Interview with Dmitry Coleby: “do Not hope that this is the last attempt of the Russians to reform PACE by itself”

Интервью с Дмитрием Кулебой: "Не стоит надеяться, что это последняя попытка россиян реформировать ПАСЕ под себя"

Permanent representative of Ukraine explained why the report of Tini Coke is pure blackmail, and what adjustments have managed to push the Ukrainian delegation

Back in October, in the article “Russia flew past PACE as the Ukrainian delegation has won Moscow in Strasbourg” website “Today” described in detail how Kiev managed to bypass the Kremlin and to prevent the return of Russians to the work of the parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (COE). Then, we recall, their lobbyists wanted to change the rules of procedure for applying sanctions to national delegations to the PACE, and, simply, to ensure that they will not be applied against Russia, to restore the payment of contributions to the budget of the COE. The idea was promoted initially through the Italian Deputy Michele Nicoletti – initiator and head of the ad-hoc Committee, which was accumulated changes in the rules of procedure.

Himself Michele Nicoletti miserably and flew in the parliamentary elections in Italy, but his ideas, which last year actively promoted even the Secretary General of the COE thorbjørn Jagland, referring to the difficult financial situation of the organization, not forgotten. On the eve of the spring session of PACE was replaced by a similar report, only to have the authorship of the Dutch parliamentarian Tiny Coke main purpose of which is to change procedurepretty sanctions. According to a member of the parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, MP from NF George Logoiskogo, exposed the lobbyists of this idea are the representatives of the Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland. The main argument for lifting the sanctions against Russia is the same as six months ago, – the restoration of Russia’s contributions to the budget of the COE. Say, without 32 million euros, which today are underpaid Moscow, the Council of Europe is in a very difficult position.

However, as of Tuesday night, the Ukrainian delegation managed to “shoot down” the desire overt Russian lobbyists to stretch the change in the procedure for application of sanctions with amendments to the corresponding report of Tini Coke. However, according to the permanent representative of Ukraine to the Council of Europe Dmitry Kuleba, this is not the last attempt to bring the Russians to work in PACE. Recall that after the annexation of Crimea and the outbreak of war nodebase Moscow was deprived of voting rights, participation in observation missions and governance structures of the PACE. From January 2015, in protest, the Russian delegation has ceased to come to Strasbourg, and from 2017 – to pay annual membership fees to the budget of the COE.

In an interview with “Today” Dmitry Kuleba told why the report of Tini Coke is pure blackmail, any amendments to this document, the Ukrainian delegation managed to push through, and whether the Russian delegation to exclude from the Council of Europe.– Last fall, the Saga of attempts by “friends” of Russia to return its delegation to the work of the parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe failed miserably. Then the discussion also went around the contributions of the Russians, they say, the Council of Europe will not survive without this money. And now the situation repeats itself.

I’m convinced it’s blackmail. Blackmail that if we do not go on concessions, we will lose Russia. Western European politicians such arguments have very serious effects, because they are very afraid that Russia will voluntarily withdraw from the Council of Europe if the latter does not fulfill the whim of Russia.- Last time the reason for the lifting of sanctions against Russia was the report of the Italian Deputy Michele Nicoletti, this time – Dutch Teenie Cox.

Is not that reason. Just from year to year continues to attempt to take something. Last time we had the report of Petra de Sutter (Belgium – Ed.) before that we had the report on the activities of the ad hoc Committee, chaired by Nicoletti. That is, they have on the table are always some documents that they are trying to take to create the conditions for the return of the Russians. At this time, there is a very long document about the future of PACE and the Council of Europe. But key provisions, for which all this relate to the idea that the Assembly in this document should recognize that it is prepared to reform its own sanctions mechanism and to share these powers with the Committee of Ministers, which consists of the ambassadors of the member States.

