Recent developments in Ukraine: Threats to the functioning of democratic institutions

My contribution today on the Developments in Ukraine Report, on behalf of the Irish Delegation of Parliamentarians to the Council of Europe.

The situation in Ukraine has presented us with the most significant and dangerous political crisis in Europe for several decades. We have watched, firstly, where demonstrators were met with repressive and lethal force. After that, over a matter of weeks, we have seen Russian forces seize a part of Ukrainian territory, install a compliant local regime, orchestrate an invalid referendum under a heavy military presence and announce an illegal annexation of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol.

These actions on the part of Russia are in breach of the Charter of the United Nations, the Helsinki Final Act, the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, the 1997 Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership between Ukraine and the Russian Federation and the 1991 Alma Ata Declaration

This is a challenge for all of Europe, and for the Council of Europe itself. It is a challenge to the type of democratic values we wish to see underpinning a global international system that is based on cooperation, not confrontation, and allows each country to determine its own future free of external pressure and the threat or use of force.

The presence of Russia within the Council of Europe is hugely positive. It has been a fundamental part of the creation of a pan-European human rights space, where over 800 million people enjoy the protection of the European Convention on Human Rights, and have recourse to the European Court of Human Rights when that protection is breached. This is no small achievement. But it is precisely the fundamental values of the Council of Europe ¨of respect for human rights, the rule of law and democracy ¨that are threatened by Russian action in Ukraine, and we should send a clear signal that such actions cannot be tolerated by this Assembly.

We must call for inclusive dialogue, full respect for global norms, including fundamental rights and freedoms, and a total rejection of intimidation and violence.

Senator Joe O'Reilly representing Cavan & Monaghan 2010. | An ExSite website