Both Poland and Bulgaria are now receiving gas from their EU neighbours,” she said, adding that this shows first of all the immense solidarity among us but it also shows the effectiveness of past investments, for example in interconnectors and other gas infrastructure. follow on twitter @energyinsider This will mitigate any impacts on possible gas disruptions, the Commission President said. “Today, Member States met in the Gas Coordination Group. The EU Commission will also intensify its work with the so-called regional groups of Member States, that can provide the most immediate solidarity to each other. She reminded that the EU also reached an agreement with the US to provide additional liquified natural gas (LNG) imports this year and the following ones. GAZPROM/FILE PICTURE

EU waffles on what would violate Ukraine invasion penalties

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Russian gas monopoly Gazprom said on April 27 Gazprom Export has fully halted gas supplies to Bulgaria’s Bulgargaz and Poland’s PGNiG until the payments are made in rubles. “I understand Russian gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria have been suspended because of their refusal to pay for April supplies in line with the new payment mechanism, established by the presidential decree of 31 March 2022. “I think this action has demonstrated that Russia is not bluffing. “But it comes as no surprise that the Kremlin uses fossil fuels to try to blackmail us. PGNiG said it considers the halt of natural gas supplies a breach of the Yamal contract and reserves the right to raise claims in connection with the halt and will use all of its contractual rights and rights under applicable provisions of law. Europe is moving forward on energy issues”. It has sent a strong signal that if any other buyer – big or small – decides to reject the new procedure out of hand its supplies would be suspended as well unless a derogation is granted,” she added. Russian President Vladimir Putin had said gas sales to “unfriendly” countries to Moscow would have to be paid in rubles. In the longer term, REPowerEU will also help us move to a more reliable, secure and sustainable energy supply. “Bulgaria and Poland are transit states. “And we are working hand in hand with our Member States to secure alternative gas supply from other partners, too. And I welcome their plans to convene a meeting of EU Energy Ministers as soon as possible,” von der Leyen said, adding, “Today, the Kremlin failed once again in this attempt to sow division between Europeans. “This latest aggressive move by Russia is another reminder that we need to work with reliable partners and build our energy independence. The Commission is in contact with the French Presidency. PGNiG said although the Polish company has duly met all its obligations under the Yamal contract, on April 27 Gazprom halted natural gas supplies it is obliged to deliver according to the contract and PGNiG’s nominations. We will present our plans to speed up the green transition in mid-May. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Gazprom’s announcement that it is unilaterally stopping gas delivery to certain EU Member States is another provocation from the Kremlin. This is something the European Commission has been preparing for, in close coordination and solidarity with Member States and international partners. “Our action plan REPowerEU will help to significantly reduce our dependency on Russian fossil fuels already this year,” von der Leyen said. The decree prohibits Gazprom from supplying gas if payment for gas delivered from the 1st of April onwards is not made in line with the new procedure unless a derogation was applied for and granted by the Russian government allowing to pay in line with the old mechanism,” Yafimava explained. In case of unauthorized offtake of Russian gas from the volumes intended for transit into third countries, the transited supplies will be reduced by the volume that was offtaken,” Gazprom warned. The first priority for the EU is to ensure that Gazprom’s decision has the least possible impact on European consumers. According to the Oxford energy expert, the European Commission guidance said the first stage of the new payment procedure – opening a euro account in Gazprombank – is not in conflict with the EU sanctions regime. “As of the end of the working day on April 26, Gazprom Export did not yet receive from Bulgaria’s Bulgargaz and Poland’s PGNiG payments for the gas supplied in April, which were to be made in rubles,” Gazprom said in a press release. Our response will be immediate, united and coordinated,” von der Leyen said. The era of Russian fossil fuels in Europe will come to an end. Katja Yafimava, a senior research fellow at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, told New Europe on April 27 Gazprom’s actions shows that Russia is not bluffing. “Should all buyers – including the biggest markets – decide to reject the new procedure, they could see their supplies being suspended over the coming weeks. Every euro we invest in renewables and energy efficiency is a down payment on our future energy independence,” von der Leyen said. Poland and Bulgaria updated us on the situation. It also said that the second stage – conversion of these euros into rubles and a transfer to Gazprom’s account by Gazprombank – could potentially be in conflict with the sanctions regime but did not pass a judgement on whether it actually is in conflict, leaving it to member states governments and buyers to decide on whether to follow the new procedure, to reject it or seek a derogation, Yafimava said. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Breaking contract, Russia turns off gas for Bulgaria, Poland

By Kostis Geropoulos
Energy & Russian Affairs Editor, New Europe

Russian gas monopoly Gazprom fully halted on April 27 gas supplies to Bulgaria’s Bulgargaz and Poland’s PGNiG until the payments are made in rubles. Secondly, the EU will continue our work to ensure sufficient gas supply and storage in the medium term. Should this suspension last throughout summer one could see Europe entering the next winter with almost no gas in storages,” Yafimava said.

Building a New Kazakhstan
Regarding building a New Kazakhstan, Tokayev said the country needed to completely reformat the system of individual and social values and should become “a land of justice”. Taking part in the XXXI session of the Assembly of the People of Kazakhstan on April 29, titled ‘The unity of the people is the basis of a renewed Kazakhstan,’ Tokayev also discussed the role of the Assembly. To build the New Kazakhstan, we need to completely reformat the system of individual and public values”. Speaking further about the role of the Assembly of the People, the Head of State emphasized that the undoubted merit of the organisation is that over the years of its existence it has contributed to the strengthening of civil unity. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Kazakhstan’s president proposes Constitutional reforms referendum

By New Europe Online/KG

Tokayev discusses issues of national unity and building a New Kazakhstan

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Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev proposed on April 29 holding a referendum in the Central Asian country on the draft amendments to the Constitution and discussed priorities and tasks in building a New Kazakhstan, political reforms, as well as the importance of national unity. Elections reform
Turning to the issue of elections, the Kazakh leader explained that the abolition of the quota of the Assembly of the People in the Mazhilis (lower house of Parliament) removes several existing issues related to the observance of democratic electoral standards. At the same time, “Senators from the Assembly will effectively represent the entire set of interests of the ethnic groups of Kazakhstan on the basis of national integration and ethno-cultural diversity.” He added that “the Assembly should develop effective and transparent procedures for the selection of candidates for the Senate”. “This is our great achievement over the years of Independence, and we are obliged to strengthen it comprehensively,” Tokayev said. Some major amendments include limiting presidential powers, giving more power to the Parliament and making it more representative of the country’s 19 million population through replacement of the proportional system of elections to a mixed majoritarian-proportional one, as well as significant decentralization of power with more competences given to regional and local authorities, consolidation of human rights protection mechanisms, including the Ombudsperson’s office, establishment of the Constitutional Court, to which citizens  could make appeals, etc. “I am sure that in the new realities, the Assembly will continue to serve as a solid institutional policy of peace and harmony”, he said, adding that it is fundamentally important that representatives of all ethnic groups living in Kazakhstan share common civic values and associate themselves with Kazakhstan. He pointed out that the New Kazakhstan is, in fact, a Just Kazakhstan. “The referendum is the most important democratic institution. He stressed that the amendments to the Constitution mean a new phase in the development of Kazakhstan’s statehood.  
 
