Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Kosovo Precedent

The European Union’s indecision in the face of Russian pressure on the Kosovo independence issue is plainly showing itself, now that the Georgian crisis has come to a head. Javier Solana, the EU’s High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy,  has now acknowledged that Kosovo’s campaign for independence could set a precedent for Georgia’s breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, RFE/RL reports.

The tone and manner of Solana’s comments do not give much ground for optimism:

“We are trapped here,” he said. “President Saakashvili is trapped, all of us are trapped in a double mechanism that may have good consequences for one, but not for the other. It may not be a win-win situation — although we should be able to look [for] and find a win-win solution. But it will not be easy.”

Estonian president-elect Toomas Hendrik Ilves has backed up the Georgian government’s request for EU peacekeepers to be sent to Georgia, but a number of other European states, mainly France, Italy and Germany, are afraid of antagonizing Russia. Solana’s further remarks are again not encouraging:

Solana noted that sending EU peacekeepers might not be “the best solution” for Georgia in any case. “I mean, for the moment, we have to see what is the best solution for the security of Georgia,” he said. “[It] may not be peacekeepers, [it] may be something different. But I think to begin committing European peacekeepers there is something that I would not do at this moment. I said what I told you, I told him [Saakashvili].”

The EU foreign-policy chief did not specify what alternative solutions he might have in mind. He did say the EU would continue talking to both Moscow and Tbilisi about the crisis, in a bid to restore confidence.

Meanwhile, Moscow will continue to take maximum advantage of the EU’s hesitation and confusion with regard to this crucial issue.

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