DAILY NEWS BULLETIN 03.02.2003
RIA NOVOSTI INTERVIEW WITH OFFICIAL RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESMAN ALEXANDER YAKOVENKO ABOUT FEBRUARY 4 VISIT TO MOSCOW BY OSCE CHAIRMAN-IN-OFFICE JAAP DE HOOP SCHEFFER
Question: OSCE Chairman-in-Office and acting Foreign Minister of the Netherlands Jaap de Hoop Scheffer is arriving in Moscow on February 4. What are the aims and objectives of his visit?
Answer: Since the Netherlands assumed the OSCE chairmanship from January 1 of this year, its acting foreign minister as Chairman-in-Office of the OSCE has found it necessary to visit Moscow for consultations concerning the main activities of the OSCE in 2003, with due account taken of the goals set at the December 6-7 meeting of the OSCE Ministerial Council at Porto (Portugal). Incidentally, Russia thinks in general positively of the results of that meeting, which confirmed the OSCE's important role in the European security architecture and its relevance in ensuring stability and security throughout the Euro-Atlantic space.
Question: What is to become of the OSCE Assistance Group to Chechnya?
Answer: The mandate of the OSCE Group to Chechnya expired on January 1, 2003. When this question came up for discussion, the Russian side was ready to extend its work until the end of 2003 on condition the Group's mandate adopted in 1995 were to be modified and brought in line with the new realities in Chechnya. But the Russian proposals were ignored, which led to a "technical" closure of the Group.
At present it is being technically wound up, a procedure which according to an OSCE Permanent Council decision, is to be finished by March 21 of this year. In January Moscow hosted OSCE Secretariat staff members, who discussed relevant questions with the Foreign Ministry, the Justice Ministry and the State Customs Committee of Russia.
The Group's termination does not mean curtailment of our cooperation with the OSCE on the Chechen track. We are ready, as before, to coordinate our efforts with OSCE specialised institutions, above all with the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).
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