MOSCOW, Oct. 17 (Xinhua) -- Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Russia will leave the Council of Europe(CoE) voluntarily if its opponents insist on its expulsion, according to the foreign ministry's website.
"If they want to expel Russia from the Council of Europe, we will not give them such a pleasure. We will quit it voluntarily," the top diplomat said in an interview with the EuroNews television channel on Tuesday.
Russia joined the CoE with confidence that the council is geared to ensure a European universal legal and humanitarian space. However, this space is undermined through illegitimate actions that violate the Charter, Lavrov said.
"I don't think that participation in the Council of Europe is more important for Russia than it is for European countries," the foreign minister added.
On Oct. 10, CoE Secretary-General Thorbjorn Jagland said that the organization might expel Russia if Moscow would not resume payments to its budget.
In April 2014, Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) approved resolutions depriving the Russian delegation of the right to vote due to the Crimea issue.
Russia decided to leave PACE in late 2015, repeatedly stressing that it will only return to the organization after the full restoration of its right to vote.
Moscow suspended the payment of its dues to the CoE in 2017, although it continues to fulfill all other obligations under the CoE conventions.