Ukraine has clearly defined integration of the European values as a priority for external and internal government policy since 2014. The scientific sphere is not an exception. Nowadays, integration into the European Research Area (ERA) is considered not only as geopolitical constant for Ukraine and Ukrainian science but also as a real instrument for scientists to join a European system approach, independent expertise and modern research infrastructures through consortia. On the other hand, Ukraine as a State will receive an extra funds for reestablishing its old-fashioned research facilities, formed mostly during the Soviet period, through instruments of the participation in common infrastructures and research infrastructure consortia.
The European Research Infrastructure Consortium is one of the policy instrument of ERA aimed at promoting, establishing and operating of the Research Infrastructures (RI) for the needs of several countries’ scientific community with minimal level of bureaucracy and fiscal burdens.
In this regard, it might be interesting for Ukraine to join Romania-initiated project aimed on creation of pan European distributed Research Infrastructure dedicated to Advanced Interdisciplinary Studies on River-Sea Systems (DANUBIUS-RI). The DANUBIUS PP project was included to the ESFRI Roadmap in 2015 and the preparatory phase was completed in 2019.
The research infrastructure will comprise a Hub and a Data Centre in Romania, a Technology Transfer Office in Ireland, and Supersites and Nodes across Europe. The Hub will provide leadership, coordination, and key scientific, educational and analytical capabilities. Supersites will be designated natural sites that provide the focus for observation, research and modelling at locations of high scientific importance and utilizing a range of opportunities to study RS systems from river source to coastal sea. Nodes will be centers of expertise providing facilities and services, data storage and provision, experimental and in situ measurements facilities, state-of-the-art analytical capabilities and implementation of standardized procedures and quality control (the DANUBIUS Commons).
European research on river-sea systems and their transitional environments is world- leading but fragmented, largely discipline-specific and often geographically isolated.
The lack of interdisciplinary research infrastructures has fueled this fragmentation. DANUBIUS-RI will fill the gap, drawing on existing research excellence across Europe, enhancing the impact of European research while maximizing the return on investment. It will provide access to a range of European river-sea systems, facilities and expertise; a ‘one-stop shop’ for knowledge exchange in managing river-sea systems; access to harmonized data; and a platform for interdisciplinary research, inspiration, education and training.
This structure will enable DANUBIUS-RI to build on existing expertise and synergies to support world-leading interdisciplinary research and innovation in freshwater-marine research.
The benefits to Ukraine of being member of the future (DANUBIUS-RI):
- DANUBIUS-RI is the only European Research Infrastructure dedicated to Advanced Interdisciplinary Studies on River-Sea Systems worldwide. It gained the status of ESFRI Project in 2016, which demonstrates not only European support but its global relevance.
- The access to the major opportunities given by DANUBIUS-RI will bring the opportunity to find science-based solutions that involve the highest standards at global level to solving national, regional and local problems occurring in river-sea systems in Ukraine. It will support gaining better knowledge of processes in the Black Sea and at contacts with major rivers (not just the Danube).
- DANUBIUS-RI is working to become a European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC). This gives a very strict quality control system over the years – to maintain itself as an infrastructure promoting scientific excellence. Therefore, being part of DANUBIUS-ERIC means also becoming part of a strictly surveyed organization, which needs to implement excellence.
- As a signatory of DANUBIUS-ERIC, Ukraine will give its scientists a direct and open access to all the work opportunities given by DANUBIUS-ERIC across Europe. Researchers and professionals will
thusbe able to train, work with and use all the data and facilities provided in all parts of the Research Infrastructure, no matter where they are located.
- With Ukraine a member of the DANUBIUS-ERIC, Ukrainian students (from undergraduate to postgraduate) and postdoctorals will be able to develop and improve their training throughout Europe, using the opportunities offered by the various parts of the Research Infrastructure.
- Membership of the ERIC will increase the opportunities for participation in future EC DG Research and Innovation – funded projects, in HORIZON EUROPE or following programmes.
