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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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Armenia and Azerbaijan recognise each other's territorial integrity and sovereignty

Armenia and Azerbaijan recognise each other's territorial integrity and sovereignty

After hours of negotiations, with the mediation of European Council president Charles Michel, and French president Emanuel Macron, the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan , Nikol Pashinyan and Ilham Aliyev, have taken a historic step towards lasting peace. Both countries have recognised each other's territorial integrity and sovereignty, and committed to tangible steps to establish peace and stability in the region. President Macron tweeted early this morning "Tonight, Armenia and Azerbaijan confirmed their commitment to the Charter of the United Nations and the Alma Ata 1991 Declaration through which both recognize each other's territorial integrity and sovereignty." The four leaders held two long sessions of negotiations on the margins of the summit of the European Political Community which was launched at Prague Castle on Thursday afternoon (6 October). It is also understood that a number of other decisions were taken. It was agreed that the EU will deploy on the Armenian side of the Armenia-Azerbaijan border a civilian monitoring mission, for a period of two months starting from October.

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Albania cuts diplomatic relations with Iran accusing it of a massive cyberattack

Albania cuts diplomatic relations with Iran accusing it of a massive cyberattack

Albania broke diplomatic relations with Iran on Wednesday. Announcing the decision, Prime Minister Edi Rama said Iran had launched a massive cyberattack against the country during the summer. “The Council of Ministers has decided on the severance of diplomatic relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran with immediate effect,” he said. The prime minister accused Iran of targeting the computer networks of Albanian institutions on July 15 in an attempt to “paralyze public services and hack data and electronic communications from the government systems.” He said: “The said attack failed its purpose. Damages may be considered minimal compared to the goals of the aggressor. All systems came back fully operational and there was no irreversible wiping of data.” He added that Iranian diplomats and support staff would be given 24 hours to leave the country.
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EU tells Georgia the door for membership is still ajar

EU tells Georgia the door for membership is still ajar

Relations between Georgia and the European Union  have been passing through a difficult patch recently. Whilst both sides profess eternal love and loyalty, tensions over ongoing domestic Georgian political processes have marred what was once a good example of a harmonious relationship. Georgian prime minister, Irakli Garibashvili is currently in Brussels where he is co-chairing, with EU High Representative, Josep Borrell, a session of the EU-Georgia Council, the body that oversees the relationship. At the heart of the current state of relations is the EU's refusal to grant candidate status to Georgia, as it did recently with Ukraine and Moldova. The Georgian government is still reeling from the snub, and the Georgian opposition continues to use this as a stick to beat the government. At a press conference yesterday both sides tried to downplay differences, and the EU made it clear that the door for Georgian EU membership, whilst not exactly wide-open, was still ajar.
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Armenia and Azerbaijan agree to start working on the text of a peace treaty

Armenia and Azerbaijan agree to start working on the text of a peace treaty

The president of the European Council, Charles Michel, on Wednesday (31 August) hosted in Brussels the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan, prime minister Nikol Pashinyan and president Ilham Aliyev, for talks on the future of relations between the two countries and peace in the South Caucasus. Michel said that at the meeting it was agreed "to step up substantive work to advance on the peace treaty governing inter-state relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan and tasked the Foreign Ministers to meet within one month to work on draft texts." President Michel underlined that "it is important to take the population along on both sides and prepare them for a long-term sustainable peace. Public messaging is critical in this regard – in a sensitive situation like this every word spoken in public is obviously listened to by the other side and weighed. The EU is ready to further step up its support towards a long-term sustainable peace. The EU will also continue to push for the advancement of economic development for the benefit of both countries and their populations." The three leaders agreed to meet again in this format by the end of November.
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Michel hosts Aliyev and Pashinyan in Brussels tomorrow

Michel hosts Aliyev and Pashinyan in Brussels tomorrow

The president of the European Council, Charles Michel, will host the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan in Brussels tomorrow Wednesday (30 August) as part of efforts to help the two countries achieve lasting peace. This will be the third time Charles Michel will be welcoming President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan and Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan of Armenia in less than nine months. The meeting is scheduled to start at 13.00 Brussels time. Ahead of tomorrow's meeting, Michel on Tuesday (30 August) held separate telephone conversations with the two leaders. Sources told commonspace.eu that last minute details regarding the meeting tomorrow were discussed to ensure the success of the meeting. Michel also touched on issues related with the bilateral agenda between the EU and the two countries.
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France and Algeria open new chapter in relations

