Opinion, Analysis, Editorial, Interview, Commentary

Voices

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
Opinion
Opinion: For the EU strategic autonomy is as yet only an aspiration, but one worth pursuing

Opinion: For the EU strategic autonomy is as yet only an aspiration, but one worth pursuing

The establishment of AUKUS, and subsequent submarine dispute, has exposed once more the EU's strategic vulnerability. At present the EU has no common foreign policy and no European armed forces capability, and strategic autonomy remains an illusion. But it is not a wrong goal to pursue, argues Maximiliaan van Lange in this op-ed.
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Opinion
 Opinion: After thirty years of modern statehood Armenia has little to celebrate, yet if it acts reasonably it can overcome its present predicament

Opinion: After thirty years of modern statehood Armenia has little to celebrate, yet if it acts reasonably it can overcome its present predicament

Armenia is celebrating the 30th anniversary of its independence but whilst it has all the attributes of a modern state a lot of its institutions are hollow. There is much that can be done, and if it acts reasonably, Armenia can celebrate its 50th anniversary of independence in twenty years’ time in a much more positive atmosphere, writes Benyamin Poghosyan in this anniversary op-ed. 
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Editor's choice
Opinion
Opinion: The OSCE in crisis

Opinion: The OSCE in crisis

The OSCE faces a leadership crisis after all its three institutions as well as the Secretariat were decapitated in one clean swoop. Dr Walter Kemp discusses what happened, and a possible way forward.
Editor's choice
Opinion
Opinion: Erdogan's folly

Opinion: Erdogan's folly

The modern-day sultan now also wants to be the modern-day caliph, but the decision to turn Hagia Sophia back into a mosque is a pyrrhic victory that divides rather than unites, writes Dennis Sammut in this op-ed
Editor's choice
Analysis
Analysis: Central Asian countries need to remain focused on reforms despite new security threats

Analysis: Central Asian countries need to remain focused on reforms despite new security threats

The countries of Central Asia are at an important crossroads. The events in Afghanistan are not going to make their choices either more simple or more easy. Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan have taken very important steps in the last few years on the path to reform. It is important that they stay the course, and it is important for the EU and other western countries to help them in this task. If possible this should be done without adversarial engagement with either Russia or China, even though are likely to put obstacles in the way. Central Asia does not need another "great game". It needs support so it can develop and evolve for the benefit of its people, and so that the radical elements that have been successful in Afghanistan can be stopped in their stride. 
Editor's choice
Analysis
Analysis: When hunting down civil society, don’t shoot yourself in the foot

Analysis: When hunting down civil society, don’t shoot yourself in the foot

In recent weeks, Alexander Lukashenko’s regime in Belarus has ordered the mass closure of NGOs, calling them “bandits and foreign agents”. One year to the day since the disputed 9 August 2020 presidential elections, for commonspace.eu, Maryia Ditchkowska looks at some of the organisations targeted, why it is unlikely to seriously impact support for the pro-democractic movement, and what has prompted this particular crackdown.
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Analysis
Analysis: The Armenian parliamentary snap election – a way out or a new wave of chaos?

Analysis: The Armenian parliamentary snap election – a way out or a new wave of chaos?

The 20 June parliamentary elections in Armenia are the most competitive and inclusive in the country’s history with three former presidents challenging the rule of incumbent prime minister, Nikol Pashinyan. In a detailed analysis for commonspace.eu, Alexander Petrosyan looks at the main protagonists and what they stand for, and what is important to watch out for.
Editor's choice
Analysis
Analysis: Why what happens in Greenland matters

Analysis: Why what happens in Greenland matters

The snap elections for the parliament of Greenland last Tuesday (6 April) attracted unusual interest from major powers who have been watching the political and economic impact of the election results on their interests in the Arctic region. Among them, the Chinese, who have invested in the Kvanefjeld mine on the island. Maximiliaan van Lange analyses the background to the recent Greenlandic general elections, and the Island's geostrategic position in the Arctic in this article for commonspace.eu.
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Analysis
Analysis: Can Arctic routes provide an alternative to the Suez Canal as a major east-west trade route?

