Sunday

17th Feb 2019

EU ministers keep Russian partnership on hold

Despite pressure from some EU capitals, the union's foreign ministers stopped short of resuming talks on a new EU-Russia partnership treaty, temporarily put on ice in September due to Russia's military presence in Georgia.

"It is very difficult to flag up the exact date," said French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner when asked about prospects of the talks. Speaking in Luxembourg after a meeting of EU foreign ministers, he cited the dispute over two areas inside South Ossetia and Abkhazia as the reason for the current hesitation.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Two areas inside South Ossetia and Abkhazia are causing the current hesitation. (Photo: The Council of the European Union)

The EU decided on 1 September to postpone negotiations on an EU-Russia strategic deal until Russian troops withdraw from Georgian territory "to the line preceding the start of hostilities" by 10 October.

According to today's ministerial conclusions, Russian troops have withdrawn from the zones adjacent to South Ossetia and Abkhazia - an essential additional step in the implementation of the agreements of 12 August and 8 September.

However, the fact that they continue to operate in the Akhalgori district and the upper Kodori valley - zones inside South Ossetia and Abkhazia, but previously controlled by Georgian authorities - is causing problems.

"It is a judgement call for the heads of state and governments," Mr Kouchner said, referring to an EU leaders' summit later this week (15-16 October).

The issue will also come up at the international talks in Geneva on 15 October - a platform designed to debate the future security in the breakaway regions and Georgian refugees' right of return.

According to media reports, the 27-nation bloc is split over when the union should put out its hand to Moscow. Germany and Italy are reported to be leading the camp of those who are lobbying for a speedy resumption of the strategic talks.

"We should think about whether we are doing ourselves a favour by stalling the negotiations," German deputy foreign minister Guenter Gloser was cited as saying by AP, adding the EU has "a strong interest in the partnership and co-operation agreement".

According to Italian foreign minister Franco Frattini, Russia has demonstrated a "constructive" attitude.

Meanwhile, a number of member states - namely Austria, the Baltic States, Poland, Sweden or the Czech Republic - claim the time is not ripe.

Rights watchdog warns MEPs on Morocco trade deal

MEPs are set to rubber-stamp a trade deal with Morocco to fish off the disputed coastline of the Western Sahara. Human Rights Watch have stepped in to point out the deal could be in breach of international law.

News in Brief

  1. Spain's Sanchez calls snap election on 28 April
  2. 15,000 Belgian school kids march against climate change
  3. May suffers fresh Brexit defeat in parliament
  4. Warning for British banks over Brexit staff relocation
  5. Former Italian PM wants Merkel for top EU post
  6. Antisemitic incidents up 10% in Germany
  7. Italy's asylum rejection rate at record high
  8. Hungary will not claim EU funds for fraudulent project

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  2. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  4. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  6. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  7. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”

Latest News

  1. Sluggish procedure against Hungary back on table
  2. Could Finnish presidency fix labour-chain abuse?
  3. Brexit and trip to Egypt for Arab League This WEEK
  4. Belgian spy scandal puts EU and Nato at risk
  5. EU Parliament demands Saudi lobby transparency
  6. Saudi Arabia, but not Russia, on EU 'dirty money' list
  7. EU agrees draft copyright reform, riling tech giants
  8. Rutte warns EU to embrace 'Realpolitik' foreign policy

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us