Bildt heading to Paris for Georgia talks

Bildt heading to Paris for Georgia talks
Sweden’s Foreign Minister Carl Bildt planned to travel to Paris on Thursday for talks with his French and Czech counterparts about the conflict between Georgia and Russia.

Bildt, along with Bernard Kouchner of France and Karel Schwarzenberg of the Czech Republic, are expected to discuss the Georgia issue ahead of a European summit on Monday, called by French President Nicolas Sarkozy to review the conflict and the European Union’s relations with Russia.

France currently holds the EU’s rotating presidency, while the Czech Republic will take over in January before handing over to Sweden in July.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Tuesday announced that he had signed a decree officially recognizing the two breakaway Georgian regions in a move drawing sharp criticism from western Europe, the United States and Nato.

Sweden has taken a hard line against Moscow since the start of the conflict.

On Tuesday, Bildt said the Russian recognition was “a deliberate violation of international law and basic principles for stability in Europe” that “dramatically escalated the crisis between Russia and the rest of the world.”

Bildt followed up his comments with a new statement on Wednesday, issued in his capacity as Chairman of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.

“I condemn the decision by President Medvedev to recognize the independence of the two Georgian regions of South-Ossetia and Abkhazia,” said Bildt in a statement.

He said the move “jeopardizes the possibility of a peaceful resolution of the conflict” and “blatantly contradicts the fundamental principles of the Council of Europe.”