Brussels, August 19, 2008
Q. - Can you tell us how many more days Russia can occupy Georgia before this European Council summit is convened, and once there is a summit what can Europe do if Russia still continues to occupy Georgia?
THE MINISTER - In theory, the troop withdrawal should already have happened, and we’re already two days past it. (…) We cannot accept it when the word of the signatories is called into question, and there are no clear perspectives. The Russians must keep their word, respect their signature, and they must withdraw their troops in the conditions set out in the document you know about.
Q. - About the details that were agreed in Vienna today [regarding OSCE monitors in Georgia]. Can you tell us, for example, where these 20 monitors will be authorized to go? How will the Russian security zone be defined? What’s happening about the resolution in the Security Council?
THE MINISTER - In line with the plan the OSCE has just published, 20 monitors will be deployed immediately in the area adjacent to South Ossetia. The additional monitors will be deployed after a new decision by the permanent Council in the conditions proposed by the Presidency. (…)
But there was of course a long discussion, especially about the distance over which they might be deployed - two, three kilometres, for instance. It’s not been decided yet. As you know, in these border areas there is sometimes two kilometres between the border and the main road, it’s a narrow corridor. So it will be decided and defined with the monitors and those who are on the spot - there were five when I was there. The Russian peacekeeping mission will obviously have to agree on the area that’s to be monitored.
Q. - Without second-guessing the results of any European Council, do you think that the principle stated here in NATO today - "no business as usual”, no high-level meeting so long as the commitments are not honoured - should also apply to the European Union, to relations between the European Union and Russia? (…)
THE MINISTER - There’s an EU Council with Russia scheduled in November, and for now we’ve not questioned it. We wanted relations between NATO and Russia to be maintained in a different context because if we don’t talk to each other, the tension increases. (…)
So far we’ve not made any decision about other measures that would separate us and exacerbate this confrontation. (…) We need to recognize the fact that what’s happening in Georgia is going to set us back many years, in this region in particular, and that it could spread. It will take many years to repair the damage that’s been done, between the two countries mostly of course, but not only there. (…)
(…) It is essential to keep the dialogue going, but at some point, one must respect one’s word. There can be no understanding in the international community if one doesn’t keep one’s word. Otherwise, no pact, no decision, no international agreement could ever be signed again. That’s why we are so determined in this matter. (…)./.