Merkel and Macron routed: EU opposes Putin meeting
In an effort to underline the EU's independence in foreign policy after the Biden-Putin summit, Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron proposed holding a meeting with Russia shortly before the EU summit last week. However, the initiative failed mainly due to opposition from Poland and the Baltic states. Other member states also felt they were being pressured into something they didn't want.
A bad sign
The proposal highlights the fact that foreign policy doesn't work in the EU, Handelsblatt criticises:
“Even the two most powerful politicians in Europe can't force their colleagues from the East to sit at the same table with Vladimir Putin. ... The fact that they are now also openly arguing with each other over Russia is a bad sign. Merkel and Macron could have avoided this with a few phone calls. Instead, after the EU summit, Merkel acted as if it was only a matter of time before the other heads of state and government would be persuaded to meet Putin. This attitude makes reaching an agreement difficult.”
The East does not want to be bypassed
Neue Zürcher Zeitung explains that the northeastern countries of the EU were bound to be against the idea:
“The hawks in the East, especially the Balts and the Poles, and countries such as Italy, Greece, but also Austria and Hungary, are worlds apart. The former consider Russia an existential threat, the latter associate it primarily with economic opportunities. ... So the EU will hardly be capable of taking action on Russia in the long term. This is lamentable. But some Eastern European countries take a different view: they see Ms Merkel's defeat as reassuring. This may be exaggerated, but it is somehow comprehensible for historical reasons: these countries fear Berlin and Moscow achieving rapprochement over their heads.”
Exaggerated fear of the "Russian bear"
The Baltic countries should reconsider their stance, writes Naftemporiki:
“After all, the Baltic countries, which seem to be at the forefront of the 'cold war' against Russia, display certain behaviours that don't correspond to the European values to which they committed themselves. In the Baltic countries, the SS battalions are officially honoured while the Russian minority faces problems and discrimination. ... Just as Stalinist oppression cannot justify the Axis alliance and the widespread anti-Semitism in these countries during the Second World War, the current fear of the 'Russian bear' cannot justify the attempt to undermine a European rapprochement with Russia.”
Pro-Anglo-Saxon faction dividing the EU
Ria Novosti sees the lack of consensus as a sign of the EU's weakness:
“Berlin was convinced of its power and its ability to push through a decision, especially after the UK's exit: if Berlin and Paris teamed up, who would be able to oppose them? Only stubborn Orbán, if anyone. But as it turns out, the pro-American and pro-Anglo-Saxon faction in the EU is resisting the will of the Franco-German alliance. And in doing so it is robbing the EU not only of its courage, but also of its autonomy, freedom of action and strategic plans. It is thus doing what Russia is always accused of: splitting up the EU.”