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The two-day international «EU-Russia Energy Dialogue» conference which took place May 29-30, the eighth such conference so far, was once again unable to overcome the stalemate between Moscow and Brussels in the field of energy. The leadership of the European Union still

The latest council meeting of the European Union, which took place recently in Brussels, was marked by an ambitious statement from EU energy commissioner Günther Oettinger.In an interview with the Parisian business newspaper Les Échos, he urged EU member countries not to block programs for development of shale gas fields in Europe. «We need to be open to such projects and allow those countries who wish to do so, such as Great Britain or Poland, to develop pilot projects on the basis of which we can make an assessment for Europe in general», stated Oettinger. [1] 

Besides Great Britain and Poland, other European countries which plan to develop technologies for extraction of shale gas include Romania, Hungary and Spain. On the other hand, in France and Bulgaria this extraction method is officially prohibited. 

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The 49th Munich international security conference had some hidden obstacles. First of all, it took place at the time of utter uncertainty concerning the Syria’s situation. A solution requires close cooperation between the USA and Russia just exactly when the bilateral relations go through hard times. 

There were two major issues defining the agenda. First: is it possible to find a solution to the Syrian conflict aggravating the whole situation in the Middle East? Second: is the reset still in force or its initiator Barack Obama decided to alter priorities after being re-elected for the second term? 

The answers are still hanging the air. No reset speeches were heard this time. In February 2009 Vice President Joe Biden used the term, but this time he said something else. According to Biden, the USA want to get the relations with Russia «back to normal». 

The fund created by the European Union to "support democracy" in third world countries and neighboring countries continues to overgrow with new eloquent details. According to the European Commission, the European Foundation for Democracy (European Endowment for Democracy - EED) is designed to provide cash grants to journalists, bloggers, nonprofit organizations, trade unions, political organizations, including those working in exile. 

The collapse of the Romanian opposition's initiative to unseat president of the country Traian Basescu briefly drew heightened attention to the embattled political leader and, upon scrutiny, highlighted the ongoing erosion of the European unity. The critics of Basescu still credit themselves with the failed referendum as a major political feat, but it is clear that further attempts to displace the president via political procedures stand no chance and would trigger an escalation potentially involving violence.

 

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.

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. 

Back in summer of 2008, amid difficulties with the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty on reforming the EU many officials in the EU government began to speak at their informal meetings about the future of Europe “at different speeds” and “concentric circles” of Europe. These concepts implied that formally integral Europe will disintegrate into groups of states with different level and rate of social-economic development...

As the tide of the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations sweeps across European cities, the impression is growing that the future holds a lot of unexpected for the EU. The protests which are carefully coordinated via social media can't but evoke memories of the recent uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East, especially since the coordinators readily cite parallels between the gatherings in Tahrir Square and Times Square.

Last June, Russia's series of investment forums presented Moscow with an opportunity to unveil plans for a serious correction of its economic policies, and what seems to be at the bottom line is a radical departure from the concept of state capitalism.  It is unclear at the moment how the shift in priorities will help to improve Russia's economic climate, to make the country a magnet for investments, to boost innovations, or to launch the promised modernization, and personally I see no reasons for heightened expectations.