The Secretary General of the Council of Europe (CE), Thorbjørn Jagland believes that Russia and other "problematic" member countries of the Council of Europe should remain in the organization for as long as they do not violate the four articles of the European Convention on Human Rights.
All other violations of the principles of the Council of Europe would not have such an impact on their membership, including Russia’s annexation of the Crimea, he said at the PACE meeting in Strasbourg.
The newspaper Evropeyska Pravda writes that, according to Jagland, the CE's statutory documents define four principles from which the member country cannot deviate, even under extraordinary circumstances. The four principles forbid: the death penalty, torture, forced labor or slavery and extrajudicial punishment.
"These are the most fundamental values. They determine the soul of Europe. No country that violates these principles can be a member of our family. There can be no concessions on this issue," Jagland stressed.
In his opinion, this does not mean that they are free to violate the other articles but if there are violations and a systematic reluctance to correct them then the member state would be able to petition the ECHR (European Convention on Human Rights) regarding the country's fulfillment of its obligations. The Secretary General says that the idea of the organization is to protect people, despite violations of the convention by its members.
Earlier it was reported that the newly elected chairman of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Michele Nicoletti insists on continuing the dialogue with the Russian parliament. He expressed regret that the Russian Federation, while formally avoiding the continuation of sanctions, voluntarily refused to participate in the work of the PACE.
In December 2017, delegations of 20 member countries of PACE signed a declaration named "To Defend Council of Europe Values and Credibility" that called for an end to attempts to return Russia to the PACE.
"Any attempt to restore Russia at the Assembly without the implementation of resolutions adopted in response to Russian aggression against Ukraine will shatter the institutional credibility of PACE. It will cause a domino effect," the declaration says.
Russian Senator Aleksey Pushkov said that the Russian delegation will not return to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in 2018.