BREEN contributes to Council of Europe Debate on the Consequences of the war between Georgia and Russia

October 6th, 2008 - Pat Breen

Mr BREEN (Ireland). – We all recall seeing over the month of August the images of war that filled our television screens – two of our member states at war. I thought that something such as that would never again happen to us in the Council of Europe. I remind my colleagues from Russia and Georgia of their aims as members of the Council of Europe. Remember why you joined: to protect human rights, democracy and the rule of law. You have let us down, and this great Organisation.

      Over the last few days, I have listened to my colleagues who visited the conflict zone and heard of their experiences there – they were told of burning villages, looting, ethnic violence and huge damage to infrastructure and communications. There have been heart-breaking stories of displaced persons and refugees. Those people are the real victims of any conflict.

      I support my colleagues in the Group of the European People’s Party in seeking an international investigation carried out by experts. We need to know the real facts, the circumstances that led to the war and why the conflict could not be prevented. Why did both countries fight? Both countries did not do enough to prevent the conflict. Why was so much aggression used by Russia?

      Dialogue must be kept open. The two important words are “dialogue” and “trust”. I come from a small country, Ireland, where we had conflict for 30 years. Those two words bound us together at the end, and they eventually led to peace in Ireland. The same rules apply here. We must have dialogue. We must continue dialogue. We must achieve trust, because it is so important.

      We hope that the six-point EU plan will be respected and we know that on 15 October there is a meeting in Geneva involving Russia, Georgia, the EU and the OSCE. We in the Council of Europe must also act to ensure that there are no more infringements of human rights. I welcome the Secretary General saying this morning that there is a need for new procedures to monitor the situation. If that has to involve a new mission, it should happen.

      We must help the displaced persons. They need us. We must certainly work with the EU to build the infrastructure in the conflict zone.

      THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you, Mr Breen. I call Mrs Taktakishvili