That is, if it can PACE itself to apply sanctions, in the case of the introduction of a new mechanism, it alone will not be able to use them without the consent of the Committee of Ministers. And this is, in fact, lead to the fact that almost sanction will be impossible, as the political combinations of the Committee of Ministers is very complex and it is always possible to create a “coalition” to block the decision on the application of sanctions. This is the insidiousness of the idea, which is moving. Formally, all tell you what we are talking about the strengthening of the sanctions mechanism, but in reality we are talking about what mechanism will exist beautifully on paper, but in practice its use would be impossible. Moreover, it is impossible to apply not only in Russia, but in General by any member state of the Council of Europe. In this lies the key provisions of the document for which was stirred up this whole mess. Well, it is characteristic that Mr. Cox is one of the most openly Pro-Russian members of PACE. It was he, for some reason, entrusted to promote.

– On Monday Volodymyr Ariev reported that in the political Committee changed the text of the report, and Russia loses. His speech yesterday actually confirmed Borislav Birch?? and Elena Centurion. According to them, the Committee supported the key edit of the Ukrainian delegation that “any new mechanism on sanctions will only be incremental.” That is, it is a victory?

– I think that the report be adopted. Typically, the Assembly supported the amendments that passed the Committee. The essence of the changes Elena Sotnik is that a new mechanism of sanctions does not negate the powers of the PACE. This is compromise wording. Our opponents want new mechanism – they get it. We want the powers of PACE to apply sanctions were saved and they are saved. But I know what kind of lobbying work has already deployed the Russian lobbyists to try to “break” the edit or reject it in the hall. Therefore, the struggle will continue until the last second. However, in whatever form the report now adopted, we must understand that this is just another fight. Do not hope that this is the last attempt of the Russians to reform the PACE for themselves. Each next battle will be equally fierce, so it’s not the end of the story.

– What is the balance of forces “for” and “against” of this report?

Now I find it hard to estimate in percentages how much for whom. The debate will show. In fact, deputies do not really want to deprive themselves of those powers which they have, and share them with the government. It is well known that usually the Parliament controls the government and has the last word. Now trying to do the opposite and deputies do not like it. But the position of the deputies are trying to influence through argument, saying, we will lose Russia. And to lose Russia and to prevent its release from the Council of Europe here not – that’s a fact. Ready to criticize, to discuss, putting political pressure, but to lose them here don’t want to. Although I am convinced that Russia from the Council of Europe will not work. Opponents of Ukraine playing around with this argument, simply using scare tactics by Russia. And carried out this work very actively, but held contribute. We and our partners explain: if this reform is carried out, it suspended the democratic process in the Council of Europe in General, and negates the status of the PACE, turning it into a talking shop. That is, if the PACE now this is a real tool influence in the States, after the “reform” it will become just a talking shop. So now there is such a struggle of narratives.

– According to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe looks like 32 million euros is a question of the survival of the organization. However, if you divide this amount by all 46 COE member countries, it turns out almost 700 thousand Euro. For example, last year Ukraine voluntarily contributed to the CE budget $ 400 thousand.

– The Council of Europe was created to defend certain principles and values, but not to run in search of money and to kneel before those who can give extra money. Even some colleagues who genuinely support the return of Russia genuinely fear that Russia would withdraw from the Council of Europe, at the same time they felt ashamed to remember the argument about money, because they see that it is cynical and hypocritical. However, this is a favorite argument of the Secretary General thorbjørn Jagland, who said that without Russian money in any way.

– According to reports members of Ukrainian delegation to Facebook, for us the key changes to the report of Tini Coke has succeeded. However, as You said, it’s not the last battle. What else can resort to the Russian Federation?

– Ahead procedural fights. Following that the public will go unnoticed, will be held in the Committee of Ministers at the level of ambassadors about what position should take the Ministers on this sanctions reform. Because it is impossible to reform the sanctions mechanism without the consent of the Committee of Ministers. However, since the meeting of the respective Committee occurs privately, to tell about what will be discussed there, I can’t. And the next fight is on may 17 Ministerial meeting of the Council of Europe, which will bring together Ministers, which should formalize the position will prepare ambassadors. And that there will be a next battle, because we see a systemic effort to mimic the consensus of governments on sanctions reform, which is not. And anyone who would argue that the Committee of Ministers unanimously supported the reform of the sanctions mechanism is a behavior, because thoughts of the Committee of Ministers are very different.