Russia

U.S. Statement on Chechnya to OSCE Permanent Council Feb. 29

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"The U.S. welcomes the appointment of Vladimir Kalamanov as Special Presidential Representative for Human Rights in Chechnya," the Permanent Council of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) was told February 29 in Vienna. "It is vital that his work be seen by the international community as transparent and objective."

The U.S. statement on Chechnya was delivered by the Charge d'Affaires of the U.S. Mission to the OSCE, Josiah B. Rosenblatt.

"We once again call upon the Russian Federation to conduct a full, transparent and impartial investigation of the credible allegations of human rights violations and atrocities committed by Russian forces in Grozny, Alkhan-Yurt and elsewhere in Chechnya," Rosenblatt said, "and of the circumstances that led to the disappearance of Radio Liberty reporter Andrei Babitsky."

He told the Permanent Council the United States believes it would be useful to reactivate the OSCE Assistance Group in the North Caucasus under its existing mandate and thus welcomes the news that the group will go to Chechnya next week "as an essential first step" for its eventual return to the region.

Rosenblatt said the United States is pleased with Russia's invitation to the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office to visit Moscow and Chechnya and that it expects "full compliance by Russia with paragraph 23" of the Declaration of the 1999 OSCE Summit in Istanbul which called for "respecting OSCE norms, alleviating the hardships of civilians, and allowing OSCE assistance in achieving a political solution."

On a related subject -- the adapted Conventional Forces in Europe treaty (CFE) signed at the Istanbul Summit -- Rosenblatt said the United States expects Russia to comply with the commitments on military deployments that were a prerequisite for the treaty's conclusion.

"If we are to preserve the benefits of CFE and secure ratification of the adapted treaty, Russia will need to make good on the commitment in all its aspects," he said, and he called on Russia to provide data on current force levels and reductions in Chechnya and "to allow treaty partners to confirm the data."

In conclusion, Rosenblatt said Russia's recent decision to deny a German Vienna Document inspection team access to key areas outside the region of conflict "does not send a positive signal."

Following is the text of the U.S. statement on Chechnya:

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U.S. MISSION TO THE ORGANIZATION FOR SECURITY AND COOPERATION IN EUROPE (OSCE) Vienna

February 29, 2000

Statement on Chechnya Delivered by Charge d'Affaires Josiah B. Rosenblatt to the Permanent Council

We join in welcoming Deputy Prime Minister Koshman to Vienna, and express our appreciation for his willingness to brief the Permanent Council on the very serious events that have taken place in Chechnya over the last several months. The U.S. welcomes the appointment of Vladimir Kalamanov as Special Presidential Representative for Human Rights in Chechnya. It is vital that his work be seen by the international community as transparent and objective. To that end, we urge early engagement with international human rights organizations, perhaps by inviting a respected expert to consult with Kalamanov's team on an on-going basis.

We once again call upon the Russian Federation to conduct a full, transparent and impartial investigation of the credible allegations of human rights violations and atrocities committed by Russian forces in Grozny, Alkhan-Yurt and elsewhere in Chechnya, and of the circumstances that led to the disappearance of Radio Liberty reporter Andrei Babitsky.

Ultimately, the Russian Federation needs to initiate a political dialogue with a view to finding a peaceful resolution of the conflict in Chechnya.

We believe it would be useful to reactivate the OSCE Assistance Group in the North Caucasus under its existing mandate. This mandate states that it is to enjoy "all possible freedom of movement on the territory of the Chechen Republic and also on the territory of neighboring subjects of the Russian Federation, if so required for the performance of its tasks."

The Assistance Group's mandate was approved in April 1995 by this Council and remains in effect.

We welcome the news that Ambassador Missong and other members of the Assistance Group will go to Chechnya next week as an essential first step for the Assistance Group's eventual return to the region.

We recognize that security problems may force OSCE personnel to re-establish their presence, whether in Chechnya or Ingushetiya, only gradually. We are also pleased to hear of the Russian invitation to the Chairperson-in-Office to visit Moscow and Chechnya. We encourage that visit and hope it can take place promptly.

Madame Chairperson, the U.S. expects full compliance by Russia with paragraph 23 of the Istanbul Declaration, which called for respecting OSCE norms, alleviating the hardships of civilians, and allowing OSCE assistance in achieving a political solution.

We encourage the Russian Government to expand the ICRC's role in the North Caucasus to monitor conditions in detention and refugee camps in Chechnya. We also call on the Russian Federation to engage with international organizations to help internally displaced persons.

Madame Chairperson, with regard to the entire range of issues affecting the operation of international organizations in Chechnya, we note here our longstanding and unchanging affirmation of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Russian Federation with regard to Chechnya. We recognize that Mr. Koshman's responsibilities do not include military deployments, but we would like him to carry a strong message back to Moscow that we also expect compliance by Russia with its commitments contained in the Final Act of November 19.

Acting President Putin's commitment that Russia would return to adapted CFE flank levels as soon as possible was a prerequisite for conclusion of the adapted CFE Treaty at the Istanbul Summit.

If we are to preserve the benefits of CFE and secure ratification of the adapted treaty, Russia will need to make good on the commitment in all its aspects. We believe that is the view of many other treaty signatories as well.

Recent indications from Russian authorities -- via a Vienna Document notification last week -- of a modest reduction in Russian levels of tanks, artillery, and ACV's engaged in Chechnya is positive news. In the absence of more information from Russia regarding CFE implications of this reduction, we cannot judge whether this translates into a step towards fulfillment of the Putin commitment.

We call upon Russia to provide detailed, disaggregated data with regard to its current force levels in the region, and promised reductions. Russia needs to make good on the commitment to transparency which is at the core of the November statement; and to allow treaty partners to confirm the data provided by Russia, Russia will need to offer the additional on-site inspections promised in the Putin statement.

Finally, we await Russia's invitation to a Vienna Document observation visit in the region in the near future, as required by that document.

In that regard, the Russian decision not to allow a recent German Vienna Document inspection team access to key areas outside the region of conflict does not send a positive signal.

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(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: usinfo.state.gov)