Country News Digest Issue #2 September 12 - September 17
Country News Digest
On Sept. 12, Azerbaijan and Turkey signed eight bilateral agreements to increase cooperation and trade between the two countries in cultural studies, radio and television broadcasts, transportation, agricultural research, and search and rescue operations. Turkish PM Recep Erdogan expects bilateral trade to reach $5 billion.
Azerbaijan Business Council
Georgian opposition candidate Bidzina Ivanishvili has recruited several American journalists and public figures to assist his campaign and reinforce freedom of the press in the country. Former CNN host Larry King and former U.S. Ambassador to Morocco Marc Ginsberg, among others, have joined the board of Ivanishvili’s TV9 television station.
Voice of Russia
The European Parliament adopted a resolution deploring the president of Azerbaijan’s decision to pardon convicted murderer Ramil Safarov. The final text of the resolution relieves Hungary from any responsibility in the matter.
A leftist group, the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (Dev Sol), is claiming responsibility for a suicide bombing in outside an Istanbul police station. The blast killed one policeman and injured several people. Dev Sol is considered a terrorist organization by both Turkey and the US.
Russia’s Duma voted on Friday to expel vocal antiPutin deputy Gennadi Gudkov for violating Russian law. The ‘A Just Russia’ deputy is accused of maintaining a managerial role in his business while holding office in parliament.
New York Times
Ukraine introduced vehicle recycling tax on Russian cars and buses, which escalates a conflict after Moscow took a similar step this month. The Ukrainian government has published the decree on its website, in which fees start at $900. Experts, however, are optimistic that the two governments will resolve the issue soon.
After Belarus refused to extradite the ousted President of Kyrgyzstan Kurmanbek Bakiyev and his brothers who are wanted for murder, more than 50 Kyrgyzstanis held a protest in front of the Belarusian Embassy in Bishkek. Belarus cites political motivation for the extradition, while Kyrgyzstan has appealed to the CIS Executive Committee to resolve the issue.
Russia is requesting that Moldova reject entry into the European Union Energy Charter Treaty in exchange for a discount on natural gas and debt relief. Moldova is completely reliant on Russia for gas, and transports 20 billion cubic meters to the rest of Europe.
Country News Digest
The leaders of China and Kyrgyzstan reached an agreement on Monday for greater economic cooperation between the two countries. The plan focuses on increased agricultural cooperation and investments in infrastructure. This year is the 10th anniversary of the Treaty of Good Neighborliness and Friendly Cooperation between Kyrgyzstan and China.
Kazakh Special Forces killed five suspected terrorists who prosecutors say were planning an explosion targeting police forces in the Atyrau region. This follows the blast last week in Atyrau that claimed one life. The man who perished was believed to have been making explosives; four others have been arrested in connection to the blast.
The Asian Development Bank will be contributing $100 million to road repair and construction in Tajikistan. The proposed upgrades to the Aini-Penjikent highway are part of a larger ASB project to develop a highway system through the region connecting Europe with the Middle East and South Asia.
Uzbekistan has begun shipping natural gas to China in a move that is likely to upset both domestic and Russian audiences. The amount being transported has not been released, but since the country has suffered through heating fuel shortages the past few years Uzbek citizens are concerned the new trade agreement will further diminish domestic supply.
The Parwan detention facility at Bagram Air Base, was officially transferred to the Afghans on Monday. 3,000 detainees have been transferred from American to Afghan control. Lt. Gen. Keith M. Huber, the American commanding general of the prison, did not attend the ceremony, nor did anyone from the US embassy or State Department.
New York Times
TThe IAEA passed a resolution rebuking Iran for failing to halt its uranium enrichment, while also stating a diplomatic solution is desired. 31 out of 35 member states voted in favor of the resolution. The resolution was proposed by all UN Security Council Members.
In a release of information on its natural gas reserves, Turkmenistan announced that it will increase its annual output goal to 250 billion cubic meters by 2030, marking an increase of 20 bcm over previous estimates. With current output at 75 bcm per year, Turkmenistan will have to explore and develop new fields on a massive scale to achieve its output projections.
Russia, China, Korea, and Mongolia entered into a tourism agreement that promotes cross-border tourism in Northern Asia. The measure is supported by UNDP and serves as a platform for economic cooperation in Northeast Asia.
Country News Digest
Urmas Paet, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Estonia met with Georgia’s speaker of the Parliament, David Bakradze in Tbilisi. The main purpose of the visit was to discuss Georgia’s prospects on accession to NATO. “We hope that Georgia and the EU will sign an agreement on free trade and a visa-free regime by late 2012 or in 2013,” Paet said.
