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Quest for Crimea and why Ukraine is so important for the world #євромайдан

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Why the events happening in Ukraine are so important for the global geopolitics? Why internal matters of Ukraine are so important that global media was so much busy in spreading their views and propaganda? Was it all mere a political crisis in Ukraine? Was it only because of integration to EU? Or there were international powers like the west and Russia trying to expand their buffer region. It can also be all of it. What happened in Ukraine could be the biggest clash of ideology in the region after the fall of the Iron Curtain.

Quest for Crimea, Beautiful Kiev Independence square maidan

When Kiev’s independence square was beautiful. CC by flickr/sharkroman

For the west and the U.S it could be their much needed diplomatic victory after their diplomatic loss to Putin in Syria. Putin did his calculations right in understanding that the current government in Ukraine will not survive. He backed off and assured that Russia is ready to cooperate with any government in Ukraine. On the one hand west has entered Russian half brother with its ideology, on the other hand Ukraine can help European economy depend less on Turkey and Middle East to access energy rich areas around Caspian via Black Sea. If it really happens in Ukraine, Russia will be threatened to see more western activities in Black Sea. At the later stage, western powers will have an opportunity to block Russia from entering strategic Mediterranean Sea, that is where Syria is.

Quest for Crimea

Now the question is what will happen to autonomous region of Crimea. Crimea, though essentially is a part of Ukraine, it has the highest population of Russians (60%) in Ukraine. Eastern Ukraine has traditionally been closer to Russia, whereas western Ukraine closer to Europe. While one can say west Ukrainians are anti Russia, but to say eastern Ukrainians as anti Europe may not be true. This was visible in Ukraine as there were only few support rallies for the President, despite he came to power by winning democratic elections. Crimea and Kharkov were the strongest hold of Party of Regions, but even they feel deceived now as they did not expect their elected president to flee. Crimea is geopolitcally interesting as it also holds the second largest naval port in the Black Sea at Sevastapol operated by the Russians. According to the treaty that Ukraine and Russia signed in 1997, Russia can hold the naval base for another 3 years. The treaty which gave this port to Russia for 20 years has not been renewed and the new pro Europe government is about to come. Does it mean the base slipping away from the hands of Russians? Probably, no.

In 2010, then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed Kharkiv Pact with Ukraine whereby the Russian lease on naval facilities at Sevastapol, Crimea was extended beyond 2017 by 25 years (to 2042) with an additional 5 year renewal option (to 2047) in exchange for a multiyear contract to provide Ukraine with up to 30% cheaper Russian natural gas. However, when there was voting going on over this pact in the Ukrainian parliament, almost all the member of opposition were either absent or abstained from voting. Former Prime Minister and probably the most popular choice for the next leader of Ukraine, Yulia Tymoshenko and her party holds the agreement illegal as the agreement violates a part of Ukrainian constitution which forbids Ukraine from hosting foreign military bases after 2017. Russia would not like to lose this base, and it will be very interesting to see how the tables are turned to keep Russia’s interests in the region secured. Putin has already made clear that he is ready to cooperate with any government in Ukraine and that no signed agreements and benefits given to Ukraine will be changed.

Amid the high profile protests at Maidan in Kiev, Russia and Ukraine signed some of the biggest agreements on 17th December 2013, which received very less attention. This further shows how important is Crimea for Russia. The agreement stated that Russia and Ukraine will begin to negotiate on a bilateral agreement in early 2014 on the renewal of weaponry and military equipment of the Russian Black Sea fleet. This allows Russia to send new naval units to Sevastapol and add to the existing fleet, which are expected to enter service by the end of 2020. The agreement also had a clause that will allow Russia to condition financial aid to Ukraine over receiving access to strategic military industrial locations in Ukraine which are all in the south east of the country.  In return Ukraine got $15billion bailout and 33% discount on gas from Russia, a move that is expected to give Ukraine 3% rise in growth in 2014.

Earlier this month, Ukraine and Russia discussed the possibilities of stirring up cooperation in civil and military shipbuilding on the Ukrainian territory as part of meeting of First Deputy Industrial Policy Ministers of Ukraine Mykola Yevdokymenko and Deputy Industry and Trade Minister of Russia Alexei RakhmanovAlso. It was agreed by the both parties that Ukraine will present production facilities of shipyards in Kherson, Mykolaiv, Feodosiya and Sevastopol to Russians. Russia does not have shipbuilding yards in the Black Sea and performs only repairs on the sites in Bulgaria (Black Sea), Kaliningrad (Baltic), St. Petersburg (Baltic) and Severodinsk (north). If this also slips away from the hands of Russians then sustaining a permanent squadron in the Mediterranean composed of five to six ships from the Black Sea fleet would be a difficult task.

