On 4 May 1993, the Seimas adopted the Resolution on the Ratification of the Statute of the Council of Europe by the Republic of Lithuania and ratified the Treaty of London establishing the Council of Europe (CoE) on 14 May of the same year. On that date, the instruments of joining to the Statute of the Council of Europe were deposited. Since then, Lithuania has enjoyed the status of a full member of the CoE.
Two years later, on 27 April 1995, Lithuania ratified the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, thus recognising the competence of the European Commission for Human Rights to receive and examine individual applications and acknowledging the mandatory jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights.
Membership of the Council of Europe, the first pan-European international organisation that was joined by Lithuania after the restoration of independence, became an important political achievement. Lithuania has always placed a high premium on the political support from the CoE, as the latter has never recognised the Soviet occupation and annexation of the Baltic States. This is also proved by the Resolution adopted by the PACE in 1960 on the situation in the Baltic States on the twentieth anniversary of their forcible incorporation into the Soviet Union.
From 8 November 2001 to 3 May 2002, Lithuania chaired the CoE Committee of Ministers for the first time.
The Seimas delegations to the PACE were headed by the following MPs:
Aloyzas Sakalas (1993)
Algirdas Gricius (1994–1996)
Bronislavas Juozas Kuzmickas (1997–1999)
Jonas Čekuolis (2000–2004)
Algirdas Paleckis (2005; until April 2007)
Birutė Vėsaitė (2006)
Zigmantas Balčytis (from April 2007 to 2008)
Emanuelis Zingeris (2009–2012)
Orinta Leiputė (2013)
Birutė Vėsaitė (2014–2016)
Algirdas Butkevičius (2016–2020)
In accordance with the Rules of Procedure of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, national delegations must be formed by ensuring representation of political parties or groups in the national parliament. In addition, delegations must compulsorily include male and female members, at least in the proportions available in the respective legislature. Delegation members must sign a pledge to adhere to the fundamental principles of the CoE, and the credentials of delegation members must be renewed every year.
The Seimas Delegation to the PACE is formed annually on the principle of proportional representation of parliamentary groups. The mandatory requirement is also for the Delegation to have male and female members. Otherwise, the PACE may suspend the Delegation’s credentials. The Delegation to the PACE has four votes and consists of four members and four deputy members.
Algirdas Butkevičius was appointed as Head of the Seimas Delegation to the PACE for 2016–2020, with Egidijus Vareikis as Deputy Head. In 2020, Mr Vareikis was elected Vice-President of the PACE. In 2020, Algirdas Butkevičius, Head of the Delegation, became a member of the board of the Socialists, Democrats and Greens Group, the largest political group at the PACE. In 2019–2020, the most important and relevant reports of the members of the Lithuanian Delegation covered the investigation into the death of Boris Nemtsov, the procedures for challenging the credentials of the Russian Federation, and the prevention of violence and discrimination among religious minorities of refugees in Europe. In 2019, the informal Baltic+ Group was established by the Seimas Delegation to the PACE in cooperation with the Latvian, Estonian, Georgian and Ukrainian delegations and several members from the delegations of the United Kingdom, Sweden and Denmark. The Baltic+ Group not only acts against the unconditional return of the Russian delegation to the PACE, which would violate the principles of democracy and human rights, but also brings the effectiveness and efficiency of the PACE into the focus of attention.
The seat of the Council of Europe and the Parliamentary Assembly is in Strasbourg. Here, the Lithuanian Delegation and other national delegations have their own offices for use during sessions.
Funding. The Seimas is free from paying any membership fee to the PACE.
On 8 December 2020, pursuant to Article 81(1) of its Statute, the Seimas formed 10 parliamentary delegations, including the Seimas Delegation to the PACE, for the 2020–2024 legislative period. The Delegation consists of four members and four deputy members. The Seimas approved Emanuelis Zingeris as Head of the Delegation, with Arminas Lydeka as Deputy Head.