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Second High level China-Eurasia Conference Took Place at Yerevan State University

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Yerevan State University, Yerevan, Armenia— The Second edition of the “Eurasian Research on Modern China and Eurasia” Conference was held on November 1-2, 2019. The conference was organized by “‘China-Eurasia’ Council for Political and Strategic Research” and Yerevan State University.

Mrs. Lena Nazaryan, Vice President of the National Assembly of Armenia, in her opening speech, has stated that Armenia gives an importance for strengthening its cooperation with China. She also mentioned that agreement on trade and economic cooperation between the Eurasian Economic Union and the PRC will provide an added impetus to develop economic relations in both bilateral and multilateral levels.

Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the PRC to Armenia Mr. Tian Erlong noted; “I am very pleased to attend the “Eurasian Research on Modern China and Eurasia Conference” dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the founding of the PRC, which is organized by Yerevan State University and ‘China-Eurasia’ Council for Political and Strategic Research.” He added, that China and the World are experiencing unprecedented changes of the international pattern for the past 100 years. In response to various global issues and challenges and continuous improvement of global governance capabilities, China is willing to make efforts with countries all over the world, including the Eurasian region, adhering to the path of peaceful development, multilateralism, and to the strategy of mutual benefit, win-win and openness, against the hegemonism and power politics, to contribute in building a new type of international relations and community of human destiny.

In turn, Vice-Rector for International Cooperation and Public Relations of the Yerevan State University, Dr. Artur H. Israyelyan, said that deepening relations with China is one of the foreign policy priorities of Armenia. Yerevan aims to strengthen Armenia’s role in the Eurasian region by expanding relations also with China. He hoped that “Eurasian Research on Modern China and Eurasia” Conference will help in this work.

Director of “China-Eurasia” Council for Political and Strategic Research and founder of the “Eurasian Research on Modern China and Eurasia” Conference, mentioned that during the conference, which was organized by Yerevan State University and “China-Eurasia” Council for Political and Strategic Research the geopolitical, economic and security changes taking place in the Eurasian continent would be discussed. He added that the main aim of the conference is to focus on China’s pivot towards Eurasian continent through its Belt and Road initiative, the US pivot to the Asia-Pacific region, EAEU and EU integration projects in Eurasia etc. He stated that the Asia-pacific region stood the main center of economic developments of the world, it is already fact and all states must think about their own political and economic involvement with this region and of course, China, as a young superpower has its very important role here.

The following panels of the Conference followed the opening ceremony:

The first panel was “China, Eurasia and the New World Order”, where Prof. Dr. Heinz Gärtner(International Institute for Peace and University of Vienna, Chair of the Advisory Committee for Strategy and Security Policy of the Scientific Commission at the Austrian Armed Forces, Austria) delivered keynote speech on“Eurasia between Multipolarity and Multilateralism”. Prof. Dr. Süha Atatüre (Head of the Department of International Relations, Istanbul Gedik University, Turkey) joined the conference with the help of video call. His keynote speech was about “The Globalization, Our World and China Today”.Dr. Zheng Yuntian (Deputy Director of the World Socialism Institute, Renmin University of China, PRC)during his keynote speech told about the importance of building a Community with a shared future for mankind and the new international vision of the Chinese development model.Dr. Mher D. Sahakyan (Director, “China-Eurasia” Council for Political and Strategic Research) introduced his research on China’s national security and Belt and Road Initiative.

The second panel was named “China and the Global Leadership”, where Dr. Anahit Parzyan (“China-Eurasia” Council for Political and Strategic Research) spoke about China’s cyber policy and introduced Beijing’s capabilities for Global cyber leadership. In turn, Dr. Sudhir Kumar Singh (University of Delhi, India) delivered a speech on challenges and opportunities between triangle relations of ASEAN-China. Alexander Korolev (Deputy Head, Eurasian Sector, National Research University Higher School of Economics, Russia) introduced his research, which was called “EAEU-China: Connecting Eurasia”.This panel was chaired by Prof. Dr. Heinz Gärtner.

The third panel was focused on China’s Belt and Road initiative and the world. This Russian language panel started witha keynote speech by Prof. Dr. Konstantin Kurylev (RUDN University, Russia), which was about the features of implementation and development prospects of the Belt and Road Initiative.Konstantin Tasits (Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, Russia) continued the topic and spoke about China’s Policy in South Caucasus in the context of Belt and Road Initiative. Evelina Moravska (PhD Candidate, Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland) introduced her research on China’s policy in the region of Caspian Sea.This panel was chaired by Dr. Artur H. Israyelyan.

The fourth panel was dedicated to China’s policy in Western Balkans, during which Prof. Dr. Boris Vukićević (Vice-Rector, University of Montenegro, Montenegro) introduced China’s policy in the Western Balkans as anew player in the strategic game.The panel was chaired by Dr. Zheng Yuntian.

The second day of the “Eurasian Research on Modern China and Eurasia” conference started with the “China and Eurasia” panel.

