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.

The Yemeni Diaspora: An analysis of its history, development, and nature
In this first article in a series of three pieces about different aspects of the Yemeni diaspora, Hisham Almahdi discusses the history, development and nature of the global Yemeni diaspora, and notes how its varying waves and changes have impacted all three. The second and third articles in this series - on the Yemeni diaspora in Germany and the various roles the diaspora plays, respectively - will be published in due course. There are about 6-7 million Yemenis spread across the six continents, at least according to Mohammed Al-Adil, Yemen's deputy minister of expatriates, and several other official and unofficial sources. Compared to Yemen’s total population of over 30 million, the size of the diaspora is indeed significant, although it is unclear whether the diaspora is included in the overall population count. Almost half of the diaspora (3 million Yemenis) live in Gulf countries, mostly Saudi Arabia, where Yemenis, alongside their South Asian counterparts, make up the backbone of the oil producing nations' labour force. Other estimates report that the number of Yemenis in Egypt is somewhere between 500-900 thousand, with another 58,600 and 12,000 Yemeni nationals in the US and UK respectively. This is not to mention second- and third-generation migrants who have been abroad for decades, as well as tens of thousands in countries like Djibouti, Malaysia, Turkey, and Jordan. 
patrickn97 Sat, 11/26/2022 - 11:23 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."
patrickn97 Wed, 11/23/2022 - 10:05
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Editor's choice
Opinion
Opinion: Elections in Turkey next year may bring the Erdogan era to an end

Opinion: Elections in Turkey next year may bring the Erdogan era to an end

2023 will be a crucial elections year in Turkey, and their is no certainty that president Erdogan and his AK Party can maintain there hold on power, argues Benyamin Poghosyan in this op-ed. The stakes are high and political turmoil will have implications way beyond Turkey itself.
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Opinion
Opinion: UNBA makes a landmark contribution to Ukraine as a state governed by Law

Opinion: UNBA makes a landmark contribution to Ukraine as a state governed by Law

In essence, European standards in relation to the status and operation of the Ukraine National Bar Association have been in place for more than nine years, writes Lydia Izovitova. This is a truly landmark contribution to the development of Ukraine as a state governed by law. This important achievement turns the constitutional rights and freedoms of citizens into real opportunities, and provides a mechanism for their protection, primarily from the encroachments by the State.
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Opinion
Opinion: New Dutch government installed, as a gentle pro-European breeze blows over The Hague

Opinion: New Dutch government installed, as a gentle pro-European breeze blows over The Hague

A new government for The Netherlands was installed on Monday (10 January) made up of a coalition of four political parties: VVD, D66, CDA, and ChristenUnie. One important feature of the coalition agreement is its positive and optimistic approach towards the European Union. Is this then the end of Euroscepticism in the Netherlands? Maximiliaan van Lange analyses in this article for commonspace.eu the background to the formation of the fourth Rutte Cabinet (Rutte IV) and examines how the Netherlands will now pursue its objectives within the European Union.
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Opinion
Opinion: The implosion of Kazakhstan was unexpected, and it has implications for the whole post-Soviet space

Opinion: The implosion of Kazakhstan was unexpected, and it has implications for the whole post-Soviet space

"We need time to understand better what happened in Kazakhstan, and why", writes Benyamin Poghosyan in this op-ed. Whilst sending CSTO troops to Kazakhstan was clearly President Putin's decision to support President Tokayev in the internal fight between Kazakh local elites, the deployment has implications also for other countries participating in the mission, including Armenia.
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Opinion
Opinion: Crisis in Kazakhstan gives Putin more leverage on Central Asia

Opinion: Crisis in Kazakhstan gives Putin more leverage on Central Asia

As an uneasy calm returns to Kazakhstan, it seems that once again, the only beneficiary from another crisis in the post-Soviet space has been Russian President Vladimir Putin, writes Maximiliaan van Lange in this op-ed. Putin’s decision to quickly deploy airborne troops as part of a "peacekeeping force" to support the Kazakh regime in controlling the turmoil surprised even some Russian commentators who have called it inappropriate. But by its actions Moscow is sending a message that it will not tolerate turmoil in former Soviet states. With this step, Russia has considerably strengthened its position in Kazakhstan and nips in the bud the risk of a domino effect in Central Asia
Editor's choice
Opinion
Opinion: Can IT save Armenia?