Analysis: Can Arctic routes provide an alternative to the Suez Canal as a major east-west trade route?

The recent blockage of the Suez Canal by the 400-metre-long 'Ever Given' container ship exposed the vulnerability of global trade routes. It reopened the debate about alternative routes, including the opening of the Northern Sea Route via northern Russia, and the Northwest Passage via northern Canada. These routes, however, are not without their problems. Maximiliaan van Lange analyses the background and current thinking in this article for commonspace.eu.
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Analysis
The death penalty remains a big issue in EU-Bahrain relations

The death penalty remains a big issue in EU-Bahrain relations

The European Parliament recently adopted a toughly worded resolution on the human rights situation in Bahrain focusing in particular on the cases of death row inmates and human rights defenders. The resolution exposed the dilemmas in Europe as the EU seeks closer relations with the Gulf states, but where concerns about the human rights situation in the region remain high.
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Analysis
Analysis: In the Middle East, the Biden presidency will impact five key areas

Analysis: In the Middle East, the Biden presidency will impact five key areas

The demise of the Trump administration and the return of Joe Biden to the White House, this time as president, will have more consequences than usual, with immediate changes expected in both the style and substance of leadership. The incoming administration will have a full in-tray of issues that need to be dealt with urgently. When it comes to the Gulf region and the wider Middle East, there will be five areas where important changes are likely.
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Analysis
Burkina Faso votes despite violent insurgency

Burkina Faso votes despite violent insurgency

Voting took place on Sunday (22 November) in presidential and parliamentary elections in Burkina Faso, a landlocked country in the Sahel Region of Africa. The elections were overshadowed by violence from an Islamist insurgency. President Kabore is expected to win reelection, while opposition candidates have warned of "massive electoral fraud." Official results are not expected for some days
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Analysis
Tensions rise between Morocco and the POLISARIO Front in Western Sahara

Tensions rise between Morocco and the POLISARIO Front in Western Sahara

The UN, through its mission – MINURSO, is still expected to maintain the ceasefire, and take quick steps to determine the political future of the Sahara. Yet the effectiveness of MINURSO, without a renewed commitment from Morocco and the Polisario Front, is doubtful.
Editor's choice
Editorial
Commentary: The West needs more than a charm offensive if it wants to maintain its relevance in the GCC space

Commentary: The West needs more than a charm offensive if it wants to maintain its relevance in the GCC space

Throughout the oil boom in the last quarter of the 20th century and since, the GCC countries were seen in the United States, Britain, France and elsewhere in Europe through the prism of being major oil exporters and arms importers. Western countries and the Arab Gulf monarchies need each other. But for their friendship to last it needs to be rebuilt on a different basis than has been the case so far.
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Editorial
Editorial:	TRACECA poised to play an increasingly important role in the connectivity Europe-Caucasus-Asia

Editorial: TRACECA poised to play an increasingly important role in the connectivity Europe-Caucasus-Asia

TRACECA is a child of the EU’s ambition to be a global player. The EU should not forget, nor ignore, nor sideline, TRACECA’s work. Instead it should recognise that TRACECA has shown it is resilient and adaptable. The next phase of EU-IGC TRACECA co-operation must therefore be more strategic, and more ambitious.
Editor's choice
Editorial
Editorial: On Belarus, the EU must now act quickly and decisively

Editorial: On Belarus, the EU must now act quickly and decisively

The forced diversion by Belarus of a flight between two EU member states on Sunday (23 May) constitutes an act of international piracy at the heart of Europe. Under President Lukashenko, Belarus is now a pirate state, and must be treated like one. This will undoubtedly cause some pain to the Belarusian people who are not to blame for the recklessness of their leader, but this is now inevitable. 
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Editorial
The debate about Europe's role in the neighbourhood and the world

The debate about Europe's role in the neighbourhood and the world

commonspace.eu is evolving. We are stepping up as part of our mission to contribute to the debate about Europe’s future role in the world, and we are expanding our coverage to include the whole European neighbourhood to the East and to the South. We aim to provide accurate news and original analysis, and offer a forum for diverse views and opinions.
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Editorial
Editorial: War is never a solution!

