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Russia considering plans of leaving Council of Europe, says senior diplomat

Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko recalled that "discrimination on political grounds is unacceptable" for Russia

MOSCOW, January 21. /TASS/. Russia is considering all possible options of further developing its ties with the Council of Europe, including leaving this organization unless discrimination against Russia’s delegation in the Parliamentary Assembly ends, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said in an interview with TASS.

"For us, discrimination on political grounds is unacceptable," Grushko said. "Today we are considering all options for our possible steps, including the option of leaving the Council of Europe. We hope that our opponents will ultimately have common sense. The ball is in the court of those who made the decision to exclude the Russian delegation: they should reconsider this decision, if certainly they are guided by deep interests about maintaining the organization’s performance."

The deputy foreign minister recalled that the Council of Europe had been created in order to ensure the unity of all European nations, and Article 1 of the organization’s Charter says that the unity of nations cannot be ensured by discrimination."

"Parliamentary delegations to PACE cannot be placed on different sides depending on their political views," he went on to say. "This runs counter to the principles based on which a number of international organizations operate, including the Council of Europe. Therefore, it is evident that if there is no consensus or a majority in favor of restoring the full rights of our delegation, there is no sense in demanding the confirmation of Russia’s rights in this organization," he said.

According to him, the easiest way would be if PACE sent an invitation to Russian lawmakers, declaring that "this discriminatory regime is a thing of the past." "Then our lawmakers would consider it," Grushko explained. "However, such signals are not coming today," he added. "At least, during our recent contacts, we did not receive them."

"Today, the crisis has gone that far that it concerns not only the issue of discriminating a particular delegation, but also the overall viability of this organization under conditions when there is a flagrant inconsistency between basic documents of the Council of Europe and internal regulations of PACE’s activity, diplomat said. "The Rules Committee earlier adopted cosmetic changes, but they, unfortunately, do not change the essence of the matter."

"Given the events taking place in the Council of Europe, I mean the process of appointing new judges or electing new representatives to the posts, it’s clear that this situation cannot last forever," Grushko said. The deadline for the Council of Europe to decide is this June session, when the elections of the Secretary General will be held," he noted.