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2/23/15 2/27/15

Azerbaijani banks face risks given the overnight devaluation

of Azerbaijans currency, the manat, on Saturday.
Azerbaijans Central Bank devalued the manat by around 33
percent against the dollar and 30 percent against the euro. The
devaluation was said to be aimed at stimulating the
diversification of Azerbaijans economy and improving export
potential. It is feared that the devaluation will increase
inflation makes imports more expensive. Azerbaijan has been
severely hurt by the drop in the price of oil, the countrys
main export.
Eurasia Net

The value of the Georgian currency, the lari, dropped sharply

against the U.S. dollar and lost up to 30 percent of its value by
February 25. According to Bloomberg, the lari is now one of the
worlds five worst performing currencies. Bidzina Ivanishvili,
former Prime Minister and allegedly the informal ruler of
Georgia, made a statement on Thursday blaming the deterioration
of the economic situation on the head of the National Bank
Giorgi Kadagidze, who was appointed by the previous
government, led by the UNM party.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Cypriot President Nicos

Anastasiades signed an agreement on Tuesday that will allow
Russian navy ships to make regular calls at Cypriot ports.
Putin stated that the military arrangement isnt directed at any
third party, and that the ships docking in Cyprus would be
involved primarily in international anti-terrorism and piracy
operations. The two presidents also discussed the possibility of
Russian planes using a Cypriot air base for humanitarian relief
US News and World Report

Deutsche Welle

In a statement on Thursday, Ukraines Ministry of

Information Policy called on its citizens to enlist in Ukraines
information forces to fight against online propaganda and
disinformation by Russian trolls and pro-Kremlin news
media. Volunteer Internet fighters apply by signing up at their
new website The website reads, Many fronts
have been opened against us, and one of the most crucial ones
is the information front. 35,000 individuals are reported to
have signed up for the information army thus far.
Moscow Times


Robert Nazaryan, the head of the Armenian Public Services

Regulatory Commission (PSRC), has been in talks with Russia
recently to freeze the price of natural gas despite changes in
currency valuation. During a meeting in Parliament on
Wednesday, Nazaryan told officials that fluctuations in the
valuation of the dram currency are closely tied to energy prices.
The PSRC raised the price of electricity in July 2014 by 10
percent, which followed a 27 percent from the previous year due
to increasing import costs of Russian gas.
Armenia Now

Early this week, ratings agency Moodys decided to place

Belaruss B3 government bond rating on review for
downgrade. In its report regarding the review decision,
Moodys cited an increased strain on Belaruss external
payment position and an increased risk of lower economic
growth rates due to spillover from the Russian economic crisis.
Finance Minister Vladimir Amarin has called the decision

On Friday, Turkish police arrested a suspect outside the

U.S. consulate in Istanbul who claimed to have a bomb.
Police blocked off a street adjacent to the consulate and
checked the suspects car for explosives. The consulate
announced that it had taken safety precautions for its staff
and visitors. Dogan News Agency reported that the suspect
is believed to be mentally unstable and is now in
questioning. Police announced that the man was not
carrying illegal materials or weapons.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday she

hopes that Moldova will not be Vladimir Putins next target,
given the countries struggle for stronger ties with Europe. She
made the statement at a press conference with the visiting
Romanian President Klaus Iohannis. With the appointment of
a pro-European prime minister, Mr. Gaburici, after long interparty wrangling, Moldova will likely begin taking stronger
pro-EU stands that might not be welcomed in Moscow.

Voice of America



Yahoo News


Wall Street Journal

On Thursday, Kyrgyzstans parliament ramped up pressure

on Centerra Gold and threatened to nationalize the Kumtor
gold mine if the Canadian company does not agree to a
proposed joint venture within a month. The Kyrgyz
government and Centerra have been locked in talks regarding
the joint venture, which would involve Kyrgyzstan trading a
32.7 percent stake in Centerra for half of a joint venture to
control the mine. The parliament voted 76-1 to pass a
resolution on the one month deadline before nationalization.

Heavy snowfall in the mountainous province of Panjshir in

northeastern Afghanistan led to a series of avalanches this week,
killing at least 168 people. Authorities fear that the death toll will
continue to rise, as rescuers have yet to reach some of the
hardest-hit areas. The avalanches began on Tuesday and
continued on Wednesday and Thursday, destroying over 100
homes as well as mosques and schools. The provincial governor
Abdul Rahmon Kabiri reported that the Panjshir province had not
seen such severe avalanches in three decades.