Opinion: Can IT save Armenia?

For many in Armenia, the IT sector is like an oasis in the desert, attracting the best talent and providing conditions that others envy. In this op-ed Benyamin Poghosyan says that given the current disillusionment with the existing political forces, the leaders of the IT sector should seriously think about entering politics to create the Armenia of their vision.
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Opinion
Opinion: Armenian-Turkish relations are haunted by a spectre of failure

Opinion: Armenian-Turkish relations are haunted by a spectre of failure

"Armenian-Turkish rapprochement attempts are welcome. Dialogue is better than everlasting antagonism. However, the realistic perception of the situation leads one to inevitably conclude that the process would be very difficult and  will need time", argues Alexander Petrosyan in this op-ed.
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Opinion
Opinion: After the Sochi summit, a qualitatively different stage in  Armenia-Azerbaijan negotiations

Opinion: After the Sochi summit, a qualitatively different stage in Armenia-Azerbaijan negotiations

The trilateral meeting between the leaders of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia, held in Sochi on 26 November, "was a constructive stage in the post-war peace process in the region and has opened up new prospects for peace and reconciliation between Armenia and Azerbaijan", says Vasif Huseynov in this op-ed.
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Opinion
Opinion: Brussels should develop a customised platform to take forward a trialogue with Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Opinion: Brussels should develop a customised platform to take forward a trialogue with Armenia and Azerbaijan.

"In their active search of new approaches and strategies, European officials should keep in mind that antagonizing Russia would result in unexpected developments in the region. Instead, stabilization of the situation requires cooperation with Moscow", writes Alexander Petrosyan in this op-ed
The Yemeni Diaspora: An analysis of its history, development, and nature
In this first article in a series of three pieces about different aspects of the Yemeni diaspora, Hisham Almahdi discusses the history, development and nature of the global Yemeni diaspora, and notes how its varying waves and changes have impacted all three. The second and third articles in this series - on the Yemeni diaspora in Germany and the various roles the diaspora plays, respectively - will be published in due course. There are about 6-7 million Yemenis spread across the six continents, at least according to Mohammed Al-Adil, Yemen's deputy minister of expatriates, and several other official and unofficial sources. Compared to Yemen’s total population of over 30 million, the size of the diaspora is indeed significant, although it is unclear whether the diaspora is included in the overall population count. Almost half of the diaspora (3 million Yemenis) live in Gulf countries, mostly Saudi Arabia, where Yemenis, alongside their South Asian counterparts, make up the backbone of the oil producing nations' labour force. Other estimates report that the number of Yemenis in Egypt is somewhere between 500-900 thousand, with another 58,600 and 12,000 Yemeni nationals in the US and UK respectively. This is not to mention second- and third-generation migrants who have been abroad for decades, as well as tens of thousands in countries like Djibouti, Malaysia, Turkey, and Jordan. 
patrickn97 Sat, 11/26/2022 - 11:23
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. 
dennis2020 Tue, 10/11/2022 - 14:15
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
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.
patrickn97 Tue, 08/23/2022 - 15:21
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.
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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
Analysis
Isolated

