Doc. 9088

7 May 2001

Former embassies as real estate of the Baltic States on the territory of some Council of Europe member states

Motion for a recommendation

presented by Mrs Ojuland and others

On 25 January 1996 the Assembly adopted Opinion No. 193 (1996) on Russia’s request for membership of the Council of Europe. Along with other commitments Russia pledged “to settle rapidly all issues related to the return of property claimed by Council of Europe member states”.

      The claims of the three Baltic States - Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania - to the Russian Federation were then openly expressed and well known. Two and a half year passed without any “rapid settlement”.

On 4 November 1998 the Standing Committee, acting on behalf of the Assembly, adopted Recommendation 1392 (1998) on former embassies of the Baltic States on the territory of some Council of Europe member states. It stated that “former embassies are still the property of the three Baltic states, which cannot obtain the return of the embassies through legal means because of the diplomatic immunity accorded to those who occupy the buildings” and “the Assembly is, however, of the opinion that these embassies should be returned to their rightful owners”. The Assembly recommended “that the Committee of Ministers play an active role in promoting” the issue.

Two years later on 18 September 2000 the Committee of Ministers adopted a reply to the Assembly’s Recommendation 1392 (1998). It stated that the Committee of Ministers “has carefully considered” the recommendation but issued no request to the Russian Federation to implement its commitment to the Council of Europe. In addition, the Committee of Ministers ignored Assembly’s recommendation to “play an active role” dealing with issue of returning the embassy buildings to the rightful owners, and instead, asked only “to be kept informed of the outcome”.

The Assembly notes that Russia has made no progress whatsoever in fulfilling its obligations to the Council of Europe contained in Assembly Opinion No. 193 (1996) with regards to returning the property to the rightful owners. The former embassies of the Baltic States - buildings and territory – are still occupied by the Russian Federation which contradicts the Assembly’s Opinion No. 193 that demanded rapid settlement of issues related to property claimed by Council of Europe member states.

The Assembly urges the Russian Federation to fulfil its commitment to the Council of Europe and settle rapidly the issue of returning former embassy buildings and territory to the rightful owners.

The Assembly therefore recommends that the Committee of Ministers take rapid action to settle the problem.

Signed :

Ojuland, Estonia, LDR

Adamia, Georgia, SOC

Akgönenç, Turkey, EDG

Aleffi, Italy, EPP/CD

Atkinson, UK, EDG

Burbienė, Lithuania, SOC

Čekuolis, Lithuania, LDR

Chapman, UK, EDG

Cilevics, Latvia, SOC

Dmitrijevas, Lithuania, SOC

Dolazza, Italy, LDR

Elo, Finland, SOC

Evangelisti, Italy, SOC

Gross, Switzerland, SOC

Gülek, Turkey, SOC

Jackson, UK, EDG

Jaskiernia, Poland, SOC

Knight, UK, EDG

Kresák, Slovakia, LDR

Landsbergis, Lithuania, EDG

Lauricella, Italy, SOC

Libicki, Poland, EDG

Löpez González, Spain, SOC

Mikutienė, Lithuania, LDR

Olekas, Lithuania, SOC

Paegle, Latvia, EPP/CD

Pinggera, Italy, EPP/CD

Polenta, Italy, EPP/CD

Robol, Italy, EPP/CD

Stankevič, Lithuania, LDR

Stepová, Czech Republic, SOC

Tallo, Estonia, SOC

Torrado Rey, Spain, SOC

Wikinson, UK, EDG

Wilshire, UK, EDG

Zvarych, Ukraine, EDG

       SOC: Socialist Group