PARIS – Tough foreign policy issues, including tensions with Turkey, sanctions against Belarus and relations with China, will be up for discussion at a two-day European Union summit that starts Thursday.
This end-of-month summit will be a test on whether the European Union can speak with one voice over thorny issues in its neighborhood and beyond.
The summit was delayed a week after Charles Michel, president of the 27-member European Council, was quarantined for possible coronavirus infection. He has since tested negative.
Belarus is a key concern. The EU has refused to recognize Alexander Lukashenko as the countrys president following disputed August elections and a brutal post-election crackdown against protesters.
Meeting Belarus opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya in Lithuania this week, French President Emmanuel Macron promised to help mediate a peaceful transition via the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
Macron said he had gotten agreement from Russian President Vladimir Putin, but Putin subsequently denounced what he calls external pressure on Belarus.
Britain and Canada have announced sanctions against the Belarus government — but tiny member Cyprus earlier blocked the EUs own effort until similar measures were imposed on Turkey. Reports however say the EU will likely announce sanctions very soon.