The 27 members of the European Union have postponed the next round of strategic partnership talks with Russia, scheduled for Sept. 15, until Moscow pulls its troops out of Georgia. Russian, meanwhile, expressed disappointment over the decision.
Russia on Tuesday expressed disappointment over EU's decision to freeze strategic talks, but was relieved that no economic sanctions were ordered.
As a whole, we believe that our partnership with the European Union should not be hostage to differences of opinion," a Russian foreign ministry statement said, adding that Moscow was "ready for constructive, fair cooperation" with the EU.
On Monday, EU officials announced their decision to postpone strategic partnership talks with Russia until Moscow withdraws its troops to pre-conflict positions in Georgia, after an extraordinary meeting of European leaders in Brussels.
“Europe has spoken with one voice,” French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who holds the EU’s rotating presidency, said at a press conference following the European Council meeting over Russia’s conflict with Georgia. “All the member nations demand an implementation of the six-point plan,” he said, referring to an agreement drafted by France and approved by Russia last month for ceasing Georgia-Russian hostilities.
“Europe’s unity on this matter was one of President Sarkozy’s main goals going into the summit, explained FRANCE 24 correspondent Caroline de Camaret, and he has achieved it”.
The strategic partnership put on hold
European Commission President José Barroso added, “We cannot act as if nothing happened,” making the controversial announcement that the next round of EU negociations with Russia over a strategic partnership talks with Russia, originally scheduled for September 15, could be postponed if Russia did not implement the peace plan.
Barroso and Sarkozy announced they would be travelling to Tbisili and Moscow, along with the EU’s top diplomat Javier Solana, commencing September 8 to “verify the implementation of the six-point plan.”
The heads of state also reassured the Georgian authorities by reaffirming their support of its territorial integrity. “All solutions are dependent on the assumption of Georgian sovereignty, and not on a unilateral ‘fait accompli,’ (on the part of Russia)”, said Sarkozy.
Russia makes conciliatory gesture
The EU leaders have vowed to organize a donor’s conference for Georgia, while Russia seemed to make a conciliatory gesture by agreeing an international police presence under the aegis of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the EU in buffer zones between Georgia and its breakaway regions.
Sarkozy called for the meeting on the heels of an international furor over the presence of the Russian military in the Georgian separatist region of South Ossetia on August 8, one day after Georgia's bid to bring South Ossetia back under central control.
Since then Moscow has recognised the independence of both South Ossetia and the other breakaway Georgian republic of Abkhazia.
Despite the departure of most of Moscow’s forces from South Ossetia, Russian soldiers continue to patrol the port city of Poti, on the edge of the Black Sea, and remain present in and around the area’s key roadways.
This is the first such ad-hoc EU summit since the beginning of the war in Iraq in 2003.
Date created : 2008-09-02