Thursday  06 April 2000 at 15 p.m

PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS IS A PROVISIONAL VERSION OF THE REPORT OF  THE DEBATE OF 06 April 2000 AT 15 P.M WHICH MAY STILL BE CORRECTED BY THE SPEAKERS


In this report:

1. Speeches in English are reported in full.

2. Speeches in other languages are summarised.

3. Speeches in German and Italian are reproduced in full in a separate document.

Corrections should be handed in at Room 1059A not later than 24 hours after the report has been circulated.


CONTENTS

 

 

1.    Minutes of proceedings.

 

2.     Conflict in Chechnya and credentials of Russian delegation

Amendments Nos. 24, 25, 26, 27, 6, 8, 9, 10 as amended, 11 as amended, 12, 54, 55, 13, 14, 15, 41, 43, 45, 33, 17, 46, 18, 47 as amended, 51, 20, 34, 35, 21 as amended, 56 and 23 to draft recommendation in Doc. 8697 adopted.

    Draft recommendation, as amended, adopted.

    Amendment No. 1 to draft conclusion adopted.

    Draft conclusion in Doc. 8698, as amended, adopted.

     

3.     New technologies in small and medium-sized enterprises (presentation of report by Mr Birrauz and Mr Steolea of report, Doc. 8587, on behalf of the Committee on Science and Technology)

 

    Speakers:

     

    Mr Kurucsai (Hungary)

    Mr Braun (Hungary)

    Mr Ivanov (Bulgaria)

    Mr Kieres (Poland)

    Mr Tiuri (Finland)

    Mr Rakhansky (Ukraine)

    Amendment No. 1 adopted.

    Draft recommendation, as amended, adopted.

     

4.     Towards the uniform interpretation of Council of Europe conventions: the creation of a general judicial authority (presentation by Mr Svoboda of report, Doc. 8662, on behalf of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights)

 

Speakers:

 

Mr Pokol (Hungary)

Mr Jaskiernia (Poland)

Mr Akçali (Turkey)

Mr Etherington (United Kingdom)

Mr Zeynalov (Special Guest from Azerbaijan)

Mr Jansson (Finland)

Draft recommendation adopted.

 

5. Date, time and orders of the day of the next sitting


Lord Russell-Johnston, President of the Assembly, took the Chair at 3.10 p.m.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- The sitting is open.

 

1. Minutes of proceedings

THE PRESIDENT.- The minutes of proceedings of the previous sitting have not yet been distributed. They will be considered at the next sitting of the Assembly. I remind members that - despite the introduction of electronic voting - it is still necessary for them to sign the record of attendance on entering the Chamber.

 

Before we turn to the voting, I remind members to make sure that they have inserted their voting cards in the slot so that they will be ready when we begin to vote. Let us hope that everyone has got that right.

 

2. Conflict in Chechnya and credentials of the Russian delegation

THE PRESIDENT.- We now turn to the votes relevant to this morning’s joint debate on the reports on Chechnya and the credentials of the Russian delegation.

 

The Political Affairs Committee has presented a draft recommendation in Document 8697, to which 55 amendments and three sub-amendments have been tabled.

 

Before I proceed, I have to admit that although Mr Rogozin asked me before we came into the Chamber whether he could raise a point of order, I had clean forgotten about it. Will you raise it now, Mr Rogozin?

 

Mr ROGOZIN (Russian Federation), on a point of order, said that following an earlier discussion with the President, he had understood that the person responsible for this morning’s assault on a fellow delegate would be removed from the building. However, the individual concerned had been seen in the building at lunchtime: he wanted to know how that had happened.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- I said before the lunch break that the matter would be investigated. I understand that there is a video of the incident. We were anxious to see it, but we have not had time. The intention is to exclude the individual concerned as soon as the matter can be regulated. That is all I can say at this stage. I have taken very serious note of what you say.

 

The amendments will be taken in the order in which they appear on the notice paper. The amendment originally circulated as Amendment No. 53 to the report on Chechnya should have been circulated as Amendment No. 5 to the report on the credentials of the Russian delegation. This has now been done.

 

In some cases, if one amendment is agreed to, others may fall. I shall make it clear where that is so when we reach each amendment concerned.

 

We come first to Amendment No. 24, which is, in the draft recommendation, paragraph 1 and in subsequent paragraphs, replace the word "Chechnya" with the words:

 

"the Chechen Republic".

 

I remind the Assembly that if this amendment is accepted, Amendment No. 5 will fall. I call Mr Rogozin to support Amendment No. 24.

 

Mr ROGOZIN (Russian Federation) said that the amendment was a technical change to bring the text into line with the constitution of the Russian Federation.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment?…

 

That is not the case.

 

What is the opinion of the committee on the amendment?

 

Mr DAVIS (United Kingdom).- We agree with the amendment.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Voting is now open.

 

Amendment No. 24 is adopted.

 

That means that Amendment No. 5 falls.

 

We come to Amendment No. 25, which is, in the draft recommendation, paragraph 4, replace the word "Dagestan" with the words:

 

"the Republic of Daghestan".

 

I call Mr Rogozin to support Amendment No. 25.

 

Mr ROGOZIN (Russian Federation) said that the amendment had the same purpose as Amendment No. 24.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment?…

 

That is not the case.

 

What is the opinion of the committee on the amendment?

 

Mr DAVIS (United Kingdom).- We agree with the amendment.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Voting is now open.

 

Amendment No. 25 is adopted.

 

We come now to Amendment No. 26, which is, in the draft recommendation, paragraph 4, replace the word "Ingushetia" with the words:

 

"the Republic of Ingushetia".

 

I call Mr Rogozin to support Amendment No. 26.

 

Mr ROGOZIN (Russian Federation) said that the Constitution of the Russian Federation referred to the Republic of Ingushetia.

THE PRESIDENT.- Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment?…

 

That is not the case.

 

What is the opinion of the committee on the amendment?

 

Mr DAVIS (United Kingdom).- We agree with the amendment

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Voting is now open.

 

Nothing is happening. It looks as though we may have to go back to the old system.

 

Mrs FYFE (United Kingdom).- On a point of order. A moment ago, on the previous vote, the wrong amendment number was shown at the top of the screen.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- I understand that the system is now working.

 

Mr HEGYI (Hungary).- My voting card is not working.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- In order to get on, may I ask those whose card is not working to indicate how they intend to vote. I believe that eight people are indicating that they would vote "Yes".

 

Mr LAAKSO (Finland).- On a point of order. I think that we could proceed more rapidly if we used the old way of voting, because there are now so many cases where the new system does not work. It could take hours in this way. Let us have the old, normal way of voting.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Personally speaking, I am inclined to agree. But we have this expensive system, and I understand that we now have a result for Amendment No. 26. Could the result be displayed? The result apparently cannot be displayed, so we must vote by hand. I am sorry, but I have no alternative.

 

I remind the Assembly that we are dealing with Amendment No. 26, proposed by Mr Rogozin. Nobody spoke against it and the committee was in favour.

 

Amendment No. 26 is adopted.

 

We come to Amendment No. 27, which is, in the draft recommendation, paragraph 4 and in subsequent paragraphs, replace the words "North Ossetia" with the words:

 

"the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania".

 

I call Mr Rogozin to support Amendment No. 27.

 

Mr ROGOZIN (Russian Federation) said that he supported this amendment for the same reasons as he had supported the previous amendment.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment?…

 

That is not the case.

 

What is the opinion of the committee?

 

Mr DAVIS (United Kingdom).- Yes.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- I shall now put the amendment to the vote by a show of hands.

 

Amendment No. 27 is adopted.

 

We come to Amendment No. 6, which is, in the draft recommendation, replace paragraphs 5.i and 5.v with one new sub-paragraph as follows:

 

"appointing Mr Vladimir Kalamanov Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation on Securing Human and Citizens’ Rights and Freedoms in the Chechen Republic, and agreeing in principle to accept consultative expertise for his office in the form of Council of Europe expert staff;".

 

I call Mr Bindig to support Amendment No. 6.

 

Mr BINDIG (Germany) said that the amendment tightened up the original text.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment?…

 

That is not the case.

 

What is the opinion of the committee?

 

Mr DAVIS (United Kingdom).- Yes.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- I shall now put the amendment to the vote by a show of hands.

 

Amendment No. 6 is adopted.

 

We come to Amendment No. 7, which is, in the draft recommendation, delete paragraph 5.iv.

 

I call Mr Bindig to support Amendment No. 7.

 

Mr BINDIG (Germany) said that the amendment proposed the deletion of reference to the illegal order, which had only been in force for a brief period and did not deserve specific mention.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment?

 

Lord JUDD (United Kingdom).- As I said this morning, we set out very fully the facts that were relevant to the defendants’ position, as it were. It seems that that is very important in an Organisation concerned with human rights. This issue attracted a great deal of public attention. Action has been taken on it and therefore it is entirely appropriate that it should appear in the list.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- What is the opinion of the committee?

 

Mr DAVIS (United Kingdom).- The committee is against the amendment.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- I shall now put the amendment to the vote by a show of hands.

 

Amendment No. 7 is rejected.

 

We come to Amendment No. 8, which is, in the draft recommendation, replace paragraphs 5.vii and 5.viii with one new sub-paragraph as follows:

 

"concluding a working memorandum with the United Nations Secretary General on procedures governing humanitarian assistance in the region, and reaching an agreement with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on its operation in the Chechen Republic and on ICRC representatives access to temporary detention centres;".

 

I call Mr Bindig to support Amendment No. 8.

 

Mr BINDIG (Germany) said that this amendment also tightened up the text and brought together points that could be covered neatly together.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment?…

 

That is not the case.

