MOSCOW, July 9 (RIA Novosti)–Moscow is confused over an initiative by some members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) to try and deny Russia the right to vote during assembly sessions, a spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Thursday.
The comments by Russia followed an attempt in late June by Georgia’s delegation to get members of PACE to sign a petition, depriving Russia of its vote at the assembly.
“We have been surprised recently by the ease with which PACE parliamentarians are ready to look at depriving delegations of their voting rights, first Armenia, then Ukraine, or Russia. You must agree that this is not a serious route,” Andrei Nesterenko said.
PACE is one of the oldest international parliamentary assemblies with a pluralistic composition of democratically elected members of parliament established on the basis of an intergovernmental treaty. Though its powers extend only to the ability to investigate, recommend and advise, its recommendations on issues such as human rights have significant weight in the European political context. The European Parliament and other European Union institutions often refer to the work of PACE, especially in the field of human rights, legal co-operation and cultural co-operation.
Nesterenko went on to say that “excluding a side from dialogue because of a difference of opinion on an issue does not strengthen mutual understanding.”
Georgia has repeatedly sought to deprive Russia of its PACE vote since last August, when Russia recognized the independence of the breakaway Georgian territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia after repelling a Georgian attack on South Ossetia in a five-day war. Georgia claims sovereignty of both regions, which originally broke away in the early 1990s.