Editorial: War is never a solution!

The Caucasus region has been plunged back into war. From yesterday morning fighting has been taking place between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces across the line of contact in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone.
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Editorial
Editorial: On Karabakh, unconventional diplomacy is now needed more than ever

Editorial: On Karabakh, unconventional diplomacy is now needed more than ever

In the Karabakh peace process there has been a reluctance by track 1 participants to engage properly with track II initiatives. The EU supported EPNK process has shown that unconventional diplomacy has much to contribute, and its energy must now be put to good use.
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Editorial
Editorial: The European Union is resolute in its commitment to the South Caucasus region

Editorial: The European Union is resolute in its commitment to the South Caucasus region

Toivo Klaar's appointment as the new EU Special Representative to the region comes at an important moment in the EU's relations with the countries of the South Caucasus, and is an expression of the EU's long-standing committment to the region and its people.
Editor's choice
Interview
Interview: Lasha Darsalia discusses Georgia's relations with Russia and South Caucasus regional co-operation

Interview: Lasha Darsalia discusses Georgia's relations with Russia and South Caucasus regional co-operation

Lasha Darsalia, Deputy Foreign Minister of Georgia discusses relations with Russia, and how Georgia views the recent agreement ending the Karabakh War in this exclusive interview with commonspace.eu. He also lays his vision for South Caucasus regional co-operation.
Editor's choice
Interview
Medoev: "Our independence is irreversible". Commonspace exclusive interview with South Ossetia's envoy in Moscow.

Medoev: "Our independence is irreversible". Commonspace exclusive interview with South Ossetia's envoy in Moscow.

In this exclusive interview with commonspace.eu South Ossetia's envoy to Moscow blames Georgia for starting the 2008 war, and the international community for complacency bordering on complicity. He dismisses the role of civil society in resolution of the conflict and says Russia was the salvation of the Ossetian people.
Editor's choice
Interview
"Our approach is peaceful". Exclusive interview with Georgia's Minister for Reintegration, Paata Zakareshvili

"Our approach is peaceful". Exclusive interview with Georgia's Minister for Reintegration, Paata Zakareshvili

In an exclusive interview with CommonspaceEXTRA, Georgia's Minister for Reintegration, Paata Zakareshvili emphasizes continuity in the policy of the Georgian government towards the conflict regions but a very different approach in their implementation. Will this be enough for a breakthrough in the current negotiations?
Editor's choice
Commentary
Commentary:  State-building cannot be imposed from outside; the EU and others must learn lessons from Afghanistan

Commentary: State-building cannot be imposed from outside; the EU and others must learn lessons from Afghanistan

A state cannot be built from outside, with a foreign army standing on top of it to supervise the process, argues Dennis Sammut in this commentary. As the EU expands its global ambitions, it must be aware of the risks of "mission creep" and make sure the mistakes in Afghanistan are not repeated.
Editor's choice
Commentary
Commentary: The EU reinforces its position in the South Caucasus before the upcoming EaP Summit

Commentary: The EU reinforces its position in the South Caucasus before the upcoming EaP Summit

In preparation for its Eastern Partnership Summit (EaP) in December, and after drastic regional shifts, the EU is trying hard to improve its position in the South Caucasus. In this commentary for commonspace.eu, Mahammad Mammadov unpacks the EU's strategy in Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia, looking at what can be gleaned from its recent high-profile visits to the region and billions in newly declared financial assistance.
Editor's choice
Commentary
Commentary: Action with appeasement needs to be France’s strategy to ensure the survival of its unique secular model

Commentary: Action with appeasement needs to be France’s strategy to ensure the survival of its unique secular model

