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EU and US make a generous financial pledge to Armenia as they affirm their support for its sovereignty, democracy, territorial integrity, and socio-economic resilience

EU and US make a generous financial pledge to Armenia as they affirm their support for its sovereignty, democracy, territorial integrity, and socio-economic resilience

The European Union and the United States have made a generous financial pledge to Armenia and reaffirmed their support for its sovereignty, democracy, territorial integrity, and socio-economic resilience. President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, EU High Representative/Vice-President, Josep Borrell, Secretary of State of the United States of America, Antony Blinken, USAID Administrator Samantha Power, and Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan, met today, April 5, 2024 in Brussels to reaffirm support for Armenia's sovereignty, democracy, territorial integrity, and socio-economic resilience. The statement concluded by saying that "A prosperous, sovereign, and democratic Armenia that develops its own partnerships and freely sets its own course will contribute to regional stability and prosperity."
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Blinken and Von der Leyen speak to Aliyev ahead of their meeting with Pashinyan

Blinken and Von der Leyen speak to Aliyev ahead of their meeting with Pashinyan

Armenian prime minister, Nikol Pashinyan, is in Brussels, where he is expected to meet on Friday afternoon (5 April) with US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken and European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen. The unusual format of the tripartite meeting is being billed as "the joint EU-US-Armenia high-level meeting in support of Armenia’s resilience". There has been intense speculation about the purpose of the meeting, and the likely outcomes. Azerbaijan has seen it as an attempt to encourage Armenia to take a more hardline position in its dealings with it, including in the current negotiations of an Armenia-Azerbaijan peace treaty. Russia has been vocal in criticising the meeting, seeing it as yet another western attempt at snatching Armenia away from the Russian orbit. Other countries, such as Turkey and Iran have also been critical of the three way meeting. Behind the scenes there have been a lot of work going on in order to calm down neves, especially in Baku, and ahead of the meeting, both Secretary of State Blinken and President von der Leyen, spoke to Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev.

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European Commission launches a Global Alliance to Counter Migrant Smuggling

European Commission launches a Global Alliance to Counter Migrant Smuggling

Criminal networks take advantage of people's desperation, and this abuse often leads to loss of life. Migrant smugglers squeezing hundreds of people onto unseaworthy boats, resulted in a staggering humanitarian toll of over 28 000 people having drowned or missing in the Mediterranean Sea since 2014. The main beneficiaries are the criminals, the smuggling networks in countries of origin, transit and destination. The current legislative framework is the Facilitators Package from 2002. Under the Facilitators Package, any person who intentionally assists the unauthorised entry, transit, or residence of a non-EU national into the EU, or, for financial gain, to reside there is to be sanctioned unless they are doing so for humanitarian reasons. On Tuesday (28 November), the European Commission proposed new legislation to prevent and fight migrant smuggling. The Commission has also launched a Call to Action for a Global Alliance to Counter Migrant Smuggling, at an International Conference hosted this week in Brussels. The Commission will ensure that the Global Alliance to Counter Migrant Smuggling will work at bilateral and multilateral level as well as through the work of the UNODC. Regular stocktaking at political level will be ensured, with the first event taking place in Copenhagen in the spring 2024. The Conference will be the first such opportunity to take stock of the achievements of the Global Alliance. Migrant smuggling is a criminal activity that disrespects human life and the dignity of people in the pursuit of financial or other material benefits. Smuggling networks make substantial profits from their criminal activities, ranging between EUR 4.7 – 6 billion worldwide annually.  The modi operandi of smuggling networks change rapidly, adapting to circumstances and responses by national authorities. This is why the Commission is increasing its efforts to tackle this crime at a global scale.
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Turkiye and UK sign landmark security and defence agreement

Turkiye and UK sign landmark security and defence agreement

The UK and Türkiye, on Friday (25 November) agreed to work more closely together to help bring greater stability, security and prosperity to both nations. UK Defence Secretary, Grant Shapps, signed a Statement of Intent on defence co-operation, with his Turkish counterpart, Minister of National Defense, Yaşar Güler. This will provide the framework for closer working to deliver additional activities that will benefit the security and prosperity of both countries and, in so doing, enhancing national, regional and international security. Following the signing, activity will see closer collaboration between both countries’ defence industries, the identification of possible joint training exercises in the Mediterranean, and the exploration of security support around North Africa and the Middle East. As well as discussing the need for de-escalation in the Middle East, the British Defence Secretary thanked his counterpart for utilising Türkiye’s influence as the gatekeeper to the Black Sea to enable the export of millions of tons of Ukrainian grain to nations who need it most. There was strong agreement on the need to keep focused on our collective support for Ukraine in the face of Russia’s continuing aggression.
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UN Security Council finally adopts resolution on Gaza

