Speech at the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly

Denis MacShane Says Russian MPs Who Voted for Dismemberment of Georgia Should have Council of Europe status questioned
In a series of interventions at the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly in Strasbourg (29 Sept – 2 Oct), Denis MacShane said that Russian Parliamentarians who voted in Moscow for the dismemberment of the UN and Council of Europe Member State of Georgia were in breach of UN and European law, rules and values. MacShane was attacked in turn by Russian speakers. Below is his intervention in a debate on 1 October.
Mr MacSHANE (United Kingdom). – Thank you, Mr President. The Socialist Group broadly agrees with the presentations made by both Mr Gross and Mr Greenway.
This is a very serious issue. I have here a passport, which was brought into Georgia in a tank. I do not know about other member states of the Council of Europe, but it is certainly not the British army that issues and distributes British passports.
We must find the correct language. That is important. We heard a lot of talk about genocide yesterday, but as Mr Van der Brande’s report showed, 300 were killed on one side and 364 were killed on the other, and many were wounded. Each death and injury is a terrible tragedy, but let us not talk about genocide. That only raises the temperature.
We talk about war. Many countries in the Council of Europe have, during the 60 years of its existence, been involved in terrible wars – I think of France in Algeria, perhaps even of the troubles in Northern Ireland, and of the Balkans and Chechnya. I am afraid that it is not unknown for member states of the Council of Europe to be involved in wars.
Can you have a war in your own country? If you are attacking and shelling bits of your own country, is that war? An invasion is war – when 20 000 soldiers and 2 000 tanks come through a tunnel, that, perhaps, is war. Again, we have to be careful about the language that we use.
Where do we go now? The suggestion made by our two rapporteurs – that we wait for final reports – is correct. I support German Foreign Minister Steinmeier’s call for a full international inquiry, with all the intelligence material made available, so that we can actually get to the truth, instead of having accusation and counter-accusation.
One thing is crucial to the Council of Europe, which is this. States sometimes do bad things – Turkey invaded Cyprus; there were wars in Serbia – but this is the first time in my lifetime when elected parliamentarians have put up their hands and voted to partition a country. In my judgment, the politics of Anschluss are unacceptable. We therefore need an investigation into all the colleagues here present who voted. How did they vote and how did they speak in the Duma or the council of the federation? We need to know, because what Mr Medvedev or Mr Putin do or say as prime minister or president is one thing, but we are responsible for our own actions. I have never voted to recognise Chechnya or any other breakaway country, but colleagues here did.
I therefore hope that the final motion will be agreed. The issue does not stop here. It is quite right not to talk about expulsion in this part-session, but we need clear answers from our Russian colleagues who voted to break apart a member state of the Council of Europe and the United Nations. For my part, I cannot find that acceptable.