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Special Representative of the European Union for the

South Caucasus, Herbert Sabler is visiting Baku this week,
meeting with the Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov
and with President Aliyev to discuss the issues related to
cooperation between the EU and Azerbaijan as well as
current developments in Nagorno-Karabakh.

The Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighborhood

Policy of the EU, Johannes Hahn, is visiting Georgia January
15 to 16. The Commissioner is planning to meet with
President Margvelashvili, Prime Minister Garibashvili and
Foreign Minister Beruchashvili, as well as with the
parliamentary opposition. Issues to be discussed include the
upcoming Eastern Partnership summit in Riga and a joint
program that will support small and medium-sized
enterprises in Georgia.

A Russian soldier suspected of killing a family of six in the

city of Gyumri on Monday has been detained. The soldier,
Valery Permyakov, had deserted his base in Armenia and was
detained on Tuesday by Russian guards as he was trying to
cross the Armenian border into Turkey. No motive for the
killing has been determined. Protesters have been gathering in
Gyumri, demanding that Permyakov be tried in Armenia,
which would violate Russian law. Armenian officials have
cautioned against politicizing the event.

Last week, a female suicide bomber killed one police officer

in the heart of Istanbuls tourist district Sultanahmet.
Turkish intelligence concluded the bomber to be Diana
Ramazova, a Russian citizen from the restive region of
Dagestan. She was also the wife of a Norwegian-Chechen
member of the Islamic State militant group who had died
fighting in Syria in December 2014. On Tuesday, Turkish
police detained six suspects in connection with the attack,
including three foreigners.
Al Jazeera

The Russian film Leviathan was nominated for the

American Academy Award for Best Foreign Film on
Thursday morning. The film, directed by Andrei
Zvyagintsev, tells the story of an impoverished small-town
family struggling to keep their property from a corrupt
government official. Although the film has already received
significant international acclaim, it has been a source of local
controversy for months. Russian Culture Minister Vladimir
Medinsky has accused Zvyagintsev of exploiting antiRussian sentiment to garner publicity and praise.
Moscow Times

Interpol issued a worldwide directive on January 12 for the

arrest of former president of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych, as
well as other former senior officials from his administration,
on charges of embezzlement and misuse of public funds. The
directive declares that Yanukovych is wanted by Ukrainian
authorities, but it is not an arrest warrant and does not compel
any nation to take him into custody. Yanukovych fled Kiev in
the wake of the Maidan protests last February, taking refuge
in Russia.
New York Times

Kyiv Post

At a special meeting of the House of Representatives on

Monday, President Lukashenko reaffirmed Belaruss
determination to strengthen relations with the United States
and European Union. At the same time, Lukashenko
reiterated that Belarus will continue its close cooperation with
Russia, despite a dispute last month over Belarusian exports
of banned foodstuffs into Russia. The meeting comes at a
time of economic instability for Belarus, which is
experiencing a spillover effect from the economic crisis in
Int. Business Times

Moldovan lawmakers are in the midst of forming a

parliamentary majority despite repeated setbacks in
negotiations. Representatives of the Liberal Democratic
Party (PLDM), Democratic Party (PDM) and Liberal Party
(PL) met on Wednesday to discuss possibility of
cooperation. PL leader Mihai Ghimpu pointed out that the
outcome of the talks "are zero."

On Thursday, the government of Kyrgyzstan released

statistics which showed that Kyrgyzstans GDP slowed to
3.6% last year, down from 10.9% in 2013, after output was
reduced at the Kumtor gold mine operated by Canadas
Centerra Gold. Kumtors output reduced from 18.67 tons in
2013 to 17.6 tons last year as ore grade fell. Kumtor
accounted for over 7% of Kyrgyzstans GDP last year and
over 15% of its industrial output.


The Islamic State (IS) released a video on Tuesday showing

a young boy executing two men attempting to infiltrate the
IS in Syria for the Russian intelligence service. One of the
two executed men claimed to be a Kazakh citizen from the
Zhambyl region, and the boy, himself, stated in a previous
IS video that he was also from Kazakhstan. The video has
received minimal media coverage and official attention
within Kazakhstan itself, with media often failing to
mention the Kazakh ethnicities of the captive and the boy.


On Monday, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani released the

names of 25 nominees for ministerial positions as well as
candidates to head the countrys spy agency and central bank.
The announcement comes after months of delays, missed
deadlines, and political negotiations following the
inauguration of President Ghani in September. The list
includes three women and representatives of all of
Afghanistans major ethnic groups. All positions require
parliamentary approval.
Wall Street Journal

The Guardian

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign

Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met in Paris on Friday
afternoon to discuss Irans nuclear program. This meeting
followed six hours of talks between Kerry and Zarif in
Geneva on Wednesday and the resumption of negotiations
between Iran and the P5+1 group on Thursday. The
negotiators are attempting to meet a March deadline for a
framework agreement and a July 1 deadline for a final deal
to curb Irans nuclear program.


