This is not to mention China’s self-proclaimed “state-capitalist” system, which by design alienates trading partners by always placing China’s narrow interests ahead of global free trade. The World Health Organization’s role in covering up for China during the Covid-19 pandemic is the most recent example. How far they’ve strayed from the purpose for which they were founded reveals either incompetence or malice—both to be handled with care. In addition, a stricter set of rules is required on multinational tech companies that have cashed in on the Chinese model with no repercussions at home, fiscally or otherwise. No wonder the trust on which the WTO functions has markedly faded as a result. China’s case should precisely instruct against that idea. If we fail to act quickly and keep on letting China rig global trade, we shouldn’t then hypocritically fault those countries that worry about the survival of their economies in the face of China’s neo-colonialism. Especially not when the second isn’t free at all. The larger idea that the WTO can accommodate a variety of economic and political systems ought to be outright discarded. If it does not, no amount of boxes ticked will stand in the way of an increasingly more totalitarian China emerging victorious. First, China’s membership in the WTO ought to be viewed as a policy mistake because the hopes that informed the West’s support for that membership—that welcoming China would create some sort of “path dependence” to political openness and transparent trade relations—have clearly failed to materialize. Today, however, we should lament that accession for three particularly important reasons that were highlighted in a recent report by the Fundación Disenso, Spain’s leading conservative think-tank, and our Uruguayan partner CESCOS. The reason why is obvious: China has made them immensely rich. In practical terms, the institution has functioned as an “institutional umbrella” that whitewashes China’s practices vis-à-vis the international community. During that time, the Chinese Communist Party has had the ability to co-opt the resources of the post-Cold War liberal world order and has been met with feckless indifference and neutrality from most of the Democratic world’s key players. Are two decades of unfair trade not enough? Many believed then—and some still do now—that China’s accession to the world’s trading forum was the concluding salvo in a long journey launched by Deng Xiaoping’s liberalizing domestic reforms of the 1970s. We have been blinded to—or chosen not to see—how Beijing has seized upon the growth and prosperity flowing from unprecedentedly open economic relations with the West to build the most technologically sophisticated and repressive regime in human history. Was it even liberal? Meanwhile, the goal of moulding China into the West’s standards and values has reaped the opposite result. This should merely work as a temporary fix whilst China transforms its political system. Whether it came to trust China out of naïveté or stupidity, the West is also to blame, especially since putting an end to this infiltration of critical international institutions is still well within grasp. The WTO and the Bretton Woods institutions, meanwhile, should stay vigilant, raise the bar for new applicant countries and enforce their directives and regulations. The WTO has ended up importing some of China’s protectionist rulemaking, which has severely undermined the institution’s core mission to advance open trade. But since the WTO itself needs to put its own house in order, consider one final avenue of reform – the WTO’s implicit legal customs and practices should be translated into explicit treaty language that binds China. Not while China stays in it without any repentance or penance. There are other options. In today’s world, we can either have free markets or free trade—but not both. In addition to being opaque, China’s track record as a WTO member is one of consistent maneuvering against the WTO’s very rules and the interests of fellow member states. According to British historian Niall Ferguson, that world order was never truly global in the first place, but was instead regional and not very orderly. The WTO bureaucracy claims the solution resides in enforcing the “rules of the game”. No matter how many boxes China ticks to appease the WTO’s qualms, the institution will remain hijacked unless and until Beijing renounces its autocratic regime. It is high time the West wakes up, learns from its mistakes and commits to putting an end to China’s abuses within the WTO. The long game is to demand that China abandons its current political regime, with all the economic implications that this may pose. American tech giants, along with the billionaires in Wall Street and Silicon Valley who invest in them, have consistently pressured into a pliant posture successive US administrations that were otherwise committed to containing the Chinese regime. Yet China was welcomed in 2001 under those very rules, so that approach seems insufficient. There’s a good case that it wasn’t since the institutions that form the system’s backbone have often deployed rather illiberal means to achieve liberal ends. How many feckless warnings will the West issue before China comes to completely take over the system? style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>How China took over the WTO behind the West’s back

By Jorge Martin Frias
Executive director of Fundación Disenso

By Juan A Soto
International director at Fundación Disenso. This is the most important geopolitical development of the past 20 years. Facebook

Twitter

Linkedin

WhatsApp

Viber

Email

Print

Last year marked the 20th anniversary of China’s entry into the World Trade Organization, a result that followed 15 arduous years of negotiations. That these institutions have been hijacked by illiberal members is why they shouldn’t be trusted to deliver on their mission. And who has benefited? In other words, ‘democratizing’ should be imperative. Lastly—and most importantly—, China’s hijacking of international institutions threatens to plunge the world order into a structural crisis. What is at stake is not only the displacement of Western hegemony by China, but the very survival of the liberal international order, however imperfect it may be. This, by no means, would be considered a final compromise between the West and China, or any other non-democratic political regime.

While the former has fostered the twin green and digital transition, the impact of the latter on net-zero targets is still unclear. European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic looks at battery research experiment during his tour of the The Advanced Light Source (ALS) at Lawrence Berkeley National Labs (LBNL), California, US, March 17, 2022. The new GLOBSEC report titled “Slovakia Automotive Industry 2.0: The Time is Now to Retool for the E-Mobility Era” comes out at this critical historical moment. EUROPEAN UNION, 2022/EC – AUDIOVISUAL SERVICE/PETER DASILVA

Facebook

Twitter

Linkedin

WhatsApp

Viber

Email

Print

The 2020s started with a pandemic and a war on the European continent. GLOBSEC Vice Chairman Board of Directors Vazil Hudak, said, “One of the greatest challenges for the automotive in Slovakia will be to transform its economic anchor and national identity – the passenger vehicle – to meet the global mobility demands of the future”. Hence, the EU will have a competitive advantage on sustainability, not price, where the starting position is better than the US and China. Total employment could drop by 4.5% when compared to 2020 levels. The challenge of switching from ICEs to EVs production requires investments, expertise, knowledge transfer, and especially the political will. Preparing a plan for batteries’ recycling and waste management. Adopting a strategy to secure raw materials, factoring in lessons learned from past and ongoing disruptions. For the EU to capitalise on its advantage and foster EV production, several concrete steps are needed as soon as possible:

Developing an EU-wide battery regulation. If such a challenge was properly met, opportunities in the medium to long term would surpass the difficulties and losses at both the national and EU level. The country should do its utmost to send a signal that it is willing to invest in building gigafactories, reskilling and upskilling the workforce, and developing low-carbon energy solutions to capitalise on this transformative opportunity. Recently, Globsec hosted the study launch event, bringing together policymakers, experts from the private and public sectors, and other relevant stakeholders to discuss the pressing challenges and opportunities emanating from the transformative wave in the automotive sector. European Commission Vice President for Inter-institutional Relations Maros Sefcovic opened the meeting with a clear statement, “Action is needed quickly. Investment in the electrical industry in Europe is 2.5 times greater than in China, although there is a larger market. The automotive sector has felt the hit of both crises. On a broader level, it is worth noticing that the EU currently holds a favourable position in electromobility. Introducing a strategy to reskill or upskill workers throughout Europe to support the transition from low-skilled to high-skilled tasks. He also added, that “this will be increasingly important from the point of view of the current events”. The research also highlights that inability to adapt to the new circumstances, in the worst-case scenario, may lead to a drop in national GDP to a level 10% lower than in the best-case scenario. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Moving EV manufacturing into the fast lane

By Federica Prandin
Globesec Sustainability Program Manager and Research Fellow

European Commission Vice-President Sefcovic looks at battery research experiment during his tour of the The Advanced Light Source (ALS) at Lawrence Berkeley National Labs (LBNL) Thursday 17 March 2022 in Berkeley, CALIFORNIA. In this context, Slovakia needs to act now. This will be key to putting the concept of competitive sustainability into practice. Many countries are moving by leaps and bounds and it will be difficult to catch up today”. While further disruptions are expected in both global EV and combustion engine vehicle manufacturing due to the shortage of crucial raw materials mined in Russia and Ukraine, the climate emergency has not vanished and the transition to net-zero emissions needs to progress. The Commissioner also underlined that the battery market alone will amount to €250 billion per year, with the added value of the battery industry standing at €625 billion per year. Slovakia needs to send a clear political signal that the country needs, wants, and will work on battery investment, as it considers it crucial for the future of its economy. Against the background of trade and supply disruptions, it outlines the factors that could contribute to leveraging the Slovak capacity to move toward EVs production by 2040 and beyond. What will make a difference is that each battery manufactured in Europe will have a digital passport, which will specify the minerals’ origin, what is their carbon footprint, etcetera. With 74% of Slovakia’s key export markets announcing bans on ICE vehicles sales by 2035, the Slovak automotive industry will need to adapt to new circumstances. The Russian war on Ukraine further exacerbated the trade and production pressures stemming from the Covid-19 pandemic. Among others, it aggravated the huge shortage of semiconductor chips, which already in 2021 cut the industry’s output by 8 million vehicles globally. While Poland, Hungary, and Sweden have already secured gigafactories, Germany, France, Spain, and the Czech Republic are getting ready to construct their own. However, as the US has a strong industry and innovation capital, they are expected to progress very quickly.