 

What is the opinion of the committee?

 

Mr DAVIS (United Kingdom).- Yes.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- I shall now put the amendment to the vote by a show of hands.

 

Amendment No. 8 is adopted.

 

We come to Amendment No. 28, which is, in the draft recommendation, at the end of paragraph 5, add the following new sub-paragraph:

 

"publishing the provisional report prepared by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment following a visit by a delegation from the Committee to the detention centres in the Chechen Republic, the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania and the Region of Stavropol in March 2000."

 

I call Mr Melnikov to support Amendment No. 28.

 

Mr MELNIKOV (Russian Federation) said that he was speaking as a co-tabler of the amendment. The amendment might not appear significant but given today’s discussion, which had suggested that the Russian side had done nothing, this amendment made it clear that the situation in the Chechen Republic was becoming more open and transparent.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment?

 

Mr FRUNDA (Romania).- A provisional report cannot be conclusive. We need a final report. Since the amendment proposes only a provisional report, I oppose it.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- What is the opinion of the committee on the amendment?

 

Mr DAVIS (United Kingdom).- The committee says no to this amendment.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- I shall now put the amendment to the vote by a show of hands.

 

Amendment No. 28 is rejected.

 

We come to Amendment No. 29, which is, in the draft recommendation, after paragraph 6, insert a new paragraph as follows:

 

"The Assembly deplores that the Chechen fighters did not comply with the demands set forth in paragraph 11 of Recommendation 1444 (2000), and also urges them immediately to cease fire, put down arms and stop all acts of terrorism and violence."

 

I call Mr Rogozin to support Amendment No. 29.

 

Mr ROGOZIN (Russian Federation) said that he wished to withdraw the amendment.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Amendment No. 29 is not moved.

 

We come to Amendment No. 30, which is, in the draft recommendation, paragraph 7, replace the words "only declarations of intent have so far been made." by:

 

"some legal and socio-economic measures have been taken. However, the Assembly believes that they are still insufficient."

 

I call Mr Rogozin to support Amendment No. 30.

 

Mr ROGOZIN (Russian Federation) said that the amendment made the point that Russia had actually done more than the original text admitted.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment?

 

Lord JUDD (United Kingdom).- I fear that the amendment would weaken the thrust of the argument and, therefore, we do not accept it.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Does Mr Davis have the same view?

 

Mr DAVIS (United Kingdom).- It is the view of the committee.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- I shall now put the amendment to the vote by a show of hands.

 

Amendment No. 30 is rejected.

 

We come to Amendment No. 48, which is, in the draft recommendation, after paragraph 7, insert a new paragraph as follows:

 

"Restrictions imposed on the free and unhindered exercise by the media of their professional duties have also prevented the Russian public from obtaining comprehensive and objective information about the real situation on the ground, especially at the beginning of the conflict when the worst human rights violations were allegedly committed."

 

I call Mr Hegyi to support Amendment No. 48.

 

Mr HEGYI (Hungary).- The amendment was accepted unanimously in the Committee on Culture and Education. It is very important because it states that restrictions on the media were not only a consequence of but the reason for many of the atrocities, as the Russian public did not get a clear picture of such events in Chechnya. We are saying that they were so one-sided, accepting all the so-called patriotic propaganda, because they were not informed of reality. The amendment is therefore important not only to past events but to future conflicts in other countries.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment?

 

Lord JUDD (United Kingdom).- I oppose the amendment because the point is covered in the main text.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- What is the opinion of the committee?

 

Mr DAVIS (United Kingdom).- The committee says no.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- I shall now put the amendment to the vote by a show of hands.

 

Amendment No. 48 is rejected.

 

We come to Amendment No. 31, which is, in the draft recommendation, paragraph 8, replace the words "The Assembly reiterates that Russia has violated" by:

 

"In the view of the Assembly the actions of Russia do not meet".

 

If this amendment is accepted, Amendment No. 9 falls.

 

I call Mr Rogozin to support the amendment.

 

Mr ROGOZIN (Russian Federation) said that he wanted to avoid having so many references to violations of human rights by Russia.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment?

 

I call Mr Eörsi to speak against the amendment.

 

Mr EÖRSI (Hungary).- The problem here is that the Assembly believes that there are violations. This is not a view but a matter of fact. That is why I am against the amendment.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- What is the opinion of the committee on the amendment?

 

Mr DAVIS (United Kingdom).- The committee says no.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- I shall now put the amendment to a vote by a show of hands.

 

Amendment No. 31 is rejected.

 

We now come to Amendment No. 9, which is, in the draft recommendation, paragraph 8, after the words "has violated", insert the following words:

 

"and continues to violate".

 

I call Mr Bindig to support Amendment No. 9.

 

Mr BINDIG (Germany) said that he wanted to emphasise that Russia had violated human rights and that violations were continuing.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment?

 

I call Mr Rogozin to speak against the amendment.

 

Mr ROGOZIN (Russian Federation) said only a court could decide whether Russia was continuing to violate human rights.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- What is the opinion of the committee on the amendment?

 

Mr DAVIS (United Kingdom).- The committee says yes.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- I shall now put the amendment to the vote by a show of hands.

 

Amendment No. 9 is adopted.

 

We now come to Amendment No. 10, which is, in the draft recommendation, after paragraph 8, insert the following new paragraph:

 

"In particular, the Assembly deplores the following actions of the Russian Federal troops in Chechnya:

 

i. the total and wanton destruction of the city of Grozny, the most striking example of indiscriminate and disproportionate military action which has cost hundreds, if not thousands of civilian lives;

 

ii. continued attacks on the civilian population, ranging from the use of aerial bombardments and other heavy weaponry in densely populated areas to the committal of war crimes by Federal troops, including the murder and rape of civilians;

 

iii. the alleged arbitrary arrest and detention of non-combatants, and their reported subsequent ill-treatment in detention;

 

iv. the continued use of young conscripts in the military campaign in Chechnya."

 

I call Mr Bindig to support Amendment No. 10.

 

Mr BINDIG (Germany) said the amendment needed to be seen in conjunction with paragraph 5. He felt that there was a need to spell out particular points of criticism in order to achieve a balance.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- A sub-amendment has been tabled to Amendment No. 10, which is, in Amendment No. 10, after sub-paragraph ii, insert the following new sub-paragraph:

 

"armed rape - a cruel means of war - perpetrated on Chechen women and girls;"

 

I call on Mrs Vermot-Mangold to support sub-amendment No. 1.

 

Mrs VERMOT-MANGOLD (Switzerland) said that her text should read "rape", not "armed rape" as printed. She wanted to emphasise that rape had been a particular issue in this conflict.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Does anyone wish to speak against the sub-amendment?

 

I call Mr Rogozin to speak against the sub-amendment.

 

Mr ROGOZIN (Russian Federation) said rape was a very serious crime but one which had been committed by both sides.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- What is the opinion of the committee on the sub-amendment?

 

Mr DAVIS (United Kingdom).- Yes.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- I shall now put the sub-amendment to the vote by a show of hands.

 

Sub-amendment No. 1 is adopted.

 

Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment, as amended?

 

I call Mr Zhirinovsky to speak against the amendment, as amended.

 

Mr ZHIRINOVSKY (Russian Federation) said that it was the occupation by bandits that had destroyed Grozny, not the Russian Army.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- What is the opinion of the committee on the amendment, as amended?

 

Mr DAVIS (United Kingdom).- Yes.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- I shall now put the amendment to the vote by a show of hands.

 

Amendment No. 10, as amended, is adopted.

 

We shall now deal with Amendment No. 11, which is, in the draft recommendation, after paragraph 8, insert the following new paragraph:

 

"The Assembly also deplores that, up until now, the Chechen side has not complied with the demands formulated in paragraph 11 of Recommendation 1444 (2000). In particular, it regrets that no ceasefire has been introduced on the Chechen side, and that hostages are still being held. The Assembly reiterates that all its demands remain fully valid, and insists that the Chechen side comply with them immediately, and take up any offer of negotiations without preconditions."

 

I call Mr Bindig to support Amendment No. 11.

 

Mr BINDIG (Germany) said he wanted to note the failure of the Chechen side to comply with the demands of the Council of Europe.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- A sub-amendment has been moved to this amendment, which is, in Amendment No. 11, delete the words "it regrets that no ceasefire" and adds the words:

 

"it cannot accept that no ceasefire".

 

I call Mr Surján to support sub-amendment No. 1.

 

Mr SURJÁN (Hungary).- We propose a small change to the wording to make the text clearer.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Hungarian clarity is introduced. What is the opinion of the mover of the amendment, Mr Bindig?

 

Mr BINDIG (Germany).- Yes.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- What is the opinion of the committee on the sub-amendment?

 

Mr DAVIS (United Kingdom).- Yes.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- I shall now put the sub-amendment to the vote by a show of hands.

 

 

Sub-amendment No. 1 is adopted.

 

Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment, as amended?…

 

That is not the case. What is the opinion of the committee on the amendment?

 

Mr DAVIS (United Kingdom).- Yes.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- I shall now put the amendment, as amended, to the vote by a show of hands.

 

 

Amendment No. 11, as amended, is adopted.

 

We come now to Amendment No. 39, which is, in the draft recommendation, paragraph 9, after the words "human rights violations", insert:

 

", including summary executions, torture and rape,".

 

I call Mr Nedelciuc to support Amendment No. 39.

 

Mr NEDELCIUC (Moldova).- There have been many independent reports and official references to the summary executions, torture and rape of civilians and women which took place in Chechnya by those on both sides of the conflict. Lord Judd’s report - page 9, paragraphs 31 and 32 - confirmed those atrocities, as did many of the speeches today, especially on Amendment No. 10.

