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2/16/15 2/20/15

U.S. Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs

Victoria Nuland visited Azerbaijan on Monday. Nuland met
with the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and with
representatives of civil society in Baku. During the visit she
pointed out that the U.S. welcomes the cooperation it has
built with Azerbaijan over a period of more than 20 years.
She stressed issues related to joint cooperation in energy and
security sectors.

Ex-President of Georgia Saakashvili has been appointed head of

Ukraines International Advisory Council on Reforms. The
decision disappointed the government in Georgia, where
Saakashvili is wanted for criminal charges. The Foreign Affairs
Ministry of Georgia has summoned the Ukrainian Ambassador to
explain the appointment and demand the extradition of
Saakashvili and former Justice Minister Adeishvili. The
opposition has accused the Georgian government of pursuing
political prosecutions of former government officials.
DF Watch


After Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko called for the

deployment of UN peacekeepers in eastern Ukraine, Vitaly
Churkin, Russias ambassador to the UN, accused President
Poroshenko of attempting to undermine the agreement.
According to Churkin, such a proposal suggests that the accords
will not be respected. Russia has also started sending gas
supplies into eastern Ukraine following a gas cut by Kyiv.
According to Russia, the gas is humanitarian aid. Ukraine says it
is unable to service the area due to pipelines damaged from the

This week, fighting raged in eastern Ukraine despite

European efforts to revive a shaky ceasefire. On Wednesday,
Pro-Russian separatists expelled Ukrainian forces from the
town of Debaltseve, disavowing guarantees made during the
Minsk deal last week. On Thursday, French and German
leaders initiated a four-way telephone call with the leaders of
Ukraine and Russia to urge the implementation of the Minsk
deal measures strictly and in their entirety. Western
countries claim Russia is behind the renewed advance, with
the rebels using Russian arms.
The Guardian

On Monday, President Serzh Sargsyan announced that the

Armenian parliament would withdraw from peace accords
with Turkey. The accords were signed by the two countries in
October 2009 but have yet to be approved. Since then there
have been disagreements over the conditions of the deal.
Sargsyan stated that he did not agree to Turkeys
preconditions before it ratifies its part of the agreement,
although reports have been vague as to the exact terms of
these conditions.

On February 19, Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko

made a statement to top-ranking military officials in which he
said that Belarus is open to a constructive dialogue with
NATO. While Lukashenko emphasized that the country would
like to continue to rely on Russia and the CSTO for security
support, he also said the country shouldnt forfeit opportunities
to negotiate with other treaty organizations. Regarding NATO,
Lukashenko stated that Belarus is open to dialogue on the basis
of parity and transparency.

On Thursday, the United States and Turkey signed an

agreement to train and equip some moderate Syrian
opposition fighters in their struggle against Islamic State
militants. The deal was signed by an undersecretary at the
Turkish Foreign Ministry and the U.S. Ambassador to
Turkey. The agreement stipulates that Ankara will provide
an equal number of trainers to work alongside American
counterparts. The Pentagon has identified around 1,200
opposition fighters to undergo training.

On Wednesday, Moldova approved a minority pro-European

government relying on support from the Communist Party.
Parliament approved 38-year-old businessman Chriril
Gaburici as the new Prime Minister, following a vote last
week that denied acting Prime Minister Iurie Leanca another
term. The vote comes just after the Moldovan currency lost a
quarter of its value this week in response to political turmoil.

The Guardian

Al Jazeera


Deutsche Welle

The Interior Ministry of Kyrgyzstan announced that a

popular imam in the Kara-Suu district of Osh Province had
been detained by police. The imam, Rashot Kamalov, was
arrested for allegedly calling for citizens in his community to
fight for the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. The Interior
Ministry also announced that 30 other attempts to recruit
locals to fight for IS had been uncovered in Kara-Suu.
Kamalovs supporters reject the governments claims and say
the charges are politically motivated

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan

(UNAMA) documented a sharp rise in civilian casualties in
Afghanistan during 2014, according to its report released by on
Wednesday. The UNAMA report documented 10,548 civilian
casualties in 2014, the highest number of civilian deaths and
injuries in any single year since 2009. The number is 22 percent
higher than in 2013. The number includes 3,699 civilian deaths, a
25 percent increase over 2013. UNAMA Director of Human
Rights Georgette Gagnon cited intensified ground fighting as the
cause of increase casualties.
New York Times

The council of the Assembly of the People of Kazakhstan

(APK), which represents more than 800 ethnic associations in
the country, issued a statement on Saturday calling for early
presidential elections. By law, the elections should be held in
December 2016. However, given the economic slump and
slashed growth forecast, the APK recommended that the
elections be moved up a year to ensure solid leadership
through any future challenges. Such a recommendation by the
APK has been largely considered a fait accompli.
Astana Times

In a confidential report obtained by news organizations, the

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) noted ongoing
concerns about undisclosed nuclear activities in Iran, as Iran
continues to evade IAEA questions about suspected work on
nuclear weapons. The report was issued just as another round of
nuclear talks is set to begin in Geneva. IAEA Director-General
Yukiya Amano and Iranian senior nuclear negotiator Abbas
Araqchi will meet in Vienna next week to discuss cooperation
between Iran and the IAEA under a possible final deal.

