European foreign ministers discuss relations with new powers
European foreign ministers were to meet in the Finnish ski resort of Saariselka on Sunday for a second day of informal talks, with the question of the European Union's relationship with developing powers at the top of the agenda, dpa reported.
EU member states feel that their global influence is slipping with the rise of powers such as Brazil, China, India and South Africa - referred to along with Russia as the BRICS - and are keen to find ways to restore it.
Sunday's talks will be a "brainstorming" session dedicated to the EU's role within the Group of 20 (G20) leading economies and its relations with the BRICS, said Finnish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb, who summoned and hosted the informal meeting.
Ministers will also discuss "what the EU's role is going to be in a multipolar world, and do we want to be a pole at all," he said.
Discussions are likely to focus on the ways in which EU states can join forces to present a more coherent foreign policy after the introduction of the bloc's new set of rules, the Lisbon Treaty.
Current world power politics are "based on nation states, and that's why the EU is struggling to find its place," Stubb said.
The EU's new foreign policy director, Catherine Ashton, whose job was created by the treaty, attended the gathering with the foreign ministers of Estonia, France, Italy, Spain, Sweden and Turkey.
Turkey's bid for EU membership has divided current member states, but EU diplomats say that the country is a crucial interlocutor for EU relations with the Middle East and Africa.
"Turkey's strategic role for the EU is of fundamental importance: if we want to be economically dynamic we need Turkey and Turkey needs us, if we want to be geographically relevant we need Turkey and Turkey needs us, and if we want to be culturally inclusive, we need Turkey and Turkey needs us," Stubb said.
Stubb also invited his counterparts from Britain, Germany and Norway, but they were unable to attend because of scheduling clashes.