Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2008-09-01-Speech-1-118"

PredicateValue (sorted: default)
dcterms:Is Part Of
lpv:document identification number
lpv:translated text
". − Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, you have kindly waited for the Extraordinary European Council to end and so I have rushed here to present its results to you. We, the French Presidency, wanted you to be immediately informed of the decisions taken, not only because we want to keep you constantly updated on our work, but also because the European Parliament has shown itself to be extremely active in recent months on the issue of Georgia. Thank you Commissioner. Two amendments were accepted by President Medvedev, in particular one point on the final status which we understand he did not want in the text. The ceasefire agreement was accepted by President Saakashvili thanks to this mediation which, while it was not perfect – because nothing is perfect in a situation such as that – you must at least acknowledge that it was quick. This mediation therefore allowed an effective ceasefire, with a few sad exceptions. On the ground, the Russian troops began to withdraw on 21 August – this being the second of the six points in the document – although this was nearly eight days later. However, there were movements that were interpreted differently, as is always the case, because some tanks went in one direction and then also in another. This withdrawal has still not yet been completed. Actually, I am not sure whether it has been completed but it has certainly not been fully carried out. The war ended quite quickly as, on 10 and 11 August, the main war operations were brought to an end, at least according to certain observers, including our French Ambassador, Eric Fournier, who is here. However, what did not end – and these have wrought havoc – were the actions of the Ossetian and Abkhazian militias which, following behind the Russian troops, were responsible for looting and sometimes even killing. However, I must say, albeit with the greatest of care, that the damage was not extensive. I must also say that the damage from the bombing was not extensive. Of course any damage is always very serious and too much and always leads to too many victims but, compared to what was described to us, the damage has not been as extensive as was feared, which is definitely good. What we have not seen, and what we should see, given that the accounts have been very biased, is what happened in Ossetia. While it was possible to see fairly quickly the situation in Georgia, it was not possible to get into Ossetia, at least not easily, and only a few people have managed to get there. They have all given rather different accounts. The ceasefire, which was the first of the six points, was therefore immediate and effective. There was a temporary ceasefire and a permanent ceasefire. The second point concerned the withdrawal of troops. It was specified that withdrawal meant, for the Georgian troops, withdrawal to their barracks and, for the Russian troops, withdrawal behind the lines that were held prior to the crisis. There were also a number of other points, including access to humanitarian aid for all victims. The specific points which posed a problem were points 5 and 6. In our negotiations a zone was established along the border between South Ossetia and Georgia where Russian patrols would be temporarily tolerated, while awaiting the arrival of observers from the OSCE or European Union. A letter of clarification was then needed from President Sarkozy, which was published in agreement with President Saakashvili, to specify that this meant immediately adjacent to the border. Given that, in places, this border is only two kilometres from the main road crossing through Georgia, this was not straightforward. There were therefore several points which were agreed pending – and this was clearly specified in the text – the arrival of international observers. The word ‘observers’ was used rather than ‘peacekeepers’. All this had to be very precise. Point 6, which was in a way the most important point, concerned the political settlement and the international discussions or negotiations which had to lead to this political settlement. This agreement was signed by President Saakashvili with the assistance of Mrs Condoleezza Rice because the first document was signed, but was then amended. Then there was the document agreed with Mr Medvedev and finally the third and final document agreed with President Saakashvili which we were unable to get him to sign. It was midnight or one o’clock in the morning when there was a big demonstration. In the end, we were unable to get him to sign the document, so we then had to get him to sign this, after a few corrections, with the assistance of Mrs Condoleezza Rice who, while passing through Paris, came to see us and who we then entrusted with the document so that this – if I dare say it, the final six-point document – could be signed by President Saakashvili. The immediate result was the ceasefire! The less immediate result, although it was very rapid, was the incomplete withdrawal of Russian troops. The other points will now be closely monitored by us, by the 27 countries making up the European Union and by this Parliament in particular, as the document has just been accepted. I would remind you that the conclusions of the first Extraordinary Foreign Affairs Council had already been accepted by the 27 Member States and provided for the physical presence of the European Union on the ground. We have since then entrusted Javier Solana with driving forward this part of the common foreign and security policy. Two or four French observers have already been sent under the aegis of the OSCE which was already present. We are hopeful that more observers will be accepted given that yesterday, in a conversation between President Sarkozy and President Medvedev, the latter indicated that he would accept and even wanted there to be observers from the European Union. We are working to this end. An extremely rapid result was therefore achieved: in three days, a ceasefire and troops halted who had been threatening Tbilisi; then, after a few days, in fact eight days, with a few movements before the end of these eight days, withdrawal of these Russian troops to Ossetia and Abkhazia. I am now absolutely ready to answer all your questions of which I am sure there will be many, as is my good fortune, which will keep us here for a very long time. However, I have forgotten to say a brief word on the document now accepted. I would remind you that this Extraordinary Council has a clear precedent convened in the month of August 2003 on the situation in Iraq. During that Extraordinary Council, the unity of the European Union was harmed, which is the very least that one can say. Now, in 2008, unity