The Council of the Federation is involved in the activities of 17 international and interregional parliamentary organizations, promoting contacts with the parliaments of nearly 100 countries, it signed more that 60 cooperation agreements and protocols with the foreign parliaments and international organizations.
Today delegations of the Council of the Federation have the status of a full-fledge member at such leading international parliamentary organizations as the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the Interparliamentary Assembly of Member Nations of the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Inter-parliamentary Assembly of the Eurasian Economic Community, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization of the Collective Security Treaty, the Asia Pacific Parliamentary Forum, the Asian Parliamentary Assembly, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation, the Parliamentary Conference of the Baltic Sea, the Conference of Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region, the Association of the European Senates, the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy. The Council of the Federation is cooperating actively with the European Parliament, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly, the Northern Council, the Parlatino, etc.
The cooperation of the Council of the Federation with the parliaments of the CIS countries develops both on bi- and multilateral basis. It is the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union of Belarus and Russia that works on bilateral basis. Interaction format of the Council of the Federation with the Inter-parliamentary Assembly of the Commonwealth of Independent States Member-states (IPA CIS), the Inter-parliamentary Assembly of the Eurasian Economic Community (IPA EurAsEC) and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization of the Collective Security Treaty (PA OCST) is multilateral.
Valentina Matvienko, Chairperson of the Council of the Federation was elected Chairperson of the Council of the IPA CIS in November 2011.
Multilateral inter-parliamentary activities are supported by bilateral relations, bilateral inter-parliamentary commissions to be one of their important instruments. These commissions assist to harmonize legal systems and strengthen bilateral cooperation agreements basis. Such commissions have been formed with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. There is also a Russia-Kazakhstan parliamentary cooperation group.
Important international events take place in Moscow and other Russia’s cities held under the auspices of the Council of the Federation and with its immediate participation. Thus, the Asia Pacific Parliamentary Forum 15th meeting attended by 24 national delegations from Asia Pacific states was successfully held in Moscow in January 2007.
The 21st Annual Meeting of the Asia Pacific Parliamentary Forum (APPF) was held on 27–31 January 2013 in Vladivostok, Russia. 328 delegates from 23 APPF Member States and one Observer State attended the Annual Meeting. Representatives of the Parliaments of Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, and of UN, PACE, PA OSCE, IPA CIS, IPA EurAsEC, PABSEC and SCO also attended the meeting as guests.
In the first half of 2015 the Council of the Federation did the following work on international track.
The Chairperson of the Council of the Federation V. Matvienko made 4 official visits abroad: to Ecuador (January 10–12), Nicaragua (January 12–14), Serbia (May 12–13) and Morocco (May 13–15).
The Russian Federation was officially visited by 7 foreign parliamentary delegations: delegation of the Federation Council of Ethiopia (February 3–6); delegation of the National Assembly of Belarus (February 18–19); delegation of the Senate of France (February 23–26); delegation of the Senate of Kazakhstan (May 18–20); delegation of the Parliament of Kyrgyzstan (May 25–27); delegation of the Senate of Equatorial Guinea (June 16–20); delegation of the Senate of the National Congress of Argentina (July 6–8).
During these visits the following agreements were signed: the Agreement on inter-parliamentary cooperation between the Council of the Federation and the National Assembly of the Republic of Ecuador, the Agreement on development of inter-parliamentary cooperation between the Council of the Federation and the National Assembly of the Republic of Nicaragua, the Agreement on inter-parliamentary cooperation between the Council of the Federation and the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia, the Memorandum of understanding between the Council of the Federation and the Chamber of Advisers of the Parliament of the Kingdom of Morocco, the Cooperation agreement between the Council of the Federation and the Senate of the National Congress of the Argentine Republic.
10 foreign delegations made working visits to Russia: the National Council of Provinces of Parliament of the Republic of South Africa (June, within the parliamentary forum of BRICS); the Federal Senate of the National Congress of Brazil (June, within the parliamentary forum of BRICS); Switzerland-Russia friendship group of the Federal Assembly of the Swiss Confederation (January); the CIS Inter-parliamentary Assembly participated in the events held within the ”Memory Relay“ (April); the Federal Senate of the National Congress of Brazil (April); the Senate of Kazakhstan (May); the Foreign Relations Committee, the Commission for Conventional Armaments of the Senate of France (May); the Council of the Republic of the National Assembly of Belarus (April and June); the National Assembly of Laos (June).
CIS. Strengthening of interaction with parliaments of the CIS countries, promotion of integration processes in the former Soviet Union, especially taking into account the launch of the Euroasian Economic Union since January 1, 2015, remains an important priority of the Council of the Federation.
