Caucasus press review (March 16-22)
By Vestnik Kavkaza
The newspaper ‘South Ossetia’ called the signing of the Agreement on Alliance and Integration between the Russian Federation and the Republic of South Ossetia on March 18th the most anticipated event of the year. The newspaper reports that the new agreement requires coordinating the foreign political activities of the two countries, determining arrangements aimed at improving security in the region, and harmonizing relations in the sphere of customs regulations; it forms a complex of measures on preservation of the common cultural, spiritual, and humanitarian space. The process of issuing Russian citizenship to South Ossetians will be simplified.
President of RSO Leonid Tibilov stresses that the agreement is strategic, as it requires establishing a united defense space and security system, further increasing living standards for the populations of South Ossetia. He points out that the agreement meets the national interests of both countries, as it is an answer to the threats and challenges in the modern world.
The treaty requires free crossing of the Russian-South Ossetian border, but taking into account restrictions made for security reasons. These restrictions will be defined by a separate agreement, but, obviously, simplification of crossing the border is inevitable.
Russia will help South Ossetia to increase the salaries of state-paid employees. “The Republic of South Ossetia, with Russia’s support, will steadily increase the salaries of employees of state and municipal facilities up to the level of salaries of state-paid employees in the NCFD of Russia,” the document says. From 2016 pensions will begin to be increased up to the same level.
The EU countries are reconsidering the European neighborhood policy, considering the Ukrainian developments. According to the Armenian weekly newspaper ‘Business Express’, it was voiced by Martin Schulz, the head of the European Parliament, who addressed participants at a plenary session of the Inter-parliamentary Assembly Euronest in Yerevan. The address stated that Brussels should consider the specifics of each country in further cooperation with participants of the Eastern Partnership. The head of the European parliament expressed satisfaction that Armenia is ready to sign a new agreement with the EU. The head of the EU delegation in Armenia, Trayan Hristea, says that “the EU wants more intensive cooperation with eastern partners; and the inter-parliamentary dialogue within the Eastern Partnership justifies itself completely. The inter-parliamentary dialogue is more than simple intergovernmental relations. The Euronest encourages new development of cooperation between the EU and its eastern neighbors. The format consolidates us, making the program of the Eastern Partnership more effective,” Hristea says. According to him, cooperation with eastern partners will remain a priority direction for the EU.
Recently the EU published an index of European integration of participants in the Eastern Partnership in 2014. The authors of the report pointed out some progress in Armenia in several spheres. Small successes are pointed out in coordinating the laws and the state system with EU standards. However, it is noted that the problem of freedom of press and freedom of meetings in Armenia is still at a low level. According to the report, regress is mainly connected with the decision to join the Eurasian Economic Union.
Representatives of NATO visited Georgia to evaluate infrastructure for establishing a training center of the alliance, News Georgia reports, citing the press service of the Defense Ministry. During the visit, representatives of NATO inspected the military base in Vaziani, near Tbilisi, and the National Training Center of Krtsanisi in the Kvemo Kartli Region. According to their resolution, the site of the location of the center will be determined, and recommendations on the financial part of the project will be developed.
“During the meeting, efforts by the Georgian side were stressed on effective and quick provision of the project. After evaluation by a group of experts, we will make a common decision on a location, a structure, and further functioning of the center,” Colonel Georgi Kbiltsetskhlashvili, the deputy head of the Headquarters of the Georgian Armed Forces, said.
Previously, the military base in Vaziani was considered to be a possible location for the center. In late January the deputy Secretary General of NATO Alexander Vweshbow visited the base, watched military exercises and appraised highly the skills of Georgian soldiers.
One of the largest healthcare facilities in the NCFD began to be constructed in Nazran. It is a perinatal center for 130 beds and 100 visits in a shift. According to the newspaper ‘Ingushetia’, the need to build the perinatal center appeared due to the difficult situation over infant mortality along with the relatively high birth rate. The state-funded corporation Rostechnology is a client of projecting and construction. The construction will cost more than 2 billion rubles.
To attract high-professional specialists to the facility, the local authorities are granting free accommodation – a healthcare town is being built on a territory of 8 hectares. Apartment blocks are planned to be built there for doctors who live in Ingushetia and those who will work in the republic, according to a rotating scheme.
The head of Ingushetia Yunus-Bek Yevkurov ordered representatives of the Ministry of Construction of the Republic and controlling agencies to provide strict monitoring at the building site.
The newspaper ‘Republic Abkhazia’ and the Abkhazian information agency Apsnypress report on the results of casting among school leavers for study at Russian universities by the Federal Agency of Rossotrudnichestvo.
The Ministry of Education and Science of Russia has been granting Abkhazia quotas for entering Russian universities since 1993. In 2015, 220 quotas are allocated to Abkhazia: 114 places on a Bachelor’s Programme, 23 places on a Master’s Programme, 8 places on post-graduate education, and 59 places on a Specialist Programme and advanced training.
The vice president of Abkhazia, Vitali Gabnia, and the head of Rossotrudnichesto office in Abkhazia, Sergei Fedchenko, commented on the results of casting this year. According to them, this year the system of casting among school leavers has been changed. School leavers will have to pass through two stages: one in Abkhazia and another in Russia. Some of the universities have a right to hold additional contests.