Summit in Brussels EU Condemns Moscow's Recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia

The European Union is showing a unified front regarding Russia. Leaders meeting for a special summit on the Georgia crisis are set to condemn Russia's recognition of South Ossetian and Abkhazian independence, according to a draft statement.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy (L) and British Prime Minister Gorden Brown attempting to show a united front on Russia at the EU summit in Brussels.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy (L) and British Prime Minister Gorden Brown attempting to show a united front on Russia at the EU summit in Brussels.

European Union leaders are set to condemn Russia's recognition of the regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and will warn Russia that its future relations with the EU will depend on whether it fully meets the terms of a peace deal for Georgia, according to a draft summit statement.

EU leaders gathered in Brussels for talks on the Georgian crisis are scheduled to announce the outcome of the summit at a news conference on Monday evening.

The five-page draft statement makes no references to any sanctions. It says relations between Russia and the EU are at a "crossroads" and calls on other states to refrain from recognizing the two breakaway regions as separate states.

"The European Council is gravely concerned by the open conflict which has broken out in Georgia, by the resulting violence and by the disproportionate reaction of Russia," the draft said.

"In the light of the situation and in particular the implementation by Russia of all its commitments under the six-point (peace) plan, (the review) may lead to decisions on the continuation of discussions on the future of relations between the Union and Russia in various areas."

Moscow sent forces into South Ossetia and Georgia last month after Georgia tried to recapture by force its rebel, pro-Russian region of South Ossetia. Russia said it intervened to prevent Georgian "genocide" there. The West criticized Russia for pushing its forces far into Georgia beyond South Ossetia and for bombing targets in Georgia.

Shortly before the summit began, German Chancellor Angela Merkel appealed to the EU not to not break off dialogue with Russia. She said she was disappointed that Russia had not yet implemented the six-point plan and said the EU summit would have to send out a signal for the "territorial integrity of Georgia."

The EU also pledged reconstruction aid for Georgia and said it would create a "comprehensive free trade zone," organize a donor conference and appoint a special representative for the Georgia crisis.

The draft EU statement was circulated just before the meeting began and could still change. The summit was called to bridge differences within the 27-nation bloc on how to deal with Russia after the Georgian crisis.

France, Germany and Italy had said it's too soon for punitive action against Russia -- the EU's biggest energy supplier -- but Britain called on the EU to suspend talks on a new partnership agreement with Russia.

cro -- with wire reports


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