Opinion, Analysis, Editorial, Interview, Commentary

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Opinions, analysis and editorial pieces, interviews and general commentary on issues and regions in and around Europe from our panel of regular experts and research associates, and guest writers and contributors.

Editor's choice
Analysis
Briefing: Pashinyan ready to sign, not everyone in Stepanakert is happy, Baku hopeful but keeping up pressure

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 commonspace.eu. 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.
Editor's choice
Editorial
Editorial: Saudi Arabia injects new energy into a moribund Arab League

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 commonspace.eu 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.
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Editor's choice
Opinion
Opinion: A long term international presence in Nagorno Karabakh is needed

Opinion: A long term international presence in Nagorno Karabakh is needed

Nagorno Karabakh's future is the most challenging question that Armenia and Azerbaijan face as they seek to move towards the normalisation of relations between them. In this op-ed for commonspace.eu, Benyamin Poghosyan says that "there are different approaches how to deal with this issue. One approach argues for the inclusion of Nagorno Karabakh in the bilateral peace treaty, while according to another view, the Nagorno Karabakh issue should be separated from discussions on Armenia - Azerbaijan relations." This is creating a difficult situation on the ground. "For the time being, the only reliable way to prevent a new large-scale war in Nagorno Karabakh is a robust international presence in Nagorno Karabakh. It will provide relative security and stability in Nagorno Karabakh and contribute to the establishment of favorable conditions for Armenia – Azerbaijan negotiations", he argues.
Editor's choice
Opinion
Tourism in the Gulf is a game changer

Tourism in the Gulf is a game changer

The process of opening-up Saudi Arabia to the world is going on in earnest. As a part of the Vision 2030 blueprint, masterminded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi government is implementing a plan, which, amongst many other things, aims to turn the Kingdom into a popular tourist destination by the end of the decade. Other GCC countries, but particularly UAE, Qatar and Oman, also seek a growth in tourism, and see the industry as one of the potential pillars for their post oil economies. In many countries, tourism is a major economic activity that contributes to economic prosperity. It is also an industry which generates revenues that quickly seep downwards to the very grassroots of society, and so everyone benefits from it. But apart from the economic and financial gains, tourism can also be an instrument of change within societies, opening up conservative, inward looking communities to the outside world. Several Arab Gulf countries have the ambition of turning themselves into major tourist destinations, and some have already considerable success. The potential is great, but there are also some risks.
Opinion: Tensions between Iran and Azerbaijan threaten regional stability
The violent attack against the Azerbaijani embassy in Tehran on 27 January has strained tensions between Azerbaijan and Iran, sparking fears of further deterioration in relations between the two countries, writers Vasif Huseynov in this op-ed for commonspace.eu. Azerbaijan rejected Iran’s assertions that the attack was driven by personal motives and accuses Tehran of whipping up anti Azerbaijani hysteria. All this has brought the bilateral relations between the two countries to a new low. It cannot be excluded that things will deteriorate even further, given that Tehran does not seem ready to renounce its claims against Azerbaijan. This constitutes an alarming threat to regional peace and security for a variety of reasons. Above all, the current state of bilateral relations, and the propagation of anti-Azerbaijani sentiments by the Iranian media, create a precarious situation that could easily spiral into escalation with the slightest incident or provocation. All this has brought the bilateral relations between the two countries to a new low. It cannot be excluded that things will deteriorate even further, given that Tehran does not seem ready to renounce its claims against Azerbaijan. This constitutes an alarming threat to regional peace and security for a variety of reasons. Above all, the current state of bilateral relations, and the propagation of anti-Azerbaijani sentiments by the Iranian media, create a precarious situation that could easily spiral into escalation with the slightest incident or provocation.
dennis2020 Wed, 02/08/2023 - 19:13
Editor's choice
Opinion
Opinion: The closure of the Lachin Corridor is in no one's interest

Opinion: The closure of the Lachin Corridor is in no one's interest

Azerbaijan has closed the Lachin corridor since December 12, 2022. There are different interpretations of why Azerbaijan did it, and why Baku continues the blockade despite calls from the international community to change its course writes Benyamin Poghosyan in this op-ed for commonspace.eu. Azerbaijan, Armenia, Russia, and the West, in one way or another, all suffer from the blockade. Ultimately, it is up to the Azerbaijani leadership to decide to re-open the road. "There can be other factors influencing Baku's decision however, one thing is clear – continuing the Nagorno Karabakh blockade harms everyone, and all interested parties should take steps to end it", he argues
Opinion: Sweden must re-evaluate its internal and external relations before NATO accession can become reality
Given the increasingly uncertain political climate in which Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson finds himself, Sweden requires an internal and external positional re-evaluation in order to finalise its accession to NATO, writes Alfred Stranne in this op-ed for commonspace.eu. Meanwhile, Sweden needs to understand the increasing anger coming from Ankara, which is severely hindering its progression towards becoming a member of the alliance. Meanwhile, Sweden must also look within NATO itself to seek support in reassuring Ankara that Sweden will be a significant security provider for the alliance, providing added benefits for Ankara as well. This would repair Sweden’s relations with Turkey and reassure Ankara that despite the ideological and religious differences between Kristersson and Erdogan, Sweden and Turkey have common interests in seeking regional peace and stability.
patrickn97 Fri, 02/03/2023 - 09:33
Editor's choice
Analysis
Briefing: Pashinyan ready to sign, not everyone in Stepanakert is happy, Baku hopeful but keeping up pressure

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 commonspace.eu. 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.
Editor's choice
Analysis
Kazakhstan looks back at a difficult 2022, determined to pursue change and reform in 2023

Kazakhstan looks back at a difficult 2022, determined to pursue change and reform in 2023

