PARIS, May 6. /TASS/. France would like Russia to continue participating in the activities of the Council of Europe, French President Emmanuel Macron said at a joint press conference with Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjorn Jagland in Paris on Monday.
"I would like Russia to remain a Council of Europe member," Macron said. "The Council of Europe needs Russia just like Russians need the Council of Europe," the French president noted. He pointed out that France would chair the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers from May to November.
Jagland voiced a similar position earlier. While addressing a session of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities in Strasbourg in early April, he expressed hope that Russia would remain a member of the Council of Europe after June 2019.
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.
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, 2018, 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.
In January 2019, the two houses of the Russian parliament 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.
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.