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2/2/15 2/6/15

Azerbaijan sided with Russia at a special session of the

Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, where
delegates voted to deprive Russia of the right to vote. The
Azerbaijani delegates said that although they support the
territorial integrity of Ukraine, they prefer dialogue over
sanctions a line Europe has employed in reference to the
Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

A NATO training center is planned in Georgia as agreed

upon in the Wales Summit of September 2014. NATO
Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that more than a
dozen NATO allies are contributing to the implementation of
the cooperation package with Georgia. Stoltenberg
underlined that the facility is a training center, not a military
base. The training center is planned to open later this year.


Russian and Armenian officials released news on Tuesday

that Russian soldier Valery Permyakov, a Russian soldier
based in Armenia accused of killing a local family of seven,
will be tried in the Armenian town of Gyumri at Russian
Garrison Military Court 102. The trial will proceed
according to Russian law, as per a bilateral agreement
between the two countries. The killings occurred on January
12, 2015.


The government of Turkey has taken control of Bank Asya,

an Islamic lender with connections to U.S.-based Muslim
cleric Fethullah Glen. Bank Asya had been founded by
followers of the charismatic cleric Glen, though the bank
had become embroiled in the ongoing feud last year
between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoan and
Glen himself. Prime Minister Ahmet Davutolu said that
the bank had failed to meet certain legal criteria and that the
takeover had not been political.
Financial Times


On Thursday, the EU announced that it will likely instate a new

round of economic sanctions on Russia due to the recent
increase in violence in eastern Ukraine. On the new list are five
entities, one of which is Russian, and 19 individuals, five of
whom are Russian. The other individuals are believed to be
separatist leaders in eastern Ukraine and Crimean officials. EU
diplomats have said that none of the figures are particularly
high-ranking. EU foreign ministers will make a final decision
on the sanction list on Monday.

Economic Times

On Thursday, western leaders began a broad diplomatic effort

to end the ongoing violence in east Ukraine between Russianbacked separatists and the central government. Chancellor
Angela Merkel of Germany, President Francois Hollande of
France, and Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Kiev for
talks with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. On Friday,
Hollande and Merkel also meet with President Putin in
Moscow to discuss a new initiative to cease fighting.

New York Times

News was released this week that President Lukashenko is

planning a visit to the Republic of Georgia in April, leading
to a number of theories on the purpose of the visit. Some say
that the visit is related to a revival of the Georgia-Belarus
intergovernmental commission, while others feel the trip has
a political motivation, either to push Georgia closer to Russia
or to pull Belarus away from Russia. It is believed that the
visit was initiated from the Belarusian side.

DF Watch

On Wednesday, head of the EU delegation to Moldova Pirkka

Tapiola said Moldovan authorities should focus on the
implementation of reforms regardless of the political
situation. He mentioned that there is a lot to be done in
reforming the prosecutors office and to fight against
corruption. According to Taipola, the European Union has not
seen much progress made by Kishinev on delivering real

On February 2nd, the government of Kyrgyzstan announced

that 22 Kyrgyzstani citizens have died fighting in Syria.
Rafik Mambetaliev, head of the investigative department in
Kyrgyzstans Interior Ministry, made the announcement on
February 2nd, adding that over 200 Kyrgyz citizens have
gone to Syria to fight. Mambetaliev also said that Interior
Ministry officials uncovered 83 cases of people attempting to
recruit Kyrgyz citizens to fight in various rebel groups in
Central Asia Online

Gulzhan Erghalieva, editor of former magazine Adam Bol

(Be a Human), ended her 18-day hunger strike on Thursday
due to poor health. Erghalieva was protesting the closure of
the magazine by the government last December, after an
interview ran with opposition activist Aidos Sadyqov.
Ramazan Esergepov, director of the NGO Journalists in
Trouble, also joined Erghalieva in the hunger strike for
several days until he was hospitalized for heart trouble.

Silk Road Reporters

Firdavs Sohibnazarov, an opposition politician in Tajikistan,

was arrested Tuesday on embezzlement and money laundering
charges. Authorities said the arrest was connected with the
disappearance of $43,000 from a bank where Sohibnazarov
used to work. Sohibnazarov was nominated by the Social
Democratic Party (HSDT) to run in the upcoming
parliamentary elections but was informed on January 31 that he
was under investigation and barred from running in the
election. Sohibnazarov claims that the charges were fabricated
to prevent him from running in the election.

