11 Sep 2018 13:58

Russia to come back to PACE, contribute to CoE budget in full if sanctions against national delegations are lifted - Slutsky

MOSCOW. Sept 11 (Interfax) - Moscow is ready to come back to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and contribute to the Council of Europe (CoE)'s budget in full if the Assembly votes for lifting the sanctions imposed on national delegations, State Duma Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Leonid Slutsky said.

"The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe will hear a report on powers and the vote of national delegations on October 9. The issue will be discussed practically the whole day," Slutsky told the press on Tuesday.

Petra de Sutter of Belgium was designated as the rapporteur, he said.

"A resolution and recommendations for the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers will be adopted. Depending on their content, amendments to the Assembly's regulations may be proposed at the autumnal session of the PACE [due on October 8-11] to repeal the articles envisaging the possibility to deprive national delegations of key powers, including the vote," Slutsky said.

"Given that PACE President Liliane Maury-Pasquier and other prominent Council of Europe parliamentarians in all the six political groups favor the resolution of the institutional crisis, I believe that the probability of such modifications is quite high," he said.

Slutsky said, at the same time, that the debate might be fierce, especially on the part of anti-Russian delegations [from the Baltic republics or Ukraine]. "I still hope that justice will triumph in the PACE on that day. If the amendments pass, Moscow might reconsider its attitude to the PACE activity. I personally think that Russia should resume its activity in the Assembly and submit an application listing members of its delegation in 2019 if the articles envisaging sanctions are repealed," he said.

If the main problem that prompted Russia to put on hold its activity in Strasbourg is solved, October 9 "will be a moment of truth for future cooperation in the organization," Slutsky said.

"If the amendments are approved, there will be no possibility of discriminating against national delegations formed and sent by the parliaments of participating countries. That can help remove artificial dividing lines in the Council of Europe and consolidate around goals and tasks of the organization," he said.

This is not just about Russia's return to the PACE: "the issue has an institutional significance for the Council of Europe," Slutsky said.

"As for the Russian contribution, I believe the Russian Federal Assembly could recommend that payments be resumed if the Russian delegation returns to the PACE to the fullest extent. So the possible approval of amendments could also help unfreeze our contributions to the Council of Europe budget," Slutsky said.