10. April 2014


What Russia did is irresponsible and breaches all the lessons we learned from the past

The PRESIDENT – Thank you. I call Mr Gross, who will speak on behalf of the Socialist Group.

Mr GROSS (Switzerland) – For social democrats, it is clear that what the Russian leaders have done is irresponsible. It is a slap in the face of the values of the Council of Europe. It is a kick not in the stomach but in the soul of the Council of Europe. The basic values of this Organization have been violated and there can be no explanation, excuse or justification. Borders should not be changed unilaterally by force. You can try to negotiate for anything, but the Russians should not have done what they have. Making that statement is easy; it is much more difficult to know how to react. The instruments at our disposal are not as strong as the values we defend. That is a structural problem. As eminent colleagues in my group have said, we can only lose. Whatever we do, we have already lost. If we kick out Russia and do brutal things, we lose our raison d’être. This is the only Organization to which they come to listen, speak, discuss, think and learn. If we do nothing, because nothing can correspond to the wound we received, we lose our credibility. That is why there is no simple answer and no right answer. We have insufficient information to make a judgment about the consequences.

We social democrats are convinced that we have to give Russia a sign, so we support the report on its voting rights. However, it is not enough. That is why we want to engage with Russian colleagues and examine all the facts. We want to engage them in dialogue and show them that what they did is irresponsible and breaches all the lessons we learned from the past century. It is a step back from dealing with conflict civilly. We should not remove Russia from our Organization because it is only here that such dialogue can take place. Speaking, communicating and interacting are the only alternatives to violence. If we punish Russia through black pedagogy, we lose that opportunity. We should be wise. We should stick to the rapporteur’s proposition, and do more than rap Russia on the knuckles. We should have a dialogue. We should go to Ukraine and defend its democratic values. However, we must talk to the Russians because that is the only way they will learn that what they have done is unacceptable.

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