EU President Rules Out Sanctions Against Russia
By Lisa Bryant Voice of America
25 August 2008
Current EU president France has ruled out sanctions against Russia as European Union leaders consider ways to pressure Moscow to fully comply with a ceasefire agreement. Lisa Bryant reports from Paris that EU leaders will meet next week to discuss the crisis in Georgia.
In an interview on French public radio Monday, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said the European Union did not foresee sanctions against Russia, even though Moscow continues to have troops in Georgia.
Kouchner said the worst had been avoided in Georgia and the majority of Russian troops had retreated from Georgian territory.
Kouchner spoke a week before European leaders meet in Russia to decide how to deal with the Georgian crisis that flared up over the breakaway region of South Ossetia. France currently holds the rotating presidency of the 27-member European Union. Acting on behalf of the bloc, French President Nicolas Sarkozy flew to Russia and to Georgia earlier this month to negotiate a cease-fire after clashes between the two over South Ossetia.
The EU divided over how to deal with Russia, with some members wanting a tougher position against Russia than others.
Moscow has refused to fully retreat from Georgia, arguing the cease-fire deal gives it the right to keep some forces there. On Monday, Russia's lower house of parliament vowed to back independence for South Ossetia and another breakaway region in Georgia.
Kouchner said it was important to control the corridor in which the Russian forces patrol - and it would be easier after the summit to send observers from the EU and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to Georgia to monitor the cease-fire.