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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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Editor's choice
News
Kyiv under Russian attack as African leaders arrive on peace mission

Kyiv under Russian attack as African leaders arrive on peace mission

Leaders and representatives of seven African countries - South Africa, Senegal, Zambia, Uganda, the Republic of the Congo, Comoros and Egypt - as well as the African Union chief Azali Assoumani, have arrived in Kyiv on Friday (16 June) to promote an African peace plan aimed at ending the ongoing war in Ukraine. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa is among the African delegation, and arrived at Kyiv's Nemishaeve railway station where he was greeted by Ukraine's special envoy for Africa and the Middle East, Maksym Subkh, as well as the South African ambassador to Ukraine, Andre Groenewald. According the Reuters news agency, the full peace proposal, which has not yet been made public, includes suggestions of a full withdrawal of Russian troops, the removal of all tactical nuclear weapons from the territory Belarus, the suspension of an International Criminal Court arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin, and broad sanctions relief. After arriving in Kyiv, African leaders headed to the Kyiv suburb of Bucha to pay there respects to the some 458 people who were killed during a brief Russian occupation in the opening weeks of the full-scale invasion last year, and are buried in a mass grave there.
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Commentary
Commentary: Kazakhstan throws a lavish party in honour of multilateralism

Commentary: Kazakhstan throws a lavish party in honour of multilateralism

"Such big jamborees as the Astana International Forum happen often, and are – more often than not – considered as talking shops with limited results. They are usually a part of a branding exercise by countries that can afford them. Most participants forget about them the moment they leave, and the impact beyond that is often negligible," writes commonspace.eu in this commentary. However, "the Astana International Forum marks the emergence of a new Kazakhstan on the international stage. This year’s event was the first. Future forums will be a good gauge for how this new Kazakhstan is performing." Writing for a blog on Al Jazeera on the eve of the opening of the forum, Kazakh Deputy Prime Minister, Serik Zhumangarin described the Astana International Forum as “a global event aimed at renewing the culture of multilateralism”, and said that it was a part of Kazakhstan’s multi-vector foreign policy which seeks to engage countries in the north, south, east and west.
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News
Arab countries and China sign 30 deals worth $10bn at business conference in Riyadh

Arab countries and China sign 30 deals worth $10bn at business conference in Riyadh

Arab League countries and China have signed some 30 deals that total $10bn. This came on the first day of the 10th Arab-China Business Conference taking place in the Saudi capital Riyadh, on 11-12 June. The 30 investment agreements cover a wide range of areas, including technology, renewables, agriculture, real estate, minerals, supply chains, tourism, and healthcare. According to the Saudi Investment Ministry, the Saudi government also signed deals with a number of Chinese entities in areas such as automotive research, development, manufacturing and sales, development of tourism and other apps, and production of rail wagons and wheels in Saudi Arabia. The biggest deal reached totalled $5.6bn, and was struck between Saudi Arabia's Investment Ministry and Human Horizons, a Chinese developer of autonomous driving technologies and manufacturer of electric cars. Saudi Arabia and Hong Kong-based Android developer Hibobi Technology Ltd signed a $266 million deal to develop tourism and other apps.
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News
Oil prices rise as OPEC+ announces output cuts after Vienna meeting

Oil prices rise as OPEC+ announces output cuts after Vienna meeting

The group of oil producing countries, OPEC+, has pledged oil output cuts amid flagging global oil prices. Following the announcement made on Sunday (4 June) after a meeting of OPEC+ in Vienna, Brent crude oil rose by as much as 2.4% before settling at around $77 a barrel in Asia trading on Monday. In accordance with the agreement struck, Saudi Arabia announced that they would cut daily barrel production from 10 million barrels per day (bpd) to 9 million bpd in July, as well as extending their volunatary cut in oil production of 500,000 bpd until December 2024. Russia's 2023 quota currently stands at around 10.5 million bpd, but in 2024 will reduce to approximately 9.3 million bpd, consisting of a reduction of 650,000 barrels per day as well as the voluntary cut of 500,000 bpd. Brent crude oil rose by as much as 2.4% before settling at around $77 a barrel. Global oil prices spiked following Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Since then, however, prices have fallen to pre-February 2022 levels. In an attempt to shore up global oil markets, OPEC+ have announced a couple of rounds of cuts in oil production. In October 2022, OPEC+ agreed to cut production by two million bpd, about 2% of global demand.
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News
European Political Community summit taking place in Moldova, Pashinyan and Aliyev to meet

European Political Community summit taking place in Moldova, Pashinyan and Aliyev to meet

The second summit of the European Political Community (EPC) is taking place today in Moldova (Thursday 1 June). During the summit, the Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and the Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev will meet with European Council President Charles Michel, French President Emmanuel Macron, and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. The brainchild of Emmanuel Macron, the European Political Community's first summit took place in Prague, in October 2022. The EPC says that it is "a platform for political coordination among European countries across the continent," adding that it "aims to promote political dialogue and cooperation to address issues of common interest and to strengthen the security, stability, and prosperity of the European continent." The EPC says that there are three main topics expected to be addressed by the 47 member states, which include every European country except Russia and Belarus. Those three topics are: joint efforts for peace and security; energy resilience and climate action; and interconnections in Europe for a better connected and more stable continent.
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News
The time is now to finalise Sweden's accession to NATO, says Blinken

The time is now to finalise Sweden's accession to NATO, says Blinken

The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said that the "time is now" to finalise Sweden's accession to NATO. While both Finland and Sweden applied to join NATO together on 18 May 2022, some two and a half months after the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, Sweden's bid has been held up by objections from Hungary and Turkey. Finland on the other hand became the 31st member of the military alliance on 4 April 2023. Speaking at a press conference in the northern Swedish city of Luleå alongside Sweden's Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson on Tuesday (30 May), Blinken added that Sweden has "taken very significant steps to address very legitimate concerns, and I think in terms of its own qualifications for membership, from day one it was qualified precisely because it’s been such a long-time partner for NATO; of course, the European Union; and with values that are fundamentally the same." Turkey has accused Sweden of being soft on groups that they perceive as terror organisations or consider existential threats, including Kurdish groups such as the PKK, and the Syrian Kurdish militia group, the YPG and its political branch, the PYD. In an attempt to address Turkey's concerns and to persuade Ankara to approve Sweden's bid to join NATO, at the start of May Sweden tightened anti-terrorism laws to include a prison term of up to four years for individuals convicted of participating in an extremist organisation in a way that is intended to promote, strengthen or support the group. 
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Editorial
Editorial: Saudi Arabia injects new energy into a moribund Arab League

Editorial: Saudi Arabia injects new energy into a moribund Arab League

Following last week's Arab League summit in Jeddah, "it is expected that Saudi Arabia will continue to use its year-long chairmanship of the Arab League to reshape the institution, and more broadly to reconfigure pan Arab-affairs, of course with Saudi Arabia at the helm," writes commonspace.eu in this editorial. "For it is this new ambition of the Kingdom to become a leading regional and global player that has defined the summit, and will define its chairmanship of the Arab League over the next year." The summit formally healed some of the divisions of the last decade. Syria’s President Bashar al Assad attended, marking the full return of Syria into the Arab fold. There was a lot of talk of a new era of peace in the Middle East, and even Iran was now perceived as more of a partner rather than an enemy. Yet the summit gathered whilst a few miles away, across the waters of the Red Sea from Jeddah, a bloody civil war raged on in Sudan.