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European Union foreign ministers meet informally

September 4, 2009 - STOCKHOLM

The 27 foreign ministers of the European Union meet in the capital of expansion-friendly EU president Sweden. Iceland's foreign minister could be invited to sit in on both days. Its EU bid is likely to be fast-tracked to give the bloc a bigger voice in Arctic issues. The ministers of EU candidate countries Croatia, Macedonia and Turkey will sit in on the second day. Croatia's and Macedonia's accession bids have been set back, but Turkey's bid might have been helped by a recent pipeline deal.

Sweden is regarded as 'expansion friendly'; by many other EU member states, despite what was described in an International Herald Tribune article as a pervasive sense of 'expansion fatigue'; right now in the bloc over the induction of new members. Sweden's Foreign Minister Carl says he still believes enlargement remains the EU's most effective foreign-policy tool and the key to stabilizing its neighborhood, from the Balkans to the Caucasus. Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader unexpectedly announced his resignation on Jul 1, precipitating political uncertainty in his country that could delay the country's rapid accession hopes. The resignation comes on top of instability caused by an economic crisis and rising unemployment in Croatia. EU accession was already under threat by Croatia's border dispute with EU member Slovenia, which can block Croatian EU membership. Macedonia's membership bid is being held back by a dispute with Greece over its name. During a news conference following a meeting of EU and Turkish foreign ministers on 19 May, Bildt said he hoped to push along the process of getting Montenegro and Albania, two relatively poor Balkan nations, on track for their candidacies, and to revive at least some parts of Turkey's troubled EU membership bid over the next six months. EU countries such as France and Germany regularly arguing against the admission of Turkey. He said a public debate over Turkish membership was needed in the EU, so those in favor of having it join can be heard, too. Turkey's EU bid was boosted when Ankara agreed to sign of an inter-governmental agreement on the long-delayed EU-backed Nabucco gas pipeline, which the bloc sees as a way to reduce Europe's gas reliance on Russia. Jul/09

EU expansion fosters stability: Bildt (WSJ 23 Jun 2009)

Fighting EU "enlargement fatigue" (IHT 19 Jun 2009)

Key Nabucco gas pipeline deal to be signed July 13 (AFP 4 Jul 2009)

EU membership will kill whale hunting in Iceland: CEO (19 Jun 2009)

Date written/update: 2009-09-04