BLACK SEA BASIN REGIONAL PROFILE:
THE SECURITY SITUATION AND THE REGION-BUILDING OPPORTUNITIES
(A Background and October -
December 1999 Issue in Brief)
Hard Copy: ISSN 1311 3259
SPONSORED QUARTERLY ELECTRONIC PERIODICAL
PROFILE BACKGROUND OF THE BLACK SEA BASIN
Geopolitical and Geostrategic Tendencies
2. Sources of Conflict
CONFLICTS AND POST-CONFLICT DEVELOPMENTS IN THE BLACK SEA AREA
2. The Armenia-Azerbijan
3. The Kurdish Issue in
THE NATIONAL PERSPECTIVES SPECIFIC DEVELOPMENTS
THE BILATERAL RELATIONS IN THE BLACK SEA REGION
THE STATE OF REGIONAL INITIATIVES
The Economic Situation in Black Sea Region Countries and Its Consequences on
Black Sea Cooperation
Political and Security Aspects of the Cooperation
EXTERNAL FACTORS (STATES AND INSTITUTIONS) INFLUENCING THE BLACK SEA REGION
THE SECURITY SITUATION AND REGION-BUILDING OPPORTUNITIES: CONCLUSION
Russian military campaign in Chechnya dominated the October-December 1999
period in the Black Sea-Caspian Sea region.
The military progress of the Russian forces against the Chechen
terrorists and separatists facilitated the political consolidation of the
ruling configuration of political forces in Moscow and raised the patriotic
mood in Russian society, which has been frustrated by long economic hardships.
However, the way the crisis in Chechnya is being handled is generating
international criticism. The tendency
of continuing geopolitical shifts in the southern tier of states bordering
Russia has evolved against the background and in the atmosphere of the ongoing
crisis. The drift away from Moscow and
the strengthening of links with NATO makes up the bulk of this tendency. Parallel to these processes, the now quiet
clash of oil and gas interests in the context of different geoeconomic and
geopolitical projects evolved. A change
of the regional military balance in violation of the Conventional Forces in
Europe (CFE) Treaty due to the war in Chechnya, though defined by the Russian
side as a temporary state of affairs, adds to the further complication of the
security situation in the broader Black Sea-Transcaucasian area and to the
decline of the constructive region-building opportunities for the countries
between the Caspian and the Black Seas.
emergence and gradual stabilisation of the grouping of states in GUUAM
(Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Moldova) is already beginning to
rival geopolitically the Collective Security Treaty of the Commonwealth of
Independent States (CIS), shaped by the end of 1993. The term of the treaty ended on April 20, and the protocol of its
prolongation has so far been signed by only six countries – Armenia, Belarus,
Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, Russia and Tajikistan.
Georgia, Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan have decided to quit the treaty for a
variety of national geopolitical interests and arguments about Russia’s
ineffectiveness in helping them solve particular national security issues –
inadequate assistance in solving the conflict in Abkhazia, a disproportionate
increase of the Russian military might in Central Asia, and passivity in
solving the issues of Nagorno Karabakh.
However, deeper economic, prospective transport routes (the Great Silk
Road that is to be restored) and energy routes (the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil
pipeline and the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline) align the countries in the two
groupings, partly formed by the gradual disintegration of one of them – the
CIS. Evolving common political and
military interests and aims have been bringing Georgia, the Ukraine,
Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Moldova together for years, namely their affiliation
with the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (later the Euro-Atlantic
Cooperation Council) and the NATO sponsored Partnership for Peace Program
(PfP). Local military cooperation
between the Ukraine, Georgia and Azerbaijan has led to plans to set up a
regular peacekeeping battalion of the three countries on a permanent basis. Georgia and Moldova have intensified their
efforts toward diminishing the importance and toward a final closure of the
Russian military bases on their territories.
Both Georgia and Azerbaijan have declared their desire to have NATO
military bases on their territories as a guarantee for the protection of their
political and economic sovereignty. At
the Istanbul OSCE summit in November, Armenia, considered a loyal Russian ally
in the region, also formulated a wish to get rid of foreign (Russian) military
bases from the region, including those in Armenia. Furthermore, Armenia displayed readiness to improve its relations
with a historical enemy, namely Turkey.
