Council of Europe (CoE)
Comment by the Information and Press Department on Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s participation in the 127th Session of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe
On May 18−20, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will take part in the 127th Session of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe in Nicosia, which concludes Cyprus’ six-month chairmanship of the Council’s Committee of Ministers (CECM). The main theme of the upcoming ministerial session is Reinforcing Democratic Security in Europe.
Participants will discuss conflicts and crises in Europe, including the internal Ukrainian conflict, as well as migration, securing the long-term effectiveness of the ECHR system, the Council of Europe policy towards neighbouring regions and cooperation with the EU.
Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjørn Jagland will present his fourth annual report on the state of democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Europe in 2016.
The Council of Europe is a major participant in the international fight against terrorism, and this issue will feature prominently at the meeting in Nicosia. The Council of Europe’s new Convention on Offences Relating to Cultural Property will be opened for signature at the session.
At the closing of the session, Cyprus will hand over the chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers to the Czech Republic.
Russia stands for strengthening the role of the Council of Europe as one of the most respected and representative international organisations in Europe. The CoE is using its conventions and protocols to promote the development of a common European cultural and legal space in Greater Europe and to strengthen democratic values, human rights protection mechanisms and the rule of law. The CoE is also facilitating the intercultural dialogue, including its religious dimension.
Foreign Minister Lavrov plans to meet with Secretary General Jagland during the CECM session.
We are satisfied with the level and quality of dialogue between Russia and Mr Jagland. In December 2016, he visited Russia, where he met with President of Russia Vladimir Putin, Speaker of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly (parliament) Valentina Matviyenko, Speaker of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly Vyacheslav Volodin, Chairman of the Constitutional Court Valery Zorkin, Chairman of the Supreme Court Vyacheslav Lebedev, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Human Rights Commissioner Tatiana Moskalkova.
The Committee of Ministers is the Council of Europe’s statutory decision-making body. Over half of the committee members will be represented at the session in the capital of Cyprus by ministers, and the rest will be represented by deputy ministers.
The CECM meets at the ministerial level once a year and at the deputies’ level (Permanent Representatives to the Council of Europe) weekly in Strasbourg.
The Council of Europe is unique for its membership (it comprises 47 states, including Russia since 1996); broad competence; and 222 legal documents (conventions) that constitute the common legal space of the 47 member states.
Relations of the Russian bodies of authority and civil society with the Council of Europe are based on the Foreign Policy Concept approved on November 30, 2016. It says that Russia will continue its work within the Council of Europe as an independent universal European organisation with a mandate to provide for a single legal and humanitarian space on the continent through its unique convention mechanisms.
In the 21 years since its accession to the Council of Europe, Russia has done a great deal to enhance the rule of law, representative pluralistic democracy and respect for human rights. It has implemented large-scale reforms in all social spheres.
Russia’s involvement in the convention mechanisms of the Council of Europe and contribution to the drafting of new conventions is part of Russia’s full-fledged participation in the creation of a common legal space in Europe. Russia is a party to 61 of the 222 CoE conventions and agreements, including the Council of Europe Statute and the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR). Moreover, it has signed another 18 conventions and is preparing to ratify them.
On September 18, 2014, Russia was among the first countries that signed the Convention on the Manipulation of Sports Competitions. Russia signed the Convention against Trafficking in Human Organs on September 24, 2015, the European Convention on the Abolition of Legalisation of Documents Executed by Diplomatic Agents or Consular Officers on January 22, 2016, and the Convention on an Integrated Safety, Security and Service Approach at Football Matches and Other Sports Events on July 3, 2016.
A recent example of Russia’s contribution to the drafting of vital European standards and norms was the opening of the CoE Convention on the Counterfeiting of Medical Products and Similar Crimes Involving Threats to Public Health (Medicrime Convention) for signature in Moscow in October 2011. Russia was among the initiators of this innovative legal document of global import.
Russia is actively involved in the work of all CoE bodies with the exception of its consultative agency, the Parliamentary Assembly (PACE). We view the Council of Europe as a unique mechanism of sector cooperation in Europe. We support the CoE’s efforts to promote intercultural dialogue, including its religious dimension.
Russia is a member of nine of the 13 autonomous structures (partial agreements) of the Council of Europe. Russia’s Interdepartmental Commission Concerning the Council of Europe coordinates Russia’s activities within the Council of Europe. It is chaired by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
Over 20 Russian federal bodies of power, ministries and other agencies are contributing to the sectoral programmes of Russia-CoE cooperation.
On April 24−27, 2017, the fourth international seminar titled Remembrance and Learning from the Second World War was held in Strasbourg, France. The seminar was co-organised by the Russian Ministry of Education and Science and the Council of Europe Youth Department.
We want the reform of the European Court of Human Rights to secure the court’s strict compliance with the principle of subsidiarity, depoliticisation and the criteria for accepting complaints, act within its jurisdiction and ensure the sustainability, consistency and predictability of its case law. At the same time, the forum must focus on the national level to enhance the efficiency of national legal systems and their ability to make decisions in keeping with the ECHR principles.