Russia May Return To PACE If Rules On Delegations' Voting Rights Amended - Lawmaker

Russia May Return to PACE If Rules on Delegations' Voting Rights Amended - Lawmaker

Russia should resume its activities in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and forward an application with the composition of the delegation in January 2019 if the organization amends its rules and cancels sanctions clauses in relation to the voting rights of national delegations, Russian State Duma international affairs committee chairman Leonid Slutsky said Tuesday.

MOSCOW (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 11th September, 2018) Russia should resume its activities in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and forward an application with the composition of the delegation in January 2019 if the organization amends its rules and cancels sanctions clauses in relation to the voting rights of national delegations, Russian State Duma international affairs committee chairman Leonid Slutsky said Tuesday.

On October 9, PACE will consider a report on the credentials and the voting rights of national delegations, with Petra De Sutter from Belgium being appointed rapporteur. At the end of the review, a resolution and recommendations will be adopted to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.

"The question may be raised during PACE's fall session about amending the Assembly's regulations on the cancellation of sanctions articles depriving national delegations of key powers, including the right to vote ... I hope that justice will triumph in PACE on this day. If Moscow accepts amendments, it may reconsider its position on participation in the work of the PACE. My personal opinion is that if sanctions are canceled, Russia should resume its activities in the Assembly and send an application with the delegation list in January 2019. If the main problem that forced us to freeze our work in Strasbourg is resolved, then October 9 will be the moment of truth for future cooperation within the organization," Slutsky said.

The politician believes that taking into account the position of PACE President Liliane Maury Pasquier and other prominent parliamentarians of the Council of Europe in all six political groups in favor of resolving the institutional crisis in the organization, the likelihood of making such changes is large enough.

At the same time, Slutsky does not rule out that the discussion will be fierce.

Slutsky explained that this is a matter of utmost importance for the role of the Council of Europe and its Parliamentary Assembly in European political system.

"These amendments, if adopted, will not provide opportunities for discrimination of national delegations formed and directed by parliaments of the participating countries, which will serve to eliminate artificial dividing lines in the Council of Europe's space, consolidate around the goals and objectives of the organization. This is not only a question of Russia's return to PACE, this is a matter of institutional importance for the Council of Europe," the politician explained.

Slutsky believes that once the Russian delegation returns to PACE, the Russian parliament may recommend resuming payments to the organization.

Relations between Russia and the Council of Europe, particularly its parliamentary arm, worsened after PACE deprived the Russian delegation of the right to vote in the wake of Crimea's reunification with Russia in 2014, which was not recognized by Western states.

Since 2016, the Russian delegation at PACE has not been renewing its credentials ahead of the assembly's sessions in protest of the discrimination within the organization.

In June 2017, Moscow froze part of its Council of Europe contribution meant for Russia's PACE membership for 2018, until the Russian delegation's rights in the organization are completely restored.

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