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    GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER: RUSSIA MUST DEFEND HUMAN RIGHTS IN NORTH CAUCASUS

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    GENEVA, March 16, 2004. (RIA Novosti) -- Germany's Minister of Foreign Affairs Joschka Fischer stated on Monday that Russia must defend human rights in the North Caucasus.

    "As for Chechnya, on the one hand, all the efforts to break the vicious circle of cruel terrorist acts fail, as before. On the other hand, human rights are violated in the course of the struggle against these acts of violence," Mr. Fischer said addressing the 60th session of the UN Commission for Human rights in Geneva.

    The commission, established in 1946, is the principal UN body in the human rights sphere. Its 60th session will work till April 23, 2004.

    "Permit me to stress once more that we unconditionally condemn all the terrorist acts, which the inhabitants of Russia suffer from. They cannot be justified," Mr. Fischer said.

    "This notwithstanding, the Russian government must bear full responsibility for the protection and development of human rights in the North Caucasus," Mr. Fischer added.

    "It is also important that the Russian government reports about its moves in this sphere. Trust in the government's actions must be created only through transparency," the Foreign Minister of Germany believes.

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