MOSCOW, April 13. /TASS/. The PACE resolution on Russia is a step in the right direction as it sends a signal that the Russian delegation needs to be reinstated, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko told reporters on Saturday on the sidelines of the 27 Assembly of the Council of Foreign and Defense Policy.
"The resolution has a text but it also has a subtext. There are second-level and third-level subtexts," he said. "Nevertheless, it is a step in the right direction because it contains some parts which prove that common sense is prevailing at PACE."
"It sends an absolutely clear signal that the rights of Russia’s delegation at PACE need to be reinstated. PACE spoke in favor of the Russian delegation’s participation in the assembly’s work," Grushko said.
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. The issue of restoring the Russian delegation’s rights was raised at PACE twice in 2015, but instead the sanctions were only tightened.
In response, Russia suspended its participation in PACE’s activities until the end of 2015. In 2016-2018, Russia skipped the parliamentary assembly’s meetings due to the ongoing sanctions and did not renew its credentials in the wake of anti-Russian sentiment in Strasbourg.
On 10 October 2018, Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjorn Jagland told the PACE autumn session that the organization's Committee of Ministers will have to expel Russia from the Council’s decision-making bodies — the Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly — if the country does not make any monetary contributions. In response, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov pointed out that Russia would quit the Council of Europe on its own volition in case opponents at the council insist on its expulsion.
In January 2019, both houses of Russia’s parliament — the State Duma and Federation Council— unanimously passed statements, which suggested not sending the Russian delegation to the PACE session in 2019. In addition, the State Duma upheld the move to suspend the payment of the country’s contribution. In the wake of the Russia-PACE crisis, an issue of Russia’s further membership in the Council of Europe has been raised more than once.
On April 10, PACE members adopted a resolution on the role and mission of the Assembly, which, in part, mentions the need to maintain Russia’s Council of Europe membership and calls on Moscow to form a delegation to PACE and pay membership dues. The resolution says that PACE’s sanctions against the Russian delegation following Crimea’s reunification with Russia and the country’s subsequent decision to terminate participation in the Assembly’s activities caused discord within the organization.