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Time for liberal thinking in Nagarno-Karabakh conflict

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Possible scenarios for the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which is in its hottest phase of the last 30 years, are one of the most baffling problems for the international community in recent days. Whether the last hostility is “the storm before the calm” or relatively " the calm before the storm" is vital for the future of the region and perhaps the world, writes  Louse Auge.

Earlier, it was absolutely normal to make prognosis on the development of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict on two main scenarios.

The first and of course the desirable one was to find a solution to the conflict through peace talks. However, the failure of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs to mediate during long 26 years has cast a dark line over this scenario.

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The second, but undesirable scenario was another war which also included following two major scenarios: war limited between Armenia and Azerbaijan or a larger-scale war fuelled by the intervention of external forces, first of all Turkey and Russia, turning it into a global catastrophe.

It is unreasonable for Turkey, a strategic ally of Azerbaijan, to intervene directly into this conflict without an additional third country factor, as the military capabilities of Azerbaijan, have proved it unnecessary. Thus, the main threat is the provocation of Russia by Armenia, which is suffering heavy military defeats against Azerbaijan.

It is no longer a secret that Armenia’s primary goal by subjecting densely populated residential areas of Azerbaijan, including those far away from the frontline, to heavy artillery and missile attacks demonstratively from the territories of Armenia, was to provoke Azerbaijan to take similar retaliatory measures, ultimately hoping for direct Russian military intervention. However, despite numerous attempts of Armenia, the restrained approach of the Azerbaijani political and military leadership, as well as the realpolitik and rational approach of the Russian political establishment, led by President Putin, dangerous, mindless and criminal efforts of Armenia have so far been thwarted.

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After another talks in Geneva on October 30 between the foreign ministers of the countries’ in war and envoys from France, Russia and the United States, it became clearer that the only scenario in force now is for Armenia and Azerbaijan to resolve the conflict among themselves - by peace or war. Armenia's unwillingness to leave the occupied Azerbaijani territories voluntarily makes a peaceful solution impossible. Which unfortunately leaves only one scenario valid - war.

However, against the background of the international community's longstanding thesis that there is no military solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, a necessary question arises: a peaceful solution has not been possible, and 26 years of negotiations have failed to bring lasting peace to the region. But after one month of military confrontation, there are new realities on the ground now. Will the results of this war eventually bring peace and stability to the region?

Interestingly, by drawing some parallels between conflictology and economics, it is possible to clue an answer to this question. The fact that the war is fought only between Azerbaijan and Armenia and there is no outside interference, inevitably brings to mind the liberal economic theory in which economic relations are formed only on the basis of supply and demand without state intervention. According to the proponents of this theory, in this case, the market will be regulated by the "invisible hand", a metaphor, introduced by the 18th-century Scottish philosopher and economist Adam Smith. Liberalism defines the “invisible hand” as an unobservable market force that helps the demand and supply of goods in a free market to reach equilibrium automatically. This theory also supports the idea that shortcomings and crises in economic activity can be effectively addressed through an "invisible hand" based on pure market principles. On the other hand, although government intervention to the economy may have some regulatory effects, it will not be sustainable and long-lasting. Self-regulation of the market is a condition for economic stability.

Despite all its shortcomings and criticisms, this theory perhaps is the best solution to apply to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict at this stage.

Natural equilibrium in the region is possible only through mutual recognition and restoration of international borders. Without ensuring these basics, any outside interference or attempts to re-freeze the conflict will not bring a lasting solution and will eventually lead to future new wars.

So far, the battles of last month show that Azerbaijan is closer to determined victory in this war. As a result, Armenia will have to renounce its territorial claims once and for all, leaving no reason for further wars with Azerbaijan. The huge demographic, economic and military gap of Armenia against Azerbaijan and, as well as the absence of any claims of Azerbaijan to the territories of Armenia, will preclude a new war between the two countries in the future.

Thus, as painful as it may sound, if the world really wants a durable peace in the region, the only way now is to let the warring parties to find the necessary balance among themselves. "Laissez-faire, laissez-passer", as the liberals recap it nicely. And peace and stability, which many consider highly unlikely, will not be far off.

