The European Union has resumed negotiations with Russia on a new political and economic partnership pact. Chief EU delegate Eneko Landaburu and Russia’s ambassador to the EU Vladimir Chizhov launched back into the broad-ranging talks after a three-month suspension. Europe put them on hold in response to the conflict between Russia and Georgia. Satisfaction that Moscow has met ceasefire terms means the business is back on. Landaburu says he expects to meet Chizhov every six to eight weeks. No end date has been set for the talks. Georgia issues are to be discussed separately, in Geneva.
The EU negotiator said the resumption of the partnership talks did not constitute a normalisation of relations with Moscow. Major differences remain over Georgia, not least concerning its ambitions to join both the EU and NATO. At a meeting of the alliance foreign ministers in Brussels, Germany insisted there were no grounds for NATO to deepen ties with Georgia (or Ukraine) just yet. The ministers agreed to resume contacts with Russia, suspended because of the war in Georgia. Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said NATO was interested in “a conditional and graduated reengagement”.