EU member states have relaunched peace talks with Russia and Ukraine to prevent the situation in the country from deteriorating any further. On Monday the EP's foreign affairs committee discussed the situation with Alexey Pushkov, the chair of the Duma's international affairs committee. After the meeting, we talked to Othmar Karas, an Austrian member of the EPP group and chair of the EP delegation to the EU-Russia parliamentary cooperation committee, to find out his views.
Do you think that new talks between Germany, France, Ukraine and Russia will succeed in creating peace?
Acknowledging international law is fundamental to achieving peace and respecting international law is the basis of an agreement. Russia has violated international law. Its explanations are in contradiction of the Helsinki Accords and the way it has acted contravenes other agreements such as the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances. Respecting the Minsk Protocol is essential for a deal between the EU, Ukraine and Russia. If Russia respected international law, it would open the door for further talks. There is enough for us to discuss.
If no solution is found, could other neighbouring countries, such as the Baltic States, be at risk?
Many people are now scared, but the best way to reassure them is to comply with existing legislation and to carry out agreements. When someone doesn't respect an agreement or breaks the law, then they don’t inspire trust. Therefore the condition is that Russia respects the independence and sovereignty of Ukraine as it will also help to resolve other common issues.
Do you think it would be a good idea for the US to supply Ukraine with arms?
Problems can’t be solved by weapons, only be people. Europe's recipe for success is dialogue. It's about talking together and working out problems together. This is why I am glad that the European Union and the member states are putting a lot of effort and time in negotiations. I'm also glad that Pushkov visited the European Parliament. The most important thing is that we are able to look each other in the eye and discuss problems instead of shooting at each other with weapons.
I hope progress will be made on Wednesday. When the talks have no effect, the risk of military escalation will increase every day. I can only call on everyone involved to use every opportunity for negotiations. The only basis for a deal is the Minsk Protocol as everyone has already agreed to it.