EU names French diplomat as new Georgia crisis envoy

26th August 2011, Comments 0 comments

French diplomat Philippe Lefort was named Friday as the European Union's new special envoy to the South Caucasus and the three-year-old row between Georgia and Russia.

A former French ambassador to Georgia and deputy chief of mission at the embassy in Moscow, Lefort takes over the Georgia crisis job from fellow Frenchman Pierre Morel and the South Caucasus portfolio of Sweden's Peter Semneby.

"Philippe Lefort has an in-depth knowledge of the region and years of experience working there at the very highest level," EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said in a statement announcing the appointment.

"I am confident that he is an ideal choice for the EUSR (special representative) for the South Caucasus and the crisis in Georgia and that he will enhance the EU's role in this sensitive region," she said.

As the special representative for a region that includes Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, Lefort will encourage these countries to pursue political and economic reforms to strengthen cooperation agreements with the EU.

He will also act as mediator in Geneva-based talks between Russia and Georgia aimed at resolving differences stemming from their war in August 2008.

Georgians and Russians have held discussions in Geneva in a bid to prevent another flare-up of violence over the Georgian breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Russia recognised the two rebel regions as independent after the brief war, a move condemned by Georgia's Western allies and only followed by a handful of other states.

© 2011 AFP

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