EPA-EFE/ANTONIO BAT

Rescue workers inspect buildings damaged in an earthquake in Petrinja, Croatia, 29 December 2020. A 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck around 3km west south west of the town with reports of many injuries and at least one death. At least seven people are known to have died from the earthquake and according to Croatian police, at least 20 people were injured, while a 12-year-old girl was killed in Petrinja and at least five people in a nearby village. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>EU mobilises emergency assistance for earthquake-hit Croatia

By Zoe Didili
Journalist, New Europe

epa08909761 Rescue workers inspect buildings damaged in an earthquake in Petrinja, Croatia, 29 December 2020. Austria, Bulgaria, Czechia, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden and Turkey were the countries that provided immediate assistance, which included housing containers, winterised tents, sleeping bags, beds, and electrical heaters. I have asked @JanezLenarcic to stand ready to travel to Croatia as soon as the situation allows. We are ready to support. “The biggest part of central Petrinja is in a red zone which means that most of the buildings are not usable,” Plenković said, as the tremors caused severe damage to buildings and homes. Less than 24 hours after a magnitude 5.2 earthquake hit southeast of the capital Zagreb, a stronger one of 6.4 magnitude followed, causing major damage to Petrinja, a town close to its epicentre. Earlier in the week, the Commission’s chief, Ursula von der Leyen had tweeted that the EU was standing “ready to support,” Croatia, adding that she would ask the bloc’s Crisis Commissioner to travel to the country “as soon as the situation allows.” 

After another powerful earthquake in Croatia, the 2nd in the past 2 days, I spoke with Prime Minister @AndrejPlenkovic again. The Croatian military has been deployed to help with the rescue operation. EPA-EFE/ANTONIO BAT

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The European Union has mobilised its Civil Protection Mechanism to help Croatia in the aftermath of a magnitude 6.4 earthquake that struck the central part of the country on Tuesday. — Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) December 29, 2020

Along with the Emergency Response Coordination Centre, the EU’s Copernicus emergency management service is also assisting the country, by helping to provide damage assessment maps of the affected areas. We stand with Croatia. Two of EU’s Commissioners, Dubravka Suica and Janez Lenarcic on Wednesday traveled to Zagreb, where they met with Plenkovic.

Sekhar
Chairman, Unleashing India, Global Smart City

By Lena Deros
Associate Publisher of New Europe Media

By Chrysostomos Vassili
Global Green Environment Philanthropist and Humanitarian & CEO of Vassili Group an Infrastructure Development Enterprises. Its energy needs will more than double in the next 20 years. In 2017, the EU was India’s first trading partner, while India was the EU’s 10th largest trading partner. India and EU relationship is bound by long history. This transformation comes with a broader perspective, evolving around the shared aspirations expressed in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and going far beyond development cooperation in a narrow sense. Undoubtedly, collaboration of India and EU nations in the realm of investment and business can truly transform both the partner’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. India and the EU agreed to cooperate on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, to reinvigorate the EU–India Development Dialogue and to create synergies in their respective cooperation with other countries. This exacerbates development challenges and affects disproportionately the poor and vulnerable groups. India is modernizing, and has set ambitious objectives to: reduce poverty and spread the benefits of economic growth; answer to the needs of its aspiring middle-class; boost production capacity and productivity through domestic and foreign investments and transfer of technologies; achieve sustainable urbanization; modernize agriculture; digitalize the economy; improve water management and resource efficiency; develop qualified human resources; and nurture innovation and start-ups. Indo – EU Relationship – Fact Sheet
India is EU’s 10th largest trading partner. The government has made huge strides in facilitating an enabling business ecosystem through liberalization of Foreign Direct Investment, ratifying WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement, and other such reforms, which has improved India’s integration into the global economy. To further enhance India’s export preparedness to meet the needs of the post-COVID global economy, the Export Preparedness Index (EPI) 2020 examines the export ecosystem of Indian states and union territories. Both business partners should continuously meet and engage in discussions related to mitigating bilateral trade issues, defense ties, renewable energy, knowledge sharing and other vital areas. Sekhar are focusing upon a Indo-Hellenic collaboration, attracting India’s industries to fuse with Greek industries, in Greece and the Republic of Cyprus, so as to enable Indian industry to enter into collaboration and partnerships with Greek and Cypriot companies, whereby they can share and enhance products, manufacturing and global markets via a European base. The EU should seek to continue to engage India on specific issues, from a result oriented perspective:
a) Promoting effective multilateralism;
b) Building on common values;
c) Reinforcing cooperation on foreign policy – from common values to common action;
d) Developing security and defense cooperation. This demographic dividend could add about two percentage points yearly to India’s per capita GDP growth over the next two decades. Indo – EU Export & Import Trade Statistics
The position of India among the largest trade partners of the EU in 2019 – 2020. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Business potential for $1 trillion in Indo – EU biz corridor

By Dr. EU Cumulative foreign direct investment stocks in India amounted to €88.486 billion in 2019. Cyprus sits at the cross road of three continents, Greece and Cyprus is investor friendly, business orientated with favorable tax systems in Europe, and with access to a network of double tax treaties. P. 

