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Chechnya: EU Tells Russia Problem Not Only Terrorism

Brussels, 11 November 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, speaking as current holder of the EU presidency, has told Russia that the conflict in Chechnya is more than just a problem with terrorism. At the close of an EU-Russia summit in Brussels, Rasmussen said that a political solution must be found in order to secure peace: "The conflict in Chechnya cannot be regarded only as a terrorist problem. A political solution is the only way to a lasting peace. The European Union will continue to closely follow the developments. Both sides must respect human rights, and those who don't must be brought to trial without delay."

Rasmussen reiterated the EU's call for human rights to be respected by both sides. He said international aid organizations must be allowed to bring humanitarian assistance to those in need in Chechnya.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a press conference after the summit that Chechnya comprises what he called "a cluster of problems," that represents a threat to the whole world. He said the radicals in Chechnya are pursuing the goal of a world caliphate, that is Islamic rule.

Also today, the EU announced that an agreement has been reached with Moscow on travel rules for the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad after it becomes locked inside the EU after enlargement in 2004.

Danish Prime Minister Rasmussen announced the deal at a summit in Brussels: "Today, I am happy to announce that we have reached an agreement on the question of transit between the Kaliningrad region and the rest of the Russian Federation. It is a balanced agreement which takes into account the Russian need for transit to and from Kaliningrad as well as the Lithuanian right to exercise full sovereignty on Lithuanian territory."

Russian President Putin, who was attending the Brussels summit, said the agreement removed some of Moscow's key worries about the EU's eastward enlargement.

Under today's deal, Russians reportedly will be able to travel between Kaliningrad and the rest of Russia with a special transit document instead of a formal visa. A dispute over the issue has strained relations between Brussels and Moscow for more than a year.