Press Review of the Caucaus (February 22-28)

Press Review of the Caucaus (February 22-28)

The newspaper ‘Republic of Abkhazia’ and the agency ‘Abkhazia-Inform’ write about the press conference of President Raul Khajimba in Sukhumi on the results of his visit to Moscow and his meeting with Vladimir Putin. As noted by Khajimba, relations between Abkhazia and Russia continue to develop at a dynamic pace. There is great interest in Abkhazia’s more intense and systematic development from the president of Russia. "Russia is a powerful state,’ he said.‘ It perceives Abkhazia as a country that is playing not the last role in the south geopolitical arena. Relations between Russia and Abkhazia in matters of mutual assistance in ensuring safety, practical cooperation in the economy and other areas are becoming more confidential and amicable. At the meeting of the Presidents, which lasted more than an hour, the development of the banking system of Abkhazia, its capacity for lending to the real sector of economy were particularly discussed. This concerns the capital increase of the Bank of Abkhazia of two billion rubles. According to Khajimba, these funds will be aimed at the development of the real sector of the economy. "There are  issues of a social order to be resolved in the framework of the Investment Program to promote the socio-economic development of Abkhazia in the years 2015 - 2017, but we need to think about the development of the real sector of  economy,’’ Khajimba said. During the meeting Putin also gave instructions to the corresponding structures to withdraw a railway loan burden from Abkhazia.The meeting addressed issues of solving the energy problems that Abkhazia is facing. Khajimba said that during the visit he met with the Minister of Energy of the Russian Federation, Alexander Novak. The parties agreed to establish a joint working group to solve problems based on instructions of the President and the proposals of the Abkhaz side. This is an ability to restore the Perepadnaya HPP, and restoration of small hydroelectric power stations, which were working in the Soviet times. "I think this is not the biggest volumes, but they can be a tool in our work,’’ Khajimba said. The DG of the Chernomorenergo RUE, Aslan Basariya, went to Moscow for further consultations on this issue. Putin also gave corresponding instructions for early adoption of the measures aimed at simplifying the procedures for the acquisition of the Russian citizenship by the citizens of Abkhazia. Basically this refers to the pensioners, who by obtaining Russian citizenship will receive Russian pensions. The issues of restoration of a movement at the checkpoint ‘Psou’ through the old pedestrian bridge over the River Psou, which, according to Khajimba, will increase and qualitatively improve the capacity of the state of the Russian-Abkhaz border, were resolved, as well as the construction of a new prison in the Gulripshi district, which will address the modern requirements of detention. According to Khajimba, Vladimir Putin expressed his desire to visit  Abkhazia, and it is a hope that such a meeting will be held soon.

