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PACE gives Russia one more chance

By Mzia Kupunia
Friday, October 2
Russia retained its credentials at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on Thursday, as 88 of 133 deputies voted against depriving the Russian delegation of its vote. The initiative to hold discussions on the issue was raised by 72 members of the Assembly, citing Russia’s failure to meet its obligations under previous PACE resolutions.

PACE instead adopted a special resolution which calls on Russia to fulfill the obligations listed in the previous resolutions of the Assembly related to the Georgian-Russian war and its consequences. “The Assembly, notwithstanding the lack of compliance by Russia with most of its demands, decides to confirm the ratification of the credentials of the Russian delegation, on the understanding that this will enable the Russian authorities to engage in a meaningful and constructive dialogue with a view to addressing all the issues mentioned in the Assembly resolutions on the consequences of the war between Georgia and Russia.”

Georgia has said that there is “no sense” in giving Russia one more chance and that PACE will have to use sanctions against Russia eventually. “Giving Russia more time to fulfill its commitments will not produce any results,” MP from the ruling party and the member of the Georgian delegation to PACE Goka Gabashvili said. “January 2010 will come and PACE will see that nothing has changed,” he added. Another member of the Georgian delegation, opposition MP Paata Davitaia, said that dialogue with Russia will “bring no results.” “The fact that the Russian delegation did not attend the Session confirms this. They showed their attitude to PACE by this move. In January PACE itself will decide to suspend Russia’s voting rights,” Davitaia stated.

The Russian side has expressed its contentment with “Georgia’s failure in its initiative.” “The main thing is that in this resolution there are no threats for the future, although the Georgians are continuing to threaten and are saying that they will be raising this issue at every PACE session. But in terms of procedure, they can do this. It is necessary to gather only 20 signatures, which is quite easy when about 600 people are eligible to sign,” Konstantin Kosachev, the head of the Russian delegation to PACE said on Thursday. Kosachev added that if the Georgian delegation went “this way”, this would cause the “irritation” of many PACE deputies.

If Europe does not take active steps to force Russia to meet its commitments this may lead to a new and more large-scale conflict, Georgian analysts suggest. Political commentator Ramaz Sakvarelidze has said that it was “expected” that Europe would take a “moderate” stance towards Russia and not take any “acute” steps. Sakvarelidze said that the PACE resolution adopted on Thursday should not be viewed in isolation from the Tagliavini Commission report, which was issued on Wednesday.

“The report suggests that for many years Europe did not pay due attention to the tensions in Georgia’s breakaway regions and that this eventually led to the military conflict between Russia and Georgia,” Sakvarelidze told The Messenger. “This report should make Europe think about its mistakes. If this does not happen, and PACE does not take appropriate sanctions against Russia in January, it might lead to a new military conflict,” the analyst stated. He expressed hope however that by January 2010 Europe will be ready to take real steps to make Russia fulfill its commitments.