Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2008-09-01-Speech-1-123"
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"Mr President, I am a little surprised by the President-in-Office’s speech tonight, as indeed I am by its delivery from the . Europe should convene a trans-Caucasian peace conference, bringing together all sides in the search for the settlement of unresolved conflicts. But the Union should start in one area of glaring inconsistency which requires little more than ministerial fiat to fix. End the anomaly whereby Georgian citizens with Russian passports have freer access to the European Union, because this encourages them to adopt Russian citizenship. Georgians should have the same access to Europe as Russians, although this could be achieved by freezing the visa facilitation agreement with Russia. In strengthening our neighbourhood policy, how can we ensure continued cooperation with Russia while showing that a full ‘strategic partnership’ is no longer credible? What more can we do to cut Europe’s dependence on Russia’s energy supplies? You did well to strengthen the text of your conclusions in that regard. Russia must of course face the consequences of its illegal actions, perhaps including a discussion on the future of the Sochi Winter Olympics just 40 km from the border. Can Russia’s behaviour be considered in keeping with the Olympic Charter? No. Solving these matters requires determination, foresight and patience. That is a challenge that this Union must meet and I am afraid, President-in-Office, one that we must meet before we offer you your . The conflict in the Caucasus is one for which both sides must take responsibility, as you have said, President-in-Office. So why do the Council’s conclusions not reflect this? President Saakashvili cannot have believed that military intervention would evoke no response from Russia. Equally, Russia’s reaction was disproportionate. You said, ‘ ’ and yet Commissioner Ferrero Waldner has given us the figures and this House will be called on to agree to pay the bill! On one thing we do agree with you: we must condemn Russia’s actions; they are indefensible, but we will not dissuade the Russian bear by backing Medvedev into a corner. Dialogue and engagement will defuse tensions better than isolation. That is the lesson of the Cold War, and the Union – as with the Helsinki Process – has a central role to play. This conflict highlights the need for us to build a common foreign and security policy. And though Member States hold diffuse views about Russia, your presidency was quick to negotiate its six-point plan and for that credit is due. The plan may not be perfect, but it has brought an end to violence and it should be fully implemented, including Russian withdrawal from the Black Sea port of Poti. But what steps should the Union take now? The Council is right to agree a crisis-management and reconstruction fund and the rapid deployment of humanitarian assistance. Now it must designate an EU representative who will make both sides listen. The Union is right to send observers, but they must replace Russian peacekeepers, which will mean commitment from those Member States which are not already stretched militarily on other fronts."@en1
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