Though the Nagorno Karabakh issue remains a source of discord between
Azerbaijan and Armenia, it should not be overlooked that the involvement of
third parties (Russia, the USA, the OSCE, the UN, etc.) may not necessarily
become an instrument of polarising the relations of the southern Caucasus
countries, but rather a tool for finding a solution in the interests of the two
states of GUUAM have set an alternative to CIS with an increasing reliance on
NATO. It is crucial for Russia, NATO
and the GUUAM countries not to develop zero-sum images on the security of the
broader Black Sea-Transcaucasia-Caspian Sea area. If the evolution of GUUAM is perceived as a "NATO
penetration in the post-Soviet region", and if the chances of cooperation
of all actors within the PfP and the OSCE contexts are not utilised, many
opportunities may be missed for striking deals on huge oil, gas and transport
interests of Russia, the countries from the region and the wealthy providers of
capital and technology from Europe, North America and Japan. If the countries of the region experience
imperial goals and methods for political and military influence by Russia in a
period of her economic weakness, the possibility exists to polarise the
opposition of the two blocs of countries, rather than to bring them to mutually
sources of conflicts were of specific significance in this period:
1) The State
of Military Balance in the Region
issue had two aspects during the period, first, the continuing violation of the
CFE Treaty by Russia. While the overall
Russian compliance with the treaty has generally been good, the question of the
flank region marked a departure from that positive practice. The reasons Russia exceeded the flank limits
in the North Caucasus are the events in Chechnya. Russia has been transparent in not complying with the limits of
the adapted CFE Treaty due to the situation in Chechnya. However, on November 1 the Russian prime
minister declared that Russia would come under the treaty limits, and the
present situation of non-compliance should be viewed as a temporary one.
second aspect of the issue is linked to the future of the Russian forces in
Georgia and Moldova. It matters, both
from the perspective of compliance with the adapted CFE Treaty and from the
sovereign will of the two independent states, that they be freed from the
military presence of Russian troops.
During the OSCE summit in Istanbul, Russia and Georgia reached an
agreement to cut Russian Federation bases on the Georgian territory. By December 31, 2000, Russia has to reduce
its armaments to 153 tanks, 241 armoured command vehicles (ACVs) and 140
artillery systems. By July 1, 2001, two
of the four Russian bases must be withdrawn from Georgia.
Competitive Interests Over the Oil and Gas Pipelines from Russia and the
Caspian Region to World Markets
prospects of a clash of interests or of reaching a compromise for the mutual
benefit of the actors involved continue to be open options.
November 18, in Istanbul, the state leaders of Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia
signed four documents and in some of them were joined by the leaders of Turkmenistan
and Kazakhstan. This event marked the
formal start of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline and the Trans-Caspian gas
pipeline, linking through alternative routes the East and the West. The President of the USA, who attended the
solemn ceremony, said these pipelines were an insurance for the whole world and
would help energy sources to be conducted through various routes without being
protocol between Russia and Turkey on the "Blue Stream" project for
the transportation of natural gas through the Black Sea to Turkey was signed on
November 27 in Moscow. Less than two
weeks later the Russian Duma ratified the agreement. On December 2 Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said the oil
pipeline being built from Kazakhstan to the Black Sea port of Novorossiysk was
of crucial economic and geopolitical importance for Russia. The pipeline will be the first to deliver
oil from the Caspian Sea basin to a port from which it can be shipped to
the two oil pipeline projects and the two natural gas pipeline projects are
considered to be competing in their aims to reach the world markets, in each of
them one can observe the existence of overlapping interests of participants,
either of the respective opposing projects or of the emerging shape of two
politico-military blocs: Italian
companies are backing the Russian-Turkish Blue Stream project; Kazakhstan, a
CIS Collective Security Treaty member, is sharing interests in the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan
oil pipeline; Russian companies are involved in the same oil pipeline route
profits; Azerbaijan has significant interests linked to the success of the
construction of the oil pipeline to the Russian port of Novorossiysk after the
construction of the route that by-passes Chechnya through Dagestan to the
Russian Black Sea coast; Turkey’s stakes are linked to the success of the four
competing projects, etc. The
possibility of negotiating various economic, political and strategic interests
is real and should not be discounted freely.
