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The European Liberal Youth LYMEC is concerned that the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) might be giving in to financial pressure to restore the voting rights of the Russian delegation. The Russian delegation’s voting rights were suspended in 2014 in reaction to the illegal annexation of Crimea, an act that PACE decided was against the Council of Europe statute. In June 2017 Russia announced that they will be withdrawing their monetary contribution to the organisation until the voting rights have been restored.

The speech by PACE Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland at the opening session of the assembly on 22 January, and the fact that an ad hoc committee on the role and mission of the Parliamentary Assembly convened behind closed doors has raised concern that PACE might be giving in to pressure to restore the Russian voting rights.

LYMEC recognises that the important work of the Council of Europe and its institutions to uphold and promote democracy, human rights and the rule of law depends on the financial foundation of the organisation being on solid ground. We also acknowledge that the decisions by Russia to suspend their contributions to the Council of Europe has had and will have severe impact on the functioning of the organisation. We do, however, still urge the Parliamentary Assembly to carefully consider what the signal would be, if they backtrack on their decision to suspend the voting rights of the Russian delegation without significant progress being made in the negotiations to end the war and restore the borders between Russia and Ukraine.

It is clear that Russia’s possession of Crimea remains an illegal act of annexation, something the Parliamentary Assembly has repeatedly acknowledged. It would be a sad day for the Council of Europe if its own Parliamentary Assembly would bow down to financial pressure rather than uphold democracy and the rule of law. LYMEC moreover urges the Council of Europe to explore alternative measures of finding financing and possible budget cuts to make up for the loss of financial contribution from Russia. 

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