On March 18, in Moscow, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Collective Security Treaty Organization’s (CSTO) Secretary-General, Nikolay Bordyuzha, signed a declaration on cooperation between the two secretariats. The document, and the UN’s steps preceding it, can be interpreted as UN recognition of this Russian-led bloc in the “post-Soviet space.” The Russian side will doubtlessly construe the UN’s blessing as a full and unambiguous recognition of the CSTO (Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan).
On March 27 new Lithuanian Foreign Minister Audronius Azubalis began a three-day official visit to Tbilisi. On Saturday he met Georgian Parliament Speaker Davit Bakradze and discussed the further intensification of the relations between the two countries in various international formats and the participation of Lithuanian observers at the forthcoming Georgian local elections.
Despite the impact of the global economic crisis on all of the economies within the former Soviet Union, averaging a 7 percent decline in GDP in 2009, defense spending has increased in each state with the exception of Belarus (which remained unchanged in 2009 year-on-year at 1.5 percent of GDP). Defense spending, according to an extensive analysis in Nezavisimaya Gazeta, witnessed the sharpest increase in Georgia (4.56 percent of GDP), Armenia (4.07 percent) and Azerbaijan (3.95 percent). In the case of Armenia, this level of defense expenditure proved surprising in the context of its 15 percent decline in GDP in 2009.
Austria is known to each Kazakhstani not only as the OSCE headquarters location and one of the most beautiful European landscapes, but first of all as the state rich in cultural traditions and historical heritage, the motherland of prominent rulers, scientists, philosophers and composers. Modern Austria is one of the most developed European states possessing significant international reputation, powerful production, scientific-technological, innovative and investment capacities.
The European Commission's new strategy for growth and jobs is on the ropes after EU leaders failed to agree hard targets on education and poverty – two of the five headline goals set out in the original proposal.
Address by HE Temuri Yakobashvili
Vice Prime-Minister and the State Minister for Reintegration of Georgia
at the 799th Meeting of the Special Permanent Council
March 19, 2010
State Strategy on Occupied Territories: Engagement Through Cooperation
at NATO's New Strategic Concept - Global, Transatlantic and Regional Challenges and Tasks Ahead - Warsaw, Poland
A court ruling in Slovenia has allowed arbitration with Croatia on a border dispute dating back to the break-up of Yugoslavia in 1991. The decision brings Croatia one step closer to its goal of EU membership.
There is little doubt that as president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych will decisively shift the country's geopolitical posture, with Kiev once again moving closer to Moscow after its pro-Western and pro-EU turn of 2005. The potential consequences on the EU's energy future are serious, as 80 percent of Russian natural gas exports to Europe transit through Ukrainian territory. The country has been in repeated price disputes with the Russian state-owned gas monopoly, Gazprom, resulting in interruptions of deliveries to the Ukrainian market in January 2006 and 2009, with supplies to Europe affected both times.
Vattenfall has sold its German power grid to Belgian and Australian firms. The move appears to be part of a continuing trend of energy groups shedding highly-regulated power grids in favor of more profitable markets.
The rise of Yanukovych to power will become another challenge for Ukrainian democracy. It's obvious, he won't promote it, as democratic values are strange for him by nature and during his activity within opposition, he has hardly changed his views on policy and democracy. History is full of examples, when democrats became autocrats and there are only few of them, when it happened vice versa. Right after the elections Yanukovych allowed himself to say that he would rule the country for the following 10 years.
It’s been two months since Kazakhstan become the Chairman of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). This is a mission of honor, but also a responsible one. Stagnation within the regulation of conflicts in South Caucasus, unmastered wave of tension between Russia and West, continuous arguments on democratic ideals and the status of Kosovo, and the current economic crisis. This is an incomplete list of problems, with which OSCE entered 2010 – the year of Chairmanship of Kazakhstan in the Organization.
During his working visit to Estonia on 19 March, Lithuania’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Audronius Ažubalis met with Estonia’s Prime Minister Andrus Ansip, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet, Members of Parliament and Lithuanian businessmen working in Estonia.
The recently criticized Lithuania‘s diplomacy could remind that in principle it was its initiative to join the EU efforts in order to stop increasing the number of states not respecting the territorial integrity of Georgia, to start the dialogue between the EU and Belarus, to enhance the political development of the Eastern Partnership and to accelerate the financial and political assistance to Moldova. However, in the six Eastern EU neighbors the political and economic situation is nearly the worst from the time of declaring their independence.
Everyone already knew that Abkhazia's 'independence' is a farce. But on 17 February the slightest remaining illusions about this so-called independence vanished. On that day the de facto Abkhaz President was received by the Russian leadership as head of a ‘sovereign’ state and then signed an agreement with Russia which gave up even the farcical claim to independence the breakaway region previously had.