Sarkozy demands for Russian pullout from Georgia

18th August 2008, Comments 0 comments

French President Nicolas Sarkozy calls for the withdrawal "without delay" of Russian military forces from Georgia.

18 August 2008

PARIS - French President Nicolas Sarkozy, in a newspaper article which appeared Monday, called for the withdrawal "without delay" of Russian military forces from Georgia, adding: "This point is not negotiable".

Writing in Le Figaro, Sarkozy - who heads the French presidency of the European Union - said he would convene a special EU summit if Russia fails to pull back all its forces that entered Georgia from 7 August.

"This withdrawal must be carried out without delay," said Sarkozy, who brokered a ceasefire deal between Moscow and Tbilisi in the midst of conflict last week. "This point is not negotiable in my eyes."

Pre-publication release of Sarkozy's remarks came hours after Russian President Dmitri Medvedev assured him that a Russian pullout would begin on Monday.

"If this part of the ceasefire agreement is not applied quickly and completely, I will be led to convene an extraordinary European Council to determine the consequences," the French leader wrote.

The European Council is the formal name of summits of EU heads of state and government which normally take place four times a year in Brussels.

Sarkozy warned of "serious consequences in Russia's relations with the European Union" if the ceasefire agreement is not respected.
He went on to question the future of Kremlin foreign policy.

"We must also determine if Russia's intervention against its Georgian neighbour will have been a singular brutal and excessive response, or if it marks a new hardening of Moscow vis-a-vis is neighbours and the whole international community," he wrote.

The aftermath of the conflict "could become catastrophic if they herald the state of a new Cold War".

While deploring the "ill-thought-out military intervention of Georgia" in the breakaway region of South Ossetia on the night of 7 August, Sarkozy said the reaction of Russian forces was "brutal and disproportionate".

Conceding the ceasefire he brokered "will not solve everything," Sarkozy said the UN Security Council had to put into place "an international deployment ... to separate the sides and verify that they keep their commitments".

"The international community will have to mobilise to go to the aide of displaced persons or refugees, and to help Georgia to emerge from the destruction," he said.

He used the opportunity to make a pitch for the EU's Lisbon reform treaty rejected by Irish voters in a referendum earlier this year, saying it would have given the bloc the tools needed to respond to such a crisis.

[AFP / Expatica]

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