History is for historians – Thorbjørn Jagland

Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjørn Jagland believes officials cannot make political decisions on historic events. “We should look into the future,” he believes.

That was the secretary general’s comment on Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich’s decision not to regard the Holodomor famine of the 1930s as genocide against Ukrainian people.

Commenting on the Council of Europe’s decision not to vote for a resolution on the consequences of the war in South Ossetia in August, 2008, because of the two opposing reports presented, Jagland said that he tries to get his organization out of the practice of breeding countless reports and instead focusing on human rights and humanitarian operations in the affected areas.

Thorbjørn Jagland welcomed the Prague agreement to cut the nuclear arsenals of Russia and the US and expressed hope that other nuclear powers will follow on. Jagland thinks the upcoming New York nuclear conference will be a starting point for that.

Secretary General Jagland said fascism cannot return to Europe and the Nazi marches in the Baltic States resulted in the poor economic situation there. After all, “that is why we have the Council of Europe – to keep an eye on this.”

Russia has recently ratified Protocol 14 that simplifies the procedure of bringing cases to the European Court. Thorbjørn Jagland is totally convinced that “Moscow has decided that Russia belongs to Europe and the Russian population wants to be a part of Europe.”

“There are human rights problems that are specific for Russia,” acknowledged Jagland, but added that “there are human rights problems in all countries.”

As for Russia and Norway solving the 40-year-long border dispute in the Barents Sea, the secretary general said it was an expected surprise, because the bilateral relations and overall political climate have been improving over the last years.

“Both countries have a need for settling this dispute because of the exploitation of gas and other resources in the Barents Sea,” he said.

Untapped vast resources in the Arctic are not the root of a conflict, but can be resolved in a peaceful manner, said Thorbjørn Jagland, adding that exploration could be done in a cooperative manner.

He shared his dream of a United Europe with single law and living standards for all people of the continent protected by these rules.

According to Thorbjørn Jagland, Russia is too big a country not to be important for Europe – and whatever happens in Russia affects the entire continent.