Region

South Caucasus

Stories under this heading cover the South Caucasus – a region encompassing Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, as well as the unrecognised entities of Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Nagorno-Karabakh.

For those interested specifically in Armenian-Azerbaijani relations and events and developments in and around Nagorno-Karabakh following the 2020 44-day war, check out our sister page, KarabakhSpace.eu.

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News
EU and Azerbaijan seal strategic partnership agreement on energy security

EU and Azerbaijan seal strategic partnership agreement on energy security

After years of uncertainty in EU-Azerbaijan relations, co-operation between the two sides has finally been put on a strategic footing with the signing in Baku on Monday (19 July) of a new "Memorandum of Understanding on a Strategic Partnership in the Field of Energy". The signing of the MOU comes at a crucial time when Europe is frantically trying to replace gas and other energy supplies from Russia, in the aftermath of the latter's invasion of Ukraine. A report on the website of the European Commission said that the memorandum signed by the two Presidents today includes a commitment to double the capacity of the Southern Gas Corridor to deliver at least 20 billion cubic metres to the EU annually by 2027. This will contribute to the diversification objectives in the REPowerEU Plan and help Europe to end its dependency on Russian gas. Based on the strengthened energy cooperation, Azerbaijan is already now increasing deliveries of natural gas to the EU, from 8.1 billion cubic metres in 2021 to an expected 12 bcm in 2022. commonspace.eu political editor said in a comment that "EU-Azerbaijan relations need to continue to be build, based on mutual respect and recognising the importance of people to people contacts for the future of the relationship. The EU on its part, especially now that the stakes are higher, needs to put more efforts in supporting lasting peace in the region. The energy agenda has its specific importance and aspects, but it cannot be seen in isolation of wider issues."
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Opinion
Opinion: Realism should be the basis for the Armenia-Turkey normalisation process

Opinion: Realism should be the basis for the Armenia-Turkey normalisation process

"There should be realistic expectations of what can result from ongoing discussions on the normalisation of relations between Armenia and Turkey", writes Benyamin Poghosyan in this op-ed for commonspace.eu. The potential normalisation of relations – establishment of diplomatic relations, and opening of land borders – does not mean that Armenia and Turkey will not have disagreements, contradictions, or even will not act against each other in particular circumstances. "Given the current situation in the South Caucasus, the region is far away from peace, and no one should have hopes that Armenia – Turkey normalization will solve conflicts and bring an era of peace to the region. However, in the current situation, even a contribution to regional stability is too significant an opportunity to miss."    
Editor's choice
Opinion
Opinion: Azerbaijan boosts ties with Central Asia as region adjusts to Ukraine crisis

Opinion: Azerbaijan boosts ties with Central Asia as region adjusts to Ukraine crisis

The fall-out from the Russian invasion of Ukraine has impacted all countries across the region. Azerbaijan and the Central Asian republics have stepped up their co-operation using multiple formats. "Amid the present security challenges in the region it is high time for Azerbaijan and the Central Asian countries to deepen bonds and ensure their security and prosperity, writes Vasif Huseynov in this op-ed for commonspace.eu
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News
Turkish and Armenian leaders speak on the phone in another step towards the normalisation of relations

Turkish and Armenian leaders speak on the phone in another step towards the normalisation of relations

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan have stressed the importance of normalisation of their relations to the consolidation peace in the region, according to their respective press offices. The two leaders discussed the normalisation process in a phone call on Monday (11 July), seen as an important step in the ongoing efforts. "Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Nikol Pashinyan emphasized the importance they attach to the bilateral normalization process between Turkiye and Armenia, which will also contribute to the strengthening of peace and stability in the region," a statement by the Turkish presidency said. They also expressed hope that an agreement reached in early July would be implemented soon. The Armenian leader wrote on Twitter: "We expect early implementation of agreements reached in the meeting of our Special Representatives on July 1.” At that tmeeting the two envoys agreed on the early opening of their land border to the citizens of third countries.
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Commentary
Opinion: The quest for peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan can follow many paths, all of which need to be explored and exploited