REPowerEU plans to transform Europe’s energy system. The Commission proposed to make targeted amendments to the RRF Regulation to integrate dedicated REPowerEU chapters in Member States’ existing recovery and resilience plans (RRPs), in addition to the large number of relevant reforms and investments which are already in the RRPs. Energy savings are the quickest and cheapest way to address the current energy crisis and reduce bills, the Commission said, proposing to enhance long-term energy efficiency measures, including an increase from 9% to 13% of the binding Energy Efficiency Target under the Fit for 55 package of European Green Deal legislation. The Platform will also enable joint purchasing of renewable hydrogen,” the press release read. “In the face of Russia’s aggression, the EU will support Ukraine, Moldova, the Western Balkans and Eastern Partnership countries, as well as our most vulnerable partners. Moreover, the EU has been working with international partners to diversify supplies for several months and has secured record levels of liquified natural gas (LNG) imports and higher pipeline gas deliveries. The EU has repeatedly said that the bloc’s dependency on Russian energy supplies allows Moscow to use them as an economic and political weapon and cost European taxpayers nearly €100 billion per year. The Commission will also consider legislative measures to require diversification of gas supply over time by Member States. The country-specific recommendations in the 2022 European Semester cycle will feed into this process. Member States are also encouraged to use fiscal measures to encourage energy savings, such as reduced VAT rates on energy efficient heating systems, building insulation and appliances and products. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>REPowerEU strives to end dependence on Russian energy, tackle climate crisis

By Kostis Geropoulos
Energy & Russian Affairs Editor, New Europe

Frans Timmermans, on the left, and Kadri Simson

Sets out contingency measures in case of severe supply disruption

Facebook

Twitter

Linkedin

WhatsApp

Viber

Email

Print

Responding to the hardships and global energy market disruption caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the European Commission presented on May 18 the REPowerEU Plan, striving to end the EU’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels and tackling the climate crisis. The EU Save Energy Communication published on May 18 details short-term behavioural changes which could cut gas and oil demand by 5% and encouraging Member States to start specific communication campaigns targeting households and industry. The Commission proposed to increase the headline 2030 target for renewables from 40% to 45% under the Fit for 55 package,” the Commission said. In line with the Global Gateway, the Strategy prioritises the EU’s commitment to the global green and just energy transition, increasing energy savings and efficiency to reduce the pressure on prices, boosting the development of renewables and hydrogen, and stepping up energy diplomacy. With Ukraine we will continue to work together to ensure security of supply and a functioning energy sector, while paving the way for future electricity and renewable hydrogen trade, as well as rebuilding the energy system under the REPowerUkraine initiative,” the Commission said. The EU’s executive arm also called for reducing fossil fuel consumption in industry and transport. “A massive scaling-up and speeding-up of renewable energy in power generation, industry, buildings, and transport will accelerate our independence, give a boost to the green transition, and reduce prices over time. The measures in the REPowerEU Plan can respond to this ambition, through energy savings, diversification of energy supplies, and accelerated roll-out of renewable energy to replace fossil fuels in homes, industry and power generation, the EU Commission said in a press release. The newly created EU Energy Platform, supported by regional task forces, will enable voluntary common purchases of gas, LNG and hydrogen by pooling demand, optimising infrastructure use and coordinating outreach to suppliers, the Commission said. The EU External Energy Strategy adopted on May 18 will facilitate energy diversification and building long-term partnerships with suppliers, including cooperation on hydrogen or other green technologies, the Commission said. It also called for accelerating the rollout of renewables. The green transformation will strengthen economic growth, security, and climate action for Europe and our partners, the Commission said, adding that the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) is at the heart of the REPowerEU Plan, supporting coordinated planning and financing of cross-border and national infrastructure as well as energy projects and reforms. “As a next step, and replicating the ambition of the common vaccine purchasing programme, the Commission will consider the development of a ‘joint purchasing mechanism’ which will negotiate and contract gas purchases on behalf of participating Member States. By acting as a Union, Europe can phase out its dependency on Russian fossil fuels faster, the Commission said, adding that 85% of Europeans believe that the EU should reduce its dependency on Russian gas and oil as soon as possible to support Ukraine. “Saving energy now will help us to prepare for the potential challenges of next winter,” the Commission said. In the Mediterranean and North Sea, major hydrogen corridors will be developed. The Commission also set out contingency measures in case of severe supply disruption, and will issue guidance on prioritisation criteria for customers and facilitate a coordinated EU demand reduction plan.

These “death stages”, or scenes of murder, must be treated and approached with an attitude of immediacy and even intimacy, i.e. Putin’s Russia is a society of barbarians who do not respect the dignity of individual human beings and whose actions are based on moral lawlessness. Nonetheless, at this time the application of the term genocide to Russia’s action in Ukraine seems esoteric, even though their actions fit the description. In relation to Bucha, and the digging up of a mass grave, it is already known who the perpetrators of these crimes are, the leaders that ordered the killings and the soldiers who committed the murders. Ukraine, along with its like-minded Western partners, have been forced to recognize that the most practical aspects of asserting democratic values is the need to apply the principle of the dignity of human life. the murdered, treated with reverence and shown the respect worthy of the highest sense of sanctity for human life; the places, treated like crime scenes, subject to immediate investigation and the gathering of evidence for the purpose of pursuing timely prosecutions.  
The failure of the establishment of such legal practice has established a historical precedent that crimes against the populace will go unpunished. This must lead to its isolation and expulsion from international bodies. And whether historically or publicly acknowledged, it gives the impression that the lives of Ukrainians are not deserving of the protection of the rule of law. The Russian Federation must be subjected to both moral and legal judgment which cannot get lost in diplomatic nuance, nor through the passage of time. In war, Moscow has shown and proven that it is a barbaric state, whose actions and guiding values have been exposed revealing their true nature. That it must be governed by a systematic assertion of legal justice and for the need to pursue justice and accountability in regard to the respect of human life. New Europe's Ukraine correspondent. For what Ukraine is experiencing, according to accepted standards of international jurisprudence, are crimes against its civilian populace, and indeed, its nation in the form of targeting of its civilian population for murder, the deliberate targeting of cultural and educational institutions, the deliberate bombing of hospitals, and the wanton destruction of residential neighborhoods. This neglect allows for the continuation of conceptual thinking that perpetuates the notion that the lives and security of individuals in Ukraine are not protected by law. Civil societies do not shoot at fleeing people. Russia’s war tactics and behavior in Ukraine have revealed that they are barbaric and definitely criminal. The challenge confronting Ukraine and its Western partners, is to establish a new legal narrative regarding the crimes perpetrated against the Ukrainian people, that being the establishment of the practice that such behavior is to be legally adjudicated by either its domestic courts or international bodies, or both. This does not happen in Ukraine. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>The deliberate murder of a modern nation