EPA-EFE//FILIP SINGER

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India is one of the world’s largest economies, in the world, in terms of purchasing power parity. The EU supports India’s greater participation in global governance and has a strong interest in building a solid partnership for global stability and prosperity. The four largest import partners of the EU were China (19 %), the United States (12 %), the United Kingdom (10 %) and Russia (7 %). Indian companies establishing their base in Greece and Cyprus allows them to have a permanent foundation and footing within Europe, with access to three continents from a European manufacturing and servicing base. India will become the most populous country in the world, surpassing China in the next decade. Going ahead, growth prospects for trade and development between India and EU countries are very promising and sustainable, not only for the coming years but for the coming decades. The EU should project its dynamic bilateral cooperation on modernization to the global stage, thereby engaging more actively with India on these issues to secure an effective global approach:
a) Consolidating the modernization partnership;
b) Closer coordination on global challenges;
c) Realizing the untapped potential of the trade and investment relationship;
d) Investing in talent and innovation
Security and stability through the rules-based global order
Both the EU and India strive for inclusive, effective and rules-based global governance, centered on multilateralism, with the UN at its core. 67% of the population lives in rural areas, but the projected rate of urbanization is set to double in the next decade. In a changing bilateral and global context, India and the EU are showing growing interest in extracting more strategic value from their partnership. Excellent infrastructure with good transportation shipping roots throughout the EU, Africa, Asia and Middle East, which allows goods to be shipped globally. The EU’s share in foreign investment inflows to India more than doubled from 8% to 18% in the last decade, making the EU the first foreign investor in India. The global economy faces challenging times ahead. India is currently the world’s 4th largest emitter of greenhouse gases, although this stands for only a tenth of the US per capita CO2 emissions. With further liberalization of FDI policy in different segments and the advent of GST next year, FDI from EU is expected to touch a new growth trajectory. A better understanding of each other’s positions is essential to identify meaningful shared interests that would benefit a common approach. India holds the position of being the fastest expanding economy in the world. The four largest export partners of the EU were the United States (18 %), the United Kingdom (15 %), China (9 %) and Switzerland (7 %). The time of the industrial era, with its “dull markets’, is over. India’s internal policies and priorities will have a huge impact on international action on climate change; global energy security; resource efficiency; 2030 Agenda implementation; environmental challenges; disaster risk reduction; ocean governance, including sustainable fisheries and blue economy; and the protection of global common goods. This amount is 11.1% of India’s of total Indian trade;
The EU is the second-largest destination for Indian exports (over 14% of the total);
Trade in goods between the EU and India increased by 72% in the last decade. This would create one of largest single markets – $1 trillion in spending and investment – offering great opportunities for both trade partner. Based on new issue-specific partnerships on climate change and energy, urbanization, water, and resource efficiency, India and the EU have been engaging in a process to transform their relationship as development partners. It is already the world’s biggest democracy. It shows that India (€45.67 billion, 1.8 %) was the eleventh largest export partner of the EU, between Canada (€38.3 billion, 1.8 %) and Mexico (€37.6 billion, 1.8 %). India occupies an important place in a complex geo-strategic space. Why are relations with India important for the EU? Prospective bilateral agreement and growth avenues would push trade between India and EU to $1 trillion by the upcoming year. Prosperity through sustainable modernisation
An enhanced EU-India partnership on sustainable modernization should contribute to deepening the existing relationship and foster investment and trade, while accelerating India’s move up the value chain; its research and technological development; resource efficiency and green growth, expansion of the tax base; and fostering of entrepreneurship. There is still significant room to improve coordination with India in the multilateral and regional fora. There is a need for high – dynamic value creation and more responsive organizations. The country is highly vulnerable to climate change and extreme weather, such as heat waves, droughts and floods. India is of interest to every nations in the world:
Population of 1.38 billion. Situated at the centre of key Europe-Asian trade routes, and a factor of stability in a complex region, India’s diplomatic and security posture towards its neighbors and major regional powers have important consequences for the EU. The impact of economic and demographic growth on the environment is high. FDI Equity Inflow
EU foreign direct investment stocks in India cumulative total amounted to €88.486 billion from January 2000 to December 2019. India-EU bilateral trade in goods was €80 billion in 2019. India’s traditional relations with developing countries are also a potential source of strength in addressing the sustainable development goals. H.E. India, too, has become more open to creating new types of global partnerships— including with European partners—on relevant issues of sustainable development. The country is the fastest-growing large economy, with annual GDP growth rates of around 7%, and on its way to reach the $7.8 trillion economy mark by 2030. Indian industries are interested in focusing their investment and base within Cyprus and Greece. Trade in services between the EU and India increased rapidly from €22.3 billion in 2015 to €29.6 billion in 2018. Particular challenges include resource depletion, in particular water scarcity, air and water pollution and waste management. Challenges
India is facing significant challenges to unlock its economic and demographic potential, notably there is a need to enhance people life style; build adequate infrastructure and connectivity; ensure access to education and health across the country; and deal with increasing income inequality. On the people front, both Greece and Cyprus are multicultural societies, offering multilingual, versatile and highly educated workforce, with the highest percentage of university graduates per capita in Europe, as such multinationals can rely upon highly qualified professional service providers and work force. The below image has some more details. Even for a country as large as India that possesses an expansive domestic market, high growth can only be sustained with an export-oriented policy focus. P. Lena Deros (URGC Ambassador at Large) and Sir Chrysostomos Vassili, in collaboration and partnership with Dr. Be more innovative. Some 6,000 European companies are present in India, providing directly 1.7 million jobs and indirectly 5 million jobs in a broad range of sectors. It is an important player in global economic governance. Be able to resolve more complex problems. The Indo-Hellenic collaboration is one that will start to change how India strengthens its markets to Europe and from Europe globally. With 93% of the workforce in the informal economy even new job creation is another challenge, given the 12 million people estimated to enter the workforce every year. With India has more than 50% of its population below the age of 25 and more than 65% below the age of 35, India has the biggest young workforce in the world;
India poised to become third-largest consumer market
Important player in Security & Counter – Terrorism;
Rate of Development;
Democratic holds them back in several fronts;
Improved support from Government to Foreign investors;
Culturally diverse. Indian companies invested over €50 billion in Europe since 2000. In imports India (€43.99 billion, 2.0 %) was the tenth largest partner of the EU, between South Korea (€47.4 billion, 2.5 %) and Vietnam (€34.4 billion, 1.8 %). In its recently adopted strategy on India, the EU recommends the negotiation of a broader Strategic Partnership Agreement to promote sustainable modernization, consolidate the rules-based global order, and address global challenges together. URGC Global President

