I reiterate the Government's condemnation of the horrific events in Beslan last month. The hostage-takers clearly had no regard for human life and their callous actions served no purpose other than to bring death, fear and harrowing grief to the people of Beslan and Russia.
The Government responded promptly by providing support for humanitarian efforts in Beslan. On 6 September, the Government announced funding of €100,000 in response to the International Federation of the Red Cross appeal to assist families affected by the tragedy. On 14 September, following a meeting between the former Minister of State, Deputy Kitt, and the Secretary General of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the Government announced further funding of €100,000 for the IFRC effort. Ireland's support includes trauma counselling assistance for the victims of the siege.
I would also like to recognise the extraordinary response of the ordinary Irish people, including many children, who signed the book of condolence at the Russian Embassy and who, together with many others, contributed generously to supporting the victims of this atrocity.
With respect to the situation in Chechnya, the Russian authorities have made a concerted effort over the past 18 months to build the basis of a new political system there. This policy has included the adoption by referendum of a new Chechen constitution in March 2003 and a presidential election in the republic in October 2003. An extraordinary presidential election was held on 29 August following the assassination of President Kadyrov in a bomb attack in May this year. Following the election of Mr. Alu Alkhanov as President of Chechnya, the European Union expressed the hope that the new president and Russian authorities would make efforts to start a process leading to a genuine political settlement, based on dialogue, reconciliation, respect for human rights and a restoration of the rule of law.
Regrettably, it is clear that the security situation in Chechnya remains very serious and that the civilian population continue to suffer enormously as a result of the conflict. We continue to receive credible reports of human rights abuses against Chechen civilians by both rebels and Russian security forces. These incidents can only hinder prospects for long-term peace and reconciliation.
Ireland and the European Union recognise the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation. We condemn the actions of the terrorist groups. We acknowledge the right and responsibility of the Russian Government to oppose terrorism and crime and to protect its citizens. However, the EU has consistently stated that the fight against terrorism, in the Russian Federation as elsewhere, must be conducted in accordance with internationally accepted human rights standards.
I assure the Deputy that I will continue our work for the promotion of human rights in Russia and to encourage a peaceful solution in Chechnya in the overall context of developing positive Irish and EU relations with Russia.