During a session in Paris on 3 July, the Committee on Rules of Procedure of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) accepted a draft resolution titled “Strengthening the decision-making process of the Parliamentary Assembly concerning credentials and voting”. If the PACE members support the resolution on 24 June during the summer session in Strasbourg, the Russian delegation to the assembly could be unconditionally reinstated.
Russia was deprived of its right to vote in PACE in 2014 due to its annexation of Crimea. Since Moscow failed to comply with any of the assembly’s resolutions on the matter, the sanctions on Russia have been extended several times. As a sign of protest, the Russian delegation has not participated in PACE sessions since 2016. According to current regulations, national delegations must be represented only at the start of the year, in January. Since in January 2019 the Russian government did not apply for its MPs to participate in sessions, officially no Russian delegation to PACE existed.
The new draft resolution, authored by Belgian socialist MP and Chairperson of the Committee on Rules of Procedure Petra De Sutter, proposes to give the delegations not currently represented in PACE – those from Russia, Bosnia and Herzegovina – the opportunity to apply to participate in the June session.
The committee also proposes to add a new regulation that would prevent national assemblies from being deprived of their right to vote and participate in the assembly and its organs. Instead of imposing sanctions on the delegation itself, sanctions could be imposed on individual members. The committee bases its proposal on a decision made by the Committee of Ministers in May, which states that every country that is a member of the Council of Europe “has the right and obligation” to participate in the Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly.
Volodymyr Ariev, head of Ukraine’s delegation to PACE and a member of the Committee on Rules of Procedure, wrote on Facebook that the committee has chosen a “bad version” of the resolution. However, he noted that it does not fully eliminate the sanction procedure “as Russia demanded”. “Even if they vote in favor of the resolution, the possibility of imposing sanctions nevertheless remains in the shortened version,” the Ukrainian representative pointed out.
According to Ariev, those in favor of Russia returning to the assembly explain that this will give them an opportunity to criticize the Russian MPs “to their faces”. The head of Ukraine’s delegation said that, in the last three weeks before PACE’s June session, he and his delegation will work hard to persuade other national delegations not to vote in favor of the resolution.