Comments by David Andrews Following Meeting with Russian Foreign Minister
Speaking in Russia this morning at a joint press conference with Russian Foreign Minister, Igor Ivanov, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, David Andrews, TD said:
"In my capacity as Chairman of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, I have had a useful exchange of views with Minister Ivanov on the continuing crisis in Chechnya. This crisis has been the focus of very widespread concern, including amongst the member states of the Council of Europe. I welcome Russia's commitment to the Council of Europe and its readiness for dialogue with the Council on this issue.
"I consider the safety of the civilian population in Chechnya to be of paramount importance. I urged that all hostilities must cease. Only then can Russia meet her international obligations as a member state of the Council of Europe.
"The disproportionate and indiscriminate use of force endured by the civilian population are contrary to international humanitarian law and violate the human rights commitments made by Russia as a member of the OSCE and the Council of Europe.
"When hostilities cease, the council of Europe can make its contribution to implementing activities towards restoration of the rule of law, respect for human rights and democracy in Chechnya. A solution to the crisis will necessarily have to take account of the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation.
"I discussed with Minister Ivanov the role which the Council of Europe can play once the conflict has ended including the proposal for a Human Rights Ombudsman for Chechnya and for a conference on democracy in the region. For it to be meaningful, participation at this conference would need to include representatives of all sectors of public opinion in Chechnya."