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Welcome to the home page of the web site of the Unified European Left Group in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.  
 
Bienvenue sur la page d'acceuil du site web du groupe Gauche Unitaire Européenne à l'Assemblée Parlementaire du Conseil de l'Europe.
 

Mr. Tiny KOX (Netherlands) - Chair of the Group.

Tiny Kox (Pays- Bas) - Président du Groupe

 

Secretariat Ms Helena de Assis

Session 27/01-31/01/2014

 

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Contribution of TINY KOX, Chair UEL in PACE in the debate on the reconsideration on substantive grounds of the previously ratified credentials of the Russian Federation.

April 10, 2014

Speaking on behalf of all members of the Unified European Left Group, with the exception of its Russian members, I state that the annexation of Crimea, part of Ukraine, by the Russian Federation, is a clear reach of international law and a violation of territorial integrity of our member state Ukraine by our other member state Russia.

The opinion of our Venice Commission leaves no doubt. The vast majority of our member states condemn this illegal annexation and the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe has taken a clear decision on this breach of international law, as did the President of this Assembly. 

I call upon the Russian authorities and particular the Parliament of Russia, represented by its delegation in this Assembly, to leave the dead end street which it entered by illegally annexing Crimea. If and as long the Russian Federation refuses to do so, it isolates itself from the rest of the international community, which is at the detriment of the Russian Federation, Ukraine and the international community as such. My Group will use all its means to repeat this message to the authorities, the Parliamentarians and the citizens of the Russian Federation.

By this clear and unclaused statement this Assembly does what it should do: protect the rule of law and the human rights of all our citizens. 

Next question is: what should we do besides this clear and unclaused statement now?
I welcome the proposal of the Rapporteur to confirm the credentials of the Russian delegation. We need them in this platform to tell them that they are on the goal wrong track and that they should leave this track as soon as possible.

I respect the proposals of the Rapporteur to suspend until January 2015 the voting rights of the Russian delegation but my Group is not in favour. As long as Russia is a member state of the Council of Europe and the Russian government is fully and unclaused allowed to participate in the work of the Committee of Ministers and in all organs of the Council of Europe, is does not make much sense to deprive Russian parliamentarians from the right to vote in this Assembly and from the right to participate in the work of the Assembly's Bureau, its Standing Committee, its Presidential Committee and its election observation missions. The right to nominate Assembly members to these organs is, at least partly, reserved to the political groups of this Assembly. If we want the Russians to abide agreed rules, we ourselves should do the same.

The members of my Group will closely follow this debate and decide at the end which position we should take on the proposed Resolution.

 

MAJOR CONCERNS SURROUND UKRAINE

 

March 31, 2014 . After the February revolution in Kiev and the annexation of Crimea by Russia, the situation in Ukraine remains extremely unstable. The new government has little authority, the country continues to be divided and attempts by Russia, the United States and the European Union to increase their influence there are only making the problems worse. Support for a thoroughgoing democratic, economic and social reform of the almost bankrupt country ought to be the priority. That goes also for continuing to seek a diplomatic solution to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. If that doesn't happen, the consequences will be unforeseeable and perilous. These were the observations of Senator Tiny Kox, Chair of the Group of the Unified European Left in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, after a fact finding mission of PACEs Presidential Committee, from 21 - 25 March.

'After talks with the acting President, the Minister of Home Affairs, the new governors of Donetsk and L'viv, every political party and a wide range of social organisations, I have ascertained that there are enormous fears that things are going to get further out of hand,' warned Senator Kox. 'A lot of the people I spoke to are afraid of fresh Russian interventions. In the country's east there is very little confidence in the new government. And in the west, for example in L'viv, what I heard was incomprehension of what's happening in the east. Following the removal of President Yanukovych in February, a political vacuum exists in the east of Ukraine, where he had his power base. For this reason neighbouring Russia has a certain appeal, as wages and pensions are higher there and the government appears stronger.
'Also, mostly in east Ukraine there are fears of the direction the new government in Kiev is opting for, in which the extreme right is playing a significant role. There is a threat of enormous spending cuts, while so many people are already in poverty and lack any prospects of improvement. At the same time corruption is rife, the economy is in ruins, social relations are unjust and relations between the Russian and Ukrainian communities are here and there tense. In Kiev and the west there are demonstrations against Russian aggression, while in Donetsk, on the other hand, I heard demonstrators chanting 'Russia, Putin!'' 

Kox hopes that Ukraine will quickly receive all necessary support to restore the domestic order through free and fair Presidential elections in May and Parliamentary elections in the autumn. In addition a new constitution must be adopted, one which does justice to people's wish for more influence and decentralisation of power. Other priorities are the fight against rampant corruption and for an independent judiciary. 'The better Ukraine functions as a society, the more difficult it will become for the country to be used as a geopolitical football,' he says. 'But to make this clear in a country in which mega-rich oligarchs pull the strings everywhere and politicians put their personal interests before the public interest is unimaginably difficult, certainly if you take account of the fact that Ukraine has existed as an independent country for a mere twenty-three years and has to date never been properly unified.' 

What's needed is for the international community to condemn unequivocally the illegal annexation of the Crimea by Russia and take appropriate measures to call President Putin to order, Kox argues. 'It's extremely dangerous when powerful countries allow themselves to alter internationally recognised borders,' he says. 'If we permit that, it will be the thin end of the wedge.

At the same time the European Union and the United States should reconsider their attempts to take Ukraine into their economic or military sphere of influence, as Kox asserts. 'All the fuss about NATO membership must be dropped, just as the President now acknowledges. And the conclusion of an economic Association Agreement by the EU should also be looked at closely. Russia sees both matters as parts of an encirclement.'
Kox adds that 'it's good that everything is being done to reduce tensions and bring about an agreement. It's involved a deal of back and forth from a lot of people. When I arrived on Friday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon was in Kiev and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier was in Donetsk. During our visit we also met with representatives of the UN and of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe - the OSCE - of which both Russia and the US are members. The Council of Europe, in which all European countries, including Ukraine and Russia, are represented, can give expert assistance about the reform of the legal system and making democratic elections possible. Effective cooperation between international organisations can perhaps open spaces which are not yet available.'
At the beginning of April representative of the parliaments of the forty-seven Council of Europe member states will decide whether or not to hol dan urgent debate on the functioning of democratic institutions in Ukraine. Also on the agenda of the Assembly will be the question of what measures might be taken against the Russian Parliament in response to its support for the annexation of the Crimea. 'That's difficult to determine,' says Kox. 'Violating international law is not open to discussion. Excluding the Russian Parliament from participation in the Council of Europe's work offers, however, very few prospects, certainly when it comes to the necessary parliamentary diplomacy. These are difficult debates, that's for sure!'
 Article published in SP International http://international.sp.nl/bericht/118946/140325-kox_major_concerns_surround_ukraine.html