EU leaders fail to agree on summit with Vladimir Putin | News | DW
EU leaders met in Brussels on Thursday amid divisions over whether to restore relations with Russia.
France and Germany have called for Russian President Vladimir Putin to be invited to a European summit for talks.
The proposal came after US President Joe Biden held his own summit with Putin in Geneva, Switzerland, last week.
However, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the leaders had not reached an agreement on such a summit.
“We have again defined under what conditions we are ready to work and communicate more closely with Russia … There was no agreement today on an immediate meeting of the leaders,” he said. she declared.
What did Merkel and Macron say about a Putin summit?
Merkel said the 27-member bloc needed a direct dialogue with Russia because “conflicts can be better resolved if you talk to each other as well.”
French President Emmanuel Macron said warmer relations with Moscow were “necessary for the stability of the European continent”.
“We cannot remain in a purely reactive logic vis-à-vis Russia”, he declared.
The bloc has not held a summit with the Russian leader since 2014 amid a lingering disagreement over the annexation of Crimea
What is the state of EU-Russia relations?
Euro-Russian relations have also been strained due to the poisoning of opposition figure Alexei Navalny, currently imprisoned in a penal colony.
But the suggestion of closer ties with Putin has already created divisions within the EU and surprised some EU governments. Two senior diplomats told DW they first learned of the plan from the media.
Latvian Prime Minister Arturs Krisjanis Karins said there would be “difficulties” in seeking to build trust with the Russian government.
“The Kremlin understands the politics of power. The Kremlin does not regard free concessions as a sign of strength,” Karins told reporters.
EU and Moscow traded blows over Alexei Navalny’s imprisonment
Lithuania, another Baltic state, was also cold on the idea launched by Paris and Berlin.
“If without any positive change in the behavior of Russia, we will start to engage, it will send very uncertain and bad signals to our partners”, declared the president of the country, Gitanas Nauseda.
“It seems to me that we are trying to hire a bear to keep a jar of honey safe,” he added.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has said he will boycott any direct EU meeting with Putin, citing the crash of flight MH17 over Ukraine in July 2014.
Almost 300 people died in the disaster, most of them Dutch citizens. A Dutch investigation accused pro-Russian separatists of downing the plane.
EU will continue to support Turkey on immigration
Merkel said EU leaders agreed to provide Turkey with around 3 billion euros ($ 3.6 billion) in financial assistance to stem migration.
Turkey had agreed to prevent migrants from reaching the EU in 2016 in exchange for financial aid from the bloc.
Turkey is currently home to 3.7 million migrants from the war in Syria.
Merkel said earlier in the week that financial aid given to Ankara should be redirected towards socio-economic aid, as some of the migrants in Turkey have been there for 10 years.
Hungary under fire over LGBT bill
Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government came under fire this week for proposing legislation banning the distribution of LGBTQ content in schools.
The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, called the bill a “disgrace” which contradicts the fundamental values of the European Union and threatened to take Hungary to justice.
Arrived in Brussels for the summit with European leaders, Orban remained unrepentant.
“It’s not against homosexuality, all sexual contact. It’s not about homosexuals,” he said. “It is about the rights of children and parents.”
Orban has vowed not to withdraw the legislation despite widespread criticism from most EU governments.
“For me, Hungary no longer has a place in the EU,” Rutte said ahead of the meeting.
Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin said the bill violated “a fundamental value of the European Union” while Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel called it “unacceptable”.
The leaders of 17 EU countries on Thursday signed a letter criticizing “threats to fundamental rights, and in particular the principle of non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation”.
The issue has been at the center of European politics this week after UEFA, the governing body of European football, rejected Munich’s plan to light up its stadium in rainbow colors for a match. Germany-Hungary Wednesday.
Orban was due to attend, but he decided to skip the game which ended in a 2-2 draw and saw Hungary eliminated from the European Championship.
jf, wd / sms (AFP, AP, Reuters)