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Summary: 13 October 2008, Brussels – Council of the European Union PRESS RELEASE: 2897the meeting of the Council, General Affairs and External Relations, External Relations Conclusions
Main results of the Council
The Council noted with satisfaction that, following the deployment by the EU of a civilian observer mission in Georgia, Russian troops had withdrawn from the zones adjacent to South Ossetia and Abkhazia. This was an additional step in the implementation of the agreements of 12 August and 8 September, which were concluded with the mediation of the European Union following the conflict last summer.
The Council reaffirmed the willingness of the EU to take an active part in the international discussions on Georgia, which are set to commence on 15 October in Geneva under the auspices of the EU, the UN and the OSCE. These discussions must focus on all the remaining problems, in particular that concerning arrangements for security and stability in the region and the urgent question of displaced persons.
The Council further noted with satisfaction that some progress had been made, compared with previous elections, during the recent electoral campaign in Belarus, even though the parliamentary elections held on 28 September failed to meet the democratic criteria of the OSCE. In this context, it hoped for gradual re-engagement with this country and decided to restore the contacts which it had restricted in November 2004. A meeting between the Council troika and the Belarusian Minister for Foreign Affairs took place in the margins of the meeting.
Moreover, in order to encourage dialogue with the Belarusian authorities and the adoption of measures to strengthen democracy and respect for human rights, the Council decided that the travel restrictions currently imposed on certain leading figures would not apply for a period of six months which may be reviewed. At the end of that period, the Council will reconsider the situation in the light of the progress made by the Belarusian authorities.
In the case of Uzbekistan, the Council welcomed the progress achieved in the last year with regard to respect for the rule of law and the protection of human rights, while remaining concerned about the situation in some domains. It called on the Uzbek authorities to fulfil all their obligations in this respect and is prepared to assist Uzbekistan in its reforming efforts. In this context, it decided not to renew the travel restrictions applying to certain individuals, which had been suspended in October 2007 and April 2008, but would be renewing the arms embargo for a period of 12 months.
An Association Council with Morocco took place in the margins of the Council, focusing particularly on the question of according an "advanced status" to bilateral relations in the framework of the EU's neighbourhood policy.
CONTENTS: ITEMS DEBATED
ZIMBABWE - Council conclusions
BELARUS - Council conclusions
UZBEKISTAN - Council conclusions
GEORGIA/RUSSIA - Council conclusions
OTHER ITEMS APPROVED