Central to the various conflicts in the
Northern Caucasus in the period October-December was the one in Chechnya.
and the Northern Caucasus turned out to be the "moment of truth" for
the Russian state, as US Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott said recently
– very much, probably, a moment of truth for the future of the relations of the
West with Russia, too. The West is
really at odds with the way Russia will get out of this conflict. A major preoccupation of the West is that it
would create more problems than it would solve. The burning issues for the West are: first, will there be a decent solution of the humanitarian
situation and, second, will extremist Islamic groups become stronger as a
result of this war?
mentioned in the previous issue of the Black
Sea Basin Regional Profile, the most difficult problems that face Russia in
the Northern Caucasus in general are the lack of proper tools to counteract a
sophisticated terrorist campaign, carried for years by Islamic extremists
against Moscow, and the inadequate political and economic activity of the
Russian Federation in this part of its huge territory.
widely accepted that the Chechen issue is about the territorial integrity and
the sovereignty of the Russian Federation, provoked at a period when another,
second Islamic extremist front has assumed anti-Russian shape in Central Asia,
namely in Tajikistan and Kyrgystan.
Moscow does not have many reasons to complain about the state of the
international environment for carrying out its military campaign for some five
months. The USA has officially admitted
that there are major internal constitutional issues at stake in Chechnya that
Russia has the legitimate right to defend by force. On December 7 NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson was
clear in saying: "We have to keep the Russians engaged in world affairs.
They are serious players. And the
message we give to them is not of hostility; it is of constructive advice as to
how we believe they could best deal with the serious situation that confronts
them in Chechnya." At the December 10 EU summit meeting in Helsinki,
European Commission (EC) President Romano Prodi said the cooperation of the EU
with Russia was of a long-term nature, and the union must do everything
possible to preserve it. The NATO
foreign ministers pointed out on December 15 that their aim remained to
establish "a strong, stable and enduring partnership within the framework
of the NATO-Russia Founding Act".
They condemned terrorism in all its manifestations and acknowledged
Russia’s right to preserve its territorial integrity and to protect its
citizens against terrorism and lawlessness.
What is contested at the same time by the USA, NATO, the EU, the CE, the
UN and the OSCE is the escalating violence and the indiscriminate use of force
suffered by innocent civilians, the disproportionate means of dealing with the
existing situation. The blocking of
borders to prevent civilians from fleeing was a reason for sending strong
protests to the Russian Government. The
fears of the West are that Russia may pay a heavy price for those actions and
eventually sink into a morass that will intensify extremism and diminish its
own standing in the world.
this international environment of the Chechen conflict can hardly be labelled
"operationally hostile". This
is why the words and acts of Russian leaders in the last months, as expressions
of Russian perceptions of the foreign-political environment of the Chechen
conflict, are rather inadequate. The demonstration of the Russian president,
who, at the Istanbul OSCE summit, so quickly left the meeting of the
organisation most highly valued in words for years by Russian foreign policy,
was an overreaction. Other events were
also perceived as overplay and hypocrisy used for internal political,
especially parliamentary, election campaign purposes: the show visit by the
Russian president to Beijing in a demonstration of Russia’s possession of
foreign-policy levers as mighty as those of the West; the undiplomatic reminder
by Russian leaders that the Russian Federation is a nuclear power; the foreign
minister's declaration of November 29 that the West is attempting to dislodge
Russia from the Caucasus. The efforts of Norwegian Foreign Minster and OSCE
Chairman in Office Knut Vollebaek fell victim to this same attitude of an
unnecessarily over-flexed muscle.