All opinions expressed in the above article are those of the author alone, and do not reflect any opinions on the part of EU Reporter.

Belgium

'When the Smurfs meet Monkey King'

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'When the Smurfs meet Monkey King' is a children's art exhibition celebrating the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Belgium.

The successful art exhibition celebrating the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Belgium in La Louvière, the birthplace of Surrealism in Belgium that ended on 24 October gave the opportunity to nearly 300 local primary and middle school students in just one week to depict their vision of friendship between China and Belgium.

On 17 October, during the opening ceremony, Françoise Ghiot, Laurent Wimlot, aldermen of La Louvière, and their guests from China and Belgium attended the event. Counsellor Yang Qing, wife of the Chinese Ambassador to Belgium, also recorded a video for the inauguration of the event.

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Counsellor Yang Qing said in her speech that she admired the exhibition held in La Louvière. Using pure and innocent artistic perspective, extraordinary creativity and imagination, the children have well defined the cultural elements of both countries. Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Belgium with children’s eyes, sincere feelings, those future ambassadors of friendship have expressed their visions of a better collaborative future between the two nations.

Ghiot said in her speech that she was very happy on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Belgium to see children’s paintings from China. The art exhibition opened a skylight of artistic exchange for local children.

This children's art exhibition was jointly curated by the city of La Louvière, the Nardone Gallery, and Yellow Vitamines. Through the LPGA (Little Painter Global International Art Exhibition), covering 40 cities and 500 aesthetic education training institutions in China, 5000 children’s work were collected and 200 were finally selected to focus on Belgium. With the innocent help of children's brushes, imagination and understanding, art and culture provided an ideal medium to understanding differences and strengthening the bond between China and Belgium.

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Animal welfare

Commission carries out unannounced inspections in the animal health sector in Belgium

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The European Commission is conducting unannounced inspections at the premises of a pharmaceutical company active in animal health in Belgium.

The Commission has concerns that the inspected company may have infringed the EU antitrust rules that prohibit the abuse of a dominant position. The Commission officials were accompanied by their counterparts from the Belgian competition authority.

Unannounced inspections are a preliminary investigatory step into suspected anti-competitive practices. The fact that the Commission carries out such inspections does not mean that the companies are being found guilty of anti-competitive behaviour nor does it prejudge the outcome of the investigation itself.

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The Commission fully respects the rights of defence in its antitrust proceedings, in particular the right of companies to be heard.

The inspections are conducted in compliance with all coronavirus health and safety protocols to ensure the security of those involved.

There is no legal deadline to complete inquiries into anti-competitive conduct. Their duration depends on a number of factors, including the complexity of each case, the extent to which the companies concerned co-operate with the Commission and the exercise of the rights of defence.

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Belgium

Commission approves €45 million Belgian scheme to support companies affected by the coronavirus outbreak

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The European Commission has approved a €45 million Belgian scheme to support companies active in the Brussels-Capital region affected by the coronavirus outbreak and the restrictive measures that the Belgian government had to implement to limit the spread of the virus. The public support was approved under the State Aid Temporary Framework. Under the scheme, which goes under the name 'la prime Relance', the aid will take the form of direct grants. Eligible beneficiaries are companies of all sizes active in the following sectors: nightclubs, restaurants and cafés (‘ReCa') and some of their suppliers, events, culture, tourism, sport and passenger transport. In order to be eligible, companies must have been registered in the Central Bank for Enterprises (‘la Banque-Carrefour des Enterprises' ) by 31 December 2020. The Commission found that the Belgian scheme is in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. In particular, the support (i) will not exceed €1.8 million per company; and (ii) will be granted no later than 31 December 2021.

The Commission concluded that the measure is necessary, appropriate and proportionate to remedy a serious disturbance in the economy of a member state, in line with Article 107(3)(b) TFEU and the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. On this basis, the Commission approved the measure under EU state aid rules. More information on the Temporary Framework and other actions taken by the Commission to address the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic can be found here. The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.64775 in the state aid register on the Commission's competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.

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