Could the SPIEF boost the TurkStream flows?

Putin and Erdogan open TurkStream gas pipeline

The Saint Petersburg Economic Forum to be held in Russia on June 2-5 is the first post pandemic global event that is focused to gather international delegations from the U.S., Germany, Italy, China, South Asia and the Middle East.

With the Forum’s main focus on energy and sustainable development, Russia aims to boost international trade ties and attract investments to its economy. And Turkey could be among most prospective partners for Russia following the SPIEF ambitions. Today Ankara’s major interest is to provide permanent gas flows through the Turkish Stream. On the other side, Turkey, a NATO’s member, has been manipulated by the United States for years following Washington’ efforts to sign a deal with Ankara on U.S. natural compress gas (GNC).

However, the recent tensions between Biden and Erdogan on Ankara’s recognition of the atrocities committed against the Armenian people in 1915 as genocide as well as the recent criticism of Erdogan towards the U.S. on the Gaza-Israeli conflict have been a sore spot between the countries placing their further economic and political cooperation in question.

This explains why Turkey has been seeking a closer cooperation with Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan to support the Turkish Stream supplies. The pipeline, which transits the Black Sea, took five years to complete and is one of two major new natural-gas export routes totaling nearly $20 billion. Russia on its parts also expects to go on line this year and the SPIEF is likely to become a platform for developing further economic cooperation and trade ties between Turkey and Russia.

Kharkiv Mayor’s death at Charité raises questions among political experts

Photo credit: APA

On December 17 Kharkiv City Mayor Hennadiy Kernes died at the Charité clinic in Berlin where he was receiving treatment for Covid-19.  Despite the official clinic’s report, some political experts say his death was quite mysterious while at the same time questioning Kernes legitimacy as a mayor.  

Earlier in September, Kernes was transferred to Germany over a deteriorating health condition. He was placed in the intensive care unit of Berlin’s Charité clinical center. While he was under treatment, Kharkiv City Council had to repeatedly deny rumors of his death. On November 4, Kernes was officially declared Mayor of Kharkiv with getting 195,044 votes (60,3 %). German economist Andres Aslund questioned in his tweet if Kernes was still alive when he was reelected.

Besides, the place of Kernes’s death also leaves questions with no answer.

“Charité” (French) means “charity” or “mercy”. The clinic is known far beyond Germany. The hospital, founded in 1710 as a plague infirmary, is currently a multidisciplinary medical center, where patients with a wide variety of diseases are treated. The hospital complex has about 3000 beds in total. It employs 13,000 employees and treats over 800,000 outpatients and inpatients annually.

Apart from ordinary citizens, the Charité Hospital is a primary choice for many celebrities from all over the world. It’s no secret that many rich and famous patients, for example, from Russia or Saudi Arabia, privately receive medical care here. Among the Charité’s patients were Merkel, Steinmeier, Tymoshenko and other. It is especially popular among former USSR leaders who chose the pro-Western course. Recently, the Hospital’s name has been in headlines because of the Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny who received treatment there over supposedly poisoning (according to the Charité’s clinic report). But while Kernes, according to Kharkiv City Council reports, was getting better and even won elections, Charité, despte its claims on best medicine technologies, was helpless to Kernes. On the contrary, Navalny who reportedly spent quite a long time in coma was healed amazingly quickly.

Some experts believe that’s no coincidence. Known for its affiliations with politicians, the Charité doctors could have been careless for Kernes as the West might have written his off, while Navalny still poses the interest for pro-Western powers. But that’s already conspiracy theories.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization develops efficient collaboration despite COVID-19 tough conditions

On November 30, 2020, the Council of Heads of Government (Prime Ministers) of the SCO member states held a videoconference meeting.  

SCO Secretary General Vladimir Norov in his speech stressed that despite tough conditions of the coronavirus pandemic, organization members could continue the course to strengthen trade, economic and humanitarian relations by the SCO countries, improve the mechanisms of cross cooperation and increase the international authority of the Organization.

Following the SCO summit held on November 10, the member states confirmed their commitment to joint work to overcome the socio-economic consequences of the pandemic, including a number of important initiatives aimed at establishing direct ties between medical institutions, cooperation in combating poverty, food security, industrial and energy cooperation, the development of digital literacy, as well as support for small businesses.

In this regard, V. Norov, suggested holding preliminary expert meetings for a substantive study of the goals and objectives of the initiatives put forward. He stressed the importance of continuing the practice of holding meetings of the Consortium of Economic Analytical Centers in conjunction with meetings of heads of government, and also noted the initiative to launch a new platform – the SCO Economic Forum.

Andrew Sheng, the expert of the University of Hong Kong’s Asia Global Institute believes, that a focus on developing domestic consumption will be important for China as its economy recovers. “China,” he says, “has come to the so-called Ford moment where if you pay your employees and treat them better, they will buy your national product. Domestic consumption will be a key growth driver for China, but it must be environmentally friendly “.

The foreign expert community summarized that the SCO is an active member of international relations. It makes significant investments in ensuring peace and security, settlement of international and regional conflicts exclusively through diplomacy. The SCO member states advocate the formation of a multipolar world order based on generally accepted principles of international law and equal international relations.

