November 17, 2019

The prolongation of sanctions against Russia became the most important result of recent debates in Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. Despite the predictions, the report of Tiny Kox, the member of Party of the European Left and the supporter of Russia, did not contain any mechanism of returning Russia to the Assembly, though it has created some pre-conditions for this.

The first version of Kox’s report had condition which would cancel the right of PACE to implement sanctions against national delegations and it would be the way to return Russia to PACE. Later the report was edited and the final version contained the alternative procedure of imposing sanctions: the final decision of imposing sanctions (for violation of main principles of coexistence of European countries) should be referred to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. The right of PACE to impose sanctions remains unchanged. It is worth mentioning that absolutely pro-Russian position of Tiny Kox as well as the one of members of German delegation makes us think that pro-Russian lobby takes efforts to return Russian delegation to the Council of Europe.

The membership of the Council of Europe is extremely important for Russia, because the PACE meeting room is the international tribune that allows receiving an influence on the position of European countries, including the issue of international sanctions. For 2 years since the exclusion from PACE as the result of aggression against Ukraine, Russia made efforts to re-establish its status in the Council of Europe without implementation of the Assembly resolutions.

To achieve this goal, Russia has used all available tools and methods, including financial blackmail. Russia refused to pay membership fee of the Council of Europe. At the same time Russian diplomats declared the readiness to pay the membership fees not only of current years, but also for all years Russia skipped that payments.

Though the powerful lobby, manipulations and blackmailing Russia did not manage to change the mechanism of imposing sanctions. The reasons are absolutely clear. Russia has not completed all the demands of the Council of Europe – occupied territories are not returned to Ukraine, escalation of conflict in Donbass region continues, and there are extremely rough violations of civil rights in occupied Crimea. Russia is trying to use PACE as a basis for legitimating the annexation of Crimea and self-declared “people’s republics DPR and LPR” by the recognition of their documents (Russia also tried to make PACE recognize the documents of occupied Abkhazia and Ossetia).

Ignoring of these and many other violations of international law and returning Russia to PACE means not only the escalation of aggression against Ukraine, but also creation of another hot spots in Europe. The most delegates of the Council of Europe are aware of this and have no inspiration to support spreading of Russian hybrid aggression in Europe. That is the main reason PACE delegates decided to maintain the right of PACE to impose sanctions against those countries that break the international and European law.

PACE membership of country that has key target not to provide peaceful coexistence and partnership with other countries, but to undermine European unity is impossible. It is obvious that Russia’s membership fee is not the payment to support peace and good neighborly relations between countries, but the investment to increase aggression and discord in Europe. Continuing such policy means the need to restrict sanctions against Russia and therefore the decision of the Council of Europe is logical.

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