 
  He said: “Measures need to be taken to strengthen the status of the Kazakh language, but not to the detriment of any other language and, moreover, not to discriminate against any other languages and citizens who speak other languages.”
Tokayev that the principle of “different views, but one nation” is unshakable, adding that “our state will become fair and developed, providing equal opportunities to every citizen”. “New Kazakhstan is the way to strengthen our national identity in a dynamically changing world,” he said, adding, “Without the involvement of all citizens in the common cause neither the state apparatus, nor any political decisions and economic levers can lead us to the goal of renewing the country. It will allow every citizen to take a direct part in deciding the fate of the country and will strengthen our course towards comprehensive democratisation and the construction of a New Kazakhstan,” he said. The Kazakh President noted that the reform of the party and electoral systems opens new opportunities for the participation of all citizens in the electoral processes, adding that the emergence of new political parties is expected, which will cover almost the entire electoral landscape. Earlier in the week, Tokayev’s office sent a draft law to the Constitutional Court’s consideration, which contains specific proposals concerning thirty-three articles to be amended, more than a third in the country’s basic law. “I am sure that party lists, as well as the election of candidates in single-mandate districts, will reflect the ethnic diversity of Kazakhstan,” Tokayev said. On the issue of national unity, the President stressed that “it is unacceptable that external conflicts that have been and will be used to incite interethnic hatred and form fault lines among our citizens.”  He emphasized that provocateurs “should not and will not be able to undermine our unity, the right of our state to pursue an independent policy.” In this regard, the President stated that the state language of the country is the Kazakh language, but other languages also occupy its due place, including in the fundamental law of Kazakhstan.

Though he possesses a rather perverted sense of history, he is conscious of the fact that Ukraine has always been the religious, political and cultural leader in the region. They were transitioning to successfully do business throughout the world, rejecting the corruption and oligarchic forms of economic and social life that had dominated the country in the post-Soviet 1990s and early 2000s. Ukrainians are resisting because they believe that they themselves must be the sole arbiters of the future of their lives. Assuming the success of their attempted blitzkrieg, the planned “decapitation” of the Ukrainian government and the installation of a sympathetic replacement meant the planners in the Kremlin simply failed in their understanding of Ukraine’s armed forces. This generation, which is shouldering the military effort against Russia’s armed forces, was determined to exercise its individual freedoms and conceive of a life where they could pursue their economic ambitions within a free market, slowly creating a society based on the rule of law and a sense of fairness and justice. ReplyForward From the poor intelligence that he received before his invasion began, Putin simply didn’t know this about Ukraine’s military. Volunteers in the Ukrainian city Dnipro unload humanitarian aid supplies. He does now. Putin doesn’t respect human life. They are unwilling to compromise with any continued Russian influence on Ukrainian civic society. Realizing the failure of his efforts, his psyche – long captured and obsessed with the idea of establishing a post-Soviet Russian Empire – seeks to destroy Ukraine. For Ukrainians, this was never a secret, but many tried to bury this truth because admitting it would have led them to a reality that they now see. The citizens of the world’s democracies understand this and that is why they support Ukraine in its fight against Russia. Putin’s intellectual framework and psyche cannot conceive of an independent Ukrainian state. In many ways, Putin remains an old Soviet man, caught in a historic imperialistic nostalgia for past Soviet relevance continually haunted by its demise and irrelevance. The biggest miscalculation made by Putin was his inability to grasp the resolve of Ukraine’s military and the determination of individual soldiers to resist Russia’s best troops in open battle. At the same time,  the West also failed to conceive of what is now a hellish reality as no one wants to read, let alone contemplate or actually see the real manifestation of Dante’s Inferno. One thing that Putin did clearly understand was that Ukraine was well on the road to establishing a free and democratic society. The failure to gather such intelligence and adequately analyze might just yet produce an astonishing result – Russia losing to Ukraine on the field of battle. Overcome with a sense of Russian imperialistic chauvinism, the Kremlin needs to control Kyiv in order to co-opt the recorded historical legacy of Kyivan Rus. At the time of writing, Ukraine’s forces are still fighting and winning hard-fought battles against a hungry, undersupplied, logistically challenged, and increasing demoralized and depleted Russian army, which has suffered unit losses as high as 20%. The apparent success of Ukraine’s military was not conceived of because of the grotesque intelligence failures regarding the quality and morale of the defenders. They see Russia, and the values it expounds, as an existential threat to Ukraine’s military but also to its democratic political order, in addition to its culture and indeed its very existence. And finally, Ukraine’s greatest generation believes that they must destroy the Russian army in order to establish a precedent for future centuries; that being, “If you set foot on our land again, we will kill you”. Putin is simply angry that he cannot have his way and have people do what he says. New Europe's Ukraine correspondent. Such military prowess was not conceived of either before or when the war began. Putin assumed that Ukrainians would submit to his will. Post-Maidan, he has continually attempted to undermine and sabotage the resolve of the Ukrainian nation to move towards their European future. Moscow assumed the war would be short and the Ukrainian military would be easily routed, with the takeover of Kyiv coming a mere three days after the Russian Federation’s forces had crossed the border. Much to the surprise of the international community, it is now counterattacking on multiple fronts, while awaiting the next phase of the war – the Battle of the Donbas – in the country’s east. This sort of dehumanization only leads to atrocity, destruction, and genocide. They demand, and have earned the right, to make decisions for themselves within the context of the world’s democratic nations. Thinking of Ukraine’s new modern narrative, the keywords of its new narrative are: ‘independence’ and ‘sovereignty’. The invasion of Ukraine is an expression of Russia’s chauvinist racism towards Ukraine. For example, Eastern Orthodox Christianity came to the region on the banks of the Dnipro river in 988. Since the Maidan uprising eight years ago, which politically formed and hardened Ukrainian resolve against the values of Vladimir Putin’s Russky Mir (“the Russian World”), he failed to understand the depth of the transformation occurring in Ukrainian society. However, the Ukrainian military fought ferociously and held the line. Ukraine’s resistance is a sign that they are willing to die for their freedom, their sovereignty, and their independence. Put in the most simple of terms, Ukraine’s quest and resistance existentially challenges the governing assumptions of Putin’s dictatorship and the so-called spiritual and philosophical underpinnings of the Russky Mir. This was to be immediately followed by the establishment of a pro-Kremlin puppet government. In short, the barbarians are at Europe’s gate. More specifically, he misjudged the depth to which the Maidan generation had committed philosophically, psychologically, and spiritually to building a dignity-based democratic society. They see this war as part of a larger historic narrative of Ukraine – if it is to flourish, it must be rid of the oppressive hand of Moscow. This reality was also missed by Western intelligence forces. In this part of the world, any sign of weakness is exploited, and perhaps most intriguing is the prevailing attitude in these parts, “If I can’t have something, especially if its good, you can’t have it either”. If it did, then why did it not arm Ukraine earlier? Putin’s goal is to destroy Ukraine’s quest for freedom and democracy. The men who are fighting against Russia will not accept any interference in their right to decide their own future. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Ukraine’s “Greatest Generation”

