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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

EurAsEC summit, Union Shield under way, Lukashenka says “No Nukes” but freezes Bush’ BY holdings, Menkova, Ukraine wins in WC shootout…

From the Top

Lukashenka talks integration at EurAsEc

From: Belta

At a meeting of the heads of state of the EurAsEC member states Alexander Lukashenko stated the need to expand cooperation of the community member states in energy and transport and to enhance the status and the role of the organization in the system of international economy.

The president of Belarus called on the counterparts to take efforts to fill integration processes with real contents. “It is time to proceed from defining of concepts to implementing of particular projects”, the head of the Belarusian state is convinced.

Alexander Lukashenko also noted the importance of further coordination of the WTO accession negotiations.

The EurAsEC member states should bend every effort to complete interstate procedures aimed to draft documents for the legal basis of the Customs Union in 2006. And to sign them in the first half of 2007, president of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko stated today at the meeting of the Interstate Council of the Eurasian Economic Community held in Minsk.

According to the Belarusian leader, at present there are several serious issues in the EurAsEC activities, which arouse anxiety. “First of all, the matter concerns creation of the full-fledged Customs Union. Frankly speaking the process is not so fast, as we would like it to be. Unfortunately within the year we have not achieved progress in forming the single customs tariff as well. I think that the governments of the EurAsEC member states fail to work on this issue to the maximum”, Alexander Lukashenko underlined.

He has noted that creation of the EurAsEC Customs Union much depends on coordination of positions of the community member states on joining the WTO. However, the parties have not reached full agreement on this issue, the Belarusian leader said.

Alexander Lukashenko supported the president of Kazakhstan, who stressed the necessity to set up the EurAsEC commission to control honoring of the treaties concluded by the member states. According to the Belarusian leader, such commission could be also involved in forming the single customs tariff, pursuing the single foreign economic policy, ensuring free movement of goods and formulating the single energy policy.

Alexander Lukashenko noted the importance of formulating the single energy policy of the Eurasian Economic Community. The Belarusian leader reminded of the initiative put forward by Russia to create the EurAsEC nuclear-energy basis.

Alexander Lukashenko expressed confidence that “soon joint work of experts and heads of the energy branches will give concrete results in the form of creating a multifold legal base on the access to the energy resources, transit and development of new and renewable energy resources”. According to Alexander Lukashenko it will be a considerable contribution to formulating the EurAsEC single energy policy.

The president of Belarus also emphasized the necessity to successfully complete mapping out the strategy of development of the fuel and energy complexes of the EurAsEC member states by 2020. Belarus offers to hear a report on the state of affairs in the field of the single energy policy at the next meeting, Alexander Lukashenko said.

CIS, EurAsEC, SCO, CES and others: genesis of post-Soviet integration processes

From: Reginum

A session of EurAsEC Interstate Council presided by Byelorussian President Alexander Lukashenko convened in Minsk on June 23. The agenda has been announced beforehand: the heads of states discussed Uzbekistan’s access to the organization, creation of the Customs union, and the concept of EurAsEC’s international policy were discussed.
EurAsEC is an international economic organization whose functions are to form common external custom borders of its founding countries (Byelorussia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan), developing a common foreign economic policy, tariffs, prices, and other constituents of common market functioning. A treaty on EurAsEC foundation was signed on October 10, 2000 in Kazakhstani capital Astana by presidents of Byelorussia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan. In May 2002, a EurAsEC observer status was granted to Moldavian and Ukrainian leaderships on their request, later Armenia also received the status.
EurAsEC is an open organization. It could be accessed by any state that will not only take on responsibilities defined in the Convention on the foundation of the Community and other conventions effective in the framework of the Community, but will also take efforts to meet these obligations. EurAsEC observer status is granted to a state or an international (intergovernmental) organization on their request.
EurAsEC is a successor of the CIS Customs union that is fully consistent with the UNO principles and international legal norms. It is designed to effectively promote the process of creating by the CIS Customs union member countries of a Common Economic Space (CES) and coordinating their approaches to the integration into international economic and trade system.
Among the top near-term EurAsEC priorities are:
1) transport: solving the problem of common tariffs, increasing commodity traffic, simplifying customs rules, completing internal official procedures on the signed conventions, and creating transnational forwarding corporations;
2) power industry: joint exploration of hydro-energy complexes in Central Asia, solving the problem of energy and water supplies, and creating a common energy budget;
3) workforce migration: assuring migrants’ social protection, creating an effective system of regulation and control of workforce migration, combating migration-related crime, solving problems due to migrants’ and their employers’ taxpaying;
4) agro-industrial complex: coordinating agricultural policies of EurAsEC member countries, creating a common grocery market of Community member countries, reducing transporting expenses, and establishing new market institutions in the field.
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    Russia Says Belarus War Games Not Directed at Any Particular Nation