Over the last years, France has faced criticism for its perceived stance against Islam. In this commentary for commonspace.eu, Camille Victor suggests that this stems from a misunderstanding of France's unique interpretation of secularism, arguing that the preservation of the French secular model requires finding ways to appease rising tensions whilst simultaneously acting against very real threats to the country's core republican values.
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Commentary
All set for Armenia's early parliamentary elections on 20 June

All set for Armenia's early parliamentary elections on 20 June

2,581,093 voters are eligible to vote in Armenia's early parliamentary elections being held on 20 June. This was announced on Monday in Yerevan by the country's Central Elections Commission. The Central Elections Commission has also approved 26 parties and blocs to participate in the elections which some see more as a referendum on Nikol Pashinyan, his policies, his style of government, his strengths, and his weaknesses.
Editor's choice
Commentary
Commentary: A shaken EU fires opening shots in long war of attrition with Belarus

Commentary: A shaken EU fires opening shots in long war of attrition with Belarus

The united European response to the brazen Belarusian snatching of an opposition figure from a commercial airplane of a European airline flying between two European capitals was swift and strong. Nothing dramatic will happen overnight as a result, but make no mistake about it, this was the opening shot of what is likely to be a long and messy war of attrition against Belarus that may last for years. On Belarus now, the EU's mind is set. The process will start and will be sustained.
Editor's choice
Commentary
Commentary: Lavrov's travels and travails in the South Caucasus

Commentary: Lavrov's travels and travails in the South Caucasus

The Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, was in Armenia and in Azerbaijan in the last days. Bilateral issues were discussed in both Baku and Yerevan during his visit, however, it was the regional situation that dominated the discussions in both capitals, and in particular, the implementation in practice of the 10 November “Trilateral Declaration” signed by Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia. This is proving easier said than done, and some are asking if Russia has not taken on a poisoned chalice.
Editor's choice
Commentary
Commentary: Mohammed bin Salman and his quest to reinterpret the relationship between state and religion  in Saudi Arabia

Commentary: Mohammed bin Salman and his quest to reinterpret the relationship between state and religion in Saudi Arabia

In a recent wide-ranging interview Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, appeared to be reinterpreting – if not exactly redefining – the relationship between state and religion in the Kingdom. This is highly dangerous and uncharted territory for a Saudi leader, but something that is absolutely necessary if the Kingdom is to reinvent itself as a modern progressive state, whilst respecting the religious foundations which are part of its legacy and legitimacy.
Editor's choice
Commentary
Commentary: Biden's G-moment should not be interpreted as a shift in US policy towards the South Caucasus

Commentary: Biden's G-moment should not be interpreted as a shift in US policy towards the South Caucasus

Biden's use of the word "genocide" was a significant moral victory for the Armenian people however the geostrategic implications of this for the South Caucasus should not be exaggerated, argues Benyamin Poghosyan in this commentary.
Editor's choice
Commentary
Commentary: A moratorium on the death penalty can offer a basis for a new EU-GCC relationship

Commentary: A moratorium on the death penalty can offer a basis for a new EU-GCC relationship

The EU and the six GCC countries are looking for ways to develop their relations amid a changing international context. Human rights remain an issue. A ten year moratorium on capital punishment can offer a good basis for renewed EU-GCC relations argue the commonspace.eu editorial team in this commentary.
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Commentary
Commentary: Post-war Armenia – New remedies for old maladies

Commentary: Post-war Armenia – New remedies for old maladies

Armenia's asymmetric dependence on Russia has cost it dearly, especially during the recent Karabakh war, argues Alexander Petrosyan in this commentary for commonspace.eu. Two projects – the Iran-Armenia railway, and the Iran-Armenia-Georgia gas pipeline – can help restore the balance, he contends.
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Commentary
Azerbaijan to spend $59 billion to rehabilitate territories, but development also requires peace

Azerbaijan to spend $59 billion to rehabilitate territories, but development also requires peace

Azerbaijan plans to spend up to $59 billion over the next ten years to rehabilitate the territories it has recently taken back after being for decades under Armenian control. It is a huge sum even for an oil rich country, but for President Ilham Aliyev developing the new territories now has become the primary mission of his presidency.