Isolated

In a historic vote in the United Nations General Assembly condemning Russian aggression against Ukraine on Wednesday (2 March), Putin's Russia found itself isolated from the rest of the international community, with only North Korea, Belarus, Eritrea and Syria supporting its position in the 193 member world body. 141 countries voted for the resolution, 5 voted against and 35 abstained. 12 countries were absent. The vote was a stark revelation of Russia's isolation in the international community as it pursues its aggression against Ukraine. In a similar situation in 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea, a UN General Assembly resolution condemning the move received the support of 100 countries. This time the number was up by 41 countries, sending a resounding diplomatic message. The number of abstentions in 2014 was 58, compared to 35 this time. 24 countries were absent in 2014, this time only 12. Those supporting the Russian position in 2014 were 11, this time the number is down to 5.
Kherson: The end of the beginning
The withdrawal of the Russian army from the city of Kherson ends the first chapter of Vladimir Putin's misadventure in Ukraine, which started on 24 February when he ordered his army to invade. Ukrainians rightly celebrated, as the Ukrainian army returned to the city which Russia illegally annexed only a few weeks ago. Kherson was the only regional centre the Russians were able to occupy following their February invasion, which, let us not forget, initially aimed to take Kyiv and all other Ukrainian cities. But as the Ukrainian president, and other Ukrainian officials warned, the war is far from over yet. But the Russian army is still in Ukraine, and now consolidating its positions on the left bank of the Dnipro river.  The river will now serve as a natural defence barrier for the Russians in the face of Ukrainian attempts to liberate the rest of the territory under Russian occupation. And the coming winter may prove challenging for Ukraine in other ways too, given the Russian attempts to destroy key infrastructure and disrupt energy supplies. But still Kherson can be seen as the end of the beginning. The journey for the liberation of Ukraine will take longer. And after all Ukrainian territory is liberated, another journey will have to start: that of rebuilding Europe's security architecture on new foundations. Where Russia will stand in this is still not clear. Despite the facade of defiance and bravado, it is already evident that soul-searching has already started amongst the Russian elite about the Ukrainian adventure, and indeed about how Russia itself is governed. That, the Russian people will have to figure out by themselves, and the process is not likely to be either short, or easy.
dennis2020 Sun, 11/13/2022 - 05:07
Editorial: A dark day in the history of Europe
Friday, 30 September 2022 will for a long time be remembered as a sad and dark day for Europe. This afternoon, at 15:00 (12:00 GMT) in the St George Hall of the Grand Kremlin Palace president Vladimir Putin will hold a signing ceremony annexing four more regions of Ukraine into the Russian Federation. The events in Europe in the 1930 are repeating themselves with an eerie familiarity: a big country invades a smaller neighbouring country, organises a sham referendum in parts or all of that country, after which it claims the moral authority to annex that territory or country.  In an act of cynicism late on Thursday, the Russian president signed two decrees recognising Zaporizhzhia and Kherson as independent territories. Their so called independence will last for only a few hours, before they are absorbed into Russia. The documents, shared on Russian state media, say the independence of the two regions is being recognised in accordance with international law and "enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations". However, UN Secretary General António Guterres has said any annexation of a country's territory based on the use of force violates the UN Charter and international law. Europeans thought that those times were over, and that the lessons had been learnt. Apparently not. Russia's invasion of Ukraine last February set the stage for what will take place in the Kremlin today. After votes in Luhansk and Donetsk in the east of Ukraine, and in Zaporizhzhia and Kherson in the south, Russia will annexe them, in defiance of the wish of the Ukrainian people and their legitimate government, and of most of the international community. It has already acted in this way once, when in 2014, in similar circumstances it occupiued and annexed Crimea. Today's events are being hailed as a victiory by the Kremlin. A stage has already been set up in Moscow's Red Square, with billboards proclaiming the four regions as part of Russia and a concert planned for the evening in celebration. Some Russians may decide to follow the misguided steps of their leaders, but for the rest of Europe today is a sad and dark day.
dennis2020 Fri, 09/30/2022 - 06:27
Editorial: Lukashenko's trip to Abkhazia is another act in Putin's nefarious plan
The president of Belarus, Alexandre Lukashenko, made a surprise appearance in Abkhazia on Wednesday (28 September), in a move that many see as being part of the Kremlin’s present strategy to further distabilise Eurasia to help achieve the ultimate aim, which is complete Russian hegemony on the post-Soviet Space. For sure, Lukashenko did not go to Sukhumi to have a last dip in the Black Sea before winter sets in. This was a calculated political move, typical of Lukashenko. So why did he go, and why now? Lukashenko has long been a tool of the Kremlin, not only when it comes to affairs in his own Belarus, but more broadly on the international stage. Yet he has also tried to cultivate the image of being independent-minded, not the sort to take orders from Vladimir Putin, but rather one that is able to influence the Kremlin and its policies. This visit proves that in fact he is simply a stooge.
dennis2020 Thu, 09/29/2022 - 07:04
The world pays its last respects to a Queen who dedicated her life to the service of her people

The world is paying its last farewell to Queen Elizabeth II who reigned for seventy years, and who died on 8 September.

