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press review chinese envoy sees consensus on ukraine talks and israel plans post war gaza
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Press review: Chinese envoy sees consensus on Ukraine talks and Israel plans post-war Gaza

Armenia is trying to kill two birds with one stone by moving its armed forces to the border with Azerbaijan, Niyazi Niyazov, doctor of historical sciences and Azerbaijani expert on the military security of the South Caucasus countries, told the newspaper. On the one hand, the Armenian authorities are trying to convince the public of the need to return the Azerbaijani settlements by playing on fears of a resumption of hostilities with Baku. On the other hand, Yerevan is trying to gain military and financial support from Western countries by capitalizing on the threat of a new war, the expert added. Tensions on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border occur from time to time when Yerevan tries to sabotage any agreements with Baku, according to Stanislav Pritchin, senior researcher at the Center for Post-Soviet Studies at Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO RAS). Although the Armenian authorities’ have shown rhetorically they are ready to conclude a peace treaty with Azerbaijan, in reality the parties have not even come close to this prospect, he added. “The occupied villages on both sides [of the border] are the stumbling block in the issue of border demarcation. Although the parties have held several meetings to resolve this issue, these negotiations have taken place without any specific results. The demarcation process has not even started, and there are no guarantees that it will begin in the near future,” the expert told Vedomosti. Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Romania, Bulgaria partially join EU’s visa-free Schengen zone On March 31, a historic event took place for Bulgaria and Romania as both countries officially joined the Schengen visa-free travel agreement. The citizens of both Balkan countries, 17 years after joining the European Union, are expected to have all the rights of EU members in the future; for now border controls have been removed only at entry and exit points for air and water travel. Removing them at Romania and Bulgaria’s land borders with other EU countries, however, will require a decision of the European Council, the timing of which is not yet clear. As for Russian travelers, it will most likely now be more difficult for them to enter Romania and Bulgaria than before, according to Nezavisimaya Gazeta. Comments in the Romanian and Bulgarian press are not enthusiastic, however, noting that only the most difficult obstacle has been overcome, namely opposition from Austria, as Vienna has been the most consistent opponent of full Schengen membership for Bucharest and Sofia, and for a long time blocked the entry of Romania and Bulgaria into the Schengen zone, fearing that this would lead to a massive influx of illegal immigrants. The measures taken by Bucharest and Sofia to combat illegal immigration were considered insufficient in Vienna. “Austria and the Netherlands, and a little earlier Finland, were against the inclusion of Bulgaria and Romania in the Schengen zone, mainly because of problems with corruption in the two countries. Therefore, Romanians and Bulgarians have to go through a number of transitional stages before joining Schengen,” Lyudmila Babynina, head of the Center for Political Integration of the Institute of Europe of the Russian Academy of Sciences, told the newspaper. Until last year, the only thing Bulgaria and Romania were able to achieve was a visa-free regime with the EU in 2014 and the removal of all restrictions on their citizens’ employment in the European Union. In theory, citizens of third countries outside the EU should also benefit, but probably not Russians. In order to enter Bulgaria and Romania, a Schengen visa is currently needed, which is subject to stricter requirements. In addition, Russian citizens will no longer be able to enter these two EU countries with a Cypriot visa, as was previously the case. Izvestia: Cross-border trade forex flows to impact second quarter ruble exchange rate The ruble exchange rate has been quite stable since the beginning of the year, and at the end of the quarter fluctuations in it were close to zero. In recent weeks, however, the Russian currency has weakened noticeably against foreign currencies, especially against the dollar; since March 7, the dollar has added more than 2%, which happened despite the current tax period, as tax receipts serve to normally support the national currency. Foreign exchange flows from foreign trade activity will be the decisive factor in the future of the ruble rate, experts told Izvestia. “We expect that the ruble will continue to trade near current levels in the coming quarter at 92-93 per dollar. In April the government is likely to announce a decision to extend the standards for mandatory sales of exporters’ foreign exchange earnings, and the Central Bank will continue to conduct large sales of foreign currency at least until the end of this half year. In addition, the government recently revised the maximum allowable discount on the Urals oil for tax purposes, which means that oil and gas budget revenues will decrease, as well as currency purchases by the Ministry of Finance,” BCS Forex analyst Anatoly Trifonov told the newspaper. According to Mikhail Altynov, investment director at Peter Trust Investment Company, “inflation will not decrease as expected. In addition, we can note a decline in export revenues due to sanctions and a possible decrease in oil production – all of which are negative for the ruble.” “The rate in mid-2024 is quite capable of approaching or exceeding 100 rubles per dollar,” he said. “The future of the ruble until the end of the first half of 2024 will be determined by currency flows from foreign economic activity. We believe that by the end of June the ruble will reach 93-97 rubles per dollar, 100-102 rubles per euro, and 13.3-13.6 rubles per yuan,” Digital Broker lead analyst Daniil Bolotskikh told the newspaper. “Our forecast for the dollar exchange rate until the end of the second quarter is in the range of 91-95 rubles. However, in the second half of 2024, the Russian currency will likely begin to weaken again and end the year at about 98-102 rubles to the dollar against the backdrop of rising government spending and continued sanctions pressure on Russia,” Alexander Potavin, analyst at Finam Financial Group, told Izvestia. TASS is not responsible for the material quoted in these press reviews

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