Rome, 8 December 1999 - Intensive diplomatic action is currently being conducted with regard to Chechnya, aimed at urging the Russian government to exercise restraint in its military operations and bring the crisis back onto the political level.
The Italian government is in contact with the main chancelleries and the government in Moscow.
The Chechen issue was also the focus of talks held last night in Milan between Foreign Minister Dini and the Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov during a meeting attended by their German counterpart Joschka Fischer.
The Italian Foreign Minister stressed first and foremost the need to put an end to the military action, not only in order to stop the intolerable suffering being inflicted on the civilian population, but also to avoid making it even more difficult to salvage the irreplaceable political dialogue. It is necessary, he said, to create better conditions so as to avoid thwarting the importance and the possible developments of the mission about to be carried out in the region by the OSCE president-in-office, Norwegian Foreign Minister Vollebaek, on December 14 and 15. In the same spirit, it is fundamental that the Russian government make it rapidly clear in no uncertain terms that the warning to Grozny from the military authorities does not constitute an indiscriminate ultimatum, which would be an unacceptable deadline against an entire city. The international community is asking in any case that the humanitarian organizations be given access and their actions facilitated.
Foreign Minister Ivanov, for his part, wished to circumscribe the importance of the ultimatum messages, assuring full access for assistance work of an international nature.
The Italian government will put its concerns and those of the Italian political forces over the events in Chechnya directly to the highest level and hopes that the appeals it addresses will not fall on deaf ears.
Chechnya will also be an important point on the agenda of the European Council in Helsinki.