Strasbourg, 09.04.2014 - Just one day before the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly is to consider a report on the powers of its Russian delegation, Austrian President Heinz Fischer told assembled members that “dialogue is the only way” to deal with the conflict. “It is fairly easy to close doors, but once they are shut, it is far more difficult to open them again,” he said.
Mr. Fischer said that he agrees with the assessment of the Council of Europe’s constitutional law experts the Venice Commission that “actions taken by Russia have been and continue to be in breach of international law”. He said that “further steps taken by Russia to destabilize Ukraine would be unacceptable”.
But he also called on Council of Europe member states to take into consideration the “historical background” of the crisis, respecting concerns of “all countries” involved. “It should not be a matter of drawing this large and important country [Ukraine] into one camp or an opposing camp, either to the EU or to the Russian Federation,” Mr. Fischer stressed.
The Austrian President praised the role of the Council of Europe as an essential multilateral institution that has proven to be an important basis for peace in Europe since the end of the Second World War, which – he noted – began almost 75 years ago. (more...)
Video of the speech
Austria and the Council of Europe