January 2011

EU hunkers down for crunch energy summit

Europe's lagging energy efficiency standards are emerging as a key issue ahead of a February meeting of EU heads of state. READ MORE

NATO achieves first step on theatre ballistic missile defence capability

NATO’s first ever theatre ballistic missile defence (TBMD) capability has been handed over to NATO’s military commanders. The handover took place at the NATO Combined Air Operations Centre (CAOC) in Uedem, Germany, in the presence of NATO Deputy Secretary General, Ambassador Claudio Bisogniero, and civil and military authorities from NATO and host nation Germany. The NATO Combined Air Operations Centre demonstrated how this interim capability allows NATO commanders, for the first time ever, to do limited ballistic missile defence planning and exchange information with national ballistic missile defence assets. READ MORE

International fretting over crisis in Egypt

World leaders have been voicing their concern about the events unfolding in Egypt, and the crisis has been a talking point at the World Economic Forum in Davos. READ MORE

Azerbaijan and Eastern Partnership: partnership through empowerment

By Leila Alieva

The Eastern Partnership was only recently given a start, so it would be pre-mature to give prognosis of its future development. However, it seems that to make EaP effective, Azerbaijani civil society should be included into official negotiations at the bilateral level. Otherwise, the Eastern Partnership may transform into a purely Baku-Brussels elites’ interests based enterprise, leaving the needs of the wider population aside. In dealing with Azerbaijan, the EU should also take into account the abundant oil and gas resources which constitute a structural obstacle to democratization in Azerbaijan and contribute to a great alienation of the elite from population. The EU should also get more involved in the resolution of the Karabagh conflict to speed up regional integration in the South Caucasus. READ MORE

Protesters out again as Mubarak looks to appoint new government

Thousands of anti-government demonstrators were crowing the streets of Egypt’s biggests cities Saturday, repeating demands that President Hosni Mubarak stand down. READ MORE

Nabucco is Called to Become a Symbol-Project of the EU Success

A conversation with the Director of energy programs of the Nomos center Mikhail Gonchar. READ MORE

Peers' threat to Nick Clegg plan for Alternative Vote referendum

By James Kirkup

Nick Clegg's plan for a May referendum on changing the electoral system is being threatened by a power-struggle in the House of Lords. READ MORE

Ukraine between Russia and the EU

By Stefan Meister

The election of Viktor Yanukovych as president of Ukraine caused a return of the traditional ‘rocking chair’ politics between Russia and the EU in their Ukrainian policies, while the basic problems of the country remain unsolved. The Ukrainian elite is itself to be blamed for their country’s desolate economic standing. Russia is trying to take advantage of Ukraine's structural dependency in its economic and energy policy, in order to let its own businesses take over central areas of the Ukrainian economy. The EU, on the other hand, failed to develop any functional Ukraine policy in the past. In order to avoid further political and economic stagnation in the country, Brussels must finally start working out new neighbourhood policy instruments. READ MORE

First Energy Summit and Eastern Energy Partnership of the EU

By Martin Stier

Adoption of Conclusions on the Strategy “Energy 2020” and Priorities within Energy Infrastructure for 2020. READ MORE

BRIC becomes BRICS: Emerging Regional Powers? Changes on the Geopolitical Chessboard

By Jack A. Smith

The world's four main emerging economic powers, known by the acronym BRIC ‹ standing for Brazil, Russia, India and China ‹ now refer to themselves as BRICS. READ MORE

Presidency to put flood control on agenda

Water is a central element in the Hungarian Presidency’s programme. As a source of life, it has to be protected, but as a destructive force, it has to be controlled. Flood is one of the most common disaster types in Europe which does not respect borderlines. The flood workshop, to be held in Budapest between 24-26 January, sets out to find a common solution for this problem. READ MORE

Are Russian and Polish relations getting warmer?

