Excerpt - Reference to Georgia
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Speech by Chris Patten,
 Commissioner responsible for External Relations
Diplomatic Academy
Moscow, 18 January 2001

The EU and Russia - The way ahead

The question of Russia's role in the "near abroad" is a highly sensitive matter. But it does go to the heart of what we expect from Russia in the context of our partnership. Let me put it in this way. Should we expect Russia to play a role in ensuring peace and stability beyond its borders? Incontestably. But how will Russia play that role? Is Russia genuinely willing to work with its partners in the international community on the basis of common standards and values agreed for example in the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe and the Council of Europe? Perhaps you will say that we are wrong to have any concerns, that we have misunderstood your position and your policies. But from your knowledge of us, you will recognise that the way Russia approached these questions at the recent OSCE ministerial meeting and the way in which it appears to be using the visa regime and its monopoly of gas supplies in its relations with Georgia are bound to provoke controversy in the European Union and to raise some anxieties. 

Have these incidents helped to improve Russia's international image? Have they enhanced or damaged its efforts to play the role of an honest broker? We are committed to supporting the sovereignty and integrity of all the states in the region, including Russia itself. That is beyond question. Any country which is a member of the UN, the OSCE and the Council of Europe has a right to international support and if Russia is to take on the international role we all feel she should be playing, I am sure you would agree that it must be on the basis of the rules and criteria to which we have all subscribed. Disputes like the one with Georgia need to be resolved by negotiation, either bilaterally or through the OSCE. I am sure that the international community, and certainly the European Union, will work with Russia positively and resolutely to bring the conflicts in the Caucasus to an end.