100 Years of Cooperation

December 2, 2014

Mohandas Gandhi was once asked: “What do you think of Western civilization?” “I think it would be a good idea,” he replied.

— 1967 CBS News Special, “The Italians”

It could almost be considered insane, as mankind stands on the precipice of Thermonuclear War, to make plans for cooperation among nations, especially for any length of time in a volatile region. Russia and Turkey, though, have done just that, with plans for nuclear cooperation for the next century of mankind's existence.

That is not to say that these two nations are free of blemish, but that instead of seeking confrontation and death, as we see in the Trans-Atlantic sponsored 'color revolutions,' but rather these nations seek cooperation and the development of civilization.

This is only one of the examples of the cooperation among nations emerging around the BRICS dynamic that is startling, continuing to develop, and including more and more sections of the globe. These development initiatives stand in stark relief to the Trans-Atlantic war drive, typified by the British and their tool Obama's push for a Thermonuclear confrontation with Russia. With this backdrop of the potential for War, we would like to enumerate some of the most recent development initiatives, from Argentina to Greece to the Koreas.


Briefly, you'll read below that Russia and India may soon sign a $40 billion Oil Gas Contract, China just signed a deal to help build the largest port in the Mediterranean, and 40,500 tons of Coal were the first shipment delivered from Russia, through North Korea, to South Korea. Indian President Modi has revived the proposal to interlink river systems in India, and has laid the groundwork for large scale nuclear energy cooperation with Bangladesh, Myanmar and China. Argentina and Brazil are meeting to further strengthen their economic ties, and as mentioned above, Russia and Turkey have signed an agreement for 100 years of cooperation.



Russia and Turkey Sign Multi-Decade Nuclear Deal

Russian President Vladimir Putin began a state visit to Turkey yesterday where he will attend the fifth meeting of the Turkey-Russia High Level Strategic Cooperation Council. Putin has already held meetings with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Despite serious differences on policy towards Syria and Ukraine, both countries will seek to expand economic cooperation and commit themselves to increasing the trade volume between them from the current $35 billion to $100 billion by 2020, according to Hurriyet Daily News.

Ahead of Putin's arrival, Erdogan met Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller on Sunday. Sergei Kirienko, the CEO of Rosatom, Russia nuclear power-producer said Russia is looking forward to 100 years of cooperation with Turkey in the nuclear field, as a result of the fact that Rosatom is building Turkey's first nuclear power station comprising four reactors. "We are giving 60 years of guarantee for the Akkuyu nuclear plant, but I'm sure that it will have a lifespan of 80-100 years," Kirienko said.

"We signed an agreement that undertakes mutual commitments for over 100 years...Russia will provide $4 billion from its state budget for this project. We will not reduce the financial support of this project. Russian and Turkish investors will be preferred at first. The project is expected to draw 50-70% of investment. This will happen through investors mostly, not bank loans,"

—Sergei Kirienko, Hurriyet Daily News, November 29th

The agreement to build and operate a nuclear power station was signed in 2011 between Rosatom and the Turkish Energy Ministry. Over 250 Turkish experts have gone to Russia for training as part of the deal. It was also announced that Turkey's Environment and Urbanization Ministry has approved the environment assessment report for a nuclear power plant. Construction at the site has already begun.

Big Oil and Gas Deal in the Pipeline for India-Russia

In advance of the visit to New Delhi by Russian President Vladimir Putin, beginning Dec. 11, the Chairman of ONGC (Oil & Natural Gas Corp., India's largest oil and gas exploration firm), Dinesh Kumar Sarraf, spoke of the likelihood that India will become involved in deals to jointly explore and ship oil and gas from Russia to India.

The meetings between Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will include energy talks, and a visit to the Kudankulam nuclear power site. Sarraf told Bloomberg, Nov. 26, that,

"Russia may be looking for new investments in their energy sector, especially now, and we're keen to invest. We've always maintained that we respect UN sanctions, and not really those imposed by individual countries. If we see good opportunities in Russia, we'll go."

This expectation is a follow-on to the mega-deal struck between Russia and China, at the May visit of President Putin in Beijing with Chinese President Xi Jinping: a 30-year gas sale in the range of $300-$400 billion; exploration of the eastern Siberian gas fields; and construction of the $55 billion "Power of Siberia" pipeline to China. Work has started.

