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Macron hosts Pashinyan at the Elysee to discuss situation in the South Caucasus

Macron hosts Pashinyan at the Elysee to discuss situation in the South Caucasus

French president. Emanuel Macron on Monday (26 September) hosted Armenian prime minister Nikol Pashinyan at the Elysee Palace to discuss the current situation in the South Caucasus, and particularly Armenian-Azerbaijani relations. Macron described the situation following the recent armned clashes on 13-14 September as "critical". President Macron said France will do everything to pursue its goal, which is a stable, safe and prosperous South Caucasus." Macron also discussed the issue of relations between Armenia and Turkey. "This is a difficult but very necessary process and you know that France is also committed to this issue. This process is very important for the region", he said. In conclusion, Macron reiterated France's commitment to achieving peace and stability for Armenia and the entire region. "I welcome your sense of responsibility and your position to do everything to establish peace.  I want your country to have calm and peaceful borders", Macron told Pashinyan in his opening remarks.
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News
Germany seals major energy deal with the UAE

Germany seals major energy deal with the UAE

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Germany signed a "landmark agreement" on Sunday (25 September) aimed at accelerating joint efforts to boost energy security, decarbonisation and combat climate change. The major deal was struck in the presence of UAE President, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who is currently visiting the Emirates. The deal secures the delivery of 137,000 cubic meters of LNG to be sent to the new LNG terminal in Brunsbüttel near Hamburg in December. According to the dpa news agency, the amount included in the first delivery equates to around 0.95 billion kilowatt hours of electricity. However, the LNG deal can only make up for a small part of the 56.3 billion cubic meters of gas that Germany received from Russia in 2020.
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Opinion
Opinion: Macron's 'European Political Community' offers an opportunity for a continent-wide approach to critical security issues

Opinion: Macron's 'European Political Community' offers an opportunity for a continent-wide approach to critical security issues

French President Emmanuel Macron's proposal to create a "European Political Community" can, if handled correctly, provide a permanent framework where EU countries and other European states can interact on critical political and security issues. However, for the community to succeed it must not simply become an extension of the EU. It must be designed to ensure that all countries involved have a voice in fostering political dialogue and cooperation in order to address issues of common interest, writes Maximiliaan van Lange in this op-ed for commonspace.eu. Overall the idea of a European Political Community is a positive one. Ensuring that countries like Turkey and the UK can be equal partners in the discussion on the future of Europe's security, is an important and positive step. Making sure that smaller countries in the Balkans and the Caucasus can also be part of the conversation is equally relevant. But for the Community to succeed it must quickly carve a niche for itself in the crowded field of European institutions, which apart from NATO and the EU, also includes the Council of Europe, the OSCE, the Western European Union, not to mention multiple sub regional entities. The best option for the new community is to focus on security, and the security threats poised by the new Russian and Chinese assertivness.
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Analysis
Analysis: Russia's "Wagner group" poses a threat to peace and security in the Sahel

Analysis: Russia's "Wagner group" poses a threat to peace and security in the Sahel

While the world’s attention is focused on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Russia’s presence in Africa, and particularly in Mali, increasingly represents a threat to international security, writes Camille Victor for commonspace.eu. Russia’s presence in Mali has generated considerable controversy since the end of 2021, with many Western powers denouncing the activities of the Russian “Wagner Group” paramilitary mercenaries in the country, accusing them of violating human rights and the rule of law. Indeed, while Mali had been cooperating closely with France in the fight against terrorism since 2013, the Malian junta that seized power in a coup in May 2021 has drastically changed its foreign policy, now turning to Moscow to help stabilise the security situation by employing the services of this shady Kremlin-linked private security group. Given that Mali’s security is currently in the hands of forces that not only fail to effectively counter an increasing terrorist threat, but also to fail to respect human rights and the rule of law, all the while facing zero accountability for their abuses, ensuring that the junta upholds its commitment to conduct democratic elections in 2024 must remain a priority. In the meantime, an integrated security risk management and peacebuilding strategy should include measures that encourage transparency and accountability for abuses and breaches to the rule of law committed by security forces, notably through strengthening civilian institutions and oversight mechanisms.

