Bitter conflicts stop Eastern Europe from choosing next year’s Cop host

Divisions over wars between Russia and Ukraine and Azerbaijan and Armenia are delaying the choice of the host of next year’s climate talks

Conflicts between Russia and Ukraine and Armenia and Azerbaijan have stopped the group of Eastern European nations from picking the host of the Cop29 climate talks next November.

At a group meeting in the German city of Bonn today, Bulgaria, Azerbaijan and Armenia each made the case for why they should host the annual climate summit which rotates between the United Nations’ five regions each year.

But, according to two sources with knowledge of the meeting, the group could not come to a decision and postponed their choice until a later date.

The UN’s regional groupings. Eastern Europe is in red

The uncertainty gives the eventual host less time to prepare for the crunch summit. The host for Cop30, Brazil, has already been effectively decided. The decision for Cop29 must be made by Cop28 in November.

The splits

Bulgaria’s bid was backed by the Eastern European members of the European Union (EU), of which it is a member state. But Russia’s representative said twice that they would block any candidate from the EU.

The EU is providing diplomatic, financial and military support to the government of Ukraine in their battle to remove the Russian military from their territory.

The two other candidates – Azerbaijan and Armenia – fought a six-week war against each other in 2020 over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. Tensions between the two sides are still high.

Turkiye joins Australia in race to host Cop31 climate talks.

Although Russia supported Armenia in that war, Azerbaijan is not in the EU. One source with knowledge of the talks said that the Central Asian nation could be a compromise between the EU and Russia.

Any choice would require the consensus of all the group’s 23 members though and would have to be approved by all countries at Cop28, which is usually just a formality.

Plan B

If the group is unable to choose, then a group of global climate diplomats called the bureau tries to find a solution.

This could involve a government from outside the region offering to host the talks. When Chile was unable to host the Cop25 talks in 2019 after social unrest, Spain stepped in to host them instead.

Although it’s not in the Eastern Europe group, the Australian government has previously indicated an interest in hosting Cop29 next year, swapping t

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