The European Union has strongly condemned Russian action in Georgia and
agreed to suspend talks with Moscow on a wide-ranging partnership
agreement until Russian troops withdraw from Georgia. VOA's Sonja Pace
reports from London.
European Union leaders met for a one-day
emergency summit in Brussels on Monday to discuss how to deal with
Russia in light of its military action in Georgia and its recognition
of independence for the breakaway Georgian republics of South Ossetia
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said that
given these events, there can be no "business as usual" with Russia.
"The 27 members of the European Union are totally united in condemning
the aggression of the Russian government," he said.
In the end,
EU leaders called Russian military action in Georgia unacceptable and
condemned its recognition of the two breakaway regions.
was also a warning that relations between the EU and Russia could
suffer. French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who holds the rotating EU
presidency, said Europe wants a real partnership with Russia. But, he
said, it takes two to make that happen. So for now, Europe has
postponed talks on a wide-ranging economic and political partnership
agreement with Russia until Moscow withdraws its troops from Georgia.
between Russia and Georgia began in early August after the Georgian
military launched an offensive against pro-Russian separatist forces in
South Ossetia. Russian forces then launched a counter-attack, driving
the Georgians out of South Ossetia as well as Abkhazia, and sending
troops into other parts of Georgia.
President Sarkozy brokered
the cease-fire agreement between Russia and Georgia and says he will
travel to Moscow again next week.
In Washington, the Bush
administration welcomed the European Union's decisions on Georgia. The
White House said "Europe and the United States are united in standing
firm behind Georgia's territorial integrity, sovereignty and
But the European Union has been divided over
how to deal with Russia during this crisis. Some, including Britain
and some of the former Soviet bloc nations of Eastern Europe, wanted
tougher action. There has been talk of imposing sanctions against
Russia. Others, including France, Germany and Italy, balked at that
idea and stressed the need for continued dialogue.
British radio, former British Foreign Secretary David Owen said
sanctions are not a viable option for the E.U. because they would
expose Europe's weakness, its dependence on Russian energy exports.
"Europe is divided over Russia. And one of the problems is that
Germany, France and Italy have a very heavy dependence on Russian gas.
But the fact is that all the European Union is very dependent on
Russian energy supplies," he said.
Owen said he believes talk of
a new Cold War has been blown out of proportion and that he is
confident the current crisis can be resolved through diplomacy.