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The June summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) highlighted China's swelling economic presence in Central Asia. Chinese premier Hu Jintao unveiled an ambitious agenda for the region, with $10b in loans to be infused into the corresponding projects. At the moment, the Chinese investments in Central Asian republics estimatedly total $20b, and Beijing evidently aims at the role of the main economic partner of the entire Central Asia, especially in the spheres of energy and transit.

China is open about being keenly interested in Central Asian energy sector and transit projects. At the summit, Hu Jintao called the Central Asian partners to move on to the formation of an integrated network of railroad and expressway transit, telecommunications, and energy supply and pledged China's assistance in the training of 1,500 specialists from SCO countries over the next three years, along with financial support for 30,000 students and professors plus perks like scholarships for 10,000 visitors from the Confucius Institutes scattered across the SCO countries over the next five. The above list shows that the Chinese soft power is meant to reinforce Beijing's already impressive economic influence in Central Asia.

Over the last year or a year and a half, the events unfolding in North Africa and the Middle East have come to the forefront of the global political agenda. They are frequently referred to as the most remarkable episode in the international life of the new 21st century. Experts have long spoken about the fragility of authoritarian regimes in Arab countries and possible social and political shocks.

However, it was difficult to predict the scale and pace with which the wave of change would sweep over the region. Alongside the manifestations of crisis in the world economy, these events have clearly proved that the process leading to the emergence of a new international

Russian president V. Putin confirmed at the Russia-EU recent summit that the construction of the South Stream gas pipeline would begin by the end of 2013 and projected that it would take 1.5-2 years to bring the planned infrastructures online [1]. He mentioned that the project was seriously re-energized last year when Turkey OK'd the offshore section of the pipeline across its part of the Black Sea [2]. Currently, the South Stream target capacity is set at 63 bcm annually and the cost – estimated at Euro 15.5b.

Dear Yuri Konstantinovich,

Dear colleagues and friends,

Your Excellency Messrs Ambassadors and diplomatic representatives,

A while ago, as you have seen, the ceremony of signing of Co-operation Agreement between the Union of Oil and Gas Producers of Russia and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia has taken place.

Today there has been an inaugural session of the Government of the Russian Federation of new composition, in which S. V. Lavrov retained his post as the Minister of Foreign Affairs. He has always paid and continues to pay close attention to the issues of economic diplomacy and its most important line, i.e. energy diplomacy and policy.

Over the past years, this line has really become one of the most promising and important lines of the foreign policy and foreign economic activity. The volume of international energy exchanges is increasing; their sphere is extending, the efforts of multilateral organizations in this sector are being intensified.

Part II

The triumph of T. Nikolic in the runoff in Serbia left in a state of shock those who were convinced that the electoral intrigue in the country had evaporated during the first round. The defeat of B. Tadic, who originally polled 16% ahead of his rival according to the vast majority of public opinion surveys but eventually lost by a 2% margin, deserves a place in history as a vivid illustration of the risky character of electoral estimates as such.