Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 28.11.2017
Secretary-General Thorbjørn Jagland is appealing to the Council of Europe to appease Russia to keep it as a member, and not press the defence of the human rights of Europeans in Crimea and Donbas. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe must stay true to its core mission and reject Jagland’s outrageous appeal.
Russia invaded Europe in Ukraine on 20 February 2014. The Russian invader-occupiers immediately began to abuse and violate the human rights of Europeans in Crimea and Donbas who fell under their power. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) voted to expel the delegation from Russia, until such time as Russia began to respect its obligations as a member of Europe’s oldest human rights body.
For over three and three-quarter years Russia has not made any move to respect international human law with respect to the captive population of Crimea and Donbas. To the contrary, Russia has increased its aggression and worsened it’s abuse and violation of human rights. Russia is threatening all the other members of the Council of Europe that it will stop paying its dues unless PACE rescinds its sanctions against Russia – Russia would effectively crash out of the Council of Europe.
Bizarrely, the Secretary-General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjørn Jagland, is lobbying hard on behalf of Russia, and is appealing to member state delegations to give in to Russian blackmail. Jagland argues that it is more important to have Russia as a member than for the Council of Europe to uphold its mandate and defend the human rights of Europeans in Russia-occupied Crimea and Donbas.
Russia is a human rights violator. Horrendous abuses of human rights by the Russian invader-occupiers of Crimea and Donbas have been documented by the Council of Europe, the United Nations, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group, and others. Thorbjørn Jagland is advocating that the Council of Europe abandoned its core mission – the defence of human rights – for the sake of allowing Russia to be welcomed back into the fold, to poison discourse and sabotage action of the Council of Europe from within. Jagland proposes that Russia be allowed to play the spoiler without having done a single thing to improve the situation of human rights in temporarily occupied Crimea and Donbas. In fact, he wants to turn a blind eye to the worsening of abuses and violations being committed by Russia there.
The decision the delegates to PACE made in 2014, after Russia invaded Ukraine, was a sound one. They have confirmed it – wisely – in subsequent votes over the past three and three-quarter years. If Russia left the Council of Europe it would strengthen the defence of human rights, especially for those Europeans for whom it is most gravely abused and violated: Europeans in Russia-occupied Crimean and Donbas. Thorbjørn Jagland’s campaign to appease Russia is reckless, dangerous, and will harm if not destroy the core mission of the Council of Europe, which is the defence of human rights.