On Friday, Tajik Interior Minister Ramazon Rahimzoda

announced that Tajikistan has formally requested that
Turkey extradite opposition politician and businessman
Umarali Quvatov. Quvatov is wanted in Tajikistan on fraud
charges, which he claims are politically motivated.
Quvatovs political organization Group 24 was labelled an
extremist organization and banned in October. Quvatov,
who left Tajikistan in 2012, was detained in Istanbul in
December for violating visa regulations.

Turkmenistans new Caspian Sea ferry Berkarar,

commissioned from the Uljanik Shipyard in Pula, Croatia and
delivered to the Turkmenbashi port in December, has made its
first crossings of the Caspian. The ferry made its maiden
voyage on January 7, to Olya, a port in Russias Astrakhan
region, and visited the Azerbaijani capital Baku on Thursday,
January 15. The ferry is designed to transport both freight and
passengers and can carry up to 200 passenger and 53 trucks.
Ashgabat has also commissioned a second ferry, Bagtiyar, to
be delivered this summer.

Uzbek President Islam Karimov has been nominated by his

party for re-election in the March 29 presidential vote. The
Liberal Democratic Party of Uzbekistan submitted his name
during a joint session of parliament with no competing
nominations. Karimov, 77 on January 30, was re-elected in
2007 in what international monitors deemed a rigged
election. Karimov has been President of Uzbekistan since
1990, one year before its independence.

A group of Mongolian journalists, along with

representatives from the French Embassy in Mongolia and
the Mongolian Journalists Union, organized a memorial
for the terrorist attacks on French satirical paper Charlie
Hebdo. The memorial was held last Friday in Ulaanbaatar,
where supporters of free speech lit candles and held up
posters with I am Charlie written on them in French and


Times of Central Asia


UB Post

The Estonian-Georgian film Tangerines has been nominated

for the Best Foreign language film category of the 87th
Academy Awards. Tangerines tells the story of an Estonian
village in Georgia in the midst of the Abkhaz conflict. The
movie is a joint project of Estonian and Georgian filmmakers
and is directed by Zaza Urushadze. Since 2013, Tangerines
has received dozens of international awards and is
unprecedented success for Georgian and Estonian cinemas.

On Tuesday, Lithuanian Defense Minister Juozas Olekas

unveiled a 100-page pamphlet to educate the countrys
citizens on what to do in case of invasion. The pamphlet,
How to act in extreme situations or instances of war,
advises Lithuanians how to organize civil resistance, as
well as simple procedures for evacuating a building, among
others. The Defense Ministry announced the book was in
response to Russias recurring aggression against its

Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkvis held meetings in

Moscow after meeting with European partners and
announced that the EU will consider lifting sanctions on
Russia over the Ukraine crisis if there is a real progress.
Latvia holds the rotating presidency of the EU at the
moment. "We think the sanctions imposed over east Ukraine
can be lifted when we see not only agreements signed, but
real progress," he told reporters after meeting Sergei Lavrov.


Tesco, Britains largest supermarket company, is facing the

threat of a massive strike in the Czech Republic. A union
representing Tesco workers in the Czech Republic made the
threat after Tesco announced the closure of two more stores
in Usti nad Labem and Prague, putting 102 jobs on the line.
Tesco is in the midst of broad cuts in the hundreds of
millions of pounds to manage the biggest crisis in the
companys history.

Slovakia has planned a referendum on February 7 on the

protection of family after the conservative grassroots Alliance
for Family (AZR) collected 400,000 signatures (about 8% of the
population) on a petition to restrict the family rights of gays.
The petition called for a referendum aimed at legally defining
the family, limiting it to the union of a man and a woman and
banning same-sex couples from adopting children.

