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2 Sep, 2008 04:33

Putin: Common sense prevails at EU summit

The Russian Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, called the EU summit a triumph of common sense. Following the summit concerning the situation in the Caucasus in Brussels, further talks between Russia and the EU are expected

Nicolas Sarkozy said the meeting will play a key role in the relations between Russia and the European Union.

The announcement was made after further discussions on a partnership deal between Europe and Russia were postponed at the EU summit. At an extraordinary summit in Brussels, the leaders condemned Russia’s actions in the Caucasus, but promised to maintain contacts with Moscow and continue existing ties.

Moscow says it regrets the European Union's decision to put off talks on a basic Russia-EU agreement.

“If the talks about the basic document have indeed been put off, there is nothing else we can do but express our regret,” a Russian Foreign Ministry source told Interfax.

Vladimir Putin commented on the aftermath of the EU summit during his stay in Tashkent, Uzbekistan:

“We know that there were many emotional, radical and even extremist statements made prior to the summit. Fortunately, common sense prevailed. No radical decisions were made. That’s very good.”

Humanitarian aid to victims of the conflict

On Monday, Nicolas Sarkozy said the EU would also call an international reconstruction conference for Georgia. The EU will also provide economic assistance to Georgia. The European Commission has so far provided 7 million euros to Georgia. Another 9 million euros have been provided by individual EU countries.

For his part, the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, said on Monday that he was extremely concerned over the situation in the region and that he was maintaining permanent contact with representatives of all the involved sides. The UN chief also noted that officials of the organisation's structural units are ready for active work to distribute humanitarian aid.

“I have made it quite clear that the UN stands ready to provide good offices and also we will continue to provide humanitarian assistance to the affected people, including in South Ossetia,” the UN chief was quoted as saying by Reuters.

The aftermath of the EU summit

Although the EU has condemned Russia’s actions, it seems not all of its members share the same opinion.

In an interview with Austrian 01 TV channel on Monday the country’s Chancellor Alfred Guzenbauer said the Union should not play the role of judge in the conflict between Russia and Georgia.

“To be a judge in the conflict between Russia and Georgia is no role for Austria and the European Union,” Guzenbauer said.

He noted at the same time that “Georgia's territorial integrity, taking into consideration all the errors made by the country's leadership, should be observed.”

Analysts have stated that the results of Monday’s summit are positive for Russia.

German expert Alexander Rahr told Russia’s daily Rossiiskaya Gazeta that the EU “is not in confrontation with Russia.” This is why they only sent observers instead of troops to the conflict zone, he believes.

“EU’s mild reaction to Russia’s actions in Georgia means that in recent days Brussels has received extensive evidence of Georgia’s President Mikhail Saakashvili’s role in initiating the conflict. If anyone in the EU had doubts about this, their reaction would have been much tougher,” Rahr said.

He even voiced an opinion that eventually the European Union will recognise independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, “but maybe not openly.”

The Deputy Speaker of the State Duma, Russia’s lower chamber of Parliament, is convinced “nothing extraordinary happened” at the EU summit on Monday.

“Russia and the EU are continuing dialogue, which only strengthens the position of our country,” he said.

He added this meeting also demonstrated that relations between Russia and the European Union have not changed