“The Responsibility of the International Community in finding a solution for the Russian-Chechen Conflict”
Antwerp, Belgium, 11 and 12 December 2003
We, the participants of the Conference, organised by representatives of the European Parliament, Pax Christi Flanders and the World Chechen Congress, assembled in Antwerp, perceive the tragic situation in the Chechen Republic with pain in our hearts. More than a quarter of a million tombstones have been raised on Chechen and Russian soil during the previous and current Russian-Chechen war. We want to express our compassion with all the people who are suffering as a consequence of this conflict. We condemn violence from any side and in any form, and we consider terrorist acts to be a consequence and integral part of the military resistance between the Russian Federation and the Chechen people. We believe that as the Chechen people, so too the Russian people need peace, instead of war. We opt for the principle of non-violence and we insist on a peaceful resolution of the conflict. Therefore we do not judge people, but we do condemn their acts of violence, and want to create an opening for dialogue.
DECLARING the adherence to the basic values proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Pacts on human rights, the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples;
REMINDING of the international principle of the right of peoples to self-determination according to which all peoples have the right to the free determination of their political status and realisation of their economic, social and cultural development;
REALISING our personal responsibility for the war in the Chechen Republic, understanding that we cannot change the past, but should change the future of the Russian–Chechen relations, starting a process of reconciliation and peace-building by means of open dialogue;
RECOGNISING the common responsibility of the international organisations for such a long neglect of the Chechen tragedy, which puts their authority as capable democratic institutes, called to protect peace, in doubt;
CONVINCED of the fact that nowadays neither in the Chechen Republic, nor in the Russian Federation are there political forces, capable of settling the conflict, as they move into a deep crisis;
CERTAIN, that the non-interference of the international community in the settlement of mutual relations between Russia and the Chechen Republic results in the destruction of the Chechen ethnos, in a large-scale humanitarian crisis and in uncontrollable processes, not only in the Caucasian region, but hinders also the development of democracy in the Russian Federation itself;
RECOGNISING the dignity of all members of the human family, believing that the aim of the Chechen people is the construction of a modern state based on democratic values, on respect for human rights, regardless of ethnicity or religion, and that their equal and inalienable rights are the fundaments of freedom, justice and peace;
WELCOMING the essentially new peace initiatives of the government of the Chechen Republic, offering the voluntary acceptance of a temporary international administration with the purpose of democratisation and demilitarisation of the Chechen Republic;
WE CALL upon the Council of Ministers of the European Union to organise together with the European Parliament a Peace Conference on the Chechen Republic, to which representatives of the Russian authorities, of the Chechen authority (Forces of Resistance), the OSCE, and the Council of Europe will be invited, as was proposed by the European Parliament in its Resolution of 03 July 2003.
Recommendations of the Conference to the United Nations Organisation, Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, Council of Europe, European Union and the world community as a whole:
1. To call upon the leadership of the Russian Federation for the immediate cessation of military actions and to begin a negotiating process with legitimate authority of the Chechen Republic in the person of president Aslan Maskhadov with direct participation of the International community.
2. To pass a pan-European law on granting political asylum to refugees from the Chechen Republic, and to treat them as refugees of war, victims of a genocide and ethnic cleanings. To provide them with a programme on psychological rehabilitation, in particular for children. To expand the programme on the creation of additional places in current Points of Temporary Accommodation (refugee camps) in the Republic of Ingushetia and to improve the living conditions.
3. To establish an International Tribunal on the Chechen Republic on the basis of the proposals of Mr. Bindig and Mr. Jurgens, representatives of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).
4. To put economic pressure on the Russian Federation and to link any financial help for the Russian Federation with the condition that Chechen people are guaranteed safety, and to consider the imposition of economic and political sanctions against the Russian Federation
5. To call upon the leadership of the Russian Federation to stop the discriminatory policy against Chechens on the territory of the Russian Federation, according to the charters of the international organizations, of which the Russian Federation is a member.
6. To provide juridical, legal and financial support for citizens submitting complaints in international courts, to guarantee the safety of the relatives of those victims and of the witnesses of the crimes committed in the Chechen Republic.
7. To assist in the monitoring of the violations of human rights in the Russian Federation and the Chechen republic. To support through joined projects the human rights organisations that aim at the peaceful cessation of the conflict, in the Chechen Republic and the Russian Federation through an exchange of experience on peace-building and non-violence.
8. To consider the coverage of the Russian-Chechen conflict in Europe insufficient and biased as it fosters the silencing of war crimes by the Russian forces and special services and the manipulation of the public opinion for the benefit of the approval of the war and violent actions.
9. To create one centre of permanent monitoring on providing personal humanitarian aid to inhabitants of the Chechen Republic and install control on the expenditure of financial resources for the restoration of houses, schools and hospitals in the Chechen Republic. The work of this centre should be public and open for NGO’s.
10. To demand from the leadership of the Russian Federation free access for Russian and international observers, representatives of independent mass media, and medical and humanitarian organisations to the territory of Chechen Republic.
11. To organize programmes on medical and psychological rehabilitation for citizens of the Chechen Republic and for Russian servicemen who have been serving in the Chechen Republic.
12. To address the governments of the European countries and the international non-governmental organisations with an appeal to create a common working group on finding a peaceful solution for the Russian-Chechen conflict. To call upon the European Union, the Council of Europe, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe and the United Nations Organisation to provide comprehensive support to this initiative.
13. To call upon the leadership of the Russian Federation and the leadership of the Chechen Forces of Resistance for active cooperation with the planned working group, including the provision of unlimited access into the zone of the conflict and a guarantee of their safety.
We, the participants of this Conference, take upon ourselves to support this resolution within the framework of our organisations and to further build on the work of the Conference: to begin an open dialogue with non-governmental organizations, politics and the governments. Together we are building an international network of citizens and non-governmental organisations to support and move ahead an authentic process of peace-building and to prompt termination of the Russian-Chechen conflict.