The Chairperson of the Council of the Federation V.Matvienko participated in the meeting of the Supreme State Council of the Union State of Russia and Belarus in Moscow on March 3.
On April 16–17 St. Petersburg hosted a meeting of the Council of the Inter-parliamentary Assembly of the CIS Member Nations (IPA CIS) and the 42nd plenary session of the IPA CIS, and also the ceremonial meeting of the IPA CIS devoted to the 70th anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War.
Members of the Council of the Federation participated in mass patriotic actions (“Memory Relay“, ”Green Wave“ and others), International research/practice conference ”70 years of the Great Victory in destinies of the CIS Nations“ (Chisinau, May 1–3) and the festive events devoted to the 70th anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War in Transdniestria (Tiraspol, May 9).
The Council of the Federation has maintained regular contacts with heads of parliaments of the CIS countries in bilateral and multilateral formats, including activities of the IPA CIS and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Collective Security Treaty Organization. During the 42nd plenary session of the IPA CIS (April 16–17, St. Petersburg) the Chairperson of the Council of the Federation V. Matvienko held bilateral meetings and negotiations with parliamentary delegations of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Moldova.
Within the Union State, members of the Council of the Federation participated in sessions of commissions of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union of Belarus and Russia: the Commission on Safety, Defense and Fight against Crime (February 25–27, Grodno, Belarus), the Commission on Economic Policy (March 25–28, Gomel, Belarus).
The work focused on bilateral inter-parliamentary commissions was an effective instrument of cooperation with parliaments of the CIS countries: with the Parliament of Kyrgyzstan (Osh, Kyrgyzstan, April 26–28), the Senate of Kazakhstan (Omsk, May 12), the Millie Mejlis of Azerbaijan (Moscow, May 25), the National Assembly of Armenia (Yakutsk, June 5). A meeting of bilateral inter-parliamentary commission with Parliament of the Republic of South Ossetia also took place on May 22 in Tskhinvali.
Delegations of the Council of the Federation participated in more than 20 international events held in the CIS countries or organized by the parliaments of these states.
On April 22–24 Yerevan hosted the commemorative events devoted to 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire in which the delegation of the Council of the Federation headed by the Deputy Chairperson G.Karelova participated.
Members of the Council of the Federation took part in election observations in Tajikistan (March 1), Uzbekistan (March 29) and Kazakhstan (April 26).
Other countries. In January Ecuador hosted the 23rd annual session of the Asia Pacific Parliamentary Forum (APPF) where delegations of 17 countries of the Asia Pacific Region (APR), including the delegation of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, took part. Russia became the co-sponsor of 5 major balanced resolutions on policy and safety issues in APR, situations in the Middle East and on the Korean peninsula, economy and trade in APR, and development of education, culture, science and technology. Despite substantial differences in the positions of delegations, Russia managed to achieve all summit participants’ approval of its offers regarding the necessity to increase practical efforts in shaping the multipolar world order system, creating the configuration of interstate relations accommodating the interests of all APR states. Recognition of the multipolar world is enshrined not only in the resolution ”Strengthening Peace and Stability in APR“, but also in the final Joint Communique.
On January 26–27 Prague (Czech Republic) hosted the 4th International Forum organized by the European Jewish Congress under the motto ”Let my people live!“, which brought together presidents and heads of parliaments from more than 20 European countries, including the delegation of the Council of the Federation. The Forum focused on reasons of xenophobia recurrence and religious intolerance, on topical issues of using mass media and social networks for promotion of extreme political views and ideologies.
During the January session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) when the powers of the Russian delegation had to be formally reapproved, the Assembly once again adopted two politically motivated and obviously anti-Russian resolutions: ”Humanitarian situation of Ukrainian refugees and displaced persons“ and ”Challenge, on substantive grounds, of the still unratified credentials of the delegation of the Russian Federation“. As a result the Assembly suspended the voting right of the Russian delegation and the right to be represented in the Bureau of the Assembly, the Presidential Committee and the Standing Commission. In this regard the Russian delegation made a decision to suspend its participation in the work of PACE, including special missions and working groups, until the powers of the Russian delegation are fully restored.
Under these conditions the Council of the Federation focused its attention on the work in the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe (CLRACE), the use of this all-European forum as a tribune for an open and constructive dialogue with the Europeans. At the 28th session of the Congress (Strasbourg, March 23–26) the Russian delegation initiated the adoption of a Memorandum on the 70th anniversary of the Victory over fascism. This document signed by delegates from 22 countries is aimed at local and regional authorities of the European countries to support measures for counteraction of revival and distribution of neo-Nazism and aggressive nationalism, for preservation of memory of the Soviet soldiers and the soldiers of other countries of anti-Hitler coalition who gave their lives for freedom of the European peoples. The discussion of the situation in Ukraine at the session didn't lead to the adoption of any anti-Russian statements which showed a pragmatic stance of the majority of the Congress.
