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Opinion: Are France and Azerbaijan drifting back to normal?

Opinion: Are France and Azerbaijan drifting back to normal?

Relations between France and Azerbaijan have been on a downward slope since the 44-day war in 2020, when Paris emerged as Armenia’s major international supporter, and the French parliament even voted, almost unanimously, for a resolution calling for the recognition of independence of the so-called “Republic of Artsakh”. Already during the war, Azerbaijani MFA claimed that Paris “ceased to be an honest broker”, and this position only hardened over time. Since then, the bilateral ties have been progressively deteriorating, especially after Azerbaijan’s military operation in Karabakh in September 2023: France became the country where calls to sanction Baku for its “ethnic cleansing” were the most vocal, while Azerbaijan started to attack Paris over its “neo-colonial” policies, targeting continued French sovereignty over several overseas territories, primarily New Caledonia whose independence movement has been active for decades.

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Too little, too late, but Arabs hope UNSC resolution dents US-Israel relations

Too little, too late, but Arabs hope UNSC resolution dents US-Israel relations

The situation in Palestine continues to cast a shadow over the Ramadan festivities in the Arabian Peninsula and across the Arab and Moslem worlds. On Monday (26 March), the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) finally adopted resolution 2728, demanding an immediate ceasefire for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which started on 10 March, leading to a “lasting sustainable ceasefire”. The resolution, which was put forward by the Council’s elected members, also demands the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages and that the parties comply with their obligations under international law in relation to all persons they detain. Resolution 2728 emphasises the need to expand humanitarian assistance and reinforce the protection of civilians in the Gaza Strip. It also reiterates the Council’s demand to lift “all barriers to the provision of humanitarian assistance at scale”. Arab and Muslim governments have generally welcomed the adoption of UNSC resolution 2728. But amongst a wary public in the GCC and beyond, there is widespread frustration and cynicism, and many consider it as being too little, too late. Palestinian envoy to the UN, Riyad Mansour, speaking in New York yesterday, reflected this mood, saying it had taken “six months, over 100,000 Palestinians killed and maimed, 2 million displaced, and famine for this Council to finally demand an immediate ceasefire.” Palestinians have been killed “in their homes, in the streets, in hospitals and ambulances, in shelters, and even in tents,” he added. “This must come to an end now. There can be no justification for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.” Acceptance of any justification for such crimes would be a renunciation of humanity and destroy the rule of international law beyond repair, Mansour said.
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In Yerevan, Stoltenberg says that stability in the South Caucasus matters for NATO

In Yerevan, Stoltenberg says that stability in the South Caucasus matters for NATO

The Secretary General urged Armenia and Azerbaijan to reach an agreement to pave the way for the normalisation of relations and a durable peace. “This matters for Euro-Atlantic security as we face a more dangerous world,” he emphasised, reiterating that “NATO supports Armenian sovereignty and territorial integrity, and your peaceful aspirations.”  Mr Stoltenberg praised Armenia for its long-standing partnership and contributions to NATO operations, including increased troop numbers in KFOR’s peacekeeping mission. “For nearly 20 years, Armenia has been a key partner in NATO’s KFOR peacekeeping mission, helping to ensure a safe and secure environment for all communities in Kosovo,” he said. During his visit, the Secretary General discussed the progress in Armenia’s domestic reforms. He highlighted Armenia’s commitment to ensuring democratic control of its armed forces, including by participating in NATO’s building integrity programme. “You have also shown a real commitment to tackling corruption, strengthening your democratic institutions, and upholding the rule of law,” he stated. The Secretary General warned that “Russia’s war in Ukraine is a sobering reminder that we cannot take peace for granted… If Putin succeeds in Ukraine, there is a real risk that his aggression will not stop there and other authoritarian actors will be emboldened,” he said. Mr Stoltenberg called on all NATO partners to “do what they can to ensure Putin does not win his war of aggression.” “The situation on the battlefield remains difficult, but this is a reason to step up, not to scale back our support,” he said. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg visited the three South Caucasus countries from 17-19 March for meetings with the leadership of the three countries and as an expression of support for their independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.
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In Tbilisi, Stoltenberg reaffirms NATO support for Georgia's territorial integrity

In Tbilisi, Stoltenberg reaffirms NATO support for Georgia's territorial integrity

