Leonid Slutsky, Chairman of the State Duma Committee on International Affairs:
“The moment of truth in the future cooperation between Russia and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) will come very soon, quite possibly next week.
PACE Secretary General Wojciech Sawicki sent a letter to the State Duma with a proposal to form a Russian delegation to participate in the Assembly in 2019. Moreover, indicating a certain set of criteria, which include not only the principles of equal fractional representation, but also gender issues which my colleagues and I counted 6 (!). Of course, we will study this information very closely and in detail.
But, seriously, the matter is not in gender proportions and the number of sexes, the fact is that next year will be decisive in the future Council of Europe issue and the trajectory of its development. We will not extrapolate far in advance, we will check all points of view with the Russian Foreign Ministry, will hold consultations with the Federation Council and work out a collegiate position, which will be sent to Strasbourg as a response to the appeal of General Secretary Savitsky.
On January 15, the State Duma Committee on International Affairs is ready to meet for a special expanded meeting on this issue, and then on January 16 to bring it to a meeting of the Council of the Duma, which, in turn, will have to determine whether or not to form a delegation of the Russian Federation to Strasbourg. I do not exclude that this topic will also be discussed at the plenary session on January 17, then representatives of all political factions will be given the opportunity to speak about Russia’s future participation in PACE.
At the same time, I personally do not yet see the big prerequisites for the return of our delegation to the assembly. The report of Petra de Sutter did not give the key to solving the problem in relations between Moscow and Strasbourg. There are no specific recommendations on the amendments to the PACE regulations on the abolition of sanctions clauses, which would deprive entire national delegations of key authority. But Russia has insisted on these changes, and they are the basis for the resumption of our cooperation. And while there are no such amendments, the institutional crisis in the Council of Europe, unfortunately, will continue. ”