By Ralf Neukirch
A number of European countries have criticized the guest list for an upcoming meeting organized by German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle. The event, which is scheduled for Tuesday, is meant to focus on Europe's future after the euro crisis, but Westerwelle's perceived exclusivity has become the focus instead, SPIEGEL has learned.
Just 10 of Westerwelle's European colleagues have apparently been invited to the informal gathering at the Foreign Ministry in Berlin. A diplomatic source in Sweden, which was not among the countries invited, told SPIEGEL that Westerwelle was not contributing to EU cooperation by leaving some countries out.
While the Danish foreign minister did make the cut, Copenhagen reportedly sees Westerwelle's diplomatic initiative as a slight to its position at the helm of the EU's rotating presidency, which Denmark holds for the first half of 2012.
Westerwelle also faces criticism in Ireland, where the recently negotiated fiscal pact still needs to be approved by referendum. From Dublin's perspective, Westerwelle's debate on the future of Europe is seen as unhelpful at the present moment, in light of the currency union's current challenges.
Last week, German news reports quoted sources within the Foreign Ministry saying that they aimed to spearhead a foward-looking strategy "at a time of diminishing enthusiasm" for the European project. They reportedly want the bloc to look beyond Europe's current crisis, and have suggested that the meeting on Tuesday could pave the way for future discussion.
The criticism comes a month after Westerwelle told SPIEGEL that he wanted to improve Germany's image in Europe. "We should not believe that we will always be the strong man of Europe," he said.
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