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Positive growth is expected in all basic industries. According to the forecast data of the Ministry of National Economy of Kazakhstan, the real growth of the country’s GDP in 2021 will be 2.8%, and in 2025 – 4.6%. The gross inflow of foreign direct investment in the economy of Kazakhstan amounted to $ 3.6 billion in the first quarter of this year, analytical agency Finprom said on September 14. This year, the rating agencies Moody’s and FitchRatings have confirmed the rating of Kazakhstan at the level of investment reliability, Finprom’s experts summarise. Despite this, according to the estimates of many international rating agencies, Kazakhstan retains a low level of public debt and a significant amount of fiscal reserves, sufficient to cushion external shocks,” analysts say. The authorities of the republic guarantee the stability of tax legislation for investors implementing investment projects in priority sectors. Today, a favourable investment climate has been created in Kazakhstan: a simplified tax regime is in effect, national legislation is constantly being improved, and the package of investment preferences is expanding. The introduced quarantine measures aimed at containing the spread of the pandemic dealt a serious blow to economic activity. In the context of the crisis, diversification of the economy, which is a key element of Kazakhstan’s foreign economic policy, is of particular importance and is in dire need of attracting foreign investment. The agency’s analysts also commented about the trends in the second quarter of this year. The Netherlands ($988.3 million), the United States ($744.9 million) and Russia ($379.9 million) are the top-3 largest investors in Kazakhstan. “In 2018-2019, we observed a decrease in investment activity around the world, but in Kazakhstan in 2018 the gross inflow of foreign direct investment increased by 15.8% over the year, and in 2019 it remained at the level of the previous year – $24 billion,” Finprom said. “According to the results of the second quarter of this year, the global economy retained its dynamics of decline.

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KULPASH KONYROVA

The Netherlands, US and Russia are the top-3 largest investors in Kazakhstan. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Kazakhstan attracts $3.6 billion in foreign direct investment in Q1 2020

By Kulpash Konyrova

View of Kazakhstan's capital Nur-Sultan, September 13, 2020.

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EPA-EFE/SERGEI ILNITSKY

Voters examine list of candidates at a polling station during Moscow municipal elections at the Single Voting Day in Moscow, Russia, 13 September 2020. In Moscow by-elections to the Deputies Councils of two municipal districts are held. In the year of 2020 the Single Voting Day in Russia is set on 13 September. On this day 83 constituent entities of the Russian Federation will hold election campaigns at various levels, from elections of senior officials of Russian subjects to elections to local governments of municipal districts, urban and rural settlements. In Moscow by-elections to the Deputies Councils of two municipal districts are held. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Russia’s ruling party unsurprisingly wins regional elections

By Elena Pavlovska
Journalist

epa08665800 Voters examine list of candidates at a polling station during Moscow municipal elections at the Single Voting Day in Moscow, Russia, 13 September 2020. On this day 83 constituent entities of the Russian Federation will hold election campaigns at various levels, from elections of senior officials of Russian subjects to elections to local governments of municipal districts, urban and rural settlements. EPA-EFE/SERGEI ILNITSKY In the year of 2020 the Single Voting Day in Russia is set on 13 September.

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Authorities stretched out the elections over three days. Last week, Berlin’s Charite hospital that has been treating Navalny said his condition has improved and he is being weaned off mechanical ventilation. On August 20, he fell ill on a flight from Siberia to Moscow, forcing the plane to make an emergency landing in Omsk, where he spent two days in hospital before being evacuated to Germany. Navalny is a fierce critic of Russia’s president Vladimir Putin. Russia’s main pro-Kremlin party, United Russia, on Sunday claimed a clear win in local polls that come only weeks after the suspected poisoning of opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Russia has rejected the claims. In recent years, Navalny has endured multiple incarcerations, a barred attempt to run for president, and a hamstrung bid for the Moscow mayor’s post. Germany says he was poisoned with a Soviet-style Novichok nerve agent in an attempt to murder him. The move was criticised by election watchdogs who said the longer period would make it harder for monitors to catch fraud at polling stations. Navalny and his allies have been preparing for Sunday’s regional elections at the time of the suspected poisoning.

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Iranian authorities have denied accusations of torture. Iran broadcast his televised confession last week. He was executed by hanging, according to state media. However, he said he had been tortured into making a confession. In a leaked recording released by human rights organisation Amnesty International, Afkari says: “If I am executed, I want you to know that an innocent person, even though he tried and fought with all his strength to be heard, was executed.”
Officials said Afkari was executed “this morning after legal procedures were carried out at the insistence of the parents and the family of the victim”. Authorities accused Afkari, 27, of stabbing the water supply company employee in the southern city of Shiraz. Iranian wrestler Navid Afkari has been executed after being convicted of stabbing to death a security guard, state media reported.

