SAVE FOR LITHUANIA, ALL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION IS PREPARED TO RESUME TALKS OVER A NEW PARTNERSHIP AND COOPERATION AGREEMENT WITH RUSSIA
Russia and the European Union are about to resume talks over a new partnership and cooperation agreement. Lithuania, the only protester within the EU, cannot exercise its veto power.
EU foreign ministers voted yesterday to resume talks with Russia over a new partnership and cooperation agreement. The dialogue will be resumed at the Russian-EU summit in Nice come Friday. Moscow in its turn hopes to have the summit concentrate on establishment of a new world order rather than on the Russian-European relations.
The conference of EU foreign ministers yesterday put an end to the main intrigue of the last several weeks when all of the world wondered if the Russian-European consultations over a new partnership and cooperation agreement would be resumed.
The previous agreement expired last year. The Russian-EU summit in Khanty-Mansiisk this spring finally resulted in the agreement to renew the talks. Their first round took place in July and that was all. The talks were suspended after the war in Georgia. On September 1, the EU convened an emergency summit where European leaders condemned Moscow for the “disproportionate reaction” and called off the talks. Poland, Lithuania, and Czech Republic even demanded sanctions against Russia but the Old World killed the idea.
Even the decision yesterday to resume the talks with Moscow was made mostly due to efforts of the Old World countries. President of France Nicolas Sarkozy said last week that the European Union had no reasons anymore to postpone renewal of the negotiations. Jose Manuel Barroso of the European Commission backed Sarkozy. British and Swedish foreign ministers David Miliband and Carl Bildt yesterday suggested that a new partnership and cooperation agreement with Russia would be in Europe’s interests. “Considering the global economic crisis that exposed Russia’s vulnerabilities, I believe we have a chance to ensure unity of the European Union and cooperate with Russia in a manner that will promote our interests,” Miliband said. “In the long run, isolation of Russia is not our best bet. Systematic and pragmatic cooperation with it is considerably better.”
Even Poland eventually fell in line and left irreconcilable Lithuania all alone. Vilnius will just have to swallow it. There is no veto power to be exercised because the matter concerns renewal of the talks and not their initiation. In other words, the five-day Russian-EU summit just may accomplish something. “I do not expect all of foreign countries rallying against Russia in Nice. What with the recent events in the Caucasus, the European Union demonstrated its ability to be sensible,” Russian Representative to the EU Vladimir Chizhov said. The diplomat said that President Dmitry Medvedev’s idea of a new architecture of the European-Atlantic security framework would become one of the central items on the summit agenda.
Chizhov explained that discussion of the new security treaty in Nice would be handy because Medvedev was slated to attend the G20 meeting in Washington right after that and would therefore be able to discuss the matter with the US president-elect. “The treaty we suggest stipulates involvement of the European Union, United States, and Canada. We are talking European-Atlantic security, after all,” he said. “Neither do we want NATO out of the process. What we suggest is involvement of all countries of the European-Atlantic zone – members of the Alliance, Commonwealth, CIS Collective Security Treaty Organization, Eurasian Economic Cooperation Organization… The idea is to have all players, sovereign and collective, working on principles of behavior for individual states and international organizations.”