Zagreb, mardi, 25 octobre 2022
Dear Speaker Jandroković,
Dear Speaker Stefanchuk,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I wish to express my gratitude to the organisers of this gathering for inviting the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to participate in the International Crimea Platform. National parliamentarians of 46 European states participate in our activities.
Two weeks ago, when President Zelensky addressed our Parliamentary Assembly, I offered him our sincere condolences to the families and friends and compatriots of all those who have been killed, wounded or forced to leave their home, often even their country due to the horrible violence of the Russian military, which so brutally violates Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity. Every day this war lasts, lives are destroyed, crimes are committed. Everyday, also today!
Eight years ago, our Assembly condemned the illegal annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation as a blatant violation of international law. Crimea should therefore be returned to Ukraine, the Russian Federation had to come back within the framework of the international law and had to ensure that it would fully comply with its obligations under the Statute of the Council of Europe and the European Convention on Human Rights, which it had both ratified in 1996, when it became a member of the Council of Europe.
However, instead of returning Crimea to Ukraine, in line with international law, Russia annexed other parts of Ukraine, after starting its war of aggression on 24 February this year. Together with the Chair of the Committee of Ministers and the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, I condemned both the war of aggression and these annexations as new blatant violations of international law. The war is a unilateral attack on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, the annexation of the regions of Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson as a follow up of this illegal war must all be considered null and void and with no legal or political effects.
I particularly regret the role played in this war and these annexations by the Russian Parliament, former participant in the activities of our Assembly. State Duma and Federation Council have given full support to the aggression and validated these recent illegal annexations, after they acted in a similar way in 2014. Together with the Russian President and the Russian Government, Russian Parliament bears therefore all responsibilities for the consequences of this illegal war and annexations. There should be no impunity, neither for the President and Government, nor for the Parliament. Therefore, our Assembly supports creation of a system of international justice, including a special ad hoc tribunal to deal with the crime of aggression.
When the Russian military crossed Ukraine's borders this February, it also crossed the red lines of the Council of Europe. Better prepared than in the past, both statutory bodies of Europe's oldest and broadest multilateral cooperation, suspended Russia's membership within 3 days and expelled its biggest member state within 3 weeks. A sad but necessary decision, taken immediately, decisively and in full unanimity.
I consider this decision as an inspiring and instrumental step in creating and until now maintaining a broad, united, multilateral front in Europe against the unilateral breach of international law by the Russian Federation.
Our Assembly recently adopted a resolution on further escalation in Russia's aggression against Ukraine, in which inter alia we wholeheartedly welcomed the United Nations General Assembly's decision on territorial integrity of Ukraine. This important decision recalls the obligation, of all UN member States, under Article 2 of the United Nations Charter, to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity of any State, and declares that subsequent illegal annexation have no validity under international law.
Our decision to expel the Russian Federation from the Europe's oldest and broadest organization, founded to protect and promote peace on our continent, was an important one, however, it did not stop the ongoing war - as other reactions against Russia's brutal attack on multilateral agreements to protect peace in the world did not yet make the current terrorist regime of the Russian Federation to halt its brutal destruction, its indiscriminate shelling of cities and vital infrastructure and its crimes against millions of Ukrainians. More needs to be done - something to be discussed today here in Zagreb, as well as in the days, weeks and months to come in all international forums, which all seek to end the war, restore the peace and take care that justice will be done, sooner or later. I am following these debates with great interest and I hope they will bear fruit.
Our organization, both the Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, have committed themselves to do our utmost in helping our member state Ukraine to make this happen, in close cooperation with the government, Parliament and people of Ukraine.
Looking forward to meeting you soon, at home in Ukraine!
Thank you for your attention.