 

If the Assembly accepts this amendment, it will indicate what sort of human rights violations have been perpetrated by both sides in the conflict. I ask the Assembly to support my amendment.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment? I call Lord Judd.

 

Lord JUDD (United Kingdom).- We oppose the amendment because it is covered by Mr Bindig’s Amendment No. 10.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- What is the opinion of the committee on the amendment?

 

Mr DAVIS (United Kingdom).- The committee says no.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- I shall now put the amendment to the vote by a show of hands.

 

Amendment No. 39 is rejected.

 

We now come to Amendment No. 12, which is, in the draft recommendation, after paragraph 11, insert the following new paragraph:

 

"The Assembly recalls that Russia, upon its accession to the Council of Europe, committed itself in writing to observe the principles and standards of the Organisation and to fulfil all obligations arising from the Statute of the Council of Europe and its most important conventions. In particular, Russia’s accession, it was assured, would not result in the lowering of the high standards of the Organisation. In keeping with these assurances the Assembly insists on the maintenance and respect of the standards of the Council of Europe, and regrets that Russia is digressing from these standards through its conduct in Chechnya, and is violating its commitments and obligations in a most serious manner."

 

I call Mr Bindig to support Amendment No. 12.

 

Mr BINDIG (Germany) said that on accession to the Council of Europe, President Yeltsin and others had written to affirm that their membership would not lower the standards of the Council. It was appropriate to draw attention to that letter.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment? I call Mr Zhirinovsky.

 

Mr ZHIRINOVSKY (Russian Federation) said that by taking action against terrorists, Russia was not lowering the standards of the Council of Europe. The amendment should be withdrawn.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- What is the opinion of the committee on the amendment?

 

Mr DAVIS (United Kingdom).- The committee says yes.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- I shall now put the amendment to the vote by a show of hands.

 

Amendment No. 12 is adopted.

 

We now come to Amendment No. 42, which is, in the draft recommendation, after paragraph 12, insert the following new paragraph:

 

"The Assembly is convinced of the fact that the reconstruction of the educational system in Chechnya is of high importance to avoid a situation in which young people, being deprived of sufficient education as a result of both wars, would become easy prey for organised gangs. Therefore, the Assembly urges the Council of Europe to take the initiative, together with other international organisations in the field, to offer concrete assistance for the reconstruction of the educational system in Chechnya, in co-operation with nationally responsible individuals and organisations."

 

I call Mr Van der Linden to support Amendment No. 42.

 

Mr Van der LINDEN (Netherlands) said that he wanted to withdraw the amendment.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Amendment No. 42 is not moved.

 

We come now to Amendment No. 54, which is, in the draft recommendation, after paragraph 12, insert a new paragraph as follows:

 

"The Assembly calls on the Russian State Duma to initiate a wider dialogue with the Assembly and to invite the observers from the Assembly to attend the meetings of the State Duma Commission on Human Rights, Displaced Persons and the Normalisation of Social, Political and Economic Situation in the Chechen Republic."

 

I call Mrs Severinsen to support Amendment No. 54.

 

Mrs SEVERINSEN (Denmark).- I urge the Assembly to support this amendment. It is a good sign that the Duma has formed such a commission. We should support that commission and follow its work closely. Indeed, we should send observers so that we can have a dialogue with the commission.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Does anyone wish to oppose the amendment?…

 

That is not the case.

 

What is the opinion of the committee on the amendment?

 

Mr DAVIS (United Kingdom).- The committee says yes.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- I shall now put the amendment to the vote by a show of hands.

 

Amendment No. 54 is adopted.

 

We come now to Amendment No. 55, which is, in the draft recommendation, after paragraph 12, insert a new paragraph as follows:

 

"The Assembly calls on the Russian delegation to take a clear stand in the State Duma concerning the massive human rights violations in Chechnya by proposing a relevant resolution."

 

I call Mrs Severinsen to support Amendment No. 55.

 

Mrs SEVERINSEN (Denmark).- This amendment also is intended as an incentive to dialogue. We want the Russian delegation to take a clear stand in the Duma on the question of human rights violations in Chechnya.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Does anyone wish to oppose the amendment?

 

I call Mr Zhirinovsky.

 

Mr ZHIRINOVSKY (Russian Federation) said that Russia was attempting to avoid human rights violations and was merely defending its territory.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- What is the opinion of the committee on the amendment?

 

Mr DAVIS (United Kingdom).- The committee says yes.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- I shall now put the amendment to the vote by a show of hands.

 

Amendment No. 55 is adopted.

 

We come to Amendment No. 13, which is, in the draft recommendation, replace paragraph 13 with the following new paragraph:

 

"The Assembly considers that substantial grounds for concern exist, as noted inter alia in some of the preceding paragraphs, that the European Convention on Human Rights is being violated by the Russian authorities in Chechnya both gravely and in a systematic manner. The Assembly thus appeals to the member states of the Council of Europe, as high contracting parties to the Convention, to make use of Article 33 as a matter of urgency and refer to the European Court of Human Rights alleged breaches by Russia of the provisions of the convention and its protocols."

 

If this amendment is adopted, Amendments Nos. 40 and 32 fall. I call Mr Bindig to support Amendment No. 13.

 

Mr BINDIG (Germany) said that he wanted to make paragraph 13 more precise.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment? I call Mr Rogozin to speak against the amendment.

 

Mr ROGOZIN (Russian Federation) said that the original text was more realistic.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- What is the opinion of the committee on the amendment?

 

Mr DAVIS (United Kingdom).- The committee says yes.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- I shall now put the amendment to the vote by a show of hands.

 

Amendment No. 13 is adopted.

 

As Amendment No. 13 has been carried, Amendment No. 40 falls.

 

We come to Amendment No. 14, which is, in the draft recommendation, before paragraph 14.i, insert the following new sub-paragraph:

 

"first and foremost, immediately cease all human rights violations in the Chechen Republic, including the ill-treatment and harassment of civilians and non-combatants in the Chechen Republic by the Russian Federal troops, and the alleged torture and ill-treatment of detainees;".

 

I call Mr Bindig to support Amendment No. 14.

 

Mr BINDIG (Germany) said that it was essential that the harassment of civilians and non-combatants should cease immediately.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Does anyone wish to speak against? I call Lord Judd.

 

Lord JUDD (United Kingdom).- I am against the amendment simply because it duplicates in effect Amendment No. 10.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- What is the opinion of the committee?

 

Mr DAVIS (United Kingdom).- The committee says no.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- I shall put the amendment to the vote by a show of hands.

 

 

Amendment No. 14 is adopted.

 

We come to Amendment No. 15, which is, in the draft recommendation, replace paragraph 14.i with the following new sub-paragraph:

 

"to start immediately a political dialogue, without preconditions or prior restrictions, with a cross-section of representatives of the Chechen people, including representatives of the elected Chechen authorities, with the objective of achieving a comprehensive political solution to the conflict;".

 

I call Mr Bindig to support Amendment No. 15.

 

Mr BINDIG (Germany) said that the amendment would make the text more specific.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment? I call Mr Zhirinovsky.

 

Mr ZHIRINOVSKY (Russian Federation) said that negotiations with representatives of the Chechens had in fact been under way for some time. He doubted whether President Clinton would enter into negotiations with terrorists; instead he bombed them. The Chechen terrorists had mounted a bombing campaign in Moscow, but still the Russian Government was in dialogue with them.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- What is the opinion of the committee?

 

Mr DAVIS (United Kingdom).- The committee says yes.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- I shall now put the amendment to the vote by a show of hands.

 

Amendment No. 15 is adopted.

 

I believe that Mr Rogozin wishes to raise a point of order.

 

Mr ROGOZIN (Russian Federation) said that while he supported the amendment, the wording discussed in the Political Affairs Committee had been better. He therefore wanted to make an oral sub-amendment to Amendment No. 15.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- It is too late. The amendment has been carried, so we cannot return to it. Would Mr Davis like to add to that point of order?

 

Mr ROGOZIN (Russian Federation) said that he had tried to intervene but the President had not seen him.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Unfortunately, I cannot go back on the amendment because I did not see you raise your hand. A point of order must be raised at the appropriate time. Amendment No. 15 has been carried. You may be right that the wording is better. I do not know. I have invited Mr Davis to comment.

 

Mr DAVIS (United Kingdom).- The committee took a decision on the wording as printed. Later, Mr Rogozin asked if we would reopen the matter so that he could propose an oral sub-amendment. I said that we could not go back because the decision had been taken. I advised Mr Rogozin to submit an oral sub-amendment to the full Assembly. We did not discuss amended wording in committee.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- I am sorry that I did not notice you, Mr Rogozin, but a decision having been made I cannot go back to the amendment. I will try my best to make sure that I do not miss anyone again. That sometimes happens and I am sorry.

 

We come to Amendment No. 1, which refers to the text as it was before it was amended by Amendment No. 15. It now becomes an amendment to the text as amended by Amendment No. 15. The amendment would add the words "on a totally equal basis and" after the words "political dialogue" in the first line of the text inserted by Amendment No. 15.

 

That sounds complicated. I call Mr Surján to support Amendment No. 1.

 

Mr SURJÁN (Hungary).- It is not too complicated. We are all convinced that the Russians and Chechens need to enter into a political dialogue. Given that the power of the two negotiating partners is not exactly the same, it is reasonable to remind them that any dialogue must be on a wholly equal basis.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment? I call Lord Judd to speak against the amendment.

 

Lord JUDD (United Kingdom).- Reports should stand up to anyone who is not involved in their preparation and be clear in their meaning. In my view, the meaning of these words is not clear, so we should reject them.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- What is the opinion of the committee?

