Save the Council of Europe

With the annex­a­tion of Crimea and the unde­clared war in Eastern Ukraine, the Russian lead­er­ship gravely vio­lates the prin­ci­ples of the Euro­pean peace order. In response, the Par­lia­men­tary Assem­bly of the Council of Europe sus­pended the voting rights of the Russian del­e­ga­tion. This is a ques­tion of self-esteem of an organ­i­sa­tion that is respon­si­ble for observ­ing human rights, the refraine from the use of force and the equal sou­ver­eignty of Euro­pean states. Now together with its allies, the Kremlin tries to achieve a lift of sanc­tions without chang­ing its policy. For the Council of Europe, this would mean giving up its nor­ma­tive basis. An open letter of public figures from all over Europe oposes such a step.

Open Letter

We, the under­signed, are strongly con­cerned about the pos­si­ble demise of the Council of Europe (CoE), which can take place very soon.

In response to Russia’s illegal annex­a­tion of the Crimea and mil­i­tary aggres­sion in Eastern Ukraine the Council of Europe sus­pended the voting rights of the Russian del­e­ga­tion. In its turn, Russia has turned to black­mail, having sus­pended mem­ber­ship fees to the Council of Europe and boy­cotting par­tic­i­pa­tion in the Par­lia­men­tary Assem­bly.

In order to tri­umphantly return to the Par­lia­men­tary Assem­bly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in January next year without imple­ment­ing demands con­tained in a number of PACE res­o­lu­tions, Russia and its sup­port­ers decided to act by the prin­ci­ple: if you can not change the policy of the Council of Europe, change its rules. If changes to the current sanc­tions rules are made, it will be vir­tu­ally impos­si­ble to apply sanc­tions in the future AGAINST ANY MEMBER STATE.

Such changes, result­ing in the uncon­di­tional return of Russia to PACE, will have the fol­low­ing neg­a­tive impact on the Council of Europe and sit­u­a­tion with human rights in Europe:

1) by allow­ing Russia to succeed in black­mail­ing, the Council of Europe will com­pro­mise and dis­credit itself. A weak Council of Europe will lose its author­ity and influ­ence in those parts of Europe where it is needed the most;

2) without the capac­ity to apply sanc­tions, the Par­lia­men­tary Assem­bly of the Council of Europe will become a tooth­less orga­ni­za­tion, strip­ping itself of the only tool which could moti­vate an offender of the Council of Europe’s declared values — democ­racy, human rights and rule of law — to correct its poli­cies;

3) it could trigger a full-scale crisis in the orga­ni­za­tion.

We call upon the ruling elites of all Council of Europe Member States not to allow the demise of the orga­ni­za­tion. History will judge harshly those who give in to black­mail from unde­mo­c­ra­tic soci­eties where the rule of force is above the rule of law.

Signed by:
Toomas Hendrik Ilves, fourth pres­i­dent of Estonia (2006–2016)
Petras Auštre­vičius, Member of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment, Lithua­nia
Eitvy­das Bajarunas, Ambas­sador-at-Large for Hybrid threats, Lithuan­ian MFA,
Andrius Kubil­ius, Member of Par­lia­ment, Prime Min­is­ter of Lithua­nia (1999–2000, 2008–2012)
Beatriz Becerra, Member of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment, vice-chair of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment Sub­com­mit­tee on Human Rights, Spain
Rebecca Harms, Member of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment, Germany
Anna Maria, Corazza Bildt, Member of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment, Sweden
Ana Gomes, Member of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment, Por­tu­gal
Fran­tišek Kopřiva, Deputy, Czech Pirate Party, Rep­re­sen­ta­tive to PACE, Czech Repub­lic
Jan Lipavsky, Member of the Par­lia­ment, Chamber of Deputies, Czech Repub­lic
Werner Schulz, former MP and MEP, Germany
Hanne Sev­erin­sen, Danish Helsinki Com­mit­tee, Former MP and PACE, Denmark
Marieluise Beck, Former Bun­destag Member, Germany
Danylo Lubkivsky, Former Deputy Foreign Min­is­ter, Ukraine
Markus Meckel, Former Foreign Min­is­ter of the GDR; Vors. Stiftungsrat Bun­dess­tiftung Aufar­beitung, Germany
Paweł Kowal, Former member of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment, Poland

