The World This Week

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The World This Week
19th EU-Central Asia Ministerial meeting and the Palenque Summit in Mexico

  GP Team

The World This Week #236, Vol. 5, No.40

Shamini Velayutham and Porkkodi Ganeshpandian


19th Central Asia - EU Ministerial meeting
Shamini Velayutham

What happened?
On 23 October, the 19th EU-Central Asia Ministerial meeting took place in Luxembourg. It was attended by the foreign ministers of the EU’s member states, the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Republic of Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and the Republic of Uzbekistan. The High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Joseph Borrell and the European Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, also took part. Urpilainen said: “A regional vision of sustainable connectivity is of crucial importance for the EU and Central Asia.”

At the ministerial meeting, steps were discussed to enhance EU-Central Asia relations, focusing on common security, connectivity, trade, environment, education, and people-to-people ties. Subsequently, a Joint Roadmap was adopted to strengthen this partnership, further promoting cooperation between the two regions. Kazakhstan Foreign Minister Murat Nurtleu stated, “Thanks to the close cooperation and political support of European partners, the role of Central Asia in global relations is growing. The C5+ format demonstrates its relevance and effectiveness.”. 

What is the background?
First, a brief background of EU - Central Asia relations. After the Soviet Union’s dissolution in 1991, the EU initiated partnership and cooperation negotiations with the newly independent Central Asian countries. In 2005, the EU appointed its first special envoy to the region and approved its inaugural Central Asian plan in 2007. The 2019 plan, “New Opportunities for a Stronger Partnership,” emphasized resilience, prosperity, and regional collaboration, with a shift toward environmental priorities. The EU’s Development Cooperation Instrument allocated EUR 1.1 billion in grant funding, technical assistance, and direct budget support between 2014 and 2020, fostering these evolving relations.

Second, fostering cooperation for economic integration and development. Meetings have been held at the regional level in Central Asia to create a shared “geo-economic area” promoting regional economic integration. The EU has been a significant contributor, providing USD 1.2 billion to the region between 2014 and 2020, underscoring its commitment to fostering new economic partnerships. With the China-Central Asia C+C5 platform in mind, the EU is poised to introduce fresh initiatives into its relations with Central Asia. It reflects a mutual desire to strengthen existing relationships within the summit’s framework.

Third, Russia- Ukraine war and the growing interest in Central Asia. The conflict between Russia and Ukraine caused a tremendous deal of geopolitical unrest as well as a number of issues with the world economy. Russia began to lose its global credibility over its invasion into Ukraine. The west took a staunch stand against the Russian aggression and took active measures to deter them. The growing bilateral cooperation between the former soviet countries also showcases similar motivations. The west aims to build closer alliances with the near Russian countries in order to deter Russia.

What does it mean?

First, a brief background of EU - Central Asia relations. After the Soviet Union’s dissolution in 1991, the EU initiated partnership and cooperation negotiations with the newly independent Central Asian countries. In 2005, the EU appointed its first special envoy to the region and approved its inaugural Central Asian plan in 2007. The 2019 plan, “New Opportunities for a Stronger Partnership,” emphasized resilience, prosperity, and regional collaboration, with a shift toward environmental priorities. The EU’s Development Cooperation Instrument allocated EUR 1.1 billion in grant funding, technical assistance, and direct budget support between 2014 and 2020, fostering these evolving relations.

Second, fostering cooperation for economic integration and development. Meetings have been held at the regional level in Central Asia to create a shared “geo-economic area” promoting regional economic integration. The EU has been a significant contributor, providing USD 1.2 billion to the region between 2014 and 2020, underscoring its commitment to fostering new economic partnerships. With the China-Central Asia C+C5 platform in mind, the EU is poised to introduce fresh initiatives into its relations with Central Asia. It reflects a mutual desire to strengthen existing relationships within the summit’s framework.

Third, Russia- Ukraine war and the growing interest in Central Asia. The conflict between Russia and Ukraine caused a tremendous deal of geopolitical unrest as well as a number of issues with the world economy. Russia began to lose its global credibility over its invasion into Ukraine. The west took a staunch stand against the Russian aggression and took active measures to deter them. The growing bilateral cooperation between the former soviet countries also showcases similar motivations. The west aims to build closer alliances with the near Russian countries in order to deter Russia.


