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EU accepts Russia’s stand on Georgia

Vladimir Radyuhin

MOSCOW: A key summit between Russia and the European Union on Monday ended with a triumphant victory for Moscow.

The EU’s top trio of officials accepted President Dmitry Medvedev’s demands to get Georgia renounce the use of force against its breakaway territories and to have European peacekeepers deployed only on Georgian territory, while Russian peacekeepers would stay in South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Under an agreement negotiated by Mr. Medvedev, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, Russia would withdraw its forces from Georgia within a month on the condition Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili gives a legally binding pledge never to use force again against its former territories, which have been recognised by Russia as independent states last month. In addition, the EU would guarantee no-use-of force in the region.

At least 200 European observers are to be deployed in Georgia, whereas Russian peacekeepers would stay in South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

The EU leaders failed to persuade Mr. Medvedev to reverse his decision to recognise the independence of Georgia’s two former regions.

“We have made our choice [to recognise the two territories]; it is final, irreversible and irrevocable,” said Mr. Medvedev at a post-summit press meet. “We have already prepared agreements to establish diplomatic relations with the two states and to give them economic, humanitarian and military aid. From now on any dialogue with South Ossetia and Abkhazia can only be conducted as with sovereign states,” he said.

Mr. Sarkozy had to admit that Europe, which denounced Russia’s move to recognise Georgia’s territories, can do little about it. He said talks in Geneva scheduled for next month would deal only with “security for South Ossetia and Abkhazia,” as per a six-point peace plan he helped to negotiate.

Warplanes

Meanwhile, Russia said it would base its warplanes in Venezuela, in addition to holding large-scale naval manoeuvres with the Venezuelan Navy.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko on Monday confirmed an earlier announcement in Caracas that the two countries would hold the first ever naval war games off the Venezuelan coast. Mr. Nesterenko said Russia would send four of its most powerful warships to Latin America, including the Peter the Great missile cruiser.

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