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Country News Digest Issue #12

11/26/12-11/30/12

Azerbaijan and Serbia signed a protocol for bilateral cooperation on economic measures on Nov. 27. Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Rasim Ljajic visited Baku this week in order to promote increased trade and cooperation in multiple areas, including agriculture and education.

Azerbaijan

Country News Digest


Russia

News.az

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On Nov. 26, the US and Russia announced that astronauts Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko have been selected for a yearlong mission on the International Space Station. Their twelve-month stint is part of a study on spaces effects on the human body which could support possible manned flights to the moon and to Mars. PC Mag

Trend.az

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USA Today

The US and EU have joined the calls for Georgias newly-elected government to exercise restraint in prosecuting former officials in the Saakashvili administration. On Monday, EU High Representative Catherine Ashton visited Tbilisi to discuss methods of constructive cohabitation with Prime Minister Ivanishvili and President Saakashvili.

Georgia

Ukraine has run into an embarrassing setback in its attempt to build the regasification terminal on the Black Sea. After the signing of a $1.1 billion gas deal, Spains Gas Natural denied any contract, stating that Jordi Sarda Bonvehi was not a representative of the company. The project was supposed to help Ukraine wean of its dependence on Russian gas.

Ukraine

Reuters

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RFE/RL

NY Times

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Reuters

In a joint press conference with Turkmen President B e r d i m u h a m e d o v, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan stated the only acceptable format for Armenia of resolving the NagornoKarabakh conflict is through peaceful negotiations through the OSCEs Minsk Group. Berdimuhamedov echoed this position.

Armenia

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has confirmed what many international experts have speculated--Russian President Vladimir Putin is recovering from a back injury sustained while practicing judo. According to Lukashenko, the injury resulted from Putin picking up and throwing his opponent and has forced Putin to postpone a hockey game scheduled between the two leaders.

Belarus

Armenpress

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News.am

Moscow Times

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Reuters

A NATO team visited Turkey this week to assess sites for the installation of patriot missiles to protect Turkey against possible aerial assaults from Syria. Both Germany and the Netherlands posses the advanced PAC-3 patriots. Pending approval by their national parliaments, the missiles will take at least one month to become fully operational.

Turkey

Washington Post

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Negotiations over the Transnistrian conflict resumed in Dublin on the 28-30 of November. The meeting brought together Moldova, Transdniestria, the OSCE, the Russian Federation, and Ukraine with the US and the EU as observes. Jennifer Brush, head of the OSCE Mission to Moldova, hopes the meeting will further negotiations over freedom of movement, education and establishing civil society and human rights groups.

Moldova

Todays Zaman

All Moldova

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Panorama.am

The former Social Development Minister, Ravshan Sabirov, was acquitted last week on charges of accepting and soliciting bribes. His assistant was found guilty and sentenced to six years in prison. Both were accused of soliciting bribes from an international organization seeking accreditation for adoptions.

Kyrgyzstan

Country News Digest

Montreal Gazette

Articles:

A recent report found that Afghan authorities embezzled over $900 million from Kubal Bank. The banking scandal is one of the biggest the world has ever seen, as the amount stolen is equivalent to 5 percent of Afghanistans annual income. Those implicated in the scandal include the brothers of president Karzai and former vice-president Fahim.

Afghanistan

24 News

The Guardian

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Reuters

ConocoPhillips will sell its 8.4% share in the Kashagan oil field to state-owned Oil & Natural Gas Corp. of India. The deal is estimated to be worth $5 billion. The sale has to be approved by ConocoPhillips investment partners, including ExonMobil and Shell. Under CEO Ryan Lance, ConocoPhillips has focused more on U.S. production than overseas ventures that carry more risk.

Kazakhstan

Bloomberg

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On Thursday the US ambassador to the IAEA warned that if Iran does not begin to substantially cooperate with the agency by March the issue could be referred to the UN Security Council. A new meeting between the P5+1 powers and Iran is expected in Istanbul in December, but Wood expressed his doubt about the sincerity of Iran. A simple majority of the IAEA board would be needed to refer the issue to the UNSC.

Iran

Forbes

IBT

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Reuters

The government announced that it will be working with telecommunications companies to block access to Facebook in response to numerous complaints of slander. The move comes after numerous criticisms of the countrys leadership were posted to the site. There are an estimated 41,000 users in Tajikistan. The site was shut down previously in March but reopened a few days later.

Tajikistan

Turkmenistan is seeking partners to finance and build its trans-Afghanistan TAPI pipeline project, estimated to cost over $8 billion. Ashgabat has already signed purchase agreements with India and Pakistan in order to boost confidence in a project expected to encourage regional integration.

Turkmenistan

WSJ

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RIA Novosti

Nation

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The National

Russia agreed to extradite Ikromzhon Mamazhonov to Uzbekistan where he will stand trial on terrorism charges. Mamazhonov is a suspected founder of the Islamic Jihad Union. The group has been accused of committing acts of terrorism and is opposed to secular rule in Uzbekistan. Mamazhonov was apprehended aboard a Russian train traveling under an alias.

Uzbekistan

On Wednesday, Mongolia sold $1.5 billion in debt, which accounted for almost one-fifth of the size of the countrys economy. The money from the bonds will go towards building roads, mining investment, and electricity production.

Mongolia

Montreal Gazette

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Interfax

WSJ

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Finance Asia

The European Commission released its second annual macroeconomic report that stated that Estonias economy is stable. Unemployment has fallen significantly, from 20% in Q1 of 2010 to 10.4% in Q2 of 2012.

