Sarkozy wants new EU-US-Russia security accord
With Russia's backing for the G20 summit, French President Nicolas Sarkozy proposed a new security and defence arrangement between the EU, Russia and the US to be agreed at a summit mid-2009, calling both on Moscow and Washington to refrain from deploying missiles until that date.
Mr Sarkozy was speaking at a press conference on Friday (14 November) following the EU-Russia summit held in Nice, alongside his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev.
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"As acting EU council president I propose that mid-2009 we gather for instance within the OSCE [Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe] to lay the basis of what might be a future EU security arrangement ...which would of course involve the Russians and the Americans," Mr Sarkozy said, backing an idea originally proposed by his Russian counterpart.
He also expressed his "preoccupation" with Mr Medvedev's threat to deploy short-range missiles in the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, on the shores of the Baltic Sea, bordering Poland and Lithuania.
"There shouldn't be any deployment in any enclave until we have not discussed the new geopolitical conditions of a pan-European security arrangement," he told Russia, while also calling on the US to "stop talking" about the missile defence shield which "only complicates things."
Mr Sarkozy seemed to be offering his role "as a potential mediator in Russian-American relations," AFP commented.
Mr Medvedev had threatened on 5 November to deploy short-range Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad if the Americans install their anti-ballistic missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic.
Russian-EU entente for G20 summit
Mr Medvedev backed EU proposals for the G20 summit to be held in Washington on Saturday (15 November), calling them "almost identical" with his. The Russian president said he was backing a deep reform of the international financial system, as well as a second financial summit at end of February, after the new US president Barack Obama takes office.
Mr Sarkozy called the Russian financial and economic proposals "of very good quality" and "very close to the EU proposals."
"And I'm very satisfied to see that there is a will on the part of the Russian federation for strong decisions to come out of the Washington summit," he added.
Georgia hardly mentioned
The Russian-Georgian war was portrayed as a somewhat closed affair, with Mr Sarkozy congratulating himself and his team for having brokered the ceasefire agreement, calling for "diplomatic solutions" in the region through negotiations in Geneva and criticising "some prominent leaders" who were against him going to Moscow in August and were now against resuming EU-Russia partnership treaty talks.
He asked the Russians "to make progress" in their withdrawal from Georgia, especially the Akhalgori region within the South Ossetia region and the Perevi village, located just outside in Georgia proper. But he estimated that the Russians fulfilled "the essential part of their agreements."
For his part, Mr Medvedev rejected the idea of not having fully complied with the cease fire agreements, pointing that "the recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia is our final decision. It is irrevocable."
Mr Medvedev also rejected the EU's accusation that the Russian use of force in Georgia was disproportionate. He said Moscow's military intervention was "limited, necessary and in accordance with international law."
EU-Russia talks to resume on 2 December
The negotiations between Russia and the EU on a strategic partnership agreement, suspended after the Georgian crisis will be resumed on 2 December, a spokeswoman for the European commission told AFP.
The EU and Russian leaders gathered in Nice "agreed to retake negotiations on 2 December," said Christianne Hohman, spokeswoman for external relations.
She added that the December meeting would be at a technical level, between the heads of the negotiating teams.