(appeal written by André Glucksmann and Josep Ramoneda)
Europe is about to receive Vladimir Putin in Paris.
Meanwhile, the dirty, cruel war in Chechnya continues. Every day young Russian soldiers die, and twenty times as many Chechens, many of them women and children. Winter is fast approaching, heightening the feelings of desperation and neglect experienced by a people who refuse to succumb but are nevertheless condemned to wander through their razed capital and devastated villages, picking their way along roads and across stretches of land that have been mined, deprived of essentials and exposed to bombing, indiscriminate round-ups, torture and mass killings. Half of them have escaped to the camps in Ingushetia, where no provisions have been made for winter.
Vladimir Putin will take pleasure in telling his interlocutors that the Russian army is doing what is necessary and that Europe should support his crusade against "international terrorism".
We are afraid that, apart from a few murmured reproaches - which will immediately be forgotten - our representatives will remain silent, thus condoning his destructive bent. We are afraid their shortsightedness will result in an entire people being martyred and the big oil deal that Mr. Prodi is now negotiating being clinched. "Oil-for-blood" - will this be Europe's last word?
Russia is part of Europe. We owe her friendship, which implies honesty, and therefore real aid that does not wind up in private bank accounts.
Mr. Milosevic learnt, to his cost, the essential rules that govern coexistence in continental Europe: no colonial wars; no massacres of civilians; no ethnic cleansing. It is time to tell Mr. Putin that this applies to everyone, great or small.
We must talk to the President of Russia - who was also was elected on the strength of a war and with the help of fraud. We must be very clear, without merely hinting at things, without being ambiguous. We must put our cards on the table, and keep our eyes open. And, if possible, be a little more generous with his victims: morality and realism demand it.
We call on Jacques Chirac, President of the European Union, and on the Heads of State of the Community, to unequivocally and publicly remind Mr. Putin that he is obliged to respect the international agreements and resolutions that Russia has signed.
Humanitarian aid and international observers must be permitted to enter Chechnya without delay.
A cease-fire must be called immediately.
Negotiations must start with Chechnya's President-elect Aslan Maskhadov.
The survival of the Chechen people depends on it. Crimes against humanity are indefeasible. Silence kills.