Forcing Europeans To Engage in Mutually Respectful Dialogue With Russia Has Begun

Europe has made quite a fuss over the Russian Federation’s decision to withdraw from trilateral talks with the Netherlands and Australia over the circumstances surrounding the downing of flight MH17. At the same time, the very nature of this noise and the accompanying fakes coming from high-ranking officials are in themselves an eloquent confirmation of the falsity of the west’s intentions to establish the true causes of the tragedy.

The wording of the official statement of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands Stef Blok alone is worth a lot: “Today The Russian Federation has announced its unilateral decision to suspend negotiations over its responsibility for downing flight MH17.” That’s it! It turns out that somewhere there were negotiations “over the responsibility of Russia”, and we did not know about it.

It should be recalled that the first consultations on the circumstances of the downing of the Malaysian Boeing, destroyed in July 2014, took place at the beginning of last year. And the Russian side immediately indicated: “their focus will not be ‘recognition of Russia’s legal responsibility for the disaster’, but the whole range of issues related to this incident and of fundamental importance for establishing the true causes”. Moreover, Moscow emphasised that one of the key issues to be considered is the responsibility of Ukraine for not closing its airspace over the combat zone.

And of course, Blok is well aware of this. But deliberately opts to distort the truth. Like in his passage that Russia’s refusal to continue fruitless talks “is espeically painful for the victims’ next of kin”.

Many of the western figures who rushed to condemn Moscow for this decision also try to speculate on the topic of victims. The US Ambassador to the Netherlands, Pete Hoekstra, called Russia’s withdrawal from the talks “another blow to the victims’ relatives and their quest for justice”.

It is not surprising that the reaction of some Dutch people, who perceive such news in the form in which they are presented by officials, is more than sharp. For example, one of the readers of Blok immediately gave birth to angry advice about Russia: “Immediately expel all Russians from the Netherlands, close the Embassy, immediately stop foreign trade with Russia, and no longer buy Russian gas. Send our fleet to Crimea”.

And almost none of the commentators convey to the disappointed Dutch public a clear and unambiguous explanation of the reasons for such a step made by Moscow. The Russian Foreign Ministry explained that it would have been happy to continue talks (which, by the way, they had high hopes for), if the Dutch had not chosen a different path — filing a lawsuit against Russia in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). The Foreign Ministry statement reads: “Such unfriendly actions of the Netherlands make it pointless to continue the trilateral talks and our participation in them. The responsibility for the failure of the trilateral talks, therefore, lies entirely with the officials in the Hague”. This is an inconvenient point that the western press tries not to push out too much, or even does not mention it at all. As, by the way, the fact that by filing a lawsuit in the ECHR, the Hague, despite all the “crocodile tears” for the victims, just hurt their relatives.

The fact is that the ECHR has repeatedly filed individual claims on behalf of the latter. The first such application has been considered since 2016 and then supplemented with a new claim. So the MH17 case was in full swing. And on July 10th of this year, the Dutch government found nothing better than to file an interstate lawsuit in the same court (usually considering personal cases), and even hypocritically claims that it was filed in support of cases already being considered there.

And this is a blatant lie made by the Dutch side. It is hard to imagine that the Hague, the global legal capital, does not know that when an international claim is filed with the ECHR, all individual cases that were tried there in the same case are immediately stopped until the end of the dispute between the countries. This is clearly stated in paragraph 45 of the Copenhagen Declaration on the reform of the system of the European Convention on Human Rights, adopted unanimously in 2018 by the member states of the Council of Europe.

In other words, the Hague is hiding behind the relatives of MH17 victims, but at the same time it delays the court’s decision on their claims for several years (and the consideration of interstate cases in the ECHR can take a very long time). The Dutch press, of course, will not write about this.

We should also not forget that the Dutch claim to the ECHR potentially creates a conflict of interest with another legal body — the International Court of Justice, which is already considering the case of Ukraine against Russia, which also includes responsibility for MH17. In 2014, the European Court of Justice (the highest court in the EU) expressed its opinion that interstate cases considered in the ECHR should not infringe on the jurisdiction of other international judicial bodies. In other words, the Dutch government not only delays the consideration of individual cases, but also creates a conflict of interest between different instances, which can also interfere with the case.

A natural question arises: why did the Hague need to simultaneously torpedo the trials in the ECHR and consultations with Russia, filing its scandalous claim right now? The Dutch press, while speculating about Moscow’s decision, for some reason does not insist on the answer of its Prime Minister Mark Rutte to this question. He just said that he “chose the best time”, but refused to explain why he thinks so.

But the answer is obvious. At first, the Dutch government constantly replied that it was waiting for the international investigation team to finish its investigation and submit the claim to the court. And in March of this year, the long-awaited trial there started on the territory of Schiphol airport, with noise, with pomp, under the cameras of almost all TV companies in the world. And it immediately became clear that something went wrong for the organisers of this process.

Firstly, the four designated “accused” persons have nothing to do with the destruction of MH17 (and the further this process develops, the more obvious it becomes for everyone). Secondly, the same noisy attempt to link an officer of the Russian special services (and therefore the Russian state) to the process failed. Remember how in the spring of 2018, all the world’s media, at the suggestion of the Bellingcat anti-Russian structure that has repeatedly compromised itself, trumpeted: here it is – the missing link leading to the Kremlin! And they indicated the name of a certain Oleg Ivannikov. For some reason, when at the first hearing of the Hague court on MH17, prosecutors modestly stated that Ivannikov was not considered a suspect and had nothing to do with the case, this fact was almost completely ignored by the same media. Of course, no one apologised for the fakes.

As the next anniversary of the destruction of the Boeing approached, it became clear to the victims’ relatives that the case was falling apart. They actually directly indicated this in a letter to the very American Ambassador Hoekstra, who is allegedly so worried about them. They called on the United States to provide the court with the same satellite images of the incident that Secretary of State John Kerry spoke about in 2014. As we understand, no images were provided. But Hoekstra is now worried about the victims’ relatives and blames Russia for something.

Realising that the case in court is falling apart, and the Hague cannot provide anything to the public for the 6th anniversary of the destruction of MH17, it took this defiant step with a claim to the ECHR. Exclusively on this date — to distract attention from inconvenient questions about the case and switch it to a new claim and, accordingly, to a new delay in the process.

So what should Russia have done if it really hoped to start at least some kind of dialogue with the Netherlands, even within the framework of an informal group? What kind of dialogue can we talk about if the other side has already decided everything for itself?

How can I not remember the recent words of Sergey Lavrov: “Those people who are responsible for foreign policy in the west do not understand the need for a mutually respectful conversation. We should probably stop talking to them for a while”. We can say that the decision to withdraw Russia from the MH17 talks is the first step towards implementing the minister’s words. The first, but not the last. Russia’s path to forcing Europeans to engage in a mutually respectful dialogue has begun. And it will be long.

Vladimir Kornilov

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