Part 4 Press Conference following Talks with President of France Nicolas Sarkozy September 8, 2008 Maiendorf Castle, Moscow Region NICOLAS SARKOZY: Everything is really very simple. First, I think that the European Union has taken a perfectly balanced position. If you look texts of the decisions, the unanimous decisions of the European Council, they condemn Russias disproportionate response. If we are talking about a reaction, that obviously means that there has been some kind of action. The meaning of these words is perfectly clear. And I believe that we have responded in a balanced manner. On the second point of disagreement: we believe that Russia should not have unilaterally recognised the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. There are international rules which have to be followed. These are the two points which are creating problems for us. There is a third element. The document that we signed, the one that President Medvedev and I present to you today, if this document enters into force with the consent of President Barroso, I see no reason that the meeting between Russia and Europe that was postponed in September should not be held in October. All this is perfectly clear. We want partnership, we want peace, and no one needs a confrontation between Europe and Russia. First of all, the words in the document must be taken seriously. President Barroso, President Medvedev and I negotiated this document. And of course there is still a strategic partnership between Russia and Europe. QUESTION FROM ASSOCIATED PRESS: France came here with three goals, all of which have been attained. First, the withdrawal of troops, then a date for talks and the possibility of observers. Mr Russian President, I would like to ask you something related to the European side. Was there on the European side any sign that they recognise the idea of independence for South Ossetia and Abkhazia? Have you made some progress in this sense? DMITRY MEDVEDEV: Of course it would be better for you to ask our colleagues rather than me, especially since we had no plan to discuss with our colleagues (the President of France, and our colleagues in the European Union) issues related to the recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. It was our decision to recognise them. As I have said publicly on several occasions during my telephone conversations with Nicolas and with my other colleagues, this choice is final and irreversible. Our decision is irrevocable. The act of recognition was performed according to international law, relating to the emergence of states two new states have emerged. Everything else depends on who else makes such a decision and when. As you know, the process of recognition is now underway, and I am sure that this process will gain momentum as it proceeds. At what point in this process the EU countries choose to join depends on the position they take. There is no such thing as a decision that lasts forever. We are perfectly well aware that everything in the world is subject to change, including the position whereby a country refuses to recognise this or that new state. This is the reality with which everyone has to come to terms, including our partners in the EU. And I am sure that they fully understand this. But of course no concrete decisions or specific dates of recognition were discussed at today’s meeting. But if our colleagues are ready to do so here and now, we certainly will not object. NICOLAS SARKOZY: I should thank President Medvedev for volunteering to speak for Europe on this issue. We had four objectives: the withdrawal of Russian forces and a clear timetable. This we have achieved. We have agreed on the deployment of international observers. Then addressing the refugee issue, because it must be said that this is not linked to the question of independence, and the refugee issue is an important one. And, finally, to answer your question, international talks. If the international talks are to begin in Geneva, it means there is something to discuss. That is my answer. DMITRY MEDVEDEV: For us that is an encouraging sign.