    From: Mosnews

    Ongoing military exercises between Russian and Belarusian forces — the largest exercises ever for the two ex-Soviet republics — are not directed toward any nation, alliance or enemy in particular, Russia’s defense minister said Thursday.
    Sergei Ivanov spoke as defense ministers from the six-nation Collective Security Treaty Organization gathered in the Belarusian capital, Minsk, on the sixth day of the military drills that feature about 7,000 Belarusian and 1,800 Russian troops, The Associated Press reported.
    “This Russian-Belarusian exercise does not have an aggressive nature and is not directed toward anyone,” Ivanov told a news conference. Ivanov also said Russia and Kazakhstan would stage another military exercise later this year.
    The exercises envisage a joint response to an unnamed, outside military threat. Russian MiG-29 fighter jets practiced intercepting enemy planes over western Belarus over the weekend as part of the drills.
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    Belarus resolved to build up armed forces - President Lukashenko

    From: Mos News
    Belarus is determined to strengthen its armed forces at any cost, President Alexander Lukashenko said Saturday, summing up the results of a large-scale military exercise with Russia.
    Belarus is hosting the Union Shield-2006 exercise with Russia on June 17-25, attended by the leaders of a regional security bloc's member states.
    "Those who do not feed their own soldiers will have to feed other countries' soldiers," he said, adding that the armed forces' mission was to secure peace for the country's citizens.
    "We are not setting the pace here. Iraq is still in flames, and there is trouble in Iran. Military bases are springing up here, on the western border, like mushrooms after a rain," he said.
    He also said his country's participation in an integrated air defense system with Russia helped strengthen the country's sovereignty.
    The command and staff exercise involves a total of 8,800 servicemen, of which about 7,000 represent Belarus.
    Russia's 1,800-strong force includes units of the 20th Army of the Moscow Military District, alongside air force and air defense units. Russia deployed strategic bombers, Su-24M Fencer tactical bombers, Su-27SM Flanker fighters, two new Mi-28N Night Hunter attack helicopters and a modernized A-50 Mainstay AWACS plane.
    The exercise also involves 40 tanks, 180 armored infantry carriers, 140 anti-tank guided missiles, and 30 multiple launch rocket systems.

    Belarus president sees no need to deploy Russian nuclear weapons: report

    From: People's Daily

    There is no need for deploying Russian tactical nuclear weapons on the territory of Belarus even if a real threat emerges for the Russia-Belarus Union State, Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko said on Saturday.
    "I think there is no need for deploying Russian tactical nuclear weapons in the first-strike area," Lukashenko was quoted by the Itar-Tass news agency as saying at the Obuz-Lesnovsky training ground in the Brest Region of western Belarus, where a joint Russian-Belarussian military exercise, code-named Shield of the Union-2006, is being held.
    "Russia has enough weapons of that kind, and I think it will not be necessary to bring them to Belarus," he said.
    Lukashenko stressed that the political leaders of the two countries "should do their best and use all the resources for ensuring the security of the Union State."
    However, a joint air defense system with Russia will only strengthen Belarus' sovereignty and independence, he added.
    "CIS countries are completing the creation of a joint air defense system today, but Belarus and Russia already have it," Lukashenko said. "in wartime everything must be controlled from a single center. This is why there is no reason to speak about the loss of sovereignty."
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    Menkova throws women’s Hammer 76.86m in Minsk


