By Martin Banks - 14th August 2008
Is the Russian leadership trying to change the borders of Europe and overthrow a democratic regime?
EPP-ED deputy chairman Gunnar Hökmark on the crisis in South Ossetia
Moscow’s action in Georgia has been branded “brutal and in conflict with fundamental international law” by EPP-ED deputy chairman Gunnar Hökmark.
The centre-right Swedish deputy said the recent intervention in the former Soviet republic poses serious questions about Moscow’s future intentions.
“With military warfare against an independent and sovereign state, is the Russian leadership trying to change the borders of Europe and overthrow a democratic regime?” Hökmark asked.
“This is totally unacceptable. It is breaching not only international law but also rules that are at the core of the cooperation between European nations, which is totally unacceptable.
“The EU must make clear that negotiations about enlarged cooperation between the EU and Russia won’t be possible as long as Russian invasion forces are inside the borders of Georgia.
“Ongoing projects regarding energy or economy must be put on hold as long as Russia by its own actions demonstrates that it neglects laws and agreements that are fundamental to European cooperation.
“In the longer perspective, Russian leaders must be made aware that they are risking the Olympic winter games in 2012.
“If Russia doesn’t accept the rules of European cooperation, it can’t be a part of it”, Hökmark concluded.
His comments come as Russian troops began handing over control of the area around the town of Gori on Thursday to Georgian security forces.
A top Russian general refused to say exactly when troops would withdraw – they will remain for days to remove weaponry and help restore law and order in Gori.
Georgia attacked the rebel region of South Ossetia from Gori a week ago, prompting Russian retaliation.
Meanwhile, the European commission has strongly condemned the killing of four aid workers in Logar, Afghanistan.
The victims, who were working for the International Rescue Committee (IRC), were three women of British-Canadian, Canadian and Trinidadian-American nationality, and their Afghan driver.