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Armenia and Azerbaijan recognise each other's territorial integrity and sovereignty

Armenia and Azerbaijan recognise each other's territorial integrity and sovereignty

After hours of negotiations, with the mediation of European Council president Charles Michel, and French president Emanuel Macron, the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan , Nikol Pashinyan and Ilham Aliyev, have taken a historic step towards lasting peace. Both countries have recognised each other's territorial integrity and sovereignty, and committed to tangible steps to establish peace and stability in the region. President Macron tweeted early this morning "Tonight, Armenia and Azerbaijan confirmed their commitment to the Charter of the United Nations and the Alma Ata 1991 Declaration through which both recognize each other's territorial integrity and sovereignty." The four leaders held two long sessions of negotiations on the margins of the summit of the European Political Community which was launched at Prague Castle on Thursday afternoon (6 October). It is also understood that a number of other decisions were taken. It was agreed that the EU will deploy on the Armenian side of the Armenia-Azerbaijan border a civilian monitoring mission, for a period of two months starting from October.

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Opinion: The role of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation goes beyond managing Russia-China relations in Central Asia

Opinion: The role of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation goes beyond managing Russia-China relations in Central Asia

"As the world comes closer to multi-polarity, the role of such organizations as SCO will grow further. Russia and China will seek to use them as a counterbalance to western dominated international political and economic organizations, such as G7, the EU, the World Bank and IMF", writes Benyamin Poghosyan in this op-ed. He argues that in the present context of emerging great power competition, the SCO started to be viewed less as a tool to manage Russia – China relations in Central Asia, or counter terrorist threats from Afghanistan, and more as a significant grouping of non-western powers in the emerging multipolar world.
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The world waits whilst Tehran and Washington haggle about nuclear deal

The world waits whilst Tehran and Washington haggle about nuclear deal

After years of tension and months of negotiations, it appeared in August that the process of reviving the Iran nuclear, known as JCPOA, was coming to a successful close. The EU negotiators, who had been leading the difficult discussions, made what they said was the "final offer", and early indications from both Tehran and Washington appeared to be positive. In Brussels, officials were cautiously optimistic that a deal was in the bag. But the process dragged on and reports in some Middle East media sources appear to suggest that it has now grinded again back to a halt.  The US said Iran’s latest response was “not constructive”.  
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Armenia and Azerbaijan agree to start working on the text of a peace treaty

Armenia and Azerbaijan agree to start working on the text of a peace treaty

The president of the European Council, Charles Michel, on Wednesday (31 August) hosted in Brussels the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan, prime minister Nikol Pashinyan and president Ilham Aliyev, for talks on the future of relations between the two countries and peace in the South Caucasus. Michel said that at the meeting it was agreed "to step up substantive work to advance on the peace treaty governing inter-state relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan and tasked the Foreign Ministers to meet within one month to work on draft texts." President Michel underlined that "it is important to take the population along on both sides and prepare them for a long-term sustainable peace. Public messaging is critical in this regard – in a sensitive situation like this every word spoken in public is obviously listened to by the other side and weighed. The EU is ready to further step up its support towards a long-term sustainable peace. The EU will also continue to push for the advancement of economic development for the benefit of both countries and their populations." The three leaders agreed to meet again in this format by the end of November.
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Michel hosts Aliyev and Pashinyan in Brussels tomorrow

Michel hosts Aliyev and Pashinyan in Brussels tomorrow

The president of the European Council, Charles Michel, will host the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan in Brussels tomorrow Wednesday (30 August) as part of efforts to help the two countries achieve lasting peace. This will be the third time Charles Michel will be welcoming President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan and Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan of Armenia in less than nine months. The meeting is scheduled to start at 13.00 Brussels time. Ahead of tomorrow's meeting, Michel on Tuesday (30 August) held separate telephone conversations with the two leaders. Sources told commonspace.eu that last minute details regarding the meeting tomorrow were discussed to ensure the success of the meeting. Michel also touched on issues related with the bilateral agenda between the EU and the two countries.
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France and Algeria open new chapter in relations

