25 April 2019
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417 days have passed since the Salisbury incident - no credible information or response from the British authorities                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     409 days have passed since the death of Nikolay Glushkov on British soil - no credible information or response from the British authorities

RUSSIA AND THE COUNCIL OF EUROPE

The Council of Europe was founded in 1949; it has 47 member states with some 800 million citizens. According to the article 1(a) of the Statute of the Council of Europe the aim of the organisation is to “achieve a greater unity between its members for the purpose of safeguarding and realising the ideals and principles which are their common heritage and facilitating their economic and social progress”.

The Russian Federation joined the Council of Europe in 1996.

The Council of Europe has risen from the ashes of the World War II. Its activities in the humanitarian domain are aimed at ensuring security of every European in its broader meaning. The better the guarantees of the social conditions of the human life are, the better the rights record is, the stronger the economy is, the more protected the individual is in society, the less reasons he or she has to resolve problems using force. In the conditions of the current crisis this is felt especially strongly.

As it is stipulated in Article I of the Statute of the Council of Europe, the national security issues do not fall under competence of this organization.

However, due to globalization processes and new challenges related to them, the very concept of security has undergone qualitative transformation. The question is no longer about hostile States, against which old-style coalitions have to be created. New challenges and threats that we are facing are represented by transborder problems, which can be countered only by collective, unanimous efforts of all the States within the framework of the broadest international cooperation for ensuring personal security. And it is the unresolved problem of hard security, the relict agenda of the Cold War era, that hampers the effective development of such cooperation.

It is within this context that we consider the possibilities of the Council of Europe to be a humanitarian pillar for the new European security architecture.

The pan-European structure represented by the Council of Europe was established and is well functioning in the sphere of soft security which is related to the security of person and human rights. A vast array of pan-European conventions have been drawn up here which unlike the OSCE political documents are legally binding and therefore form a common legal space of the continent. That makes a strong contrast to the sphere of hard security where there is no such a truly collective organization with international legal personality.

The Russian Federation has interest in enhancing the credibility and role of the Council of Europe and its institutions.

We advocate that the reform should strengthen the role of the Council of Europe as a major instrument for building a united Europe without dividing lines, a unique pan-European organization providing through its conventional mechanisms the unity of the legal and humanitarian spaces of the continent.

The Council of Europe has fundamental legal documents – the Statute, the European Convention on Human Rights. There is the “executive authority” in the person of the Committee of Ministers. There are the Court, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, and the Parliamentary Assembly. In other words, it is in the realm of “soft security” that a pan-European structure has long been established and works quite well, ensuring compliance with the commitments in the field of human rights and freedoms. Above all, there are mechanisms in this structure to ensure compliance with these obligations.

The Council has proven its effectiveness not only in such critical areas as human rights, the rule of law, and the strengthening of democracy. It also contributes substantively to dealing with problems associated with new threats and challenges: terrorism, money laundering and corruption – these are all major issues to which the Council devotes heightened attention.

Highly appreciate the achievements of the Council of Europe in the fields of social cohesion, protection of vulnerable groups, and the development of European cooperation in the domains of culture, cultural heritage, youth, sport and education.

The proposals to diminish the mandate and competence of our Organization are inadmissible, as well as the attempts to limit its independence, transform the Council of Europe into a subsidiary body of the other European structures. The Strasburg Organization must be the leading European lawmaker in the proper sense of the word.

The reform is aimed at strengthening the role of the Council of Europe in addressing new challenges. The White Paper on Intercultural Dialogue of the Council of Europe adopted in 2008 is intended to become an important instrument in our communication with other civilizations. We invite the Council of Europe to promote a series of discussions on the modern understanding of the European identity which should involve the best philosophical and political minds of our continent.

We fully support the Council of Europe’s work on the subject of intercultural dialogue. It is crucial to foster a discourse on how to address the challenges of integrating immigrants in Europe. We consider important issues in cooperation between the Organization and non-regional partners. This is also important for promoting dialogue among civilizations and interfaith dialogue. All of these issues and concerns are, without exception, of direct relevance to how all Europeans live.

Cultural and language diversity is one of the greatest treasures of the Council of Europe. We believe that it should increase the use of Russian and other languages, in addition to the two official ones. All Europeans need an effective Council of Europe, because the terms of reference of this Strasburg-based organization include a broad range of large-scale and topical issues affecting the most vital needs of the people. This is especially important with regard to the social and economic implications of the global crisis.

The life of ordinary citizens in all our countries is substantially influenced by how the judicial system works and by how the European Court of Human Rights operates. We believe that reform should focus on unconditionally embedding the principle of subsidiarity in the Court’s work and ensure the de-politicization of the Court and its strict compliance with the framework of its jurisdiction. We are convinced that all reform must be based on the main principle laid down in the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, whereby national legal systems should carry the brunt of decision making on human rights. The Strasbourg court should come into play only when these systems fail.

We think that the high-level conferences – in 2010 in Interlaken, in 2011 in Izmir and this year in Brighton – which discussed the prospects for reform of the European Court, allow us to hope for an eventual consensus which will take into account all the basic principles of reform set out above.

We also favor the European Union’s speedy accession to the European Convention on Human Rights, based on the recognition by the EU of the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights on terms that are subject to ratification by all 47 member of the Council of Europe. We proceed from the fundamental importance of the fact that such an agreement would fully ensure the preservation of the supremacy of the European Convention on Human Rights for all of the Council of Europe area, and the central role of the European Court of Human Rights in relation to any breach of the Convention, no matter by whom: EU members or non members, the EU itself or its bodies and institutions.

We share the Secretary General’s resolve to make an all-out push for reform in all areas mentioned. We will support his reform initiatives, since we are convinced that they are for the benefit of all European countries.

The Russian leadership has made it a priority to invest in the people as the key development resource. Despite the crisis, the Government has fulfilled, and will keep up with all of its social obligations for the benefit of people, it has declared a policy of comprehensive modernization of the country based on the values and institutions of democracy and socially oriented market economy.

Russia will enhance our cooperation with the Council of Europe along these lines.

In the post-crisis period every country on this continent needs to make great efforts to collectively build a better Europe that is more fair, and dynamically developing. Owing to a more effective Council of Europe, our continent will have every chance to become truly integrated space with human rights promoted according to unified standards, where every citizen of the Greater Europe would benefit from real mobility realized in the free movement of ideas and people.

Ultimately, the level of mutual integration of European Communities, the strength of contacts between people define mutual understanding and trust – and we can build security only if we trust each other. In doing so, we would put into life the hopes and ideals of the founders of European integration, and of many Europeans generations. This would be the Europe left to us by those who sacrificed their lives during World War II to liberate it from the fascist plague, by those who paid a heavy price for the tragic experience of the 20th century.