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Russia should be present in PACE, organization’s president says

"As the president of the Assembly I want all the states to participate in the work of our organization," Agramunt said
Pedro Agramunt

STRASBOURG, October 14. /TASS/. Russia’s representatives should take part in the work of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and the absence of any country harms the organization’s interests, PACE President Pedro Agramunt said in an interview with TASS.

"I don’t know if Russian parliamentarians come to the upcoming PACE session in January. But as the president of the Assembly I want all the states to participate in the work of our organization," Agramunt said summing up the debate of the autumn session in Strasbourg.

"There may be differences and even confrontation between the member-states of the organization. But the solution may be found only based on a dialogue and for this the presence of Russia’s representatives is needed," he said.

Ukraine’s position in PACE

PACE adopted a resolution on the political situation in Ukraine on Wednesday. Upon the initiative of the Ukrainian delegation, an amendment was made to the resolution on non-recognition of September 18 elections to the Russian State Duma in Crimea. Some parliamentarians voiced their disagreement with the maneuver during the debate.

"I can personally dislike something but as the president of PACE I must defend all the decisions and resolutions taken at a plenary session," Agramunt said.

"Another thing is important for me: it is necessary to resolve the conflict. But now there are obstacles that prevent us from doing this. The main obstacle is the lack of dialogue between Ukraine and Russia," he explained.

Agramunt criticized the recent statement of Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Pavel Klimkin who threatened that Kiev could halt its work in PACE if the rights of Russia’s delegation in the organization were restored.

"I would like to say again: the absence of any country does not meet its own interests and the interests of the organization. Ukraine won’t earn anything if Russia is not represented in PACE. It won’t earn anything if it is not represented in PACE itself," Agramunt said.

New State Duma speaker

Agramunt expressed wish to meet with the new speaker of Russia’s State Duma (lower house of parliament) Vyacheslav Volodin.

"I’m sure that we will have good relations like with previous speakers of the Russian parliament," he said. "I would like to have an opportunity to meet with him personally."

Volodin, first deputy chief of staff of Russia’s presidential administration, was elected the State Duma speaker on October 5. He replaced Sergey Naryshkin who was appointed director of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service.

Russia’s delegation at PACE was deprived of its key rights in April 2014 over developments in Ukraine and Crimea’s reunification with Russia. In 2015, PACE voted twice on a possibility of restoring the Russian delegation’s powers but the restrictions remain in force. Russia is stripped of the right to vote and take part in the PACE governing bodies and its monitoring activities.

Owing to these restrictions, the Russian delegation suspended its participation in the PACE work until late 2015. The leadership of the Russian delegation has repeatedly said it would return to PACE only if all the sanctions were lifted. In January 2016, Russia refused to bid for confirming its powers this year.