By Yuri Polakiwsky
Canadian-born political analyst. A civil society does not bomb, nor attempt to terrorize innocent civilians by indiscriminately bombing residential neighborhoods, murder or execute non-combatants on residential streets like in Bucha, bomb hospitals, attempt to destroy cultural and educational institutions as has been done in numerous cities throughout Ukraine, or most despicably, knowingly bomb places of shelter where women and children seek refuge like in Mariupol. We are witnessing the murder and the attempted murder of a sovereign and independent nation-state and its citizens. In Russia’s illegal and aggressive invasion of Ukraine, a European nation-state has been exposed to the most horrific of crimes which must be investigated, prosecuted and judicially punished with the intent of establishing a legal order according to international norms. More specifically, Russia is attempting to murder Ukraine, its people, its culture, as well as the existence and meaning of its people. By doing so, it will negate the continuation of Ukraine’s “victim” narrative, but establish a new narrative that will perpetuate a new tradition as to how actions on Ukraine’s lands are to be dealt with: crimes against humanity, or better yet, crimes against individual human
dignity will be prosecuted and punished according to western democratic and international legal traditions. Russia is subjecting Ukraine to genocide. This absence allows for the ‘dehumanization’ and the lack of respect and protection of the dignity of Ukrainian lives. Societies which do not respect, nor protect the dignity of human life in law are not civilized. Though applicable, the term does not seem to accurately convey the immediacy of the murderous horrors that have occurred in the last three months. Moscow’s actions toward non-combatant civilians essentially reveals that they have nothing in common with those who make up the civilized world. In addition, it allows and contributes to the validity of the myth that Ukrainian life is somehow “lesser”, and thus, if lesser, contributes to the assumption that the destruction of Ukrainian life is inconsequential. This failure to provide for the individual security of human life allows for crimes against humanity on Ukrainian land. Facebook

Twitter

Linkedin

WhatsApp

Viber

Email

Print

The world is witnessing the deliberate murder of a modern nation by Russia. For all right-thinking people, there can be no doubt that Russian values of war, and by extension, their society’s values, have exposed their true nature. For most of its modern history, Ukraine’s people have been exposed to numerous crimes against humanity, atrocities that are not, or have not been subjected to judicial adjudication and the norms of civilized societies.

It also features Commission actions to put in place a supportive regulatory framework, facilitate access to finance and promote efficient supply chains. Among them:
Ensuring that regulation governing the production of renewable hydrogen support a fast and affordable ramp-up of the market for renewable hydrogen and its production in Europe;
Adoption of a recommendation and a legislative proposal on accelerated permitting for renewable energy projects, including renewable hydrogen;
Assessment of State aid notification for hydrogen projects as a matter of priority;
Commitment by electrolyser manufacturers to apply only with high quality project proposals that are fully aligned with the climate targets and REPowerEU ambition;
Collaboration with the EIB to facilitate the financing of electrolyser manufacturing and deployment projects;
Establishment of an ‘fit for 55′ that will bring together electrolyser manufacturers and suppliers of components and materials within the existing structures of the European Clean Hydrogen Alliance;
Joint commitment to integrate the value chain, diversify and tackle dependency of key raw materials and chemicals within the framework of the EU industrial strategy. This will enable the annual EU production of 10 million tons of renewable hydrogen by 2030, set as target in the March 2022 REPowerEU Communication will improve Europe’s sustainable and secure energy supply and reduce EU’s reliance on Russian gas.   “We have no time to lose, which is why this European electrolyser summit is so opportune. The Commission will support this important industrial upscaling for an industrial leadership in the clean energy technologies of the future,” he added. This will enable for the decarbonisation of otherwise hard-to-abate industry sectors and transport applications in line with our Fit for 55 objectives and replacing Russian gas, the Commission said, noting that it will promote Europe’s competitiveness, resilience and strategic autonomy and help ensure that European electrolyser manufacturers maintain their global leadership. EUROPEAN UNION, 2022/EC – AUDIOVISUAL SERVICE/BOGDAN HOYAUX

Plans to enable the annual EU production of 10 million tons of renewable hydrogen by 2030

Facebook

Twitter

Linkedin

WhatsApp

Viber

Email

Print

EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton and 20 European electrolyser manufacturers have signed a Joint Declaration in Brussels whereby industry committed to a tenfold increase of its electrolyser manufacturing capacities by 2025. Today, industry agreed to a tenfold increase in electrolyser manufacturing capacities in Europe. “Clean hydrogen is indispensable to reduce industrial carbon emissions and contribute to our energy independence from Russia,” Breton said. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>EU backs industry commitment to boost by tenfold electrolyser manufacturing capacities

By New Europe Online/KG

nom

EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton. The actions agreed will pave the way for large-scale clean hydrogen production in Europe. The Joint Declaration sets out a target agreed by electrolyser manufacturers in Europe to increase their manufacturing capacity tenfold to 17.5 GW per year, the Commission said.

For once, it’s a sensible move, and the initiative to include both countries under the UK’s defence remit is the sort of flexible thinking that has been severely lacking over the last twenty years – a shame it has taken a catastrophic war to bring back minor innovation. Not only does this consolidate the West’s increasingly shaky footing in the South Caucasus (and that BTC pipeline looks like it’ll be more important than ever fairly soon), but it is also finally a signal to the flagging Georgian authorities that the West will live up to its continually delayed promises. And now, of course, they have collectively realised that when there’s a lunatic on your borders with nuclear weapons, it might be a good idea to seek safety in an alliance that was formed to guard against the aforementioned lunatic’s country. I am facetiously referring to their collective history of Viking raids in antiquity, tolerance of Nazism in World War II, and thinking that unchecked Middle Eastern immigration is just the sort of thing that works in liberal European countries. Applying it across a broader spectrum would be clever, and wouldn’t constitute a greater risk than has already been taken. The Tbilisi government can fairly be accused of incompetence, stupidity, covert pro-Russian sympathies and childish vindictiveness, but the West has – partially – caused them to be this way. If those troops – and all other forces in the west of the country – were able to hand over security to foreign forces, they would be free to move and reinforce their comrades in the east. For its part, while Ukraine would probably be disappointed that NATO troops are not about to join the fight in support of their own, Ukrainian commanders would at least be free to move those forces which have been pinned in the west. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>NATO’s new Nordic members gives the alliance previously unthinkable flexibility

By Timothy Ogden
A UK-based freelance journalist focusing on defence matters

Facebook

Twitter

Linkedin

WhatsApp

Viber

Email

Print

To paraphrase Churchill on the Americans, you can always expect the Scandinavians to get it right – but only after they’ve tried everything else first. For instance, although Odessa is no longer likely to be at risk of being assaulted, a sizeable Ukrainian garrison remains in the city – which suits Putin admirably and was doubtless the intent of the explosive theatrics in Transnistria some weeks ago. To begin with, I’d offer a similar defence guarantee to Georgia. NATO – or at least soldiers in reassuringly UN-blue helmets – could declare the western half of Ukraine to be under its protection, with no fighting permitted in the established zones; if all movements of international forces are relayed directly to the Russian authorities, Moscow will hardly be about to honk about secret Western activity. Also, while I might – fairly – be dubbed a hawkish jingoist, I would justify myself only by stating that my suggestions here will hardly make matters worse. Finland and Sweden are set to join NATO on a fast-track membership scheme, an offer that has not been extended to other aspirant nations elsewhere on the continent. There’s been far too much Western insistence on box-checking in recent years, but that’s what happens when you delegate politics and defence to practices that seem founded on the principles of HR Departments. The West’s position on Ukraine has been to help it hold the line; now it must be flexible enough to help Kyiv to not just survive, but to win. They have seen no reason to abide by Western standards when they have received no Western rewards, a result which must at least be acknowledged and understood without being condoned. Additionally, until the two countries have their NATO Club Cards approved and laminated, they have signed a separate defence pact with the United Kingdom, effectively putting themselves under Britain’s nuclear shield and benefiting from Boris Johnson’s pledge to increase the UK’s regional military presence. I would then attempt to turn the Ukrainian war into something more like a boxing match (or perhaps a cage fight). There was never going to be a no-fly zone over Ukrainian skies, but now that Russia has been safely booted out of the north and west, half of the country is relatively safe. Providing no Western troops are deployed in overwhelming force – being composed of units large enough only for defensive operations – Russia can hardly complain that NATO is preparing an offensive with hordes of troops and fields of hardware and ordnance. Flexibility wins wars and leads to major diplomatic coups. Indeed, it should even satisfy the Kremlin up to a point: Putin will never swallow his pride to the point where he’d admit a defeat, but Russia has quite publicly abandoned its ambitions beyond Ukraine’s east.

