20. Dez. 2014


The responsible people in the EU
do not show themselves as wise

Questions from the Moscow Daily Newspaper Komersant after the Visit from Andi Gross in Moscow from Monday, 15th of December until Friday, 19th of December.

What are the main results of your visit to Moscow?

My visit had a double character, I had to fulfil two missions with one visit. The first was to take up as a co-rapporteur my duty to evaluate the respect of the Human Rights, the rule of law and the democracy in Russia. You know that this monitor process was a kind of interrupted by the fact that the Russian Delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) stopped to cooperate with the PACE after PACE took away the voting rights of the Russian delegation because the Russia annexed Crimea and in doing so did not respect the basic rules which govern the relations of the CoE-member-states. My second mission is based on a decision of the Presidential Committee of the PACE, to whom I belong as the leader of the social democratic group in the PACE: Since September we started by meetings with the leadership of the Duma in Paris and in Moscow a process of a common deliberation in order to realise some efforts which could convince the majority of the PACE to vote for the credentials of the Russian delegation in the last week of January, when the next session of the PACE starts. If this vote would happen today, I am afraid that the majority will not vote in favour of these credentials. Thatís why we have to deliver some things to make another majority possible in five weeks. By the way, as part of this effort, the Presidential Committee will also go to Kiev mid-January and will meet the new president of the Ukraine Parliament as well. And to come back to your question: The first part of my mission I could fulfil letís say in a satisfactory way; the second ended even with an encouraging result.

As a co-rapporteur on Russia do you expect your next report will be more critical than the previous one? The main idea of the previous document was the evident tendency to authoritarism in Russia. Which points do you plan to emphasize this time?

The last report I could realise with my former Rumanian colleague Georgy Frunda in September 2012 was very detailed, very critic and exhaustive. It was more than 80 pages long and only the second one after Russia joined the CoE 1996. Although we are supposed to deliver on every country under the monitoring process a report every three year, I donít think that this will be possible for October 2015. The more I can not be responsible for it anymore, because my 5-year-mandate as a rapporteur for Russia will end at the end of the coming January. But I am sure that my successor will focus again on the three main concerns of the CoE and the obligations Russia signed when it became member of the CoE.

What was to your point of view the main goal of the decision to include Mr. Naryshkin in the Russian delegation? Can this step help to restore Russia's voting rights at the January session?

I wanted to meet Sergei Naryshkin, the president of the Duma, in order to realise the second part of my mission. And we did indeed! He is ready to come to Strasburg in January for a third meeting with Presidential committee. And we discussed and agreed on the different elements which our working program should include which we will finalise during this third meeting between him and the group leaders of the PACE in January. This will be done before the beginning of the PACE session and I do think, that when we succeed in this effort we will refind the chance to convince the majority of the PACE to re-establish the full credentials of the Russian delegation. I can not share more of the substance of these common efforts today in order not to damage the outcome, but as soon as we all agree, I will share them immediately with your readers.

The last time you visited Moscow you said the majority in PACE is not on our side. Have the chances to get the majority on the restoration of the key rights risen since then?

I am still convinced, that today Ė without any further achievements and common efforts Ė we would not find the majority. But the very constructive attitude of Mr. Naryshkin, his readiness to meet us again before the session and his engagement for common efforts gives me the hope, that we can still make a difference and find a majority in the forthcoming session.

Could the rights of the Russian delegation be restored partially as some kind of a compromise?

Of course this could happen and some of my colleagues might even propose to go this way end of January. But I think on this way we will not get the dialog back we need with the Russian colleagues. When they will again be deprived of the voting rights, they will again decide not to take part in the plenary and committee discussions, because they would feel themselves treated a kind of second class MPís what would not correspond to the self-esteem of the Duma Ė and I can understand this quite well.

What are the main demands of PACE and its conditions which can make possible for Russia to return to the Assembly?

Nobody knows what the PACE demands. What my colleagues in the Presidential Committee tried since three months is to find an agreement to work on reforms which might convince the majority of the PACE, that the reintegration of the Duma colleagues in the PACE serves our common causes Ė strengthening the Human Rights, the rule of law and Democracy in all our countries Ė more and better then their isolation. In general we should take care that the Human Rights of all human beings on the island of Crimea are respected; the other priority concerns all the efforts to find peace in the Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Lugansk. More I can not say today, but I will do it as soon as this would not endanger the whole idea.

Do your parliamentarians agree to these demands and conditions?

What we want to elaborate are neither demands nor conditions. But an agreement to realize common efforts. If this will be enough to find a new majority and convince enough MPís nobody knows today. I just want to try and to do everything I can to make it possible.

As a European parliamentarian, how do you access the decision by the EU to withdraw all investments and business projects in Crimea as a part of the strategy of total economic isolation and political un-recognition of the peninsula as a Russian territory? Maybe Russia was wrong about the annexation but in fact now the EU makes Crimean people suffer twice because of their geopolitical choice.

I am not happy with this latest decision of the EU. I donít think that the Crimean citizens deserve to be punished. They are not responsible for the annexation of Crimea by the Russian authorities. Diminishing their living standard and hampering their economic and social development does not help us to overcome the crises. When people are bad off they do not get more open and empathic but more anxious, egoistic and aggressive. Again, the responsible people in the EU do not show themselves as wise pedagogues; its more black pedagogy which they use and I donít think that this will help anyone of those who want to build peace in Ukraine, Russia and between them.

What do you think about the attempts (or idea) to make Nadezhda Savchenko a PACE deputy?

Itís not part of my duties to select the Russian PACE-Delegation from the Duma and the Council of Federation. And I donít want to judge anybody. My hope concerns all delegations from all CoE member states: We need more delegates who are willing and able to invest a lot of time and energy to take part in the plenaries and the committees, to listen to the others and to engage in good debates; too many still like to come to Strasburg because itís a wonderful town with nice people, cosy restaurants and good shops. But this is not the main purpose of a member of the PACE which defends values which are more and more in danger today in Europe and which need all our efforts and good will.

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