The initiative succumbs for lack of a consensus that did materialize in the isolation of the Hungarian prime minister due to his homophobic law
A forward kick was sensed. And this is what ended up happening. The debate on Russia that occupied European leaders until the wee hours of Friday morning ended with the
prick of the Franco-German proposal to re-establish bilateral contacts at the highest level with the Kremlin. There will be no summit of European leaders with Vladimir Putin, at least in the medium term. The EU is not in a longer gear at the moment, although there will be new evaluations. That door will remain closed. Although the leaders invite the European Commission and the High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, to “develop concrete options” for a dialogue with Russia on issues in which there is interdependence or common interest.
Berlin and Paris thus saw their plan to go one step further and sit face to face with the Russian leader succumb (in a format similar to the historic Geneva rendezvous with Joe Biden and which, incidentally, was endorsed without critical voices by the EU itself). But neither Angela Merkel nor Emmanuel Macron found in their colleagues the
unanimous support reaction they needed to develop a strategy that, incidentally, they presented by surprise hours before the European Council. And that has already generated discomfort.
“It is not a kind of reward … Even during the Cold War there was a dialogue,” defended the German chancellor after the failure in Brussels. Although he insisted on the need to maintain a
“Open communication channel” with Moscow allowing a single voice. But both the Baltic countries like Poland and other Western countries like Sweden and even the Netherlands (whose Prime Minister Mark Rutte already clearly warned that he would not sit with Putin) made it clear that they were not going to give in. The differences on how to channel the relationship with Russia seemed very difficult to reach a consensus at the lowest moment of the bilateral relationship.
So the sanctions are maintained (and new ones are announced). And the five guiding principles as a guide. Or, what is the same, that “Moscow does its part to guarantee the full implementation of the Minsk Accords (the solution to the conflict with Belarus). We will explore
formats and conditionalities dialogue ”, stressed yesterday the President of the European Council, Charles Michel.
Where there was a greater consensus was in the rejection of the homophobic law of the Hungarian Parliament. Viktor Orban felt isolated, though he made no gesture to indicate that he might back down. In «debate
long, emotional and passionate»In which he only found some lukewarmness on the part of Poland and Slovenia, which will assume the presidency of the EU on July 1. “Most of us were very clear that the Hungarian law goes against our values,” stressed Ursula von der Leyen at the end of the Council.
Although the president of the European Commission did not want to delve into the ‘invitations’ that Orban received to leave the EU. Some direct, like the one Mark Rutte threw at him during the debate. And others more involving but easy to understand. “You cannot be a member of the EU if you do not respect and accept the values of the EU. Nobody forces anybody to be a member, we’ve all said that
we wanted to join and that we were in agreement with those values ”, defended the Portuguese Prime Minister, António Costa. “There are ten million good reasons for Hungary to remain part of the EU,” mediated, for its part, the German at his side.