August 27, 2008 / 4:12 PM / 11 years ago

France's Sarkozy stands by Georgia peace plan


By Francois Murphy

PARIS, Aug 27 (Reuters) - French President Nicolas Sarkozy called on Moscow on Wednesday to comply immediately with his peace plan for Georgia which Russia has signed but continues to violate.

Sarkozy brokered a deal between Moscow and Tbilisi two weeks ago but Russia has yet to pull back its troops as agreed.

It has also recognised two breakaway regions of Georgia as independent states in defiance of the plan calling for international talks on security arrangements there.

"The six-point ceasefire agreement of Aug. 12 which bears the signatures of (Russian) President (Dmitry) Medvedev and (Georgian) President (Mikheil) Saakashvili, and mine, must be applied in full," Sarkozy told French ambassadors in a speech.

"The military forces which have not yet withdrawn to the lines preceding the launch of hostilities must move without delay," he told the annual gathering of France’s top diplomats.

Sarkozy called for international monitors to replace Russian patrols around the rebel region of South Ossetia as quickly as possible, and for talks on "security and stability modalities" there and in the region of Abkhazia to start quickly.

Each of those points matched one from his peace plan which has yet to be fully implemented, a lack of success which has raised doubts about whether the agreement is still alive.

Sarkozy, whose country holds the rotating six-month EU presidency, also stepped up his criticism of Russia’s recognition on Tuesday of the two provinces.

"This decision, which aims to change Georgia’s borders unilaterally, is simply unacceptable," Sarkozy said.



PEACEMAKER

Russia’s continued occupation of parts of Georgia has taken the shine off of Sarkozy’s peacemaking efforts.

He began polishing his credentials as a mediator in Israel in June, when he offered to broker peace with the Palestinians, and at the launch of his Mediterranean Union project last month, at which Arab leaders sat at the same table as Israel.

He said he would travel to Damascus on Sept. 3 and 4 to discuss strengthening ties with Syria after Damascus agreed to establish normal diplomatic relations with Lebanon, where it has long been accused of manipulating political affairs.

Syria also wanted France to be a co-sponsor, with the United States, of any direct peace talks it might have with Israel after their ongoing indirect negotiations, Sarkozy said.

Defending his foreign policy record since taking office over a year ago, Sarkozy also called on Ireland’s voters to listen to other European Union countries calling for a treaty that would reform the EU’s institutions to come into force.

Irish voters rejected the treaty in a referendum in June, and it cannot come into force until all 27 EU member states have ratified it. Sarkozy angered many Irish people last month when he was quoted as saying they would have to vote again.

"With (Irish) Prime Minister Brian Cowen, we will identify the guarantees that can enable Europe to pass this new stage in its construction," Sarkozy said.

"I tell our Irish friends that we need them, that Europe needs them, that we respect them, but that they must also hear the call of all other Europeans who want institutions for Europe," he added.



For a factbox on the six-point plan, please double-click on [ID:nLD219888]




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