The suggestion is that these talks will start at the EU-Russia Summit on November 13 - 14, though it is not clear how some other members, particularly the worried East Europeans and Balts will react to this idea.
The EU’s 27 member countries had, however, decided at their September 1 summit to postpone those talks because of Russia’s invasion of Georgia and occupation of that country’s territories. Under the decisions at that summit, the EU was to have reviewed Russia’s compliance with the French-brokered armistice in Georgia before deciding on that basis whether the resumption of partnership talks with Russia at the Nice summit was warranted or not.So much for that common foreign policy that, Edward Lucas and others have suggested, would hold the line against Russia. The only hope is that the Poles and their allies together with the Scandinavians will object.
No such review or determination is known to have been carried out by the EU, however; and no decision seems to have been made in the consensus-based EU that would have authorized the French presidency to jump-start those partnership talks without discussion and agreement among the member countries.
The French presidency’s move, therefore, would seem to be an attempt to hijack EU policy. French President Nicolas Sarkozy apparently acted in a national, rather than EU, capacity by authorizing Kouchner to make this move. To be sure, a number of EU governments and influential figures favor a quick start to partnership talks with Russia as a goal in itself, scarcely affected by Russia’s behavior. The French presidency’s move, however, short-circuited those EU member countries that hold a different view of this issue.
Britain will not be among those who object. As some Central Europeans are pointing out, David Miliband, our youthful looking Foreign Secretary, is already talking about the need to resume "business as usual" because, as we or, at least those of us who listen to Kremlin propaganda, know it was Georgia who was the aggressor, having invaded Russia, devastated her villages, expelled her population .... oh wait, that is not how it happened.
Mr Miliband was last heard of on his way to DR Congo, presumably because it is felt that his presence might sort out the long-standing problems of that unfortunate country. But he does seem to have had time to talk with the ever popular Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, to discuss bilateral relations and the next meeting of the Middle East Quartet of mediators in about a week.
The Quartet has not been precisely successful so far, unless bullying Israel is counted as success, and, in any case, Britain is not a member - the European Union is.
Oh by the way, how is the Opposition's foreign policy doing?