November’s Diplomatic Harvest

Javier Solana

Jihadism is flourishing. Tensions with Russia are flaring. Agreement between Iran and the “E3+3” (Britain, France, and Germany from the European Union, plus China, Russia, and the United States) remains elusive, with domestic politics in all of the negotiating partners introducing additional complexities into an already complicated process. US President Barack Obama, having suffered a severe midterm election defeat, must now deal with a Congress under full Republican control. In the eurozone, economic growth remains anemic, causing leaders to look inward.
One could easily conclude that the world is being sucked into a vortex of instability. But the past month featured some hopeful moments, and pausing to study them is imperative to avoid succumbing to pessimism.
Concluding a deal with Iran on its nuclear program remains an unfinished item of global business. The negotiations in Vienna failed to produce a deal that is critically important to both regional and global stability. But the atmosphere was positive: Iran fulfilled its obligations under last year’s interim agreement, and the E3+3 showed a willingness to end sanctions. The deadline to finalize negotiations has now been extended to June 2015.
The West has a unique window of opportunity. Achieving a deal is essential to avoid a new – and potentially catastrophic — conflict in the Middle East. Negotiation and diplomacy are the only way to resolve the Iranian nuclear question in the long term and to normalize Iran’s critical role in regional security.
There were several other promising developments in November. The new European Commission took office on November 1, launching its mandate with a plan to boost public and private investment by €315 billion (Dh1.439 trillion) over the next three years. Similarly, in Brisbane, the G-20 approved a package of economic measures to boost global economic growth by 2.1 percentage points by 2018. Moreover, the 20 leaders endorsed the Global Infrastructure Initiative, which will create a Global Infrastructure Hub to serve as a knowledge-sharing platform for governments, the private sector, development banks, and international organizations.
The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit in Beijing featured several important agreements as well. At the top of the list is the announcement of a US-China bilateral climate deal, which helps to smooth the path towards the crucial United Nations Climate Change Summit (COP21) in Paris next year. If India were to adopt a similar stance, hope would grow stronger still.
The UN’s Green Climate Fund, meanwhile, has been boosted with additional financing pledges – another critical stepping stone on the path to Paris. The Fund, financed by developed countries, is designed to help developing countries meet the costs of mitigating and adapting to climate change. The US has now pledged $3 billion, with Japan promising $1.5 billion, augmenting previous pledges by France and Germany – funding that is essential to ensure developing countries’ fruitful participation at COP21.
The EU is also looking forward to Paris, following the European Council’s approval of the European Commission’s 2030 framework for climate and energy policies. Targets have been set for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, increasing the percentage of renewables in Europe’s energy mix, enhancing energy efficiency, and promoting electricity interconnection among member states. China and the US reached another bilateral deal at the APEC summit, which will serve to unblock the World Trade Organization’s Information Technology Agreement and thus eliminate tariffs on information and communication technology.
Courtesy: Gulf News



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