As part of a reset strategy in a controversial bid that threatens to divide the EU, France and Germany have this week tried to persuade the 27 leaders to revive and relaunch regular meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
French President Emmanuel Macron said the stability of Europe required a dialogue with Russia, stating that an engagement with Putin is necessary for the stability of the European continent. But he also conceded that:
“it will be demanding because we will not give up any of our values.”
Mr Macron’s statement came shortly after he arrived in Brussels for an EU summit aimed at discussing the major challenges confronting the bloc, including the global pandemic, economic recovery and external relations.
A day before the summit, Berlin and Paris put forward a last-minute proposal for the bloc to contemplate the idea of a potential summit with Putin in the wake of US President Joe Biden’s meeting with him in Geneva last week.
Ahead of the summit, Chancellor Angela Merkel told the German parliament:
“In my opinion, we as the European Union must also seek direct contact with Russia and the Russian president. It is not enough for the American president to talk to the Russian president, we too must also create different formats for talks”.
The EU has not held a summit with Putin since the 2014 annexation of Crimea and has imposed several layers of sanctions on Russia.
Responding to the Franco-German proposal, the Kremlin said Mr Putin would probably be “a supporter” of the initiative.