MOSCOW, January 22. /TASS/. The head of the Russian State Duma’s Committee for International Affairs expressed ‘cautions optimism’ on Monday over the election of Italian Michele Nicoletti as new President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).
Leonid Slutsky said this "can be at the moment regarded with cautious optimism," in terms of chances to normalize relations of Moscow and Strasbourg. "The Russian delegation did not participate in the vote for Nicoletti’s candidacy," as it had not sent an application to confirm its authorities due to "the sanction articles in the Assembly’s regulations," he told reporters.
"And we once again confirm that Russia will not return to PACE as long as the discriminatory rules, allowing to strip entire national delegations of the right to vote, stay in place," the parliamentarian said.
However, "Nicoletti is the author of the report on harmonizing the activity of statutory agencies of the Council of Europe, which says in particular, that all 47 countries members of the Council of Europe must participate in the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers as well as PACE".
"As a result, the PACE Bureau set up an ad hoc commission on this report in December of last year, and Russian representatives will participate in its first session already tomorrow - Chairman of the Federation Council’s International Affairs Committee Konstantin Kosachev and Duma Vice Speaker Pyotr Tolstoy," he said. "This will help to continue a dialogue on getting out of the crisis in relations between Russia and PACE," Slutsky said.
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, 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.