Mogherini Stresses Importance of Russia’s Membership in Council of Europe

Mogherini Stresses Importance of Russia's Membership in Council of Europe
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini told Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at their meeting on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference about the importance of continuing Russia’s membership in the Council of Europe.

“High Representative Mogherini and Foreign Minister Lavrov discussed a number of foreign policy issues, including the recent developments in Venezuela, the implementation of the JCPOA, the situation in Syria, in particular ahead of the third Brussels conference, and developments in the Western Balkans … she also underlined the importance of Russia’s continued Membership of the Council of Europe”, the statement, published after the talks on Friday, read.

Mogherini also raised the issue of Ukraine in her talks with Lavrov, reminding the Russian top diplomat the EU’s “clear positions” on it.

In April 2014, Russia was stripped of its voting rights in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in the wake of the Ukrainian crisis and Crimea’s reunification with Russia. Since 2016, the Russian delegation has not been renewing its credentials ahead of the assembly’s sessions in protest of discrimination it faces within the organization.

The country also froze its contributions to the Council of Europe, saying they would not be paid until the Russian delegation’s rights in the PACE were restored. 

According to Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjorn Jagland, if Russia does not pay its contributions for two years, the Committee of Ministers may consider expelling the country from the organization.

This two-year period for Russia expires at the end of June 2019. Commenting on this situation, Lavrov has said that Russia will not “bring such joy” to those, who want to expel it from the Council of Europe, but will leave the organization on its own if the crisis is not resolved.

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