Bildt rejects Georgia-Kosovo comparison

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt on Friday rejected Russian comparisons between its recognition of two Georgian breakaway provinces from the West's recognition of Kosovo earlier this year.

The decision to grant Kosovo independence was taken “after nine years of an international UN-led process,” said Bildt, who helped mediate the Balkans conflict.

He added that “there is no other place in the world where there’s been this sort of mechanism within the framework of the United Nations.”

In the case of Russia’s unilateral recognition this week of the Georgian provinces South Ossetia and Abkhazia, on the other hand, “we have a situation where Russia launches a military attack just like that,” Bildt told a joint press conference in Stockholm with his Georgian counterpart Eka Tkeshelashvili.

Russia, which was angered by the West’s recognition of Kosovo, has criticised lacking international reaction to what it charges was a Georgian “genocide” in South Ossetia, insisting that it was forced to intervene.

“We did it as some other states did in the case of Kosovo and some other problems,” Russian President Dmitry Medvedev told the BBC this week.

Bildt on Friday acknowledged that Georgia on the evening of August 7, “had taken measures where one can discuss whether they were advisable or wise,” but pointed out that “they were still within the borders of Georgia.”

Russia should not be surprised that the international community did not intervene, he said, since “there was no call from Russia for international action.”

“Had there been such a call from Russia, I think we should have answered it. That option was never put on the table by Russia,” he added.

Bildt said he considered declaring independence for South Ossetia “a joke,” but acknowledged that Abkhazia “has national rights that must be respected, and they have some justified complaints about what happened in history.”

However, while Kosovo counts a large majority of Kosovo Albanians, there is far from a majority of Abkhazians in the breakaway Georgian province, he said.

“The territory does not have a Abkhazian majority and has not had for hundreds of years.”