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April 2012

Lithuania and NATO: the road of hopes and doubts

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By Česlovas Iškauskas

Eight years ago, on 29 March 2004, Lithuania joined NATO. Today there are several aspects which should be discussed with regard to the membership. At the beginning let me remind several interim stops in Lithuania’s road toward the Alliance. READ MORE

Innokentij Adyasov: Does Turkmenistan Have Enough Resources for the Trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline?

By actual freezing of NABUCCO project the attempts (starting from mid of 2011) to rehabilitate already forgotten (for the first time the idea of such gas pipeline was announced in 1996) project of the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline have intensified. In March 2012 the President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov visited Ukraine.  In Kiev for uncovered joy of Ukrainian authorities Berdymukhamedov announced the idea of construction of the pipeline Turkmenistan-Azerbaijan-Georgia (with optional branch to Ukraine) – Turkey – the European Union (EU) for supplies of gas to Europe by-passing Russia. The capacity of planned gas pipeline should comprise up to 25 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually. READ MORE

NATO Trust Fund projects clear dangerous munitions in Azerbaijan

Jeyranchel, in northeastern Azerbaijan covers an area of about 62 square kilometres just along the Georgian border. It was also the site of a live firing range, used from 1955 until 1991 by the former Soviet Army. Now the range lies abandoned and unused, with unexploded munitions littering the ground around it. READ MORE

Green Light for Return NATO Transit

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By Nikolay Surikov

There will be no base of the Alliance in Ulyanovsk, not Even Its Representatives READ MORE

The Situation with Investors for Baltic Region NPP Remains Unclear

By Daniil Rozanov

Recently the situation over  the projects of construction of nuclear power plants in Baltic region – Kaliningrad region of Russia, Belarus and Lithuania hasn’t become more clear. Only Lithuania can boast with some successes of its project regarding investments, which in the beginning of April initialed the wording of treaty with Japanese concern Hitachi. READ MORE

NATO wants to include Central Asian countries in alliance deliberations on future development in Afghanistan - NATO Secretary General

CA-NEWS (CA) - NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the Alliance wants to include a number of Central Asian countries in NATO deliberations on the future development in Afghanistan, reported the Silk Road Newsline. READ MORE

The Coming War With China

By Mark Thompson

Is China a peaceful nation that only wants to turn out Apple iPads and iPhones? Or is the Middle Kingdom bent on attacking the U.S.? Beijing is the long, and strong, pole in the tent for the U.S. military – and they know it. China is the new Soviet Union, and perhaps it should be. READ MORE

Sarkozy and Hollande set out to woo far-right Front National Le Pen voters

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As campaigning continues ahead of the 6 May run-off for French president both candidates set out on Monday to court the more than six million people who voted for the far-right Front National party of Marine Le Pen in Sunday’s first round. READ MORE

Ilves in Warsaw: Democratic World Needs Strong NATO

“We, devoted allies in the very meaning of this word, have common interests and common concerns, as well as common actions to settle them.  The last is proved, in particular, by firm support from Poland of the prolongation of NATO mission on Baltic States Air Policing", -- said the President of Estonia Toomas Hendrik Ilves during yesterday’s and today’s meeting of the Heads of states of Estonia, Latvia and Poland held in Warsaw. READ MORE

EU Parliament Divided on Shale Gas and Oil

By Margarita Assenova

Potential large shale gas deposits in Europe have raised hopes that the old continent may in the future rely less on oil and natural gas imports from Russia. However, fears of potential environmental effects of hydraulic fracturing and the lack of a clear policy by the European Union have led to the suspension of shale gas exploration in France and Bulgaria in the past year. In April, environmental protests spread to Romania raising concerns that shale gas exploration could be stalled in yet another EU state. READ MORE

Europe’s Cold War Over Shale

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The environmental group Food & Water Europe has accused the Polish author of a European Parliament report on shale gas extraction of resorting to “Cold War” rhetoric against Russia to support the industry’s development. In a statement released on Monday, Food & Water Europe blasted the draft report by MEP Bogusław Sonik (European People’s Party) on the environmental impacts of shale gas and shale oil extraction activities. Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Europe, also accuses the report’s author of anti-Russian bias.—EurActiv, 18 April 2012 READ MORE

Time to get U.S. nukes out of Europe

By Stephen M. Walt

One of the more pernicious obstacles to rational policy-making is the "ratchet effect": the tendency for policies, once adopted, to acquire a life of their own and to become resistant to change, even when they have ceased to be useful. For example, you can be confident that we will all be wasting time in airport security lines decades from now, long after Osama bin Laden's death. Existing security measures may not pass a simple cost-benefit test, but what political leader would dare relax them? READ MORE

