- By Joshua Keating
Joshua Keating is associate editor at Foreign Policy and the editor of the Passport blog. He has worked as a researcher, editorial assistant, and deputy Web editor since joining the FP staff in 2007. In addition to being featured in Foreign Policy, his writing has been published by the Washington Post, Newsweek International, Radio Prague, the Center for Defense Information, and Romania's Adevarul newspaper. He has appeared as a commentator on CNN International, C-Span, ABC News, Al Jazeera, NPR, BBC radio, and others. A native of Brooklyn, New York, he studied comparative politics at Oberlin College.
Why exactly is the EU-Russia energy conference being held in the far-Eastern city of Khabarovsk, 11 time zones from Brussels and a place that even Russian President Dmitry Medvedev avoids visiting unless absolutely necessary? The FT investigates:
Was it a fiendish plot to disorientate the easily divided Europeans ahead of tricky negotiations on Russian gas? It seems not.
The Kremlin, apparently, had not wanted to choose the location for fear of offending powerful regional governors who were gunning for the honour of hosting it, “so they said ‘let the Europeans choose’”, according to an east European diplomat.
José Manuel Barroso, European Commission president, and Václav Klaus, Czech president – the Czechs hold the revolving EU presidency – had a look at the list of prospective sites before Mr Klaus picked Khabarovsk, because “he hadn’t been there before and wanted to see it”, according to a diplomat, who asked not to be named.
That’s nice for Klaus, but not so nice for the assembled delegates whose heads, the article notes, "had a pronounced tendency to loll if they were allowed to sit for too long."