German Green Party MP: No ceasefire - no elections in Donbas

Author : Anatoliy Martsynovsky

Respondent : Marieluise Beck

Source : 112 Ukraine

Marieluise Beck: can you imagine free and fair elections in the region, where the safety reasons do not allow organizing visit of the member of the international organization?
18:38, 21 November 2016

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Marieluise Beck, German politician and member of the Alliance '90/The Greens group in the Bundestag, is a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

In particular, Marieluise Beck was the rapporteur of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on human rights violations in annexed Crimea and Ukraine’s uncontrolled areas - PACE adopted a resolution at the last session in October. Among other things, the document stated the impossibility of holding elections in these areas.

Related: Ukraine “does have the problem, especially loan for war” – German MP, Marieluise Beck

Marieluise Beck knows the peculiarities of Ukrainian politicians, and she is familiar with the ups and downs of electronic declaration. EP met with German politician soon after becoming aware of the unexpected victory of Donald Trump in the US elections. We began our conversation with this issue.

Is Trump’s victory dangerous?

Donald Trump managed to consolidate the anti-liberal sentiment in American society.

Such alarming processes we see in Europe. For example, in France, the UK, and Hungary. Germany also strengthens its position right populist party "Alternative for Germany."

The right-wing and anti-liberal movements in the European Union maintain ties with Putin, who becomes more authoritarian, openly defies pluralistic society. Trump and Putin well say about each other.

Related: Merkel expected to say she will seek fourth term as German chancellor

There are justified fears that the movement against liberal democracy and modern lifestyles, which gives people the right to choose, will be international.

Look, for example, at the situation of homosexuals in Russia: they are discriminated, they cannot say it in public. In contrast, in Western societies is probably fairly well-established understanding of individual rights and freedoms - regardless of gender, origin, sexual orientation or religion. This cosmopolitan outlook and equality internationally now question the anti-liberal forces.

After Trump’s victory, Ukraine increased anxiety in connection with the forthcoming parliamentary elections in Germany. Many wonder whether the government of Angela Merkel would stand.

The elections are still far enough to give any forecasts.

The fact is that Merkel’s humane attitude in resolving the issue of refugees cost of her support. For the right-wing populists who advocate for the fact that Germany dissociated ourselves from the world, criticism of its policy was the central theme.

Related: Merkel offered Trump cooperation on principles of “democracy, freedom and respect for human rights”

In the German society is tremendous willingness to provide help and support to people seeking protection in our wars and persecution.

However, there is great anxiety whether the country can well handle the big challenge, which is the integration of refugees.

There anti-migrants mood - particularly among people who still had personal meetings with refugees. Right populists from "Alternative for Germany" are speculating on these concerns and sentiments.

Democratic Party must find convincing answers to the questions of citizens. However, the European Union should found solution, as the burden of refugees be distributed among Member States. And here we are only at the beginning.

Another question that may have an impact on future elections are relations with Russia.

In some parts of German society is a profound need for good relations with it. This often do not distinguish between the Kremlin and the country's population. The policy of sanctions in these circles is regarded with skepticism. This view is especially common among right and left. They advocate the lifting of sanctions and rapprochement with Moscow.

Related: Merkel stresses importance of negotiations on Ukraine with Putin

Inside the other parties have different opinions and debate about how to behave towards Russia. Similar discussions have my Green Party. There are also the Social Democrats, former chancellor of whom, Gerhard Schroeder, as chairman of "Nord Stream-2", he cannot be considered independent of the interests of "Gazprom".

Even the party of Chancellor Merkel's Christian Democrats have differences. Some of the party believes that the Chancellor’s candor allegedly prevented from dialogue with Russia.

Although, I think that Merkel was the politician who spoke most frequently with Putin since 2014.

At the same time, there are signs that social democrats can make relations with the campaign theme to answer the need for a substantial part of society in the new policy of detente.

Related: Merkel, Hollande may discuss sanctions against Russia at EU Summit

In Germany, no one wants conflict with Russia. But we cannot go to the regular agenda, while Putin's aggression in Ukraine shakes the foundations of European security and puts force above the law.

So confident and consistent policy toward the Kremlin is crucial. Although the political space to carry it out at the moment is no more.

When you live in Ukraine, it seems that the problem of refugees and electoral considerations of German politicians also delayed granting us visa-free EU - mainly because Germany initiated a new mechanism for suspending visa-free. Do you agree?