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (L) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) talk prior to their joint press conference at the German Chancellory in Berlin. Because of the rise of global, high – competition markets, organizations have to respond faster. The International Solar Alliance, co-launched by India and France, illustrates this aspect of India’s global engagement. 50% of all Indians are under the age of 25. This context provides an opportunity to advance India-EU cooperation in the area of sustainable development. Knowledge Sharing
Knowledge sharing is more necessary than ever. For India & Europe countries, there will be even greater opportunities if all 27 countries join in India free trade to contribute sustainable development.

Russian authorities imposed a week long home quarantine to prevent the spread of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 which causes the COVID-19 disease. Eighteen deaths and 2,365 cases of the COVID-19 disease have been confirmed in Russia. In a statement issued on December 28, the Russian Foreign Ministry said it had summoned the Ambassador of Bulgaria, Atanas Krystin, adding that he was handed a note which declared the Bulgarian military attaché, Mitko Borisov as “persona non grata.” 
The Bulgarian diplomat was given 72 hours to leave the country. The move came after Bulgaria expelled Russia’s military, air and naval attaché earlier in December, with prosecutors in Sofia supporting he had been involved in espionage since 2017. In particular, Bulgaria accused of gathering information about US military personnel’s participation in exercises in Bulgaria. The Russian diplomat is the sixth to be expelled by NATO member Bulgaria since October 2019 for suspected espionage. EPA-EFE/SERGEI CHIRIKOV

Pedestrians cross a street in front of the Foreign Ministry in Moscow, Russia, 31 March 2020. EPA-EFE/SERGEI CHIRIKOV

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Russia’s Foreign Ministry on Monday expelled Bulgaria’s military attaché, Lieutenant Colonel Mitko Borisov, in a retaliatory move for the “unjustified” expulsion of a Russian diplomat from Sofia earlier in the month. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Russia expels Bulgarian diplomat in retaliatory move

By Zoe Didili
Journalist, New Europe

epa08334484 Pedestrians cross a street in front of the Foreign Ministry in Moscow, Russia, 31 March 2020.

“We decided to take an additional 100 million doses of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine, which is already being used to vaccinate people across the EU,” von der Leyen wrote in a Twitter post, as EU member states simultaneously kickstarted vaccinations on December 27, with hopes that they will mark the end of the Coronavirus pandemic. The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has been green lighted by Europe’s medicines watchdog, the European Medicines Agency (EMA), after it was found to be 90% effective in preventing COVID-19 among those without evidence of prior infection. — Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) December 29, 2020

“The additional 100 million doses will be delivered in 2021, supporting the vaccination campaigns, which started two days ago in all 27 member states,” said Ugur Sahin, the chief of BioNTech. We decided to take an additional 100 million doses of the #BioNTech /@Pfizer vaccine, which is already being used to vaccinate people across the EU. We will therefore have 300 million doses of this vaccine, which was assessed as safe and effective. She added that the move, which is part of the Advanced Purchase Agreement the EU Executive signed with the two companies on November 11, will bring the total supply to 300 million doses of the vaccine. EPA-EFE/Marcin Bielecki POLAND OUT

A nurse prepares to administer Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at the Clinical Hospital in Szczecin, northwestern Poland, 30 December 2020. Poland started a vaccination campaign against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on 27 December. EPA-EFE/Marcin Bielecki POLAND OUT

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The European Union will buy an extra 100 million doses of a Coronavirus vaccine developed by US pharmaceutical Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, the Commission’s chief Ursula von der Leyen announced on Tuesday. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>EU to purchase extra 100 million doses of Pfizer vaccine

By Zoe Didili
Journalist, New Europe

epa08911340 A nurse prepares to administer Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at the Clinical Hospital in Szczecin, northwestern Poland, 30 December 2020. Medical personnel will be the first group to get the vaccine, followed by senior citizens and uniformed services. More vaccines will follow!

The net inflow of capital to the financial account (excluding operations with the reserve assets of the National Bank) for 9 months of 2020 amounted to $ 9.3 billion, for 9 months of 2019 – a net outflow of $2.3 billion. The decline in exports is associated with a decrease in the export of oil and gas condensate, the press service of the National Bank said on December 30. Imports of goods decreased by 9.6% to US $26.4 billion. The decrease in imports is due to the decrease in the import of investment and intermediate goods. TENGIZCHEVRONOIL

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Exports from Kazakhstan in January-September of this year compared with the same period last year decreased by 18.2%, to %35.3 billion. The inflow was mainly ensured by the continuation of financing the implementation of the future expansion of Tengizchevroil LLP, the placement of sovereign bonds by the Ministry of Finance and the operations of the National Fund. As a result, the trade surplus decreased by 36% and amounted to $9 billion. At the end of 9 months of 2020, income payable to foreign direct investors decreased by 36.8%, to %10.2 billion, influenced by the decline in oil prices and the COVID-19 pandemic. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Kazakhstan reduces exports by 18% in nine months

By Kulpash Konyrova

The Tengiz oilfield in Kazakhstan.