For the Central Asian republic of Kazakhstan, this year has probably been the most difficult one since its independence in 1991. Yet the country has emerged from it stronger. The process of reform initiated by President Kassym Jomart Tokayev appears to be gathering momentum, despite resistance from parts of the ruling elite still associated with the country’s first president Nursultan Nazarbayev. On Thursday, 29 December, Tokayev addressed the Kazakh Senate in the capital, Astana, where he summed up the year’s results. “This year, the country has been through a lot, but we managed to overcome all difficulties,” said the President. Tokayev paid particular attention to preserving stability and security, and paving the way for the dynamic development of the state is a priority for Kazakhstan. The reforms in all spheres will be continued into the following year. In early January Kazakhstan faced an unprecedented upheaval, initially triggered by price rises, but which soon got hijacked by elements close to the previous president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, who were unhappy with the reforms being implemented, and most of all with the clampdown on corruption which had started to affect them. At this point Nazarbayev still held control over several leverages of power, including as Head of the Security Council and as President of the ruling party. The disturbances were contained but at considerable human and material costs.
Editor's choice
Analysis
Under the Pall of War: Implications of Russia's Invasion of Ukraine for Peace Processes in the South Caucasus

Under the Pall of War: Implications of Russia's Invasion of Ukraine for Peace Processes in the South Caucasus

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 shattered Europe’s security architecture, with far-reaching and unpredictable implications for conflicts in neighbouring regions where Russia plays a role. This discussion paper, just published by Conciliation Resources, focuses on the impacts of war in Ukraine on the peace processes of the South Caucasus, a region fractured by protracted conflicts dating back to the 1990s.
Editor's choice
Analysis
Analysis: Mohammed bin Zayed meets Putin in Moscow as Gulf states ponder the new world order

Analysis: Mohammed bin Zayed meets Putin in Moscow as Gulf states ponder the new world order

The president of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), met in Moscow on Tuesday (11 October) with president Valdimir Putin of Russia. Putin warmly greeted his UAE guest at the Kostantinovsky Palace. The visit comes as Gulf states ponder about the new world order, Even before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the world order that had emerged at the end of the Cold War had clearly run out of steam. Russia and the West, instead of partners in the international system through membership of the G8, cooperation in space, and extensive arms control agreements, became first rivals, and, since February this year, enemies. China, whose rise over the last four decades as an economic power was first admired, has subsequently become a “systematic rival”. As it verges on superpower status it has become more assertive and less predictable. The US and its allies are seriously worried.  For the countries of the Gulf this new world order is uncharted waters. During the Cold War the Gulf was first a British lake, and later an American one. The American shield protected the Gulf states against intruders. When Iraq invaded Kuwait and occupied it in 1990, the US and its allies led the international community in a fightback, and Saddam Hussein was driven back across the border with a bloody nose. When he tried to rear his head again, the West finished him off. Then there was Iran. A huge American presence, with other allies in the wings, saw off Iranian ambitions in the region. It seemed that US-GCC relations were set in stone. Yet as the world reverted back to a multipolar state - the parameters of which are as yet undefined - it was only the naïve who thought that the GCC states will simply slide back to their old role of doing the USA's bidding in return for protection. Things in the Gulf have changed dramatically in the last six decades, and in the last decade in particular, in political terms the region is unrecognisable. In Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, Doha and elsewhere the national interest has been re-defined. 
Analysis: Russia's "Wagner group" poses a threat to peace and security in the Sahel
While the world’s attention is focused on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Russia’s presence in Africa, and particularly in Mali, increasingly represents a threat to international security, writes Camille Victor for commonspace.eu. Russia’s presence in Mali has generated considerable controversy since the end of 2021, with many Western powers denouncing the activities of the Russian “Wagner Group” paramilitary mercenaries in the country, accusing them of violating human rights and the rule of law. Indeed, while Mali had been cooperating closely with France in the fight against terrorism since 2013, the Malian junta that seized power in a coup in May 2021 has drastically changed its foreign policy, now turning to Moscow to help stabilise the security situation by employing the services of this shady Kremlin-linked private security group. Given that Mali’s security is currently in the hands of forces that not only fail to effectively counter an increasing terrorist threat, but also to fail to respect human rights and the rule of law, all the while facing zero accountability for their abuses, ensuring that the junta upholds its commitment to conduct democratic elections in 2024 must remain a priority. In the meantime, an integrated security risk management and peacebuilding strategy should include measures that encourage transparency and accountability for abuses and breaches to the rule of law committed by security forces, notably through strengthening civilian institutions and oversight mechanisms.
patrickn97 Wed, 09/21/2022 - 17:18
Editor's choice
Analysis
Analysis: Origins of the Houthi supremacist ideology

Analysis: Origins of the Houthi supremacist ideology

One of the several, often overlooked, challenges facing Yemen is the supremacist and divisive ideological basis of the Houthi movement. The movement’s ideology has rebellion and violence at its core, a recipe that can perpetuate crises within a society. In this analysis for commonspace.eu, Noman Ahmed and Mahmoud Shamsan shed light on the ideological fault lines that fuel the current conflict in Yemen, highlighting the nature of this ideology, which suggests that Ahl al-Bayt — descendants from the family of the Islamic Prophet — are, by divine decree, considered to be more deserving of the right to greater political and religious rule than other socio-political components. The analysis then looks into the background of the Houthis and argues that the ideology is a catalyst for conflict rather than peaceful political competition, and that so long as the Houthi political goal of Hashemite dominance remains unrealised, Houthi desire for conflict will not recede.
Editor's choice
Analysis
Questions remain as to who was behind deadly protests in Uzbekistan’s Karakalpakstan region

Questions remain as to who was behind deadly protests in Uzbekistan’s Karakalpakstan region

