French, Russian Leaders to Discuss Georgia Crisis

By Lisa Bryant

PARIS, FRANCE (RUSHPRNEWS)11 August 2008--French President Nicolas Sarkozy is expected to hold talks in Moscow Tuesday with his Russian counterpart in a bid to find a solution to the conflict in Georgia. Lisa Bryant reports from Paris the trip comes as European Union foreign ministers are set for a crisis meeting Wednesday on the situation.
President Nicolas Sarkozy’s trip to Russia comes after Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili told reporters he had accepted an international ceasefire proposal over the breakaway Georgian province of South Ossetia. Mr. Saakashvili also said Mr. Sarkozy will be holding talks with him in Georgia, as well as with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev in Moscow. The French president will also speak on behalf of the European Union, which France currently heads.

The international community has sounded the alarm over the sharp clashes between Russia and Georgia over South Ossetia, which has also spilled into other parts of Georgia, including Abkhazia, another breakaway territory.

The European Commission called Monday for an immediate halt to Russian military activity in Georgia. French and Finnish foreign ministers were also in Georgia Monday and were planning to hold talks in Moscow, to take stock of the situation.

Tomas Valasek, defense and foreign policy director at the Centre for European Reform in London, says mediation by the 27-member block can have an effect.

“The EU has influence over Russia. Russia does want to be accepted as a legitimate member of the international community. It is, of course a member of the G8, the UN Security Council. It wants to be a member of the World Trade Organization. It wants to have special, privileged relations with the EU and with NATO. So it does care about what the world thinks,” said Valasek.

Valasek says Europe should send one message in particular.

“It needs to emphasize to Russia that it [should not] use the conflict over South Ossetia and now Abkhazia to wage a bigger, broader conflict against Georgia itself. And again, we do have influence to make sure that doesn’t happen,” added Valasek.

EU foreign ministers meet in Brussels Wednesday for more talks on the conflict in Georgia.


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