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Monday Commentary
Monday Commentary: Sharing Ukraine's pain

Monday Commentary: Sharing Ukraine's pain

As winter approaches, Vladimir Putin’s strategy in Ukraine is becoming increasingly clear. The war that he initiated in February of this year against the Ukrainian state is now becoming a punitive action against the entire Ukrainian people. The targets of the missile and rocket attacks launched by the Russian army are no longer the military installations of the Ukrainian army, but the civilian infrastructure that helps keep the nation supplied with energy, heating and water, in a false hope that this would bring Ukraine down on its knees. This strategy, like the failed military strategy that Russia pursued in the last nine months, will not succeed. The Ukrainian nation has proved already its determination and resilience in front of Russian aggression. But this heroism does not lessen the pain that the Ukrainians are enduring, and will likely have to endure for some time. "There has never been a moment when it was as important to support Ukraine as now. The question is whether the world, and particularly the people in the countries of Europe and North America that have supported Ukraine generously so far, have the perseverance to stick with Ukraine until victory", writes Dennis Sammut in today's Monday Commentary on commonspace.eu
Monday Commentary: Let sports unite us
The 2022 FIFA World Cup opened in Doha on Sunday (20 November) with a lavish half an hour opening ceremony full of music and colour. It will be followed by weeks of football extravaganza that millions are looking forward to watching. It was a proud moment for the small Arab Gulf country which has put a lot of effort and resources towards making the event a success, writes Dennis Sammut in today's Monday Commentary on commonspace.eu. Ever since it was decided to hold the FIFA world cup in Qatar there have been those who questioned the decision. Some said the climate was too hot; others criticised the working conditions of the labour force that built the facilities; others questioned Qatar's human rights record, especially on gay rights. Some of the criticism was justified. The world cup helped put attention to such problems and that is how it should be. But frankly, a lot of the criticism of Qatar went over the top and reeked of racism. Qatar has its shortcomings, but the hundreds of thousands of people who flock there to work, and others who just visit, appreciate it for what it is: a young nation that is trying to play a positive role in the world and to offer opportunity for work and business to whoever wants to work with it. It is ofcourse easy to say that sports and politics do not mix. Since sports is an expression of human talent and human feelings politics cannot be excluded. It needs to be managed. People watching football do not need expressions of political opinions shoved down their throats. Many even find such expressions as an insult to their intelligence. But that does not mean that the occasion of a global sports event cannot be a way of transmitting a dignified message with political connotations. One such example happened yesterday when the captain of the Iranian team sent a message to his compatriots back home.
dennis2020 Mon, 11/21/2022 - 05:46
Commentary: American mid-term elections enable continued strong US leadership at a time of global turmoil
The US mid-term elections held last week were expected to be a disaster for US president Joe Biden and his Democratic administration. A Republican surge was expected to sweep the party to comfortable majorities in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. In the end none of this happened. The outcome of the election means that the gridlock that some had been predicting between President and Congress on many issues, including foreign and security policy is now not likely to happen, or in any case not on a scale to be a concern. In this Monday Commentary for commonspace.eu Dennis Sammut says that this is important not only for the United States, but also for the world. The current global situation is complicated and challenging, and US leadership is needed more than ever. Leadership is not hegemony. Nobody wants the US to dictate and impose its views on the world. Multipolarity, which some speak so enthusiastically about, should not be about how many nuclear missiles countries can point on each other, but rather on a competition of ideas and models. In this the world needs diversity. Yes, there are universal values, and these are already recognised in a number of documents adopted by nearly all countries, but on many issues there is room, and even need, for diversity.
dennis2020 Mon, 11/14/2022 - 09:08
Monday Commentary: Clearing the South Caucasus of landmines must remain a priority
Making the South Caucasus free from landmines and other explosive remnants of war must remain a priority. "2023 should be a turning point in the efforts in this direction", writes Dennis Sammut in this week's Monday commentary on commonspace.eu. More awareness of the problem within the three countries, more commitment and better leadership by the international community, and increased understanding of the provisions of the 'Ottawa convention' are important steps that need to be taken. In the meantime the issue of landmines and other explosive remnants of war should not be instrumentalised for short-term political gain. This is everyone's problem and a regional approach is the best way to tackle it going forward. The launch of this year's regional campaign 'Landmine Free South Caucasus' on 30 November should help focus attention on these issues.
dennis2020 Mon, 11/07/2022 - 07:02
Monday Commentary: Why Central Asia matters
Very often, Central Asia is referred to as Russia’s back yard, even though today the region feels more like China’s front garden. But whilst the two “inseparable” friends, compete for influence and resources, the five Central Asian countries have set on a course to integrate themselves in global processes, break out of their geographic - and more importantly their geo-political constraints - and deliver better for their people. In this week's Monday Commentary on commonspace.eu, Dennis Sammut says that the Central Asian states have been reaching out to the EU and the US, whilst domestically some of them have embarked on deep reforms considered all but unimaginable until recently. The visit of European Council president Charles Michel to the region on 27-28 October marked a high point in a new phase in the relationship between the EU and Central Asia. In Kazakhstan, Michel not only met the Kazakh leadership, but also held a summit with the five Central Asian leaders in Astana, before travelling to Uzbekistan. For both the Central Asians and for the EU this is a watershed moment, and the beginning of a long journey. Europe’s approach to Central Asia needs to be respectful, both to the five countries themselves, and to their existing partners. Arrogance, even of the intellectual kind will simply backfire. But respect does not mean meekness. As a heavyweight in international relations, even if for the moment its economic weight dwarfs its political weight, the EU needs to approach Central Asia neither as a supplicant, nor as a benefactor, but simply as a reliable partner. Furthermore, this partnership needs to be diverse, multi-tiered and nuanced. It must take in relations with citizens, where Europe has much to offer both in terms of being a model, but also in terms of what it can share in areas such as education, innovation, youth welfare, women’s rights and diversity.
dennis2020 Mon, 10/31/2022 - 07:35
Editor's choice
Monday Commentary
Monday Commentary: The South Caucasus from "balance of power" to "balance of interests"

