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The arrival of a Chinese spy ship in Sri Lanka unsettles India

The arrival of a Chinese spy ship in Sri Lanka unsettles India

China’s satellite tracking vessel Yuan Wang 5 arrived at Sri Lanka’s southern Hambantota Port, on Tuesday (16 August) despite the concerns of both India and the United States. The vessel was earlier scheduled to dock at the Chinese managed Hambantota port on August 11 for “replenishment”, according to officials. Its arrival was postponed by five days after Sri Lankan authorities made a request to China, reportedly citing Indian security concerns. Sri Lanka's Foreign Ministry said the ship will be allowed to remain in the Chinese-run port until 22 August. Foreign security analysts quoted by Reuters describe the Yuan Wang 5 as one of China's latest generation space-tracking ships, used to monitor satellite, rocket and intercontinental ballistic missile launches. Several Indian media reports described it as a "dual-use spy ship". Shipping analytics websites call it a research and survey vessel. One report by Indian news site NDTV said the government in Delhi was concerned about "the possibility of the ship's tracking systems attempting to snoop on Indian installations while on its way to Sri Lanka". Earlier in July, an Indian foreign ministry spokesman said the government was monitoring the ship's planned visit, adding that Delhi would protect its security and economic interests.
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International community calls on Russia to withdraw from Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant

International community calls on Russia to withdraw from Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant

EU member states and other countries in the international community have issued a statement on the situation around the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, and have called on Russia to withdraw its troops from the territory of the plant. In a statement the 42 countries called on Russia to immediately withdraw its military forces and all other unauthorised personnel from the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, its immediate surroundings, and all of Ukraine so that the operator and the Ukrainian authorities can resume their sovereign responsibilities within Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders and the legitimate operating staff can conduct their duties without outside interference, threat, or unacceptably harsh working conditions. This will also enable the IAEA to carry out its verification pursuant to Ukraine’s safeguards obligations under safe and secure conditions and in a timely manner. The statement said that the international community will hold Russia accountable for its aggression, and Russia must bear full responsibility for its unlawful actions in Ukraine.
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Interview
Art-Gene Turns Nineteen: In Conversation with Tamar Melikishvili

Art-Gene Turns Nineteen: In Conversation with Tamar Melikishvili

July 2022 saw the 19th edition of what has become a staple event in the Georgian cultural calendar. Founded in 2003 by artists Tamar Melikishvili and Giorgi Baramidze, musicians Zaza Korinteli and Niaz Diasamidze, sculptor Nika Anjaparidze, and photographer Maria Lanevski, the Art-Gene music and crafts festival has played a huge role in reviving Georgia’s now thriving traditional cultural scene since its dog days of the early 2000s. Looking forward to Art-Gene’s 20th anniversary next year, commonspace.eu’s Deputy Editor Patrick Norén spoke to Tamar Melikishvili about Art-Gene’s origins, ethos, community, and future. Melikshvili told commonspace.eu that ‘if a country keeps and loves its own culture, it will become very open and interested in the culture of other countries. The world is nice because we are so different, but we also make one big picture, like a painter. When I am working on the canvas, all of these different moods and colours become one symphony, and that is what makes the picture interesting.’
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News
Turkey, Sweden and Finland to meet on 26 August

Turkey, Sweden and Finland to meet on 26 August

Turkish representatives will meet counterparts from Sweden and Finland on 26 August in an effort to remove the final stumbling blocks for the accession of the two Scandinavian countries into NATO. Turkey is one of seven out of thirty NATO countries still to ratify the decision taken at the last NATO summit to admit Sweden and Finland into the alliance. Speaking at a Conference for Turkish Ambassadors across the world, being held this week in Ankara, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Sweden and Finland are yet to deliver their commitments arising from the trilateral memorandum signed at the NATO summit in Madrid in June and they haven't taken any solid steps on Turkey's requests on extradition of terrorists yet. He described the remarks by Swedish and Finnish authorities on their promises as "well intentioned," and reiterated Turkey's desire to see concrete steps from the two countries.

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Commentary
Commentary: Ukraine crisis helps Europe re-discover the meaning of the word “solidarity”

Commentary: Ukraine crisis helps Europe re-discover the meaning of the word “solidarity”

Since the start of the Russian invasion, the EU and its member states have given Ukraine billions of euros of budgetary assistance, have welcomed more than 3.7 million refugees, and have extended unprecedented levels of military assistance. Europe has re-discovered the meaning of the word solidarity, even if not all of the solidarity is altruistic but involves also a measure of self-preservation in the face of Putin's Russia naked aggressiveness and expansionist ambitions. Solidarity with Ukraine and Ukrainians is also ultimately in the interest of every European Union country and citizen. But this does not in any way lessen the significance of Europe’s support for Ukraine. Can this solidarity be sustained for the months, and probably years ahead, as Ukraine struggles to defeat Russia, and hopefully afterwards, victorious, start the difficult process of reconstruction? The decision to give Ukraine EU candidate status was in this regard significant, and indicates that the EU sees Ukraine as a long term commitment. For sure, as the winter cold starts biting and Putin plays politics with Russian gas supplies, there will be those who will question the value of Europe’s solidarity with Ukraine.  It is important they remain marginalised. For this, European leaders, decision makers and opinion shapers, need to communicate constantly to European citizens the righteousness of the decision to help Ukraine to stand up to Russia, and to help the Ukrainian people in their hour of need.
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Event
Joint Armenian-Azerbaijani expert group on confidence-building measures agrees to intensify efforts

