7. April 2014

Kommersant Daily (Ru)

Russia could have served it's interest by observing and respecting international law and the agreements

By Maria Efimova

Would you vote for removal of accreditation or for suspending the voting rights of our delegation?



I do not want to serve the interests of those in the Kremlin who think, that it was a mistake and an expression of weakness to join the Council of Europe 20 years ago and who look now for any pretext to leave it. Suspending parliamentary rights of the Russian delegation would not help to improve anybody's life or policies but would just be a political surrogate. By this, I want to say that it would be a symbolic act of punishment but it would not change anything to the better and would not make any impression to Mr. Putin. My proposition will be to create a common parliamentary investigation committee, which puts together all the facts and actions between Russia and Kiev from August 2013 until the end of March 2014 and evaluate them. By doing so we can show to our Russian colleges what Russia could have done and how effectively it could have served it's interest by observing and respecting international law and the agreements that Russia has signed in the 1990's and how any non-respect for the the civilian innovations after the slaughters of the 2nd world war would harm Russia’s interest in any way, especially in the Middle and eastern homeland. However, I am aware that I still have to find and work to get a majority behind my ideas and that those who want to punish the Russian Parliamentarians for what president Putin is responsible for might today have the majority within the PACE.

To your point of view, could the current crisis in the relations of Russia and Europe lead this time to depriving Russia of membership at the Council?

The Committee of Ministers (CoM) can only decide this, but some MP's will defend amendments, which ask the CoM to do so. I do not think that the CoM will decide this way. Because the majority of the European Governments are aware that you can only find peace and prosperity in Europe together and not against the Russian Government. What Putin has done with the Crimea is unforgivable. It is irresponsible today for anybody who replaces the rule of law by the rule of force. Small states know this perhaps better than the big ones, who like to put power before the law. But this would mean a regression of the civilian progress we need so much.

To which extent can we compare this crisis to the situation of the 2008 when two republics declared independence from Georgia?

This comparison does not help at all. First, it was an expression of the lack off wisdom of Mr. Sakachvilli to want to win against one of the biggest armies of the world and triggered a war with the Russian Federation. Second Georgia had never a real control over some parts of Georgia, like for instance the peninsula of Crimea. Abkhazia was for a long time de jure part of Georgia, but de facto, they did not control much there. We do need to encourage many colleagues to analyze the questions carefully, without any pressure. In Abkhazia Russian Nationally were threatened - in the Crimea nobody has any proofs published similar to these accusations.

As a co-rapporteur on Russia, do you plan to include your assessment of the events in Ukraine to your report?

I would like to, but I know, that when the PACE will decide any sanctions to fellow MP's I can forget to go to Moscow and to start to prepare the next monitoring report. Then the Russian authorities will obstruct any meeting with representatives of the CoE and will not help us to find any interlocutors and of the intellectuals. I am very much in doubt if the Monitoring of Russian will survive any sanctions. The humiliation of the 1990's was the reason for Putin to recreate a kind of new imperialism; now his lack of wisdom and his underestimation of the importance.

What is your opinion on the annexation of Crimea?

It is a violation of CoE-rules and principles, it violates international law and many agreements Russia signed in the interest of the peoples of Russia and Europe and put's force as before 1945 before the law. We will fight against this lack of wisdom, but we will not reproduce the same wisdom-deficit in the foreign page.

Don't you see any justification of this step by Russia?

I see many probable reasons why it happened but I do not see any justification. When others do such mistakes - the US is not member of the CoE - we do not have to refer to them.

Do you expect that the Parliamentary Assembly could also express concerns on the issue of the far right radicals from "Pravyi sektor" who has become an important factor in Ukrainian political landscape and can enter the new Ukrainian government?

I am sure that we will do this. But these crazy nationalistic and brutal people do not justify to make any mistakes from our side. As well it does not justify the non-respect of international law and agreements by the Russian President.

Why the Parliamentary Assembly has banned the Russian request to the Venice Commission to assess the legitimacy of the decisions made by Ukraine’s parliament after the change of power?

The PACE did not ban this. I will propose that our committees or even the bureau will ask the VC to do this work. It is just that following the rules, such a request cannot come from Russia; it has to come from the PACE or the Ukrainian Government. Such nuances are important and there non-respect open the door to misinformation and manipulation.
At the previous session, the Parliamentary Assembly has decided to vote on suspending the voting rights for Ukrainian delegation. Why was this decision abolished?

This was only a threat in a resolution I did not like and I did not vote for. We did not abolish a real decision. It was a proposition, which was conditional. Again, you have to be careful when you make judgments otherwise you are quickly misled.

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