The Council of Europe is on its way to restore the voting rights of the Russian delegation in the Parliamentary Assemblee (PACE). In Paris MP's of different member-states and Russia will discuss the preconditions in order to avoid that Russia will retreat from the Council of Europe, says Dutch senator Tiny Kox to RaamopRusland. The Ukrainian minister of Foreign Affairs, Pavlo Klimkin, opposes an outcome which removes the sanctions against Russia unconditionally. This will embolden 'the bully' and discredit the Council of Europe.
by Pavlo Klimkin
In 1949, as the world in general and Europe in particular was still recovering from the most devastating war our planet has ever seen, forces of enlightenment came together to found the Council of Europe.
The organisation which today comprises 47 countries was set up to enshrine the ‘Universal Values’ of Human Rights, Democracy and Rule of Law. It is no coincidence that today in our part of the world we refer interchangeably to these same values as ‘European Values’.
On the other hand it is Russia who daily violates human rights, makes a mockery out of democracy and spits in the face of the rules based system on which Europeans have come to depend.
Minister Pavlo Klimkin. Photo Wikimedia
For all its perceived flaws the European project of the second half of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st has been a success. But the safety and freedom that so many have taken for granted, and some of us from behind the former Iron Curtain, have hungered for, is now under threat.
Almost a year ago in February of 2017 Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s Foreign Minister, all but gloated at the Munich Security Conference about the ‘post west era’. It is no longer a secret or even a matter for debate that Russia wages its hybrid war against us in the West to sow dissent and undermine the very order that was worked so hard for.
Be careful with Moscow
It is against this backdrop of history that the members of the council of Europe must now think very carefully about how ultimately Russia is dealt with for their sneering contempt for the rules of the ‘Council of Europe’.
There are powerful voices among them, who would now say it is time to bring Russia back in from the cold so they can enjoy once again full participation in the business of the Council. The price they must pay is simply the 22 million euros, which they owe anyway, and to promise to behave and abide by the rules in the future. Past misdemeanours such as their abject failure to implement resolutions of the committee of ministers and parliamentary assembly adopted in response to their aggression in Ukraine will simply be overlooked.
This is how bullies behave and this is how the victims of bullies, too meek to stand up for themselves, react.
But as we all know, every time a child hands over their sweets to the school bully, the bullies does not become nicer persons, but they become emboldened to push their luck even further the next time.
Russia like any common bully must only be dealt with from a position of power, for Russia respects no other language. Russia’s words and promises are meaningless for this is a country that lies on an industrial scale as part of government policy to further its own ends and confound its enemies. And remember these enemies are us.
Ukraine understands Russia better
Though we differ in our values, we Ukrainians from our history well understand how Russia operates. So let me therefor state clearly our position.
Russia must one day join Europe and the free world as a reliable partner. For that reason, we must keep doing everything we can to reach that goal. But at the same time, Russia must be held to account for its repeated crimes and other transgressions.
If the Council of Europe does not take a firm and principled stand, it will discredit itself. Russia will be encouraged to continue its current pattern of behaviour. Why wouldn’t they, if there will be no cost for them. In addition to this, other states may well be emboldened to behave badly as well. Certainly the credibility of the Council of Europe will be severely, maybe even mortally, damaged.
Russia’s return cannot be effectively unconditional. To do so would be tantamount to appeasement. And who was it said that appeasers were the ones feeding the crocodiles hoping they would be eaten last?
Pavel Klimkin (1967) serves as Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine since June 2014.