That is why the Ukrainian participation in this consortium is very important not only from scientific point of view but also from practical significance of the project outputs for the needs of state environmental protection policy.
Ukraine took the first step towards the DANUBIUS–RI participation in 2016 year. Odesa State Ecological University became part of Horizon 2020 project “The preparatory phase for the Pan-European research infrastructure DANUBIUS–RI: the international center for advanced studies on river-sea systems”. According to the rules of project, the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine joined to the Board of Governmental Representatives. In fact, it was Ukrainian first official practical step toward ERICs participation at all.
With starting activity in DANUBIUS PP project the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine faced new challenges. On the institutional level, the Ministry is responsible for the participation in the European Research Infrastructure Consortia and for the national consortium forming. But it should be mentioned that for participation in any ERIC and in DANUBIUS-ERIC in particular, Ukraine as non-EU statefaces two big challenges: harmonization of national legislation with EU legislation on ERIC activity and establishing national consortium of research infrastructures as a national part of ERIC.
The DANUBUIS ERIC Statute has the item concerning the obligations on behalf of the state such as annual membership fee, appointment of national representative and support of his(her) participation in Government Board meetings, tax exemptions and support of maintenance of the national research infrastructures involved in ERIC.
According to Ukrainian legislation, in this case,it should be used the Law “On International Treaty of Ukraine”. It means that DANUBIUS ERIC Statute requires ratification by Ukrainian Parliament. The ratification allows to agree to be bound by the terms of the Statute and to implement the EU Regulation “On European Research Infrastructures Consortium (ERIC)”in the same time which establish Value Added Tax exemptions.
The Statute ratification will become a legislative basis for determination of state body responsible for this ERIC, for membership fees and for ensuring of RI functioning.
The ERIC Statute also predicts the obligation of national RI establishment as legal entity that should be the part of ERIC. Only this legal entity can be use the option concerning tax exemptions. The essence of the problem is that Ukrainian legislation should make the binding of a specific legal entity to tax benefits arising from an international agreement.
The third important task of the preparatory period is the financing by the Ukrainian Party the national RIs and rising the level of technical readiness of Ukrainian infrastructures to comply with ERIC technical regulations. In this regards, the interesting for Ukraine is the Romanian experience.
In spite the membership in EU, Romanian has an enlightening experience in participation in ERICs that could be useful for Ukraine. Romania also needs pass through the coordination process with ministries and ratification procedures in Romanian Parliament.
The second pull of issues is building the national RI consortium integrated into ERIC.
The first step toward this process should be determination on the state level the goals, objectives, sources of funding, conditions creation of a consortium and only after this, gathering information and formulating proposals from individual organizations. In this regard, Ukraine could use the experience of Romanian Party. An appropriate way for the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine can be the adoption of R&D project “Specification of Strategy and actions for preparation of the national participation in the DANUBIUS-RI”.
During 2018-2019 years, Romanian Government financed the similar project DANS and from 2020 the project DANS 2 started.
The Term of reference for Ukrainian participation in DANUBIUS ERIC will be an important basic document and further steps of Ukraine in the preparation of the draft action planat the Governmental level regarding Ukraine’s participation in the international structure of DANUBIUS RI. In addition, such document will be an instrument for the financial resources accession for the creation of the Ukrainian part of the DANUBE delta supersite and for request funding from DANUBIUS ERIC.
Also, the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine should pay attention on the additional document of the Romanian project “Specification of Strategy and actions for preparation of the national participation in the DANUBIUS-RI” with requirements to the network of observations and research stations that the Romania is creating on its territory as a part of the DANUBE DELTA supersite.
But in spite of importance being the part of EU integration process and building a working strategy of scientific development, Ukraine does not take appropriate steps to achieve state interests in R&D sphere. For became the equal partner in the Danube scientific chessboard Ukraine is explicitly required two components: appropriate legislation conditions and budget allocation.