UN Security Council finally adopts resolution on Gaza

The UN security council on Wednesday adopted a resolution calling for urgent and extended humanitarian pauses and aid corridors throughout the Gaza Strip. They should remain in place for a sufficient number of days so that aid is able to reach civilians who need it, the council said, especially children, who are mentioned in almost every paragraph of the resolution. The vote marked the first time council members have managed to adopt a resolution related to the war in Gaza. The resolution also calls for the release of all hostages and for all sides to refrain from depriving Gazan civilians of the basic goods and services that are critical to their survival. It further demands the urgent implementation of recovery efforts to find those trapped under rubble of damaged and destroyed buildings. Throughout the resolution, the council also rejected the forced displacement of Palestinians. Twelve of the 15 council members voted in favor of the resolution, with US, UK and Russia abstaining. Before the vote, Russia’s representative, Vassily Nebenzia, proposed an amendment calling for “an immediate, durable and sustained humanitarian truce leading to the cessation of hostilities.” This was voted down by the council, with only five members voting for it, including the UAE. The US voted against it and the nine remaining members abstained. The US and Russia have both accused each other of blocking attempts to agree on action related to the conflict in Gaza. The council, the UN body responsible for maintaining international peace and security, failed to adopt four previous draft resolutions, exposing the bitter divisions between members. The US has been adamant about rejecting any language that calls for a ceasefire, does not assert what Washington describes as “Israel’s right to self-defense,” or fails to unequivocally condemn Hamas for its actions. The twelve members of the UN Security Council who voted for the resolution were: Albania, Brazil, China, Ecuador, France, Gabon, Ghana, Japan, Malta, Mozambique, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates.
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Arab and Muslim countries issue strongly worded statement calling for cease-fire in Gaza and return to Middle East peace talks

Arab and Muslim countries issue strongly worded statement calling for cease-fire in Gaza and return to Middle East peace talks

At the end of a rare joint summit, in the Saudi Capital, Riyadh, leaders of Arab and Muslim countries issued a strongly worded joint statement on Saturday (11 November) condemning Israel for its war in Gaza, calling for an immediate end to hostilities, and the launch of efforts towards a lasting peace in the region based on a two-state solution. In their statement, the Arab and Muslim leaders said: "a just, lasting and comprehensive peace, which is a strategic option, is the only way to establish security and stability for all peoples of the region and protect them from cycles of violence and wars. This, we stress, will not be achieved without ending the Israeli occupation and resolving the Palestinian cause on the basis of the two-state solution. We affirm that it is impossible to achieve regional peace while overlooking the Palestinian cause or attempting to ignore the rights of the Palestinian people. We stress that the Arab Peace Initiative, backed by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, is an essential reference to this end." In their statement, the Arab and Muslim leaders said: "we hold Israel, the occupying force, responsible for the continuation and aggravation of the conflict, which is the result of its violation of the rights of the Palestinian people, and of the Islamic and Christian sanctities...... We condemn all forms of hatred and discrimination, and all acts that perpetuate hatred and extremism. We warn of the disastrous repercussions of the retaliatory aggression by Israel against the Gaza Strip, which amounts to a war crime, and the barbaric crimes committed also in the West Bank and Al-Quds Al-Sharif. " In their statement, the leaders announced  they were assigning the Foreign Minister of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in its capacity as the presidency of the 32nd Arab and Islamic Summit, along with counterparts from Jordan, Egypt, Qatar, Türkiye, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Palestine, and any other interested countries, and the Secretary-General of both organisations to initiate immediate international action on behalf of all member states of the OIC and the Arab League to formulate an international move to halt the war in Gaza and to pressure for a real and serious political process to achieve permanent and comprehensive peace in accordance with established international references.
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G7 foreign ministers address global issues at their meeting in Tokyo

