Wednesday

26th Apr 2017

Germany fails to save EU-Russia summit agenda

German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier's trip to Moscow failed to produce any result on EU-Russia trade disputes but saw some friendly words, foreshadowing what is set to be an equally substance-free summit in Samara, Russia on Friday (18 May).

The German minister spent one hour talking with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, foreign minister Lavrov and farm minister Gordeyev as well as one hour alone with Mr Putin, but the talks ended with Moscow upholding its ban on Polish food imports.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Mr Gordeyev said Mr Putin "once again stressed the need for safety assurances on products exported to Russia," while a Kremlin spokesman, Sergei Ryabkov, said "everything depends on how quickly and effectively the EU works on our concerns," newswires report.

Russia's 18-month old import ban has been called groundless by the European Commission and has seen Poland veto starting talks on a new EU-Russia treaty in a position backed this week by Lithuania and Estonia, which have political gripes of their own with Moscow.

Russian diplomats on Tuesday (15 May) also called into question a recent EU deal on ending $300 million a year worth of Siberian overflight fees for European airlines. The deal was due to be one of the few things the pair could claim success on at the unlucky summit.

"You could see that as a compromise which not everybody necessarily agrees to," Russia's EU envoy Vladimir Chizhov told Reuters earlier this week. "We regret that the agreement can't be signed at the summit, it would have been a good opportunity," an EU official added.

The Steinmeier-Putin meeting did produce some warm words, however. "I think, thank God, that there are no conflicts," Putin said, Ria Novosti reports. "We may have different opinions on how to deal with this or that issue but in any case, both sides are willing to resolve these issues."

"Today, we are seeing the situation much clearer," Mr Steinmeier said. "Wherever we lack trust, we should not take a wait-and-see attitude and remain silent - even if there is a collision of interests."

The mood was made slightly darker by Russian complaints about EU handling of the Russia-Estonia dispute over Tallinn's removal of a Soviet-era statue. Senior Putin aide Sergei Yastrzhembsky accused the EU of "hypocrisy" in supporting Tallinn.

"We understand that solidarity is the basis on which EU politics rests. But there are situations where solidarity harms politics and values, on which those politics are based. This is what happened in the case of Estonia," Polish media quote him as saying.

The Samara meeting will also try and tackle big international issues such as Kosovo and Iran, but Russian and EU officials warned not to expect much from the summit in terms of results on specific EU-Russia issues.

Another Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told the Moscow Times that "the summit is unlikely to bring about any breakthroughs. But it is valuable as it is." An EU official told the paper "there will be less and less substance" at the Samara gathering.

The Russian press was less circumspect, with the Vedomosti daily writing "The EU-Russian summit will either be a relative failure or a scandalous failure...The participants may not even be able to agree on a joint declaration."

Dont expect 'quick fix' in Syria, China tells EU

Beijing special envoy on the Syrian conflict said in Brussels that "imposing" a solution from the outside would "not be workable" and that the peace process will not be "smooth sailing".

Russia suspected of Macron hack

Likely Russian spies tried to steal email passwords from Macron's people the same way they hacked US elections, new study says.

Russia threat triggers European military spending hike

Russia's annexation of Crimea in Ukraine has intensified military and defence spending throughout much of Central Europe, according to a new report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

Investigation

Illicit Russian money poses threat to EU democracy

It cost €11 million to help Le Pen campaign in elections, but it cost the Russian mafia less than €100,000 to hire a former UK attorney general to lobby against EU sanctions.

Russia suspected of Macron hack

Likely Russian spies tried to steal email passwords from Macron's people the same way they hacked US elections, new study says.

News in Brief

  1. EU parliament moves to lift Le Pen's immunity
  2. EU Commission launches probe into Hungary's university law
  3. Scots slowly losing appetite for independence - poll
  4. Council of Europe puts Turkey on watch list
  5. EU to put parental leave on political agenda
  6. Israel cancels German meeting over human rights groups
  7. Hungary's Orban will participate in EU parliament debate
  8. Malta floats cash-for-refugees plan

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFRace Against Time to Save Millions of Lives in Yemen
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersDeveloping Independent Russian-Language Media in the Baltic Countries
  3. Swedish EnterprisesReform of the European Electricity Market: Lessons from the Nordics, Brussels 2 May
  4. Malta EU 2017Green Light Given for New EU Regulation to Bolster External Border Checks
  5. Counter BalanceCall for EU Commission to Withdraw Support of Trans-Adriatic Pipeline
  6. ACCAEconomic Confidence at Highest Since 2015
  7. European Federation of Allergy and Airways60%-90% of Your Life Is Spent Indoors. How Does Poor Indoor Air Quality Affect You?
  8. European Gaming and Betting AssociationCJEU Confirms Obligation for a Transparent Licensing Process
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region and the US: A Time of Warlike Rhetoric and Militarisation?
  10. European Free AllianceEFA MEPs Vote in Favor of European Parliament's Brexit Mandate
  11. Mission of China to the EUXinhua Insight: China to Open up Like Never Before
  12. World VisionViolence Becomes New Normal for Syrian Children

Latest News

  1. Brexit is about Europe's future as well
  2. Power struggle in Greenland: Three reasons why the EU should care
  3. Nordic and Baltic countries step up digitalisation efforts
  4. European states still top media freedom list
  5. Let’s not put European public health at risk
  6. Threatened Budapest university calls for EU support
  7. Orban set to face down EU threats
  8. Dont expect 'quick fix' in Syria, China tells EU