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February 2012

Shale Gas And Oil Potential In The Baltic States And Poland To Be Discussed In Vilnius

On 29 February in Vilnius, Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Audronius Ažubalis will participate in a regional conference on shale gas and oil potential and on prospects for changing the region’s energy market “Shale gas and oil as potential game changers in the energy market in the Baltic States and Poland.” READ MORE

Danish approach to energy efficiency disappoints activists

Activists expressed disappointment at the EU Danish presidency’s version of the proposed Energy Efficiency Directive, which is likely to become the most important piece of legislation to date on the issue. READ MORE

Medvedev’s Foreign Policy: Period of Stabilization

By Fyodor Lukyanov

The presidential election is still two weeks away and the inauguration of the next president more than two months off, but we can already analyze the results of Dmitry Medvedev’s presidency. The current focus is on his mentor and most likely successor, Vladimir Putin, who has made a number of policy statements as part of his tireless campaign efforts, including on foreign policy, which was not part of his brief as prime minister. READ MORE

Big things ahead' for Russia and EU

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Ambassador Vladimir Chizhov, head of the Russian mission to the EU, talks to New Europe about EU-Russian relations and the political situation in his country after the parliamentary elections and in the wake of the upcoming presidential election. READ MORE

The State of the World: A Framework

By George Friedman

The evolution of geopolitics is cyclical. Powers rise, fall and shift. Changes occur in every generation in an unending ballet. However, the period between 1989 and 1991 was unique in that a long cycle of human history spanning hundreds of years ended, and with it a shorter cycle also came to a close. The world is still reverberating from the events of that period. READ MORE

The European Commission Declares War on Corruption

By Giulio Nessi

A new system for monitoring a criminal scourge is being put in place by the EU, strengthening the poorly enforced norms currently on the European books. Will this be enough to make a dent in Italy's endemic and widely tolerated culture of corruption? READ MORE

Boosting training and education with NATO`s partners

Partnership Training and Education Centres (PTEC) play an essential role in supporting NATO’s objectives for partnership with non-member countries. Initially launched in 1999 under the Partnership for Peace programme to develop training and education activities with Euro-Atlantic partners, activities have since been opened to participation of all partners. Most of the 23 institutions that currently make up the network of centres – of which 12 are located in partner countries – took part in an annual networking event known as the “Marketplace” at NATO Headquarters on 15 and 16 February. READ MORE

Turkistan 'terrorists' hurt Uyghur cause

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By J Z Adams

The Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP) harbors the lofty and unrealistic goal of expelling Chinese "occupiers" from Xinjiang province and create an independent State called "East Turkistan". READ MORE

Eurasian Union 'not dependent on Russian elections'

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By Kulpash Konyrova

The project of the creation of the Eurasian Union does not depend on the outcome of the upcoming presidential elections in Russia to be held on 4 March, Russian experts said during discussions within the framework of the video link Astana – Moscow on the topic 'The Future of the Eurasian project through the perspective of Russian elections'. READ MORE

President Atambaev received delegation of U.S. Congressmen

Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambaev today received a delegation of U.S. congressmen led by a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Republican David Drier. READ MORE

Japan highly appreciates Kazakhstan's efforts as a leader in the world dialogue on implementation of Nuclear-Free World initiative, Foreign Minister Kōichirō Gemba

By Ruslan Suleimenov

The Japanese-Kazakh relations in the economic sphere are rapidly developing in recent years. Kazakhstan ranks first among the countries of Central Asia in the volume of trade and the amount of the Japanese investments, that gives reason to confirm Kazakhstan is a very important partner of Japan in this region, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan Kōichirō Gemba has told in an interview with Kazinform. READ MORE

Council of Europe Group of States against Corruption calls on the USA to ratify the Criminal Law Convention on Corruption

The Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) calls for the United States of America to ratify the Criminal Law Convention on Corruption and to fully incorporate it into the law. GRECO stresses that the United States is one of the very few member states which are not a party to the Convention and its Additional Protocol. Although the US legislation and practice provide for a high degree of “functional” consistency with the Convention and the enforcement regime is effective in prosecuting corruption offences, US law does not appear to meet all the requirements of the Convention, for example, as regards bribery in a foreign context and private sector bribery. READ MORE