The Palenque Summit in Mexico: On intensifying migration crisis
Porkkodi Ganeshpandian

What happened?
On 27 October, the White House announced that it will host a first ever summit on 03 November to reaffirm its commitments to the migrants’ crisis. The summit will be a follow up of Palenque Summit, in Mexico, that was held on 22 October. Leaders and representatives of Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Panama, Haiti, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Venezuela, Colombia, and Cuba took part in the summit. The summit was held at Chiapas which is one of the hubs for migrants from less-developed Latin American states seeking to live in Mexico, or to cross over into the US. Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, said: “We need to agree” on migration policy “because we can do many things ourselves” within Latin America.”
The summit addressed US sanctions on Venezuela and Cuba, emphasizing improved economic programs and labor mobility to reduce migrant numbers. It concluded with a 13-point agreement opposing coercive measures, advocating expanded legal migration pathways. Leaders urged destination countries to end inconsistent policies and enhance secure avenues, particularly for workers escaping violence, corruption, and poverty in their home countries. The leaders of Mexico, Cuba, Venezuela and other participating states called on destination countries to end “inconsistent and selective policies” such as granting entry to certain nationalities but not others.

What is the background?
First, inconsistent policies toward the migrants’ crisis. Migrant perceptions often shift with changing leadership. Notably in the US, regional alliances and broader political objectives can either help or harm the migrant crisis. The treatment of Venezuelan migrants in the US stands as an example, where prior to democratic election agreements, tolerance was low. The shift in policies can be observed by noting the strict stance of former US President Donald Trump contrasts with a more cautious and holistic approach to address underlying migrant crisis issues by US President Joe Biden.

Second, the lack of economic opportunities in home states. The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a surge in poverty and unemployment across Latin America. Illicit gangs, involved in activities like drug and human trafficking, exacerbate economic inequality. Natural disasters in Haiti and political violence in Ecuador hinder economic growth, driving many to seek opportunities in the US for their livelihoods. 

Third, increasing gang violence. Escalating gang violence now dominates discussions on Latin America. It is fueled by the economic setbacks from the COVID-19 pandemic and significant political shifts from right-wing to left-wing governance. In the case of Haiti and Brazil, deteriorating geographic and environmental conditions has contributed to a gradual erosion of democracy in various states, particularly Haiti. It has intensified the suffering of their populations and prompted individuals to seek improved prospects for survival in the more economically developed US. The toll occurred as gang violence in Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, had claimed the lives of 30 residents and left over a dozen injured during August. By the beginning of 2023, more than 2,400 individuals had lost their lives in Haiti due to widespread gang violence. This included hundreds who were killed in lynchings by vigilante mobs, according to the UN.

Fourth, upcoming presidential elections in Mexico and the US. The matter of migrants is intricately linked to politics that affect both the country’s domestic population and its role on the global stage. It is notable in key destinations for migrants like Mexico and the US. Consequently, this issue carries substantial importance in election campaigns and results. With the US placing greater emphasis on regional concerns, effectively addressing the escalating migrant crisis will play a pivotal role in shaping the 2024 presidential election’s trajectory.

What does this mean?
First, the obscuration of the migrants while aiming for larger political goals. Despite the series of summits that revolve around the migrants’ crisis, the larger aim appears to be to build better reputation at home and abroad for a lengthening of political life. Such an outlook only serves to bureaucratize the process further, while the crisis intensifies at an alarming rate.

Second, the concerned migrants. Amid shifting regional migrant policies, some view this summit as an oppressive move, potentially leading to deportations. Migrants express concerns about non-democratic regimes, notably in Cuba. A migrant in a shelter has termed this summit as ‘the summit of the oppressors’, going on to say, “I suppose they are going to decide to deport all of us". Building trust and confidence among affected individuals is crucial for any effective solution to the migrant crisis. 

Third, the positive efforts of the summit. The transition from the “Summit of the Americas” to Mexico’s migration summit underscores Latin American states’ commitment to addressing the migrant crisis. Focusing on domestic solutions, including economic programs to encourage migrants to stay, is a positive step, as is the implicit call for fairer US migration policies to enhance future dialogue.


