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Can Europe mean what it says?

Monday, November 3
The media has started speculating that the Georgian problem has created divisions between EU member countries. Some of these think that the Sakozy-Medvedev 6-point plan has been partially fulfilled and that Russia can be “forgiven” the rest. This action would open the way to reestablishing full scale dialogue between Moscow and the EU, thus granting the Kremlin the same priorities and status it had prior to the aggression against Georgia. Others however insist that Russia has not fulfilled its commitments under the abovementioned plan and the pressure on Moscow should not be lifted until it complies. They think that turning a blind eye to Russia’s conduct would encourage it to further increase its imperialistic appetite.

After the Russian aggression the EU made very strict statements, and on September 1 suspended work on the EU-Russia framework agreement until the aggressor had fulfilled the peace plan conditions. The main clause of these was the return of both combatants’ armed forces to their positions prior to August 7, before the hostilities started. The Russians have not observed this part of the agreement. Moreover they have recognized the breakaway regimes, signed friendship treaties with them and are building up military bases on these territories, all in further contravention of the peace plan.

On November 14 the French city of Nice will host the EU-Russia summit which has to decide if negotiations between Moscow and Brussels should be resumed or not. Some European countries are inclined to reconsider their “hard positions.” French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner is in favour of the resumption of dialogue with Russia, underlining that it has mostly fulfilled its commitments and withdrawn its armed forces from the buffer zones. This comment is part of a dangerous new tendency for Georgia, that of officially recognizing a distinction between ‘genuine’ and ‘non-genuine’ parts of the country, with different standards applying to each, and once again this is contrary to the peace plan the EU sponsored and was quick to ensure was signed.

If leading European countries take this effectively pro-Russian position in the current circumstances, when almost one third of Georgia is occupied by Russia, to try and make the monster more friendly, this would be not a noble step. It would in fact be one of the most ignoble in the history of the organization. You cannot tame a rhinoceros. It will repeat its aggressions over and over again, and as there are laws against keeping wild animals in the home in all EU countries, the organization should be aware of that.

Baltic countries, Poland and Sweden are against concessions towards Russia and think that Moscow should stop occupying Georgia and withdraw its forces from the whole of this sovereign country. This is the position the whole of the EU, as represented in its peace agreement, originally took, and has never formally renounced. In just a fortnight we shall see how far Europe has actually progressed since the ugly betrayal engineered at Munich in the late 30s of the last century.