Caucasian Press Review (November 16-21)
The results of the 6th Russian-Abkhazian Business Forum titled 'The realization of potential bilateral cooperation', which was held on November 13, are in the focus of the Abkhazian media. They report that inter-regional and business ties will be the engine of intergovernmental cooperation and bring the Russian Federation and the Republic of Armenia to the next level of large-scale interaction. The information agency Abkhazia-Inform cited the rector of the Academy of National Economics and Public Administration under the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Mau, who believes that the sixth forum differed from the previous one in its extreme frankness. "We raised issues which are of concern to both the Russian and Abkhaz sides," he said. According to him, Abkhazian society must decide which economic model it is ready to develop and define its strategic objectives. The involvement of Russian investment in Abkhazia depends on a number of issues being resolved, including the 'convergence' of Russian and Abkhazian legislations.
The director of the Institute of Contemporary Economics, Nikita Isayev, told the Internet portal Sputnik-Abkhazia that even by receiving not just strong support, but the formation of the majority of the budget, both social and investment, from the Russian Federation, Abkhazia is still "looking around". According to him, Abkhazia is now playing a number of foreign cards at the expense of Russian interests and, consequently, Russian money, and real investment projects are not being implemented. "We wanted to understand the strategic development of Abkhazia in economic terms. The management of the Republic publicly announced the draft strategy for socio-economic development until 2025, but unfortunately, we cannot detect its approaches to strategic cooperation between Russia and Abkhazia in the economic sphere." He also recalled that there are still no Russian banks in Abkhazia. There is no developed banking sector. You can take out a loan only with insane interest rates. And as a result, investments in seemingly stable Abkhazia are still perceived as high-risk.
Another example is the cooperation between the republic and Rosneft, which came to a halt because of the position of the local authorities. In late July, the Abkhazian President called for a commission to examine existing contracts on the development of fields on the Black Sea shelf, and the Parliament even discussed a moratorium on oil extraction. Abkhazia has total reserves of oil estimated at 200-220 million tons, due to which Abkhazia may become the largest exporter of oil in the former Soviet Union. He said that these actions are absurd and will be reflected on the completion of the budget and employment. According to Isayev, Abkhaz society understands that it is obliged to Russia for its stability in the political and economic situation, but there are various elites who see a different, not a Russian vector of development of the country, and play on the contradictions in the domestic politics of Abkhazia. "I would like to think that the position of the legitimately elected President and the Government of the Republic is firmly based on the positions of priority in cooperation with Russia," the economist concluded.
* * *
The name of the German journalist Von Elian Ehrenreich will be added to the list of persona non grata by Azerbaijan's Foreign Ministry as a person who illegally visited the territories under occupation by the Armenian armed forces. This was reported by the local Caspian newspaper with reference to the head of the press service of the Ministry, Hikmet Hajiyev.
Recently the Die Welt newspaper published an article written by Ehrenreich following an illegal visit to the occupied Azerbaijani territories. According to the representative of the Foreign Ministry, Ehrenreich, who went beyond journalistic ethics under pressure from Armenian propaganda, encouraged the separatist regime created as a result of the temporary occupation, aggression and ethnic cleansing perpetrated against Azerbaijan. "A journalist, who serves objective journalistic principles, must express the position of Azerbaijan regarding the temporarily occupied territories, as well as Azerbaijani IDPs driven from their lands," the spokesman believes. In addition, according to him, the journalist's attempt to present the topic of the conflict from the religious point of view does not hold water. He suggested that Armenia, deprived of political and legal frameworks, is now trying to justify its aggression and temporary occupation under the guise of religion.
"Everyone knows that the causes of the conflict are the territorial claims, temporary occupation and aggression of Armenia against Azerbaijan," Hajiyev stressed. He recalled the traditions of multiculturalism in Azerbaijan, its care towards the Orthodox, Catholic and Jewish religious communities, the strategic partnership with Georgia based on the centuries-old friendship between the two peoples.
"The Azerbaijani embassy in Germany will inform Die Welt editorial staff and investigate the organizing of the illegal trips to the temporarily-occupied territories of Azerbaijan by the tourist company," the representative of the Foreign Ministry concluded.
