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Opinion: The quest for peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan can follow many paths, all of which need to be explored and exploited

Opinion: The quest for peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan can follow many paths, all of which need to be explored and exploited

Preparations are under way for a fourth meeting between Armenian prime minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev, facilitated by the president of the European Council Charles Michel. Even a year ago such a process would have been unthinkable. There is no more than one format in which Armenia and Azerbaijan pursue their quest for peace. But options are also available in the way the two leaders can work to achieve the ultimate goal, a peace agreement that will hail a new era of lasting peace in the region. In this commentary, Dennis Sammut says there are many roads open on the way to lasting peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and all need to be explored and exploited. Developing trade relations, intensive people to people contacts, establishing diplomatic relations in stages, facilitated travel between the two countries including direct air travel –  are all important steps that can and should be taken in the process of normalising relations. Most of them can be agreed and start giving results in months not years. The process can be supported by an intensive programme of confidence building measures that will help build trust at various layers of society.
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Opinion
Opinion: The decision of Sweden and Finland to apply for NATO membership is the right one and should be supported

Opinion: The decision of Sweden and Finland to apply for NATO membership is the right one and should be supported

For decades, Finland and Sweden weathered the dangers of the cold war as neutral states, sandwiched between Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies, and the United States and its European allies in NATO. It was a risky situation. Their professed neutrality was seen as a naivety by some, as a vulnerability by others. But they used their status for the common good. Finland and Sweden, together with other neutral and non-aligned countries such as Austria, Switzerland, Yugoslavia and Malta, helped to bring about the Helsinki Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe, and in 1975 the signing of the Helsinki Final Act, a milestone document that reduced tension during the cold war, and provided a blue print for what followed. This week they broke with their historic position of neutrality, which in the case of Sweden had lasted for two centuries, and applied to join NATO. Finland and Sweden were left with no choice. Their decision to apply for NATO membership was the right one, and should be supported.
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Opinion
Opinion: Three summits, one message - Mr Putin we will make sure your aggression in Ukraine will fail

Opinion: Three summits, one message - Mr Putin we will make sure your aggression in Ukraine will fail

One month after Mr Putin launched an unprovoked war against Russia's neighbour Ukraine, despite being warned of the serious consequences if he did that, the leaders attending the summits in Brussels  had one important message: Mr Putin, we will not let you get away with this. We are united in making sure that your aggression against Ukraine fails. It cannot be otherwise, writes Dennis Sammut in this op-ed. If Putin destroys the Ukrainian state, and the rest of the world does nothing, then we will be back to the dark days of the 1930s. No country or society in the world will be able to feel safe again.
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Analysis
Ukraine poses a dilemma to the three South Caucasus countries, but they have still one important card they can play

Ukraine poses a dilemma to the three South Caucasus countries, but they have still one important card they can play

Dennis Sammut, Director of LINKS Europe and Managing Editor of Commonspace.eu discusses how the countries of the South Caucasus have reacted to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and what they should do next. “In the present circumstances, the strongest card that the three countries have, if they choose to play it, is regional co-operation and an informal loosely co-ordinated common approach”, he says. All the Russian strategy in the South Caucasus in the last thirty years has been built  on the premise of adversity and unhealthy competition between and within the three countries. Debunking this will be a major victory for all the countries and people in the region.
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Opinion
Two leaders; two meetings; two intermediaries

Two leaders; two meetings; two intermediaries

Sochi and Brussels will be two different meetings and they need to be approached differently by all sides. The EU should not try to replicate Sochi in Brussels. That would be both disingenuous and unachievable. But with some astute diplomacy and a measure of goodwill from all sides, the Brussels meeting can also be meaningful, and can in the long term end up being even more significant for the future peace and prosperity of the South Caucasus.
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Analysis
Analysis: Central Asian countries need to remain focused on reforms despite new security threats

Analysis: Central Asian countries need to remain focused on reforms despite new security threats

The countries of Central Asia are at an important crossroads. The events in Afghanistan are not going to make their choices either more simple or more easy. Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan have taken very important steps in the last few years on the path to reform. It is important that they stay the course, and it is important for the EU and other western countries to help them in this task. If possible this should be done without adversarial engagement with either Russia or China, even though are likely to put obstacles in the way. Central Asia does not need another "great game". It needs support so it can develop and evolve for the benefit of its people, and so that the radical elements that have been successful in Afghanistan can be stopped in their stride. 
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Commentary
Commentary:  State-building cannot be imposed from outside; the EU and others must learn lessons from Afghanistan

Commentary: State-building cannot be imposed from outside; the EU and others must learn lessons from Afghanistan

A state cannot be built from outside, with a foreign army standing on top of it to supervise the process, argues Dennis Sammut in this commentary. As the EU expands its global ambitions, it must be aware of the risks of "mission creep" and make sure the mistakes in Afghanistan are not repeated.
Editor's choice
Opinion
Opinion: The South Caucasus needs more EU, less Russia, and a better life for all the people of the region

Opinion: The South Caucasus needs more EU, less Russia, and a better life for all the people of the region

The European Union has indicated it is re-enforcing its engagement with the South Caucasus, including on the thorny issues of conflict resolution. Dennis Sammut argues in this op-ed that this is timely and necessary. The region needs more EU, less Russia and prospects for a better quality of life for all its people. For this to happen the EU needs to be more strategic in its approach to the region and there is no longer place for hesitation and ambiguity, he argues.
Editor's choice
Opinion
Kazakhstan, Central Asia's giant, is stirring and the Russians are not amused

Kazakhstan, Central Asia's giant, is stirring and the Russians are not amused

Kazakhstan is exploring its options. The government has embarked on a series of reforms, as yet mainly in the economic sphere, although reforms in the governance sector are also inevitable. They include slimming down the bloated state bureaucracy and also slowly re-calibrating Kazakh foreign policy to make it less dependant on Russia. The Russians are not amused, says Dennis Sammut in this op-ed