Rakhat Aliyev, ex-husband of President Nursultan

Nazarbayevs eldest daughter, Dariga, was found hanged in a
prison in Vienna on Tuesday morning. Aliyev was awaiting
trial for the kidnapping and murder of two former Kazakh
bank officials in 2007. In that same year, Aliyev divorced from
Nazarbayeva and fled the country, eventually turning himself
in to Austrian authorities in June 2014. Aliyev, 52, was not
considered a suicide risk, leading his lawyers to suggest that
the suicide was a setup.
New York Times

Irans navy undertook a multi-day, live-fire military simulation in

the Persian Gulf near the Strait of Hormuz this week. As part of
the exercise, the Iranian navy attacked a replica of a U.S. aircraft
carrier. The exercise took place while Iran is still engaged in
negotiations with United States, Russia, China, Britain, France,
and Germany to reach an initial political agreement on Irans
nuclear program by March 31. Tehran has repeatedly stated that
it could block the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic waterway for oil
transit, in the event of an attack on its nuclear facilities.

The World Bank has announced that it will be investing 45

million U.S. dollars to finance the second phase of the Central
Asia Road Links Program, which will restore the road network
in the Sughd province of Tajikistan. The World Bank Groups
Board of Directors approved the allocation on Wednesday and
reported that the program will be implemented between 2015
and 2020. The goal of the program is to improve transportation
connectivity between Tajikistan and its neighbors.

European Commission Vice-President for Energy Union Maro

efovi emphasized the EUs commitment to the Southern Gas
Corridor and highlighted the importance of developing
relationships with Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan for developing
this corridor. efovi noted that Russias position on the TransCaspian gas pipeline is a problem for the development of the
project in Turkmenistan, but he emphasized that he project is a
main priority for the EU.

Shanghai Daily

On Wednesday, three men were arrested in New York City on

charges of conspiring to support the Islamic State. Two of the
men arrested, Abdurasul Hasanovich Juraboev, 24, and Abror
Habibov, 30, were citizens of Uzbekistan. Juraboev caught the
attention of the FBI when he posted messages on an Uzbeklanguage website about his willingness to kill President Barack
Obama. Farhod Sulton, the president of Vatandosh UzbekAmerican Federation, said that the Uzbek community in the
U.S. is upset and disappointed with news of the arrests.
Voice of America


New York Times




Vestnik Kavkaza

On Thursday, President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj pardoned three

foreigners accused of tax evasion. An American and two
Philippine citizens working for mining company SouthGobi
Resources were detained three years ago. They were each
sentenced to five years in prison this January, and SouthGobi
was fined approx. $18 million, which the company is
appealing. The decision to commute the sentences was likely
based on Mongolias need of foreign direct investment, as well
as flaws in the Mongolian legal system.
Los Angeles Times

Recent reports indicate that Estonia and the U.S. are the only
NATO member states meeting the NATO requirement for 2
percent of the GDP to be spent on defense. Countries such as
Britain, Bulgaria, Canada, Germany, Hungary and Italy are
on track to reduce military expenditures in 2015, in spite of
official rhetoric from NATO leaders over the Russian
aggression in Ukraine.

ABC News

Business Insider

On Tuesday, the Lithuanian government announced the

reinstatement of the military draft in the wake of the Ukraine
crisis. President Dalia Grybauskaite said that the measure
was necessary because of growing aggression in Ukraine.
National service will be reinstated for five years beginning in
September, when it will enlist 3,000 men, aged 19 to 27, for
nine month service. Lithuania currently has 15,000 troops,
down from 39,000 before it joined the NATO alliance in
The Guardian

CS Monitor

Russian military paratroopers held military exercises in the

Pskov region, which borders Latvia and Estonia. Up to 2,000
soldiers took part in drills on Wednesday. As Russian
authorities noted, the drills will continue until Saturday. Since
the start of the Ukraine crisis, Russia has conducted several
series of drills that alarm its Baltic neighbors. NATO troops
marched in the Estonian border town of Narva in parallel to the
Russian military exercises.
National Post


On Tuesday, a local man shot and killed eight people in a

restaurant in an eastern Czech town before killing himself in
the worst peacetime shooting in the Czech Republics
history. The Czech interior minister said the attack was
carried out by an insane murderer and was not a terrorist
act. The shooter called a Czech television channel before the
shooting and explained that he was being bullied and was left
without support. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka gave his
condolences to the families and relatives of the victims.


