Valentina Matvienko: We are for a stronger Council of Europe as a vital mechanism of European cooperation

The Federation Council Speaker met with the Secretary General of the Council of Europe

Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matvienko has a meeting with Secretary General of the Council of Europe Marija Pejcinovic Buric.

Preceding this, they visited an exhibition dedicated to the 75th anniversary of the UN in the upper house of parliament, which provides an insight into the Soviet Union’s role in the establishment of the global organisation.

Valentina Matvienko pointed out that Russian senators were actively involved in the world of Council of Europe agencies, in particular the Parliamentary Assembly and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities. “Russia became a member of the Council of Europe nearly 25 years ago now. We set a high value on our participation in the work of CoE agencies, where we have gained valuable experience in modernising our legislation. On the other hand, we believe that Russia made a huge intellectual contribution to the development of this common European organisation,” the Federation Council Speaker noted.

Valentina Matvienko added that Russia had joined 67 CoE legal instruments and another 15 are on the table. “We view the Council of Europe as a pillar of Greater Europe and the foundation for our relationship,” she said.

The Federation Council Speaker expressed the hope that the Moscow visit by Marija Pejcinovic Buric would help to end the confrontation period of the unjustified attempts to strip Russia of its rights in the Council.

“All reasonable people are aware that the Strasbourg-based organisation would lose its common European essence without Russia and, hence, a large chunk of reason for its existence. This would bury the Council’s noble objective, which is to create a united Europe from Lisbon to Vladivostok with a common legal and humanitarian dimension and without any dividing lines,” Valentina Matvienko noted.

The Speaker mentioned the growing number of problems unfolding in Europe and the need to find common answers to new challenges. “We are open for dialogue with the Council of Europe. We stand for a stronger Council of Europe as a vital mechanism of European cooperation in various spheres of concern to millions of people in Europe,” she pointed out.

When speaking about the coronavirus pandemic, the Federation Council Speaker said that the main right of every individual is the right to life, if possible, a heathy life.

She recalled that Russia had proposed creating so-called green corridors free of trade wars and sanctions, primarily, for the transportation of basic necessities, food, medicine, PPE and medical equipment that all countries need amid the pandemic.

“This also concerns the creation of vaccines, which must be available to everyone without any political bias. Russia registered the world’s first vaccine and has also registered a second vaccine since then and is preparing to register a third vaccine,” the Speaker pointed out, adding that Russia was open for exchanging experience in this sphere and is ready to provide the vaccine to other countries.

Valentina Matvienko also mentioned the violation of Russian speakers’ rights in Ukraine and the Baltics. “Ukrainian laws are aimed at purging Russian, which is the native language for the overwhelming majority of the country’s population.”

According to the Federation Council Speaker, another burning issue is the discrimination of Russian speakers in the Baltic countries. “I believe that the problem of non-citizens in Latvia and Estonia is a black cloud on the Council of Europe’s reputation.”

The Council’s Secretary General replied that their plans included a mission to Ukraine in December 2020.

Valentina Matvienko mentioned women’s rights: “We maintain constructive cooperation with the specialised agencies of the Council of Europe. We are satisfied with the outcome of our joint efforts within the framework of the Russia-CoE programme of cooperation on the implementation of the Russian Federation National Action Strategy for Women 2017 ̵ 2022.”

Valentina Matvienko invited Marija Pejcinovic Buric to take part in the third Eurasian Women’s Forum, which is scheduled to be held in St Petersburg in 2021.

The Council’s Secretary General pointed out that overcoming challenges together is easier than separately. She noted that the main objectives for the Council of Europe are peace, prosperity and cooperation in Europe, and that this is also the main theme of her visit to Russia. In her opinion, ties between the Council of Europe and Russia must be maintained and promoted as much as possible.

Marija Pejcinovic Buric mentioned the importance of Russia’s participation in the CoE activities and efforts to attain the main objectives of Europe’s leading humanitarian organisation. She added that it was important to review the current standards of cooperation so as to be able to see how it could be improved.

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