military campaign of the Russian forces was developing successfully, partly
thanks to this generally favourable and internally comfortable international
environment. More than 90 per cent of
the Chechen territory is under federal control; Grozny is unavoidably taken by
the army and the special forces of the terrorists of Basaev and Khattab. This campaign has nothing to do with the
1994-96 war against Chechnya. Russian
fighters in the fields, towns and mountains of Chechnya were strongly motivated
by the lessons of the past; by the lessons of the NATO campaign in Kosovo; by
the persistent need to crush one of the two Islamic fronts in the Russian
South; by the social support and the patriotic mood of ordinary Russians; by
the demonstration of might by the Russian leadership and armed forces – raising
the nuclear image of Russia by making operational the second out of four
"Topol-M" single-headed intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM)
military aspect of the conflict in Chechnya will very probably be over in
several weeks. The open issues
remain: how politically the military
victory will be continued and utilised; what political and constitutional
formula will be implemented in the troubled region; how will the dramatic
refugee issue be solved; how will the economy and social life be brought to
normality to prevent further eruptions of the Chechen conflict? A major Russian issue remains unsolved: how can Russia become an attractive
integration nucleus in a democratic way for the multitude of people and ethnic
groups with their varying religions, cultures, customs and traditions. As for the West in general and the countries
of Europe, the question is: will they remain as tolerant as they were during
the Chechen conflict toward Russia, if the follow-up of the war is
undemocratic, chauvinistic and neglects the democratic control of the armed
Council of Europe declared on December 9 that Azerbaijan and Armenia had to
settle their long-running conflict over the disputed Nagorno Karabakh region
before they could become members of the oldest European organisation. Both countries need to guarantee that the
conflict is being regulated and peace is being strengthened before they can
join the Council of Europe.
third state of the Southern Caucasus, Georgia, is already a full member of the
Circuit Court of Appeals upheld on November 25 the conviction of treason and
the death sentence of Kurdish PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan. The case is already complete in the Turkish
judicial system. The sentence needs to
be approved by the cabinet, confirmed by a parliamentary vote and then approved
by the president. After that, the case
also may be appealed to the European court of human rights.
improved EU-Turkish relationship will probably not change the fate of the
Kurdish leader in the short term.
Turkey preserves a bargaining chip in its accession to closer EU
integration. The life or death of
Ocalan will be kept as a future show-case of the changing nature of the Turkish
human rights record, parallel to the eventual adoption of more autonomous
rights by the Kurdish population in Turkey.
October 27 Armenian Prime Minister Vazgen Sarkisian, Armenian Parliament
Speaker Karen Demirchian and eight other members of parliament and government
officials were brutally shot during a debate in the House of Parliament. President Robert Kocharian appointed Aram
Sarkisian, the younger brother of the assassinated prime minister, as new Head of
the Government. Armenia has
demonstrated its readiness to improve its relationship with Turkey.
December 21 the parliament approved a cabinet reshuffle proposed by Prime
Minister Ivan Kostov to accelerate the reform process and to smooth
negotiations with the EU for the full integration of Bulgaria in the union in
the next years. Kostov sacked 10 of the
current 16 ministers.
October 31 the Citizens Union of Georgia, the ruling party of Georgia and of
President Edward Shevardnadze, won the parliamentary elections with a vote of
42 per cent. This secures more than 50
per cent of the seats in parliament, the continuation of the reform process of
the country, and the re-election of the country's 71-year-old president.
Georgia is definitely promoting itself as the Eastern Black Sea coast gateway
between Europe and Asia. Tbilisi is
trying to develop its working relations with both the EU and with NATO. President Shevardnadze has told the Western
press that his country will apply for NATO membership by 2005 and at the same
time will continue to try to develop friendly relations with neighbouring
Russia. In the past few months Georgia
has periodically reiterated its opposition to the use of its territory by the
enemy sides in the Chechen conflict. In
the last eight years this small country has suffered two major ethnic conflicts
(in Abkhazia and Adzharia autonomous republics) and two intensive internal
November 8 Pope John-Paul II arrived in Georgia for a two-day visit.
December 17 Romanian President Emil Constantinescu designated Central Bank
chief banker and non-party technocrat Migur Isarescu as prime minister. The
latter takes over from Christian Democrat Radu Vassile, who was brought down by
a revolt in his own party that reflected popular discontent over the
inconsistent reforms and the fallen living standards. Thus a political crisis was ended, and a strong signal was sent
of commitment to EU and NATO integration.
Minister Putin's Unity party was victorious at the December 19 parliamentary
elections for the lower house, the State Duma.
