(AFP) – Aug 31, 2008
BERLIN (AFP) — Former secretary of state Madeleine Albright has blasted the current US administration's handling of the Georgia crisis, saying her first move would have been to travel to Russia for talks.
In an interview with the online service of German news weekly Der Spiegel Sunday, Albright said she would have criticised the Russian military surge into Georgia and recognition of two Georgian rebel enclaves but reassured Moscow over its security fears.
"I would have gone straight to Moscow, unlike the current Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice," she said, in remarks printed in German.
"I would have told the Russians in no uncertain terms that this behaviour is unacceptable. At the same time, I would have assured them that there is no threat at their borders."
Albright called for a decisive response by the West to the Russia's actions in the Caucasus.
"If (Russian Prime Minister Vladimir) Putin does not rethink this then we must find ways to isolate Russia internationally," she said.
She said NATO must move forward with plans to eventually integrate Georgia as a member, and dismissed Moscow's comparisons of the two Russian-backed separatist Georgian regions South Ossetia and Abkhazia with Kosovo.
"Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and his henchmen ordered the ethnic cleansing of Serbia and Kosovo," said Albright, who was secretary of state when NATO bombing drove out Serbian forces waging a crackdown on separatists from Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority.
"We attempted in several UN resolutions to find a solution to the crisis and tried repeatedly to work together with the Russians. The situation was simply different. And what Milosevic did is not comparable with what the Georgians have done to hold their country together."
Russian troops entered Georgia on August 8 to push back a Georgian offensive to retake South Ossetia, which broke away from Tbilisi in the 1990s with Moscow's backing.
Last week, Moscow recognised South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent, in a move condemned by the United States and the European Union.
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