France-Germany-Russia tripartite summit causes concerns for U.S.

16:58, October 20, 2010      

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Leaders of France, Germany and Russia held a summit in Deauvil, France on the Atlantic shore on Oct.18-19. French President Nicolas Sarkozy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev discussed, among other issues, the European Security Strategy (ESS), the Russia-EU visa regime, Iran's nuclear program, the Middle East peace process and the Afghanistan issue.

The intention of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to deploy the anti-missile system in Europe has always been a sensitive issue in Russia's relations with Western nations. Of late, NATO has repeatedly sent out signals to encourage the building of a joint anti-missile system with Russia and it does not rule out the possibility for Russia's accession. In the words of Russian Ambassador to NATO Dmitry Rogozin, nevertheless, the NATO's attitude toward Russia has shifted from "containment" to drawing over to it.

During the summit, President Medvedev continued to express his concerns, saying that Russia hopes to see exactly what kind of involvement NATO wants it to have before it can make an ultimate decision.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Medvedev announced that he will attend the November Lisbon summit between Russia and NATO and urged both sides to reach necessary comprises. Chancellor Merkel regarded this remark of Medvedev's as a major step forward and said she welcomes it and feels delighted.

In the realm of security, the three parties stressed on improving security situation in Europe, trans-Atlantic and the Eurasian region. The summit of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to be held in Astana, Kazakhstan will provide an important opportunity to work toward this objective. The three parties also called for increased security cooperation between the Europe and Russia, and security cooperation within the NATO-Russia Council (NRC).

In addition, the three leaders also had a swap of views on other regional and international security issues. In a joint statement issued Tuesday after the summit, the three nations called on Iran to implement the related decisions of the UN Security Council and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on the Iranian nuclear issue, and they vowed to "keep the door open to dialogue with Iran". Medvedev also underscore that there was no change in the attitude of the three nations on Iranian nuclear program, and it implied that Russia may support sanctions against Iran while prompting it to conduct cooperation.

On visa mutual exemption issue, which was of utmost concern to Russia, President Sarkozy said Russia and EU should implement in phases the visa mutual exemption, while Medvedev again called for visa exemption, but he also admitted in the meantime that Russia and Europe need a visa exemption process.

On the EU-Russia visa exemption issue, media widely regard that Russia is not only necessary to meet the EU's conditions but to win over the consent of all 27 EU member states, and so it will be unlikely to achieve the goal within a short period of time.

The tripartite summit as a matter of fact indicates a continuation of the cooperation between France, Germany and Russia. Their leaders met to form an "axis" in an opposition to the U.S. launched war in Iraq in 2003 and, three years later, the three leaders met again to discuss and explore into and to coordinate their related international actions. As France will soon assumes as rotating chairmanship of the Group of Twenty summit, the NATO summit will be held a month later, and the Group of Eight summit is to be held next year, the tripartite summit called at the sponsorship of France has attracted close attention of the world community.

France maintains that there are signs of "rapprochement" between Russia and Europe in terms of security due to global economic crisis and the evolution of the international situation. Earlier, Medvedev proposed a "new security for Europe" and in other words, to create a new comprehensive European Security treaty to replace existing cold-war treaties.

France would like to take this opportunity to exert its influence and strengthen EU-Russia ties to establish a "security platform" and a "common economic space" between Russia and EU. As for Germany, Chancellor Merkel's main purpose in attending the summit is to win over Russia together with France and do away with Russian concerns over for NATO's deployment of missiles in Europe.

This summit is a meeting for the leaders of Russia, France and Germany to prepare for the OSCE summit to be held in November and the Russia-NATO summit, according to Russia media.

Russia, however, has kept to its set position with no substantial changes concerning the NATO anti-missile system in Europe, and the summit has drawn the displeasure of the United States and some allies. German public opinions however show that the summit of the three leaders was designed to show a consensus on the EU-Russia relations, but it also revealed significant disparities or differences. Judging from the press releases issued right after the summit, Germany and France seemed to insist on the original framework, that is, to dialogue within the NATO-Russia Council and within the OSCE instead of creating the new, specialized Europe-Russian security dialogue mechanism as the Russian side has envisaged.

According to French media reports, in an effort to enhance its status as a great power, France took Germany along to wage this "diplomatic war" versus Russia, and this would of course arouse dissatisfaction of the United States and some allies. Although the U.S said superficially that the talk about security between Europeans was normal, American media had voiced prior to the meeting the unease and worries about the tripartite meeting bypassing the U.S. to discuss key issues, and the Office of the French President especially refuted rumors in this regard.

By People's Daily Online and contributed by PD overseas resident reporters Gu Yuqing, Liu Huaxin and Tan Wujun.


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