The Secretary General of the 46-nation Council of Europe, Marija Pejčinović Burić, has today made the following statement:
“Plans to amend the law on admission to the Russian Federation, which are due to be considered by the Russian State Duma, and to hold a referendum to annex occupied Ukrainian territories are deplorable and alarming.
"In 2014, the Council of Europe's Venice Commission examined a draft law that could have become the basis for the annexation of Crimea. The Venice Commission concluded that the draft law violated international principles of territorial integrity, national sovereignty, non-intervention in the internal affairs of another state and pacta sunt servanda – in other words, the principle that promises must be kept.
“In another opinion, the Venice Commission found that the circumstances in Crimea did not allow for holding a referendum in line with European democratic standards. Those conclusions remain valid today, with respect to all occupied territories.
“The annexation of the territory of another state amounts to a violation of international law, notably the Charter of the United Nations. I call upon the Russian authorities to withdraw these plans immediately. Ukraine’s territorial integrity must be protected.”