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2/9/15 2/13/15

A prominent Azerbaijani activist has been living in the Swiss

embassy for the past six months, Swiss Public Television
reported and Swiss authorities confirmed. Huseynov, a
government critic who previous has been detained and beaten
by police approached the embassy asking for asylum. The
Swiss government is in talks with Baku to find a solution to
the situation.
Eurasia Net


Georgia launched an online visa application for those

wishing to travel to the country either for tourism or for
business. The measure was taken five months after the
government tightened migration regulations. Georgia
maintains visa free travel for citizens of around 104
countries. Previously the maximum length of visa-free stay
was 360 days; however it has been cut to 90 days in any 180
day period.

On Monday, hundreds of supporters of the Prosperous

Armenia party (BHK) staged a protest in Yerevan after
political activist Artak Khachatryan was attacked.
Khachatryan, who had recently spoken at BHK protests
against a controversial tax law, was forced into a car and
beaten for five hours last Saturday. BHK leaders say the
attack was politically motivated, but Prime Minister Hovik
Abrahamian denied that the government was involved, saying
that BHK should be careful not to exploit the attack for

On Wednesday, the Turkish military announced that

security forces detained 13 foreigners and one Turk seeking
to cross the border into Syria to join the Islamic State
militants. The 14 suspects were detained on Monday in
Oguzeli, south of Gaziantep.The foreigners are scheduled to
be deported, while the Turk was released by order of a state
prosecutor. Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu last month
vowed to stem the flow of foreign fighters through Turkey
to Syria.


President Vladimir Putin was one of the four main participants

in the talks held in Minsk this week to establish peace in eastern
Ukraine. While Putin allegedly encouraged pro-Russian rebel
leaders to sign the agreed-upon ceasefire on Thursday, he
continued to push for a federalized Ukraine. It also remains
unclear whether Russia will release Nadia Savchenko, a
Ukrainian pilot being held in Moscow in connection with the
death of two Russian journalists in Ukraine, as demanded by
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

New York Times

On Thursday, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) agreed

to grant Ukraine a $17.5 billion bailout to stabilize the
country as it spirals into default. The new plan replaces an old
emergency bailout that was extended last year after the
ousting of Viktor Yanukovych. Christine Lagarde, Managing
Director of the IMF, said the bailout would be a turning
point for Ukraine, which will now receive $40 billion in
relief from various sources over four years. The
announcement comes as a peace deal was reached in Minsk to
end fighting in eastern Ukraine.
New York Times

Political leaders from France, Germany, Ukraine, and Russia

met in the Belarusian capital of Minsk on Wednesday to
attempt to end the increased violence in eastern Ukraine. The
meeting presented an opportunity for Belarus to recast itself as
a sort of peacemaker, despite ongoing accusations of political
authoritarianism and persistent human rights abuses. Some
political analysts have said that the talks will simply provide an
image boost for President Lukashenko in advance of elections
in November.

On Thursday, Moldovas parliament voted down the cabinet

proposed by the pro-European Prime Minister Lurie Luanca,
once again plunging the country into a state of political
uncertainty. 42 lawmakers voted in favor, while 51 votes
were necessary for the government to be approved. The
cabinet failed to win the support of the Communist and
Liberal Party that opted out of coalition negotiations in


On February 10, officials in the northern district of Jety-Oguz

said that four local men have been detained after police found
a gun and extremist texts at their homes in Ak-Terek.
Officials claim that the four men are suspected members of
the outlawed Islamic group Hizb ut-Tahrir. The same day,
another suspected member of Hizb ut-Tahrir was detained in
the southern Batken province. Kyrgyzstan claims that Hizb
ut-Tahrir supports the aims of Al-Qaeda and Islamic State
militants to radicalize youth to fight in Syria and Iraq.

U.S. government officials reported on Wednesday that the

Obama administration is considering a request from Afghan
President Ashraf Ghani to slow the pace of U.S. troop withdrawal
from Afghanistan. General John Campbell told the Senate Armed
Services Committee on Thursday that he had provided options
that offer U.S. leaders flexibility in the pace and timing of
withdrawals. Approximately 10,000 U.S. troops remain in
Afghanistan to train Afghan troops and conduct counter-terrorism
operations, with that number expected to drop to 5,500 by the end
of the year under the current plan.

