Foreign Minister Maas issued the following statement today (17 May) before the session of the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers in Helsinki:
We are celebrating the Council of Europe’s 70th anniversary this year. That’s something to be proud of. The Council of Europe is a bastion of international law. To have established a human rights convention that stretches all the way from Vladivostok to Lisbon is a unique achievement. More than 830 million people can call on the European Court of Human Rights for protection and justice. For many human rights advocates, the Council of Europe often serves as a last hope.
We want to ensure that the Council of Europe can continue to function effectively in future. There is an urgent need for change. Russia, our largest member, has not paid its contributions for almost two years now. It has been years since its delegation last attended the Parliamentary Assembly. This state of affairs is not in our interests. Russia belongs on the Council of Europe – with all the rights and responsibilities that implies. I am hoping we will make clear progress on this at the ministerial Meeting.