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Europe's leaders meet in support of Ukraine

October 6, 2022

UK Prime Minister Liz Truss is one of several non-EU leaders in Prague to launch a "European Political Community." The bloc aims to enhance ties with non-member states — and show a unified front against Russia.

Sweden's Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, Germany's Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Latvia's Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins and Slovenia's Prime Minister Robert Golob attend the Informal EU 27 Summit and Meeting within the European Political Community in Prague
The summit in Prague has underlined Russia's isolation in Europe even amid internal tensionsImage: Leonhard Foeger/REUTERS

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz arrived in the Czech Republic on Thursday where he joined other leaders for the inaugural meeting of the "European Political Community."

"Those who are meeting here know that the Russian attack on Ukraine is a brutal violation of the security and peace order that we have had in Europe over the last decades," German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said.

"It is important that we reject this attack, that we do not accept that part of the neighboring country is annexed," he added.

The heads of state and government of more than 40 countries that support Ukraine over its attempts to fend off Russia's invasion attended the event at the historic Prague Castle. 

Many of the participants — including all EU member states, as well as Ukraine, the United Kingdom, Turkey, the Western Balkan states and the Caucasus republics of Armenia and Azerbaijan — are keen on sending a signal of unity to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

However, Armenia's increasing dependence on Moscow for security support means the landlocked country is unlikely to be outspoken on the issue.

Scholz said the European Political Community forum was "not about creating a new institution with administration, bureaucracy," as the real value is "talking to each other in a very concrete way."

The head of the Ukrainian government, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, is set to represent Kyiv in Prague, with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to attend via video link.

In addition to Russia's war in Ukraine, other topics on the agenda were related to security, energy and climate change. European leaders also discussed ways to improve cooperation among their nations, including beyond the borders of the European Union. 

Thursday's talks will be followed by bilateral meetings.

44-nation European Political Community meets

Truss offers EU hope over Brexit plans

British Prime Minister Liz Truss was to discuss migration with the leaders of France and the Netherlands, her Foreign Office said in a statement.

After an acrimonious divorce from the EU and years of bickering, Britain's government, with its recently installed leader, is striking a softer tone than it did under Truss's predecessor Boris Johnson.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said Britain was looking at the new grouping "with an open mind," he said at the governing Conservative Party's annual conference this week. And the European Political Community shows "there is more to Europe than the EU," he added.

Truss: 'I have three priorities for our economy: growth, growth and growth'

Efforts to resolve Armenia and Azerbaijan stand-off

The leaders of both Armenia and Azerbaijan attended the summit in Prague, and met together with European Council President Charles Michel and French President Emmanuel Macron.

The French president confirmed the meeting on Twitter, saying "a durable peace in the Caucasus" was needed.

The ex-Soviet republics have been at loggerheads for decades over control of the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. In 2020, fighting flared up and both have recently accused each other of breaking a cease-fire between the warring nations.

After Thursday's meeting, the French government issued a statement saying the EU would be sending a mission to Armenia to help delineate its borders with Azerbaijan.

The leaders of Turkey and Armenia also met for the first time since agreeing last year to improve relations after decades of bitterness.

The two countries have no formal diplomatic ties. However, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said following a meeting with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan that he "sincerely believes" the two countries will achieve full normalization of ties based on "good neighborly relations."

Macron: 44 European countries showed support for Ukraine

French President Emmanuel Macron, who was the one to originally propose the establishment of the European Political Community, said that the forum "displayed the unity of 44 European countries."

He added that all the countries present "clearly expressed their condemnation of Russia's war and their support for Ukraine."

France's president also said that European countries would send Ukraine additional military equipment, including French Caesar-type howitzers.

jsi,sdi/nm (AFP, dpa, AP)