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg continued his tour of the South Caucasus on Monday (18 March 2024), meeting with President Salome Zourabichvili and Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze of Georgia in Tbilisi. “Georgia is one of NATO’s closest partners. We highly appreciate your substantial contributions to NATO missions and operations and we fully support Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. South Ossetia and Abkhazia are part of Georgia,” Mr Stoltenberg said. He called on Russia to reverse the recognition of Georgian territories South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states and added that Russia’s organisation of elections in occupied parts of Georgia and Ukraine is completely illegal. “Russia’s presidential election was clearly neither free nor fair,” Mr Stoltenberg said. The Secretary General welcomed Georgia’s substantial contributions to NATO operations and support to Ukraine. Georgia is hosting thousands of Ukrainian refugees and providing crucial humanitarian and financial aid. “Russia persists in its pursuit of imperial ambitions. And in Ukraine, the situation on the battlefield remains difficult,” he said. “But, with our support, Ukraine has pushed back - destroying or damaging a significant part of Russia’s Black Sea fleet,” allowing Ukraine to re-open grain shipping that is vital for their economy and for global food security. The Secretary General will conclude his three day visit to the South Caucasus in Yerevan on Tuesday, meeting with President Vahagn Khachaturyan and Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan of Armenia. On Sunday and Monday, he met Azerbaijan’s leadership in Baku.
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NATO Secretary General in Baku at the start of South Caucasus tour

NATO Secretary General in Baku at the start of South Caucasus tour

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg arrived in Baku in Sunday (17 March) at the start of a three-day, tri-nation tour of the South Caucasus. Meeting with President Ilham Aliyev, the Secretary-General welcomed Azerbaijan’s long-standing collaboration with the Alliance, saying he looked forward to further strengthening the partnership. On the situation in the South Caucasus, the Secretary-General underlined that “peace and stability is not only important here but for security more broadly”. He said: “Armenia and Azerbaijan now have an opportunity to achieve an enduring peace after years of conflict.”  He added: “I can just encourage you to seize this opportunity to reach a lasting peace agreement with Armenia”. On Ukraine, Mr Stoltenberg welcomed the much-needed support provided by Azerbaijan, and called on all countries in the region to step up: “more support is needed because the situation in Ukraine is extremely difficult.” The Secretary-General called the upcoming COP29 Global Climate Summit in Azerbaijan an important milestone: “It is important for everyone concerned about climate change but also important for our security because those issues are closely interlinked.”
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Kobakhidze in Baku as Georgia pushes its regional role

Kobakhidze in Baku as Georgia pushes its regional role

The recently appointed prime minister of Georgia, Irakli Kobakhidze, has arrived in Baku for talks with the Azerbaijani leadership. In the few days during which he has been prime minister Kobakhidze has given a lot of importance to relations with the country's two immediate neighbours, Armenia and Azerbaijan, meeting separately with the Ambassadors of the two countries and receiving visiting delegations. Georgia is keen to promote its regional role and to support the process of peace and reconciliation between Armenia and Azerbaijan. This is likely to be one of the topics on Kobakhidze's agenda in Baku. The Georgian prime minister is also expected to visit Armenia next week,
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Opinion: Does Russia lose Armenia to France?

Opinion: Does Russia lose Armenia to France?

In an interview with France24 during his February 2024 visit to Paris, Nikol Pashinyan highlighted Azerbaijan's perception of Armenia as "Western Azerbaijan" and expressed concerns about Azerbaijan's preparations for a new war, writes Dr. Anzhela Mnatsakanyan in this op-ed for commonspace.eu. "This interview marked a significant departure as Pashinyan openly scrutinized Russia's policies towards Armenia and hinted at the possibility of a new war. The timing of this interview, a few days before Azerbaijan presented a re-edited version of the so-called "Peace treaty," suggested that the "peace" offered by Azerbaijan is more about the capitulation of Armenia. This interview was a kind of “call for help” from Pashinyan to Western countries on the eve of a possible new war."
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Opinion: German diplomacy on the move in the South Caucasus

Opinion: German diplomacy on the move in the South Caucasus

"The EU cannot afford to overlook the strategic importance of the South Caucasus", writes Simona Scotti in this op-ed for commonspace.eu. "If on the one hand over the past two years significant steps have been undertaken, including the deployment of the EUMA in Armenia and the Brussels track of negotiations led by Charles Michel, on the other hand some more concrete actions, with a well-defined and consistent strategy, would be appreciated. The lack of a clear and coherent vision has destabilized Armenia and Azerbaijan, which have often questioned to which extent they can really trust a Western involvement in the region."