Zsolt Németh, the head of parliament’s foreign affairs committee, expressed hope that Russia’s likely reinstatement to the Council of Europe will help restore the organisation’s pan-European nature. Németh, who is taking part in this week’s meeting of the council, noted in a phone interview to MTI that the CoE stripped Moscow of its voting rights in 2014 over its annexation of Crimea. In May of this year, however, the CoE’s Committee of Ministers voted to allow Russia to participate in the election of the council’s senior officials and backed a partial reinstatement of its voting rights, he added.
The CoE general assembly is debating the status of Russia this week, Németh noted, adding that it was likely the country would be reinstated to the council. Hungary, however, stayed away from Monday’s vote on the matter, he said, citing uncertainty over the situation in Ukraine and a lack of clarity over exactly which rights would be restored to Russia and which sanctions would be maintained. At the same time, Hungary welcomes Russia’s return to ongoing dialogue within the council, Nemeth said, noting that the CoE was a pan-European organisation. Russia’s return, however, will not be enough to restore “pan-European dialogue”, he said, arguing that the council would still have to address a number of questions more generally relating to human rights. Meanwhile, Németh noted that France will be taking over the rotating presidency of the CoE from Finland this week. Given that France sees the CoE as the most important institution when it comes to the protection of human rights, the CoE and the European Union will have to decide how to share this responsibility, he said. As regards the council’s election of its next secretary-general, Németh said Hungary will be supporting the European People’s Party’s candidate, Croatian Foreign Minister Marija Pejčinović Burić, over Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders, the Liberal candidate, in Wednesday’s vote.