With the exception of Russia and Belarus, all European countries belong to the European Political Community (EPG). The second summit in Moldova is again about solidarity with Ukraine. Bernd Riegert from Chisinau.
Presidential meeting before the EPG summit: Ursula von der Leyen (EU Commission) and Maia Sandu (Moldova)
The meeting of 47 heads of state and government at the Castel Mimi winery is something particularly exciting for the Republic of Moldova: The summit meeting is not only the biggest logistical challenge that the small state between Romania and the Ukraine ever experienced. For one day, it also puts the spotlight on the second poorest country in Europe, which has been a candidate for membership of the European Union since last year.
Moldova combines all the political problems that the heads of the “European Political Community” founded in 2022 have to deal with. The government in the capital Chisinau fears that if Ukraine is defeated by Russia it will be the next target of Russian aggression. A part of the country that is loyal to Russia, Transnistria, declared its independence from Moldova 30 years ago and has been occupied by Russian “peacekeeping troops” ever since. Despite this “frozen” conflict, the EU has agreed to accept Moldova along with Ukraine – eventually.
< p>Pro-European demonstration in Chisinau (05/21/2023) organized by the government. But the pro-Russian opposition is strong and demonstrated a few weeks earlier.
Community against Russia
These are exactly the topics at the second summit of the European Political Community (EPG), to which the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi also traveled, ie: Russia's war against Ukraine, enlargement of the EU and increased cooperation with all other European states except Russia and its associated Belarus.
After the start-up summit in Prague in October, participants said the new format was useful. Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz believes in an “innovation” and at the meeting of the Council of Europe in Iceland in May he praised the EPG as a successful forum because one could talk to one another without being pressured to put any formal decisions on paper. The French President Emmanuel Macron, who invented and enforced the format, even said in Prague that the EPG was the instrument to prevent “civil wars, the teething troubles of a united Europe”.
Founding meeting in Prague in October 2022: European political community in response to Russia's attack
No substitute for EU membership< /h2>
Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama warned that the EPG should not become just another waiting room for EU accession candidates. The accession negotiations would have to continue unaffected by the new forum. Albania like Serbia, Montenegro and North Macedonia is negotiating with the European Union about accession. Bosnia-Herzegovina is only a candidate for such negotiations. Kosovo and Georgia are – as potential accession candidates – one step further away.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz wants to speed up the sluggish accession process, as he explained in his keynote speech in the European Parliament at the beginning of May. For this, however, a reform of the EU itself is urgently needed.
Lenin monument in Transnistria: In the The Soviet Union lives on in the breakaway province of Moldova. How does that fit into the EU?
Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan are also there, bringing with them a wide variety of political problems. The warring Caucasus neighbors Armenia and Azerbaijan are meeting in Moldova after fresh mediation talks in Moscow. In the conflict over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh, Russian President Vladimir Putin has long had his foot in the door. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, freshly strengthened by his re-election, is likely to be critical of the EU and still open insist on Turkey's status as a candidate country.
For their part, Serbia and Kosovo are at odds over the status of the Serb minority in northern Kosovo. Britain, the only ex-EU member, is seeking its international role in Europe.
The “Million Dollar Question”
In the few hours at Mimi Castle there is no time to develop real solutions for the numerous conflicts, but maybe a few impulses. Why else would the new “debating club”, as critics call it, be useful? Especially since the members – with the exception of Kosovo – are also members of the Council of Europe, which met in Iceland just two weeks ago and also dealt with the Russian war against Ukraine. What can the EPG do better?
“Chisinau has to produce more substance than Prague,” says the analyst Amanda Paul
“That's the million-dollar question,” said Amanda Paul of the European Policy Center think tank in Brussels. “If you ask in the participating countries, you usually find helplessness.” For the state leaders who do not belong to the EU, it is probably about being able to exchange ideas personally and to discuss problems. “More substance needs to come out of Chisinau than in Prague,” analyst Paul told DW. “A goal or a clear path to achieve what the European Political Community aims to achieve in the short, medium and long term. For security issues, it is a good platform to bring EU and non-EU countries together.”
Next meeting in Spain
The XXL European Forum made a decision at the first meeting in Prague: The third meeting is to be held in Spain in October and the fourth next year in Great Britain . The EPG does not have its own structures. It uses the Secretariat of the European Council of the EU in Brussels. After all, we have had our own Twitter and Facebook accounts since May, but not yet our own website.
Inventor of the EPG: Emmanuel Macron, President of France, had the not entirely new idea
Emmanuel Macron's idea of the EPG was not entirely new. As early as 1989, the French President at the time, Francois Mitterand, proposed such a community as a reaction to the political changes in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. Mitterand's idea came to nothing because he wanted to involve Russia and the East Europeans politely declined.