Skip to comments.EU-Russia spat over hostage crisis comments
Posted on 09/04/2004 10:09:26 AM PDT by Pikamax
EU-Russia spat over hostage crisis comments
04 September 2004
Russia lashed out Saturday at the European Union (EU)'s Dutch presidency over its call for an explanation from Moscow about the handling of the North Ossetia school hostage crisis that left 322 people dead, half of them children.
A spokesman for Dutch Foreign Minister Bernard Bot immediately sought to clarify what he said was a "misunderstanding" over comments made by the minister on Friday, shortly after the bloody end to the standoff.
"The Russians apparently think we were sitting on a high horse and demanding explanations or something. But that was not the case," Bot's spokesman Bart Jochems told AFP.
That reaction came after the Russian foreign ministry issued a scorching statement saying: "The inappropriate comments of the Dutch minister are, to say the least, odious, and for the large part deeply offensive." Russia was "bewildered and outraged" by the comments, it added.
In the disputed remarks, made in a written statement issued late Friday, the Dutch minister said that: "All countries in the world need to work together to prevent tragedies like this.
"But we also would like to know from the Russian authorities how this tragedy could have happened," he said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Saturday the comments were "insolent." "To put it mildly, the Dutch minister's comments give rise to (Russia's) astonishment."
"The tragedy lasted three days and was broadcast live in full detail by television channels, and it is clear to everyone that it was the terrorists who launched the armed action, while Moscow's first concern was to preserve the lives of the hostages," he said during a visit to Cairo.
In Moscow the Dutch ambassador to Russia, Tiddo Hofstee, was called in for a meeting with Deputy Foreign Minister Boris Chezhov, in which the latter said that "Moscow is expecting an official explanation" of the Dutch reaction.
The Dutch spokesman, speaking on the sidelines of a meeting of EU foreign ministers in the Netherlands, defended the comments, and said that the EU presidency had been in diplomatic touch with Moscow to defuse the situation.
"We don't think there's any harm in what the minister said. We're actually saying to the Russian authorities that we want to work together in combatting terrorism."
Bot "thinks it is a good idea if you want to understand things and want to help each other, that you know what happened there," said the spokesman. "That was the sole purpose of what he said, no more and no less."
"It was either a misunderstanding or someone pulled that quote out of context and thought 'We'd like to make a big row out of this'," he added.
Some 322 people, about half of them children, were killed after Russian forces stormed the school in the southern Russian region of North Ossetia to end the three-day hostage crisis.
In a televised address on Saturday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the hostage-taking showed that international terrorism was at work in the country.
Vowing not to "give in to blackmail," he said: "We have showed weakness in the face of danger and the weak get beaten up."
He vowed to strengthen Russian unity and boost security in the north Caucasus.
European nations have generally been more critical of Russia's campaign in Chechnya than the United States, which views Russia as an ally in the international "war on terror".
According to diplomatic sources, the disputed Bot comments were issued after certain EU states -- notably the ex-Soviet Baltic states which were among 10 countries to join the EU in May -- called for the EU presidency to "go beyond a simple message of solidarity, and to seek to understand what happened."
The EU is a joke. They can't speak for the members.
I think they got it right the first time.. high horse indeed.
On the afternoon of the first debate, I love to see President Putin announce that it is clear that Bush has the right approach, talking does nothing and terror must be stopped everywhere. He'd then offer Iraq 6 to 10 thousand troops to help democratize Iraq and root out the al-Qaeda there.
The crapweasels and their media spokespersons are still trying to sell the story that there is no connection between terrorism and Iraq. Who knows. But, they are pushing their opinion as fact.
THERE IS NO PROOF THAT IRAQ AND AL-QAEDA ARE NOT CONNECTED, there may be a lack of evidenece so far, BUT NO PROOF.
So, lets hope that Putin will now line up with Bush and Blair and urge France and the EU to get involved in what clearly is a fight instead of carping from the sideline.
Whoa, hold it Sergei. Wait till HorseFace weighs in on this and then you'll really have venting to do.
"We're the French consulted with... No? Why not?"
Gee, that Minister looks like a TV anchor from the 60's, like the old leftie fart Walter Cronkite.
Maybe it was better in Dutch. Sometimes translation can change the idea. "How it could have happened" may have been meant as "What lessons we may learn" or similiar, in a non-judgemental way.
Could be. It's hard for me to give the EU the benefit of the doubt.
Maybe he's backpeddling and he'll think twice before he opens his pie-hole next time.
The EU is trying to "position" itself as 1. the policy holder for all 25 members by "demanding an explanation" and 2. holding itself out as if it really is somehow entitled to recieve an explanation.
They do not care about the 700 dead, they only care about their personal political gains that can be made on the expense of the dead children.
EU and UN are a joke.
Putin knows intimately that Iraq and al Qareda were connected. It was Russian intelligence that warned Bush, after 9-11, that another attack was coming and was supported by Iraq.
Unfortunately, in 2002, Putin aligned himself with the UN Axis of Weasels and failed to stand with GWB and Tony Blair in the War on Iraq, due to Russia's overriding commercial interests in dealing with Saddam Hussein (and maybe just a vestige of Cold War animus among the Russian military)
History is moving so quickly these days that all (except the French) have now realized the impact of their decisions made in the past 3 years. For Russia, better late than never.
It looks like he has about a size 12 neck.
Is that guy an adult?
You're a nice guy ...but come on what are the odds that some arrogant appeasing a$$hole could resist the implication the Russians brought it upon themselves.
That comment is a natural for a leftist...wait till the NYT reports on the whole hostage crisis..bet you a $ to a donut it's in the second paragraph.
The EU reminds me of NY liberals. Insular, arrogant, and without a clue what goes on outside their borders.
I move that the French give up their vote on the UN security council to the EU. They are such wishy washy idiots, that they will be unable to do anything other than 'abstain' on every vote.