| 2 December 2022, Friday |

Europe’s new club meets without Russia

In a rare and symbolic meeting of 44 European countries – but not Russia – the European Union and its neighbors from Britain to Turkey convened on Thursday to discuss common security and energy challenges resulting from Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

The meeting in Prague is the maiden summit of the European Political Community (EPC), a framework devised by French President Emmanuel Macron that brings together the 27 European Union members as well as 17 additional European nations.

Some are waiting to join the bloc, while Britain is the only one that has ever left.

“All those assembled here know: Russia’s aggression on Ukraine is a cruel breach of the peace and security order that we have enjoyed in Europe for decades,” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz stated.

“We reject the annexed territory of a neighboring nation.”

His remarks were repeated by Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo and top EU ambassador Josep Borrell.

British Prime Minister Liz Truss, after meeting the summit’s host, Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala, stressed their “strong agreement on the importance of likeminded European democracies presenting a united front against Putin’s brutality”.

Her decision to attend the summit left some hoping for a warmer tone between the EU and London after Brexit, where the two are still in disagreement over trade issues around Northern Ireland.

The gathering at the sprawling Prague Castle is seen by its advocates as a grand show of solidarity for a continent mired in multiple crises from the security fallout of Russia’s war in Ukraine to dire economic consequences including an acute energy crunch.

Macron said his priority was to build more electricity connections in Europe, and lower gas prices.

“We share a same space. Very often, the same history. And we are meant to write our future together,” he said. “I hope we will be able to get common projects.”

  • Reuters