Monitoring Committee – Parliamentary Assembly – Council of Europe – Paris
We are meeting under very exceptional circumstances today. As I have said many times recently, Europe is facing its most important challenge since the end of the Cold War.
Please allow me to repeat that the Council of Europe is founded on a solid basis of values and principles. Protecting and defending them is our political, as well as our moral duty and responsibility.
I must stress once again that I unreservedly condemn the illegal actions of the Russian Federation in Crimea and all her military actions on the Ukrainian territory, not foreseen by pre-existing Treaties.
Now, we must carefully find the best way to achieve our goal: the preservation of the independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine, as well as the preservation of peace and stability in Europe.
As the co-rapporteurs underline, Ukraine needs a constitutional reform with a view to establishing a better balance between the President and the legislative power and to bringing the state fully in line with European standards. Moreover, I believe that such a reform should be based on broad public consultations and a consensus as wide as possible in society. This is why the Ukrainian authorities should consult civil society, political actors, other stakeholders and constitutional law experts.
There is an opportunity for constitutional and electoral reforms and President Poroshenko has to give it an impetus.
In order to help Ukraine to turn into a modern European state, the internal political players should immediately consider and define what kind of political system should serve this goal.
The first option seems to be the establishing of a federation, with seven states, each one with its own parliament.
The second option would perhaps be for Ukraine to remain a unitary state, but diffusing more power to the regions. I personally believe this to the best one. The country’s integrity could be secured by the guaranteed protection of all national and linguistic minorities. This could be done through the existence of powerful local authorities that will have the right to decide on every issue related to their everyday life. In other words, if the regional players become key players, everybody would feel an integral part of the state.
In any case, we have to protect the country’s territorial integrity, according to our common European values. At the same time, we have to be realistic. Our next goal is to persuade Russia to compromise with this plan. This is why we need to maintain an open dialogue with the Russian Federation. We must try to convince Russia of the necessity to honour the commitments it has freely undertaken, particularly those it undertook when it joined the Council of Europe.
Besides, it is high time for a solution to be found. Ukraine is a country in the heart of Europe and any tension is an immediate threat to our continent’s security. Furthermore, I believe that the Middle East crisis and the atrocities by the ISIS should be our next top priority. The situation in Syria, Iraq and Gaza, as well, calls for urgent action. We have to spare no effort towards this direction.