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MOSCOW, October 31. /TASS/. The Council of Europe must ensure strict compliance with the Minsk Accords’ originally approved version, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told a news conference following talks with his Cypriot counterpart Ionannis Kasoulidis in Moscow on Monday.
"There is no alternative to systematic and comprehensive implementation of the Minsk Accords, their originally approved version," Lavrov said, adding that Moscow and Nicosia shared an identical attitude to the situation in Ukraine.
"We discussed the way the theme of Ukraine is considered by the Council of Europe, where certain decisions were made on that score - by the ministerial committee and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe," Lavrov said. "We believe it is important to enforce strict compliance with these decisions."
Russia believes it is important to prevent Council of Europe from sliding towards double standards, the minister said.
"Kasoulidis has arrived in Russia in the context of preparations for Nicosia’s presidency of the CE ministerial committee," Lavrov said. "It is very logical we paid the main attention to Cyprus’s priorities in that organization and our mutual cooperation within its framework over six months to come."
Lavrov described the Council of Europe as an important humanitarian pillar of European architecture.
"We believe it is important to prevent the CE from sliding towards double standards and artificial politicization of its agenda, where some of our Western counterparts have been pushing it," he stated. "We believe that efforts by the Council of Europe are very crucial on the human rights track, including resistance to extremism, aggressive nationalism and racial and religious intolerance. We believe it is of fundamental importance to attach priority attention to inter-cultural dialog."
"The current no simple situation between Russia and the European Union could not but affect bilateral cooperation, in the first place, trading and economic interaction," Lavrov said. "Nevertheless we stated with satisfaction that our relations are keynoted by a high level of trust. We expressed gratitude to our Cypriot friends for their invariable readiness to promote an improvement of the situation in Europe."
Ioannis Kasoulidis said the Council of Europe is ready to cooperate with Russia which is very important for this agency.
"On November 23 Cyprus will take over the Council of Europe presidency," he noted. "I intend to brief you on the policy that Cyprus is going to pursue as the presiding country. Russia is very important for the Council of Europe as it is a great state whose position is always crucial."
"We want to work together to show Russia’s important role in the Council of Europe," he added.
All member-countries of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, including Russia, must play an equal role in its work, Kasoulides stressed.
"Yes, we discussed these issues, including Russia’s participation in the Council of Europe," he said.
"Our stance is that all member-countries, including the Russian Federation, must play their role in PACE’s work," he stressed. "Our role in the Council of Europe chairmanship will be neutral."
The minister added that "it is necessary to make a consensus decision" so that Cyprus’ presidency could bring a solution to this problem.
Kasoulidis also conveyed Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland’s greetings to Lavrov and said he would like to discuss some of the Secretary General’s messages.
Cyprus will preside over the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe from November 22, 2016, to May 2017.