PACE’s file to be closed?24.05.2010 | 10:16
After a decisive PACE session that for the first time since 2008 yielded no anti-Russian resolution David Wilshire, a British deputy, suggested negotiating the file closure and the start of ad-hoc monitoring over Russia and Georgia, as reported by Leonid Slutsky, deputy head of Russian delegation to PACE.
Georgian media consider Wilshire's initiative as undermining the organization from the inside calling the rapporteur a Russian agent. They believe that the package of proposals made by the Britisher is pro-Russian in the essence: "Given that Russia has failed to comply with all commitments assigned by the European community hitherto, closure of the Russian-Georgian file is a provocative act meant to gradually withdraw the document from discussions in the Council of Europe which is what Russia is aiming at".
There are articles in Tbilisi that David Wilshire has already discredited himself and that his position was condemned in the PACE. Allegedly, it was the reason why his report was not considered after the Georgian delegation's demarche and why they so actively objected to the document examination. "There is a risk that instead of closing the Russian-Georgian file Strasbourg might revoke powers of the most tendentious author of this idea", - the Club of Experts warns.
GeorgiaTimes tried to clarify the situation with Wilshire's status in Slutsky's press service. As confirmed there, incredulity was really expressed to the Brit - but before the reports were discussed.
"Indeed Wilshire faced incredulity. However it did not affect the decision of the monitoring committee that preserved his status as a valid rapporteur. He will maintain this status until June session. Wilshire was condemned for going to the meeting in South Ossetia's embassy to Moscow. In the end the Georgian side expressed incredulity. All that happened in April", - Diana Rudakova, Slutsky's press secretary explained. Earlier Georgian media reported with reference to Petre Tsiskarishvili, a parliamentarian, that the Georgian delegation had blocked consideration of Wilshire's report. "The report was supposed to present Georgia's and Russia's compliance with the obligations to the Council of Europe, but in view of violation of international law on the part of Wilshire we challenged impartiality of the report which was blocked with consent of our colleagues", - the head of the Georgian delegation stated.
Eventually Wilshire's version was presented at the session the same way as Mátyás Eörsi's document was. Though it was a discussion, not a report, Diana Rudakova explained. "Mátyás Eörsi, now leaving the assembly, presented a radical report in line with previous resolutions. Wilshire said it was pointless to write a resolution that would be a priori unfeasible to one of the sides. Since the rapporteurs did not reach consensus, the reports were substituted by a relevant debate - for the first time in history. Heidi Tagliavini, head of the EU mission investigating into the events in South Ossetia, was also given floor. But the debates took place because of the split over the issue, not because the reports were blocked by the Georgian delegation. The way Georgia presents it sounds a bit too exaggerated", - the Russian parliamentarian's press secretary said.
In June the Monitoring Committee will elect the co-rapporteur on Russian-Georgian conflict that will replace Mátyás Eörsi whose powers are expiring. PACE plans to adopt a new resolution at the time of autumn session. Slutsky hopes the Assembly will approve Wilshire's proposals to close the file. "The Russian delegation will continue activities in Strasbourg "in order to make their position plain", now with "more and more supporters" , the deputy remarks.
Changes in PACE's stance on Russia have long been taking shape, Vladimir Zakharov, deputy director of Center for Caucasian Studies at the Moscow State Institute for International Relations believes. Though he refrains from forecasting the consequences of Wilshire's proposals.
- To close the file, the South Ossetian case? Georgia does not accept the results they have heard. They thought Russia would be condemned but it wasn't. PACE too, is cunning here. Tagliavini's report is not so simple either though it dots all the Is stipulating that Georgia launched the attack, not Russia. So let's wait what will happen. It all depends on the voting. On one hand things look clear: Georgia was an aggressive side, and it's not clear what it wants to prove. That they were beaten, that they are the aggrieved side? The aggressor must always be duly rebuffed.
- Do you agree that PACE's attitude toward Russia is changing?
-Yes, I do. You see when Russia produced evidence - videos, other materials that prove that Georgia was the attacking side, it became clear to PACE that there is no point in defending Saakashvili. Why should they? For some mythical talks on freedom of conscience?
- For Nabucco gas pipeline, for instance.
-If Nabucco goes across Armenia, not Georgia, what will that change? The situation in Georgia is not stable now. Who knows where Saakashvili is? He turns up in Tbilisi to disappear again. He is afraid since he realizes all things are possible.