The Oxford expert explained that normally in the event of any dispute, transit must not be reduced/stopped until a dispute resolution procedure has been completed. German power also surged, with next month’s contract rising as much as 17%. “CS Novopskov is the first compressor station of the Ukrainian GTS in the Luhansk region, through which almost a third of gas from Russia to Europe (up to 32.6 million cubic meters per day) is transited,” GTSOU said in a statement. Katja Yafimava, a senior research fellow at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, told New Europe on May 11 most of Russian gas flowing to Europe via Ukraine goes through the Sudzha entry point whereas a much smaller volume goes through the Sokhranivka entry point en route to Moldova/Romania. “Moreover, the interference of the occupying forces in technical processes and changes in the modes of operation of GTS facilities, including unauthorized gas offtakes from the gas transit flows, endangered the stability and safety of the entire Ukrainian gas transportation system,” GTSOU said. Gas TSO of Ukraine (GTSOU) reported the occurrence of force majeure, which makes it impossible to further transport gas through the Sokhranivka and the border compressor station (CS) Novopskov, which are in the occupied territories. The benchmark contract surged 14% as flows from Russia via Ukraine fell further on May 12, Bloomberg reported, adding that Dutch front-month gas, the European benchmark, rose as much as 22% on May 12 and settled at €106.701 per megawatt-hour. Noting that several GTS facilities are in territory temporarily controlled by Russian troops and the occupation administration, GTSOU said it cannot currently carry out operational and technological control over the CS Novopskov and other assets located in these territories. Member states have also agreed on mandatory certification for all storage system operators in order to avoid potential risks of external influence on critical storage infrastructures, which could jeopardize security of energy supply or any other essential security interest, the Council said, adding that member states agreed that the filling obligations would expire on December 31, 2026. European natural gas prices jumped as some Russia gas transit volumes were disrupted. Generally, a company can issue a notice of contract termination using its force majeure clause. follow on twitter @energyinsider Meanwhile, the European Council on May 11 reached a mandate for negotiations with the European Parliament on a proposal on gas storage. “To fulfill its transit obligations to European partners in full and following the terms of the agreement, it is possible to temporarily transfer unavailable capacity from the Sokhranivka physical interconnection point to the Sudzha physical interconnection point located in the territory controlled by Ukraine,” Gas TSO of Ukraine said. “GTSOU press release cites force majeure circumstances in respect of transit via Sokhranivka; on its part, (Russian gas monopoly) Gazprom denies it has received any confirmation of such circumstances. As not all member states have storage facilities on their territory, the mandate stipulates that member states without storage facilities will have access to gas storage reserves in other member states and will have to share the financial burden of the filling obligations, the Council said. To improve EU security of supply in the current geopolitical context, the proposal aims to ensure that gas storage capacities in the EU are filled before the next winter season and can be shared between member states in a spirit of solidarity, the EU Council said in a press release, adding that the mandate was agreed by the representatives of the member states in Coreper. Should the transit contract be terminated, there would be no legal basis for transiting Russian gas across Ukraine through any of the entry points,” Yafimava told New Europe. The mandate specifies the rules for underground gas storage and possibilities for counting stocks of liquefied natural gas (LNG), while limiting obligations to a certain volume of the annual gas consumption of the member states over the last five years, to avoid a disproportionate impact on certain member states with a large storage capacity. She noted that parties can attempt to settle their dispute bilaterally within a certain period and, failing that, submit it to arbitration. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Citing force majeure from Russia’s invasion, Ukraine turns off gas flow

By Kostis Geropoulos
Energy & Russian Affairs Editor, New Europe

GAZPROM/FILE PICTURE

Russian separatists siphoning, line carries a third of EU supplies

Facebook

Twitter

Linkedin

WhatsApp

Viber

Email

Print

Ukraine stopped the flow of Russian natural gas to Europe on May 11 through the cross-border Sokhranivka station, blaming Russian-backed separatists of siphoning supplies. “As it is a very small volume its impact on the European gas market is limited, but the very fact of transit stoppage is likely to make the market worry that under certain conditions transit could also be stopped in respect of much larger volumes at Sudzha – and when the markets worry, prices rise,” Yafimava said. Finally, the mandate provides for a derogation to be granted to Cyprus, Malta, and Ireland as long as they are not directly interconnected with the gas system of other member states. The UK equivalent was up 26%.

The Oxford expert explained that normally in the event of any dispute, transit must not be reduced/stopped until a dispute resolution procedure has been completed. Noting that several GTS facilities are in territory temporarily controlled by Russian troops and the occupation administration, GTSOU said it cannot currently carry out operational and technological control over the CS Novopskov and other assets located in these territories. The UK equivalent was up 26%. “Moreover, the interference of the occupying forces in technical processes and changes in the modes of operation of GTS facilities, including unauthorized gas offtakes from the gas transit flows, endangered the stability and safety of the entire Ukrainian gas transportation system,” GTSOU said. As not all member states have storage facilities on their territory, the mandate stipulates that member states without storage facilities will have access to gas storage reserves in other member states and will have to share the financial burden of the filling obligations, the Council said. “To fulfill its transit obligations to European partners in full and following the terms of the agreement, it is possible to temporarily transfer unavailable capacity from the Sokhranivka physical interconnection point to the Sudzha physical interconnection point located in the territory controlled by Ukraine,” Gas TSO of Ukraine said. To improve EU security of supply in the current geopolitical context, the proposal aims to ensure that gas storage capacities in the EU are filled before the next winter season and can be shared between member states in a spirit of solidarity, the EU Council said in a press release, adding that the mandate was agreed by the representatives of the member states in Coreper. European natural gas prices jumped as some Russia gas transit volumes were disrupted. Member states have also agreed on mandatory certification for all storage system operators in order to avoid potential risks of external influence on critical storage infrastructures, which could jeopardize security of energy supply or any other essential security interest, the Council said, adding that member states agreed that the filling obligations would expire on December 31, 2026. Finally, the mandate provides for a derogation to be granted to Cyprus, Malta, and Ireland as long as they are not directly interconnected with the gas system of other member states. She noted that parties can attempt to settle their dispute bilaterally within a certain period and, failing that, submit it to arbitration. Generally, a company can issue a notice of contract termination using its force majeure clause. The mandate specifies the rules for underground gas storage and possibilities for counting stocks of liquefied natural gas (LNG), while limiting obligations to a certain volume of the annual gas consumption of the member states over the last five years, to avoid a disproportionate impact on certain member states with a large storage capacity. “GTSOU press release cites force majeure circumstances in respect of transit via Sokhranivka; on its part, (Russian gas monopoly) Gazprom denies it has received any confirmation of such circumstances. Katja Yafimava, a senior research fellow at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, told New Europe on May 11 most of Russian gas flowing to Europe via Ukraine goes through the Sudzha entry point whereas a much smaller volume goes through the Sokhranivka entry point en route to Moldova/Romania. The benchmark contract surged 14% as flows from Russia via Ukraine fell further on May 12, Bloomberg reported, adding that Dutch front-month gas, the European benchmark, rose as much as 22% on May 12 and settled at €106.701 per megawatt-hour. Should the transit contract be terminated, there would be no legal basis for transiting Russian gas across Ukraine through any of the entry points,” Yafimava told New Europe. Gas TSO of Ukraine (GTSOU) reported the occurrence of force majeure, which makes it impossible to further transport gas through the Sokhranivka and the border compressor station (CS) Novopskov, which are in the occupied territories. follow on twitter @energyinsider “CS Novopskov is the first compressor station of the Ukrainian GTS in the Luhansk region, through which almost a third of gas from Russia to Europe (up to 32.6 million cubic meters per day) is transited,” GTSOU said in a statement. Meanwhile, the European Council on May 11 reached a mandate for negotiations with the European Parliament on a proposal on gas storage. “As it is a very small volume its impact on the European gas market is limited, but the very fact of transit stoppage is likely to make the market worry that under certain conditions transit could also be stopped in respect of much larger volumes at Sudzha – and when the markets worry, prices rise,” Yafimava said. German power also surged, with next month’s contract rising as much as 17%. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Citing force majeure of Russia’s invasion, Ukraine turns off gas flow

By Kostis Geropoulos
Energy & Russian Affairs Editor, New Europe

GAZPROM/FILE PICTURE

Russian separatists siphoning, line carries a third of EU supplies

Facebook

Twitter

Linkedin

WhatsApp

Viber

Email

Print

Ukraine stopped the flow of Russian natural gas to Europe on May 11 through the cross-border Sokhranivka station, blaming Russian-backed separatists of siphoning supplies.