Also signed by:
Sonja Adel­heid, member, Bündnis 90/​die Grünen, Germany
Hannes Adomeit, Senior fellow, Insti­tute for Secu­rity Policy, UKIEL, Germany
Willem Alder­shoff, former head of unit, Euro­pean Com­mis­sion, Analyst inter­na­tional affairs, Belgium
Jes­sikka Aro, Jour­nal­ist, Finland
Anders Åslund, Senior Fellow, Atlantic Council, Swedish citizen, res­i­dent in the USA
Dalia Bankauskaite, Head of the Media program at the Vilnius Insti­tute for policy analy­sis, Lithua­nia
Kamil Basaj, Info Ops Project Manager, CEO at @Disinfo_Digest, Poland
Steven Block­mans, Senior research fellow, CEPS, Belgium
Olaf Boehnke, Advisor, Alliance of Democ­ra­cies, Germany
Tim Bohse, Polit­i­cal Sci­en­tist, Germany
Simon Bracey-Lane, Research Fellow, Insti­tute for State­craft, UK
Alek­san­dar Brezar, Editor, National RTV of Bosnia and Herze­gov­ina (BHRT), Bosnia and Herze­gov­ina
Pascal Bruck­ner, philoso­pher, France
Simas Čelutka, Head of Euro­pean Secu­rity Pro­gramme at Vilnius Insti­tute for Policy Analy­sis, Lithua­nia
Iulian Chifu, Pro­fes­sor, researcher; Con­flict Pre­ven­tion and Early Warning Center Bucharest, Romania
Carmen Claudín, Asso­ciate senior researcher CIDOB, Spain
Evan O’Con­nell, Euro­pean Affairs com­men­ta­tor, France
Halyna Coynash, Kharkiv Human Rights Group, Ukraine
Eugene Czolij, Ukrain­ian World Con­gress, Pres­i­dent, Canada
Haroldas Daublys, Head of Lithuan­ian Riflemen’s Union’s support group for Ukraine, Lithua­nia
Danilo Elia Rai, Public broad­caster of Italy /​ Jour­nal­ist, Italy
Urve Eslas, Adjunct fellow, CEPA, Estonia
Yevhen Fed­chenko, Stopfake.org co-founder, Ukraine
André Fesiak, Inde­pen­dent Researcher, France
Petr Fojtík, Analyst, Czech Pirate Party, Czech Repub­lic
Ralf Fuecks, Center for Liberal Moder­nity, Direc­tor, Germany
Anna Garmash, Head of “Ukraine Action” (NGO), France
Alyona Get­manchuk, direc­tor, New Europe Center, Ukraine
Anke Giesen, Lec­turer, Germany
Paul Goble, Former US Gov­ern­ment Spe­cial­ist on the Non-Russian Peoples of the Formber Soviet Space, USA
George Grabow­icz, Pro­fes­sor, Harvard Uni­ver­sity, United States
Gustav Gressel, Senior Policy Fellow; Euro­pean Council on Foreign Rela­tions, Germany
Iulian Groza, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor, Insti­tute for Euro­pean Poli­cies and Reforms, Moldova
Pavel Havlicek, Analyst at Asso­ci­a­tion for Inter­na­tional Affairs (AMO) in Prague, Czech Repub­lic
Berta Herrero, MEP Advisor, Euro­pean Par­lia­ment, Spain
Maryna Iaro­shevych, Direc­tor of the Ukrain­ian World Con­gress Mission to Inter­na­tional Orga­ni­za­tions, Belgium
Jakub Janda, Direc­tor, Euro­pean Values Think-Tank, Czech Repub­lic
Kornely Kakachia, Geor­gian Insti­tute of Pol­i­tics, Georgia
Julia Kaz­dobina, Head, Ukrain­ian Foun­da­tion for Secu­rity Studies, Ukraine
Tamar Kintsurashvili, Direc­tor, Media Devel­op­ment Foun­da­tion (MDF), Georgia
Lino Klevesath, polit­i­cal sci­en­tist, Germany
Jana Kobzova, Advisor, Alliance of Democ­ra­cies, Belgium
Petr Kolář, Občané pro — Cit­i­zens for Czech Repub­lic
Peter Koller, The Greens, Germany
Lyud­myla Kozlovska, Pres­i­dent of the Open Dia­logue Foun­da­tion, Belgium
Jacek Kuchar­czyk, Pres­i­dent, Insti­tute of Public Affairs, Poland