To sum it up, it is the victory of people in Ukraine for the protesters, it is the diplomatic victory of west over Russia. It is now up to Ukraine to maintain the agreements or reverse it. Ukraine has other sources of gas too, and before deciding not to sign EU Association Agreement, Ukraine had stepped up its gas imports from Poland. While Russia gave a promising hope of 3% rise in Ukraine’s economic growth in 2014, we need to see will EU be able to help Ukraine step up its economy and help it come out of $10 billion foreign debt to Russia? Or it was just a political game for EU’s self interest. After huge propaganda by media worldwide and a burst of wave in Ukraine, it will take another 1-2 years for people to realize what was good for them and what was not.

Sanskar Shrivastava is the founder of international students' journal, The World Reporter. Passionate about dynamic occurrence in geopolitics, Sanskar has been studying and analyzing geopolitcal events from early life. At present, Sanskar is a student at the Russian Centre of Science and Culture and will be moving to Duke University.

Economy

Seasif’s Franco Favilla discusses the post-Covid economy and the price of gold

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Although the Covid-19 pandemic isn’t over yet, there has been much discussion on the idea of a “post-Covid” economy, especially with the beginning of vaccination efforts in some countries. With markets throughout the world suffering the economic effects of the virus, experts have been looking towards the future –– and one of the topics that often comes up is the price of gold.

In August, the price of gold exceeded US$ 2,000 an ounce for the first time, driven by multiple factors. However, in November, advancements in Covid-19 vaccines led to a decrease in this trend, a result of the turbulent period we are going through.

“Regardless of the market volatility and the price changes that could occur over a given period of time, the fundamental fact is that the price of gold over the course of 2020 has reached an all-time high, and this, in my opinion, is very good news for the world economy,” explains Franco Favilla, founder and CEO of Seasif, a multinational company active in the extraction and trading of gold and oil.

According to Mr. Favilla, the main problem of the pre-Covid economy was the completely arbitrary nature of international finance. At one time, a ton of gold corresponded to a ton of currency, but since the 1980s, and at an impressive rate since 2000, the gap has widened enormously, so much so that today the relationship between the world’s currencies and gold is enormously unbalanced.

Total gold reserves around the world cover only 30% of currencies. This means there is nothing to cover and guarantee the value of money. In short, money has turned into a pure convention, a pure agreement between parties acting outside the market. Gold, on the contrary, guarantees democracy, because it protects savers and the market, offering an objective value for parameterizing every transaction. 

“My hope, therefore, is that the crisis caused by Covid-19 will help to change finance, making it less ‘phantom’ and more linked to an objective dimension, based on gold, with obvious advantages for the real economy. Gold protects consumers, the most important component in any economic system: if you don’t have a market made up of consumers with a certain level of wealth, how can you sell? To whom? Consumer protection must come first, and gold is one of the main ways of protecting them,” states the CEO of Seasif.

Sustainability has also been at the forefront in discussions about the post-Covid world, as countries look towards establishing a more resilient global economy, one able to better withstand such events in the future –– and “green gold” may well be a part of that future. Green gold, in a sense, can be considered the “gold of the future” due to its ethical and sustainable extraction process. Seasif produces green gold, with a department entirely dedicated to green, and has allocated economic incentives to its continued production.

Even as 2020 draws to a close, the future may still look uncertain. But for those searching for greater security, gold may be one of the few certainties left.

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Europe

How much money do you need to live comfortably in Spain?

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There are plenty of reasons why you may be thinking about living in Spain: its population is friendly and kind; its climate, especially in the coastal areas, is enviable; its gastronomy is incredible… but, what about its prices? What is the most affordable way to live in Spain?

Perhaps the most important question if you decided to go: would it be better to buy instead of renting a property in Spain. Or yet living in a Spanish residence?

Spanish cities where to live cheap and well

In the geographical variety that Spain presents, we can find many differences in average salaries and the standard of living that reside there would require. The areas of Galicia, Extremadura, Castilla y León, together with Almería and the south of Alicante usually have a lower price of euros/square meter in their homes. The quality of life is really appreciable, but you should know that there are fewer possibilities for business and transports.

The autonomous community of the Basque Country, Catalonia, and Madrid, which have higher than average incomes (normally more than 24,000 euros per year), also have higher prices. However, Madrid has such a wide range of rents that it sometimes makes them cheaper than other countries. 

