EU/Georgia : Jouyet confirms EU's position
Europolitics - 18 September 2008
The Georgian crisis and the situation in Serbia and Belarus were discussed with the French Secretary of State for European Affairs, Jean-Pierre Jouyet, during an extraordinary meeting of the European Parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairs, on 15 September in Brussels.
"The coherence and unity of the EU, the mediator of this conflict, is striking," declared Jouyet, while presenting the results of the Council of 15-16 September regarding Georgia (see Europolitics 3596). He believes that Europe must give greater importance to Central Asia and move ahead with its neighbourhood policy in the Caucasus as well as in the Mediterranean. In response to a question from Michael Gahler (EPP-ED, Germany), he indicated that "the priority is the withdrawal of the Russian forces from the areas adjacent to South Ossetia and Abkhazia, along lines similar to those before the onset of hostilities".
The European Commission, which has announced aid of €500 million for Georgia, hopes that the EU's global efforts will help to double this figure with contributions from the 27 member states during the donors' conference in October (3596). "I anticipate that our contribution, as per usual, represents approximately 50% of the EU's cumulative promises" in the end, says External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner in a letter addressed to the Parliament, which must validate the release of €500 million.
Jean-Pierre Jouyet was cautious with regard to this objective. "We hope to have the highest possible amount of aid" during the donors' conference, but it is difficult to give figures, he said at the close of his hearing before the parliamentary committee. "Do not forget that certain states are facing budgetary difficulties" with the economic slowdown, he added.
With a billion euro, Europeans would exceed the pledges of the United States, which has already committed to provide aid of one billion dollars (approximately €700 million) to Georgia, of which US$570 million by the end of the year. Normally, Georgia receives between €30 million and €40 million per year by way of the European Neighbourhood Policy.
Moreover, Charles Tannock (EPP-ED, UK) and Vytautas Landsbergis (EPP-ED, Lithuania) estimated that strong signals should be sent to Belarus, which recently freed its last political prisoners - including Alexander Kozulin, a candidate for the 2008 Sakharov Prize - and did not recognise the secessionist republics of Georgia. Jouyet said he preferred to wait and see under which conditions the elections of 28 September would be held.
With regard to Serbia, the secretary of state shares the disappointment of the rapporteur on this issue, Jelko Kacin (ALDE, Slovenia), considering that signals should rapidly be sent to Serbia. The General Affairs Council has postponed the implementation of the interim agreement (3596).