Dr. Yu Tao (University of Western Australia, Australia) introduced his research on religions and China’s diplomatic endeavors in Eurasia (1979-2019). In turn, Yeghia Tashjian from American University of Beirut, Lebanon, dedicated his speech to China’s policy on Iranian nuclear issue and China’s Energy Security.Dr. Larisa Smirnova shared her thoughts about some differences between Russian and Chinese understanding of the meaning of “developing” and “developed” states during this panel.This panel was chaired by Dr. Varuzhan Geghamyan (Assistant Professor, Yerevan State University/ Director, ARDI Institute, Armenia). During this panel speakers, chair and attendees discussed alsothe meaning of “Eurasia” term from the different schools’ perspectives.

The next panel was called “China, Policy, Subcultures and Information”. This Russian language panel started with a keynote speech byDr. Hovhannes Sargsyan (Head, Department of Political Science, Russian-Armenian University, Armenia). His paper was dedicated to cultural and civilizational foundations of Chinese strategic culture. In turn, Dr. Nadezhda Kotelnikova (Volgograd State Pedagogical University, Russia) delivered speech on Chinese city subcultures in the context of urban communication studies. The next speaker was Michal Marek (PhD Candidate, Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland). He introduced his research on factors and events that shape the image of China in the Polish information space.Dr. Anton Evstratov (Russian-Armenian University, Armenia) spoke about China’s policy in the Central Asia. Andranik Hovhannisyan’s (Russian-Armenian University, Armenia) paper was titled “Russia and China ‘A New Big Game’ in the Central Asia”.Ruzanna Airapetova (PhD Student, Russian-Armenian University, Armenia) delivered a speech on public diplomacy of China and Armenia.This panel was chaired by Dr. Hovhannes Sargsyan.

The seven panel was dedicated to China’s role in Shanghai Cooperation organization and its relations with NATO. During this panel Slobodan Popovic (PhD Candidate, University of Belgrade, Serbia) spoke about geopolitical role of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization within the Belt and Road Initiative.Dr. Anna Zalinyan (Public Administration Academy of RA, Armenia) introduced her research on NATO-China Council relationship in political-military dimensions.Dr. Saren Abgaryan (Shanghai Jiatong University, PRC) changed the direction of the panel and introduced the new Foreign investment law of China from the viewpoint of foreign companies in China.The aforementioned panel was chaired by Dr. Anahit Parzyan.In the last panel thanks to technologies, by the help of video call Giulia Sciorati (University of Trento) raised and answered to the following question:“Is the Belt and Road Initiative under Siege?” In turn, Elisa Gambino (PhD Candidate, University of Edinburgh, Scotland, UK) introduced her research on Chinese participation in Kenyan Transport Infrastructure Projects.

During the conference an exhibition titled “Beautiful China” was also organized by the support of Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Armenia. Speakers also visited the history museum of Yerevan State University.

Among honorable guests of the conference were senior councilor of the Embassy of Russian Federation in Armenia, Mr. Aleksander Ananev, Councilor of the PRC Embassy in Armenia Mr. Zhou Hongyou, Councilor of the Embassy of Kazakhstan in Armenia Miss. Asel Isimova, Ambassador Dr. Arman Navasardyan, Dr. Robert Ghazaryan (Vice Director, IOS, NAS), attachéof the Embassy of Russian Federation in Armenia, Mr. Dmitri Demkin  and other diplomats and scholars.

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Afghanistan: Civilian casualties exceed 10,000 for sixth straight year

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More than 10,000 civilians in Afghanistan were killed and injured last year, according to a new United Nations report that details record-high levels of civilian harm in the ongoing conflict.

“Almost no civilian in Afghanistan has escaped being personally affected in some way by the ongoing violence,” Tadamichi Yamamoto, the UN Special Representative for Afghanistan and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA),  said  on Saturday. 

The report, entitled Afghanistan Annual Report on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict: 2019, documents 3,403 civilians killed and 6,989 injured – with the majority of the civilian casualties inflicted by anti-Government elements. 

It is the sixth year in a row that the number of civilian casualties has exceeded 10,000.

Grim milestone

After more than a decade of systematically documenting the impact of the war on civilians, the UN found that in 2019 the number of civilian casualties had surpassed 100,000.

“It is absolutely imperative for all parties to seize the moment to stop the fighting, as peace is long overdue; civilian lives must be protected and efforts for peace are underway”, stressed Mr. Yamamoto.

The figures outlined in the report, released jointly by UNAMA and the UN Human Rights Office, represent a five per cent decrease over the previous year, mainly due to a drop in civilian casualties caused by the terrorist group ISIL. 

However, civilian casualties caused by the other parties rose, including a 21 per cent increase by the Taliban and an 18 per cent surge by the international military forces, mainly due to an increase in improvised explosive device attacks and airstrikes. 

Protect civilians

“All parties to the conflict must comply with the key principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution to prevent civilian casualties,” said Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. 

To ensure accountability, the report calls on all conflict parties to conduct prompt, effective and transparent investigations into all allegations of violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law. 

“Belligerents must take the necessary measures to prevent women, men, boys and girls from being killed by bombs, shells, rockets and improvised mines; to do otherwise is unacceptable”, concluded the High Commissioner.