For her part, Tuss said that the agreement is part of the government’s plan to put the UK “at the center of a network of modern agreements with dynamic economies,” citing that Britons will be able to buy high-quality products, manufactured in Turkey. Members of Parliament are due to debate a bill today put forward by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in order to hold an early general election. EPA-EFE/WILL OLIVER

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The UK on Tuesday signed a free trade deal with Turkey, its first one since it clinched a post-Brexit trade agreement with the European Union. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>UK and Turkey sign free trade deal

By Zoe Didili
Journalist, New Europe

epa07957577 International Trade Secretary Liz Truss arrives for a cabinet meeting in Downing Street, London, Britain, 29 October 2019. will win,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday, announcing the plan during a meeting with his Justice and Development (AKP) party.  
  The UK is Turkey’s second-largest export market after Germany, and according to Pekcan, UK’s investments in Turkey are around $11.6 billion, while Turkey’s imports to the UK amount to $5.6 billion. EPA-EFE/WILL OLIVER

International Trade Secretary Liz Truss arrives for a cabinet meeting in Downing Street, London, Britain, 29 October 2019. His words were echoed by Pekcan, who said that the deal aims at furthering the country’s trade volume, also labelling it as a “critical milestone” on the way to deepen bilateral relations on a “win-win basis.”
“Without a deal, about 75% of Turkish exports to the UK would be subject to tariffs, causing the loss of some $2.4bn; this risk is now gone,” Pekcan added, during a speech to the virtual signing ceremony. “A new era begins starting in 2021, one in which both Turkey and the U.K. The continuity agreement was signed in a virtually ceremony between British Trade Minister Liz Truss and her Turkish counterpart, Ruhsar Pekcan, and comes days before Brexit’s transitional period comes to an end and UK leaves the EU’s single market and the customs union.

“These downward revisions mainly take into account downward adjustments to the economic outlook in OECD economies due to COVID-19 containment measures, with the accompanying adverse impacts on transportation and industrial fuel demand through mid-2021,” OPEC said in the report. So, it is a possible threat but one that traders currently assign a low probability in 2021,” he said. EPA-EFE/FLORIAN

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Oil traders are optimistic the start of the deployment of vaccines means that an end to the worst economic ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic is in sight and that should boost demand for oil in 2021. Regarding demand, OPEC has turned more bearish on global oil demand due to the second wave of COVID-19 infections. follow on twitter @energyinsider Libyan oil production is up by over 1.0 million barrels per day since the cease-fire started and Venezuela is also reported to be adding more export volumes. Potentially the biggest problem for OPEC+ is if the new US Administration decides to rejoin the JCPOA and reduce the current sanctions blocking Iranian oil exports. The original plan was for OPEC+ to add 2 million barrels. “That brings the year-to-date (December 16th) loss to almost 8%. Weafer noted that that buying undoubtedly support the oil price since early summer when, it is reported, the buying for storage started. Members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its major oil-producing allies led by Russia, a group known as OPEC+, have switched to a monthly meeting to more closely monitor the market trends and may have to consider suspending production recovery plans if demand does not rally sufficiently to adsorb the extra oil supply. “The price of Brent is heading into the year end with solid support from traders,” said Chris Weafer, co-founder of Macro-Advisory in Moscow. That also gives OPEC+ a headache as Libya is not part of the production agreement. “That could, potentially, add up to 2.0 million barrels of Iranian oil to the global market. Potentially the biggest problem for OPEC+ is if the new US Administration of president-elect Joe Biden decides to rejoin the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the so-called Iran deal, and reduce the current sanctions blocking Iranian oil exports. Probably the most important factor in 2021, especially in the first half of next year, will be the trend in coronavirus infections in major economies and the economic result from actions taken to control the pandemic. “The price of Brent rallied 26.2% in the month of November and has added another 9% since the start to December (to 18th). Iran may be the biggest problem, Weafer said. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Crude oil price rally may face supply side pressure in early 2021

