Gulf News, United Arab Emirates
Aug 31 2008

Russia seeks to avoid EU wrath ahead of bloc's summit today

Published: August 31, 2008, 23:30

Moscow: Russia on Sunday sought to ease tensions with the West ahead
of an EU emergency summit on the Georgia conflict as Britain pushed
for a "root and branch" review of the bloc's relations with Moscow.

President Dmitry Medvedev spoke by phone with Italian Prime Minister
Silvio Berlusconi, who has taken a more lenient stance than other
European countries on Russia's actions in Georgia.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown argued that Russia's military
surge into Georgia and recognition of Georgian rebel regions left EU
leaders with little choice but to change course with Moscow.

"In the light of Russian actions, the EU should review - root and
branch - our relationship with Russia," he wrote in a commentary
published in London's Observer newspaper.

The prime minister said he had warned Medvedev in a telephone call on
Saturday "to expect a determined European response" to the situation
in Georgia at the Brussels summit today.

The Kremlin press service said Medvedev had "discussed the situation
in South Ossetia and Abkhazia" with Berlusconi, who is a close
personal friend of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

The leaders also touched on "post-crisis developments", the press
service said, without elaborating.

Turkey has proposed forming a regional cooperation group to stabilise
the Caucasus region in the aftermath of the war between Russia and
Georgia. Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan says the proposed group
would include Turkey and four nearby Caucasia nations: Russia,
Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia.