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Conflict and Peace

Stories related to violent conflicts, diplomatic tensions, and conflict prevention, mediation and resolution.

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News
First Summit of the European Political Community opens in Prague

First Summit of the European Political Community opens in Prague

In the historic settings of Prague Castle, leaders from across Europe gathered on Thursday for the first summit of the European Political Community. Apart from the leaders of the 27 EU member states, leaders from non EU member states are also attending, including Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan. Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Iceland, Kosovo, Liechtenstein, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Norway, Serbia, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine and the United Kingdom With the dramatic consequences of Russia’s aggression war, EU leaders agreed during the European Council meeting in June 2022 to launch the European Political Community with the aim of bringing together countries on the European continent. The ambition is to bring leaders together on the European continent and to foster their cooperation on issues of common interest, revolving around peace and security, the economic situation, energy and climate, and migration and mobility. No formal written outcome of the European Political Community is envisaged. After the traditional family photo, the meeting kicked off with a round table discussion on peace and security in Europe. This story will be updated throughout the day.

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Monday Commentary
Opinion: Preparing for the worst, whilst working to avoid it

Opinion: Preparing for the worst, whilst working to avoid it

Putin’s annexation of parts of Ukraine takes the world to the verge of War, but a stronger and more united global condemnation of Russian aggression can still make Putin step back. Monday Commentary is back. Every Monday, commonspace.eu Managing Editor, Dennis Sammut discusses a hot topic on the European and international agenda. This week he weighs the implications of Russia’s annexation of parts of Ukraine, and the dilemma it poses to the rest of the world. He argues that it takes the world to the verge of a world war involving nuclear-armed states. But this can still be avoided if there is more global unity in condemnation of the Russian aggression.
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News
All together, for now

All together, for now

Russian President Vladimir Putin presided over a ceremony at the Kremlin on Friday, (30 September) to formally annex Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions of Ukraine into the Russian Federation. "Congratulations! You have successfully cast your vote. I want the Kyiv authorities and their real masters in the West to hear me. People living in Luhansk and Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia are becoming our citizens. Forever." "We call on the Kyiv regime to immediately end hostilities, end the war that they unleashed back in 2014 and return to the negotiating table. We are ready for this ... But we will not discuss the choice of the people in Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson. That has been made. Russia will not betray them", Putin told an audience of dignatries in the Kremlin. The official annexation was widely expected following the votes that wrapped up on Tuesday in the areas under Russian occupation. Moscow claimed residents overwhelmingly supported that their areas should formally become a part of Russia. The EU, US and other countries have denounced the referendums as "illegal and rigged", saying they were clearly orchestrated by Kremlin. United Nations chief Antonio Guterres said it was a "dangerous escalation" that would jeopardise prospects for peace.  With the formal annexation of Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk and Luhansk, nearly 15% of Ukraine's territory will become Russian territory, for now. Ukraine and western countries have vowed never to accept the annexation.
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News
CICA set to become an international organisation at this month's Astana summit

CICA set to become an international organisation at this month's Astana summit

The Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) is set to become a fully fledged international organisation during a summit of leaders of its members to be held in Astana, Kazakhstan on 12-13 October. A Special Working Group (SWG) meeting held on 28-29 September, has made a major advance in preparing draft documents to be adopted at the upcoming sixth CICA Summit. The main document includes a draft Astana Statement on CICA Transformation, which is designed to transform CICA into a full-fledged international organization. Other draft documents include a draft of the CICA Leaders’ Statement on Cooperation in the Field of Security and in the Use of Information and Communications Technologies and draft the CICA Plan of Action on the Implementation of the United Nations (UN) Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.
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Editorial
Editorial: A dark day in the history of Europe