The outpour of sorrow in Britain and throughout the world has exceeded all expectations. Queen Elizabeth II had become part of the life of the British people, most who know no other monarch in their lifetime. In the last days tens of thousands queued for many hours to pay their respects. 

dennis2020 Sun, 09/18/2022 - 08:10
Editorial: Give Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine EU candidate status now!
In the next few days the European Commission will announce its opinion on the request of Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine for European Union candidate status. A decision will then be taken by the 27 member states in the European Council at the end of this month. “Candidate Status” is the beginning of a journey for any country that wants to join the European Union. In the case of many successful candidates in the past, the process has often taken a decade or more. In the case of others, such as Turkey, the process does not appear to have an end in sight. In short candidate status is not an automatic ticket to EU membership, simply a political expression of the will of the applicant and of the EU to embark on the journey. This notwithstanding the EU has been increasingly hesitant to give a membership perspective to the trio. This is partly due to the so called “enlargement fatigue”, partly because there are those within the member states and the institutions who do not think Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine should be in the EU, period! These sceptics have been caught on the wrong foot by the war in Ukraine, the heroism of the Ukrainian resistance to the Russian invasion, and the decision of the trio to bring forward their request for candidate status and to ask that it be dealt with urgently. Clearly, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine are not ready for EU membership today, but that is not what is on the agenda now. The many challenges facing the three countries should not be hidden under the carpet, and the political elites in Tbilisi, Chisinau and Kyiv must assume their responsibility to ensure political, economic and judicial reforms are implemented more comprehensively and more speedily. But for now, candidate status, especially in the present context, is primarily a political decision and a political statement, and it should be extended to the three countries now!
dennis2020 Thu, 06/09/2022 - 10:58
MARIUPOL: the name of a city etched in history with the blood of its people
The war in Ukraine is likely to continue for some time, and after that it will be an uneasy peace that will follow. For Ukrainians this is an existential battle - whether they want their country to continue to live. For the Kremlin it is existential too. A humiliating defeat in Ukraine will seriously undermine the legitimacy of the regime. There are therefore likely to be many battles ahead, many heroic Ukrainian cities to add to the catalogue of history. But for sure Mariupol's name will forever be associated with the heroism of its people, with the war crimes committed by the Kremlin in Ukraine, and with the futility and irrationality of war.
dennis2020 Thu, 03/10/2022 - 08:55
On International Women's Day we salute the courage of the women of Ukraine
8 March is International Women's Day - an occasion to celebrate the role of women in our societies, an opportunity to re-affirm their right for equality, a time to remember that across the world millions of women still do not have such rights and are often treated inhumanely.  This year we celebrate International Women's Day at a time when the world is watching in horror as the Russian invasion of Ukraine unfolds. For nearly two weeks now Russian forces have committed atrocities against peaceful civilian communities. Millions of Ukrainians have been displaced, nearly two million to neighbouring European countries. The world has watched in awe as Ukrainians put up a stiff resistance to the invaders. And none more so than Ukrainian women who are playing a leading role in the resistance.
dennis2020 Tue, 03/08/2022 - 09:35
Editorial: Give Ukraine and the other trio countries an EU membership perspective now
A European Parliament resolution yesterday urged EU countries to work towards granting Ukraine EU candidate status. A membership perspective in the form of candidate status is not membership. It is a political signal that the door of membership is open, and an opportunity to focus minds on all the sides to start the long and laborious process of EU membership. Whilst the resolution of the European Parliament speaks only about Ukraine, the three trio countries should be given the membership perspective and candidate status simultaneously. All three are very determined in pursuing this path; all three have strong Association Agreements with the EU; and all three are under considerable Russian pressure. A membership perspective will strengthen the hand of those working for reforms in these countries. It will also send another message to Putin's Russia that its nefarious policy towards the neighbours has failed. Now is the right time to do that. Give Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia a membership perspective now! Give them candidate status and work with them to make this an achievable task within this decade.
dennis2020 Wed, 03/02/2022 - 09:51
Editorial: End this Genocide of a nation and hold those responsible to account
In front of the eyes of the whole world President Putin is conducting a genocide against the Ukrainian people. Having one week ago questioned the very existence of Ukraine, he subsequently unleashed the whole military might of Russia against it. The heroic scenes of resistance across the whole of Ukraine has been simply inspirational and has forced governments across the world to step up their response against this naked violence and aggression. The world must show unity of purpose in rejecting Putin's aggression and in holding him and his immediate circle accountable. Those who end up on the wrong side of history will be eternally ashamed of their mistake.
dennis2020 Tue, 03/01/2022 - 09:22
Editorial: It seems that in Moscow they forgot how to count from 1 to 3
The Russians persisted in presenting a gathering in Moscow on Friday as a meeting of " 3 + 3 ", when in fact only five countries were present, and it was more the case of 2 + 3. Diplomatic deceit is not the basis on which South Caucasus regional co-operation should be built.
dennis2020 Mon, 12/13/2021 - 07:31
Editor's choice
Editorial
Editorial: Thank you Mrs Merkel, Welcome Mr Scholz

