PACE President satisfied with ‘current positive climate’ in relations with Russia

Strasbourg, 02.07.2010 – The President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Mevlüt Çavusoglu, has expressed his satisfaction at the current positive climate in relations between PACE and Russia.  

Speaking in a press conference at the end of a two-day visit to Moscow (1-2 July 2010), the President said: “There remain questions on which our opinions differ, and there are demands which Russia has to fulfill, but if we work as partners, with mutual respect and without double standards, I am sure that progress can be achieved even on these difficult issues.” 

The President said the Assembly’s resolution on the situation in the North Caucasus, adopted during the June part-session of the Assembly, was a very good example of such partnership: “It was adopted with the full support of the Russian delegation, and with the participation in our debate of the President of Ingushetia, Mr Yevkurov. In this resolution, the Assembly strongly condemned terrorism and appreciated the reconstruction efforts, but at the same time called on Russia to put an end to the climate of fear and impunity and fight terrorism in line with human rights.” 

Mr Çavusoglu also said he had urged his interlocutors to fulfill the requests made in Assembly resolutions concerning the conflict between Georgia and Russia. “Given that political talks are taking place on Geneva, I am of the opinion that we must concentrate on humanitarian issues to improve the life of ordinary citizens, in particular as regards access and the presence of international monitors and organisations, the return of IDPs and the investigation of human rights violations.” 

The Assembly’s co-rapporteurs on the monitoring of the obligations and commitments of Russia, who are due to visit the country next week (5-9 July 2010), will take stock of the progress, or the lack of it, on the main demands made in the Assembly’s last monitoring report adopted in 2005, Mr Çavusoglu said. These include, in particular, the implementation of judicial reform, the enhancement of political plurality and the guarantees of the rights of the opposition. Recent legislative changes, including improved access for political parties to the state media, seem to be “a step in the right direction”, the President said. 

Addressing concerns about the re-writing of history, in particular as regards the assessment of the Second World War, the PACE President said that interpretation of history should be left to historians and should not be used to attack other countries or nations, or justify inhuman and racist ideologies: “I expect politicians to be more responsible and look towards the future,” he said. 

Finally, the President welcomed the willingness of Russia to contribute to reforms within the Council of Europe, including the European Court of Human Rights: “We must work together to create a common legal space from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, with the EU as a member of the European Convention on Human Rights.” The ratification by Russia of Protocol No. 14 to the Convention was a very important step, he added, pointing out that he had thanked both Houses of Parliament for voting in favour of this ratification at the beginning of this year.   

During his visit, the President held meetings with the Speakers of both Houses of Parliament, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the heads of the political groups in the State Duma, as well as with representatives of NGOs and with Russian young politicians.