Germany presses Russia to leave Georgia

Other News Materials 24 August 2008 22:02 (UTC +04:00)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel called Sunday for Russian troops to complete their pullout of Georgia, saying Moscow's credibility "is at stake."

Speaking to German broadcaster ZDF, Merkel raised the possibility the European Union would call a special summit to address the situation in the Caucuses, saying France - which currently holds the EU's rotating presidency - would take up the issue in the coming days.

"Russia has not yet fulfilled its commitment to the six-point peace plan," Merkel said, urging Moscow to uphold its end of the deal.

"Russia's credibility is at stake," Merkel said.

Under the plan, promoted by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and signed last week by Russia and Georgia, both sides must move back to positions they held before fighting broke out Aug. 7 in Georgia's South Ossetia region, which has close ties to Russia.

Russia pulled the bulk of its troops and tanks from its small southern neighbor Friday after a brief but intense war, but the U.S. and its European allies have criticized Moscow for leaving some troops in Georgia and performing military operations despite agreeing to a cease-fire.

Merkel also has suggested the EU could sponsor a conference with Georgia and its immediate neighbors, including Azerbidjan, Armenia and Ukraine, to encourage efforts to rebuild damaged infrastructure in Georgia.

Russia would not participate in such a conference, she said.

Also Sunday, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier spoke by telephone with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, to insist Moscow uphold its end of the EU-brokered cease-fire agreement.

Germany's Foreign Ministry said the two also agreed that 20 extra unarmed observers would be sent to monitor the situation in Georgia near the separatist region of South Ossetia.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe agreed last week to immediately send 20 additional unarmed military monitors to join its 200-person mission in Georgia.

Merkel departs Monday for a two-day trip to Sweden, Estonia and Lithuania, in an effort to promote continued dialogue with Moscow, AP reported.