ISTANBUL, May 17. /TASS/. Russia will decide about participation of its delegation in the work of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) when the statement by the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers on the equality of all delegations is implemented, speaker of Russia’s Federation Council upper parliament house Valentina Matviyenko said on Friday.
"It is a very important, very good decision. Such a high Council of Europe’s institution has passed a practically binding resolution on the necessity to ensure equal participation of all delegations both in the Committee of Ministers and in the Parliamentary Assembly," she said.
She recalled that under the PACE regulations national delegations can apply for participation in its session throughput the year only in January. However the Committee of Ministers "practically permitted to file an application in June," she noted. "Now, we should wait and see how these decisions are implemented by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in its regulations and other documents. We will keep a close eye on that and will take this or that decision based on it."
She noted that the upcoming PACE session in June will be a special one as it will be dedicated to the organization’s 70th anniversary. Moreover, it will elect the Council of Europe’s secretary general and a number of judges of the European Court of Human Rights.
"Anyway, justice is served. Even such a resolution of the Committee of Ministers means that there should not be any discrimination of national delegations either for subjective, or for political, or for any other reasons. They stressed that delegations must enjoy equal participation in all statutory bodies of the Council of Europe. It is a matter of principle," she noted.
Earlier on Friday, the Council of Europe published a statement by the Committee of Ministers, which stressed that all its members "should be entitled to participate on an equal basis in the Committee of Ministers and in the Parliamentary Assembly." According to the document, "one of the fundamental obligations of member states is to pay their obligatory contributions to the ordinary budget." The ministers also noted that they would welcome the delegations of all member states to participate in the next June part-session of PACE.
In April 2014, the Russian delegation to PACE was stripped of its key rights, including the right to vote and take part in the assembly’s governing bodies, following the developments in Ukraine and Crimea’s reunification with Russia. The issue of restoring the Russian delegation’s rights was raised at PACE twice in 2015, but instead the sanctions were only tightened.
The Russian delegation said it refused to work under these conditions and from 2016 to 2018 Moscow refused to file a request to confirm its powers. It also suggested adding a provision to PACE’s regulations stipulating that no one has the right to strip deputies of their rights, except for those who elected them.
On October 10, 2018, Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjorn Jagland told the PACE autumn session that the organization's Committee of Ministers will have to expel Russia from the Council of Europe if the country does not make any monetary contributions. In response, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated that Russia would leave the Council of Europe on its own volition if its opponents in this organization insist on Moscow’s expulsion.
In January, both houses of Russia’s parliament adopted a statement, which suggested not sending the Russian delegation to the session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in January 2019, and sticking to the decision to freeze Russia’s membership fee payments to the Council of Europe.
On April 10, 2019, PACE 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 send a delegation to PACE and pay membership dues.