Magazine article Europe-East

Eu/russia : Expert-Level Meeting to Kick off Georgia Peace Talks

Magazine article Europe-East

Eu/russia : Expert-Level Meeting to Kick off Georgia Peace Talks

Article excerpt

Experts rather than top-level diplomats will take part in the opening round of international talks on the future status of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, scheduled for 15 October in Geneva, the EU's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, said on 23 September. His statement came after the EU-Russia ministerial meeting held on the sidelines of the annual UN General Assembly meeting in New York.

"Well, here I think it was most important to see whether our meeting in Geneva could take place," Solana said after talks with Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. "Indeed, this was confirmed. The meeting will be most probably held on 15 October on the expert level," he added. Earlier, the EU was advocating the talks to be conducted at ministerial level. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, whose country is currently holding the EU Presidency, indicated, however, that it could only be a temporary arrangement. "We have agreed for now on the fact that it will not be at the ministerial level at the beginning but at the expert level," Kouchner explained.

The date for the launch of the talks in Geneva was first stipulated in point six of the Medvedev-Sarkozy ceasefire agreement of 12 August. It was then confirmed by both presidents in their agreement signed on 8 September in Moscow. It was only later that the Union has indicated that the European Council meeting has been scheduled for the same day. The EU was therefore suggesting postponing the launch of the talks by "a day or two" so that the foreign ministers, who traditionally assist their leaders at the EU summit, can take part in it. …

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