Washington briefing: Europeans resume talks with Russia over Georgian objections

by Emil Sanamyan

Published: Saturday November 15, 2008

Presidents Sarkozy (left) and Medvedev.

The European Union (EU) will resume talks with Russia on a "strategic partnership" agreement, which it suspended on September 1 as a punishment for Russian military operations in Georgia.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who holds the rotating EU chair and had negotiated the Russian-Georgian cease-fire, announced the decision on November 11. Poland and Lithuania expressed public opposition to the decision.

Georgian officials protested and EU officials acknowledged that Russian forces had not returned to positions they held before the Georgian attack against South Ossetia on August 7-8, saying that the EU's talks with Russia in "no way legitimize the status quo in Georgia," with the EU continuing to protest Russian recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which broke away from Georgia in early 1990s.

But in an interview with Le Figaro, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said his country's decisions "are no joking matters" and could not be revised. Mr. Medvedev added that future Russian military presence in both Abkhazia and South Ossetia would be regulated on a bilateral basis.

Speaking at the Brookings Institution in Washington on November 12, Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner of France said Russia represented a "challenge" to the West, but he added that "there is no solution to most of today's [global] problems without [Russia], let alone against [Russia]."?

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