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Council of Europe refuses to punish Russia

Council of Europe refuses to punish Russia
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Georgian protestors turned up outside the Council of Europe in Strasbourg on Thursday, to stage a counter-demonstration to a group of South Ossetians who have been there for two days.

Both want Council support. It has been debating the crisis in the Caucasus all week, during which several punitive measures against Russia have been proposed, including stripping Russia of its council voting rights.

However, the majority of the council’s 47 members were against anything stronger than a statement condemning Russia for a “serious violation” of the Council’s statutes. “Yesterday Mr President, the Assembly ratified the Russian credentials for the sake of dialogue. What I regret first of all, is that we still have no dialogue, but a series of monologues,” said Hungary’s Matyas Eorsi. And that was only too obvious.

Despite this moderation the Russian and Georgian delegates had a right old go at each other in the chamber, but it seems the EU monitors on the ground there do have progress to report.

With just eight days to go before Russia has to remove troops from the seven-kilometre deep buffer zones in Gerogia proper it has set up around Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the observers have been allowed in to the zone on the Ossetian border. Russia had been insisting they would not have access.

However the week of debate showed there is little or no dialogue possible between Russians and Georgians right now. Equally, it showed there is little appetite in Europe for a showdown with Russia on this issue.