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Russia: Politics and Government

Volume 485: debated on Monday 15 December 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the outcome of the European Commission’s assignment to examine the practical consequences to be drawn from Russia’s unilateral decision to recognise the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, as set out in paragraph two of the 1 September Presidency Conclusions of the European Council (12594/08); and if he will make a statement. (240832)

The examination undertaken focused on areas of trade and visa policy.

The Commission decided that there was no real risk of the EU unwittingly trading with South Ossetia and Abkhazia because the Government in Tblisi issues certificates of origin on goods which come to the EU and the Commission would continue to implement its policies rigorously.

Member states were concerned that Russian passport holders in South Ossetia and Abkhazia currently enjoy better access to the EU than Georgian passport holders due to the EU-Russia visa facilitation and re-admission agreements. Accordingly, in response to the conflict and the 1 September European Council conclusions, the EU has increased the pace of negotiations on visa facilitation and re-admissions with Georgia. As the UK is not part of the Schengen agreement, the Government have given formal notification that they intend to participate in the adoption of this recommendation.