Don speaks to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe about the Ukrainian Conflict

Wednesday, October 12, 2016 – Strasbourg

 Mr Don DAVIES (Canada, Observer) – I acknowledge the work of Ms Zelienková and thank her for her detailed analysis of the Ukrainian conflict and its broader consequences. Her report illustrates the need for all countries involved to consider the impact of their respective and collective decisions and actions. Serious concerns continue to be raised about the parties’ inability to respect and fully implement the provisions of the Minsk peace process, as well as their failure to achieve a diplomatic solution to the issues involved. We all recognise that the ongoing conflict in Ukraine has destabilised the security equilibrium that has persisted in Europe since the Cold War. The annexation of Crimea by Russia is a clear violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. No nation among us would accept such an alienation of our border.

      It is equally true that NATO’s expansion through Eastern Europe and the Baltic States has had consequences as well. The West’s courting of countries sensitive to Russian security interests – indeed, often adjacent to Russia itself – must be considered when analysing Russian actions in Ukraine and other post-Soviet countries such as Moldova and Georgia. Few among us would not feel threatened or fail to advance our security interests in similar circumstances. We must always insist on the principle that sovereign states have the right to have their territory inalienably respected and to decide their own future, including their own foreign policy, free from outside interference. At the same time, the international community must recognise that the security concerns and interests of others cannot simply be ignored or discarded when we pursue those liberties.

      We live in a global world, interconnected as never before. Our actions impact on each other in an unprecedented fashion. In this respect, lines of communication must remain open to increase transparency, avoid misunderstanding and prevent tensions. We must not forget that a peaceful resolution, obtained through political dialogue and negotiation, is the goal we all wish to achieve in every international disagreement. In fact, it is the raison d’être of this Chamber. In this spirit, every diplomatic effort must be deployed to ensure the success of the Minsk peace process. Our success will depend on our willingness to examine the impacts of our own actions and respect the legitimate interests of every nation involved.

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