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Iran's national news agency IRNA confirmed 12 September 2020 Iran had executed Navid Afkari for a murder that he according to Iran's judicial authorities had confessed to. Many leading international organizations had protested the planned execution and asked Iran to spare Afkari’s life. EPA-EFE/NWRI HANDOUT HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES

A undated handout photo made available 12 September 2020 by National Council of Resistance Iran (NWRI) and the Iranian Exile Society, showing Iranian champion wrestler Navid Afkari at a undisclosed location. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Iran executes champion wrestler

By Elena Pavlovska
Journalist

epa08663502 A undated handout photo made available 12 September 2020 by National Council of Resistance Iran (NWRI) and the Iranian Exile Society, showing Iranian champion wrestler Navid Afkari at a undisclosed location. Many leading international organizations had protested the planned execution and asked Iran to spare Afkari's life. EPA-EFE/NWRI Iran’s national news agency IRNA confirmed 12 September 2020 Iran had executed Navid Afkari for a murder that he according to Iran’s judicial authorities had confessed to.

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) gathered in Brussels for Committee meetings and Plenary Sessions debating the migrants situation’s in Bosnia as well as in Greek islands’ hotspots. EPA-EFE/OLIVIER HOSLET style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>MEPs threaten to block EU-UK trade deal if London breaches Withdrawal Agreement

By Zoe Didili
Journalist, New Europe

epaselect epa07994911 An image taken with a zoom lens effect shows a general view of the European Parliament’s hemicycle on the second day of a ‘mini-plenary’ session in Brussels, Belgium, 14 November 2019. EPA-EFE/OLIVIER HOSLET

An image taken with a zoom lens effect shows a general view of the European Parliament's hemicycle on the second day of a 'mini-plenary' session in Brussels, Belgium, 14 November 2019.

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UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s legislation will be debated in the House of Commons on Monday, with a late vote expected to follow. A breach of the agreement could lead the EU to take legal action on several grounds against the UK, however, the British government made it “perfectly clear” it would not withdraw the bill. Europe’s lawmakers are threatening to block any trade deal with the UK unless the latter withdraws its plans to override elements of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement and to breach international law in a “very specific and limited way.”
“Should the UK authorities breach – or threaten to breach – the Withdrawal Agreement, through the United Kingdom Internal Market Bill in its current form or in any other way, the European Parliament will, under no circumstances, ratify any agreement between the EU and the UK,” the leaders of the political groups of the EU Parliament along with the members of the UK Coordination Group (UKCG) said in a joint statement on Friday. While the talks are only conducted by the Commission, the EU parliament needs to give its nod for any agreement to be enacted. They added that the body “will not accept having its democratic oversight curbed by a last-minute deal beyond the end of October,” also reiterating the Commission’s Vice-President, Maros Sefcovic’ call to the UK government to withdraw these measures from the draft Bill in the shortest time possible, or risk collapse of post-Brexit talks. “Violating the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement would break international law, undermine trust and put at risk the ongoing future relationship negotiations,” the EU said in a statement after an in-person emergency meeting with UK’s Cabinet Minister, Michael Gove in London last week, adding that it is up to the UK to rebuild this trust.

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Last week, the company paused large late-stage trials of the vaccine, developed with the University of Oxford, because of an unexplained illness in a study participant. The regulatory agency confirmed that it was safe to resume, AstraZeneca said. British drugmaker AstraZeneca on Saturday said that clinical trials for its experimental coronavirus vaccine have resumed in the United Kingdom after regulators concluded it was safe to do so. A person familiar with the situation was cited as saying that the participant was found to have transverse myelitis, an inflammatory syndrome that affects the spinal cord and is often sparked by viral infections. A UK committee has concluded its investigation and recommended to the UK Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency it would be safe to resume the trials.

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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. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine trials resume

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. 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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Suga took 377 of a total of 534 votes against the two other contenders, former defense minister Shigeru Ishiba and former foreign minister Fumio Kishida. He is seen as promising stability and a continuation of Abe’s policies. Suga is expected to win a parliamentary vote on Wednesday. “I was born as the oldest son of a farmer in Akita,” Suga said. I will devote all of myself to work for Japan and its citizens”, he said. “Without any knowledge or blood ties, I launched into the world of politics, starting from zero – and have been able to become leader of the LDP, with all its traditions and history. Last month, Abe announced that he would step down due to health problems, ending nearly eight years in office. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, an aide to outgoing prime minister Shinzo Abe, has been elected leader of the country’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) on Monday, paving the way for him to become the next prime minister.

