ROAR: Cavusoglu helps to “reset” Russian-PACE relations

Russian politicians and analysts appreciate “impartial approach” of the president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (CoE).

The relations between Russia and the CoE are developing in a positive direction, Cavusoglu and Russian officials stressed during his visit to Moscow on July1-2.

Under Cavusoglu’s presidency, the problems are being discussed without using “double standards,” State Duma chairman Boris Gryzlov said. The PACE president, in his turn, praised the work of Russian parliamentarians at PACE for forming a “positive atmosphere.”

At the same time, many PACE members and Russian deputies still see the problems differently. Gryzlov suggested, for instance, working out the road map for the cancellation of the PACE monitoring of Russia.

Speaking at a news conference after the talks with Russian officials, Cavusoglu said Mevlut indicated that PACE may stop monitoring of Russia.

But the PACE Monitoring Committee is continuing to assess the August 2008 events in the North Caucasus. According to Cavusoglu, there is no unanimity among the PACE deputies on the role of Russia and Georgia in those events.

Nevertheless, Russian media note that relations with the PACE have become better since Mevlut Cavusoglu became the president. “The head of PACE has improved the tone of discussions on Russia,” Vremya Novostey daily said. The paper described him as a chairman who “avoids conflicts.”

During his meetings with speakers of both chambers of the Russian parliament, the guest stressed that Russia is the biggest country of the Council of Europe, and “it is able to contribute to forming European values and reforming the PACE,” the paper quoted him as saying.

“Russian delegates unanimously voted for Cavusoglu on January 25,” the paper said. He is the first Turk elected as the president of this organization over its 61-year history, it added. He is considered a politician who has always demonstrated a balanced approach to problems, including ones regarding Russia,” the daily said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that since Cavusoglu’s arrival, PACE has removed “the atmosphere of excessive politics.” Russia values PACE’s line on building a “conflict-free and constructive dialogue to remove old dividing lines in Europe and not to draw new ones,” he said.

The Russian delegation recently for the first time voted for the PACE’s resolution on human rights in the North Caucasus.

However, the presence at the same PACE summer session of Chechen militant envoy Akhmed Zakayev in June irritated Moscow. During his visit, Cavusoglu said none of the PACE political groups, committees, or bureaus had invited Zakayev. The Russian authorities had accepted the explanation with understanding, he noted.

History was one of the topics discussed in Moscow. “It is extremely important not to distort history and the historical truth, especially the history of World War II, whose outcome led to the formation of the Council of Europe,” the Russian foreign minister was quoted by Interfax as saying.

Sergey Mironov, speaker of the Federation Council, the upper house of the Russian parliament, drew Cavusoglu’s attention to the case of Latvian citizen and the WWII veteran Vasily Kononov. PACE should formulate its stance in this case, Mironov said.

Mironov agrees that the PACE has changed the tone when discussing problems concerning Russia. He also linked this positive change to the Cavusoglu’s presidency. The Russian politician described the latest report on the human rights situation in the North Caucasus as “balanced” and highlighted the invitation of Ingush president Yunus-Bek Yevkurov to the discussion.

Moscow’s support for the resolution in the situation with human rights in North Caucasus was based on “a political decision” to start resetting relations with the PACE, believes political analyst Ivan Preobrazhensky.

“It is enough to recall the decision of the Kremlin at the beginning of 2010 to ratify without any explanations Protocol 14 to the European Convention on Human Rights,” the analyst told Rosbalt news agency. Thus, Russia “has unblocked” the reform of this institution, he added.

Now the time for the reset with PACE has come, Preobrazhensky noted. “It is not something unusual,” he said. “Russia is simply continuing the policy toward PACE and the Council of Europe than began earlier this year,” he said.

Sergey Borisov,
Russian Opinion and Analysis Review, RT