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Sarkozy: The EU took all possible measures to avoid war in Georgia2008-12-17 18:08
France's President Nicolas Sarkozy addressed the plenary session of the European Parliament which took place on 16th December in Strasbourg. He assessed France's six-month long presidency of the EU. The French president gave special mention in his speech to the crisis in the Caucasus.
"The French chairmanship and the European Commission did everything they could to avoid [the Georgian crisis] turning into a war," stressed Sarkozy, quoted by the radio station Echo of Moscow. "Ultimately we managed to avoid a war, and the withdrawal of troops began."
"In August we discussed a ceasefire and an agreement on withdrawing troops by 12th September, and in this way we managed to avoid a war. On 8th August the Russians were 40km away from Tbilisi, whereas now nearly all the forces have been withdrawn, except from those in South Ossetia and Abkhazia," the Trend agency cites the French president.
In Sarkozy's opinion, the European Union has no alternative but to cooperate with Russia.
"We have no future other than the need to explain the conditions for economic cooperation, security and peace to our Russian friends," he said. "Russia and the EU are connected by common European values, which cannot differ."
Meanwhile, the French president noted: "Some aspects of Russia's policies cause anxiety within the European Union... We are against the aggressive policies of our Russian friends... If you want Russia to be a great power, you should act accordingly, instead of adhering to the policies which used to exist during the era of the Soviet Union."
On the whole, observers agree that France's presidency of the EU was successful. However, some politicians have failed to agree with a series of decisions and have spoken out in criticism. For example, the former president of Poland Aleksander Kwaśniewski stated in an interview with EurActiv Poland, published on the same day as Sarkozy's speech, that in his opinion Sarkozy was wrong to object to granting a NATO Membership Action Plan to Georgia.
"Georgia's membership in NATO would have restrained both Russia and Saakashvili. But France did not have a sufficient understanding of the situation in the Caucasus. It made a mistake by speaking out against granting a MAP to Georgia and Ukraine at the NATO summit in Bucharest."