Saturday

23rd Mar 2019

EU foreign chiefs to debate future ties with Russia

Just weeks before the new Russian president is sworn in, EU foreign ministers are meeting in Brdo, Slovenia on Friday (28 March) for an informal debate on the remaining differences in opinion on the bloc's future strategy towards Moscow.

The 27-member EU is due to hold its first top level summit with Dmitry Medvedev, the incoming successor of Vladimir Putin, in June in Siberia and the EU's Slovenian presidency wants to focus the first day of the ministerial session on political preparation for the summit.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • The EU is still at odds over its relationship with Russia (Photo: EUobserver)

Some EU member states would like to move on in relations with Moscow and launch talks on the bloc's strategic partnership with Russia covering trade, energy, human rights and political cooperation, delayed primarily due to resistance by Poland and Lithuania.

Warsaw has in the meantime suggested it is willing to drop its opposition to the talks after Moscow agreed to end an embargo on Polish exports of meat and meat products.

But along with Vilnius – which objects to warmer relations with Russia due to energy security concerns - Warsaw is also expected to raise the issue of Moscow's involvement in the "frozen conflicts" in Moldova and Georgia, and human rights concerns.

The debate on the EU's future links with Russia comes just days before several European leaders meet in Bucharest next week for a NATO summit which risks being overshadowed by a dispute on how to prevent a further cooling down in relations with Moscow.

The Alliance is split on whether to boost the candidacy status of two membership aspirants - Ukraine and Georgia - with the Russian president-elect Medvedev warning against the move.

Tibet and Western Balkans

Europe's reaction to the Chinese clampdown on demonstrations in Tibet also features on the two-day ministerial agenda.

It is expected that the foreign ministers will criticise Beijing's actions in the violent clashes in the region in a joint statement on Saturday.

But a question mark remains over whether European politicians will boycott the opening and closing ceremony of the Olympic games due to concerns over Tibet, with French leader Nicolas Sarkozy already having mooted the idea.

The foreign ministers will also hold separate meetings with their colleagues in the Western Balkans, including Serbian minister Vuk Jeremic.

Belgrade is currently preparing for early elections in May in which Serbian citizens are due to effectively decide whether they want to stick with efforts to join the EU despite Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence in February. Most European countries have since recognised the move by the former Serb province.

Name row on new EU sanctions exposes deeper rift

EU officials have voiced scepticism on proposed new human rights sanctions, amid a "nasty" debate to what extent Russia ought to be named and shamed in the title of the new measures.

Hopeless Gaza Strip ripe for Islamic State, says UN head

Fears are mounting that more extreme militants, possibly linked to the Islamic State, will gain a foothold in the Gaza Strip as trapped youth lose all sense of hope in a conflict that is on the verge of boiling over.

Investigation

Leaked document sheds light on Turkey's controlled 'coup'

More than two years after the failed putsch, evidence is trickling out to support what the EU initially suspected - that Erdogan knew what was going to happen and let it go ahead as a pretext to create one-man rule.

News in Brief

  1. EU leaders at summit demand more effort on disinformation
  2. Report: Corbyn to meet May on Monday for Brexit talks
  3. Petition against Brexit attracts 2.4m signatures
  4. Study: Brexit to cost EU citizens up to €40bn annually
  5. NGOs demand France halt Saudi arm sales
  6. Report: Germany against EU net-zero emissions target
  7. Former top EU official takes job at law firm
  8. Draft text of EU summit has Brexit extension until 22 May

EU migrants sneaking into US from Mexico

Almost 1,000 Romanian nationals were caught trying to sneak into the United States in 2017, of which around half attempted to cross via Mexico. Nationals from countries like Hungary and the UK were also intercepted.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  5. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  8. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID

Latest News

  1. Italy takes China's new Silk Road to the heart of Europe
  2. What EU leaders agreed on climate - and what they mean
  3. Copyright and (another) new Brexit vote This WEEK
  4. EU avoids Brexit crash, sets new date for 12 April
  5. Campaigning commissioners blur the lines
  6. Slovakia puts squeeze on free press ahead of election
  7. EPP suspends Orban's Fidesz party
  8. Macron is confusing rigidity with strength

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us