Excerpts of NATO’s speech held on Nov. 11th. 2002 at the Brussels’ Hilton Hotel
ARD: I have a question for the Secretary General: how far does NATO support Russian politics in Chechnya?
Secretary General: NATO is always very clear that Russia has a right to deal with breaches of law and order on its own sovereign territory and the desperate and criminal tactics used by the hostage takers in Moscow a few weeks ago underlines the seriousness of the situation faced by Russia. It is also becoming increasingly clear that there are international terrorist elements involved in the insurrection in Chechnya. NATO and the individual nations of NATO who have got substantial experience of terrorism have always said that a long-term solution to the problems such as the problems in Chechnya, need a political as well as a military solution.
President Putin: With your permission, I would like to add a few comments. Of course I informed the Secretary General of the situation in Chechnya and in no way do we intend to avoid resolving humanitarian issues there. Just yesterday I had a meeting with representatives of the Chechen community, the clerical community of Chechnya, and at that meeting they raised the issue of the need to accelerate the process of political settlement in Chechnya, and they suggested that the process be launched to adopt a constitution of Chechnya as an initial stage in a political settlement. After that, a second stage could take place in that process in the form of an election of a Head of the Republic.
We support this process and that proposal. Let me stress one thing, we will not contribute to the participation, we will not promote participation in that process, of those people who have blood on their hands, blood of our citizens. At the same time, we will not cut off those who some ten years ago were misled by the terrorists and acted in the way that separatists indicated. Of course, the situation there is very complex and there is no simple solution. We will do all we can to strengthen law enforcement bodies, authorities, in the Chechen Republic itself. Yesterday, a major step was taken in that direction.
The Minister of the Interior of Russia signed a document establishing the Ministry of the Interior of the Chechen Republic. As that Ministry gets stronger and develops, the Chechen officers will assume greater responsibility for ensuring law and order in their Republic and for combating bandits and terrorists in their own territory. The more they develop, the more combat-ready those Chechen militia units are, the more effective their operations are, the less will be the involvement of our federal troops there, and first and foremost, this concerns the participation of our military in counter-terrorist operations in Chechnya.
One last point: regrettably I cannot watch all the European broadcasts in all the European languages – I have not been given that talent – but at least I can watch German television broadcasts, and therefore I would like to address you as the representatives of the media, please proceed very carefully, be very careful and try to be as objective as possible in reporting what is actually happening there…
(end of side 1 of tape)
…positive happening in Chechnya that there is no reconstruction under way, no social protection measures are being taken, everything is in ruin and there is no money coming from Moscow. With full responsibility, I state that this is a complete lie. For the first time for many years, people have started to get their pensions, their salaries and social benefits. Many new schools, kindergartens and child-care facilities have been opened, something that did not exist in the Republic for many years, many recent years. It was difficult to imagine just a few years ago that higher education establishments would open their doors in the Chechen Republic and this is a reality now in the city of Groznyy, their institutions and university are open and there is a growing number of young people who try to gain admittance.
Last year, about 7 hundred million euros were allocated for Chechnya. And that includes the development of the energy sector, the payment of salaries, social benefits and many other expenditures. Agriculture is being developed, and for the first time for many years, including Soviet times, a record high harvest has been reaped in the Republic. Of course, much has been ruined there and of course we are not proceeding forwards as fast as we would like to. Of course, we firmly intend to reach our objectives, it is very difficult to achieve, particularly in the conditions where we are still lacking a complete settlement. It makes no sense to build today just to see those buildings destroyed tomorrow.
We also face there a major problem of unemployment, particularly among the young. We are fully aware of those problems, we know of them, but there are some positive changes, positive developments and we are firmly determined to build on those positive developments.