Two weeks after violent protests rocked Uzbekistan’s Karakalpakstan region, speculation continues about who was behind the turmoil that appeared to take officials in the capital, Tashkent, completely by surprise. This despite the fact that the reasons that triggered the unrest appear to be clear, namely proposed constitutional changes that promised to weaken the autonomy of the region, which occupies a territory, of 166,590 sq kms, and has a population of 1.9 million. Official reports say that 18 civilians were killed during the protests, 94 hospitalised, and hundreds more injured. The Uzbek Government has blamed unspecified foreign forces for being behind the unrest. Uzbekistan is a tightly managed country, where such unrest is by and large unheard of, and where the only country that has the potential to provoke such wide-spread disturbances is Russia, given its longstanding and deep rooted influence in Central Asia. Some Uzbek diplomats in Europe have been briefing that the disturbances were part of a planned “colour revolution”, although they did not quite explain what they meant by that. Uzbekistan is known to have been under considerable pressure from  Moscow in recent years to join Russia-led regional structures, such as the Eurasian Economic Union and the CSTO military alliance, but president Shavkat Mirziyoyev has so far resisted the pressure.
Editor's choice
Analysis
Macron gets a second chance to push for a new type of French partnership with Africa

Macron gets a second chance to push for a new type of French partnership with Africa

The re-election of Emmanuel Macron as President of the French Republic was the occasion for many congratulations from African heads of state with most leaders hailing the French president's "brilliant" election. Yet on the continent, not everyone is so enthusiastic, and speculation is high how France’s Africa policy will play out during Macron’s second term. The silence of Bamako, Conakry and Ouagadougou reflects the challenges of Emmanuel Macron's African policy in the years to come. Macron has put a great deal of energy into opening a new chapter in the relationship between France and Africa, but the results have been below expectations. A sustainable and mutually beneficial relationship is very important in these new, uncertain times. Whether it is through the gas alternative proposed by some North African countries, or the emergence of new partnerships in the Sahel and in English-speaking Africa, France will have to play a prominent role and has much to gain from being close with Africa. 
Editor's choice
Analysis
Fear and lack of trust are an obstacle for peaceful co-existence between Armenians and Azerbaijanis in Nagorno-Karabakh

Fear and lack of trust are an obstacle for peaceful co-existence between Armenians and Azerbaijanis in Nagorno-Karabakh

A recent survey of women from the large community of Azerbaijanis displaced by the conflict in Nagorno Karabakh in the 1990s shows that fear and lack of trust are an obstacle for peaceful co-existence between Armenians and Azerbaijanis in Nagorno-Karabakh. The survey is part of a report, “IDP Women: needs assessment for post conflict life, including expectations for safe return home”, prepared by Khalisa Shahverdiyeva on behalf of the Azerbaijani NGO “Women’s empowerment for sustainable development”. Following the 2020 Karabakh war a new situation has emerged which opened the prospect of the return of hundreds of thousands of Azerbaijanis displaced by the fighting in the 1990s to their place of origin, and in many cases to live together or in close proximity with Armenian communities. The survey covered 590 internally displaced women, while 30 more women were interviewed to get a tentative picture of their needs and expectations, including their fears and concerns for peace-building and returning home.  The overwhelming majority (87.55%) of respondents highlighted the necessity of being free from danger as a decisive factor behind their decision to relocate. Consequently, the full-scale clearance of landmines supported by a guarantee of non-resumption of armed hostilities have been underscored as key factors for IDPs’ return home.  
Editor's choice
Analysis
Ukraine poses a dilemma to the three South Caucasus countries, but they have still one important card they can play

Ukraine poses a dilemma to the three South Caucasus countries, but they have still one important card they can play

Dennis Sammut, Director of LINKS Europe and Managing Editor of Commonspace.eu discusses how the countries of the South Caucasus have reacted to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and what they should do next. “In the present circumstances, the strongest card that the three countries have, if they choose to play it, is regional co-operation and an informal loosely co-ordinated common approach”, he says. All the Russian strategy in the South Caucasus in the last thirty years has been built  on the premise of adversity and unhealthy competition between and within the three countries. Debunking this will be a major victory for all the countries and people in the region.
Editor's choice
Analysis
Opinion: If Russia is able to keep its "big power" status after the Ukraine crisis, it will seek to work with Iran and Armenia to contain Turkish influence in the South Caucasus

Opinion: If Russia is able to keep its "big power" status after the Ukraine crisis, it will seek to work with Iran and Armenia to contain Turkish influence in the South Caucasus

"If Russia successfully resists the unprecedented pressure from the West and remains one of the main poles in the emerging multipolar world, its interests lie in balancing Turkish influence in its neighborhood, including the South Caucasus. It does not imply that Russia and Turkey will stop their economic cooperation. It simply means that Russia will seek to prevent Turkish dominance over the South Caucasus", writes Benyamin Poghosyan in this analysis on current geo-politics in the South Caucasus.
Editor's choice
Editorial
Editorial: Saudi Arabia injects new energy into a moribund Arab League

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 commonspace.eu 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.
Editor's choice
Editorial
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 commonspace.eu 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.” commonspace.eu 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.
Editor's choice
Editorial
Editorial: Armenia-Azerbaijan talks are down to the nitty-gritty

Editorial: Armenia-Azerbaijan talks are down to the nitty-gritty

After months of diplomacy by e-mail, Armenia and Azerbaijan met in Washington DC in the first week of May for negotiations led by the foreign ministers of the two countries, with the United States providing facilitation and support, writes commonspace.eu in this editorial. The presence of US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, at the opening of the talks, raised expectations that the talks may be conclusive. They were not, but enough progress was made for Blinken to return for the closing session, telling his guests that the US appreciated that the last bit of any negotiating process was going to be the most difficult. "The temptation to draw out the ongoing situation for many more months, with the hope that time is on their side, has big risks. Unplanned incidents still have the capacity to escalate quickly and spiral out of control, feeding on the existing level of mistrust. The violence between Armenia and Azerbaijan reported this morning (11 May) is a case in point. So in many ways this is the moment of truth, even if some would argue that we have been here before. Somehow however this time it feels different, even if the nitty-gritty problems have not gone away," they add.
Editorial: Gulf countries tease the world powers, it is their moment and they are clearly enjoying it

This editorial first appeared in the 9 May 2023 issue of our newsletter Arabia Concise. If you would like to subscribe to Arabia Concise, or any other of our newsletters, please click here.

