'Europe Without Russia a Big Step Back': Jagland on Possible Moscow CE Departure

Author: us-russia
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Published 27-11-2017, 00:00
Russia remaining in the Council of Europe is important for the country's citizens and for Europe, Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland told the Financial Times in an interview published Sunday.

Jagland said that the withdrawal could happen, although he denied the rumors that Russian diplomats had already suggested this possibility to him.

"It would really be very, very bad if Russia was to leave… because the convention and court has been so important for Russian citizens… It will be a negative development for Europe, because we will have a Europe without Russia. It would be a big step back for Europe," Jagland told the newspaper.

The Council's secretary general said that the organization was not going to change its position on Crimea, whose reunification with Russia has not been recognized by many countries.

"But… we have to keep in perspective: what is our mandate. Our mandate is to protect human rights in Russia and Crimea, or wherever people live on the continent," Jagland was quoted as saying.

Russia’s Depature From CoE Biggest Loss for Europe

Meantime, Russian lawmaker Alexey Pushkov said Monday in response to the statement of Thorbjorn Jagland that the Council of Europe would suffer more from Russia’s withdrawal from the organization than Moscow would lose from it

"It would be the biggest loss for the Council of Europe and not only in financial terms. It is much bigger [for the Council] than for Russia,” Pushkov, member of the upper house of the Russian parliament, wrote on Twitter.

As Jagland did not rule out the cancellation of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe's  (PACE) sanctions against Russia, Pushkov noted that if it happens, the reversal would be a "huge blow” to the anti-Russian lobby groups.

PACE stripped the Russian delegationof its voting rights and participation in the work of its three key bodies amid the 2014 crisis in Ukraine and Crimea’s reunification with Russia. The Russian delegation left PACE in 2015 and did not renew its credentials ahead of the assembly’s 2016 and 2017 winter sessions.

Russia insists on the necessity of amendments to the PACE regulations that would exclude the possibility to limit the rights of national delegations. The Russian parliament has repeatedly stated that Russia might discuss the resumption of its work within the PACE only provided that these amendments are adopted.

In June 2017, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told Jagland that Moscow, one of the major contributors, would withhold a part of its 2017 payment to the organization's budget until its rights were restored.



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