Region

EU plus

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).

Germany officially confirms export of Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, approves re-export from third countries
After weeks of growing pressure from allies, Berlin has finally announced that it will send 14 of its Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. It has also approved the re-export of Leopard 2 tanks from third countries. Other countries have also pledged to send Ukraine Leopard 2 tanks, including Poland, Norway and Portugal. It has also been reported that Spain intends to send Ukraine the German-made tanks too. Last week, the UK announced that it would send 14 of its Challenger 2 tanks to Kyiv. The announcement comes as the United States is reportedly considering arming Ukraine with its around 30 of its powerful Abrams tanks, and reports of Switzerland intending to lift its ban on supplying Kyiv with arms. The Leopard 2 first came into service in 1979, has a top speed of 68km/h (42mph), and a maximum range of around 500km (311 miles). They are specifically designed to compete with the Russian T-90 tanks, which Moscow has been using during its full-scale invasion.
patrickn97 Wed, 01/25/2023 - 11:51 Poland officially asks Germany for permission to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine
Poland has officially asked Germany for permission to send some of its German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, the Polish Defence Minister announced in a tweet on Tuesday morning (24 January). In the tweet, Mariusz Blaszczak wrote: "The Germans have already received our request for consent to the transfer of Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. I also appeal to the German side to join the coalition of countries supporting Ukraine with Leopard 2 tanks. This is our common cause because it is about the security of the whole of Europe!'' Germany has come under increasing pressure in recent weeks to either supply Ukraine with its Leopard 2 tanks, or at least approve other countries' re-export of them. German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock had said on Sunday (22 January) in an interview with French television that she would not "stand in the way" of Poland if it wanted to sent its Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. On his part, German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius said on Tuesday morning that Berlin had yet to decide on the delivery of combat tanks to Ukraine, saying that "There is no news that I can deliver at this point. I have said that shortly a decision will be made and I can only assume that will be the case."
patrickn97 Tue, 01/24/2023 - 12:38

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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
Michel in Tashkent to cement EU-Uzbekistan ties

European Council president, Charles Michel was in Tashkent on Friday (28 October) for talks with Uzbek president Mirziyoyev.

Once considered a parriah in the international system because of gross human rights abuses, Uzbekistan has in recent years adopted a trajectory for reform, and of opening up to the world. Good relations with the EU are now an important pillar of Uzbek foreign policy.

For the EU too relations with Uzbekistan are increasingly important given the Union's strategy towards Central Asia.

dennis2020 Sat, 10/29/2022 - 09:36
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News
Historic first EU-Central Asia regional high level meeting

Historic first EU-Central Asia regional high level meeting

On 27 October 2022, President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, President of the Kyrgyz Republic Sadyr Zhaparov, President of the Republic of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon, President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev and President of Turkmenistan Serdar Berdimuhamedov (represented by Turkmenistan's Deputy Chair of the Cabinet of Ministers) and President of the European Council Charles Michel welcomed the first regional high-level meeting in Astana. A joint statement issued after the historic meeting said that "in an open and friendly atmosphere of mutual respect and trust, the participants summarized the past period of multifaceted and mutually beneficial cooperation between Central Asian states and the EU and reaffirmed their commitment to continue building a strong diversified and forward-looking partnership underpinned by shared values and mutual interests. They reaffirmed their commitment to work together for peace, security, democracy, rule of law and sustainable development in full respect for international law. They expressed continued commitment to uphold the UN Charter, particularly the principles of respect for the independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity of all countries., non-use of force or threat of its use and peaceful settlement of international disputes." In the 30 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Central Asian States and the EU, interregional cooperation has advanced in many areas and sectors and serves as an example of a multilateral partnership for prosperity and sustainability.
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Rishi Sunak sworn in as new UK Prime Minister, after period of political turmoil

Rishi Sunak sworn in as new UK Prime Minister, after period of political turmoil

42-year-old Rishi Sunak was sworn in as the youngest UK Prime Minister in modern times on Tuesday (25 October), succeeding his party colleague Liz Truss as prime minister. He was mandated by King Charles III at Buckingham Palace to form a new government after Truss resigned today. In his first address as prime minister Sunak said that he wanted to unite the country and try to shore up the economy. "I will unite our country not with words, but with action. I will work day in, and day out to deliver for you. This government will have integrity, professionalism, and accountability at every level. Trust is earned and I will earn yours." Sunak said.
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EU monitors will arrive on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border within two weeks

EU monitors will arrive on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border within two weeks

It is expected that European Union monitors will arrive on the Armenian side of the Armenia-Azerbaijan border before the end of this month. An EU technical assessment mission arrived in Yerevan on Friday (14 October), and EU foreign ministers are expected to discuss the matter and endorse a mandate and a budget for the mission on Monday (17 October). A statement from the European External Action Service on Friday evening stated: Following the request by Armenia, an EU technical assessment mission has today arrived in Yerevan. The task of this mission is to prepare for the deployment of EU monitors to the Armenian side of the Armenia-Azerbaijan border later this month, in line with the agreement reached on the 6 October at the quadrilateral meeting between President Aliyev, Prime Minister Pashinyan, President Macron and President Michel. EU Member States will further discuss at the Foreign Affairs Council on Monday 17 October the proposal of High Representative Josep Borrell to deploy a monitoring mission, which will have as its primary aims contributing to stability and building confidence as well as supporting the work of the border commissions to improve security along the bilateral border.
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Opinion
Opinion: Russia fears it is being elbowed out of the South Caucasus, and prepares to react

Opinion: Russia fears it is being elbowed out of the South Caucasus, and prepares to react

Russia is worried that the success of European diplomacy in approximating the positions of Armenia and Azerbaijan, and the prospect of a peace agreement before the end of the year, would see it elbowed out of the South Caucasus. Russia may use its presence in Karabakh to throw spokes in the wheel, writes Vasif Huseynov in this op-ed for commonspace.eu. "This situation seriously threatens peace and stability in the South Caucasus. The region would  descend into a catastrophic escalations if the present peace efforts fail, and the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict becomes another theater of the Russia-West confrontation. Baku and Yerevan, having declared their willingness to recognize each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, would suffer the most from such a situation. Hence, both should make efforts to reach a deal with a delicate geopolitical balance", he writes.