Ukraine Expects “Explosive” Autumn

By Oleg Gorbunov

Ukrainian opposition is getting ready to a series of protests against unpopular social-economic reforms of the power. Authorities yet limit with only “decorative” reshuffle in the government. Which shall be the result of such situation? How probable is “Ukrainian spring” under Arab scenario? These and other questions “Politkom.ru” asked Ukrainian political analyst, Director of Applied Political Studies Center “Penta” (Kiev) Vladimir Fesenko.  READ MORE

Thanks to concerted efforts of Presidents, Kazakh-China relations keep positive trend of stable development, Chinese FM Yang Jiechi

On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between Kazakhstan and China, Foreign Affairs Minister of China Yang Jiechi gave an inclusive interview to Kazinform Agency. READ MORE

United States and Kazakhstan cooperate against nuclear smuggling

Cooperation to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons is an integral part of the strategic partnership between the United States and Kazakhstan. READ MORE

Cooperation In The Baltic Sea Region Must Become An Inspiration To Other Eu Regions, Says Lithuanian Foreign Minister

By casting the role of the first EU macro-region to the Baltic Sea region, the European Commission has acknowledged its potential and possibilities. However, it is also a huge responsibility to prove that such a new method of European regional cooperation is viable, says Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Audronius Ažubalis. READ MORE

Politician with Hotchpotch in His Head

By Fazil Ischakov

In political Kunstkamera of Kazakhstan has recently appeared a new character, ex-postman, oil trader and businessman, ex-leader of the party “Rukhaniyat”, green to his bones Serikzhan Mambetalin. Green not because he defended ecology from the tribune of the political union. He preferred green US dollars without hiding it from public that the post of the party leader was bought for investments. This is the way it is called now…. READ MORE

Natural-Gas Glut Could Bypass Europe

By James Herron

A major transformation of the global market for natural gas is under way. Fresh international supply routes are being drawn, new exporters are emerging and established trade patterns are being turned on their heads. READ MORE

Denmark's European Minister: Responsibility and future growth are keywords for Danish EU Council presidency

By Nicolai Wammen

I hardly exaggerate by saying that more than ever has the cooperation in Europe been put to the test in recent years. This test will continue for the foreseeable future as the debt crisis continues to worry the financial markets about the long-term sustainability of European economies. READ MORE

Kazakhstan Defended Its Interests for Oil Transit via Batumi Black Sea Port

By Kulpash Konyrova

More than 70% of Kazakhstani oil from the scope of oil exported to world markets via the so-called Caucasian corridor, shall flow through the Black Sea port of Batumi, which as known is a property of national company of our Republican “KazMunajGaz”. READ MORE

What's Georgia Going To Get At The NATO Summit?

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By Joshua Kucera

Georgia's prospects in NATO, after being more or less left for dead in the wake of the 2008 war with Russia, have lately appeared to be improving. NATO has recently changed its rhetoric on Georgia, for the first time calling it an "aspirant" along with several Balkan countries. And U.S. officials have said Georgia is making "significant progress" that should be recognized at the next NATO summit, in Chicago in May. READ MORE

Why France’s Withdrawal from Afghanistan is Not a Strategy

By Alexandra de Hoop Scheffer

President Barack Obama’s announcement last June of an accelerated U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan reopened debates in many European countries over when their soldiers should return from that unpopular war. French President Nicolas Sarkozy followed a few days later with an announcement that French troops would be reduced “in a proportional manner and in a calendar comparable to the withdrawal of American reinforcements.” Now, the tables have turned. With last week’s announcement, it was France that reset the transition calendar, arguing that progress in the transition allowed for the withdrawal of 1,000 French troops by the end of 2012. Although many U.S., Afghan, and NATO observers were initially critical, the Obama administration announced only a few days later that the United States also planned to end its combat mission in Afghanistan by mid-2013 and shift primarily to advising Afghan forces. READ MORE

New German military role stresses partnership

The US is hardly eager to bear the brunt of foreign military deployments these days. On a recent US visit, German Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere explained how German forces are adapting to the situation. READ MORE

NATO Military Delegation discusses cooperation with Chinese Authorities in Beijing

LtGen Bornemann and his delegation met with MGen Qian Lihua, the Chief of the Foreign Affairs Office of the Ministry of National Defence (FAO MND), and Gen Ma Xiaotian, Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Chinese People's Liberation Army. READ MORE