Iran's Strategy

By George Friedman

For centuries, the dilemma facing Iran (and before it, Persia) has been guaranteeing national survival and autonomy in the face of stronger regional powers like Ottoman Turkey and the Russian Empire. Though always weaker than these larger empires, Iran survived for three reasons: geography, resources and diplomacy. Iran's size and mountainous terrain made military forays into the country difficult and dangerous. Iran also was able to field sufficient force to deter attacks while permitting occasional assertions of power. At the same time, Tehran engaged in clever diplomatic efforts, playing threatening powers off each other. READ MORE

The New Russian Empire

By Nikolas K. Gvosdev

In his last major address as Russia's prime minister before retaking the presidency, Vladimir Putin outlined "five priorities" for his third presidential term. His fifth task is to boost cooperation across the Eurasian space, enhancing Russia's global position by having it lead a new effort towards integrating the states of the former Soviet Union. Speaking before the Duma last Wednesday, Putin said, "Creation of a common economic space is the most important event in post-Soviet space since the collapse of the Soviet Union." READ MORE

NATO and Afghanistan committed to partnership beyond 2014

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NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen on 12 April expressed the Alliance’s continued strong commitment to Afghanistan after talks with President Hamid Karzai in Kabul. READ MORE

World builds new nuclear power plants

By Ellada Khankishiyeva

Despite the fact that relating to the accident at the Japanese Fukushima nuclear power plant seriously undermined people's confidence in nuclear power up to the point of abandoning functioning nuclear projects, some countries on the contrary, want to build their own nuclear power plants. READ MORE

Sample Article: Ukraines Security Equilibrium

Ukrainian Defense Minister Dmytro Salamatin said April 10 that Ukraine intends to intensify security cooperation with Belarus, specifically by "holding joint exercises, exchange visits by military delegations and sharing experience in military and technical areas." The previous day, Ukraine's Cabinet advised the Defense Ministry to participate in the battle group being formed by the Visegrad Four, which consists of Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. READ MORE

Putin to NATO: Yankees, Please Stay in Afghanistan

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God bless the American soldiers in Afghanistan. READ MORE

The Fuel Pools Of Fukushima: The Greatest Short-Term Threat To Humanity

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Editor's Note^ This detailed report by our Contributor Washington Blog must be read very carefully. READ MORE

Simplistic portrayals of Putin as Bond villain cripple diplomacy

By Darragh McDowell

The West needs to look beyond the stereotypes if relations with Russia are to improve READ MORE

Examples of Europe’s double standards

By Donald Reech

OSCE/ODIHR comes as an effective tool to bring one group of countries to exert pressure on another one. READ MORE

Left Hook

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By Aleksandr Golubov

Before the first round of the Presidential elections is France the third place in pre-election race was firmly held by a former teacher, ex-Minister of Socialist Cabinet  Lionel Jospin, and by now the leader of the Left Front Jean-Luc Mélenchon. Having left behind his not less radical rival, the leader of another front – already National one – Marine Le Pen, Mélenchon have become a real dark horse of this elections, having proved the growth of radical left spirit in French society. His last meetings in Lipp, Paris and Toulouse were ones of the most crowded and emotional, and such high result hasn’t been predicted by anyone recently. Established in 2008 from the remains of the communist party, of various left-wing supporters, and all those who considered socialists and their current candidate Francois Hollande, to be too moderate and bourgeois, the Left Front breathed a new life in the ideas, uniting the upholders of social equality. Times when French communists were forced to give into rent a part of their head-quarters due to financial shortage are fading away. READ MORE

The Baltic-Nordic Region Is Attractive, Sets A Good Example Of Regional Cooperation, Lithuanian Foreign Vice-Minister Says In Washington, D.C.

On 10 April in Washington, D.C., Lithuanian Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Evaldas Ignatavičius discussed an upcoming NATO summit with Assistant Secretary for Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs Philip Gordon. The Vice-Minister participated in a round table discussion on Belarus together with representatives from U.S. think tanks and gave a lecture about the Baltic-Nordic-U.S. cooperation. READ MORE

Putin-Erdogan Alliance can Turn into Political Reality

By Stanislav Tarasov

As Turkish Mass Media reported, one of these days the Prime Minister of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan intends to visit Russia under the invitation of Vladimir Putin. As informed earlier, during the talks in Moscow between the Ministers of Culture and Tourism of Turkey and Russia Vladimir Putin contacted by phone Turkish Minister and asked to pass the greetings to his friend the Prime Minister of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and also the invitation to visit Russia at his convenience. “Russian considers Turkey to be its best friend and we intend to develop these relations in any spheres”, this how most of Turkish Mass Media a quoted the comments of the Russian Government Head. It’s worth to add to this also the message that in course of the talks during the Summit on nuclear safety in Seoul the President of Russian Dmitry Medvedev invited Erdogan to visit Moscow to take part in the inauguration of the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin. READ MORE