    Minsk, Belarus - The annual ‘Romuald Klim’ meeting took place on Friday (23) at the "Stajki" sports centre which is situated near Minsk.
    The recent winner of the first league of the European Cup in Prague (18 June), Oksana Menkova, 24, established a Belarussian national record of 76.86m in the women’s Hammer Throw, making her the third furthest thrower in history behind Gulfiya Khanafeyeva amd Tatyana Lysenko. NB. the World record* throw of Tatyana Lysenko in Zhukovskiy, Russia the following day, relegated Menkova from second to third place on the current season’s world list.
    Menkova, had produced a foul of approximately 76m in Prague, so Friday's result was not a total surprise, though her development from a 70.23m (2004) personal best at the start of the season to nearly 77m is of course quite remarkable. Her previous personal best this season had come at the Belarusian University Championships on 26 May, which Menkova won with 74.69m.
    “Before the season’s start,” said Menkova, “I trained much, and did much more than my usual practice, working on my technique. I was throwing the hammer on a 6cm shorter cable. The shell flew to 72m, and with a standard length of a cable it would have been further than the World record.”
    On Friday, Menkova threw the 76.86m on her first attempt, some 20cm better then Olga Tsander’s national record from last year. Only one of her other throws was measured – 74.53m – the others being fouls.
    “I have been excused competing at national championships, as it’s difficult to have good form for a long time…I will now increase my training, and in the European Championship in Gothenburg I shall go for a World record!”
    A slightly discouraged Volha Tsander was second with a result 73.58m. Junior World champion Maryna Smalyachkova took third place – 70.60m.
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    PACE chairman comes against isolation of Belarus

    From: Itar Tass

    PACE chairman Rene van der Linden came against the policy of isolation of Belarus.
    “The Council of Europe is not indifferent to the future of Belarus. I personally come against isolation of Belarus in which we may make sure. Despite the EU sanctions, we sent an invitation to the Belarussian parliament speaker and the opposition leader to take part in the last session of the PACE. But they did not arrive in Strasbourg for different reasons,” van der Linden said on Monday.
    Replying to Itar-Tass, the PACE chairman said he supported an idea of cooperation between the Assembly and the Belarussian parliament. “The need to improve the dialogue and mutual understanding between the PACE and democratic forces of Belarus is obvious and we should search for ways to achieve this goal,” he said. “To this end, I intend to make a trip to Belarus in September this year.”
    State Duma Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Konstantin Kosachev, who is also head of the Russian delegation at the PACE, told Itar-Tass, “We rivet much attention to contacts between the Council of Europe and Belarus, a single non-member state of the Council of Europe. The Assembly’ s criticism of the CE policy to Belarus (isolation of the country) grows. Such step does not facilitate the solution to the existing problems in Belarus. We hope that our discussions at the session will help convince our colleagues to change their policy to Belarus – to step up contacts between the PACE leadership and the Belarussian parliament, and, for example, to open a Council of Europe information centre in Minsk with the consent of Belarussian authorities.”

