The current Georgian-Russian conflict is a major test for the European Union and its capacity to engage in conflict resolution in the Caucasus region. Wary of irritating Russia by a too-visible presence, the EU has adopted a soft power approach to the region in recent years. France's mediation of a framework for a later cease-fire agreement between Russia and Georgia suggests that that role is slotted to change.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy, the current president of the European Union, holds that Europe has no choice but to mediate an end to the current fighting between Russia and Georgia. "Europe cannot be passive. Europe must express its political will, which is what it is doing at this moment," Sarkozy told an August 13 press conference at the presidential residence in Tbilisi.
Tbilisi and Moscow have agreed to a document presented by French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner that contains six principles for a future, permanent agreement: 1) the non-use of force by all parties (Russia, Georgia, Abkhazia, South Ossetia); 2) an immediate end to hostilities; 3) free access to humanitarian aid; 4) the retreat of Georgian forces to their earlier positions, and the retreat of Russian forces to their original positions outside of South Ossetia, within the Russian Federation; 5) additional temporary security arrangements for peacekeepers in South Ossetia, but only within the bounds of South Ossetia itself; 6) the start of "international discussions" about stability and security measures in South Ossetia and Abkhazia.