By Kostis Geropoulos
Energy & Russian Affairs Editor, New Europe

epa08249319 A General view of EU director Helga Schmid (C-L) and Iranian Deputy-Foreign Ministers Abbas Araghchi (C-R) attend an extraordinary JCPOA Joint Commission meeting at the Palais Coburg, in Vienna, Austria, 26 February 2020. The Joint Commission of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) at a Political Directors’ level is chaired by European External Action Service (EEAS) Secretary General Helga Schmid and is attended by E3/EU+2 (Germany, France, the United Kingdom, China, Russia) and Iran. But Weafer warned that supply side pressures may rise. That scale of exchange rate loss for the dollar has historically always provided good support for oil,” the Macro-Advisory expert said. That has reduced the price loss in 2020 to 20.8% and, so far, appears to have set a support price of $50 per barrel over the near-term,” he added. According to Weafer, the reasons for the recent rally include, the roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccines, reports that China continues to be a buyer of oil into its strategic reserves and more than daily usage, and the weak dollar, which is also providing price support for oil. Venezuela’s oil exports nearly doubled in November as new buyers linked to a Russian trading firm stepped up purchases. But while President-elect Biden has said he is in favour of returning to the JCPOA deal, Congress is vehemently opposed to such a move. “While the roll-out of various vaccines in many countries is hugely encouraging, it is far too early to be sure that this process will succeed in bringing the infection rate under control, or how long it will take,” Weafer said, adding that news of successes or setbacks is bound to create volatility in the oil price in the first half of 2021. It means that the total cut will be scaled back from the current 7.7 million barrels per day to 7.2 million barrels per day. The US dollar lost 2.4% versus the euro in November and another 2% since the start of December. Moreover, the steady recovery in oil production and exports from Venezuela may also cause problems for OPEC+ and affect the decisions Ministers make. What to watch in 1H21
The key drivers of the oil price in early 2021 are expected to include COVID-19, oil demand, US shale, Libya, India and China. “For Russia, the decision to adjust the January 1st production quote means that the country may now only add back 125,000 barrels per day instead of the previously planned 500,000 barrels per day,” he added. Meanwhile, the ceasefire in the Libyan civil war has allowed for a fast recovery in the country’s oil output. That is more than one month’s normal demand for the country. “The price of oil will be sensitive to further actions taken by the group. OPEC+ members have adjusted their production agreement so that, from January 1st, they will in aggregate now only add 500,000 barrels per day to its oil production quotas. In the most recent oil market outlook, OPEC revised down its projections of global demand by 280,000 barrels per day for 2020 and by 580,000 barrels per day for 2021. But, if they see that US production is recovering strongly with the higher oil price, and thus gaining market share, then the appetite to continue holding back production will be less and we may then see the price dip,” Weafer said. “If US production stays flat or grows minimally, then OPEC+ members are more likely to continue taking actions that support the oil price. OPEC+ ministers have agreed to consult monthly in 2021 and to decide on appropriate actions based on how they see the market trend,” Weafer said. Indian buyers have already said that they are preparing to resume buying oil from Iran, Weafer said this appears to be based on the assumption that the incoming US Administration will rejoin the JCPOA agreement and therefore, ease the oil sanctions against Iranian oil. EPA-EFE/FLORIAN WIESER

A general view of an extraordinary JCPOA Joint Commission meeting at the Palais Coburg, in Vienna, Austria, February 26, 2020. Turning to China, Weafer said private tank farm operators, refiners and traders pumped an extra 310-600 million barrels of oil into storage in China this year, according to an industry survey. Also, Iran has instructed its oil ministry to prepare installations for production and sale of crude oil at full capacity within three months, state media said after the US election and ahead of a possible easing of US sanctions after Biden takes office. US shale
The trend in US oil production will affect not only the supply side of the price equation but also, very likely, what OPEC+ decides.

EPA-EFE/ALEXEI NIKOLSKY/SPUTNIK /KREMLIN POOL MANDATORY CREDIT

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Russia’s president Vladimir Putin on Wednesday signed into law a raft of legislation that human rights groups have said will undermine democracy. The new law says individuals and public entities, involved in Russia’s political developments or collecting data related to Russia’s defense or national security issues must be included on the list of foreign agents. EPA-EFE/ALEXEI NIKOLSKY/SPUTNIK /KREMLIN POOL MANDATORY CREDIT

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting via a video conference with Bryansk region governor Alexander Bogomaz at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, Russia, 26 May 2020. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Putin endorses amendments to ‘foreign agents’ law that critics say undermines democracy

By Elena Pavlovska
Journalist

epa08445201 Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting via a video conference with Bryansk region governor Alexander Bogomaz at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, Russia, 26 May 2020. On Wednesday, Putin also signed a bill that would allow the state media regulator, Roskomnadzor, to block websites that “discriminate against Russian media.” Putin signed a separate bill imposing penalties of up to five years in prison to those identified as “foreign agents” who fail to inform official entities about their status, and/or refuse to report their activities to Russian authorities. Critics say the controversial law has been arbitrarily applied to target Russian civil society organizations, human rights defenders, and political activists. Last month, Amnesty International slammed the legislation saying it would “drastically limit and damage the work not only of civil society organizations that receive funds from outside Russia but many other groups as well”.

The UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, however, approved the regimen of two full doses. Surprisingly, the group of volunteers that got a lower dose seemed to be much better protected than the volunteers who got two full doses of the vaccine. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Britain first to approve AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccine

By Elena Pavlovska
Journalist

epa08612064 A general view of an analytical chemist at AstraZeneca?s headquarters in Sydney, Australia, 19 August 2020. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Australians will be among the first in the world to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, if it proves successful, through an agreement between the government and UK-based drug company AstraZeneca. “I am also now, with this approval this morning, highly confident that we can get enough vulnerable people vaccinated by the spring that we can now see our route out of this pandemic”, health secretary Matt Hancock said. EPA-EFE/DAN HIMBRECHTS AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT

A general view of an analytical chemist at AstraZeneca?s headquarters in Sydney, Australia, 19 August 2020. The government has already ordered 100 million doses of the vaccine, which will start being administered on Monday, beginning with those most at risk from COVID-19. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Australians will be among the first in the world to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, if it proves successful, through an agreement between the government and UK-based drug company AstraZeneca. EPA-EFE/DAN HIMBRECHTS AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT

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The United Kingdom on Wednesday became the first country in the world to approve the coronavirus vaccine developed by the British drugmaker AstraZeneca and its partner, the University of Oxford. An official explained that the vaccine’s effectiveness had risen when the doses were given three months apart. Britain was also the first to approve the COVID vaccine from Pfizer-BioNTech. AstraZeneca has been facing criticism about its Covid-19 vaccine trial results after acknowledging a manufacturing error.

