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France urges Council of Europe to support efforts for preserving Russia’s membership

President Emmanuel Macron has confirmed the importance of finding a solution that would preserve Russia’s CE membership

PARIS, May 14. /TASS/. France is calling upon the Council of Europe’s member-countries to support efforts for preserving Russia’s CE membership, a French Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Tuesday in reply to a question from TASS.

"As far as the Council of Europe is concerned, President Emmanuel Macron has confirmed the importance of finding a solution that would preserve Russia’s membership of the Council of Europe with all the ensuing rights and obligations," he said. "France is urging all member-states to support efforts being taken along these lines by the current Finnish presidency," the Foreign Ministry’s spokesman said.

Speaking at a joint news conference with the Council of Europe’s Secretary-General Thorbjorn Jagland in Paris on May 6 the French leader said that France would like Russia to continue to participate in CE activities. He stated that the rights of Russia as a CE member-country must be respected, while Russia for its part must honor its CE obligations. Macron said he would like the Council of Europe to overcome the current crisis.

Jagland expressed a similar viewpoint at the beginning of April. Speaking at a congress of local and regional authorities in Strasbourg Jagland voiced the hope that Russia would remain a CE member after June 2019.

Russia has refused to send its delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe for the past three years. The reason is the Assembly’s rules of procedure still contain articles that allow for stripping national delegations of their key powers. This is precisely what happened to the Russian legislators and senators when in 2014-2015 they were denied the right to vote and participate in CE monitoring missions and PACE’s leadership bodies following Crimea’s reunification with Russia. The Russian delegation said the cancellation of these rules was a mandatory condition for its return to the assembly.

In January, the State Duma and the Federation Council issued statements pointing to the lack of any reasons for the Russian delegation’s return to the PACE in 2019. Also, the State Duma called for leaving in force the freeze on Russia’s contributions to the CE budget. Amid the crisis in Russia-PACE relations the question of Russia’s future CE membership has been raised several times.