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>> Nezavisimaya Gazeta


EUROPEAN DEPUTIES URGE THE EU TO SUPPORT ASLAN MASKHADOV'S PLAN

by Evgeny Verlin, Andrey Terekhov 145 deputies of the European parliament proposed to create an interim UN administration in Chechnya, to withdraw Russian military and civilian forces from this republic and simultaneously to disarm the forces of the Chechen resistance. The European deputies have signed the statement expressing their support to the peace plan of the Chechen settlement proposed by the "government of Aslan Maskhadov". "Nezavisimaya Gazeta" has received the press release of the Transnational Radical Party in which it is asserted that the statement has been signed in particular by Emma Bonino, former European Commissioner, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, Co-president of the Green Group, Gerard Collins, former Foreign Minister of Ireland, Michel Rocard, former French Prime Minister and a number of other prominent politicians. One of the initiators of the campaign in support of Maskhadov's peace plan, deputy of the European parliament from the Transnational Party Olivier Dupuis told NG that the initiative was supported by various groups throughout Europe that collect signatures in France, Italy, Germany, Ukraine and many other countries. Dupuis informed that "this process is underway in the USA too. The author of the plan is the government of Maskhadov, we just support it, as well as all people of good will. I believe it is the only way to resolve the Russian - Chechen problem. Because Chechnya is a problem for Russia too. This plan provides establishment of an interim government of Chechnya under the control of the United Nations, and also enables to disarm all Chechen fighters. Russian troops would leave Chechnya within 10 years or about that. If Russia has a stable and democratic Chechnya, Russia won't have any problems with it". Dupuis is going to address to the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of 15 countries of the European Union with the request to examine this plan very seriously. According to Dupuis, the plan was sent to the deputies of the State Duma several months ago. It was received also by prominent Russian figures, for example, Sergey Kovalev. 17 days ago Dupuis began a hunger strike with the purpose to induce the states of the EU to address the Chechen problem. Meanwhile, one of these days the Committee for international affairs of the European parliament approved the draft report containing the recommendations on relations of the European Union with Russia. The document addressed to the Council of Ministers of the EU, will be considered at the plenary session of the European parliament on February 28-29. According to the text of the draft report received by NG, the document will have a very strong character. Irrespective of the fact whether the amendment proposed by 145 parliamentaries about de facto establishment of the mandate of the United Nations over Chechnya is adopted or not. In the document it is emphasized that the situation in Chechnya "completely contradicts the values and principles on which the modern Europe is based", it is noted that the refusal of Moscow to carry out a dialogue on this problem with the united Europe contradicts the aspiration to intensify the mutual cooperation which was declared by the sides. The international committee of the European parliament considers that the success of Akhmad Kadyrov at recent elections in Chechnya is a "result of the unfair pre-election phase". The parliamentaries consider that Europe should vigorously insist that Moscow start a dialogue with "all representatives of the Chechen society". The document contains a direct appeal to the EU to induce Moscow to change its policy in Chechnya, to stop mass violation of human rights in Chechnya, to give an opportunity to the OSCE to be actively involved in the process of the Chechen settlement, to allow representatives of the United Nations to make trips to Chechnya at their request, and also to give an opportunity for the United Nations to develop the activities of its agencies and to allow there the activities of humanitarian and human rights organizations. At last, the authors of the document recommend the European leaders to give Moscow a clear signal that the European Union as a whole is ready to act as an intermediary in the Chechen settlement. The statement of a big group of the deputies of the European parliament, as well as the prepared recommendations for the European Union became new elements of the deepening mutual misunderstanding between Russia and the West on the Chechen issue. Only during the last month the state secretary of the USA Colin Powell and the head of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of France Dominique de Villepen expressed their critical opinion on the issue of Chechnya in the course of their recent visits to Moscow. A big resonance was caused by last week's visit to Germany of Akhmed Zakaev, in this connection the Committee for international affairs of the State Duma of the Russian Federation sent an inquiry to the State Office of Public Prosecutor (asking how such thing could happen at all and "what measures have been taken by the State Office of Public Prosecutor for extradition of Zakaev to Russia"). Moscow gives the united Europe a tough signal: do not interfere in our internal affairs, including Chechnya. And, correspondingly, do not hope that the Russian side allows you to do there something that would have any relation to politics and human rights. As it is known, the work of the OSCE Assistance Group in Chechnya was ended one year ago. Its mandate expired, and the sides failed to agree on a new format of cooperation. From the point of view of Moscow and of the administration of Kadyrov, this format should include the areas (first of all humanitarian) where the assistance of the OSCE would be "useful". The OSCE mission was, so to say, politely asked to leave Chechnya, because, as the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation formulated, "not all our partners were able to estimate adequately the situation and fully realize the new realities developing in Chechnya". Meanwhile, Washington and a number of the countries of the EU insisted and continue to insist that the OSCE mission in Chechnya should work in the former format - as an international tool of, first of all, provision and defence of human rights in Chechnya, and of promotion of economic development. All these irritants - as well as the issues of YUKOS and elections to the State Duma of the Russian Federation mentioned in the draft resolution prepared by the international committee of the European parliament - have reached the line behind which the revision of policies of the European Union in respect of Russia becomes possible.





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