    Belarus orders freeze of any assets of Bush and Rice

    From: Moss News

    It was unclear whether Bush or Rice held any such assets in Belarus, and U.S. Embassy officials were not immediately available for comment.
    The move came in response to Washington's decision last week to impose sanctions against Belarus' authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko and other senior officials that involve freezing all of his assets held in the U.S. and forbidding Americans from doing business with him, according to the AP.
    Belarus is ready to freeze the accounts of U.S. President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Such is the Minsk response to an earlier decision of the U.S. to freeze the American accounts of President Alexander Lukashenko.
    “We’ll apply appropriately symmetrical measures to George W. Bush and Condoleezza Rice. We’ll freeze their accounts and seize their assets,” Belarussian Security Council Secretary Viktor Sheiman was quoted by Interfax as saying in an interview with the National State Television and Radio Company.
    “It’s clear to everyone that neither Lukashenko, nor I have or can have any bank accounts in the U.S. The U.S. administration has been looking for these accounts for ten years now. And the Belarusian president said ten years ago that he would give this money to anyone who finds it — if he ever does,” Sheiman said.
    Sheiman described the U.S. stance as “diehard and ugly.”
    The White House’s position, said Sheiman, is rooted in Belarus’s determination to build a union state with Russia, its funding of a powerful military-political structure in the framework of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, and the Belarusian president’s independent policy.
    All of Lukashenko’s assets in the United States have been frozen and Americans are now forbidden from doing business with him. The sanctions, which are part of a response coordinated with the EU, also apply to nine other Belarus officials.
    (Note: Have a look at the original article just for the photo...)

    Belarus wants Customs Union and WTO entrance separate

    From: NLIPRB

    Belarus suggested keeping the formation of the Customs Union and accession to the World Trade Organisation apart, Belarus vice premier Andrei Kobyakov told the press while summing up results of the EurAsEC Interstate Council sitting, which took place in Minsk on June 23.
    For Belarus creating the Customs Union is a priority, he stressed. "It doesn't decrease the rate of progress towards EurAsEC member-states' accession to the World Trade Organisation. Every country should join the WTO using principles each country deems necessary and has agreed with partners in the future Customs Union".
    According to the Belarusian side, after the WTO accession the creation of the Customs Union can be prolonged for an indefinite period of time due to EurAsEC's economic competitors not willing to face a strong integration bloc.
    Presidents of the EurAsEC member-states confirmed the point of view at the Interstate Council sitting in Minsk on June 23. They also ordered to create the legislation base of the Customs Union by late 2006.
    According to Andrei Kobyakov, "It does not mean the Customs Union will appear by the end of 2006, only the legislation base may". After that a certain period of time will be necessary to adopt the signed agreements with national laws. The agreements will make the core of the Customs Union legislation base. This period can be quite lengthy, stressed Andrei Kobyakov. However, it should be done "to set up the Customs Union in principle," he noted.

    Russia to quadruple natural-gas price for Belarus in 2007

    From: Ria Novosti

    Russia plans to export natural gas to Belarus in 2007 at about four times the current price, a deputy industry and energy minister said Monday.
    Andrei Dementyev said in a letter to the lower chamber of parliament that the price would be around $180-200 per 1,000 cubic meters in comparison with current $46.68.
    The deputy minister said the price would be calculated under the same formula as the price for natural gas deliveries to Ukraine, including a zero rate customs duties for Belarus.

