Kox: Tensions between Russia and Europe must be reduced

23 April 2016

Kox: Tensions between Russia and Europe must be reduced

Foto: SP

It is unintelligent and dangerous to continue to exclude Russia from international political fora, as has been the case in recent years. Russia is not only the country with the world’s biggest landmass, but also the most important neighbour of many of the rest of the world’s biggest hitters, bordering as it does on Europe, China, Japan and the United States and lying close to India and the Middle East. If relations between Russia and its neighbours are good, the whole world benefits. That’s why both Russia and Europe should be making more efforts to improve their mutual relations. The world can no longer allow the present tensions to persist. So said SP Senator Tiny Kox, chair of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) United Left Group, during a visit to Moscow.

This weekend Senator Kox is a guest at the conference of ‘Just Russia’, the Socialist International-affiliated (social democratic) third party in the Duma, Russia’s parliament. He used the opportunity to call on both sides to work towards the easing of international tensions. This is Kox’s second visit in a short space of time, as two weeks ago he was in Moscow for informal talks with the Duma’s president and with the four parties represented in it. He also held discussions with the chair of the Central Electoral Council, charged with ensuring that the approaching elections go somewhat better than those held in 2011, which were a long way from qualifying as ‘free and fair’. On that occasion Senator Kox headed the Council of Europe’s international team of observers. He was especially critical of the biased role of the man who at the time chaired the Electoral Council, and who now sits behind bars.

Kox, in his role as chair of the United Left Group in PACE, is exploring the chances of improving relations between Russia and the Council of Europe, which he has been asked to do by his four fellow group presidents in PACE, the parliamentary arm of the biggest of Europe’s treaty-based organisations. Relations have been seriously disrupted as a result of recent events in Ukraine. Following the annexation of the Crimea by Russia, PACE removed the Russian delegation’s voting rights, to which the Russians responded by withdrawing from the Assembly completely. After the parliamentary elections in September, space could possibly be opened up for the improvement of relations and the return of the Russians to PACE. 'The atmosphere is better,’ says Kox, ‘but hard work still needs to be done if we are to find a solution.’

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