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  Tuesday, October 4, 2022
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Talks between the EU and Russia on a new cooperation agreement
Talks between the EU and Russia on a new cooperation agreement can only be revived once Moscow fulfills its obligations in the Caucasus, the head of a European Parliament delegation said in Moscow on Saturday.

Discussions on a new agreement have been repeatedly delayed, most recently due to Russia's five-day armed conflict with Georgia in August that was sparked by Tbilisi's invasion of breakaway South Ossetia.

Ria Oomen-Ruijten, the co-chair of the EU-Russia Parliamentary Cooperation Committee, said Russia bore the most responsibility for what happened in the Caucasus, and stressed the importance of allowing European Union observers to do their jobs.

"It is very important that observers get access to go where they want," she said at a news conference in Moscow. "I sincerely hope that Russia will cooperate in a spirit of constructive assistance."

EU monitors took over from Russian peacekeepers in two buffer zones adjacent to the disputed regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia in early October.

Oomen-Ruijten said that although the Medvedev-Sarkozy agreement between the Russian and French presidents did not explicitly give the observers access to Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the deal should be interpreted "in a more comprehensive sense."

Russia says it has met its obligations under the deal, and accuses Georgia of not complying with troop-withdrawal commitments.

The first round of talks on a new wide-ranging deal between Russia and the EU was held in July this year. The agreement is set to replace the 1997 Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, which was extended for a year when it expired in December 2007.

The talks were delayed over disputes between Russia and EU members Poland and Lithuania. The second round of talks was due to take place on September 16, but was delayed by the EU over Moscow's military operation in Georgia and its subsequent recognition of the breakaway republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states.


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