Russia will speak in PACE from a position of strength The West does not mind. The main thing for him is to return Russian contributions to the impoverished Assembly
The five-year period of Russia’s suspension from work in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) can obviously be considered completed. Leading European politicians have recognized that without our country this body is not able to be effective. However, as expected, «against» — a few countries that have long held an anti-Russian position. Including Ukraine and the Baltic States.
Ukraine: «This is not diplomacy, but surrender!»
At the talks in the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, which ended in Helsinki, it was decided that Russia will remain in PACE. The journalists said the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia Sergey Lavrov and Foreign Minister of Germany Heiko Maas. Germany and France, as it turned out, were the main supporters of the «return» of Russia and in this sphere of European policy.
— We do not seek to leave the Council of Europe, as it is trying to spread rumors. We do not disclaim any of our obligations, including financial ones. We appreciate the positive contribution that the Council of Europe has made and continues to make to the development of Russian national law, the reform of the judicial system, the system of enforcement agencies, the solution of many other humanitarian issues, — quotes Lavrov’s words the official website of the Russian Foreign Ministry. Indeed, the possibility of Russia’s final exit from PACE has been discussed in the political circles of our country since at least 2014. Since that time, when the PACE of our delegation, we will remind, after the reunification of the Crimea was deprived of the basic powers. Two years ago, Russia finally stopped paying its membership fees to the Council of Europe. And then in the European press, there was even a term Ruxit (similar to Brexit).
Ukraine is expected to oppose the decision to restore the rights of the Russian delegation to PACE: its official representative in the Council of Europe, Dmytro Kuleba, told European journalists in his heart that «this is not diplomacy, but capitulation.» Kiev was supported by six more States, which have not hidden their anti — Russian position for a long time- Great Britain, Poland, Georgia, Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia.
If «not European» means reactionary?
What is the Council of Europe? This is one of the largest supranational associations on the European continent, which consists of 47 States (for comparison: in the European Union — only 28). Russia became a full member of the Council of Europe in 1996, what then-President Boris Yeltsin called one of the main achievements of his foreign policy.
The main body of this structure is not PACE (although, perhaps, due to the rhetoric of Russian diplomats, it is the most famous), but the European court of human rights. Russia ratified its Statute in 1998. And since then, its citizens have the right to hear their cases in court in Strasbourg. As a result, today Russia accounts for about 20% of cases. At the same time, Moscow provides 7% of the budget of the Council of Europe.
As might be expected, Russia’s refusal to pay its membership fees to the Council of Europe in 2017 hit the organization’s finances extremely painfully. At the end of last year in the budget of the Council of Europe formed an impressive «hole» in the amount of € 53 million.
Russian authorities have repeatedly stressed that they consider many decisions of the European court of human rights «politicized». In particular, the former Strasbourg judge Anatoly Kovler, who repeatedly passed «dissenting opinions» on high-profile court decisions, believes that there «the court makes a judgment on non-European values as reactionary».
It is interesting that similar criticism of the Strasbourg court was made by figures of the judicial system not only from Russia but also from other countries — from Belgium to the UK. In order to balance the situation, in 2015 our country adopted a norm that allows not to execute the decisions of the European court of human rights if they contradict the Constitution of Russia.
Since then, by the way, this rule has been applied only twice. Nevertheless, it caused a storm of indignation among liberal politicians. They did not even notice that Russia was not the first to adopt such a norm. As early as 2004, the Federal constitutional court of Germany ruled that the decisions of the Strasbourg court were not always binding.
Of course, the most anti-Russian in Moscow recognized the decision of the European court, issued in 2014 on the collective claim of the former shareholders of «Yukos». The bankruptcy of this company was recognized as deliberate, and Russia was obliged to pay to co-owners more than € 2 billion. Russia, of course, did not implement the decision. According to the statistics of the European court, only in the last two years, it has decided to pay € 23.3 million in claims of Russians. Basically, prisoners, opposition members, and LGBT activists. Among them, in particular, former members of the punk band Pussy Riot Maria Alekhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, the leader of the «Anti-corruption Fund» Alexei Navalny, bloggers Savva Terentyev, human rights activist Stanislav Dmitrievsky.
At the same time, the Russian authorities call politicized not only the decisions of the European court of human rights but also many PACE resolutions (those are adopted, as you can understand, in the absence of the Russian delegation). For example, only this year the Assembly adopted two similar resolutions: in January — on equality (in particular, Russia was condemned for persecuting LGBT activists and banning gay parades), and then — on the territorial integrity of Georgia (Russia was once again called an «aggressor country» supporting the «occupation» of Abkhazia and South Ossetia).
Now that the Russian delegation has regained the right to vote, it will be able not only to speak about such resolutions but also, if possible, to block their adoption.
— Someone, perhaps, now, after the decision of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, and build a conspiracy theory: why are we back? In my opinion, it has nothing to do with intra-elite arrangements. None of the serious Russian politicians has ever questioned the importance of our country’s participation in the PACE, — explains the «Free press» head of the «Political expert group» Konstantin Kalachev. — At the same time, political discrimination of our country in this body demanded reciprocal demonstration of determination. Up to the statements about readiness to cease interaction with that institution. It was a calculated tactic. And it has borne fruit: now the situation is changing!