Czech presidency to hold double EU summit in May

Business Materials 5 February 2009 20:39 (UTC +04:00)

European Union leaders will hold an unprecedented "double-summit" day on May 7, with heads of state and government due to discuss both the bloc's relations with its eastern neighbours and new gas supply routes from the Caspian Sea, Czech presidency sources said Thursday, dpa reported.

The summit on the so-called "Eastern Partnership" - originally proposed by Poland and Sweden last year - is one of the key events of the EU's Czech presidency, which runs until the end of June.

It is aimed at strengthening the EU's ties with Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Moldova, and possibly Belarus, if Minsk shows itself open to democratic reforms.

In December, the European Union's executive in Brussels unveiled plans to spend 600 million euros (772 million dollars) on boosting ties with the bloc's former-Soviet neighbours.

Czech officials said the planned Eastern Partnership summit would now be flanked by a separate round of talks on the creation of pipelines designed to bring gas to the EU from Asia.

The need for such pipelines has climbed up the political agenda in the aftermath of January's commercial dispute between Russia and Ukraine, which disrupted supplies to Europe for several weeks.

The EU currently relies heavily on Russian gas delivered to Europe mostly via Ukrainian pipelines.