    ABN Amro to Evaluate Belarus’ Assets for Gazprom

    From: Kommersant
    After four years of abortive attempts, Belarus and Gazprom have picked out an appraiser for the assets of Belarus that could be of interest to Gazprom. It is ABN Amro, one of the biggest creditors of Gazprom. If the appraisal satisfies both parties, Belarus may hope to put off for a few years the increase in gas prices from $47 to $200. Otherwise, a gas war between Russia and Belarus is bound to escalate.
    On Friday, Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller met Belarus’ Deputy PM Vladimir Semashko and Beltransgaz GD Dmitry Kazakov. Gazprom forwarded the draft contract far back in late April with the base price of $200 per ths cu meters (vs. $46.68 in 2005) for 2007. But the meetings have been rather formal until recently. “The prices will be market all the same, but we are ready to offset part of the gas cost by acquiring assets at the market prices,” said Alexander Ryazanov, deputy chairman at Gazprom management committee.
    The talks gained momentum June 23, when Minsk shifted to commercial negotiations with Gazprom. Miller and Semashko agreed to make out “a list of enterprises of Belarus that are of interest to Gazprom in view of the increase in gas prices.”
    A working group will agree on the list of assets in August, Gazprom briefer Sergey Kupriyanov specified. Gazprom will attempt to get control over the assets worth $10 billion, according to the experts.
    “We are interested in the gas mains of Beltransgaz, Beltopgaz distribution networks, Mozyrsky refinery, where we have 42 percent via Slavneft. We are offered chemical projects and stakes in the underground storage facilities of gas,” Ryazanov said a few days ago.
    Another breakthrough at the talks of Gazprom and Belarus was the choice of an independent appraiser for the assets eyed by the gas monopoly of Russia. It is Gazprom’s big creditor ABN Amro. In 2005, for instance, ABN Amro lended $1.1 billion to Gazprom to refund the loans of 2003 to 2004. In 2004, it was eager to evaluate Rosneft in time of its frustrated merger into Gazprom.

    International student died from stab wound, detectives say


    WELLS, Maine --An international student found outside a boarding house last week died from a single stab wound, but the death is not necessarily being treated as suspicious, officials said Monday.
    The victim, Aliaksei Vasileuski, 20, of Shchuchin, Belarus, was identified through fingerprints, said Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety. His name was released Monday after relatives were notified.
    Vasileuski, a student at the National Technical University in Minsk, Belarus, was working for a food vendor at a Maine Turnpike plaza in Kennebunk, McCausland said.
    Vasileuski's body was found on June 20, two days after his arrival in Maine, outside a boarding house on U.S. 1 that caters to guest workers from outside the United States, police said. A knife was found at the scene.
    State police investigators have a theory of what took place but have not put Vasileuski's death into any specific category, McCausland said. The death continues to be investigated by state police detectives, the spokesman said.

    Ukraine take out Italy in shoot out

    From: FIFI world cup page

    Ukraine captain Andriy Shevchenko said a "great team spirit" had taken the Eastern Europeans to the quarter-finals of the FIFA World Cup™.
    Speaking after Monday night's penalty shoot-out victory over Switzerland in the Round of 16, Shevchenko said: "We have a good squad with great team spirit. We played with a lot of heart and that made up for anything else we were missing. (Coach Oleg) Blokhin was so emotional in the dressing room afterwards he was virtually speechless."
    After a goalless draw, Shevchenko missed the first penalty in the shoot-out but saw team-mate Olekandr Shovkovskyi save two Swiss spot-kicks as Ukraine ran out 3-0 winners. Their reward is a quarter-final date with Italy - a team 'Sheva' knows only too well from his time at AC Milan - in Hamburg on Friday.
    Reflecting on the dramatic climax in Cologne, the Chelsea striker said: "I was sure our goalkeeper was going to save the penalties - he’s a bit of a specialist. I’ve taken lots of penalties in my career, I’ve scored a few and also missed a few, but tonight I hit the ball badly.
    "I’m going to be very busy over the next few days with all the questions I’m going to get from friends and journalists in Italy," he continued. "I’ve spent seven wonderful years there and I owe the country a lot, but now I have to play against them in the most important football match in the history of Ukraine."
    Ukraine's fortunes have improved dramatically since their 4-0 defeat by Spain in their opening game and Shevchenko added: "It’s a good job the match with Spain was our opening one. Unfortunately we were hesitant that afternoon because it was our debut. We then began to believe in ourselves and slowly but surely things have improved.
    "Italy are favourites but the important thing for us is to play with enough heart to make up for any technical shortcomings. The Italy squad is packed with talented players, many of whom are my former team-mates who I’ll now have to play against.
    "We must recover our strength after tonight’s exertions, and then make sure we go onto the pitch (against Italy) as a solid unit with the will to win. We’re playing for a place in the last four at the World Cup!"

