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Europe's week: Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and rule of law dispute

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MEPs, wearing face masks to fight against the spread of the coronavirus, attend a plenary session at the European Parliament in Brussels
MEPs, wearing face masks to fight against the spread of the coronavirus, attend a plenary session at the European Parliament in Brussels   -   Copyright  AP Photos
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Climate and rule of law were among issues preoccupying MEPs in Brussels this week.

The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict also came knocking. Hundreds of flag-waving Armenians, demonstrated in Brussels' European quarter as the parliament held a debate on the situation in the region.

The intense fighting between forces from Armenia and Azerbaijan has shown no sign of abating.

Speaking exclusively to Euronews, Armenian Prime Minister, Nikol Pashinyan, and Azerbaijani President, Ilham Aliyev, pointed the finger of blame at each other for the fresh outbreak of violence in Nagorno-Karabakh, with no clear road towards a ceasefire mentioned.

Worse still, the conflict has now drawn in other countries, like Turkey and Russia, increasing the danger of a wider conflict.

The European Union urged both sides to make sure the civilian population was safe.

"We have seen extremely worrying reports of a surge in attacks on populated areas which is taking a deadly toll on civilians. We strongly urge the sides to fully observe their international obligations to protect civilian populations," said Josep Borrell, the EU's foreign affairs chief.

Coronavirus recovery cash and respect for rule of law

But the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict wasn't the only big story this week.

EU politicians are still struggling to approve the €1.8 trillion coronavirus relief package that the member states agreed upon during their July summit.

As the number of infections begins to reach dangerous levels in many European regions again, the stimulus money is urgently needed to avoid an economic meltdown.

MEPs, however, wants to make EU funds conditional on countries respecting rule of law, which includes areas like the justice system, democracy and press freedom.

Poland and Hungary are threatening to veto it.

“We think that this money has to be spent in an orderly way," Manfred Weber, chairman of the biggest grouping in the European Parliament, the European People's Party (EPP).

"That means we have to have free media, to check whether on the local ground the authorities spend this money without corruption for example, and we need an independent judiciary (…) There will be no budget and no recovery fund without the binding rule of law mechanism. That's a clear message to the [European] council."