The Kazakhstan Central Bank stated on Thursday that it would

keep the tenge within a trading band of 170-188 to the dollar
so long as the price of Brent crude oil remains at around $50
per barrel. Although the current budget was based on
estimations of $80 per barrel of Brent crude, the central bank
has stated that it will introduce target inflation to the currency
flexible. In addition, the S&P Ratings Service downgraded
Kazakhstans credit rating on Monday to two notches above
junk status due to the low oil prices.
Wall Street Journal

On Wednesday, February 11, Iran marked the 36th anniversary of

the Islamic Revolution with rallies across the country. While
addressing a crowd gathered in Tehran, Iranian President Hassan
Rouhani addressed Irans role in creating stability in the Middle
East and discussed prospects for the ongoing nuclear
negotiations. If you want peace and well-being to be in place in
the Middle East and you want terrorism to be uprooted, then
theres no path other than the presence of the Islamic Republic of
Iran, he declared. He also stated that Irans goal in the nuclear
talks is a 'win-win' outcome.
Christian Science Monitor

On Tuesday, the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and

Human Rights opened an election observation mission for
Tajikistans upcoming parliamentary elections on March 1.The
current OSCE chairman, Serbian First Deputy Prime Minister
Ivica Dacic, appointed Italian parliamentarian Marietta Tidei
special coordinator of the short-term observer mission. Tidei
said in a statement that Tajiks "deserve the opportunity to hold
an open and vibrant dialogue on the future of their country
through these elections" and that she hopes to report
improvements over the 2013 presidential election.
RTT News

Representatives of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and

India met in Islamabad on Wednesday to discuss the TAPI gas
pipeline project. The countries signed an agreement to build the
1,500 kilometer long pipeline in 2010 but have yet to begin
construction of the pipeline. The TAPI project has stalled in part
because the four nations have not been able to get an
international firm to head a consortium to lay and operate the
pipeline. Indias Minister of Petroleum called on Turkmenistan to
ease its rules on foreign investment, which currently do not allow
foreign firms to hold an equity stake in upstream gas fields.
Economic Times
World Bulletin

Uzbekistan is cracking down on celebrations of Valentines

Day, especially among Uzbek youth. The government has
turned February 14 into national poetry day as it rejects
what it calls the pernicious influence of Western mass
culture. The new holiday will celebrate the poetry of the
Mughal conqueror Babur. Uzbek university students are
also now required to sign a declaration, promising they
wont celebrate Valentines Day.

Mongolian Prime Minister Chimed Saikhanbileg signed a

free trade agreement with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo
Abe in Tokyo on Tuesday. The agreement is expected to
remove tariffs on 96% of the combined total trade value
between Mongolia and Japan. Japan is now assured access to
Mongolian natural resources, like coal, while Mongolia will
now be able to more cheaply import Japanese automobiles.
Japan will also provide financial aid for ongoing Mongolian
construction projects.


Jakarta Post


Japan Times

On Monday, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a prominent Jewish

rights advocacy group, condemned an Estonian modern art
exhibition in Tartu, accusing them of sickening mockery of
the Holocaust. The exhibition, My Poland: On Recalling and
Forgetting, features eight works of modern with the concept
of looking at the trauma of the Holocaust through the prism of
humor. The exhibition has come under harsh criticism since
Times of Israel


On Monday, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius

said that arming Ukraine is a logical step, a break with the
position of most of his European colleagues. Over the
weekend, German, French and other governments came out
against sending arms to Ukraine, arguing that it could worsen
the conflict and provoke Russia. Mr. Linkevicius said,
however, that the Wests actions must be informed by the
reality on the ground in eastern Ukraine: Ukrainians are
defending (against) external aggression.


At the Munich Security Conference, Latvian Foreign Minister

Rinkevics declared that although he agrees that the solution to
the Ukrainian conflict has to be achieved through diplomatic
and political means, he does not rule out delivering weapons to
Kyiv in the future if the negotiations wont lead to peace. He
further noted that Russian implementation of the deal must be
the focus of the talks.

During the visit of Czech President Milos Zeman to Jordan,

the two governments have agreed to cooperate in the
peaceful development of nuclear power. The Jordan Atomic
Energy Commission and UJV Rez a.s., which provides
design and engineering services to Czech nuclear power
plants, have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU)
outlining their future cooperation. The MoU focuses on
cooperation in preparatory logistics, construction, and
operation of nuclear power plants.
World Nuclear News

Ceske Noviny

A referendum to reinforce a constitutional ban on same-sex

marriage and same-sex adoption in Slovakia has failed due to
low turnout. The referendum was organized by the Alliance for
the Family, a conservative group that collected 400,000 votes
calling for the popular vote. Only 21.4% of eligible citizens
voted. For the ballot to be valid 50% turnout was required.