By Yuri Polakiwsky
Canadian-born political analyst. These were not some wishes, but they were actually doing it. Their courage greatly changed the calculus and tenure of the war. Simply said, they should have known better. Even if conservative estimates are to be believed, in nearly two months of fighting, Russia has suffered, according to NATO estimates, up to 20,000 dead, and up to 40,000 soldiers that have been either wounded, taken as prisoners, or have gone missing. Ukrainians, categorically, will not allow this to happen. Nonetheless, history will record that it was Ukraine’s fighting men that took on Russia on the field of battle. Russia’s intelligence failures have made its invasion of Ukraine a military travesty. Kyiv, as the capital of the medieval Kyivan Rus federation, was an intellectual and trading center centuries before Muscovy even came into existence. Never once has he recognized Ukrainians as a distinct people in possession of a unique culture and history, nor its right to a sovereign state and independence of choosing its national course. These are the essential foundations of their emergence as a modern and democratic nation. Nonetheless, they warned their Western partners. It cannot understand, nor does it want to conceive of, the evil fruit of Russia’s behavior. Facebook

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Nearly two months after Russia’s invasion, Ukraine’s armed forces won the Battle of Kyiv and are in the process of carrying out counter-offensive and cleanup operations in the suburbs outside of the nation’s capital. He was, of course, wrong. Ukraine was in the process of building a middle class, becoming entrepreneurs, business people, and the creators of art. The war on Ukraine is a result of Putin’s inability to halt, let alone slow, Ukrainians’ political, economic, and national life away from Russia’s sphere. These men and women are the present and future leaders of Ukraine. The Western mind has long failed to understand the depths of the cynicism and barbarity of the Russian soul.

We have 4G connectivity all over the country and we are working to increase its quality, for that we have a special Presidential Decree which creates favorable conditions to mobile operators. Then there is no difference whether you are in New Jersey or in Tashkent as long as make the job, this was an example of low level job. Shermatov Sherzod: Uzbekistan is ready to provide important tools, they will not need to invest on buildings, furniture, PC’s; we will prepare a brand new office then they will enjoy free rent for half a year. Because of Covid 19 every company everywhere implemented remote working policies so if your office is located in New York and you have a smart working system it is not a big difference for your company whether you are working from home in New York or New Jersey but the difference in the cost of living will be 500 USD or more. NE: How important for you it will be to increase connectivity and digitization? This is a knowledge process outsourcing then virtually any office job which can be done remotely, it can be done also in Uzbekistan so I’m sure that there are going to be many companies who are really interested in decreasing the costs. New Europe: How do you see the cooperation with Europe and the US in your field after the launching of new measures to attract investors of your country? We have piloted several 5G testing places in Tashkent city and we can work together on that but if we will be able to increase 4G speed I think this will be more that enough for most of our business to strive. The only condition to this incentive will be to bring here remote jobs and employ at least 50 people in our rural areas. We have met recently in Barcelona, during the Mobile World Congress, with many companies and organizations and during this forum we had also several important meetings. About the tax regime, it is provided to its residents which are not necessarily located in some place but they can have a base all over the country, it is interesting to say that they will be exempted by all taxes and provided with any additional support to expand their business. About IT we have many companies who moved to Uzbekistan and several thousands of IT specialists moved from Belarus and some from Russia as well. Already the number of our IT experts, from many different countries, increased by 76 times since the beginning the Presidential decree. For higher level job I can tell you about another example, the accountant who makes the financial reports, this certified job can be done in Tashkent. About digitization this is a tool to cut bureaucracy and our goal is to give he possibility to our citizens and businesses to be able to use all the services using mobile phones so we are moving to mobile E-Government. Here we are working with the Ministry of Justice who is helping us review all the legislative and bureaucracy base to make sure that we do have up to date legislation, after that we are going to produce all the necessary software solutions. Shermatov Sherzod: First, if you compare Uzbekistan with other former Soviet Union countries, we have the highest increase in terms of population since the 90′ so this is an advantage, we are a young country and we are at the beginning of a demographic dividend stage where the share of working age population will be the highest compared to young people as well as the elderly. Last year it was 46 million USD and this year we estimated to reach 100 million USD and our goal is to reach 1 billion USD by 2028. If you remotely have 1000 people that makes the difference every month in terms of salary you have to pay. Having said that, we have to use this potential and one of our initiative was to introduce a special tax regime for IT companies, then there was the important initiative to create and develop an IT park. From this outsourcing system American and European companies can have a big benefit. NE: Can you present some of your measures to attracts investors? Another important issue is that, as a young country, we don’t want our people to go to other countries but we want to outsource our services remotely so this is an invitation to Uzbekistan. Companies like Epam, Exadel and others, they brought their experts and senior specialists and for every senior they will take at 3 or 4 juniors so this will drive up our local workforce as well, this should help us to improve our export revenue. Our IT park can provide very nice conditions, this is good for us because we have lots of junior IT experts who recently graduated and it is good for them because in order to grow to medium and senior developer they need to work on real projects. Shermatov Sherzod: On connectivity we are working in all fronts, we are trying to change also the environment between operators, we want to increase the role of the private companies as well as foreign companies in the telecom market as well and this will help us to meet conditions to increase connectivity. We are also implementing mobile and face ID and all the services which could enable citizens a much better access to e-government. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Interview: Information Technologies to drive Uzbekistan’s development, attract foreign investors

By Federico Grandesso
Italian Editor, Journalist

Uzbekistan’s Development of Information Technologies Minister Shermatov Sherzod

Uzbekistan’s Development of Information Technologies Minister Shermatov Sherzod speaks to New Europe

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Uzbekistan’s Development of Information Technologies Minister Shermatov Sherzod, in an exclusive interview with New Europe during the first Tashkent International Investment Forum, presented different initiatives of his ministry to attract investors stressing some important cooperation projects that could involve Europe and the US. As an example, in the US there are many truck drivers that should be managed by truck operators so these operators are paid a certain amount of money where here these operator are ready to work for a lower wage. Then there is not only IT in our strategy but also the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), this is an important component that can be used by our EU partners, most of our BPO export goes to the US market. On cyber or overall security my country is open to cooperate with Europe and US, there are lots of common threats and we have to work together because this requires a global attention.

However, these new pandora papers might raise questions over the trustfulness of the regime and its motives. As the Iranian regime continues to defy the will of the international community, the architects of Iran’s clandestine financial system will continue to find new ways to move funds and circumvent restrictions. Ultimately, the ability of the Iranian regime to evade sanctions is largely a function of the international community’s willingness to enforce them in the first place. By concealing the ultimate beneficiary, the Islamic Republic has been able to circumvent restrictions on Iran’s use of international banking networks, allowing Iranian importers and exporters to manage foreign currency cashflow, hide state funds from international banking regulators, and shift funds in and out of the country via the SWIFT global messaging system. In total, 11 UAE banks have been implicated in the operation, including the UAE’s largest bank, Dubai Islamic Bank. Without affirmative action, the sanctions will have no real effect on the Iranian regime. Now, a recent investigation by DoubleCheque has shed new light on the inner workings of Iran’s shadowy financial institutions and clandestine banking system. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>The Pandora Papers: Exposing Iran’s clandestine financial system

By Josef Sjöberg
Malmö-based foreign affairs analyst who currently works for Ström Consultancy; an aerospace, defense, and political consultancy firm. What is clear is that the designation will place pressure on the UAE to increase monitoring and enforcement, potentially leading to increased scrutiny of shell company transactions linked to Iranian banks. Critics argue that sanctions have devastated the economic prospects of everyday Iranians, undermined the rule of law, and created an atmosphere where the Iranian military and security apparatus can more freely commit human rights abuses. One thing is clear, the financial system must be revisited and examined; otherwise, sanctions against any rough regime will have no real effect, and the free world will lose its economic deterrence against such entities. In early March 2022, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) placed the UAE on the grey list, a designation reserved for jurisdictions subject to direct anti-money laundering monitoring. Long tarnished for its support for regional terrorism and patronage of repressive governments around the world, the Iranian regime under Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has the dubious honour of being one of the most sanctioned regimes on the planet. Facebook

