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Azerbaijan PACE debate and the consequences for Ukraine

January 25, 2013

No this blog is not going to change theme and become a Council of Europe/PACE watchers commentary, despite the entries of the past few days.  However with Ukraine holding the Chair of OSCE for 2013, I will obviously be commenting a little more on the occurrences of an international organisation that often seemingly runs in parallel to that currently chaired by Ukraine.

Thus, following along the recent entries relating to the Council of Europe/PACE and Ukraine, 2 days ago in what may have had significant implications for the Ukrainian opposition, civil society and media, PACE debated the situation in Azerbaijan (a situation decidedly worse than currently exists in Ukraine for opposition politicians, NGOs and media alike).

In short there were 2 reports being considered by PACE in relation to Azerbaijan.  The first (Doc 13084) to continue with the status quo of “monitoring” the situation and stress the requirements and obligations to the Council of Europe by Azerbaijan.  This was adopted (196 votes in favour, 13 against and 16 abstentions) and effectively continued the existing arrangements and dialogue without rocking the boat.

The second (Doc 13079 – No official link to unadopted text was found at the time of writing) which in summary related to actually doing something about State pressure and political prisoners within Azerbaijan.  This report was not adopted (70 votes in favour, against 125, abstentions 20) – despite I would add, some vigorous supportive lobbying by some of the Ukrainian opposition party members that are included in the Ukrainian PACE delegation.

MPs Oleksandr Shevchenko (Svoboda) and Pavlo Riabikin (UDAR) voted for the resolution. Batkivshchyna MP Volodymyr Ariev abstained, while other BYuT MPs, Serhiy Sobolev and Lesia Orobets, did not participate in the vote. Representatives of the Party of Regions and the Communist Party voted against the document.

It would be kindly of me to think that the Ukrainian opposition members within the Ukrainian PACE delegation felt they were acting purely in support of others they feel are politically repressed (if not more so) than they feel – and thus there was no ulterior motive for their support and very active lobbying  – but I know personally Ukrainian politicians from most parties including from within the opposition ranks, and thus I am not that generous of thought with regards to their motivation for anything they do regardless of their political affiliations.  Likewise it would kindly of me to think Mr Sobolev simply was unavoidably absent rather than thinking of his personal future prospects with Ms Tymoshenko remaining in jail.  Had the opposition won that last parliamentary elections, it is widely rumoured he would have been Prime Minister.

One can only presume that the opposition members of the Ukrainian delegation that sought to get the second report adopted less so for those affected in Azerbaijan, but in order to set a precedent there, that could then be argued for with regards to other nations and thus be rolled out – those nations including Ukraine – naturally – and ergo serving the interests of the opposition.

The reasons for those amongst the opposition that failed to vote in favour of this report seem only to have personal gain as a motive.

Those that tried to get the report adopted were quite right to try and seize the opportunity presented to them, but fell a very long way short of getting the report adopted.

Thus if PACE will not move on Azerbaijan when deliberating the adoption of reports over issues such as political prisoners, there is not much hope that it will do so in any meaningful way when it comes to Ukraine – other than “monitoring” – as in Azerbaijan.  A situation not helped by the leading opposition figures amongst the Ukrainian delegation!

One suspects that numerous sovereign national interests (and some personal ones) trumped values once again – for the time being at least.

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