 

Mr DAVIS (United Kingdom).- The committee says no.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- I shall now put the amendment to the vote by a show of hands.

 

 

Amendment No. 1 is rejected.

 

We now come to Amendment No. 16, which is, in the draft recommendation, replace paragraph 14.ii with the following new sub-paragraph:

 

"to introduce an immediate and complete ceasefire;".

 

I call Mr Bindig to support Amendment No. 16.

 

Mr BINDIG (Germany) said that he did not wish to move the amendment.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Thank you.

 

 

Amendment No. 16 is not moved.

 

We come now to Amendment No. 41, which is, in the draft recommendation, after paragraph 14.ii, insert the following new sub-paragraph:

 

"stop immediately all indiscriminate and disproportionate military action in Chechnya, including use of young conscripts, and to cease all attacks against the civilian population;".

 

I call Mr Behrendt to support Amendment No. 41.

 

Mr BEHRENDT (Germany) said that he was in favour of the amendment.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment?

 

I call Mr Zhirinovsky to speak against the amendment.

 

Mr ZHIRINOVSKY (Russian Federation) complained that the President always looked to his right. To make life easier the President should look to the left where he was sitting. He was against the amendment because it was wrong for people to sit in Strasbourg and tell the Russians what to do. Russians had to fight these bandits. They had to use young soldiers. No European armies had old soldiers.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- What is the opinion of the committee?

 

Mr DAVIS (United Kingdom).- The committee says yes.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- I shall now put the amendment to the vote by a show of hands.

 

 

Amendment No. 41 is adopted.

 

We now come to Amendment No. 2, which is, in the draft recommendation, at the end of paragraph 14.iii, add the words:

 

"with the active involvement of the already accepted international experts from the Council of Europe, and also from the United Nations Secretary General and the OSCE, the ICRC, UNHCR, the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture, and in close co-ordination and under the auspices of Mr Kalamanov’s office, but with the ability to report independently of that office".

 

I call Mr Surján to support Amendment No. 2.

 

Mr SURJÁN (Hungary).- The amendment is an attempt to clarify how the different experts can put their information together, but in the meantime, it would maintain independent decision and opinion forming during the co-operation with Mr Kalamanov’s office.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment?

 

I call Lord Judd to speak against the amendment.

 

Lord JUDD (United Kingdom).- Obviously those organisations are all important, but the point about my drafting is that it leaves the situation more open to any appropriate action. It would be a pity to restrict the scope in that way, because the organisations mentioned in the amendment would be eligible under the present drafting.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- What is the opinion of the committee on the amendment?

 

Mr DAVIS (United Kingdom).- The committee says no.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- I shall now put the amendment to the vote by a show of hands.

 

Amendment No. 2 is rejected.

 

We now come to Amendment No. 3 revised, which is, in the draft recommendation, after paragraph 14.iii, insert the following sub-paragraphs:

 

"- allow the consistent delivery of international humanitarian assistance, in close co-operation with the Russian Ministry for emergency relief operations (ERCOM), now present in the field in Chechnya but on too limited a scale;

 

- allow immediate access and free movement of human rights organisations and of the Russian and international media;

 

- extend the provisions of the newly-created State Duma Commission on Human Rights and Displaced Persons, to establish a legal framework which allows enquiry into human rights violations on both sides, to organise hearings from victims and from those politicians and members of the military responsible for human rights violations, and to start an immediate enquiry in close co-operation with the international experts on human rights of the Council of Europe;

 

- demand a formal commitment from the Duma to raise considerably the budget for physical reconstruction, for the psychological counselling and care of all the victims, and for the social, political and cultural rehabilitation of Chechnya without any ethnic or religious discrimination;

 

- consider the immediate appointment of a special envoy of the Council of Europe as a mediator in the conflict in the north Caucasus."

 

I call Mr Surján to support Amendment No. 3 revised.

 

Mr SURJÁN (Hungary).- The amendment suggests some very important things. I am sorry to say that some people believe that they do not belong in the recommendation, but I strongly believe that they do. This week we have heard a lot about the difficulties encountered by international humanitarian organisations, human rights organisations and so on, and we think that we should ask our colleagues in the Duma to raise a considerable amount of money for reconstruction. That is what the amendment suggests, and I ask the Assembly to support it.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment?

 

I call Lord Judd to speak against the amendment.

 

Lord JUDD (United Kingdom).- I ask you, colleagues, to accept the fact that a report of this kind begins to look untidy and lose its effect if memorandums are inserted at several points. There are many parts of my report in which I would have liked to develop the issue with such a memorandum, so to pick out one particular part and develop a fuller treatise on it is a bit out of place. Therefore, in the best spirit, I ask you to agree that the amendment is not acceptable in this context.

 

Mr HANCOCK (United Kingdom).- On a point of order, Mr President - in fact, I have two points of order. One is to ask the person who is sitting immediately on your left to sit back a bit, because when you look round you do not see me. I am even further to the left than Mr Zhirinovsky in the Hemicycle, and you have yet to cast your eye in my direction. I hope that that can be remedied.

 

Secondly, I would like to submit an oral sub-amendment, but unless I catch your eye I will not be able to do so. Do I have to do it via a point of order, or do I submit it after the chairman of the committee has said what he wants to say? I am looking for some advice.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- I think that before we hear from the chairman of the committee, we would like to hear what your oral sub-amendment is. I remind you that it will only be in order for you to submit it if it promotes clarity, accuracy or conciliation. Having heard it, I will then take the opinion of Mr Davis, the chairman of the committee, before I arrive at a decision.

 

Mr HANCOCK (United Kingdom).- I am sure that you will be delighted to know, Mr President, that I think that my oral sub-amendment comes into all three of those categories. It would add an extra line, or recommendation, at the bottom, saying, "and for the Council of Europe to appropriately fund their contribution to this from within their existing budget", to ensure that the recommendations in the revised amendment could be implemented.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- What do you think, Mr Davis?

 

Mr DAVIS (United Kingdom).- The suggested oral sub-amendment would certainly not promote conciliation, because it does not answer the objections to the original amendment expressed by Lord Judd as rapporteur. The committee agreed with Lord Judd, and decided to oppose the original amendment. Therefore I do not accept the oral sub-amendment either.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- I accept Mr Davis’s advice, and I rule that the oral sub-amendment cannot be proposed.

 

I now ask the opinion of the committee on the original amendment.

 

Mr DAVIS (United Kingdom).- For the reasons that Lord Judd has already given, we say no to the original amendment.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- I shall now put the amendment to the vote by a show of hands.

 

Amendment No. 3 is rejected.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- We come to Amendment No. 43, which is, in the draft recommendation, after paragraph 14.iii, add the following new sub-paragraph:

 

"undertake systematic, credible and exhaustive criminal prosecutions by the Military Prosecutor’s Office of those members of the Federal forces implicated in war crimes and other human rights violations."

 

I call Mr Kovalev to support Amendment No. 43.

 

Mr Serguei KOVOLEV (Russian Federation) said that the amendment spoke for itself.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment?…

 

That is not the case.

 

What is the opinion of the committee on the amendment?

 

Mr DAVIS (United Kingdom).- The committee says yes.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- I shall now put the amendment to the vote by a show of hands.

 

Amendment No. 43 is adopted.

 

We now come to Amendment No. 49, which is, in the draft recommendation, after paragraph 14.iii, insert a new sub-paragraph as follows:

 

"allow Russian and international media to visit Chechnya freely and independently and to perform their professional duties without any hindrance."

 

If this amendment is adopted, Amendment No. 18 falls.

 

I call Mr Hegyi to support Amendment No. 49.

 

Mr HEGYI (Hungary).- If the parties in the Chechen war should be equal, the committees represented in the Assembly should also be equal. I mention that because the amendment was supported by the whole Committee on Culture and Education. It is a very simple matter. If the Assembly rejects the amendment, I do not know why we are here and what we think about the freedom of the press.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment?

 

I call Lord Judd to speak against the amendment.

 

Lord JUDD (United Kingdom).- The amendment is on an extremely important point. I welcome the fact that the proposal is made, but I hope that I am not rude in saying that I believe the point is better and more succinctly put in Amendment No. 18. Therefore, I favour accepting that amendment rather than this amendment.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- What is the opinion of the committee on the amendment?

 

Mr DAVIS (United Kingdom).- The committee did not take a decision on the amendment, because Mr Hegyi was not present. Other members of the committee put the amendment forward for consideration, but after hearing Lord Judd’s explanation that he preferred Amendment No. 18 those putting forward Amendment No. 49 said that they would withdraw it. There was no point in our taking a decision on it because we were told that it would be withdrawn. Obviously, that was not communicated to Mr Hegyi by those who signed it and put it forward in the Political Affairs Committee.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Mr Davis has explained that very clearly.

 

I shall now put the amendment to the vote by a show of hands.

 

Amendment No. 49 is rejected.

 

We now come to Amendment No. 4, which is, in the draft recommendation, after paragraph 14, insert the following new paragraph:

 

"Calls on the Bureau of the Assembly to take the initiative to establish a tri-Parliamentary body together with the European Parliament and the OSCE, in order to make clear that humanitarian standards must be respected and to contribute to an objective and impartial clarification of allegations of war crimes perpetrated in Chechnya, and to monitor respect for human rights in future."

 

I call Mr Surján to support Amendment No. 4.

 

Mr SURJÁN (Hungary).- I do not wish to move the amendment.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Amendment No. 4 is not moved.

 

We come now to Amendment No. 45, which is, in the draft recommendation, before paragraph 15.i, insert a new sub-paragraph as follows :

 

"to minimise bureaucratic obstacles which may have considerable impact on the quality of humanitarian assistance, and in particular to lift taxes and customs duties on humanitarian goods, and allow radio communication in the field;".

