France, Germany, and Russia begin a two day trilateral summit in Deauville, France, in the hopes of resetting the troubled relationship with Russia (FT). The meeting between French President Nicolas Sarkozy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Russian president Dmitry Medvedev is intended to focus on security relations and the global economy ahead of next month's G20 meeting, NATO summit, and a meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. It will be the first three-way meeting in five years, hosted jointly by Sarkozy and Merkel. Some EU and NATO partners are suspicious of not being included, particularly Italy and some eastern European countries that fear their security concerns with Russia may be ignored. French officials are optimistic about Russia's willingness to increase cooperation with the EU, given Russia's "reset" in its relations with Washington. Sarkozy has advocated for an economic security union and cooperation on counterterrorism between the EU and Russia. He also wants Medvedev to help lead discussions on regulating commodities, one of the priorities for the French presidency of the G20, which begins in November.
Another security issue on the agenda will be the stability of regions on Europe's eastern flank and potential flashpoints (DeutscheWelle) like the breakaway Moldovan region of Transdniestria, and the stand-off between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh.
A new report by the European Council on Foreign Relations says talks between the EU, Russia, and Turkey would be more effective in tackling conflicts and promoting stability in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
In the Moscow Times, Alexei Bayer says Russia, a major player in the energy market, occasionally flexes its muscles by using natural gas exports as a political weapon. But despite controlling one-seventh of the world's landmass and an enormous nuclear arsenal, Russia "has largely become irrelevant."