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As the international community continues to coordinate a response to the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine, longstanding debates surrounding sanction efficacy and compliance have been thrust back into the public spotlight. The full workings of this system are obscured by a vast and complex web of financial institutions and companies, some of which are used to finance the regime’s illicit activities — largely through banned trade, money laundering, embezzlement, and criminal enterprises — and others which are used to obfuscate the regime’s financial dealings. Whether or not FATF is aware of the Pandora Papers and the extent of Iranian financing flowing through UAE banks is unclear. There is no better example than Iran to encapsulate the complex, dichotomous reality of international sanction regimes. On one thing, however, both sides can agree: the Iranian regime has been extremely adept at finding ways to evade sanctions and maintain its grip on power. The discovery was made after a team at DoubleCheque cross-referenced a package of banking correspondences from financial institutions in the UAE with banking correspondences belonging to suspected Iranian shell companies. Supporters of the measures against Iran argue that sanctions have been critical in both bringing Iran to the negotiating table on its nuclear weapons program and curtailing Iran’s support for regional terrorism and proxy militia groups. The investigation quickly yielded results when multiple transactions were traced between shell companies owned by Iran’s Shahr Bank and beneficiary accounts in multiple UAE banks. From the black-market importation of sanctioned goods to the use of front companies and proxy transactions to move funds internationally, the Iranian regime has spent decades developing a complex, clandestine financial system that seeks to avoid the strictures and restrictions of international law. Curtailing the regime’s ability to hide its illicit funds lies in the ability of the international community to not only effectively monitor and sanction the Iranian regime, but also to maintain vigilance and pressure on state actors who enable the regime’s illicit financial practices. These banks include five accounts with the Commercial Bank of Dubai, two accounts with Al Masraf Bank, one account with Banque Misr, one account with Dubai Islamic Bank, four accounts with Emirates Islamic Bank, two accounts with Emirates NBD, one account with RakBank, one account with Mashreq Bank, one account with Melli Dubai Bank, one account with Janata Bank Limited, and one account with Arab Bank. As a result, a significant amount of illicit financial activity takes place outside of the purview of the Western financial system. While a fine-grained analysis of the Pandora Papers is still ongoing, DoubleCheque has already identified several UAE banks where the Iranian regime has covertly opened accounts. Iran has proven time and time again that for every sanction loophole closed, there are several more still being exploited. This will need coordination with the EU and other states, who are all determined to maintain economic relations with Tehran. The recent findings centre on the complicity of the United Arab Emirates in facilitating financial transactions stemming from sanctioned Iranian banks.

In trying to reinvigorate his military campaign in Ukraine, it looks as though Putin is prepared to throw yet more cannon fodder into his battles. Although the Kremlin denies any link between Wagner and the Russian Armed Forces, it is widely believed that the battle-hardened mercenaries will be tasked with training Russia’s raw conscripts to improve their combat ability, which has been, up to now, vastly inferior to their Ukrainian counterparts. The fierce resistance put up by the Ukrainians inflicted huge losses on Moscow’s previously much-vaunted military. Putin appears to be shifting his tactics and is now trying to turn Ukraine into a “second Syria,” by attracting mercenaries who served in the Syrian Civil War and the 1990s Chechen wars. Although in theory a private company, Wagner is widely seen as acting as a proxy for the Russian state and is believed to be financed by Kremlin insider Yevgeny Prigozhin. Since then, media reports have revealed that this “private military contractor” has operated in Syria, Libya, Mali and the Central African Republic, usually to prop up dictators favored by Vladimir Putin. The transfer of mercenaries from Wagner to Ukraine is indicative of the critical state of affairs in the Russian military. In relocating troops from these countries, Wagner will inevitably be weakening Russia’s military presence and chain of command in these countries as Wagner is likely to sustain heavy losses in Ukraine, where they are universally hated by the Ukrainian armed forces. Speaking to the UN’s Human Rights Council US diplomat Sarah Creedon said in Geneva earlier this month that Wagner’s involvement in Ukraine meant “abusive military operations will likely mount and civilians will suffer”; remarks that were made before the chilling horrors of the Bucha massacres were revealed to the world. These were so severe that Russia has been forced to hastily cobble together resources to continue its brutal invasion. Facebook

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Media reports from around the world have indicated that more than 1,000 mercenaries from Russia’s infamous private military company Wagner have been transferred from Africa and Syria to Ukraine after the Russian military was defeated and suffered devastating losses in the initial phase of its invasion of Ukraine. They have extensive experience with urban combat conditions and are most likely being deployed to areas where house-to-house fighting will be the order of battle. Since the beginning of their invasion of Ukraine, it is estimated that the Russian army has lost 20,000 troops and 3,500 pieces of heavy equipment in Ukraine. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Moscow is moving Wagner mercenaries from Syria and Africa to Ukraine

By James Wilson
Founding Director of the International Foundation for Better Governance, a not for profit organization dedicated to promote, protect and defend the fundamental rights of citizens, human rights, democracy and the rule of law. By using soldiers-for-hire the Kremlin can, as they did with Syria, claim they have no relationship with the company, thereby divorcing itself from any of the war crimes that may be committed by any of Wagner’s personnel. We have seen during the first two months of the war that Russia does not care about the death of its regular army troops. The group first came into the public spotlight during the Russian invasion of eastern Ukraine in 2014. Sanctions must also be ramped up against Russia to the highest possible level to starve the Russian economy’s ability to finance its unprovoked war against the people of Ukraine. At that time, its troops were able to be passed off more plausibly than Russian soldiers as Ukrainian-born separatist fighters. The lives of paid Wagner mercenaries are even more expendable.   Wagner has been accused of human rights abuses in many countries, including Syria, Libya, Sudan, Mozambique and the Central African Republic. According to the latest intelligence, mercenaries from Wagner are already active in the Donbas region. Their actions will, of course, also be disowned by the regular army. It is absolutely essential that Ukraine’s international allies donate, in the shortest time possible, the best military equipment needed in order to guarantee Ukraine’s success on the battlefield.

