SP Senator Kox in Moscow: Stop sanctions and talk!

28 April 2015

SP Senator Kox in Moscow: Stop sanctions and talk!

Foto: SP

After a year of pointless sanctions, Russia and the rest of Europe’s countries need to return to the negotiating table. This is the only way in which the tensions afflicting the continent can be eased and the chance of a greater crisis countered. So said SP Senator Tiny Kox this week in Moscow, during a visit in his role as chair of the United Left in the Council of Europe. Kox was in Russia’s capital for an international conference hosted by the social democratic party Just Russia.

Kox wants to see the Russian parliament return to normal participation in the work of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in Strasbourg. The Russians have suspended their activities there in response to the approval by a majority of the representatives, MPs from forty-six other Council of Europe member states, of the removal of their voting rights. This was in turn a response to the annexation by Russia of the Crimea in the spring of 2014. Kox explained to the public in Moscow that the annexation represented a transgression of international law, whatever excuses President Putin and others there could dream up. Yet it made little sense to punish this by freezing parliamentary diplomacy between Russia and the rest of Europe. ‘Certainly in times of crisis we parliamentarians can’t afford to stay silent. The events in Ukraine, where democracy, the rule of law, and human rights are all under severe pressure, demand that we talk to each other. That goes too for the tragedy unfolding in the Mediterranean, the wars in the Middle East and North Africa, the many frozen conflicts in Europe, and the social crisis, the energy crisis and the climate crisis which threaten us all.’

Senator Kox referred the conference participants to the numerous binding conventions which had been achieved by the Council of Europe: the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), the European Social Charter, and the conventions against corruption, money laundering, terrorism, trafficking in persons, and violence against women and children. 'In addition, the Council of Europe in numerous unspectacular but nonetheless effective fashions has contributed to finding ways to bring about a more just world.‘ After the end of the Cold War, Russia and the other countries of Eastern Europe all acceded to the Council of Europe. ‘At which point the organisation, founded in 1948, became truly European, representing all 800 million citizens.’

As Chair of the United Left group in the Council of Europe, Kox issued an urgent call to both the Russian Parliament and PACE to restore cooperation between the two bodies. He called on Russia and the European Union to lift all sanctions against each other, as they were achieving nothing. ‘Rather than confrontation we need dialogue in order to preserve peace. Seventy years after the end of the Second World War, we owe that to all of those who gave their lives for our freedom in the struggle against fascism.’ On 9th May the whole of Russia will commemorate the end of World War Two, a war in which millions of the country’s citizens lost their lives. According to the Senator the world owes a debt of gratitude to Russia for this enormous sacrifice. ‘But,’ he told Russian politicians and academics in a concluding workshop on “Lessons of the War”, ‘in the present crisis Russia must reflect on its own shortcomings. It’s not enough to point to the shortcomings of the European Union, NATO or the United States.'

In June PACE will evaluate the sanctions imposed on Russia.

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