BERLIN, May 17. /TASS/. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his German colleague Heiko Maas will discuss the situation in the Middle East, Ukraine, as well as Russia’s membership in the Council of Europe during their bilateral meeting in Helsinki, the German Foreign Ministry informed on Friday.
"Minister Maas will meet with Russian minister Lavrov in Helsinki. Apart from Russia’s membership in the Council of Europe, the ministers will discuss bilateral and international issues, including the situation in the Middle East and Ukraine," the foreign ministry stressed.
"Russia is the largest member state of the Council of Europe, which has not paid its membership fees for two years," Maas said before flying out to Helsinki to attend the session of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers. He added that Russia’s delegation has not been represented in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) for several years.
"There is a pressing need to act," the German top diplomat stressed. "This situation is not in our interest. Russia forms part of the Council of Europe, with all the rights and responsibilities related to it. I hope that during this meeting, we can make a decisive step forward on this issue," he said, noting that the Council of Europe members must ensure the effective functioning of the organization.
The upcoming session is timed to the 70th anniversary of the organization’s founding, the main topic on the agenda being "Current challenges to the future of the Council of Europe". Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will attend the meeting.
In April 2014, the Russian delegation to PACE was stripped of its key rights, including the right to vote and take part in the assembly’s governing bodies, following the developments in Ukraine and Crimea. In response, Russia ceased to send its delegations to PACE. Since 2017, Russia has stopped paying the Council of Europe membership fees.