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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Opinion: religious diplomacy should be factored into the Armenia-Azerbaijan peace process

"Religion has taken a place in the narratives that depict two warring sides locked into perpetual battle, and the international media nearly always frames the conflict as one between “Christian Armenia” and “Muslim Azerbaijan”, implanting that image in the minds of readers," writes Onnik James Krikorian in this op-ed for

patrickn97 Thu, 05/11/2023 - 08:07
Russia lifts ban on flights to Georgia, removes visa restrictions for Georgian citizens
On Wednesday (10 May), Russian President Vladimir Putin signed two separate decrees lifting a ban on flights to Georgia, and abolishing visas for Georgian citizens. From 15 March, Georgian nationals will be allowed to enter Russia without visas for up to 90 days. Lifting the ban on flights reverses a 2019 decision in which the Kremlin banned air traffic with Georgia following a wave of anti-Kremlin protests there. After President Putin signed the decrees, the Russian Foreign Ministry also released a statement reversing its 2019 advice against Russian citizens travelling to Georgia. The statement added that Putin's decrees "are in line with our principled approach of consistently facilitating the conditions for communication and contacts between the citizens of Russia and Georgia, despite the absence of diplomatic relations". Later, Russian state media outlet RIA Novosti reported that the Georgian Deputy Minister of the Economy and Sustainable Development Mariam Kvrivishvili said that Georgia would issue permits for direct flights to non-sanctioned airlines, before adding that authorities were yet to receive any such requests from Russian airlines.
patrickn97 Wed, 05/10/2023 - 16:13
Editor's choice
Syria readmitted to the Arab League 11 years after suspension

Syria readmitted to the Arab League 11 years after suspension

Syria has been readmitted to the Arab League 11 years after its membership was suspended over the government's violent crackdown of pro-democracy protests in 2011 that led to the outbreak of the Syrian Civil War. In a meeting of 13 out of 22 foreign ministers at the Arab League's headquarters in the Egyptian capital Cairo on Sunday (7 May), they agreed 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 Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit also told journalists on Sunday that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could participate in the upcoming Arab League summit in Saudi Arabia if he is invited and if he wants to attend. In the statement released after the vote to readmit Syria, which was reportedly not unanimous, the Arab League said that the "resolution of the Syria conflict is a step-by-step matter", of which Syria's readmission to the group was only a first step. The statement added that the Arab League supports Syria's territorial integrity and the "withdrawal of all foreign forces" from the country.
Editor's choice
Editorial: the moment of truth

Editorial: the moment of truth

"The signing of an agreement – it is still not clear if it will be called a Peace Agreement, or something else – will certainly not mean that all issues between Armenia and Azerbaijan are resolved," writes in this editorial. "There is also much that still needs to be done to build enough trust and confidence for any agreement to not simply be a piece of paper. But an agreement will certainly be the sign of the end of an era of war and hostilities which has also poisoned the atmosphere between the two neighbouring nations." The foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan, accompanied by large delegations, were in Washington this week for face to face negotiations on the future relations between their countries. After a hiatus of several months, during which contact was relegated to exchange of emails, the two sides, with some US prodding, on Monday engaged in what many consider to be the most detailed exercise yet in trying to chart the future relations between the two countries.
Iran thanks Saudi Arabia for helping its citizens flee Sudan

Iran has thanked Saudi Arabia for helping its citizens in Sudan evacuate across the Red Sea to the Saudi port city of Jeddah.

65 Iranians were among around 1,900 people evacuated from Sudan to Saudi Arabia on Saturday (29 April) as fighting between the Sudenese army and the rival paramilitary group, the Rapid Support Forces, entered its third week.

patrickn97 Wed, 05/03/2023 - 09:43