Caucasus Press Review (February 3-9)
By Vestnik Kavkaza
A draft of the agreement on alliance and integration between South Ossetia and the Russian Federation is ready. According to South Ossetia, at the meeting with local press leaders, journalists, and representatives of Russian information agencies, the President of the Republic of South Ossetia Leonid Tibilov noted the activity of citizens in the process of discussion of the agreement’s provisions and the importance of work which was provided by a special group which worked on the text of the project. “The work was difficult; we had to pay attention to every word, every comma. It was very important to develop such an agreement where the interests of all sides would be presented,” Tibilov stressed. According to the President, the draft reflects proposals by South Ossetian society, parties, and Ossetian Diasporas. At the moment the agreed draft of the agreement has been sent to the Russian Ministry for Foreign Affairs for further coordination by interested Russian agencies.
Speaking about the content of the document, Tibilov stressed that it has nothing in common with the missing sovereignty and statehood of the country, as there were many rumors about this during the process of the draft’s development. The future agreement will meet the national interests of the state and citizens. “I am responsible for this, as the president of the country, as a guarantor of the Constitution. The main goal of my activity is establishing a sovereign, independent, law-bound state, as well as strengthening our strategic union with Russia,” the President promised.
The proposed working draft is not final. It will be further developed; certain changes are possible. Every provision will have to be checked that it corresponds to the legislation of the two countries. The President called for all political forces in the country to be responsible and warned them against using the situation in the party’s interests.
The newspaper The Voice of Armenia held a brief polling among Armenian experts, which showed that Armenian business hasn’t realized the new game rules of exporting goods to the EaEU, first of all to Russia. In January the Ministry of Finances conducted explanatory work with businessmen in various regions of the country. However, according to the newspaper, this didn’t make the situation clearer. “Officials don’t understand all the details of the new realities themselves,” businessmen say.
The accession of Armenia to the EaEU unluckily coincided with the economic crisis in Russia, falling oil prices in the world, the sanctions war with the West, and the drastic devaluation of the Russian ruble. According to the article, “the free movement of goods and services” guaranteed by the Eurasian Union has put Armenian exporters off the desire to export something to Russia. It should be noted that the government understands exporters and even discusses measures for their support. “If we can have such partners which export goods for 50 billion drams from our country, it will mean the creation of new jobs, providing the state budget and revenues,” Premier Ovik Abramyan thinks, calling the step original and unprecedented.
Meanwhile, people have already nicknamed the measure “a monopoly on exports.” According to the newspaper, the law will lead to unfair competitiveness and expelling small exporters from the market. Moreover, the new draft doesn’t require that the exporter should be a producer. At the same time, Armenia needs investments so much under such difficult conditions, while such tax benefits will encourage their attraction.
The newspaper Republic Abkhazia reports that in Sukhumi a meeting of the country’s President Raul Khadjimba and Herbert Salber, the special envoy of the EU to the South Caucasus and Geneva Discussions, took place. According to the guest, he studied the process of project works in the Galsky Region and spoke about certain examples of work of agricultural businessmen who were issued investments by the EU.
Under support from the European Union, several projects are being implemented in Abkhazia, most of them are in the Galsky Region. For example, there is a project on the reconstruction of the Inguri HPP, as well as projects aimed at developing agriculture and villages.
The special envoy of the EU expressed hope that the activities of his mission would be extended and step outside the Galsky Region to other regions of Abkhazia. According to him, small and medium-sized business enterprises could be joint projects, as well as teaching foreign languages. Salber asked about the opportunity of opening an office of the EU special envoy in Sukhumi.
Khadjimba stressed that Abkhazia should be considered not through the prospect of a Georgian view, but recognizing that it is a side of the negotiations. Any mission which is established on the territory of the Republic of Abkhazia should treat it as an independent state. “Our goal is to succeed in the economic, financial, and legislative spheres. The goal will be reached. And after that, our activities will be aimed at recognition of the Republic of Abkhazia in the world,” President said.
Dagestan constructs industrial parks where favorable conditions for development of business activities will be established. These will be wide-scale regional projects which will encourage investment attractiveness of the republic, development of industrial potential through placing industrial enterprises inside parks. It will stimulate creation of jobs and encourage growth of the tax base.
Dagestanskaya Pravda reports that the first Crystal City oark, which is going to stimulate the industrial sphere of the region this year, is being built in Kaspiysk. It is being established on a territory of 18 ha, near the republican Makhachkala-Airport highway. The territory is provided with necessary transport and engineering infrastructure. Today five residents, real investors, have already placed their industries in the park. Another industrial park is being constructed in the Sergokalinsky Region. The administration connected it with an Israeli investor who was interested in a project of building a turkey poultry house in the region, according to its own initiative.
Establishing industrial parks is a part of the targeted work on fulfillment of the Russian government’s orders on their construction and fulfillment of arrangements of the priority project on Dagestan's development “New Industrialization.”
When Russia announced rejection of the South Stream Gas Project in December 2014, the former speaker of the Georgian parliament, the leader of the United Democratic Movement, Nino Burdzhanadze, called for the government of the country to suggest Russia and Turkey to build the gas pipeline through Georgian territory.
Free Georgia reports that Nana Devdariani, a political scientist, the head of the Georgian Center for Global Studies, initiated an experts’ survey which confirmed the reasonability of the project. According to her, it will be much cheaper to build a land gas pipeline in Georgia than on the bottom of the Black Sea. Devdariani suggests holding an international conference with the participation of experts from Russia and Turkey.
“We have studied the idea inside our expert community. Their participation will present a picture of how the countries look at the proposed project, risks, and benefits of the proposal,” she thinks. “Materials of the conference and expert conclusions will be presented to the Georgian government for making further steps.” Speaking about the advantages of the project for Georgia, the political scientist pointed out the creation of jobs, which would be timely. Moreover, there will be low gas prices, as Georgia will be a transit country. These are extra security guarantees. Furthermore, Georgia will have a chance to return its geopolitical strategic function, if it participates in such a serious energetic project,” Devdariani is sure.