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Volume 709: debated on Wednesday 1 April 2009


Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Russian forces in Georgia have returned to the ceasefire line agreed in the six point ceasefire between President Sarkozy and President Medvedev; and, if not, what steps the European Union and the Government will take. [HL2169]

I refer the noble Lord to the letter from my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary to the right honourable Mr William Hague on 17 February 2009 setting out the UK's assessment of Russia's compliance with its commitments under the Sarkozy-Medvedev agreements, a copy of which was placed in the Library of the House.

The international community continues to press Russia to abide by its commitments under the Sarkozy-Medvedev agreements. On 5 February 2009, for example, the Czech Republic as EU presidency issued a statement expressing serious concern about possible Russian plans to build up its military presence in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. That statement referred specifically to the ceasefire agreements and urged Russia to continue to implement all its commitments.

EU partners have also agreed that the pace and tone of negotiations on a new EU-Russia agreement will reflect Russia's actions, including in Georgia. The resumption of negotiations does not constitute a return to business as usual. In a similar vein, my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary has made clear that the decision of 5 March 2009 to resume meetings of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation-Russia Council does not mean that the events of August 2008 will be overlooked. The alliance will use meetings to engage Russia, but in a hard-headed way, including on Georgia issues. Our own bilateral engagement with Russia is consistent with this international approach. We are not seeking to isolate Russia, but nor will we avoid making concerns clear. We and partners will continue to urge Russia to abide by its commitments in Georgia.