Iran denies reports on EU oil export cuts

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Iran's Oil Ministry has refuted media reports on the country stopping its crude exports to six EU nations on Wednesday. READ MORE

Lithuanian and Polish leaders agree to personally look after joint energy projects

Presidents of Lithuania and Poland Dalia Grybauskaitė and Bronislaw Komorowski agreed in Vilnius on Thursday to personally take care of joint energy projects. READ MORE

European press review: Wulff and public morality

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Opinions are divided on what Christian Wulff's resignation represents. Commentators variously point to Germany's hubris in the debt crisis, Wulff's long-standing image problems and a press with too much power. READ MORE

Commission deplores Serb's Northern Kosovo referendum

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A referendum organised in the Serbia-populated northern part of Kosovo on whether to recognise the government of the Albanian majority received a frosty reception from the European Commission today (14 February). READ MORE

Cameron meets Sarkozy to sign France-Britain nuclear deal

Britain and France are to sign a civil nuclear energy deal on Friday, as UK Prime Minister David Cameron meets President Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris. The British government claims the deal will create thousands of jobs. READ MORE

Getting to know you: Obama welcomes China heir apparent and pledges cooperation will continue

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For Xi, the itinerary was carefully negotiated to convey high-level significance and minimize the chance of making news or, worse, any gaffe. READ MORE

Russia changes tack, signals open to Syrian intervention

By Paul Koring

As the carnage in Syria worsened, Russia signaled a new-found willingness Monday to consider international intervention while the world’s nations planned a United Nations vote aimed at exposing the inaction of the great powers. READ MORE

EU's geopolitical improvidence towards Turkey and Ukraine

By Maksym Khylko

European bureaucrats are clearly not keeping pace with the geopolitical dynamics of the modern world. While the U.S. and China are expanding their spheres of influence in the Pacific, and Russia is working to create a Eurasian bloc, the EU actually fell out of big geopolitical games, limiting the expansion of its own influence and being fully concentrated on the internal redistribution of political and economic powers. Ignoring the European aspirations and foreign policy ambitions of Turkey and Ukraine, the EU shows geopolitical improvidence, limiting its own ability to conduct more effective policy in the Middle East and former Soviet space. READ MORE

Good Cop or Bad Cop?

By Andras Racz

Russian Foreign Policy in the New Putin Era READ MORE

Greece approves austerity cuts to secure eurozone bailout and avoid debt default

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By Ian Traynor and Helena Smith

MPs in Athens approve severe budget cuts imposed by the EU after rallies against the bill erupt in street violence READ MORE

Dialogue of the deaf between Vilnius and Warsaw

Outsiders find the polish-lithuanian spat the most incomprehensible in europe. How come two countries with so much common history and so many common interests get on so badly? Is it just the appalling personal chemistry between some senior officials? Or is it, absurdly, about spelling? Poles in Lithuania want to spell their names using letters like ł and ę in official documents. (We can't use them, or most other diacritics, in the print edition of the Economist because our typeface doesn't have those characters). READ MORE

Turkmenistan to maintain pragmatism in energy issues

Presidential elections, which were held in Turkmenistan on Sunday, will not affect policy of pragmatism in the energy issues chosen by the government in recent years and multipolarity of sale markets, local experts in Ashgabat and international observers believe. READ MORE

EU-Russian Gas Relations in Perspective: Challenges and Opportunities

While the Arctic region represents a seminal opportunity to move closer to a Euro-Atlantic Security Community, other aspects of the energy equation are more open-ended. Given the elaborate interdependence of European gas and oil consumers and Russian and Caspian gas and oil suppliers, if these issues are addressed constructively, a basis should exist for cooperation here as well. Still, in contrast to the four decades before, over the last ten years, the tension stirred by gas cutoffs and the jousting over pipeline routes demonstrate energy’s potential role to impede efforts to draw the countries of the Euro-Atlantic region together. Hence, in contemplating  a path to the larger goal, a minimum, first-order objective must be to minimize the possibility of energy relations adding obstacles to what inevitably will be a difficult road. READ MORE

India's stake in Arctic cold war

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Will it be the next geopolitical battleground or remain the common heritage of humankind? READ MORE

