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Madeleine Albright, first female U.S. Secretary of State, remembered

The sad news of Madeleine Albright’s passing came in the midst of the worst crisis on European soil since the end of the Cold War. The world lost a woman who dedicated her entire career to the incessant fight for democracy, freedom, human rights and enhancement of the security of the Old Continent.

She became the first woman at the helm of American diplomacy. Being born in Prague, it was her background, which gave her a very special insight into the realities of Central Europe. Given the tragic fate of her family in the time of war, she intimately understood the true meaning of the words freedom, democracy, human rights and security. She understood that they were something for which to strive, sacrifice and persevere.

Her determination, steadfastness and commitment were a driving force behind the fact that countries of the former Soviet bloc joined NATO. Especially now, witnessing the Russian aggression against Ukraine, we can fully appreciate how foresightful that decision was. She also played a key role in stopping the murderous machinery of the Serbian dictator Slobodan Milošević.

Madeleine Albright was involved in world affairs until the end of her days. She was fully aware of the dangers Europe was facing. She wrote about them, lectured about them and above all warned about them. Exactly a month ago on the eve of Putin’s attack against Ukraine, The New York Times published her op-ed piece on the Moscow’s sabre rattling:

“Should he invade, it will be a historic error.

Mr. Putin has for years sought to burnish his country’s international reputation, expand Russia’s military and economic mightweaken NATO and divide Europe (while driving a wedge between it and the United States). Ukraine features in all of that.

Instead of paving Russia’s path to greatness, invading Ukraine would ensure Mr. Putin’s infamy by leaving his country diplomatically isolated, economically crippled and strategically vulnerable in the face of a stronger, more united Western alliance.”

These are truly prophetic words, indeed.

We cannot even begin to comprehend the loss brought about by her passing. What we, however, can do is to ensure that we uphold her values and carry on her legacy.