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Interview to Mikhail Gorbachev - courtesy of Interfax

Gorbachev: To promote pan-European processes it is necessary to create a kind of European Security Council

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by Emanuele G. - Wednesday 1 October 2008 - 2008 letture

"To promote pan-European processes means to encompass everything. But it is still necessary to begin with security. It may be a kind of security council for Europe, which would have a permanent unit, certain powers, rapid-reaction forces, etc," Gorbachev told Interfax on Wednesday.

The former Soviet president said that several former heads of European countries, European foreign ministers and he are currently drafting an address to European parliaments, which contains this proposal.

"We have been having very active contacts with [former German foreign minister Hans-Dietrich] Genscher on the matter. I have already written two letters to him. He has written three. Apart from us, there are 15 other people who are involved in it one way or another," Gorbachev said.

Gorbachev, however, said he cannot assert that all of them will sign this address.

"There is a need to return to starting points that appeared after the end of the Cold War. This is how the issue of a common European security system emerged. But a number of serious mistake were made then. It still does not exist," he said.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the European Union "hurriedly started to admit everyone," Gorbachev said. "But now it does not know how to govern all this," he said.

"By the way, Germany honored all of its commitments when we withdrew our troops from the GDR, and the two Germanies merged. President Clinton came to power in the U.S. then, and he started to enlarge NATO," he said.

There is also Russian fault in the fact that this enlargement began, the former Soviet president said.

When First Russian President Boris Yeltsin was once asked to comment on Poland’s plans to join NATO, he told journalists that this decision was up to the country - whether to enter NATO or not, Gorbachev said.

The U.S. is also partly standing in the way of a pan-European security system, he said, referring to the fact that the U.S. did not discuss plans to place elements of its anti-missile system in Europe with NATO.

The ex-Soviet President also said that Russia should not be too uptight about the U.S. leadership’s sharp statement and it should continue seeking dialogue with the United States.

"It is difficult to draw far-going conclusions based on the statements made by the current U.S. administration. It is living out its remaining days and has some obligations of its own to honor," Gorbachev said.

"I don’t think an anti-Russian bloc of any kind is in the making, or that bayonets are being sharpened and guns are being prepared to be aimed against us. It is polemics and our partners’ nerves are on edge. But I would not overly simplify the situation either or pretend that we see nothing, hear nothing or don’t care at all," the former Soviet leader said.

But statements of another kind are also being made in Washington, including statements advocating further dialogue with Russia, he said. "We, too, must be prepared for a dialogue with any American administration and seek chances for forming a consensus," Gorbachev said.

On the foreign-policy course pursued by the current U.S. administration, he said that, "their stake on force did not and will not work."

"Incidentally, whenever I am in the United States I keep saying that America has not yet launched a ’perestroika’ of its own. These words always receive an ovation," Gorbachev said.

Concerning the situation around the recognition of South Ossetia’s and Abkhazia’s independence by Russia, Gorbachev said that the recognition had not been the best, but rather the only option after Georgian aggression.

South Ossetia and Abkhazia have chosen to declare their independence because of the Georgian administration’s policy, although there was still a chance to preserve Georgia’s territorial integrity before, the former USSR president said.

"The situation surrounding these republics is very difficult. And I think that this declaration of independence and our [Russia’s] recognition of this independence was something that had to be done," Gorbachev said.

"The option that was exercised was not the best one. The best option would be to preserve Georgia’s integrity but with a very well thought out autonomous status for these republics. But because of the policy of the Georgian authorities, as they say in Abkhazia and South Ossetia - even tanks now would not make us go to Georgia," Gorbachev said.

Asked whether the issue of Abkhazia and South Ossetia becoming part of Georgia could be re-visited over time, he said: "I think that now they have to follow this path [the path of independence]," Gorbachev said.

Asked to comment on the fact that Russia is still the only one who recognized the independence of these republics, Gorbachev said: "There will still be time to think this issue over."

Interfax Agency

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