Caucasian press review (October 19-25th)

Caucasian press review (October 19-25th)

The confrontation between the government and the opposition has become strained again in Abkhazia. The Internet portal Sputnik-Abkhazia reports that on October 21st a resolution was adopted at an extraordinary congress of the opposition party Amktsakhara in order to recognize the Abkhazian leadership as anti-popular, incapable and unwilling to achieve national reconciliation and the full development of the state. The resolution of the Congress Members expressed distrust  of Raul Khajimba as President and demanded his immediate resignation. If Khajimba doesn’t take such a decision about his own resignation in the next few days, the congress participants intend to declare a national gathering according to the resolution. The Congress also addressed the parliament with a demand for the Parliament to schedule early presidential elections.

Earlier on Monday, a block of the opposition forces consisting of the political party of Amtsakhara, the Foundation for Socio-Economic and Political Studies APRA, the public organizations ‘Women in Politics’ and ‘Abzanhara’ held a press conference, where the activities of the republic's leadership has been heavily criticized in the development of the real sector of the economy, agriculture and the struggle against unemployment. The prejudice against the opposition by Abkhazian state television was particularly discussed, and the lack of adequate airtime allocated to it. Vice-president Vitaly Gabnii’s statement in a live television broadcast caused sharp indignation from the opposition, who expressed regret regarding the non-use of the lustration police by the current government, as well as making a statement that he supports the adoption of such a law. He also accused the opposition leaders of ‘secret negotiations’ with representatives of the Russian government.

Agency Abkhazia-Inform reports that a rally in support of the country's leadership took place almost simultaneously with the Congress of Amtsakhara in the center of Sukhumi. It was attended by public figures, heads of districts and cities, ministries and departments, and ordinary citizens. The chairman of the People's Party, Yakub Lakota, and the chairman of the veteran organization, Abaash Ilya Tsvizhba, approved the course of the current authorities. Advisor to President Vladimir Zantariya noted positive changes in the areas of economy, education and culture, and spoke about such existing problems, as the crime situation. He also drew attention to the fact that the result of the effective operation of the present authorities was an increase in the countries budget.

President Raul Khajimba said at a briefing that he will fulfil his obligations according to the terms established by the Constitution of the Republic. He accused the organizers of the Congress of involvement in the current difficult situation of the state, and of undermining all state institutions, as well as the fact that the country is forced to constantly ask for help in order to solve its social problems. "It is impossible to change this situation at once, as the authorities don't have enough means or mechanisms. Despite this, we began to focus on the development of our country. The only promising path is to extend our own capabilities,’’ Khajimba said.

The Abkhazian parliament adopted an appeal to the people. According to it, all the political forces that participated in the presidential elections on August 24, 2014, recognized the results of the elections and confirmed the legitimacy of the election campaign, where Raul Khajimba won in the first round. This fact excludes the validity of claims about the necessity for the appointment of early elections by the parliament. According to the appeal, the Parliament urges to abandon the rhetoric, as its consequences could lead to an imbalance of powers, destabilizing the social and political situation, as well as the negative impact on the basis of the sovereignty and statehood of Abkhazia. Deputies invite leaders of the country, social and political forces to consolidation and a constructive dialogue in order to preserve national harmony and stability in the country.

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During the meeting between President of South Ossetia Leonid Tibilov and Russian presidential aide Vladislav Surkov, who paid a working visit on October 19th to South Ossetia, Leonid Tibilov made a statement that began to be interpreted by some experts as an attempt to organize a referendum in order to become a part of Russia, the North Ossetia newspaper reported. 

According to its correspondent in Tskhinvali, the head of state said at the meeting: "Today, the political reality is that we need to make our historical choice and reunite with brotherly Russia, and ensure the safety and prosperity of the Republic and the people for centuries.’’

As the Kremlin's response, the edition cites comments of the press secretary of the Russian president, Dmitry Peskov: ‘In fact, if I understand it correctly, there was no such a statement at the meeting... It is an independent state, which is recognized by the Russian Federation, and we have diplomatic relations with it.’ He also noted that there are a lot of supporters of integration with Russia in South Ossetia. "As I understand it, this is what Mr. Tibilov said,’ the press secretary of the head of state reports. 

Nevertheless, the topic received a wide response. Despite such comments as ‘It is high time’ and ‘It is going to be this way’ there is a clear opposite viewpoint: ‘Entry into Russia will lead to further departure of the population and desolation of the territories,’ or ‘What about independence and sovereignty?’

The Director of Research of the International Discussion Club ‘Valdai’, Fyodor Lukyanov, described the statement on the referendum as populism. In his opinion, today the issue of joining Russia would just make the situation more complicated. ‘’There is a certain, not very positive, but still a status quo between Russia and Georgia. The parties have acknowledged that there is such a reality that won’t change and it is necessary to be saved," Lukyanov said. In addition, "the formal joining of South Ossetia won’t change anything for the better for it, but it can bring new problems both for South Ossetia and Russia."

