Is the Council of Europe ready to capitulate to Russian dollars?

Opublikowano: 18.06.2019 | Kategorie: International

Liczba wyświetleń wpisu: 94

It is the sixth year of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. The annexation of the Crimea, the war in the Donbass… sanctions… There are two parallel versions of these events and each of the parties to the conflict (Russia, in general, declares that it is not, and the war in the Donbass is an exclusively Ukrainian domestic political issue) has its own vision of the situation and its true.

Nevertheless, the world community took the side of Ukraine, Crimea is not recognized internationally by Russian territory, Kremlin support for the LDPR has been condemned, sanctions have been imposed on Russia.

PACE was one of the first to respond to these events. In the spring of 2014, the right to vote of Russian representatives was restricted, they were deprived of the right to occupy leading posts in committees, governing bodies and commissions. The Russian delegation was left only with the right to speak at the session and to act as the initiator of voting in the committees of the assembly. As a sign of disagreement with the PACE decisions, since 2016 Russia has ceased to send representatives to attend meetings, and since 2017 refused to pay contributions to the organization’s budget. Two years have passed and according to the regulations, the Kremlin must either resume payment of contributions or leave the organization.

At this moment, questions of so-called political expediency begin to arise, which push the principles back. The amount of Russian contributions is about 33 million euros per year (7% of the organization’s budget). PACE is not ready to refuse of this amount. In addition, Moscow began to put pressure on Strasbourg, announcing the possibility of a final exit from the Council of Europe. Recently, politicians from Germany and France have been actively involved in upholding Russian positions.

A meeting of the PACE Regulatory Committee was held in Paris on June 3. During the meeting, a draft resolution was approved, entitled “Strengthening the decision-making process in PACE regarding powers and votes”, which is to be approved at the meeting of the Assembly on June 24. The draft provides for amendments to clause 10 of the Regulations, which will prohibit PACE from imposing sanctions on countries that violate the principles of the organization. In addition, it is proposed to amend Article 9, which requires the exclusion of a state from the organization after two years of non-payment of contributions. The draft resolution was adopted by a majority of votes. 18 people voted for, six against and one abstained.

On the eve of the PACE meeting on June 24, where the issue will be finally resolved, the representatives of Russia are already reporting the closeness of their victory. So, First Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council Nikolai Fyodorov said that “today we have cautious optimism about the possibility of a full return… I can say that we are close to 90% to return to work this year in all structures and bodies of PACE”. The State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin spoke out a little more decisively about this. He said that if PACE on June 24 accepts a report on the issue of the rights of national delegations “without exemptions”, Russia will apply for participation in the June session on the same day. The politician also said that Russia insists on full restoration of powers in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe by June 26 (this day elections of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe will be held). Otherwise, according to Volodin, Russia reserves the right to withdraw from PACE.

It should be noted that the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjørn Jagland, and a number of very influential politicians from Germany and France openly come out for the return of Russian deputies to PACE.

In this case, Ukraine will clearly be the injured party. According to Foreign Minister Pavel Klimkin, the return of Moscow to PACE will be a slap in the face for Kiev. The Ukrainian side is even considering the possibility of its withdrawal from the organization in this case. Judging by the voting in the PACE Regulatory Committee, during the Assembly session, most likely, a positive decision will be made for Russia.

The situation of Ukrainian diplomats is aggravated by the fact that there will be no time left for lobbying of their interests in Strassburg. After all, the voting will take place on June 24th. And if a positive decision is made, the election of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe will take place on June 26 with the participation of Russian representatives.

Representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine have repeatedly pointed out possible negative aspects of a complete “forgiveness” of Russia. This will create a precedent for the possibility of unpunished non-compliance of PACE decisions. As an example, the possibility of Russia changing the composition of the delegation, which will include deputies from the Crimean Federal District. Due to the impossibility of imposing sanctions, PACE will not be able to ban Russia from taking such a step. And this will help Moscow at the level of the Assembly of the Council of Europe to achieve recognition of the deputies from the Crimea. As a counter argument, the argument was made that membership in the Council of Europe obliges Russia to comply with the decisions of the ECHR (to which it listens) and has many important and positive results in many areas of law and society.

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has officially warned the Council of Europe that it is preparing tough steps in the event Russia returns to PACE. However, it is very similar to the fact that this is not very important for the Council of Europe. European politicians are once again ready to demonstrate that Russian gas and Russian dollars is more important to them than the support of Ukraine.

Authorship: Vitaliy Timoschuk

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