Letter of Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation S.Lavrov to Secretary General of the Council of Europe Marija Pejčinović Burić, 28 February 2021

Dear Madame Secretary General,

25 years ago in Strasbourg our predecessors, Yevgeny Primakov and Daniel Tarshis, signed documents on the accession of the Russian Federation to the Council of Europe.

We have come a long way in a quarter of a century. Russia joined 68 treaties and 9 partial agreements. The European Convention on Human Rights has become the backbone of the Russian legislation and law enforcement practice. Our country makes a significant contribution to such priorities of the Council of Europe as the fight against terrorism and drug trafficking, protection of the rights of national and linguistic minorities, cooperation in the field of healthcare, culture, sports, education and artificial intelligence.

This anniversary is of particular importance both for Strasbourg and for all member-States of the Council of Europe. In 1996, for the first time since its establishment, our organization acquired a truly pan-European reach. Then the dream of several generations of European politicians about a "Common Home" from Lisbon to Vladivostok seemed to be coming true. Looking back at those years, we are wondering why Europeans did not manage to take full advantage of that historic opportunity, why not all our expectations were met.

I am convinced that the future of the Council of Europe depends on its ability to maintain independence and genuinely pan-European character, on its capability not to turn into a hostage to bloc approaches and mindset, to work without double standards in the interests of all countries of the continent. The recent years have showed how important it is to prevent the Parliamentary Assembly from becoming an arena for settling scores, to refrain from imposing non-consensual documents, to ensure that the European Court of Human Rights is free from political and ideological bias.

When it comes to the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, the potential of the Council of Europe to join the efforts of states and share best practices in healthcare is needed more than ever. No geopolitical or economic considerations should be placed above the protection of the health of the citizens.

The absence of a proper response to such massive and long-term violations of human rights, such as discrimination against the Russians and Russian-speaking population in Ukraine and the Baltic states, undermines the authority of the Council of Europe. The Organization that emerged on the ruins of the Second World War, should not be indifferent to the historical revisionism and the exaltation of Nazi collaborators.

Let me congratulate you, Madame Secretary General, on this significant date for Moscow and Strasbourg, and wish you success in your responsible mission. 

And let me wish the Council of Europe unity, stability and consistency in achieving the goals set in its Charter for the benefit of all Europeans.