A flurry of meetings in November 2008 -- in Nice, Brussels and Sharm El-Sheikh -- show the changing face of Russian-Western relations, says Eric Walberg
20/11/8 -- Russia's struggle to become a respected player in world affairs moved forward tentatively with a Russian-European Union summit in Nice in November 2008. Participants said Friday that the meeting underlined improved relations. The European trade commissioner, Catherine Ashton, said talk had been "robust, but very open. Presidents Sarkozy, Barroso and Medvedev were very direct with each other in the spirit of having a dialogue." European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, using rather "robust" diplomatic language, ridiculed the Russian threat to station missiles in Kaliningrad, made just hours after Obama had won the US presidential election last week: "If we start with the idea that there are missiles on one side or the other, we come back to the Cold War rhetoric which is, I would even say, stupid."