“International observers from the CIS build their work, guided by the legislation of Kazakhstan, documents adopted within the Commonwealth, without interfering in the electoral process and in the internal affairs of the state,” Kozyak said during the meeting. “The formation of the CIS Observer Mission is nearing completion. According to the CEC, Yevgeny Kozyak, became the head of the headquarters of the CIS observer mission. Some 10 million people are eligible to cast ballots for 234 hopefuls vying for 98 seats in the 107-seat lower house of Parliament. EPA/YURI KOCHETKOV/FILE PICTURE

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NUR-SULTAN, Kazakhstan – Long-term observers from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) continue to monitor parliamentary elections in Kazakhstan, the Central Election Commission said on December 30. Legislative elections are scheduled to be held in Kazakhstan on 10 January 2021 to elect the members of the Mazhilis. EPA/YURI KOCHETKOV

A woman casts her vote at the polling station during parliamentary elections in Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, March 20, 2016. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Kazakhstan elections: More than 220 observers from CIS will be accredited

By Kulpash Konyrova

epa05221727 A woman casts her vote at the polling station during parliamentary elections in Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, 20 March 2016. It is planned that more than 220 observers from the CIS member states, the Interparliamentary Assembly of the CIS member states, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union of Belarus and Russia, the CIS Executive Committee will be accredited in its composition,” the CEC’s statement read. He met with representatives of Kazakh parties.

The Commission’s chief Ursula von der Leyen along with the Council President Charles Michel will sign the agreement on behalf of the European Union, while the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson will sign for the UK. EPA-EFE/OLIVIER HOSLET / POOL

British and European flags ahead of Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson visit to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on post Brexit trade deal talks, in Brussels, Belgium, 09 December 2020. A negotiations phase of eleven months that started on 31 January 2020 following the UK’s exit from the EU ends on 31 December 2020. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>EU and UK leaders to ink post-Brexit trade deal on Wednesday

By Zoe Didili
Journalist, New Europe

epa08872921 British and European flags ahead of Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson visit to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on post Brexit trade deal talks, in Brussels, Belgium, 09 December 2020. A no-deal scenario would see the two sides trading on the terms foreseen by the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Earlier in the week, the bloc’s EU27 ambassadors unanimously greenlighted the deal, so that it can apply provisionally until Europe’s lawmakers scrutinise it and give the nod later in January. EPA-EFE/OLIVIER HOSLET / POOL

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The post-Brexit trade deal achieved last week between the EU and the UK will be inked by the two sides on Wednesday morning, the EU Council said in a statement, after it adopted the decision on the signing of the deal and its provisional application as of January 1, 2021. The signing of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement that will define the trade rules once the UK leaves the single market and customs union comes ahead of a vote by the British government on its ratification.

It is subject to mandatory ratification by parliament. The Second Optional Protocol to it, aimed at the abolition of the death penalty, was adopted on December 15, 1989. Tleuberdi informed, on September 23, 2020, the Permanent Representative of Kazakhstan to the UN, Kairat Omarov, signed the Second Optional Protocol. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Kazakhstan’s Parliament approves renunciation of death penalty in peacetime

By Kulpash Konyrova

Kazakhstan’s Prime Minister Askar Mamin speaks during a joint session of deputies of both Chambers of the Parliament, Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, June 22, 2020. Continuing the course of active integration into global processes, and taking into account the global trend, in December 2019, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev instructed the Foreign Ministry to begin the procedure for Kazakhstan’s accession to the Second Optional Protocol,” the minister said. FILE PICTURE

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NUR-SULTAN, Kazakhstan – Kazakhstan’s senate deputies on December 29 approved a bill on the ratification of the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aimed at abolishing the death penalty. In 1991, the document came into force, 88 states are members of the agreement. “The signatory countries take the following obligations: first, not to apply the death penalty, second, to take all necessary measures to abolish the death penalty within their jurisdiction. The death penalty in wartime is applicable after being found guilty of especially grave crimes of a military nature, which he committed in wartime. The document adopted by the parliament is sent for signature by the president of Kazakhstan. At the same time, the fact of signing did not mean the immediate entry into force of the provisions of the document. Kazakhstan Foreign Minister Mukhtar Tleuberdi said at a plenary session of the chamber that the protocol is the second international document adopted by the UN in the development of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966, which Kazakhstan ratified in November 2005. The protocol is aimed at the adoption by Kazakhstan of international obligations to abolish the death penalty. “The use of the death penalty in Kazakhstan was completely suspended on December 17, 2003. The only exception is the death penalty is allowed in case of wartime,” Kazakhstan’s Foreign Minister said. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights was adopted in 1966, entered into force in 1976, and currently 173 states have acceded to it.