European Parliament members presses EU member states accused of holding secret CIA prisons after 9/11 to come clean on the issue. In particular, the non-binding resolution focuses on Poland, Romania, and Lithuania. These countries were pressed to reopen inquiries into the secret detention centers said to have been running there.
Latvian Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis met with the Chinese Prime Minister to discuss bilateral economic cooperation. Both agreed that areas for cooperation are ports, air transport and railway transport. Dombrovskis also suggested Chinese students could use the scholarships and grants offered by the Chinese Government to study in Latvia.
The Baltic Course
Polish Treasury Minister Mikolaj Budzanowski has complained that Poland’s state-controlled gas company pays Gazprom well over European market prices for its natural gas. To combat this, Poland has lowered its use of Gazprom gas to the lowest rate allowed under contract and will seek to develop its own natural gas output prior to re-negotiations with Gazprom in 2019.
The Czech PM believes that a compromise can be found to a row that has been caused by a group of “rebels” from his ruling ODS party to block the passage of a new tax law. He also believes that his government will survive the confidence vote that he has tied to the legislation. His beliefs are partially based on the support received from regional party heads.
Slovakia and Hungary have agreed to build an EU sanctioned energy interconnector pipeline. This move is seen as opening the possibility of the future of creating a North-South pipeline that would serve as an alternate fuel source to Europe, by bypassing Russia.
United Press International
Fox Business News
The Hungarian government has detained a former Interior Minister, Bela Biszku, on charges of war crimes during the repression of the 1956 uprising. Accused of ordering security forces to shoot on civilian crowds, the 91-year-old is the last living member of the Hungarian Communist Party’s interim executive committee.
Articles: Atlanta Journal-Constitution
France and Romania have agreed to a two year treaty allowing for the ‘voluntary’ deportation of Roma from France to Romania. Around eighty Roma families will be relocated under the pilot program. There are an estimated 15,000-20,000 Roma living in France and the French government’s recent campaign to break up of Roma camps has raised human rights questions throughout Europe.
Country News Digest
Russia’s nuclear company, Rosatom Corp., has increased its claim against Bulgaria’s National Electric Company for the canceled Belene nuclear power plant project. Rosatom’s original claim in 2011 was €58 million. The company now asks for €1 billion. The move comes ahead of a meeting in Sofia about the future of the South Stream pipeline.
A European Commission official has urged Albania to remove the immunity status that MPs and other high-ranking government officials hold so that the the issue will not block the country’s accession to the EU. The Democratic and opposition Socialist party have said that they agree to remove the changes in the Constitution that will lead to immunity reform.
Turkish Weeky Serbia has come up with its own version of the Onion. The website, Njuz. net, initially styled after The Onion, now gives satirical reports about Serbian politics, society, and public opinion. The website has even received an editorial award, which is usually reserved for traditional news outlets.
Bulgaria’s President has sought to reset relations with Macedonia so that historical disputes can be deemphasized in favor of cooperation and development. Despite this move, he still insists that he will not compromise on historical issues. Squabbles over history have recently defined the relationship.
EuropeanCouncil President Herman van Rumpuy announced that Montenegro will be the next country admitted into the European Union after Croatia, who is scheduled for admission in July 2013. This announcement followed a meeting between Rumpuy and Montenegrin President Filip Vuyanovic.
Radio Free Europe
Croatia has a record number of tourists this year. The first 8 months of the year show a 5.6% increase over 2011. This has brought some good news to Croatia, which has recently been facing a tough economic situation and drought.
Focus Information Agency
After Kosovo amended its constitution to end Western oversight by the International Steering Group, Kosovo officially gained full sovereignty on Monday. Despite this achievement, both EU and UN missions will continue to operate in Kosovo.
The governor of Slovenia’s central bank says a bailout will not be needed if political consensus can be reached to enforce urgent measures. He also predicted Slovenia’s economy would shrink for the second year in a row in 2013, amid poor export demand and weak domestic spending.
Country News Digest Bosnian authorities on Bosnia & Wednesday arrested 25 Herzegovina people for suspected murder, drug trafficking and robbery. It was the single largest attack on organized crime since the country’s war in the 1990’s. Operation ‘Lutka’ is believed to be targeting alleged Balkan crime boss Naser Kelmendi.
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CERES News Digest is an overview of the 33 countries that are covered by the Center for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies Center a...