Polish leader slams French peace plan for Georgia

16:06, 13 August 2008
Ukraine
2005 0

Saying it failed to protect Georgia`s territory

Poland`s President Lech Kaczynski Wednesday criticised a plan by French President Nicolas Sarkozy to end Russia`s conflict with Georgia, saying it failed to protect Georgia`s territory.

"We`ve heard talk about the conditions for suspending operations, and there`s not one word about Georgia`s territorial integrity," Kaczynski told reporters in the Georgian capital.

"It must be included. It`s a violation of the rules that have been the basis for peace in Europe for decades. We can`t violate those rules," he said.The six-point peace plan negotiated with Russia by Sarkozy, whose country is at the helm of the 27-nation EU, does not mention the need to respect Georgia`s frontiers, which have been a source of conflict ever since the country broke from the crumbling Soviet Union in 1991.

"This is a region where it`s obvious what plans set down on paper, imposed from far away, are actually worth. They`re worth nothing," Kaczynski said.Kaczynski and the leaders of four other ex-communist states -- Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Ukraine -- had headed to Tbilisi on Tuesday in a show of support for the country`s pro-Western President Mikheil Saakashvili.

Poland and the Baltic states, which like Georgia and Ukraine were part of the Soviet Union until 1991, are all staunch allies of Tbilisi.Their countries are all solidly anchored in the West -- Poland joined NATO in 1999 and the EU in 2004, while the Baltic states became members of both in 2004, and back Georgia and Ukraine`s efforts to do likewise.

They have been pressing other Western nations to get tough with Russia over Georgia.Fighting between Georgia and Russia broke out last week after the Georgian army launched an offensive to bring South Ossetia, which broke away in the early 1990s, back under government control.

Russian troops have since driven Georgia forces out of South Ossetia and another breakaway region, Abkhazia, which like South Ossetia is run by pro-Russian separatists.

Russian forces also occupy Georgian territory around these areas, and have bombed military targets across the country, according to Georgian officials.

Russia on Tuesday said it was halting its offensive, although a column of Russian tanks and armoured personnel carriers (APCs) on Wednesday left the Georgian town of Gori and was seen headed in the direction of the Georgian capital Tbilisi.

Also on Wedenesday, Saakashvili accused Russian tank personnel in Gori of destroying buildings and shooting at people.

"They have destroyed buildings, there has been looting by Russian troops. They were shooting people," he added in a conference call with reporters.

Kaczynski said EU governments meeting in Brussels on Wednesday should not let Moscow off the hook.

"The Council of Ministers of the EU should adopt a much firmer position. I`m calling on them to do so," he said.

He also pressed on Washington, another staunch ally of Georgia, to guarantee its security.

"The Georgian nation and other neighbours also have the right to security. If our ally wants to continue to play a role as a great world leader, this is the place to show it. I`m calling on President Bush and his team to do it," he said.

EU Business, AFP

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