The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, while meeting for its autumn session, voted on Thursday, October 13th, for a resolution describing Russia as a “terrorist state.” The text was adopted by 99 votes in favour, 1 abstention, and no votes against—out of the 306 members of the Assembly as a whole.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, ‘Parliament,’ established in 1949 and known by the acronym PACE, differs from the European Union in that it has a broader membership—today, 46 member states. The defence of democracy, human rights, and the preservation of the rule of law are among its priority objectives. Unlike the European Union, its Parliament is not composed of specially elected parliamentarians but of delegations of members of national parliaments, the number of which depends on the population and economic weight of each country. The Parliament, which meets in Strasbourg, has no legislative powers but is more of a discussion body on various national and international policy issues concerning the member countries. The Parliament is flanked by a Committee of Ministers, where each country is equally represented.
Ukraine has been a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, since 1995. Russia was admitted in 1996 but was suspended from 2014 to 2019, following the annexation of Crimea, before being reinstated. On 25 February 2022, the day after the Russian aggression on Ukrainian territory, Russia was again suspended from its right to representation in the Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly, before being permanently excluded on March 16th.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the Parliamentary Assembly to welcome the dialogue among Europeans, explicitly placing Russia among the non-European nations: “We see actions that have made Europe unprecedentedly stronger. Never yet in history was united Europe as strong as it is today. So, focus on everything that is needed to prevent the Russian terrorists from destroying our lives. This is the power of dialogue.”
PACE president Tiny Kox from the Netherlands went further, saying that the Russian aggression against Ukraine was a threat to European cooperation as a whole. “We all consider Russia’s unilateral aggression as an attack against the multilateral cooperation that is meant to protect all our citizens in Europe,” he said.
Volodymyr Zelensky’s speech was followed by loud applause, greeted by Tiny Kox.