MOSCOW, January 23. /TASS/. State Duma Chairman Vyacheslav Volodin hopes for a constructive dialogue with the new speaker of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), Michele Nicoletti, who was elected at the opening of the PACE January session on Monday.
"We hope for an open, fair and constructive dialogue. Based on mutual respect of our interests, we will be able to change many things for the better," Volodin said in a congratulation statement for Nicoletti due to his election as the PACE head which was published at the State Duma website on Tuesday.
In April 2014, the Russian delegation to PACE was stripped of its basic powers in the wake of the events in Ukraine and Crimea’s reintegration with Russia. In 2015, PACE studied the issue of restoring the Russian delegation’s rights twice, but the sanctions remained in force then: Russia remained without the voting right in PACE until the end of the year and was barred from participation in work of the assembly’s management bodies and its election monitoring missions operating within the Council of Europe’s space. The Russian delegation stated in response that it refuses to work with PACE under such conditions, and in 2016-2017 it did not send an application to confirm its powers due to the persistent Russophobian sentiments in Strasbourg.
In late June 2017, it emerged that Russia is suspending payment of its contribution to the Council of Europe due to non-participation of the Russian delegation in the PACE operation. At the same time Moscow suggests introducing a provision that no one has the right to strip any national delegations of their powers to the assembly’s regulations.
On January 11, Chairman of the State Duma Committee for Foreign Affairs Leonid Slutsky pointed out that Russia will not send an application to confirm the powers of the Russian delegation to PACE in 2018 and will not attend the January session. That said, State Duma Vice Speaker Pyotr Tolstoy and Chairman of the Federation Council Committee for Foreign Affairs Konstantin Kosachev went to Strasburg on a working visit during the PACE session. On January 23, they are due to attend a meeting of a special commission to harmonize the Council of Europe bodies.