For the first time in a pandemic, the World Economic Forum will be held in person

On Friday, the World Economic Forum has announced that for May 22-26, the Davos summit will be held in person for the first time during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Annual meetings of the world’s political, economic, and business elite are held in Davos, a resort in the Swiss Alps, in January. However, the forum did not take place in 2020’s January despite repeated postponements along with a proposed one-off shift to Singapore.

The WEF founder Klaus Schwab said, “After all the virtual meetings taking place in the last two years, leaders from politics, business, and civil society have to convene finally in person again. We need to establish the atmosphere of trust that is truly needed to accelerate collaborative action and to address the multiple challenges we face”.

The WEF also said that the gathering will be held under the theme of “Working Together, Restoring Trust”. Leaders will have an opportunity to take stock of the global situation and outline policies for the coming period.

During the online series of round-table events this week, the world and business leaders have shared their views on the global economic outlook.

On January 27, India Will Host An Online Summit On Central Asia

The Central Asian summit will be held in a virtual format on January 27 by the Indian Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said that the leader of five central Asian visits was canceled due to a rise in the COVID-19 cases.

Mr. Modi will host the first meeting with the participation of the presidents of Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyz Republic, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan.

The foreign ministry said, “The first India-Central Asia summit is a reflection of India’s growing engagement with the central Asian countries, which are a part of India’s ‘extended neighborhood ‘. PM Modi paid a historic visit to all central Asian countries in 2015. Subsequently, there have been the exchanges at high levels at bilateral and multilateral forums”.

During the summit, the leader will exchange views on regional and international issues of interest focusing mainly on evolving regional security situations. The nations are expected to exchange discuss steps to take forward India-Central Asia relation to a newer height.

New Delhi recently hosted the third meeting of the India-Central Asia Dialogue at the Foreign Ministers’ level, which has “provided a new impetus to India-Central Asia relations”.

Jakarta’s capital will move to Nusantara under Indonesian law

On Tuesday, the Indonesian parliament approved a bill giving the green light for Kalimantan to be the new national capital. The capital will be given a new name “Nusantara”.

In 2019, President Joko Widodo announced a planned relocation of the nation’s capital from Jakarta metropolitan to East Kalimantan. According to the government official, the new capital was required due to the congestion of the current capital and to accelerate the economic development of Kalimantan. COVID-19 has caused the project, estimated to cost over $30 billion, to be put on hold.

The city of Nusantara was designated a regional city. The capital administration would be responsible for managing the new capital. An administration head and his deputy will be appointed and dismissed by the president every five years.

According to the first article of the bill, the new capital will be named Nusantara, and its status will be that of a political center, with all embassies and diplomatic missions, and foreign offices moving there.

Minister of National Development Planning, Suharso Monoarfa said, “The relocation of the capital city to Kalimantan is based on several considerations, regional advantages, and welfare. With the vision of the birth of a new economic center of gravity in the middle of the archipelago”.

PM Modi will address Davos’ agenda in a special address

On Monday, Indian Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi delivers a special address at the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Davos Agenda. Every year the WEF is held at the Swiss ski resort of Davos. However, this year it has been postponed.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the event is being held virtually from January 12-21. A week-long online event is held instead to decide on the talking points for the annual meeting scheduled in the summer. According to the WEF website, at 1600 hours Central European Time (CET) or 8:30 pm IST the address is scheduled to take place.

Along with PM Modi, various other world leaders will deliver “State of the World” special addresses including Japan’s Prime Minister Kishida Fumio, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Nigeria’s Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, and US Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen.

The summit will include many other governments and business leaders, international organizations, and civil society together to share their insight, outlook, and plants related to the most urgent global issues like climate change, vaccine equality, and social contacts.

Prime Minister Lee urges Cambodia to engage all parties on Myanmar as ASEAN chair

Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien has emphasized the need for the ASEAN chairman to engage with all parties to the Myanmar crisis.

On Friday, after receiving a video call from his Cambodian counterpart, Mr. Hun Sen, Mr. Lee made the statement.  Under the bloc’s rotating arrangement, Cambodia is currently the ASEAN chair and Mr. Hun Sen just returned from talks with Myanmar’s junta chief, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing.

During the meeting, Mr. Lee reaffirmed Singapore’s support for Cambodia’s Asean chairmanship and thanked Mr. Hun Sen for the briefing on his recent trip, noting that “no significant progress” had been made in implementing the ASEAN roadmap on Myanmar adopted in April.

Mr. Lee said, “Until there was significant progress, ASEAN should stick to the decision by its leaders in October last year to only invite a “non-political representative”. In a Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) statement released on Saturday, he added that any discussion to revise the ASEAN leader’s decision should be based on new facts.

“Five-Point Consensus”, Asean’s roadmap for Myanmar, calls for the cessation of violence, humanitarian assistance, and the facilitation of constructive dialogue among all parties concerned, which an ASEAN special envoy would help facilitate.

India is exporting Brahmos missiles to the Philippines

The Philippines has accepted Indian BrahMos Aerospace Pvt Ltd’s proposal to provide the Philippine Navy with a Shore-based Anti-Ship Missile System Acquisition Project worth $374.9 million, a major boost to India’s defense export plans.

