Briefing: intensive diplomatic efforts around the Armenia-Azerbaijan peace process
Intense diplomatic efforts over the last month are a good reflection of a sustained determination on the part of Armenia and Azerbaijan to bring their decades-old conflict to an end, and sign a peace agreement, writes Meetings between president Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan and prime minister Nikol Pashinyan of Armenia were held in Brussels on 15 May, with the mediation of EU Council president Charles Michel. The three leaders met again on 1 June in Chisinau, this time also with the participation of French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. Aliyev and Pashinyan met, together with president Putin of Russia, in Moscow on 25 May. And on 4 June the leaders of both Armenia and Azerbaijan were in Ankara for the inauguration of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s new term in office, where they also met informally. The next formal meeting is now set to be held in July in Brussels. A lot is also going on behind the scenes with European and American envoys travelling in the region.
patrickn97 Fri, 06/09/2023 - 11:21 EU interior ministers reach "historic" agreement on migration, but significant opposition remains
Interior ministers from the European Union's 27 member states reached a deal on the bloc's migration policy yesterday (8 June) after some 12 hours of negotiations at a meeting in Luxembourg. The agreement outlines how responsibility for looking after migrants and refugees who arrive in the EU without authorisation is shared out among member states, a topic which has been the source of much disagreement since 2015, when well over 1 million migrants and refugees entered the EU, many of them fleeing the war in Syria. Under the deal agreed yesterday and set to be finalised ahead of a 2024 EU election, each country would be responsible for a set number of people, but would not necessarily have to take them in. Countries unwilling to receive irregular migrants and refugees arriving ad hoc to the EU would be able to help their hosting peers through cash - around 20,000 euros per person - equipment or personnel, reports Reuters. The agreement would introduce a new expedited border procedure for those deemed unlikely to win asylum to prevent them from lingering inside the bloc for years.
patrickn97 Fri, 06/09/2023 - 10:37

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Briefing: Pashinyan ready to sign, not everyone in Stepanakert is happy, Baku hopeful but keeping up pressure
As Armenia and Azerbaijan edge closer to signing an agreement ending decades of conflict between them, the future of the Armenian population in Nagorno-Karabakh remains one of the most crucial outstanding issues, writes Intense discussions and negotiations have been ongoing throughout May, with meetings in Washington, Brussels and Moscow involving the leaders of the two countries, their foreign ministers, and other senior officials. In a lengthy press conference on 22 May, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said that he wants to reach an agreement "as soon as possible". The international community's perception of the negotiations is that Armenia and Azerbaijan should, without reservations, recognise each other's territorial integrity of 29,800 square kilometers and 86,600 square kilometers, respectively, said Pashinyan.
patrickn97 Thu, 05/25/2023 - 14:13
Kazakhstan and EU discuss next steps to deepen cooperation in key areas
Representatives of Kazakhstan and the European Union met in the Kazakh capital Astana on Tuesday (23 May) to discuss the next steps for deeping their partnership at the 20th meeting of their mutual Cooperation Committee. The meeting was chaired by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan, Roman Vassilenko, and Luc Devigne, the Deputy Managing Director for Russia, Eastern Partnership, Central Asia and OSCE from the European External Action Service. Also present at the meeting were representatives of Kazakh ministries and agencies, various directorates of the European Commission, as well as representatives of the diplomatic corps of EU member states. The Kazakh Ministry of Foreign Affairs reports that the discussion focused on the practical implementation of the Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (EPCA) between Kazakhstan and the EU and its member states, which covers 29 areas. Kazakhstan and the EU discussed cooperation in political, trade and economic spheres, the rule of law and human rights, as well as interaction in transport, energy, education and science, environmental protection and combating climate change.
patrickn97 Thu, 05/25/2023 - 09:54
Georgia and Qatar to sign agreement on innovation and technology cooperation after leaders meet in Doha
Georgia and Qatar are to sign an agreement on innovation and technology cooperation, the Georgian Economy Minister Levan Davitashvili announced on Tuesday (23 May). The announcement came after the Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili and the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani met in Doha on the sidelines of the Qatar Economic Forum that is running from 23-25 May. Davitashvili said that the Georgian delegation had meetings with a number of sectoral ministries in which they discussed opportunities for cooperation between Georgia and Qatar. Transport, logistics, and Georgia's key role in the Middle Corridor facilitating east-west trade were emphasised in the meetings, according to Davitashvili, who said that there is an increased interest in the country from "many states of the world, including Qatari investors", amid geopolitical challenges. The meetings also touched on trade and economic issues, as well as the the agreements on Mutual Support and Protection of Investments and on Economic, Trade and Technical Cooperation, signed last year between Georgia and Qatar.
patrickn97 Wed, 05/24/2023 - 09:20
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 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.
patrickn97 Tue, 05/23/2023 - 12:51
Opinion: 9 May diplomacy demonstrates a changing political landscape in the South Caucasus

