PACE confirms Russian delegation’s powers

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has voted in favor of confirming Russia’s delegation’s powers. Russia called the decision “a triumph of common sense”.

Of the 318 members of the assembly, 88 voted for confirming, 35 – against, with ten abstentions.

The voting was brought about by a Georgian initiative to strip Moscow of its mandate on the grounds of its position on South Ossetia and its recognition of Ossetia and Abkhazia being contrary to PACE rules. Since September 2008 PACE has repeatedly demanded reversing these decisions, which Russia refused to do.

The Georgian initiative was supported by 72 PACE members, who put it on the voting schedule. In the end, however, the Parliamentary Assembly chose to reject it.

Instead, PACE adopted a resolution, admitting that its demands regarding South Ossetia were made to Russian authorities, which couldn’t possibly have been affected by the Russian PACE members.

The successful document was prepared by Swiss member Andreas Gross, known for being an authority on Caucasian affairs. He has previously made reports on Chechnya.

“The establishment of a working dialogue between Russia, Georgia and the Assembly is the only way of solving the conflict and providing long-term stability in the region. […] Despite the fact that Russia didn’t fulfill most of its demands, [the assembly] chooses to confirm Russia’s mandate leaving a chance to make a substantial dialogue that can lead to resolving the aftermath of the conflict between Georgia and Russia,” the resolution said.

During the vote the Russian delegation was out of the Assembly, but returned immediately afterwards to continue working.

On his way back the head of Russian delegation Konstantin Kosachev expressed his satisfaction with the results of the vote.

“The voting results show a clear failure of Georgian attempts to turn PACE into a new fighting ground. The adopted solution is a triumph of common sense and a responsible approach to the question,” Kosachev told Interfax news agency.

Another important point made by the PACE resolution was that the discussions on any country’s powers at the Assembly may be discussed not more than once in a year.

Deputy head of the Russian delegation Leonid Slutsky believes that this is to stop speculations around voting rights and other powers of not just Russia, but also those of any other country.

“Let’s hope that a new opportunity to dispute Russia’s powers will come not earlier than Autumn 2010,” Slutsky said.

In its turn the Georgian delegation has expressed a desire to instigate another dispute as early as January 2010.

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