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Extraordinary EU Summit On Georgia

  • September 6th, 2008
  • Posted by Monique Ross


eu-summit-1908.jpgA special European summit in Brussels (1.9.08) ended without sanctions against Russia, though the 27-nation bloc unanimously condemned Russia’s decision to recognise the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia — and spoke of comprehensive support to Georgia.

The emergency summit, in response to the conflict between Georgia and Russia, condemned Russia’s unilateral recognition of the two breakaway regions as an “inappropriate response.”

It declared that the crisis “put the relations between the EU and Russia at a crossroads”, urging Russia not to isolate itself from Europe but to “act for mutual benefit, understanding and cooperation.”

The summit called for other States to refrain from recognising the secessionist regions — taking up an earlier call by the President of the European Parliament, Hans-Gert Pottering.

The summit witheld sanctions against Russia, with one exception:

The French Foreign Minister, Bernard Kouchner, said negotiations on an EU partnership agreement for Russia would stop until that country withdrew its troops from Georgia — to positions held prior to the start of the present crisis, on 7.8.08.

There were reminders also of earlier statements about Europe needing to move away from reliance on Russian energy supplies.

The summit agreed to send aid for economic reconstruction in Georgia, including Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and to consider the creation of a free-trade zone within the country.

In a communique, it endorsed a high-level fact-finding visit to Georgia, with a brief to make recommendations on increased commitments, under joint European Security and Defence Policy.

euauspic2.jpg

Russian tanks and troops entered Georgia on 8.8.08 to push back a Georgian offensive to retake South Ossetia, which broke away from Georgia in the early 1990s with Moscow’s backing.

Hans-Gert Pottering spoke of a “serious mistake” by the Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili in launching military action on the South Ossetian town of Tskhivanli, but there had been “no justification for Russia’s response,” which “breached the principles of international law.”

A six-point agreement brokered on 12.8.08 by the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, as President of the European Council — the summit — led to a ceasefire, and cleared the way for deliveries of humanitarian aid on all sides, but achieved only a partial withdrawal of the Russian military forces.

Sarkozy emphasised said any lasting solution would have to be founded on “principles of independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity recognised by international law and the United Nations Security Council resolutions.”

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Russia’s actions in Georgia left EU leaders with little choice but to change course with Russia.

“In light of Russian actions, the EU should review – root and branch – our relationship with Russia,” Brown said in the Observer newspaper.

The EU governments pointed out that they had convened their first Emergency summit since the start of the Iraq war in 2003, and would “remain vigilant” in the run-up to their next meeting of Heads of Government, at Nice, scheduled for 14.11.08.

The Georgian Foreign Ministry welcomed the gestures of support from Brussels and affirmed that Georgia remained committed to a ceasefire agreement with Moscow.

Pictures:


EU summit, arrivals, Hans-Gerd Pottering, European Council pic

Russian troops on the road to South Ossetia’s capital Tskhinvali; European Parliament.


Reference:

European Union @ United Nations: Partnership in Action, (Home); http://www.europa-eu-un.org/articles/en/article_8116_en.htm, (12.9.08)

European Parliament, President; http://www.europarl.europa.eu//president/defaulten.htm#speeches, (12.9.08)

Lili Di Poppo, “EU Summit on Georgia …”, Eurasianet.org, 3.9.08; http://www.eurasianet.org/departments/insight/articles/eav090308b.shtml; (12.9.08)

European Council, Presidency (Home); http://www.ue2008.fr/PFUE/lang/en/accueil/PFUE-09_2008/PFUE-01.09.2008/conseil_europeen_0901; (12.9.08)
Pater Schwarz, “European Union Summit sides with Georgia”, World Socialist Web Site (WSWS.org), 2.9.08;
http://www.wsws.org/articles/2008/sep2008/euge-s02.shtml; (12.9.08)

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