By Sarah Collins - 20th August 2008
If Russian troops do not withdraw we will see a de facto division of the country
German MEP Elmar Brok on the consequences of a Russian delay on withdrawal from Georgia
Senior German MEP Elmar Brok has said the EU needs to step up its response in Georgia or risk a “domino effect” in the region.
He said that both Azerbaijan and Ukraine could be in danger if Moscow's action in Georgia is a forewarning of a Russian foreign policy shift, and urged the EU to be more prepared for such a crisis.
“On prevention strategy [the EU] is extremely weak,” he told journalists in Brussels on Wednesday.
“We still have differences that we have to overcome between old and new member states.
“We have to be clearer and much quicker so that we don’t have a domino effect.”
Brok, who has just returned from a trip to Georgia with his EPP-ED colleague Othmar Karas, said the situation on the ground, especially in the area around Gori, is “like a ghost town”.
He described Gori, a town near the border with South Ossetia, as emptied of most of its inhabitants and surrounded by several Russian checkpoints – exactly where they were before the ceasefire was agreed last week.
“”It doesn’t look like [the Russians] are looking at a rapid withdrawal,” Brok said.
“If Russian troops do not withdraw we will see a de facto division of the country.”
His comments come after a special Nato meeting in Brussels on Tuesday, where foreign ministers reiterated the call for the withdrawal of Russian troops from the region, as set out in the French-brokered six-point plan signed by Georgia and Russia last week.
According to Karas, vice-chair of the EPP-ED group, the commission and council have been too quiet on Georgia, which for him is “evidence of a general lack of a common foreign and security policy”.
“There have been serious omissions on behalf of the council and the commission. The European commission has to come forward very quickly with a proposition for short-term action in this area,” he said on Tuesday.
For both Brok and Karas, the only viable solution is to adhere to the six-point plan agreed by Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili and Russian president Dmitry Medvedev.
This means - after an agreed withdrawal by Russia on 22 August - sending an international peacekeeping force, including EU troops, and teams of observers to remain in Georgia for the long term.
They also see a role for the EU in providing immediate humanitarian aid to Georgia and helping with reconstruction.