But the first president of South Ossetia, historian Ludwig Chibirov, welcomed the initiative. "It is an honor to be an independent state with its flag on the flagpole of the United Nations, but it cannot provide a reliable political future for South Ossetia. Entry into Russia would solve many problems, as well as being a guarantee of the future and the best option for South Ossetia. The people of this Republic have dreamed about it for a long time,’’ he said.

Commenting on the initiative of the President of South Ossetia, the Georgian Foreign Ministry noted that such talks are contrary to international law and, therefore, it confirms the inconsistency and provocative policy once again, which Russia provides against Georgia. 

In his turn, the leader of the Democratic Movement United Georgia, Nino Burjanadze, said in interview for Free Georgia that if the government of Georgia had begun a direct dialogue with the Abkhazian and Ossetian sides, the reality would have been different today, and such statements would not have been made.

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Free Georgia reports that the oil and gas company Frontera Resources, conducting exploration and prospecting of oil and gas deposits in the eastern part of Georgia, has announced the identification of new significant gas resources. In addition to the previously identified resources, 3.8 trillion cubic meters of gas were found at depths of 300 to 5000 meters in the area of ​​the gas complex and the complex field Mtsarhevi Taribani, combined into one integrated geological block, with an area of ​​2000 square kilometers called the South Kakheti gas complex.

Reports of the American independent consulting firm Netherland, Sewell & Associates informed in April of this year about the presence of total prospective resources of natural gas in the collector amounting to 365 billion cubic meters. 266 billion were in the gas complex Mtsarehevi and the complex field Taribani.

The company Frontera Resources carried out extensive geological and geophysical studies in locations of the gas complex Mtsarhevi and the field complex Taribani and in the area between them, because the company believes that these areas are part of a single geological complex. An ongoing geological survey confirmed the presence of the vast potential of the integrated natural gas resources, which significantly exceeds previous estimates. An independent evaluation of the results is being carried out now. 

According to Chairman of the Board of Directors, Steve Nikandrosa, their investments in Georgia have allowed the South Kakheti gas complex to become a world-class facility. He compared it to similar gas complexes in the United States, which changed the trajectory of US energy independence.

In parallel, the company is exploring opportunities to commercialize the identified reserves of these resources and ensure not only the domestic market of Georgia, but also neighboring markets in Turkey and Europe. In this regard, a memorandum was signed with Naftogaz Ukraine, according to which pre-engineering researches are being conducted in order to find out the possibility of supplying liquefied natural gas to Ukraine. Similar researches are being conducted in relation to other markets of the Black Sea and possible regional pipeline routes, the article reports.

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It is planned to create a special cooperative of exporters in Azerbaijan in order to promote output of small and medium-sized enterprises to foreign markets, the head of the Republican Fund of Azerbaijan Export and Investment Promotion (AZPROMO) Rufat Mammadov told the Trend news agency. According to him, this proposal is part of additional measures in order to promote exports. Financial assistance according to a certain criteria and offer of specific mechanisms are a part of these measures. It is planned to assist enterprises to participate in various exhibitions and trade missions along with the creation of cooperatives. The head of AZPROMO said that exporters will also be provided with methodological assistance. "We are ready to provide exporters with analyses  of foreign markets and assist in advertising their products in foreign markets. More concrete proposals on these activities will be prepared before the end of the year and submitted to the relevant authorities,’’ Mamedov said. 

According to him, the simplification of licensing procedures and reducing their number, as well as other decisions which were adopted over the past few days in order to simplify business activities, and have a positive impact on the investment climate in Azerbaijan in terms of attracting foreign investors. 

Earlier, Minister of Economy and Industry Shahin Mustafayev said that Azerbaijan is to continue to work to improve its business environment, and therefore it is preparing a number of documents for the promotion of exports.

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The government of South Ossetia signed an agreement with the management company of the Russian company ‘Rastdon’ on the construction of a meat-processing complex (MIC) in the country, the online edition of Sputnik-South Ossetia reported. The new company will produce sausage products, semi-finished products and minced meat delicacies. The construction of the plant is to start this year behind the northern part of the South Ossetian capital with the help of an Investment Agency created in 2014. No less than 30 million rubles were allocated by private investors. The complex is to enter into operation in 2017. The total cost of the project is 153 million rubles.

The publication notes that about a billion rubles (300 million rubles annually) were allocated from the Russian budget for the development of the real sector of the RSO during 2015-2017. Business projects are selected by the Ministry of Economy of the Republic, after that they are considered by the Moscow Investment Agency, which was created especially for this purpose. Its task is to attract investors and support the real economy in South Ossetia and Abkhazia. An entrepreneur invests 10% of the project cost, and 90% of the funds are allocated by Investagentstvo with the help of Russian banks at 10% per annum.