The European Innovation Council was launched in March 2021 as part of the Horizon Europe programme and has an earmarked budget of over €10 billion for the 2021 and 2027 period. EUROPEAN UNION, 2022/EC – AUDIOVISUAL SERVICE/THOMAS KIENZLE

Facebook

Twitter

Linkedin

WhatsApp

Viber

Email

Print

The CEE9 countries – Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia – and especially the countries along the Danube Valley have the potential to propel itself to the front of European innovation leadership in the forthcoming years. Measures for a favourable growth environment for innovation and start-ups to thrive must be introduced on a regional level. Thus, helping Europe to come forward as a leader in innovation. As European countries emerge from restrictions and economic slowdown imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, an opportunity for the CEE9 presents itself. The GLOBSEC Tatra Summit Insight Report 2021, is a real wake-up call for the CEE9 countries. This is a potential for CEE, Slavic and neighbouring countries, companies, education facilities and think-tanks to welcome with open-arms highly educated workforce and relocating companies with high innovation potential, adding to the local pool. Besides, the safe return of dislocated populations to their homes in Ukraine, will be an asset for fostering further intra- and inter-regional innovative cooperation. According to a March 2022 article from The Economist, “Russian émigrés are behind some of the world’s most successful digital start-ups, such as Revolut, a mobile-banking app based in London co-founded by Nikolay Storonsky”. Nonetheless, the current cost-of-living crisis, due to surge in energy prices and high-inflation ―as direct consequences of the COVID-19 crisis, heightened by the war in Ukraine― are clearing innovation off the investment priorities of the member states. It is high time to foster an innovation-friendly environment in the region, providing the local entrepreneurs with the keys to bringing their projects to life, and looking towards the future. Funding is, naturally, a key element of any innovation agenda for the region.  In other words, working unitedly on putting the CEE countries on the map, for a more impactful motive than a brutal war. Most of the group is not performing well on GLOBSEC’s Strategic Transformation Index (STI). Similar shares are observable in other CEE countries’ Recovery Plans, which is an EU-level requirement. However, it lags behind its US (487) and Chinese (301) counterparts, with less than 100 unicorns (a start-up that is valued at one billion dollars or more) as shown by the latest data from Statista. If we take a look at Slovakia’s Recovery and Resilience Plan, “43% of the plan supports climate objectives and 21% of the plan supports the digital transition”. All of it, in the current context, should be done in a fraternal spirit with citizens of neighbouring countries to the East either fleeing the destruction of their homes or an oppressive government. According to the New York Times, “By March 22 (2022) a Russian tech industry trade group estimated that between 50,000 and 70,000 tech workers had left the country and that an additional 70,000 to 100,000 would soon follow. Activities of a sensor production site of the German car supplier Bosch in Reutlingen, Germany. The ranking is as follow: Slovenia (57.0), Czech Republic (56.0), Poland (51.9), Hungary (51.2), Slovakia (47.8), Croatia (41.1), Romania (40.3) and Bulgaria coming last (35.6). The Director-General of the EU’s Research and Innovation Directorate, Jean-Eric Paquet, told Sifted in an interview, “The EIC should become Europe’s unicorn factory, we are creating possibly the biggest deep-tech equity fund in Europe.” The European Commission adopted the work programme of the European Innovation Council, on February 9, 2022, opening funding opportunities worth over €1.7 billion in 2022. Innovation is key to allowing the region to grow, catch up with its neighbouring countries to the West and help Europe to become a serious competitor on the international scene. A direct consequence of the Russian re-aggression of Ukraine is the brain drain, not only from Ukraine but also from Russia and Belarus. They are part of a much larger exodus of workers from Russia, but their departure could have an even more lasting impact on the country’s economy.”
There is a need to monitor this displacement of workers and assert its potential effects on EU and non-EU countries. In a nutshell, tapping on the innovative potential of the region could be an essential contribution to rebuilding post-war Ukraine. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>CEE cross-border cooperation key to competitiveness and innovation leadership

By Olivia Blanchard
Research Fellow and Project Manager for the Economic Growth and Sustainability Program at GLOBSEC Policy Institute

Data cables are connected to computers in the development section of the sensor production site of German car supplier Bosch in Reutlingen, southern Germany, on February 11, 2022. Yet, it must be highlighted that “Austria defends its top performer standing, with an overall score of 63.9 points. Besides, the moment is more crucial than ever: With the raging war in Ukraine the consequent spotlight is shining on the region. Although there is a slight progress year on year, it is not significant. With such drags on the way, 2022 might not be the kick-starter of innovation. Collaboration and cross-border cooperation are means to connect people, learn from each other, grow stronger regional bonds contributing to an increased competitiveness and hopefully rebuilding of a stronger Ukraine. With funding and policy measures available, working towards an innovative ecosystem will contribute to laying down the foundations for a new, more sustainable, and smarter future economic growth model.  
 
  Europe aims at being a trend-setter and leader in the domain of innovation. The index value 63.9 is interpreted as being almost at a 2/3rd point between the worst and the best performer in the sample between 2010 and 2018 […]”. With an updated version of the index coming out soon, comes an opportunity to initiate change. The flow of refugees also includes political opponents, let alone refugees overall, who should not be omitted.

