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UN Security Council calls for an end to the siege of el-Fasher in Sudan's North Darfur province; Russia does not vote

UN Security Council calls for an end to the siege of el-Fasher in Sudan's North Darfur province; Russia does not vote

The UN Security Council, at the initiative of the United Kingdom, recently adopted a resolution on Thursday (13 June) calling for an immediate end to the siege of Al Fasher, the capital of Sudan's North Darfur state. The city, some 800 kilometres west of Khartoum, remains a key conflict zone as it is the last major western city not yet in the hands of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). The RSF, a former elite unit made up of ethnic Arab militias and once part of the regime of dictator Omar Hassan al Bashir, is now led by General Mohamed Hamdan “Hemedti” Dagalo. Daglo, a military leader and wealthy businessman from Darfur, plays a central role in the current power struggle in Sudan. The violence has killed at least 14,000 people and displaced more than 10 million others, according to UN estimates.

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The fate of Central Asia may be decided on the steppes and in the forests of Ukraine

The fate of Central Asia may be decided on the steppes and in the forests of Ukraine

Vladimir Putin was sworn in for another six-year term as the President of Russia on Tuesday, 7 May. With Putin having been the undisputed leader of Russia for decades, continuity, one would have thought, was assured. Yet Putin himself, on Monday (13 May) speaking at a meeting of the Security Council spoke of “a new political cycle” in Russia. Some of the first decisions of the re-elected president give us a sense of what is to come. First, there was the surprise dismissal of Sergei Shoigu as Minister of Defence, and his transfer to be the Secretary of the Security Council. There had been speculation for some time that Shoigu’s time at the Ministry of Defence was up. But what was surprising was the appointment of Andrei Belousov, former Deputy Prime Minister – an efficient technocrat with an economic background to replace him. That the Russian Ministry of Defence has needed a shake-up for some time has been abundantly clear, but Andrei Belousov’s mission seems to be more ambitious than that: He is tasked with transforming the Russian Defence Ministry into a modern institution that can embrace new ideas and techniques, and that has enough flexibility to conduct the sort of hybrid warfare that is likely to be the order of the day going forward. So despite all of Putin’s bravados about the Russian nuclear arsenal, it seems he is putting his faith in a more innovative, agile, and versatile force. Then on Monday, 13 May, Putin held his first meeting of the Security Council since his inauguration. The Kremlin website only referred to one item out of apparently several that were discussed, namely relations with the post-Soviet Republics, a subject much close to the heart of the president. Putin reiterated that this was a priority in foreign policy. Putin said, “we should pay even more attention to this area in the new political cycle in Russia and discuss the way we will organise this work from all points of view, including organisational”. So it appears that there is new thinking in this sphere, details of which is not yet known.
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A new era of peace in the Eastern Mediterranean

A new era of peace in the Eastern Mediterranean

A ground breaking meeting between the President of Turkiye, Recip Tayip Erdogan, and Greek Prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, on Monday (13 May) is being hailed as the dawn of a new era of peace in the Eastern Mediterranean. Mitsotakis was in Ankara as the guest of the Turkish leader. There are no unsolvable problems between Athens and Ankara, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said, as he and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis praised the state of relations between the two neighbors while pledging to further enhance bilateral ties. "We had a constructive and positive meeting and discussed problems in Türkiye-Greece relations; We will solve problems through dialogue," Erdoğan said at a joint news conference with Mitsotakis. Erdoğan said that Ankara and Athens are committed to resolving issues via "cordial dialogue, good neighborly ties, and international law" as outlined in last year's Athens Declaration on Friendly Relations and Good-Neighborliness. Improvement of bilateral relations with Türkiye is yielding concrete and positive results, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said "I can only begin by thanking you for the warm hospitality today in Ankara, it was a fourth meeting in the last 10 months, which I believe proves that the two neighbors can now establish this approach of mutual understanding, no longer as some exception, but as a productive normality that is not negated by the known differences in our positions," Mitsotakis said. He said bilateral relations have been progressing, as agreed by the parties, on three levels: political dialogue, positive agenda and confidence-building measures. "I believe that it is a positive development in a difficult time for international peace, but also for the broader stability in our region," the Greek leader said.
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Borrell speaks about global changes and challenges

Borrell speaks about global changes and challenges

EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, delivered an important policy speech on Friday 3 May during which he did a wide tour d'horizon of the current global situation and the challenges it flags up for Europe and for the world. Speaking in an academic setting, delivering the Dahrendorf Lecture at St Antony's College Oxford, Borrell spoke of a world where there is much more confrontation than co-operation, where there is more polarity and less multilateralism, Borrell spoke about the diminishing role of the United States as world hegemon and the rise of China. "We, Europeans, wanted to create in our neighbourhood a ring of friends. Instead of that, what we have today is a ring of fire. A ring of fire coming from the Sahel to the Middle East, the Caucasus and now in the battlefields of Ukraine", the High Representative said: Speaking on Russia, Borrell said  "Under Putin’s leadership, Russia has returned to the imperialist understanding of the world. Imperial Russia from the Tsar times and the Soviet empire times have been rehabilitated by Putin dreaming of a former size and influence." "It was Georgia in 2008. It was Crimea in 2014. We did not see, or we did not want to see, the evolution of Russia under Putin’s watch. Even though Putin himself had warned us at the Munich Security Conference in 2007. It is important to re-read what Putin said in 2007 at the Munich [Security] Conference that I am afraid that nobody wanted to hear or to understand." Borell described Putin as "an existential threat". In his speech Borell dwelt on the wars in Ukraine and in Gaza. "Now, we have two wars. And we, Europeans, are not prepared for the harshness of the world." The High Representative said that the way of living of the Europeans, "this best combination of political freedom, economic prosperity and social cohesion that the humanity has never been able to invent, is certainly in danger. And in order to face these challenges, I think that we have to work on three dimensions: Principles, Cooperation and Strength."
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European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen issues statement on Tbilisi protests

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen issues statement on Tbilisi protests

The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has expressed concern about the situation in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, amid ongoing anti-government protests against a new foreign influence law, which critics fear could be used to limit press freedoms. The protests, which have attracted international attention, highlight growing discontent in the country and calls for a closer alignment with European ideals.
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From Blighty with love – UK charm offensive in Central Asia is well thought through

From Blighty with love – UK charm offensive in Central Asia is well thought through

UK Foreign Secretary, Lord Cameron, conducted a whirlwind tour of the five Central Asian countries and Mongolia in the last days, visiting countries that had never before been visited by a British Foreign Secretary. There is very little you can do on a trip like this when you are in a country for one day, sometimes for a few hours. But this visit was well prepared and was part of a well-thought-through British strategy to engage with Central Asia.
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The new kid on the block – Azerbaijan’s new role in Central Asia

The new kid on the block – Azerbaijan’s new role in Central Asia

Those who know their political geography will tell you that there are five countries in Central Asia: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. But in the last two years, a new kid has appeared on the block. Azerbaijan is not usually described as a Central Asian country: Caucasus or Caspian are more likely labels, but recently one could spot Azerbaijan in key summits and meetings of the Central Asian republics, including those with other blocs, such as the Gulf Co-operation Council. Two things are driving this process.