The World Bank has declined to investigate whether loans

to Uzbekistans agricultural sector perpetuates child and
forced labor in the cotton industry. The international lender
says the decision was made because of considerable
progress made by Tashkent in addressing the systemic
issues necessary for the eradication of child and forced
labor in the cotton sector. Umida Niyazova, director of the
Uzbek-German Forum for Human Rights, protested the
decision, calling it shocking.

Human Rights Watch

Late last week, the U.S. military command in Afghanistan

classified data on the status of the Afghan army and police,
claiming that the information could be used by insurgents. A U.S.
government watchdog agency challenged this decision, arguing
that classifying the information deprives the American people of
an important tool for measuring the success of U.S. efforts in
Afghanistan. The U.S. has spent over $100 billion on aid,
including around $65 billion on the Afghan National Security
Forces. On Monday, the U.S. military command reversed its
decision, making basic data available to the public.
New York Times

On Tuesday, Irans parliament voted to speed up discussions

of a draft bill asking the Iranian government to resume all its
nuclear activities if the U.S. imposes new sanctions. This bill
comes after the U.S. Senate Banking Committee approved a
draft bill last week to impose fresh sanctions on Iran if a
nuclear deal is not reached by the end of June. U.S. President
Barack Obama has warned that he would veto any bill
imposing new sanctions on Iran, arguing that fresh sanctions
could damage the ongoing negotiations with Iran.


Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made a rare visit to

Turkmenistan on Tuesday, February 3. Lavrov met with his
Turkmen counterpart, Foreign Minister Rashid Meredov, for
discussions of developments in Central Asia and
Afghanistan as well as economic cooperation. The two
foreign ministers also discussed the development of
relationships in the humanitarian and cultural spheres.
Lavrovs last visit to Ashgabat was in April 2013.


The mummified remains of a 200-year-old monk found last

week are strongly believed to be those of famed Mongol
Buddhist monk Dashi-Dorzho Itigilov. The mummy was
found sitting in lotus position, likely in a rare state of
meditation known as tukdam. Scientists are baffled as to
how the remains were so well-preserved, but many believe
the extremely cold weather contributed to the preservation
process. The remains were intercepted after being stolen and
are now at the National Center of Forensic Expertise.

Washington Post

On Wednesday, Estonia became the 21st member of the

European Space Agency. The ceremony took place in ESA
Headquarters in Paris. Estonia has contributed to ESA projects
and has been successful in astrophysics research. Estonia will
become full member after the parliament ratifies the treaty.

Baltic Course

The Lithuanian Ministry of Defense announced a boost in its

arsenal with shipments of the FN SCAR-HPR precision
assault rifles, delivered by Belgian manufacturer FN Herstal.
Minister of National Defense Juozas Olekas explained, Our
focus in the modernization of the Lithuanian Armed Forces is
the soldier, and that precision rifles are a step along this
road. The order is part of a $3.15 million contract to better
equip Lithuanian ground forces.

Army Technology

Britain will provide four Typhoon fighter jets for air policing
and 1000 British troops to join the rapid-reaction force in the
Baltics to reassure the three countries of NATOs
commitment to collective defense. The creation of a Very
High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJFT) was agreed upon in
Wales and aims at bolstering the security at the eastern
frontiers of the Alliance.


On Thursday, the Czech central banks governor said that the

bank is willing to intervene in foreign exchange markets to
weaken the koruna against the euro if eurozone deflationary
pressures keep building. The Czech central bank also
extended the duration of keeping the koruna weak from the
previous date of early 2016 until at least the second half of
next year. Governor Miroslav Singer said that the weakening
euro and falling oil prices are creating unusually high levels
of uncertainty.
Wall Street Journal


On Monday, Amnesty International stated that Slovakias

referendum on marriage and a ban on adoption by same-sex
couples would be a breach of international human rights
standards. Slovakia is holding a referendum on the ban on
February 7 due to a popular petition, signed by 400,000 citizens
or around 10% of countrys population. The group behind the
referendum is Alliance for the Family. To be legally binding,
the turnout in the ballot must be more than 50 percent.


