EU wants truth about war in South Ossetia
Foreign ministers from the European Union have called for an independent investigation to establish who was to blame for the war in South Ossetia. They’ve also announced that a European peacekeeping mission will be deployed on the border between Georgia a
The move is aimed at maintaining stability in the area when Russia's peacekeepers withdraw.
However, with the format of Saturday’s meeting implying only an exchange of views, practical action is unlikely just yet.
The decision is to be discussed at an EU foreign ministers’ meeting in Brussels on September 15.
The so-called Gymnich informal meeting takes place every six months and owes its name to a German castle where the very first EU foreign ministers' meeting took place in 1974.
Now in Avignon, the EU foreign ministers are trying to find a unified approach to the conflict between Russia and Georgia.
But despite some expectations, Friday’s talks revolved mostly around updating the European security strategy, the situation in Ukraine and the EU's transatlantic relations with the U.S. after the presidential election.
But whatever the subject, the situation in South Ossetia loomed in the background.
Closing the day, the European Commissioner for External Relations, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, admitted there was a need for common action between the EU and the U.S.
“We want to be an equal partner to the U.S., we have to choose a more united stance – especially in the view of the situation in Georgia,” she said.
France's Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner expressed support for closer ties with Ukraine, though he excluded the possibility of the country's accession to the EU any time soon.
And as far as the U.S. stance on the conflict in South Ossetia is concerned, the French Foreign Minister said Europe must take a more balanced view, considering the importance of maintaining ties with Russia.
He said: “Cheney is trying to protect Georgia and Ukraine – I'm not sure he's succeeding – but Russia is a partner, a big partner we need to work with.”
The meeting comes just four days after an emergency summit in Brussels, at which EU leaders denounced Russia's recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
International parliamentarians visit South Ossetia
Meanwhile, an international parliamentary delegation is already in South Ossetia. The main goal of the trip is to clarify the sequence of recent events in the region.
The group consists of members of parliament and public representatives from several European and CIS countries.
They will be joined by a delegation from Russia.
The officials will meet local residents, before heading to the neighbouring republic of North Ossetia, which hosted large numbers of refugees after the conflict.