PARIS, April 11. /TASS/. Members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) adopted a resolution stressing the need to preserve Russia’s membership in the organization and urging Moscow to appoint its delegation and pay membership fees.
During the session of the Council of Europe’s parliamentary arm, broadcast live on the PACE website, a total of 105 lawmakers voted in favor of the resolution, 30 voted against and 16 abstained.
The resolution, headlined "Role and mission of the Parliamentary Assembly: main challenges for the future," says that PACE sanctions on the Russian delegation for the country’s reunification with Crimea in 2014 and Russia’s subsequent decision to stop participating in the activities of the Assembly, have "led to a rift within the Organisation."
"As of June 2017, the Russian Government’s decision, in reaction to this situation, to suspend payment of its contribution to the budget of the Organisation has led to a major budgetary crisis threatening the Council of Europe’s key activities," the resolution reads.
Therefore, the assembly "calls on the Russian Federation, in accordance with its statutory obligations, to appoint a delegation to the Assembly and to resume obligatory payment of its contribution to the Organisation’s budget, failure of which may lead to the suspension of its representation rights in both statutory organs."
The document also calls for "intensified dialogue among all actors concerned in order to preserve the pan-European mission of the Council of Europe" and underlines the need to "avoid a situation in which the biggest member State would be asked to, or chooses to, leave the Organisation."
It also says that governments of the member states should "consider all available options to ensure the political relevance and financial sustainability of the Organisation so as to avoid seriously undermining its activities and thereby its effectiveness."
The resolution also stresses "the need to step up the political dialogue between the Assembly and the Committee of Ministers." The authors say that " there is an urgent need to develop synergies and provide for joint action by the two statutory organs in order to strengthen the Organisation’s ability to react more effectively in situations where a member State violates its statutory obligations or does not respect the fundamental principles and values upheld by the Council of Europe."
For such cases, the Assembly suggests "a joint procedure of reaction which could be triggered by either the Parliamentary Assembly, the Committee of Ministers or the Secretary General and in which all three of them would participate."
"This joint procedure could consist of a step-by-step process, starting from the notification of the member State concerned and including a number of concrete and well-defined steps such us a co-ordinated dialogue with the State concerned, the setting up of a special monitoring procedure enhanced by a joint task force, the publication of a public statement and ultimately the decision to act under Articles 7, 8 or 9 of the Statute," the resolution says.
"This joint procedure would ensure enhanced legitimacy, credibility, impact, relevance and synergy of the measures to be taken, both regarding the member State concerned and within the Organisation, without prejudice to each organ’s existing separate powers and responsibilities," it says.
Russia and PACE
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. The country did not apply for confirmation of its rights in 2016-2018.
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 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.
On December 10, the PACE Committee on Rules of Procedure spoke out against depriving national delegations of their right to take part in electing the organization’s secretary general and judges of the European Court of Human Rights. However, Russian Permanent Representative to the European Union Vladimir Chizhov said that Moscow would not be satisfied with a partial restoration of the Russian delegation’s rights, as it expected the rights to be restored in full. Chizhov added Russia also called for developing rules that would exclude the possibility of such actions in the future.
In January 2019, the two houses of the Russian parliament - the Federation Council and the State Duma - issued statements, pointing out there were no reasons for Russia to return to PACE in 2019. In addition, the State Duma upheld the move to suspend the payment of the country’s contribution.