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France’s Budding Etymologist

The Wall Street Journal editorial board isn’t too happy with French President Nicholas Sarkozy’s decision to resume negotiations on the EU-Russia Partnership Cooperation Agreement without Russia having fulfilled the terms of the ceasefire.

Europe’s reversal is embarrassing on a number of levels. Russia hardly seemed bothered by the suspension in the first place — and wasn’t exactly begging Brussels to come back to the table.

Worst, though, were the rationales for resuming the talks, as offered by Mr. Sarkozy, whose country holds the EU’s rotating presidency, and European Commission President José Manuel Barroso. Perhaps anticipating the decision, Mr. Sarkozy noted on November 7 that the negotiations had not been suspended but “postponed” — and that this meant he and Mr. Barroso had the authority to decide how long the postponement would last. We’ll leave it up to France’s budding etymologist to decide whether his maneuvering should be labeled “invertebrate” or “spineless.”

Mr. Barroso scolded EU members such as Lithuania and Poland forstanding in the way of consensus on the bloc’s stance toward Russia.”You may not like the common EU position entirely,” he said, “but it isin your own interest to have one rather than three or four differentpositions.”

One might expect the Poles and Baltic nations to have a better ideathan Mr. Barroso of how to deal with Russia. As for us, we recall aconversation back in August with a U.S. diplomat about approachingRussia after the war in Georgia. Rather than trying to wallop Russia’spolitical and business elites with some large penalty while they werein the flush of victory, the diplomat suggested, it would be better toproduce a steady stream of measures over time, “so that they realizethis isn’t going to pass.”