Tue, September 09, 2008
World > Europe

Russian, French reach new deal on Caucasus

2008-09-09 03:54:41 GMT2008-09-09 11:54:41 (Beijing Time) Xinhua English

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso (L), French President Nicolas Sarkozy (C) and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev take part in a joint news conference after their meeting at Meiendorf Castle outside Moscow, September 8, 2008. (Xinhua/AFP Photo)

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso (L), French President Nicolas Sarkozy (2nd L), Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R) take part in a joint news conference after their meeting at Meiendorf Castle outside Moscow, September 8, 2008. (Xinhua/AFP Photo)

France's President Nicolas Sarkozy (R), Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev (L) and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso meet at a presidential residence outside Moscow September 8, 2008. (Xinhua/AFP Photo)

(From left to right) Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso meet at a presidential residence outside Moscow September 8, 2008. (Xinhua/AFP Photo)

MOSCOW, Sept. 8 (Xinhua) -- Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy reached here on Monday a new agreement on the implementation of a French-brokered cease-fire between Russia and Georgia.

NEW WITHDRAWAL DEAL

Georgian troops entered and shelled its breakaway region of South Ossetia on early Aug. 8 in an attempt to regain control there. Russian forces then moved in and drove Georgian troops out of the region that was run by Russian peacekeeping forces.

A French-brokered cease-fire stopped the five-day war on Aug. 12 in which Russia promised to withdraw its troops.

Moscow said earlier it has withdrawn all its troops from Georgia that drove Georgian troops out of South Ossetia during the war, but the West has been pressing Moscow on that.

"Russia is carrying out the cease-fire to the full scale," Medvedev said, claiming that Tbilisi is moving slowly in that aspect.

According to the new agreement read live on local TV channel by the head of state, Moscow agreed to withdraw its troops from the buffer zone around South Ossetia within one month and after international forces were deployed there.

Russia will also remove its checking-points and troops from the Black Sea port of Poti given a non-use-of-force guarantee from Georgia to its nearby breakaway region of Akbhazia, according to the new deal.

Moscow agreed to deploy 200 EU observers to Georgia by Oct. 1 to monitor the withdrawal, and an international conference on the Caucasus situation will be held on Oct. 15 in Geneva.

DISAGREE ON RECOGNITION

Moscow recognized South Ossetia and another breakaway region of Abkhazia as independent states on Aug. 26, a move that further angered the West.

Sarkozy, heading a EU delegation, condemned Russia's recognition of the self-proclaimed Caucasus regions.

"We did not agree on everything. EU condemns the unilateral recognition by Russia to South Ossetia and Akbhazia," he said. "We are not here negotiating the future, but to make sure the cease-fire was and is fully implemented."

Medvedev, in response, said the recognition was "final and irrevocable" and refused to change Russia's stance though its recognition was not broadly echoed in the international community yet.

TENSE IN TIES

Sarkozy arrived in Moscow Monday for talks with Medvedev on the Caucasus situation that was in tense due to the military conflict between Russia and Georgia.

Sarkozy and the EU delegation, including European Commission President Manuel Barroso and foreign policy and security chief Javier Solana, are expected to head for Tbilisi following talks in Moscow.

The Russian-Georgian conflict further dampened Moscow's frozen relations with the West that has promised economic aid for Tbilisi.

The EU postponed talks with Russia on a new partnership agreement and the U.S.-led NATO broke military cooperation with the Kremlin following the conflict.

In fact, observers believe that the fragile Russian-Georgian relations were a result of Tbilisi's bid for NATO membership to which Moscow objects as well as Moscow's support to the pro-Russia breakaway regions.

At the press conference following the talks, Medvedev appreciated EU's mediation, labeling the 27-member bloc a "key partner", but insisted that Moscow's decisions were "the only way to save people."

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