Ambassador Pyatt and the power of Twitter
It will be difficult for any incoming ambassador to surpass the arduous work put in by former Ambassador Pyatt, a hard-driving career Foreign Service Officer, on bilateral economic issues and energy, but especially in galvanizing various media outlets to improve Greece’s image in the US as an investment destination. Pyatt also focused on supporting the unpopular Prespes Agreement with North Macedonia and in trying to boost Thessaloniki as an investment destination, in some cases misallocating US government resources for poorly timed events and exhibitions. Despite Pyatt’s glowing pronouncements about northern Greece’s strategic and economic potential, the bureaucracy in Washington was particularly stingy about devoting sufficient additional resources needed to match the Pyatt spin, although there is hope things are improving thanks to the Ukraine war. Many thanks are also due to the US Embassy staffers who almost instantaneously selected any and all positive Greek-language articles for Pyatt to retweet over the years. Pyatt’s twitter feed, like Trump’s in the US, became a must-follow for Greek political analysts and social media junkies. That legacy was significant however, as several major publications highlighted his January hearing as a major test for a Biden nominee in a tense period when a number of highly partisan issues were front and center in Washington. During Pyatt’s almost six-year tour in Athens, exceptionally long for a career officer who normally would face regulatory limits on tours of duty except in emergency situations, Twitter trumped everything else as the US Embassy’s main public diplomacy tool. Tsunis presented his credentials to the Greek President May 10. Greek elections must be held no later than the summer of 2023, and demonstrations of strong political support from abroad such as Biden’s invitation are sure to fuel speculation that snap elections will be called, although Mitsotakis is likely more focused on fighting Covid-19, handling the recent barrage of provocative Turkish overflights, containing inflation from surging energy costs and managing the limited but important Greek role in supporting the Ukraine war right now. The short-term political context
Biden’s nomination of Tsunis signals that the Greek American community is being treated by key political decision-makers as are most other large, mature, and influential US ethnic communities with important “ethnic” ambassadorial nominees in many cases. While grumbling from the Washington foreign affairs community continues, there is broad general acceptance that the President retains the constitutional authority to hand out ambassadorial postings as he sees fit. Tsunis’ performance at that time earned him the moniker “punchline.”
However, the crisp businesslike handling of Tsunis’ January 12 Greece hearing made it appear as if the controversy surrounding the nomination of a major Biden campaign donor/fundraiser to the sensitive diplomatic posting in Athens had faded somewhat. This includes the Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM), the embassy’s executive officer and critical for most day-to-day operations, who is said to be hastily departing for a hardship posting. Pyatt at times generated controversy for his apparent support of Greece’s socialist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras early in his tenure and those now-debunked claims that Tsipras’ Syriza government was making Greece an important investment destination through reforms. To briefly recap, the Tsunis case was different than most ambassadorial nominations because it is an almost unthinkably rare “do-over” for a political appointee who withdrew from a previous ambassadorial nomination, in this case for US Ambassador to Norway under then-President Obama, after a disastrous 2014 confirmation hearing that revealed a deep lack of preparation for the position and also aggravated the Norwegian-American community, influential in some states. It is unclear if Pyatt was requested to focus on Twitter by Washington or if it was a personal choice, but he earned the affectionate moniker “Tweetador” in the Greek journalistic community. Having a trained and coordinated embassy team in place is essential in any ambassadorial transition; New Europe has learned however that key America-linked organizations are worried about the substantial number of current US diplomats, whom Ambassador Pyatt usually kept well hidden doing office staff work while he absorbed the media spotlight, that are rotating out in the coming months. It cannot be overstated how important it is to have an experienced DCM in place to guide an inexperienced political appointee through the intricacies of his/her first months in the job. Hello and….Goodbye
Tsunis will barely have time to meet his key embassy staffers before he is Washington bound. Tsunis almost immediately tweeted on arrival (More on Twitter as a public diplomacy tool below) revealing a strong knowledge of modern Greek and the ability to use it in written form, something that should enable him to vastly extend his outreach to the Greek public compared to almost all of his predecessors. Time will tell, there is surely life after Twitter. Time will tell
It remains to be seen whether Ambassador Tsunis will turn into “Tweetador V 2.0” and a continuing source of entertainment for Greek journalists, although he is using the medium already and writing some of his messages in the Greek language. And during the Greek economic crisis years that was clearly the best approach, with the Greek public’s anger focused on the country’s foreign creditors (not the US) and Germany in particular. Part of Pyatt’s impact however was simply because his predecessors had opted for a much more low-key social media profile, simply tweeting niceties about their Greek travels and holidays or posting their speeches, but nothing more. Pyatt himself excelled in retweeting a broad range of articles and comments from a massive gamut of US officials and policy experts outside of Greece, and also kept a tight focus on Russia’s weaponization of energy and the Ukraine, even before the war, where he had previously served as US Ambassador. The results of Biden’s choice will be seen almost immediately, as Tsunis will be returning to Washington in the coming days to attend the meetings Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis will be having in the White House and with Congress May 16-17. Undoubtedly, some in Washington will continue categorizing these kinds of assignments as “sinecures,” but life goes on. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Biden’s choice takes the reins at the American Embassy in Athens

By Alec Mally
Director for Global Economic Affairs at IPEDIS

Incoming US Ambassador George Tsunis presents his credentials to Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou, Athens, May 10 2022. US Embassy Athens website

Biden taps controversial Greek American fundraiser from New York to replace outgoing career diplomat from California

Facebook

Twitter

Linkedin

WhatsApp

Viber

Email

Print

US President Joe Biden’s nominee as next Ambassador to Greece George Tsunis arrived in Athens May 7, a day after his career diplomat predecessor Geoffrey Pyatt departed amid a storm of farewell tweets ending his exceptionally long assignment. Key to all of this was Pyatt’s mastery of Twitter. Readers will recall that Ambassador Tsunis had completely pain-free hearings back in January and no other complications, beyond his colorful legacy, getting confirmed. Pyatt was however absolutely on target in working to keep the US government focused on the strategic role of northern Greece in the EU energy constellation and in further boosting the development of pipelines and interconnections across the region. It should not be forgotten that any White House visits approved for Greek leaders are invariably interpreted as Washington’s vote of confidence in that leader; this particular Mitsotakis visit has a long history and was rescheduled several times as other critical events grabbed leaders’ time and attention last year.

This EU sanctions package, the sixth, is turning out to be the most difficult negotiation so far. Earlier, Russian Minister of Finance Anton Siluanov had threatened that Russia would repay its foreign currency debt “only if its foreign currency accounts were unfrozen.” Russia had also attempted unsuccessfully to repay the bonds due first in funds frozen by the US Treasury and later in rubles. Russia had missed dollar-denominated bond payments worth $649 million due April 4 but had a one-month grace period to finalize those specific payments before being formally declared in default, which it was able to do this week using fresh funds likely generated from continuing energy exports to EU countries (oil exports to the EU currently generate somewhat over $300 million daily for Russia, depending on prices). It also proposes to ban after a month all shipping, brokerage, insurance, and financing services offered by EU companies for the transport of Russian oil. In financial parlance, a selective default occurs if a borrower defaults on specific foreign currency obligations but not all of its debt. The EU also plans to extend its ban on Russian broadcasters that it blamed for disinformation. Curiously, Gazprombank will not be targeted in this phase, effectively elevating its role. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Moscow drains dwindling reserves to avert default

By Alec Mally
Director for Global Economic Affairs at IPEDIS

The Kremlin

By Pavel Kazachkov – Moscow Kremlin, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org

Continuing revenue inflows seen from EU energy purchases for most of 2022

Facebook

Twitter

Linkedin

WhatsApp

Viber

Email

Print

With most of its foreign currency reserves held abroad frozen by Western sanctions and inaccessible, Moscow was forced to tap its precious domestically held foreign currency reserves to avoid a formal default May 3. Two other banks, Credit Bank of Moscow, and Russian Agricultural Bank would also be cut from Swift, according to the EU’s latest yet to be approved proposal. The draft EU proposals have named Rossiya RTR/RTR-Planeta, Rossiya 24/Russia 24 and TV Centre International. Western sanctions experts including those at the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) have long understood that the most that can be accomplished through financial/banking sanctions (e.g. Accordingly, as part of the new EU sanctions package, Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank, would be disconnected from the Swift international banking payment system. New EU sanctions package generating major controversy
Increasingly cognizant that their regular energy payments are funding the military campaign that has caused thousands of civilian deaths and massive destruction, EU member states and the Commission are currently wrangling over yet another new package of sanctions. In another sign that complete financial pandemonium has been avoided, the Central Bank of Russia lowered its key interest rate April 29 from 17% to 14%; it had gone as high as 20% to support the ruble in the early days of the war. asset freezes) is to force Russia to tap its incoming export revenues to cover foreign debt payments on schedule, thereby diverting some of these resources from military expenditures and other critical sectors of the economy, which is where the long term impact of sanctions will be felt. Cyprus is said to have challenged the Commission’s suggested ban on providing corporate services, including accountancy, to Russian companies. The Russian ruble, which had initially collapsed, is now trading above its pre-war level. While Germany now seems amenable to suffer the consequences of new energy-related sanctions decisions, the Hungarians claim such restrictions would make it “impossible to procure the crude oil the Hungarian economy needs to operate.” Slovakia and the Czech Republic also have major concerns as they largely rely on the Soviet-built pipeline network to import crude oil from the Ural region, which the region’s refineries were designed to process. Greek-owned shipping companies, in particular, which manage half the EU-registered fleet, have profited handsomely (and quietly) in the early months of the war thanks to their willingness to transport Russian oil cargos anywhere in the world, which companies based in other EU countries opted to reject. The European Commission’s proposal, which was announced May 4 by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, will need unanimous backing by all 27 EU countries to take effect, and includes phasing out supplies of Russian crude oil in six months and refined products by the end of 2022. Compared to mid-February, it is up 5% against the dollar, and up 15% against the euro (falling sharply against most world currencies in recent weeks). These proposals will cause significant pain in the Central European countries dependent on Russian oil but also hit hard such countries as Greece and Cyprus which provide a substantial amount of oil shipping/refining support as well administrative/accounting services to Russian companies. Patching the weak spots
Patching weak spots in any sanctions regime is considered routine as a conflict drags on. Many ratings agencies moved to classify Russia as being in the “selective default” category as of April 4.

