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EU: Russian Withdrawal ‘Essential Step’ to Fulfill Deal

EU foreign ministers said in final conclusions upon a meeting in Luxembourg on October 13 that upper Kodori Gorge and Akhalgori remained a problem that needed to be addressed at the Geneva talks.

The ministerial meeting noted “with satisfaction” that Russian troops had withdrawn from the zones adjacent to Abkhazia and South Ossetia as agreed, adding that the move was “an essential additional step in the implementation of the agreements of 12 August and 8 September.”
 
The EU foreign ministers called “on the parties to continue to implement their commitments, including with regard to the role of UNOMIG and OSCE observers” – an apparent reference to the failure of eight unarmed OSCE observers to gain access to Tskhinvali.

The foreign ministers also said that the EU was willing to take “an active part” in the Geneva talks, using the EU’s special envoy for the Georgia crisis, Pierre Morel.

“These discussions must focus on all the remaining problems, in particular that concerning arrangements for stability and security in the region and the urgent question of displaced persons, including the question of the upper Kodori valley and the Akhalgori region,” the final conclusions read.

The EU foreign ministers postponed any decision on resuming talks with Russia on a partnership and cooperation agreement (PCA), because of a disagreement on whether the Russian withdrawal from the areas adjacent to Abkhazia and South Ossetia was enough for the resumption of talks. The two issues have been interlinked since September 1, when EU leaders took a decision, which reads: “Until troops have withdrawn to the positions held prior to 7 August, meetings on the negotiation of the Partnership Agreement [with Russia] will be postponed.”

The EU foreign ministers also reiterated a willingness “to strengthen relations” with Georgia and said that the EU was preparing to begin negotiations with Georgia “in the near future” on visa facilitation. The ministers also reiterated a commitment “to continue preparatory work on the possible establishment of a deep and comprehensive free trade area, as soon as conditions permit.”

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)

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