Estonia's delegation to the Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) said on Monday it will draw attention to the problems caused by Russia at this week's Autumn Session.
Head of the Estonian delegation, member of the Riigikogu Maria Jufereva-Skuratovski (Centre), said it is important that the dialogue continues and Estonia participates in the Assembly. "In this complicated situation, Estonia has to take part in the dialogue and not boycott the work of the Assembly, " she said.
Jufereva-Skuratovski said that the recent issue of restoring Russia's rights was not on PACE's agenda this time, but the main task of the Estonian delegation in Strasbourg was to keep an eye on, and draw the attention of other member states, to the consequences of Russia's political activities.
"Russia's rights in the Assembly were restored this summer on certain conditions, but we are not satisfied with it, because they break international agreements. We wish to cooperate with all member states who understand that for the restoration of full voting rights, Russia has to meet all requirements set to it," Jufereva-Skuratovski said in a statement.
Member of the delegation Eerik-Niiles Kross (Reform) added that the key activity at this session would be making large Western countries aware of the seriousness of the crisis in PACE. "We will also continue to discuss with the like-minded countries the joint future actions that could restore PACE's authority in longer perspective," he said.
"At the critical times for the Council of Europe, it is important for the Estonian delegation to be present and actively ask also sharp questions," member of the Estonian delegation Indrek Saar (SDE) said. "We and the countries that share our views have to do our best to ensure that this major organisation would not lose its purpose to stand for democracy, human rights and the rule of law."
118 votes for vs 68 against
The parliamentary assembly, made up of MPs of the 47 member states in the Council of Europe, backed the decision to give back Russia's voting rights despite sharp protest on the part of Ukraine, the Baltic states, Poland, and the United Kingdom in June.
The decision means that a Russian delegation will now be welcome to participate in the upcoming vote on Wednesday to choose a new secretary-general of the Council of Europe.
Opponents of the decision have warned that this is the first step towards watering down and eventually completely abolishing the sanctions in place against Russia for its involvement in the destabilization of Eastern Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea.
President Kersti Kaljulaid called the decision "shameful," stressing that there haven't been any developments since 2014 that would justify such a step. "The reason for these sanctions was a blatant violation of international law by Russia. Not one of the reasons why Russia's voting rights were suspended in 2014 has changed," the president wrote.
Of PACE's representatives, 118 voted in favor and 68 against. There were 10 abstentions. All three Estonian representatives voted against, ERR News reported at the time of the vote.
Editor: Helen Wright