MOSCOW, December 6 /TASS/. Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland, who is on a working visit to Russia, tried to persuade Russian State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin not to set any conditions for Russia’s return to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Duma’s First Vice-Speaker Ivan Melnikov, who was present at the meeting, told journalists.
According to him, the return of the Russian parliamentary delegation topped the agenda of Jagland’s meeting with Volodin.
"Mr. Jagland tried to persuade Vyacheslav Volodin and the Russians that it was unnecessary to link the conditions put forth at the start of the talks with the possibility of the Russian delegation’s return to PACE," Melnikov said.
He recalled that the Russians had put forward a number of conditions for lifting the discriminatory measures imposed on the Russian delegation. "It is the main precondition and an obstacle to normal dialogue at PACE. We are ready for this dialogue," Melnikov stressed.
"The second proposal made by the Russian side was to replace country monitoring with issue-related monitoring. The third problem is that it is abnormal when many vital PACE decisions are passed by a minority of votes," the first vice-speaker said. According to him, Jagland also touched upon the problem of non-profit organizations.
"In concluding talks on non-profit organizations, Volodin advised Jagland to be as firm in defending the Russian delegation’s right at PACE as he is in defending the rights of non-profit organizations," Melnikov added.
Earlier, Volodin told Jagland that Russia would resume its work in PACE only if the Assembly cancels its discriminatory measures against Russia.
The busy program in store for the Council of Europe’s Secretary General on his visit to Russia corroborates Moscow’s readiness to boost cooperation and dialogue with the Council of Europe, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said after talks with Jagland.
"I believe that our talks were quite useful. We can see the Secretary General’s interest in preserving the Council of Europe’s role as of a place where various conventions work equally for all without any double standards. In this respect, we are going to support Mr. Jagland’s efforts," Russia’s top diplomat stressed.
In his message to Jagland dedicated to the 20th anniversary of Russia’s accession to the Council of Europe marked in 2016, Lavrov pointed out the need to abandon double standards and selective approaches in the Council’s work. Jagland, in turn, responded that over the recent period Russia had made noticeable achievements in introducing European legal norms and standards in Russian life.
"Over that period of time, our country has come a long way in building a rule-of-law state; developing a pluralistic democracy and observing human rights. Full-scale reforms have been carried out in all spheres of public life," the Russian Foreign Ministry said a day earlier on Monday.