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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

“Europe has sent a strong signal of support for Ukraine”

15 April, 2014 - 11:14

With adoption of the resolution on the risks for the functioning of democratic institutions in Ukraine that have emerged due to the situation now existing in Ukraine’s relations with Russia, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) started the most important discussion that took place on its premises on April 10. Russian diplomats and MPs were putting a great effort into preparing for that day, as all Russian techniques were employed to prevent the resolution’s adoption.

The April 10 document has suspended the Russian delegation’s voting rights in the PACE. This marked the first time since the days of the Chechen crisis that the PACE applied this sanction to Russia which had violated all international rules of this body as well as international agreements. Even during the Russo-Georgian war, Russia managed to avoid any penalties. People were constantly stressing the need for negotiations aiming to influence and educate the aggressor country. However, Russia has shown over the years that it does not hear these calls and, moreover, is not going to enter into a dialog. Vladimir Putin is the only person able of starting it. However, he recognizes only monologs, where all dutifully execute his wishes. When interpreting his words about Ukraine, we get the following wish: “Your land is mine!”

The April 10 vote has shown that Europe has sent a strong signal of support for Ukraine. During the meeting, the resolution was toughened further by adding following points:

- Russia will be refused participation in the PACE’s governing bodies till the end of 2014;

- Russia will be refused participation in all the missions that observe elections in other countries.

This is a very serious measure because the Russian delegation is losing its standing as a negotiating partner. Before that, everyone had to negotiate with it to take any decision on some other country.

Although the Russian delegates are saying that decision of the PACE do not matter, and that the assembly is a weak, insignificant organization, the resolution was a crippling blow for them. Actually, the Russians employed this rhetoric and insulted their fellow PACE members when leaving for the meeting. At the same time, they boycotted the meeting and everything was done without their presence on April 10. It clearly demonstrated to their colleagues that a dialog was impossible. I think it was also damaging for the Russians themselves, who gave a press conference at the same time. It also means that the Russians have suffered a very painful diplomatic and political loss. After all, the entire membership of the Council of Europe, including delegates from every party and followers of every ideology, has condemned the aggression and use of military means in international relations. All demand the withdrawal of Russian troops from Crimea and termination of its annexation. This point, by the way, has also found its way into the document.

The only opponent of the resolution was the representative of Jobbik, a nationalist party from Hungary. In fact, he, as well as the representative of one of the Moldovan political forces, served as a Russian mouthpiece in their presence. The latter nation, incidentally, is very sorry for their citizen’s actions... However, these two have shown themselves to be just collaborators, which is a sign of the processes taking place there. The rest of the delegates stood by positions shown by the April 10 vote.

The PACE’s decision is a very serious signal to Ukraine. It shows that Europeans, as represented by parliaments of the Council of Europe member nations, are acutely aware of the danger, not only for Ukraine, but also for the entire Europe and for the world order.

Olha Herasymiuk is a former member of Ukraine’s parliamentary delegation to the PACE Ukraine, currently serving as head of human rights department at the Civic Guard NGO

By Olha HERASYMIUK, special to The Day, Strasbourg