MOSCOW, June 19. /TASS/. The Russian Federation Council (upper house) has formed its part of the delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on Wednesday, headed by the first deputy head of the chamber’s Foreign Affairs Committee Sergey Kislyak, the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Konstantin Kosachev told reporters.
"The decisions of the State Duma, Federation Council and two chambers’ councils on forming the delegation of the Federal Assembly (national legislature) to take part in the work of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe were taken simultaneously. The decision of the Federation Council’s chamber council approved the senator part of the delegation to PACE, headed by first deputy head of the chamber’s Foreign Affairs Committee Sergey Kislyak," he said.
Earlier on Wednesday, the State Duma Council approved the lower chamber’s delegation of the Federal Assembly for its possible participation in the PACE summer session. Chairman of the State Duma’s Foreign Affairs Committee Leonid Slutsky told reporters that the Duma’s part of the delegation is made up of 22 people, 11 representatives and 11 deputies.
Kosachev did not rule out a possibility that a number of PACE parliamentarians would like to contest the rights of the Russian delegation after the issue of their confirmation is be put on the agenda. "Because, for now, the old norm that 30 members of the Assembly from five delegations suffice to question the rights of any delegation still persists in the [PACE] regulation."
"Considering the fact that we are personally aware of our opponents, we are perfectly accustomed to the countries working against Russia at the Assembly, we cannot rule out a possibility that these 30 members from 5 national delegations will voice their opinions in the hall. Therefore, the rights of the Russian delegation could be contested again under auxiliary criteria," the senator said.
He added that, in this case, the Russian delegation will insist that the Assembly’s final decision on this issue is made by Wednesday’s morning, June 26, because that is the date when the elections of the new Council of Europe’s Secretary General are scheduled. "If the Assembly decides to postpone the issue of considering the rights of the Russian delegation’s rights until a further date, Wednesday’s evening, Thursday or even Friday, them it will render Russian participation in the CE Secretary General’s elections impossible, even if the delegation is physically present in Strasbourg, in the PACE building," Kosachev clarified.
"We have a clear understanding of what can happen [in Strasbourg], we have a clear understanding of what we will do in case of one scenario or another. We are ready for any twists in the situation, perfectly realizing that no other variant except for full-scale reinstatement of the Russian rights in PACE can be acceptable for our delegation," he added.
Earlier, speaker of the State Duma Vyacheslav Volodin told reporters that the Russian delegation will submit its application to confirm its rights only in the case that PACE approves the resolution of Belgian representative Petra De Sutter on the first day of its summer session, June 24. In case of its adoption, the rights of national delegations "to be represented in the Assembly, vote and deliver speeches" will become untouchable, Volodin pointed out. Moreover, this document provides an opportunity for Russia to submit the application, confirming the rights of its delegation, in June, although the PACE delegations’ rights are traditionally approved at the January session.
Is the resolution is passed without any extractions, the Russian parliamentarians will be able to submit the application before the end of the day on June 24. In this scenario, the Russian delegation will be represented in the PACE hall already on June 25. If the rights are fully confirmed, the Russian delegation will take part in the CE’s General Secretary elections on June 26.
Russia and PACE
In April 2014, the Russian delegation to PACE was stripped of its voting rights following the events in Ukraine and Crimea’s reunification with Russia. In response, Moscow refused to pay membership dues to the Council of Europe’s budget and participate in the Assembly’s work. As a result, a question arose whether Russia can keep its membership in the Council of Europe in these conditions.
In April this year, the Council of Europe (CE) parliamentarians adopted a resolution, particularly calling to keep Russia in the CE and urging Moscow to nominate its delegation to PACE. On May 17, following the meeting of PACE member states’ top diplomats in Helsinki, the CE Committee of Ministers published a statement on the organization’s official website, reading that all CE members should be entitled to participate on an equal basis in the Committee of Ministers and in the Parliamentary Assembly, the two statutory organs of the Council of Europe. The heads of Foreign Ministries also said that they "welcome that delegations of all member states be able to take part in the next June part-session of the Parliamentary Assembly, considering the importance of the elections of the Secretary General and of judges to the European Court of Human Rights.".