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Russia and EU at crossroads

Russia Today, September 1, 2008, 20:41

EU leaders have urged Russia not to isolate itself from the rest of Europe. The 27 members of the union are meeting in Brussels to review their ties with Moscow, but so far have shown little agreement on how specifically to respond to Russia’s actions in the Caucasus.

As a result of today’s meeting a draft statement has been issued. The five-page document strongly condemns Russia's move to recognise the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and urges other countries to avoid such a step.

There’s no reference to sanctions, but the draft statement says that relations between the EU and Russia are at a crossroads.
The EU urges both Russia and Georgia to implement the six-point peace agreement, which was signed earlier by the two sides.

The extraordinary EU meeting to discuss further relations with Russia was called by French President Nicholas Sarkozy, whose country currently holds the union’s rotating presidency.

The member states are keen to send a clear and united message to Russia over the situation in Georgia, but consensus is not something that is easily reached in Europe.

Great Britain, Poland and the Baltic countries are calling for tough measures to be taken, while France, Germany, Italy, Spain and other European countries are pushing for more cautious measures.

However, despite talks of sanctions against Russia, they are not on the agenda of the summit as the EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy, Javier Solana confirmed.

“What we may do is to re-evaluate relations with Russia. As you know, we are at the beginning of a new process with the PCA [Partnership and Co-operation Agreement]. All these things will have to be re-evaluated in the time ahead," Solana added.

Earlier, Vladimir Chizhov, Russia’s Ambassador to the EU said:

“I certainly expect and hope that reason and common sense will prevail. And the leaders of the EU will rise above the rhetoric of the day and take a serious strategic look into the perspective of partnership with Russia.”

Ahead of the summit, the spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, Andrey Nesterenko, held a media conference.

He started by reading an official statement of the ministry concerning the fulfillment of the six-point peace plan for Georgia. The Foreign Ministry denies Russia isn’t fulfilling the agreement.

"There is no doubt that the fulfillment of the principle on the non-use of force fully depends on Tbilisi," he said.

To watch the conference, please follow the link.

Meanwhile, two demonstrations – a pro-Russian and a pro-Georgian - have been taking part outside the building where the European leaders have gathered for the meeting.

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