Interview with Rene van der Linden

In an interview to RT, Rene van der Linden, the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, gave his comments concerning the Middle East peace process and Russia’s role in the region.

Russia Today: Your presence shows the commitment of the Council of Europe to the peace process. But in real terms, what can the organisation do and what does it bring that other organisations don’t?

Rene van der Linden: We are extremely active in the inter-religious and intercultural dialogue. We consider the opinions of the religious leaders, we are very close to the grassroots, to the citizens, to the believers. That’s an important contribution to the positive development. 

RT: Russia is already playing a big role in the Middle East peace process. How can Russia and the Council of Europe work together, both in the region and on the international stage?

R.L.: In the first place, Russia has to play its role in the Quartet – and it already does. It has contributed a lot, and this is a positive approach. In the second place, Russian members of Parliament should also play their part. I mean Russia’s role as the Chairman of the Middle East Committee in the Parliamentary Assembly in the Council of Europe. In the third place, I believe there should be no rivalry between the Quartet members. Russia has to get this important role in the peace process and it should not be left  to the United States and Europe. 

RT: You have spoken out against what is happening in Estonia. How can united Europe accept a member of the European Union where half the population does not have European citizenship, and where there’s an attempt to rewrite history? That’s what we saw with the removal of the monument to the Soviet soldier. 

R.L.: I’m quite strongly involved in this case. I regret very much it happened in this way as this demonstrates disrespect of Russia’s role in World War II. I’m sure there is finally a solution suitable for both parts. I’ll visit the Baltic States in the second part of September. No doubt this case will be part of my discussions with these countries. And I will also give attention to the position of Russian minorities.