 

 

I call Mr Iwinski to support Amendment No. 45.

 

 

Mr IWINSKI (Poland).- Co-operation between the humanitarian agencies and the Russian authorities has met no major obstacles, although some points need clarification. The problems to be solved still include the question of customs duties and taxes, VAT, imposed on humanitarian goods. The amendment insists on solving this issue, as well as obtaining permits for radio communication for the security of humanitarian workers in the field.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment?…

 

That is not the case.

 

What is the opinion of the committee on the amendment?

 

Mr DAVIS (United Kingdom).- The committee is in favour.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- I shall now put the amendment to the vote by a show of hands.

 

Amendment No. 45 is adopted.

 

We come now to Amendment No. 33, which is, in the draft recommendation, paragraph 15.i, after the words "legal assistance", insert:

 

"in accordance with the existing legislation".

 

I call Mr Rogozin to support Amendment No. 33.

 

Mr ROGOZIN (Russian Federation) said that legal assistance would only be effective if its provision was compatible with existing Russian legislation and proposed legislation.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment?…

 

That is not the case.

 

What is the opinion of the committee on the amendment?

 

Mr DAVIS (United Kingdom).- The committee says yes.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- I shall now put the amendment to the vote by a show of hands.

 

Amendment No. 33 is adopted.

 

We come now to Amendment No. 17, which is, in the draft recommendation, after paragraph 15.i, insert the following new sub-paragraph:

 

"to ensure that the competent international bodies have access to all detainees in the region, including in temporary detention facilities in Chechnya itself;".

 

I call Mr Bindig to support Amendment No. 17.

 

Mr BINDIG (Germany) said the amendment was intended to ensure that the text specified that international bodies should be given access to all detainees.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment?…

 

That is not the case.

 

What is the opinion of the committee on the amendment?

 

Mr DAVIS (United Kingdom),- The committee says yes.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- I shall now put the amendment to the vote by a show of hands.

 

Amendment No. 17 is adopted.

 

We now come to Amendment No. 46, which is, in the draft recommendation, after paragraph 15.i, insert a new sub-paragraph as follows:

 

"to allow access to Chechnya for all humanitarian agencies wishing to operate in the region and provide full co-operation in the fulfilment of this task;".

 

 

I call Mr Iwinski to support Amendment No. 46.

 

 

Mr IWINSKI (Poland).- A week ago the International Committee of the Red Cross obtained permission to operate in Chechnya itself. However, this does not apply to all humanitarian organisations. Therefore, the amendment stresses the importance of allowing access to all humanitarian agencies wishing to operate in the region.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment?

 

I call Mr Zhirinovsky to speak against the amendment.

 

Mr ZHIRINOVSKY (Russian Federation) said that what was being proposed would require everyone to be accompanied by a military unit. During the Gulf War journalists had been kept away from the field. In his view, humanitarian assistance was simply a cover for drug traffickers and gun runners.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- What is the opinion of the committee on the amendment?

 

Mr DAVIS (United Kingdom).- The committee says yes.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- I shall now put the amendment to the vote by a show of hands.

 

Amendment No. 46 is adopted.

 

We come now to Amendment No. 18, which is, in the draft recommendation, after paragraph 15.ii, insert the following new sub-paragraph:

 

"to ensure free access by Russian and international media to the region;".

I call Mr Bindig to support Amendment No. 18.

 

Mr BINDIG (Germany) said the amendment was self-explanatory and was intended to allow the media access to the region.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment?

 

I call Mr Zhirinovsky to speak against the amendment.

 

Mr ZHIRINOVSKY (Russian Federation) said that this matter had already been covered in connection with Amendment No. 49. He added that Russia was already providing the media with access. The only reason why access was denied to journalists was for their own safety.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- I remind you that Amendment No. 49 was not agreed to.

 

What is the opinion of the committee on Amendment No. 18?

 

Mr DAVIS (United Kingdom).- The committee says yes.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- I shall now put the amendment to the vote by a show of hands.

 

Amendment No. 18 is adopted.

 

We come to Amendment No. 47, which is, in the draft recommendation, after paragraph 15.ii, insert a new sub-paragraph as follows:

 

"to refrain from any form of forced or hasty repatriation before the conditions for return in safety and dignity are fulfilled, notably an amnesty for alleged offences and peaceful conditions to ensure the re-establishment of normal civil society and the rule of law;".

 

 

I call Mr Iwinski to support Amendment No. 47.

 

 

Mr IWINSKI (Poland).- To avoid contradicting Amendment No. 43, I should like to move an oral sub-amendment, which would delete the second part of Amendment No. 47. The amendment would read as follows: "to refrain from any form of forced or hasty repatriation before the conditions for return in safety and dignity are fulfilled."

 

The amendment would stop refugees being forced to return to Chechnya.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- What is the opinion of the committee on the oral sub-amendment?

 

Mr DAVIS (United Kingdom).- The committee was very much in favour of the rewording.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- I accept the oral sub-amendment; I think that it is in order. However, if ten members object to it, it cannot be moved. Are there ten members who do so?…

 

That is the not the case.

 

Does anyone wish to speak against the oral sub-amendment?…

 

That is not the case.

 

Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment, as amended?…

 

That is not the case.

 

What is the opinion of the committee on the amendment, as amended?

 

Mr DAVIS (United Kingdom).- The committee says yes.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- I shall put the amendment, as amended, to the vote by a show of hands.

 

Amendment No. 47, as amended, is adopted.

 

We come to Amendment No. 19, which is, in the draft recommendation, paragraph 16, after the word "inter-act", delete the word: "fully".

 

I call Mr Bindig to support Amendment No. 19.

 

Mr BINDIG (Germany) said that the amendment avoided pre-empting the question of the ratification of credentials.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment?

 

Mr ROGOZIN (Russian Federation) said that he did not think that the original text pre-empted the credentials question.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- What is the opinion of the committee on the amendment?

 

Mr DAVIS (United Kingdom).- The committee is against the amendment.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- On this occasion, we shall proceed with voting by a show of hands, unless anybody feels very strongly that we should resume electronic voting.

 

Amendment No. 19 is rejected.

 

We come to Amendment No. 50, which is, in the draft recommendation, after paragraph 16, insert a new paragraph as follows:

 

"The Assembly calls for the immediate release of all the civilian hostages, including journalists, detained by certain Chechen groups."

 

I call Mr Hegyi to support Amendment No. 50.

 

Mr HEGYI (Hungary).- A strange mistake has been made in respect of Amendment No. 49. The Committee on Culture and Education did not recommend withdrawing Amendment No. 49.

 

Amendment No. 50 speaks for itself. Many citizens of our member states have been kidnapped by Chechen groups, and remain hostages. Yesterday, I talked to Mr Babitsky in Moscow, who told me that the situation has become even more dangerous. Nowadays, rebels throughout the region are taking hostages. The Council of Europe should send out a signal on the matter because our citizens are involved.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment?

 

Lord JUDD (United Kingdom).- The point being made is terribly important, and I have 100% sympathy and support for it, but it is already covered by Amendment No. 11, which Mr Bindig tabled. If we adopted the amendment, the text would become repetitive. We should not accept it simply on that ground.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- What is the opinion of the committee?

 

Mr DAVIS (United Kingdom).- I should clarify a point for Mr Hegyi. I explained not that the Committee on Culture and Education withdrew Amendment No. 49, but that his co-authors on the committee recommended that it should be withdrawn. Since he was not present, the Political Affairs Committee did not take a decision. The committee did take a decision on Amendment No. 50; it says no to it.

 

Mr Van der LINDEN (Netherlands).- On a point of order, Mr President. As you said that the electronic voting system is working again, I propose that we use it.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- There did not seem to be wild enthusiasm for the idea when I mentioned it.

 

I call Mr Rogozin.

 

Mr ROGOZIN (Russian Federation) said that when the amendment had been looked at in the Political Affairs Committee there had been differences in the French and English versions. The French version had referred to "certain groups", the English version to "bandit groups". This was clearly a significant difference.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Could the chairman of the committee perhaps explain?

 

Mr DAVIS (United Kingdom).- What Mr Rogozin is saying is correct - there is a clear difference between the English and French texts. That was obvious in committee, as members and the secretariat all agreed. We were told by Mr Gross or Mr Gjellerod to look at the French text, and that was what we discussed. We then decided that we did not like the amendment anyway.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- The French version that I have refers to "certain groupes" while the English version says "certain groups". They are now the same.

 

Mr DAVIS (United Kingdom).- The wording that we were given in committee was not "certain bandit groups" but "Chechen bandit groups". It may have been a typing error, but there was a difference. However, we decided that we did not like the amendment anyway.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- The word "bandit" does not appear in either of the texts that I have.

 

Mr HEGYI (Hungary).- As one of the causes of our difficulties here, I may be able to explain. We were informed first that the amendment should be tabled by 10 a.m., and it was signed by five colleagues. We heard later that it could be tabled by 3 p.m. and the amendment was then discussed in the Committee on Culture and Education where a sub-amendment was tabled. That is why there are two versions - one was signed by five colleagues while the other was tabled by the committee.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- The essential point is that the committee is against the amendment.

 

I shall now put the amendment to the vote by a show of hands.

 

Amendment No. 50 is rejected.

 

We shall now deal with Amendment No. 44, which is, in the draft recommendation, after paragraph 17, insert the following:

 

"It considers that all work on reports and opinions currently being undertaken by committees should be stopped forthwith, that no reports or opinions should be sought for a period of six months, that no committee meetings should be held outside Paris or Strasbourg for a period of one year, and that no visits by any committee, such as the Political Affairs Committee’s planned visit to Japan, should be allowed for one year and that all cost savings that result should be used properly to fund and staff a major human rights commission from the Council of Europe to Chechnya."

