Magazine article Europe-East

Eu/russia/georgia : Eu "Seriously Concerned" about Georgia-Russia Tensions

Magazine article Europe-East

Eu/russia/georgia : Eu "Seriously Concerned" about Georgia-Russia Tensions

Article excerpt

The European Union's foreign ministers expressed, on 26 May, "serious concern about the recent series of events that have raised tensions between Georgia and Russia". They underlined the Union's full commitment to Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity and urged both sides to "calm down public rhetoric and abstain from provocations".

"We are very seriously concerned about the relations between Russia and Georgia," Dimitrij Rupel, Slovenia's foreign minister, told journalists at a press conference after chairing a meeting with his EU counterparts. Rupel's comment came as a reaction to Russia's recent aggressive moves in Georgia's breakaway region of Abkhazia, including the unilateral deployment of extra peacekeepers and the shooting down of a Georgian drone over Abkhazian airspace. Commenting on the strained ties between Russia and Georgia, Rupel made reference to a recent UN report, which concluded that a Russian fighter jet shot down an unmanned Georgian spy plane last month. Russia has been denying involvement in this incident and insisted the plane was shot down by Abkhaz rebels.

"It's a balanced report," Rupel said, adding that it "is rather critical of the Russian Federation but it is not without criticism for Georgia either". He urged Russian officials to explain their actions. "We think that those who have been found responsible should explain themselves," Rupel said.

The shooting down of the Georgian drone has further escalated tensions between Moscow and Tbilisi, which arose after the 16 April decision taken by Russia's President Vladimir Putin to establish legal links with Abkhazia and South Ossetia - a move seen as a response to Georgia's aspirations to join NATO. …

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