On January 23, the Strasbourg winter session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) opened, which for the second time will be held without the participation of the Russian delegation.
Russia decided not to appeal to PACE for participation in mid January. The head of International Affairs of the Federation Council Committee, Konstantin Kosachev, wrote that the conflict was created by Strasbourg, more specifically – “Russophobic forces” within PACE. The Federation Council is confident that the organization needs reforms that would allow national delegations to freely participate in the discussions.
The opening speaker, Theodora Bakoyannis, expressed hope that Russia will change its’ decision in regard to the Assembly, but stressed:
“The Council of Europe will not change its values, it is our basis. For us, the issue of human rights is a priority. “
Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Peter Szijjarto, expressed criticism and said:
“The cutting of dialogue with Russia [within PACE] is the wrongest step… I believe that the Council of Europe was created in order to be a platform for the dialogue of the representatives of the European countries. If we exclude someone from the Council, we also exclude the opportunity to continue the dialogue with them, and I consider it wrong,”
On Monday, PACE discussed the situation in Crimea, as well as in Turkey.
As it was reported that earlier Pedro Agramunt, President of PACE, urged the Assembly to take the decisions necessary to return the Russian delegation to the plenary hall in October. He urged the leaders of the political groups to hold consultations in their groups on this issue.
“The absence of one delegation [Russian] from our work benefits no one.
I will not give up, because I see that the Russian Parliament and its parliamentarians are open to dialogue and co-operation in order to break the current impasse.” – He stressed.
PACE brings together 324 members of parliaments of the 47 countries that are members of the Council of Europe.
In April 2014, the Russian delegation was deprived of the basic powers in PACE because of the situation in Ukraine and Crimea. Russia was deprived of the right to vote and participate in the governing bodies of the Assembly and its mission to monitor the elections in Europe. In 2015, the sanctions were prolonged. As a respond in 2017, Russia also did not seek accreditation.