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Speaker of the Finnish Parliament: we intend to do everything possible to retain Russia as a member of the Council of Europe

Paula Risikko stated this during a meeting with the Chairman of the State Duma. The parties also discussed the situation in Ukraine, as well as Russia’s membership in PACE.

Viacheslav Volodin noted that this is the first visit of the Speaker of the Finnish Parliament to the State Duma for the past 15 years. In her turn, Paula Risikko called the Finnish-Russian cooperation ”good and productive,“ which strong side is that ”we can directly voice those issues on which our opinions differ.“

“Russia and Finland have learned to build relationships on the principles of mutual understanding of each other, openness, and dialogue based on the absence of double standards,” said Viacheslav Volodin, stressing that non-interference in the affairs of sovereign states is another main principle. In his opinion, relations should be developed not only in the economic sphere but also in the sphere of the implementation of joint humanitarian, educational, cultural projects.

The Chairman of the State Duma proposed to work more actively within the framework of inter-parliamentary structures, in particular, in the framework of the Barents Parliamentary Conference, the Northern Dimension Parliamentary Forum, and the Arctic Council. It is important to use new forms of cooperation, that is why the specified committees should work more actively with their colleagues from the Finnish Parliament, he believes.

The situation in Ukraine

“The political situation in the world has become more complex and unpredictable. The situation in Ukraine has affected relations between Finland and Russia, as well as relations between the European Union and Russia. Despite the differences, we shall listen to each other. I am glad that we have the opportunity to meet today,” said the Speaker of the Finnish Parliament.

“I would like to note that we need to be guided by the same standards and approaches to the interpretation and definition of the situation in those countries where a violation of the norms of democracy, the rights of small nations and citizens takes place,” said Viacheslav Volodin. “In this regard, Ukraine certainly requires constant monitoring and analysis of the situation by the countries of the Council of Europe,” he added.

According to the Chairman of the State Duma, a general interpretation of the events in Ukraine is necessary. To this day, 47 countries of the Council of Europe have no such interpretation. “If we all recognize that a military coup and an armed seizure of power have taken place in Ukraine, then this will immediately change a lot and put many questions and approaches into place,” Viacheslav Volodin believes. He added that without an assessment of the events in Ukraine ‘we are unlikely to move forward on the way to resolve the situation today.’

PACE

Viacheslav Volodin reminded that nowadays Finland is presiding over the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. Speaking about the situation in PACE, the Chairman of the State Duma stressed that “there should be the supremacy of the Statute of the Council of Europe”.

“The Statute of the Council of Europe explicitly states that the countries participating in the Council of Europe have equal rights. In this regard, we categorically oppose the application of the PACE regulation, the supra-parliamentary structure, which by definition shall be democratic,” said Viacheslav Volodin. At the same time, in the PACE regulations a provision that allows depriving the national delegation of the right to vote still exists. In this regard, he reminded that several years ago the Russian delegation was deprived of a right to vote.

“Such an approach is a real atavism of dictatorial states,” he believes. “This is unacceptable; it would be correct if national parliaments expressed their position on this issue,” added the Chairman of the State Duma.

Until today, the Regulations have not been changed, and therefore “we consider it is impossible for us to participate in the work of PACE, where such forms of solving problems thrive, when they are afraid to hear another point of view and are afraid of voting on issues.”

In turn, Paula Risikko noted that “it would be very regrettable if Russia was no longer a member of the Council of Europe, both for this organization and Europe in general, and Russia itself.”

The Finnish delegation of the Council of Europe intends to do everything possible to resolve the current situation through diplomatic way so that Russia can be retained as a member of the Council of Europe.

Answering her question on what he thinks about the value of the Council of Europe for Russia, the Chairman of the State Duma stated that it is important for our country to participate in the Council of Europe. “When we talk about the importance of participation in the Council of Europe, we, first of all, say that Russia is an integral part of a larger Europe,” he stressed. Russia participates very effectively in the work of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, the Chairman of the State Duma stated.

“By depriving the national delegation of the right to vote, we deny the right to vote of an entire people, an entire country,” said Viacheslav Volodin.

“No country in Europe has such a norm in its parliamentary regulations, and the supra-parliamentary structure not only included this norm in the regulations but also began to actively use it to ban dissent […] when non-satisfactory decisions are made,” he stressed.

“We have no requirements that would relate to the creation of conditions of special status for Russia. We insist on one thing – the 47 member countries of the Council of Europe should have equal rights, as it is defined in the Statute of the Council of Europe,” stressed Viacheslav Volodin.

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