First meeting European Political Community 'shows how isolated Russia and Belarus are'
Leaders of more than 40 European countries arrived at Prague Castle on Thursday afternoon for the first meeting of the European Political Community (EPG). Against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine, the new consultative forum has great symbolic significance. "This shows how isolated Russia and Belarus are," Belgian prime minister Alexander De Croo said on his arrival.
The inaugural meeting of the European Political Community brings to the Czech capital not only the heads of state and government of the 27 European Union member states, but also those of 17 other European countries: from the UK, Norway and Switzerland over Turkey to the countries of the Western Balkans and the Caucasus. Together, they want to reflect on strengthening stability and security on the old continent and discuss common challenges such as energy and migration.
"If you just look at who is here, you understand the importance. The whole European continent is here, except Russia and Belarus. This shows how isolated those two countries are," De Croo stressed.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz also pointed out that "those who are here today know that the Russian attack on Ukraine is a brutal violation of the security order as Europe has known it in recent decades".
However divergent the opinions and interests of the participants, even for French president Emmanuel Macron, the European Political Community "must first and foremost send a message of unity of our Europe" to the world. He had launched the idea of a broader consultation platform in May. While some feared another talking shop, or a devious ploy to stop further EU expansion, supporters argue the attendance proves the point.
"The mere fact that 44 countries have decided to participate is a positive sign," said European Council president Charles Michel.
The fact that countries like the UK, Iceland and Moldova have already expressed interest in hosting the next meeting of the European Political Community also proves the need for this formula, De Croo claimed. Macron himself expressed hope that the new club will meet twice a year.
"We share the same space, often the same history and we have to write our future together," the French president said. Scholz insisted on a loose structure. "It is not about creating a new institution with an administration and bureaucracy," he added.
© Joe Klamar / AFP - Participants pose for a family photo as they attend the European Summit in Prague, Czech Republic, on October 6, 2022. Leaders from over 40 countries meet in order to launch the "European Political Community".