German Chancellor Angela Merkel insisted on Friday (June 25) that the EU should be able to talk to Russian leader Vladimir Putin, after other EU leaders blocked her from pushing for the summit.
Merkel said at a press conference after the EU talks in Brussels: “The President of the United States had serious talks with Vladimir Putin. I don’t think this is a reward for the Russian president.”
“In my opinion, a sovereign EU should also be able to represent the EU’s interests in similar dialogues.”
Germany and France proposed to restart negotiations between Putin and the European Union, which disturbed prudent EU counterparts—especially those of neighboring Russia—that have been frozen since Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.
The leaders rejected this push during the late-night quarrel in Brussels. Opponents believed that in the face of Moscow’s continued aggression, this might send the wrong message to Putin.
Polish Prime Minister Mateus Morawiecki said: “We think it’s too early. Now it will be a reward for the Russian President and his politics. Unfortunately, it is an aggressive policy. Provoking neighboring countries and various attacks.
Italy’s Mario Draghi, who supported all EU leaders’ meetings with Putin, said the proposal was “a bit unexpected” and disturbed the countries most worried about Moscow.
He said that the EU “basically shelved this idea, at least for now.”
The Kremlin expressed its “regret” over the EU’s decision to refuse negotiations, and insisted that Putin “remains interested in establishing a working relationship between Moscow and Brussels.”