* * *
The Georgian mass media believe that the world-known opera singer Paata Burchuladze, whose career spanning more than 30 years on stage, plans to engage in political activity. In particular, he recently established Georgia's Development Fund, which, according the online edition of the Civil Georgia, will focus on domestic and foreign policy, the economy, as well as national security. Both Georgian and foreign experts will be involved in its work. Burchuladze said that he has already held consultations with Georgian billionaire and former Prime Minister of Georgia, Bidzina Ivanishvili, and the leader of the party 'Free Democrats', Irakli Alasania. He plans to hold a series of meetings, both in Georgia and beyond its borders, including with representatives of civil society, where he will acquaint them with the fund's plans. An official presentation of the fund, where the objectives and details will be announced, is be held in December. Burchuladze himself did not rule out that the organization may then turn into a platform for his political activities, particularly in a political party. In addition, he confirmed that next year, when Georgia's parliamentary elections are scheduled, he has cancelled all contracts associated with opera performances.
The article said that Burchuladze, who has been involved in charitable activities through his Iavnana foundation for more than 10 years, although he hasn't talked about his future plans, doesn't rule out his transition to politics. His possible political career has been discussed at least twice – before the parliamentary elections in 2008 and the presidential elections in 2013, but the establishment of the new fund, as well as his statements, according to the newspaper, are the most clear instructions that he might really plan to engage in political activity.
The internet portal Georgia-Online notes that Georgia's attitude to Burchuladze is pretty quiet. He is known as a philanthropist and benefactor, it is believed that he is supported by the Georgian Orthodox Church. However, his political career may meet some opposition from the anti-Russian part of society. The reason for this could be his statement to the Russian media that he considers himself as a Russian basso and proud of it.
* * *
There has been a tradition in Ingushetia since 2006 to award scholarships of the head of the republic to students who are successfully studying in the universities of the Russian Federation. As a rule, you must have only excellent marks to receive a scholarship. The 'Ingushetia' newspaper reports that this kind of encouragement is the most popular among students. According to the head of the regional Ministry of Education, Leila Tangiyeva, it is largely a matter of prestige for many guys to be a scholar of the head of the republic. They are taken as an example, other guys look up to them. The scholars of the head of the republic are welcome guests at any events organized by the Permanent Mission of Ingushetia in Moscow. The amount of the scholarship is small, only two thousand rubles, but the recognition of your right to receive it, as a student who understands why he has decided to continue education in high school, is much more valuable.
Recently, the Ministry of Education of Ingushetia published an updated list of the scholarship recipients of the head of Ingushetia for the current academic year. Changes to its composition are made annually at the end of August. The total quota of such scholars is 110 people. The students must apply for the scholarship themselves upon arrival from their summer holidays. The commission for the selection of candidates includes public members, but its main part is education workers. Only the results of candidates work are important during selection. Their social status, public merits and other criteria are not taken into account, only knowledge.
The analysis shows that, traditionally, there are more excellent students among humanities students. But this balance, albeit slowly, is changing to an increase in technical specialists. It is also gratifying, Leila Tangiyeva said, that the gender composition of scholars is also changing from year to year. Previously, there was dominance of women representatives, but now there are a lot of young men who demonstrate high academic achievement.
* * *
Kabardino-Balkarskaya Pravda reports that the construction of one of Russia's largest children's institutions of further education, the Palace of Children’s Art titled 'The Academy of Childhood 'Sun City', is being completed in Nalchik. Up to 5000 children can learn and play there. The Sun City will open its doors on December 25 for New Year events. According to the decree of the government of the republic, 500 children from low-income families, boarding schools, orphanages and disabled children will be the first visitors to the palace. "We need to raise additional funds to provide Christmas gifts for all the children in need of targeted social protection and under the tutelage of the state," the order notes. Recently, the progress of construction was inspected by the head of the republic, Yuri Kokov. "The opening of the Children's Academy of Art 'Sun City' should become a real treat and a worthy New Year's gift to the children of the republic. This is the most important facility for now," the head of Kabardino-Balkaria said.