Formats other than EU-Russia summit will be explored: German Chancellor Angela Merkel

Leaders from the European Union failed to agree on a proposal led by France and Germany to hold a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Baltic countries along with Poland opposed the move saying it would send the wrong message.

French President Emmanuel Macron had wanted a EU summit with Putin saying a “a dialogue to defend our interests” is necessary and that instead of a reactive approach in its diplomacy with Russia, a proactive one would be more fruitful.

Early on Friday, following late night talks leaders from the 27 EU states failed to reach an agreement, said German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

“It was a very comprehensive discussion, and not an easy one,” said Merkel. “There was no agreement today on an immediate leaders’ meeting”.

Following Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March 2014, EU ended its summit with Russia with the West imposing sanctions on Moscow.

Austria’s Chancellor Sebastian Kurz was supportive of the the Franco-German proposal, other leaders however were opposed to it.

“It was a common position of many leaders” not to change the stance on Russia, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said after the meeting. He said the proposal was akin to “trying to engage the bear to keep a pot of honey safe”.

Latvia’s Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins opined that the EU risked rewarding Russia with a summit despite diplomatic failures to end the conflict in eastern Ukraine with Russian-backed separatists.

The European Union has imposed sanctions on Russia on its energy, financial and arms sectors; it has also imposed sanctions on Russian individuals accused of human rights abuses and for using banned chemical weapons.

Diplomats opine, further sanctions could be imposed on Russian money laundering institutions or powerful oligarchs suspected of serious corruption abroad. Earlier this year in April, Britain adopted this strategy for the first time.

France and Germany want a working relation with Russia in order to combat climate change and to find means to stabilize the relationship.

Even without a summit, “Formats will be explored … under which dialogues can be started”, said Merkel.

Earlier the Kremlin had welcomed the idea of a summit, saying both Brussels and Moscow needed dialogue; Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he wanted more details.

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