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Rebuilding Chechnya: from conflict zone to house of cards

By Jessie Brouwers (04/12/2007) Other publications

The Kremlin insists to the outside world that the situation in the Republic of Chechnya is peaceful and stable. However, ongoing separatist activity in this North Caucasus republic seems to prove the opposite. In addition, similar patterns of terrorist activity, along with security forces brutality and other human rights abuses, occur in several of the remaining North Caucasus republics.

The two Chechen wars in the Nineties, and their aftermath, have to a considerable extent determined the current course of the Russian Federation. The conflict in Chechnya and several terrorist attacks on Russian territory resulted in tight state controls over the media and civil society and a significant increase in xenophobia and racist attacks.

The situation in Chechnya should be of great concern to the international community, firstly, because Russia is constantly violating international human rights agreements to which it is a party, and secondly, because an inflamed North Caucasus region could pose a serious international security risk.

Close monitoring of the situation in the region is therefore essential. All too frequently, the international community has given Russia special treatment, initially out of the hope that it would stimulate the country to follow the same democratic path as the West, and later because of Russia’s growing economic importance.

Due to this increasing economic and strategic power, the approach of the international community has shifted from political pressure to cautious political dialogue and humanitarian assistance. Russia receives structural financial support from the West, while large amounts of money are specifically allocated to Chechnya and the Caucasus region.

The Kremlin refuses to accept any conditions and on a political level declares Chechnya a “no go area”, however. Perhaps the international community will reconsider its position in response to Russia’s recently changed view on East-West relations.

President Putin’s forceful politics, together with Russia’s role in frozen conflicts on OSCE territory and the sabotage of the Kosovo negotiations have certainly paved the way for a more decisive international approach to the conflict in Chechnya.

This paper aims to describe the situation in the country and current Russian policy towards it. At the same time, it explores the positions of the European Union, the OSCE and the Council of Europe.

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Dear Friends and Colleagues,

FRIDE ceased its think tank activities on 31st December 2015 for economic reasons. The Board of Trustees had to take this difficult decision since, despite many efforts to diversify its funding sources, FRIDE cannot sustain its think tank operations with a view to 2016 and beyond.

Established in 1999, FRIDE has made a major contribution to shape debate on Europe’s external activities in an increasingly challenging international environment. It has covered issues ranging from democracy and human rights to sustainable development, new approaches to multilateral cooperation and security affairs. FRIDE’s long-standing focus on the extended neighbourhood of the European Union proves today all the more relevant given widespread turbulence in the region. FRIDE’s emphasis on the importance of the values framing Europe’s external activities is central to current political debates in Europe and beyond. This shows the need for continued engagement in the pursuit of a common European foreign policy that is both effective and informed by the core values of European integration.

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FRIDE cesó sus actividades como think tank el 31 de diciembre de 2015 por razones económicas. El Patronato tuvo que adoptar esta difícil decisión dado que, a pesar de los intensos esfuerzos realizados para diversificar sus fuentes de financiación, FRIDE no puede sostener sus operaciones como think tank a partir de 2016.

Establecido en 1999, FRIDE ha realizado una gran contribución al debate sobre las actividades exteriores de Europa en un ambiente internacional cada vez más complejo. Ha trabajado en temas que van desde la democracia y los derechos humanos al desarrollo sostenible, los nuevos enfoques en la cooperación multilateral y las cuestiones de seguridad. La atención prestada por FRIDE a la vecindad extendida de la Unión Europea durante mucho tiempo prueba ser hoy aún más relevante debido a la turbulencia que azota a la región. El énfasis de FRIDE en la importancia de los valores que enmarcan las actividades exteriores europeas es central en los debates en Europa y más allá. Esto muestra la necesidad de un compromiso continuo con la búsqueda de una política exterior europea común que sea eficaz y esté basada en los principios fundamentales de la integración europea.

El Patronato desea agradecer a Diego Hidalgo, fundador de FRIDE, por su incansable compromiso y muy generoso apoyo a lo largo de tantos años. También quiere expresar su gratitud a la dedicada plantilla, a los propios miembros del Patronato y del Comité Asesor por sus contribuciones para hacer de FRIDE uno de los principales think tanks de Europa en cuestiones de política exterior. Estamos muy agradecidos con todos aquellos que han apoyado el trabajo y los proyectos de FRIDE a través de los años y también damos las gracias a los numerosos socios de todas partes del mundo que han colaborado con FRIDE en iniciativas conjuntas. Esperamos que las extensas aportaciones de FRIDE al debate sobre Europa en el mundo continuará informando el pensamiento y la acción en un momento muy crítico para el futuro de Europa.

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