The ex-president of the USSR, Mikhail Gorbachev, stated that US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice should “use more caution in her call for the West to stand up against Russia, which she said has become "increasingly authoritarian at home and aggressive abroad."
"I believe that the secretary of state should be more careful and should show greater calm and responsibility for her judgment in calling for the West to unite against Russia," Gorbachev said through an interpreter at a press conference held before the Liberty Medal ceremony at the National Constitution Center, the AP reports.
The former Soviet leader commented on Ms. Rice’s remarks, in which she said that the Russian administration had infringed upon the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of Georgia. Rice also described Russia’s operation in Georgia as a military occupation and urged Europe to join the United States in the endeavor to suppress Russia’s aggression.
Mr. Gorbachev said that the current state of affairs in the relations between Russia and the USA could not be characterized as the best period, “but the period would pass.”
“The state leaders must act and conduct a dialogue. One must not lose a connection and preserve the trust that originated during the years of perestroika. Much of this trust has been wasted during the years, but it still remains,” Gorbachev said.
In his speech, Mr. Gorbachev warned the world of the threat of a possible militarization of political thinking. Estimating a historical time period over the two decades, the former Soviet Union leader reminded that the world had not used the advantages, which appeared after the end of the cold war. Millions of people budget themselves to one or two dollars a day and have no drinking water. They suffer from wars and carry the arms race burden, Gorbachev believes.
“Being unable to find answers to global challenges, politicians tend to use weapons instead. There is nothing more absurd and running counter to common sense,” the politician said.
He did not name any culprits in his speech, nor did he give any more details in the estimation of the recent events and the confrontation between Russia and the West which subsequently emerged as a result of those events. “There is a shortage of political will and political leadership in the world today,” he said.
Gorbachev received the Liberty Medal, which comes with a $100,000 prize, from former President George H.W. Bush, who was commander in chief at the time of the Soviet Union's collapse in 1991.
"Regardless of the dividing lines between us, President Gorbachev opened up new possibilities for the world to come together and solve its problems in the pursuit of liberty," Bush said.
The Soviet Union's eighth leader, Gorbachev transformed the country's political system in the late 1980s with reforms he likened at the time to the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution "without the gunshots."
The key changes — perestroika (restructuring), which reduced central planning and allowed entrepreneurs to open quasi-private cooperatives, and glasnost (openness), which allowed candid discussion of social problems — released democratic forces that led to the Soviet collapse.
Gorbachev's energy and engaging political style enchanted crowds at home and fueled "Gorbymania" abroad.
The Liberty Medal was established in 1988 to honor individuals and organizations whose actions represent the founding principles of the United States.