No sign Russia wants to shift Ukraine borders: France

09:16, 10 September 2008
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French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Tuesday

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Tuesday he saw no sign in his talks with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that Moscow wanted to shift the borders of neighboring Ukraine, according to Reuters.

Russia`s victory in a brief war with Georgia last month, which followed a Georgian attempt to take back the rebellious pro-Moscow region of South Ossetia, has raised fears Russia could do the same in other neighboring, former Soviet states.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said last month that Russia might have its sights on Ukraine or Moldova. But Sarkozy said he had no sign in talks with Russia on withdrawing troops from Georgia that was the case.

"You asked me a question about Ukraine`s territorial integrity. In Europe`s view, it is perfectly non-negotiable," he told a news briefing at a summit between the European Union and Ukraine.

"In the discussions we had yesterday in Moscow, nothing led me to believe that was a problem," he added after announcing a deal to build closer ties between Ukraine and the EU.

In Monday`s talks near Moscow, Sarkozy secured an agreement by Russia to completely withdraw its forces from Georgia`s heartland within a month. Moscow did not commit to scale back its military presence in two Georgian separatist regions.

The European Union froze talks on a new partnership pact with Moscow, which had been scheduled for September 15, if Russia did not pull its forces back from Georgia as agreed in a peace deal reached a month ago.

Sarkozy said on Monday he saw no reason why the partnership talks with Russia should not resume next month if Monday`s pullback deal is implemented.

He told the news briefing on Tuesday talks could resume in a month, by which time Russian forces should all have pulled back to the rebel regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

"Active mediation by the European Union ... in this region, and the will, if all goes well, to restart as of October 10 the discussions on a strategic partnership with Russia -- that is the European Union`s strategy," he said.

Sarkozy, whose country holds the rotating six-month EU presidency, repeated that the 27-nation bloc wanted calm relations with Russia, a message echoed by European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

"We do not need a Cold War in Europe. We need cool heads," he said. "That is path we are working on."

Reuters

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