EU position on Russia key for Union future - Czech Foreign Minister

Other News Materials 1 September 2008 15:02 (UTC +04:00)

It was vital for the future of the European Union to agree on a strong position on Russia's actions in Georgia, Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg said Monday in Vienna, ahead of an EU emergency summit in Brussels this afternoon, reported dpa.

"Should the European Union not be able to find a clear, strong, common position," Schwarzenberg said, "we can write off the European Union as a political project for some time to come."

The foreign minister, who was in Vienna to meet his Austrian counterpart Ursula Plassnik, reiterated his position that EU sanctions against Russia would not be effective.

Although he showed concern about Russia's "purely national, imperial conflict" with Georgia, he said that "in the long run, Russia is dependent on the West, and the gentlemen in the Kremlin know that."

French Prime Minister Francois Fillon told Europe-1 Radio in Paris that sanctions against Russia were not on the agenda for the EU emergency summit. Fillon, whose country currently holds the EU chairmanship, instead called for dialogue with Moscow.

Foreign Minister Plassnik called for an international investigation about the events around September 7, when fighting broke out between the Georgian army, separatists in the breakaway region, and Russian forces aiding South Ossetians.

"I could imagine the OSCE (Organization for Security and Co- operation in Europe), also the Council of Europe, would be an adequate framework, as both countries, Georgia and Russia, are members," she said.

Schwarzenberg on Monday again called into question the 2014 winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, as games in immediate vicinity of the conflict region would be a "strange spectacle."