Editorial: Thank you Mrs Merkel, Welcome Mr Scholz

Strong leadership in and by Germany is necessary if Europe is to succeed in meeting the challenges of the future. Tomorrow Mr Scholz will travel to Paris and Brussels for meetings with the French President and with the EU leadership.
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."
patrickn97 Wed, 11/23/2022 - 10:05
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."
patrickn97 Thu, 11/03/2022 - 09:37
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.’
patrickn97 Fri, 08/12/2022 - 09:33
Editor's choice
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.
Editor's choice
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."
Editor's choice
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.
Editor's choice
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.
Editor's choice
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
GEU Podcast: How should the EU respond to aspiring new members? – with Ambassador David Solomonia and Prof Antoaneta Dimitrova

“Governments have to take into account that they have to talk to the public. They have to keep the people involved in this process with their different ideas and opinions, even when this is difficult, even when challenges come from the left and from the right.” – Professor Antoaneta Dimitrova

W.Murray Wed, 03/02/2022 - 10:00
Editor's choice
Commentary
Moscow surprised "Excitable Caucasians" have become rational

Moscow surprised "Excitable Caucasians" have become rational

For many years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the emergence of the newly independent successor states, Russian diplomats counselled their western colleagues on the business of dealing with the people of the Caucasus, and their politics. They often described the Caucasians as the "excitable people of the South", who needed a special kind of handling, and only Russians knew how to do it. It was a Soviet version of "orientalism" that still lingers among the current Russian elite. Putin’s handling of the 2nd Karabakh War - and the subsequent steps he took to establish the post-war order in the region - was very much in this vein. Russia rushed troops to Karabakh to keep the peace, and Russia was to be involved at every stage and in every corner of building a post-war order. There was no space left for others to contribute to this process, except for some general reference to a UN role in providing humanitarian aid. Well content that the excitable people of the South had been calmed down, President Putin turned his attention to other matters – namely what for him were the less excitable, but no less irritable people on the western frontier, the Ukrainians.
Monday Commentary: Comrade Xi's party
An event on the other side of the world that started on Sunday has huge global importance and will define international politics for decades to come. The 20th Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) is perhaps not the most important ever in terms of its impact within China itself, but when it comes to China’s role in the world it certainly is. This is not only because China is today stronger than it has ever been in modern times, but also because the congress gives the seal of approval to a Chinese global posture that is assertive, ambitious and with as yet an undefined end-game. That end-game is being defined by Xi Jinping, who during this congress is expected to be confirmed in his post as  Party leader for an unprecedented third term. President Xi has been making speeches both at the main session of the Congress and at side events. This morning he told a meeting of Communist activists on the fringe of the main event, that Chinese people should stay united as "a piece of hard steel" under the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and “pull together with one mind to power the giant ship of national rejuvenation through the wind and waves to reach its destination.” In a more formal speech to the Congress plenum a day before Xi had given an indication of what that destination is: “Incomparable glory’ awaits China on world stage”, Xi Jinping told the party congress. By 2049, when the People’s Republic will hold centennial celebrations, China should become a leading power in all aspects, the leader stated So no modesty or lack of ambition here. But what does this mean for the rest of the world?
dennis2020 Mon, 10/17/2022 - 11:30
Editor's choice
Commentary
Commentary: Putin’s partial mobilisation exposes how weak he really is

Commentary: Putin’s partial mobilisation exposes how weak he really is

Speaking in a pre-recorded speech that was originally scheduled for the evening before, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Wednesday morning (21 September) a partial mobilisation of 300,000 reservists to boost his faltering invasion of Ukraine. Far from being a demonstration of strength, however, his announcement exposes how weak a position Russia currently finds itself in, and on a number of levels too, writes commonspace.eu Deputy Editor Patrick Norén. The Russian President finds himself hamstrung across three fronts: his narrative of "everything is going according to plan" is imploding; the risks of doing nothing or declaring a full mobilisation have resulted in an unsatisfactory fudge that does not address the root cause of the problem; and Russia's far-right, furious at the disastrous invasion of Ukraine, is baying for blood.
Editor's choice
Commentary
Commentary: Ukraine crisis helps Europe re-discover the meaning of the word “solidarity”

