MOSCOW, April 28. /TASS/. Moscow believes that the ball is currently in the court of those who created a crisis in relations between Moscow and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said in an exclusive interview with TASS.
When commenting on a statement by Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjorn Jagland, in which he said that the Council’s foreign ministers committee may take measures over Russia’s refusal to pay its contribution to the Council, Grushko said that "the ball is currently in the court of those who created this issue." "It seems, the reasonable majority in the Council of Europe and PACE should call for finding a way to overcome this crisis created by some who decided to play political games and punish Russia for God know what as far as PACE goes," the senior Russian diplomat noted.
He added that efforts were being made to resolve the situation. "We support them and expect that a solution will be found that would make it possible to keep the Council of Europe as one of the systemically important organizations in Europe, which has unique capacities to establish and maintain a unified legal framework," he said.
"If someone wants to destroy the organization, then their intentions are not in line with our view of the Council of Europe and its place in the European architecture," the Russian deputy foreign minister stressed.
In April 2014, Russia’s delegation to 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 and 2017.
After suspending suspended the payment of its contribution to the Council of Europe in June 2017, Moscow called for adding a provision to the PACE regulations stipulating that no one could be eligible to deprive national delegations of their rights.
On January 11, Chairman of the State Duma Committee for Foreign Affairs Leonid Slutsky confirmed that Russia would not apply for confirmation of its delegations’ rights in 2018 and would not participate in the January session of PACE.