EU leaders are meeting in Brussels to choose the next EU foreign policy chief and Council president, but the crisis in Ukraine also demands their attention. For their part, EU foreign ministers meeting in Milan, informal Gymnich meeting, on Friday and today discuss Ukraine, how to deal with Russia in the future and whether to impose further economic sanctions on Russia. The Gymnich is important meeting because it´s an opportunity for occasion for Ministers to think about the longer term in the most strategic way.
Russia´s aggression against Ukraine has let to Russia´s international isolation, including its suspension from WTO, G8 (now G7) and suspension of all practical cooperation both with EU and NATO. Its fundamental causes are to be found in Russia´s foreign policy. At the sometime EU is helping Ukraine to cope with the economic effects of the crisis. The Commission has also set up a support group to ensure that the Ukrainian authorities have all the assistance they need to carry out the political and economic reforms necessary to stabilise the country. Yesterday IMF decided a new disbursement of its support program to Ukraine.
While the security situation is the primary concern of the Ukrainian authorities, the reform process is encouraging in light of the implementation problems that derailed previous programs and thus augurs well for the authorities ability to keep the grogram on track. Only a politically stable, economically viable Ukraine can ensure and consolidate its own independence.
Respecting the sovereignty of national borders is vital to reserve peace. In the meantime, more international assistance is needed to address the humanitarian situation, but it must be done in coordination with the Ukrainian authorities, in full respect of international humanitarian principles but also in full respect of Ukraine´s sovereignty.
This afternoon the European Council will also address these developments in Ukraine and Russia´s recent “invasion”. Very good occasion for President Proshenko to address the European Council.
President Poroshenko´s visit today in Brussels is and important symbol of the European Union´s continuing support for Ukraine.
Russia´s dismembering of Ukraine has also caused alarm in Finland and Sweden. The two Nordic countries, which have stayed out of Nato in order to not to antagonise Russia, said this week they will sign host nation agreements with the alliance to enable it to station troops on their territory. We have all a stake in defending the international norms and principles that Russia is blatantly disregarding.
As Ukraine says Russian invasion has begun,Nato has on 29 August said Ukraine is also free to seek membership in the alliance despite russian opposition, as EU minister discuss extra sanctions on Russia.
Russian officials claim the US and German officials promised in 1990 that Nato would not expand into Eastern and Central Europe or build military infrastructure near Russia´s borders. NATO has fulfilled the terms of Article 10 of the North Atlantic Treaty which states that “Allies may, by unanimous agreement, invite any other European State in a position to further the principle s of this Treaty and to contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area to accede to this Treaty”.
As the London Declaration of 1990 makes clear: “We need to keep standing together, to extend the long peace we have enjoyed these past four decades”, Upholding the values that have always guided the peace in Europe.
Nato and EU enlargement has helped the nations of Central and Eastern Europe. These efforts have moved Europe closer to being whole, free, and at peace than at any other time in history. Russia also subscribe to this vision in the Founding Act as well as other documents. It committed to “creating in Europe a common peace of security and stability, without dividing lines or spheres of influence and to respect for sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all states and their inherent right to choose the means to ensure their own security”.
Contrary to those commitment, Russia now appears to be attempting to recreate a sphere of influence by seizing a part of Ukraine, maintaining thousands of forces on its borders. This is simply not the way that responsible, proud nations should behave in the 21st century.
It is clear that there is no military solution to this crisis, but if Russia continues its escalation of conflict in Ukraine “we may reach point of no return. .. we should do everything we have in our capacity to avoid an escalation. That would certainly be detrimental to the interests, first of all, of Ukraine but certainly also of Russia and of Europe as a whole.” said President Barroso in Statement 30 August 2014 following President Barroso´s meeting with President Poroshenko of Ukraine in Brussels (EUCO).
At this point, calls for de-escalation, or for negotiations play right into Putins´s hands.
European Union urge Russia to change course. No one´s interest is served by new wars on European continent. Russia should not underestimate the European Union´s will and resolve to stand by its principles and values.
About the recent aggression against Ukraine by regular Russian military forces – Nato on Thursday released fresh satellite images of Russian mobile artillery and other units on the move inside its neighbour.
Outcome – of todays European Council meeting:
- The European Council has elected Polish PM Donald Tusk as the next President of the European Council.
- The European Council has appointed Italy´s FM Federica Mogherini as the next EU High Representative.