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PACE to discuss Russia's CoE presidency at Moscow meet

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Russia's presidency of the Council of Europe will top the agenda when the organization's parliament holds a visiting session in Moscow next week.

MOSCOW, May 26 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's presidency of the Council of Europe will top the agenda when the organization's parliament holds a visiting session in Moscow next week.

Russia holds the chair of the Committee of Ministers - the Council's executive body - from May 19 to November 15. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was officially given the presidency by his Romanian counterpart at a handover ceremony in Strasbourg where the council is based.

In its six-month tenure as president, Russia, which marks 10 years in the organization this year, will prioritize human rights, education and other issues, and hold about 30 events.

PACE President Rene van der Linden said by telephone that he planned to discuss Russia's presidency and its priorities along with cultural ties and relations between the European Union and the Council of Europe at the Moscow meeting May 29.

Parliamentarians also intend to raise the issue of migrant workers coming from eastern and central Europe, and the security of Europe's air space as well as the situation in Ukraine, van der Linden said.

He said he also planned to bring up the issue of Belarus, although this is not an official item on the agenda. Belarus has been ostracized by the West since presidential elections in March were declared fraudulent by international observers and opposition leaders. President Lukashenko - dubbed "Europe's last dictator" by Washington - and other officials have since been banned from entering the EU and the United States.

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