While making clear their belief that both sides in the Chechen conflict are guilty of human rights abuses, one European body appeared yesterday to put the onus for ending the war on the Chechen rebels, while another focused on the brutality of Moscow’s military operations in the Caucasus. Following a meeting with Russian foreign minister Yevgeny Primakov in Moscow, the European Union’s foreign affairs commissioner expressed his belief that Moscow was now prepared to negotiate with the rebels on "almost everything" but outright secession. But Hans Van den Broek criticized Djohar Dudaev for imposing "impossible conditions" on peace talks that, in Van den Broek’s view, amounted to "blackmail" and risked prolonging civilian suffering. Dudaev and his followers should be advised, he said, that "putting this irrevocable condition of independence as such on the table… is simply not good enough." (Reuter, March 18)
In Brussels, meanwhile, representatives of a leading human rights organization urged the EU and members of the Council of Europe to end what one described as "silent diplomacy" and frankly tell Moscow it must observe international human rights norms in Chechnya. "If you ignore Chechnya, you condone human rights abuses elsewhere," she said. (Reuter, March 18) Yesterday’s developments reflected yet again the difficulties European leaders in particular have faced while deciding whether to choose engagement or censure as the better means of influencing Russian policy and furthering its integration into Europe’s array of multinational bodies.
Athens and Moscow See Eye to Eye