Current, past Estonian presidents slam Russia re-entry to Council of Europe

Toomas Hendrik Ilves served as President of Estonia from 2006-2016.
Toomas Hendrik Ilves served as President of Estonia from 2006-2016. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

President Kersti Kaljulaid is opposed to bringing the Russian Federation fully back to the table, in the light of broken promises which it had made itself, and infringements of international law.

Speaking at the closing session of day three of the Lennart Meri Conference in Tallinn Sunday, President Kaljulaid's words came after a Council of Europe decision to offer Russia the chance to renew participation in that body's parliamentary assembly, with full voting rights, BNS report.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), which is an entirely separate organization from the European Union, will itself decide whether to renew Russia's voting rights, something which Estonia opposes, as does Lithuania, Poland, Georgia and the U.K..

However, the declaration passed by an overwhelming majority Friday, at the 47-member Council of Europe.

"After Georgia, three months, after Ukraine, five years. The West drops everything we bite quickly, and never picks it up again," the president said Sunday, referring to previous Council of Europe retaliations to the 2008 invasion of Georgian territory by the Russian Federation, and the 2014 annexation of the Crimea region, formerly de jure a part of Ukraine, as well as Russian-backed separatists waging war in eastern Ukraine.

Kaljulaid's predecessor, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, appearing on the panel at the final session which President Kaljulaid attended in the audience, was even more unequivocal in the light of the developments.

"I would suggest that other countries leave," he said, stating that the decision represented the death of Europe's only normative human rights organization.

The Council of Europe was founded in 1949 and aims to to uphold human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Europe. The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) falls under its aegis.

Editor: Andrew Whyte

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