Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius says the Council of Europe must stand firm in its position on Russia, or the organization risks losing its authority.
The minister took part in a session of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on Thursday and Friday.
The meeting “mainly focused on a crisis point reached by the Council of Europe due to Russia's annexation of Crimea,” the Foreign Ministry said in a press release.
The Council of Europe must maintain its principled position on “Russia's aggressive actions”, Linkevičius said in the statement, as “otherwise the organization may lose its authority. Russia demonstrates its unchanging attitude through both words and actions”.
“In 2014 and 2015, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) restricted rights of the Russian delegation due to Russia's violations of the Statute of the Council of Europe. With an aim to abolish PACE sanctions mechanism, Russia has not paid its contributions to the organization's budget since 2017,” according to the statement.
Linkevičius underlined that Lithuania did not support “the decision of the Committee of Ministers that would open the way for Russia's unilateral return to PACE”.
According to him, “the Council of Europe has to rely on rules, while Russia should be the first to take constructive action if it wishes to return to PACE”.
Founded in 1949, the Council of Europe brings together 47 European countries. Lithuania joined the organization in 1993.