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International

Shambles in Granada: Mega-gathering of European leaders ends with a whimper

02:06, Saturday, 07 October, 2023
Shambles in Granada: Mega-gathering of European leaders ends with a whimper

A summit gathering close to 50 European leaders, dozens of aides and legions of journalists ended as a damp squib when those gathered failed to make any significant progress to resolve conflicts on Europe’s doorstep — or any other regional issue.

The third edition of Emmanuel Macron’s pet project, the European Political Community, was billed by advisers as an opportunity to broker peace between warring Armenia and Azerbaijan, de-escalate tensions in the Balkans and hold a strategic conversation about the Continent’s security.

While leaders did rally around Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who was in Granada to shore up Europe’s support amid U.S. jitters on Ukraine aid, they failed to make headway on the other conflicts in the absence of key players.

Hope among attendees in taking steps to resolve the humanitarian crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh were dashed when both Azerbaijan’s Ilham Aliyev and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan decided to skip the gathering. Leaders hoped to host the first meeting between Aliyev and Armenia’s Nikol Pashinyan since Azerbaijan launched a lightning offensive in Nagorno-Karabakh, triggering an exodus of 100,000 refugees.

Azerbaijan accused France of bias in negotiations, and ultimately agreed to talk, but only under the auspices of the EU in Brussels, according to Aliyev’s presidential aide, Hikmet Hajiyev, on social media.

Attempts to defuse tensions between Kosovo and Serbia were equally futile. Kosovo’s President Vjosa Osmani refused talks with her Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vučić unless sanctions were imposed against Belgrade, in the wake of a Serbian incursion into Kosovo.

The sense of fruitlessness of the informal summit culminated when the host country, Spain, canceled a planned press conference at the last minute, the expected highlight of the summit for about 700 journalists. It was meant to include statements and formally mark the handing over of the stewardship of the European Political Community from Spain to the United Kingdom.

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