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Summary: 18 August 2008, Brussels – The immediate priority of the Presidency of the Council of the European Union is the implementation on the ground of the ceasefire concluded on 12 August and the retreat of Russian troops.
During a telephone call on 13 August, the President of the French Republic and current President of the European Council, Nicolas Sarkozy, asked the Russian President, Dmitri Medvedev, for clarification on the information on the movement of Russian tanks. Bernard Kouchner, the French Minister for Foreign and European Affairs, made the same request of his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov. The Russian authorities gave their assurances that the Russian Federation would respect its commitments.
Efforts are also underway to ensure a rapid implementation of the other aspects of the settlement plan.
The Presidency of the Council of the European Union is in close contact with its main partners. On 14 August Nicolas Sarkozy received the US Secretary for State, Condoleezza Rice, in a meeting also attended by Bernard Kouchner.
The day before, Bernard Kouchner chaired an extraordinary meeting of the General Affairs and External Relations Council on Georgia, during which he reported on the EU's and OSCE's efforts to mediate. The Council saluted those efforts, and recalled the EU's attachment to respecting the principles of independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity guaranteed by international law, and expressed its support for the six-point agreement obtained in Moscow and Tbilisi. The Council asked Javier Solana, High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy to prepare - in liaison with the European Commission - proposals for the European Union to engage in supporting all these efforts (also on the ground), including those of the UN and the OSCE.
At the UN, a draft Security Council resolution incorporating the agreement concluded by Russia and Georgia was drawn up. The prompt adoption of this resolution by the United Nations will allow the ceasefire to be consolidated and will provide a framework for the initiatives that should now be taken to facilitate a sustainable settlement of the conflict.
At the OSCE, Finland, the current holder of the Presidency of the OSCE, has referred a proposal to the Special Permanent Council of the OSCE aimed at reinforcing OSCE personnel in South Ossetia by up to 100 monitors. The European Union lends its support to this reinforcement and fully supports the efforts of the Finnish Presidency.
With regard to the humanitarian aspect, the Council of the European Union asked the Commission to liaise with the Presidency to continue to ensure the coordination of European aid. This aid, which has already begun to be distributed, could benefit tens of thousands of refugees.