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France’s Foreign Minister tries to sit between two stools2008-10-31 09:18
In an interview with the newspaper Kommersant Bernard Kouchner said that the EU has not sided with Georgia. Even though it has set aside 4.6 billion dollars for it.
Kouchner praised himself for stopping Russian aggression against Georgia. Adding at the same time that he does not want to blame anyone.
"Georgia was attacked. You had undoubtedly prepared for this. In some miraculous way Russian troops happened to be on the border at the necessary time," he noted. "The military aim of the Russian army was probably to take Tbilisi. And the Georgians confirm this. I think that there was a real danger of regime change in Georgia. And this would have led to an enormous number of casualties."
Kouchner noted that at the time the main aim was to stop the war, and "we did this in three days". Now he thinks that politicians must start to negotiate. France's Foreign Minister noted once again that the EU is categorically against recognising Abkhazia and South Ossetia's independence. "But at the same time it is extremely interested in cooperation between Russia and the EU."
The French Foreign Minister went on to lay out a whole list of the European Union's grievances. Russian troops remain in Akhalgori and the Upper Kodori valley and are not allowing EU observers into these regions. Commenting on Russia's intentions to guard Abkhazia and South Ossetia's borders, Kouchner thinks that there is no need for this.
"It is, of course, necessary to protect people. But problems need to be solved politically, not with force," explained the foreign minister. "That is the position of the 27 EU member states. Because otherwise other problems will arise - over the Crimea, Ukraine, and elsewhere. I understand that under Gorbachev and Yeltsin many borders changed. But they can only be changed by means of negotiations."
One can only hazard a guess as to why the EU did not insist on negotiations under Gorbachev and Yeltsin's rule. You have to think that this is because the borders changed in a way which suited the West. Now Europe really needs its own observers in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Kouchner noted that the EU would look to station its own peacekeepers in these republics. Evidently so that they consistently advance the European Union's idea there: "These Transcaucasian republics do not exist, it is Georgian territory". It is no surprise that Abkhazia and South Ossetia are not admitting OSCE observers onto their territory.
Having spoken about Moscow's crimes, Kouchner switched his attention to the treaty on a basic agreement between Russia and the EU. He said that dialogue could resume at the upcoming summit in Nice planned for 14th November.
"We didn't even put off the talks themselves, rather halted them. And incidentally we didn't postpone the EU-Russia summit. We put a halt to talks because we wanted Russia to carry out its agreement to withdraw its troops. And this has been done. I know that some thorny issues still remain, but on the whole Moscow has fulfilled its promises. This also concerns the start of talks in Geneva. And talks have begun. Badly, but they are underway."
While Kouchner was in Moscow telling Russia what it should do, the deputy US Trade Minister John Sullivan was at a Georgia-US business summit in Tbilisi. He said that the United States intended to provide preferential terms for Georgian production on its domestic market.
"We will also help Georgia to defend its intellectual production, to refine the procedures for solving judicial disputes, to improve the quality of its wine and in various other facets of its trade activity," said the deputy minister.