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Caucasus

Volume 451: debated on Wednesday 1 November 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of (a) the independence movements of the North and South Caucasus and (b) the potential for further instability in the region. (97895)

The UK recognises the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia to include South Ossetia and Abkhazia. We do not recognise the claims to independence of the separatist movements in these regions. The UK supports the peaceful resolution of the conflicts in these regions and is working to address the recent tension between Georgia and Russia. We co-sponsored UN Security Council Resolution 1716 extending the mandate of the UN Observer Mission in Abkhazia. The EU issued a statement on 17 October calling on Georgia and Russia to resume dialogue and focus on reaching a peaceful resolution of the conflicts in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, with full respect for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. I recently visited Georgia and stressed to President Saakashvili and others in the Georgian Government the importance of peaceful negotiation of a settlement with the parties to the conflicts.

We also support the efforts of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe Minsk Group to find a negotiated settlement of the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Nagorno Karabakh (NK). We recognise the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan to include NK.

We also recognise the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Russian Federation to include all of the republics of the North Caucasus, including Chechnya. We do not recognise the claims to independence of the Chechen separatist movement. We urge all sides of the conflict in Chechnya to work towards peace and reconciliation within the framework of the Russian Federation and with full respect for human rights. The UK has been increasingly concerned by the spread of violence and instability across the North Caucasus region. We are troubled particularly by the poor security situation and frequency of incidents in the republics of Ingushetia and Dagestan. Instability across the region is fuelled by widespread poverty, corruption and high unemployment. We believe that the long-term problems of the region can only be solved through socio-economic development and the implementation of security measures which respect human rights.