French diplomat named as EU envoy to Georgia

French diplomat Philippe Lefort was named Friday as the European Union’s new special envoy to the South Caucasus and the three-year-old row between Georgia and Russia.

A former French ambassador to Georgia and deputy chief of mission at the embassy in Moscow, Lefort takes over the Georgia crisis job from fellow Frenchman Pierre Morel and the South Caucasus portfolio of Sweden’s Peter Semneby.

“Philippe Lefort has an in-depth knowledge of the region and years of experience working there at the very highest level,” EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said in a statement announcing the appointment.

“I am confident that he is an ideal choice for the EUSR (special representative) for the South Caucasus and the crisis in Georgia and that he will enhance the EU’s role in this sensitive region,” she said.

As the special representative for a region that includes Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, Lefort will encourage these countries to pursue political and economic reforms to strengthen cooperation agreements with the EU.

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