Following his visit to Moscow and Tbilisi on Monday, EU foreign policy high representative Javier Solana informed the EP Foreign Affairs Committee in Brussels on Wednesday that Russia had agreed to withdraw all troops from Georgian territory, including Abkhazia and South Ossetia, by 10 October. The withdrawal will be monitored by 200 EU observers, who are to arrive in Georgia by 1 October. Mr Solana also spoke about Ukraine and Afghanistan.Mr Solana had accompanied EU Council President Nicolas Sarkozy and Commission President José Manuel Barroso on the visit to Moscow and Tbilisi. He told MEPs at today's meeting that not only had Russia agreed to withdraw its army from Georgia by 10 October, but in addition the Russian checkpoints between the Georgian cities of Poti and Senaki will be shut down by 15 September. It was essential that Russia stand by its commitments, he stressed. Georgian troops are to return to their bases by 1 October.
Two hundred EU observers will arrive in Georgia by 1 October to ensure completion of the Six Point Plan agreed in August with the EU Council Presidency. International discussions are to take place on 15 October in Geneva to coordinate the EU observer mission with the UN observation mission in Abkhazia and the OSCE mission in South Ossetia. Other topics will be the restoration of security and stability in the region as well as the issue of refugees. Mr Solana said the recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which he condemned, would also be raised at the talks.
Regarding the meeting in Tbilisi, Mr Solana told MEPs that Georgian President Saakashvili was pleased with what had been achieved in Moscow. He added that the way the EU had dealt with the crisis was encouraging and that now it was time for diplomacy to end this conflict.
Turning next to the EU-Ukraine Summit which he took place in Paris yesterday, Mr Solana said the aim had been to establish a political framework for future relations. He emphasised that no door to Ukrainian EU membership had been opened but on the other hand no door had been closed.
The next topic was Afghanistan. Mr Solana said this was "not a good summer", referring to the many casualties and setbacks, and to the atmosphere in Afghanistan, which he described as very tense. Nevertheless, he believed the strategy agreed in Paris should be continued.
Questions from MEPs
To a question by José Salafranca (EPP-ED, ES) about news reports that President Sarkozy had been on the verge of suspending the talks with President Medvedev, Mr Solana would only describe the Moscow talks as "very, very difficult" - as he "had expected" them to be.
Véronique de Keyser (PES, BE) referred to a vote that morning by the Foreign Affairs Committee in its opinion on the 2009 budget recommending that €60 million for crossborder cooperation be placed in reserve until the Six Point Plan is fulfilled. Sheasked whether such sanctions would help the Council. Mr Solana replied that the Council should not talk about sanctions andthat these were not part of his vocabulary.
Annemie Neyts (ALDE, BE) expressed her concerns about Afghanistan and asked Mr Solana what he thought of a total review of the strategy on this country. Mr Solana reiterated his view that the strategy should not be changed but that further thought and analysis was needed.
Ģirts Valdis Kristovskis (UEN, LV) asked the High Representative if the EU was in need of new defence plans, considering the Russian threat to post-Soviet countries such as the Baltics. Mr Solana believed there was no need to do so at the moment.
Marie Anne Isler Béguin (Greens/EFA, FR) asked if the UN as well as the OSCE mission stationed in Abkhazia and East Ossetia would remain there. Mr Solana pointed to the Geneva talks on 15 October and said there would be no changes until then.
08/09/2008Chair : Jacek SARYUSZ-WOLSKI (EPP-ED, PL)