G7 foreign ministers address global issues at their meeting in Tokyo

The G7 Foreign Ministers, representing Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the High Representative of the European Union, concluded their two-day meeting in Tokyo on Wednesday (8 November), with a statement touching on a number of ongoing global crises. Winding up their meeting at the Iikura Guest House on 7-8 November under Japan's G7 Presidency, the ministers called for humanitarian pauses in the Israel-Hamas war to allow in aid and help the release of hostages and sought a return to a "broader peace process", as Israeli forces continue to strike the Gaza Strip. In the joint statement they said that Israel had the right to defend itself, while underscoring the need to protect civilians and to comply with international humanitarian law. On Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the Ministers said: Our steadfast commitment to supporting Ukraine’s fight for its independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity will never waver. We continue to condemn in the strongest possible terms Russia’s ongoing aggression, and we commit to standing by Ukraine for as long as it takes, while increasing economic pressure and imposing robust sanctions and other restrictions against Russia. A just and lasting peace cannot be realized without the immediate, complete, and unconditional withdrawal of Russia’s troops and military equipment from the internationally recognized territory of Ukraine. The statement also made reference to the situation in Central Asia and the South Caucasus. In their concluding statement, the ministers expressed unwavering support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Central Asian nations. "We remain resolved to support the sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of Central Asian countries," the statement read. On the South Caucasus the statement said: "We are gravely concerned over the humanitarian consequences of the displacement of Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh after the military operation conducted by Azerbaijan. We urge Azerbaijan to fully comply with its obligations under international humanitarian law and welcome international efforts to address urgent humanitarian needs for those who have been displaced. We underline our support for advancing a sustainable and lasting peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan based on the principles of non-use of force, respect for sovereignty, the inviolability of borders, and territorial integrity."
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UN General Assembly overwhelmingly votes for a humanitarian truce in Gaza leading to a cessation of hostilities

UN General Assembly overwhelmingly votes for a humanitarian truce in Gaza leading to a cessation of hostilities

The United Nations General Assembly on Friday (27 October), voted overwhelmingly, with 120 countries in favour, 14 against and 45 abstentions, to a resolution calling for an end of hostilities in Gaza and for humanitarian relief to the Palestinian people of Gaza. The resolution calls for an “immediate, durable and sustained humanitarian truce leading to a cessation of hostilities.” The vote, whilst not binding, gives moral support to efforts to get a similar resolution passed in the Security Council. As decided by the General Assembly earlier, the resolution required a two-thirds majority of the members present and voting to be adopted. There are 193 members of the United Nations. Most members of the Non-Aligned Movement, eight members of the European Union, and UN Security Council members France, China  and Russia were amongst those voting for the resolution. There could be noted however divisions in the voting patterns of EU members: Several of the EU 27 member states voted for the resolution, including: Belgium, France, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, Spain and Slovenia. Five, joined the United States and Israel to vote against, namely Austria, Croatia, Czechia, Hungary Most EU countries abstained, including Bulgaria, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, The Netherlands, Poland and Romania, Slovakia and Sweden. Of the three South Caucasus countries, Armenia and Azerbaijan voted for the resolution, Georgia abstained. Ukraine and Moldova also abstained.
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Silk Road Forum opens in Tbilisi

Silk Road Forum opens in Tbilisi

The two-day Tbilisi Silk Road Forum “Connecting Today, Resilient Tomorrow” opened on October 26 with a speech by Georgian Prime Minister, Irakli Garibashvili. Over 2000 delegates from 63 countries, including the Prime Ministers of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Montenegro, are attending the event. In his address to the fourth edition of the Forum, Garibashvili said the Georgian Dream Government had built and maintained an “unprecedented and uninterrupted” decade of “peace and stability” since 2012, and had brought “confidence and predictability to our nation and our partners”. One of the major goals of my Government is to avoid war and secure peace. Despite issues posed by our geographic location, regional and global security challenges, including the ongoing war in Ukraine and alarming tensions in the Middle East, through prudent policies and close coordination with our partners, we have managed to keep our people and country safe while contributing as a responsible member of the international community”, he told the audience. Garibashvili reminded the Forum participants about a "full-scale military aggression" that Georgia experienced in 2008 and "continues to endure its consequences". This is still evident in the occupation of 20 percent of the Georgian territory by the Russian Federation and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people from their homes. I confidently state that despite the devastation that we have suffered, we have not hesitated to pursue our ambitions. We have been gradually transforming Georgia into a dynamic society fully committed to peace, stability and economic development", he said. The PM also reviewed his Government’s Peaceful Neighbourhood Initiative for the region by saying “we are prepared to engage our neighbours and friendly nations of Armenia and Azerbaijan to finally bring lasting peace to the South Caucasus”.  Today, I am delighted to host both of my dear colleagues - [Armenian] Prime Minister Pashinyan and [Azerbaijani] Prime Minister Asadov”, he continued in the opening address. The Georgian official also stressed “permanent peace” would “benefit all of our countries” as well as the wider region, and bring “deserved prosperity to our nations”.