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Stories in this section cover the EU-27 countries plus the UK, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Andorra and the Balkan Countries (Albania, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia).

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Progress in EU hosted talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan

Progress in EU hosted talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan

A third round of meetings between the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan hosted by the European Union in Brussels have resulted in progress on a range of issues as the two countries work to resolve the long standing conflict between them. European Council president, Charles Michel welcomed president Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan and prime minister Nikol Pashinyan of Armenia for another meeting in trilateral format on Sunday (22 May). He later described the talks as "frank and productive". In a statement to the media late on Sunday night Michel said the talks focused on the situation in the South Caucasus and the development of EU relations with both countries as well as the broader region. Summarising the meeting, Michel said "the discussion was frank and productive. We reviewed the entire set of issues. We had a detailed discussion on humanitarian issues, including demining, and efforts to free detainees and address the fate of missing persons." He listed a number of outcomes from the meeting including on border issues, connectivity, on a future peace agreement and on socio economic development. In conclusion president Michel said that he also stressed the importance of preparing the populations for long-term sustainable peace. The EU is ready to step up its support. "We agreed to remain in close contact and will meet again in the same format by July/August." 

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Editor's choice
News
NATO membership can be arranged quickly once Finland and Sweden submit application

NATO membership can be arranged quickly once Finland and Sweden submit application

The NATO membership of Finland and Sweden will be arranged quickly if they apply to join the Western military alliance. There will also be 'interim measures' until the two countries become full members of the organisation. NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said this on Thursday (28 April) at a press conference at the European Parliament in Brussels. "If they decide to apply, Finland and Sweden will be warmly welcomed and I expect the process to go quickly".Sweden and Finland announced two weeks ago that they are considering membership in NATO. The Swedish government may want to submit a formal application as early as the end of June. The two countries have had a neutral status for various historical reasons. Since the war in Ukraine, their position on neutrality has changed.
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Opinion
Russia’s war against Ukraine: where do we stand and what can the future bring?

Russia’s war against Ukraine: where do we stand and what can the future bring?

"Two months into the war against Ukraine there is no end in sight and Russia’s most recent actions even point to an intensification of the fight. The Russian leadership must stop the aggression and reconsider the unacceptable path it has chosen: for the sake of Ukraine, Russia, Europe and the wider world", says Josep Borrell, EU High Representative for foreign and security policy in this article which first appeared on his blog on the website of the European External Action Service on 26 April 2022. In the article the head of the EU diplomacy says that "Defending Ukraine from Russia’s invasion is rejecting the law of the jungle, the notion that “might makes right”. Being “neutral” is a false concept here. One country has invaded another one. Putting them on the same footing fails to differentiate between the attacker and the attacked. Such “neutrality” may respond, of course, to a variety of reasons, from hidden alignment to fear of reprisals, but it becomes in practice support to Russia and its war of aggression."
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News
A sigh of relief in Europe as Macron sweeps to victory

A sigh of relief in Europe as Macron sweeps to victory

There was a sigh of relief across Europe on the news of the victory of Emmanuel Macron in the second round of the French presidential elections held on Sunday (24 April), thwarting an attempt to unseat him by far right candidate Marie Le Pen. Many in Europe are describing the outcome as a win for the European Union.  "Bravo Emanuel", European Council president Charles Michel wrote on twitter. “In this turbulent period, we need a solid Europe and a France totally committed to a more sovereign and more strategic European Union.” Whilst Macron was always the favorite to win, European countries watched anxiously as his lead in opinion polls narrowed in the days before the ballot. A victory for Le Pen, a deeply eurosceptic politician who has professed admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin, would have had huge implications for the stability of the EU. Le Pen had long flirted with the idea of leaving the bloc, although she insisted during her campaign that she had no “secret agenda” this time for quitting the group or the euro single currency.
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Charles Michel meets Zelensky in Kyiv and visits Borodyanka

Charles Michel meets Zelensky in Kyiv and visits Borodyanka

European Council president Charles Michel, who is currently paying a surprise visit to the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, met on Wednesday with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.  Later, Zelensky tweeted: "My valuable friend Charles Michel is in Kyiv today. Sanctions against Russia, defense and financial support for our country, and responses to a survey on compliance with EU criteria have been discussed. I thank for the meaningful meeting and solidarity with the Ukrainian people," said Zelensky. During the course of the day, Michel also visited the town Borodyanka. He said that the situation in the town was the same as in Bucha and many other Ukrainian towns. "History will not forget the war crimes that have been committed here. There can be no peace without justice," he said.
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Commentary
Europeans must recognise the challenges ahead, and prepare for them

Europeans must recognise the challenges ahead, and prepare for them

The international community, and particularly the European Union -  because this remains first and foremost a European problem - has to prepare itself for three huge challenges ahead: rebuilding and embracing Ukraine; rebuilding European security in a way that it can deal with a Russian threat in the future; and determining how to deal with a wounded and weakened Russia which in the short term can be even more dangerous. All European, from the leaders at the top, to the citizens at the grass roots must accept the truth as it is: there is now a new reality which requires a different response; there is a huge cost, which all Europeans will be expected to pay; there are risks and dangers that we all thought were buried in the past, which now need to be prepared for. Europe has the strength and the resilience, the resources and the capacities, necessary to deal with these challenges as long as the enormity of the current and emerging situation is well understood, and properly addressed.
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News
EU officials see with their own eyes Russian horrors in Ukraine

EU officials see with their own eyes Russian horrors in Ukraine

European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen and EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, travelled to Kyiv on Friday in a show of solidarity with the Ukrainian government and people, on a day when again dozens were killed in indiscriminate Russian attacks against civilians at a railway station, and when further evidence emerged of a Russian massacre of Ukrainians in the town of Bucha..  The two EU leaders started their trip in Bucha, scene of an earlier Russian massacre. European Commission president Von der Leyen said the civilian deaths in the Ukrainian town showed the “cruel face” of Russia’s army. In Bucha, where forensic investigators started to exhume bodies from a mass grave, Von der Leyen looked visibly moved by what she saw in the town northwest of Kyiv where Ukrainian officials say hundreds of civilians were killed by Russian forces.
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Opinion
Opinion: A game-changing Aliyev-Pashinyan-Michel summit in Brussels

Opinion: A game-changing Aliyev-Pashinyan-Michel summit in Brussels

This week's summit of Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev and Armenian prime minister Nikol Pashinyan, mediated by European Council president Charles Michel, marks a growing mediating role for the EU, something which is welcomed by both Baku and Yerevan, writes Vasif Husseynov in this op-ed. There are now two separate tracks in the peace process, one led by Brussels, the other by Moscow. So far they are complimentary, and should remain so, he argues
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News
The process for negotiating a peace treaty between Armenia and Azerbaijan has started

The process for negotiating a peace treaty between Armenia and Azerbaijan has started

After four hours of intensive discussions in Brussels on Wednesday evening  (6 April), European Council president Charles Michel announced that the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan had agreed to instruct their foreign ministers to start work on the preparation of a peace treaty, which would address all necessary issues. "The process has started. It started tonight", president Michel told journalists. Michel earlier met separately with Armenian prime minister Nikol Pashinyan and with Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev before the three convened for their meeting. Michel described the meeting as "excellent and very productive".