EU to provide funds for Georgian elections

(dpa) - The European Commission is to provide Georgia with 2 million euros (3.1 million dollars) in funds to help prepare its parliamentary elections in May, the executive's external affairs commissioner said Monday.

The money will be taken from the EU's stability pact funds and will support 12 pre- and post-election projects, Benita Ferrero-Waldner said.

The commissioner planned to announce the move at Monday's meeting of foreign ministers in Brussels.

The governments of Sweden and Poland have urged Brussels to do more to help stabilise the country amid concerns that Russia may be about to recognize Georgia's breakaway region of Abkhazia as an independent state.

Georgia's other breakaway region, South Ossetia, has also asked the United Nations to recognise its independence.

Ferrero-Waldner criticized the "unilateral" move by Russia and a number of former Soviet Republics to lift sanctions on Abkhazia and urged all sides involved to "avoid acts or statements that could heighten tension."

"There is a growing preoccupation and anxiety that Russia may thus be paving the way for the recognition of Abkhazia," the commissioner said.

The EU is currently considering offering Georgia visa facilities and signing a free-trade agreement in a bid to enhance its pro-European aspirations.

"Georgia's territorial integrity has always been clearly supported by the European Union," she said.

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