Van Den Driessche kritisch over annexatie Krim in toespraak IPU in Sint-Petersburg

Door Pol Van Den Driessche op 16 oktober 2017, over deze onderwerpen: Internationale Relaties

BRUSSEL 16/10 16:06 (BELGA)

Voor de 137ste Algemene Vergadering van de Interparlementaire Unie (IPU) in de Russische stad Sint-Petersburg heeft Pol Van Den Driessche, voorzitter van de Belgische groep van de IPU, zich erg kritisch uitgelaten over de annexatie van de Krim.

De vergadering vond plaats in het Taurisch Paleis, dat aan het einde van de 18de eeuw door de Russische tsarina Catharina geschonken werd aan haar favoriet Grigori Potemkin, die na zijn verovering van de Krim de titel vorst van Tauris droeg. "Het lijkt pijnlijk ironisch dat we net hier bijeen zijn, terwijl een tweede annexatie van de Krim het voor één van de leden van onze organisatie onmogelijk maakt om de algemene vergadering bij te wonen. Ik verwijs uiteraard naar Oekraïne", stelde de N-VA-senator.

Hij wees er nog op dat de Algemene Vergadering in Hanoï in 2015 een sterk standpunt over Oekraïne had aangenomen. "Met spijt moet ik vaststellen dat twee en een half jaar later onze veroordeling van de illegale annexatie van de Krim en van de Russische schendingen van de territoriale integriteit van Oekraïne geldig blijven en dat de vooruitzichten voor een vredevolle oplossing in een internationaal erkend kader even klein zijn als toen, als ze nog niet kleiner zijn", vervolgde Van Den Driessche.

Hij merkte nog op dat de Russische president Vladimir Poetin in zijn openingsspeech gepleit had voor meer wederzijds respect en voor de niet-inmenging in de aangelegenheden van andere landen "maar blijkbaar handelen zelfs de besten onder ons niet altijd naar wat ze preken".

Van Den Driessche hield ook nog een pleidooi voor pluralisme en de erkenning van de mensenrechten, meer in het bijzonder de rechten voor LGBTI's.


De tekst van de toespraak kan u hieronder lezen.


“Promoting cultural pluralism and peace through inter-faith and inter-ethnic dialogue”

Speech by Mr Pol VAN DEN DRIESSCHE (Belgium)



Mister / Madam President, Dear Colleagues,


I wish to join many speakers before me in expressing my thanks to the Russian authorities and in particular the Parliament of the Russian Federation for the excellent arrangements they have made for this Assembly. It is great to be here in this wonderful city.


If I am not misinformed, this Palace in which we are meeting was originally built at the end of the 18th century for Grigori Potemkin in recognition of the fact that in 1783 he had annexed the Crimea (or the Tauric Pensinsula, as it was still known at the time) to the Russian Empire. Potemkin was given the title of “Prince of Tauris” and his palace was accordingly named Tavrichesky or Tauride Palace.


It seems painfully ironic to me that we are meeting here when a second annexation of Crimea has made it unthinkable for one of the members of our organization to attend this Assembly. I am referring of course to Ukraine.


At our Assembly in Hanoi, in 2015, the Twelve Group adopted a strong statement on the situation regarding Ukraine. I am sorry to say that, two and half years later, our condemnation of the illegal annexation of Crimea and of the Russian violations of Ukraine’s territorial integrity remains as valid as ever and that the prospects of reaching a peaceful settlement in an internationally recognized framework are as dim now as they were then, if not more so.


In his speech at the inaugural ceremony, President Putin pleaded for more mutual respect and for not interfering in other states’ affairs, but obviously, even the best of us do not always act as they preach.

​Pluralism and dialogue.

This brings me to the general theme of this debate, which is also about pluralism and dialogue between partners who treat each other as equals. I could not agree more with these lofty principles, but there are some provisos:


First, I find that, very often, the staunchest defenders of the plurality of political, social and economic systems, all equally valid and worthy of respect, are less keen on allowing pluralism and critical questioning within the system that happens to be theirs.


Second, religious or ideological convictions, cultural values and traditions cannot be an excuse for violating basic and universally recognized human rights, as defined in international law, or for interpreting these rights in an idiosyncratic manner.


Let me give you one example.


Sexual orientations and identities that differ from the heterosexual standard are frowned upon in many parts of the world and are still criminalized in a number of countries. In Belgium, we do not agree with that. Our parliament believes that LGBTI rights are human rights and advocates the universal decriminalization of homosexuality. We know that these views are not shared by all. But surely no one denies that LGBTI are human beings and as such are entitled to the same basic rights as all human beings. They do not deserve to be discriminated in areas that have nothing to do with their sexual orientation or identity such as housing, access to health services or employment. They do not deserve to be harassed, arbitrarily detained or even tortured and killed, as happened recently in Chechnya. They do not deserve to be discriminated in any way. Ever.

Human Rights.

The Belgian delegation has proposed that our Standing Committee on Democracy and Human Rights should have a panel debate on this issue at its next sitting in Geneva and we hope that our proposal will be accepted.


Finally, there is no such thing as the right to deny the light of the sun. There is an increasing and to me disquieting tendency to question the best scientific knowledge we have on the basis of religious or other beliefs that long predate that knowledge and, more importantly, have not contributed to it. The creationism promoted by Christian fundamentalists as a rival to evolution theory is a telling example of this, but similar discussions appear in societies with other religious or cultural traditions. Religion must not become an excuse for obscurantism.


Dear Colleagues,


We respect all religions, as long as they are practiced in a peaceful manner. We respect all those who take positive strength from their faith. We respect all those who, from their own faith, engage in a constructive dialogue with other faiths and also with people who do not practice any religion. But we also insist on respect for the separation of state and religion.


Thank you for your attention.

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