The delegation of the Council of the Federation took part in the 132nd Inter-parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly in Hanoi (March 28–April 1). Participation of the Russian parliamentary delegation allowed acquainting the parliamentarians representing 164 countries of five continents with the Russian vision and offers on providing peace and security, conflict settlement, sustainable development, strengthening of international cooperation in various spheres. Numerous bilateral meetings, the session of the geopolitical group ”Eurasia“ and the first joint meeting of the delegations of the countries of BRICS promoted strengthening of inter-parliamentary communications with foreign partners. As a result of general political discussion the Assembly adopted the Hanoi declaration ”The Sustainable Development Goals: Turning Words into Actions“. The chairman of the Council of the Federation Committee for International Affairs K. Kosachev was elected to the Bureau of the IPU Standing Committee on UN Affairs.
Under the auspices of the Council of the Federation St. Petersburg hosted the 7th Nevsky International Ecological Congress (May 28–29). The Congress brought together more than 1600 participants, including members of the Council of the Federation, representatives of federal public authorities, delegations of legislative (representative) and executive government bodies of 64 subjects of Russia, business community representatives, prominent scientists and public figures of the Russian Federation, and also representatives of 32 foreign states. During the Congress participants exchanged views and suggestions on improving the legislation in the sphere of ecology. They adopted a final resolution which noted the need to elaborate recommendations for national strategies for ecological safety in the CIS countries, and also contained proposals aimed at improving the legal support of ecological safety, shaping the system of ecologically focused agriculture, ensuring ecological safety and protection of water resources, ecologically safe and effective development of territories, ecological safety in the development of mineral resources.
The 1st BRICS Parliamentary Forum (Moscow, June 8) co-organized by the State Duma and the Council of the Federation under the Russian Federation’s Presidency in BRICS became the most important multilateral inter-parliamentary high-level event. The Russian initiative laid the foundation of parliamentary activities of BRICS that brought rapprochement of the BRICS countries to a new full-scale level. The BRICS Forum concluded with adoption of a Joint Statement that fixed the role of the parliaments of ”five“ in strengthening BRICS as a symbol of shaping a fair multipolar world, in solving the most topical issues expressing concern of the world community. The participants of the Forum noted the value of the 70th anniversary of the Victory over Nazism and the end of the World War II, unanimously supported strengthening of the United Nations central role in maintenance of international peace and security, condemned attempts to justify unilateral solutions of conflict situations by sanctions, unfair propaganda and military force, to divide people in the world into ”leading“ and ”controlled“. They also declared parliamentary support of interaction among the BRICS countries in various spheres, strengthening and expansion of all forms of inter-parliamentary cooperation.
Members of the Council of the Federation actively participated in the 45th session of the General Assembly of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (PABSEC) (Chisinau, June 8–11) and sessions of its committees, counteracting attempts of politicization of the BSEC parliamentary platform. Election of L.Bokova, vice-chairman of the Council of the Federation Committee on Constitutional Legislation and State-Building, as a vice-chairman of PABSEC became resounding success.
There was a meeting of the Inter-parliamentary commission on cooperation of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation and the National People's Congress of the People's Republic of China (June 9), joint meeting of groups of the Council of the Federation and the Great State Hural of Mongolia on border cooperation and a Russian-Mongolian conference “Participation of Mongolia in the Victory over Fascism: Experience of History and Lessons for the Future” (Chita, June 26–27).
The Council of the Federation together with the Interparliamentary Assembly of Member Nations of the Commonwealth of Independent States (IPA CIS) is now conducting huge work in preparation for the Euroasian Women’s Forum (St. Petersburg, September 24–25, 2015).
In the first half of the year 2015 the Council of the Federation prepared and held 70 meetings with heads and members of foreign parliaments and international parliamentary organizations, influential foreign politicians, leaders of foreign political, public and religious organizations, and foreign ambassadors from 39 countries.
Outcome. Members of the Council of the Federation have been to 38 countries of the world during their 85 working visits (including visits of delegations headed by the Chairperson of the Council of the Federation): 41 trips — within bilateral cooperation and 44 – within international parliamentary organizations, to CIS and the Baltic countries – 31 visits, to European states – 36 visits, to Asia −5 visits, to Africa — 3 visits, to the Middle East — 3 visits, to Latin America — 4 visits, to North America — 3 visits.
76 members of the Council of the Federation took part in the foreign trips.