EU reacts to military escalation in Karabakh
Tue, 09/19/2023 - 15:28
The European Union has reacted to the military escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh following the launch of what Azerbaijan calls an "anti terrorist operation". In a statement, the EU called for an immediate end to hostilities and a return to negotiations and warned that the "military escalation should not be used as a pretext to force the exodus of the local population."
Azerbaijan launches large-scale military operation in Nagorno-Karabakh (Updated)
Azerbaijan' armed forces on Tuesday (19 September) around 1300 local time, launched a large-scale military operation in Nagorno-Karabakh. The Azerbaijani forces hit military targets with artillery and drones. There are now unconfirmed reports of movement of ground forces. The Azerbaijani government says it is responding to provocations, including an incident last night when several Azerbaijanis were killed as a result of a recently planted landmine. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan convened a meeting of the National Security Council to discuss developments. In a statement, he accused Azerbaijan of trying to embroil Armenia in a large-scale conflict, and said that Azerbaijan was pursuing in Karabakh a policy of ethnic cleaning.
A statement issued by the Azerbaijani foreign ministry stated that "on September 19, the Armenian armed forces in the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan resorted to a series of large-scale military provocations and terrorist attacks."
The Armenian government in a statement once more categorically denied that its armed forces were station in Nagorno-Karabakh.
There have been no reports of incidents on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border.
Behind the scenes there are intensive diplomatic efforts to try to stop the violence from escalating.
Tue, 09/19/2023 - 13:38
Biden to meet Central Asian leaders in the first C5+1 presidential summit
For a number of years, the United States has promoted a mechanism for dialogue with the five Central Asian Republics: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Known as the C5 + 1 these meetings have usually be en held at the level of foreign minister. The first meeting was held in 2015, and the mechanism now also has a secretariat to ensure continuation between meetings.
Today (19 September) in New York, US president Joe Biden will take the relationship further, by upgrading the dialogue to presidential level. This is both symbolic and significant.
For a long time the United States has been accused of abandoning Central Asia, tacitly accepting that this was Russia's back yard. Well if it ever was, it no longer is. China has become an even more important player in Central Asia than Russia, and the Central Asian Republics are desperately trying to open up to the world. A slow, painful but hugely necessary process of reform is taking place in the five countries, in some pursued with more enthusiasm than others.
At today's meeting, President Biden is expected to give encouragement to this reform process, but the key message will be one of support for the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of the five countries - a welcome message in the region given Russia's continued pressures.
Also on the US president's agenda will be Afghanistan, which neighbours a number of the C5 countries. And of course there is the issue of sanctions against Russia as a result of its invasion of Ukraine. Russia has been trying to use the Central Asian republics to circumvent the sanctions. This is an important issue for the international community and the US president will seek the best way to secure the support of the C5 governments.
Tue, 09/19/2023 - 08:18
Pashinyan's party victorious but weakened after Sunday's elections in Yerevan
Voters in Armenia's capital Yerevan went to the polls on Sunday to elect a new city council and Mayor. The vote was seen as a test of the popularity of the current prime minister Nikol Pashinyan, and his Civic Contract party, particularly as they move towards signing a peace treaty with Azerbaijan.
Pashinyan's party emerged victorious since it gained the most votes, but the vote has been less than decisive. In fact a coalition will be required for a majority to be established in the city council following elections that were also marked by a low turnout. The Armenian Central Electoral Commission (CEC) said that as of closing of polls at 8 p.m. on Sunday, turnout was 28.5 percent, representing 234,553 voters out of 824,250 eligible.
Civil Contract's mayoral candidate in Yerevan elections is current Deputy Mayor Tigran Avinian, who served as Armenia’s deputy prime minister in 2018-2021. Hayk Marutian, a former Pashinian ally who served as Yerevan mayor from 2018 to 2021 when he was relieved of his duties by a vote of no confidence passed by the Civil Contract-dominated Council of Elders emerged in second place.
The CEC on Monday completed the electronic counting of votes. The results of all 475 polling stations have been summarized, according to which, based on preliminary data, 5 political forces are entering the Yerevan Council of Elders: Pashinyan's Civic Contract, "National Progress" (Hayk Marutian), "Mother Armenia" an alliance that has the support of former president Robert Kocharian, "Republic", a political force seen as sympathetic to Pashinyan, and "Public Voice".