The Economist

Following the terrorist attacks in France last week, members of

Hungarys ruling parties met this week to discuss giving
protected status to religious symbols. While no formal
agreement was reached by the parties, the parliamentary leader
of the ruling Fidesz party, Antal Rogan, said that Fidesz
members are drafting a proposal to protect community symbols
and values. Rogan also mentioned that Fidesz is considering
reevaluating laws allowing entry to or deporting foreigners,
echoing anti-immigration comments made last week by
President Orban.
Hungary Today

President Iohannis appeared before the High Court on

Wednesday over conflict-of-interest charges related to his
tenure as mayor of Sibiu from 2000-2014. During this time,
Iohannis allegedly represented the government at shareholders
meetings of government co-owned municipal development
firms, which attracted the attention of the Romanian National
Integrity Agency (ANI). While Iohannis counter-sued the ANI
and won in 2013, the ANI then lodged a complaint with the
High Court. Iohannis has disputed the charges stating that
nothing in the case has changed since his previous victory.
Radio Poland
The Telegraph
Deutsche Welle

On Thursday, Poland secured five nominations for the 87th

Academy Awards, including two nominations for director
Pawel Pawilkowskis film Ida. Ida was nominated for Best
Foreign Language Film and Best Cinematography. Two more
Polish films, Joanna and Our Curse, were nominated for Best
Documentary Short Subject. Anna Biedrzycka-Sheppard, a
Polish costume designer, was nominated for Best Costume
Design for her work on Maleficent.

After requests from Germany and other EU member states,

Bulgaria has agreed to take back over 3,000 asylum seekers
who attempted to settle across the European Union. Bulgaria
continues to complain that they share an unfair burden of
refugees fleeing the raging conflict in Syria. In 2013, Bulgaria
also took extra measures to increase security along its border
with Turkey, building a 20 mile fence to stem the flow of
refugees into the country. Bulgaria has been criticized by
various human rights groups for its pushing back of refugees.


Police raided a cocaine-processing laboratory in central

Albania on Wednesday, seizing over 220 lbs of cocaine and
arresting eight people, including two Colombian nationals.
Among the Albanians arrested was Ermal Hoxha, grandson of
the former communist dictator of Albania Enver Hoxha. If
convicted, Ermal Hoxha faces up to 20 years in prison on
charges of drug trafficking and processing.
Star Tribune

Focus News

On Wednesday, Serbias Prime Minister Aleksandar Vui

visited Kosovo. Vui opened a new maternity hospital in
eastern Kosovo, vowing to build more humanitarian efforts in
Kosovo. Vui also unveiled a statue of a medieval Serbian
king in Gracanica. Vui declared that Serbia would set aside
funds from its privatization drive to increase its efforts in
upgrading Kosovos infrastructure, urging the Serb minority
not to move away. Kosovo declared independence from
Serbia seven years ago after a period of UN control.


During a visit to Qatar to attend the opening of the 24th

Mens Handball World Championship on Thursday,
Macedonian President Georgi Ivanov held several meetings
aimed at enhancing bilateral relations between Qatar and
Macedonia. His visit included a meeting with Qatar's Amir
Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani and a meeting with the
Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry (QCCI).
President Ivanov stressed that Macedonia has passed
legislation to facilitate foreign investment and invited Qatari
businessmen to invest in his country.
Kuwait News Agency

Croatias conservative opposition won the presidential

elections on Sunday against the central-left incumbent.
Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic won with thin margin against Ivo
Josipovic, becoming countrys first female president. The
presidential powers are largely ceremonial. However the
victory is important as it signals the possible comeback of
Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) in 2015 general elections.


CBS News

The visit of the Foreign Minister of Kosovo Hashim Thai to

Mongenegro caused mixed reactions among Serbs and
Montenegrin citizens. Thai, who is on his two-day visit
meeting with the top officials of the country, was scheduled to
deliver a lecture on the NATO integration in Podgorica;
however, the lecture has been cancelled for security reasons.
Several association representing refugees from Kosovo have
called for protest.
Balkan Insight


Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vui led a delegation

of Serbian government officials to Kosovo on Wednesday to
visit Serb enclaves and celebrate the Orthodox New Year.
The visit did not include meetings with any Kosovo officials
and was "humanitarian and religious" in nature, according to
Kosovo's foreign affairs minister Hashim Thai. Discussing
the visit, Thai said: "We strive to intensify visits on both
sides, we must not be afraid to communicate."
The Telegraph


On Tuesday, Slovenian police announced that they had

arrested an Italian man on suspicion of sending envelopes
containing poison to Czech government officials. Two
poisoned envelopes, one sent from Slovenia and one sent
from Sweden, were intercepted in November before being
delivered to their intended recipients. Slovenian police
detained the 24-year-old Italian man when he attempted to
mail another poisoned letter from a post office near the
Italian border at the end of December.
The Peninsula

Noted Bosnian imam Selvedin Beganovic was stabbed three

times in his mosque courtyard on Tuesday. Beganovic has
suffered several assaults from alleged Muslim extremists in
the past year due to his vocal opposition to Bosnian Muslims
fighting in Syria or Iraq. Beganovic vows to continue
preaching against extremism despite the attacks. About 150
Bosnians are known to have joined Islamic militants in Syria
or Iraq, with many fighting for ISIS.
Daily Sabah