In a stunning revelation, the operative revealed every detail about the operation (which he considered successful) and also admitted that he had cleaned Navalny’s clothes to remove any trace of the poison that had been applied to his underwear. Navalny actually called almost all of those who attempted to kill him. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>The poisoning of Navalny shows that an utterly corrupt Moscow has fully revived the KGB

By Maxim Skrypchenko
Cofounder of Ukrainian Transatlantic Platform and a Deputy Director of Security Initiatives Center. Once they have acquired the data, Russian officials then began to trade them on the open market. The event proves that Russia is quickly moving towards the North Koreanization of itself – a country with no opposition, no Internet and no privacy – particularly when the country’s endemic corruption robs average citizens from knowing the whole truth about the FSB’s activities and how it targets its own people. Data from phones is also inexpensive. Following the attempted assassination, Navalny’s team received confirmation that a group from the Institute of Forensic Science travelled to the Siberian cities of Tomsk and Omsk to destroy evidence. Who could imagine that a KGB-style assassination attempt against a Russian opposition member would happen nearly 30 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union? Kudryavtsev is a military chemist from the FSB’s Institute of Forensic Science and had also previously worked at the Biological Security Research Center of the Ministry of Defense and the Military Academy of Radiation, Chemical and Biological Protection. EPA-EFE//SERGEI ILNITSKY
The story of Navalny’s poisoning is hard to comprehend in a year like 2020 when the whole world is trying to fight the coronavirus pandemic. To comply with the Yarovaya Law, Russian companies are required to provide access to all of the data collected to the police and security services. The law prohibits the publication of information about the property and private life of government officials and all security service officers. EPA-EFE/YURI KOCHETKOV

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny takes part in a memorial march in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, marking the fifth anniversary of the pro-democracy ex-deputy prime minister's assassination, on February 29, 2020. Navalny was transferred to a hospital in Berlin after he was first taken to a hospital in Omsk, Russia following his evacuation off of a passenger airplane. The type of information that must be handed over includes simple transactions like ticket sales, as well as other mundane details, all of which give Russia’s intelligence services the ability to control the life of the country’s citizens. Earlier in December, Navalny, who had previously been deliberately poisoned with the Soviet-era chemical nerve agent Novichok while on a trip to Siberia, called his attackers and pretended to be “Maxim Ustinov” an assistant to Nikolay Patrushev, the powerful former head of Russia’s FSB security service, the successor agency to the Soviet Union’s KGB. The investigation proved that the whole of the Russian law enforcement system has been compromised and cannot be trusted. Its annual turnover is approximately $50.7 million. Kudryavtsev noted in the phone conversation with Navalny that the latter’s clothes were given to him for cleaning by an individual known as “Mikhail”, the head of the local FSB counter-terrorism department. The market for stolen personal data is flourishing in Russia. Yarovaya, who is a member of the ruling United Russia party, is a hardline Putin loyalist who has sponsored laws limiting civil freedom in the name of state security and co-authored multiple laws, including the toughening of responsibility for violating the rules of holding rallies, tightening immigration, criminal libel and registration requirements for ‘foreign agents’ for non-profit organizations with foreign funding. epa08760927 YEARENDER 2020
PERSONALITIES
Russian opposition leader and anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny (C) takes part in a memorial march for Boris Nemtsov marking the fifth anniversary of his assassination in Moscow, Russia, 29 February 2020. Russian citizens owe the emergence of such an open information market to Irina Yarovaya, the Deputy Chairwoman of the State Duma, who co-authored a package of laws adopted four years ago that were billed as legislation aimed at “fighting against terrorism and extremism”. Navalny was poisoned with the Novichok nerve agent while in Siberia in August. Dubbed “the Yarovaya Law”, they obliged mobile operators and Internet providers to collect and archive information for at least three years. This revelation is the most shameful failure of Russia’s intelligence services in recent years, even surpassing the poisoning on former double agent Sergey Skripal and his daughter in the United Kingdom nearly three years ago. As a result, the dark market for personal data is now in a panic and Russia’s intelligence agencies are tracking down those who helped expose their colleagues. The parliament also passed a law to block YouTube and Facebook after having accused both of discriminating against Russian state-controlled media outlets, including its English-language propaganda network Russia Today (RT). In this way, a weapon that was supposed to serve Putin and his regime actually backfired, as proven by Navalny’s phone conversations with Kudryavtsev and Yevdokimov. Exterior view of the Lubyanka, the FSB’s headquarters in Moscow. Moscow has said it would maintain a register of platforms that follow in YouTube and Facebook’s footsteps and will punish them with traffic slowdowns and administrative fines. EPA-EFE//CLEMENS BILAN
Investigative journalists, including Bellingcat and others, have succeeded in exposing the use of chemical weapons, like Novichok, thanks to the repressive laws of Putin’s regime and Russia’s corruption of officials. Many people aside from Kudryavtsev were involved in the poisoning of Navalny, everyone from doctors and police officers to the local FSB agents in Omsk. The same officials can sell information about conversations, SMS messages and six months of social network activity. All but one, Konstantin Kudryavtsev, slammed the phone down. One of the Soviet developers of Novichok, Vladimir Uglev, suggested as early as September that Navalny was most likely poisoned through his underwear, saying, “In terms of time and dynamics, Navalny got up at about six in the morning, took a shower, steamed his body, put on infected underwear and was on the plane began to already show serious signs that he’d been poisoned.”
The dose of Novichok is believed to have applied to Navalny’s underwear because this is the most intimate clothing object that a person possesses, which no one but their owner usually touches. The complete failure of Putin’s operation was on full display when a law was hastily passed by the Russian parliament the day after Navalny published a video about his conversation with Kudryavtsev. The building served as the headquarters of the Soviet-era Cheka, NKVD and KGB from 1918-1991. It is possible to buy the travel history of a particular person for only $230-380. Evdokimov confirmed to Navalny, who was posing as a government official, that he had received Navalny’s clothes from Kudryavtsev. This also essentially eliminates any risk of injury to bystanders and leaves no collateral damage, unlike in the Salisbury attack against the Skripals. The sanctions will only be removed if they lift all restrictions on Kremlin-approved media. The information is often sold by corrupt police officers, who can access it at any time. Experts have noted that socks are also a good option, but there isn’t the same sort of soft and sensitive tissue that can be exposed as there is with underwear. Navalny is received treatment at the Charite hospital in Berlin after being poisoned with a nerve agent from the Novichok group. The mysterious “Mikhail” has been identified by British-based investigative news outlet Bellingcat as Mikhail Evdokimov. EPA-EFE//YURI KOCHETKOV

