MOSCOW, January 31. /TASS/. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian have held a telephone conversation, discussing the situation in Venezuela, the current crisis in the Council of Europe and talks between the two countries’ foreign and defense ministries, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Thursday.
"There was a discussion of issues concerning the need to improve the situation in Venezuela through dialogue involving all of the country’s political forces, prevent the destruction of international legal tools for maintaining strategical stability, overcome the crisis in the Council of Europe and boost Russian-French cooperation, including the two-plus-two meetings between the foreign and defense ministers," the statement reads.
Situation in Venezuela
On January 23, Juan Guaido, Venezuelan opposition leader and parliament speaker, whose appointment to that position had been cancelled by the country’s Supreme Court, declared himself interim president at a rally in the country’s capital of Caracas.
Several countries, including the United States, Lima Group members (excluding Mexico), Australia, Albania, Georgia and Israel, as well as the Organization of American States, recognized him. Maduro, in turn, blasted the move as a coup staged by Washington and said he was severing diplomatic ties with the US.
Meanwhile, Spain, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands said that they would recognize Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president unless Maduro called elections by February 3
In contrast, Russia, Belarus, Bolivia, Iran, Cuba, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Turkey voiced support for Maduro, while China called for resolving all differences peacefully and warned against foreign interference. The United Nations secretary general, in turn, called for dialogue to resolve the crisis.
Russia and Council of Europe
In April 2014, Russia’s delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (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. Moscow suggested PACE’s regulations be amended to ensure that no one could strip lawmakers of their rights except their voters.
Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland said on October 10, 2018, that Russia’s membership in the organization’s Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly might be suspended starting from June 2019 due to non-payment of monetary contributions. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in response that Moscow would quit the Council of Europe if opposing member states called for expelling Russia.