05. Okt. 2012

Kommersant Daily, Moscow

This recommendation was totally misinterpreted by those who have been cheated so often in their life

By Maria Efimova

Why from your point of view your report provoked such an indignation in Moscow?

The report itself did not provoke much indignation – also not in Moscow. Those who carefully read it see, that the report is very objective, serious and deep. The report reveals positive developments and shortcomings, deficits and mistakes. It was quite well received because the report is a product of a intense dialog with one Member of the Duma and the secretariat of the Russian Delegation to the Council of Europe. We discussed in Moscow, Switzerland and Strassburg for more than 30 hours together in the last six month and this readiness to the dialog produced a high quality report and a common understand of the problems as well as the situation of democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Russia. All those who participated in all these discussion at different places in Europe appreciate the outcome!

Do you see a part of the explanation in the fact that the PACE has not reported on Russia for 7 years and has collected many remarks during that period of time?

No, this is perhaps only an explication for the size of the report, which counts more than 550 Paragraphs. -- Where indignation happened it concentrated on the one sentence which we needed as a recommendation to be listened to also by the Committee of Ministers. This recommendation was totally misinterpreted by those who do not know the proceedings in the Council of Europe well enough, by those who have been cheated so often in their life that they think also in Strassburg we are cheating each other or a colleague. But this is not on our mind and that’s why this anger was totally unnecessary.

Why the pause was so long?

This had to do with the war, the Georgian President started four years ago and the fact that one of our former rapporteurs was too long to busy to run as a candidate for the secretary general of the Council of Europe – an election which took also more time than expected.

Do you consider it possible to improve the situation with human rights in Russia by means of such reports?

Such reports which are like compendiums and delver as well a diagnosis as well as some proposals for medicine might function as a reference and source of inspiration for many actors. The paper itself does not change anything. But people who are working and acting with this paper they can make changes, accelerate developments and processes in the right direction. But it’s true, we have to motivate people to be active together with other likeminded fellow citizens in order to bring reforms. But this happened already in Russia in the last ten month in a very surprising and positive way and that is the source of my optimism.

I mean such documents have a force of a recommendation and Russian leaders show nothing but the irritation with them.

Perhaps some leaders don’t like such reading. This is possible. But in a value based organisation like the Council of Europe you always try to find out how you live up to these values and principles in your daily life and these comparisons are put on paper in order to motivate others to act differently. So many citizens are perhaps better addresses and receivers than some leaders who do mix up such critical diagnosis with the illness we have to overcome.

What instruments does have the Council of Europe to apply real pressure on them?

We have no military or economic power and we do not use sanctions or pressures. We try to speak , dialogue, convince each other and others and by doing so we show deficits and ways how to overcome them. This arms are much more time and brain consuming but much less damaging than others and do also much less harm and are perhaps in the long run also more efficient than others.

Am I right while thinking that if the honouring by Russia of it's commitments is handled by the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers all questions of EC-Russia cooperation will depend on the situation with human rights?

No, this would be much too simple. Democracy, the rule of law and Humans Rights are equally essential and all three are ongoing never ending collective learning processes. You never finish this process, there are no perfect democracies, you may always improve the qualities of the life of your citizens. When we want to come closer to such aims we need each other: Russian people need Europe, and Europe knows that they cannot be free and happy without or even against Russia. We can only progress together and we will both loose when we do not understand this as a common challenge and task.

Do you consider reasonable some of the arguments offered by Russian delegation on your report?

Of course I like to listen to them and always learn a lot, even and especially when they disagree. Every dialogue is a step forward and a contribution to a better understanding. The report is full of suggestions born in Russia! Only those who did not participate in this common effort and know about reject it and oppose to enter the debate. No Russian delegate did this today here in Strassburg.

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