Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2008-09-01-Speech-1-127"

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". Mr President, Mr President-in-Office of the Council, Commissioner, with regard to the crisis in the Caucasus, adopting a pro-Georgian or a pro-Russian stance can only lead to deadlock. This has been blindingly obvious since the breakup of the Soviet Union 17 years ago as this region is full of recurring tensions and disputed borders. It is a place where the collective memory is haunted by the inherited traumas of successive wars and violence, where the ethnic and religious mosaic and the accumulation of resentments and humiliations provide dangerously fertile ground for nationalism. In this context, political irresponsibility will cost dear, and that is true for everyone. It is certainly true for the Georgian President who, since his election in 2004, has constantly pandered to the spirit of revenge in relation to the breakaway territories. He has constantly pushed his luck in terms of his allegiance to the Bush administration and his policy of confrontation in the region. He has launched an attack on South Ossetia, about which Mr Van den Brande, one of the co-rapporteurs of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, responsible for monitoring problems in the region, has declared having been – and I quote – ‘shocked by the stories of the refugees about the massive and indiscriminate shelling and bombing of Tskhinvali and the destruction of residential areas’. This strategy is disastrous for Georgia, for the Caucasus and for Europe. This lesson is also valid for Russia. The brutality of the counter-attack, including against civilian populations, the continued occupation of strategic sectors of the Georgian territory, the expulsion of Georgian populations from South Ossetia and the unilateral recognition of the independence of the two breakaway territories are just as likely to threaten the interest generated in more than one European country by the initial international initiatives of the new President. Russia has everything to lose by returning to a period of political isolation in Europe and in the world. Finally, the West as a whole would do well to assess the unprecedented damage already caused by the American attitude of adventurism and the European attitude of follow-my-leader in this part of the continent. The limitless expansion strategy of NATO, the bombing of Serbia, the recognition of the unilaterally proclaimed independence of Kosovo, the support for the installation of the anti-missile defence shield on European soil, not to mention the extreme glorification of the region’s leaders who should, perhaps, be more cautious when making anti-Russian and pro-Western statements, all these choices are evidence of a short-sighted policy worthy of the current White House, but not worthy of a European security policy. This strategy of militarising international relations and causing political confrontations has failed before our very eyes. In addition to sending in European observers under the aegis of the OSCE, the EU’s priority should therefore be to prevent any escalation at any cost so that, as quickly as possible and without any signs of arrogance, it can explore the possibility of drafting a new pan-European treaty for security and cooperation which would be legally binding and which would encompass all the problems that have currently been shelved: territorial integrity, inviolability of borders, the fate of conflicts that have reached a stalemate, non-use of force, disarmament and even security of energy supplies. This challenge is certainly more difficult to tackle now than ever before but, without such a perspective, I fear the worst is yet to come. In adopting our position, let us remember that today, the first of September, is the International Day of Peace. ( )"@en1

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