Sign of unity against Putin: heads of government meet at mega-summit in Prague

Dozens of European countries come together for the first time in this round.

Sign of unity against Putin: heads of government meet at mega-summit in Prague

Dozens of European countries come together for the first time in this round. The European Political Community wants to discuss economic and political issues. Above all, it is about sending a signal in the Russia conflict and a sign of cohesion to Moscow.

More than 40 European heads of state and government are taking part in the founding summit of the European Political Community in Prague. The XXL summit is intended to send a sign of unity to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Who comes to the summit?

The heads of state and government of up to 44 countries gather at Prague Castle: in addition to the 27 EU countries, these include the accession candidates Ukraine and Moldova. Prime Minister Denys Schmyhal is expected in Prague for Ukraine, and President Volodymyr Zelenskyj will be added. The Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the leaders of the six Western Balkan countries and the British Prime Minister Liz Truss have also confirmed. Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) will represent Germany. The warring Caucasus republics of Armenia and Azerbaijan are also there, as are Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Council President Charles Michel are in Prague for the EU institutions.

What is the aim of the summit?

"In view of the dramatic consequences of Russia's war for European countries in many areas, we are establishing the European Political Community with the aim of bringing countries on the European continent together and providing a platform for political coordination," reads the invitation letter from EU Council President Michel. Europe cannot be divided - this is the message that should come from the summit.

Who came up with the idea?

The new forum goes back to Emmanuel Macron. In a speech in Strasbourg at the beginning of May, the French President said that in view of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, "a new space for political cooperation, security and cooperation" is at stake. The European Political Community should include all democratic countries "that are committed to our fundamental values," stressed Macron.

What are the topics?

The focus is on the security situation in Europe in the Russian war of aggression and continued support for Ukraine. Macron also wants to address the critical infrastructure after the suspected sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines. In view of the extensive Russian gas supply stop, it is also about the energy supply.

How is the summit going?

The meeting at Prague Castle begins with a plenary session. This is followed by working rounds on topics such as security and energy supply. Chancellor Scholz takes part in a round table on "Energy and climate and the economic situation". Then there is time for bilateral encounters. After a dinner of heads of state and government, press conferences are planned.

What are the expectations of the forum?

Proponents speak of a "historic" opportunity to gather all European actors except Russia and Belarus. They consider organizations such as the Strasbourg Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) no longer powerful enough in view of the war.

What criticism is there?

Some fear the new forum will be some kind of extended waiting room to put off EU aspirants like Ukraine, which will likely take decades to join. The participation of authoritarian heads of state like Ilham Aliyev from Azerbaijan also raises questions. There are also risks in the conflicts between some of the countries involved: the meeting of Turkish President Erdogan with Greeks and Cypriots after military threats in the Mediterranean region is considered delicate. The meeting with Erdogan is also delicate for Swedes and Finns: They are dependent on the favor of the NATO member country Turkey because of their aspired NATO membership.

Is the summit a one-off event?

No, the heads of state and government of the 44 countries are to meet "once or twice a year", according to an EU official. British Prime Minister Truss has agreed to host the next summit.

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