07. Oct. 2004

30. Sitzungs-
periode 2004

Zum Einleitungsvotum

We should not overestimate independence
and not underestimate autonomy

Mr GROSS (Switzerland). - I thank colleagues for what has been a decent debate which respected the difficulties, but also the dignity, of the people in Chechnya.

I ask you not to divide each other. Mr Bindig had the most difficult task, because he had to speak about the past. I have the chance to try to bring light into the darkness, and do not blame the one who tells you how dark it is. It is not acceptable to try to divide people. Mr Bindig has done an incredibly good job and we must thank him and be grateful for what he has done.

I thank you for the welcome for the idea of a round table. I think that is the way that we must follow. I pay tribute to Frank Judd, because this idea is possible only because of his experience. What we can do in the future is possible only because of his efforts in the past. We should be thankful to him too.

I like very much what Mr Einarsson said - we have a duty to be naïve. Perhaps it helps us to know that Hannah Arendt, one of the greatest philosophers against totalitarianism, said that every child is the hope of a new beginning. We must try to achieve a new beginning even at the darkest point. In that sense, it is good when we defend the position of the child. There is always the hope that humanity will learn because it has a new chance to start again. What you said about a political, not a military, solution is exactly what Mr Putin told us three years ago. The point is that in a totalitarian tradition people think that political means military means without the military, but political means finding a common understanding. We must suggest to the Russian authorities that there is no way forward without a round table. We must try hard, even though things are very difficult.

I like very much what Mr Toshev said - the Chechen people have to see that they are respected. People can be respected - this is the lesson of the French revolution and Article 7 in respect of human rights - only when they are part of the solution. Democracy means that people can be part of the effort to find a solution to problems that concern them. That is why we must include as much as possible the Moscow people and the Chechen people, as well as the ones who try to build bridges between them, such as Mr Maskhadov.

The last point, which was raised by Mr Herkel, is the most difficult, but we must try to answer it. It is true that these events are a tragedy, but we have the responsibility to come out of the tragedy. That is why we must say more than that these events are a tragedy. You said that the most difficult point relates to the self-determination of the people of Chechnya. Like democracy and freedom, self-determination is a process. A process has to start, but it cannot start with the most difficult question. It must start with a common dialogue about a common way of trying to achieve a common understanding. It is like Åland, South Tyrol, and even Greenland and the Faeroe islands where there are independence talks after thirty years of autonomy.

Autonomy means entering into such a process that respects the integrity of the state and the self-determination of the people. When that is not possible in the perception of the people, the people always have the right to ask more questions. Then we continue with the negotiations. That is why I said that we should not overestimate independence and not underestimate autonomy, but we should start with such a process.

Andreas Gross

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