The U.S. State Department has agreed to sell nine UH060M

Black Hawk utility helicopters to Slovakia. Bratislava plans to
replace its Soviet-designed Mil Mi-17 fleet that are produced
and maintained by the Russian owned firm Rostec. However,
since the U.S. increased the price from 348 million to 450, there
are doubts that this will cause Slovakias reluctance to make the
deal. In case the parties come to an agreement, the foreign
military sale will require congressional approval.
Defense News

Sputnik News

In a by-election on Sunday in the western constituency of

Veszprem, a member of the political opposition was elected to
parliament. Independent candidate Zoltan Keszs election
eliminated the ruling Fidesz partys two-thirds majority for the
first time in five years, although the party still claims a majority
of parliamentary seats. The election was held to fill the seat of
Fidesz member and former Prime Minister Tibor Navracsics,
who left to become an EU commissioner last October. There
will be another by-election in April to fill the seat of Jeno
Lasztovicza, who died last month.
Wall Street Journal

The Romanian High Court of Cassation and Justice

announced on Wednesday that former tourism minister Elena
Udrea would spend 30 days in jail related to a corruption
charge. The Romanian National Anticorruption Directorate
has accused Udrea of illegally financing a boxing gala for
Romanian champion Lucian Bute in 2011. Udrea had been
previously arrested earlier this month relating to another case
involving Microsoft licenses.

Poland is preparing to send military instructors to Ukraine to

train Ukrainian troops. Boguslaw Pacek, an advisor to the Polish
defense minister, told Reuters that Poland will send at least a
dozen instructors to train Ukrainian non-commissioned officers.
The final decision, including the exact number of instructors to
be sent, will be made next month.

Krakow Post


Business Review


On Wednesday, Bulgarias parliament ratified a government

plan to raise 8 billion euros of new debt through overseas
bond sales over the course of three years. Prime Minister
Boiko Borisov had hinted that he would resign if the plan was
voted down. Despite ratification, the plan is opposed by one
of the ruling coalitions four parties, the nationalist Patriotic
Front. The opposition Socialists and nationalist Attack party
have also warned the bond sales could push Bulgaria into a
debt spiral similar to Greeces crisis.
Sofia Globe

On Wednesday, Albanian Minister of Energy and Industry

Damian Gjiknuri signed an agreement with the German
company Max Streicher to build a 200 million euro ($227.1
million) power line to Italy. The deal was hailed for
integrating southeastern Europe into the European energy
market, improving energy security, and encouraging further
investment in the energy sector in Albania.
Shangai Daily


On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry welcomed

his Serbian counterpart and OSCE chair Ivica Dacic for talks
on the conflict in Ukraine. Serbia is taking on an
increasingly important role (as OSCE chair); we will all be
looking for accountability in the process of trying to stabilize
the eastern part of Ukraine and see if we cant get on a
different road, Kerry said. Dacic also vowed that his country
would invest maximum efforts to bring peace in the entire
OSCE region.
Daily Star

Department of State

On Wednesday, opposition leader Zoran Zaev launched

further allegations of government wire-tapping. He accused
the government of tapping the phones of approximately 100
journalists in an effort to establish control over the media.
Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski denies the allegations and
insists that the wire-tapping is the work of a foreign
intelligence service.

The Tribune


Croatia announced that it will cancel debts for its poorest

citizens. Named fresh start, the government program aims
to help around 317,000 low income Croatians, whose bank
accounts have been blocked due to the debts. The program is
expected to cost between 210 million and 2.1 billion Croatian
Kuna (31 to 300 million USD). Debt relief has been linked to
the upcoming parliamentary elections.
Washington Post

Financial Times

European Parliaments Foreign Relations committee passed a

resolution assessing Montenegrin progress on its path to the EU
on Monday. The resolution, while hailing the progress
Podgorica has made thus far, urges the government in
Montenegro to resolve all remaining border disputes with
neighbors. The European Parliament also encourages the final
delimitation of borders with Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina,
and Kosovo.
In Serbia


Over the weekend, Kosovos foreign minister Hashim Thaci

threatened to file a lawsuit with the International Court of Justice
(ICJ) against Serbia for genocide during the 1998-1999 conflict.
Critics have argued that such a move would be dangerous and
legally impractical, as Kosovo is not a member of the UN and
not a party to the ICJ statute. Aleksandar Vulin, Serbias labor
minister, declared that a suit against Belgrade would mean the
end of EU-mediated talks to normalize relations between Kosov
and Serbia.
Turkish Weekly

Balkan EU

On Friday, Slovenia's largest bank, state-owned Nova

Ljubljanska Banka (NLB), reported that it had posted a profit for
the first time in six years. The bank generated a net profit worth
62.3 million euros ($69.94 million) in 2014. This comes only
year after NLB posted a loss of 1.44 billion euros in 2013, the
same year that the state rescued the bank with a 1.55 billion euro


On Monday, Bosnias parliament adopted an economic and

social reform plan to open the path to EU membership once
again. EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said the
vote is a historic turning point. The vote opens the
possibility for EU members to ratify a pre-accession
agreement Bosnia signed with the bloc seven years ago.
Bosnia has been stuck on its EU path for years due to
infighting between the Bosniak, Serb, and Croatian political
factions in the country.
Voice of America
ABC News