I consider it unfair that Ukraine should wait long for granting visa-free regime, after fulfilling all the necessary conditions. Citizens of Ukraine bravely fought for rapprochement with the European Union. We must not disappoint them.

Related: Merkel may offer to impose new sanctions against Russia

The last step to get visa-free regime was part of electronic declaration, which shocked the society. What do you think about this?

Electronic declaration is an important step to ensure greater transparency in Parliament, where a terrible intertwined politics and business interests. Although we are not dealing with a full disclosure of income, e-Ukrainian declaration is a success in the post. Supporters of Maidan demanding precisely this transparency.

Released information shows that disentanglement network oligarchic structures with corrupt politicians is a major political challenge.

Fortunes that were made public also increase distrust of the population to politicians. To restore it, elected officials must explain the origin of these funds.

Related: "Merkel's credit" begins working in Donbas

If they fail to do this convincingly, the National Anti-Corruption Bureau and justice should check them in the case of illicit enrichment.

Ukraine criticizes German Foreign Minister Steinmeier for his position concerning Donbas; it looks like he wants to conduct elections in the occupied territories. Is this criticism justified?

It is apparent that the West sees no alternative to the Minsk process. The West is trying to stay within it.

Ukraine is under pressure, everyone wants that it displayed a willingness to step by step to fulfill Minsk agreements. This includes legal requirements to create conditions for the holding of local elections in those areas.

Related: Merkel expresses condolences on 75th anniversary of Babyn Yar tragedy

Minsk Protocol does not contain the exact sequence of its points. But the critical starting point of the Minsk process is ceasefire. And that point is not satisfied. But it is a stable truce that is a prerequisite for a political settlement of the conflict. After that is reasonable to expect from the Ukrainian government's next steps, provided that such signals are coming from and Putin.

But militants in Donetsk and Luhansk are still receiving military support from the Kremlin. And there is no indication that the Kremlin will stop it and direct their actions on cease-fire.

Next question: how free and fair elections in the region, where Ukraine has no access to the border, can be organized?

In the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights is a clear understanding of what is meant by free and fair elections. In April this year, as the speaker of the PACE on the situation of human rights in the territories beyond the control of Ukrainian government, I planned to visit Donbas and asked for a special monitoring mission of the OSCE accompany me. They said they could not guarantee the safety of the trip.

Related: Hollande and Merkel hail cease-fire in Donbas

Can you imagine free and fair elections in the region, where the safety reasons do not allow organizing visit of the member of the international organization?

Another alarming process in those areas of Donbas is a loss of confidence in the Ukrainian government. Payment of pensions and other social benefits are organized very difficult. The population there is a sense that the government in Kyiv left them to fend for themselves.

Outside the region, it is believed that those on the side of Ukraine should leave the occupied territories. For those who are still there, supposedly loyal to the Russian presence and self-proclaimed administrations.

Can the lack of progress in the implementation of the Minsk agreements by both parties void the European Union economic sanctions against Russia in January next year?

There can be no normalization of relations with Russia as long as Moscow is waging a war in eastern Ukraine. The sanctions should remain in force. Unfortunately, some Member States are reluctant to pursue sanctions. Keep a consensus on this issue within the European Union is becoming increasingly difficult.

Related: Poroshenko asked Merkel about the treatment of Umerov in Germany

Now there are sanctions against the Russian delegation in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. Is it possible to return Russian to PACE?

Russian delegation was not excluded from the PACE. The reaction to the annexation of Crimea was only deprivation of the right to vote in the Assembly. In response, the Russians themselves decided not to come to Strasbourg.

Indeed, in the Assembly there are members who believe - it would be better if the Russians came back to be able to conduct dialogue with them. But the suspension of voting rights was not a step that made impossible the dialogue.

Related: Merkel: Russia cannot redraw Europe’s borders unpunished

In the past, the Russian delegation held a hard line there, it ignored the rules of the Assembly and considered dialogue primarily as an opportunity for propaganda. I felt at first hand when working in, as PACE speaker on the rule of law.

The Council of Europe as a whole faces the big challenge. Some of its members have a problem with democracy, but some are trying to improve the situation, and some others see the organization as a platform to spread propaganda. Among them, for example, are Turkey, Azerbaijan, Armenia. So Russia is, unfortunately, not alone.

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