Within this institution we want, together with AKWA Power and United States Airports, to do R&D on the basis of which we will study hydrogen energy as well as we will issue certification points for all equipment that will be coming into Uzbekistan for the development of renewable energy. We did a ground breaking ceremony early this March with AKWA Power on wind, it is a 100 MW project in Nukus, firstly it is key to develop the solar energy of course then in parallel it will be turn of discovering capacities in wind. For us it was important to set up a collaboration with companies like BCG, Mckinsey, etc. It is important to certificate all these equipment who are coming to my country, the certification body will be formed together with top consulting companies from Europe, USA, etc. AA:We recently launched a very important gas turbine project then solar and hydrogen are interesting for us, we want to cooperate with any state of art companies who has the best companies. NE: About the renewables, in which direction are you going, more on hydrogen or on wind? AA: My country is trying to keep best possible relations with our neighboring countries, we are not playing politics, we want to do pure business. NE: What is your evaluation about the nuclear power? On March 24th we launched with a ceremony a huge gas turbine power plant in the south of Uzbekistan (Surxondar region), Siemens Energy and French company EDF also took part to break ground ceremony. NE: How do you see the energy relations with the other countries in the region? Uzbekistan is considering a lot of proposals and we have a proverb “we are not that rich to buy cheap things“ so it is key to pick best practices. The nuclear power is in our development strategy 2030 so it is always considerable. Azim Akhmedkhadjayev (AA): We recently adopted a strategy up to 2030 and by that date our goal is to bubble our capacity in terms of energy, nowadays we are talking about 14 GW in the entire country while our goal is achieve 30 GW. With the support of our President it was established the National Renewable Energy Institute funded under the roof of the Ministry of Energy. We have a forecast by 2024 which states that we will reach, in renewable energies, 3.6 GW, my country will do up to 4 GW in gas turbines power plants. In this period we need something that could give us huge energy capacity that can be used. We are trying now to do more PPP’s because we have already experience about that, our goal is to transform our energy sector. in order to build up strategies on oil, gas and electricity. AA:First, we gained some experience with our partners from the gulf countries like Masdar from UAE and AKWA Power from Saudi Arabia, bilateral contracts were signed with them and we launched last year our first 100 MW with Masdar. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Interview: ‘Uzbekistan is a solid energy partner’

By Federico Grandesso
Italian Editor, Journalist

Uzbekistan's first Deputy Minister for Energy Azim Akhmedkhadjayev,

New Europe talks to first Deputy Minister for Energy Azim Akhmedkhadjayev

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On the sidelines of the first Tashkent International Investment Forum, New Europe sat down with the First Deputy Minister for Energy Azim Akhmedkhadjayev to discuss the strategies and priorities of the Central Asian country as part of the five-year “New Uzbekistan” campaign that was launched by its president, Shavkat Mirziyoyev. The first contracts signed were bilateral but now we switched to bidding’s. The most interesting thing about Italian companies is that they are coming along with the financing which is interesting for us. Apart from this objective, my ministry plans to develop on renewable energy reaching the 30%, we are going to support projects on sun, wind and hydrogen. We know about the US experience on shale gas, we are thinking about that even though there are rumors that shale gas have some problems but at the same time we must admit that the best experiences are coming from the US, we started our talks with USGS (science agency by the US department of interior) as well. Our average price for solar in these days is like 2.6 cents and wind it is a little bit less than that. German and French companies are here, the Italians are approaching us, they are coming around and we did a lot of talk with Ansaldo. Our mission is to attract high quality investments into our sector, bringing in more European experiences and technology. We don’t want to be exaggerated but just be as pragmatic as possible because the world is changing, and for us it is important to be in compliance with all these changes. We will implement then another 100 MW project with the French company Total area, this will be very likely launched in April. Thanks to this tool it is possible do more attractive projects, we are noticing a good competition because a lot of companies are coming here trying to give the best possible prices. Deep researches were done, traveling around and seeing the capacities and experiences in other countries. We want reduce our emissions, in our strategy it was set the goal of reducing emissions by 10 % in the next 8 years but last year during the Glasgow Conference (COP 26), we set another ambitious goal to reach 35% in the next 8 year. Uzbekistan is the most populated country in the region therefore the government must think to our people, we are taking care about that rather than to become a super power in the region. We are quite ambitious and we understand that today’s agenda is on de-carbonization; according to several estimations Uzbekistan could reach by 2050 the 0 carbon energy system, we will try to be in line with that goal. Uzbekistan is fighting a lot to become a very green country and together with other central Asian neighbors we are quite successful, using a metaphor my country didn’t “invent any bicycle” but just tried learn from the best experiences developed here. AA:Taking into account how rapid our industry grows, we do consider that, we didn’t exclude this idea, we are thinking about security issues and every tiny issues bring to negative results but we never stopped this agenda. New Europe (NE): Deputy Minister, can you talk about your future national energy strategy? NE: Can you talk now about the cooperation with Europe?

“I expect we will see some new drilling, especially where contractual commitments have already been made, mostly offshore Cyprus and Egypt,” he said, adding that in Israel Greece’s Energean has already started a new drilling campaign. follow on twitter @energyinsider “We could also see more activity in the Ionian,” Ellinas said, explaining that the blocks south-west of Crete licensed to US energy giant ExxonMobil, France’s Total and Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) are very challenging – water depths exceeding 3,000 meters and difficult, highly fractured geology. As a result, it is now returning to lignite, and it is also expanding renewable capacity. In addition, ENI and Egypt have entered into a new agreement to enable more LNG to be exported to Europe through Italy. We should also remember that EIB has also stopped investing in fossil fuel projects,” Ellinas said. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Turning off Russian gas, Greece-Cyprus-Israel think electric too

By Kostis Geropoulos
Energy & Russian Affairs Editor, New Europe

Greece's Environment and Energy Minister Kostas Skrekas, Israel’s National Infrastructures, Energy and Water Resources Minister Karine Elharrar and Cyprus’ Energy, Commerce and Industry Minister Natasha Pilidou meet in Jerusalem, Israel, April 11, 2022. Israel’s National Infrastructures, Energy and Water Resources Minister Karine Elharrar, Greece’s Environment and Energy Minister Kostas Skrekas and Cyprus’ Energy, Commerce and Industry Minister Natasha Pilidou also discussed the deepening of the tripartite strategic cooperation and the flagship projects promoted in the Eastern Mediterranean region, which will enhance energy security and contribute to the diversification of energy sources and routes, including the EuroAsia electricity interconnector between Israel, Cyprus and Greece, the construction of a liquified natural gas (LNG) plant in Cyprus and the EastMed gas pipeline, Greece’s Climate and Energy Ministry said. But it will also accelerate transition to green energy and within that, it plans to reduce use of gas by 30% by 2030 and by over 80% by 2050,” Charles Ellinas, senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center, told New Europe on April 14. “For example, Greece is prioritizing reducing gas import dependence and reducing the exorbitant cost of energy. That makes investment in the EastMed gas pipeline, or any new – greenfield – gas production and export projects, extremely difficult. LNG exports so far this year amount to only 60% of this capacity, with close to 0.7 billion cubic meters going to Europe, he said, adding that US major Chevron has already increased its gas exports to Egypt, mostly from Israel’s Leviathan gas-field, to about 10 billion cubic meters and that will help Egypt increase LNG exports to Europe. “It is important to note that with EU’s stated intention to wean itself from gas as we approach 2030 and beyond, there is no support for new major projects to supply Europe with gas beyond 2030. GREECE'S ENVIRONMENT AND ENERGY MINISTRY

