Ukraine threatens to boycott PACE: demarche, or last warning
PACE today sends clear signal of its desire to improve relations with Russia
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Ukraine warned the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly on the possible démarche. Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Pavlo Klimkin on September 12, said that if the PACE recognizes the credentials of the Russian delegation, despite the illegitimacy of the elections to the State Duma in the occupied Crimea, Kyiv may terminate its participation in the PACE.
The minister said that the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry will consider different options - up to the revocation of our delegation. The rhetoric of the Foreign Ministry became tough after a specific instruction of President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko, who recently instructed the Minister Klimkin to inform the Russian authorities about the impossibility of holding elections to the State Duma in Ukrainian territory, where Russia planned to open polling places in four cities - Kyiv, Lviv, Odesa and Kharkiv.
The Foreign Ministry said that elections could be held in the premises of the Russian diplomatic mission in Ukraine only after the refusal of the Russian Federation on the elections in Crimea. In response Kyiv heard from the Russian Federation the accusations of "violating the norms of decency and the rules of civilized international relations."
Relations between Ukraine and PACE became tense even earlier. In late June, the Bureau of the Parliamentary Assembly adopted a declaration on the need to resume dialogue with the RF Federal Assembly. Klimkin said that he is extremely surprised and disappointed with the declaration. According to him, the PACE Bureau's call to lift the sanctions and to resume dialogue with Russia "undermines the credibility of the whole Assembly."
Initially PACE imposed sanctions against Russia in April 2014 due to the annexation of Crimea. Russia was for a year devoid of the right to vote, the right to participate in missions for election observation, to be the speaker, as well as being appointed as representatives of the PACE in other bodies. In protest, representatives of the Russian Federation had left Strasbourg and refused to work in the PACE. Later, the sanctions against Russia were extended.
In May, Russia rejected the proposal of PACE to monitor the elections to the State Duma of RF, which will take place on September 18, but later the relations warmed. A few days ago PACE delegation headed by the chairman Pedro Agramunt visited Moscow. They were talking about the return of the Russian delegation.
"We are convinced that there are serious issues to be discussed between the 47 members of Council of Europe, rather than between 46. All the questions that have been mentioned, we wish to discuss with all the members of the PACE. We hope that it will be done at the next session, "- Agramunt said during a visit to the Russian capital.
PACE sent a clear signal of the desire to improve relations with Russia. In this case the deputy head of the Russian delegation in the Assembly Leonid Slutsky said that Moscow has its own requirements.
“We can not put the Russian delegation at risk of being again in a discriminatory manner expelled from PACE. We’ll come to Strasbourg only if we’ll have a clear procedural guarantee of not revising in the future powers of Russian delegation ....", - he said.
Russian Federation has now little doubt on its participation in the January session of PACE in 2017. However, for Ukraine it is counterproductive, because the Russian delegation will get the deputies who will be elected in the annexed Crimea.
However, this problem concerns not only the PACE. The head of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people Refat Chubarov, commenting on this possibility, said that in general he can not imagine how in this case he will appear on the Parliamentary Assembly of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (PABSEC).
"I am a member of this respected organization. And how could I listen to the so-called deputies of the State Duma of the Russian Federation, which steal my homeland?" - He said.
Klimkin explains that because of the Crimean issue all the elections to the State Duma, by definition, can not be legitimate.
"So we have questions about conducting of the elections in the occupied Crimea, we have the question of what attitude will show in future to the State Duma of Russia, because the results of the voting by definition are distorted, and in general the question of the legitimacy of the State Duma appears" , - the Minister said.
The minister said that he can not forbid to members of the Ukrainian delegation in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to take part in the work, but will advise "to do very drastic steps."
The situation looks like Ukraine may declare a boycott, but its officials don’t talk about the official termination of the powers, because such a decision should be taken by Verkhovna Rada.
In the case of demarche Ukraine could lose one of the most important bodies in Europe and the support of its members. Statement of the MFA seems to be more like the "last warning" without decisive action.
PACE also understands that, in fact, the restoration of the powers of Russian Federation in PACE with elected Crimean deputies will be the legitimization of the annexation of the peninsula. Concrete steps of Ukraine can be expected after 18 September, after conducting the elections to the State Duma of the Russian Federation and receiving the reaction of international community.
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