Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy has arrived in Granada, Spain for a summit of the European Political Community (EPC).
About 48 European leaders are expected to be present at the summit.
This is the EPC’s third meeting. The first summit was held in the Czech Republic in October 2022, and for a second time in Moldova in June this year.
The EPC, a forum aiming to foster cooperation across the continent, was created last year, following a proposal from French President, Emmanuel Macron. It formally consists of 47 countries.
Upon his arrival, Zelenskyy noted on social media, “Our joint goal is to ensure the security and stability of our common European home.”
“We are working together with partners on enhancing the European security architecture, particularly regional security. Ukraine has substantial proposals in this regard,” the Ukrainian leader said.
“We will pay special attention to the Black Sea region as well as our joint efforts to strengthen global food security and freedom of navigation,” Zelenskyy noted.
He added that Kyiv’s “key priority, particularly as winter approaches, is to strengthen air defense.”
“This should be a productive day for Ukraine and Europe as a whole,” Zelenskyy asserted.
European leaders are expected to assure Zelenskyy of long-term support after U.S President Joe Biden voiced fears that Republican infighting in Congress could affect U.S policy on continuing aid to Kyiv.
The gathering also gives leaders such as French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak a chance to restate their commitment to Ukraine.
According to a senior EU official who spoke on condition of anonymity, the most pressing international crises such as the Russia-Ukraine war and the situation in Azerbaijan’s Karabakh region will be addressed during the forum.
The EU’s future, digitalisation, green transition of the economy and energy issues are also expected to be discussed.
For the second time in a row, Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan will be absent at the summit. Azerbaijan’s President, Ilham Aliyev will also not attend.
EU officials had hoped to host Azerbaijan’s President, Ilham Aliyev and Armenia’s Prime Minister, Nikol Pashinyan at the event in what would have been the pair’s first face-to-face meeting since Baku’s offensive in Nagorno-Karabakh.
However, Aliyev has been angered by what he sees as French and German bias towards the Armenian position, and has refused to travel to the meeting.
An Azerbaijani official said Aliyev would not attend due to “pro-Armenian statements by French officials” and because Paris has said it plans to deliver military equipment to Yerevan.
The forum will still be a rare occasion where leaders of rival nations such as Serbia and Kosovo will be gathered in one plenary room.
Since Kosovo will not be represented by Prime Minister, Albin Kurti but by its President, Vjosa Osmani, whose role is largely ceremonial, the chance of conciliation is slim.
Summit Shows Spain’s Role in Europe
Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez told reporters that the EPC summit depicts his country’s role in Europe.
“I think that Granada is today the capital of Europe and also the capital of peace,” Sánchez said.
When asked about western assistance for Ukraine, Sánchez replied that “solidarity, unity and of course all the support of not only the European governments, but also our societies – I think that all the Europeans are backing Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his country. And of course we are ready to support … until the end of this war our friends in Ukraine.”
“We have of course debates and we need to deliver within the European Union,” he said, pointing to discussions about the bloc’s long-term budget.
The Spanish Prime Minister disclosed that Leaders will discuss multilateralism, the impact of Russia’s war, energy and artificial intelligence today.
Tomorrow EU leaders will open a debate on the future of the bloc, he noted, underscoring that enlargement will bring challenges.