Strasbourg, 26 September 1996 (RFE/RL) - German parliamentarian (CDU) Leni Fischer today said she will not meet Chechen separatist Foreign Minister Ruslan Chimayev in her capacity as President of the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly.
Fischer said her decisiion was in keeping with the Council of Europe's decision this week to have no official contacts with the Chechen separatist, Chimayev-led delegation, which is currently in Strasbourg. The delegation has been permitted, however, to enter Council headquarters and to meet parliamentarians attending the assembly's current Autumn session.
"I will not meet Chimayev as assembly president either in Strasbourg or elsewhere. It may be possible to might meet him in the future as a member of the German Bundestag," Fischer said.
Yesterday, Itar-Tass quoted Chimayev as saying a meeting between him and Fischer was "not impossible."
Fischer made her remarks during an interview with an RFE/RL correspondent in Strasbourg.
Fischer also said she is planning a visit to Moscow next month, during which she will address the Federation Council, and meet Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and other top Russian officials.
She downplayed recent criticisms of the Parliamentary Assembly by Russian assembly delegation head Vladimir Lukin, calling them "normal abrasions" from a new assembly member.
"Vladimir Lukin's views were not shared by all members of his delegation, and that the Russian parliamentarians would have to decide whether they vote as a national bloc or as individuals. Most members of other national delegations to the assembly, voted as individuals or as members of political groups." Fisher noted.
Tuesday, Lukin said his delegation would have to "re-evaluate" its relations with the assembly's Committee on Human Rights, after two members of the Chechen separatist delegation in Strasbourg were allowed to participate in a committee meeting on the human-rights situation in Chechnya.
Two weeks ago, Lukin said the assembly was interfering in Russian internal affairs by issuing invitations to Russian National Security Council Secretary Alexandre Lebed and Chechen rebel commander Aslan Maskhadov to attend a committee hearing on Chechnya this week. The hearing was canceled after Lebed said he could not attend.
In a statement replying to Lukin a few days later, President Fischer said that for the Council of Europe "human rights in member states are never a strictly internal affair."