RUSSIAN MEMBERSHIP OF COUNCIL OF EUROPE BACK ON THE AGENDA.
Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 146
Russian foreign minister Andrei Kozyrev says Russia may become a member of the Council of Europe (CE) by the end of February 1996. (8) Kozyrev made the remark after meeting December 1 with a delegation from the Council led by the organization’s secretary general, Daniel Tarschys, and Danish foreign minister Neils Helveg Petersen. Petersen said the Council will take a decision on Russia’s application for membership on December 20, and that the official ceremony is likely to be held in February.
A team from the Parliamentary Assembly of the CE will observe Russia’s parliamentary elections December 17 but, Tarschys said, the election results will not influence the Council’s decision. All that interests the CE, he said, is whether the elections are conducted in a democratic manner. (9)
The aim of the 38-member CE is to promote democracy and human rights. In the past five years, 14 former Communist countries have joined it. Russia applied for membership in May 1992, but its application was frozen following the military intervention in Chechnya one year ago. The CE voted to end the freeze in September, but until this latest visit the Council had not set a date for reviewing Russia’s application. The Baltic states are understood to have called for Russia’s admission to be made conditional on Russian acceptance of additional obligations not to use military force against them, but a number of large CE members, notably Germany, have been pushing for Russian membership on the grounds that it will be easier to influence Russia’s democratic development if Russia is inside the organization than if it remains outside. Once a member, for example, Russia will have to accede to the European Convention on Human Rights and ensure that its legislation conforms with that convention, and Russian citizens will gain the right to appeal to the European Court if they feel their rights have been violated in Russia.
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