France and Algeria open new chapter in relations

French President Emmanuel Macron and his Algerian counterpart Abdelmadjid Tebboune Saturday declared a "new, irreversible dynamic of progress" in the relations between the two countries, at the end of a state visit by the French president to the former French colony. The three-day visit comes less than two months after Algeria marked six decades of independence following 132 years of French rule and a devastating eight-year war. It also comes as European powers scramble to replace Russian energy imports -- including with supplies from Algeria, Africa's top gas exporter, which in turn is seeking to expand its clout in North Africa and the Sahel. In their joint declaration on Saturday, the two leaders said "France and Algeria have decided to open a new era ... laying the foundation for a renewed partnership expressed through a concrete and constructive approach, focused on future projects and youth." Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune had on Thursday hailed "promising prospects for improving the special partnership" between the two countries. The baggage of history weighs heavily on Franco-Algerian relations. Speaking at a joint press conference with his Algerian counterpart on Thursday evening, Macron -- the first French president to be born since Algerian independence in 1962 -- said that "we didn't the choose the past, we inherited it".
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Progress made in talks between Turkey and NATO candidate countries Finland and Sweden

Progress made in talks between Turkey and NATO candidate countries Finland and Sweden

Finland and Sweden reiterated on Friday that they will cooperate with Turkey in the fight against terrorism during their first trilateral meeting since the NATO Madrid summit when the mechanism for consultation was created as part of the process leading to membership in NATO for the two previously neutral Scandinavian countries. The meeting was held in Helsinki. According to a statement from the office of Turkey's Presidential Spokesperson, Ibrahim Kalin's, Finland and Sweden reiterated their commitment to show full solidarity and cooperation with Turkey in the fight against all forms and manifestations of terrorism, pledging to fully support Turkey against all threats to its national security. “It was agreed to intensify cooperation at the technical level among the relevant institutions in order to achieve concrete progress on the issues addressed within the scope of the mechanism,” the statement added. During the meeting, the fundamentals of the permanent joint mechanism were determined while developments on the realization of the commitments in the trilateral deal were reviewed as well as concrete steps to be taken in the future.
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Impasse in the dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo

Impasse in the dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo

High level talks between Serbia and Kosovo, facilitated by the European Union, have failed to unblock the impasse between them.  EU High Representative Josep Borrell hosted the talks between Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić and Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti in Belgrade on Thursday, 18 August. Kosovo declared independence unilaterally from Serbia in 2008, after a long period of tension with Belgrade which had already emerged during the time of Yugoslavia.  Serbia still considers Kosovo an integral part of its territory. Around a hundred countries, including most EU member states, recognise Kosovo's independence. Kosovo has a population of 1.8 million population, which is 90% ethnic Albanian. However 5% are Serbs, and it is the rights of this community that are the present stumbling block, but it is also recognised that differences are more substantial and wide-ranging. A clearly disappointed EU High Representative told the media after the event that the immediate objective of the talks had failed, but that both sides agreed to keep talking.
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Estonia removes Soviet WWII memorial amid controversy

Estonia removes Soviet WWII memorial amid controversy

Estonia has removed a Soviet-era World War II memorial from Narva, a large Russian-speaking majority city, accusing Russia of using such monuments to stir up tensions. In a controversial move that is likely to bring relations with Russia to a new low Estonia has decided to remove a tank which formed part of the War memorial in the town which is close to the Russian border. People in the Baltic States fought on both sides during WWII, and issues regarding remembrance activities and monuments remain highly sensitive and controversial.  Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said in a statement that the move was a response to “increasing tensions and confusion around memorials in Narva”. “We must act quickly to ensure public order and internal security,” she said on Tuesday. Local opposition to removing the monument had sparked fears of a repetition of the rioting that broke out in Tallinn in 2007 due to the removal of a Soviet monument. A World War II-era T-34 tank that formed part of the memorial in Narva will be taken to the Estonian War Museum and a mass grave of wartime victims will instead be given a “neutral grave marker”.
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International community calls on Russia to withdraw from Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant

International community calls on Russia to withdraw from Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant

EU member states and other countries in the international community have issued a statement on the situation around the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, and have called on Russia to withdraw its troops from the territory of the plant. In a statement the 42 countries called on Russia to immediately withdraw its military forces and all other unauthorised personnel from the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, its immediate surroundings, and all of Ukraine so that the operator and the Ukrainian authorities can resume their sovereign responsibilities within Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders and the legitimate operating staff can conduct their duties without outside interference, threat, or unacceptably harsh working conditions. This will also enable the IAEA to carry out its verification pursuant to Ukraine’s safeguards obligations under safe and secure conditions and in a timely manner. The statement said that the international community will hold Russia accountable for its aggression, and Russia must bear full responsibility for its unlawful actions in Ukraine.