Prague, Oct 6 (EFE).- The 44 heads of state and government taking part here Thursday in the inaugural summit of the European Political Community, a new forum that is the brainchild of French President Emmanuel Macron, expressed full backing for Ukraine and a desire to further bolster regional cooperation.
The one-day gathering in the Czech capital brought together leaders of the 27 European Union member states, as well as 17 other European countries that are not members of that bloc.
Macron, who proposed the creation of the EPC in May, said it will serve as a gathering of nations that share the same continent and are striving to solve problems of mutual concern.
He also stressed the importance of having a European structure to defend essential infrastructure like gas pipelines and satellites in the wake of apparent acts of sabotage that damaged Russia’s Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 pipelines and cyberattacks affecting countries such as Albania.
In addition, he said a joint energy strategy is needed to bring down the price of natural gas and “reduce dependence on those who don’t share our values.”
Although the meeting did not produce a joint declaration, the countries were fully united on the need to isolate Russia from the rest of the European continent over its invasion of Ukraine and annexation of four of its territories.
Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, participated in the gathering via videoconference and urged the leaders to ensure the forum becomes a “European community of peace.”
For his part, the high representative of the European Union for foreign affairs and security policy, Josep Borrell, said the summit was an opportunity to establish a “new order without Russia” and send the message that the Kremlin is isolated.
British Prime Minister Liz Truss, for her part, urged European leaders to remain united and firm against Russian aggression, warning that the continent is facing its biggest crisis since World War II.
One note of discord came from Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who called on the EU to reconsider the sanctions on Moscow that were unanimously approved by all 27 members states.
Different bilateral meetings also were held on the sidelines of this inaugural summit.
Macron, European Council President Charles Michel and the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia held a meeting aimed at bringing those countries closer to resolving their decades-long dispute over the region of Nagorno-Karabakh.
The president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, for her part, held bilateral meetings with the leaders of Turkey, Georgia and Serbia.
That latter country is a candidate for EU membership but, despite supporting the territorial integrity of Ukraine, it does not back the 27-nation bloc’s sanctions on Russia.
Besides the members of the EU, the other countries taking part in the summit in Prague were the UK, Switzerland, Turkey, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Ukraine, Moldova, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia.
The next three summits of the European Political Community are to be held in Moldova, Spain and the UK. EFE