TWTW Regional Round-ups
News from around the World 

Dhriti Mukherjee, Femy Francis, Padmashree Anandhan, Rishika Yadav and Shamini Velayutham

China This Week
China: To conduct a compliance investigation on Foxconn
On 25 October, the Spokesperson of Beijing’s Taiwan Affairs Office Zhu Fenglian informed the Global Times that Foxconn is under investigation in China. Foxconn is a Taiwanese contractor firm of electronics and a vital supplier of iPhones. Zhu stated that this is a normal procedure and that the mainland Chinese administration deals with all firms equally to conduct compliance investigations. She also said that while the company is timely submitting its dividends and deliverables, it is also assumed that it should also promote peaceful cross-strait relations. Taiwanese Vice President Willam Lai said that if the firms feel “unjustly pressured” or get weary of the investigation, they would relocate their base. William urged China to value the cross-strait business and refrain from creating a ruckus nearing elections, hoping to get alliance from specific candidates in return. This statement was made in light of Terry Gou running in the upcoming election who is the founder of Foxconn.

China: Xi Jinping meets governor of California
On 25 October, the Chinese President Xi Jinping met with the Governor of California Gavin Newsom aiming to discuss Climate Change issues. Gavin stated that California and China have the ability to solve the Climate crisis, as they are two of the world’s largest economies their partnership is vital to the cause and the community. California is considered to be the economic powerhouse of the US and Newsom has long been seen as a possible future candidate for presidential elections.

China: Chinese Foreign Minister discusses stabilizing ties with the US Secretary of State
On 26 October, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited the US to stabilize ties. He met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and expressed that in order to reduce misunderstanding the two countries need to conduct a comprehensive dialogue.  He said it is vital that they: “return it to the track of healthy, stable and sustainable development.” Blinken expressed his approval and expressed his condolences for the death of former Chinese premier Li Keqiang. The background to this visit is expected to be in preparation for the primary summit between Joe Biden and Xi Jinping in November.

East and Southeast Asia This Week
Japan: Concludes agreement on cross-border data flows with EU
On 28 October, The Japan Times reported that EUand Japan have reached an agreement on cross-border data flows, with potential global implications for data regulations. This agreement is expected to streamline business operations in various sectors, including financial services, transport, machinery, and e-commerce. The agreement eliminated the need for data localization and reduced administrative burdens. It strikes a balance between Japan’s open approach and the EU’s emphasis on data protection and privacy, while prohibiting protectionist measures. The EU intends to engage in similar data negotiations with partners like Singapore and South Korea and incorporate digital trade rules into future free trade agreements.

South Korea: Court upholds ban on same-sex relations in military
On 26 October, the Constitutional Court of South Korea narrowly upheld a law prohibiting same-sex relationships in the armed forces. The move came with concerns over potential impacts on military discipline and combat readiness. Under the military criminal act, soldiers can face up to two years in prison for same-sex relationships. 
Despite calls from rights groups to repeal the law, the court’s five-to-four ruling has been criticized as a setback for gay rights. Activists argue that this law fosters violence, discrimination, and stigmatization against gay soldiers in a country with one of the world’s largest active armies. The mandatory military service in the country applies to able-bodied men aged 18 to 28.

North Korea: Criticizes condemnation of arms transfers to Russia
On 28 October, North Korean Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui denounced a trilateral statement by South Korea, the US, and Japan. The countries condemned North Korea’s supply of military equipment and munitions to Russia for use in Ukraine, in a joint statement. Choe called the criticism “groundless” and asserted that other countries have no right to interfere in matters of national sovereignty. 

Australia: Prime Minister urges US Congress to pass AUKUS legislation
On 26 October, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese met with the new Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Mike Johnson. He expressed hope for Congress to pass legislation related to the AUKUS submarine project in 2023. AUKUS involves the sale of US nuclear-powered submarines and nuclear-propulsion technology sharing with Australia, aimed at countering China’s influence in the Indo-Pacific. Budget delays and the lack of a Speaker had caused concerns about legislative approval for the project. US President Joe Biden also emphasized the strategic value of AUKUS. Additionally, Pentagon officials stressed the need for congressional approval of key proposals to facilitate the project’s success.

