Why Russia must remain in the Council of Europe

Foreign Minister Maas with Secretary General Jagland

Foreign Minister Maas with Secretary General Jagland, © Thomas Trutschel/photothek.net

15.01.2019 - Article

The Council of Europe protects human rights in 47 countries. However, a dispute with Russia could weaken the organisation dramatically. Foreign Minister Maas is working to find a solution.

Foreign Minister Maas met Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjørn Jagland on Tuesday (15 January). The reason for their meeting was the crisis facing the international organisation as a result of a dispute with Russia. “Russia belongs to the Council of Europe, with all attendant rights and obligations,” said Maas in Strasbourg.

Risk of losing membership rights

Moscow has been in arrears with its contributions since 2017. If the payments are not made soon, the country will lose important rights in accordance with the organisation’s rules. “We’re concerned that Russia is moving further and further away from the Council of Europe,” said Maas in Strasbourg. The rift between Russia and the international organisation can be traced back to the annexation of Crimea in violation of international law. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe responded to this illegal invasion by revoking the Russian delegation’s voting rights.

Russia should remain a full member

It is in Germany’s interests for Russia to remain a full member of the Council of Europe. Its withdrawal would deal a severe blow to the protection of human rights in Russia. One of the Council of Europe’s most important contributions is the fact that every citizen in its member states can seek justice before the European Court of Human Rights, which plays an important role in helping to protect Russian civil society.

Maas seeks possible solutions

Foreign Minister Maas therefore supports the efforts to settle the dispute in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. The aim is to enable Russia to play its part in the organisation once again. “In order for that to happen, it is important that Russia pays its contributions again,” said Maas on Tuesday. A solution for restoring Russia’s voting rights must also be found in the Parliamentary Assembly. Both sides must make a concerted effort to achieve a compromise, said the Foreign Minister.


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