Brussels, 23 February 2001. Agence Europe has published the statement of Ms Anna Lindh, the serving President of the Council, on the subject of Georgia: according to Ms Lindh, the Union has insisted “on the importance of introducing concrete reforms and of not restricting itself to displays of good will”.

Statement by Olivier Dupuis, Secretary of the Transnational Radical Party and member of the European Parliament:

The statement by the serving President Ms Lindh has the bitter taste of the pious vows to which the Union has accustomed us. Once again the Union expects the impossible from Georgia. Once again the Union acts as if Georgia were not strangled by the Russian Federation… As if the Caucasus, for the Russian Federation, had not once again become a region to be subjected completely to its will, to be destabilised in order to discourage any internal development or external aid, beginning with international investment... As if the Russian plan to block all access to Central Asia except through its own territories did not exist … As if Chechnya were on the moon and not in the heart of the Caucasus … As if the troubles in Abkhazia and South Ossetia were not stoked by the Russian Federation …

As if the Union could do without a policy worthy of the name towards Central Asia (and its huge energy resources) … As if the Union had to return to the policy of appeasement towards Russia, a policy we thought had disappeared after the fall of the Soviet empire... As if the Union were forced to establish an energy policy with the Russian Federation giving it a near-monopoly both of supply and distribution … As if it were not in the interest of the Union to encourage and strengthen alternative routes, beginning with the route linking Baku to Supsa in Georgia and Constanta in Romania, or the Baku-Ceylan route, abandoned completely by the Commission…

No good whatsoever will come of the policy of abandoning Central Asia - and the Caucasus - to the evident neo-colonial plans of the Russian Federation, neither for Central Asia nor for the Caucasus, neither for Russia nor for the European Union. But it is not written in the stars. The Union has a duty to thwart them: it is a matter of the very survival of any prospect of democracy and the rule of law in Central Asia, in the Caucasus, and in Russia. It is a matter of the political, humanitarian and economic policies of the European Union.

Georgia, the gate to the Caucasus and to Central Asia, is of fundamental importance to EU policy in this region. It is time, high time, that the Council and the Commission drew the necessary conclusions and invited Georgia immediately to become a full member of the Union.