C. Bradley, M. J. Bowes, J. Brils, J. Friedrich, J. Gault, S. Groom, T. Hein, P. Heininger, P. Michalopoulos, N. Panin, M. Schultz, A. Stanica, I. Andrei, A. Tyler & G. Umgiesser. 2018. Advancing integrated research on European river–sea systems: the DANUBIUS-RI project, International Journal of Water Resources Development, 34:6, 888-899, DOI: 10.1080/07900627.2017.1399107
Biden-Putting meeting: Live from Geneva
19:00 The places of the flags on the Mont Blanc bridge on which President Biden and President Putin will pass to reach the meeting venue on Wednesday usually hold the flags of the different Swiss cantons. Not today. The American and Russian flags have been placed to welcome the two leaders.
18:00 A day before the Geneva summit: Hotel Intercontinental where the American delegation and probably President Biden himself is staying, how the city looks like a day before the meeting, what are the security measures like, why isn’t the UN involved and are the usual protests expected?
Iveta Cherneva with live video political commentary from Geneva one day ahead of the Biden-Putin Summit
Will the promotion of cricket in GCC add to its Soft Power?
In recent years, Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, have been trying to bolster their ‘Soft Power’ in a number of ways; by promoting tourism, tweaking their immigration policies to attract more professionals and foreign students and focusing on promoting art and culture. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has taken the lead in this direction (in May 2017, UAE government set up a UAE Soft Power Council which came up with a comprehensive strategy for the promotion of the country’s Soft Power). Under Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman (MBS), Saudi Arabia has also been seeking to change its international image, and it’s Vision 2030 seeks to look beyond focusing on economic growth. In the Global Soft Power Index 2021, Saudi Arabia was ranked at number 24 and number 2 in the Gulf region after the UAE (the country which in the past had a reputation for being socially conservative, has hosted women’s sports events and also hosted the G20 virtually last year)
Will the promotion of cricket in GCC add to its Soft Power?
One other important step in the direction of promoting Soft Power in the GCC, is the attempt to popularize cricket in the Gulf. While the Sharjah cricket ground (UAE) hosted many ODI (One Day International )tournaments, and was witness to a number of thrillers between India and Pakistan, match fixing allegations led to a ban on India playing cricket at non-regular venues for a duration of 3 years (for a period of 7 years from 2003, Sharjah did not get to host any ODI). The Pakistan cricket team has been playing its international home series at Sharjah, Abu Dhabu and Dubai for over a decade (since 2009) and the sixth season of the Pakistan Super League is also being played in UAE. Sharjah has also hosted 9 test matches (the first of which was played in 2002).
Sharjah hosted part of the Indian Premier League (IPL) tournament in 2014, and last year too the tournament was shifted to UAE due to covid19 (apart from Sharjah, matches were played at Dubai and Abu Dhabi). This year again, the UAE and possibly Oman are likely to host the remaining matches of the IPL which had to be cancelled due to the second wave of Covid19. The ICC Men’s T20 World Cup to be held later this year (October-November 2021), which was actually to be hosted by India, could also be hosted not just in the UAE, but Oman as well (there are two grounds, one of them has floodlights). International Cricket Council (ICC) is looking for an additional venue to UAE, because a lot of cricket is being played there, and this may impact the pitches. The ICC while commenting on the possibility of the T20 World cup being hosted in the Middle East said:
, “The ICC Board has requested management [to] focus its planning efforts for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 on the event being staged in the UAE with the possibility of including another venue in the Middle East’
GCC countries are keen not just to host cricketing tournaments, but also to increase interest in the game. While Oman has a team managed by an Indian businessman, Saudi Arabia has set up the SACF (Saudi Arabian Cricket Federation) in 2020 and it has started the National Cricket Championship which will have more than 7,000 players and 36 teams at the school level. Peshawar Zalmi, a Pakistani franchise T20 cricket team, representing the city of Peshawar the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which plays in the Pakistan’s domestic T20 cricket league – the Peshawar cricket league — extended an invitation to the SACF, to play a friendly match against it. It’s owner Javed Afridi had extended the invitation to the Saudi Arabian team in April 2021. Only recently, Chairman of SACF Prince Saud bin Mishal met with India’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Dr Ausaf Saeed, to discuss ways for promoting the game in Saudi Arabia. He also visited the ICC headquarters at Dubai and apart from meeting officials of ICC also took a tour of Sharjah cricket ground.
