Russia's Council of Europe voting rights restored

The Council of Europe has restored the Russian delegation's voting rights at its Parliamentary Assembly. Russia's rights were removed following its annexation of Crimean in 2014. Ukraine fiercely opposed the decision, as did some Baltic states. Was the resolution a good move?

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Radio Kommersant FM (RU) /

We still have a lot in common

Radio Kommersant FM says the return of the Russian delegation has many positive aspects:

“What is decisive is that neither Russia nor Europe are willing to cut off ties definitively. Notwithstanding all the problems and challenges, we still have many things in common. Moreover, there are now a number of different movements in the EU, including far-right ones, that thoroughly approve of Russia's policies. And as we all know, a parliament is a place for discussion and not for dictating a position. And finally it is also important for our Duma MPs to get away from their day-to-day interdiction efforts and other progressive laws and travel abroad to talk to colleagues. This should have a positive impact on their world view and therefore on all of us.”

Der Standard (AT) /

A platform for dialogue has been saved

This is not a victory for Moscow but a triumph of mutual understanding, Der Standard notes:

“Russia's obligations in the Council of Europe do not primarily pertain to its membership contributions, but to respecting human rights. Its withdrawal would have only made the situation of civil society in Russia - and Crimea - more difficult. And it wouldn't have changed anything in the conflict over Donbass. That can only be resolved through politics, in other words through dialogue with Russia. The Council of Europe is an institution that is first and foremost committed to dialogue. Without Moscow's participation yet another platform for negotiations and talks would have been lost.”

Lidové noviny (CZ) /

That's how realpolitik works

The West needs to find a way to live with Russia, Lidové noviny comments justifying the majority decision of the Council of Europe:

“The fact that Moscow won't give up Crimea can't be an unsurmountable obstacle to that. We can maintain fair relations with India and Pakistan without recognising Kashmir's division. And fair relations with Turkey, Greece and Cyprus without recognising Cyprus's division. ... So why shouldn't fair relations with Russia and Ukraine be possible without recognising the annexation of Crimea? That's how realpolitik works.”

Gazeta Wyborcza (PL) /

Ukraine betrayed

Russia's rehabilitation is completely undeserved, wirtes Bartosz Kramek of the NGO Open Dialogue Foundation in Gazeta Wyborcza:

“The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe took the shameful if long-awaited decision to re-establish the voting rights of the Russian delegation. Russia lost these rights in 2014 after it attacked Ukraine. According to the decision taken back then voting rights were only to be restored once the Kremlin abided by international law and stopped occupying Ukrainian territory. Of course, nothing of the sort has happened. Russia's firing at and seizing Ukrainian ships in the Sea of Azov and the arrest of their crews last November are just further evidence of escalation.”

KP (UA) /

Illogical protest

The Ukrainian delegation left the Council of Europe session in protest at the decision and wants to suspend its collaboration. Not necessary, writes political scientist Alexey Jakubin in KP:

“The withdrawal of the Ukrainian delegation has for the most part no major impact. It is a move by a parliamentary delegation whose term of office is coming to an end. Following the elections [in Ukraine] there will be a new delegation with perhaps a different way of conducting itself in the Council of Europe. ... Withdrawing from the organisation seems illogical also because Ukraine is a member not just of the Council of Europe, but also of other international organisations like the UN and the OSCE where Russia is also a member. Are we supposed to leave these organisations too? If Ukraine did that it would isolate itself internationally.”