Kudos to Kouchner

The French have come in for a lot of stick over recent years—mainly from American right-wingers angered by a perceived ‘betrayal’ over Iraq.

Well, no matter what you think about that war, it seems most levelheaded people in the civilized world are reading from the same page when it comes to Russia’s war in Georgia.

France currently holds the rotating presidency of the EU, and it was in that capacity that President Sarkozy brokered the infamous ‘6 point plan’ ceasefire agreement. We at SOSGeorgia are not huge fans of the ceasefire—worded vaguely and without a stated commitment to Georgia’s territorial integrity, it was always an open invitation to Russian abuse. But we are also realists, and when Tbilisi was under clear danger of Russian attack, the wording of the ceasefire was a necessary evil.

However, no one could have predicted just how flagrantly Russia would violate each and every point in the agreement. This is a French-brokered agreement. Naturally, the French are not happy. President Sarkozy has suffered a personal affront. His counterpart, de jure President Medvedev, lied to him.

Sarkozy has telephoned Medvedev at least twice in recent days. The conversations were not what you would call diplomatic.  But in public at least, presidents must remain presidential. This is where Bernard Kouchner steps in.

The French foreign minister is a man with a reputation for pragmatism and intelligence, and someone who commands respect at home and abroad. But the rage he feels about Russia tearing up the ceasefire he helped to draft is palpable. Every time speaks about Georgia  the language of diplomacy disappears. Does he “express regret” over Russia’s actions? No, he calls them “absolutely unacceptable.” Does he pussyfoot around the fact that 100,000 civilians were forced from their homes by Russian guns over the last month. No, he talks of “Russian troops sweeping through.” He calls it “ethnic cleansing.”

And what does he propose to do about it? Well, he’s using the ‘S’ word.

Sanctions. It’s too early to say whether they’ll happen or what form they might take, but at least the French foreign minister is brave enough to talk about them.

And it has rattled Russia. Lavrov always lets you know how worried he is. The more he scoffs, the more anxious he is. Lavrov called Kouchner “completely lost,” Lavrov is lying. Again. Kouchner knows exactly what he’s doing. France is the country of liberté, egalité and fraternité, and at last it’s displaying the latter in regards to Georgia.