Cambodia: Strengthens naval cooperation with India
On 25 October, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Defence Tea Seiha met with Indian ambassador Devyani Khobragade in Phnom Penh. He expressed gratitude for India’s support in various areas. Cambodia and India are expanding naval cooperation following a February memorandum of understanding (MoU) that enhanced military ties. Both countries are set to inaugurate a direct flight in October, aiming to boost tourism and trade. The relationship has deepened since state visits by Cambodian leaders to India, with joint training exercises enabling Cambodian peacekeepers to participate in UN humanitarian missions. This growing partnership is seen as strategic and conducive to stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

Vietnam: Defence minister visits China for Beijing Xiangshan Forum
On 27 October, Vietnam’s Defence Minister, General Phan Van Giang visited China to attend the tenth Beijing Xiangshan Forum. The visit was aimed to strengthen Vietnam-China comprehensive strategic cooperation. It reaffirmed Vietnam’s commitment to addressing global and regional issues through international multilateral activities. General Giang also visited the Vietnamese Embassy in China, expressing confidence in their ability to contribute to the stable and sustainable development of the Vietnam-China relationship.

Vietnam: Prime Minister meets OECD Secretary-General for bilateral talks
On 27 October, Vietnam’s Prime Minister, Phạm Minh Chinh, welcomed the Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Mathias Cormann, in Ha Noi. The discussions revolved around the OECD-Southeast Asia Ministerial Forum 2023 and the OECD-Viet Nam Investment Forum 2023. PM Chinh sought the OECD’s assistance in formulating policies to attract high-quality investments and promote new growth drivers, aligning with OECD strengths and Vietnam’s priorities.

Indonesia: Discuss ASEAN digital economy development with Singapore
On 27 October, Minister of Communication and Informatics, Budi Arie Setiadi, met with Singaporean Ambassador to Indonesia, Kwok Fook Seng. They discussed the potential development of the digital economy in ASEAN. The meeting focused on the ASEAN Digital Minister’s Meeting (ADMM) planned for January 2024 in Singapore. It is aimed to prepare for the projected Rp2 thousand trillion digital economy potential in ASEAN by 2030. The discussions between Indonesia and Singapore contribute to priority discussions on digital economic development within ASEAN, with an emphasis on sustainable and lasting industry development.

South Asia This Week
Nepal: Bangladeshi diplomat assumes role as SAARC Secretary General
On 28 October, The Kathmandu Post reported that Golam Sarwar from Bangladesh has taken up the position of Secretary General of SAARC. It made him the 15th Secretary General and the third to represent Bangladesh. The appointment followed SAARC’s tradition of selecting the Secretary General based on alphabetical order of member states. Sarwar expressed his commitment to enhancing SAARC’s profile and fulfilling its vital mandates. He previously served in various diplomatic roles, including as Bangladesh’s Ambassador to Malaysia, Oman, and Sweden, with concurrent accreditation to several other countries.

Sri Lanka: Authorizes Chinese research vessel for ocean survey
On 28 October, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs granted permission for the Chinese research vessel, Shi Yan 6, to conduct ocean surveys in Sri Lanka’s Western seas on 30 and 31 October. The survey will be conducted in collaboration with Sri Lankan agencies, including the National Aquatic Resources Research and Development Agency (NARA) and Ruhuna University. The Sri Lanka Navy officers will serve as observers. The Shi Yan 6 had recently arrived at Colombo port.

Central Asia

Azerbaijan: First joint drills between Turkey and Azerbaijan after Karabakh victory
On 23 October, the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Azerbaijan announced that Azerbaijan Turkey jointly launched their first military exercises. The recent annexation of Nagorno-Karabakh by Baku resulted in the displacement of a significant portion of the region’s ethnic Armenian population. The ministry reported the participation of up to 3,000 military personnel in these exercises, named after Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the father of modern Turkey. The drills are being conducted across Azerbaijan, including Baku, the Nakhichevan exclave bordering Turkey, and the “liberated territories” in Karabakh.

