Russian will return to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), Russia's Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko said.
"We will return to PACE, we need this," she stressed.
The Federation Council Speaker noted that the Council of Europe needs it as much as Russia does. "A dialogue is underway. The CE understands that we will not abandon our stand," TASS cited Matviyenko as saying.
In April 2014, the Russian delegation to PACE was stripped of key rights, including the right to vote and take part in the assembly’s governing bodies, following the developments in Ukraine and Crimea’s reunification with Russia. The issue of restoring the rights of the Russian delegation was raised at PACE twice throughout 2015 but the sanctions are still in place: Russia is deprived of the right to vote and cannot take part in the Assembly’s governing bodies and elections monitoring missions. In response, Russia suspended its participation in the PACE activities till the end of 2015.
In January 2016, Russia refrained from applying for confirmation of its rights for 2016. In June 2017, Russia said that it will not unfreeze the payment of a third of its contribution to the Council of Europe meant to finance PACE until the latter amends its regulations to rule out any possibility of stripping national delegations of the right to vote.
The member of the Federation Council Committee for International Affairs, Igor Morozov, speaking to Vestnik Kavkaza, noted that both sides are really interested in Russia's return to PACE. "It is very important for Russia to be presented there, express its point of view and form a European parliamentary opinion on key issues. The Council of Europe is also interested in Russia participating in the PACE, as our state is a world power, our president is a global leader. We complement each other in the PACE," he said.
"At the same time, we still do not like the existing order, when a national delegation can be unfairly dismissed from the work of the PACE. More importantly, Russia is a major PACE contributor. It is doubly unfair that small countries with a small number of deputies in a national delegation urge most European countries to take sanctions against Russia. We understand why this happens - they often reflect US foreign policy," Igor Morozov added.
At the same time, in order to return to PACE, the full restoration of the Russian delegation of rights is necessary. "This means participating in the governing bodies of the Parliamentary Assembly, voting on all issues that are submitted to the PA, and, of course, monitoring the European elections," the senator concluded.
Director of the Institute of Strategic Planning and Forecasting, Professor Alexander Gusev, in turn, noted that the West has proposed Russian parliamentarians to return practically from Russia's very withdrawal from the PACE. "We have repeatedly heard the statements of European politicians that the Council of Europe is inadequate without Russia. Even the US, although both the Council of Europe and PACE are European structures, says that these structures do not work normally without Russia's participation in European affairs. We had to continue to use this platform in our own interests, since Russian diplomacy must participate in all formats, whenever possible," he said.
"Yes, they expel us, do not love use, but this does not mean that we should stop working and interacting with the deputies of other countries, especially since 47 European states are represented in the PACE. The work needs to be conducted with the PACE leadership as well. Therefore, I absolutely agree with Valentina Matvienko that we should return to the PACE and step up work in the Council of Europe. It will also be useful to revise our attitude to the participation of the Russian delegation in all possible forums and strive to work under any conditions," Alexander Gusev called on.
The expert stressed that the PACE is in the same condition now as when Russia left the organization. "Among more than 600 deputies from 47 countries there are still people who are very critical of Russia, but there are those who respect Russia and want to have good relations with us. In my opinion, there are no less such people than those people who do not like us," the of the Institute of Strategic Planning and Forecasting believes.