Les dirigeants de l'Union européenne n'ont pas réussi à se mettre d'accord sur une proposition de la France et de l'Allemagne de tenir bientôt un sommet avec le président russe Vladimir Poutine après que la Pologne et les pays baltes ont déclaré que cela enverrait un mauvais message alors que les relations Est-Ouest se détériorent. </p><div> <p>Après que le président américain Joe Biden a rencontré le président russe Vladimir Poutine à Genève le 16 juin, le président français Emmanuel Macron a déclaré que le premier sommet de l'UE avec Poutine depuis janvier 2014 serait « un dialogue pour défendre nos intérêts ». Il a insisté sur le fait que l'UE ne pouvait pas seulement être réactive dans sa diplomatie avec la Russie.
But after late-night talks at their meeting in Brussels, the 27 EU leaders failed to reach an agreement, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Friday.
“It was a very full discussion, and not easy,” she told reporters. “There was no agreement today on an immediate meeting of the leaders,” she said.
EU summits with Russia ended after Moscow annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in March 2014 and the West imposed sanctions.
While Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said he was in favor of the Franco-German proposal, many other leaders opposed it.
“It was a common position of many leaders” not to change the position on Russia, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said after the meeting. He said earlier that the idea was like “trying to hire the bear to keep a jar of honey safe.”
Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins said the EU risks rewarding Russia with a summit even though diplomacy has failed to end the conflict in eastern Ukraine with Russian-backed separatists.
Instead, EU leaders have reverted to a familiar stance of warning of further sanctions against Moscow if it pursues what the EU says is a Russian policy of disinformation, cyber and covert attacks, and interference in an attempt to divide the bloc.
Russia denies any wrongdoing.
In a summit statement, the leaders called on the European Commission and senior EU diplomat Josep Borrell “to present options for further restrictive measures, including economic sanctions” against Russia.
The EU imposes sanctions on the Russian energy, finance and arms sectors and individual sanctions on Russians accused of human rights violations and the use of banned chemical weapons.
Diplomats say new sanctions could target Russian money laundering or powerful oligarchs suspected of serious corruption abroad, as non-EU Britain first did in April.
Macron had tried in September 2019 to seek less frosty relations with Putin, without success, and the outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel met Putin in Moscow in January 2020. Putin had a telephone interview with the President of the European Council Charles Michel, who chairs EU summits in June. 7 this year.
France and Germany want to be able to work with Russia on the fight against climate change and find ways to stabilize relations. Merkel said even without a summit: “Formats will be explored… under which dialogues can be launched. “
Many EU countries fear the Kremlin will not take the bloc seriously, after Borrell was publicly humiliated in February by the Kremlin. Russia expelled diplomats from the EU during Borrell’s visit to Moscow without warning.
Lithuanian Nauseda said: “We have to be extremely careful, it is not like Russia’s relations with the United States”.
While France is a nuclear power, the EU relies on NATO for its territorial defense and makes decisions between 27 states, making it easier for the Kremlin to exploit divisions.
The Kremlin had previously hailed the idea of a summit, saying Brussels and Moscow needed a dialogue, although Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he wanted more details.
In deadlock in Ukraine and Belarus, and at disagreement over human rights, the EU and Russia accuse each other of threatening security and stability from the Baltic to the Black Sea.
The EU on Thursday imposed economic sanctions on Belarus, a Russian ally the Kremlin sees as a buffer state between Russia and NATO.
From Brussels shortly before the start of the summit, FRANCE 24’s Dave Keating said there had been a “very mixed reaction” within the bloc to the proposal. “A lot of European leaders are very angry with this proposal,” he explained. “Many think it is pretentious for the French and German leaders to think that they could meet Putin and speak for the whole EU … countries think that this meeting should not take place at all, in particular the states Baltic States – Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania – and Poland.
In their remarks to reporters ahead of the summit, a number of European leaders expressed doubts about the initiative, Keating said. “The Estonian Prime Minister [Kaja Kallas] entering the summit building, said she wanted to hear from France and Germany what exactly has changed in terms of Russia’s behavior to justify this suggested opening of the dialogue. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte also said that if Merkel and Macron wanted to meet with Putin, he would not object, but he himself would never meet with Putin. When asked why, he replied: “one word: MH17” – it was the Dutch passenger airliner that was shot down over eastern Ukraine by Russian separatists in 2014, ”Keating explained.
Standing firm and engaging
The Merkel-Macron plan insists the EU must stand firm and united with Moscow, but should seek to engage with the Kremlin on issues of mutual concern such as climate change, health, the deal Iran nuclear power and the conflicts in Syria and Libya.
<div data-wrapper-video-player="" data-show-hidden-video-player="WBMZ88161-F24-EN-20210624"> <div class="m-em-video"> <p>Le reportage de Theo Merz de FRANCE 24 depuis Moscou
(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS, AFP)