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UNIDO and Switzerland expand cooperation to support cocoa value chain in Nicaragua’s mining triangle

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photo: UNIDO

LI Yong, Director General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), and Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis, Foreign Minister of the Swiss Confederation, have signed an agreement for a second phase of PROCACAO, a project to improve the productive and organizational capacities of cocoa producers in the so-called mining triangle in the northeast Nicaragua.

With a budget of US$4.845m over four years, the project will increase the productivity and competitiveness of actors along the cocoa value chain. By the end of the project, the income of at least 1,250 cocoa-producing families will have increased, as will the overall production of cocoa. Eighty per cent of producers will be certified with the Rainforest Alliance seal.

To obtain these results, the project is built on the dialogue with the main investment companies and the public sector; the project supports cocoa cooperatives and producers to be able to apply the protocol set up by large private buyers. It will establish agribusiness services driven by young people in order to improve the yield and the quality of the cocoa. Quality certification and best environmental practices will be target to improve and sustain the income from cocoa. 

The partnership between UNIDO and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation started in 2015. The first phase of the PROCACAO project achieved impact changes for producers, cooperatives and the cocoa market in the region. In the productive field, relevant technological advances were introduced by incorporating high-quality genetic material in cooperatives, establishing best practices for grafted cocoa, improving post-harvest work and advancing with the UTZ certification process in at least six cooperatives. At the market level, commercial relations were established with the main cocoa buyer present in the country. The commercialization options for fermented dry cocoa were expanded, ensuring the uptake of cocoa in the region.

Today, the scope of the initiative is to be widened even as the environmental challenges have increased. Thanks to the experience gained in the first phase, UNIDO believes that the region will emerge as a player in the international cocoa value chain, demonstrating a sustainable model that is able to integrate women and youth empowerment, as well as preserve biodiversity.

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La Paz and Santa Cruz de la Sierra Develop Urban Resilience with World Bank Support

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The World Bank Board of Directors approved two loans totaling US$70 million today to support the cities of La Paz and Santa Cruz de la Sierra in their efforts to reduce vulnerabilities to climate risks and to improve living conditions of more than 167,000 residents of lower-income areas of those municipalities.

The resources will be used to develop the resilience of the two cities. They will help strengthen their capacity to reduce and prevent climate risks and provide rapid response to the impacts produced by natural disasters.

The project includes the construction of infrastructure resistant to hydrometeorological phenomena such as mudslides and floods, including improved drainage ditches and river management works. Additionally, the project will improve neighborhoods and public spaces and promote sustainable urban mobility.

“With this project, we reiterate our commitment to Bolivia, and especially to the most vulnerable population, which is always more exposed to climate risks. It is essential for cities to be resilient and protect their inhabitants since, in addition to the dangers families face in emergency situations, their wellbeing suffers and their social advances are threatened,” saidMarianne Fay, World Bank Director for Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador and Peru.

Over 20 percent of the Bolivian population, which is responsible for 21 percent of GDP, lives in areas of high climate risk. Therefore, it is crucial for municipalities to strengthen their urban resilience systems with planned investments. In La Paz and Santa Cruz de la Sierra, this need has become increasingly evident given their rapid growth, which has created a variety of challenges.

According to the Mayor of La Paz, Luis Revilla, this loan will enable the municipal government to respond to the considerable social needs in vulnerable areas of the city through interventions in water risk management and stabilization of zones. “This operation responds to a process of short-, medium- and long-term planning that the municipality began many years ago and that is established in Plan 2040, La Paz that We Want. It also reflects the responsible, efficient management of city finances, prioritizing high social impact interventions with a strong resilience component to reduce risks and improve the quality of life of La Paz residents,” he said.

“The Santa Cruz municipality works with the World Bank in urban resilience with the purpose of improving the quality and conditions of life of our population and to transform the city with the neighbors’ help,” stated the Mayor of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Percy Fernandes Añez. “Four integral and priority projects will be financed: a drainage channel in the 8th ring road – Abasto Wholesale Supply Center, the network of bicycle lanes and upgrading of public space, the revitalization and protection of the ecological cordon and construction of the Metropolitan Park along the Piraí River, and the renovation and improvement of the Historic Center. These projects will become references and models of urban and social development, in order to be replicated throughout the city and at national and international levels,” he added.

The preparation and negotiations of the Urban Resilience Project, financed by the World Bank, began in 2018. This process was completed last January, when the previous agreements were approved.

In an effort to support project implementation and expand capacities to invest in the development of resilience of Bolivian cities, the World Bank and the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) in Bolivia are planning joint technical assistance activities with the municipalities and the national government.

The implementing agencies of the loans will be the Autonomous Municipal Government of La Paz (GAMLP), which will receive US$20 million, with a maturity date of 18 years and a six-year grace period; and the Autonomous Municipal Government of Santa Cruz de la Sierra (GAMSC), which will receive US$ 50 million, with a maturity date of 15 years and a five-year grace period.

The resources correspond to investment financing from the International Development Corporation (IDA), an entity of the World Bank Group.

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