The former USSR area plays a great role in the international oil and gas market. Russia is a real gas giant, with the richest deposits of this material in the world. Russia is also the main exporter of natural gas to many European countries. Keeping a strong position in this market remains a priority for the Russian Federation's economic policy
The EU enlargement is scheduled to take place in 2004. After this date, it should be a priority for the EU to develop a coherent and comprehensive policy towards its nearest neighbours, i.e. countries bordering the Member States, which cannot join the EU in the nearest future due to their location or weaknesses of their political and economic systems
The purpose of this analysis is to examine the significance of the Chechen issue for contemporary Russia. Part I discusses the history of the conflict from 1991 to date and the impact of developments in the republic on Russia as a whole. Part II is an attempt to indicate the areas of Russian reality that are most deeply affected by the Chechen problem
The most significant achievement of Vladimir Putin's team over the three years of his term of office is the realisation of legislative changes, which may constitute a base for further - more detailed - political and economic reforms. This is, to a certain degree, a return to the economic tasks set out by a team of reformists in the early 1990s, which were impossible to realise at the time due to conflicts between the Kremlin and legislative powers
In June 2003, during a meeting held in Saloniki, the leaders of European Union member states turned to the presidents and heads of the governments of five Western Balkans nations – Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro, Macedonia, and Albania – assuring them that Brussels sees a future for the entire region in Europe and that, without their membership in the EU, the integration of the continent would not be complete.
1. Unresolved conflicts continue to smoulder in Transnistria, Chechnya, Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh and South Ossetia. "Para-states" have formed in most conflict-affected areas. These have grown to become permanent players in the region. In Chechnya, guerrilla fights continue in the wake of the Russian army's siege of the republic. The conflict in Tajikistan ended in 1997 and the normalisation process is currently under way.
The Visegrad Group has fulfilled the tasks it was set when established. It seems unjustified, therefore, to ponder the need for it to function further. However, it is advisable to lay out new tasks, suitable for the group's operation in the new European reality - following EU accession of Visegrad countries in May 2004.
Of the re-integration processes currently taking place in the former Soviet Union, the formation of a Russian-Belarusian so-called 'Union State' is one of the most advanced. A customs union was formally announced between the two countries as early as 1995 and the process of constructing the Union State itself was launched in December 1999. However, both events were largely driven by the perceived need to match societal demands, without much concrete action and the Union State remained largely 'virtual'.
The dominant force in Ukraine's Verkhovna Rada, elected in March 2002, are the deputies of "One Ukraine", a fraction of the pro-presidential centre. "One Ukraine" has refused to admit any of the opposition's representatives (either from the right or left wings) into the parliament's presidium, but has accepted opposition-appointed heads of many parliamentary commissions
As expected, parliamentary elections were a major success for the centrist-rightist coalition focused around former Prime Minister Viktor Yuschenko. The communists emerged significantly weaker from the vote, and the "party of power" achieved a poor result.