By Aivaras Bagdonas

On 29 October Russia and Poland signed the agreement on deliveries of natural gas until 2022. Under the agreement, from 2011 Poland committed to purchase 11 billion cubic meters of gas from Russia annually. READ MORE

Hungary to hold 'energy summit' at EU helm

Hungary plans to concentrate on the big picture of EU energy policy as it takes on the EU's rotating presidency in January. Energy will feature prominently at the new presidency's first EU summit on 4 February. READ MORE

Hungary defends controversial media law in EU parliament

By Andreas Illmer

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has defended his country’s controversial media law against hefty criticism from the EU. Governments across Europe have slammed the legislation as a blow to press freedom. READ MORE

Two Lines of “South Stream”

By Tatyana Stanovaya

Longstanding confrontation between Russia and the European Union may end with the uniting of the Nabucco and South Stream gas pipelinesThe idea of possible uniting of two competing pipeline projects – “South Stream” and Nabucco – has been presented again: this was stated by the US Ambassador to Italy David Torn during the interview for Italian newspaper La Stampa. Earlier it was announced by the managers of Italian ENI. Russia treats the kind of prospect more than skeptic, although one shouldn’t ignore that in reality there is no absolute consensus on this issue inside the tandem. READ MORE

The Turkish Role in Negotiations with Iran

By George Friedman

The P-5+1 talks with Iran will resume Jan. 21-22. For those not tuned into the obscure jargon of the diplomatic world, these are the talks between the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council (the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia), plus Germany — hence, P-5+1. These six countries will be negotiating with one country, Iran. The meetings will take place in Istanbul under the aegis of yet another country, Turkey. Turkey has said it would only host this meeting, not mediate it. It will be difficult for Turkey to stay in this role. READ MORE

Why a political tremor in Africa can be felt in Europe

By Robin Mills

Revolution in a small African country with not many resources. An undramatic headline, but the weekend's momentous events in Tunisia will be watched carefully in capitals from Doha to Moscow and Brussels, not least for their potential impact on European energy supplies. READ MORE

Sino-Turkish Strategic Partnership: Implications of Anatolian Eagle 2010

By Chris Zambelis

Since being inaugurated in 2001, Turkey’s annual hosting of its "Anatolian Eagle" aerial military exercises at Konya air base in the central Anatolian region of Konya have been central to its efforts to preserve military preparedness and to enhance relations with the air forces of the United States and fellow NATO allies. READ MORE

Kazakhstan's achievements in 2010: “We prevented civil conflict in Kyrgyzstan, performing a mission on behalf of OSCE,” N. Nazarbayev

By Muratbek Makulbekov

Kazakhstan's OSCE presidency will be remembered for the country's efforts to give a new impulse to this authoritative international organization and effective and decisive actions made during the events in Kyrgyzstan in 2010. READ MORE

New OSCE Chairperson calls for joint commitment to resolve existing conflicts in a peaceful and negotiated manner

The new OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Audronius Ažubalis, urged the Organization's participating States to focus on resolving existing conflicts and achieving concrete progress in addressing transnational threats and safeguarding fundamental freedoms in his inaugural address to the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna . READ MORE

EU, Azerbaijan sign deal on gas supplies

BAKU – Azerbaijan and the European Union signed a deal Thursday that commits the Caspian country to supply Europe with "substantial volumes of gas" to implement the planned Southern Corridor of pipelines bypassing Russia, the EU said. READ MORE

Why Russian-Polish relations must soar ahead

By Dmitry Babich

Russia has published the report of the Interstate Aviation Committee (IAC) on the causes of the April plane crash in which Polish President Lech Kaczynski and 95 other people died. As expected, its conclusions have outraged the bulk of Poland's political elite. READ MORE

Tajikistan find a game changer

By Robert M Cutler

MONTREAL - Attention to Central Asian energy is most often driven by such gigantic projects as the Turkmenistan-China pipeline or the question of doubling the volume of the oil pipeline of the Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC) from northwest Kazakhstan across southern Russia to the Black Sea or other such strategic projects having a trans-continental, or at least semi-continental, scale. READ MORE

Any changes in Ukraine’s foreign policy?

By Arūnas Spraunius

In the interview to the Latvian daily ”Diena” former Ukrainian president  V.Yushchenko said that European policy often looks like the natural merit not requiring any evidence, and that integration of Ukraine into EU is perceived as one-sided, i.e. exceptionally the Ukrainian act. Europe assigns to the candidate tasks but cannot avoid dual policy on such issues as security, energy, visa policy and defense. European Union would benefit from the accelerated integration of the country with 46 million citizens; therefore the current slow down of Ukraine’s euro integration should be treated as a bad decision. According to V.Yushchenko, his country has always been within the system of European values. READ MORE

Prospects of the dialogue with Russia

In the end of 2010, president Saakashvili of Georgia (a couple of times) aired his initiative to start dialogue with Moscow. No preconditions were put forward by the Georgian side. READ MORE

NATO-Serbia relations: New strategies or more of the same?

