Leaders from 44 European countries met Thursday in Prague in the inaugural meeting of the European Political Community, a new regional group seeking to find strategies to address shared concerns such as energy, the economy and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The group was the brainchild of French President Emmanuel Macron and includes all 27 members of the European Union, plus 17 other nations, some of which are seeking EU membership.
The only two European nations not invited were Russia and its neighboring ally Belarus.
In remarks to open the meeting, Macron said the group’s existence is aimed at sending a message of unity to all European nations by building “a strategic closeness” and finding common strategies. He indicated the group was not seeking to compete with the EU but to find complementary projects.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who closely supported Macron in creating the summit, said the meeting sends a strong signal to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“It is very visible that all of us who are meeting here know that the Russian attack on Ukraine is a brutal violation of the security and peace that we have had in Europe over the last decades. And therefore, it is important that we reject this attack,” said Scholz.
Thursday’s summit featured an opening ceremony, followed by a series of meetings where leaders discussed the key challenges Europe faces: security, energy, climate, the economy and migration.
No formal policy statements, resolutions or declarations were expected from the summit.
Some information for this report came from The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.