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Facing a rising China, Russia looks to boost Europe ties

The leaders of France, Germany, and Russia will meet this week in Deauville, France, as a first step toward fostering closer ties.

By Staff writer / October 18, 2010

France's President Nicolas Sarkozy (c.), German Chancellor Angela Merkel (r.) and Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev listen to national anthems in Deauville on Oct. 18. Merkel and Medvedev are in Deauville to attend a tripartite summit between France, Germany, and Russia.

Philippe Wojazer/Reuters

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Is Russia ready to join Europe? Is Europe ready to embrace Russia?

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The leaders of France, Germany, and Russia meet for dinner this evening in the French coastal town of Deauville in a German-led initiative that could start to anchor Russia more firmly in Europe.

Analysts say that Russia needs a solid partner at a time when it faces stiff competition in the east from a rising China. Also, the Deauville meeting comes ahead of a key Lisbon NATO meeting next month setting future policy in which Russia will not play a role.

So the Deauville event is partly a reassurance by two key European states that Russia’s interests are being taken to heart.

But it may also signal more. The meeting builds on a surprise initiative in June by Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that would give Moscow a foreign policy tie to the EU.

Over two days, starting this evening with a dinner at Cicero’s, a favorite sea-food restaurant of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, the three will discuss visa policy and open borders, the nuclear threat of Iran, Russia’s pathway to membership in trade organizations, and whether Russia can play a role in a European missile shield – all as prelude to closer ties.

Russia reset

“This is the European equivalent of the [Obama administration] ‘reset’ on Russia,” says Francois Heisbourg of the Paris-based Foundation for Strategic Research. “The only possibility for an EU policy on Russia is if the French and Germans agree. Russia desperately needs modernization. If they don’t get that they will become a third rate petro-monarchy like so many others.”

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