Opinion: The quest for peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan can follow many paths, all of which need to be explored and exploited

Preparations are under way for a fourth meeting between Armenian prime minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev, facilitated by the president of the European Council Charles Michel. Even a year ago such a process would have been unthinkable. There is no more than one format in which Armenia and Azerbaijan pursue their quest for peace. But options are also available in the way the two leaders can work to achieve the ultimate goal, a peace agreement that will hail a new era of lasting peace in the region. In this commentary, Dennis Sammut says there are many roads open on the way to lasting peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and all need to be explored and exploited. Developing trade relations, intensive people to people contacts, establishing diplomatic relations in stages, facilitated travel between the two countries including direct air travel –  are all important steps that can and should be taken in the process of normalising relations. Most of them can be agreed and start giving results in months not years. The process can be supported by an intensive programme of confidence building measures that will help build trust at various layers of society.
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News
EU Special Representative welcomes continued efforts of Armenian and Azerbaijani practitioners towards a peaceful and prosperous future for the South Caucasus

EU Special Representative welcomes continued efforts of Armenian and Azerbaijani practitioners towards a peaceful and prosperous future for the South Caucasus

Over 40 Armenian and Azerbaijani practitioners met for a roundtable discussion, supported by the European Union (EU), in Kachreti, Georgia, on 29-30 June 2022. Together with counterparts from the EU, UN and OSCE they discussed possible scenarios of a future peaceful South Caucasus. Discussions encompassed scenarios in the fields of economy and connectivity, security, governance and cultural policies, and assessed the possible steps that can be taken by national governments, civil societies and external actors to enhance prospects of viable solutions to the many challenges confronting long-lasting peace between Armenians and Azerbaijanis. The EU Special Representative Toivo Klaar, affirmed the EU’s continuing commitment to sustainable peace and welcomed the determination of practitioners to continue their efforts to engage in dialogue, build trust and counter embedded narratives precluding not only improved Armenian-Azerbaijani relations, but a peaceful and prosperous future of the South Caucasus region as a whole. 
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News
Leaders of “Caspian Five” hold their sixth summit in Ashgabat

Leaders of “Caspian Five” hold their sixth summit in Ashgabat

The leaders of the five Caspian littoral states, participated in a summit meeting in the capital of Turkmenistan, Ashgabat on Wednesday (29 June). The Caspian “five” are Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan. Addressing the gathering, Russian president Vladimir Putin said: “Russia unfailingly supports expanding partnerships within the Caspian “five” – in politics, security, the economy and nature conservation, as well as many other items on the humanitarian agenda.” Putin quickly reminded his four colleagues of Russia’s first priority when it comes to the Caspian, namely the exclusion of anyone else apart from the littoral states: “At the same time, we believe that prosperity in our shared region can only be guaranteed by an unfailing commitment to the principles enshrined in the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea. The Convention stipulates the crucial provision, which is that the countries of the Caspian “five” are responsible for the Caspian region’s preservation and its sustainable development for current and future generations.”
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Event
Joint Armenian-Azerbaijani expert group on confidence-building measures agrees to intensify efforts

Joint Armenian-Azerbaijani expert group on confidence-building measures agrees to intensify efforts

The Joint Armenian-Azerbaijani Liaison Group on Confidence-building measures in support of lasting peace in the South Caucasus (JOLIG), made up of 11 Armenian and Azerbaijani independent experts and opinion-shapers, met in Kachreti, Georgia on 27 and 28 June 2022 to review its activity, and agree on a strategy as to how its work on confidence-building measures can contribute to efforts aimed at bringing lasting peace in the South Caucasus. Participants discussed ongoing efforts aimed at establishing the right conditions for the normalisation of relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan being undertaken by the governments of the two countries with the support of international players. They called on the leadership of the two countries to remain focused and committed to this mission. The group emphasised its belief that confidence-building measures are necessary to be implemented in the current state of Armenia-Azerbaijan relations, and were indispensable as the governments of Armenia and Azerbaijan seek peaceful solutions to long lasting disputes and controversies between them.