At present, the SCO acts as one of the pillars of the emerging world order. The participating countries will continue the vector and will deepen the political dialogue. Further contacts and cooperation on a wide range of issues with other countries and international organizations that are not members of the SCO are being promoted. At the same time, the number of countries wishing to participate in the SCO is growing every year.

Kiev’s silence on Hagia Sophia transformation may symbolize another Ukraine Orthodox crisis

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul

On July 26, the St. Michael Square in Kiev hosted a mass prayer. The service that gathered over 1000 Christians in the St. Michael’s Golden Domed Monastery, was marked with a severe criticism of Metropolitan Epiphanius of Kiev and All Ukraine. The Metropolitan was blamed for having no reaction over Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s decision to transform the Hagia Sophia into a mosque.

Indeed, while the Russian Orthodox Church has openly criticized the decision of the Turkish President, the Orthodox Church of Ukraine along with the Greek Autocephalous Church (based in Istanbul) have been surprisingly silent over the important Erdogan’s move. For instance, Metropolitan Hilarion, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s department for external church relations, said Erdogan’s decision was a «slap in the face» to all Christian world. «We believe that in the current conditions this act is an unacceptable violation of religious freedom», Hilarion added.

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, based in Istanbul and the spiritual leader of around 300 million Orthodox Christians around the world, only said that converting Hagia Sophia into a mosque would disappoint Christians and would «fracture» East and West.

No reaction from the Orthodox Church of Ukraine on the historical event may lead to certain changes and Metropolitan Epiphanius may soon be removed. Alternatively, the new head of the Kiev and All Ukraine may become Metropolitan Symeon (Shostacky) who has a huge support of former Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko. Known for being in high favor with Poroshenko, Symeon hosted multiple ceremonies with the former Ukrainian President. Earlier in 2018 Symeon was a Poroshenko’s nominee for the Metropolitan of the Ukrainan Church.

The transformation of Hagia Sophia into a mosque has sparked a huge debate across religious and cultural organizations worldwide. Despite high criticism of the Turkish President’s decision by UNESCO, EU leaders and the Christian Church, the Court in Turkey approved the Erdogan’s decree. On July 24, Hagia Sophia hosted first Islamic prayers in 86 years. The ceremony was opened by Recep Tayyip Erdogan and gathered over 350 000 Muslims.

GMIS-2019: global industry and economy leaders meet in the industrial heart of Russia

The Global Manufacturing and Industrialization Summit (GMIS-2019) was held in Yekaterinburg from July, 9 through July, 11. GMIS-2019 business program included more than 40 events, business breakfasts, panels sessions on global business priorities, dialogues with global industry leaders, seminars and presentations. GMIS-2019 discussions focused on topics such as digital transformation and green technologies, smart cities, the development of low-carbon production, safety in industrial automation, robotics, and artificial intelligence.

The GMIS opening ceremony started with the welcome speech of Badr AlOlama, Head of the Organising Committee for GMIS who said: “Nature should continue inspiring us on our path of technological innovation and transformation in the advent of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. This will allow for clean air, water, food, and quality of life to be sustained for generations to come. We are proud to announce our second global initiative that is inspired by the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, and his vision of using sustainable and eco-friendly solutions that are inspired by nature. We look forward to the realisation of this global vision in partnership with academia, the start-up community, and the manufacturing sector.”

Dmitry Kozak, Deputy Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation, said: “Synchronization of GMIS with the main industrial exhibition INNOPROM makes the 2 events an effective platform for strengthening international industrial cooperation, a unique discussion platform for the joint identification of actual problems of industrialization.”

“Russia’s desire to develop a modern manufacturing sector using 4IR technologies makes it an ideal venue for GMIS in 2019,” said Suhail Mohammed Faraj Al Mazroui , Minister of Energy and Industry of the United Arab Emirates.According to the Director General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) Lee Yong, “the 4th Industrial revolution will affect all of us, and expert discussions on these issues at GMIS can ensure a course for sustainable development”.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin said: “I am convinced that ensuring clean air, water, food, and quality of life and life expectancy for billions of people requires drastically new technologies and technical devices, which are less resource-intensive but much more eco-friendly. Such uber efficient scientific engineering, manufacturing solutions will allow us to strike a proper balance between bio and techno spheres. This includes the so-called nature-inspired technologies. They imitate natural processes and systems. They follow the laws of nature. I believe that in our era of tectonic changes and uncertainty, the priority for us are the intrinsic values, the creation of better opportunities for life and development of people. This great responsibility lies with us for the future of our planet and we need to work together.”

The summit was held at the newly-built Congress Centre. The modern design and the infrastructure of the 42,000m2 Congress Centre was mentioned by the  UNIDO head Li Yong as well as other high-profile guests. The Congress Centre accommodates conference halls, a media centre, art gallery, exhibition space, seminar rooms and lounges. It will become a major venue, presenting the widest diversity of exhibitions and events that will support the economic, industrial and cultural vitality of the city and region of Ekaterinburg.