Foreign press suggests German Chancellor Angela Merkel wants Europe to consider inviting Putin to a summit of European leaders. Sources say that French President Emmanuel Macron supports the initiative.
Many EU member states, especially in Eastern Europe, remain extremely skeptical when it comes to talking to the Kremlin and are against the meeting. They include Estonia. Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) told the media in Brussels on Thursday that European leaders agreed at their last meeting that Russia is a major and growing threat to the EU and increasingly aggressive.
“I’m eager to listen to what has changed and what are Europe’s goals – how can we move forward with things like these in a situation where Russia’s behavior has not changed and is more aggressive than ever before, and what is the purpose of such meetings?” Kallas said. She finds that right now is not the time for such a meeting. “The conditions we set in 2014 have not been met,” Kallas added. The PM explained that the plan was to only discuss the Russia topic briefly. “Some member states have now proposed holding a high-level meeting with the Russian leader, which is new and something we haven’t discussed,” Kallas sad.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Eva-Maria Liimets (Center) told ERR that Estonia’s stance has been clear for some time. Russia needs to comply with the Minsk agreements for the EU to revise its recent policy. “The important thing is for territories annexed by the Russian Federation to be returned. Then, we can discuss how relations could move forward or be improved,” Liimets added.
Former President Toomas Hendrik Ilves tweeted: “Merkel and Macron are either clueless or have learnt nothing from 80 years of history and the nations betrayed by the Germans. Without even talking to other EU countries. Exactly like their forebears. I say that knowing full well what I say.
Former Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) described the Merkel/Macron proposal as wrong and dangerous. “We need to coolly reject it together with Eastern European states and veto the initiative in the Council of the European Union. Every country protects its vital security interests and that means being able to say no,” Reinsalu wrote on social media.
The details of a potential meetings have not been set yet, and it remains unclear whether it would be attended by the leaders of all 27 member states or by the heads of the European Commission and the Council.
EU leaders and Putin last met in Brussels in early 2014, while the Russian president generally prefers mutual relations with EU member states.
Relations between Brussels and Moscow have been strained since March of 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea. The EU has laid down a number of sanctions against Russia.