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Press review: BRICS banks on multipolar world and Bundestag breaks Nord Stream 2 deadlock

Top stories in the Russian press on Thursday, November 14

Nezavisimaya Gazeta: BRICS leaders seek to create multipolar world

The 11th summit of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) has kicked off in Brasilia. The leaders of five major emerging national economies will focus on a broad range of issues — from economics and finance to cultural and humanitarian cooperation. Ahead of the summit, Russia signaled that BRICS should also deal with political issues.

Head of the Center for Iberian Studies at the Institute of Latin American Studies Pyotr Yakovlev told Nezavisimaya Gazeta that the door for new membership to the New Development Bank, launched by BRICS in 2016, could be opened in the near future. "This step would fit the logic of BRICS endeavors. The New Development Bank was created not only as a bank for just these five countries," he said, noting that many experts view the NBD as a tool for financing developing states and even an alternative to the International Monetary Fund or the World Bank. This banking establishment may invest funds into projects related to infrastructure, which did not interest global financial institutions for some reasons, he noted.

According to Yakovlev, Chile and Colombia are likely candidates for NBD membership. These countries have been developing rather rapidly and they also face some problems with financing projects. Meanwhile, the expert does not consider that cooperation with the NBD will necessarily result in a wider BRICS.

"There is already a small line of countries, which have been at least expressing their intentions of joining this organization (if not really planning to do so). Among them, Argentina is number one in South America and it has strategic partnership relations with all BRICS countries. Another case is if BRICS seeks expansion," the expert said. At its previous summit in July 2018 in Johannesburg, The five-nation bloc was cautious about the idea of bringing on new members, he noted.


Kommersant: German lawmakers pass bill breaking North Stream 2 deadlock

Germany’s parliament, the Bundestag, has passed a bill that will allow Russian energy giant Gazprom to bypass the EU Gas Directive and use the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline at its full capacity. The bill eliminates the timeframe included in the directive that permitted an exemption only for those projects completed by May 23, 2019. Now, this timeframe has been extended for a year and Nord Stream 2 will be apparently exempt from this rule, Kommersant business daily writes.

The Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which received permission from Denmark in late October to lay the last stretch of the route on the Baltic Sea’s bottom, is likely to be commissioned in early 2020. The project is expected to be granted this exemption.

The key issue now is whether the European Commission will back this decision by the German parliament, the paper says. According to Ilya Rachkov, partner at Nektorov, Saveliev & Partners, each EU state independently decides on whether to comply with the EU rules in their legislation. So, we cannot say for sure that this bill by the Bundestag violates the EU Gas Directive, he explained. "Certainly, there is the risk that the European Commission will see violations here and lodge a lawsuit against Germany in an EU court demanding its national legislation comply with the directive," Rachkov noted. However, in any case this step would take some time.

In general, according to the expert, it’s highly unlikely that the European Commission will bring this case to court, given Germany’s status and weight within the EU. The expert also emphasized that only the European Commission could file this lawsuit, while EU members opposing the pipeline, such as Poland, have no such right.

Attorney Maxim Chernavin notes that if a lawsuit is filed, its consideration could take anywhere from 12 to 18 months. The European Commission could ask the EU court to take provisional measures or limit the use of 50% of the Nord Stream 2 capacity, but in this case it would have to demonstrate a negative effect from the gas pipeline’s operation at full capacity, he pointed out.


Media: Erdogan’s US visit will determine fate of Turkey’s alliance with West

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived in Washington on Wednesday to hold talks with his US counterpart Donald Trump, which many experts have described as crucial for an alliance between Ankara and the West. Although the presidents said that they had good personal relations, over the past years the two countries have got entangled in serious contradictions, namely the fate of the Syrian Kurds, kicking out Turkey from the F-35 fighter jet program and Ankara’s purchase of Russia’s S-400 missile systems.

All these tensions have largely emerged due to Erdogan’s attempts to pursue an independent foreign policy and Washington’s reluctance to acknowledge this right. Erdogan’s visit to the US will be a litmus test for the Turkish leader’s independent line, Rossiyskaya Gazeta says. Erdogan is not ready to fully sever relations with the West and this was evidenced by the hints that he had conveyed before the talks. For example, the Turkish leader expressed his willingness to consider an offer on the US Patriot air defense system, which he decided not to buy and opted for Russia’s S-400s instead.

