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19th Jan 2020

Merkel, Sarkozy, Medvedev to 'brainstorm' on security

  • Merkel and Sarkozy are trying to revive relations with Moscow (Photo: European Communities)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy are on Monday(18 October) to hold a "brainstorming" session with Russian leader Dmitry Medvedev on issues ranging from missile defence to frozen conflicts, following Moscow's request to be more involved in European security matters.

The two-day meeting in the French resort town of Deauville is partly aimed at alleviating Russian concerns over a missile defence shield to be endorsed by Nato at a summit next month, to which Mr Medvedev has also been invited.

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The Deauville meeting will be "a brainstorming exercise, certainly not a directorate of three," the Elysee has said, according to Le Figaro. "Russia is looking more and more to the West and Deauville should be an occasion to accomadate this positive evolution."

In 2003, the German, French and Russian leaders met in the same format to air criticism of the war on Iraq – an issue that divided leaders on the continent. The last meeting of the trio was in 2006 in Compiegne, where Ms Merkel met with former French president Jacques Chirac and the current Russian premier, Vladimir Putin.

Mr Sarkozy could be looking to the Deauville meeting to divert media attention from the prolongued strikes and public dissent over his pension reforms.

Meanwhile, in Berlin, Chancellor Merkel said that the main aim of the event is to "talk about possibilities of letting Russia and Nato co-operate better, because the time of the Cold War is over once and for all."

Moscow has until now fiercely opposed plans to deploy a US missile defence shield in Europe, arguing that it is aimed at Russia rather than so-called "rogue states" such as Iran or north Korea.

At a summit in Lisbon on 19-20 November Nato allies are set to endorse linking up existing European air defence systems to the US' current shield and to extend the invitation to Russia.

Mr Medvedev has been invited to Lisbon but has not responded yet. The French and German leaders will try to convince him that the new missile shield is not a revival of Cold-War-style anti-Russia tactics but part of a new "security architecture" from stretching Vancouver to Vladivostok, as the Nato secretary general recently put it.

The idea of a common security pact from Canada to Russia is one of Mr Medevedev's pet projects and is likely to come up again in Deauville. But no European country nor the US have come out in favour of a major new treaty with Moscow.

"We would like Russia and the EU to be able to take joint decisions," Vladimir Chizhov, Moscow's ambassador to the European Union, told the International Herald Tribune in an interview ahead of the Deauville meeting. "I don't expect to be sitting at every session of the [EU Council's] political and security committee, but there should be some mechanism that would enable us to take joint steps."

Ms Merkel and Mr Medvedev in June jointly proposed the establishment of a new entity - the EU-Russia Political and Security Committee. The new committee is to consist of the foreign ministers from the two sides and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

The frozen conflict in Transnistria, a Moldovan region, could be a focus for the special forum, the two leaders said at the time.

The EU's envoy to Moldova, Kalman Mizsei, recently said Russia must end its military mission in Transnistria and urged the EU and US to be fully engaged in negotiating a peace accord. The EU and US currently have observer status only in UN-mediated Transnistria peace talks.

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