1st Oct 2020

EU secures deal on Russia withdrawal

Following four-hour talks between Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and French leader Nicolas Sarkozy, Moscow has agreed to pull out its troops "from the zones adjacent to South Ossetia and Abkhazia to the line preceding the start of hostilities" by mid-October.

"This withdrawal will be implemented within 10 days of the deployment of international mechanisms in these zones, including no fewer than 200 observers from the European Union, which must take place no later than 1 October 2008," Mr Medvedev said on Monday (8 September).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • Moscow refuses to bow to pressure when it comes to its decision to recognise South Ossetia and Abkhasia as independent states. (Photo: Presidential Press and Information Office)

He promised to dismantle a security checkpoint near the Black Sea port of Poti deep in Georgian territory within seven days - stressing, however, that all depends on Georgia's commitment not to regain control over its two breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia by force.

Under the deal, the new EU monitors will become guarantors of Georgian non-aggression. OSCE and UN monitors will also be allowed to return to South Ossetia and Abkhazia, but it remains unclear how many Russian soldiers will stay in the two rebel enclaves for now.

Tbillisi, for its part, welcomed the EU-brokered deal, with President Mikheil Saakashvili describing it on Monday (8 September) as a "step forward."

French President Nicolas Sarkozy was frank in his description of the agreement "Honestly, it's not over yet. We are not at the end of the road ... We are advancing step by step."

Should the Kremlin fall short of fulfilling its commitments "Europe will draw the conclusions," he added.

Moscow refuses to bow to pressure when it comes to its decision to recognise South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states however, calling the move "a final and irreversible choice."

International talks in Geneva on 15 October will debate the future security in the breakaway regions and Georgian refugees' right of return, but will not discuss their future status, according to the 8 September EU-Russia agreement.

The Kremlin also continues to accuse the United States of "actively helping" Georgia to "restore its military potential" - a claim that Washington denies.

UN hearing starts

Meanwhile, the UN's highest court - the International Court of Justice - on Monday (8 September) opened a three-day public hearing on a case of alleged ethnic cleansing by Russia in Georgia.

Tbillisi claims that Moscow has been conducting ethnic cleansing against Georgians in Abkhazia and South Ossetia and has called for urgent protection measures.

President Saakashvili also said he gave "solid proof" to EU leaders when they visited Tbilisi on 8 September that Russia started the war by moving to invade Georgia, not that Georgia started hostilities by attacking South Ossetia.

For its part, the Kremlin has denied the allegations and in return, is accusing Georgia of war crimes committed during its assault of Tskhinvali, the capital of South Ossetia.

It is also threatening to have Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili tried as a war criminal, according to Russian news agency Ria Novosti.

News in Brief

  1. China closer to EU than US on climate, Merkel says
  2. UK offers EU fishermen three years' access
  3. Finnish PM to stand in for Sweden at summit
  4. Commission: EU does not finance Italy's 'contraband' warship
  5. EU expects US data-privacy breakthrough
  6. Czechs and Slovaks declare second-wave 'emergency'
  7. Merkel to meet Belarus opposition head
  8. Czechs appeal to EU commission over Poland's illegal mining


The Hagia Sophia and the global battle of symbols

The Turkish president's decision to restart Islamic worship services in Istanbul's Hagia Sophia last Friday is not innocent. So how should we react? By doing the opposite - and make Cordoba's famous Mosque/Cathedral in Cordoba a museum.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council meets Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaja
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to invest DKK 250 million in green digitalised business sector
  3. UNESDAReducing packaging waste – a huge opportunity for circularity
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID-19 halts the 72nd Session of the Nordic Council in Iceland
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCivil society a key player in integration
  6. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular

Latest News

  1. Paper tiger? EU roars in first rule-of-law report
  2. Corruption failures also highlighted in rule of law report
  3. Unsung hero: Portugal showing EU way on migration
  4. Celebrate with us. EUobserver's 20 years of independent EU news
  5. Ban on Catalan leader condemned as 'disproportionate'
  6. EU defends Jourova over Hungary's resignation demand
  7. A 'geopolitical' EU Commission. Great idea - but when?
  8. The EU's new rule of law report - pushing at an open door?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNEW REPORT: Eight in ten people are concerned about climate change
  2. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  4. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis
  6. UNESDACircularity works, let’s all give it a chance

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us