On Tuesday, a Tajik court handed down prison sentences to 13

members of a banned Islamic group which had been accused of
recruiting residents of Sughd province to fight in Syria. The
men were arrested in November and charged with organizing a
criminal group, illegal weapons possession, and membership in
the banned extremist organization Jamaat Ansarullah. Jamaat
Ansarullah is the Tajikistani branch of the Islamic Movement
of Uzbekistan (IMU) and was banned by the Tajik Supreme
Court in May 2012. The 13 men were given prison sentences
ranging from 9 to 12 years.

An article published by the state-run Turkmen Institute of Oil and

Gas on Monday characterized Gazprom as an unstable partner
and noted that the company and its affiliates periodically violate
agreements at interstate, intergovernmental and interdepartmental
level. The articles publication comes after Gazprom announced
earlier this month that it would be cutting gas imports from
Turkmenistan by more than 60 percent, a decision the companys
vice chairman Alexander Medvedev said had been made with
Ashgabats blessing.

The Uzbek-South Korean joint venture UzSungwoo began

exporting its products to Brazil. The agreement on
exporting UzSungwoos products was signed in August
2014 with the Brazilian company General Motors do
Brasilia LTDA. UzSungwoo was created in April 2011 on a
parity basis by Uzbekistans Uzavtosanoat and South
Korean Sungwoo Hitech Ltd. Co with capital of $14
million. The Uzbek state owns 100% of Uzavtosanoat.

The Mongolian Parliament will vote soon on a draft law that

would allow the development of multi-billion dollar casinos.
The law, proposed last week, would create two casinos to
attract wealthy regional residents, particularly from China.
The law would also ban Mongolians from gambling at the
casinos. According to Parliament, the casinos will increase
tourism, stimulate the economy, and diversify revenues away
from the mining industry.



New York Times

Hurriyet Daily News





On Thursday, British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said

that Russian President Vladimir Putin poses a "real and
present danger" to Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. He
furthermore added that Putin might launch undercover
activities to try to destabilize the Baltic States. The Russian
foreign ministry responded saying that the remarks are
"beyond diplomatic ethics."
The Moscow Times


On Monday, 500 ultra-nationalists from the Lithuanian

Nationalist Youth Union marched through Kaunas, with
some marchers wearing swastikas. The city saw some of the
worst killing during the Holocaust in 1941. U.S.-born scholar
Dovid Katz said, This march is particularly offensive
because it is taking place where locals and Nazis murdered
more than 10,000 Jews in one day. The nationalist marchers
were met by a small gathering of protesters from the local
Jewish community and anti-fascist groups.
Jewish Daily Forward

Times of Israel

During the visit of Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics

to Minsk, Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei
commented that he hopes Latvia will be able to find a mutually
beneficial format for Belarus-EU dialogue, as Latvia currently
holds the presidency of the EU Council. During his visit
Latvian Foreign Minister also met with Belarusian president
Aleksandr Lukashenko to discuss regional issues including the
Ukrainian conflict.


Prague will host a new international center to support

political activists in former Soviet Union countries who face
pressure from their governments. The Prague Civil Society
Center will facilitate trainings and workshops for activists
from Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia,
Azerbaijan, Russia, and Central Asia. The center is set up by
a Czech humanitarian organization, People in Need, and
partly financed by the U.S. Agency for International
Development, the Swedish and Czech governments, and two
private U.S. foundations.
Deutsche Welle

Slovakias Prime Minister Robert Fico has promised to oppose

Athens push to ease the terms of its bailout. He also added that
Bratislava is calm about possible Greek exit from the
Eurozone. Fico claimed that EU authorities should enforce
tough measures on Greece. Mr. Fico, who faces elections next
year, said that his views are shared by many EU leaders. The
government debt of Greece in comparison to GDP has increased
since the Eurozone bailout program began.
Financial Times

Slovak Spectator

In two separate meetings this week, Prime Minister Viktor

Orban met with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Polish
Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz. At the meeting with President
Putin in Hungary on Tuesday, the two leaders arranged a new
gas deal that will greatly reduce Hungarian costs for Russian
gas. Russia also contracted to cover 80% of the financial costs
of building new Hungarian nuclear reactors. However, in
Warsaw on Thursday, Prime Minister Kopacz criticized Prime
Minister Orban for his warm ties with Russia after the
countrys aggression in Ukraine.
Wall Street Journal
Washington Post