"Azerbaijan’s non-participation in the military parade in Moscow demonstrates a changing political landscape in the region that profoundly challenges conventional perceptions," writes Farid Mirzali in this op-ed for

patrickn97 Tue, 05/23/2023 - 09:17
Xi outlines grand plan on how China and Central Asian states can develop together
Leaders of China and Central Asian countries on Friday (19 May) signed and released the Xian Declaration following the first China-Central Asia Summit. The Declaration hailed the cooperation between the two sides as all-round and productive, stressing that the six countries agreed to build a closer community with a shared future between China and Central Asian countries. "This summit has added new impetus to the development and revitalisation of the six counties, and injected strong positive energy into regional peace and stability," Xi said later at a press conference with his Central Asian counterparts. "We will jointly foster a new paradigm of deeply complementary and high-level win-win cooperation." Xi said China and the Central Asian countries should deepen trust and offer "clear and strong support" on core interests such as sovereignty, independence, national dignity and long-term development. "China is ready to help Central Asian countries improve their law enforcement, security, and defence capability construction," he said. In what appears to be a concession to Central Asian states who are keen to diversify their export routes, China said that "in the longer term", it supports construction of a cross-Caspian Sea international transport corridor, and would strengthen the construction of transport hubs of China-Europe freight train services.
dennis2020 Sat, 05/20/2023 - 09:38
Arab League welcomes back Syrian President Assad at 32nd summit in Jeddah
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is attending his first Arab League summit in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on Friday (19 May) since his country was suspended from the group over the government's violent crackdown of pro-democracy protests in 2011 that led to the outbreak of the Syrian Civil War. In the latest of a number of regional rapprochements, Syria was formally readmitted to the Arab League on 7 May after member states' foreign ministers voted to "resume the participation of the delegations of the government of the Syrian Arab Republic in the meetings of the Council of the League of Arab States", according to a statement. The 32nd Arab League summit in the Saudi port city of Jeddah comes amid a renewed sense of purpose and unity across the Arab world. In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, the President of Djibouti Ismail Omar Guelleh said that he hoped the summit in Saudi Arabia "will lead to recommendations and decisions that contribute to resolving critical situations and difficult conditions faced by the Arab world, while preserving unity and solidarity among Arab brothers."
patrickn97 Fri, 05/19/2023 - 08:35
Editor's choice
Editorial: light at the end of the tunnel for Armenia and Azerbaijan

Editorial: light at the end of the tunnel for Armenia and Azerbaijan

The European Union continues to play an instrumental part in helping Armenia and Azerbaijan to narrow the differences between them and move closer to signing a peace agreement normalising relations, writes in this editorial.  On Sunday (14 May), European Council president Charles Michel, hosted Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan in Brussels for several hours of talks which Michel described as being “frank, open and result-oriented” and “focused on progress on the path towards Armenia-Azerbaijan normalization.” Michel said that “the leaders shared a common willingness for a South Caucasus at peace. I commend their respective efforts. Together, we reviewed all issues on our agenda.” political editor commenting on the results of the 14 May Brussels meeting said that clearly the negotiations have reached a decisive stage. This is now not a discussion on abstract principles but on tangible and practical issues that will have an impact on the lives of Armenians and Azerbaijanis across the region.