STRASBOURG, April 26. / TASS /. Russia will participate in the next meeting of the ad hoc committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on the harmonization of the activities of the statutory bodies of the Council of Europe (CoE), which will be held on June 1 in Zagreb. This was reported to journalists on Thursday by the head of the State Duma Committee on International Affairs Leonid Slutsky following a meeting of the PACE special commission in Strasbourg.
"We will participate in the meeting on June 1 in Zagreb, we do not cut off cooperation with political groups and a number of national delegations to the Assembly, but to say that the special commission is close to recommending the assembly to adopt regulatory amendments on the abolition of dividing lines and on non-reconsideration of powers country delegations for today would still be a utopia. We continue to work", said Slutsky.
At the same time, the Russian parliamentarian admitted that the future of this special commission, created in late 2017 with the active participation of the current PACE chairman, Michele Nicoletti, raises questions, considering that this year the head of the assembly will resign. According to Slutsky, at least two more ad hoc meetings will be held – June 1 in Zagreb, as well as a meeting during the June session of the PACE in Strasbourg. "What will happen next … I think the committee will continue to work, it’s another matter how constructive this work will be", – he remarked.
It is not known, Slutsky added, just how much the special commission will be able to "approach that most members recommend to the Assembly the adoption of regulatory amendments on the non-discrimination of country delegations", on which the Russian Federation insists. "This is a big question, and today, it seems to me, to discuss it early, but we are working for this and with many leaders of country delegations without any utopia, we come to a unified position that such regulatory amendments are necessary – not for Russia, but for The name of the future Council [of Europe], its Parliamentary Assembly in the European architecture of the twenty-first century", – the deputy considers.
The position of the Russian Federation finds more and more supporters
Slutsky added that Russia’s position with the demand to introduce changes into the PACE regulation, which exclude the possibility to restrict the rights of individual national parliamentary delegations, is finding more and more supporters within the assembly.
Summing up the results of the third meeting of the PACE special commission on harmonization of the activities of the statutory bodies of the Council of Europe (CE) this year, Slutsky acknowledged that significant progress on the issues under consideration was not achieved after an hour and a half discussion. "The variance of the issues under consideration is too large. Maybe this is a plus, because [PACE President Michele] Nicoletti does not hit aiming, but tries to consider in a complex the whole array of issues facing PACE today", – the Russian parliamentarian stated, answering the TASS question.
"We will continue to work and clearly defend our position, which does not change, and it is gratifying that, without any utopia, more and more members of the special committee, leaders of parliamentary delegations, influential members of the Parliamentary Assembly share this position [RF]", – added Slutsky.
As he stressed, during this meeting, Russia’s point of view was again voiced in Strasbourg. "We have once again reflected the position of the Russian Federation that our full-fledged full-blooded return to PACE is possible only after the adoption of regulatory amendments that no powers of national delegations can be reviewed in the Parliamentary Assembly. Accordingly, no one spoke against this, on the contrary a number of members of the special committee spoke in favor of the need to listen to this position and take it into account in the next meeting of the commission on June 1 in Zagreb", the deputy said.
Ad hoc commission The PACE Bureau was established in December 2017. Its main goal is to harmonize the activities of the statutory bodies of the Council of Europe – the Committee of Ministers (CMCE) and PACE. The work of the special commission is based on the report of the current PACE head, Michele Nicoletti, on October 11, 2017, a separate resolution of the assembly was adopted. In it it was said, in particular, about inconsistency in the composition of the CMCE and PACE, as Russia does not participate in the work of the assembly. The current meeting has become the third in a row since the beginning of 2018.
The delegation of the Russian Federation to the PACE in April 2014 was deprived of its basic powers due to the events in Ukraine and the reunification of the Crimea with the Russian Federation. In 2015, the PACE twice considered the question of restoring the rights of the Russian delegation, but then the sanctions remained in place: Russian parliamentarians were left without the right to vote at the assembly meetings, and were suspended from the PACE governing bodies and its election observation missions in the Council space Europe before the end of 2015. In response, the delegation of the Russian Federation said that it refused to work under such conditions, and in 2016-2017 did not send an application for confirmation of its authorities because of the Russophobic sentiments that persisted in Strasbourg.
At the end of June 2017 it became known that Moscow is suspending payment of its contribution to the Council of Europe in connection with the non-participation of the Russian delegation in the work of the PACE. At the same time, the Russian side proposes that the regulations of the Assembly include provisions that no one has the right to deny the powers of any national delegations. January 11, Leonid Slutsky said that Russia will not send an application for confirmation of the Russian delegation’s authority in the PACE in 2018.