Eastern Partnership Prague summit without EU leaders - press


09.04.2014 09:27

Prague - The leaders of the European Union will not take part in the Eastern Partnership summit that will be held in Prague on April 24-25, daily Lidove noviny (LN) writes today.


Předseda Evropské komise José Barroso. ČTK/AP Virginia Mayo

Czech Presidential Office spokesman Jiri Ovcacek confirmed to the paper that neither European Commission President Jose Barroso nor European Council President Herman Van Rompuy will attend the summit.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton will not come to Prague either, LN writes.

Ovcacek said the Presidential Office was negotiating about the participation of an EC representative.

Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek said he can understand the absence of EU´s top representatives because the EU has recently been permanently meeting over the dramatic developments in Ukraine.

Former Czech foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg told LN that it is very unfortunate that Brussels does not consider the Prague meeting important.

The representatives of six post-Soviet republics (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine) will talk mostly with the partners from Central and Eastern Europe, the paper writes.

Given the developments in the country, the participation of the Ukrainian representative is unsure, it adds.

Apart from the host, Czech President Milos Zeman, only Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski has confirmed his participation so far, LN writes.

Van Rompuy plans to visit Prague one week after the summit, on April 30, to attend the celebration of 10 years of Czech entry to the EU.

On the same date as the summit, the Foreign Ministry organises a conference on the future of the Eastern Partnership, in which diplomats, academics and experts from NGOs would take part.

According to unofficial information, the EU leaders decided not to come to Prague for several reasons.

First, the Eastern Partnership summit was not coordinated with them. Second, Zeman has not officially withdrawn his invitation for former Ukraine´s president Viktor Yanukovych.

And last but not least, the EU leaders will not come because Brussels does not know how to deal with the Eastern Partnership project now that Russian soldiers are gathering on the border with Ukraine, and Ukraine´s eastern provinces are under pressure from pro-Russian radicals and the key EU players, at least German and French foreign ministers, will not be present in Prague, the paper writes.

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