Turkish political scientist Kerim Has told Nezavisimaya Gazeta that Ankara could really discuss the option of not activating the S-400s. "Erdogan could promise not to activate Russia’s systems, but even if there is a great wish he won’t be able to return them," the political commentator explained. The Turkish leader could also discuss purchasing the Patriot missile system, and this will play into Washington’s hands. "But we can only guess how the situation will develop. The US undoubtedly has some bargaining chips and if they are put on the table, the Turkish political elite will come under some serious pressure," he noted.

Syria is also a hot topic and not many options are left since the opportunities that Washington gave to Ankara for carrying out new military operations have been exhausted, while Russia’s presence along the eastern bank of the Euphrates has been growing, the expert stressed.


Izvestia: ‘Russia’ report unlikely to affect UK’s parliamentary polls

Ahead of an early parliamentary election in the United Kingdom scheduled for December 12, local media have launched into the usual diatribe of Russia’s alleged meddling in British politics. These media reports come after UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson refused to publish a 50-page report drawn up by the intelligence and security committee (ISC) in mid-October. Instead, Johnson announced plans to make it public after the polls. The document in particular reveals Russia’s alleged activity ranging from espionage to subversion. Meanwhile, members of the British parliament, who read this report, have already stated that there was no solid evidence of Russia’s ‘meddling,’ Izvestia writes.

Another rumor that is buzzing throughout the British media is Russia’s alleged financial assistance. On November 5, OpenDemocracy reported that over the past year the ruling Conservative Party has allegedly received financial injections from Moscow to the tune of nearly 500,000 pounds. Later, The Sunday Times revealed the names of nine alleged sponsors of the Conservative Party from Russia, referring to the report.

Replying to the newspaper on the latest scandal, Russia’s Embassy to London expressed hope that this alleged ‘meddling from Moscow’ won’t dominate the election campaign. "The British public deserves a decent discussion on key issues for the country rather than an endless search for foreign interference," it stated.

British politicians and experts interviewed by Izvestia share opinion that this scandal is unlikely to affect the December vote. David Lane, Emeritus Fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge University, and a member of the Valdai International Discussion Club, told the paper that there is suspicion that the cabinet is not going to publish the report before the election because it contains data that could discredit the conservative government. However, if the funds were really invested, many other factors influence the elections and the issues of private financing here would have a minimum effect.


Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Evo Morales’ big blunders triggered Bolivian coup

Dramatic events unfolding in Bolivia have sparked discussions on their likely causes and a possible aftermath. Political gurus and politicians point to signs of a coup orchestrated by the West or to a total failure of Evo Morales’ policy. Russian experts regret that Moscow has lost its best ally in South America, which voted in favor of all Russian resolutions at the United Nations.

In his article for Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Yuri Sigov, a journalist and expert in international affairs, writes that Morales is a unique politician for both South America and the rest of the world, who enjoyed the support of the overwhelming majority of Bolivia’s citizens. However, over the past years, many changes have occurred in the country, and Morales, who again ran for president, failed to take them into account.

Speaking on Morales’ key mistakes, the expert noted that first, Morales failed to take into account the rather strong positions of his rivals, namely in big cities, where ‘white Bolivians’ still consider him to be a rural leader and a random person, who won presidency only thanks to populism and the support of people living in the villages, whom he "duped."

His second mistake was to flirt with the so-called international observers, especially from the Organization of American States, who started recording alleged violations at polling stations. The OAS report on the election outcome cannot be recognized as valid since it was direct meddling in the country’s domestic affairs, the expert notes. However, Morales agreed with it and even allowed a recount by the OAS, and this was a path towards legalizing a real coup.

Finally, Morales bears full personal responsibility for what happened during the polls in the country, according to the expert. All that mayhem, mass demonstrations and arsons were the result of the president’s weakness as he failed to ensure constitutional order in the country, he stressed.

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