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Russia calls on NATO chief to be less aggressive 2008-09-17 20:34:10  

    BRUSSELS, Sept. 17 (Xinhua) --

Russian Ambassador to NATO Dmitry Rogozin on Wednesday asked NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer to be less aggressive in rhetoric over the Georgia crisis.

    Rogozin was speaking in response to de Hoop Scheffer's statement that the Sept. 8 agreement between Russia and the European Union ( EU) was unacceptable.

    "A few days ago, at the beginning of the week, the secretary general of NATO made a very remarkable statement in which Brusselsstaged a war against Brussels," he said, referring to the conflict between NATO and the EU, both of which are headquartered in Brussels.

    He said de Hoop Scheffer's remarks reflect a crisis of NATO's identity. "NATO is trying to find its role, its place in this crisis (of Georgia). Unfortunately, it finds not a balanced and moderate position," Rogozin told reporters.

    He said NATO is trying to flex its muscles.

    "We address our appeals personally to the secretary general of NATO to refrain from aggressive rhetoric," he said.

    Rogozin also blasted the visit by the North Atlantic Council to Georgia Monday and Tuesday. The decision-making body of NATO, led by de Hoop Scheffer, held high-profile meetings with Georgian leaders and convened the first ever NATO-Georgia Commission meeting in Tbilisi.

    The commission was established to show NATO's support for Tbilisi after the Georgia-Russia conflict.

    Rogozin said the NATO-Georgia Commission meeting was "totally out of place" as it is being interpreted as support for Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili's regime.

    "As we saw it in the political context, this time-frame does not look like an ordinary, routine and pre-planned event, but as evident demonstration of support for Saakashvili's regime," he said.

    Russia had called for a postponement of the NATO visit to Georgia.

    French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, traveled to Moscow on Sept. 8 with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and the EU's foreign policy and security chief Javier Solana.

    A new agreement was reached on security arrangements for Georgia's two breakaway regions -- Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

    De Hoop Scheffer Monday criticized the agreement, arguing that the option of keeping Russian forces in South Ossetia and Abkhaziais not acceptable.

    "If the Russians are staying in South Ossetia with so many forces, I do not consider this as a return to the status quo," de Hoop Scheffer told the Financial Times.

    In the interview with the Financial Times, de Hoop Scheffer also signaled that NATO would stand by its decision to suspend theNATO-Russia Council as long as Russian troops remained in the two breakaway regions.

    "A speedy revival of the NATO-Russia Council ... will not be easy, I think," he told the newspaper.

    A joint peacekeeping contingent composed of Russian, Georgian and South Ossetian troops had been patrolling the conflict zone between Georgia and South Ossetia since 1992 when South Ossetia won de-facto independence after defeating Georgia in a bloody war.

    Georgia on Aug. 7 attacked South Ossetia in an attempt to retake control of the region. Russia sent in troops the next day and defeated the Georgian forces.

    The West accused Russia of bullying its small neighbor. But Moscow argued that its military operations were intended to protect civilians and enforce peace in the region. Russia's recognition of the two regions as independent states on Aug. 26 further enraged the West.

Editor: Du Guodong


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