Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with Channel Euronews that Russia would leave the Council of Europe on its own terms rather than give the Council the opportunity to exclude or expel Russia from its ranks.
"I don't think that Russia's participation in the European Council is more important to Russia than it is to the Council itself. This is my strong position,” Lavrov stated. He explained that Moscow joined the Council of Europe to ensure “pan-European, universal, legal and humanitarian space.”
He explained that those who undermined this space by helping to deprive the Russian delegation of its voting rights in the Parliamentary Assembly in the Council of Europe were violating the Statute of the Council of Europe and that “they know what they do.” “If they want to exclude Russia from the European Council, we will not please them in it. We will leave the Council by ourselves,” Lavrov said.
He noted that the European Council is currently in deep crisis and not because Russia has withheld the contributions for more than a year but because the Russian delegation was deprived of its voting rights in PACE. He said that Moscow would pay off all of its debts if the Russian Delegation’s rights were restored.
In early October, the Secretary General of the European Council, Thorbjørn Jagland said Russia could be excluded from PACE due to non-payment of membership fees. According to him, it will happen if Moscow does not pay the fees in 2019.
The Russian delegation was deprived of its voting right in PACE in 2014 after the annexation of the Crimea. In 2016, the Russian delegation refused to work in the Parliamentary Assembly and has not paid membership fees since 2017.