German Chancellor Angela Merkel met with Hungarian

Prime Minister Viktor Orban in Budapest on Monday to
discuss European economic sanctions on Russia and
Hungarian domestic policies. During the meeting, Merkel
stressed the importance of a united European front against
Russian aggression in Ukraine, and also emphasized the role
of the opposition, civil society and the media" in a
democracy. The visit is Merkels first since Orbans election
in 2010.
Al Jazeera
Deutsche Welle

Polands parliamentary speaker Radoslaw Sikorski announced

On Wednesday, Romanias Central Bank lowered interest
on Wednesday that Poland will hold presidential elections on
rates to a new low, from 2.5% to 2.25%, marking the fifth
May 10 of this year. Sikorski dismissed concerns that the May
consecutive cut since August. Romanian bankers stated
10 date is too close to the planned World War II remembrance
there could be further cuts in the future, as the country
ceremonies on May 8 that have aggravated a historic dispute
struggles to manage slowing inflation rates. Headline
between Poland and Russia. The current president, Bronislaw
inflation was down to 0.83% in December from 1.26% in
Komorowski, is leading in opinion polls. Komorowski is being
November. The Central Bank strives to keep inflation
challenged by Anna Grodzka, Polands first transgender
between 1.5-3.5%.
presidential candidate.
News Tribune

On Thursday, Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon appointed the

former Bulgarian official Nickolay Mladenov to be the special
coordinator for the Middle East peace process. Mladenov,
currently the UN special representative to Iraq, served as
Bulgarias foreign minister for three years, and as its defense
minister for two years. Mladenov will replace veteran Dutch
diplomat Robert Serry, who has held the post for more than
eight years. Mladenov begins the job as U.S.-mediated talks
collapsed amid increased tension.
Sofia Globe


Torrential rains have caused flash flooding in Albania,

forcing the evacuation of hundreds of families. The country
has not declared a state of emergency but troops were
deployed on Monday to help rescue villagers and work to
strengthen flood barriers. The floods are the worst Albania
has seen for over thirty years. Albanian Prime Minister Edi
Rama noted that flood damage was exacerbated by
deforestation and soil erosion.
Al Jazeera

The Guardian

On a trip to the United States this week, Serbian Foreign

Minister Ivica Dacic said that he held productive meetings
with members of U.S. Congress and the State Department, in
which U.S. officials stressed their support of Serbias path for
reforms and their tenure as OSCE chair. Dacic met with U.S.
Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian
Affairs Victoria Nuland, who he said supports Serbias
efforts at European integration. Dacic also attended the
Presidents National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday.


Macedonias leading opposition politician has been charged

with conspiring with a foreign spy agency to overthrow the
government. Zoran Zaev, leader of the Social Democrats, is
accused of conspiring with three other individuals to
blackmail Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski into dissolving his
cabinet and calling a snap election. Zaev has denied the
charges and claims that the government is attempting to
prevent the publication of evidence of criminal wrongdoing
by Gruevski's government that could potentially damage
ethnic relations in the country.
Deutsche Welle

The International Court of Justice has rejected claims of

genocide by Croatia and Serbia against each other during the
Croatian war of secession from Yugoslavia. Peter Tomka, the
president of the Court, said that both countries have
committed crimes but that the intent to commit genocide -by "destroying a population in whole or in part" -- had not
been proven against either country.



Austrian authorities have confirmed that the alleged

Montenegrin drug boss Safet Kalic has been extradited to face
charges in Germany. Montenegro sought Kalics extradition,
but Austrian authorities clarified that according the EU
regulations they had to comply with Germanys request. The
Montenegrin government now plans to submit a request to
Germany for his extradition.

Montenegro Government

Kosovo Prime Minister Isa Mustafa announced on Tuesday that

Aleksandar Jablanovic, Minister for Communities, had been
dismissed from the cabinet. In January, Jablanovic had referred
to a group of Kosovo Albanians protesting against ethnic Serb
pilgrims marking Orthodox Christmas as savages. His remark
was one of the triggers for a series of protests last week that led
to violent clashes between police and protesters. Jablanovic said
in an interview that the decision was unacceptable and that
his Serb List party would be re-evaluating its position in
Mustafas ruling coalition over the next few days.

Torrential rains and heavy snowstorms have affected people

throughout the Balkans this week, including in Slovenia.
Heavy snowfalls led Slovenian authorities to close several
border crossings to trucks in an effort to prevent road pileups.
Authorities also closed the Slovenian port Koper on the
Adriatic due to gale-force winds.

Yahoo! News

ABC News

On Thursday, Bosnian Serb lawmakers voted to criminalize

social media posts deemed to be offensive or disruptive, with
fines of up to 800 marka ($474) for the insulting content. The
law comes on the heels of a wave of unrest in Bosnia last
year due to protests organized through Facebook. The region,
Republika Srpska, faces a barrage of criticism from
embassies and human rights watchdogs, including the OSCE.
Critics note that electronic and print media in the region are
already under tight control of the ruling SNSD party.
wRussia. Reuters
The News Tribune