EU, NATO suspicious of France, Germany and Russia

BEIJING– The trilateral summit which brought together France, Germany and Russia in the French city of Deauville from October 18 to 19 has aroused suspicion among European Union (EU) and NATO members.

The nations’ leaders held discussions on security relations and the global economy prior to next the G20 Summit next month in Seoul, South Korea as well as the NATO alliance and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. Iran’s nuclear program and energy issues were also on agenda.

According to the Telegraph, the German and French leaders were said to have reassured Britain and the European Union – neither of whom were invited – that the summit was merely a “brainstorming session” revolving around serious issues like security and economic partnership.

Since NATO is going to unveil its new security concept next month at its summit in Lisbon, Portugal, the French and German leaders succeeded in persuading Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to lend his support. In particular, they hope to reach common ground over NATO’s European missile defense plan, which Moscow sees as a potential threat.

Moscow is asking for regular participation in the European Union committee that is responsible for setting the bloc’s foreign policy. Most European NATO members and the United States viewed Medvedev’s proposal for such a treaty with suspicion because it was seen as an attempt to gain veto power over NATO actions in Europe.

“We would like Russia and the E.U. to be able to take joint decisions,” Vladimir Chizhov, Moscow’s ambassador to the European Union told reporters.

The summit can be a sign of the EU’s attempt to reboot its relations with Russia. On the other hand, it also means that Moscow is giving new priority to improving ties with the EU as it is the first meeting of the kind in a five-year period. According to sources close to President Medvedev’s administration, he is planning to use this trilateral format to advance Russia’s interest not only in Europe but in other blocks in the world.

NATO’s member, Turkey, which plays a very important role in the Islamic world, has started drifting away from the alliance and the EU. Turkey is developing cooperation and strengthening ties with China and Iran, as well as Russia, while its interaction with Israel and the US is slowing down. If one recalls Turkey’s location on the world map, it is obvious that the EU needs Turkey’s stable support to protect itself on its eastern flank.

Russia has increased its cooperation with Venezuela, whose President Hugo Chavez visited Moscow recently. Venezuela, in its turn, is closely interacting with Iran. Russia, Venezuela and Iran are oil producing countries and important players in the oil market and can influence the prices of the “black gold.”

President Medevedev’s recent visit to China had a positive impact on the relations with this country too. And China’s active foreign policy and its role on the world arena can not be underestimated. One should simply recall Premier Wen Jiabao’ recent visits to the EU and Turkey, as well Sino-Turkey military drills that made many countries, including the US, nervous.

But keeping in mind the very difficult relation between the EU and the above mentioned countries, as well as their failed attempts to conduct a productive dialogue, Russia can become the only mediator for them in the created circumstances.

*Anna Varfolomeeva is an international reporter at M4 Media

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