The EU countries are split over dealings with Russia after talks collapsed over where it will let observers go in disputed parts of Georgia. Twenty staff from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe are there. Eighty more were to have been deployed to cover the South Ossetia separatist zone. The differences on how Europe’s to proceed vary.
Günter Burghardt, former EU ambassador to the US, gave this assessment on the margins of a meeting near Rome of the European People’s Party:
“Russia is relevant. It is not becoming irrelevant as secretary of state Rice said the other day. No. It will not be irrelevant, and especially for Europe. There is a high degree of interdependence, in both directions. So we need to engage with the objective to help Russia become more democratic and more respectful of our basic values.”
Polish MP Krzyzstof Lisek also gave his opinion:
“With Russia we have to cooperate, of course. But we can’t talk about a strategic partnership. It’s very difficult to speak about it because unfortunately we don’t share the same values. Unfortunately the Russian politicans don’t share our values, like democracy or human rights or free market economy.”
Earlier this month the EU suspended strategic partnership talks with Russia, pressing for Russian forces to withdraw from all but South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The EU has promised Georgia 500 million euros in resettlement and reconstruction aid.