Grybauskaitė shall not Visit the Meeting of the Heads of Poland and Baltic States in Warsaw

By Sharunas Cheniauskas

The President of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaitė decided not to go to the meeting, arranged by the President of Poland Bronislaw Komarowski, with the heads of Baltic states in Warsaw. It is reported that during this meeting the President of Poland wants to discuss with the Heads of neighbor-states the issues of the on-coming NATO Summit in Chicago. But the plans of Grybauskaitė don’t anticipate the visit to Warsaw. READ MORE

Uzbekistan, Great Britain intensify dialogue

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The management of the Uzbek Foreign Ministry and a member of the Cabinet of Ministers, co-chairman of the British Conservative Party, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi have today discussed the current state and prospects of bilateral and multilateral cooperation, some urgent issues of regional and international politics, the Foreign Ministry said. READ MORE

Bulgaria: Goodbye nukes, hello Russian gas

By Kostis Geropoulos

Bulgaria has scrapped two of its three Russian-backed energy projects. Plans to build the 2,000MW Belene nuclear power plant on the Danube River were cancelled last week, and the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline was dropped in December. Usually saying ‘no’ to Russian President-elect Vladimir Putin carries a heavy price. READ MORE

A Taste of Chicago Comes to NATO

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On 20 and 21 May 2012, Chicago will host the NATO Summit. During the Summit, more than 50 Heads of State and Government will come together to deliver on decisions taken at the Lisbon Summit in November 2010, driving forward key Alliance policies and reaffirming the transatlantic link. READ MORE

Will Slovakia’s Robert Fico Be Another Viktor Orban?

By Pavol Demes

What is going on in Central Europe? After Viktor Orban’s consolidation of power in Hungary, another political strongman has returned to the helm, this time in Slovakia. Former Prime Minister Robert Fico has once again assumed the leadership of Slovakia following his Smer-Social Democracy (SMER-SD) party’s landslide victory in last month’s elections. Like Orban in Hungary, Fico will preside over the first single-party cabinet in Slovakia since the collapse of communism in 1989. His coalition government between 2006 and 2010 had been accused of abuses of power and a lack of respect toward the opposition, media, and NGOs. And, much like his Hungarian counterpart, Fico could yet use his political mandate to attempt to reinterpret Slovakia’s history, change key laws, or battle with the European Union on nationalistic grounds. READ MORE

Fighter jets secure airspace of the Baltic countries

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08:58, 28 March 2012 – the claxon shrieks at Tampere Air Base in Finland. Four minutes later, two F-18 Hornet fighter jets from the Finnish Air Force take off. Their mission – to intercept an aircraft that is not complying with international air traffic regulations. Since the attacks of 11 September 2001, the surveillance of European airspace is a sensitive topic for the Alliance member States and their partners. READ MORE

Georgia approaches to NATO

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NATO supports Georgia's expectations to join NATO and confirms the position, announced at the summit in Bucharest in 2008, related to Georgia's accession to NATO, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. According to him, Georgia is an exemplary partner of the Organization. READ MORE

Turkey and the bomb

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By Sinan Ülgen

Policymakers worry that an Iranian atomic weapon will force the country's neighbours to explore the nuclear option, but that is not the case for Turkey. READ MORE

Latvian-Lithuanian Co-operation Perspectives

By Vadim Volovoj

The Report on Latvian-Lithuanian Co-operation Perspectives was presented in January of this year by the ambassadors Neris Germanas (Lithuania) and Alberts Sarkanis (Latvia). In fact Lithuania’s foreign policy is directed toward the U.S., Russia, Belarus and Poland, whereas a close neighbor Latvia is somehow left aside. The authors of the Report ask: “Why… in reality today we are not closer and better acquainted with each other than with more distant neighboring nations? […].  Why are we incapable, despite the publicly declared unity, to coordinate and come forward with a common position which could be useful for us as well as for a wider region?” READ MORE

Russia and EU move one step closer to visa-free travel

By Evgeniya Chaykovskaya

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev ordered the government to present suggestions about easing visa rules for tourists, including those visiting while on a cruise and yachts, by June 1. READ MORE