The Hungarian government has discussed closing its borders to

immigrants, who have been entering the country in record
numbers this year. In January 2015 alone, Hungary received
over 10,000 immigration requests, mainly from Kosovars
fleeing to Germany through Hungary. Germany has announced
it would send 20 police officers to patrol the Hungarian-Serbian
border. Police have also noted an uptick in arrests of illegal
immigrants at the border; in February, police have been
arresting 1,100 - 1,700 people per day, up from 270 - 680 per
day in January.
Wall Street Journal

Speaking to Polish Radio 1 on Tuesday, Polish Defense Minister

A Romanian diplomat in Paris was recalled to Bucharest and
Tomasz Siemoniak responded to media speculation that Poland
fired after sending out email invitations with an attached
would offer Ukraine anti-aircraft missiles and tanks, and
spreadsheet containing rude remarks about the guests. The
declared that supplying neighboring Ukraine with heavy
invitation was to a reception in Paris with President Klaus
weaponry was out of the question. He noted that Poland has
Iohannis, but the email with the invitation also included a
already supplied Ukraine with $4.6 million worth of food,
spreadsheet that called some guests undesirable. One guest
clothing, and blankets, and was preparing another shipment of
was even listed as being ghastly. Romanias ambassador to
such goods. Siemoniak also expressed skepticism about the
France Bogdan Mazuru has called the event unfortunate and
for Ukraine peace talks but reiterated the need for a
apologized for the remarks to some of the offended guests.
ceasefire agreement as a first step.
ABC News

On Thursday, Bulgaria and Greece agreed to make a final

investment decision by the end of May to build a gas pipeline
to reduce reliance on Russian gas. Bulgarian Energy Minister
Temenuzhka Petkova said that the planned gas pipeline
between Bulgaria and Greece is expected to become
operational by 2018. The Greek Energy Minister, Panagiotis
Lafazanis, assured Petkova that the Greek government will
work actively for the development of energy projects of
mutual interest to both countries.


In what Prime Minister Edi Rama described as a terrorist act,

two bombs exploded in downtown Tirana early Tuesday
morning. The bombs appear to be intended as a response to a
government anti-crime drive. The first blast hit a pharmacy
belonging to the father of Interior Minister Saimir Tahiri,
who has led the anti-crime drive. A second blast damaged a
police officers apartment. No one was injured in either blast,
and a third bomb was found unexploded at a bus station and
defused by police.
Deutsche Welle

A Croatian court has banned a dog from barking. Three-yearold Medo has been given a temporary court order to stop
barking from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. The owners neighbor claims
that Medos barking has negatively affected his health and is
asking for $3,160 in compensation if the dog does not stop
barking. Although disliked by neighbors, Medo now has a
strong social media solidarity movement.
Fox News

The Guardian

Montenegro has expelled a Serbian priest on the grounds of

representing a security threat to the country. Velibor Dzomic,
the top Serbian Orthodox Priest in Podgorica, left the country
on Sunday after being denied a residency permit for the fourth
time. The Montenegrin National Security Agency stated that
Dzomics activities jeopardized national security, peace and
order, refusing to disclose any further details.

On February 9, the Serbian army announced a sale of military

surplus, including hundreds of Soviet-era tanks, to raise
money for its armed forces. The sale includes more than
16,000 pistols and 5,000 rocket launchers, along with
thousands of rifle grenades and bullets. The Serbian Ministry
of Defense said that the arms are not essential for Serbias
defense capabilities and they are only selling off surplus
weapons that have already been outdated or have passed
their use-by date. Only companies licensed in foreign arms
sales are allowed to bid.

On Monday, Serbia and Kosovo reached an agreement to

establish an ethnically mixed court in the Mitrovica region of
northern Kosovo in an effort to grant greater judicial
representation to the regions Serbian minority. The agreement
was reached during EU-brokered reconciliation talks in
Brussels. Monday marked the initial resumption of
normalization talks after a ten-month break, during which time
both Kosovo and Serbia held elections.

On Monday, Macedonias leading opposition politician Zoran

Zaev accused Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski of ordering the
illegal wiretapping of more than 20,000 people. Zaev said that
journalists, religious leaders, and opposition politicians,
including leaders of ethnic Albanian political parties, were
among those illegally recorded. Mr. Zaev himself has been
charged with conspiring with a foreign spy agency to
overthrow the government but denies the charges.

On Wednesday, Slovenian central bank governor Bosjan Jazbec

held a news conference to address allegations of data
irregularities during bank bailouts in 2013 and 2014. Jazbec
maintained that all central bank actions were in accordance with
legislation. Allegations of improper management of the crisis
also addressed the central banks decision to wipe out
subordinated bonds and shareholders' capital in the rescued
banks, causing to some 101,300 shareholders to lose out when
the banks became state-owned.




Slovenian Press Agency



On Wednesday, Bosnia banned arms exports to Ukraine

following pressure from the Bosnian Serb community. The
Bosnian arms producer Unis Group had a five million euro
deal to supply Ukraine with arms, but Bosnian Serbs spoke
out strongly against the deal - a community with strong ties
to Russia. Russia also formally protested the sale of Bosnian
arms to Ukraine. In a statement, the presidency said that arms
sales to Ukraine were not in Bosnian national interests and
threatened the Ukraine peace process.
Moscow Times