Lavrov, Jagland Discuss Over Phone Russia’s Repayment of Council of Europe Membership Fees

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and the Council of Europe Secretary-General Thorbjorn Jagland discussed over the phone on Friday Moscow’s decision to pay off what it owes the council in membership fees for 2017-2018, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

“The sides discussed perspectives of cooperation between Moscow and the Council of Europe after the reinstatement of the Russian delegation’s voting rights in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and full repayment of membership fees to the organization for the period of 2017-2018,” the ministry said in a statement.

On Thursday, the Russian government announced that it would pay the council more than 54.6 million euros ($60 million) of unpaid membership fees from its federal budget by the end of the year.

The Council of Europe expects to receive the money from Russia in coming days, Daniel Holtgen, the press secretary of Council of Europe President Thorbjorn Jagland, said on Friday.

Russia was stripped of its voting rights in PACE in 2014 in the wake of the Ukrainian crisis and the aftermath of the Crimea referendum. Moscow considered this an act of discrimination against its PACE delegation and stopped renewing its credentials in 2016.In June of this year, however, PACE restored Russia’s voting rights and adopted a resolution stating that the basic rights of delegations to PACE cannot be subject to sanctions. Shortly after, Moscow paid $36.5 million in membership fees for 2019.

Russia is among the countries which contribute the most funding to the Council of Europe’s budget, along with Turkey, Germany, France, Italy and the United Kingdom. The council even admitted in 2018 that the lack of payments from Russia coupled with Turkey’s decision to reduce its fees forced the institution into a financial crisis.

Source: News Agencies