Commentary: Ukraine crisis helps Europe re-discover the meaning of the word “solidarity”

Since the start of the Russian invasion, the EU and its member states have given Ukraine billions of euros of budgetary assistance, have welcomed more than 3.7 million refugees, and have extended unprecedented levels of military assistance. Europe has re-discovered the meaning of the word solidarity, even if not all of the solidarity is altruistic but involves also a measure of self-preservation in the face of Putin's Russia naked aggressiveness and expansionist ambitions. Solidarity with Ukraine and Ukrainians is also ultimately in the interest of every European Union country and citizen. But this does not in any way lessen the significance of Europe’s support for Ukraine. Can this solidarity be sustained for the months, and probably years ahead, as Ukraine struggles to defeat Russia, and hopefully afterwards, victorious, start the difficult process of reconstruction? The decision to give Ukraine EU candidate status was in this regard significant, and indicates that the EU sees Ukraine as a long term commitment. For sure, as the winter cold starts biting and Putin plays politics with Russian gas supplies, there will be those who will question the value of Europe’s solidarity with Ukraine.  It is important they remain marginalised. For this, European leaders, decision makers and opinion shapers, need to communicate constantly to European citizens the righteousness of the decision to help Ukraine to stand up to Russia, and to help the Ukrainian people in their hour of need.
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Commentary
Commentary: War or Peace in the South Caucasus?

Commentary: War or Peace in the South Caucasus?

In their report “The South Caucasus from war to peace: 30 measures between now and 2030”, published last April, Armenian and Azerbaijani experts made a stark statement: “All the ingredients for peace exist in the South Caucasus. All the ingredients for war exist too. What is in front of us is a choice.” Never have these words sounded so pertinent as in these last days when in Armenia and in Azerbaijan the sounds of war and the sounds of peace competed with each other, with little sign of compromise. Yet neither war, nor peace, is inevitable. It is a choice, and one that both sides can neither make lightly nor take for granted. This week has once more shown that Armenia and Azerbaijan, and Armenians and Azerbaijanis, face a choice between war and peace. The death and injury of yet more Armenians and Azerbaijanis should focus minds, and increase mutual determination to work for lasting peace and to avoid any steps that can bring another war nearer.
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Commentary
Opinion: The quest for peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan can follow many paths, all of which need to be explored and exploited

Opinion: The quest for peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan can follow many paths, all of which need to be explored and exploited

Preparations are under way for a fourth meeting between Armenian prime minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev, facilitated by the president of the European Council Charles Michel. Even a year ago such a process would have been unthinkable. There is no more than one format in which Armenia and Azerbaijan pursue their quest for peace. But options are also available in the way the two leaders can work to achieve the ultimate goal, a peace agreement that will hail a new era of lasting peace in the region. In this commentary, Dennis Sammut says there are many roads open on the way to lasting peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and all need to be explored and exploited. Developing trade relations, intensive people to people contacts, establishing diplomatic relations in stages, facilitated travel between the two countries including direct air travel –  are all important steps that can and should be taken in the process of normalising relations. Most of them can be agreed and start giving results in months not years. The process can be supported by an intensive programme of confidence building measures that will help build trust at various layers of society.
Opinion: Afghanistan Under the Taliban Will Be A Hotbed for International Terrorism

This commentary was first published on the web portal European Eye on Radicalization (www.eeradicalization.com on 1 July 2022)

dennis2020 Mon, 07/04/2022 - 13:55
Editor's choice
Commentary
Commentary: A historic decision leaves Ukrainians delighted, Moldovans ecstatic and Georgians grumpy

