A new mediation mission over the Caucasus crisis has borne fruit for French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
After talks with his Russian counterpart near Moscow, Sarkozy said Russia had agreed to pull its troops out of Georgia proper within a month. He also said Russia had pledged to remove checkpoints around Georgia’s Black Sea port of Poti within a week.
Dmitry Medvedev told reporters that Russia had EU guarantees that Georgia would not use force to try to regain South Ossetia. And he declared an agreement had been reached in principle to deploy a 200-strong EU monitoring contingent to assess events on the ground.
But, announcing international talks on Abkhazia and South Ossetia next month, Medvedev said Moscow’s decision to recognise the two territories as independent was irrevocable.
Russia’s brief conflict with Georgia last month raised tensions with the West, prompting speculation about the start of a new Cold War. The EU had warned it would suspend talks on a new partnership pact with Russia unless the Kremlin pulled back its forces.
However today President Sarkozy said that if Russia implemented its promise, there would be no reason for EU-Russia talks not to go ahead in October. But more talking lies in store today for the French leader who brokered the original ceasefire and whose country holds the European Union’s rotating presidency. The next stop for Sarkozy and the rest of a top-level EU delegation was Tbilisi to get President Mikheil Saakashvili’s reaction to the deal thrashed out today.