Speaking to Polish Radio 1 on Tuesday, Polish Defense Minister

A new gas deposit was discovered in the Romanian portion of
Tomasz Siemoniak responded to media speculation that Poland
the Black Sea this week. The deposit, which sources have
would offer Ukraine anti-aircraft missiles and tanks, and
estimated to be 20-25 B cubic meters, was found through joint
declared that supplying neighboring Ukraine with heavy
exploration by ExxonMobil and Petrom, the Romanian oil and
weaponry was out of the question. He noted that Poland has
gas company. If the companies confirm the estimate, the
already supplied Ukraine with $4.6 million worth of food,
deposit could be worth 3.5 billion euro. Romanias total gas
clothing, and blankets, and was preparing another shipment of
consumption in 2013 was only 12.5 B cubic meters.
such goods. Siemoniak also expressed skepticism about the
for Ukraine peace talks but reiterated the need for a
ceasefire agreement as a first step.
ABC News

Turkey warned that militants are planning to travel to Europe

via Bulgaria in order to conduct attacks against countries
participating in the international coalition against IS. Turkeys
National Intelligence Organisation (MIT) estimated that
around 3,000 IS militants are planning to cross into Turkey
and then Bulgaria in order to carry out terror attacks. The
militants are mainly those who retreated from the climactic
standoff in Kobane after its recapture by Kurdish forces.

Jerusalem Post

On Tuesday, the European Commission announced 118,000

euros of aid to assist people affected by the recent flooding in
Albania. The aid will provide about 8,000 people with food
parcels, hygiene kits, and blankets. The European
Commission aid is in addition to aid already provided by
Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Hungary, Slovakia, and
Montenegro as part of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism in
the form of beds, tents, cooking sets, and generators.


Tony Blair will officially advise the Serbian government

through his private consultancy, despite his role as a leader in
the NATO bombing of Belgrade in 1999. Blair will counsel
the Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, who was
Information Minister during the war and a fierce critic of
Blair at the time. Blair and his team have made regular visits
to Belgrade in recent months. According to Serbian officials,
the deal was paid for by the United Arab Emirates.
The Guardian


During his first official visit to Macedonia on Wednesday, EU

Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn expressed
concern about the reported electronic surveillance of
thousands of Macedonian citizens and called for an
investigation into the allegations. Hahn also urged the
countrys politicians to "engage in constructive dialogue."
Earlier this month, opposition politician Zoran Zaev accused
Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski of wiretapping more than
20,000 people over the last four years. Zaev himself is facing
criminal charges and barred from leaving the country.
RTT News
New Zealand Herald

Croatia has received seven bids at an international tender for

onshore exploration of oil and gas on its territory. The
information became public after a statement was made by the
Minister of Economy Ivan Vrdoljak. The tender is part of the
new drive within the European Union to improve on the
terms of energy security. Croatia has not revealed what
companies have applied for the license.


On Tuesday, the Chairperson-in-Office of the OSCE, Foreign

Minister of Serbia Ivica Dadic, visited Podgorica and said that
Serbia wishes Montenegro to become a member of the
European Union as soon as possible. He added that Belgrade
will do its best to support Montenegro on its path. I am
pleased that relations between Serbia and Montenegro have
been completely relaxed over the past few years, he stated at
the meeting with the Montenegrin counterpart Igor Luksic.
In Serbia


As Kosovo marked the seventh anniversary of its independence

from Serbia on Tuesday, Prime Minister Isa Mustafa addressed
lawmakers in parliament and called for measures to fight
unemployment, poverty, corruption, and organized crime in an
effort to stem the mass exodus of ethnic Albanians from Kosovo.
Approximately 20,000 people have left Kosovo so far this year,
largely in response to the ongoing economic crisis in Kosovo. In
an attempt to stem the flow of Kosovars traveling to Germany
through Hungary, Germany has deployed border patrols to assist
in securing the border between Serbia and Hungary.
CTV News

The International Monetary Fund announced on Thursday that it

had concluded its Article IV Consultation with Slovenia and
shared its assessment and recommendations. The IMF projected
that Slovenia's gross domestic product will rise by 1.9 percent in
2015 after an estimated expansion of 2.6 percent in 2014. To
achieve fiscal balance and pay down debt, the IMF has urged
Slovenia to speed up privatization, improve tax collection, and
reform pensions.
Public Finance International


On Wednesday, Bosnian police detained six people on

suspicion of traveling to Syria with intent to fight for the
Islamic State (IS). Bosnias prosecutor said that some of the
suspects were arrested at the Sarajevo airport, while others
were stopped at border crossings in the northwestern region
of Bihac and the northern town of Maglaj. Bosnian
authorities estimate that around 200 Bosnian citizens have
already joined militant groups in Iraq and Syria.
Al Arabiya

Turkish Weekly