All parties involved in the Caucasus conflict are "playing with fire," German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Wednesday. He said the West needs a measured response to Moscow.
"Some people ... are frivolously playing with fire -- on all sides," Steinmeier wrote in an op-ed in the mass-market daily Bild on Wednesday, Aug. 27. "The spiral of provocation must stop, and immediately."
The minister called Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's recognition of independence for Georgia's breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia on Tuesday an "irresponsible" act that was "further stoking the conflict."
"For this very reason, we in the West should not react unwisely," Steinmeier wrote. "To be driven by one's emotions at this point would be wrong. We must stop the virus of separation and war infecting other areas.
"The conflict in the Caucasus is in danger of escalating further. If we are not careful the whole security apparatus in Europe will be unhinged -- with unpredictable consequences for us all," he added.
Merkel confident EU has answer
German Chancellor Angela Merkel showed confidence Tuesday that the European Union will manage to find common ground on the Russian-Georgian conflict.
Merkel said she is also ready to attempt more talks with Moscow ahead of the next week's EU emergency summit.
"We will not solve conflicts if we do not talk to each other," Merkel said in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, after a meeting with Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus.
The chancellor added that it also must be clear that common values and basic principles must be met for cooperation between the European Union and Russia.
The EU and NATO members, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania fiercely supported Georgia in its showdown with Russia in the last three weeks and urged the 27-nation bloc to toughen penalties with Moscow, such as reconsidering the framework of a partnership agreement or not easing EU visa restrictions with Russia.
The leaders of EU members will meet for an emergency summit on Monday to discuss Russian-Georgian conflict.
The six-point plan brokered by the French EU presidency to withdraw Russian troops from Georgia should "now be implemented," said Merkel in the Estonian capital, Tallinn.
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