Ukrainian delegation could be barred from PACE assembly

There is a chance that the Ukrainian delegation could lose its right to be in the assembly hall during the autumn session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), writes Eurointegration, citing correspondence between PACE secretarial staff and Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada. It is not yet clear whether this will actually happen.

The newly formed Ukrainian delegation to the PACE immediately announced that it would not be participating in the autumn session due to Russia’s reinstatement in the organization. However, according to the Assembly’s practice, the members of the old delegation retain the right to participate in functions of the session.

However, the new delegation members have received letters from the PACE secretariat which call into question the credentials of the old Ukrainian delegation. Delegation member Oleksiy Honcharenko confirmed the existence of such a letter.

Honcharenko wrote in a Facebook post that “unless Ukraine sends the PACE a list of its new delegation members this week, due to the fact that a new delegation has been formed, as the Verkhovna Rada website indicates, the old delegation will lose its credentials at 11:30 AM on September 30, and the new one will not join. That is, Ukraine will not have any delegation to the PACE”.

It is currently not known whether the PACE secretariat will actually go through with this. According to the organization’s rules, the list of delegation members must be submitted within six months after parliamentary elections. This means that the previous Ukrainian delegation would lose its credentials on January 21. Publications on government websites have no legal weight.

The Verkhovna Rada must officially confirm its new delegation to the PACE. However, the Rada and the Foreign Ministry claim that Ukraine has not sent such a notice.

If Ukraine loses the current delegation, its members can still go to the PACE if invited by colleagues from other delegations. However, in that case, they may not work in committees, be present in the hall at a plenary session or ask the speaker questions.

The Verkhovna Rada has formed a delegation for working in the PACE. It includes 12 MPs: seven representatives of the Servant of the People party and one representative of Voice, European Solidarity, Batkivshchyna, Opposition Platform – For Life and the For the Future group respectively. Elizaveta Yasko, a member of the president’s party, has been elected as the leader of the group.

On Tuesday, June 25, PACE adopted a resolution allowing Russia to return to the organization. One hundred eighteen deputies voted for the adoption of the document. Sixty-two voted against, and ten abstained.

Russia has not participated in the PACE since April 2014, after it was deprived of the right to vote. Russia has not paid its membership fee in PACE since 2017.

On 1 July, Ukraine’s parliamentary committee on foreign affairs advised parliament to suspend the involvement of its permanent delegation in the functioning of PACE until the conclusions of the Venice Commission are obtained.

The Ukrainian and Georgian delegations have also appealed the decision to reinstate Russia. Ukrainian MPs have advised President Volodymyr Zelensky and the Foreign Ministry to reconsider the expedience of involvement in other organs of the Council of Europe.

Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Ukraine, Slovakia, Georgia and Sweden plan to draft a joint resolution in PACE opposing the reinstatement of the Russian delegation.

  PACE, Ukraine, Russia