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It is becoming increasingly more difficult for Vladimir Putin to make excuses about the August poisoning of Russia’s opposition leader Alexey Navalny. Information about a person’s place of residence and number plates can also be bought for the right price. “Mikhail” refused to speak “via an unencrypted channel”, but confirmed that he had handed over Navalny’s clothes to Kudryavtsev and had worked with local police officers to cover the tracks of the attackers. The price depends on the mobile operator but can reach up to $1,200. Russian journalists from the Daily Storm Group made several test purchases of personal data and $12,000 were able to gather information about the FSB officers who tried to poison Navalny.

The project starts in 2021 and is scheduled for completion in 2024. ADB

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Tajikistan will receive a grant from the Asian Development Bank for the reconstruction of roads in the Khatlon region, the Ministry of Finance of the republic said on December 29
The total amount of the envisaged ADB grant will be over $67 million, and the total project cost is $72.93 million. Tajikistan will contribute $5.44 million to the project. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Asian Development Bank will allocate over $67 million to Tajikistan to improve roads

By New Europe online/KB

The Asian Development Bank's green headquarters in Manila, Philippines. At present, they provide traffic intensity of more than 4 thousand vehicles per day and after reconstruction they will be on level of world standards. As part of the reconstruction, two road sections will be repaired at once on the territory of Khatlon. The agreement was signed by the head of the Ministry of Finance of the republic Fayziddin Kakhhorzoda and the authorised representative of the ADB in Dushanbe Anvar Makhmudov.  

Last week, Russian authorities opened a criminal investigation into Lyubov Sobol, a lawyer of the anti-Corruption Foundation and a close ally of Navalny on a trespassing charge, Russia’s Investigative Committee said in a statement issued on Friday. А иначе будет требовать заменить условный срок реальным https://t.co/FAkq8HcRnH
— Кира Ярмыш (@Kira_Yarmysh) December 28, 2020

Although in its statement the Russian law enforcement agency did not mention a deadline, Navalny’s screenshot of a message to his lawyer, Vadim Kobzev, shows he had until 9 am on Tuesday to return and report to an office in Moscow. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Russia threatens to jail opposition leader Navalny unless he appears for parole hearing in Moscow

By Zoe Didili
Journalist, New Europe

epa07879915 The Russian opposition’s mayoral candidate Alexei Navalny attends an opposition rally in support of political prisoners in Moscow, Russia, 29 September 2019. The move against Sobol is the latest in a crackdown on the Kremlin’s opponents before the next parliamentary elections scheduled for September 2021. EPA-EFE/SERGEI ILNITSKY

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Russia’s Federal Prison Service (FSIN) on Monday threatened to jail opposition leader Alexei Navalny for violating the terms of his suspended prison sentence if he doesn’t show up for a hearing in Moscow on Tuesday morning, his lawyers and Russian officials said. They were given an order, they are fulfilling it,” Yarmysh said in another tweet. But does the FSIN really care about common sense? While Navalny has blamed on the Kremlin, Russia has denied allegations, citing that the Kremlin critic is “enjoying the support of the US special services” and that if Russia’s special services had wanted to kill him, they would have “finished” the job. Since he was poisoned in August with a nerve agent from the Novichok group, the Kremlin critic has been in Germany, where he also received treatment in Berlin Charite Hospital. Similarly, his spokesperson, Kira Yarmysh, tweeted on Monday that “The FSIN, knowing fully well that Navalny is undergoing treatment in Germany, is trying to jump into the last train (Alexei’s probation period ends on December 30) and demands [from Navalny] to report to the inspection tomorrow. ФСИН, прекрасно зная, что Навальный находится на лечении в Германии, пытается запрыгнуть в последний вагон (испытательный срок у Алексея заканчивается 30 декабря!) и требует явиться в инспекцию ЗАВТРА. Otherwise, it will demand to replace the conditional term with a real one.”

Просто фантастика. In Monday’s ultimatum FSIN said that an article by doctors from Berlin’s Charite hospital, published in British medical journal The Lancet, shows that Navalny has fully recovered, as “all of the symptoms of his illness have passed” and “therefore the conditionally convicted person is not fulfilling all of the obligations placed on him by the court, and is evading the supervision of the Criminal Inspectorate.”
Reacting to the ultimatum, Navalny said that FSIN’s move to cite the article in the medical journal is a proof that Russia was involved in the poisoning. Some 20,000 people reportedly attended the rally in Moscow demanding the release of previously detained protesters. Navalny is serving out a suspended three-and-a-half-year prison term over the so-called “Yves Rocher” theft case, which he sees as politically-motivated. EPA-EFE/SERGEI ILNITSKY

The Russian opposition's mayoral candidate Alexei Navalny attends an opposition rally in support of political prisoners in Moscow, Russia, 29 September 2019. “There’s no way he could appear at the Moscow Criminal Inspectorate tomorrow.