Commentary: A historic decision leaves Ukrainians delighted, Moldovans ecstatic and Georgians grumpy

the European Council which gathers the 27 EU member states and the institutions, agreed to give Ukraine and Moldova candidate status with immediate effect. It gave Georgia "a membership perspective", with candidate status in the future if they can get their act together quickly. The Ukrainians were delighted. President Zelensky described it as a victory and promised not to rest until Russia’s defeat and full membership had been secured. In Moldova, the pro European government was ecstatic. Things had moved much faster than they had anticipated. In Georgia the situation is different, and the country is somewhat grumpy. Georgians do not  like to be last, and in a sense in this process at which they were until last year at the centre, they find themselves lagging behind the other two trio countries. The government has tried to put on a brave face saying that being given a membership perspective was a victory for Georgia too. The opposition accuses the government of squandering a historic opportunity which will have long lasting impact. In many ways both are right. An EU membership perspective is important for Georgia, even if it is largely an abstract term. It consolidates the relationship. But it would have been much better for Georgia if they had been given candidate status with the others. The ball is now in the court of the Georgian politicians, and the world will be watching.
Editor's choice
Commentary
US-Saudi Relations remain the bedrock for Gulf Security

US-Saudi Relations remain the bedrock for Gulf Security

US President Joe Biden will visit Saudi Arabia on July 15 and 16 upon the invitation of King Salman. The US president will meet with the king and his Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman “to discuss areas of bilateral cooperation as well as joint efforts to address regional and global challenges.” A statement from the White House said that Biden will also attend a Summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council plus Egypt, Iraq and Jordan while in the Kingdom. “The President appreciates King Salman’s leadership and his invitation. He looks forward to this important visit to Saudi Arabia, which has been a strategic partner of the United States for nearly eight decades,” the statement read. In this commentary the state of relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia is discussed in the light of tensions between the two sides over the last years.  “Now, it appears that the two sides are ready to make up. Biden will travel to Riyadh next month, and US officials have been in and out of the Saudi capital in recent weeks, softening the ground and preparing for the visit. Biden is right in working towards a reset. US-Saudi relations remain the bedrock for Gulf security.” It adds that “when Joe Biden visits Riyadh next month he has his work cut out for him. It will be a hugely important visit to a country where personalities still count. Both sides appear ready to put the difficult last few years in their relationship behind them. This is good for both, as well as for the rest of the world.”
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Commentary
Commentary: The tangled tale of Armenian-Azerbaijani relations

Commentary: The tangled tale of Armenian-Azerbaijani relations

After the violence of the early 1990s the conflict between Armenians and Azerbaijanis settled down for nearly three decades of uneasy truce, tempered with low-intensity violence, and the occasional outburst of more serious fighting, and accompanied by a flawed peace process that failed to bring peace, and in the end could not prevent war. The 44-day Karabakh War in autumn 2020 changed the reality on the ground and yesterday’s winners became losers and vice versa. The Russians appeared to emerge from the 44-day war the sole arbiters to oversee the new situation, but since no one really wanted this – except the Russians themselves – an alternative has unexpectedly emerged, with the EU playing an increasingly important role as mediator and facilitator, working with the sides towards a comprehensive peace. Whilst the war decided some issues, many details remain unresolved, and as Armenia and Azerbaijan tiptoe into a peace process these issues are coming to the fore. Over the course of the last few days, commonspace.eu ran three op-eds dealing with some of these issues written by Benyamin Poghosyan who addressed the issue of peacekeeping, Kamal Makili-Aliyev who wrote about autonomy status as a way of resolving outstanding issues, and Vasif Husseynov who dealt with the geo-strategic context of the peace process. They touched very important issues at the heart of the current debates. Armenian-Azerbaijani relations are a tangled tale, burdened with the baggage of history, traumatised by the blood of thousands who died in the conflict over decades, and poisoned by toxic propaganda that keeps coming out from both sides despite the diplomatic moves towards peace. Unpacking all this will take time. Building enough trust and confidence to move forward will take longer. But the journey has started, and despite all the spoilers, even the end is now in sight.

