USAID economic cluster in Bishkek to cross with EU and China investments

US Embassy in Bishkek

A new economic cluster to support Kyrgyzstan’s light industry is to be launched in Bishkek. The project initiated by the USAID aims to enhance the country’s light industry businesses and to provide grant support to entrepreneurs, said the press-office of the US Embassy in Bishkek.
However, the US initiative confronts the interests of the EU and China in the region. Earlier in April, President of Kyrgyzstan Sooronbay Jeenbekov made his first visit to Germany after becoming President in 2017. The purpose of the visit was to expand trade and economic relations with Germany, to attract EU’s investment in the region and to reform the banking sector of the country. As a result, 11 bilateral contracts were signed between Kyrgyz and German companies. Later in April Jeenbekov met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in purpose to “open a new page of Kyrgyz-Chinese relations” and to take part in the second One Belt One Road Forum.
Jeenbekov’s aim to have tighter relations with the EU and China is explained by the country’s ambitions to play a solid role in the Eurasia integration and to become a strategic transit zone for the global One Belt One Road initiative. On the other hand, the US economic policy in the country might disturb the EU transparent business approach and will lead to Washington’s control over Kyrgyz enterprises. Stronger positions of the US in Kyrgyzstan will also stall the plans of Beijing to integrate infrastructure projects in Kyrgyzstan . The aggravation of relations with China will have a negative impact on the Kyrgyz economy, given its high dependence on Chinese investment and the Bishkek’s inclusion into One Belt One Road initiative.
The current situation puts Kyrgyzstan at the crossroads and the way the country will choose will be defining its long-term development for the next decades. According to local politicians, the political and economic compass President Jeenbekov will choose will also play a crucial role during the 2020 Kyrgyz Presidential elections campaign.

Neither Moscow way, nor the EU’s? how Moldova’s Vladimir Plahotniuc manipulates the public opinion

The upcoming elections in Moldova are encouraging more and more political experts to attempt to predict the results. The main focus is on Moldova’s de-facto leader, Vladimir Plahotniuc who continues to play the double game both with the West and Moscow.  Through manipulating both Russia and US/EU, Plahotniuc has already earned a fortune and he is definitely not going to stop.

Notorious for stealing $1 billion (around 12% of the country’s GDP) to the offshore territories (a “theft of the century”) through the Moldavian banks back in 2014, Plahotniuc managed to get away with it and even to charm Washington’s power brokers making the Obama Administration welcome him with open arms.

According to Aaron Miller’s book, “Moldova Under Vladimir Plahotniuc: Corruption & Oligarchy”, Plahotniuc deftly manages and manipulates the public opinion in Moldova with an ongoing “Russia vs. the West” narrative. But indeed, no party is expected to win the majority, which will lead to a deadlock that benefits a power broker like Plahotniuc. The only Plahotniuc political ambitions is to get wealthier. As Moldovan’s whistleblower Gofman says, Plahotniuc, as chairman of the Democratic Party of Moldova (DPM), received 70 percent of the $1 billion stolen funds, with the remaining 30 percent divvied up between DPM deputies and officials from Moldova’s Liberal Party.  Despite winning only 19 of 101 parliamentary seats in Moldova’s 2014 parliamentary election, Plahotniuc’s DPM party formed a coalition government with the pro-European Liberal Democratic Party (PLDM).  This has certainly raised doubts in Brussels whether the EU could continue trade with corrupted Moldova. Nevertheless, Plahotniuc remains “unpunishable” as, the Miiller says, “Moldova’s elites, like Plahotniuc, get to define the rules…write the rules and rewrite the rules, and [they] are not held accountable by either Brussels or Moscow.”

Britain could be like Turkey and remain part of the customs union after leaving the EU, says Liam Fox in first TV interview since promotion

According to The Telegraph Britain could be like Turkey and stay part of the customs union after leaving the European Union, Liam Fox has said in first broadcast interview since his promotion to Cabinet.

The news came as George Osborne, the former Chancellor, said that Mrs. May should not to have “red lines” on issues like immigration in her Brexit negotiations.

The customs union includes all 28 EU member states, alongside Turkey, Monaco, San Marino, Andorra and non-EU UK territories such as the Channel Islands.

Turkey’s customs union only covers goods, but not services or finance which is a large part of the UK’s GDP. Crucially there is also no freedom of movement between Turkey and the EU.

Pressed on the Andrew Marr programme, Dr Fox, the international trade secretary, said: “We want to look at all the different things, it’s not binary.

“I hear people talking about hard Brexit and soft Brexit as though it’s a boiled egg we’re talking about.

“It’s a little more complex. So Turkey, for example, is in parts of the customs union, but not in other parts.”

When asked whether he was open to staying inside the customs union, Dr Fox said: “I’ll argue my case inside Cabinet, rather than on the programme. I remain… instinctively a free trader.”

“The Government will come to a collective view on this once we’ve looked at all the issues.

“It’s correct that we do so, because we can’t go for a quick result, we have to get the right result.

“Whatever result we do come to, we have to be able to put in front of the British people the reasoning for coming to that result.”

