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Tbilisi officials are against it...2008-11-12 09:44
Georgia's Foreign Minister Eka Tkeshelashvili has taken offence at the French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Apparently, she could not understand his statements that Russia had met its ceasefire agreement, hence there was no longer any problem stopping the EU from renewing talks with Russia about their partnership.
"We can sincerely say that the agreement has not been met," the minister told journalists in Paris. "In its decision made on 1st September the European Union clearly states that talks will not be resumed until Russia withdraws its troops to the positions that existed before 7th August. This is not happening, there are still Russian soldiers in Akhalgori 40 kilometres from Tbilisi - how can one talk about peace and stability?"
Tbilisi officials have become nervous. Recently Europe's tone concerning Russia has noticeably softened. The first signs came with the BBC radio broadcast on 28th October. The former high-ranking OSCE official Ryan Hurst admitted on air that he had been warning his bosses about Georgia's military activities even before it launched its attack on Tskhinvali.
"The OSCE has been working in South Ossetia for many years," stressed the diplomat. "Our organization's mission felt that something was brewing there. But at a higher diplomatic level people were clearly not following how the situation was unfolding."
On 8th November the BBC also broadcast a news item about the events in Tskhinvali. For the first time the Ossetian version of what happened appeared on Western screens. After this, the British Foreign Minister David Milliband said that Georgia's actions were "irresponsible". And he promised to treat the allegations against Saakashvili with the utmost seriousness.
Until then Milliband had been loudly deploring Russian aggression against Georgia. But he unexpectedly turned in the opposite direction. On the same day the US Ambassador to NATO Kurt Volker declared at a conference in Riga that "the Western countries need to be remain open to Russia". And the expert on NATO planning Edgar Buckley focused on a somewhat different aspect of the problem.
"NATO is responsible for the security of its members," he said. "Recently the NATO Membership Action Plans have become too politicised. Only Georgia can answer for itself. One of the most important conditions for a country to join the alliance is for it to solve the question of its own borders."
The organizers had intended the Riga Forum to offer another opportunity to reprimand Moscow for its "imperial policies". But the diplomats representing Western Europe at the conference were suspiciously silent. Only Saakashvili and his Baltic allies condemned "Russian militarism". They were surpassed only by Boris Nemtsov. He said that the West would only be able to improve relations with Russia once a process of democratization began there.
Sensing that the European Union is clearly tired of having to deal with the Caucasus, Saakashvili expressed his hope that Europe would not enter into talks with Russia.
"Russia continues to occupy more than 20-percent of Georgia's territory. I hope that Europe will not sign a new Munich agreement, I hope there won't be anything like this. Because any appeasement and acceptance of this as an accomplished fact would, in my opinion, be a new Munich."
He was seconded by his faithful ally, Lithuania's President Valdas Adamkus: a return to talks between the EU and Russia at the current time would demonstrate Europe's weakness.