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STRASBOURG, January 26. /TASS/. Russia should be a full-fledged member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, head of the Slovak delegation to PACE Olga Nachtmannova said Monday.
“I think we should hold a discussion. Communication and discussion are the key words PACE needs. How can we talk about Russia and developments connected with it when it is not present here?” she asked in an interview with TASS.
“That’s why I entirely support Russia being a fully fledged PACE member with all the rights,” she said.
Nachtmannova also recalled that PACE members on Thursday, January 29, were due to discuss the growing threat of terrorism and extremism in Europe in the wake of the recent Paris attacks.
“I don't understand at all how we can discuss this problem without Russia [PACE could strip the Russian delegation of its right to vote or participate in discussions - TASS],” she said, noting that Russia was Slovakia’s strategic partner in those issues.
The Slovak delegate did not rule out that some parliamentarians who contested the Russian delegation’s powers on Monday aimed to punish Russia for Crimea. This “counter-productive” position could lead to a split in Europe, she said.
“The Council of Europe emerged with the aim of uniting Europe and protecting human rights. And I don’t understand why Russia has been deprived of the opportunity to cooperate while discussing these issues,” Nachtmannova stressed, adding that it was impossible to separate Russia from the rest of Europe.
“This is my opinion and I think the opinion of most of our Slovak deputies,” she added.
Russia’s dialogue with PACE was suspended at an April session last year when the assembly stripped it of voting rights until January 2015 following Crimea’s re-unification with Russia, suspending its right to be represented in the assembly’s leading bodies and to participate in election-observation missions.
Russian parliamentary delegates then left the session before its official completion as a gesture of protest and refused to take part in future PACE activities, ignoring the assembly's summer and autumn sessions. In January, PACE is scheduled to formally reaffirm all delegations’ powers.
The assembly started its winter session in Strasbourg on Monday. Reaffirmation of the Russian delegation’s powers is one of the central issues to be discussed.