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28 Oct, 2008 15:14

Don’t help Georgia rearm - Lavrov

Russia's Foreign Minister has warned the EU not to stand by and allow Georgia spend billions of dollars in aid on re-equiping its depleted military forces. Sergey Lavrov delivered the blunt message at a meeting with representatives from the European Union

Diplomats also discussed ways of reviving talks on a new Russia-EU partnership, postponed in the wake of the South Ossetia conflict.

Both sides said the relationship between them had not broken down.

The meeting was attended by French Foreign Minister, Bernard Kouchner, Czech Foreign Minister, Karel Schwarzenberg, EU Commissioner for External Relations and Neighbourhood Policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, and EU Foreign Policy Head, Javier Solana.

To watch the media conference by the foreign ministers, please follow the link.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has condemned Georgia's refusal to discuss the situation in the region with South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

He noted, though, that Russia believes a new round of talks in Geneva on November 18 will prove more effective than the first meeting on October 15.

“We are satisfied that today the situation in the Caucasus is finally in the focus of the international community. We’ll do everything within the framework of the Geneva talks to set reliable guarantees that this [the war in the Caucasus] isn’t repeated in the future,” Lavrov promised.

The major issue discussed during the talks was the Russia-EU partnership. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, speaking on behalf of the EU, and the Russian side both expressed optimism on the issue.

“I would like to say that the partnership will be discussed a bit later. It does not mean the partnership is broken. We will meet in November in Nice and will discuss more closely many items, security research work, education. Our negotiations continue and it will mean that our relationship will be closer,” said Kouchner.

Lavrov, for his part, said that it’s not possible to set any specific deadlines, as the first thing to do is to reach common understanding on the part of all sides.

In the run-up to the Russia-EU summit in Nice on November 14, the ministers also discussed President Medvedev’s initiative concerning a new European security treaty. According to Lavrov, early signs are encouraging.

Northern Dimension talks focus on energy

The first Northern Dimension ministerial meeting will be held later on Tuesday to the discuss prospects of strengthening cooperation in the field of energy and the implementation of new projects in transport, logistics, culture and healthcare.

The Northern Dimension is the joint policy of four equal partners: Russia, the EU, Iceland and Norway. The Northern Dimension zone of action covers the territories of Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Poland, Germany, and the three Baltic States.