A European Union summit in Finland is looking increasingly like a Russia-EU summit. President Vladimir Putin is invited to a three-hour dinner this Friday with the leaders of the soon-to-be 27-nation bloc. With this many present, the European Commission and current presidency Finland will speak for the EU. They are urging unity in the discussions.
Some members of the European Parliament are calling for a tough stance. One high priority is dealings over energy. The EU is seeking to persuade Russia to ratify an international charter governing transit, investment and market competition. Moscow is holding out.
International relations analyst Hiski Haukkala suggests a kind of impotence in Europe’s managing of bilateral affairs. He said: “There is in a way a mutual interdependency between the European Union and Russia. However, I think one could actually think that perhaps this kind of a more symmetrical dependency between these two countries would give the European Union more leverage and actually influencing the situation in Russia, and this has not happened, and this is where the European Union has to a certain extent failed in its Russian policy.”
The context is one of growing worldwide energy demand and EU worries about Russian intentions. Other possible topics in Lahti include problems in Moscow-Tbilisi relations, the Middle East, Iran and North Korea, and media freedoms in Russia against a backdrop there of murdered journalists critical of their government.