EU backs sending monitors to South Ossetia

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner urged the EU to take a supervisory role on the ground when he arrived to chair the rare August session of the 27 EU ministers as the guns fell silent in Georgia after a six-day war.

EU backs sending monitors to South Ossetia
European Union foreign ministers gave broad support on Wednesday for sending monitors to Georgia's breakaway region of South Ossetia to help supervise a French-brokered ceasefire between Georgia and Russia.

"There was strong support for European peacekeepers, there will probably be European peacekeepers," a diplomat listening to the debate at an emergency meeting in Brussels said. Another said both parties would have to agree to the deployment.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner urged the EU to take a supervisory role on the ground when he arrived to chair the rare August session of the 27 EU ministers as the guns fell silent in Georgia after a six-day war.

"The idea of having monitors -- what you call peacekeeping troops, I wouldn't call them like that -- but European controllers, monitors, facilitators, yes, yes and yes. That is how Europe should be on the ground," Kouchner told reporters.

Kouchner, who accompanied President Nicolas Sarkozy on his mission to broker a peace agreement in Moscow on Tuesday, said he was convinced Russia would accept a European presence. He did not exclude Russian troops taking part.

Despite eyewitness reports to the contrary from the region, Georgian Foreign Minister Ekaterine Tkeshelashvili said on arrival in Brussels that Russia was still attacking the Georgian town of Gori, outside South Ossetia.

"Definitely, European monitors have to be on the ground. Europe has to get engaged physically on the ground and Europe has to stop that from happening," she told reporters.

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, who visited Georgia for the pan-European Council of Europe, cast doubt on whether Moscow would allow European monitors into zones that it had held or captured.

"There are no signs of the Russians letting in anyone else," he said. "I don't really see it happening -- at the moment the Russians are firmly in control."

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier backed the monitoring idea. He said the EU should avoid apportioning blame and focus on how it could play a constructive role to stabilise its neighbourhood, keeping channels open to Moscow and Tbilisi.

But differences over what consequences to draw from Russia's military action in Georgia emerged as ministers arrived for the rare August session.

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said the EU should decide next month "whether or not and how" to continue talks on closer ties with Moscow. He noted that the Group of Seven major industrialised powers had been coordinating their response to the Georgia crisis without involving Russia.

"The international community will want to ensure that the message goes out that force is not the right way to take forward these difficult issues," Miliband said.


Reuters
Last Mod: 13 Ağustos 2008, 17:11
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