Russian Exit from the Council of Europe, or ‘Ruxit,’ Could Be Disaster, Europeans Fear
April 8, 2019 (EIRNS)—The Secretary-General of the Council of Europe Thorbjørn Jagland, is warning that, were Russia to leave the Council at the same time the United Kingdom leaves the European Union—referred to as “Ruxit”—the consequences could be disastrous, RT reported today. The Council of Europe, founded in 1949, is Europe’s leading human rights organization, which claims to uphold “human rights, democracy and the rule of law.” Based in Strasbourg, France, and comprised of 47 member-nations, it is not related to the European Union, although all 28 EU members are also members of the Council of Europe.
In 2014, after Crimea voted to rejoin the Russia, the rights of its Russian delegation in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) were cancelled, stripping it of its voting rights and the possibility of participating in the Council’s monitoring missions or joining any of PACE’s ruling bodies.
On April 5, Russian Sen. Konstantin Kosachev, chair of the Federation Council’s Foreign Affairs Committee, confirmed a possibility that Russia will leave the Council this summer. Russia has twice attempted to have its rights at the Council restored, to no avail. Russia, which also happens to be the largest financial contributor to the Council, ceased paying dues to the organization when its rights were cancelled. In January 2019, both houses of Russia’s Federal Assembly—the Federation Council and State Duma—made statements that there was no reason for Russia to return to PACE this year.
Jagland has admitted that the Council treatment of Russia was unfair, and told the Norwegian news agency NTB that the only way to avoid a “Ruxit” is to fully restore its rights in PACE and the Council. According to the Ukraine’s UNIAN news agency, Germany is taking steps in PACE’s Spring session to lift the sanctions on Russia. Representatives of Germany’s ruling parties—the Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats—have signed a letter to the PACE President Liliane Maury Pasquier urging for revision of the Council’s sanctions rules altogether, and they have also been negotiating with representatives of other states about bringing Russia back into PACE without sanctions.
Predictably, only the U.K.’s representative to the Council, Christopher Yvon, is opposed, tweeting that Russia must be punished for violating the principles of the Council of Europe. In an April 7 tweet, he referred to the Council’s efforts to restore Russia’s full membership as “self chemical castration.”