By Ahto Lobjakas in Brussels
The European Union is examining ways to include Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan in its "Wider Europe" program of preferential relations with the so-called "new neighbours."
Unveiled by the European Commission last summer, the "Wider Europe" offers Russia, Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus -- among others -- closer cooperation. Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan are currently not covered by the initiative.
An EU diplomat, who asked not to be named, told RFE/RL on Tuesday that the recent crisis in Georgia has prompted the EU to consider sending an "explicit" signal to the three countries that their inclusion remains a possibility. The official said none of the three countries presently meet the legislative and regulatory criteria necessary for closer cooperation.
However, he said the EU is keen to show that the three are not neglected and that a statement could be issued in a few months' time indicating all three can join "Wider Europe" "within a given timeframe."
Another diplomat told RFE/RL the issue is likely to be briefly addressed at this weekend's EU summit in Brussels.