Over the Summer, Indian government officials said that a blueprint for a similar arrangement, including a crude oil pipeline, was being worked on, after the Putin-Modi talks at the July BRICS meeting in Brazil. The Hindustan Times called it a $40 billion deal, and reported Aug. 4:

"Two routes are being considered for the gas pipeline project. one is from Russia's southern border to India via the Himalayas, and the second from Russia-Astrakhan-Khazakstan-Uzbekistan, and then along the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan route to India (TAPI gas pipeline)."

As Bloomberg notes, ONGC already has investments in Russia; its foreign operations unit, ONGC Videsh, for example, is a player in Rosneft's Sakhalin 1 project, which includes several fields in the sub-Arctic region of northeast Russia.

Silk Road Belt Shaping Up in Greece and Balkans

The Chinese are moving forward on the Greece-Balkans link in their New Silk Road and Maritime Silk Road policy. Last week the Chinese shipping company, Cosco, signed a deal with the Greek government allowing them to invest EU230 million euros into the Piraeus Port Authority, where Cosco is leasing the container port. The new investment will allow Cosco to start expansion work on its western side of the port that will raise the total capacity of its container terminal to 7.2 million teu per annum by 2021 (teu is an acronym for "twenty-foot equivalent unit," a measure used for container cargo shipping).

This expansion will make Piraeus the biggest Mediterranean port in terms of cargo traffic and Asia's main port of entry into Europe. The deal has to be ratified by the Parliament.

In addition to Piraeus, the New Silk Road will pass through the Balkans, where the Chinese are implementing projects worth over EU3.5 billion in Serbia, Montenegro, and Hungary to improve rail and road infrastructure.

The Greek daily Kathimerini reports on the

"Chinese plan titled 'New Silk Roads,' one of which, the `21st Century Maritime Silk Road,' passes through Piraeus. This will be the topic of discussion at a summit in Belgrade where China's Premier Li Keqiang will participate along with the leaders of Southeastern Europe in mid-December."

On the eve of the summit Prime Minister Li Keqiang was named honorary citizen of Belgrade. According to InSerbia news network, Belgrade Mayor Sinisa Mali said she appreciated Premier Li's efforts in supporting Belgrade's development. The Zemur-Borca Bridge, which has been financed by the Chinese government, will be opened at the end of December.

Two Koreas, Russia Launch Tripartite Cooperation

The first major hurdle to setting up a functioning consortium between Russia, South Korea, and North Korea--and thus the first step to an actual peace on the Korean Peninsula--was overcome this past weekend. Some 40,500 tons of Russian coal was shipped by rail from Russia to the North Korean port of Rajin (both the 54 km rail line and the port were recently reconstructed by Russia), where it was shipped by sea (on a Hyundai Marine ship) to the South Korean port of Pohang, for use in a POSCO (a South Korean steel company) steel mill.

South Korea's Unification Ministry today described the program, as the "starting point" for economic cooperation among the two Koreas and Russia, according to the Korean Herald. "It is meaningful as a project to lay the foundation for realizing the [President Park Geun-hye's] Eurasia Initiative, peace in Northeast Asia and the renovation of our economy," ministry spokesman Lim Byeong-cheol said at a press briefing.

The pilot project was launched by President Park and Vladimir Putin at their summit in November 2013. A consortium of South Korean companies--Hyundai Marine, POSCO, and KORAIL (the state rail company)--plans to purchase half of Russia's 70% stake in the Russia-North Korea venture to build the rail-port facility, and potentially much more. North Korea owns the other 30%.

Modi Revives Much-Needed Project To Inter-link India's Rivers

During his recent visit to attend the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Summit in Kathmandu, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi discussed the feasibility of linking Nepal's Sharda River, which flows down the Himalayas north-south along the India-Nepal border, with the water-short Yamuna River that flows west-east in the Ganga Valley. According to Indian media reports, Nepali Prime Minister Sushil Koirala agreed to cooperate with the inter-linking and made his approval known on other proposed inter-linking of Nepal-based rivers with India's.

The inter-linking of rivers, or the transfer of water from one river basin to another, was formally adopted almost two decades ago by the National Water Development Authroity (NWDA) set up in 1982 within India's Ministry of Water Resources. NWDA, in its report in 1995, suggested India needs to have 30 river links, 3,000 storage structures, a canal network stretching almost 10,000 miles. The report said it would help generate 34GW of hydropower, provide irrigation to 35 million hectares of agricultural land and transfer 175 billion cubic meters of water annually. Incidentally, the Sharda-Yamuna link-up is considered the 31st inter-linking project and it would augment the Yamuna River, giving a perennial flow between Delhi and Agra and even beyond, to the point the River Chambal joins it and gives it a normal flow.

