The guest of the program 'Tribune', the Senator of the Republic of Chuvashia, the chairman of the Federation Council Committee on International Affairs, Konstantin Kosachev, has discussed the international agenda with Vladimir Nesterov.
- Today, we are summing up the results of the spring session of the Upper House of Parliament. What topics would you distinguish in the work of your Committee as the most important, most sensitive?
- The agenda of our committee is no different from the all-Russian agenda in international affairs. This, above all, is the promotion of the integration process with the participation of Russia and neighboring countries. It's well-known that the CIS project raises many questions, sometimes a lot of criticism. I will not say that it has exhausted itself, it will exist as long as it is necessary for the member-states of the association. But life goes on, new formats are created, and the obvious format is the Eurasian Economic Union that has started working this year. One of the latest solutions of our Committee and the plenary session of the Federation Council was the ratification of a package of agreements on the accession to the Union of Kyrgyzstan, the fifth member.
The Union State of Russia and Belarus, the Collective Security Treaty Organization – all of these formats are alive, they are developing, but at different speeds, with different perspectives, with different objectives. In my opinion, this is good, not bad news, that there is a multi-variant, for post-Soviet countries it is possible to select each of them. These formats must be even larger, and they should not compete with each other, each of them is self-contained, each has a right to exist in the future.
- And what about the integration formats with the non-CIS countries?
- This year Russia chairs the SCO and the BRICS, although they are fundamentally different in their legal status and tasks. Two separate sub-committees operate as part of our committee, on the Eurasian Economic Co-operation and interaction with the BRICS countries. There will be a third subcommittee on cooperation in the SCO framework. This organization will grow significantly because of the accepting of new members – India, Pakistan, hopefully, Iran – and the interest in participating in this association is wider and deeper, so there is an agenda for the months and years ahead.
We are also actively engaged in issues of so-called parliamentary diplomacy. Now it is limited by objective, external circumstances. Russia is not now working in the format of the EU-Russia Parliamentary Cooperation Committee. This area of our cooperation with the European Parliament has collapsed due to the fault of our fellow parliamentarians, although they did not come under the sanctions announced by the European Union and supported by the European Parliament.
We have no active work at the site of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, even before we stopped our activity at the site of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.
It seemed that the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly would be a promising and popular playground. We are very seriously preparing for the Helsinki session in early July, but Finland faltered, gave way to pressure from the European Union. This is a completely unprecedented situation where one organization, not even pan-European and sub-regional organizations in Europe, I mean the European Union, in such a shameless way interfered in the activities of another European, pan-European organization, the OSCE. By its sanctions policy in relation to the Speaker of the State Duma and a number of fellow deputies, it made it impossible for our delegation to participate in the next session of the Parliamentary Assembly.
This session was supposed to be private, it was dedicated to the 40th anniversary of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe and the safe development of the prospects of the European process safety in the sphere of economic cooperation, in the sphere of humanitarian projects, in the upcoming years and decades. The Russian delegation did not take part in the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, and the very next day in Helsinki there was a session in the format of high representatives of the OSCE participating states, where our office was a technical, not a political one. This prevented any meeting whatsoever for substantive discussion, deep, meaningful solutions for the future.
On the eve of the session in Helsinki we arranged a special hearing on issues of European cooperation, we worked out a lot of interesting ideas and suggestions that we planned through our colleagues – members of the Federation Council, deputies of the State Duma – to voice in Helsinki, but we were not given an opportunity. Let's leave it to the conscience of the Finnish organizers, and most importantly, on the conscience of those who started all this fuss with the anti-Russian sanctions, including its parliamentary component, in my opinion, the most illogical of all.
All the sanctions, in my opinion, are neither logical nor justified, but the parliamentary component is the most meaningless. Punishing parliamentarians because they express the will of their voters, honestly, they are doing their work in a strange way. There is no doubt that the decisions that were taken by the State Duma and the Federation Council in the context of the Crimean situation or in the broader context of the Ukrainian crisis, and other matters these decisions were in accordance with the expressed will of the voters, and this is evident. And if Sergey Naryshkin and other colleagues would vote in some other way, they would directly violate the mandate which was received from the voters. And for them to criticize or punish, in my opinion, this violation of the fundamental principles of democracy and parliamentarism.
- It is hard to imagine that at the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, a major pan-European organization, as you said, you can discuss issues without the participation of Russia. The meaning of the Organization itself is under question.
- Let's remember how it was created. The Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe appeared at the height of the ‘cold war’ in 1975, when there were so many complaints about the Soviet Union and the countries of so-called Eastern bloc (both about foreign policy and about domestic policy, and about human rights) at times more than now in relation to Russia.
I do not believe these claims are appropriate, but let's compare 1975 and 2015, in terms of the passions. Then they gathered and agreed that, despite the differences, it was better to start talking about what united us and they moved forward. Therefore, the meeting turned out to grow later into quite an effective organization, the OSCE. So that the current order of the West, which thus violates the logic of the OSCE, it is good to remember how the organization began and why it was wealthy. It would be great to do the same now.
To be continued