§ Mr. Ivan Henderson
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the situation in(a) Chechnya and (b) the Caucasus Region. 
§ Mr. Rammell
We continue to monitor the situation in Chechnya and in the Caucasus. We have noted the steps the Russian Government is taking to establish a political process in Chechnya and welcomed the constitutional referendum held in March 2003. We continue to believe that the success of the political process will be dependent on the thorough and consistent implementation of the political and civil rights set out in the new constitution. While recognising the serious threat posed by terrorism in the region, we remain concerned about the security and human rights situation in Chechnya and the surrounding republics. We also note with concern the bombings in recent months throughout the North Caucasus.
Conflicts in and between the countries of the Southern Caucasus pose challenges for regional security and stability and the prospects for regional cooperation. As a member of the Group of Friends of the UN Secretary General on Georgia, the UK is participating in the process to find a political settlement to the Abkhazia dispute. On Nagorno Karabakh our policy is to support any solution acceptable to both parties, and capable of delivering a lasting political settlement. We support the efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group in this regard. Her Majesty's Government's Special Representative for the Caucasus region. Sir Brian Fall, is actively addressing these problems and will work closely with his newly-appointed EU colleague.