Monday Commentary: The South Caucasus from "balance of power" to "balance of interests"

For decades, relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan were seen from a false balance of power prism, that in the end failed miserably, and for Armenia, disastrously.  Since November 2020 the question of what comes next has dominated the political discourse in the region. Some think the solution is a return to a balance of power approach, but given the current realities this sounds more like wishful thinking. The future of the region is not balance of power, but balance of interests. This means that both sides engage and co-operate with each other, simply because it is in their interest to do so. The arguments for such an approach are strong, even if they have not yet been convincingly made to the populations at large. But first the loose ends from the 2020 war need to be tied up. The Jus post bellum framework has yet to be worked out. Signing a comprehensive peace treaty before the end of the year, as some insist is possible, is unlikely. But signing a peace document by the end of the year is possible. A "Prague Plus", may be a general document that builds on what has been discussed and agreed in Prague on 7 October 2022, and in other already agreed texts. It also means that after its signing negotiations will have to continue very intensively. These are likely to be in two tracks – the main track between Baku and Yerevan, and a secondary parallel track between Baku and Stepanakert. "It is disingenious to ask what comes first, whether it is peace or a peace treaty, for both depend on each other. For the South Caucasus the next days and weeks will be crucial and it is time for everyone to up their game", writes Dennis Sammut in this Monday Commentary on commonspace.eu
Monday Commentary: Comrade Xi's party
An event on the other side of the world that started on Sunday has huge global importance and will define international politics for decades to come. The 20th Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) is perhaps not the most important ever in terms of its impact within China itself, but when it comes to China’s role in the world it certainly is. This is not only because China is today stronger than it has ever been in modern times, but also because the congress gives the seal of approval to a Chinese global posture that is assertive, ambitious and with as yet an undefined end-game. That end-game is being defined by Xi Jinping, who during this congress is expected to be confirmed in his post as  Party leader for an unprecedented third term. President Xi has been making speeches both at the main session of the Congress and at side events. This morning he told a meeting of Communist activists on the fringe of the main event, that Chinese people should stay united as "a piece of hard steel" under the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and “pull together with one mind to power the giant ship of national rejuvenation through the wind and waves to reach its destination.” In a more formal speech to the Congress plenum a day before Xi had given an indication of what that destination is: “Incomparable glory’ awaits China on world stage”, Xi Jinping told the party congress. By 2049, when the People’s Republic will hold centennial celebrations, China should become a leading power in all aspects, the leader stated So no modesty or lack of ambition here. But what does this mean for the rest of the world?
dennis2020 Mon, 10/17/2022 - 11:30
Monday Commentary: Success in Prague
On 6 October in Prague, the leaders of 44 European countries gathered in the historic settings of Prague Castle for the first meeting of the European Political Community (EPC). Such an initiative was needed. The war in Ukraine, Russia’s bellicose postures, and the threat of an energy crisis caused by the disruption of Russian energy supplies have helped focus the minds of European leaders. Prague offered an opportunity to discuss and analyse and approximate positions. Important discussions on the margins of the main event, such as the quadripartite meeting with Armenia and Azerbaijan and the Turkey-Armenia leaders meeting, contributed to the process of resolving some of the more intractable problems of the last decades. The work of the European Political Community needs now to be taken forward. In future, the biggest task of the EPC will be to engage Russia. But not yet. For the moment the Community has done what is needed, which is to contribute to build a united front against Russian aggression in Ukraine. It must continue to do so until Russian aggression ends.
dennis2020 Mon, 10/10/2022 - 07:27
Editor's choice
Monday Commentary
Opinion: Preparing for the worst, whilst working to avoid it

Opinion: Preparing for the worst, whilst working to avoid it

Putin’s annexation of parts of Ukraine takes the world to the verge of War, but a stronger and more united global condemnation of Russian aggression can still make Putin step back. Monday Commentary is back. Every Monday, commonspace.eu Managing Editor, Dennis Sammut discusses a hot topic on the European and international agenda. This week he weighs the implications of Russia’s annexation of parts of Ukraine, and the dilemma it poses to the rest of the world. He argues that it takes the world to the verge of a world war involving nuclear-armed states. But this can still be avoided if there is more global unity in condemnation of the Russian aggression.