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Opinion: Afghanistan Under the Taliban Will Be A Hotbed for International Terrorism

This commentary was first published on the web portal European Eye on Radicalization (www.eeradicalization.com on 1 July 2022)

dennis2020 Mon, 07/04/2022 - 13:55
Editor's choice
Commentary
Commentary: A historic decision leaves Ukrainians delighted, Moldovans ecstatic and Georgians grumpy

Commentary: A historic decision leaves Ukrainians delighted, Moldovans ecstatic and Georgians grumpy

the European Council which gathers the 27 EU member states and the institutions, agreed to give Ukraine and Moldova candidate status with immediate effect. It gave Georgia "a membership perspective", with candidate status in the future if they can get their act together quickly. The Ukrainians were delighted. President Zelensky described it as a victory and promised not to rest until Russia’s defeat and full membership had been secured. In Moldova, the pro European government was ecstatic. Things had moved much faster than they had anticipated. In Georgia the situation is different, and the country is somewhat grumpy. Georgians do not  like to be last, and in a sense in this process at which they were until last year at the centre, they find themselves lagging behind the other two trio countries. The government has tried to put on a brave face saying that being given a membership perspective was a victory for Georgia too. The opposition accuses the government of squandering a historic opportunity which will have long lasting impact. In many ways both are right. An EU membership perspective is important for Georgia, even if it is largely an abstract term. It consolidates the relationship. But it would have been much better for Georgia if they had been given candidate status with the others. The ball is now in the court of the Georgian politicians, and the world will be watching.
Editor's choice
Opinion
Opinion: Israel and Lebanon move towards resolving a long standing dispute on their maritime border

Opinion: Israel and Lebanon move towards resolving a long standing dispute on their maritime border

There are reports that the US may be about to broker a deal between Israel and Lebanon, resolving a long-standing dispute about their maritime border and the exploitation of two large oil and gas fields in the Levantine Basin. Amos Hochstein, the US Senior Advisor for Energy Security, this month mediated indirect talks between the two countries, who technically are still at war with each other, and have no formal diplomatic relations in an attempt to resolve the issue. After his meetings in Lebanon last week, it seemed that a breakthrough had finally been reached, when the Lebanese president, Michel Aoun, reportedly presented a unified position on behalf of the government, which offered the prospect for a compromise This new proposal would create an S shaped maritime border, granting Lebanon access to the whole of the Qana field, while leaving Israel the entirety of Karish. In the past, the lack of agreement within the Lebanese government, and its unwillingness to compromise had been the key factors holding back negotiations, and this new approach led Hochstein to strike an optimistic note, saying that Lebanon had taken “a very strong step forward”. The US Energy advisor will now relay the offer to Israel and await a response. Both countries stand to gain from a swift and peaceful resolution to this decade long problem which has prevented them from extracting any value out of the fields. 
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Opinion
Opinion: Azerbaijan’s vision for Karabakh’s future does not envision autonomy or secession

Opinion: Azerbaijan’s vision for Karabakh’s future does not envision autonomy or secession

“Azerbaijan does not intend to grant its Karabakh region any special status that is different from other regions of the country, but it will ensure the provision of cultural rights and  guarantee the security of its inhabitants as is provided throughout the rest  of the Republic of Azerbaijan”, says Vasif Husseynov in this op-ed for commonspace.eu He says that Baku and Yerevan can agree on the specific arrangements under which these are provided. “The temporary deployment of international observer missions of the United Nations, the OSCE or the European Union can be also considered to ensure stable and peaceful transition of the region under the control of Azerbaijani government.“
Opinion: Restoring communication links is an important confidence-building measure but the focus on where to start needs to change

There is broad consensus in the region and in the international community on the need to restore communications in the South Caucasus and on the possibility of finding mutually accepted solutions for this to be achieved. However the constant focus on the routes passing via the Syunik region and connecting Azerbaijan with Nakhijevan has made the whole process of restoration of communications a bone of contention for both sides, argues Benyamin Poghosyan in this op-ed.

dennis2020 Mon, 06/20/2022 - 07:06
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Opinion
Opinion: Autonomy within Azerbaijan is not a solution for the future of Karabakh

Opinion: Autonomy within Azerbaijan is not a solution for the future of Karabakh

As Armenia and Azerbaijan seek ways in which they can normalise relations between them, the discussion on the future of Nagorno-Karabakh, and particularly of the Armenian population living there, is also gathering pace. On 8 June commonspace.eu published an op-ed by Kamal Makili-Aliyev suggesting autonomy may be one way of moving relations forward. In this counter opinion, Vahagn Avedian disagrees and says that governance problems in Azerbaijan make the prospect of an autonomy within that country unattractive for the Armenian population of Karabakh. He argues that "the only viable path forward is still what the Madrid Principles envisioned, namely granting the Karabakh population the right to determine their future."