 

I call Mr Hancock to support Amendment No. 44 - if I can see him.

 

Mr HANCOCK (United Kingdom).- If you cannot see me, Mr President, you will be able to hear me. It is interesting that the Assembly adopted Amendment No. 13 in the knowledge that there would be insufficient funds available, if any, to deliver the intentions of the Assembly. My amendment would give us an opportunity to play a part by forgoing opportunities to travel other than to meetings in Paris or Strasbourg. The amendment suggests that reporting should be suspended for a period to allow us to put aside resources for what the Assembly says its stands for, which is protection and support for people who are having their human rights violated. At the moment, we cannot do that because we are told that we have a zero-growth budget. We cannot make resources available unless we do one of two things - cut our cloth or ask the Committee of Ministers to put more money into the pot.

 

Mr Zhirinovsky said that the Council of Europe is becoming obsessed with Chechnya. He is right, because it is the worst violation of human rights occurring in our continent. We have a responsibility in the Council of Europe to do something about it. If we only talk and do not fund the operations, people will look at our Organisation with cynicism.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment?

 

Lord JUDD (United Kingdom).- I thank my old friend Michael Hancock, who makes a powerful point. However, it would not be appropriate to place the amendment in the text at this point. Furthermore, suspending reporting might mean that a terrible situation developed and we could not report on it. That would be unfortunate. The spirit of what Mr Hancock has said is right, but I ask colleagues not to support the amendment.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- What is the opinion of the committee on the amendment?

 

Mr DAVIS (United Kingdom).- The committee says no.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- I shall now put the amendment to a vote by a show of hands.

 

Amendment No. 44 is rejected.

 

We shall now deal with Amendment No. 51, which is, in the draft recommendation, after paragraph 17, insert the following new paragraph:

 

"The Assembly welcomes the good will efforts of Georgia, which despite economic difficulties provides shelter and necessary humanitarian assistance to the refugees from Chechnya on its territory."

 

I call Mr Baramidze to support Amendment No. 51.

 

Mr BARAMIDZE (Georgia).- The recommendation concerns Russia but I would like to remind the Assembly that Georgia was also struck by the Chechen conflict. Despite Georgia’s own economic and humanitarian difficulties - for example the 300 000 refugees from Abkhazia - it has received Chechen refugees, mostly women and children. That is why I want the Assembly to welcome Georgia’s humanitarian efforts which will provoke other countries in the region to do the same.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment?...

 

That is not the case.

 

What is the opinion of the committee on the amendment?

 

Mr DAVIS (United Kingdom).- The committee says yes.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- I shall now put the amendment to the vote by a show of hands.

 

Amendment No. 51 is adopted.

 

We shall now deal with Amendment No. 52, which is, in the draft recommendation, after paragraph 17, insert the following new paragraph:

 

"The Assembly calls on the Council of Europe member states to step up their assistance to the refugees from Chechnya sheltered by Georgia. Taking into consideration that this country has for several years accommodated a large number of displaced persons from Abkhazia, Georgia, it recommends that in providing humanitarian assistance to the refugees from Chechnya, the displaced persons from Abkhazia, Georgia should not be ignored."

 

I call Mr Baramidze to support Amendment No. 52.

 

Mr BARAMIDZE (Georgia).- As this amendment was defeated in the committee, I do not wish to move it.

 

Amendment No. 52 is not moved.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- We shall now deal with Amendment No. 20, which is, in the draft recommendation, paragraph 18.i, before point a., insert:

 

"insist that Russia fulfil its obligations arising from the Statute of the Council of Europe and international humanitarian law;".

 

I call Mr Bindig to support Amendment No. 20.

 

Mr BINDIG (Germany) said that it was necessary to demand that the Committee of Ministers insist upon the terms of the amendment.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment?...

 

That is not the case.

 

What is the opinion of the committee on the amendment?

 

Mr DAVIS (United Kingdom).- The committee says yes.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- I shall now put the amendment to the vote by a show of hands.

 

Amendment No. 20 is adopted.

 

We come now to Amendment No. 34, which is, in the draft recommendation, paragraph 18.i.a, after the words "set out by the Council of Europe Secretary General", insert:

 

"and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation in the agreement that entered into force on 4 April 2000".

 

I call Mr Rogozin to support Amendment No. 34.

 

Mr ROGOZIN (Russian Federation) said that it was important to mention the agreement that entered into force on 4 April 2000.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment?…

 

That is not the case.

 

What is the opinion of the committee on the amendment?

 

Mr DAVIS (United Kingdom).- The committee says yes.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- I shall now put the amendment to the vote by a show of hands.

 

 

Amendment No. 34 is adopted.

 

We come now to Amendment No. 35, which is, in the draft recommendation, paragraph 18.i.b., replace the words "Chechen side" with "Chechen Republic".

 

I call Mr Rogozin to support Amendment No. 35.

 

Mr ROGOZIN (Russian Federation) said that this was another technical amendment.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment?…

 

That is not the case.

 

What is the opinion of the committee on the amendment?

 

Mr DAVIS (United Kingdom).- The committee says yes.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- I shall now put the amendment to the vote by a show of hands.

 

Amendment No. 35 is adopted.

 

We come now to Amendment No. 21, which is, in the draft recommendation, paragraph 18.i.b., delete the words : "committed to renounce terrorism and violence".

 

I call Mr Bindig to support Amendment No. 21.

 

Mr BINDIG (Germany) said that he wished to make an oral amendment to the amendment.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Does the chairman of the committee think that this is a proper subject for an oral sub-amendment?

 

Mr DAVIS (United Kingdom).- Yes I do, because it achieved conciliation in the committee.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- We have heard from Mr Bindig that he wants to replace the words "renounce terrorism and violence" with the words "a peaceful solution".

 

Does anyone wish to oppose the oral sub-amendment?

 

Mr ALIEV (Russian Federation) said that the delegation attached importance to the two seminars, but had reservations about inviting terrorists to the seminars. For this reason, the original wording was better.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- What is the opinion of the committee on the oral sub-amendment?

 

Mr DAVIS (United Kingdom).- The committee supports the oral sub-amendment so that we can then support the amendment.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- I shall now put the oral sub-amendment to the vote by a show of hands.

 

The oral sub-amendment is adopted.

 

We have two points of order.

 

Mr STRIZHKO (Ukraine) said that the electronic voting system should be used.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- We possibly could - that is true. I now call Mrs Gulek to put her point of order.

 

Mrs GULEK (Turkey).- I am a little confused. Was Mr Bindig amending his amendment to read, "committed to renounce terrorism and violence with a peaceful solution"? Is that correct, or was he replacing the words, "renounce terrorism and violence" with "a peaceful solution"?

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Yes, he is replacing those words.

 

We will just finish dealing with this amendment and then we will make a decision on electronic voting.

 

Does anyone wish to oppose the amendment, as amended?

 

Mr CHRISTODOULIDES (Cyprus).- I tried to raise a point of order earlier. Is the Assembly now saying that there are no terrorists in Chechnya? Why are we against the word "terrorism"? Do we want terrorists to come to the negotiations to find a peaceful solution - [Interruption.]

 

THE PRESIDENT.- It is not a point of order - Mr Christodoulides is speaking against the amendment, as amended.

 

Mr CHRISTODOULIDES.- Do I have the right to speak?

 

THE PRESIDENT.- You are speaking against the amendment.

 

Mr CHRISTODOULIDES.- So, I am speaking about that question. By deleting the words, the Assembly - [Interruption.]

 

THE PRESIDENT.- It is not a point of order. Let me explain. Mr Christodoulides explained that he had tried to raise a point of order earlier, but I probably did not see him. At the moment he is opposing the amendment, as amended. Is that correct?

 

Mr CHRISTODOULIDES.- What is your ruling, your excellency? Why do I not have a democratic right to express a different opinion to the majority?

 

THE PRESIDENT.- I am just after telling you that, my dear fellow.

 

Mr CHRISTODOULIDES.- I know that you are telling me that, but just tell others that.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- I am telling you that you have the floor.

 

Mr CHRISTODOULIDES.- Do I have the floor now?

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Yes, you certainly do.

 

Mr CHRISTODOULIDES.- By deleting the words about terrorism, the majority of the Assembly is saying that some bandits are not working against peace and against the Russian Federation. That is my personal opinion. Perhaps I am mistaken.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- What is the opinion of the committee on the amendment, as amended?

 

Mr DAVIS (United Kingdom).- The committee is in favour.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- I shall now put the amendment, as amended, to the vote by a show of hands.

 

Amendment No. 21, as amended, is adopted.

 

We now move on to Amendment No. 36, which is, in the draft recommendation, delete paragraph 18.ii.

 

If this amendment is agreed, Amendments Nos. 22, 38 and 56 will fall. I call Mr Rogozin to support Amendment No. 36.

 

Mr ROGOZIN (Russian Federation) said he understood that it was unlikely his amendment would be supported but his delegation wanted to emphasise, as patriots and representatives, that they wished to continue their relationship with the Assembly.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Thank you. Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment?

 

I call Mr Eörsi to speak against the amendment.

 

Mr EÖRSI (Hungary).- The draft recommendation in question is at the heart of the report and if it is deleted, there is no sense voting on anything. It would be a terrible mistake to delete the recommendation, so I am strongly against the amendment.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- What is the opinion of the committee?

 

Mr DAVIS (United Kingdom).- The committee says no.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- I shall now put the amendment to the vote by a show of hands.