patrickn97 Tue, 05/09/2023 - 13:46
Editor's choice
Editorial
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 commonspace.eu 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.
Editorial: the problem of the Taliban will not go away

This editorial first appeared in the 2 May 2023 issue of our newsletter Central Asia Concise. If you would like to subscribe to Central Asia Concise, or any other of our newsletters, please click here.

patrickn97 Tue, 05/02/2023 - 12:13
Editorial: Sudan put the “new era of peace” in the Middle East to an early test
The processes that have been taking place in the Gulf region and the wider Middle East over the last year - which healed the schism within the GCC, reconciled Turkey with Saudi Arabia and the UAE, started the process of bringing back Syria within the Arab fold, and, even more dramatically, started the process of reconciling Saudi Arabia and Iran - appeared in recent days to have even reached Yemen, when the exchange of large numbers of prisoners during the Ramadan month, and the meetings between Saudi officials and the Houthi leadership, augured well for that painful conflict to be also finally resolved. Yet, just as pundits hailed a new era of peace in the Middle East, Sudan erupted into a civil war that has already claimed hundreds of lives, and potentially can be hugely devastating.
patrickn97 Tue, 04/25/2023 - 12:35
Editor's choice
Editorial
Editorial: Missed opportunities in the South Caucasus

Editorial: Missed opportunities in the South Caucasus

The last two weeks have seen missed opportunities for the Armenia-Azerbaijan peace process, and for the Georgian government to establish facts and proving the truth over the US sanctioning of four Georgian judges, writes commonspace.eu in this editorial. Instead of building trust and confidence, the burning of the Azerbaijani flag at the European Weightlifting Championships in Yerevan "further entrenched the enemy imagery". Meanwhile in Georgia, "by obstructing the establishment of a parliamentary investigative commission to assess the US accusations against Georgian judges, the Georgian government missed an opportunity to deal openly and transparently with what is clearly a very sensitive and controversial issue."
Editor's choice
Editorial
Editorial: Chinese strategy in Central Asia aims to keep the west out, the Russians down, and everyone else on the margin

Editorial: Chinese strategy in Central Asia aims to keep the west out, the Russians down, and everyone else on the margin

Events of the past year have unleashed a new "Great Game" in Central Asia, writes commonspace.eu in this editorial. "The plan, it seems, builds on China’s “Belt and Road” programme, but there also now appears to be a much stronger political angle to China’s engagement. China is worried that Russia’s increasing weakness is creating a vacuum in Central Asia that others may be tempted to fill. It is determined to get there first. China’s approach seems to be to keep the west out, the Russians down, and everyone else on the margin." There is little doubt that the big loser in this “great game in the new era” is Russia. But the Kremlin at this point has little choice but to try to cut its losses. It desperately needs China’s support - at least economically, politically and diplomatically, if not militarily - as it tries to sort out the mess it created for itself in Ukraine, and resist Western sanctions imposed after its invasion.
Editor's choice
Editorial
Editorial: more Armenian and Azerbaijani fatalities are a result of the failure of the peace process so far

Editorial: more Armenian and Azerbaijani fatalities are a result of the failure of the peace process so far

Another serious incident between Armenian and Azerbaijani armed forces happened on Tuesday (11 April) in the border area of Tegh, resulting in several Armenian and Azerbaijani servicemen being killed or injured. In Armenia, as in Azerbaijan, someone lost a son; someone lost a husband; someone lost a father. One can argue about who started, who shot first, and why. The truth is that incidents like this are going to continue happening for as long as the Armenian and Azerbaijani leaderships do not finish what they started, and take the necessary steps to normalise relations between them. Normalisation leading to peace, leading eventually to co-operation, is the endgame that both sides have publicly committed to. But the process continues to drag on as both sides remain attached to maximalist or unattainable positions. This state of affairs can drag on for a long time to come unless there is a resolute political will to move forward. And in the meantime, young Armenians and young Azerbaijanis die on a regular basis. Let’s be clear, every casualty is a sign of the failure of the political leadership, and declaring the victims heroes is not enough.
Editor's choice
Editorial
Editorial: the surge towards peace across the Muslim Middle East is an expression of pragmatism, not heavenly inspiration

Editorial: the surge towards peace across the Muslim Middle East is an expression of pragmatism, not heavenly inspiration

Although we are in the middle of the holy month of Ramadan, and peace is in the air across the whole of the Muslim Middle East, commonspace.eu writes in this editorial that "problems are being patched up, not resolved. Many of the causes or factors that triggered the conflicts in the first place remain as acute as ever. But for the moment the region is exhausted. Visionary leaders need time and space to implement their reforms; others such as the Iranian clerical regime, need time to regroup after being rattled by internal and external turmoil. There is then the issue of the wider picture. The Gulf region has for decades been the epicentre of geopolitical rivalry, which often overspilled into violence. It appears to be now losing this unenviable role. Open warfare is ongoing on the European continent following the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. This is unlikely to end any time soon."
Editor's choice
Interview
Samantha Smith's Group: the global volunteer movement uniting Ukrainians and Russians through English

Samantha Smith's Group: the global volunteer movement uniting Ukrainians and Russians through English

On 24 February 2022, in the town of Kostyantynivka in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk oblast, Anastasiia woke up at 4am to the sound of explosions. Not in her town, but about 30km away. When the first explosion hit she did not understand what was going on, but once the second explosion hit she rushed to her parents’ room and told them that the war had started. Originally conceived as a protest, Samantha Smith’s Group has evolved into a herculean effort run by a tight-knit, principled and dedicated group of individuals committed to making a very genuine difference to Ukrainians whose lives have been turned upside down by Russia’s invasion of their country. However, although the teachers come from all over the world, from Canada to New Zealand, from the UK to Costa Rica, as well as Ukraine and Belarus, the majority of volunteers teaching English to Ukrainians in Samantha Smith’s Group are actually from Russia.
Editor's choice
Interview
Nikoloz Samkharadze: "Georgia does not have any hidden agenda other than having peace and stability in the South Caucasus"