Joint Armenian-Azerbaijani expert group on confidence-building measures agrees to intensify efforts

The Joint Armenian-Azerbaijani Liaison Group on Confidence-building measures in support of lasting peace in the South Caucasus (JOLIG), made up of 11 Armenian and Azerbaijani independent experts and opinion-shapers, met in Kachreti, Georgia on 27 and 28 June 2022 to review its activity, and agree on a strategy as to how its work on confidence-building measures can contribute to efforts aimed at bringing lasting peace in the South Caucasus. Participants discussed ongoing efforts aimed at establishing the right conditions for the normalisation of relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan being undertaken by the governments of the two countries with the support of international players. They called on the leadership of the two countries to remain focused and committed to this mission. The group emphasised its belief that confidence-building measures are necessary to be implemented in the current state of Armenia-Azerbaijan relations, and were indispensable as the governments of Armenia and Azerbaijan seek peaceful solutions to long lasting disputes and controversies between them.
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Interview
Opinion: "Our ambition in Kosovo is to transform our young and vibrant democracy into the most prosperous nation in the region"

Opinion: "Our ambition in Kosovo is to transform our young and vibrant democracy into the most prosperous nation in the region"

Recently, the Government of Kosovo submitted a formal application to join the Council of Europe as a full member. The international community remains divided on the issue of Kosovo's international recognition. Yet in the few years since its independence Kosovo has made great strides forward, and today has one of the most dynamic economies in the Western Balkans, a vibrant cultural life, and a solid track record on human rights and the fight against corruption. commonspace.eu interviewed the Ambassador of Kosovo to the Netherlands, Dren Doli, about the current state of play in relations between Kosovo and Serbia, and on the thorny issue of whether the recognition of Kosovo has emboldened secessionist movements elsewhere. Ambassador Doli said that "the tendency to use Kosovo as a model for other cases is a strategy to generalise the rules that guide the creation of states and inflict confusion, deflect the truth, and deny the significance of objective arguments that differentiate Kosovo from other cases". Doli told commonspace.eu that "Kosovo is one of the rare examples of successful democratic state-building supported by western democracies". Ambassador Doli said that the government of Kosovo is committed to further develop and improve its relations with Serbia and welcomes any initiative  by the EU and the US in this direction.
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Opinion
Armenia-Azerbaijan connectivity is crucial for the future of the South Caucasus, and important also for partners beyond

Armenia-Azerbaijan connectivity is crucial for the future of the South Caucasus, and important also for partners beyond

Johnny Melikian and Ramazan Samadov are members of a Joint Liaison Group of Armenian and Azerbaijani experts preparing a report on how confidence building measures can support lasting peace in the South Caucasus. In this joint paper they discuss the important role of connectivity, which they say is a key factor in building the region's future.

Focus on the South Caucasus

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News
Yerevan meeting welcomes recommendations on confidence-building measures proposed by joint expert group

Yerevan meeting welcomes recommendations on confidence-building measures proposed by joint expert group

The conclusions of the report “The South Caucasus from War to Peace: 30 measures between now and 2030”, recently published by the Joint Armenian-Azerbaijani Working group on Confidence-Building Measures in support of lasting peace in the South Caucasus (JOLIG), were presented in Yerevan on Monday, 30 May to an audience of diplomats, officials and civil society representatives. Armenian members of the Joint Liaison Group: Stepan Grigoryan, Benyamin Poghosyan and Johnny Melikyan, spoke about the process of dialogue with Azerbaijani counterparts in the preparation of the report, and highlighted the report’s conclusions, including thirty recommendations to help the process of building trust and confidence between Armenia and Azerbaijan and Armenians and Azerbaijanis. Addressing the event, the Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Andrea Wiktorin, congratulated the joint Liaison Group for its successful work. She said the report was important and timely and  offered many useful ideas that could be implemented in the short, medium and long term in support of peace in the South Caucasus.
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Opinion
Opinion: Historic developments are taking place in Armenia-Azerbaijan relations, but the signing of a peace treaty will likely take a longer time

Opinion: Historic developments are taking place in Armenia-Azerbaijan relations, but the signing of a peace treaty will likely take a longer time

On May 22, the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan met in Brussels with the mediation of European Council President Charles Michel to discuss the peace process. It is worth noting that since the beginning of this year, the representatives of the two South Caucasian republics have met exclusively via the mediation of the EU, while the only Russia-mediated meeting – that of the foreign ministers held on May 12 –  took place on the sidelines of another major event and brought about no novelty in the negotiations. The Brussels summit, however, delivered some very important outcomes which, if implemented, will constitute a critical breakthrough in the peace process. The quick implementation of some of the issues agreed by president Aliyev and prime minister Pashinyan at their meeting in Brussels, can be described as truly historic, writes Vasif Huseynov in this op-ed. "But the signing of a peace treaty will likely take a longer time, and necessitate an agreement not only between Baku and Yerevan, but also between Moscow and Brussels", he adds.
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commonspace.eu  is an activity of LINKS Europe, an independent foundation based in The Hague, The Netherlands. We focus on issues related to European peace and security, Europe's neighbouring regions, including Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia; North Africa and the Sahel, the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. We aim to provide insights and analysis on different topics in our area of interest, and a platform for diverse opinions.