 

Amendment No. 36 is rejected.

 

We come now to Amendment No. 22, which is, in the draft recommendation, replace paragraph 18.ii with the following:

 

"on the basis of paragraphs 16 and 18 of Recommendation 1444 (2000), and paragraphs 14 and 15 of this recommendation, consider whether to initiate, in accordance with Article 8 of the Statute, the procedure for the suspension of Russia from its rights of representation in the Council of Europe;".

 

I remind the Assembly that if this amendment is agreed, Amendments Nos. 38 and 56 will fall.

 

I call Mr Bindig to support Amendment No. 22.

 

Mr BINDIG (Germany) said he no longer wished to move his amendment as the subject was better covered by Amendment No. 56.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Does any member of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights have the temerity to contradict Mr Bindig?

 

That is not the case.

 

Amendment No. 22 is not moved.

 

Mr STRIZHKO (Ukraine) reminded the President that he had said he would look again at the electronic voting system.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- You are quite right. Thank you for reminding me. May I get a sense of the mood of members in the Hemicycle? Will all those in favour of returning to the electronic voting system for the remainder of the debate, please show. Those against?

 

There is clear support for electronic voting, so that is what we will do from now on. Naturally we will not do so if the system does not work.

 

We come now to Amendment No. 38, which is, in the draft recommendation, replace paragraph 18.ii by the following paragraph:

 

"initiate in accordance with Article 8 of the Statute, the procedure for the suspension of Russia from its rights of representation in the Council of Europe.

 

This suspension will take effect on 31 May 2000 if substantial, accelerating and demonstrable progress has not been made by that date."

 

I call Mr Mitterrand to support Amendment No. 38.

 

Mr MITTERRAND (France) said that the amendment was addressed to the Committee of Ministers and sought to ensure that the committee took concrete action instead of prolonging the matter.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment?

 

I call Lord Judd.

 

Lord JUDD (United Kingdom).- I am not against the spirit of the amendment but I have listened carefully to the arguments and am persuaded by the common theme running through them. That theme is better expressed by Amendment No. 56, so personally I favour not accepting Amendment No. 38 - the general thrust of which is well put in Amendment No. 56.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- What is the opinion of the committee?

 

Mr DAVIS (United Kingdom).- The committee says no.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Voting is now open.

 

I do not see anything on my screen. I say to the people in the box that nothing is happening, despite the assurances we were given a short while ago. I am particularly sorry for those people who put their faith in the effectiveness of the system.

 

Remind me, Mr Davis, of what you said.

 

Mr DAVIS (United Kingdom).- I have almost forgotten myself. Lord Judd has opposed Amendment No. 38 and the committee is also opposed to that amendment.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Thank you. I am sorry to have troubled you a second time.

 

I shall now put the amendment to a vote by a show of hands.

 

 

Amendment No. 38 is rejected.

 

We come next to Amendment No. 56, which is, in the draft recommendation, paragraph 18.ii, replace the words "by 31 May 2000" by the word : "immediately".

 

I call Mr Eörsi to support Amendment No. 56.

 

Mr EÖRSI (Hungary).- This Assembly has set several deadlines to be met by Russia. In the past we have been given as reasons the forthcoming parliamentary and presidential elections that could not be disturbed. We believe that the Assembly is fed up with setting deadlines. We want to see the process accelerating and substantial progress immediately.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment?

 

I call Mr Rogozin to speak against the amendment.

 

Mr ROGOZIN (Russian Federation) said that it was very difficult to stop a war at a specified time on a specified day. The Assembly should not try to force Russia into a corner. It was not a question of trust, but a question of being realistic about the situation.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- What is the opinion of the committee?

 

Mr DAVIS (United Kingdom).- The committee says yes.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- I shall now put the amendment to the vote by a show of hands.

 

 

Amendment No. 56 is adopted.

 

We come now to Amendment No. 37, which is, in the draft recommendation, replace paragraph 18.iii by:

 

"report to the Assembly in June about the measures taken to ensure the implementation of the present recommendation and to reach a peaceful settlement in the Chechen Republic;".

 

THE PRESIDENT.- I call Mr Rogozin to support the amendment.

 

Mr ROGOZIN (Russian Federation) (Translation).- I do not wish to move it.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Amendment No. 37 is not moved.

 

We now move to amendment No. 23, which is, in the draft recommendation, after paragraph 18, add the following new paragraph:

 

"The Assembly concludes that the conduct of the Russian Federation in Chechnya in the past few months up until the present time constitutes such a grave violation of Article 3 of the Statute of the Council of Europe, that the use of all of the possibilities afforded by the Statute and the Rules of Procedure of the Parliamentary Assembly would be fully justified. Nevertheless, the Assembly intends to strengthen and encourage those political forces in Russia which are willing to respect the obligations which arise from membership in the Council of Europe and to return to respect of its standards. In addition, the Assembly, in this important political question, wants to ascertain the opinion of the Committee of Ministers."

 

I call Mr Bindig to support Amendment No. 23.

 

Mr BINDIG (Germany) said that he wished to propose an oral sub-amendment deleting the last sentence of the amendment.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- How does that affect Mr Surján’s sub-amendment?

 

Mr SURJÁN (Hungary).- I will not move it.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- As he has explained, Mr Bindig wants to make an oral sub-amendment to his amendment. What is the opinion of the chairman of the committee?

 

Mr DAVIS (United Kingdom).- I support the presentation of that oral sub-amendment, because it will achieve conciliation, and the Political Affairs Committee could then support the amendment.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- I accept Mr Davis’s advice, and I will put the oral sub-amendment to the Assembly. Does anyone wish to speak against it?…

 

That is not the case.

 

I presume that, as Mr Davis has just said, the view of the committee is in favour.

 

Mr DAVIS (United Kingdom).- I thought that you were asking whether anyone objected to it, Mr President.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- I did.

 

I shall now put the oral sub-amendment to the vote by a show of hands.

 

The oral sub-amendment is adopted.

 

Mr DAVIS (United Kingdom).- On the substance of the amendment as amended, the Political Affairs Committee is in favour.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment, as amended? I saw Mr Zhirinovsky first.

 

Mr ZHIRINOVSKY (Russian Federation) said that he opposed the amendment. He was one of those who believed that the Russian Federation should never have joined the Council of Europe. This debate demonstrated why he was correct to hold that belief. Russia was acting properly in Chechnya: the amendment should be rejected.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Thank you, Mr Zhirinovsky. You are not encouraging me to see you again, are you?

 

What is the view of the committee?

 

Mr DAVIS (United Kingdom).- Do not worry, Mr President, I have seen him quite often.

 

The committee considered the amendment and supports it.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- I shall put the amendment to the vote by a show of hands.

 

Amendment No. 23, as amended, is adopted.

 

We will now proceed to vote on the whole of the draft recommendation contained in Document 8697, as amended.

 

I shall put the draft recommendation to the vote by a show of hands. I remind the Assembly that a two-thirds majority is required, counting only affirmative and negative votes.

 

The draft recommendation, as amended, is adopted.

 

I congratulate Lord Judd.

 

We now come to the vote on the conclusions of the Political Affairs Committee report, Document 8698, to which five amendments have been tabled, which we shall consider in the following order: Nos. 3, 5, 1, 4 revised and 2.

 

If any amendment is agreed to, all the other remaining amendments will fall.

 

Delegates will recall the effect of Rule 8.6: members of the Russian delegation may not vote in any proceeding relating to the examination of credentials which concerns them, so they are therefore not permitted to take part in these votes.

 

Mr SCHIEDER (Austria) said that his point of order dealt with a fundamental right of members. It was necessary to re-examine how the rules were applied. A number of the amendments contravened the rule which stipulated that an amendment should not delete an entire text. In addition, a further amendment was out of order because it breached the rules relating to timescales.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Thank you, Mr Schieder.

 

Mr HANCOCK (Untied Kingdom).- My point of order relates both to the point that has just been made and to the point that I wanted to make on a previous item. Now that we have finally agreed the Judd report on Chechnya, may I ask, on a point of order, when the Assembly will be informed when the resources will be made available to implement proposals in the report which will ensure that human rights are improved for the people in Chechnya? That is the first point of order, Mr President. I ask you to rule on that.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- I allowed you to intervene, Mr Hancock, only because I thought that your point of order was related to Mr Schieder’s. I must rule on Mr Schieder’s point of order first.

 

Mr HANCOCK (United Kingdom).- I wish to make a further point. I also read the Rules of Procedure very carefully, and I should like to know how these amendments came to be tabled, when they are obviously, even at the most casual glance, out of order. How are they before us today, when they are in breach of our own rules? That was my point of order, and if Mr Schieder had not made it, I would have. But I would like to return to my original point of order.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- I do not agree with you, Mr Hancock. I know that you have your opinion, but that is another question. The main point which we must note is that in principle an amendment should not delete a whole text - the point that Mr Schieder made. That has been held not to apply where the text is composed of one single point, which is the case with Mrs Ojuland’s conclusions. Remember that they are conclusions.

 

The rule which Mr Schieder quoted lists the kinds of text to which the rule applies. The list does not include conclusions of a credentials report, which is what we are dealing with.

 

I think that Mr Schieder is justified in his third point concerning the amendment which wished to impose a time scale. It seems to me that the rules preclude such an amendment, but that they do not preclude the others.

 

Mr ATKINSON (United Kingdom).-Assuming, Mr President, that you have finished dealing with Mr Schieder’s point of order, I would like to raise two points of order relating to the amendments before us.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- First, I must ask Mr Schieder whether he wants to follow up his point of order.

