Eu/russia : Commission Would Unfreeze Talks with Moscow

Europe-East, November 18, 2008 | Go to article overview

Eu/russia : Commission Would Unfreeze Talks with Moscow


If the EU wants to influence the course of events, the negotiations with Russia on the new partnership agreement, put on hold on 1 September, should continue, said the European Commission in its communication on the review of relations with Russia adopted by the College of Commissioners on 5 November. "When the EU speaks with one voice, and acts as one, Russia takes notice and the EU is able to influence the course of events," reads the communication, warning at the same time against Russia's divide and rule' policy. "The unanimously agreed mandate for the negotiations for the new EU-Russia agreement provides us with an important instrument to pursue our objectives in a united way," it adds, suggesting that Russia's dealing with individual member states might bring negative consequences to the EU as a whole.

The Commission is of the opinion that the further suspension of talks would limit the Union's ability to pursue its own interests with Russia, especially in the areas of energy and external security. The lack of dialogue with Moscow, according to the Commission, could have a detrimental effect on EU-Russia relations as it could lead to a further deepening of differences in these areas. In order to avoid this negative scenario, the Commission advocated that the date for resumption of talks with Russia is agreed by the EU foreign ministers on 10 November.

Speaking before the European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee the same day, Benita Ferrer-Waldner, the EU's commissioner for external relations, stressed that the resumption of talks would not mean "business as usual". "It does not mean that we would accept the status quo in Georgia. [ ] We have our standpoints where we will remain firm and critical," said Ferrero-Waldner.

Referring to the controversial military presence of Russian troops in the Akhalgori district and the upper Kodori valley - zones inside the breakaway Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which before the conflict were controlled by Georgian authorities, Ferrero-Waldner said that this issue should to be addressed at the Geneva conference, which was launched on 15 October. …

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