GCC countries have a number of advantages over other potential neutral venues. First, the required infrastructure is already in place in some countries, and there is no paucity of financial resources which is very important. Second, there is a growing interest in the game in the region, and one of the important factors for this is the sizeable South Asian expat population. Third, a number of former cricketers from South Asia are not only coaching cricket teams, but also being roped in to create more enthusiasm with regard to the game. Fourth, UAE along with other GCC countries, could also emerge as an important venue for the resumption of India-Pakistan cricketing ties.
In conclusion, if GCC countries other than UAE — like Saudi Arabia and Oman — can emerge as important cricketing venues, their ‘Soft Power’ appeal is likely to further get strengthened especially vis-à-vis South Asia. South Asian expats, who have contributed immensely to the economic growth of the region, and former South Asian cricketers will have an important role to play in popularizing the game in the Gulf. Cricket which is already an important component of the GCC — South Asia relationship, could help in further strengthening people to people linkages.
Analyzing the role of OIC
Composed of fifty-seven countries and spread over four continents, the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) is the second-largest intergovernmental body following the United Nations (UN). And it is no secret that the council was established in the wake of an attack on the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Safeguarding and defending the national sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of its member states is the significant provision of the OIC’s charter. OIC charter also undertakes to strengthen the bond of unity and solidarity among member states. Uplifting Islamic values, practicing cooperation in every sphere among its members, contributing to international peace, protecting the Islamic sites, and assisting suppressed Muslim community are other significant features of its charter.
Recently, the world witnessed the 11-days long conflict between Hamas and Israel. In a recent episode of the clash between two parties, Israel carried out airstrikes on Gaza, claiming many innocent Palestinian lives. The overall death toll in the territory rose to 200, including 59 children and 35 women, with 1305 injured, says Hamas-run health ministry. This event was met with resentment from people across the world, and they condemned Israeli violence. After 11 days of violence, the Israeli government and Hamas agreed to a ceasefire. The event of Israeli violence on Palestinians has called the role of OIC into question. The council, formed in the aftermath of the onslaught on Al-Aqsa mosque, seemed to adopt a lip service approach to the conflict. However, the call for stringent measures against Israeli aggression by the bloc was not part of its action.
Likewise, the Kashmir issue, which has witnessed atrocities of Indians on innocent Kashmiris, looks up to the OIC for its resolution. Last year, during the 47th session of the Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) in Niamey, Niger, the CFM reaffirmed its strong support for the Kashmir cause. The OIC categorically rejected illegal and unilateral actions taken by India on August 5 to change the internationally recognized disputed status of the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir and demanded India rescind its illegal steps. However, the global community seems to pay deaf ears to the OIC’s resolution. The Kashmir issue and the Palestine issue are the core issues of the world that are witnessing the worst humanitarian crisis. And the charter of the bloc that aims to guard the Muslim ummah’s interest rings hollow. About a year ago, the event that made rounds on electronic and social media was the occurring of the KL summit, which reflected another inaction of the OIC. The move of influential Muslim countries (Iran, Turkey, and Indonesia), to sail on the idea to establish another forum to counter the OIC, manifested the rift in the bloc.