France and Algeria open new chapter in relations

French President Emmanuel Macron and his Algerian counterpart Abdelmadjid Tebboune Saturday declared a "new, irreversible dynamic of progress" in the relations between the two countries, at the end of a state visit by the French president to the former French colony. The three-day visit comes less than two months after Algeria marked six decades of independence following 132 years of French rule and a devastating eight-year war. It also comes as European powers scramble to replace Russian energy imports -- including with supplies from Algeria, Africa's top gas exporter, which in turn is seeking to expand its clout in North Africa and the Sahel. In their joint declaration on Saturday, the two leaders said "France and Algeria have decided to open a new era ... laying the foundation for a renewed partnership expressed through a concrete and constructive approach, focused on future projects and youth." Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune had on Thursday hailed "promising prospects for improving the special partnership" between the two countries. The baggage of history weighs heavily on Franco-Algerian relations. Speaking at a joint press conference with his Algerian counterpart on Thursday evening, Macron -- the first French president to be born since Algerian independence in 1962 -- said that "we didn't the choose the past, we inherited it".
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Russia blocks text at UN conference on nuclear disarmament

Russia blocks text at UN conference on nuclear disarmament

Russia on Friday prevented the adoption of a joint declaration following a four-week United Nations conference on nuclear disarmament and non proliferation, citing "political" aspects of the text. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which 191 signatories review every five years, aims to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, promote complete disarmament and promote cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear energy.  "Our delegation has one key objection on some paragraphs which are blatantly political in nature," said Russian representative Igor Vishnevetsky, adding that Russia was not the only country to take issue with the text.  According to sources close to the negotiations, Russia was opposed in particular to paragraphs concerning the Ukrainian nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia, which is occupied by the Russian military. The latest draft text had expressed "grave concern" over military activities around Ukrainian power plants, including Zaporizhzhia, as well as over Ukraine's loss of control of such sites and the negative impact on safety.
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Progress made in talks between Turkey and NATO candidate countries Finland and Sweden

Progress made in talks between Turkey and NATO candidate countries Finland and Sweden

Finland and Sweden reiterated on Friday that they will cooperate with Turkey in the fight against terrorism during their first trilateral meeting since the NATO Madrid summit when the mechanism for consultation was created as part of the process leading to membership in NATO for the two previously neutral Scandinavian countries. The meeting was held in Helsinki. According to a statement from the office of Turkey's Presidential Spokesperson, Ibrahim Kalin's, Finland and Sweden reiterated their commitment to show full solidarity and cooperation with Turkey in the fight against all forms and manifestations of terrorism, pledging to fully support Turkey against all threats to its national security. “It was agreed to intensify cooperation at the technical level among the relevant institutions in order to achieve concrete progress on the issues addressed within the scope of the mechanism,” the statement added. During the meeting, the fundamentals of the permanent joint mechanism were determined while developments on the realization of the commitments in the trilateral deal were reviewed as well as concrete steps to be taken in the future.
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Diplomats confident that an agreement on the Iran nuclear deal can be reached within days

Diplomats confident that an agreement on the Iran nuclear deal can be reached within days

European diplomats are confident that an agreement on the Iran nuclear deal is within reach and may be achieved within days. EU High Representative for foreign and security policy, Josep Borrell said on Monday that Iran had given a “reasonable” response to the final text of a proposed new agreement, and the ball was now in the US court. Borrell suggested that a meeting to seal an agreement may take place as early as this week. Borrell said the negotiations brokered by the EU had gone as far as they could go and “this is the inflection point.” He said: “There was an Iranian response that I considered reasonable to transmit to the US. “The US has not formally replied yet. But we are waiting for their response and I hope that response will allow us to finish the negotiation — I hope so, but I can’t assure you of it.” Efforts to restore the Joint Comprehensive  Plan of Action — the 2015 agreement between world powers and Tehran aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear program in return for the lifting of sanctions — are at a critical point after 16 months of on-off indirect talks in Vienna.  
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Opinion: One step forward, two steps backward undermines the Armenia-Azerbaijan peace process

Opinion: One step forward, two steps backward undermines the Armenia-Azerbaijan peace process

"Recent developments underpinning the peace efforts are not insignificant, and were truly unimaginable a few years ago", writes Vasif Huseynov in this op-ed. Yet, the recent "series of events runs the risk of transforming the peace process into  a 'one step forward, two steps backward' ritual,  indefinitely delaying the negotiations. This  trend should be countered by all means possible. It  needs to be seriously  taken into account by the European Union  whilst exercising its efforts to bring the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan to  the negotiating table", he adds.