Summit in Nice Proves We Can Work Together
- By Vasily Likachev
- Nov. 20 2008 00:00
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President Dmitry Medvedev's proposal for a new European security pact received particularly strong support at the Nice summit. French President Nicolas Sarkozy, European Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso, European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana and EU Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner supported the initiative despite attempts by members of the European Parliament and the Polish and Latvian governments to dissuade them.
An expanded meeting to discuss this proposal, which would include the EU, NATO, countries from the Commonwealth of Independent States and members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, has a good chance of being held in June or July. This will help push other security-related issues onto the agenda.
Economic and energy issues also received attention at the summit. Participants confirmed nine omnibus resolutions concerning talks on energy issues.
EU officials once again heard Medvedev give his unconditional guarantee that Russia would fulfill energy obligations to its European customers. This offers an important opportunity for strengthening EU-Russia integration. The most important thing is not to lose this chance, especially given the current crisis.
In commending both the EU and Russian efforts, however, we must be realists. Despite the progress achieved at the Nice summit, Russia and the EU cannot drastically improve their strategic cooperation overnight. This is because anti-Russian sentiment remains in the EU, and Poland and Latvia in particular will not soften their stances in the near future.
Many are waiting to see what concrete steps U.S. President-elect Barack Obama will initially take toward Russia.
The summit in Nice provided a positive start to rebuilding the EU-Russian partnership. The main goal now is to avoid losing ground. Moscow has no plan to take a step backward because we are advocates of a progressive foreign policy.
Vasily Likhachev, formerly Russia's ambassador and permanent representative to the European Union in Brussels, is the deputy chairman of the International Affairs Committee in the Federation Council.