Country News Digest

Estonia

Baltic Business News

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Two video game developers from the Czech Republic have been arrested on charges of espionage in Greece, after they were caught taking photos of a military base. The two were in the process of developing a war video game that is set in Greece. Czech President Klaus appealed to his counterpart in Greece for a fair trial. IB Times

Czech Republic

Baltic Times

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Radio Prague

Lithuanians are tackling the clean up of the old Ignalina Nuclear power plant. There is still nuclear fuel inside one of the three reactors, which is unsettling to those who live around the plant. The decommissioning work in Lithuania has been lengthy and drawn out, and the job was to be completed between 2025 and 2035. EU is paying for the process, and taxpayers are getting hit hard.

Lithuania

Teachers throughout Slovakia have gone on strike this week. Protesting salaries well below that of the average Slovak, teachers rejected government offers of a 5% salary hike and continue to hold out for a 10% salary increase. Slovakia has made moves to reduce its budget deficit in recent months, which has led to frequent complaints by members of the educational community.

Slovakia

Washington Times

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John OGroat Journal

Reuters

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Slovak Spectator

On Thursday the Latvian parliament approved amendments to the Law on Financing of Political Organizations and the Law on Election Campaigning. The laws ban political advertisements on television 30 days before local government and European Parliament elections. Election campaign spending will also be halved.

Latvia

This week, Hungary passed a new electoral law requiring citizens to register at least 15 days before an election. Voters must also reregister every four years. The new law furthermore places a ban on campaign advertisements on private television channels, which have higher viewer ratings than stateowned stations.

Hungary

The Baltic Course

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Leta

Associated Free Press

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The Province

PGNiG, Polands government controlled gas firm, has made statements that reveal its intention to drill 10 to 15 new exploratory wells in 2013. Although Poland views the development of its shale gas potential as a means of reducing its dependency on Russian energy, the amount of gas extractable from Polish territory is unlikely to lower the price of gas significantly.

Poland

Reuters

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Warsaw Voice

A third actor has joined the political battle being waged before next months elections. Wealthy media tycoon Dan Diaconescu has entered the political arena dominated so far by enemies Prime Minister Ponta and President Basescu. Diaconescu made headlines with a promise to provide an investment of 20,000 euros for all new businesses. In an October publicity stunt he offered the government 3 million euros to pay overdue wages, the government declined.

Romania

Reuters UK

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Reuters

Austerity measures in Bulgaria are hurting the ruling partys popularity less than a year before the next elections. Bulgaria, the European Unions poorest member, has seen its jobless rate increase and living standards decrease partially as the result of broader economic stabilization. The governments disapproval ratings hit almost 60%.

Country News Digest


Croatia

Bulgaria

More than 70,000 workers in schools, universities, and hospitals are on strike against the austerity measures in Croatia. Croatias government is struggling to emerge from the renewed recession and is trying to consolidate its public finances.

Focus

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Reuters

Business Week

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Reuters

On Wednesday, Albania celebrated its 100 years of independence with an 18 ton cake. However, the countrys neighbors, Greece and Macedonia, soured the celebrations by canceling their plans to attend. Macedonian President Gjorgje Ivanov canceled his event after Prime Minister Nicola Gruevskis car was hit by an egg in Tirana. Washington Post

Albania

Montenegro is the 45th best country in the world in which do business. Forbes released its annual list that ranks countries based on their friendliness towards business this week. Montenegros 45 ranking lags behind only Slovenia in the Balkans, which took 23rd overall out of a total of 141 countries.

Montenegro

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Chicago Tribune

Balkan Insight

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Balkan Business News

Tensions were high in Belgrade after the UN War Crimes Tribunal acquitted Muslim guerilla leader Ramush Haradinaj, who was accused of committing atrocities against Serbs during the war in the Kosovo. Ultra-nationalist Serbs burnt flags of the EU, US, and Kosovo, and there were calls of severing all ties with Kosovo.

Serbia

Euro News

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Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha decided not to attend the historic opening of a highway linking his country with Kosovo after protests by Kosovo Liberation Army veterans, who demanded the release of one of its imprisoned commanders. The subject of the protest, Famir Limaj, was arrested earlier this month to stand accused in a retrial based on a recent Kosovo Supreme Court ruling, despite a previous acquittal in 2009.

Kosovo

Yahoo

Radio Free Europe

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Reuters

Thousands of ethnic Albanians in Macedonia are enthusiastically celebrating the 100th anniversary of Albanias independence from the Ottoman Empire. Albanians comprise about a quarter of Macedonias population, which is dominated by ethnic Macedonians. The celebrations have led to heightened ethnic tension in the country, as memories of a brief Albanian led insurgency in 2001 remain fresh in the population.

Macedonia

Washington Post

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Representatives of the public sector unions abandoned negotiations with the government over further cuts to the public sector wage bill. Janez Posedi, member of the Pergam trade union association, stated the public sector unions will now begin to organize a strike. In a recent report the IMF has advised Slovenia to restructure and privatise its banks and pass labor and pension reforms to avoid an IMF and EU bailout.

Slovenia

Novinite

Slovenia Times

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Trust Law

Country News Digest


Bosnia and Herzegovina Bosnia & marked the 17th Herzegovina anniversary of the Dayton Agreement this month. The Dayton Agreement brought about an end to fighting and shortly afterwards Bosnia Herzegovina was established as a federation of two entities-the Republika Srpska (RS) and the MuslimCroat Federation (FBiH). The day is a non-working holiday in the RS but not in the FBiH. PressTV

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b92 News

The Center for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies is a U.S. Department of Education Title VI-funded National Resource Center (NRC) that strives to increase understanding and appreciation of the cultures and challenges of the region stretching from Central Europe to the Pacific and from the Baltic to the Mediterranean, Black and Caspian Seas

Box 571031, ICC 111, Washington, DC 20057-1031 Email: ceres@georgetown.edu Tel.: (202) 687-6080 Fax: (202) 687-5829