N. Peter Kramer’s Weekly Column
According to the Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala Europe needed space and time for an informal exchange of ideas. He called the first European Political Community meeting last week a success. 43 European leaders, among them the leaders of the EU member states, were present in Prague. ‘The fact that all European leaders spent a day together in one place and that dozens of bilateral meetings took place, is a benefit’, said Petr Fiala.
Initially the concept of a European Political Community, an idea of French President Emmanuel Macron, triggered doubts from EU candidate states, who were afraid that the EPC could be considered an alternative to EU membership. There was also decided that the formula will not be institutionalised and that no formal conclusions and declarations would be written.
Although the Czech Prime Minister emphasised that the meeting had ‘nothing to do with the EU itself’, but EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and EU Council President Charles Michel were prominently present and played a role. And on request of British Prime Minister Liz Truss, who also joined the meeting, EU flags were stroked.
A dissonant of the meeting was that during a dinner Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis had a spat. Erdogan recently triggered strong reactions in Athens when he called on Greece to stop ‘militarising’ Greek islands neighbouring Turkey; otherwise Turkish military forces could come ‘at night’! Asked if this means Turkey may attack Greece, Erdogan replied : ‘You got it right’.
President Macon had been keen to stress during the day that the EPC would send a message of unity. At the end of the meeting that did not happen…