Tag Archives: Kazahstan

SPIEF 2011, St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, Russia

Under the special patronage of the President of the Russian Federation, the annual edition of St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (June 16 – 18) brings together over 5000 political and business leaders from around the world, joined by leading voices from academia, civil society and the media to discuss and deliberate the key issues facing Russia and the world.

This year’s meeting will convene under the theme “Emerging Leadership for a New Era”. The SPIEF 2011 sessions will be structured around three major subthemes: Securing Global Growth, Building Russia’s Creative Capital, Expanding Technology Horizons.

Originally suggested by the Western press, and then picked up the Russian media, the «Russian Davos» – attribute associated to the Economic Forum in St. Petersburg has become longer than a term of comparison. It became an important issue of the Kremlin steps on the new Russia’s economic position in the world. According the Russian President, Dmitry Medvedev’s message: Over the years, it has grown into a leading world discussion forum bringing together prominent politicians, corporate executives and experts to deliberate on key issues of the global economy. This year, SPIEF agenda includes relevant topics, such as securing balanced growth, prospects for technology progress and bringing up a new generation of leaders. Focus is also made on the modernization of Russian economy and improving the investment climate in our country. In this year at SPIEF works are presented, according to organizers, more than five thousand guests, including Staff members of important corporations and banks from Europe, USA and Asia. And if the leaders of key countries of the European Union, faced with the inevitable failure of Greece and with serious problems regard to the Eurozone stability, will not be present at St. Petersburg, however, the SPIEF guests will include also: Hu JinTao, President of the People’s Republic of China, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, Prime Minister of Spain, Tarja Halonen, President of Finland, Nursultan Nazarbayev, President of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

Also the young generation of business people have been getting together in St. Petersburg to swap ideas at the International Youth Economic Forum (15 – 17 June 2011). YIEF will preface this year’s edition of the “Russian Davos“ – International Economic Forum in St. Petersburg. Overall, this year’s Forum is welcoming 100 participants: 50 young leaders from Russia and 50 international leaders. For more details see the YIEF 2011 Program. As always, St. Petersburg Administration has drawn up an extensive cultural programme. The Palace Square will, as usual, host a free concert given by international stars. This year, Sting will entertain the northern capital’s visitors and residents. St. Petersburg theatres and museums will offer interesting concerts, performances and exhibitions.

Update: 16 June – First day of SPIEF 2011

Although the opening ceremony and plenary session, which will be present Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, were scheduled for the second day of the Forum, the debates on the first day of work weren’t less important.

Thus, the participants could hear an extensive analysis of the gas and oil market presented by Nobuo Tanaka, Executive Director of International Energy Agency. They were concerned how and why movements in oil and gas markets have a major impact on global economy in crisis, to what extent fuel prices due to dollar weakness. “For both oil and gas markets, 2010 was characterised by the sharp recovery of the global economy after the recession in 2009 but the two markets have gone their separate ways in recent months” said Mr Tanaka. There weren’t missed the forecasts about price fluctuations under rebel movements in the Middle East. “Oil markets have seen a surge in demand growth in emerging markets, outstripping growth in supply, pushing prices higher even before the conflict in Libya tightens supplies further”. Also, he said that: “In both oil and gas we see a notable dichotomy between non-OECD and OECD markets with demand driven by China, India and the Middle-East”.

Also, the first day of SPIEF laid ”under microscope“ Russia’s economic relations with key partners – the European Union, USA, CIS, and the vision of partnering with India’s rapidly growing economy. Even if “From the Russian business has developed a strong belief that we are absolutely ready to increase the intensity of our economic cooperation with US”, according Viktor Vekselberg,  President of “Skolkovo” Foundation, it seems that not the same passion characterizes the U.S. investors. “I would also like to say that the “reset” has allowed us to go forward to a much more durable and stable trade relations, trade and economic relations, which, as we all know, should form the basis of a strong relationship” said John Byerly, U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Federation in the round table discussion on the topic RUSSIA – US BUSINESS DIALOGUE MAIN ISSUES IN THE US-RUSSIA STRATEGIC ECONOMIC PARTNERSHIP. Regarding relations with the European Union and building a common economic space, it is worth noting that any assessment adopted should take into account a certain unpredictability that characterizes the economies of both sides. A Europe concerned to ensure their stability and inability to speak with one voice proves to be a little constructive partner, so that on short and medium term Russia will likely prefer the same way verifiable bilateral partnerships.

