Istanbul, 18 November 1999 (RFE/RL) - Russian President Boris
Yeltsin today suddenly walked out of the Organization for Security and
Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) summit in Istanbul, saying he is returning to Moscow to deal with Chechnya. A French presidential spokeswoman (Catherine Colonna) said Yeltsin left a meeting with French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder after less than 10 minutes. She said the parties agreed
to meet again in Paris next month.
Yeltsin's spokesman (Dmitri Yakushkin) said the president walked
out because of a dispute about linking the Chechen conflict to a key part of the European Security Charter -- a treaty designed to address human rights and democracy.
OSCE Chairman Knut Vollebaek said the signing of the document has
been postponed following Yeltsin's objections to provisions concerning
human rights and the status of minorities in Chechnya.
Yakushkin says Yeltsin has authorized Russian Foreign Minister Igor
Ivanov to sign the final charter documents. But Vollebaek said the OSCE needs to see "some movement on Chechnya" before the charter is signed as planned.
Earlier today, U.S. President Bill Clinton said he was not able to
persuade Yeltsin to negotiate peace in Chechnya. Clinton's one-hour meeting with Yeltsin followed a morning filled with intense criticism from Western countries for Russia's actions in the breakaway republic.
Yeltsin rejected all the criticism, saying the West has no right to
criticize Moscow over its attempts to stop the spread of terrorism.