Other winners of the elections are the Communist Party, the
Fatherland-All Russia movement, the Union of Right Forces, Zhirinovsky’s
Liberal Democratic Party and Yabloko. Putin said that Russia’s economic
recovery would take decades.
November 14, at the final round of the presidential elections, Leonid Kuchma
won with ease. Heavy manipulation of
the mass media and playing on popular fear of a return to communism were
significant factors of this victory.
Some of the political priorities of his new term in power are a
referendum on constitutional changes giving more authority to parliament;
radical economic reforms; fighting corruption; strategic partnership with
Russia; developing the relations with the USA; and joining European
organisations. Macro-economic aid for
the Ukraine by the West proved quite inefficient. In 2000 the Ukraine is expected to repay $3 billion of its debt –
an act that should be doubted, given the present state of its economic and
financial system. The
"bridge" role played by the Ukraine between the West and Russia has
the potential of turning the country and its people into a grey zone – a fate
Ukrainians would not like to share.
More is needed from wealthy Western states to help individual Ukrainians
solve their own problems and hence motivate their social activity for finding
better solutions for their society and state.
December 6 President Kuchma of the Ukraine made his first state visit abroad
after his re-election to Moscow and met with President Yeltsin.
Russia announced its decision to introduce a visa regime with Georgia from
March 2000. The Russian Foreign
Ministry will prepare countermeasures for the unilateral Georgian decision to
withdraw from the bilateral agreement of a free trade area, signed in
regime was introduced on November 15 between the two countries. This act of the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry
is linked to the country’s efforts to harmonise its visa policy with that of
Prime Minister Aram Sarkisian visited Moscow on December 7.
October 12 the Russian company Lukoil became the biggest owner of Bulgaria's
largest oil refinery, Neftochim of Burgas, after a privatisation deal.
December 15 Moscow threatened to cut its natural gas supplies to Moldova for
not paying more than $600 million to Russian energy providers.
December 1-2 Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov visited Yerevan. He signed eight bilateral agreements in the
political and the economic fields with his counterpart Robert Kocharian. TRACECA and INOGATE are the two EU sponsored
international projects the two countries have a particular interest in
cooperating with. Bulgaria and Armenia have long historical and spiritual ties that
are preserved and that have prospects of evolving.
On December 2-3 President Stoyanov visited Azerbaijan and met with
President Geydar Aliev. If Bulgaria
strongly insists an oil route, Baku-Burgas may be constructed, the Azerbaijan
president said. Bulgaria can receive
oil from Azerbaijan via the Baku-Supsa and the Baku-Novorossiysk oil pipelines.
An eventual oil delivery from the Caspian Sea to the Black Sea port of Burgas
may turn Bulgaria into one of the transit centres of Azerbaijan oil to
Europe. The stabilisation of the
security situation in Yugoslavia may add to the realisation of this project,
mainly through the Albanian Adriatic port of Vlora. The two countries agreed to extend their cooperation within the
NATO's PfP program and within the GUUAM bloc of states.
meeting of CIS prime ministers and foreign ministers was convened in Yalta, the
Ukraine, on October 8. It ended without substantial results. It became clear that the project of creating
a free trade area in the commonwealth would not be realised in the near future. No agreement between CIS members was reached
on the issue of value-added tax (VAT). Russia, considered to be the driving
force of economic integration in the CIS, underlined its intentions to assess
all decisions within the community from the point of view of its national
October 28 six British Navy ships started a week-long visit to port Varna – the
largest national navy visit to Bulgaria in 1999. Three days of the visit were devoted to joint exercises. (2)
The USA donated $240,000 to two Bulgarian navy ships for their
participation in maritime exercises in the Mediterranean that started on
October 30. Together with US, Italian
and Turkish navy ships they exercised embargo, rescue and combat
operations. (3) On November 9-10 a joint Bulgarian-Italian
naval rescue exercise took place near Varna.