He also indicated that the Government would pursue a transitional arrangement with EU officials to preserve single market access before striking a fresh trade deal with the bloc, saying “we can’t go for a quick result”.

Last week Philip Hammond, the Chancellor, lent his support for Britain to agree a transitional trade deal with the European Union after Brexit.

He said it would be “generally helpful” to have a longer period than the two years afforded under the Article 50 process to hammer out future trade arrangements.

On the same programme, Mr Osborne Britain needed a “hard-headed assessment” about issues such as whether to leave the customs unions.

Mr Osborne – who was one of the leaders of the failed Remain campaign ahead of the EU referendum – told the Andrew Marr programme: “I would not go into this negotiation necessarily drawing red lines.

“I would say we are leaving the EU – that’s the only red line I would draw – let’s go in there and try and get the best deal for Britain.”

Mr Osborne urged the Government not to discard existing free trade deals in Europe in the search for new ones elsewhere.

He said: “You can’t say we are a beacon of free trade in the world and the main thing you achieve is a huge act of protectionism, the biggest in British industry.”

Mr Osborne also criticised the target Mrs May agreed to as Home Secretary to get net migration down to the tens of thousands, which he said should not include students.

He said: “When I was the chancellor I thought it was not sensible to include them in the figures. But that’s got to be a collective decision.”

He warned jobs in the financial sector could move to New York if Britain gets its Brexit negotiations wrong.

Turkish President Erdogan: Europe is siding with terrorist organisations

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan makes a speech during the NATO Parliamentary Assembly 62nd Annual Session in Istanbul, Turkey, November 21, 2016. REUTERS/Murad Sezer
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan makes a speech during the NATO Parliamentary Assembly 62nd Annual Session in Istanbul, Turkey, November 21, 2016. REUTERS/Murad Sezer

Reuters

Erdogan says EU lawmakers’ vote on Turkish membership ‘has no value’

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that a vote by the European Parliament on whether to halt EU membership talks with Ankara “has no value in our eyes” and again accused Europe of siding with terrorist organisations.

“We have made clear time and time again that we take care of European values more than many EU countries, but we could not see concrete support from Western friends … None of the promises were kept,” he told an Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) conference in Istanbul.

“There will be a meeting at the European Parliament tomorrow, and they will vote on EU talks with Turkey … whatever the result, this vote has no value in our eyes.”

Leading members of the European Parliament on Tuesday called for a halt to membership talks with Turkey because of its post-coup purges, in which more than 125,000 state employees have been dismissed or detained.

Fed up with EU, Erdogan says Turkey could join Shanghai bloc

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a news conference in Ankara, Turkey, November 16, 2016. Kayhan Ozer/Presidential Palace/Handout via REUTERS
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a news conference in Ankara, Turkey, November 16, 2016. Kayhan Ozer/Presidential Palace/Handout via REUTERS

Reuters –

President Tayyip Erdogan was quoted on Sunday as saying that Turkey did not need to join the European Union “at all costs” and could instead become part of a security bloc dominated by China, Russia and Central Asian nations.

NATO member Turkey’s prospects of joining the EU look more remote than ever after 11 years of negotiations. European leaders have been critical of its record on democratic freedoms, while Ankara has grown increasingly exasperated by what it sees as Western condescension.

“Turkey must feel at ease. It mustn’t say ‘for me it’s the European Union at all costs’. That’s my view,” Erdogan was quoted by the Hurriyet newspaper as telling reporters on his plane on the way back from a visit to Pakistan and Uzbekistan.

“Why shouldn’t Turkey be in the Shanghai Five? I said this to (Russian President) Mr Putin, to (Kazakh President) Nazarbayev, to those who are in the Shanghai Five now,” he said.

“I hope that if there is a positive development there, I think if Turkey were to join the Shanghai Five, it will enable it to act with much greater ease.”

China, Russia and four Central Asian nations — Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan — formed the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in 2001 as a regional security bloc to fight threats posed by radical Islam and drug trafficking from neighboring Afghanistan.

Turkish membership of the SCO, which had initially not included Uzbekistan and been known as the Shanghai Five, would be likely to alarm Western allies and fellow NATO members.

Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan speak Turkic languages, and Ankara signed up in 2013 as a “dialogue partner” saying it shared “the same destiny” as members of the bloc.

Mongolia, India, Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan are SCO observers, while Belarus, like Turkey, is a dialogue partner.

Dialogue partners are entitled to take part in ministerial-level and some other meetings of the SCO, but do not have voting rights.

Erdogan last week urged Turks to be patient until the end of the year over relations with Europe and said a referendum could be held on EU membership in 2017.

The EU is treading a fine line in relations with Turkey: it needs Ankara’s continued help in curbing a huge flow of migrants, especially from Syria, but is alarmed by Turkey’s crackdown on opponents since a failed coup attempt in July.

More than 110,000 people have been sacked or suspended since the abortive putsch, and some 36,000 arrested. Media outlets have also been shut down.

The government says the crackdown is justified by the gravity of the threat to the state from the events of July 15, in which more than 240 people were killed.