In addition, and taking into account the tourist seasons, the areas of Valencia and Andalusia are normally a preference when it comes to living in Spain for a while or even spending your retirement. Although day-to-day life can be more expensive than in other areas of Spain, the mild climate and variety of leisure options are often worth it in the long run. 

Whatever your option is when moving to another country, especially if you don’t know its legal system, can be very tiresome. That’s why our advice is to try to contact local agencies (that speak English) to give you fair and fruitful advice. For example, to move to Andalusia, we usually recommend Tejada solicitors

I have already decided on the place. Now what?

Well, if you have already fully immersed yourself in the streets of a beautiful city that we have talked about, what should be your first step?

Decide what kind of stay you want to be in (since your future economic situation will also depend on this: taxes, permits…). You may have already chosen, for example, property conveyancing in Marbella, but it is recommended that you also think about renting a property, because it can be very profitable while you are in your other place of residence.

To sum up, before moving to a Spanish city, decide if you want to spend a little more money per month in exchange for the exceptional conditions that their precious land can give you; secondly, contact a reliable agency that will help you make the best investment and even more, apply for a Spanish residency if you are decided to stay for a long time.

And remember: a move is always a new beginning.

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Europe

Holiday in Italy: choose Florence for a break in the winter

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Florence is one of the most visited Italian cities, with over 15,4 million tourists visiting the city each year. Located in the heart of the Tuscany region, this beautiful city breathes history, life and culture among its streets. If you are looking for the perfect location for your next winter holidays, then you should look no further, Florence is the perfect destination for you.

Enjoying the best cuisine

Florence is one of the cities with the richer gastronomy in the world. From traditional Italian cuisine to exquisite wines, the food in this city have everything you may wish for in order to please your palate.  With so many options available, you may be wondering where to eat in Florence. Food critics recommend that you check out the following options during your visit to Florence: 

  • Traditional Italian cuisine: visiting Florence and not tasting original Italian cuisine would be considered blasphemous by many.  Italy has one of the most delicious gastronomies in the world, and in Florence you will be able to taste it at its finest with local ingredients. Restaurants like La Chiostrina or Il Rosmarino will allow you to rediscover Italy by its traditional food.
  • Tasting the local wine: wines from the Tuscany region are famous worldwide as the best in the market, making this region the Mecca of wine lovers. During your visit to Florence you will be able to taste those deliquescent wines in restaurants such as Olio Restaurant or Villa Pitiana Restaurant, or taste it on places dedicated exclusively to wine such as Enoteca Obsequium Firenze or L’Enoteca Sandro Soltani.
  • International cuisine: if you like international cuisine, then you are on luck. The best chefs around the globe have restaurants on Florence. This means that you will be able to taste flavours from all the world without having to leave the city. For example,  you can visit the restaurant El Inca for a taste of Peruvian food, restaurant Com Saigon for genuine Vietnamese cuisine, restaurant Ararat for Armenian and Georgian traditional food, or Dim Sum for refined Chinese cuisine. Discover the world by trying the taste of these countries’ traditional flavours.
  • Taste original gelato: gelatos are the ice cream predecessors, and they have been one of Italy’s culinary specialties for centuries . This traditional Italian cold dessert is similar to ice cream, but has less fat and less added sugar. You will be able to enjoy this amazing treat on the many gelaterias around Florence streets, such as Gelateria Edoardo or Gelateria Dei Neri.
  • Tapas and Street food: these are excellent alternatives if you are looking to make a simple meal with your family. You will be able to enjoy these small dishes in places like Italian Tapas or Rivalta Cafe.
  • Modern cuisine: you can taste the most modern and alternative cuisine in the world in Florence. Restaurants like Alla Torre De’ Rossi or Winter Garden by Caino will bring to your table the sophistication the more delicate palates crave. 

Discover Florence’s hidden gems

Florence is a city with a lot of monuments and museums to discover. However, most people that visit the city tend to focus only on the main monuments of the city, such as Campanile di Giotto or Palazzo Vecchio o della Signoria, and the restaurants near those. Because of that, if you want to experience Florence to its fullest, we recommend you rent a bike

Discovering Florence by bike will grant you access to places away from the mainstream crowds,  such as the Andrea del Sarto Museum (dedicated to this amazing Italian painter) or the beautiful Ospedale degli Innocenti (a 17th-century home for abandoned children which includes some amazing pieces of art done by renowned artists like Botticelli). These are really stunning places you would miss if you stick to the traditional tourist route, causing you a lot of regrets over the missed chance. 

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