The EU energy mix: LNG, EuroAsia link, EastMed

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The Energy Ministers of Israel, Greece and Cyprus discussed in a tripartite meeting in Jerusalem on April 11 the effects of Russia’s invasion in Ukraine on the energy markets and agreed to advance specific investment plans in natural gas and electricity projects that will help reduce reliance on Russia. “EU’s targets are to reduce reliance on Russian gas be two-thirds this year and completely before 2030, preferably by 2027. The plan is to start construction by the end of this year, with operations expected to commence early 2026, he said, adding that negotiations are in progress with Israel regarding the Israel-Cyprus link, but this is still at inter-governmental stage. Turkey is considering nuclear and expanding renewables for similar reasons,” Ellinas said, adding, “On the other hand, Egypt is expediting its green hydrogen production and export plans in cooperation with the EU”. Turning to the EuroAsia electricity interconnector, he noted that most funding for the Cyprus-Crete link has already been secured. Without EU support, no investor will be prepared to support such projects. “It remains to be seen if this area receives new attention. Regarding renewable developments in the East Mediterranean region, Ellinas said prospects are good, but because of the energy crisis and the war in Ukraine priorities have shifted to security of supplies and reducing dependence on Russian gas. Ellinas argued that the fastest and least costly option to expand East Med LNG export capacity is by adding new liquefaction trains to Egypt’s existing LNG plants. Building new, greenfield, liquefaction facilities in areas that have no existing infrastructure will be time-consuming and expensive, he said, arguing that investments will be forthcoming only if long-term LNG sales agreements are secured. Certainly, the Greek government is now taking pro-active steps to revive offshore exploration, so that it can reduce its reliance on Russian gas,” he said. Under these conditions, the East Mediterranean region can help but only by utilizing existing installations, i.e., by using Egypt’s two liquefaction plants at Idku, operated by Royal Dutch Shell, and Damietta, operated by Italy’s ENI, to their maximum capacity, which is about 17 billion cubic meters per year, Ellinas said. With the EU intending to wean itself from gas, that will be a challenge, he said. The remainder should be in place over the next few months.

LK:With the UK we managed to be the first country to sign an enhanced GSP, with US market of course the geographical location negatively impact on trade but nevertheless we see greater interest in terms of sourcing textile products in Uzbekistan. LK:We have a Deputy Minister dedicated only to our accession to the WTO, when President Mirziyoyev came he understood the need of Uzbekistan economy to be integrated into the global trade system, he then tasked the government to ensure the accession of our country to this organization soon. I think we need a year or two to finalize the process. For example, goods from India will be able to reach Europe two weeks faster and it will be 20-30% less expensive. Can you give me an update? My country wants the increase the free economic zones (FEZ) because we see the need of it, we have recently built one in Tashkent and another is under construction next to the border with Afghanistan. We are committed to enhance our cooperation with EU and bring more companies from the EU to do business and operate in our country. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Interview: Uzbekistan an active player in the global trade system

By Federico Grandesso
Italian Editor, Journalist

Uzbekistan's first Deputy Minister for Investment and TradeLaziz Kudratov spoke to New Europe in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. NE: There is also the accession to WTO among your priorities. Now it is key to inform more aggressively investors in Europe and US about the opportunities my country can offer, we understand that there is a lack of proper information about Uzbekistan that why media support is needed now. They get land, plugging infrastructure, they get connected to all the utilities. As soon we are ready for that, we are also planning to organize a visit of our President to Brussels to initial this document. You can do it on-line and in 15 minutes you can go with your passport to the single window which you can find in every place. NE: Which are the new tools that could attract investors to Uzbekistan? A change of mentality of our taxation is needed. During the plenary session of the Tashkent International Investment Forum the President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev made a strong message and committed to develop a free society, he declared that the main idea behind all his reforms is to “ensure the owner and respect of human being”, this is the main motto of our President. We already see that the export from Uzbekistan to Europe is growing specifically: textile, agriculture, chemical and some metal products. Are there specific tax benefits? Of course, this requires to our exporters to adjust and to our manufacturers to elevate their production manufacturing to a new level so that their product could meet the expectations standards and demands of the EU consumers. Facebook

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New Europe in an exclusive interview during the first Tashkent International Investment Forum, spoke to Laziz Kudratov, Uzbek first deputy minister for investment and trade, about the cooperation with important partners like Europe, US, UK and the WTO. NE: Do you think that in the future it would be possible to start talking about a Uzbekistan-EU free trade agreement? LK: Yes, why not, Uzbekistan wants to be part of the global trade system, we started negotiation for a FTA with Korea last month and we have concluded an agreement on preferential trade with Pakistan. Another mechanism that we have is the Free Economic Zones, industrial zones in each region, residents of the zones they enjoy tax customs benefits. If our tax officer sees that they are doing mistakes they should not put penalties on them, they should just guide them to be more efficient. We had good results and there was a growth of foreign companies in free economic zones, then in order to support the set up of large scale projects we put in place the Uzbek Direct Investments Fund that covers risks of investors in our country. LK:We are designing a business friendly tax system, this is the task set by the President to the relevant authority, he instructed them to be friends and supporters of entrepreneurs and not to punish them for their mistakes but rather guiding them. NE: You are then part of the “Silk road”, do you have any update? Uzbekistan is benefiting from the GSP + but there are also discussions about other agreements. EU is one of the largest export destination and source of investments, technologies and know-how that is allowing our economy to be more competitive. This is a big opportunity but it is also a big responsibility that’s why we have started to implement special programs that are tailored to our manufacturers and exporters, it is key to train them so that they understand the requirements of the EU access to the market but also about what standards are needed in term of labeling and quality. We are interested to have more US companies here, few weeks ago we visited the US and talked to companies, banks, they are learning about our country. Now we have connectivity issues with Pakistan and there is a big demand for products from Uzbekistan. NE: What do you think about the trade relations with US and UK? LK: We are trying to revive this ancient route pushing on new infrastructure projects, one project is the railway which will connect China with Uzbekistan, now with the new government in Kyrgyzstan they are also committed, we will soon move to practical phase with a feasibility study and hopefully we will mobilize also international financing to construct this new railway. The Doing Business report of the World Bank was relevant two or three years ago but at that time Uzbekistan was among the 10 top countries in terms of ease in establishing of a business. We are expecting to have the next round of working group for our accession hopefully in April then in parallel discussions started with all WTO members, the main goal of these discussions is get their consent. New Europe: Can you talk to me about the relations with the EU? Of course, this path should not harm our economy that why we are negotiating that our manufactures could benefit from the WTO membership. We then don’t want to limit our-self to textile, we have already supplies on chemical products, materials and food. Laziz Kudratov: Last year in April my country became a beneficiary from the GSP + system, it opened great opportunities for us, first it provided us with the access to the very large European consumer market and of course this will help us to increase our export and allow us to diverse our export to new premium markets. First we will have to research and do some analyses and then move to a decision. With the EU my country is also discussing and finalizing the enhanced partnership cooperation agreement (EPCA) we expect soon hopefully a final round of discussions and negotiations about the document, we are very optimistic for the final signing. Another big infrastructure project is between Termez and the border with Pakistan, a 700-km railway which will connect huge markets of south Asia including India, Bangladesh and Pakistan with central Asia and Europe. They provide equity and they co-invest up to 49%, we understand the difficulties of first time investors, this fund was established a year ago to bring confidence to foreign investors, the state can be a partner and share the risk together. An FTA with the EU won’t be an easy task but I think it might be interesting to explore it at least. Uzbekistan have then with GSP the obligation to meet with the international conventions on human right, free society and this is exactly what the policy of my country is about.

