Bildt calls for summit on Georgia

Bildt calls for summit on Georgia
Sweden's Foreign Minister Carl Bildt wants eastern European states to hold a summit with the European Union to discuss the crisis in Georgia, according to an interview with a German newspaper.

Bildt told the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that he opposed EU sanctions against Russia for its surge into Georgia but said a meeting to strengthen ties between the bloc and eastern Europe could be useful now.

He said Russia would pay a higher price for its actions in the Caucasus if countries such as Georgia and Ukraine had closer relations with the European Union and Nato.

“Let us not forget that Russia urgently needs cooperation and integration with the rest of Europe to secure a better future,” he said.

“They may have oil and gas but their investments (in energy infrastructure) are insufficient to satisfy internal and external demand in the coming years.”

Bildt renewed his call made with Poland earlier this year for an alliance of eastern European states with the EU along the lines of the Mediterranean Union brought together in July by French president and current EU leader Nicolas Sarkozy.

“Stronger European and Atlantic engagement with these two countries (Ukraine and Georgia) but also with the greater region between Russia, the European Union and the southern Caucasus would raise the cost of any aggressive move by Russia in the coming years,” he said.

“It is also important to help all these states with their efforts at reform so they development into politically stable and economically successful societies. That is also important to inspire Russia.”

Sweden has taken a hard line against Moscow since the start of the Georgian conflict on August 8.

Last week, Bildt said the Russian recognition of the Georgian rebel enclaves South Ossetia and Abkhazia 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.”