Council of Europe and Russia meet on restoring relations

16 July 2014

Council of Europe and Russia meet on restoring relations

The president of the Russian State Duma – the national parliament – and the president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) will together be looking into the question of how severed relations between the Duma and PACE – which represents all of Europe’s parliaments - can be restored. So promised Duma president Sergey Naryshkin in Moscow this week, to three of PACE’s political group presidents, including SP Senator Tiny Kox, who heads the United European Left group. Pronouncing himself happy with the outcome, Kox said: ‘In times of crisis parliamentarians must not exclude each other but look for solutions together. That is the meaning of parliamentary diplomacy.’

Alexey Pushkov (right), Tiny Kox (second right) and Sergey Naryshkin (third right)

In April the Assembly, in which the parliaments of forty-seven European countries work together, suspended the Russia delegation’s voting rights in response to their country’s annexation of the Crimea. Russian MPs then ceased all activities within the Council of Europe. At the end of May SP Senator Tiny Kox had an initial meeting with Duma president Sergey Naryshkin in Moscow. In consequence of this first meeting the two men spoke once again in Moscow this week, together with the leaders of PACE’s two centre-right groups, the European People’s Party and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in Europe (ALDE), Pedro Agramunt and Jordi Xucla. During the meeting Naryshkin signalled his preparedness to reach a rapid agreement, as well as his support for an upcoming enquiry into the political and humanitarian consequences of the crisis in Ukraine. The Russian parliament will also be looking into the question of which of PACE’s activities it can once again take part in. Complete participation will, the Russian said, only really be possible if the delegation has its voting rights restored. A decision on this will be taken in the Assembly in January, 2015

Jordi Xucla (left), Pedro Agramunt and Ella Pamfilova (centre)

The president of the Duma as well as the Russian Ombudswoman for Human Rights, Ella Pamfilova, are urging more international attention to the stream of refugees from Ukraine into Russia. The United Nations put the figure at more than 110,000 thus far. Only an end to the violence in Ukraine can put a stop to this exodus. The first meeting is expected to take place next week between the Ukrainian government and the rebels in the east of the civil war-torn country.

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