Azerbaijan: President Ilham Aliyev at the 230 MW Garadagh Solar Power Plant’s official opening event
On 26 October, President Ilham Aliyev participated in a signing ceremony between the Azerbaijani government and the Masdar corporation of the UAE. The “Investment Agreement relating to the Banka settlement of Neftchala district Solar PV Project” was launched. It was signed by CEO of Masdar Company of the UAE, Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi, Azerbaijan's Minister of Economy, Parviz Shahbazov, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of SOCAR, Mikayil Jabbarov. 

Turkmenistan: Reviving the call for a gas pipeline to Europe
On 25 October, amid Western countries' efforts to find alternatives to Russian gas, Turkmenistan seized an opportunity. Since 1990, discussions have been ongoing about the Trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline, which would link Turkmenistan to Europe. President Serdar Berdymukhamedov, expressed his country’s interest in showcasing new projects. He highlighted its status as the world’s fourth-largest holder of natural gas reserves. He underscored the potential significance of the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline, which could provide natural gas to European countries.

Uzbekistan: Inaugural SCO transport forum to be held in Tashkent
On 27 October, the Ministry of Transportation stated that the Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s (SCO) first transport forum will take place in Tashkent on 01 November. The forum’s goals are to fortify collaboration amongst SCO member countries’ transportation and logistics officials and establish efficient transportation routes. The participants in the forum are anticipated to talk on prospective transportation-related projects, including how to implement current initiatives. It is said that in the transportation and communications sector, special emphasis would be placed on enhancing connectivity, boosting trade and investment, and realizing more prospects for long-term, sustainable economic growth.

Middle East and Africa This Week
Iran: Construction of a new nuclear power facility
On 25 October, the chairman of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), Mohammad Eslami announced that the construction of a new nuclear power station in southwest Iran has begun. He stated: “The construction work of the Karun power plant has started and the contracts for the internal construction of the equipment have been concluded.” He said this in reference to the recently constructed “Karun” power plant. He added: “This is a 300-megawatt nuclear power plant, and we had to supply electricity and water for its prerequisite activities. A 24 MW CHP plant and a water desalination plant, both of which are under construction, were also required. Work has begun on outfitting the Karun power plant construction workshop. 

Iran: Joins the Implementation Committee of the Montreal Protocol
On 27 October, representing the Asia-Pacific area, the Islamic Republic of Iran joined the Montreal Protocol’s Implementation Committee for a two-year term. From 23 to 27 October, Nairobi, Kenya, hosted the Thirty-Fifth Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (MOP35). The Montreal Protocol parties met to discuss ongoing ozone layer protection and address new concerns. It included geoengineering, short-lived substances, and increased emissions of potent non-ozone-depleting greenhouse gases.

Iran: US accuses Iran of supporting attacks by proxy groups
On 24 October, the White House’s national security spokesperson, John Kirby, accused Iran of actively supporting rocket and drone attacks by Iranian-backed proxy groups. The groups have been targeting US forces in Iraq and Syria. Kirby emphasized that the US would not tolerate threats to its interests. Tensions in the region have risen, partly due to the Israel-Hamas conflict. The US has expressed support for Israel in this matter. Kirby also mentioned that the US had sent military advisers to Israel to assist with operations.

Iran: US strikes Iranian-linked targets in Syria
On 27 October, Al Jazeera reported that the US military launched airstrikes on two sites in eastern Syria connected to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The strikes targeted an IRGC weapons storage facility and an ammunition storage site. This marked a shift in US involvement in the Middle East crisis, responding to recent attacks on US facilities in Iraq and Syria. Experts suggest the US aims to deter further attacks while avoiding a regional conflict. Iran has been implicated in backing militia groups responsible for these attacks. The situation remains delicate, with the US trying to strike a balance. 

Afghanistan: Girls’ education advocate released by Taliban
On 26 October, a rights campaigner, Matiullah Wesa who advocated for girls’ education, was released by the Taliban after seven months in detention. Wesa was arrested for “propaganda against the government” in March. He had been a prominent figure in promoting girls’ access to education and had worked to reopen schools in rural areas. While his release is welcomed, concerns remain about the Taliban’s crackdown on activists and the erosion of women’s rights in Afghanistan. Another high-profile detainee, French-Afghan journalist Mortaza Behboudi, recently decried the deteriorating climate for journalists in the country.

