The paper clip, 9 September

Tuesday 9 September 2008

The outcome of yesterday's meeting in Moscow between EU leaders and the Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev, is widely reported on in this morning's papers. Among other, Britain's The Times says that Russia has agreed to a complete pullout of its troops from Georgian territory outside South Ossetia and Abkhazia within one month. Although Medvedev is quoted as saying that Russia's decision to recognise South Abkhazia and South Ossetia was irrevocable, he agreed to the deployment of at least 200 EU observers in Georgia to replace Russian troops by 1 October. The agreement has, according to the BBC, been cautiously welcomed by Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili.

But the prospect of an agreement had not stopped Georgia from filing an action at the International Court of Justice, which yesterday began looking at Georgia's case seeking protection for ethnic Georgians living in the breakaway provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, reports the International Herald Tribune.

Staying with the Georgia crisis, the New York Times reports that the US administration has formally withdrawn an agreement for civilian nuclear co-operation with Russia. According to the newspaper, the step is the strongest show of displeasure that the US has yet made over Russia's military action in Georgia. "But it stops short of the more aggressive measures that some have proposed," the article notes.

The Irish Times reports that the Georgian crisis could see the start of a possible thaw between Belarus and the West.  Usually a staunch ally of Russia, President Alyaksandr Lukashenka said yesterday that he would not immediately recognise the independence of the two rebel Georgian regions nor station weapons on the EU's border to counter a planned US missile defence system.

In a story that provides an economic backdrop for the crisis, the BBC reports that Russian state-owned energy giant Gazprom, which supplies about a quarter of Europe's gas, is set to rake in record export revenues this year exceeding $65 billion (€46 billion) as European gas prices edge toward an all-time high.

Turning to Kosovo, which Russia has cited as a precedent for its recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Balkan Insight reports that the Kosovo's president, Fatmir Sejdiu, has decided to cancel a pay rise after it emerged that he was one of the best paid presidents in the region. His monthly take-home pay will now go down to €2,612, from €3,134.

Turning to France, Le Figaro reports that the Church of Scientology in France is to be tried in court for organised fraud. If the church loses the case it could lead to it being banned in France.

Lastly, the issue of missing children resurfaces with a Polish reprise of the now familiar story of Josef Fritzl, who locked up his daughter and fathered seven children by her. Gazeta Wyborcza writes on a story, now picked up by the newswires, that a 45-year old man that allegedly locked his daughter up in her basement for six years and repeatedly raped her. The daughter, now 21, gave birth to two boys during her captivity.

Jean-Louis Kayitenkore
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