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Condoleezza Rice Speaks of U.S.-Russian-Georgian Ties

Rice: The Russian government, I would
hope, would treat post-Soviet states
as equals in the international system.
U.S. Department of State photo
Visiting U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in an interview with the Russian television NTV on April 20 in Moscow that U.S. President George W. Bush will go to Georgia and Latvia in May “as a friend to those countries.”

She said, while answering the question of whether she thinks that George W. Bush’s visit to Georgia will cause negative emotions in Russia, that “I would hope that the Russian people would understand that we have friendly relations with Latvia, friendly relations with Georgia.”

“But by no means is this to be at the exclusion of friendly relations either with Russia, between the United States and Russia, or between Russia and Georgia or Russia and Latvia. In fact, it’s our very strong view that Russia is well served by strong neighbors, by the former states of the old Soviet Union who now are developing transparent and good relations with Russia. They are always going to be close relations because of economic ties, cultural ties. So when the President goes to Latvia and he goes to Georgia, he goes as a friend to those countries. He goes to talk about the need for cooperation with everyone, including with Russia, and I think that will be a very good message. So I would hope that the Russian people see this also in the spirit of friendship,” Condoleezza Rice said.

In a separate interview with CNN on April 20, the U.S. Secretary of State said that “the Russian government, I would hope, would treat these states as equals in the international system, as truly independent states.”

“And the states, I believe, want good relations with Russia because they understand fundamentally that they need to have good relations with Russia,” she said.

When asked why it is that other countries that used to be part of the Soviet Union seem to fear Russia’s behavior in this region, Condoleezza Rice replied, that “this is matter of history.”

“The Soviet Union had an imperial past in this part of the world, the states now that constitute Russia’s neighbors. It’s even more the reason that for Russia the future is in developing transparent, neighborly, friendly relations with these states that are based on a kind of 21st century premise, not a 19th century premise. And the 21st century premise is that no one controls anyone… and these states will have close economic ties with Russia, but economic ties that are mutually beneficial and do not try to use economic leverage to elicit certain kinds of behavior. It will also require cultural and political ties that are very deep,” she added.

Condoleezza Rice said that the United States does not believe “it is a zero sum game in this area.”

“We can have good relations with Georgia or Ukraine or the Baltic states and so can Russia. That’s a 21st century view of how interstate relations should operate,” she added.


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