Nikoloz Samkharadze: "Georgia does not have any hidden agenda other than having peace and stability in the South Caucasus"

Prof. Dr. Nikoloz Samkharadze is the Chairperson of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Parliament of Georgia. On 21 November 2022, during his visit to The Hague, Prof. Dr. Samkharadze spoke to commonspace.eu about Georgia's Euro-Atlantic trajectory, the Armenia-Azerbaijan peace process, Georgia's relations with Russia and Ukraine, and recent successes in Georgian rugby. On the Armenia-Azerbaijan peace process, Prof. Dr. Samkharadze says, "Georgia has a very big asset in its hands, and this is trust and credibility in both the Azeri and Armenian capitals. Georgia is equally respected in Yerevan and in Baku, and equally trusted by Yerevan and Baku. And no other player around us, no big regional power, has the same trust and credibility. This is very important in the South Caucasus. As you know, we came up with the Peaceful Caucasus initiative, and this initiative is supported by both Armenia and Azerbaijan. Recently we have had very productive visits of high-level Armenian and Azerbaijani delegations in Georgia, and I believe that there is room for reaching a comprehensive peace treaty between Armenia and Azerbaijan. We will do our most, we will facilitate, we will mediate, because it is in Georgia’s interests to finally have long-lasting peace and stability in the region. I believe that our partners in Yerevan and Baku also know that we don’t have any hidden agenda other than having peace and stability in the South Caucasus. So we will play a very active role despite the fact that some of our neighbours might not like our activity in that regard."
Editor's choice
Interview
Stepan Grigoryan: "The current Armenian government really wants peace"

Stepan Grigoryan: "The current Armenian government really wants peace"

Dr Stepan Grigoryan, the Chairman of the Board of the Analytical Centre on Globalization and Regional Cooperation, is a respected analyst and opinion-shaper in Yerevan who has over many years been a moderate voice in what has often been a toxic inter-Armenian debate on the prospects for peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan and in the wider region. He spoke to commonspace.eu in Tbilisi on 22 October 2022 about the current state of the Armenia-Azerbaijan peace process, recent events surrounding it, and prospects for the future. Speaking about the current political situation in Armenia Stepan Grigoryan said "We have a strong civil society, active NGOs and active experts, and they act like pillars of independence in Armenia. And this civil society also criticises Nikol Pashinyan, but they are trying to help him. Yes, I myself am sometimes not happy with what Nikol Pashinyan is doing, but I try to help him with my advice, with my publications, with my speeches. So in Armenia one should not only look at the political field - which is polarised - but civil society too. We shouldn’t think that we have an ideal government, they have made many mistakes, but they really want peace."
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Interview
Art-Gene Turns Nineteen: In Conversation with Tamar Melikishvili

Art-Gene Turns Nineteen: In Conversation with Tamar Melikishvili

July 2022 saw the 19th edition of what has become a staple event in the Georgian cultural calendar. Founded in 2003 by artists Tamar Melikishvili and Giorgi Baramidze, musicians Zaza Korinteli and Niaz Diasamidze, sculptor Nika Anjaparidze, and photographer Maria Lanevski, the Art-Gene music and crafts festival has played a huge role in reviving Georgia’s now thriving traditional cultural scene since its dog days of the early 2000s. Looking forward to Art-Gene’s 20th anniversary next year, commonspace.eu’s Deputy Editor Patrick Norén spoke to Tamar Melikishvili about Art-Gene’s origins, ethos, community, and future. Melikshvili told commonspace.eu that ‘if a country keeps and loves its own culture, it will become very open and interested in the culture of other countries. The world is nice because we are so different, but we also make one big picture, like a painter. When I am working on the canvas, all of these different moods and colours become one symphony, and that is what makes the picture interesting.’
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Interview
Brian Mefford: "I had no doubts the Ukrainians will fight to defend their country"

Brian Mefford: "I had no doubts the Ukrainians will fight to defend their country"

When Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Brian Mefford, an American long time resident and expert of Ukraine, knew exactly what he needed to do. Shifting his office from Kyiv to Warsaw he started a humanitarian operation that has already helped tens of thousands of Ukrainians. In this interview with commonspace.eu Mefford reflects on the response of Ukrainians to the Russian invasion, the current humanitarian situation, and the prospects for Ukraine after the war. “I have seen enormous changes in Ukraine since I arrived in 1999.  Ukraine is dramatically more European and focused on a future with the West as a partner. If Ukraine makes the tough changes needed during the war to enter the EU, it will speed the process of integration. War time is the easiest time to make radical changes. As I often point out, Abraham Lincoln didn’t wait till after the American Civil War to free the slaves, he specifically did it during the war because after the war it might not have been possible”, he argues.
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Interview
Interview with the Ambassador of Kazakhstan to the EU:  "We have very high hopes that the results of the referendum will have deep positive consequences for the future of our country"

Interview with the Ambassador of Kazakhstan to the EU: "We have very high hopes that the results of the referendum will have deep positive consequences for the future of our country"

On Sunday, 5 June, the people of Kazakhstan voted overwhelmingly in favour of big changes to the country's constitution which envisage a redistribution of presidential powers to various other state organs and a system of checks and balances. The changes complement other ongoing political and economic reforms that have been initiated by president Kassym-Jomart Tokayev over the last three years. Commonspace.eu interviewed Ambassador Margulan Baimukhan, Head of the Mission of Kazakhstan to the EU about the importance of the constitutional changes, the role of Kazakhstan in Central Asia and the changes taking place in his country. "We have very high hopes that the results of the referendum will have deep positive consequences for the future of our country. It brings us one step closer to become a democratic state. Most importantly for me is that the referendum result paves the way for increasing the participation of the population in the governance of the country. It will nurture the culture of people in standing and defending their rights", the Ambassador said. Ambassador Baimukhan also spoke about the relations of his country with the European Union.  "The European Union was, is and will be at the forefront of our foreign policy agenda."
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Interview
Interview with Ukrainian politician and activist Hanna Hopko: "Russia will not break us"

