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OSCE: Foreign Ministers Discuss Chechnya, Moldova

  • Roland Eggleston

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's guiding troika met in Bucharest yesterday for talks on a wide range of issues, including Chechnya, Transdniester, relations between Russia and Georgia, and Kosovo. While little public information emerged on what was discussed, our OSCE correspondent Roland Eggleston spoke with diplomats at the OSCE's headquarters in Vienna and files this roundup:

Vienna, 24 January 2001 (RFE/RL) -- The OSCE is urging Russia to work for a peaceful resolution of the conflict in Chechnya. The organization also says it is concerned at what it considers a worsening of relations between Russia and Georgia.

Both problems were discussed in Bucharest yesterday at a meeting of the OSCE's guiding troika -- foreign ministers from Romania, Austria and Portugal. Romania's foreign minister, Mircea Geoana, is the current chairman of the OSCE.

Officials declined to give details of the discussions on Chechnya but said the troika was disturbed at the situation there. It urged Russia to take what it described as "all steps aiming at a peaceful resolution of the conflict."

The troika also recalled the discussions on Chechnya at the OSCE 1999 summit in Istanbul. The Istanbul statement acknowledged the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation and condemned terrorism in all its forms. It also said that a political solution was essential to resolve the Chechnya crisis.

The troika again emphasized that OSCE was ready to help Russia in achieving a settlement. It urged Moscow to allow an OSCE mission to return to Chechnya despite the deterioration of the security situation.

The previous mission was withdrawn at the end of 1998 and Moscow has declined to allow it to return.

The OSCE ministers also expressed concern at what they described as "the worsening climate of relations between the Russian Federation and Georgia." They referred to Russia's recent decision to require visas for most Georgian citizens. The OSCE also referred to the differences between the countries over the supply of natural gas. It urged both sides to settle problems in a spirit of cooperation and good-neighborly relations.

The OSCE meeting also said it expected Russia to meet the commitments it has made in regard to Moldova. This includes the complete withdrawal of Russian forces by the end of next year (2002).

The ministers also said they would push for solutions to the so-called "frozen conflicts" -- the slow-moving negotiations on the conflicts in Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Nagorno-Karabakh and Transdniester.

Yesterday's meeting in Bucharest also discussed the situation in Yugoslavia, Kosovo and Belarus.

In regard to the elections expected in Kosovo this year, the ministers said it was important to determine the exact role and status of the body to be elected. They said it was necessary to involve Yugoslavia in the preparatory process.

Turning to Belarus, the ministers urged all parties to commit themselves to a meaningful dialogue, especially because Belarus is entering a crucial period leading to presidential elections. The troika stressed the value of the OSCE's advisory group in Belarus.