Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias’ address, via video recorded message, at the International Conference “Byzantium and China: Relationships and Parallels” (Mystras, 02.10.2021)

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to thank you for inviting me to address the International Conference on Byzantium and China.

I am really sorry that I am unable to attend in person, what promises to be a very interesting discussion.

On a topic that, unfortunately, has received little attention so far.

Or at least not as much as it deserves.

On top of it, the conference takes place in the historic city of Mystras.

A city that is directly linked with the last Byzantine Emperor, Constantine the 11th, who fell defending Constantinople against the Ottoman invaders.

And in addition, a city that is linked with the late Byzantine period.

A period that has left us with some of the most beautiful frescoes in Mystras, where they have been restored and are accessible to everyone that wishes to admire them.

[Unfortunately the same cannot be said about the frescoes of the Chora Monastery.
Frescoes that constitute part of the world heritage, but are under direct threat, since the Turkish Authorities have decided to transform Chora into a mosque.]

But let’s not get carried away and focus on the topic of today’s conference.

When studying the Byzantine and Chinese Empires, one cannot fail to notice the multitude of similar traits they shared.

For instance, both empires exerted a great influence on their neighbouring cultures.

Their reputation and prosperity often made them the target of enemy raids and invasions.

Interaction between them was made possible through the famous silk roads.

Via these same routes the bonds of coexistence and cultural dialogue between West and East were founded, developed and flourished.

The above constitute just a small part of the shared aspects Byzantium and China enjoy.

As such, we welcome with great pleasure the joint Greek and Chinese academic initiatives such as the present conference.

And we thank the Greek Institute for Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Studies, located in Venice, and the Peking University, located in Beijing, for organizing this event.

They bring us one step closer to discovering and understanding the “parallel lives” of these two great civilizations.

Just a few days ago we had the pleasure to inaugurate the Greece-China Year of Culture and Tourism.

This will give great impetus to the cultural interactions between the two countries.

It will also highlight the extraordinary characteristics of two very distinctive cultures and equally influential civilizations.

Thank you.

Untapped Global partners with Paga to boost digital payments for Nigerian SMEs

Smart Asset Financing fast tracks digitization for over 120,000 small businesses

LAGOS, Nigeria, Oct. 1, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Untapped Global, an investment company focused on emerging markets, announces a scale up of its partnership with Paga, the mobile payment and financial services company. The program finances point-of-sale devices (POS) for merchants in Nigeria, the largest country in Africa, but still underserved when it comes to financial services.

The collaboration between Paga and Untapped focuses on empowering small businesses to accept digital payments and bring financial services to the masses. The financing is structured to lower the overall cost of entry for merchants to acquire a handheld POS terminal and other digital tools for their businesses, making it easy for them to buy, sell, and get paid.

Untapped Global Logo

“We are excited to scale our POS rollout program with Untapped,” said Tayo Oviosu, Founder and CEO of Paga Group. “We have built the best on-ramps and off-ramps for cash in Nigeria through the Paga agent network and are further digitizing merchants via our new merchant platform, Doroki. Across our ecosystem, we currently have over 33,000 merchants. Our collaboration with Untapped is accelerating our progress to reaching 120,000 merchants in the next two years by lowering the startup and onboarding costs for merchants.”

Untapped Global offers Smart Asset Financing to asset-based businesses across Africa and other emerging markets. Smart Asset Financing is an innovative investment model that provides flexible capital for fast-growing enterprises like Paga, leveraging technology to make investments safer and more profitable for investors by tracking assets and capturing revenue in real-time.

Paga’s POS devices enable merchants to accept cards, mobile payments, and other forms of digital payments, and offer other value-add financial services to customers. The financing from Untapped is unique, as payments are recovered from the revenues earned on the devices. Lowering the cost of entry for using mobile payments is key to delivering the benefits of Africa’s growing fintech revolution to even the smallest businesses.

“The network of the POS devices that will be available for merchants via this partnership is powerful,” Untapped founder and CEO, Jim Chu, commented. “It enables a seamless process for merchants and their customers to buy, sell, and get paid. We’re excited to use Smart Asset Financing to greatly increase access to financial services across Nigeria with partners that know the space best, like Paga.”

Untapped and Paga had an initial and successful pilot in 2021. Scaling up the availability of the devices shows the impact these devices have on small businesses, particularly in emerging markets like Nigeria.

“Our goal at Paga Group is to make it simple for 1 billion people to pay, get paid, and access financial services,” Oviosu said. “The team at Untapped is aligned with that goal, and the current partnership showcases its objective to ensure that entrepreneurs have the opportunity to scale to their full potential.”

About Paga:
Paga is a payments and financial services ecosystem for Africa. Our ecosystem is similar to that of Square and PayPal as we focus on helping both consumers and sellers pay, get paid, and access financial services. Our first market is Nigeria where we now have over 18 million unique users.

