread over a command area of 14,300 hectares, the project will benefit one of the poorest areas in the southwest of the Karnali basin in the Tarai. Nearly half of the people benefitting from the project belong to the indigenous Tharu community.
The World Bank Group and Nepal
The World Bank Group (WBG) fielded its first economic mission to Nepal in 1963 to assess the country’s development prospects and challenges. It approved its first credit in 1969 for a telecommunications project. Since then, the World Bank has provided Nepal $4.75 billion in assistance ($3.48 billion in credits and $1.27 billion in grants). Nepal is eligible for concessional financing support from the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA). During the IDA17 period (17th replenishment of IDA covering FY2015-2017), the World Bank committed $1.2 billion. This amount included additional financing of $300 million from the IDA Crisis Response Window to respond to the emergency needs after the 2015 earthquake. During IDA18 period (FY2018-2020), Nepal may access approximately $1.3 billion in IDA financing. This includes additional financing from the IDA Exceptional Risk Mitigation Regime financing window. The current portfolio comprises 22 active projects with a net commitment of $2.32 billion. In terms of the number of projects, the energy sector makes up the largest share (5 projects) followed by agriculture and education (4 projects in each sector).
Somalia: Poor rains forecast put food security, livelihoods at risk
Below-average rains forecast for Somalia could lead to devastating cattle losses and intensify malnutrition in the Horn of Africa nation, the United Nations food security agency has warned.
The grim scenario follows massive livestock deaths due to drought – up to 60 per cent of herds in some areas – that have severely damaged pastoralists’ livelihoods.
“Somalia is traditionally an agro-pastoral economy [and] livestock losses have severely affected its economy and people,” Daniele Donati, the head of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) programmes in the country, said in a news release Wednesday.
“It is crucial that we continue to support pastoralist households build resilience against climate-related shocks by providing timely veterinary and feeding assistance for their animals,” he added.
According to the UN agency’s Global Information and Early Warning Report, while the country’s overall food security situation improved to some extent in early 2018, primarily due to large-scale and sustained humanitarian assistance, the number of Somalis suffering severe food insecurity still remains 170 per cent above pre-crisis levels.
Furthermore, recent cattle losses have also resulted in sharp rises in prices of livestock and livestock products, including milk. Pastoral households in the worst-hit northern and central regions have also reported increased household debts, drive by credit purchase of water, food and for care of their animals.
The losses have also severely hit Somalia’s exports, a country where the livestock sector accounts for approximately 40 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Responding to the situation, FAO stepped up its response, providing health services to some some 38.3 million animals, supplementary feeding interventions to close to 1 million, and delivered over 53 million litres of water in 2017.
In 2018, the UN agency aims to support some 2.7 million rural Somalis and has appealed for $236 million to sustain its livestock interventions, help farmers secure a good harvest and provide cash transfers to the most vulnerable so families can afford to eat while restoring their own food production.
“Providing livelihood support and cash in rural areas not only fights hunger, but minimizes displacement and the sale of productive assets that ultimately feed people and sustain their livelihoods,” it said.
Hurdles in Pakistan’s Quest for Reaching Space
Space exploration is an expensive national objective for the state to pursue. In addition, if a state is a developing...
United Nations Drowning Prevention Group launched on World Water Day 2018
Ambassadors from across the world have highlighted the need for global drowning to be tackled if the United Nation’s Sustainable...
Azerbaijan’s geo-economic expansion prospects: Conventional or emerging markets?
In the background of global geo-economic shifting, nation states confront significant challenges in terms of appropriate positioning. In case of...
A Lone Wolf in Afrin
The International Reaction to Turkey’s Military Campaign in Afrin Despite numerous efforts by the Turkish government to explain its concerns...
Meet the MilleXZials: Generational Lines Blur as Media Consumption for Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z Converge
American consumers’ appetite for streaming video continues to grow, and they have no qualms shelling out cash for original content,...
Ethiopian airlines pledges to plant 9 million trees: “one for every passenger”
Exploring innovative ways in which the airline industry can be combined with a sustainable business outlook, UN Environment and Ethiopian...
Coding with impact: Training female tech talent from Latin America
“We want to train young women to make them talented and globally competitive software developers.” Meet Mariana Costa Checa, a...
East Asia2 days ago
If Marco Polo were alive today, what tales would he tell about China and Tibet?
Energy3 days ago
Energy is at the heart of the sustainable development agenda to 2030
East Asia2 days ago
Belt and Road Initiative and China-Iran cooperation
East Asia2 days ago
Xi and Putin vow to cooperate deeply in the time ahead
South Asia1 day ago
NAM, NaMo- NATO? Indian Foreign Policy in Transition
Green Planet2 days ago
China: Navigation Improvement Project Keeps Environmental Protection in Mind
Africa2 days ago
Displacement: The Challenges Of IDPs & Refugees
East Asia1 day ago
The ambition of China and its democratization issue