(4) In an interview with the Financial
Times at the end of October, President Edward Shevardnadze of Georgia
said: "I cannot say for certain
but one thing I know is that if I am re-elected for my second term in next
April’s elections, we will be knocking very hard on the door of
NATO." The president's party won
the parliamentary elections with a large majority on October 31. After that he made clear his medium-term
plans for integrating Georgia into the alliance before the end of his second
term in 2005. (5) Reza Ibadov, Head of the Foreign Relations
Commission of the Parliament of Azerbaijan and a close collaborator of
President Aliev, suggested on November 22 that NATO take the protection of the
Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline. His
major argument was that the three countries involved territorially with the
project were closely linked to the alliance:
Turkey is a member of NATO, and Azerbaijan and Georgia are PfP members.
(1) USA-Azerbaijan. On October 26 the US Trade and Development Agency (TDA) announced a grant of $425,000 to Azerbaijan to help fund a
natural gas master plan study for the Caspian region, including potential gas
production, review of the domestic gas market, and the export potential through
the Trans-Caspian pipeline. After
Georgia, Turkey and Turkmenistan the TDA provides Azerbaijan with technical
assistance in the natural gas and oil sector.
(2) USA- Ukraine. The third plenary meeting of the US-Ukrainian Binational
Commission was convened in Washington, DC, on December 8 with the participation
of the President Kuchma of the Ukraine and US Vice-President Gore. The meeting marked a further strengthening
of the strategic partnership of the two countries. On December 8 the US Export-Import Bank and the government of
Ukraine signed an agreement to help finance Ukrainian purchases of US goods and
December 15 a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission was convened in Brussels,
within the Ukraine’s distinctive partnership with the alliance. The Ukraine is considered by NATO to be a
strong participant in the PfP, an important contributor to KFOR in Kosovo, and
a net contributor to European security, including through the Ukraine’s efforts
to calm tensions in Crimea and Moldova.
December 10 the EU decided to approve Turkey’s candidacy for membership by
granting it "candidacy status".
There are now more opportunities to resolve disputes with Greece,
including by facilitating Cyprus’s unconditional EU accession and by
concentrating on economic projects and trade.
Social and legal adaptation to EU standards set significant new goals to
Turkey, including the adoption of thousands of EU legal norms and
regulations. Adaptation and sacrifices
of certain family and social norms and values are becoming a major challenge
for the Turkish social and political elite.
Certain modest steps have already been undertaken by the Turkish foreign
minister and by the Turkish prime minister.
On December 7, shortly before the EU Helsinki summit decision, Foreign
Minister Ismaihl Cem said that every citizen in Turkey, in every televised broadcast,
should be able to speak his own mother tongue.
Turkey does not recognise its Kurdish population as a distinct group, i.
e. the Kurdish population does not enjoy minority rights extended to other
groups such as Jews, Greeks and Armenian.
after the EU Helsinki summit decision Prime Minister Ecevit said his government
would do its utmost to solve territorial disputes with Greece ahead of the 2004
deadline set by the EU. Turkey has
already signalled that it would abolish the death penalty to bring its legal
system in line with EU standards. The
issues of Cyprus and of the civilian democratic control over the military
remain obstacles to Turkey’s accession to the EU that will also have to be
dealt with and solved according to the EU criteria.
1. The conflict in Chechnya marked a drastic
level of military escalation, creating a multitude of humanitarian
problems. The Russian forces are close
to a military success in the operation against the terrorists and outlaws, but
grave political, social and economic issues in the autonomous republic remain
unsolved. Meantime, this violent method
of coping with a real issue in the Caucasian region polarised the intentions of
the states of the GUUAM group to intensify their relations between each other
and with NATO.
2. Region-building opportunities in the basin
of the Black Sea were linked to the progress of competing oil and gas pipeline
projects. A clear and undeniable
overlap of interests of competing actors is a part of the economic reality, and
this must be utilised politically and strategically for the sake of regional
and global stability. The second factor
is closer engagement of the EU with Turkey, as well as with Romania and
CONTACT AND REFERENCE
Dr. Plamen Pantev, Editor–in–Chief
ISSN 1311 – 3240
Dr. Tatiana Houbenova-Delissivkova
Address: ISIS, 1618 Sofia,
Mr. Valeri Rachev, M. A.
P. O. Box 231, Bulgaria
Dr. Sc. Venelin Tsachevsky
Phone/Fax: ++(359 - 2-) 551 828
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E-Mail Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
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