The NWDA report said: "One of the most effective ways to increase the irrigation potential to improve food grain production, mitigate floods and droughts and reduce regional imbalances in the availability of water, is the Inter-Basin Water Transfer from surplus rivers to deficit areas. The Brahmaputra and the Ganga, particularly their northern tributaries; the Mahanadi, the Godavari, and the west-flowing rivers originating from the Western Ghats are found to be surplus in water resources.

Unfortunately, facing the huge political task, no Indian government subsequently took up the NWDA proposal, that is, until now. Following his inauguration as Prime Minister Of India, Modi has revived the proposal. Apart from the Sharda-Yamuna inter-linking, news reports indicate that several other intrastate river linking projects are now mooted as well. Under the overall plan for the Himalayan rivers, a series of storage reservoirs, dams and canals will be constructed to bring surplus water from the tributaries of Ganga and Yamuna to the western region of Rajasthan and Gujarat -- the more arid part of north and northwest India. The Brahmaputra will also be linked to the Ganga with a canal running through the northern part of Bangladesh.

India-Bangladesh-Myanmar-China Cooperation

Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury, the Energy Affairs Adviser to Bangladesh Prime Minister Skeikh Hasina Wazed, was joined yesterday with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the inauguration of a power plant in India's Tripura state, east of Bangladesh, which will supply power in part to that nation. This is emblematic of a process of explicit discussion of promoting an economic corridor to link India-Bangladesh-Myanmar-China.

Last June, when Sheikh Hasina Wazed visited Beijing, Chinese President Xi Jinping had invited Bangladesh to join his plan to construct a Maritime Silk Road to promote trade and commerce in the region, and the two countries agreed to step up efforts to build the economic corridor linking Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar--termed the "BCIM."

On Nov. 30 Chowdhury briefed reporters, that this corridor concept was discussed during the recently held SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) summit. The plan is to develop an economic corridor that connects Bangladesh to India, in the east, Myanmar, and China in the north. Chowdhury stressed that the goal is
"to attain significant gains through sub-regional economic cooperation. This was also discussed at last week's SAARC summit in Kathmandu... "Under the leadership of Narendra Modi and Sheikh Hasina, both India and Bangladesh would further come closer through mutual cooperation in connectivity, energy, trade and business sectors."

Today, Chowdhury and Modi will be joined by the Bangladesh Minister of State for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid. They are attending the opening of the second unit of the 726 MW (2 x 363 MW) power project in Palatana, part of the Indian state of Tripura. Modi will dedicate it to the nation. Tripura borders with southeastern Bangladesh.

India is in the final stage of concluding a deal with Bangladesh for the sale of 100 MW of power from ONGC Tripura Power Company and has started talks for the sale of another 500MW to the neighboring nation by 2016, according to India's news daily, the Financial Express reported yesterday.

Argentina, Brazil Deepen Collaboration

Brazil and Argentina have agreed to hold monthly meetings to push forward the integration of trade, economic, political and institutional matters and multilateral cooperation between them, Argentina's Ministry of Economics reported in a Nov. 27 press release following a meeting between top officials of the two countries.

The deepening strategic coordination with Argentina evidenced here, along with the Rousseff government's commitment to deepening ties with the BRICS also, reflect the strategic counterpole in Brazilian policy, with which the newly-named orthodox monetarist economic team will have to contend. This is crucial, as cooperation between Brazil and Argentina, the two industrial powerhouses of South America, is key to the integration of the region as a whole.

Argentina's Economics Minister Axel Kicillof and Presidential Chief of Staff Jorge Capitanich traveled to Brasilia Nov. 27, to meet with President Dilma Rousseff's Chief of Staff, her International Affairs Advisor, the Foreign Minister and Deputy Treasury Minister. That high-powered meeting was a continuation of discussions between those two Argentine officials and President Rousseff on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Australia last month, on the benefits of greater integration of investment, trade and production.
"The productive economies of both countries are already inter-connected, with many industries already operating on both sides of the border,"
Kicillof had emphasized to President Rousseff in Australia.

The decision now to hold monthly meetings, and to use special software to track the details of their cooperation, stems from the agreement that a "joint strategy of productive integration is the best path to benefit the industrial production and trade of both countries," the Argentine Economic Ministry statement notes. Strategies for the productive integration of auto, steel, maritime, air navigation industries, were specifically taken up in Brasilia.