About Untapped Global:
On a mission to empower the next billion entrepreneurs to scale to their full potential, Untapped creates opportunity by connecting frontier market innovators to global investors through its Smart Asset Financing™ platform that provides CAPEX financing for revenue-generating assets around the world, and its global investment network, The Nest.

Kun, le concept-car de SAIC Motor, dévoilé à l’Expo de Dubaï

DUBAÏ, EAU, 1er octobre 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Aujourd’hui, le concept de voiture autonome à énergies nouvelles « Kun » de SAIC Motor – exposition vedette du pavillon de la Chine de l’Expo de Dubaï 2020, a été virtuellement dévoilé au musée de l’Exposition universelle de Shanghai.

L’Expo de Dubaï ouvrira officiellement ses portes le 1er octobre. Le tout dernier concept-car de SAIC Motor, « Kun »,constituera l’élément d’exposition le plus éblouissant avec le satellite chinois Beidou et le chemin de fer à grande vitesse de Chine, démontrant au monde entier la puissante force d’innovation et le charme technologique unique de la fabrication haut de gamme de la Chine. Dans le même temps, les marques propres de SAIC Motor, MG et MAXUS, présenteront leurs derniers modèles en tant que véhicules officiels désignés pour le pavillon de la Chine pendant l’exposition.

Une vision de la « Mobilité intelligente » pour une vie meilleure

L’Exposition universelle, qui a une longue histoire de plus de 160 ans, est connue comme « l’événement olympique des milieux économiques, technologiques et culturels » et est devenue une scène mondiale pour exposer de nouveaux concepts, de nouvelles idées et de nouvelles technologies. « Tout commence à l’Exposition universelle ». Les trains, les lumières, les téléphones, les avions, les autoroutes et d’autres technologies et concepts qui ont été lancés pour la première fois à l’Exposition universelle sont progressivement entrés dans la vie quotidienne des gens et ont fortement favorisé le progrès continu de la société humaine.

Lors de l’Expo 2010 de Shanghai, SAIC Motor a construit un pavillon d’entreprise automobile, décrivant une image souhaitable de « Direct to 2030 » (En route pour 2030) avec zéro émission, zéro accident de la route, sans dépendance à l’égard du pétrole et sans embouteillages.

Lors de l’Expo 2020 de Dubaï, SAIC Motor présentera le concept « Kun », créé conjointement par les équipes de design avant-gardistes de Shanghai et de Londres. Citant la légende du « Léviathan » dans Carefree Soaring de Zhuangzi, inspiré par « le monde et la Chine, la montagne et la mer », le concept « Kun » intègre l’interaction de la bio-intelligence, l’énergie photosynthétique, le siège zéro gravité, l’interaction de l’image holographique et les technologies avancées de conduite autonome, et présente une belle image de la mobilité intelligente qui ne sera pas limitée par l’espace à l’avenir et de la fusion des environnements de l’homme et du véhicule. Elle offrira au public international de l’Expo une expérience unique « un regard sur la technologie, un regard sur l’avenir et un regard sur la Chine ».

Une image de marque chinoise « verte et intelligente »

SAIC Motor représente l’industrie automobile chinoise et crée activement une image innovante « verte et intelligente » à l’Expo de Dubaï. SAIC Motor a mis en place une chaîne industrielle automobile mondiale comprenant la R&D, le marketing, la logistique, les pièces détachées, la fabrication, la finance, les voitures d’occasion, etc. Ses produits et services sont appréciés dans plus de 70 pays et régions du monde.

S’appuyant sur les avantages des technologies innovantes telles que les véhicules à énergies nouvelles et les réseaux intelligents, SAIC Motor crée activement une compétitivité internationale différenciée. De janvier à août de cette année, les ventes sur les marchés étrangers ont dépassé 370 000 unités, soit une augmentation de 106,4 % en glissement annuel, ce qui place la société au premier rang des ventes à l’étranger des constructeurs automobiles chinois. Parmi ces ventes, la marque MG a atteint 182 000 unités, soit une augmentation de 83,9 % en glissement annuel. Les ventes de MG dans les pays développés ont représenté près de 40 % et ont permis à la marque de remporter le titre de « championne des ventes à l’étranger d’une seule marque en Chine ». Les ventes de véhicules à énergies nouvelles de marques propres dans les pays européens développés ont atteint près de 19 000 unités, soit une augmentation de 133 % en glissement annuel, classant ainsi la société au premier rang des segments de véhicules dans des pays tels que le Royaume-Uni, la Norvège, le Danemark et l’Islande. Dans le même temps, le système de réseaux intelligents « i-Smart » a été populaire auprès des consommateurs en Thaïlande, en Inde, en Indonésie et dans d’autres pays. Il a été utilisé sur plus de 30 modèles étrangers et a activé plus de 130 000 utilisateurs.