Kuwait: Kuwaiti government has approved child allowance
On 27 October, in a move to assist Kuwaiti women the Kuwaiti government approved a child allowance for women working in the private sector. The women include those who are facing financial challenges due to their husbands’ loss of regular income, pensions, or government aid. The announcement was made by the Government Communication Center in response to a request from the Minister of Interior and First Deputy Prime Minister, Sheikh Talal Khalid Al Ahmad Al Sabah. This program is aimed to support Kuwaiti women managing professional roles in the private sector while balancing family responsibilities. It granted working women in the private sector the same benefits enjoyed by their public sector counterparts. It marked a significant step towards gender workplace equality and acknowledging the dual roles women play as employees and caregivers. Under this initiative, working mothers in the private sector were eligible for child support if their husbands were unable to meet their financial obligations to their children, particularly in cases where the spouse lacked a regular income, pension, or government assistance.

Nigeria: Iranian President offers economic cooperation 
On 25 October, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi expressed readiness to collaborate with Niger in economically beneficial areas. The statement came after a meeting with Foreign Affairs Minister, Bakary Yaou Sangare, who assumed the role after a military coup in July. Raisi praised Nigerian independence and resistance to European hegemonic policies, indicating Iran’s efforts to expand its international relations, particularly in Africa. Iran's president has been engaging with various African countries to strengthen ties and end its international isolation.

Central African Republic: Reaches agreement to resolve fuel crisis 
On 26 October, BBC reported that authorities in the Central African Republic (CAR) have reached an agreement with Rochefort International, the owner of Total-Centrafrique. The agreement is to address the recent fuel crisis. Total-Centrafrique faced customs operations suspension due to unpaid oil taxes, causing a fuel shortage and long queues at open petrol stations. Total-Centrafrique is a significant fuel supplier in CAR. The agreement allows Rochefort International to resume fuel imports and engage in discussions with the Ministry of Finance to settle tax debts. The resolution was welcomed by both parties, while locals resorted to the black market for fuel during the scarcity.

South Africa: World Bank to provide USD one billion loan to South Africa
On 26 October, BBC reported that the World Bank is extending a USD one billion loan to South Africa to address its severe energy crisis. The crisis is characterized by frequent power cuts, which have hampered economic growth. These blackouts, lasting up to 16 hours a day, have significantly impacted the country’s GDP. South Africa, a major coal-based electricity producer, faces environmental challenges as it ranks 14th globally in carbon dioxide emissions. The loan is aimed to support reforms within the state-owned power company, Eskom, which carries over USD 26 billion in debt. This initiative aligns with South Africa’s transition to a low-carbon economy.

Europe and the Americas This Week
Turkey: Bill submitted to parliament to ratify Sweden's accession to NATO
On 24 October, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in a meeting with Sweden’s Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson highlighted Sweden’s pledges to fight against terrorism through appointment of a special coordinator for counter-terrorism and adapting an action plan. He said: “Allies and Sweden are working together to establish the facts, and NATO is strengthening our presence in the region.” On 23 October, Turkey submitted Sweden’s NATO accession bid for ratification in its parliament. Turkey had previously blocked Sweden’s bid due to concerns over PKK, a Kurdish militant political organization deemed a terrorist group in Turkey. The long-delayed deal comes following the agreement with the US to acquire 40 F-16s and revival of Turkey’s accession into the EU.

Slovakia: Robert Fico to resume office as Prime Minister
On 24 October, Slovakia’s President Zuzana Caputova announced his decision to appoint Robert Fico as the new prime minister. Fico resigned in 2018 due to mass protests following the murder of a journalist. On 25 October, a new coalition government led by Fico was formed with centre-left and nationalist parties. The coalition has a slim majority of 79 seats in the 150-member parliament and includes the far-right Slovak National Party. Whereas the largest opposition party “Progressive Slovakia,” led by Caputova has 32 seats.