Many OIC countries are underdeveloped and poorly governed and are home to instability, violence, and terrorism. The consequences of the violence and terrorism in the OIC countries have been devastating. According to Forbes, 7 out of 10 countries, which suffer most from terrorism are OIC members. The Syrian conflict is another matter of concern in the Mideast, looking up to OIC for a way out. An immense number of people have lost their lives in the Civil war in Syria.
Several factors contribute to the inefficiency of the bloc. The first and foremost reason is the Saudi-Iran stalemate. Influential regional powers (Iran and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) in the Mideast share strained links following the Islamic Revolution in Iran. Both sides dissent each other on many fronts. Saudi Arabia accuses Tehran of interfering in its internal affairs, using terrorism as a tool to intimidate neighbors, fuelling sectarianism, and equipping proxies to de-stabilize and overthrow the legitimate government. Locked in a proxy war in the Mideast, the KSA and Iran vie for regional dominance. Moreover, Iran’s nuclear program is met with strong resentment in the KSA since it shifts the Balance of Power towards Iran. Such developments play a vibrant role in their stalemate, and the bloc’s effectiveness is hostage to the Saudi-Iran standoff.
Political and social exclusion in many OIC states is the norm of the day, contributing to upheaval and conflict. In OIC countries, the level of political participation and political and social integration is weak. This fact has rendered OIC countries vulnerable to unrest. Arab Spring in 2011 stands as the best example. Furthermore, conflicts, since the mid-1990s, have occurred in weak states that have encountered unrest frequently.
Saudi Arabia has tightened its grip on the OIC. The reason being, the OIC secretariat and its subsidiary bodies are in the KSA. More importantly, the KSA’s prolific funding to the bloc enhances its influence on the bloc. One example includes, in the past, the KSA barred an Iranian delegation from the OIC meeting in Jeddah. Saudi authorities have not issued visas for the Iranian participants, ministry spokesman, says Abbas Mousavi. “The government of Saudi Arabia has prevented the participation of the Iranian delegation in the meeting to examine the deal of the century plan at the headquarters of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation,” Mousavi said, the Fars news agency reported. Given the Iranian growing influence and its access to nuclear capabilities, the KSA resorted to using financial leverage to reap support from Arab countries against Iran. For instance, in past, Somalia and several other Arab states such as Sudan and Bahrain received a commitment of financial aid from Saudi Arabia on the same day they cut ties with Iran. Furthermore, the summits of OIC, GCC, and Arab League are perceived as an effort by Saudi Arabia to amass support against Tehran.
Division in the Muslim world and their clash of interests is yet another rationale behind its inefficacy. These days, many Muslim countries are bent on pursuing their interests rather than paying commitment to their principles, that is, working collectively for the upkeep of the Muslim community. Last year, the governments of Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced that they had agreed to the full normalization of relations. Following this, the Kingdom of Bahrain became another Muslim country to normalize its links with Israel. Such moves by the Islamic countries weaken the OIC agenda against Israel.
OIC’s efficacy would be a distant dream unless the Saudi-Iran deadlock finds its way. For this purpose, Pakistan can play a vital role in mediating between these two powers. Pakistan has always been an active player in the OIC and played its role in raising its voice against Islamophobia, Palestine Issue, and the Kashmir issue. Shunning their interests and finding the common goals of the Muslim ummah, should be the utmost priority for the members of the bloc. Every OIC member ought to play its part in the upkeep of the bloc. Furthermore, a split in the bloc should come to an end since it leads to the polarization of member states towards regional powers. Many OIC countries are rich in hydrocarbons (a priceless wealth, which is the driver for the growth of a country); if all OIC members join hands and enhance their partnership in this sphere they can fight against energy security. And OIC is the crux for magnifying cooperation among its member states to meet their energy needs.
In this era of globalization, multilateralism plays a pivotal part. No one can deny the significance of intergovernmental organizations since they serve countries in numerous ways. In the same vein, OIC can serve Muslim ummah in multiple ways; if it follows a course of adequate functioning.
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