Central Asia: Regional Developments and Implications for U.S. Interests

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By Jim Nichol

U.S. policy toward the Central Asian states has aimed at facilitating their cooperation with U.S. and NATO stabilization efforts in Afghanistan and their efforts to combat terrorism, proliferation, and trafficking in arms, drugs, and persons. Other U.S. objectives have included promoting free markets, democratization, human rights, energy development, and the forging of East-West and Central Asia-South Asia trade links. Such policies aim to help the states become what various U.S. administrations have considered to be responsible members of the international community rather than to degenerate into xenophobic, extremist, and anti-Western regimes that contribute to wider regional conflict and instability. READ MORE

Serbian President Boris Tadic resigns, paving the way for early presidential election

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Pro-Western Serbian President Boris Tadic said Wednesday he is resigning, paving the way for an early presidential election when he will face a strong challenge from a nationalist candidate who has Russia’s support. READ MORE

NATO in Central Asia

By Arthur Dunn

The North Atlantic Alliance had engaged regional governments on defense matters since the mid-1990s, when former Soviet Central Asian republics have joined NATO’s Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) and its related Partnership for Peace (PfP) program. READ MORE

Caucasian Endspiel

Azerbaijan leaves. READ MORE

Lithuania and Poland: Lost in Translation

By Wojciech Borodzicz-Smolinski, Vytis Jurkonis

Lithuanian–Polish relations, though far from being perfect in the political sense, are on a very good level in economic terms. This awkward situation is not only a hard task for policy makers, but may also influence future generations and their vision regarding the cooperation between Poland and Lithuania. The bilateral relations of Poland and Lithuania, therefore, have become hostage to the complicated history of both nations and their respective complex inner political situations. READ MORE

Look who's saving the world: BRICS pump up foreign aid

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By Elizabeth Dickinson

The so-called BRICS — Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa — are upping their foreign assistance by leaps and bounds at a time when traditional donors’ aid budgets are frozen.
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NATO in 2020: Secretary General sets out his vision

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Seeking the right balance between Allies is the key to the continued success of NATO for 2020 and beyond. This can only be achieved by focusing on shared purpose, responsibility and leadership between European and North American Allies. READ MORE

Kazakhstan was in spotlight at Seoul Summit - expert Anton Caragea

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Seoul summit has just ended, but its results were laid long before its start. No doubt we are witnessing only the beginning of the birth of the international tradition on the regulation of nuclear weapons and nuclear safety, professor Anton Caragea, director of Bucharest Institute of International Relations and Economic Cooperation believes. READ MORE

New page in Azerbaijani-Kyrgyz relations

By Viktoria Zhavoronkova

After a 20-year stagnation, relations between Azerbaijan and Kyrgyzstan are reaching a qualitatively new level. This fact was noted after the talks between the presidents of Azerbaijan and Kyrgyzstan in Baku. READ MORE

Can the Brics create a new world order?

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By Simon Tisdall

Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa seek a multipolar world – but some argue they're bound by anti-Americanism. READ MORE

Russian shift on Syria is key, says former NATO chief

By Michael Knigge

Syrian opposition demands more supportReport links Syrian rebels with human rights abusesSyrian First Lady Asma al-Assad: The good wifeSyrian forces commit 'systematic torture': reportOn a deadly mission: Journalists in SyriaThe reel revolutionSyrian crisis could spill over into LebanonSyrian deserters lead charge to overthrow AssadRefugees torn over return to violent Syria Russia’s shifting stance towards Syria is essential to end the conflict, former NATO Secretary-General Jaap De Hoop Scheffer tells DW. He also urges Russian President-elect Putin to attend the upcoming NATO summit. READ MORE

Russia’s Energy Plans for Turkey

Russia is interested in building natural gas storage facilities in Turkey, officials from Russia's Gazprom said March 20. Over the winter, Gazprom redirected natural gas from its storage facilities in Europe after a spike in demand in Turkey. Now, Gazprom wants to build underground natural gas storage facilities in Turkey to help when supplies dwindle in the future. READ MORE

Presidents of Kazakhstan, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia Attend Seoul Nuclear Summit

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By Richard Weitz

Several Eurasian leaders were among the 54 heads of state, deputy prime ministers, or foreign ministers who attended the March 26-27 Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, South Korea. The main objective of the summit was to prevent non-state actors such as terrorists or criminals from acquiring dangerous nuclear materials, a constant worry in the post-Soviet space due to the legacy of the USSR’s massive nuclear weapons program. READ MORE

NATO, Russia look headed for conflict

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By Roman Goncharenko

When NATO holds its summit this May in Chicago, there will not be the customary additional summit with Russia. Differences over NATO's missile shield plans have put dialogue and cooperation temporarily on hold. READ MORE