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EU Split Over Russia Because of the Mutually Beneficial Relationship

EU split over Russia

Russia Today, September 2, 2008, 22:39

The Foreign Ministry says it regrets the EU’s decision to suspend talks on a new partnership agreement with Russia. Moscow says the new deal is just as important to Europe as it is to Russia. The bloc has been split over its response to the conflict in South Ossetia.
At Monday’s emergency summit in Brussels, EU leaders decided to halt talks on a new deal with Russia. The move was in response to Moscow’s role in the conflict between Georgia and South Ossetia. But according to some members of the European parliament, the summit showed that the union is anything but united.

Member of the European Parliament, Giulietto Chiesa, said that ‘a strange situation’ had occurred in the EU:

“The document states Russia made a disproportionate reaction while there is no mentioning of the attack from the Georgian side, so, we are talking about ‘disproportionate’ reaction, but against what? That was not even clear. It is not a good sign because it shows that Europe is not united".

The EU has divided into two groups over the issue. On one side, Western European states - including France, Italy, Germany and Spain – are opposed to any harsh steps against Russia.

The French President Nicolas Sarkozy summed up their position:

“We don't want to embark upon a new Cold War where problems in relations between Russia and Europe can only be settled through military confrontation. We have to remain calm and cool-headed”.

On the other side, newcomers to the Union – including Poland and the Baltic countries, backed by Sweden and Great Britain - condemned the events and insisted that Moscow must be punished for its actions in South Ossetia.

John Laughland, an expert from the Institute for Democracy and Cooperation in Paris, says the EU is hopelessly divided and therefore powerless.

“This is an organisation that has been struggling now for nearly ten years to elaborate a unified foreign policy. It’s precisely because they cannot agree on anything; they want to try and present a united front to the world on the situation with Russia, to make an impression that they are doing something, but in fact the EU is essentially powerless”.

The EU failed to agree on any concrete measures against Moscow. Many thought sanctions would be imposed, but they weren’t even mentioned.

The only practical outcome of the gathering is that a new partnership agreement with Europe and Russia to replace the one signed in 1997 has been suspended.

The Foreign Ministry says it isn’t happy with this, but says Europe should think about whether this delay is in its interests.

“We do have a lot of issues of mutual concern, and I believe that without being partners at the negotiating table on these issues we would not be contributing to the solutions of the problems,” said Andrey Nesterenko, Foreign Ministry spokesman.

But despite some potentially unpleasant consequences, there is a belief among Russian politicians that common sense has prevailed.

The Foreign Ministry said that despite the efforts of some European leaders to rock the boat, there’s still room for optimism.

Many experts agree that the biggest achievement of the EU talks is that European parliamentarians have agreed to go to Georgia. Then they’ll see with their own eyes what has been happening in the conflict zones.

Our partnership with EU is mutually beneficial - Russia

Russia Today, September 2, 2008, 18:37

In a statement commenting on the emergency EU summit concerning the situation in the Caucasus, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said Russia-EU cooperation should not be “a hostage to divergence of opinion on particular issues” and Moscow is ready for further dialogue with Europe in all spheres.
"The results of the EU summit have been quite predictable as there had been no lack of announcements by European politicians preceding it. Some countries have called for introducing sanctions against Russia and freezing relations with it, they have tried to denounce our policy, though based on distorting the facts which had led to the conflict in the Caucasus. Nevertheless, the most important thing is that the majority of the EU member countries have demonstrated a responsible approach to the issue and confirmed their course towards the partnership with Russia as they realise the significance of mutually beneficial cooperation, in the framework of which a lot has been achieved lately.

Obviously we cannot agree with a number of preconceived pronouncements about Russia, which the concluding summit declaration contains, including the thesis about our disproportionate reaction to Georgia’s aggression. By the way, Georgia’s actions haven’t been given any assessment by the summit, as well as the actions of those who had been supplying Georgia with arms in violation of OSCE and EU rules.

As for the practical conclusions of the EU summit, we regret the intention to suspend talks on the new Russia-EU partnership agreement though Moscow has got used to feigned obstacles to this agreement during the last two years. We are interested in signing it to the same extent as the EU. As for now, there are enough possibilities for the development of the mutually beneficial cooperation of Russia and the European countries in various fields.

On the whole, we suppose that our partnership with the EU should not be a hostage to the divergence of opinion on particular questions.

Our partnership is of mutual benefit, and it would be at least imprudent to put it under threat. For our part we are ready for constructive and equal cooperation and continuing dialogue on all issues, including those where our positions differ. In fact, this is the way partners should deal with each other.

Based on this approach, it is possible to find solutions to the most complicated problems, as the initiative of the French President has proved. It resulted in the signing of the Medvedev-Sarkozy plan on August 12 in Moscow for the settlement of the situation which followed the attack by the Georgian troops on Tskhinval. Russia strictly adheres to the six-point agreement and does not attempt to rewrite it. We have fulfilled all necessary conditions required on our part. We have also made concrete suggestions about how to implement issues related to steps by the international community. We are actively working with the OSCE to enlarge the number of its observers in Georgia, we have suggested setting up an international police presence under its auspices, and we are for an active role of the EU in these structures. Their full implementation in the security zones, their demilitarisation and agreements guaranteeing the non-use of force against South Ossetia and Abkhazia will allow the creation of international mechanisms to provide security in these republics in compliance with points five and six of the Medvedev-Sarkozy plan. Certainly, it is necessary to make sure that Georgian troops return to their barracks.

We expect that in the course of the forthcoming visit of the French President to Moscow on September 8, the issues of the practical implementation of the plan will be discussed," the statement says.

Most important points of Medvedev-Sarkozy not implemented - Moscow

Moscow does not see the implementation of one of the most important points of the Medvedev-Sarkozy plan, that is the return of Georgian troops to their barracks. The statement comes from Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrey Nesterenko on Tuesday.

He also said Georgia is organising provocations against the Russian military in the conflict zone. “Georgia is actively trying to restore the military efficiency of its forces,” said Nesterenko.

He added that on Monday there were demonstrations near the security point of Karameti which were marked by provocations against Russian troops.

“We have information that these demonstrations were specially organised, possibly, by the corresponding Georgian authorities,” he said.

Although Georgia earlier said it was severing diplomatic ties with Russia, Moscow has not yet received any official documents to this end, the Foreign Ministry spokesman told journalists.

Two American, one Polish, one Spanish and one German ship are currently stationed in the Black Sea.

“Only three countries, Turkey, Romania and Bulgaria, have the right to keep as many ships in the Black Sea, as they judge it necessary as they are considered to be coastal countries,” said Nesterenko.

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