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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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Editor's choice
News
UN to investigate deadly attack which Iraq blames on Turkey

UN to investigate deadly attack which Iraq blames on Turkey

UN Security Council members have backed Iraq’s demand for a major investigation into a deadly July 20 artillery attack on a tourist area popular with Iraqis in the mountainous Duhok governorate of the Kurdistan region that left at least nine people dead and 23 others wounded. It comes only days after the Security Council unanimously condemned the attack “in the strongest terms.” However, council members did not mention Turkey during the emergency meeting late on Tuesday that was sought by Iraq and the UAE to discuss the attack. On the day of the strike, Baghdad summoned Turkey’s ambassador to condemn what it described as a “heinous crime committed by the Turkish troops, which has topped its continuous aggressions on the sovereignty of Iraq and its territories.”   Turkey has denied responsibility, and blames the Kurdistan’s Workers’ Party, which it considers a terrorist organization, for the attack. The PKK has been engaged in a long-running guerrilla war in southeast Turkey. Iraq does not give sanctuary to PKK fighters or its leadership, many of whom take refuge in the mountains where the borders of Iraq, Iran and Turkey meet. Baghdad has repeatedly rejected their presence on its territory. On Wednesday, the Turkish Foreign Ministry condemned an attack on its Consulate-General in Mosul the night before and called for the Iraqi authorities to take steps to protect its diplomatic missions.
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Opinion
Opinion: This unique and historic chance for peace should not be squandered

Opinion: This unique and historic chance for peace should not be squandered

"The negotiations between Baku and Yerevan  appear to be moving on the right path", writes Vasif Huseynov in this op-ed for commonspace.eu. "We can now expect that the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan will meet in the near future, as envisioned by the agreements at the Brussels summit on May 22, he writes. "For peace and security in the South Caucasus, it is vitally important that this positive atmosphere is preserved, the commitments undertaken in the trilateral statement are fulfilled, and that this unique historic chance for peace and reconciliation between Armenia and Azerbaijan is not taken for granted."
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News
Yemen braces itself for different scenarios as deadline for expiration of truce looms

Yemen braces itself for different scenarios as deadline for expiration of truce looms

The UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy to Yemen Hans Grundberg has intensified contacts with all local and regional parties to support the implementation of the remaining clauses in Yemen's soon to expire truce. Grunderberg hopes that the truce can be extended beyond the current term which ends on 2 August.  Grundberg acknowledged that there were shortcomings in the full implementation of the truce but stressed repeatedly that the truce helped make a significant impact on people's lives. Read the full press release here.  On the thorny question of the opening of the Taiz road, Grunderb noted that dialogue and coordination between the two sides needs to continue. He added that unilateral actions do not help provide a safe passage for goods and travellers.  Sources speaking to the publication The New Arab suggested that the UN is seeking a six month extension of the truce. The Special Envoy, however, has to first address complaints from both sides. It is expected that he visits both Muscat and Aden in the coming days.  On another note, forces loyal to Presidential Leadership Council (PLC) which heads the internationally recognised Yemeni government, are said to be preparing for the next wave of battles. Around 14 thousand fighters, divided into three brigades and supported by Saudi Arabia, have completed training and are on stand by in areas under the government's control. The brigades, known as 'Happy Yemen Brigades' are believed to be an extension to forces that engaged in battles in early 2022 before the truce went into effect.  Currently, those brigades are tasked with security and protection missions and it is not clear if they will be assigned any frontline duties.
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News
The unlikely trio met in Tehran

The unlikely trio met in Tehran

A summit meeting of the leaders of Turkey, Russia and Iran took place in Tehran on Tuesday 19 July. This is an unlikely trio, three ambitious regional powers who have been brought together by circumstances. The event itself was a set-piece affair, and most of the serious work was done in the bilateral Iran-Russia, Iran-Turkey and Turkey-Russia meetings. Top of the agenda was Syria, and Turkey's determination not to allow Syria to be a springboard for Kurdish militant activity against it. Turkey has for weeks been preparing for a military operation into Syria. Turkish president, Recip Tayip Erdogan told his Russian and Iranian counterparts that he expected their full support in Ankara’s fight against “terrorists” in Syria. Both Russia and Iran have a military presence in parts of Syria mentioned as possible targets of Turkey’s new assault. “What we expect from Russia and Iran is their support for Turkey in its fight against terrorism,” Erdogan said. However, in a meeting with Erdogan on Monday (18 July), Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei told Erdogan such an offensive would be “detrimental” for the region and called for the issue to be resolved through dialogue between Ankara, Damascus, Moscow and Tehran. A 16 point statement was issued at the end of the summit which makes no reference to the imminent Turkish offensive.
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Interview
Brian Mefford: "I had no doubts the Ukrainians will fight to defend their country"

Brian Mefford: "I had no doubts the Ukrainians will fight to defend their country"

When Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Brian Mefford, an American long time resident and expert of Ukraine, knew exactly what he needed to do. Shifting his office from Kyiv to Warsaw he started a humanitarian operation that has already helped tens of thousands of Ukrainians. In this interview with commonspace.eu Mefford reflects on the response of Ukrainians to the Russian invasion, the current humanitarian situation, and the prospects for Ukraine after the war. “I have seen enormous changes in Ukraine since I arrived in 1999.  Ukraine is dramatically more European and focused on a future with the West as a partner. If Ukraine makes the tough changes needed during the war to enter the EU, it will speed the process of integration. War time is the easiest time to make radical changes. As I often point out, Abraham Lincoln didn’t wait till after the American Civil War to free the slaves, he specifically did it during the war because after the war it might not have been possible”, he argues.
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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.