More than 26 years have passed since the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and their Destruction of 1997, usually referred to as the Ottawa Convention, was signed. However, it has not reached its goal of eradicating such weapons since the conclusion of the agreement over 40 years ago. Indeed, it is estimated that landmines killed or maimed more than 5,500 people in 2021, mainly civilians, half of whom were children.
The fragmented nature of the European defence industry has historically been and continues to be a prominent issue hindering its evolution. It is financially untenable, fostering duplicated systems and redundancies that induce unnecessary costs. It is also strategically problematic, impeding collaborative and cooperative efforts while preventing interoperability. At a time of a strategic shift in the European Union’s (EU) security and defence, the time has come to capitalise on the momentum and rejuvenate the European defence industry. While the work of European institutions is promising, substantial efforts will be necessary to carry this momentum further. Fostering a culture of synchronised efforts and joint projects will be the key to overcoming the bottleneck of fragmentation, unravelling at last the full potential of the European defence industry.
The term was first adopted in the European Commission’s Communication Towards a more competitive and efficient defence and security sector of 2013, whereby a ‘certain degree of strategic autonomy’ is necessary ‘to be a credible and reliable partner’ (European Commission, 2013, p. 3). The Communication posits that ‘Europe must be able to decide and to act without depending on the capabilities of third parties’ (European Commission, 2013, p. 3). Special notice is given to the security of supply, access to critical technologies and operational sovereignty (European Commission, 2013, p. 3).
Unmanned systems have become indispensable in both civilian and military contexts, playing a crucial role in the contemporary operational landscape. These systems have the potential to transform the way military operations are conducted, offering improved efficiency, reduced risks to human personnel and enhanced collaborative capabilities. Nevertheless, realising their full potential requires overcoming interoperability challenges to enable diverse unmanned platforms to work together effectively when integrated within a mission operation network. The European endeavour to tackle this challenge is pursued through the Interoperability Standards for Unmanned Armed Forces Systems (INTERACT) project, aiming at developing a common basis for a European interoperability standard to enhance military operation capability. This Info Flash explores the growing capabilities of unmanned systems in military operations and delves into the complex challenge of interoperability, highlighting the role of the European INTERACT project in enhancing the efficiency and cooperation capabilities of European armed forces.
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Armenian-Azeri ethnic tensions in the South Caucasus have severely escalated. This culminated in the First Karabakh War between 1988 and 1994, where Armenia prevailed (RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty, 2006). The war concluded without a formal peace agreement and Armenia took control of border territories internationally acknowledged as Azerbaijani (Mulcaire, 2015). This included Nagorno-Karabakh, a region within Azerbaijan inhabited by an ethnically Armenian population that has historically been governed by an autonomous Armenian administration (RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty, 2006). This region has been the focal point of the recent conflict. This Info Flash will examine the ongoing Armenian-Azerbaijani border crises, which especially affects the welfare and human rights of the Nagorno-Karabakh region’s population. It will discuss the complex alliances and balance of forces in the South Caucasus. This is essential to understanding the European Union Mission in Armenia (EUMA), an ongoing EU operation seeking to facilitate a peaceful resolution to the crisis.