Quitting Council of Europe was right decision, senior Russian diplomat says

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24th March 2023 – (Moscow) In an interview with TASS, Nikolay Kobrinets, the Director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Department of European Cooperation, stated that Russia’s decision to withdraw from the Council of Europe was the right choice. He emphasised that Russia would not return to the organisation in the future. Kobrinets noted that over the past year, it has become clear that the Council of Europe has deviated from its principles and has become a tool for imposing Western values and putting pressure on Russia.

According to Kobrinets, the Council of Europe has become characterised by double standards, hypocrisy, and Russophobia. He accused the West of sacrificing the organisation’s unification principles and democratic ideals to bloc interests. He claimed that the West has turned the Council of Europe into its ideological appendage, which it uses to promote its “dubious ‘progressivist’ values” and to pressure the Russian government and people.

Kobrinets emphasised that while Russia had gained useful experience during its 26-year membership in the Council of Europe, it would not tarnish that history by returning to the organisation. He noted that the chapter on Russia’s membership in the Council of Europe is now closed.

Russia withdrew from the Council of Europe in March 2022, citing the abuse of absolute majority by NATO and European Union countries in the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe (CMCE). The Russian Foreign Ministry accused these countries of pursuing a course towards the destruction of the Council of Europe and the common humanitarian and legal space in Europe. The Ministry stated that these countries persistently use the organisation as an instrument of anti-Russian politics and refuse to engage in an equal dialogue while rejecting the principles that serve as the foundation for this pan-European structure.

Russia’s withdrawal from the Council of Europe has raised concerns about human rights violations and the rule of law in the country. The Council of Europe’s European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) is a vital mechanism for holding member states accountable for human rights abuses. Russia’s withdrawal means that its citizens are no longer able to appeal to the ECHR for justice.

Russia’s withdrawal from the Council of Europe has far-reaching implications for the organisation and for Russia itself. The Council of Europe was established in 1949 to promote human rights, democracy, and the rule of law in Europe. It has 47 member states, including all European Union member states, and is an essential forum for dialogue and cooperation on critical issues facing the continent.

Russia’s decision to withdraw from the Council of Europe is a blow to the organisation’s legitimacy and effectiveness. It undermines the Council of Europe’s ability to hold member states accountable for human rights abuses and to promote democracy and the rule of law. It also damages the Council of Europe’s reputation as a forum for dialogue and cooperation on critical issues facing the continent.

For Russia, withdrawing from the Council of Europe means losing access to the organisation’s valuable resources and expertise. It also sends a clear message to the international community that Russia is not interested in upholding human rights, democracy, and the rule of law. Russia’s withdrawal from the Council of Europe will also make it more challenging for the country to engage with Europe on critical issues such as security, trade, and cooperation on shared challenges like climate change.