Focus on Central Asia

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News
Dozens dead or injured and tens of thousands displaced after clashes on the border between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan

Dozens dead or injured and tens of thousands displaced after clashes on the border between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan

Fighting on the border between the Central Asian republics of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan on Friday (16 September) killed at least 24 people, wounded dozens and prompted a mass evacuation. Both sides blamed each other for responsibility for the incidents. Kyrgyzstan’s Health Ministry said early Saturday that the bodies had been delivered to hospitals in the Batken region that borders Tajikistan. An additional 87 people were wounded, the ministry said. Clashes on the border that began earlier this week grew into large-scale fighting Friday involving tanks, artillery and rocket launchers. As part of the shelling, Tajik forces struck the regional capital, Batken, with rockets. Kyrgyzstan’s Emergencies Ministry said 136,000 people were evacuated from the area engulfed by the fighting. Kyrgyzstan's president, Sadyr Zhaparov, and his Tajik counterpart, president Emomali Rakhmon, were both in Samarkand in nearby Uzbekistan on Friday, participating in the Summit of the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation, and are reported to have met on the margins of the main event.
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News
Opinion: The role of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation goes beyond managing Russia-China relations in Central Asia

Opinion: The role of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation goes beyond managing Russia-China relations in Central Asia

"As the world comes closer to multi-polarity, the role of such organizations as SCO will grow further. Russia and China will seek to use them as a counterbalance to western dominated international political and economic organizations, such as G7, the EU, the World Bank and IMF", writes Benyamin Poghosyan in this op-ed. He argues that in the present context of emerging great power competition, the SCO started to be viewed less as a tool to manage Russia – China relations in Central Asia, or counter terrorist threats from Afghanistan, and more as a significant grouping of non-western powers in the emerging multipolar world.

Voices - Opinion and analysis

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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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Analysis
Analysis: Origins of the Houthi supremacist ideology

Analysis: Origins of the Houthi supremacist ideology

One of the several, often overlooked, challenges facing Yemen is the supremacist and divisive ideological basis of the Houthi movement. The movement’s ideology has rebellion and violence at its core, a recipe that can perpetuate crises within a society. In this analysis for commonspace.eu, Noman Ahmed and Mahmoud Shamsan shed light on the ideological fault lines that fuel the current conflict in Yemen, highlighting the nature of this ideology, which suggests that Ahl al-Bayt — descendants from the family of the Islamic Prophet — are, by divine decree, considered to be more deserving of the right to greater political and religious rule than other socio-political components. The analysis then looks into the background of the Houthis and argues that the ideology is a catalyst for conflict rather than peaceful political competition, and that so long as the Houthi political goal of Hashemite dominance remains unrealised, Houthi desire for conflict will not recede.
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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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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.

Focus on Yemen

Focus on the South Caucasus

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Opinion
Opinion: Beware of Americans bearing gifts

Opinion: Beware of Americans bearing gifts

In this op-ed for commonspace.eu, Benyamin Poghosyan says that the visit of Nancy Pelosi to Armenia created quite a lot of hype, since some saw in it the prospects for national salvation. But the visit's "democracy vs authoritarianism agenda" is risky for Armenia he argues.   Armenia should send clear signals to Russia and Iran that it has no intention to join the “democracy vs. authoritarianism fight” and will never allow anyone to use its territory for anti-Iranian or anti-Russian activities.
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Opinion
Opinion: A peace process in jeopardy

Opinion: A peace process in jeopardy

"The recent flare-up along the Armenia-Azerbaijan border and the subsequent developments in Armenia  raise concerns that the region might be, unfortunately, still far away from a peace treaty and a peaceful future", writes Vasif Huseynov in this op-ed for commonspace.eu. "Surprisingly for many observers, the proposal for a peace treaty on the basis of mutual recognition of each other’s territorial integrity and inviolability of internationally-recognized borders is not supported by a large number of Armenians", he adds.
Promoting the peaceful resolution of conflicts, and a secure and prosperous Europe in friendship and solidarity with its neighbours

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.