The Serbian government will soon have to clarify to its citizens its policy of neutrality towards NATO, argues Jelena Radoman, a research fellow at the Belgrade Centre for Security Policy. READ MORE

New Eurasia power emerges

By Robert M Cutler

MONTREAL - Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, two relatively small countries in geo-political terms, are demonstrating the foresight and political skills that will help them - rather than the likes of the fuel-hungry United States, European Union and China - take the driver's seat in the next phase of evolution of Central Eurasian energy geo-economics. READ MORE

Iran, Turkey mulling roadmap for energy cooperation

Iran's Energy Minister Majid Namjou said Saturday that Tehran and Ankara are working out a roadmap to illuminate the proper path for the two sides' future cooperation in the energy sector. READ MORE

Nabucco to merge with South Stream?

The European Nabucco natural gas pipeline project and its Russian competitor South Stream could merge, a U.S. diplomat said, in what would be a surprising turn to the years-long pipeline war. READ MORE

Sale of Azeri Gas Field Will Test EU's Pipeline Strategy

By Alessandro Torello

BRUSSELS — Europe's efforts to diversify its sources of gas supply face a critical test early next year when Azerbaijan and some of the world's largest energy companies are expected to choose a buyer to take the biggest share of gas from a giant field they are developing in the Caspian Sea. READ MORE

NATO’s Emphasis on Russia

By Sergey Karaganov

As a man who has been watching NATO’s evolution for several decades now, I feel profoundly, although not completely, satisfied with the Alliance’s latest summit in Lisbon. READ MORE

Opinion: China-EU relations have a rocky ride ahead

By Jonathan Holslag

With the EU struggling to avert economic meltdown, China has a dream opportunity to hammer out some good business deals. READ MORE

Azerbaijan Opens New Water Pipeline

By Alman Mir - Ismail

After almost four years of construction, the Oguz-Gabala-Baku water pipeline was inaugurated on December 28, 2010. Costing almost $1 billion, the pipeline is already termed by many in Azerbaijan as the “second BTC,” referring to the strategically important Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline built a decade ago to transport Caspian oil to global markets. READ MORE

James Appathurai: NATO has not changed position on Karabakh and supports OSCE MG efforts

By Yekaterina Poghosyan

Though Armenia is a CSTO member, it successfully cooperates also with NATO. Armenia, represented by the Foreign Minister and Defense Minister, participated in the Lisbon NATO summit in November 2010, as part of which opinions were exchanged with respect to the bilateral relations. Newly appointed NATO Secretary General's Special Representative for the South Caucasus and Central Asia James Appathurai commented to PanARMENIAN.Net on the current level of NATO-Armenia relations, outlooks for boosting the relations within the framework of IPAP, as well as the organization’s position on the Karabakh conflict settlement and the Armenian-Turkish normalization. READ MORE

Eurasia in 2011: Recovery bolsters political stability

By Ian Bremmer

It looks like a relatively calm year for Eurasia, the area encompassing the former Soviet successor states at the crossroads of Europe and Asia. For the most part, the region is politically stable and countries will continue to see slow but steady economic growth. Russia and Kazakhstan face elections in 2012, but both are governed by well entrenched soft-authoritarian regimes. Ukraine is stabilizing, but risks remain in Georgia. READ MORE

Kazakhstan increased oil ECF to $40

Kazakhstan has increased the oil Export Customs Fee (ECF) to $40 per ton. The order was signed by the Prime Minister Karim Massimov on December 30, 2010, and published in the official press on Thursday, KazTAG reports. READ MORE

Belarus orders international watchdog to close its Minsk office

By Darren Mara, Sarah Harman

The world's largest regional security organization must close its doors in Minsk, after the Belarusian government refused to extend its mandate. The OSCE had criticized the election of President Alexander Lukashenko. READ MORE

With France Arming Russia, What is NATO For?

By Doug Bandow

In theory NATO is still supposed to protect Europe from untold dangers.  The list of likely aggressors is small--whatever their neighbors say about Germany, Serbia, Iran, and China, none look to be would-be conquerers of Europe.  Which leaves Russia. READ MORE