Europe: EU council signs agreement to limit Baltic Sea catch for 2024
On 24 October, fisheries ministers from the EU reached an agreement on catch limits (TACs) and quotas for the most commercially significant Baltic Sea fish stocks in 2024. The agreement aligned with scientific advice and Common Fisheries Policy objectives. It reduced TACs for Western herring, Eastern cod, and Western cod due to low biomass. It decreased TACs for herring in the Gulf of Bothnia and Central herring to support stock recovery, and increased TAC for salmon in the Gulf of Finland. It has continued to have fishing opportunities for plaice while accounting for cod by-catch and it lowered TACs for Riga herring, main basin salmon, and sprat due to stock conditions.

Canada: Detection of a “spamouflage” campaign with potential Chinese ties   
On 23 October, the Canadian government stated its intelligence agencies claimed to have detected a “spamouflage” disinformation campaign targeting members of parliament, which it claims has links to China. The campaign used networks of new and hijacked social media accounts throughout August and September to post disinformation and propaganda on accounts of various government officials, including Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Posts were in English and French on Facebook and X, and included a claim that Hawaiian wildfires were caused by a US military “weather weapon,” and “deep fake” videos. 
In the past, Ottawa has accused Beijing of interfering in its affairs, with the foreign ministry saying that the campaign “may dissuade MPs and diaspora communities in Canada from speaking out on issues which concern them.” In response, the Chinese embassy in Canada denied the allegations, holding Canada to be a “downright liar and disseminator of false information.”

The US: Albanese meets Biden to “forge a better future” for Australia and US
On 25 October, Biden hosted Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, where they strengthened their alliance on matters relating to national security, climate change, and technology. There were also discussions on the US potentially providing nuclear -powered submarines to Australia, and a shared stance against acts of aggression by Russia and Hamas. However, as Biden called Australia “an anchor to peace and prosperity,” there was a stark division on how to deal with China and matters in the South China Sea. Both agreed that maintaining security in the Indo-Pacific region remains a priority, but while Biden took a strong stance saying that he wanted “to be very clear” on America’s “ironclad” defence commitment to the Philippines, Albanese diplomatically stated that they should “disagree” where they “must.”

The US: Russia criticises Biden’s “American-centric” vision on new “world order”
On 23 October, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov criticised US President Joe Biden’s emphasis on Washington being the driving force in a new “world order,” saying that a new system ought to be “free from the concentration of all mechanisms of world governance in the hands of one state.” Peskov’s statement is in response to Biden’s speech on 20 October, where he said that America needed to “unite the world” to “enhance the prospect of peace.” Peskov responded by putting down the need for an “American-centric” world order, saying that there will no longer be a “world that revolves around the United States.”

The US: UNSC remains unable to pass a resolution on Israel-Gaza war
On 25 October, two more resolutions to halt the Israel-Gaza war failed in the UNSC. The US’ resolution, which was vetoed by Russia and China, called for a humanitarian pause to allow humanitarian aid access. China’s UN Ambassador Zhang Jun explained that the “draft does not reflect the world’s strongest calls for a ceasefire, an end to the fighting, and it does not help resolve the issue.” Subsequently, Russia’s resolution for a humanitarian ceasefire and withdrawal of Israeli troops secured only four votes. The failure of multiple resolutions to pass has raised concerns of a lack of tangible action to the ongoing situation, which is “gripped by a growing risk of a regional spillover.”

The US: Potential for state-level relations with China realized
On 25 October, California Governor Gavin Newsom went to China to address goals of mutual cooperation on climate change. This meeting, which comes ahead of paving the road to Biden meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping in November during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit, unprecedentedly highlighted the existing collaboration between China and California amid ongoing national tensions. The manner in which Newsom was received sent “a very clear signal that working with California is desired and, at minimum, politically safe,” according to a professor of law at UCLA. It showcased the Chinese desire for state-level engagement, which would allow both countries to benefit economically without getting political. California in particular has a “long-standing, deep” relationship with China, being home to the biggest population of Chinese-Americans in the US. According to a professor at the National University of Singapore, China is experiencing an “economic downturn,” and California brings a potential source of foreign investment.


About the authors
Padmashree Anandhan, Femy Francis and Rishika Yadav, Dhriti Mukherjeee and Shamini Velayutham are Research Associates at NIAS. Porkkodi Ganeshpandian is a PhD scholar at the School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi. 
 

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