The decision of Angela Merkel to step down as the leader of the Christian Democratic Union will not have a significant impact on the Normandy format and the negotiating process in Minsk, said Frank Schwabe, Spokesman on Human Rights and Humanitarian Aid of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) faction in German Bundestag, Head of Socialists, Democrats and Greens Group in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) responding to a question by media at a press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center.
“We are all interested to have stability in foreign affairs. You understand the role of Germany in the European Union and the role it plays in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. I think our Chancellor will preserve all the necessary power levers. Moreover Heiko Maas, the Foreign Affairs Minister, as well as his colleagues are discussing concrete steps. Angela Merkel has all the necessary levers of power,” commented Frank Schwabe.
He added that it is still early to discuss who will become Angela Merkel’s successor. “Even in Germany no one can make a forecast on what is going to happen next, how the situation will unfold. But I think there will be many candidates to the post of the CDU leader,” Schwabe noted.
Answering a question on the security situation in the Azov Sea Frank Schwabe said that PACE had expressed its clear position on the matter. “All states called to give unimpeded passage to the vessels in the Azov Sea heading to Ukrainian ports. In our turn we are doing everything to prevent escalation of the conflict. […] Responsibility is definitely on Russia, it has to respect Ukrainian interests. It also concerns the interests of the EU, because EU vessels also enter the ports. I also call on the Ukrainian side not to lead the situation towards the escalation of this conflict,” Frank Schwabe said.
Commenting on Russia’s further fate in PACE Schwabe, a delegate to the Assembly, noted that cannot make a forecast whether Russia will preserve its membership in the organization but considers this option to be the best one as it will keep certain levers to apply and produce an effect on its actions. “We currently don’t have access to Chechnya and Crimea, we should change it immediately and I don’t see any other way here. If Russia was not a PACE member we would not be even able to appeal to it demanding the improvement of the situation. Today we do have such a possibility, there are certain tools to exercise pressure on Russia and I think it will be right to keep these tools,” the member of Bundestag explained.
The main issue on the agenda of Frank Schwabe during his visit to Ukraine is the human rights situation including in the temporarily occupied territories as well as the humanitarian situation in eastern Ukraine. “We are planning to appeal to Russia in order to affect its actions in these issues. We surely have the demands to the Ukrainian government as well,” Frank Schwabe said. He added that the Council of Europe is regularly monitoring the situation.
During the visit to the east the Bundestag member expects to see the working conditions of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine and the way humanitarian projects financially supported by Germany are implemented including their cost-efficiency.