EU "firmly condemns" Russian move on Georgian rebels
The French government on Tuesday "firmly condemned" Russia's move to recognize two rebel Georgian regions as independent, saying that it broke international law, dpa reported.
Speaking as the current holder of the European Union's rotating presidency, France "firmly condemns" the decision to recognize the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as "contrary to the principles of Georgia's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity," a statement said.
"In this context, the presidency of the EU forcefully recalls its attachment to the principle of Georgia's territorial integrity within its internationally-recognized borders," the statement on the website of French President Nicolas Sarkozy said.
The EU calls for a political solution to the conflict between Tbilisi and the breakaway regions which flared into war between Russia and Georgia in mid-August, and "will examine from this viewpoint the consequences of Russia's decision," the statement said.
EU leaders are set to hold emergency talks in Brussels on Monday on the future of their relationship with Russia.
Ahead of the summit, French officials had ruled out bringing in any sanctions against Russia, insisting that the 27-member bloc should keep all its avenues of contact with Moscow open.
However, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's decision to accept the rebel regions' independence greatly increases the pressure on the EU to find a strong reaction.
It also strengthens the hand of EU states such as Poland, who have long warned against Moscow's aggressive foreign policy.
Finally, observers see it as a diplomatic slap in the face to Sarkozy himself, who in mid-August shuttled between Tbilisi and Moscow in an effort to bring about a ceasefire.