Russia’s return to PACE has not promoted improvement in conflict in Ukraine – foreign minister’s report
RIGA – Restoration of Russia’s voting rights at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has not promoted progress in solutions to the conflict in Ukraine, said Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics in his annual report.
In the section on geopolitical situation, the minister said that restoration of Russia’s voting rights at PACE damaged the authority of the Council of Europe and contradicted its values and principles. It has not improved the situation with human rights in Russia or promoted progress in the solutions to the conflict in Ukraine or implementation of the Minsk agreement.
“Russia continues attempts to change international relations, without avoiding confrontations with the West and strengthening its cooperation with authoritarian regimes across the world. Russia’s foreign policy and its interpretation of Europe’s history arise additional concerns about the growing risks to international norms and political order,” the report says.
The minister noted that the EU-Russia relations can be characterized with lack of mutual trust and dynamics. The EU in relations to Russia holds to the five basic principles and two-road policy adopted by the Foreign Council that provide for a diplomatic dialogue, but at the same time, restrictive measures.
The report underscores that Latvia insists that the sanctions should be continued and only full implementation of the Minsk agreement may serve as the basis of lifting the sanctions. Latvia insists on non-recognition of the annexation of Crimea. Also, Latvia condemns elections held in Crimea and Sevastopol, finding them illegitimate. In the same way, the presidential elections in Georgia’s Abkhazia region are illegitimate.
“Latvia repeatedly confirms its support to territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia and Ukraine within the set internationally recognized borders,” the report said.
The report noted that Latvia is cooperating with Russia in areas that are not subjected to sanctions, such as transport, logistics, transborder cooperation, fight against organized crime, illegal migration, cooperation among universities and others.
“At the same time, we consider support to Russia’s civic society important. Latvia believes that Russia’s turning against NGOs and organizations defending human rights, as well as journalists, may not be left unnoticed,” the report says. Russia should stop ungrounded violence against innocent people and release the detained persons.
Latvia also is concerned about implementation of Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project that will increase energy dependence on one supplier. The US, pointing at the necessity to protect Europe’s energy integrity, has imposed sanctions on those companies that are engaged in building of Nord Stream 2 pipeline.