ROAR: Russia joins Weimar Triangle to discuss European issues

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov for the first time discussed European security with his counterparts from Germany, France and Poland in the framework of the Weimar Triangle.

The club was created in 1991 for consultations between the three countries. The expanded formula of the meetings allows the hosts to invite a foreign minister of a country outside the triangle.

The talks in Paris were held at the initiative of the French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner. Lavrov, Kouchner, Guido Westerwelle of Germany and Radoslaw Sikorski of Poland, among other things, discussed the implementation of the Russian-EU Political and Security Committee and Russia’s proposals on a new security pact for Europe. A gas dispute between Russia and Belarus and the situation in Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan were also discussed.

The idea of the joint Russia-EU committee was put forward by President Dmitry Medvedev and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on June 5 to help resolve regional crises. Kouchner said the proposal should be accepted by the European Union as the partnership with Russia was “a strategic objective.”

If established, the committee will work on the ministerial level. Among the first issues that it may address is the settlement of the conflict between Moldova and the Transdniester republic.

In Paris, ministers supported the resumption of the talks on the problem in “the 5+2 format” on a constant basis. It is important to find a solution that both sides could accept, while maintaining and strengthening Moldova’s sovereignty, Lavrov said. However, the authorities in Transdniester should realize “who is speaking for the Moldovan leadership,” he added.

The talks between Moldova and Transdniester with the participation of Russia, Ukraine and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe as intermediaries and the EU and the United States as observers were suspended in February 2006.

Germany and France have also expressed support for Moscow’s and Warsaw’s decision to ease visa travel between residents of Russia’s Kaliningrad Region and Poland’s border areas. Lavrov and Sikorsky had already filed a request to the European Union as the ultimate agreement requires an amendment to the relevant EU regulations.

Sikorsky said the EU will have to adopt a directive allowing Moscow and Warsaw to sign an agreement where “two formal areas will be determined on both sides of the Russian-Polish border.”

Judicial aspects of the situation may be solved quickly enough, Lavrov said. The issue concerns interests of many ordinary people living along the border, he added. Sikorski also said that the agreement may be signed in several months.

The introduction of visa-free travel would be a strong political signal, especially taking into account the history of the European continent, the German foreign minister said. Observers believe that the future agreement was the main concrete result of the meeting in Paris.

The four ministers also agreed that the United Nations should assume responsibility for delivering aid to refugees in Kyrgyzstan. Kouchner, in particular, praised Russia for Russia’s assistance to Kyrgyzstan after ethnic clashes between Kyrgyz and Uzbeks erupted.

Lavrov described the format of the Weimar Triangle as “interesting”, but he agreed with his counterparts that this club should not predetermine particular processes or actions in Europe.

“This is just an interesting form of communication that, of course, will not replace the existing formal structures, but will help to promote the interests of all states of our huge region in such structures,” the minister said. At the same time, this format may be helpful in the development of Russia’s cooperation with the EU and NATO, he noted.

At the same time, analysts note that Moscow is continuing to develop relations with Warsaw not just in the framework of international organizations. Commenting on the presidential campaign in Poland, political scientist Ivan Preobrazhensky linked the success in the first round of Yarosław Kaczynski, candidate of the Law and Justice party, to the change in his rhetoric on Russia.

Poles will choose between Kaczynski and Acting President Bronislaw Komorowski, the candidate of the Civic Platform party, in the runoff. Kaczynski followed the mood of the electorate, and he changed the position toward “cautiously positive attitude to Russia,” Rosbalt news agency quoted Preobrazhensky as saying.

“Kaczynski abandoned anti-Russian rhetoric,” and suggested that Russia and Poland should treat themselves as equal partners, said political scientist Larisa Lykoshina. However, she stressed that Komorowski is a more “rational and pragmatic” politician than Kaczynski. “His candidacy is preferable for Russian-Polish relations,” the agency quoted her as saying.

Sergey Borisov,
Russian Opinion and Analysis Review, RT