Monday, August 25, 2008

The EU and Russia

The EU will hold an emergency summit on EU-Russian relations on September 1, in response to the demands of many member states. Those putting pressure on the EU include new members such as Poland and Lithuania, as well as the UK and the Scandinavian countries. For example, the Lithuanian foreign minister, who spent the five days of the recent war in Tbilisi, called for diplomatic sanctions against Russia and the integration of Georgia and Ukraine into NATO and the EU.

Germany, France and Italy have resisted this pressure. However, the Russians are not helping their EU friends. French President Sarkozy, who helped broker the current Russo-Georgian ceasefire, has egg on his face because the Russians have not honored it. On August 14, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev reportedly had a 'difficult and tense' meeting in Sochi. Two days later she told Georgian president Saakashvili that she supported NATO membership for Georgia. (See here.) She now has to persuade her voters; according to a recent opinion poll, 58% do not want to risk endangering German Russian relations by letting Georgia join NATO.

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