Steinmeier criticizes Russian contacts with breakaway regions

Other News Materials 25 April 2008 20:47 (UTC +04:00)

Amid increased tension between Moscow and Tbilisi, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Friday criticized Russia's contacts with two breakaway Georgian regions, according to the dpa.

After a meeting in Berlin with Georgian Foreign Minister David Bakradse, he appealed for an end to "provocations" in the conflict.

He said he was concerned at Moscow's contacts with the two regions, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and called for an immediate inquiry into how a Georgian drone was shot down over Abkhazia on Sunday.

Bakradse said he "respected" Germany's reluctance to absorb Georgia as a new member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). He said his country was willing to settle all the issues that had been raised.

Steinmeier adopted a positive tone, saying, "We back the Euro- Atlantic prospects for your country."

A communique from this month's NATO summit in Bucharest, Romania stated unequivocally that Georgia and Ukraine "will become members of NATO." But NATO leaders offer no plan for membership, instead promising them entry at an unspecified future date.

Opponents who were mindful of Russian anger, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, effectively blocked action to let Georgia in.