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EU Parliament Says Russian Peacekeeping Should be Replaced

A resolution passed by the European Parliament on June 5 says that the Russian-led peacekeeping format in Abkhazia should be revised and calls on the EU to send a border mission there.

The resolution, passed with 581 votes in favour, 50 against and 17 abstentions, “urges the Russian Federation to immediately withdraw its additional troops in Abkhazia,” and "takes the view that the present peacekeeping format must be revised since the Russian troops have lost their role of neutral and impartial peacekeepers.”

It therefore “calls on the Council to consider bolstering the international presence in the conflict zone by sending an ESDP border mission” to the region.

In the resolution the European Parliament also “expresses its deep disapproval at Russia’s announcement that it would establish official ties with institutions within the separatist authorities of South Ossetia and Abkhazia” and called on Russia to “revoke this decision.”

The resolution also calls on the European Commission to “firmly raise” the Abkhaz and South Ossetian issues at the upcoming EU-Russia summit, scheduled for June 26-27.

The European Parliament has also called on the European Commission to “speed up the opening of negotiations on the EU-Georgia visa regime in order to conclude the visa facilitation and readmission agreements with Georgia in the near future to ensure that citizens of Georgia are not disadvantaged in relation to those holding Russian passports in the separatist regions.”

The resolution also addresses the May 21 parliamentary elections in Georgia and notes "that overall the election day was calm and generally was assessed positively and that substantial progress has been made since the January presidential elections.”

It, however, also says that “further efforts have to be made in close cooperation with the international community in order to address and solve all the problems identified in the electoral process caused by the inconsistent and incomplete implementation of the OSCE and Council of Europe standards, and to improve and consolidate Georgia’s democratic achievements.”

Meanwhile, Javier Solana, the EU foreign policy chief, arrived in Tbilisi on June 5.

Later on Thursday Solana will meet President Saakashvili in Batumi, Adjarian Autonomous Republic.

Before that he will hold talks with PM Lado Gurgenidze and opposition leaders in Tbilisi and on June 6 he will travel to Sokhumi where he will hold talks with the leadership of breakaway Abkhazia.

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