MOSCOW, May 17./TASS/. Russia is not planning to withdraw from the Council of Europe, it remains committed to financial obligations, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told a ministerial session of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers.
“We are not seeking to quit the Council of Europe,” he said, dismissing attempts to spread rumors about that. “We are not reneging on any of our commitments, including financial ones,” the Russian diplomat told the 129th ministerial session on Friday. The text of his speech has been uploaded to the website of the Russian Foreign Ministry.
The foreign minister also gave high marks to the Council of Europe’s contribution to the development of the Russian national law, reforms of the judicial system, penitentiary system and the settlement of many other humanitarian matters. “We are interested in continuing our activity in the Council of Europe on the basis of rules of international law, goals and principles of the UN Charter that must be interpreted and applied consistently,” the minister added.
Russia and the Council of Europe
In April 2014, Russia’s delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) was stripped of its key rights, including the right to vote, over the situation in Ukraine and Crimea’s reunification with Russia. The issue of restoring the rights of the Russian delegation was raised at PACE twice throughout 2015 but sanctions remained in place. In response, Russia suspended its participation in PACE’s activities. The country did not apply for confirmation of its rights in 2016-2018. Moscow suggested PACE’s regulations be amended to ensure that no one could strip lawmakers of their rights except their voters.
Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjorn Jagland said on October 10 that Russia’s membership in the organization’s Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly might be suspended starting from June 2019 due to non-payment of monetary contributions. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in response that Moscow would quit the Council of Europe if opposing member states called for expelling Russia.
In January 2019, the two houses of the Russian parliament issued statements, pointing out there were no reasons for Russia to return to PACE in 2019. In addition, the State Duma upheld the move to suspend the payment of the country’s contribution.
On April 10, PACE members adopted a resolution on the role and mission of the Assembly, which, in part, mentions the need to maintain Russia’s Council of Europe membership and calls on Moscow to form a delegation to PACE and pay membership dues. The resolution says that PACE’s sanctions against the Russian delegation following Crimea’s reunification with Russia and the country’s subsequent decision to terminate participation in the Assembly’s activities caused discord within the organization.