Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2008-01-16-Speech-3-465"

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"Madam President, I would inform the Commissioner that, along with several colleagues, I am convinced the EU has to demonstrate increased engagement in the South Caucasus. After all, all the states in that region are already members of the Council of Europe and, as such, are part of Europe. The extended neighbourhood policies will be a valuable tool for applying such an engagement in real terms. Our challenge and chance is to play the role of a reliable stabiliser, but also that of an independent mediator and supporter of the democratic process. We therefore need to leave behind hesitations and ambiguity. It is high time to profile EU policies more clearly in this area. The EU representative, Peter Semneby, has done an outstanding job, and I am glad, Commissioner, that you spoke about increasing and widening our representations in the region. Long-term, active EU engagement will certainly contribute to also finding a solution to the frozen conflicts which the Committee on Foreign Affairs has decided to term, more realistically, ‘unresolved, post-Soviet conflicts’. Therefore, it is significant that the report rejects attempts by any foreign power to create exclusive zones of interest in the region, and urges Russia not to oppose EU engagement in conflict management and peacekeeping operations. Equally important, however, will be the EU’s role in advancing the culture of democratic dialogue in the region. The European Parliament will have an important part to play in this. Members of Parliament can mediate and encourage normal political dialogue between opposing parties. Finally, it is important that the report encourages the Commission to move towards possible free trade agreements with Armenia and Georgia, and to make preparations for a mobility partnership agreement between the EU and Georgia. So, the South Caucasus has become increasingly close and important for us. That region deserves our firm commitment."@en1

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