During a joint press conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, French President Emmanuel Macron said that he intends to prevent a full withdrawal of Russia from the Council of Europe. He also said that restricting the rights of the Russian Delegation in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) cannot be considered as a sanction against Russia for its aggression against Ukraine.
“There are matters of sanctions on Russia, and in this regard France is adhering to its policy, that they must be continued, until the conditions are met. But as for sanctions in the Council of Europe, it is actually not the Russian government that suffers from these sanctions, but the citizens of Russia,” said Macron, as cited by Interfax-Ukraine.
The French president pointed out that Russia’s membership in the Council of Europe gives Russian citizens the opportunity to file lawsuits against Russia if their rights are infringed.
“If Russia withdraws, or is excluded from the Council of Europe, that will be impossible. That is why under Finland’s presidency we began the consultation in order to fully reinstate Russia, so that it can, firstly, pay contributions, while doing nothing as an active member,” Macron said.
“We want to avoid a full withdrawal of Russia from the Council of Europe, because we believe that this would primarily harm the interests of Russia’s citizens, and we want to ensure that they have the opportunity to defend their rights,” the French president added.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, however, said that he does not see any reason to reinstate Russia’s PACE membership, since it has not met the necessary conditions.
“We cannot talk about lifting sanctions, in my opinion, until Ukraine has regained complete control of its territories. We are protecting our sovereignty. And sanctions, by the way, protect Ukraine’s sovereignty,” Zelensky said.
Russia’s right to vote in the PACE was taken away in 2014 after it occupied Crimea. At the same time, Russia stopped paying its membership contributions to the organization. In the following years, it has been seeking to be reinstated.
On 3 June, a PACE committee adopted a draft resolution to grant the Russian delegation the necessary powers to participate in the session in June.