Thursday

19th Sep 2019

Spats over who gets to go to EU summit break out in Poland, Finland

  • EU leaders to meet in Brussels on Monday 1 September (Photo: Council of the European Union)

The emergency European summit called to tackle the Georgian crisis and forge a common European position on the issue is itself causing divisions - but over who gets to go to the extraordinary meeting of EU leaders.

The Polish prime minister and president are scrapping over who gets to attend the meeting, while the decision by the Finnish president to go has pushed aside the country's foreign minister, Alexander Stubb, who is also the current chair of the Organisation of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

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

Meanwhile, in the Czech Republic, although there is no tussle over who gets to attend, President Vaclav Klaus nonetheless has an opposing view to his prime minister, Mirek Topolánek, as to who is responsible for the Georgian conflict.

Conservative Polish president Lech Kaczynski has demanded he be the one to head to Brussels for the summit, rather than the more liberal prime minister, Donald Tusk.

Speaking on Polish radio, the president's aide, Piotr Kownacki, on Thursday (28 August) said: " If the president is in the Polish delegation, it is obvious that he lead it due to his office," according to AFP.

The previous day, the deputy prime minister, Grzegorz Schetyna, had said that if the president attended, it "was not going to help matters," the French news agency also reported.

Moreover, the two leaders have a slightly differing perspective on the crisis. The president has attacked the peace plan between Russia and Georgia negotiated by French President Nicholas Sarkozy for making no mention of Georgia's right to territorial integrity.

Mr Tusk, for his part, has not criticised the plan, although he hopes to see a strong position taken by the EU on Russia's actions.

Messrs Tusk and Kaczynski are to meet on Friday to attempt to resolve the disagreement.

Over in Finland, President Tarja Halonen has announced she is to attend the summit, meaning that foreign minister Alexander Stubb would have to wait outside while the president and prime minister talk with other EU leaders.

The bumping of the foreign minister this time is causing a bit of a headache for the delegation, as Mr Stubb is also the current chairperson of the Organisation of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), with which the EU has been closely working on the Georgian crisis. The foreign minister and former MEP also played a key role in the negotiation of the Sarkozy peace plan as chair of the OSCE.

President Halonen's chief of staff said on Wednesday that the "starting point" is that the OSCE chairperson will attend and that Finland would have a third seat in the meeting, instead of the normal two, the Helsingin Sanomat reported.

However, Brussels officials have all said that a third seat is "impossible", according to the Finnish daily.

Mr Stubb may yet be invited to attend separately in his capacity as OSCE chair, but in which case, he would only be able to participate for the length of his presentation.

Elsewhere, although Czech President Vaclav Klaus has been invited, he will not be heading to the summit, with prime minister Mirek Topolánek attending instead, alongside the foreign minister, Karel Schwarzenberg.

The Czech leaders have diametrically opposed views on the conflict, with President Klaus of the opinion that Georgia is responsible for starting the war, while the prime minister blames Russia.

Mr Schwarzenberg said that such differences are nothing unusual in the government of a democratic state. The main thing, he said, is that it is the government that determines foreign policy, reports the Prague Post.

Defending the 'European way of life' name splits MEPs

European People's Party group leader Manfred Weber defended Ursula von der Leyen's decision to rename a commission portfolio, partly dealing with migration, "protecting the European way of life". He said it means rescuing people in the Mediterranean.

Hungary claims EU 'witch-hunt' over rule of law hearing

Hungary was quizzed by EU ministers over its domestic crackdown on media, judges, academia and NGOs. Hungary's minister responded by saying the country had defended "the European way of life" for centuries, and it should be respected.

EU divided on how to protect rule of law

Poland and Hungary have argued that rule of law is purely a domestic matter and the EU should respect legal traditions, but Dutch foreign minister warned backsliding was a worry for all.

Catalonia celebrates national day ahead of trial verdicts

Catalonia celebrated on Wednesday its national day - while awaiting the trial verdict on 12 Catalan separatists, former politicians of Carles Puigdemont's government. That decision is expected for early October.

News in Brief

  1. Austria to veto EU trade deal with South America
  2. Brexit minister asks EU for 'flexibility' to secure a deal
  3. Kovesi has 'sufficient majority' for prosecutor post
  4. France, Finland give UK ultimatum for Brexit plan
  5. Minsk talks bode ill for EU's peace summit on Ukraine
  6. Poll: Poland's nationalist rulers to win October election
  7. Irish lawyers clash with EU commission in Apple case
  8. NGOs take aim at EU smartphone pollution

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  2. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  6. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  8. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  9. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  10. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  11. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat

Latest News

  1. Malta PM accused of 'blackmail' over slain reporter
  2. Diplomats back Romania's Kovesi for EU top prosecutor
  3. Brexit raises questions for EU defence integration
  4. Low-carbon cities can unlock €21tn by 2050, report finds
  5. France, Italy want 'automatic' distribution of migrants
  6. Europe's refugee policy is test of its true 'way of life'
  7. A new Commission for the one percent
  8. Juncker: No-deal Brexit 'palpable'

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

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us