In his televised address to the nation on constitutional reform, Tokayev said amendments to the Constitution are crucial for Kazakhstan. NE/KOSTIS GEROPOULOS

Tokayev: Referendum will allow every citizen to be directly involved in determining the future of New Kazakhstan

Facebook

Twitter

Linkedin

WhatsApp

Viber

Email

Print

Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev announced on May 5 a state-wide referendum on June 5 on the adoption of amendments to the Constitution. Therefore, I proposed to bring this issue to a republican referendum, because such large-scale changes should be carried out on the basis of the will of the people,” Tokayev said. “The changes will affect a third of its articles. A section of the amendments will also further enhance the protection of human rights, by establishing the Constitutional Court, consolidating the status of the Commissioner for Human Rights at the constitutional level, and fully banning the death penalty, the Kazakh President said. Furthermore, the introduction of a mixed majority-proportional model for the election of deputies to the Mazhilis and regional maslikhats will make it possible to cover the entire spectrum of views and opinions of voters more fully. In addition, the constitutional reform, Tokayev said, will significantly strengthen the representative branch of power, strengthen the system of checks and balances, and increase the independence of maslikhats (local representative bodies). He called on everyone to take an active part in the referendum “for the sake of the future of our country, for the sake of future generations”, adding that “together we will build a New Kazakhstan, a fair Kazakhstan!”
According to Tokayev, the referendum on the draft constitutional amendments will demonstrate the country’s firm commitment to democratic principles, adding that “it will allow every citizen to take a direct part in the historic event that will determine the future of Kazakhstan”. According to Tokayev, the constitutional reform is aimed at a comprehensive transformation of the entire state model, which includes the final transition from a “super-presidential” form of government to a presidential republic with an influential parliament and an accountable government, which entails limiting the powers of the President. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>National referendum on amending Kazakhstan’s Constitution to take place on June 5

By New Europe Online/KG

View of the Presidential Palace in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, June 10, 2019. “The constitutional reform will mark a new stage in the development of our country,” he said.

As expected, the most “pressure” was applied to Kiril Petkov’s government in Sofia, with the objective of lifting Bulgaria’s veto on North Macedonia’s EU accession by the June EU Summit. With French parliamentary elections set for June, it remains anyone’s guess as to how ambitious the June EU Council’s objectives will be concerning Enlargement. Donfried also visited Montenegro and Bosnia during her April 25-29 regional tour. And with Bulgaria’s continued veto on the start of North Macedonia’s accession process, something tangible to fill the gap is needed while both countries try to negotiate a meaningful compromise. Looming June EU Council – what to expect? Várhelyi and Donfried visit Western Balkans
EU Enlargement Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi visited Sofia, Skopje, and Tirana April 26-28 to demonstrate the Commission’s interest in reviving the Enlargement process. Barring a rapid agreement between Sofia and Skopje however, there is little reason to expect the EU will deliver a miracle, considering the considerable number of other controversial issues in need of immediate resolution. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>After Macron victory, Enlargement diplomacy back on the radar

By Alec Mally
Director for Global Economic Affairs at IPEDIS

Olivér Várhelyi, European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, addressing the European Parliament

EC – Audiovisual Service

Progress for the Western Balkans at June EU Council? Enlargement fatigue remains a problem across the EU, but in the case of the Western Balkans this is primarily because Albania and North Macedonia offer the EU so little as new members, and because Enlargement is primarily seen as a geopolitical stabilization exercise, which makes it unattractive to almost everyone except national leaders who are almost certainly tired of repeating the Enlargement mantra without taking concrete steps. In Skopje and Tirana, Donfried also emphasized the importance of EU Enlargement which the US has no formal influence over. Although not an approach supported by all EU member states, this step would preserve some of the fading Enlargement momentum. Indeed, with the torrent of Ukrainian refugees already straining the resources of many member states, the last thing most EU citizens were interested in was opening a new pathway for free movement into the EU from impoverished EU candidate countries Albania and North Macedonia. Of course, Enlargement supporters will argue to the minute the final Summit declaration is closed that the EU is in a “now or never” situation thanks to the Ukraine war. Ukraine War impact
The key question at the present time is what impact the Ukraine war will have on the overall EU Enlargement strategy, and whether Albania and North Macedonia will receive a political boost if and when the EU decides to grant so-called candidate status to Ukraine, as well as possibly to Moldova and Georgia. Almost immediately after Macron’s April 24 election victory in France, things began to change, however. Washington also decided to continue its moral support for Enlargement by sending a high-level envoy to the region as well, although most observers understand Washington has no vote in Brussels on this matter and is little more than an uninvited cheerleader. While in Tirana, Donfried was able to meet with Enlargement Commissioner Várhelyi to further emphasize the “shared priority” the EU and US place on Enlargement even though Washington can do little more than issue supportive statements on the issue. Despite polling results which show that strong anti-immigrant resentment boosted extremist parties substantially in the presidential election and could still play a role in France’s June parliamentary elections, EU Enlargement proponents opted to make another push to initiate the EU accession process for Albania and North Macedonia before the rapidly approaching end of the French EU Presidency. Donfried was also drawn into the controversy over judicial reform in Albania, an issue critical to Albania’s eventual EU accession, when she was asked to defend the interventionist polices of the resident US Ambassador, Yuri Kim, who has been working with an unpopular faction of the opposition Democratic Party which accepts the current socialist government’s judicial reforms as transparent and sufficient to meet EU requirements. While bilateral talks launched in January this year are reportedly making progress, at least one nationalist party which is essential to Petkov’s coalition is demanding that potential changes to the North Macedonian constitution be finalized before the veto is lifted, increasing the potential for continuing delays. US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Karen Donfried began her first tour through the Western Balkans last week by visiting Pristina April 25 and Belgrade the next day. Albania’s Prime Minister indicated the country is losing patience with the Bulgaria-North Macedonia dispute which is delaying the start of his country’s EU accession negotiations. Support for EU Enlargement was a major objective of this visit, but not the only one as Donfried also pressed for more progress on the EU-sponsored Kosovo-Serbia dialogue as a measure that would help to limit Russian influence in the Western Balkans. Facebook

Twitter

Linkedin

WhatsApp

Viber

Email

Print

With the war in Ukraine and the noise surrounding the French presidential elections, the subject of EU Enlargement into the Western Balkans had almost completely faded from public consciousness. Rama said April 28 he would decide in June whether to “de-link” his country from North Macedonia and move ahead with the EU separately, after losing more than a year to the dispute which does not concern his country. Everybody except the European Commission’s Enlargement bureaucracy, various pro-Enlargement NGOs, and the aspirant countries themselves, of course. The only thing that most observers agree on is that some kind of encouragement is absolutely essential for the Western Balkan candidate countries even if formal accession negotiations are not launched immediately.

Kim has indirectly admitted her intervention through a tweet. Berisha, announced in 2021, have been seen as part of this partisan scheme. Indeed, an October 2021 survey commissioned by Euronews Albania October found that only 32.6% of the respondents would side with the US in an imaginary conflict with the EU; the latter’s support reached 56.9%. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Interventionist US Ambassador in Tirana under pressure

By Genc Pollo
Albanian MP and former Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on European Integration. Ambassador Kim was accused of intervening with the Albanian judiciary in order to press for a court ruling against the main opposition Democratic Party (DP): she wanted to favor a splinter group of the party which pretended to be the party leadership. Earlier the support figures would have reversed places. Professor Ilir Kalemaj of the New York University branch in Tirana points at a recent increase of anti-Americanism in this highly pro-American nation: “It has something to do with the ambassador’s bravado.”
“Despite the fact that she is a symbol of her country Ms. He is also an ex-Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Education; Telecoms

In Tirana, US Assistant Secretary for European Affairs Donfried meets Albanian officials, together with Ambassador Kim

US Embassy Tirana website

Defending American diplomats is standard practice in US diplomacy even in the cases where such a public defense might be unjustified, but it can also indicate a persistent problem

Facebook

Twitter

Linkedin

WhatsApp

Viber

Email

Print

“I can assure you that the President of the United States Joe Biden, the Secretary of the United States Tony Blinken and I all have full confidence in Ambassador Yuri Kim” declared Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Karen Donfried in Tirana in a well-prepared interview with the local Voice of America correspondent. The ambassador has repeatedly tussled with opposition leader Berisha and has shown repeated support for the current Rama government despite Department of State reports expressing strong criticism of high-level official corruption and bad governance. Defending fellow diplomats is standard practice in US diplomacy even in the cases where such a public defense might be unjustified. However, this is also often a sign of trouble. Albania entered NATO’s Partnership for Peace in the 1990s under DP-led governments and achieved membership in the Alliance in 2009. Interestingly the opposition Democratic Party has been since its founding three decades ago an Atlanticist stalwart. Current US sanctions against Mr. The DP has criticized government lobbying efforts in Washington DC which focus on securing support for the ruling party. Kim is caustic in her language, closer to the government and more supportive of (Prime Minister) Rama” he told the local CNN affiliate A2 TV last week.

