24th Annual Session of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly brought together the delegates from across the OSCE area in Helsinki, Finland on 5-9 July 2015. Participants of OSCE Parliamentary Assembly meeting confronted with a really challenging situation. As it was wittily mentioned at the session, Russian delegation was welcomed to come, but it hadn’t showed up. It brought the negotiations to an impasse.
Some speakers ultimately supported the idea of visa ban, siding with Finnish authorities, while some representatives expressed their deep concern towards the situation.
Georgia: “Do not victimize Russia. Victims are in Ukraine, Ossetia, Abkhazia, and Transnistria”
We are very sensitive to this issue, remembering bitter experience with Russia. Do not victimize Russia. Victims are in Ukraine Ossetia, Abkhazia, and Transnistria.
Despite the toughness of the situation, of course, we prefer dialogue. We want to tell them into their face what we are thinking. We never officially exclude them from voting right or political discussions. This is not a constructive resolution. Not every member was banned, and we hope to see them at the next sessions. Nut the only thing they must understand, visa ban is a price for wrong doings.
Latvia: “these sanctions are not against the delegation”
The sanctions are against individuals involved in international crime. Annexation and occupation of Crimea is an international crime. Naryshkin, who used to work for KGB, has been instrumental in carrying this international crime. We want to say that OSCE cannot be used to justify international crimes.
Russian State Duma member and OSCE PA Special Representative on Anti-Terrorism Nikolay Kovalev was the only one representative from Russian Federation in Helsinki to participate in the Standing Committee meeting. He expressed his opposition to the visa ban against his fellow Delegation Members and noted the decision of the remaining Members of the Delegation not to travel to the Annual Session.
Mr. Kovaliev applied primarily to the fact that the Members of the Delegation could not show up at the Annual Session due to the visa ban, but they were eager to participate this event. He made his feelings clear by saying that it was a direct influence on the number of members of the delegation. Mr. Kovaliev was careful to note that no one, actually, was going to attack; and everything was organized to “pump off the money from the international organizations”. He also accused Finnish officials of ruining “the last instrument of international cooperation” and their attempts to make the multilateral security dialogue impossible. Mr. Kovalev repeatedly stressed on the end last vestiges of common security platform. To his mind, a direct impact on the number of members of the Russian delegation is a gross abuse of the international law.
If you follow the chronology back a bit, you see that Finland denied travel visas to several members of the Russian delegation set to participate in the OSCE PA. The travel ban lift would have enabled six of the 15-member delegate on the EU travel ban list. Speaker of the State Duma, Sergey Naryshkin, accused of alleged involvement in the Ukrainian crisis, was one of those from the list. In response, Russia decided to refrain from participating in the summer session.
Artur Gerasymov, the Head of the Ukrainian Delegation, lamented what he called “hybrid war”. “This is not a crisis in Ukraine, this is Russian invasion. Hybrid war is a new start up from Russia, play without cards and rules,” said Gerasimov.
Ukrainian delegation came to present two Ukraine-initiated and Canada-initiated resolutions on Russia issue. Ostap Semerak, representative of OSCE SMM, said: “The Ukrainian delegation will present two resolutions. First one, prepared by me, is related to kidnapping and custody of Ukrainian citizens. The second resolution, prepared by the Ukraine together with the Canadian delegation, relates to systematic violation of international norms and standards by the Russian Federation and security threats. Therefore, these two documents have an exceptional significance for us. We expect the first document to be discussed on Tuesday, and the second one will be considered on Wednesday".
While someone is blaming others in failure of constructive dialogues, end of security cooperation, or mourning after security outposts’ downfall, a trilateral meeting of the contact group to resolve the conflict in the east of Ukraine is going to take place in Minsk, June 7.
“Minsk contact group made a plan on diversion of weapons of less than 100 mm, but the parties have not done the last steps to sign the final document. OSCE hopes that tomorrow this agreement will be signed in Minsk,” claimed the Deputy Chief of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine Alexander Hug during the Sunday briefing in Luhansk.