NE: How do you see the energy relations with the other countries in the region? Our average price for solar in these days is like 2.6 cents and wind it is a little bit less than that. The most interesting thing about Italian companies is that they are coming along with the financing which is interesting for us. For us it was important to set up a collaboration with companies like BCG, Mckinsey, etc. Thanks to this tool it is possible do more attractive projects, we are noticing a good competition because a lot of companies are coming here trying to give the best possible prices. We will implement then another 100 MW project with the French company Total area, this will be very likely launched in April. Uzbekistan is fighting a lot to become a very green country and together with other central Asian neighbors we are quite successful, using a metaphor my country didn’t “invent any bicycle” but just tried learn from the best experiences developed here. NE: Can you talk now about the cooperation with Europe? AA: My country is trying to keep best possible relations with our neighboring countries, we are not playing politics, we want to do pure business. Our mission is to attract high quality investments into our sector, bringing in more European experiences and technology. We are quite ambitious and we understand that today’s agenda is on de-carbonization; according to several estimations Uzbekistan could reach by 2050 the 0 carbon energy system, we will try to be in line with that goal. AA:We recently launched a very important gas turbine project then solar and hydrogen are interesting for us, we want to cooperate with any state of art companies who has the best companies. NE: About the renewables, in which direction are you going, more on hydrogen or on wind? style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Interview: Uzbekistan a solid energy partner

By Federico Grandesso
Italian Editor, Journalist

Uzbekistan's first Deputy Minister for Energy Azim Akhmedkhadjayev,

New Europe talks to first Deputy Minister for Energy Azim Akhmedkhadjayev

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New Europe sat down in the Uzbek capital during the first Tashkent International Investments forum with the first Deputy Minister for Energy Azim Akhmedkhadjayev, discussing about the strategies and priorities of the central-asian country. Within this institution we want, together with AKWA Power and United States Airports, to do R&D on the basis of which we will study hydrogen energy as well as we will issue certification points for all equipment that will be coming into Uzbekistan for the development of renewable energy. NE: What is your evaluation about the nuclear power? In this period we need something that could give us huge energy capacity that can be used. With the support of our President it was established the National Renewable Energy Institute funded under the roof of the Ministry of Energy. We want reduce our emissions, in our strategy it was set the goal of reducing emissions by 10 % in the next 8 years but last year during the Glasgow Conference (COP 26), we set another ambitious goal to reach 35% in the next 8 year. We have a forecast by 2024 which states that we will reach, in renewable energies, 3.6 GW, my country will do up to 4 GW in gas turbines power plants. We don’t want to be exaggerated but just be as pragmatic as possible because the world is changing, and for us it is important to be in compliance with all these changes. German and French companies are here, the Italians are approaching us, they are coming around and we did a lot of talk with Ansaldo. We are trying now to do more PPP’s because we have already experience about that, our goal is to transform our energy sector. We did a ground breaking ceremony early this March with AKWA Power on wind, it is a 100 MW project in Nukus, firstly it is key to develop the solar energy of course then in parallel it will be turn of discovering capacities in wind. Azim Akhmedkhadjayev: We recently adopted a strategy up to 2030 and by that date our goal is to bubble our capacity in terms of energy, nowadays we are talking about 14 GW in the entire country while our goal is achieve 30 GW. We know about the US experience on shale gas, we are thinking about that even though there are rumors that shale gas have some problems but at the same time we must admit that the best experiences are coming from the US, we started our talks with USGS (science agency by the US department of interior) as well. Apart from this objective, my ministry plans to develop on renewable energy reaching the 30%, we are going to support projects on sun, wind and hydrogen. Uzbekistan is the most populated country in the region therefore the government must think to our people, we are taking care about that rather than to become a super power in the region. New Europe:Deputy Minister, can you talk to me about your future national energy strategy? AA:First, we gained some experience with our partners from the gulf countries like Masdar from UAE and AKWA Power from Saudi Arabia, bilateral contracts were signed with them and we launched last year our first 100 MW with Masdar. On March 24th we launched with a ceremony a huge gas turbine power plant in the south of Uzbekistan (Surxondar region), Siemens Energy and French company EDF also took part to break ground ceremony. Uzbekistan is considering a lot of proposals and we have a proverb “we are not that rich to buy cheap things“ so it is key to pick best practices. It is important to certificate all these equipment who are coming to my country, the certification body will be formed together with top consulting companies from Europe, USA, etc. The nuclear power is in our development strategy 2030 so it is always considerable. The first contracts signed were bilateral but now we switched to bidding’s. Deep researches were done, traveling around and seeing the capacities and experiences in other countries. AA:Taking into account how rapid our industry grows, we do consider that, we didn’t exclude this idea, we are thinking about security issues and every tiny issues bring to negative results but we never stopped this agenda. in order to build up strategies on oil, gas and electricity.

“I look forward to this significant event in terms of promoting interreligious dialogue, unity and rapprochement of states, which is extremely important these days,” Pope Francis said during an online meeting with Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.   This is the basis of stability. You can count on my support, I appreciate your efforts,” he said. The 7th World Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions will be held in the coming September in Kazakhstan’s capital Nur-Sultan. We are glad that Kazakhstan understands this. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Pope Francis to visit Kazakhstan in September

By New Europe Online/KG

VATICAN NEWS

Plans to participate in the VII Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions

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Pope Francis has confirmed his official visit to Kazakhstan and participation in the VII Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions, Kazakhstan’s presidential office said. He also informed the Head of the Catholic Church about the implementation of large-scale political and economic reforms in the country. He spoke about the Kazakh model of interfaith harmony and unity. Tokayev noted that this event is of great importance for Kazakhstan. “We see how diverse and united your country is.

Asked if the EU should negotiate as one with energy suppliers, including Russia, Korcok said, “When it comes to future procurement of gas and oil, I would very much favor a joint position. “We very much favor the European Union’s improved ability to act individually but not at the expense of transatlantic link because NATO remains the most important and becomes even more important institution of collective defense,” Korcok said in Greece. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>For now, Slovakia sees NATO, not EU forces, Russian firewall

By Kostis Geropoulos
Energy & Russian Affairs Editor, New Europe

Slovakia’s Foreign Minister Ivan Korcok talks to New Europe in an interview in Greece, April 9, 2022. Look how successful we were with the vaccines”. Since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, NATO has deployed troops along its eastern flank, including Slovakia. “It’s key because, with this particular request presented by Russia, they are simply again demonstrating that they are not living up to the conditions of the contract,” Korcok said. NE/KOSTIS GEROPOULOS

Tell Putin, follow energy contract, no rubles

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Slovakia favors the European Union’s collective military aspirations, but NATO has become even more important in guaranteeing the bloc’s security, Slovakia’s Foreign Minister Ivan Korcok told New Europe in an interview on April 9. Unity is absolutely key,” he added. Regarding Russian President Vladimir Putin’s threat to cut off natural gas supplies to Western countries that refuse to pay in rubles, Slovakia’s Foreign Minister said it’s important for the European Union to have a common stance. “If contract, in our case, is concluded and the payment foreseen is in euros or in dollars in other countries then we have to stick to that and we see no reason to accepting this Russian change of payment.

