PARIS, May 26. /TASS/. Russia must form a delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in order to adhere to the decision of the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers taken on the outcomes of the meeting in Helsinki, Chairman of the Unified European Left Group at PACE Tiny Kox told TASS on Saturday.
"Our Russian colleagues have to be aware of two things: they have to come back, they have to present a delegation. That’s clear, that decision’s taken, so it’s not "let’s wait and see", it’s up to us. Because then they violate the decision of Helsinki," Kox, who is the author of a report on PACE’s role and mission, explained.
The resolution based on this report was approved at the April session and key proposals were endorsed at the May conference of ministers in Helsinki. The initiative of Kox provided the basis for this decision of the ministerial committee.
"They have to realize that now there will be a joint mechanism. If a member state violates the statute of the convention, in the end [the state] could be confronted with Article 7, 8, and 9 of the Convention," he explained.
According to the recent decision approved during the meeting in Helsinki, the Committee of Ministers, PACE and Secretary General of the Council of Europe will be able to initiate proceedings against the states violating the Statute of the Council of Europe. Article 8 of the statute says that any member of the Council of Europe "may be suspended from its rights of representation and requested by the Committee of Ministers to withdraw" from the organization if it fails to accept the principles of the rule of law or fulfil its financial obligations.
"The decisions of Helsinki are binding. Nobody can now say whether Russia comes back or not, and this mechanism will not be there. It is decided. And it’s also decided that if you participate in both organs and if you participate this will be on an equal basis. This question how to organize that should be answered by the Rules Committee. And in the end it will be the Assembly, which will decide," he explained.
The politician added that every international organization requires a sanctions mechanism. "You need to have the means to say: if you do not deliver, what are you doing here?"" he stressed.
Kox noted that the meeting of the Committee on Rules of Procedure is due on June 3. It will decide how the binding decisions of Helsinki will influence PACE’s regulation and will give the respective proposals. The Assembly will vote on them on the first day of PACE’s plenary session in late June.
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.
Secretary General of the Council of Europe 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.
In January 2019, the two houses of the Russian parliament issued statements pointing out that 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.