Photo –  https://mma.prnewswire.com/media/1639710/image_836135_27483761.jpg

Visit of Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman to Sudan

The below is attributable to Spokesperson Ned Price:

Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman traveled to Khartoum from September 28 to October 1 to highlight the United States’ firm commitment to Sudan’s ongoing political transition, which represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity for democracy.

In his meetings with Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and the members of the Cabinet, Sovereign Council Chairman Abdelfattah al-Burhan and members of the Sovereign Council, and other political stakeholders, Special Envoy Feltman expressed the United States’ dedication to continued political and economic support as Sudan’s transition proceeds. He also underscored that such support depends on Sudan’s adherence to the agreed transitional order as established in the 2019 Constitutional Declaration and the 2020 Juba Peace Agreement. Deviation from this path and failure to meet key benchmarks will place at risk Sudan’s bilateral relationship with the United States, including significant U.S. assistance, as well as the prospect of security cooperation to modernize the Sudanese armed forces and U.S. support in the International Financial Institutions and for debt relief.

Special Envoy Feltman encouraged the Cabinet, the Sovereign Council, the Forces of Freedom and Change, and other stakeholders to uphold their responsibilities at this historic moment and reassure the Sudanese people that the aspirations of the revolution will be achieved, to avoid brinkmanship and mutual recrimination, and to make swift progress on key benchmarks in the Constitutional Declaration that would stabilize the transition. These include reaching consensus on the date of the transfer of the chair of the Sovereign Council to a civilian; beginning an inclusive process to develop a new vision for Sudan’s national security to guide the security sector reform agenda under civilian authority while recognizing the integral role that the armed forces will have in a democratic Sudan; establishing the Transitional Legislative Council; creating the legal and institutional framework for free and fair elections; and reconstituting the Constitutional Court and establishing mechanisms for transitional justice. It will be critical in this regard for the Sovereign Council to function as a collective body in discharging the duties assigned to it in the Constitutional Declaration. The United States will continue to closely monitor developments, in coordination with the Troika and our other partners in Europe, the United Nations, and the African Union.

Finally, Special Envoy Feltman thanked Prime Minister Hamdok, in his role as chairman of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), for his commitment to promoting a peaceful resolution of the conflict in Ethiopia, and they agreed on the urgency of a negotiated ceasefire and unhindered humanitarian access to all those who are suffering.

Source: U.S Department of State

Security Council Report Monthly Forecast, October 2021

Overview

In October, Kenya will hold the presidency of the Security Council.

Kenya will hold several signature events during its presidency. It will convene a high-level open debate on the theme “Diversity and State-building” under the agenda item “Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace”. President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya plans to chair the session.

The Council is also expected to hold a highlevel open debate via videoconference (VTC) on cooperation between the UN and regional and sub-regional organisations, focusing on the AU. President Kenyatta is also expected to chair this meeting. Briefings are anticipated from Secretary-General Guterres, AU Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat, and High Representative for the African Union Peace Fund Donald Kaberuka. A presidential statement is a possible outcome.

The annual open debate on women, peace and security is planned for October and will be held at ministerial level. It seems that the open debate will focus on the contribution of local women to peacekeeping, peacebuilding and transitional settings during and following UN peace operations. Similar to Ireland in September and Mexico next month, Kenya plans to make women, peace and security one of the key themes of its presidency.

A briefing to consider the Secretary-General’s seventh biennial report on Small Arms and LightWeapons (SALW) will be convened. UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Izumi Nakamitsu, Executive Secretary of the Regional Centre on Small Arms in the Great Lakes Region, the Horn of Africa and Bordering States (RECSA) Lieutenant General Badrelin Elamin Abdelgadir, and Senior Researcher at Small Arms Survey David Lochhead are the anticipated briefers.

The Council will receive a briefing from the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Great Lakes, Huang Xia, on the Secretary-General’s biannual report on the implementation of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Region. The format of the meeting is expected to be a ministerial-level debate chaired by Kenyan Foreign Minister Raychelle Omamo. A presidential statement is the anticipated outcome of this meeting.

The Council is also expected to conduct a visiting mission to the Sahel during the month, travelling to Mali and Niger. France and Niger are coleading the mission.

Other African issues on the programme of work in October are:

Democratic Republic of the Congo, a briefing on the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO);

Western Sahara, a briefing in consultations on the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) and a renewal of the mission’s mandate;

Central African Republic, a briefing on the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA);

Somalia, a briefing on the work of the 751 Somalia Sanctions Committee;

Sudan/South Sudan, a briefing on the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA); and

Mali, a briefing on the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).

The Council will hold its monthly meetings on the political and humanitarian situations and on the use of chemical weapons in Syria. Other Middle East issues on the programme of work this month include:

Yemen, the monthly meeting on developments;

Golan Heights, a briefing in consultations on the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF);

“The Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian Question”, the quarterly open debate; and

Lebanon, a briefing in consultations on the implementation of resolution 1559.

Source: Security Council Report