But it’s getting close, Franke said. So, in my chest there are two hearts beating, one says, ‘Please Russia switch it off, so we don’t have to make that decision and force us to do the right thing’ and the other heart beats for a more considerable slower change,” he added. “Now it’s easy to criticize her retrospectively but was it really wrong to try to pull them into the sphere of democracy? If they don’t cut it off the change will be slower. Asked if this a game changer and politics are now the driving force in the relationship between Berlin and Moscow, Franke said, “You know, behind your question is the assumption that thus far energy policy in Germany has been driven by the business sector which I think is totally true and a valid assumption. “But I think the key question is if Russia switches off oil and gas now that will push us in the right way much faster. “You will see a Germany that is totally determined to reduce its dependency on Russia to zero and that has lost faith in Wandel durch Handel (change through trade) doctrine that we would be able to change Russia through economic ties. Asked how optimistic is he that Europe can succeed, the Munich Security Conference Vice President and said, “I’m very optimistic, much more optimistic than I was two-three years ago that Europe will get its act together, that the Russia crisis, the China drama-in-waiting will force us to do the right things and you will see a much more credible, much more united European Union and European continent”. Germany, which depends on Russian gas for about 40% of its needs, has decided to wean itself from its reliance on Russia but that cannot happen overnight. I’m 100 percent sure,” he said. We expected Russia’s invasion to be accompanied by harsh cyber war measures. We’ve seen very little. Russian gas monopoly Gazprom said on April 1 it was quitting its business in Germany and the German government said on April 4 Gazprom Germania, an energy trading, storage, and transmission business will be transferred to Germany’s regulator to ensure energy security. We have given up on that and every part of the German society has given up on that so yes is a game changer. Speaking at the Bundestag on April 6, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz urged the EU to use that momentum to advance climate reforms. So, the question is, is that still coming, or don’t they have the ability that we’ve been led to believe and hence has this maybe been the wrong focus for the last couple of years,” he said. I don’t think so but maybe we were a bit too naïve all of us, most of us at least, me included, and we have dropped our guard and now we really need to get back into the game and make some very costly and difficult decisions and take the population along. Boosting EU resilience
“I believe that cyber security, protection of critical infrastructure all this is important but what I think is even more important is to increase resilience on all other fronts as well. follow on twitter @energyinsider In a way, we’ve been preparing for the war after next and we haven’t been preparing for kinetic conflict of the old nature and I think we need to put that to the forefront of our thoughts,” Franke said. “You will see a decision one way or another by the end of next week. “I hope that it won’t take several years but it will not be a thing ‘tomorrow everything will be different,’” Franke said. We need to explain this to the population because it’s them that will pay for it,” Franke said. Angela Merkel, during her long term as German Chancellor, always believed that change can be achieved through trade, arguing that this strategy had worked with the former Soviet Union. We’ve seen a little bit of disinformation; we’ve seen a little Denial-of-Service (DoS) attack here and there but what we have not seen is what we were afraid might happen: lights and sewage plants in Germany being switched off. After the Ukraine war, Germany has changed its security doctrine and the EU is now trying to become a military as well as an economic power, boosting its security. Asked if what we have seen recently especially with misinformation is this also a game changer in the way Europe and Germany in particular view security, Franke said, “Yes, but I think it has been less than a game changer that we’ve seen on the energy front. We can’t do this without the population. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>After Ukraine invasion, Germany saying nyet to Russian energy

By Kostis Geropoulos
Energy & Russian Affairs Editor, New Europe

Facilities of the Nord Stream natural gas pipeline from Russia to Germany. Has the war in Ukraine been a game changer and is now politics at the forefront? NORD STREAM AG

Munich Security Conference CEO: War ends realpolitik for Berlin

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Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has put politics in the forefront in the pragmatic energy relationship between Germany and Russia, Munich Security Conference Vice President and CEO Benedikt Franke told New Europe in an interview in Greece on April 6. Franke stressed that the green energy transformation and geostrategic need to reduce dependencies and not just dependencies on certain types of energy but on certain energy sources like Russia. Franke said Merkel’s effort to export democracy to Russia was a worthwhile attempt. At the Munich Security Conference there was always a concern about Russia and cybersecurity. Both sides do not want to take the blame cutting off the gas. Yes definitely, and it helps that we have a government partially run by the Green Party that has called for energy transformation for very different reasons for a long time and now two things are coming together,” the Munich Security Conference Vice President and CEO said.

At the same time, it was found that the reduction in capacity at the loading terminal of the Caspian Pipeline Consortium is temporary and will not lead to significant interruptions in Kazakhstan’s export oil supplies. At the same time, the presence of liquid external assets significantly supports the fiscal stability of Kazakhstan, the office of the Kazakh prime minister said. After joint discussions with Kazakhstan’s government, the Agency determined that the consequences of economic sanctions against Russia are surmountable for the economy of the country. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Standard & Poor’s reaffirms sovereign credit rating of Kazakhstan

By New Europe Online/KG

View of Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan. According to S&P, the key factors supporting the rating of Kazakhstan are the strong fiscal and external balances of the country’s economy.   According to S&P, Kazakhstan’s economy is projected to grow at 2% in 2022.   KOSTIS GEROPOULOS

International rating agency says outlook stable

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The international rating agency Standard & Poor’s confirmed on April 2 the sovereign credit rating of Kazakhstan at BBB-/A-3, with a stable outlook. Overall, S&P notes that the country’s robust government and external balance sheets, along with rising oil and gold prices, will be sufficient to cushion external shocks.

style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Espoo Convention concerned by devastating effects of Russia’s military offensive in Zaporizhzhya and Kharkiv

By New Europe Online/KG

Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant

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The Bureau under the Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context (Espoo Convention) has expressed the Bureau’s deep concern at the devastating effects of the military offensive carried out against Ukraine by Russia, in terms of loss of human life, severe environmental damage and threats to the safety of Ukrainian nuclear power plants, as illustrated by the recent incidents in Zaporizhzhya and Kharkiv. The Bureau also welcomed the willingness and efforts of Ukraine to apply the Convention to the lifetime extension of its relevant nuclear power plants thus far. In a letter to the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the Parties to the Espoo Convention, George Kremlis, the chair of the Bureau under the Espoo Convention, wrote on March 14 that the military occupation and control of the above-mentioned – and possibly further – nuclear power plants in Ukraine pose a considerable risk of extremely severe and far-reaching nuclear accidents, including by jeopardizing the necessary safeguard measures for the proper functioning and maintenance of the plants. The Bureau stressed the importance of ensuring that the framework and the appropriate operational and managerial conditions of the nuclear power plants in Ukraine are managed, maintained and operated in due consideration of the Convention’s objectives, including through the establishment of a no-war zone, as well as possible technical advice from and independent supervision by appropriate international bodies. It underlines the importance of guaranteeing the full compliance of the nuclear power plants with the Convention under all circumstances – an obligation addressed to all those controlling the nuclear power plants and those legally responsible for them. Moreover, the Bureau stressed that there must be guarantees that all the obligations undertaken in the context of the Espoo Convention are complied with and cannot be suspended because of the war. “This is an issue of the utmost importance, not only under the Espoo Convention but also under public international law and customary law,” the letter read.  
  “Several Ukrainian nuclear power plants (Khmelnitsky, Rivne, South Ukrainian and Zaporizhzhya) are currently under the scrutiny of the Implementation Committee under the Espoo Convention, including with regard to the issue of the lifetime extension of their units, and compliance with the obligations under the Convention with respect to these plants is being monitored,” the letter read, which was also sent to the permanent missions to the United Nations Office and other international organizations in Geneva of the Parties to the Espoo Convention; Espoo Convention National focal points and stakeholders. As a Party to the Espoo Convention, and since 2017, also to the Protocol on Strategic Environmental Assessment, Ukraine has successfully aligned its legislation with these international environmental treaties and built capacity with a view to their effective implementation. The Bureau added that for the safety of people and the environment in Ukraine and across the region, it is therefore crucial that this process be fully preserved and that guarantees be offered to ensure full compliance with the obligations arising from the Convention. The Bureau expressed the wish that the above be duly taken into consideration and communicated to the proper forums and relevant authorities, as appropriate.