EU Pushes India to Sway Iran into Resuming Nuke Talks

The European Union has asked New Delhi to use its influence to draw Iran back into talks over its disputed nuclear ambitions, Indian TV channels said on Friday. READ MORE

Berlin-Astana: Eurasian Dialogue Goes On

Results of President Nazarbayev Visit to Germany. READ MORE

Permanent Status Sought for NATO’s Baltic Air-Policing Mission

By Vladimir Socor

Discussions are ongoing in NATO about prolonging the air-policing mission over Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The mission’s prolongation will necessitate a decision at NATO’s summit in May in Chicago. Resource constraints and political considerations seem to complicate that decision unnecessarily. READ MORE

Aral Sea challenge to Kazakhstan

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By Farkhad Sharip

As a part of Lukoil's incessant attempts to consolidate its presence in the energy sector of Central Asia, on January 17, the Russian company's board of executives endorsed the purchase by its daughter company, Lukoil Overseas, of 6.6% of shares in the transnational Aral Sea Operating Company. READ MORE

Yevgeni Satanovski: “Line of Russia in the Context Syria Situation Corresponds its Interests, which Go much Further Syria Conflict Itself”

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The line of Russia in the context of Syria situation, particularly, the intention to block another resolution of the UN Security Council is defined by its interests, which go much further then Syria itself. One of them is for the “rules of game” to be observed in world policy. READ MORE

Syria, Turkey and military intervention

By Nİhat Alİ Özcan

The changing nature of the clashes indicates Syria is drifting into a civil war. Long-lasting fights mean more pain for Syrian people. However, without foreign intervention, regime change and a solution seem difficult. READ MORE

Poland and Germany: How Close is too Close?

By Michal Baranowski, Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff

For hundreds of years, Poland suffered from an overbearing Germany that trampled on the rights of the Polish nation, occupied the country, and, at times, worked to extinguish the Polish nation-state entirely. No wonder that there is a residue of skepticism and caution in Poland when it comes to relations with its big neighbor to the west. A healthy distance and dose of hedging have long been the default position of the country’s foreign policy. Poland’s accession to the European Union has changed all that. Nearly eight years on, Poland is rephrasing its German question, and in a baffling way: how close is too close? READ MORE

Paris “Bulldozer’ for Euro-Atlantic Integration of Armenia

By Anush Levonian

Reaction of Armenian citizens on the decision of the Senate of France to criminalize the responsibility for denial of genocide was extremely emotional. It was up to that some participants of the action "Merci, France!", who gathered by the building of the embassy in Yerevan tried to kiss the hand of French Ambassador coming out to them, which confused the diplomat greatly. Some excuse for such “Eastern spontaneity” although can be the fact that in Turkey and Azerbaijan emotions (naturally negative) are also extreme. One of Baku radio stations, for example, banned French music in its air. READ MORE

Politician who talked with the Taliban returns to head Uzbek Foreign Ministry

The return of Abdulaziz Kamilov, a veteran of Uzbek foreign intelligence and diplomacy, to the post of Minister of Foreign Affairs, is certainly linked to the NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014. He faces the task of preparing his country for new and close contact with the Taliban. READ MORE

Major events in Caspian countries' oil and gas industry

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Azerbaijan and Italy discuss prospects of cooperation in energy sector READ MORE

Lithuanian Foreign Minister And The Secretary General For The Nordic Council Of Ministers Discuss Guidelines For Regional Cooperation And Joint Projects

On 9 February in Vilnius, Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Audronius Ažubalis and Secretary General for the Nordic Council of Ministers Halldór Ásgrímsson discussed the future of the Nordic-Baltic partnership, the new guidelines for the Baltic-Nordic cooperation that are currently being drafted and should enter into force after the expiry of the current ones in 2013. READ MORE

Center for Energy Security to Be Recognized this Year

Lithuania supports the principle of discreet defense of NATO and speeds up partners to grant accreditation to the Alliance Center of Energy Security in Vilnius. The Heads of NATO promise that the Center shall be recognized already this year, LTV reports. READ MORE

Dzhioyeva Announced the Date of Her Inauguration

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The leader of South Ossetia opposition, ex-candidate for the President of South Ossetia Alla Dzhioyeva declared to reporters that she had appointed the day of her inauguration on February 10th 2012. “I address to the acting President of South Ossetia Vadim Borovtsev and ask to delegate me the power in civilized way”, - said Dzhioyeva. She underlined that the inauguration shall take place in Tskhinvali in any case, even if the authorities won’t assure her required conditions. READ MORE

