Statement by Director of the Department for European Cooperation Andrey Kelin at the 1329bis Meeting of the Ministers' Deputies, Strasbourg, 21 November 2018
Mr. Secretary General,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Finland takes over Chairmanship from Croatia at a crucial moment for the Council of Europe whose 70th anniversary we intend to celebrate next May. In circumstances when the entire European architecture is challenged, we believe that attempts to undermine the authority and legitimacy of the Council of Europe are rather dangerous. Today of all days, the cooperation of 47 European States via a unique system of convention mechanisms is of high demand. Our shared goal is to lead the Organization out of the institutional crisis while preserving this unique pan- European mechanism of human rights protection in Europe.
The Russian Federation rejects unlawful discriminatory measures against our MPs. They were deprived of their key powers. High officials of the Council of Europe, including many judges to the European Court of Human Rights were appointed in the absence of our voice in the Assembly. This questions the legitimacy of their decisions concerning Russia. The elections of the Secretary General are to take place in June next year and the non-participation of Russian deputies will evidently have far-reaching negative effects.
In our view, it should be obvious for all that the Assembly due to its division cannot on its own find solutions capable of ending the crisis. We highly appreciate the attempts made by a group of wise members of PACE to find a way out in the framework of the so called "Nicoletti process" and Ad-hoc Committee with the participation of our parliamentarians. But the Assembly did not support them. At the autumn session it was not able to adopt even modest changes to the Rules of Procedure. Russian proposals supported by a number of CoE member states were not included in the final draft on amending the Rules of Procedure of the Assembly.
As the crisis deepened, it became clear that without an active role of Committee of Ministers the situation cannot be remedied. In September a reliable legal opinion was drafted by CoE lawyers. It contains reasonable conclusions in compliance with the international law. If the Committee of Ministers finds the strength to support this document, we can move forward.
In the current situation we call upon the new Finnish Chairmanship and all responsible member states of the Council of Europe to do the utmost to jointly overcome the crisis in our Organization as soon as possible. We believe that the PACE norms regarding the suspension of credentials can be fully brought into compliance with the Statue by the ministerial session of the Committee of Ministers in Helsinki on 17 May 2019.
We often hear about violations by Russia of its statutory obligation to pay contributions to Organization's budget. However, statutory obligation were violated first when our parliamentarians were striped of power. One can clearly see legal connection between these two obligations. Let me remind you that during the three years of our parliamentarians' absence in the Assembly hall, we regularly paid all our contributions. The sole purpose of suspending the payments was to draw your attention to the intolerance of the state of affairs in PACE.
Dear colleagues, the Russian Federation seeks to remain in the Council of Europe but the circumstances may arise in such a way, that we simply have no other choice but to radically reconsider the nature of our relations with Strasbourg. The discrimination against member States on political grounds is absolutely unacceptable.
In conclusion, I would like to thank the Croatian Chairmanship for effective work and wish success to the new Chair - Finland who in the following six months will have to be an anti-crisis manager of our Organization. A lot will depend on the effectiveness of your efforts in that period.
Thank you for your attention.