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Friday, May 16, 2008

EU Sides with Georgia against Russia

The BBC reports:

EU backs Georgians in Russia row

Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili

Five EU foreign ministers have voiced their support for Georgia in its continuing dispute with separatist regions backed by Russia.

Slovenian Foreign Minister Dmitrij Rupel said the EU was reiterating its backing for Georgia's sovereignty.

In a separate development, the breakaway region of Abkhazia said it had shot down two more Georgian spy drones - a claim rejected by Tbilisi.

Georgia accuses Russia of trying to stoke up separatist hostility.

In April, it accused Moscow of shooting down one of its spy planes but it has denied recent claims of drones being hit.

Abkhazia claims a total of seven have been brought down since March.

BBC map

After talks with the five EU foreign ministers in Tbilisi, Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili said Russia was preparing to take over Abkhazia.

"What is being carried out is indisputably an act of annexation and a prelude to occupation," he said.

Mr Rupel, whose country holds the EU presidency, was accompanied to Tbilisi by the foreign ministers of Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Sweden.

The presidents of Lithuania and Ukraine issued a joint statement on Monday urging Moscow to reconsider its recent decision to strengthen relations with Abkhazia and another separatist region, South Ossetia.

"Such a decision questions Georgia's territorial integrity and increases tension in the region," they said.

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