Kazakhstan cozies up to Germany

By Mikhail Bushuev, Markian Ostaptschuk

Kazakhstan hopes to win over the European Union as another key trade partner alongside Russia and China. Experts see the Berlin visit of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev as paving the way. READ MORE

NATO-sponsored project to help secure dangerous munitions in Tajikistan

Fifteen years after the end of a civil war, Tajikistan is left with thousands of tonnes of munitions insecurely stored in makeshift storage sites across the country. Aside from the many known munitions caches, several more lie undiscovered, posing a major security threat to the Tajik people. A Partnership Trust Fund project, officially launched on 31 January, will soon help Tajikistan to counter this threat. READ MORE

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Stresses The Importance Of Cooperation Of The Baltic Sea States For Ensuring Energy Security

In Plön, Northern Germany, Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Audronius Ažubalis took part in the 17th extraordinary session of the Council of Baltic Sea States (CBSS), during which the minister stressed the importance of regional cooperation for ensuring energy security. READ MORE

Mr. Saakashvili’s choice

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Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili indignantly protests there is no comparison to be drawn between him and his nemesis, russian prime minister vladi­mir putin. In a meeting with The Post’s editorial board last week, he ticked off the differences: Mr. Putin’s regime is founded on corruption, while his is known for cleaning up Georgia’s once-dirty police and bureaucrats. Mr. Putin wages war on minorities, while Mr. Saakashvili’s government just passed a law to protect religious pluralism. Mr. Putin frequently opposes U.S. foreign policy, while Georgia has been a strong ally; it is about to double its troop contingent in Afghanistan. READ MORE

Iran’s Asymmetric Threat

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By Raoul Heinrichs

Iran’s navy may not be a match for the U.S. on the high seas, but the Strait of Hormuz offers plenty of ways for it to make life tricky. READ MORE

Pentagon denies report on base plans in Turkey

As the US declared its 2013 defense budget, the Wall Street Journal reports that the Obama administration was preparing to create special-operations bases in Turkey. The claim was denied by the Pentagon and not confirmed by Ankara READ MORE

The Secretary General’s Annual Report 2011

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On 26 January, Anders Fogh Rasmussen launched the first ever ‘Annual Report’, which gives a brief overview of NATO’s principal achievements and challenges in 2011. This assessment of Alliance activities focuses on four areas: NATO operations, emerging security challenges, the modernization of NATO – its structures and capabilities - as well as NATO’s growing partnerships. These areas are examined against the backdrop of the financial crisis and are preceded by a foreword from the Secretary General. READ MORE

Iran crisis worries Armenia

By Aschot Gasasjan, Markian Ostaptschuk

For Armenia, Iran is de facto the sole connection to the outside world. The transport routes through other neighboring countries are blocked. Yerevan fears isolation in case of a military conflict in the Gulf. READ MORE

Working towards transition in Afghanistan

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Ambassador Simon Gass is NATO’s Senior Civilian Representative to Afghanistan. In an interview he talks about the priorities for 2012 and highlighted a number of different issues. READ MORE

'Europe needs a dynamic policy in Asia'

By Daniel Scheschkewitz

At the 48th Munich Security Conference, starting February 3, global leaders and generals will tackle Europe's relationship with Asia and the impact of the Arab Spring. DW spoke with Chairman Wolfgang Ischinger. READ MORE

Kyrgyz and Tajik Migrants in Moscow Speak Out

By Aida Kasymalieva, Erica Marat

On January 16, labor migrants from Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and other countries joined an anti-fascist rally in Moscow to commemorate the memory of the slain human rights activists Stanislav Markelov and Anastasiya Baburova. Both fought against racial and national discrimination, and were killed three years ago by an unknown gunman. This event is significant for two reasons. READ MORE

New Year, Same Crisis

By George Soros

The measures introduced by the European Central Bank last December, especially the Long Term Refinancing Operation (LTRO), have relieved the liquidity problems of European banks, but have not cured the financing disadvantage of the highly indebted member states. Since high-risk premiums on government bonds endanger the capital adequacy of banks, half a solution is not enough. READ MORE