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‘’A real situation originated in 2016, about which experts have been talking for over the last decade: Azerbaijan has locked up two important transportation channels of Eurasia, from south to north and from east to west, on its territory. A first shipment via the multimodal route Mumbai - Moscow of the International Transport Corridor (ITC) ‘North - South’ is expected after the first transit through the corridor ‘Silk Road’ through the territory of Azerbaijan, the newspaper ‘Azerbaijan news’ writes. Several factors have coincided during recent months. First, there is essential changes of logistics within the CIS countries in connection with the system of Russia’s and the West’s reciprocal trade sanctions, after connection of Ukraine to them and related transport crises. This includes the problem of the Russian-Turkish conflict and the re-orientation of Turkish shipments to Central Asia via Azerbaijan caused by the conflict, which previously were implemented through the territory of Russia. The second is a lifting of the financial, economic and trade sanctions against Iran that will allow to give a powerful impetus to the Iranian infrastructure and industrial projects in the near future. Russia will play an important role in them. Iran is an important territory for transit from Russia to India and Pakistan for the full operation of the North-South transport corridor. The railway and motorways of Azerbaijan will take a part of cargo. Thus, a first shipment via the Multimodal route Mumbai - Moscow with connecting of the highways from Astara to the border with Russia in Dagestan is planned already in March 2016.The range of goods that will be transported in both directions of the vector Russia - Iran - India, including the Azerbaijani railway, is wide enough: There is grain, wood, metals, machinery, food products, including vegetables and fruits, military supplies, oil and petroleum products. The Azerbaijani petrochemical industry that manufactures mineral fertilizers, also has a huge potential  niche at the markets of the Gulf countries, Iran, Pakistan, India. A transportation of these products will also via the North - South Corridor. Highways are also a very important part of the ITC ‘North - South’. A shipment via Azerbaijan has been also started here, since it is much cheaper than sending cargo by ferry across the Caspian Sea. In particular, in February the first shipments of Iranian tomatoes start, and the first car from Iran has already arrived in Astrakhan through the Azerbaijani-Russian border. The author believes that an initial benefit for the country might be in the service sphere development.  Trade, petrol stations, service stations, motels and cafes, tourist centers will develop along the highways. 15 to 25 thousand new jobs are expected to appear.The next step could be a development of the national logistics. Azerbaijan gets a clear niche for its carriers.The possible emergence of the new logistics centers, needed to reorient the directions of the cargo flows, is possible at this level of extraction of the ‘transit’ benefit. A processing of raw materials into products with added value increments is possible at the Azerbaijani technoparks area. In the future construction of new highways, including toll roads with improved infrastructure, is possible. Azerbaijan hopes that the strengthening of the country's importance as an interspecific vehicle connector will be an additional factor in its integration into the world economy.

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According to the newspaper ‘Voice of Armenia’, despite the fact that fish farming is one of the most promising sectors of the national economy of the country, which has great potential in terms of both production and export volumes and in terms of investment attractiveness, quality growth is not observed here due to existing problems of this sphere.The experts of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), which is a member of the World Bank Group, in a recently published comprehensive study of the chain of fishery products exported from Armenia tried to identify the causes and ways out of the situation. The study was prepared on the basis of interviews with representatives of the relevant departments of the ministries of economy, agriculture, and direct meetings with economic agents operating in the aquaculture sector.In particular, among the problems that restrict the implementation of long-term programs and investment in this area, the researchers identified a licensing issue. The small duration of the license for water use, as well as the complex procedures of granting and renewal are the limiting factors for the implementation of activities in this sphere. This situation creates uncertainty for business prospects, as in a case of refusal or extension of the license renewal, they run a risk of losing the invested funds and business itself.Entrepreneurs face some difficulty in the import of fish food, necessary medicines, equipment, etc. According to businessmen, for customs clearance there is often the method of the indicative cost of the goods instead of using the cost method of transaction at customs, that is, in fact, contrary to the terms of the agreement on the assessment of the customs value, adopted within the framework of the WTO. "The local customs, apparently, have their own interpretation of the international norms and agreements, as the method of the indicative cost of goods increases the customs value for money, and, consequently, increases the costs of customs duty and VAT, calculated on the customs value of the goods," the publication informs.The range of issues directly at the production stage is much wider. Researchers believe that in addition to raising fish production it is necessary to diversify production, including processing of the products. Thus it is possible to avoid the risks associated with exporting, in particular, of fresh fish (short shelf life, the complexity of storage and transportation, etc.). In order to win new markets and maintain positions in the countries where their fish products are already presented, the entrepreneurs were advised to adopt the modern international quality and safety systems – for example, the GMP standards (Good Manufacturing Practice), HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points System) and others. Moreover, in the very nearest future, changes to the requirements of fish exports to the territory of the EAEC are planned, where specifically the introduction of the HACCP standards in the production process is envisaged. This will require additional investment from local businessmen. Otherwise, it is possible to lose the Russian market, having virtually unlimited opportunities for Armenian exports. According to various estimates, the annual consumption of fish products in the Russian Federation is more than 3 million tons, of which the share of exports of the Armenian fish accounts for only 0.2-0.3%, the article says.