Interview with Ukrainian politician and activist Hanna Hopko: "Russia will not break us"

One hundred days ago, on 24 February, Russia invaded Ukraine in an attempt to overthrow the country's democratic government and install a puppet regime. This objective failed, but the war goes on, especially in the Donbass region where heavy fighting is taking place. Commonspace.eu interviewed Hanna Hopko, a Ukrainian politician and activist, who previously served as Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Ukrainian Parliament and is today at the forefront of several important humanitarian initiatives. Hopko  speaks about Ukraine's frustration with Europe's long standing failure to appreciate Ukraine properly. She speaks about the heroism of young Ukrainians who are fighting off current Russian aggression, and recalls the loss of some of her own friends who have died in battle or have been imprisoned. Hopko however remains optimistic about the future, referring to the Ukraine Recovery Plan that is already being prepared. She speaks about the country's hopes to be granted EU candidate status later this month: "Ukraine will not except any plan B. Only candidate status.  Our aspiration to apply to EU membership is a result of the long fight of Ukrainians for the right to be part of a free European family. It is based on our achievements in transformations of the country despite Russian continues efforts to break us." Read the interview in full.
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Interview
Opinion: "Our ambition in Kosovo is to transform our young and vibrant democracy into the most prosperous nation in the region"

Opinion: "Our ambition in Kosovo is to transform our young and vibrant democracy into the most prosperous nation in the region"

Recently, the Government of Kosovo submitted a formal application to join the Council of Europe as a full member. The international community remains divided on the issue of Kosovo's international recognition. Yet in the few years since its independence Kosovo has made great strides forward, and today has one of the most dynamic economies in the Western Balkans, a vibrant cultural life, and a solid track record on human rights and the fight against corruption. commonspace.eu interviewed the Ambassador of Kosovo to the Netherlands, Dren Doli, about the current state of play in relations between Kosovo and Serbia, and on the thorny issue of whether the recognition of Kosovo has emboldened secessionist movements elsewhere. Ambassador Doli said that "the tendency to use Kosovo as a model for other cases is a strategy to generalise the rules that guide the creation of states and inflict confusion, deflect the truth, and deny the significance of objective arguments that differentiate Kosovo from other cases". Doli told commonspace.eu that "Kosovo is one of the rare examples of successful democratic state-building supported by western democracies". Ambassador Doli said that the government of Kosovo is committed to further develop and improve its relations with Serbia and welcomes any initiative  by the EU and the US in this direction.
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Interview
In an interview with commonspace.eu Armenian Deputy Foreign Minister Paruyr Hovhannisyan describes EU-Armenia relations as "very diverse, multifaceted and dynamic"

In an interview with commonspace.eu Armenian Deputy Foreign Minister Paruyr Hovhannisyan describes EU-Armenia relations as "very diverse, multifaceted and dynamic"

In November of last year Paruyr Hovhannisyan was appointed Deputy Foreign Minister of Armenia with responsibility for relations with the European Union. This week he was in Brussels where he had meetings with officials from the EU institutions. Commonspace.eu spoke with the Deputy Foreign Minister on the current state of Armenia-EU relations and prospects for the future. Hovhannissian described relations as very diverse, multifaceted and dynamic.
GEU Podcast: Giving EU citizens a voice on foreign policy – with Dr Dennis Sammut
“I think what is important is that the issue of international affairs is understood not to be an elitist sphere but something that impacts the lives of everyone in one way or another; and as a result, discussions on foreign policy need to be extended to include the wider citizenry. This is a challenge going forward and an increasingly important one.” – Dr Dennis Sammut on the latest final episode of Global Europe Unpacked
W.Murray Fri, 04/01/2022 - 08:31
GEU Podcast: After Ukraine, can we still talk about soft power? - with Prof Jamie Shea
“EU soft power will still be a factor, but I think the EU now recognises that this works more with like-minded countries that aspire to join the EU... The notion that soft power works on countries with different political systems – I think that has been, if you like, the victim of the Ukrainian crisis” says Prof Jamie Shea in this episode of our Global Europe Unpacked podcast.
W.Murray Mon, 03/14/2022 - 20:01
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Commentary
Commentary: is this the end of the love affair between Georgia and the United States?

Commentary: is this the end of the love affair between Georgia and the United States?

The imposition of US sanctions against four Georgian judges now makes the rift between the US and Georgian governments formal, writes commonspace.eu in this commentary. "It will have consequences, and both sides have much to lose. The GD government may decide to drift further away from the US. Given that any relations with Moscow remain, in Georgian domestic political terms, toxic, its room for manoeuvre is limited. That does not mean that most Georgians want their country to become a US client state either. But it is unlikely that Georgian nationalist sensibilities are going to be disturbed by the fact that Judge Maisuradze and company cannot travel to the US. But there are always things the GD government can do, some without too much attention in the public eye, to further erode US influence. Weakening the two pillars of US engagement with Georgia is now likely to become a GD priority."
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Commentary
Commentary: a fundamental question defines the position of different protagonists over the future of Karabakh

Commentary: a fundamental question defines the position of different protagonists over the future of Karabakh

A fundamental question defines the position of different protagonists over the future of Karabakh, writes commonspace.eu in this commentary. "A lot of the issues in Armenia-Azerbaijan relations can be managed easily with a little bit of imagination and good will. The future of Karabakh remains a real stumbling block." But if Armenia and Azerbaijan fail to reach a peace agreement before the window of opportunity closes and are soon back at the Kremlin's mercy, "they will only have themselves to blame". The world watches on as Armenia and Azerbaijan hug each other and promise peace with each other one day, and exchange threats, insults and gunfire the next. International observers are concerned, bemused, or, very often, bored by this situation. Concerns about the imminent start of a new Armenia-Azerbaijan war are exaggerated. At the moment neither side needs a war, wants it, or even more importantly, can afford it, whether it be politically, financially or socially.
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Commentary
Commentary: Yemen is where the resilience of the Iran-Saudi deal will be tested