EPA-EFE/EUGENE HOSHIKO / POOL

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga (C) reacts as he is elected as new head of Japan's ruling party during the Liberal Democratic Party's (LDP) leadership election in Tokyo, Japan, 14 September 2020. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Japan’s Suga wins party leadership race, headed for premiership

By Elena Pavlovska
Journalist

epa08667554 Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga (C) reacts as he is elected as new head of Japan’s ruling party during the Liberal Democratic Party’s (LDP) leadership election in Tokyo, Japan, 14 September 2020. EPA-EFE/EUGENE HOSHIKO / POOL

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Opposition activists continue their every day protest actions, demanding new elections under international observation. EPA-EFE/STRINGER

Protesters march during a rally to protest against the presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, 13 September 2020. Opposition activists continue their every day protest actions, demanding new elections under international observation. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Belarus: 400 protesters detained during ‘March of Heroes’

By Elena Pavlovska
Journalist

epa08667025 Protesters march during a rally to protest against the presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, 13 September 2020. EPA-EFE/STRINGER
The vote was denounced by EU officials, and forced Lukashenko to look to Moscow for support. Human rights activists have repeatedly accused Belarusian riot police of brutally suppressing peaceful marches in the country. Riot police arrested more than 400 people as tens of thousands of anti-government protestors took to the streets of Minsk during the “March of Heroes” on Sunday. Tikhanovskaya, who fled to Lithuania after the vote, won only about 10% to Lukashenko’s 80%, according to the election committee. The government has denied the claims. Belarus has been rocked by five weeks of protests after president Alexander Lukashenko, who has led the country since 1994, won a landslide victory in the August 9 election. The interior ministry said that “around 250 people” had been detained on Saturday, for offenses like displaying the banned red-and-white flag and banners, “including an insulting one”. Dozens were immediately transferred to prison as rights groups complained of police brutality. The opposition says that Lukashenko’s main challenger, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, was the rightful winner and wants new elections. The rally was dedicated to Maria Kolesnikova, a jailed opposition leader, and other members of the democracy movement.

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Morocco decided to gradually reduce the closing procedures and extended the public health emergency until July 10, according to a joint statement from the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Interior. EPA-EFE/JALAL MORCHIDI

People cross a street while wearing compulsory face masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus, in Rabat, Morocco, 12 June 2020. EPA-EFE/JALAL MORCHIDI style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Morocco to begin direct flights with Israel

By Elena Pavlovska
Journalist

epa08481232 People cross a street while wearing compulsory face masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus, in Rabat, Morocco, 12 June 2020. Morocco decided to gradually reduce the closing procedures and extended the public health emergency until July 10, according to a joint statement from the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Interior.
Morocco and Israel have no formal relations, but Israeli tourists are allowed into the country, which is home to the largest Jewish community in the Arab world. Israel has so far normalized ties with the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt and Jordan. Israel does not have formal ties with Sudan either, but according to local media, it is currently in talks with Sudan regarding plans to send a humanitarian aid plane amid major flash floods. Morocco and Israel are set to announce direct flights as part of the next step in US efforts to facilitate normalization efforts between Israel and Arab states, Israeli media reported. The report comes a day after Bahrain joined the United Arab Emirates in striking an agreement to normalise relations with Israel. Both countries will sign their peace agreements with Israel on Tuesday at the White House.

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EPA-EFE/Petros Karadjias / POOL

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (L) and Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades (R) touch elbows after a press conference at the Presidential Palace in Nicosia, Cyprus, 12 September 2020. Pompeo’s lightning visit to Cyprus aimed to de-escalate a confrontation between Greece and Turkey over energy reserves in east Mediterranean waters and to affirm Washington’s continued engagement in the tumultuous region four days after Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov pitched Moscow’s offer to help ease tensions during his trip to the island nation. EPA-EFE/Petros Karadjias / POOL style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Turkey says US needs to return to neutral stance on Cyprus

By Zoe Didili
Journalist, New Europe

epa08665241 US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (L) and Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades (R) touch elbows after a press conference at the Presidential Palace in Nicosia, Cyprus, 12 September 2020.

