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).

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Macron travels to New Caledonia to solve the crisis on volatile territory

Macron travels to New Caledonia to solve the crisis on volatile territory

French President Emmanuel Macron embarked on a flight to New Caledonia Tuesday night (21 May) to address an ongoing crisis following a violent insurrection on the French territory. The archipelago, over 15,000 kilometres from mainland France, has become a top priority for the government after a week of violent protests left six people dead. The protests, between pro-independence supporters and French loyalists, were triggered by the French National Assembly’s vote to allow all citizens who have been living in New Caledonia for over 10 years to elect the local legislature. Voting in these elections has previously been reserved for citizens who settled in the archipelago before 1998 or their descendants. Pro-independence forces argue that expanding the electorate would further reduce the influence of the indigenous Kanak population, whose share of the population has decreased since France took control of the territory over 170 years ago. Proponents of the reform argue it is a democratic necessity, noting that current rules exclude even certain New Caledonia-born citizens from voting. 
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A new era of peace in the Eastern Mediterranean

A new era of peace in the Eastern Mediterranean

A ground breaking meeting between the President of Turkiye, Recip Tayip Erdogan, and Greek Prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, on Monday (13 May) is being hailed as the dawn of a new era of peace in the Eastern Mediterranean. Mitsotakis was in Ankara as the guest of the Turkish leader. There are no unsolvable problems between Athens and Ankara, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said, as he and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis praised the state of relations between the two neighbors while pledging to further enhance bilateral ties. "We had a constructive and positive meeting and discussed problems in Türkiye-Greece relations; We will solve problems through dialogue," Erdoğan said at a joint news conference with Mitsotakis. Erdoğan said that Ankara and Athens are committed to resolving issues via "cordial dialogue, good neighborly ties, and international law" as outlined in last year's Athens Declaration on Friendly Relations and Good-Neighborliness. Improvement of bilateral relations with Türkiye is yielding concrete and positive results, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said "I can only begin by thanking you for the warm hospitality today in Ankara, it was a fourth meeting in the last 10 months, which I believe proves that the two neighbors can now establish this approach of mutual understanding, no longer as some exception, but as a productive normality that is not negated by the known differences in our positions," Mitsotakis said. He said bilateral relations have been progressing, as agreed by the parties, on three levels: political dialogue, positive agenda and confidence-building measures. "I believe that it is a positive development in a difficult time for international peace, but also for the broader stability in our region," the Greek leader said.

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Commentary: EU reaches out to Central Asia’s “Cinderella”

Commentary: EU reaches out to Central Asia’s “Cinderella”

"Whilst this week’s EU-Tajikistan meeting can be dismissed as another piece of EU bureaucracy at play, for Tajikistan this mechanism is also a lifeline to the wider world," writes commonspace.eu in this commentary. "Tajikistan has a lot of potential, in terms of natural resources, tourism and connectivity which remains untapped. It has in the last couple of years made various overtures to the EU indicating a willingness to engage more. It is right that this week the EU has sent a message that it is interested too." Following an EU-Tajikistan meeting on Monday (26 June), a statement said that “the participants reviewed their cooperation, including economic and trade relations, issues related to the security of energy supply, and connectivity both within Central Asia and between Central Asia and Europe. The two sides assessed progress in implementing the outcomes of both the EU-Central Asia Sustainable Connectivity Conference, and the EU-Central Asia Economic Forum [...] During their discussions, the two sides also touched on matters of regional and international interest, including the situation in Afghanistan and Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. The EU encouraged Tajikistan’s engagement with Central Asia’s neighbouring countries and welcomed its constructive role for broader cooperation within the Central Asia region and beyond.”
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German President Steinmeier visits Kazakhstan, holds talks with Kazakh President Tokayev

German President Steinmeier visits Kazakhstan, holds talks with Kazakh President Tokayev

The German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has held talks with the Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev during an official visit to Kazakhstan on 20 June. President Tokayev said that Frank-Walter Steinmeier's state visit "opens up good opportunities for further strengthening of comprehensive cooperation between Kazakhstan and Germany", according to an official read-out from the Presidential Administration.  "We have been anticipating your visit, which is regarded as a very important one in terms of giving additional boost to the development of cooperation between Kazakhstan and Germany. Germany is considered here in Kazakhstan as a key partner in Europe. And we will be doing our utmost in order to enhance our cooperation in a variety of domains," said President Tokayev. On his part, President Steinmeier said that Germany is "not only looking back to the past 30 years of diplomatic relations, we are looking to the presence of our especially but not only economic growing relations, you are mentioning that many German companies are heavily invested in the meanwhile, here in Kazakhstan, and, you know, beyond economic relations."