Commentary: Yemen is where the resilience of the Iran-Saudi deal will be tested

Developments in Yemen over the last days do not augur well for the 10 March Iran-Saudi Arabia normalisation deal, writes commonspace.eu in this commentary, writing that "it is in Yemen where the biggest test for the resilience of the Beijing agreement will come, sooner rather than later." On 10 March in Beijing, Iran and Saudi Arabia together with China signed an agreement that amongst other things provides for the restoration of diplomatic relations between Tehran and Riyadh. The agreement has many other provisions, and remains confidential, but it is widely understood that it contains provisions for lessening tensions in the region and taking the heat out of some hotspots where the two regional powers continue to look each other in the eye. Yemen invariably is at the top of the agenda.
Saudi-Iran agreement: Welcome to the age of pragmatism
On Friday (10 March), it was announced in Beijing that with the mediation of China, Iran and Saudi Arabia had agreed to end decades of hostility, re-establish diplomatic relations that had been broken in 2016, re-open embassies in their respective capitals within two months, and work towards resolving all disputes between them through dialogue. The diplomatic world appeared taken by surprise, both by the Iranian-Saudi reconciliation, as well as by China’s involvement. The sight of a Sunni Kingdom, a Shia revolutionary republic, and a Communist state cosying together was somewhat unsettling for some. Many rushed to welcome the deal, others, especially among the chattering classes in Washington, rushed to criticise it. Diplomatic contacts have been ongoing between Tehran and Riyadh for some time, held mainly in Baghdad and Muscat with Iraqi and Omani facilitation. After the UAE normalised relations with Iran some months ago, it was assumed that sooner or later Saudi Arabia will follow. But the timing and context of the deal announced in Beijing last week remains a very significant development, with wide-ranging consequences. It also appears to herald a new age of pragmatism in international relations, with considerable implications.
patrickn97 Tue, 03/14/2023 - 12:09
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Commentary
Commentary: Georgia is in a hole, and its politicians must stop digging

Commentary: Georgia is in a hole, and its politicians must stop digging

"The Georgian people have over a long period of time expressed their desire to be part of the European family," writes the commonspace.eu editorial team. "Georgia is situated in a difficult neighbourhood, with predators, such as Vladimir Putin’s Russia, as neighbours. Europe and the broader west need to support Georgia in this difficult moment. But first, Georgian politicians need to step back and defuse the current crisis...in a move that surprised even its own supporters, Georgian Dream came up with the idea of a law on foreign funding for NGOs and media and others, popularly known as the “foreign agents” law. Regardless of the small print of the law, on which lawyers can happily argue for many years, politically this was a reckless act by the Georgian Dream government with two consequences that could have easily been predicted. First, it united a broad spectrum of political and civil society forces behind one objective – that of opposing the GD government and preventing the law from being enacted. Second, it galvanised international public opinion against the tactics of the Georgian Dream government."
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Commentary
Commentary: Central Asia is safer together

Commentary: Central Asia is safer together

Whilst it is often the case that the five Central Asian republics are lumped together and seen by outsiders as one group, in truth there are between them huge differences, a lot of competition, some rivalry, and every now and then, some conflict, writes the commonspace.eu editorial team. The big two, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, are often perceived to be in competition with each other. The two have different strengths and weaknesses, which means that if they play their cards right they can turn this competition into a healthy collaborative relationship with a win-win situation. This is what appears to be happening at the moment. Kazakh President, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, met his Uzbek counterpart Shavkat Mirziyoyev in Shymkent on 3 March to discuss “trade and prospects for strengthening allied relations between the two countries”. The Kazakh presidential administration described the meeting as “informal”. The two leaders appear to have two priorities. The first is to co-ordinate positions in the face of what appears to be considerable pressure from Moscow for the two countries to tow the line and stay in the fold, at a time when the Kremlin feels embattled due to the ongoing war in Ukraine. 
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Commentary
A convergence of factors and developments make a spring breakthrough in Armenia-Azerbaijan relations possible

A convergence of factors and developments make a spring breakthrough in Armenia-Azerbaijan relations possible

After an erratic 2022, which saw prospects for peace and normalisation of relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and between Armenia and Turkey, swing between unprecedented new heights and familiar lows, and after a rather pessimistic start for 2023 when diplomacy appeared to have to come to dead end, March has started with cautious optimism in the air, and the prospect of a historic Spring breakthrough appears within reach. This is due to the convergence of a number of factors and developments, some anticipated and some not. The ten developments that offer cause for optimism are: US brokered talks between Aliyev and Pashinyan in Munich; the deployment of an EU Monitoring Mission; the revival of the Brussels format; internet diplomacy; the ruling of the International Court of Justice; a fluid political situation in Stepanakert; Baku and Stepanakert holding direct talks; earthquake diplomacy between Armenia and Turkey; the limitations of Russia’s power and influence have been exposed; and more confident leaderships in both Baku and Yerevan.
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Commentary
Gulf States' position on the war in Ukraine is a work in progress

Gulf States' position on the war in Ukraine is a work in progress

When Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine one year ago the prevalent feeling among the Arab Gulf states was that they did not want to get involved.  Some thought the best policy was to ignore it, others that they should at the very least dodge it, and some even saw in it some opportunity to extend relations with Russia and China.  There were a number of reasons for this. The region was frustrated with how the west dealt with it. It expected a more equal relationship that never properly materialised. There was fatigue at western attempts – some clearly ill-judged – at interfering in the Arab region, and conversely, disappointment at western failure to stand up to Iran. The unsightly US departure from Afghanistan, and talk of American strategic re-positioning, convinced some that the American moment in the Gulf had passed.
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Commentary
It took an earthquake to jolt Armenia-Turkey relations out of decades of animosity

It took an earthquake to jolt Armenia-Turkey relations out of decades of animosity