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Turkey has called on the US to return to a neutral stance on Cyprus, and to efforts for the settlement of the Cyprus conundrum, after Nicosia and Washington signed earlier this month a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for a deeper security cooperation. Earlier this month, US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo said the US had decided to partially lift a 33-year arms embargo against Cyprus. “The memorandum of understanding will not serve peace and stability in the eastern Mediterranean and will damage the solution of the Cyprus problem,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement issued on Sunday. However, Matthew Palmer of the US State Department said earlier in September that the move does not reflect a change in US policy on the Cyprus problem, citing that “We continue to support a comprehensive settlement that will reunite the island into a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation which will benefit all Cypriots as well as the wider region.”
  The move has faced acute criticism by Ankara, which supported that the lifting of the arms embargo and the provision of military training program (IMET) to the Greek Cypriot side, “disrupts the balance between the two peoples on the Island and increases the tension in the Eastern Mediterranean.”
It also supported that the recent developments “totally excluded” the Turkish Cypriots “who have equal rights with the Greek Cypriots on the Island,” and could further harden the Greek Cypriot “intransigence,” as well discourage a “reconciliatory position” by the Greek Cypriot side on the solution of any problem. The embargo will be lifted for one year, with the possibility of renewal, and will apply to non-lethal systems. “We urge the US to return to its impartial policy that it has traditionally maintained in the Island of Cyprus and to contribute to the efforts towards the settlement of the Cyprus issue,” the statement adds.

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style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Israel announces three-week national lockdown as COVID cases skyrocket

By Zoe Didili
Journalist, New Europe

epa08667169 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu briefing on coronavirus development in Israel at his office in Jerusalem, Israel, 13 September 2020. EPA-EFE/Yoav Dudkevitch / POOL

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu briefing on coronavirus development in Israel at his office in Jerusalem, Israel, 13 September 2020. Netanyahu said that the government’s decision to impose a second lockdown during the Jewish Holidays came after medical experts raised the alarm due to the increase in seriously ill patients suffering from COVID-19. EPA-EFE/Yoav Dudkevitch / POOL

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The move, however, prompted the resignation of Israeli Housing Minister and former Health Minister, Yaakov Litzman, who supported that imposing the lockdown over the Jewish holidays “is an injustice and disregard for hundreds of thousands of citizens, ultra-Orthodox, religious and traditional.”
Netanyahu’s announcement came ahead of his visit to Washington for the signing ceremony of Israel’s normalisation agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. The new lockdown will be imposed as of Friday, the beginning of the Jewish High Holiday season and foresees that schools, restaurants, malls and hotels will shut down and citizens’ movements will be restricted to within 500 meters of home, while the public and private sectors will continue to work. “Our goal is to stop the increase and lower morbidity,” Netanyahu said in a nationally broadcast statement, adding that he acknowledges that “these steps come at a difficult price for all of us. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday announced a three-week national lockdown, starting from September 18, following a surge in COVID-19 cases across the country. This is not the holiday we are used to.”
The Israeli PM justified the government’s decision to impose a second lockdown during the Jewish Holidays by citing that medical experts had raised the alarm over the increase in seriously ill patients suffering from COVID-19.

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Trump announces that Bahrain would normalize relations with Israel, in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, DC, USA, on 11 September 2020. Trump announces that Bahrain would normalize relations with Israel, in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, DC, USA, on 11 September 2020. EPA-EFE/Anna Moneymaker / POOL

US President Donald J. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Bahrain to officially recognise Israel

By Zoe Didili
Journalist, New Europe

epa08662301 US President Donald J. EPA-EFE/Anna Moneymaker / POOL
The move followed a similar deal between the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Israel last month, and made Bahrain the fourth Arab country to proceed with the recognition. “Opening direct dialogue and ties between these two dynamic societies and advanced economies will continue the positive transformation of the Middle East and increase stability, security, and prosperity in the region,” the joint statement adds. The Gulf Kingdom of Bahrain has decided to recognise Israel, US President Donald Trump announced on Friday, on the 19th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in the US. “This is a historic breakthrough to further peace in the Middle East,” reads a joint statement by US President Trump, King Hamad bin Isa bin Salman al-Khalifa of the Kingdom of Bahrain and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “There’s no more powerful response to the hatred that spawned 9/11 than this agreement,” Trump told reporters at the White House. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 11, 2020

Last month, Israeli Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen had stated it expected Bahrain and Oman to follow the UAE in normalising ties with Israel, with Netanyahu calling more countries to “join the peace circle.”
On Sunday midnight, the Israeli PM flew to Washington, for the signing ceremony of Israel’s normalisation agreements with the UAE and Bahrain. Joint Statement of the United States, the Kingdom of Bahrain, and the State of Israel pic.twitter.com/xMquRkGtpM
— Donald J. Moments after take off, he tweeted: “On our way to bring peace in exchange for peace.”
Europe’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell has welcomed the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, citing that it represents “a positive contribution to peace and stability in the Middle East.”
He stressed, however that “a comprehensive settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict requires a regional inclusive approach and engagement with both parties,” as the agreement was another step in isolating Palestinians.

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