Indian ties with the nation have been upgraded over the last few years as the nations are negotiating preferential trade agreements and expanding their defense partnership further. With this partnership, this BrahMos order is a major military export by India. Jointly developed with Russia, the supersonic missile will be available in multiple versions in the future, including a lighter, longer-range system that can be launched from aircraft and submarines.

The philippine’ Department of National Defense has communicated the Notice of Award to BarhMos officials. Within 10 days, the notice of award sought feedback from BrahMos Aerospace. Recently from destroyer INS Visakhapatnam, a naval variant of BrahMos was tested by the Indian Navy that was jointly developed by India and Russia.

As a result of the pandemic, the Philippines had been unable to afford to order BrahMos missiles. A defense agreement between the two countries was signed last year to facilitate the export of defense equipment from India to Manila. In addition to Vietnam and Indonesia, other countries in Southeast Asia have expressed interest in purchasing BrahMos from India to secure their defense architecture.

Kazakhstan: More than 160 were killed and 5000 were arrested during riots

The violence over the past week in Kazakhstan shook the nation will killing more than 160 people and 5,000 people under arrest and 125 separate investigations are being held.

According to Sputnik news agency, the health ministry said two children were among the 164 dead in the country’s deadliest outbreak of violence in its 30 years of independence. Police sometimes fired into the air to stop people approaching the city’s central square on Sunday, with the nation’s economic hub appearing to return to relative calm. Almaty, the main city of Kazakhstan saw one of the worst unrest and reported 103 deaths.

Interior Minister Erlan Turgumbayev said, “Today the situation is established in all regions of the country. The counterterror operation is continuing in a bid to re-establish order in the country”.

The unrest began a week ago in western provinces following a fuel price increase, but riots soon erupted in Almaty and other large cities. As a result, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has issued shoot-to-kill orders to quell the unrest he claims is caused by “bandits and terrorists”.

Russia’s Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) sent troops to restore order at Tokayev’s invitation, an intervention that comes ahead of new talks to resolve the Ukraine crisis at a time of high tension between the United States and Russia.

Disputed Bhutan border: China steps up construction

According to the satellite image analysis, China has accelerated settlement-building on the China-Bhutan border. More than 200 structures that included two-story buildings were being constructed in six locations. 

HawkEye 360, a data analytics firm specializing in satellite-based surveillance, provided images, and analysis, vetted by two experts, that show China’s recent construction along the Bhutan border. These activities have been underway since 2020 where China initiated building tracks first and clearing out areas. The mission application director at HawkEye 360, Chris Biggers said that it was based on the material provided by satellite imagery firms Capella Space and Planet Labs.

In a study of recent satellite images conducted by Capella Space, two other experts reported that all six settlements appear to be located on land disputed by Bhutan and China including a 110 square kilometer area with limited resources and no native population.

Bhutan’s foreign ministry said, “It is Bhutan’s policy not to talk about boundary issues in the public” and declined to comment further on the issue.

On the other hand, China’s foreign ministry said that the construction is entirely for the improvement of the working and living conditions of the local residents.

Despite war fears, US-Russian security talks end after the first round

In the wake of Russia’s threat of an attack on Ukraine that has sparked the worst tensions since the Cold War, Russia and the United States concluded a first round of high-stakes talks on security.

In Geneva, the two sides scheduled a separate briefing after full day talk between US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov. In advance of the meeting, both sides emphasized caution regarding the outlook for the talks.

More than 100,000 Russian troops have gathered near Ukraine, which prompted warnings in Washington and Kyiv about the risk of an incursion into the ex-Soviet country. Kremlin officials deny planning an attack. However, they say they are responding to increased NATO activity on their borders, as well as the threat of an offensive by Ukraine against Russian-backed separatists. The Ukrainian government also denied accusations of invasion.

The Russian government demands a legally-binding guarantee that NATO’s enlargement will cease and the alliance’s military presence in Eastern and Central European countries will cease. This has been dismissed by the U.S. as unrealistic and instead, a call has been made to curtail missile deployment and exercises in the region.

With a focus on climate change, the newly sworn-in Dutch government

On Monday, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s fourth successive government will be sworn in with a focus on climate change ten months after elections. Over the next 10 years, the new government has pledged to allocate €35 billion ($39.64bn) for climate measures after grueling negotiations.

The country, which has one of the lowest-lying and densest populations in the world, promises to build two new nuclear power plants and become climate neutral by 2050.

Rob Jetten, 34, is the Netherlands’ first Climate and Energy Minister and is tasked with reducing emissions and making the country less dependent on fossil fuels, particularly gas. He said, “the government has to catch up climate change and lay the foundation for the next generation”.

Sigrid Kaag was sworn in by King Willem Alexander via video-link as the new finance minister as she is currently quarantined for testing positive for coronavirus. The new coalition has a record number of women in which 14 out of 19 ministers and secretaries of state are female.

Mr. Rutte, nicknamed ‘Teflon’ for staying in power and avoiding scandal, has said in December that he wishes his new government to “restore trust”.