Kos­tiantyn Kvurt, Head of Board at Internews Ukraine, Ukraine
Philippe De Lara, assis­tant pro­fes­sor of polit­i­cal science at Paris 2 uni­ver­sity, France
Marius Lau­ri­navi­cius, Senior expert, Vilnius Insti­tute for Policy Analy­sis, Lithua­nia
John Lough, Asso­ciate Fellow, Russia & Eurasia Pro­gramme, Chatham House, the United Kingdom
Jeff Lovitt, New Diplo­macy, Chair, UK and Czech Repub­lic
Oleksiy Makukhin, Ukraine Crisis Media Center, Ukraine
Jens Mattern, Jour­nal­ist, Poland
Olek­san­dra Matviy­chuk, Head of Center for Civil Lib­er­ties, Ukraine
Daniel Mazur, Project Manager; Charles Uni­ver­sity, Czech Repub­lic
Martin Myciel­ski, Brus­sels Cor­re­spon­dent, Gazeta Wybor­cza, Belgium
James Nixey, Head, Russia and Eurasia Pro­gramme, Chatham House
Ghia Nodia, Chair­man, Cau­ca­sus Insti­tute for Peace, Democ­racy and Devel­op­ment (CIPDD), Georgia
Robert van der Noordaa, inves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ist, the Nether­lands
Oxana Pachlovska, Pro­fes­sor, Uni­ver­sity of Rome, Italy–Ukraine
Mas­si­m­il­iano Di Pasquale, Jour­nal­ist and writer, Italy
Tetiana Pechonchyk, Human Rights Infor­ma­tion Center, the head of board, Ukraine
Nicolas De Pedro, Senior fellow, Insti­tute for State­craft, Spain
Chris­t­ian Pieper, Judge, Germany
Iryna Pieper, Teacher, Germany
Tetiana Push­nova, Inde­pen­dent media con­sul­tant, former Chief Pro­ducer of inter­na­tional TV Channel UKRAINE TODAY, Ukraine
Antje Rempe lan­guage teacher; pres­i­dent of the Part­ner­schaftsverein Charkiw-Nürn­berg, Germany
Igor Reshet­nyak, Researcher, EPFL, Switzer­land
Ben Robin­son, Senior Fellow, Insti­tute for State­craft, UK
Giedrius Sakalauskas, Res Publica, Lithua­nia
Olaf Sax­e­gaard, Con­sul­tant, Norway
Alya Shandra, editor, Euro­maidan Press, Ukraine
Anton Shekhovtsov, Insti­tute for Euro-Atlantic Coop­er­a­tion, Ukraine
Kris­t­ian Magnus Skarsvåg, IT con­sul­tant, Norway
Maria Sle­sazeck, DRA e.V., Germany
Vladimir Socor, Senior Fellow, Jamestown Foun­da­tion, USA /​ Germany
Susan Stewart, German Insti­tute for Inter­na­tional and Secu­rity Affairs (SWP), Germany
Alice Stollmeyer, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor, Defend­ing Democ­racy, Belgium
Dovile Sukyte, Policy Analyst, Eastern Europe Studies Centre, Lithua­nia
Sergiy Sydorenko, Editor, Euro­pean Pravda, Ukraine
Joanna Szostek, Lec­turer, Uni­ver­sity of Glasgow, United Kingdom
Wolf­gang Templin, Pub­li­cist, Germany
Lasha Tughushi, Chair­man of the Geor­gian national plat­form, EaP Civil Society Forum, Georgia
Rein­hard Weißhuhn, Robert-Have­mann-Gesellschaft, Germany
Robert Werner, CEO, Germany
Kataryna Wolczuk, Asso­ciate Fellow, Chatham House, United Kingdom
Anna Yavorska, Advo­cacy Officer, Open Dia­logue Foun­da­tion, Belgium
Volodymyr Yer­molenko, philoso­pher, jour­nal­ist, editor at UkraineWorld.org, Ukraine
Borys Zakharov, Human­i­tar­ian Studio Khvylia, Head of the Board, Ukraine
Bjørn Johan Berger, Norway
Anzhela Prazd­nich­nykh, Belgium
Malvin Nygård, Norway
Dr. Ječmínek Jan Martin, Czech Repub­lic
Anton­ina Demenko, Norway
Even Jahr, Norway
Jaroslav Froněk, Czech Repub­lic
Ondřej Moravčík, Czech Repub­lic


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