The President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), Anne Brasseur, has expressed regret that the Russian delegation is not taking part in its summer session to focus on the situation in Ukraine, the RIA Novosti news agency reports.
Brasser said she had insisted that Russia should participate, that she had tried to convince State Duma Speaker Sergei Naryshkin and head of the State Duma International Affairs Committee Alexei Pushkov that their presence was very important as it gave them a chance to explain Moscow’s position despite being unable to vote.
Brasseur said she hoped relations between PACE and Russia would improve before January 2015, adding that she saw no reason why Russia’s voting rights couldn’t be reinstated if the Ukrainian conflict was resolved.
In April, PACE stripped Russia of voting rights and of the right to participate in PACE committees and election monitoring missions. Russia hit back, suspending cooperation with PACE and cancelling its participation in the assembly’s summer session.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) ought to regain its role as a key inter-parliamentary platform, Russian State Duma Speaker Sergei Naryshkin said at a meeting with former PACE Presidents Rene van der Linden and Jean-Claude Mignon in Moscow on Thursday.
The meeting was held ahead of the 3rd international inter-parliamentary forum, due to open at the International Trade Center in Moscow at noon on Thursday.
“I believe that PACE can and should retake its role as a key inter-parliamentary European platform for equal dialogue of all Parliamentary Assembly participants aimed at tackling the tasks facing Europe,” Naryshkin said. Van der Linden and Mignon made a significant contribution to the development of constructive cooperation between EU and the Council of Europe when they headed PACE, he said.
“However, as the last session in April showed, PACE has not been able so far to cope with this task [play the role of a key inter-parliamentary platform in Europe],” Naryshkin said.
Naryshkin also said he wants PACE to remain an authoritative European organization.
“All of us should make every effort to prevent the Parliamentary Assembly from turning into an instrument that would serve tendency-driven political interests or the interests of individual states or groups of states,” the Russian MP said.
Russia is ready to resume its dialogue with PACE in full, he said.
“But, at the same time, we certainly cannot allow our interests to be ignored and cannot permit any dictation in relation to Russia,” he said. Naryshkin also said he outlined his stance on these matters in a letter to PACE President Anne Brasseur, as well as during a telephone conversation that took place between them at Brasseur’s initiative a week ago.
“We will certainly resume our full-fledged work within PACE. But this will happen only if the Russian delegation receives the same rights as all other delegations,” he said.
PACE acknowledged the powers of the Russian delegation on April 10, 2014, but deprived it of voting rights until the end of this year as a way of condemnation and disapproval of Russian conduct towards Ukraine.
In response, the Russian delegation to PACE also decided to suspend its work at the assembly until the end of the year.
Naryshkin said that hopefully, today’s forum will see frank discussions on new aspects of the “parliamentary dimension” amid the present-day international situation.
Ukrainian President Petr Poroshenko will deliver his message to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on Thursday, Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Daniil Lubkivsky told reporters. Foreign Minister Pavel Klimkin is in Vienna to attend an annual session of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and a meeting of the Ukraine-NATO Commission, during which he will present Poroshenko’s peace plan.
In the middle of April, Kiev launched a special military operation in eastern Ukraine to quell pro-independence supporters who are refusing to recognize the legitimacy of the new government installed after an armed coup in February.
The operation that Moscow regards as “punitive” has inflicted numerous casualties on both sides, including among civilians. Russia has repeatedly urged an immediate end to bloodshed in eastern Ukraine.
Ukraine will become an associate member of the European Union on June 27, President Petr Poroshenko said at a meeting with representatives of local self-government bodies and other state authorities on Wednesday.
“Ukraine will become a full-fledged EU associate member in the presence of leaders of the EU states in Brussels on June 27,” Poroshenko said.
The Ukrainian president will visit Brussels where he will sign an economic part of Ukraine’s association treaty with the EU, presidential press service said.
European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy Stefan Fule visited Kiev on June 19-20 to continue preparations for signing the economic part of the Association Agreement between the European Union and Ukraine.
The Association Agreement is to be signed in Brussels on June 27. Ukrainian leaders will not attend the upcoming EU summit, which is not open to third countries. But they will be invited to a separate signing ceremony where the EU will sign the Association Agreements with Moldova and Georgia.
In April, Ukraine signed the political part of the agreement with the EU, which makes up about 2 percent of the document. The remaining 98 percent deal with the creation of a free trade zone between the EU and Ukraine, which will basically mean the opening up of the Ukrainian market to European goods since Ukrainian industrial commodities cannot compete on European markets: there is no demand for the defense industry’s products as EU countries are adopting NATO standards, and agricultural produce can hardly make their way to the saturated European market where even EU countries have to observe production quotas, TASS reports.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk has voiced readiness for consultations with Russia to discuss problems arising from Ukraine’s euro-integration.
Moscow has repeatedly expressed concern over Ukraine’s plans to sign the economic part of an association agreement with the European Union, fearing uncontrolled flows of goods to Russia and vowing to protect its domestic markets if that happens.
Ukraine is hoping to sign the association agreement with the EU on June 27.
Yatsenyuk feels that Russia has no right to close its markets and proposed what he called “public technical consultations” in order to clarify in what way European goods can threaten “our neighbors”.
He said that he himself and his ministers would travel to “all the markets and all the countries” to lobby the interests of Ukrainian companies and that he would meet with Ukrainian exporters and explain each of them where they could get additional markets.
Earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso agreed to conduct trilateral expert-level and ministerial consultations on those issues.
Russia suggested that consultations be held prior to the signing of the EU-Ukraine association agreement to enable the sides to assess and minimize the risks the Ukrainian economy might incur, rather than merely exchange opinions.