Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 6 Issue: 12

The French newspaper Libération on March 19 published a letter that Aslan Maskhadov wrote to European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana dated February 25 – that is, less than two weeks before Maskhadov’s death – in which the rebel leader reiterated his commitment to a peaceful settlement of the Chechen conflict.

“In March 2003, through the agency of my Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Ilyas Akhmadov, I published a peace proposal which, reinforced by the international community’s experience in Eastern Timor and in Kosovo, could have brought a new contribution to the resolution of this conflict by taking full account of the legitimate interests and security needs of the Russian side, and of the three demands which the Chechen side can never give up: an international guarantee mechanism, in one form or another, to be agreed by both sides; direct involvement of the international community, during a transitional period, in the construction of a democratic state subject to the rule of law, and in the material reconstruction of my country; and at the end of the transition period, the taking of a final decision in accordance with international norms on the status of Chechnya,” Maskhadov wrote.

“Regrettably, this proposal, like those which preceded it, and like the most recent attempt – the unilateral cease-fire that I ordered at the beginning of the year – did not produce any reaction from the authorities in Moscow other than a renewed flight down the path of so-called ‘normalization’ of the tragedy of my people, with its parade of fraudulent elections, enhancement of military operations, and atrocities carried out against the civilian population.”

Citing the successes of Ukraine’s Orange Revolution, Maskhadov wrote that when the European Union exerts its will, “it is capable of making a powerful contribution to the prevention of something that had seemed unavoidable. That is why I am now suggesting that, through you, the European Union should take on the task of confronting the question of the Chechen tragedy, in order to create the conditions in which, under the auspices of the European Union and of any other state or international organization it may be appropriate to involve, real negotiations between my government and the government of President Putin can at last be entered into.” Maskhadov asked Solana to meet with his general representative abroad, Umar Khambiev.