Sunday,
22 October 2017
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Georgia tells NATO it concerned about Russian plans

For closer ties with two rebel Georgian regions

Georgia held emergency talks with NATO on Friday as part of a series of meetings to raise international pressure on Russia to drop plans for closer ties with two rebel Georgian regions, according to Reuters.

Moscow announced on Wednesday it would establish legal links with Georgia`s breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which border Russia in the Caucasus. NATO immediately urged Russia to reverse the move.

The Russian move came two weeks after leaders of the Western defence organisation vowed the former Soviet republic would one day join the alliance, although NATO declined to give Georgia an immediate plan to start membership preparations.

It also follows the recognition of Kosovo`s declaration of independence from Serbia by most Western countries in defiance of Serbian and Russian wishes.

Russia strongly opposes admitting Ukraine and Georgia to the 26-nation alliance, which it sees as a further move to bring Western military presence into its sphere of influence.

Georgia`s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for European Integration Georgy Baramidze raised concerns over the Russian step with NATO Deputy Secretary-General Claudio Bisogniero and was due to meet ambassadors from several NATO allies and EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner.

"The purpose is to raise attention to the situation in the conflict zones and the Russian action," an official at Georgia`s mission to the EU in Brussels said.

"We are not asking for military support but the support of the whole international community by condemning the action of Russia that is undermining the sovereignty of the country."

An alliance spokesman said Bisogniero reiterated to Baramidze NATO`s call for Russia to reverse measures to create ties with the breakaway Georgian regions.

An EU spokeswoman said Ferrero-Waldner was "in listening mode" on Georgia`s concerns and expected EU President Slovenia to issue a statement on behalf of the bloc later.

Georgia has called for a special debate by the U.N. Security Council to discuss the moves, which are likely to become a new irritant in relations between Russia and Western nations.

U.S. Republican presidential candidate John McCain accused Russia of seeking a de facto annexation of part of Georgia and urged European governments to join in condemning Moscow.

Reuters (Reporting by David Brunnstrom and Mark John, editing by Paul Taylor and Matthew Jones)

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