STRASBOURG, 14.01.2000 - The Bureau
of the COUNCIL OF EUROPE Congress of Local and Regional Authorities (CLRAE)
expressed today its concern about the conflict in the northern Caucasus,
particularly in Chechnya, and for the resulting dramatic consequences for
the civilian population.
It supports the efforts being made by other bodies of the Council and by its Secretary General.
Convinced that recourse to war does not bring about a solution to any of the genuine problems being encountered by the Federation of Russia (and, particularly, terrorism) the Bureau of the Congress calls upon the authorities of the Russian Federation to pave the way for the only possible outcome: the search for a political solution through a resumption of negotiations seeking, if necessary, international mediation.
In this context, the Bureau reaffirms the availability of the Congress, in respect of questions arising within its sphere of responsibility, particularly relations between the Federal state and regional authorities. The Bureau would recall its experience relating to regional autonomy, based particularly on the "European Charter of Regional Self-Government" adopted by the Congress in 1997. This Charter would permit, in the current situation, the simultaneous respect both of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federation of Russia and the legitimate aspirations of the Chechen population for a substantial degree of regional self-government, in accordance with the values and standards of human, social and cultural rights in Europe.