EUROPEAN UNION LEADERSHIP CAME TO MOSCOW
Izvestia, May 30, 2000, p. 1
All big-wheels of the European Union paid a visit to Moscow – Romano Prodi, Chairman of the EU Commission (Italy), Javier Solana who is in charge of the alliance’s foreign policy and security (Spain), and Prime-Minister Antoniu Guterris and Foreign Minister Jaime Gama (both Portugal).
This is the first time the European Union is meeting the new Russian leader at such a high level. Negotiations did take place, and that is probably all that can be said of them.
Some European politicians suggested putting an end to regular consultations with Russia instead of continuing them with Putin, “initiator of a war on a freedom-loving people”.
Moscow needs to restore contacts with the European Union, its leading economic partner. The next opportunity may not come by for some time. On July 1, France will become chairman of the European Union for the next six months, and this country has the worst anti-Russian bias in all of the European Union. There are serious reasons to fear that the next Russian – European Union summit scheduled to take place in France will either be canceled altogether or be organized on a lover level.
PRESENTATION OF PIPELINE TAKES PLACE
Izvestia, May 30, 2000, p. 2
A pipeline for exporting the Caspian oil from Baku to Tbilisi and to Dzheikhan was presented to potential investors in Baku on May 29. For Russia the pipeline may mean a loss of tens of billions of dollars.
Lobbyists of the pipeline within the past four years (Azerbaijan, Turkey, and the United States), openly admit that the project is purely political and that it is anti-Russian.
Backing up Azerbaijan in its eagerness to export the Caspian oil not via Russia, Washington itself wants to increase its clout in the formerly Soviet Caucasus. All the same, American companies are not in a hurry to sponsor the project. Turkey estimates the cost of the project at $2.4 billion, but the Americans distrust the estimation, claiming that the costs will surely run higher than that. They believe that the cost will run at $3.5 billion at least.
The Baku presentation was needed to persuade potential investors to see the light. It is common knowledge that the pipeline will not be constructed by 2003. Construction will begin in spring 2001 at best and will last for no less than three years.
The post of special representative for the Caspian region has been created in Russia. Most probably, it will be offered to Viktor Kalyuzhny, former fuel and energy minister. The official will also have to provide a minor diplomatic diversion. Using financial and political discord among the Caspian states, he will have to make sure that the Caspian oil continues going via Russian pipelines.
PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION IN THE CHECHEN SINGLE-MANDATE DISTRICT SCHEDULED FOR AUGUST 20
Moskovsky Komsomolets, May 30, 2000, p. 2
Eighteen polling stations will be established in Chechnya this time. There were only twelve of them during the presidential election because of the “knotty situation”. Are we supposed to assume that the situation in August will be less knotty there? So far, eight persons have expressed their desire to run for a seat on the Duma. Amin Osmayev, consultant of the Federation Council who headed Putin’s election headquarters in Chechnya, is considered the most probable candidate. A candidate needs 6,000 plus signatures to be registered.
LEGISLATORS OF THREE COUNTRIES UNITE!
Trud, May 30, 2000, p. 1
A hearing titled “Border areas of Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine: problems and prospects of cooperation” has taken place in the Belgorod region.
It should be noted that the disintegration of the Soviet Union affected residents of border regions the most: they cannot visit their friends or relatives any more, even sending parcels is a problem these days. Opinion polls show that 80 percent of the population living across a given border are relatives. Customs and border guards complicate contacts, but incompatible customs and tax legislation affect deliveries of goods and commodities from across the border. Unfortunately, Ukrainian and Belarussian goods are being squeezed from the Russian market and vice versa.
In an attempt to do away with the obstacles preventing and impeding integration, deputies of the three countries have agreed on approaches to the most pressing problems existing in relations between border areas. Specifically, the issue concerns simplifying procedures of border crossing for residents of border areas; creating similar customs and tax legislation for foreign economic activities, and facilitating commerce.