Russian FM says Moscow has no intention to leave Council of Europe

Source: Xinhua| 2019-05-17 21:54:29|Editor: xuxin
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MOSCOW, May 17 (Xinhua) -- Russia has no intention to abandon the 47-nation Council of Europe (CoE) and is ready to continue its work in the organization for the sake of European security, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Friday.

"We are interested in continuing our work in the Council of Europe on the basis of the norms of international law and the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, which should be interpreted and applied in their inseparable relationship," he said in an address to a meeting of CoE foreign ministers in Finland's Helsinki, according to an official transcript published by the Russian Foreign Ministry.

At the meeting, the future position of Russia in the CoE was discussed.

Lavrov added that Russia did not refuse any of its obligations assumed within the council, including financial ones. He did not specify, however, if Moscow intended to repay its membership dues.

Russia has not been paying its membership dues to the CoE since summer 2017. It suspended payments following the decision by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) earlier to cancel its voting rights.

It was done in protest against Russia's actions in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine. Russia has described the actions of PACE as unlawful and contradicting the CoE Charter.

In October last year, CoE Secretary-General Thorbjorn Jagland said that the organization might expel Russia if Moscow does not resume payments to its budget.

Russian officials have repeatedly said that Russia might quit the CoE without waiting for the expulsion.

Lavrov said at the foreign ministers' meeting that he expected PACE to confirm that the Charter should be observed not only by member states, but also by its statutory bodies.

He recalled that after the sanctions were imposed by PACE, more than half of the judges of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and the Commissioner for Human Rights have been elected and the CoE will soon elect its Secretary General.

It is obvious that the non-participation of the Russian delegation in them will have far-reaching consequences, Lavrov said.

Moscow is convinced that Europe should understand that without Russia, it is hardly possible to ensure genuine European security in every dimension, he said.

"We support all those who advocate the cessation of senseless confrontation and the integrity of the Council of Europe. This requires a return to the original principles of the Organization, the key of which is the equality of all the participating states," Lavrov said.