On the first day of the winter session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), it elected as president Michele Nicoletti of Italy. As stated on the PACE website, its rules say that the president will remain in office for a year and then may be re-elected once.
Nicoletti serves as a professor of political philosophy at the University of Trento and became a member of the PACE in 2013. “In the Assembly, he is known as a brilliant speaker and a principled politician who is able to listen to his opponents’ opinions. Nicoletti is quite cautious in dealing with journalists, but never deliberately avoids such communication,” the DW article reads.
In his inaugural speech, Nicoletti called for unity in the CE and listed several present challenges, including terrorism, migration, poverty, and mistrust in representative institutions. According to him, the PACE should take part in solving these problems. “This requires an active involvement of all members and delegations from all 47 member states. In this context, I regret that the Russian Parliament did not put forward a delegation for the 2018 ordinary session. Nevertheless, dialog with Russian Parliamentarians – as well as with all other delegations – continues, with due respect to our rules and obligations,” stated Nicoletti.
“OUR OBJECTIVE IS TO PROTECT THE CE AND ITS INSTITUTIONS”
The Day asked Hanna HOPKO, who chairs the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Committee on Foreign Affairs, to comment on Nicoletti’s statement and his awareness of the situation in Ukraine.
“The dialog with Russia can only be restored after it has met its obligations, in particular those spelled out in PACE resolutions that condemn Russian aggression against Ukraine, clearly recognize the facts of human rights violations, recognize occupation and urge Russia to cease fire and get out of Ukraine. Otherwise, it would be a hybrid approach that would discredit the CE, the PACE as an institution, the values of the Western civilization, and play into the hands of the aggressor. This would be completely unacceptable. Therefore, it is very good that Ukraine is not alone in its opposition to attempts being made by the Kremlin and its lobbyists to allow Russia to return without a dialog to such an important institution as the CE. Our objective is to protect the Council of Europe and its institutions while adhering to our principles and national interests.
“Regarding Nicoletti’s knowledge of Ukraine, he was a PACE expert, visited Ukraine, monitored the status of reforms and anti-corruption activity in Ukraine, saw how anti-corruption organizations including the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine and the National Agency on Corruption Prevention were being created, so he knows the Ukrainian profile very well.
“But it should be noted that Italy very often takes a controversial position on extending sanctions against the Russian Federation. In addition, we have seen the efforts that Russia has made and Thorbjorn Jagland engaged in when traveling to world capitals and convincing people that it would be advisable to maintain a dialog with Russia and allow it to return to the PACE chamber. This is an attempt to shake the Western world’s resolve in terms of confronting Russian aggression, violations of territorial integrity, military capture of another nation’s territory. Therefore, it is very important for Ukraine to unite as many of our allies as possible in order to prevent this.”