The international conference titled “Russia-the European Union: a look in the future” was held in Helsinki on Monday. High on the agenda of the conference were the response of the Russian authorities to the enactment of the Magnitsky law in the United States, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s statements about the non-governmental organizations and the legal persecution of the defendants in the Bolotnaya criminal case. Meanwhile, Ireland is about to raise the question to introduce a pan-European Magnitsky list at the European Parliament. The composition of the countries, the parliaments of which will support this initiative with guarantee, was determined as well.
The official theme of the Monday conference, in which the deputies of the European Parliament and the parliaments of the countries of the euro zone were participating, was Russian-EU partnership within next ten years, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily reported. However, it turned out that serious concerns are already arising over coming years: the question of imposing sanctions against Russia within the Magnitsky list was raised immediately in the speeches, the prospects of the visa-free travelling of other Russians and an ongoing legal persecution of the Russian opposition were discussed.
The situation over the Russian ambassador in Ireland that some time ago allegedly threatened the Irishmen to introduce a ban on the adoption of Russian children in the country, if the country ratifies the Magnitsky list, stirred up much indignation on the sidelines of the conference. Deputy of the European Parliament Kristiina Ojuland explained to the newspaper that 1,500 Russian children are adopted in Ireland every year, and the foresaid situation with the Russian ambassador was taken very negatively in the country. The Irish authorities intend soon to raise the question of introducing the Magnitsky list on the whole territory of the EU, Ojuland said.
The newspaper reported that following Ireland, where the debates over the ratification of the Magnitsky list will be held this week, similar measures will be discussed in the parliaments of Italy, the Netherlands and Great Britain and at the level of the Council of Ministers of the Council of Europe. The parliaments of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia are ready to support the sanctions under the Magnitsky list, Ojuland said.
The reports that Europe will create its variant of the Magnitsky list have been circulating for a long time, but the debates tend to be heated, because some countries set the interests of business above the human rights, Kristiina Ojuland said, making a hint mainly to Germany, which some people name as the main lobbyist of Vladimir Putin in Europe, and everybody explain this by the business interests in Russia.
The Finns are more pragmatic and the most important thing for the country is business, a moderator of the conference and Finnish journalist Anna-Lena Lauren told the Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily. In her view, Finland will support the Magnitsky list, if the majority of other EU states support it.
A high-ranking source of the newspaper in the Finnish diplomatic circles stated that Europe does not want to introduce a visa-free regime with Russia at all and will not refuse from the control of arriving people in any case. The source noted that the most favourable prospect of the negotiations will be the issuance of multiple five-year visas for the Russians, but the borders will not be open completely.