    Belarus Says No Plans To Join Eurasian Economic Community Bank

    From: Interfax

    Belarus does not yet see any possibility for it to take part in the Eurasian Economic Community bank being set up by Russia and Kazakhstan, but it is prepared to give the bank preference as regards crediting, Belarussian Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Kobyakov told journalists in Minsk on Saturday.
    "In our country today there is a shortage of resources in the banking system. In these conditions it is early to contribute money to other banks outside the state,' Kobyakov said. He said that "the Belarussian banking system is not managing to keep up with economic development."
    "In the future we do not rule out the possibility of taking part and if we speak of using the bank's credit resources, then we are already ready to give it preference, all other things being equal," Kobyakov said.
    Kazakhstan and Russia signed an agreement setting up the Eurasian bank in January 2006.
    The founding documents state that the charter capital of the bank amounts to $1.5 billion and Russia accounts for $1 billion or two thirds of votes and Kazakhstan - $500 million, or one third.
    The bank is being set up to help the stable development of the economies in the EEC, maintain high rates of economic growth, expand trade and develop other forms of economic links and to encourage direct investment.
    The Eurasian Economic Community includes Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

    5 foreign labourers killed, 11 hurt in Siberian dormitory fire


    A fire early Sunday gutted a dormitory housing foreign laborers in Siberia, killing five and injuring 11, the Emergency Situations Ministry said.
    The blaze hit the one-story wooden building in the town of Beloyarsky in the Khanty-Mansiisk region, about 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) east of Moscow. The dormitory was home to about 80 laborers from the former Soviet republics of Ukraine and Belarus, said ministry spokesman Viktor Beltsov.
    Russian television channels showed the blackened remains of the building, a tangle of charred timber and personal belongings. Ukraine's Foreign Ministry said four of the dead were Ukrainians, and another four Ukrainians were injured in the fire. No Belarusian Government spokesmen could be reached.
    There was no information on possible causes of the fire, but Russia's high rate of fire-related deaths _ 18,000 a year, roughly 10 times the rate in the United States and 12.5 times higher than in Britain _ is blamed on lax enforcement of regulations and shoddy construction.

    Vladimir Putin Preferred Islam Karimov to Aleksandr Lukashenka

    From: Kommersant

    Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived to Minsk yesterday and attended EurAsEC and CSTO sessions. Putin seemed to have been completely disappointed in Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenka. It looked like Putin turned to Uzbek President Islam Karimov. Russian officials began considering the possibility that CSTO joint forces will take part in settling the situation in Afghanistan.
    Both EurAsEC and CSTO sessions were held in the building of National Library of Belarus Republic. Belarus President Lukashenka wanted to win the support of other EurAsEC members for Belarus’s entry to WTO.
    Kyrgyzstan President Kurmanbek Bakiev discussed buying agricultural machines from Belarus and Russia. He also said there are 60 uranium waste storage sites, at least 20 of which need urgent reconstruction.
    Tajikistan President Emomali Rakhmonov accused Uzbek leader Islam Karimov of not facilitating the visa regime for citizens of EurAsEC member states.
    Vladimir Putin did not support one of the documents discussed during the session, the “Concept of EurAsEC International Activity”. In fact, Putin want to spoil relations with Lukashenka, being annoyed by their short discussion of natural gas issue. Lukashenka objects to raising the prices on natural gas which Russia supplies to Belarus.
    Same members attended the CSTO session. Putin’s suggestion to now consider Uzbekistan a full-righted member of the CSTO was unanimously supported. Putin also said Russia is ready for advanced repayment of USSR debts to Paris Club, thus reminding other ex-Soviet states of the debt acquired together, but paid off by Russia only.
    Uzbekistan’s return to the CSTO makes it possible to conduct a joint CSTO military operation in Afghanistan. This is the main ambition of the organization now, but not Lukashenka’s wish to protect CSTO’s western frontier.