Throughout the day many agreements were signed. Of meetings with the press have noted two: “Young Leaders of Global Economy”  Press-Briefing,  dedicated to Young International Economic forum results,  Ideas,  united  young  people  today,  practical  recommendations  for  key  innovative projects development and young  leaders’ views on global economy  situation were discussed by the participants of the Press-Briefing:  Arkady Dvorkovich – Organizing Committee member, Aide to the President of the Russian Federation, Yuri Kotler – YIEF 2011 Organizing Committee Chair, Dmitry Zelenin – Tver Region Governor, David Iakobachvili  – Wimm-Bill-Dann, Founder. And Press Briefing on Rebranding of PRIME Agency of Economic Information, its top personnel changes and development prospects, about which spoke: Svetlana Mironiuk – Managing Editor of RIA NEWS and Oleg Ananyev –  PRIME Director.

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The European Diplomacy, Energy Security and Central Asian Stake

The events in Central Asian countries very rarely attract massive international media attention. It does not means that nothing happens here. In the last decade of May, the third annual meeting of deputy foreign ministers of Central Asian states (an event organized by the United Nations Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy – UNRCCA and held in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan) was focused on enhancing regional cooperation and sustainable development. In the same time, the First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Tajikistan Mahmudjon Sobirov received the U.S. Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Geoffrey Pyatt. Mr Pyatt expressed desire of the US side to facilitate trade between Central and South Asia. In his turn, M. Sobirov expressed hope that the US will also support the implementation of energy projects in Tajikistan that would contribute not only to the economic development of Tajikistan, but to the entire region, since these projects will allow Tajikistan to export energy to the countries of South Asia. In another part of the world, Europe – Germany announced that it will gradually close all nuclear reactors by 2020. Likewise, Switzerland. But until to this “green future”, existing energy alternatives cannot yet cover the energy needs of the European, American or Chinese. In this context, the fuel resources of the countries of Central Asia makes this space an issue for the diplomatic front where the battle is becoming increasingly fierce. Whether we speak of the European Union or China, the basic idea remains the same and was sound enough: diversify supplies in order to reduce structural dependence on Russia. In this discussion we will limit to the moves from the European side. Projects started, projects delayed and too few concrete results. Moreover, history seems again from Russia’s side. Unrest in North Africa and the Middle East increases the need of European Union to find new solutions to ensure energy needs. So no wonder there is a European Union diplomatic offensive on the all possible fronts.

Nabucco vs South Stream

When talking about the two major energy projects of European Southern Corridor, we mainly observed that Western European diplomacy has always tried, at least in public, a delicate balance by supporting both projects. Diplomats and officials from Austria, Germany or even Italy have defined open the option to support both projects. What mattered in the price of gas imported from Russia. In contrast, the countries of Eastern Europe, namely Bulgaria and Romania have tried without much success a dual approach. Berlin, for instance, was (and still is) interested in opening new pipeline routes out of Central Asia in order to diminish the European Union’s dependence on Russian energy. German diplomats also were on the lookout for ways to boost trade in ways that benefited German manufacturers. In addition, the German military was eager to retain access to a military base at Termez, near the Uzbek-Afghan border. More, the meltdown of Kazakhstan’s banking sector in early 2009 cost German firms an estimated 500 million euros in lost investments, 300 million euros of which will have to be borne by German taxpayers. But the economic debacle did nothing to diminish Merkel’s enthusiasm for engagement with Astana. But from Moscow the diplomatic offensive of Germany was overlooked, given the many economic and political projects common to both countries. In contrast, many of Romania’s diplomatic contacts in Central Asia (even though concrete results have minor) were born from the Kremlin a grumble; however, the relations between the two countries are not the happiest. Romanian diplomacy seems unable to adapt in real time to the dynamic changes in the international community. (Full text)

PublishedOriental Review, June 4, 2011