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MOSCOW, September 26. /TASS/. PACE, or the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, can "put an end to the lawlessness in respect of the Russian delegation" at its next session in October, Sergei Naryshkin, who was speaker of Russia’s previous State Duma lower parliament house, wrote in an article "Together Against Risks" published on the Rossiiskaya Gazeta website on Monday.
In April 2014, the Russian delegation to PACE was stripped of key rights following the developments 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 the sanctions are still in place: Russia is deprived of the right to vote and cannot take part in the Assembly’s governing bodies and elections monitoring missions. In response, Russia suspended its participation in the PACE activities till the end of 2015. In January 2016, Russia refrained from applying for confirmation of its rights for 2016.
"I must say that at our September talks with the PACE president and leaders of its political groups [in Moscow], common language was found on a number of positions. And it will become clear in the next few months whether it could be materialized in a right decision in Strasbourg. Anyway, this, October, session of the Assembly could put an end to the blatant lawlessness in respect of the Russian delegation, and of the very principles and values of parliamentarism as well," he wrote.
The European community, in his words, should go back to the discussion of the concept of Europe free from division lines. "Going back to the uniting agenda is necessary to solve the problems that have piled up over these two years. And it is necessary to begin with reforms of European structures that were once established to promote dialogue. Twenty years ago, Russia joined these structures for the sake of this dialogue, believing that this step was a chance for closer cooperation," Naryshkin noted.
After talks with a visiting PACE delegation led by its President Pedro Agramunt on September 7, Naryshkin said PACE wants the Russian delegation to resume full-format participation in the Assembly’s work. Naryshkin also confirmed that Russian lawmakers are ready to resume full-format cooperation within PACE but only "on the principle of equality which is a fundamental one for that organization." He suggested the Assembly be reformed and its regulations be amended to prohibit deprivation of rights of any of the national delegations. Among his other initiatives were to abandon the practice of passing PACE resolutions by a simple majority vote of those present and to replace the practice of country monitoring by ‘problem’ monitoring in member countries.
PACE autumn session will be held in early October without Russia’s delegation.