Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 6 Issue: 8

Interfax on February 17 quoted Britain’s ambassador to Russia, Anthony Brenton, as saying that the British government had proposed that Russia use the Northern Ireland peace negotiations as a model in its efforts to settle the war in Chechnya. “Our officials met their Russian counterparts ten days ago, and we have proposed to them that they use our experience in Chechnya,” Brenton said during a lecture at the International University in Moscow.

Brenton’s suggestion elicited a favorable reaction from the Chechen separatist side, with one of its representatives, Usman Ferzauli, telling Ekho Moskvy radio on February 17: “[W]e certainly need the experience of some countries that had similar conflicts and methods for settling them.” Ferzauli added, however, that the conflict in Northern Ireland was “somewhat different” from the one in Chechnya “because the sides included varied groups, among them religious ones and so on.”

Federation Council Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Mikhail Margelov told Ekho Moskvy that the British proposal was not new and that he was skeptical about it, stating that during Russia’s negotiations with the separatists back in 1996, Aslan Maskhadov had proven unable to “become the Gerry Adams who could have taken the peace talks to their end.” Likewise, Chechen State Council Chairman Taus Dzhabrailov told Interfax on February 17 that the Northern Ireland experience was not applicable to Chechnya.