20 June 201813:06

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks at the talks with Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjørn Jagland, Moscow, June 20, 2018

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Secretary General,

Colleagues,

We are glad to welcome you once again in the Russian Federation, and reiterate Russia’s unwavering commitment to strengthening the Council of Europe as a universal pan-European organisation with unique convention mechanisms that ensure a unified legal and humanitarian space from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

The Russian Federation continues to be actively involved in the work of the Council of Europe. Over the past few years, Russia has ratified six additional international legal acts within our organisation.

We note with satisfaction that on the opening day of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, June 14, Moscow hosted a special meeting of the ministers of sport on fighting match-fixing in football.

We are also grateful for the participation of a Council of Europe delegation in the recent St Petersburg International Legal Forum, and hope that the Council of Europe will likewise be represented at the Eurasian Women’s Forum and the St Petersburg International Cultural Forum that will take place this autumn.

Of course, in the current environment the Council of Europe’s contribution is particularly important when it comes to protecting ethnic minorities, including the right to education in one’s native language, as well as the eradication of mass statelessness and countering aggressive nationalism.

Today, we cannot fail to mention that the organisation is going through a system-wide crisis related to the situation within the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. We greatly appreciate your efforts to find a way out of this crisis, Mr Secretary General. The solution must be based on the principles that govern the work of the Council of Europe and were devised by its founding fathers. One of these principles is equality among all member countries.

I expect our meeting today to focus on these matters so as to help us move forward.

Welcome!

***

Sergey Lavrov (adding after Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjorn Jagland): I have failed to mention the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), but, now that you have reminded us about this organisation, I would like to note that the number of complaints to the ECHR against the Russian Federation has decreased 3.5-fold in the past five years.

No one and nothing is perfect in this world, and we would therefore like the Court itself to improve its performance and, most importantly, to honour the subsidiary principle on the basis of which it functions. We cannot help but feel alarmed that, owing to the above-mentioned crisis at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, over one-third of judges in the current line-up at the European Court of Human Rights were elected without the participation of a delegation of Russian MPs. Therefore your efforts and the efforts of all those wishing to overcome this crisis in line with the fundamental principles of the Council of Europe are ever more important.

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