Russia`s president, Dmitry Medvedev, outlined plans yesterday for a new security pact to ban the use of force in Europe and defuse increasing tensions between Moscow and Nato, Guardian reported.
Yesterday`s speech at the World Policy Conference in Evian, France, was intended as a bridge-building exercise after Russia`s occupation of Georgia in August, which threatened a new cold war.
Medvedev promised that by midnight last night Russian troops would leave "security zones" in the undisputed areas of Georgian territory. However, the Georgian government claimed the withdrawal was only partial and that Russian troops showed no signs of leaving the strategic outpost of Akhalgori, near the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, and outside the breakaway region of South Ossetia. Russian authorities also continued to block EU monitors from entering South Ossetia and Abkhazia (recognised as independent states by Moscow), which have been at the centre of the Russia-Georgia conflict. European diplomats said the monitors would try to cross the lines again soon.
"We are absolutely not interested in confrontation," said Medvedev, devoting much of his speech to giving details of a new European security agreement that he first mentioned earlier in the year.
The new European pact would include "a clear affirmation of the inadmissibility of the use of force - or the threat of force - in international relations" and would be built on the principle of the territorial integrity of independent nations.
It would also prevent "the development of military alliances to harm the security of other members of the treaty" - a clear reference to Nato expansion, which Moscow sees as a significant threat to its security.
Western diplomats said the proposals remained vague, and sounded unlikely to gain wide support in Europe. The US, Britain and eastern Europe in particular refuse to contemplate a Russian veto on Nato membership for states such as Ukraine or Georgia.
A Russian official said the Medvedev initiative was a "work in progress" currently being discussed in European capitals. Britain`s foreign secretary, David Miliband, talked it over with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, at the UN last month. The aim, the Russian official said, was to elicit responses and then invite European leaders to a summit, probably after a new US administration takes office in January.
"This is a highly revisionist speech," said David Clark, the chairman of the Russia Foundation, a London-based thinktank. "It`s clearly an attempt to rewrite the post-cold war settlement. A lot of what Medvedev is talking about was in the Charter of Paris in 1990." The charter paved the way for the new Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
"Moscow wants a security relationship dependent on power rather than values," Clark added. "The Russian government has been hostile to the OSCE since about 2003-04, when it started to criticise Russian elections."
The Russian official said that in recent years that the OSCE had tilted from a military-political organisation to an organisation promoting human rights and democracy.