Presidents of Lithuania and Poland, Valdas Adamkus and Lech Kaczynski, respectively said in a joint statement on November 3, that EU should not resume partnership talks with Russia unless the latter complies fully with its Georgia ceasefire agreement.
The two issues have been interlinked since September 1, when EU leaders took a decision, which reads: “Until troops have withdrawn to the positions held prior to 7 August, meetings on the negotiation of the Partnership Agreement [with Russia] will be postponed.”
Russia has withdrawn its troops since then from the areas adjacent to Abkhazia and South Ossetia, but it still keeps troops inside the two breakaway regions, including in those areas, where there was no Russian military presence before the August war.
“We reiterate that under the continued occupation of Georgian territories it would be too early to resume talks on a new partnership agreement with Russia,” the Polish and Lithuanian Presidents said in the joint declaration. “The new partnership agreement cannot be compatible with Russian military incursions into the neighboring states. We stress once again the importance of the September 1st EU Summit Conclusions agreed by all EU leaders and we underline that negotiations on the EU and Russia agreement should be renewed only when Russia withdraws its troops from Georgia to the positions held prior to August 7th.”
The joint declaration of leaders of the two EU-member states comes ahead of an EU-Russia summit planned for November 14. It also comes after Bernard Kouchner, the foreign minister of France, the EU presidency, suggested on October 28 after meeting with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, that EU might resume partnership talks with Russia.
“We regret to acknowledge that the 12 August ceasefire agreement has not yet been fully implemented, in particular with respect to the points concerning Russian troops’ withdrawal to pre-conflict positions and free access to humanitarian aid, as it was agreed between the European and Russian leaderships,” the Polish and Lithuanian Presidents said. “The withdrawal of Russian troops should be internationally observed and verified, which means that the OSCE as well as EU observers should be allowed in the occupied Georgian territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.”
“We call on the international community and the governments of the European Union to demand full and unconditional withdrawal of Russian troops from Georgian territory in compliance with the 12 August ceasefire agreement, which was unanimously confirmed by the European leaders at the September 1st EU Summit.”