has prevailed and it has not been as difficult as we thought to propose a text and get it accepted by those who definitely wanted sanctions – what sanctions? why? – and those who definitely wanted to maintain dialogue with Russia, without sanctions. You will see that this text is firm in its condemnations but that it leaves the door open as we did not want to engage in a Cold War exercise, as some were proposing. We wanted to maintain the links so that the political negotiations which are essential in our opinion could be pursued. We convened this European Council because the President of the French Republic, as the President of the Council of the European Union, considered that the crisis in Georgia was serious and directly affected all Europeans. Obviously Georgia is not in the European Union, nor is Ukraine. However, several Member States also wanted this meeting which it was up to us to arrange. I believe that we were truly inspired because no one else outside the European Union, in our opinion, could have done this. It was the European Union which had to take charge of this whole issue. This does not mean that we were on our own – because that was not the case at all – but that it was up to us to take the initiative, it was up to us to show that the European Union is reactive, particularly in a situation where the institutional problems are unresolved. The European Union has therefore shown, at the highest level, that it enjoys unity and that it wants to fully assume its responsibilities. I believe that, in comparison to the 2003 precedent, this is real progress. What were the main results of this Council? You can clearly see from the text our condemnation of the military actions and the disproportionate reaction of Russia. Some wanted the series of provocations that probably preceded the bombing of Tskhinvali to be denounced. It would be very easy to denounce this side and that side but what really counts, when you are trying to carry out a peace mission, is that each side agrees to halt the fighting. Russia’s disproportionate reaction was therefore highlighted. Once again, we need those on the ground to tell us what actually happened. It is true that this was not a success on the part of Georgia which had been very widely warned, in particular by the Americans, against provoking this reaction, even if Georgia itself was provoked, as this reaction would be well-prepared, something of which I was completely unaware. When I went to see the Russian refugees on the other side, in North Ossetia, I saw huge convoys of tanks and military vehicles which were heading for the border. Were they ready prepared or not? I leave you to find this out for yourselves, although it does seem that they were not far away. You can therefore see in the text our condemnation of the military actions and the disproportionate reaction, the unanimous condemnation by the Heads of State or Government of the 27 Member States of the recognition of the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and the reminder of the European Union’s attachment to the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia, as recognised by international law and the UN Security Council resolutions. You can see the confirmation, as the central document given that there is no other, of the six-point agreement reached on 12 August which the European Council has said must be fully implemented. You can see the firm commitment that we have made to implement this roadmap. You can see the readiness of the European Union to participate in the international monitoring mechanism provided for by point 5 of this agreement, as I have already mentioned, both through an OSCE mission and through a commitment under the European Security and Defence Policy. The terms of this participation are yet to be defined but they are on the way to being defined, and not only that, I also believe that things are moving at a very fast pace. I am not going to explain in detail all the various opinions, but I would reiterate that they were not fundamentally different. It was all about nuances: does the reminder of international law and the ban on altering the borders of a neighbouring country by force constitute a sanction? No, this is not a sanction. It is a basic requirement. Therefore, there were not many differences of opinion. There were demands to include this reminder which we accepted in the end and we therefore included this reminder because, as you know, on 9 September there will be a meeting between the European Union and Ukraine. Also, on 8 September we will return to Moscow with Mr Barroso, Javier Solana and President Sarkozy. We therefore have a meeting arranged on 8 September in Moscow and on 8 September in Tbilisi – so Moscow and then Tbilisi – in order to record, and we hope that we will be able to record this, that the Russian troops have withdrawn behind the lines indicated to them, in other words behind the border between Ossetia and Georgia. We will also hope to record that the remaining checkpoints around the Port of Poti and the remaining checkpoints along the border between Ossetia and Georgia but inside Georgian territory have been replaced or will be in a position to be immediately replaced with international observers. That is what we are expecting. We want to thank you for this interest and also to inform you of what happened in the Council on 13 August and at the meeting of the Committee on Foreign Affairs on 20 August, on which Jean-Pierre Jouyet is here to present our provisional conclusions. Everyone has agreed to this meeting which will therefore complete the implementation of the six points of the agreement. It is on this basis that we will judge the goodwill and political follow-up, depending on which we will then propose a conference. This will be an international conference involving – and why not, because, for nearly 20 years, the United Nations have been involved in this issue, although more so in Abkhazia than Ossetia – a number of partners so that the political negotiations can begin. Mr Medvedev has also agreed, which is a very good point, that the refugees may return, and not just the refugees who have left since these recent events, in other words in the last month, but the refugees who have left since the 1990s. You will say to me that this is actually very debatable because where are they, can they return, do they need to return, do they want to return, and so on. However, if we are talking about people’s right to self-determination, we should note that all these refugees came from either Abkhazia or Ossetia. This has been accepted and we will wait to see how far this agreement can be implemented. I will now raise some points which I believe we can then discuss. I am going to mention the points that were amended or slightly changed because the others you can see for yourself, such as ‘gravely concerned by the open conflict ...’ and so on. The text states that the European Council strongly condemns Russia’s unilateral decision to recognise the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. That decision is unacceptable and the European Council calls on other States not to recognise this proclaimed independence and asks the Commission to examine the practical consequences to be drawn. It recalls that a peaceful and lasting solution to the conflict in Georgia must be based on full respect for the principles of independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity recognised by international law, the Final Act of the Helsinki Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe and the three UN Security Council resolutions. It emphasises that all European States have the right freely to determine their foreign policy and their alliances, and so on. The European Council is pleased that the six-point agreement achieved on 12 August on the basis of the European Union’s mediation efforts has led to a ceasefire, improved delivery of humanitarian aid to the victims and a substantial withdrawal of Russian military forces. The implementation of that plan has to be complete, and so on. This has not been discussed. Jean-Pierre, you said something to me about the English amendment on Georgia. I had: the European Union has already supplied emergency aid. It is prepared to supply aid for reconstruction in Georgia, including the regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. It is ready to support confidence-building measures and the development of regional cooperation. It also decides to step up its relations with Georgia, including visa facilitation measures and the possible establishment of a full and comprehensive free trade area as soon as the conditions are met. It will take the initiative of convening an international conference shortly to assist reconstruction in Georgia and requests the Council and the Commission to start preparations for this conference. Another point is the impact which the current crisis is having on the whole of the region and regional cooperation. As regards point 8: the European Council decides to appoint a European Union Special Representative for the crisis in Georgia and asks the Council to make the necessary arrangements. We will add: recent events illustrate the need for Europe to intensify its efforts with regard to the security of energy supplies. The European Council invites the Council, in cooperation with the Commission, to examine initiatives to be taken to this end, in particular as regards diversification of energy sources and supply routes. Finally, at the request of the Germans, Poles and a number of other countries, the end is worded as follows: We call on Russia to join with us in making this fundamental choice in favour of mutual interest, understanding and cooperation. We are convinced that it is in Russia’s own interest not to isolate itself from Europe. For its part, the European Union has shown itself willing to engage in partnership and cooperation, in keeping with the principles and values on which it is based. We expect Russia to behave in a responsible manner, honouring all its commitments. The Union will remain vigilant; the European Council requests the Council, with the Commission, to conduct a careful in-depth examination of the situation and of the various aspects of EU-Russia relations; this evaluation must begin now and continue. The European Council gives a mandate to its President to continue discussions with a view to the full application of the six-point agreement. To that end, the President of the European Council will go to Moscow on 8 September, accompanied by the President of the Commission and the High Representative. Until troops have withdrawn to the positions held prior to 7 August, meetings on the negotiation of the partnership agreement will be postponed. There is a small addition to point 3: The Council awaits the results of the forthcoming summit between the European Union and Ukraine. While awaiting the results of this summit, our institutional cooperation with Ukraine will be intensified and stepped up. ( ) I would remind you that the conflict began 20 years ago, in 1991/1992. However, the latest phase of this conflict began during the night of 7 to 8 August. It would be useful to look at this particular outbreak. Journalists and historians must study the events and see how they developed in Ossetia and, more particularly, in Tskhinvali, the capital of South Ossetia. The battle raged during that night and then during 9 and 10 August. We decided, with my colleague Alexander Stubb, the Finnish Minister for Foreign Affairs who is also President of the OSCE, to go to Tbilisi on Sunday 10 August. We proposed a ceasefire agreement to President Saakashvili which he accepted. As it is important, I will quickly go over what we found there, what we saw in Gori and on the roads during this painful episode of the Russian troops’ entry and rapid advance. The first thing to say is that we feared the arrival of Russian troops in Tbilisi. These troops were in Gori, just 45 or 50 km from Tbilisi. The road was straight and there were few obstacles. We therefore thought, with some reason, that the aim of the Russian troops was, as they had said, to respond to the provocation and to liberate South Ossetia, but also to get to Tbilisi and force a change in government. It was therefore absolutely vital, or at least that is what we thought, for the troops to halt and for the ceasefire to come into force as quickly as possible. Ceasefire as quickly as possible was our aim. I met up with President Sarkozy in Moscow the next day but, before that, after having spoken to refugees on the Georgian side and to victims that I met at Gori hospital, I and the French Presidency were keen to go and listen to the stories of refugees on the other side, in North Ossetia, who had arrived from South Ossetia after the bombing of Tskhinvali during the night of 7 to 8 August. I heard stories that were unfortunately similar in terms of suffering but which clearly revealed very different interpretations. We met up with President Sarkozy in Moscow where lengthy discussions took place, lasting five hours, between President Medvedev, Prime Minister Putin, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Sergei Lavrov, President Sarkozy and myself. At the end of these quite tough discussions, there was a press conference during which President Sarkozy and President Medvedev set out the six points of the French agreement which then had to be taken back to Tbilisi for approval, as amendments had been made between our first trip to Tbilisi and what would be our final stay in Tbilisi, the next day."@en1

Named graphs describing this resource:


The resource appears as object in 2 triples

Context graph