25 Jun 2019 19:01

Russian delegation to leave PACE session if at least one 'minor restriction' imposed - delegation head

STRASBOURG. June 25 (Interfax) - The Russian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) will leave if the reports on challenging the delegations' credentials include even the slightest restriction, the delegation's head, Pyotr Tolstoy, told Interfax.

In accordance with the PACE Rules of Procedure, PACE cannot deprive the Russian delegation of the rights to vote, speak, and to be represented in its statutory bodies.

However, PACE does still have some room for imposing so-called minor restrictions on the Russian delegation. For instance, the Assembly could restrict the Russian delegation's right to propose draft resolutions, submit inquiries, participate in monitoring missions, nominate its members for being appointed rapporteurs, observe elections, and represent PACE and the Council of Europe in other organizations, a source with the PACE secretariat told Interfax.

Asked what the Russian delegation will do if at least one of these minor restrictions is mentioned in the reports on challenging the delegations' credentials, Tolstoy said: "We'll get up and leave."

Sergei Kislyak, a deputy head of the Russian delegation and former Russian ambassador to the United States, said it is Russia's principled position that it will work at PACE unless some restriction is imposed on it as a full member.

"Any restriction of the Russian delegation's rights is unacceptable to us. This is a matter of principle, not a matter of some minor technical decisions, but simply principle: either all of us work here as normal sovereign states, work in a civilized manner toward each other, with all disagreements existing on some matters, or we don't participate in this," he said.

He also reaffirmed that the Russian delegation would not recognize PACE's decisions adopted in its absence.

"This is a matter of principle. If some resolutions were passed without our opinion taken into consideration, especially those concerning Russia, there can be no automatic approval by Russia," Kislyak said in reply to a question from Interfax.

"We will work on matters as long as they meet our interests," he said.

As for the payment of a membership fee to PACE, Russia will make a decision only after its delegation's credentials are fully confirmed, he said.

"If our rights are fully reinstated, we will certainly honor our obligations. As for how this is going to be done [...], the financial bodies have special procedures, and they will address this matter in due course," he said.

In any case, the reinstatement of Russia's credentials should go first, he said.

"Our delegation won't be taking part here on some reduced terms. If it doesn't take part, our current position [on financing] will remain the same," he said.

Russia is among the principal contributors to PACE's budget, and this entitles it to a post of deputy speaker, Kislyak said.