In four years, the Association has achieved the following results: 134 renewable energy facilities operate in the country, generating about 4% of electricity. “Currently, the public and the government are discussing this document because we understand that it determines, in general, the further economic course of our country,” Sospanova said. The association has achieved its goals, Sospanova said, adding that renewable energy sources currently produce about 4% of Kazakhstan’s electricity. “The development of green energy in Kazakhstan has exposed key problems of the power industry, such as imbalances in the system, lack of maneuvering capacity, dependence on neighboring states, depreciation of equipment, isolation of the Western zone, energy security of our country,” Kaperov said. “With base load it’s a bit easier because you can at least consider nuclear. One of the problems here is that building a unified system of Central Asia countries is conflicting with Eurasia Energy Union because for example Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia are in that energy union,” Kovaleko said, adding, “And those are two conflicting ideas and completely opposite vectors. Kazakhstan will need to build new capacity to substitute the plants that are phasing out or invest into deep modernization of existing capacity, Kovalenko said. “The potential for foreign investment in Central Asia is huge. The time when these old capacities should be phased out will, be very soon, he said. So, Kazakhstan is already facing deficit of natural gas and unfortunately it doesn’t have such strong reserves of natural gas like Uzbekistan,” he said. “One of the solutions is smooth phasing out of the coal generation, not building new generating capacities but when some capacities are phased out to substitute them by renewables,” Kovalenko said, adding that, at the same time, the country needs to boost maneuvering generation capacity. First, you are phasing out coal power stations, second you are increasing the share of renewables in your energy mix. NE/KOSTIS GEROPOULOS

RES facilities will generate about 6% of electricity in Kazakhstan by 2026

Facebook

Twitter

Linkedin

WhatsApp

Viber

Email

Print

TASHKENT, Uzbekistan – Kazakhstan’s government has set an ambitious goal of reaching net-zero emission by 2060, planning to gradually reduce its reliance on coal, which is the main source currently for electricity generation, but the transition to renewables in the Central Asian state has exposed key problems of the power industry, such as imbalances in the system and lack of maneuvering capacity, Victor Kovalenko, head of Climate Change and Sustainability Services in Central Asia, Caucasus and Ukraine, EY, told New Europe in Tashkent. The choice is to build new capacities to substitute those that are phasing out or to modernize existing ones. Moreover, he said that while the Kazakhstan has hydropower potential, it needs massive investments to develop hydropower plants. Based in Almaty, Kazakhstan, Kovalenko said the first task will be partially solved by nuclear power stations which can generate electricity and, at the same, heat and this type of technology can take the base load in the energy system. In many countries when we’re talking about renewables, we’re talking about electricity generation but for Kazakhstan considering its climate it’s important not forget about heat generation because of very cold weather in the winter and generating heat with renewables is quite a difficult task so there are a lot of combined heat power stations in Kazakhstan which are based on coal, and this should be also reflected in any energy transition strategy,” Kovalenko said. He explained that maneuvering capacity is important because renewable energy generation is unstable. “Let’s start with heat. “It is quite difficult topic for the country because Kazakhstan is very rich in coal reserves, it is quite cheap and the most of energy sector is relying on coal for coal-fired generation, electricity, and heat as well,” he said in an interview on the sidelines of Energy Week Central Asia & Mongolia in the Uzbek capital Tashkent on April 26. During the same conference in Tashkent, Ainur Sospanova, chairwoman of the Board of the Qazaq Green Renewable Energy Association, said RES facilities will generate about 6% of electricity in Kazakhstan by 2026. For maneuvering it’s much more difficult because maneuvering capacity can be hydro, and it can be gas power stations. Kazakhstan currently has a high level of depreciation of funds in the coal energy sector, and the retiring capacities need to be replaced by renewable energy sources, primarily solar and wind generation, he said. It’s with increases and decreases but the consumption is stable,” he said. He spoke about challenges and prospects of green energy development in Kazakhstan. Full load electricity generation in the hydropower, gas-power fired plants could be transferred directly to the grid during the peak demand, he said. follow on twitter @energyinsider “Considering how the energy sector in Kazakhstan is structured you cannot just switch off coal power stations in one moment because the energy system will just be destroyed. It is coming back to what was already in place in previous times and the energy systems of the region were created from scratch considering that there would be a unified energy system, he said. And I agree with what was said in our panel that politicians should sit together and decide in which direction countries would go whether to integrate into single energy market in Eurasia Energy Union or to build a single energy system of Central Asia”. “So, something should stabilize this unstable generation just to have stable electricity in the grid,” he added. Kaperov said Kazakhstan joined the global movement to achieve carbon neutrality targets at the end of 2020. Meanwhile, Kovalenko told New Europe that Kazakhstan is studying Uzbekistan because the latter’s energy mix and the energy system is already much more ready for maneuvering capacity and for increasing of renewables just because most of the electricity generation in Uzbekistan is gas-fired based. The factor which may create more demand for investments in Kazakhstan is the significant share of outdated capacity. “That was exact the question that was asked today: Maybe with the goal to implement more renewables, it’s time to sit together again and think about the unified Central Asia unified energy system and build renewable capacities in the unified energy system rather than to make it in a country-by-country basis building their own networks,” he said. “The point is if you are really phasing out these capacities and invest in new ones the question in which type of generation you will invest – renewables, gas, clean coal, nuclear or something else,” Kovalenko said. In 2022, Kazakhstan will formulate the Doctrine of achieving carbon neutrality of the Republic of Kazakhstan until 2060, she said. “But the problem is with maneuvering capacity. To build these capacities you need significant investment. During the Soviet Union there was a unified energy system of Central Asian countries. “It’s important for the region and it’s a unique chance for the region because this is not something that will be built from scratch. “We hope that all contracted volumes of RES facilities construction will be commissioned,” she said. Turning to interconnection of energy systems in Central Asia, Kovalenko reminded that was a key topic discussed during the conference in Tashkent. He called for a carefully planned model to phase out coal. So, the point that during the process of phasing out coal two issues should be solved: first, who will take the base load in generation and second who will be the maneuvering capacity,” the Ernst & Young expert added. Both tasks require to install new base load generation and new maneuvering capacity,” he said. During Energy Week Central Asia & Mongolia in Tashkent, Nurlan Kapenov , Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Qazaq Green RES Association, also noted that it takes time and serious investment to solve the maneuvering capacity deficit. “Just because of natural factors you cannot expect that, for example, wind power stations will generate the same volume during the whole day each day, each hour, each minute, each second. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Kazakhstan’s green energy transition needs new maneuvering generation capacity

By Kostis Geropoulos
Energy & Russian Affairs Editor, New Europe

View of the Nur Navoi Solar Power Plant (SPP) during a technical visit of delegations, including Kazakhstan, in the framework of Energy Week Central Asia & Mongolia 2022, Navoiy, Uzbekistan, April 28, 2022. For example, if the government of Kazakhstan will publish these three-year forecasted auctions and investors know in a year-by-year basis the capacities that they will be built so they can plan their investments,” Kovaleko said.