Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2008-09-01-Speech-1-137"

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"Mr President, I should like to start by voicing my thanks for the objectivity of this debate; it is certainly more objective than the extraordinary meeting held by the Committee on Foreign Affairs on 20 August. Let us be blunt. Georgian President Saakashvili ordered a military offensive. That was what actually sparked off the war and triggered a spiral of violence. If we ignore that fact, we deny the real cause of the war. The attacks, especially on the civilian population in Tskhinvali, are to be roundly condemned, along with the military response, especially the military response by Russia and the attacks on the civilian population, particularly in the town of Gori. Both sides have deployed cluster bombs in this conflict as well, which is unacceptable. International humanitarian law and the law of war have been clearly violated by both sides in this conflict. The message which I have heard very often, however, is that Russia is solely responsible for the current situation. That is not the case, and I am pleased that the French Council Presidency has adopted a more balanced position on this point. My own position remains unchanged: recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia are comparable, under international law, with recognition of Kosovo. The Western countries recognised Kosovo and really opened Pandora’s box. The West, NATO and the European Union are heavily implicated in the escalation of this conflict and the war in Georgia: the US redeployed Georgian troops from Iraq to Georgia and a number of Western countries – NATO countries, EU countries – have played a role in arming Georgia. Even Israel has armed Georgia, and the arrival of NATO warships in the Black Sea is not necessarily a sign of peace. We know that, in this war, geopolitical interests are also at stake; I need only mention the oil pipelines in this context. The conflict should not be used as a pretext to drive forward the militarisation of the European Union. The EU has been successful as a non-military actor. If we now take sides, the EU will lose its credibility as a mediator. We are on the brink of a Cold War, and as for what lies ahead, well, it could go either way. Today is 1 September, a day which is celebrated as an Anti-War Day. We should be mindful of that: war is unacceptable and should never be supported, directly or indirectly, by countries in the European Union."@en1

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