On Thursday, leaders from Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and Turkey joined their EU counterparts for the maiden meeting of the “European Political Community,” demonstrating Russia’s isolation due to its conflict with its neighbor.
44 countries, ranging from the Caucasus in the southeast to Iceland in the northwest, gathered in the impressive Prague Castle complex.
French President Emmanuel Macron came up with the experimental format, which was marketed as “a platform for political collaboration.” Still, there weren’t many tangible results other than a picture of the gathered leaders.
It primarily communicates a message of togetherness, according to Macron.
First and foremost, the goal is to develop a shared understanding of the issue afflicting our continent of Europe.
The summit was dominated by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was not invited, since it concentrated on the economic and security unrest that his invasion of Ukraine had caused.
Alexander De Croo, the prime minister of Belgium, remarked, “If you only look at the attendance here, you realize the significance.”
“Except for Belarus and Russia, the whole continent of Europe is present. Thus, it demonstrates how far those two nations are.”
In a video link speech, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in charge of a counteroffensive against Russian soldiers, pleaded with Europe to punish Moscow and increase its armaments.
“I want you to make a simple choice right now. a choice on the direction our community should go. For our particular format, “said Zelensky.
“We, the European leaders, have the power to advance peace. Our political society in Europe has the potential to develop into a continent of peace.”
Moldova Next Host
Since some attendees were in serious disputes or open conflict, there was doubt about the event’s goal.
The next meeting would be held in Moldova, with Spain and the United Kingdom scheduled to follow, but leaders were willing to give it another go.
It was already a success for the project to get powerful nations outside of the EU to participate.
On one of her first journeys overseas after assuming office, British Prime Minister Liz Truss, a fervent backer of the UK’s independent course after Brexit, found some relief from a catastrophic start to her term at home.
As she concentrated on immigration, energy, and security, Truss—who has fought with Brussels over the post-Brexit arrangement on Northern Ireland—was careful to emphasize that the conference was not an “EU construct.”
To defeat Putin and address our problems, we must cooperate with our neighbors and friends, she told UK broadcasters.
This has nothing to do with becoming closer to Europe.
Most of the summit’s activity occurred in side discussions between leaders and colleagues.
Following their conversation, Truss referred to Macron as a “friend”—much nicer language than she used while claiming that the “jury is out” on the French president in her presidential candidacy.
The presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan met after their countries’ first clash last month, which resulted in the worst bloodshed since a 2020 war and 286 deaths. This meeting was even more contentious.
Despite their profound disdain for one another, Macron and EU leader Charles Michel met to discuss the language of a potential peace treaty.
In another contentious connection, Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and Magdalena Andersson, the departing prime minister of Sweden, claimed to have had an “excellent interaction” despite blocking Stockholm’s application to join NATO.
Greece and Cyprus, which have long-running conflicts with Ankara, and others who see Erdogan as being too dictatorial were among those who took issue with Erdogan’s attendance.
Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, and the Western Balkan countries, who are trying to join the EU, have welcomed the community project but were wary that it may serve as a substitute for membership.
Gitanas Nauseda, the president of Lithuania, remarked, “Please don’t regard (the) European political community as a replacement.”