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An over-all procurement of pre-school education was provided for children aged 3 to 7 years, the newspaper ‘Kabardino-Balkar Pravda’ reports with reference to the Deputy Prime Minister, the Minister of Education, Science and Youth Affairs of the CBD, Nina Emuzov.According to the information presented by her at the local parliament, 1515 additional pre-school places were created in the past year. On January 1st  2015, 940 children aged 3 to 7 years were registered to receive the services for pre-school education in the country. On January 1st this year, due to the creation of additional pre-school places, the children in this age category, who were secured with places in state or municipal pre-school educational institutions, have been reported.The Minister noted that short-stay groups for children were created in the country to meet the needs of parents with young children for the provision of pre-school education services in preschool institutions. Their coverage of pre-school education for 1 to 7 year-old children through the divergent forms amounted to 224 children. 1805 children in this age group were on the list of those who waiting for services for pre-school education on January 1st 2015.The pre-school educational institutions in the region work to provide advice to families whose children do not attend kindergartens. At the municipal level in 2015 46 counseling centers were functioning in the country, to which 253 people applied. Different forms of services were rendered to 616 people, including methodological, psychological and pedagogical, diagnostic, advisory forms. The CBD implemented measures to improve the forms and methods for the preparation of pre-school education through the development of the public-private partnership in the field of pre-school education, has established a regulatory framework for the maintenance of the  private kindergartens.From January 2015 in the village of Janik in the Chegem district a private kindergarten with 55 places is operating, and the construction of a private kindergarten with 80 places is being conducted in Prohladnoyw. There are kindergartens that operate without licenses and have positioned themselves as centers of early development and education, where there is no supervision or care. These forms cover about 150 children. According to Emuzova, the share of the managerial and teaching staff of state and municipal pre-school educational institutions, passed training or retraining, has been increased to 100%.An Action Plan has been approved  to ensure the administration of the federal state educational standards (GEF) of pre-school education in the pre-school educational institutions of the republic, including private ones. An increasing of the parental payment in kindergartens is not planned in the near future.

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The newspaper ‘Ingushetia’ reports that Chinese bloggers have arrived in the republic for the promotion of the tourism and recreational resources of the region. A blog tour was organized by the National Committee for Tourism in the framework of a tripartite agreement with Mineralnye Vody airport and the tour operator ‘Growth’ with the support of the JSC ‘Resorts of the North Caucasus.’The bloggers visited well-known tourist sites of the Dzheyrakhsky District, the all-season tourist complex ‘Armkhi’, the picturesque Lyazhginsky waterfall, medieval tower settlements, watched the sights of the Ingush valleys. In Magas the bloggers climbed the Concorde tower and the Arc de Alan gates.The bloggers visited Ingush families to learn about the traditions and the way of life of the Ingushes. As the participants of the blog tour told, the main purpose of their visit was to get acquainted with nature, history, cuisine, customs and traditions of the indigenous peoples. According to them, at the moment very few people in China know about the existence of such a region as the North Caucasus, and the recreational potential of the region needs to be promoted, and the conduction of this blog tour will help to do this.According to the chairman of the Republican Committee for Tourism, Stanislav Aristov, the purpose of the event for them is to establish business contacts, creating a positive image of the country in the media, as one of the most beautiful, peaceful and stable developing regions of the North Caucasus. According to him, Ingushetia can accept tourists, ensure their safety and comfort. The Director of the Department of Marketing of the JSC ‘KSK’, Renata Shyushayte, sees great potential in the promotion of tourist product of the Northern Caucasus in the Chinese domestic market. In China there is a traditionally high interest in traveling to Russia, in addition, the demand for ski holidays has significantly increased in recent years. According to her, these factors along with a high tourist mobility of China's population will contribute to a sustainable flow of tourists to the North Caucasus as in summer, as well as in the next ski season, and the launch of the new flight ‘Mineralnye Vody - Urumqi’ in June of this year will greatly facilitate this task.

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