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Chechen President Congratulates Bush, As Do South Caucasus States

Aslan Maskhadov has sent a telegram to George W. Bush congratulating him on his reelection to a second term as U.S. president, reported on 5 November. Maskhadov characterizes the United States as a country that embodies for all mankind the principles of democracy and human rights. He said that in their unequal struggle, the Chechen people derive inspiration from the values proclaimed by the U.S. founding fathers. He hailed President Bush personally as embodying "the lofty principles that are fundamental for all those who battle against tyranny."

In a commentary on, Maskhadov's envoy Akhmed Zakaev explained that while many Chechens may consider Maskhadov's words of congratulation misplaced in light of Bush's proclaimed support for what Zakaev termed Russian President Vladimir Putin's "criminal regime," Maskhadov was in fact hailing Bush not as an individual political figure, but as the head of a state founded on principles that are dear to all Chechens. "The fact that Bush has retreated from those principles does not detract from the significance of America as a symbol of the struggle for the freedom of oppressed peoples," Zakaev argued. "In expressing respect for the U.S. principles of freedom and democracy, we are simply stressing to what degree the current U.S. administration has retreated from those principles by upholding the Kremlin's regime of tyranny," Zakaev concluded.

The presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan have both written to President Bush to congratulate him on his reelection. In a letter released by his press office, Armenian President Robert Kocharian offered "warmest congratulations," and expressed the hope that Armenia's "already extensive" relations with the United States will strengthen over the next four years," RFE/RL's Armenian Service reported on 4 November. Kocharian also expressed gratitude for Armenia's inclusion in the U.S. Millennium Challenge program and for Washington's "active involvement" in efforts to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

The radical Armenian opposition party Hanrapetutiun released a statement in Yerevan on 4 November congratulating Bush, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reported. The statement expressed confidence that the Bush administration will "bring the ongoing fight against international terrorism to its logical conclusion." It also expressed the hope that U.S. efforts to ensure lasting peace in the South Caucasus and to promote democratization in Armenia will prove successful. That latter remark reflects Hanrapetutiun's bitterness over last year's less-than-wholly-democratic presidential and parliamentary elections and subsequent reprisals against the Armenian opposition.

Also on 4 November, Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev wrote to Bush saying he is confident that Bush's efforts to restore peace to the planet will continue, and stressing the importance Baku attaches to continued cooperation with the United States, reported, citing Turan. "Azerbaijan, which is proceeding along the path of building a democratic secular society based on the rule of law, is full of determination to raise bilateral relations with the United States to an even higher level," Aliyev wrote.

Aliyev went on to stress Azerbaijan's strategic value to the United States, noting its unswerving commitment as a "strategic partner" of the United States to promote peace in the region and to fight international terrorism. At the same time, he noted that Baku continues to place great hopes on Washington's ongoing efforts to bring about "a just settlement, based on international law, of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh."

Speaking in Tbilisi on 4 November, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili characterized President Bush as "a man of great principle, a man of great understanding of the complicated issues in our region, and a personality without whom the fight against terror in this part of the world would hardly be possible," RFE/RL's Georgian Service reported. Saakashvili said he plans to telephone Bush to congratulate him personally, Caucasus Press reported on 4 November.

[For reaction from around the world to the U.S. presidential election, see RFE/RL's webpage "World Reacts To U.S. Election".]

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