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Baroness Ashton taking heat

Theres seems to be more trouble at the top in the Europe’s strange new leadership structure with NATO defense ministers blasting the EU High Representative Baroness Catherine Ashton for skipping their meeting:  “Isn’t it rich that this morning, to display the ties between Nato and the EU, we have the Nato SecretaryGeneral [Anders Fogh Rasmussen] ...

NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA/AFP/Getty Images
NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA/AFP/Getty Images

Theres seems to be more trouble at the top in the Europe's strange new leadership structure with NATO defense ministers blasting the EU High Representative Baroness Catherine Ashton for skipping their meeting: 

“Isn’t it rich that this morning, to display the ties between Nato and the EU, we have the Nato SecretaryGeneral [Anders Fogh Rasmussen] here but not the High Representative for the first meeting since the Lisbon Treaty came into effect,” Hervé Morin, the French Defence Minister, said.

His Dutch counterpart, Jack de Vries, chimed in on Twitter: “Madame Ashton was notable by her absence.” He noted that Javier Solana, her predecessor, always found time for defence ministers’ talks.

Theres seems to be more trouble at the top in the Europe’s strange new leadership structure with NATO defense ministers blasting the EU High Representative Baroness Catherine Ashton for skipping their meeting: 

“Isn’t it rich that this morning, to display the ties between Nato and the EU, we have the Nato SecretaryGeneral [Anders Fogh Rasmussen] here but not the High Representative for the first meeting since the Lisbon Treaty came into effect,” Hervé Morin, the French Defence Minister, said.

His Dutch counterpart, Jack de Vries, chimed in on Twitter: “Madame Ashton was notable by her absence.” He noted that Javier Solana, her predecessor, always found time for defence ministers’ talks.

Carme Chacón, the Spanish Defence Minister and host of the defence talks while her country holds the rotating EU presidency, also “regretted Ashton’s absence” because of the important subjects discussed, a European diplomat said.

Ahston skipped the meeting so she could attend Viktor Yaunukovych’s swearing-in as Ukraine’s new president. While the EU relationship with Ukraine is undoubtedly critical, Yanukovych is visiting Brussels on Monday so it does seem odd that Ashton would prioritize a largely symbolic function. 

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy  Twitter: @joshuakeating

Tag: Europe

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