7. Sept. 2014
It is necessary the continuation of the dialogue
The PACE Rapporteur for Russia speaks about the prospects of the resumption of parliamentary contacts with Moscow.
Last week the Council of Europe and Russia held a series of contacts aimed at reaching an understanding on the Ukrainian crisis and Moscow's part in it. The CE Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland visited Russia on September 4, and two days before the Chairman of the State Duma Sergey Naryshkin arrived in Paris to attend the meeting of the Presidential Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). It is to be recalled that the Assembly was the only international organization of those where Russia has a full membership, which imposed sanctions on the Russian delegation because of the Russian annexation of the Crimea. -- What may change as a result of such intense contacts between Russia and the Council of Europe? Whether Russia will return to PACE this autumn at the upcoming session of the Assembly in Strasbourg? These questions were answered in an interview with the Russian service Voice of America by the PACE Rapporteur for Russia, the Swiss parliamentarian Andreas Gross.
Danila Galperovich: Do you think the PACE possibilities somehow contribute to the reconciliation of Russia and Ukraine? After all, both countries are represented by delegations in the Assembly.
Andreas Gross: Many international organizations have some potential and possibilities in order to resolve such conflicts, but the more there is an escalation of the crisis (and there already is a war), the less the international organizations and the more the countries involved in the conflict may help to stop the war. But even at such a moment, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe can contribute by organizing the discussion, during which the representatives of both parties could establish what contradictions they have. But in order for it to happen, you need to meet.
D. G.: How can you meet if the PACE limited the Russian delegation in rights?
A. G.: Yes, it happened in April due to the fact that Russia had violated many principles of international law by putting into question the very basis of the existence of organizations such as the Council of Europe. You cannot shift the boundaries of states by the means of force, it is necessary to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of other countries, in particular – of the country, which is the partner in an international organization. That is why we have suspended the right to vote of the Russian delegation to PACE. But in response the Russian delegation left the general session of PACE, and we do not even meet. That is why last week the PACE Presidential Committee tried to overcome this situation of the lack of contact with each other. Without a normal conversation it is impossible to understand what to do next, in particular, in order to overcome the confrontation and violence. I personally would like somehow to convince Mr. Putin and Mr. Naryshkin that we need to restore the dialogue within the framework of the parliamentary diplomacy.
D. G.: How do you get through to your Russian partners?
A. G.: Something is working out. Mr. Naryshkin arrived on September, 2 in Paris for the meeting of the Presidential Committee of PACE, and we had a meaningful conversation, which lasted about 4 hours, also during the lunch. All the participants of conversation agreed that we needed such a discussion. We obviously differ in our perception of the situation and its analysis, but we have agreed to continue such meetings in order to resume this channel of the parliamentary diplomacy, of which I spoke. This could lead to the fact that the full powers of the Russian delegation to PACE could be restored in January of the next year.
D. G.: But not now?
A. G.: Yes, now it cannot happen, because now most of the PACE members are set against Russia's actions even stronger than it was in April of this year. It must be noted that, of course, everything that happens restores the state of "cold war", returns to the policies its mentality, which we thought was already 25 years in the past. And there is a huge risk that the war will again become a political instrument in Europe, which has not been since the Second World War.
D. G.: Do you hope that in the current situation there can be found a compromise, even if the cease-fire in the eastern Ukraine is not really respected?
A. G.: It seems to me that it is quite possible to talk to Mr. Naryshkin and agree on some kind of a common platform. The beginning of it just has served the meeting on the Presidential Committee in Paris, and in September the Russian parliamentarians will participate in the meetings of the various committees of the PACE. We will draw up a list of our proposals for the Ukrainian problem, and then visit Moscow at the invitation of Mr. Naryshkin. The Chairman of the State Duma, it seems to me, is not like the other governing people in the Duma, which are only able to make fun of the Council of Europe and to speak about the organization, of which they are members, only negative.
Commentary by the translator:
I will give some examples from your interview, where, in my opinion, it sounds not completely objective information. For example, once you’ve said that the current crisis is due to series of mutual mistakes. In particular, there promised not to expand the NATO to Russia's borders, but then the NATO increased. And this fact was one of the reason of the current activities by Russia. The uninitiated reader will perhaps be feel that the NATO has went back unilaterally and activities by Russia are although bad but reasonable. It should be accents: who, when, in what form, under which circumstances give any assurance not to expand the NATO to Russia's borders. Obviously, this was not a formal agreement. Moreover, if the NATO promised not to expand, it addressed it to Russia as a country seeking democratic reforms, wanting to change the imperial Soviet thinking, a country where there were no totalitarianism etc. But after 23 years, since the collapse of the USSR, Russia’s policy is not changed. Eastern Europe feels threatened by it, as at the time Western Europe felt threatened by the Soviet Union.
Another point which I’ve read in your interview is your saying that the new Ukrainian government initially has made a mistake by putting into question the rights of Russian-speaking minorities, and the ability of minorities to be represented in the new government, without taking care of «national unity». And that was the reason for people to enter into a masked region. It is not at all clear what did you mean, because «little green men» appeared in the Crimea as soon as Yanukovych escaped from Kyiv, and the new government was formed a week later on 27 February. So firstly an operation with the annexation of the Crimea began, and then the new Ukrainian government came. And another thing which I do not understand: what do you mean when saying that the government has put into question the rights of Russian-speaking minorities?
Kontakt mit Andreas Gross