Potential of European parliamentary diplomacy to be used even after Helsinki’s demarche
Ahead of the summer session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE, which was held in Helsinki on July 5-9th, the Foreign Ministry of Finland refused to give permission to enter the country to the Russian parliamentarians who are under sanctions of the EU – the speaker of the State Duma Sergei Naryshkin and some members of the Russian delegation in the PA OSCE. Therefore, the Russian delegation decided not to go to Helsinki at all. Later, welcoming the Chairman of the PA OSCE Ilkka Kanerva in Moscow, Naryshkin said: “For the PA OSCE, it is a taint which will stay in the history of the organization forever, even though we have been treated and treat the organization with respect.”
Meanwhile, the Italian delegation at the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly has condemned the exclusion of Russia from the participants of the summer session.
The Italian politician, member of the Italian party ‘Lega Nord’, coordinating relations with the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, Claudio D`Amico, says that “double standards are applied constantly and in large quantities on the Russian Federation. At the last meeting of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, which was held in Helsinki, the situation was very serious. First of all, we are talking about a refusal of entry, granting visas to some Russian parliamentarians, particularly to the Speaker of the State Duma, Mr. Naryshkin. The members of the European Parliament made a serious mistake, because they condemned Russian politicians legitimately elected to the Russian parliament for their opinions and votes during the session. This is a serious violation that is necessary to highlight, underline, this is a serious precedent.”
D`Amico reminds that the speaker of the State Duma took part in the Strasbourg session of the European Council, which is thought to be a pan-European body. “This body is not subject to the sanctions of visa deprivation of the Russian members of parliament, so this is a place where the session of a supranational body is held, all the members of the Assembly should take part in it and, indeed, France has not denied entry to the event in that case. And in this case, the Finnish government has denied a visa, citing the fact that the chairman of the State Duma and five Russian parliamentarians have been put on the "blacklist" of the EU and could not get visas. Therefore, there has been a breach, in particular of the right of a parliament to vote, and to vote, including for joining Crimea to Russia. It was the choice of both parliamentary sessions. Therefore, this is a double standard in refusing entry to the Russian parliamentarians in relation to other OSCE parliamentarians.”
According to the Italian politician, “the Parliamentary Assembly referred to the fact that the body has no permanent place of residence in Finland, but has one in Strasbourg. But the fact is that there is no fixed place, it is the prerogative of the OSCE, because the OSCE has no permanent physical place where its meetings are held. Each year the meeting of the OSCE is held in different countries. Therefore, the official venue of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly is the country which is elected every year. Some are elected annually, voting takes place, the documents are received. The winter session is always held in Vienna, but physically the parliament is not there, the session takes place in a conference hall that is used for other purposes during the year, so before the winter session there is no vote, we just discuss certain issues
In this sense, Helsinki in this case is an official venue for the Assembly of the OSCE, so the EU should give a visa, so this act was absolutely wrong, the proposal of the Finnish Government not to issue visas was absolutely wrong, so it is the responsibility of Ms. Mogherini, who is responsible for the foreign policy of the European Union. She is from my country, but she did nothing to prevent this case, and to oppose failure to provide visas to the Russian delegation. In this sense, the Russian delegation refused to participate. I think that is the correct choice: either all, or none.”