The earthquake that hit Turkey and parts of Syria on 6 February was a massive tragedy. As of Thursday (16 February) it has left nearly fifty thousand people dead, many tens of thousands injured and millions affected directly or indirectly. The world rallied around the beleaguered communities, putting aside political differences and diplomatic obstacles. The impact of the earthquake on Turkey was enormous. Ten out of eighty one Turkish provinces were affected, and some Turkish towns were wiped away almost completely. Humanitarian aid started pouring into Turkey from every part of the world. The contribution of one small neighbouring country was particularly significant, not only as part of the humanitarian effort, but also for its political and diplomatic symbolism. Armenia and Turkey have had a difficult relationship for decades. The two neighbouring countries do not have diplomatic relations. Their borders are closed. Recent attempts to normalise relations appeared to be moving at very slow speed – both sides having to manoeuvre around many sensitive issues, and a heavy baggage of history. It took an earthquake to jolt relations out of decades of animosity.
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Commentary
A new sense of purpose in Central Asia as leaders seek better relations between their countries and with the rest of the world

A new sense of purpose in Central Asia as leaders seek better relations between their countries and with the rest of the world

For more than three decades after the collapse of the USSR the five Central Asia Republics continued to live largely in the shadow of Moscow.  Neighbouring China made headway, particularly in the economic sphere, largely with Moscow’s acquiescence, and there were a few moments when the west appeared to be making a mark on the region too, especially after the 9/11 attacks, when the US was allowed facilities to help with its invasion of Afghanistan. But this moment did not last long. On everything else that mattered, and for most of the time, Moscow continued to call the shots. The last five years have seen a seismic change in the region. A new generation of leaders are seeking better relations with the rest of the world: connectivity has become a buzzword, and there is a genuine effort to engage with the EU and the US, in most if not all the capitals. Ukraine, and the implications of the Russian invasion on future relations with all the post Soviet states, has focused minds, particularly in Tashkent and Astana.

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Editorial: Sudan put the “new era of peace” in the Middle East to an early test
The processes that have been taking place in the Gulf region and the wider Middle East over the last year - which healed the schism within the GCC, reconciled Turkey with Saudi Arabia and the UAE, started the process of bringing back Syria within the Arab fold, and, even more dramatically, started the process of reconciling Saudi Arabia and Iran - appeared in recent days to have even reached Yemen, when the exchange of large numbers of prisoners during the Ramadan month, and the meetings between Saudi officials and the Houthi leadership, augured well for that painful conflict to be also finally resolved. Yet, just as pundits hailed a new era of peace in the Middle East, Sudan erupted into a civil war that has already claimed hundreds of lives, and potentially can be hugely devastating.
patrickn97 Tue, 04/25/2023 - 12:35
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Editorial
Editorial: Missed opportunities in the South Caucasus

Editorial: Missed opportunities in the South Caucasus

The last two weeks have seen missed opportunities for the Armenia-Azerbaijan peace process, and for the Georgian government to establish facts and proving the truth over the US sanctioning of four Georgian judges, writes commonspace.eu in this editorial. Instead of building trust and confidence, the burning of the Azerbaijani flag at the European Weightlifting Championships in Yerevan "further entrenched the enemy imagery". Meanwhile in Georgia, "by obstructing the establishment of a parliamentary investigative commission to assess the US accusations against Georgian judges, the Georgian government missed an opportunity to deal openly and transparently with what is clearly a very sensitive and controversial issue."
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Editorial
Editorial: Chinese strategy in Central Asia aims to keep the west out, the Russians down, and everyone else on the margin

Editorial: Chinese strategy in Central Asia aims to keep the west out, the Russians down, and everyone else on the margin

Events of the past year have unleashed a new "Great Game" in Central Asia, writes commonspace.eu in this editorial. "The plan, it seems, builds on China’s “Belt and Road” programme, but there also now appears to be a much stronger political angle to China’s engagement. China is worried that Russia’s increasing weakness is creating a vacuum in Central Asia that others may be tempted to fill. It is determined to get there first. China’s approach seems to be to keep the west out, the Russians down, and everyone else on the margin." There is little doubt that the big loser in this “great game in the new era” is Russia. But the Kremlin at this point has little choice but to try to cut its losses. It desperately needs China’s support - at least economically, politically and diplomatically, if not militarily - as it tries to sort out the mess it created for itself in Ukraine, and resist Western sanctions imposed after its invasion.
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Editorial
Editorial: more Armenian and Azerbaijani fatalities are a result of the failure of the peace process so far

Editorial: more Armenian and Azerbaijani fatalities are a result of the failure of the peace process so far

Another serious incident between Armenian and Azerbaijani armed forces happened on Tuesday (11 April) in the border area of Tegh, resulting in several Armenian and Azerbaijani servicemen being killed or injured. In Armenia, as in Azerbaijan, someone lost a son; someone lost a husband; someone lost a father. One can argue about who started, who shot first, and why. The truth is that incidents like this are going to continue happening for as long as the Armenian and Azerbaijani leaderships do not finish what they started, and take the necessary steps to normalise relations between them. Normalisation leading to peace, leading eventually to co-operation, is the endgame that both sides have publicly committed to. But the process continues to drag on as both sides remain attached to maximalist or unattainable positions. This state of affairs can drag on for a long time to come unless there is a resolute political will to move forward. And in the meantime, young Armenians and young Azerbaijanis die on a regular basis. Let’s be clear, every casualty is a sign of the failure of the political leadership, and declaring the victims heroes is not enough.
Opinion: prospects for Armenia-Turkey normalization

"The devastating earthquake in Turkey, and Armenia's decision to provide humanitarian assistance and send rescue teams, have however opened a new window of opportunity for revitalizing the stalled [normalization] process," writes Benyamin Poghosyan for commonspace.eu. "Turkey assessed the Armenian government's gesture positively, and the Armenian foreign minister's visit to Turkey made it possible to advance the implementation of agreements reached in 2022.

patrickn97 Wed, 04/12/2023 - 08:59