Senior Official Delegation Concerned Over Continued Military Operations in Chechnya, Calls for Speedy Political Settlement

OIC Press Release

27 January 2000

Senior Official Delegation Concerned Over Continued Military Operations in Chechnya, Calls for Speedy Political Settlement

The continued military operations in Chechnya, resulting in heavy loss of life, extensive displacement of civilian population and enormous humanitarian tragedy has been a deep source of concern for the international community and the Islamic World in particular. In this context, H.E. President Khatami, Chairman of the Eight Islamic Summit dispatched a ministerial delegation to discuss a political solution to Chechen Crisis. To follow-up the discussions of the ministerial mission, a delegation of senior officials held consultations in Moscow from 17 to 18 January 2000. The delegation, headed by H.E. Dr. M. Javad Zarif, Deputy Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and including senior representatives from Burkina Faso, Morocco, Qatar, Turkey and General Secretariat of the OIC met with the Foreign Minister, the Minister of Nationalities, the Minister of State for Minority Affairs, Deputy Ministers of Foreign Affairs and National Emergencies and the Council of Muftis of Russian Muslim Communities.

The delegation underlined the grave and rising concern of the Islamic world over continuation of hostilities and military operations in Chechnya and the ensuing humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in the region. It stressed that while it was aware of the concerns of the Russian Federation about acts of violence, it considered military operations to be disproportionate, leading to further aggravation, which hinders political process aimed at long term stability, isolates moderation and breads extremism.

The delegation insisted in its encounters with the Russian authorities the imperative of an immediate end to hostilities and the speedy initiation of the political process for a lasting settlement. It offered the following principles, which should guide the work in this regard:

1. Respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Russian Federation and non-interference in its internal affairs;

2. Political settlement of outstanding issues as the only logical and practical way of ending hostilities and ensuring long term stability in Chechnya and the region;

3. Rejection of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations;

4. Reinvigoration of the 1996 Accord as the basis for the political process;

5. Mutual security and commitment of all parties to pursue negotiations in good faith.

Furthermore, in the course of the discussions with various officials, the possibilities for adoption of the following concrete steps were explored:

1. Termination of military operations by both sides as a first step to begin the political process;

2. Release the prisoners and hostages;

3. Safe return of refugees and displaced persons to their places of residence;

4. Declaration and implementation of general amnesty;

5. Implementation of necessary arrangements and preparations for commencement of dialogue with responsible Chechen representatives;

6. Agreement on separation of powers between local and federal authorities in keeping with the 1996 accords;

7. Freedom to practice Islamic Shariah, already promised by Russian authorities;

8. Reconstruction of Chechnya through allocation of additional resources by Federal authorities as well as through international assistance.

The Russian authorities provided a detailed account of their approach to and understanding of the political process, amnesty, return of refugees, separation of local and federal powers and reconstruction of Chechnya. It was agreed that contacts and exchange of views on these issues should continue between Russian authorities and the OIC at various levels.

It should be noted that while the Russian authorities underlined their desire for and commitment to a political settlement, it was not clear when the political process would commence. It remains a source of grave concern for the OIC that the military option continues to be exercised.

The delegation also had the opportunity to have a detailed discussion about humanitarian situation in Chechnya and the region, and possibilities for continued and expanded OIC role in the provision of such assistance. The delegation noted the activities undertaken by member-states of the organization and various agencies and institutions affiliated with the OIC in this regard.

The OIC remains actively sized of the continued hostilities and alarming humanitarian situation in Chechnya, continues to follow the developments with grave concern and through its relevant mechanisms as that becomes necessary. The OIC remains available to help in the achievement of a fair, lasting and honorable political settlement in Chechnya, which will guarantee stability and peace in the region.