Valentina Matviyenko, Chairperson of the Russian Federation Council, told journalists on 25 December that Russia, without any doubt, will return to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), TASS reported.
“We will return [to PACE], we need this. Who needs it more is a difficult question. The Council of Europe needs it [return of Russia to PACE] not less, than Russia, a dialogue, a discussion are ongoing. The Council of Europe understands that we won’t waver,” she said.
Matviyenko noted that the management of the Council of Europe declares its interest in Russia’s return to PACE, but but its efforts remained blocked by “a Russophobic, clamorous minority that had political agenda on their mind.”
“We have enough patience, we’ll wait until the loud screamers sitting there are put back in their place, until the changes to the regulations are adopted, and the normal work of the parliamentary structure is ensured,” she said.
She added that she doesn’t see any reasons for Russia to withdraw from the Council of Europe.
“…we are the largest state, we have been members of the Council of Europe for over 20 years, we have made a huge contribution to the development of this structure, there is no reason and basis for Russia to withdraw from the Council of Europe. I’m not a supporter of such actions,” the Chairperson of the upper house of parliament said.
The Russian delegation was deprived of its voting rights at PACE on 10 April 2014, and these sanctions were prolonged till January 2018. On 4 June 2014, the Russian parliamentary delegation suspended its cooperation with PACE.
Earlier, on 9 October, Matviyenko said that Russia will not recognize the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights taken by judges voted in without Russia’s participation; on 25 October, she stated that Russia should refrain from paying its contributions to the Council of Europe until the Russian MPs return to work in PACE.
On 11 October, PACE adopted the resolution #2186 aiming to lift the political sanctions imposed on the Russian delegation in PACE. The resolution envisions “harmonizing rules for member states’ participation” in the statutory bodies of the Council of Europe – PACE and the Committee of Ministers. As Russia is present in the Committee of Ministers, effectively this means a way to return the Russian delegation to PACE. Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjørn Jagland, a Norwegian politician with a KGB past who has spearheaded a campaign to restore Russia at PACE, has stated that the Parliamentary Assembly needs to accept Russia’s demands so that the country would not stop paying its membership fees and withdraw from the Council of Europe; according to him, this would mean that the Council of Europe would stop existing in its present form.
The efforts to restore Russia at PACE were protested by PACE delegates from 20 countries, European intellectuals, Crimean Tatar leaders, and Ukrainian NGOs.
On 13 December, the Russian senator Aleksey Pushkov stated that the Russian delegation will not return to PACE in 2018. He explained that he doesn’t see any prospects of returning the Russian delegates to PACE in January, which is when the powers of the national delegations are approved for the following year.
On 15 December, PACE created a committee which would study the question of Russia’s representation in both statutory bodies of the Council of Europe, i.e. Russia’s return to PACE, Yevropeiska Pravda reported (a copy of the document is below). Initially, the group should have prepared a “proposal” about the synchronization of the bodies, meaning a draft project which would be put up to a vote in PACE. However, after a discussion, the Assembly Bureau decided that the work of the committee should result in “reflects,” meaning a report that is not a project of a document and cannot be directly put up for a vote in the Assembly.
The same day, the Chairman of the Committee on International Affairs of the Russian Federal Assembly announced that the chances of Russia submitting an application to participate in the work of PACE during 2018 is very low, as the Assembly does not have the intention of changing the rules on applying sanctions as Russia demands.
Ukraine’s delegation warns that if Russia returns, Ukraine will leave, and maintains that the participation of Russia in PACE is possible when Russia implements PACE resolutions calling on Russia to end its aggression in Ukraine. Namely, they are resolutions 1990, 2034, and 2063. Russia had not implemented a single call in the resolutions. In 2016, PACE adopted resolution 2112 calling on Russia to release all captured Ukrainian prisoners, as well as 2133 and 2132 which clearly state that Russian troops have to be withdrawn from the territory of Ukraine, that the war in Ukraine is not a “Ukrainian conflict” but “Russian aggression,” and elections in Donbas are not possible in the current situation and declare that Russia bears full responsibility for the occupied territories and rules out the return of the Russian delegation to PACE before the Minsk agreements are implemented and territorial integrity of Ukraine is restored.
/written by Alya Shandra
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