Editorial: A dark day in the history of Europe

Friday, 30 September 2022 will for a long time be remembered as a sad and dark day for Europe. This afternoon, at 15:00 (12:00 GMT) in the St George Hall of the Grand Kremlin Palace president Vladimir Putin will hold a signing ceremony annexing four more regions of Ukraine into the Russian Federation. The events in Europe in the 1930 are repeating themselves with an eerie familiarity: a big country invades a smaller neighbouring country, organises a sham referendum in parts or all of that country, after which it claims the moral authority to annex that territory or country.  In an act of cynicism late on Thursday, the Russian president signed two decrees recognising Zaporizhzhia and Kherson as independent territories. Their so called independence will last for only a few hours, before they are absorbed into Russia. The documents, shared on Russian state media, say the independence of the two regions is being recognised in accordance with international law and "enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations". However, UN Secretary General António Guterres has said any annexation of a country's territory based on the use of force violates the UN Charter and international law. Europeans thought that those times were over, and that the lessons had been learnt. Apparently not. Russia's invasion of Ukraine last February set the stage for what will take place in the Kremlin today. After votes in Luhansk and Donetsk in the east of Ukraine, and in Zaporizhzhia and Kherson in the south, Russia will annexe them, in defiance of the wish of the Ukrainian people and their legitimate government, and of most of the international community. It has already acted in this way once, when in 2014, in similar circumstances it occupiued and annexed Crimea. Today's events are being hailed as a victiory by the Kremlin. A stage has already been set up in Moscow's Red Square, with billboards proclaiming the four regions as part of Russia and a concert planned for the evening in celebration. Some Russians may decide to follow the misguided steps of their leaders, but for the rest of Europe today is a sad and dark day.
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Editorial
Editorial: Lukashenko's trip to Abkhazia is another act in Putin's nefarious plan

Editorial: Lukashenko's trip to Abkhazia is another act in Putin's nefarious plan

The president of Belarus, Alexandre Lukashenko, made a surprise appearance in Abkhazia on Wednesday (28 September), in a move that many see as being part of the Kremlin’s present strategy to further distabilise Eurasia to help achieve the ultimate aim, which is complete Russian hegemony on the post-Soviet Space. For sure, Lukashenko did not go to Sukhumi to have a last dip in the Black Sea before winter sets in. This was a calculated political move, typical of Lukashenko. So why did he go, and why now? Lukashenko has long been a tool of the Kremlin, not only when it comes to affairs in his own Belarus, but more broadly on the international stage. Yet he has also tried to cultivate the image of being independent-minded, not the sort to take orders from Vladimir Putin, but rather one that is able to influence the Kremlin and its policies. This visit proves that in fact he is simply a stooge.
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News
Macron hosts Pashinyan at the Elysee to discuss situation in the South Caucasus

Macron hosts Pashinyan at the Elysee to discuss situation in the South Caucasus

French president. Emanuel Macron on Monday (26 September) hosted Armenian prime minister Nikol Pashinyan at the Elysee Palace to discuss the current situation in the South Caucasus, and particularly Armenian-Azerbaijani relations. Macron described the situation following the recent armned clashes on 13-14 September as "critical". President Macron said France will do everything to pursue its goal, which is a stable, safe and prosperous South Caucasus." Macron also discussed the issue of relations between Armenia and Turkey. "This is a difficult but very necessary process and you know that France is also committed to this issue. This process is very important for the region", he said. In conclusion, Macron reiterated France's commitment to achieving peace and stability for Armenia and the entire region. "I welcome your sense of responsibility and your position to do everything to establish peace.  I want your country to have calm and peaceful borders", Macron told Pashinyan in his opening remarks.
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Biggest prisoner exchange between Ukraine and Russia, including Azov battalion fighters

Biggest prisoner exchange between Ukraine and Russia, including Azov battalion fighters

In a surprise move, Russia and Ukraine on the night from Wednesday to Thursday (22 September) implemented the biggest prisoner exchange since the start of the war between them in February Russia released over a hundred captured Ukrainian fighters in a prisoner exchange, including fighters from the Azov battalion.  In numerical terms, the prisoner swap represents a major victory for Ukrainian morale. Among others, Ukraine got back three commanders who led the last Ukrainian resistance in the port city of Mariupol and over 100 more members of the battalion. A total of 215 Ukrainians have been released. Among them are policemen, border guards, soldiers and pregnant fighters. In a seperate move ten foreigners who were fighting for the Ukrainian side and were captured by the Russians, were released thanks to the mediation of Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia.