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In 2013, possibilities for stability from Somalia to South China Sea

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Skeptics dismiss the agreement as a watered-down initiative of common-denominator compromises and delays. But it paves the way for an eventual banking union, and caps off a year of expressed commitments to deeper integration.

"The decision of European heads of state to create a banking union and a fiscal union still needs to be implemented. But that was a genuine game changer in a sense," says Jan Techau, director of Carnegie Europe at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Brussels. "It is by no means perfect and is not seen in action yet; but if this comes, that will create momentum for more political integration."

In Africa, a new dawn for Somalia?

In Somalia, Al Qaeda was on the run in 2012 after four years in control of the country's south, pushed out of all of its major urban strongholds by African Union military offensives.

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