Mon, 09/18/2023 - 07:53
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Opinion: Armenian and Azerbaijani experts and analysts should articulate a common vision for the future of the Karabakh Armenians
18 September 2023
In this op-ed for commonspace.eu, Onnik James Krikorian says that as the topic of the future of the Armenians of Karabakh within Azerbaijan becomes more urgent, it is now time for Armenian and Azerbaijani analysts and political scientists to elaborate potential models for integration in unison. Though Baku says it already has a plan, no details are known or even if it exists at all. And even if it does, then Armenian and Azerbaijani civil society could have suggestions and recommendations. "If they want, of course, but they should. Otherwise such models could be determined without their input and imposed from above or outside regardless of the potential consequences", he adds.
Fidan in Kazakhstan as Turkiye consolidates its position in Central Asia
Turkish Foreign Minister, Hakan Fidan was in Kazakhstan this as Türkiye intensifies its contacts with Central Asia, and the Turkic republics of the region with whom it shares strong historical and linguistic ties.
In Astana, Fidan met with the country's president Kassym-Jomart Tokayev on Monday (11 September). This was Fidan's first visit to Kazakhstan after his appointment as Turkish Foreign Minister, He was previously head of the country's intelligence service.
The visit is part of the preparations for the next summit of the Turkic States which will take place in Astana in November. The Organisation of Turkic States was established shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union as Türkiye sought to rebuild old historical and ethnic and linguistic ties with the region. But at the time Russian pressure stopped the governments of the region from getting too close to Turkiye. The situation is now very different, and with governments across Central Asia seeking new openings to the rest of the world, the Turkish connection is becoming increasingly important.
Fidan conveyed greetings from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, highlighting that the Turkish side intends to make every effort to promote cooperation between the two countries and take interaction within regional and international structures to a new level. According to Fidan, the Turkish President plans to comprehensively discuss the prospects for strengthening the strategic partnership between the two states during his upcoming visit in November, which is set to coincide with the summit of the Organization of Turkic States.
Tue, 09/12/2023 - 09:55
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Opinion: Russia has no interest in peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan
12 September 2023
The territorial conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan has never been a purely inter-state matter between the two countries. Since the beginning of the conflict in its post-Soviet period, neighboring big powers like Russia and Iran sought to manipulate the conflict and use it as an instrument for their parochial regional interests. It is a well-documented fact that Armenia succeeded to occupy the Azerbaijani territories thanks to military and political support of Russia. Likewise, it was thanks to the Russian support that Armenia was able to consolidate its control over the Karabakh region and adjacent Azerbaijani districts. The conflict has always been a critical tool for Russia to exert influence on Azerbaijan and keep Armenia under control.
India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC) hails a new era in global connectivity
India, the European Union, the United States and Saudi Arabia announced a mega deal to establish the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC) at an event on the sidelines of the G20 summit on Saturday. The leaders of India, Italy, France, Germany, the United States, the United Arab Emirates, the European Union and Saudi Arabia signed the memorandum of understanding.
While announcing the corridor at the G20 summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that IMEC will usher in a new chapter in global connectivity and sustainable development. He also stated that the corridor would act as a "major medium of economic integration between India, West Asia, and Europe”.
The project will be developed under the G7 nations’ Partnership for Global Infrastructure Investment (PGII) initiative. PGII aims to bridge the infrastructure gap in developing countries. The new IMEC project is being seen as a response to China’s Belt and Road initiative. While the cost of the project has not been officially announced, reports indicated that the countries might spend around $20 billion on developing the corridor. The new project will consist of two corridors. The east corridor will connect India with Gulf countries and the northern corridor will connect Arabian Gulf with Europe.
The corridors will consist of a ship-to-rail transit network to facilitate cost-effective transport routes for the countries. The memorandum of understanding read,” It will enable goods and services to transit to, from, and between India, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel, and Europe.” The countries also plan to lay down a cable network for electricity and digital connectivity along with pipes for clean hydrogen export.
EU President Ursula von der Leyen said that IMEC will be the most direct connection between the countries and it is expected to cut travel time by 40 per cent.
Mon, 09/11/2023 - 09:34