Yeltsin was expansive in describing to reporters the significance of yesterday’s meeting. He declared that the tripartite summit reflected a vision of a new Europe, united with Russia, that would be a "dominant force" in the world. He also called the grouping an "exclusive trio," and depicted relations between the three countries as a Moscow-Paris-Bonn "axis." Declaring that Russia intends to build a powerful Europe to balance the strength of the United States, Yeltsin told reporters that: "Everyone must realize the power of a united Europe… There is no bigger organism than Europe and Russia, and everyone must remember that." (AP, UPI, March 26)
The French and German leaders also applauded improved ties between Russia and Europe, but were reportedly more reserved in their comments on the significance of yesterday’s meeting. In a clear reference to the United States, the German Chancellor said that yesterday’s meeting was not directed against any third countries. (Russian agencies, March 26)
Russian officials had issued similar disclaimers in the run-up to yesterday’s talks. But they also left little doubt that they viewed the tripartite summit as a small symbol of Russia’s success in rallying international support for a "multipolar world." That is a term used by Moscow — and, increasingly, other countries — to denote a world order in which the dominant influence of the United States is counterbalanced by various international groupings. Indeed, the roots of the French-German-Russian summit reflect a Russian initiative and go back to a Council of Europe meeting in October of last year. In the run-up to that meeting Russian diplomats, and Boris Yeltsin himself, began for the first time to combine a notion of a "greater Europe" — one with close ties to Russia — with a call for reducing the influence of the United States on the continent.
In any event, there was little of substance announced following yesterday’s talks. The three leaders were said to have discussed the situation in Kosovo, as well as Iraq, Iran, Armenia, NATO enlargement and a European security charter. The three men presumably also discussed the recent upheaval in the Russian government. However, beyond generalities, there was little to indicate that any sort of breakthrough in understanding had occurred on any of the international topics. Russian sources suggested that French President Jacques Chirac had announced his opposition to membership in NATO for the Baltic countries.
The three leaders did agree to speed up a project that will link their countries by road and rail. They also agreed to work on a university "for the 21st century." Discussions continued on a Euro-transport plane that would be based on the Russian-Ukrainian AN-70. The three men agreed that the next tripartite summit will be held in France next year. (AP, Reuter, Russian agencies, March 26)
Cuban Minister Ends Moscow Visit.