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Editor's choice
Editorial
Editorial: On Belarus, the EU must now act quickly and decisively

Editorial: On Belarus, the EU must now act quickly and decisively

The forced diversion by Belarus of a flight between two EU member states on Sunday (23 May) constitutes an act of international piracy at the heart of Europe. Under President Lukashenko, Belarus is now a pirate state, and must be treated like one. This will undoubtedly cause some pain to the Belarusian people who are not to blame for the recklessness of their leader, but this is now inevitable. 
Editor's choice
Opinion
Kazakhstan, Central Asia's giant, is stirring and the Russians are not amused

Kazakhstan, Central Asia's giant, is stirring and the Russians are not amused

Kazakhstan is exploring its options. The government has embarked on a series of reforms, as yet mainly in the economic sphere, although reforms in the governance sector are also inevitable. They include slimming down the bloated state bureaucracy and also slowly re-calibrating Kazakh foreign policy to make it less dependant on Russia. The Russians are not amused, says Dennis Sammut in this op-ed
Editor's choice
Opinion
Opinion: It is too early to call the Libya peace process a success

Opinion: It is too early to call the Libya peace process a success

Exhausted by a decade of conflict, Libyans have moved surprisingly fast to implement a peace deal that some thought impossible only a few months ago. Deep-rooted internal divisions, greed among leaders, and the shadow of external patrons, may yet frustrate the quest for peace. 
Editor's choice
Commentary
Commentary: Lavrov's travels and travails in the South Caucasus

Commentary: Lavrov's travels and travails in the South Caucasus

The Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, was in Armenia and in Azerbaijan in the last days. Bilateral issues were discussed in both Baku and Yerevan during his visit, however, it was the regional situation that dominated the discussions in both capitals, and in particular, the implementation in practice of the 10 November “Trilateral Declaration” signed by Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia. This is proving easier said than done, and some are asking if Russia has not taken on a poisoned chalice.
Editor's choice
Opinion
Opinion: “All against all” or “all against Nikol”?

Opinion: “All against all” or “all against Nikol”?

Alliances are being formed between Armenian political parties ahead of the 20 June parliamentary elections. Whilst they all claim to want to oust the current prime minister, Nikol Pashinyan, they are all also busy competing against each other. Despite this, the next Armenian government is likely to be a coalition government, argues Benyamin Poghosyan in this op-ed for commonspace.eu
Editor's choice
Commentary
Commentary: Mohammed bin Salman and his quest to reinterpret the relationship between state and religion  in Saudi Arabia

Commentary: Mohammed bin Salman and his quest to reinterpret the relationship between state and religion in Saudi Arabia

In a recent wide-ranging interview Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, appeared to be reinterpreting – if not exactly redefining – the relationship between state and religion in the Kingdom. This is highly dangerous and uncharted territory for a Saudi leader, but something that is absolutely necessary if the Kingdom is to reinvent itself as a modern progressive state, whilst respecting the religious foundations which are part of its legacy and legitimacy.
Editor's choice
Commentary
Commentary: Biden's G-moment should not be interpreted as a shift in US policy towards the South Caucasus

Commentary: Biden's G-moment should not be interpreted as a shift in US policy towards the South Caucasus

Biden's use of the word "genocide" was a significant moral victory for the Armenian people however the geostrategic implications of this for the South Caucasus should not be exaggerated, argues Benyamin Poghosyan in this commentary.
Editor's choice
Opinion
Opinion: The recent Iran-China agreement has implications for the wider region

Opinion: The recent Iran-China agreement has implications for the wider region

The recent signing of a strategic partnership with Iran shows that China is now a significant player in the geopolitics of the wider Middle East. This has implications for the South Caucasus and particularly Armenia, writes Benyamin Poghosyan in this op-ed