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EU should review relations with Russia

The European Union due Monday to hold an emergency meeting on the Georgia crisis, should make a “root and branch” review of its relations with Russia, says British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

world Updated: Sep 01, 2008 01:02 IST

The European Union (EU), due Monday to hold an emergency meeting on the Georgia crisis, should make a “root and branch” review of its relations with Russia, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said in a newspaper article published on Sunday.

Russia’s “hostile action towards Georgia” raised two urgent questions: How best to stabilise Georgia now, “and how to make it clear to Russia that its unilateral approach is dangerous and unacceptable,” he wrote in The Observer.

Brown said that in a telephone talks with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Saturday, “I told him to expect a determined European response.”

Russia was now a significant economic power, “reaping the benefits of a stable global order based on agreements that make trade and investment both possible and profitable”.

This means that “when Russia has a grievance over an issue such as South Ossetia, it should act multilaterally by consent rather than unilaterally by force.”

Brown said his message to Russia was simple: “If you want to be welcome at the top table of organisations such as the G8, OECD and WTO, you must accept that with rights come responsibilities. “We want Russia to be a good partner in the G8 and other organisations, but it cannot pick and choose which rules to adhere to.”

The EU summit “should review — root and branch — our relationship with Russia. We should continue to strengthen the transatlantic relationship and may need to meet more regularly as the G7, “ Brown said.

“We are also reflecting on the NATO response. We must re-evaluate the alliance’s relationship with Russia, and intensify our support to Georgia and others who may face Russian aggression.” Medvedev said that he stressed in his telephone talk with brown that Moscow wants a “constructive dialogue” with the EU irrespective of the Georgia conflict.

Russia welcomed the deployment of Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) observers in the conflict regions of Georgia, Interfax news agency quoted him as telling Brown. He said that President Mikheil Saakashvili was responsible for the southern Caucasus conflict. It was “aggression” from Tbilisi towards its separatist regions of South Ossetia and Abkhasia that had made it impossible for these regions to live in peace within Georgia.

Saakashvili Saturday again accused Russia of having planned to overthrow the Tbilisi leadership by force — a claim once again denied late Friday by Russian PM Vladimir Putin.

The claim, he told a German television interviewer, was “an outright lie” — but he also said he believed Saakashvili should step down.

Putin also called for the EU to take a “reasonable attitude” on the Caucasus conflict at Monday’s EU summit in Brussels, and not impose sanctions. “The issue of sanctions is not something we don’t care about,” he said. “We hope that reasonableness prevails.”