UN tourism body suspends Russia’s membership, Moscow says it is quitting – Reuters

MADRID (Reuters) – The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) voted to suspend Russia’s membership following its invasion of Ukraine with immediate effect on Wednesday in a largely symbolic move, shortly after that Moscow announced to the agency that it had decided to resign.

“The message is clear: actions will always have consequences. Peace is a basic human right. Guaranteed to all. Without exception,” tweeted UNWTO Secretary General Zurab Pololikashvili, a Georgian whose home country was invaded by Russia in 2008, after the polls.

More than two-thirds of UNWTO’s 160 member states backed the resolution suspending Russia’s membership.

The vote was scheduled long before Russia announced its decision to leave the organization, beginning a process that the UNWTO said would take a year.

Spain’s Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto, who chaired the Madrid-based body’s extraordinary session, said Russia’s invasion “undermines the founding principles of the United Nations and the values ​​represented by tourism, such as peace, prosperity and universal respect”, and called for a cessation of hostilities.

The Spanish government said in a statement that the suspension could be lifted when the Assembly perceives “a change in the policy of the Russian Federation”. The Assembly will then meet in 2023.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that the decision to leave the UNWTO, which provides technical support to promote tourism, would not affect the sector in Russia.

“The tourism sector, especially domestic tourism, will continue to develop. External tourism departments are also open, hinging on issues of competition in terms of quality and price,” he said, without further details.

Earlier this month, the UN General Assembly voted to suspend Russia from the UN Human Rights Council due to reports of human rights abuses in Ukraine, which prompted Moscow to announce that it was also leaving this body.

Russia, which calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation” to disarm Ukraine and protect it from fascists, has denied the claims of rights abuses.

Ukraine and the West say that Russia is waging an unprovoked war of aggression.

(Reporting by Corina Pons, writing by Andrei Khalip, editing by Angus MacSwan and Gareth Jones)

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