Foreign minister to PACE: Remember why you suspended Russia
Addressing the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on Tuesday, Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs Jürgen Ligi said that before making a decision on the voting rights of its Russian delegation, the parliamentarians should think about why those rights were suspended in the first place.
"The decision is not for the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe but for the PACE itself to make, but considering the question, the council would do well to recall the reasons why the Russian delegation was stripped of its voting rights," said Ligi, who spent the afternoon answering parliament members' questions in Strasbourg on Tuesday.
Ligi addressed the PACE as the foreign minister of the chair country Committee of Ministers, giving an overview of the committee's activities.
He emphasized that the Committee of Ministers was firmly of the view that the annexation of Crimea by Russia 2014 was unlawful and not to be recognized.
The Russian delegation's voting rights in the PACE were suspended in 2014 following the annexation of the Crimean peninsula by the Russian Federation. The Russian government, however, continues to participate in the work of the Committe of Ministers.
Following the recent State Duma elections, predictions have been made that the Russian parliament will seek restoration of its rights in the PACE. Some parliamentarians who talked to BNS in Strasbourg in June voiced the opinion that, considering the general sentiment in the assembly, Russia was very likely to get voting rights back.
Estonia's chairmanship of the Council of Europe lasts from May 18 until Nov. 22.