 

Mr SCHIEDER (Austria).- There is only one expression in our rules which prescribes everything - recommendation or conclusion - and that is "draft text". That means everything that is put to the vote. Rule 30.3 uses exactly that wording: "draft text". Therefore, our conclusion which is put to a vote is subsumed; it is one of the possibilities of a draft text.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Even so, as I understand it, an amendment that would tend "to delete or replace" - render inoperative - "the whole of a draft text" is not in order. That is the point that you are drawing to our attention, but the note at the bottom of the page says that this does not apply if the draft text consists of a single point. Mrs Ojuland is putting forward one single point, not a series of points.

 

Mr SCHIEDER (Austria).- The footnote to which you refer, Mr President, says that there could be cases in which an amendment does not formally change totally, but almost totally. So the footnote applies only if it is almost totally, changing the majority, and then it says that the president shall decide. It says that if it is only one single point it is necessary to change it by a majority change. So majority change is one point; it is not a total change. But a total change, a replacement, is still prohibited if it is one point, in my opinion. Please check it, Mr President. If we only have doubts that the amendments are correct, we should not apply them.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- I have a further point of order from Mrs Ojuland.

 

Mrs OJULAND (Estonia).- First, Mr President, it is a conclusion of the Political Affairs Committee, it is not my own conclusion. Secondly, in a very important vote, we must be sure what the rules say.

 

Mr LAAKSO (Finland).- One point is clear: the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights needs legal assistance when it is making such proposals.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- This is difficult. The advice I am receiving is not clear. Mr Schieder may be right. I tend to think that he is not, but I may be wrong. I willingly accept that. On the other hand, I think that Mr Schieder may agree that in the end I have to decide. The rules of procedure say, in Rule 30.5: "The President shall decide whether the amendments and sub-amendments are in order".

 

I have the feeling, rightly or wrongly, that the Assembly would like to vote on these matters and come to a decision on them. It is not a question of favouring or not favouring one view, but of having a view. That is the conclusion that I reach - that in this open, democratic, free Assembly we should make decisions and not dodge them.

 

Mr WILKINSON (United Kingdom).- On a point of order, Mr President, we understand the great complexity of the issue facing you, but the question of the credentials of our Russian friends is of crucial importance to the future of the Assembly and its credibility outside. If, at the conclusion of this long debate, and after all the careful investigation and efforts on our behalf by our learned rapporteurs, we were not able to come to a clear, democratic decision on the amendments, we would be seen by those outside this Chamber to be shirking our responsibilities. Therefore, I uphold entirely the difficult decision that you have made and hope that the rest of the Assembly does so, too.

THE PRESIDENT.- That is not a point of order.

 

Mr ATKINSON (United Kingdom).- On a point of order, Mr President. Assuming that, in view of your decision, we are moving on from Mr Schieder’s original point, may I make two points on Amendment No. 5?

 

At the beginning of proceedings on the issue of credentials, you said that there were four amendments, but quickly corrected yourself by saying that there were five. You did so because this morning - this was the subject of my point of order this morning - my amendments to the report on the credentials were with those to the Judd report. Since then, my Amendment No. 5 has been reprinted, and its title now correctly applies to the credentials report. However, not every member of the Assembly knows that. Some do not believe that there is such an Amendment No. 5 and that it is about to be put to the vote. I would like you to clarify that matter.

 

Secondly, I should point out the order in which the amendments are to be moved. Amendments Nos. 3 and 5 call for the non-ratification of Russian credentials, but Amendment No. 5 provides a timescale in which to do so. I suggest that it would be logical for Amendment No. 5 to be moved before Amendment No. 3. Will you rule on both points?

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Yes. I adhere to the opinion that I expressed earlier that it is better for the Assembly to make a decision than not to do so. Of course, nevertheless, I am extremely sensitive to the fact that we must properly obey the rules on this very important question. Since I do not regard myself an absolute fount of knowledge on rules, I therefore propose to suspend the sitting for 15 minutes in order to ask the Committee on Rules of Procedure and Immunities to reach a decision on the two matters raised by Mr Schieder - whether the amendment is appropriate and whether such amendments should be subject to time constraints - and those raised by Mr Atkinson.

(The sitting, suspended at 5.23 p.m., was resumed at 5.50 p.m. with Lord Russell Johnston, President of the Assembly, in the Chair.)

THE PRESIDENT.- First, I want to express my appreciation for the willingness of the Committee on Rules of Procedure and Immunities to convene specially and give me advice. It remains the case that I have to make the final decision. It states clearly and unequivocally in Rule 34.5:

 

"The President shall decide whether amendments and sub-amendments are in order."

 

I will take each amendment one by one. Amendment No. 3, in the name of Mrs Paegle, seeks to replace the conclusions with the expression: "the Assembly declines to ratify the credentials of the Russian delegation."

 

I accept that that amendment is not in order. At the end of the day, clearly, the Assembly can vote against the credentials. That is already possible and does not require an amendment. I rule that Amendment No. 3 is out of order.

 

Mr ZHIRINOVSKY (Russian Federation).- On a point of order.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Please allow me to finish my ruling before raising your point of order. This is difficult enough without people breaking in.

 

The Committee on Rules of Procedure and Immunities advises that Amendment No. 5 is not in order. Having carefully considered what the committee has said and having taken other advice as well, I rule that Amendment No. 5 can be deemed in order. I refer members to paragraph 8.5 of the Rules:

 

"Reports submitted to the Assembly or the Standing Committee under paragraphs 3 and 4 shall recommend either:

 

a. ratification of the credentials, or

 

b. non-ratification of the credentials, or

 

 

c. depriving or suspending the exercise of some of the rights of participation or representation of members of the delegation concerned in the activities of the Assembly and in bodies."

 

There is no specific exclusion of a time element in that paragraph. In fact, one can fairly argue that acceptance of the word "suspending" inevitably means that it will, in some circumstances, mean suspending for a time. My ruling is that Amendment No. 5 is in order.

 

Amendment No. 1, in the name of Mr Frunda, was accepted by the Committee on Rules of Procedure and Immunities as being in order. I accept that recommendation.

 

Amendment No. 4 gives rise to the same kind of problem as Amendment No. 5 because it uses the key word "until", which again implies a time element. As I said when ruling on Amendment No. 5, that is not excluded - although the advice of the Committee on Rules of Procedure and Immunities was that it should be.

 

The Committee on Rules of Procedure and Immunities accepted Amendment No. 2 although it also contains the word "until".

 

While it is true and is clearly stated in Rule 34.3 that an amendment "which would tend to delete, replace or render inoperative the whole of a draft text is not in order" that is qualified by the footnote that was written in by the Committee on Rules of Procedure and Immunities, that "an amendment should not replace all paragraphs … nor the great majority of the operative part of a draft text unless" - the word "unless" is most important - "it consists of a single point", my opinion is that the proposal in Mrs Ojuland’s report is a single point.

 

I rule, therefore, that Amendment No. 3 is inadmissible and that Amendments Nos. 5, 1, 4 and 2 can be voted on.

 

I do not think there is any real point to pursuing a long argument. I believe that we should just proceed.

 

Mr ZHIRINOVSKY (Russian Federation) said that he was pleased the President had been so scrupulous in pursuing the Rules. The Russian delegation was not now allowed to vote. Nor were substitute members of the Assembly, yet the President had allowed a substitute member to speak earlier in the debate. He asked the President to make sure that only full members of national delegations were allowed to vote.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- That is the case, although I must point out to you that giving people the floor is not covered by the restrictions. Substitutes can speak - that is the basis on which I called someone this morning - but they are not allowed to vote, unless they are properly replacing the people for whom they are substituting.

 

Mr Van Der LINDEN (Netherlands).- I repeat my earlier question, Mr President: can we now vote by electronic means, or is there a political illness in the voting system?

 

THE PRESIDENT.- I wish we could. It would then be easier to deal with the very fair point raised by Mr Zhirinovsky, because only people with cards and accreditation can vote using the electronic system. However, I am informed that it is malfunctioning.

 

Oh, I am now informed that it is working. Well, well; one can never tell what will happen. If we can use the electronic system, it will deal effectively with Mr Zhirinovsky’s point.

 

We shall now proceed to Amendment No. 5 -

 

Mr Van Der LINDEN (Netherlands).- On a point of order, Mr President. I would prefer to vote on the most far-reaching amendment - that is, Amendment No. 3 - first.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- I have already informed the Assembly - although perhaps you had not then come into the Hemicycle, Mr Van der Linden - that Amendment No. 3 cannot be put to the Assembly. I have not accepted it because, as someone - Mr Schieder, I think - correctly said, its aim could be achieved by voting against the credentials on the main question.

 

We therefore now come to Amendment No. 5, which is, in the draft conclusion, to replace paragraph 10 with the following text:

 

"Therefore, the Assembly should not ratify the credentials of the new Russian delegation until the outcome of an independent, impartial, international investigation of war crimes is known."

 

I call Mr Atkinson to support Amendment No. 5.

 

Mr ATKINSON (United Kingdom).- As the Assembly heard from me this morning, since it passed Recommendation 1444 in January, it has become aware of the enormity of the atrocities and war crimes perpetrated by a member state which challenges the standards of the Council of Europe. As the amendment proposes, that justifies the rejection by this Assembly of that member state’s delegation. The European Democratic Group proposes in the amendment that if Russia wished to return to this Assembly, it would have to agree to an impartial, independent, international investigation of what has gone on in Chechnya - and that investigation would have to take place before the evidence had been erased and the witnesses eliminated.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment?

 

I call Mr Hancock to speak against the amendment.

 

Mr HANCOCK (United Kingdom).- This amendment is a luxury that the Assembly cannot afford to embrace. In fact, it is absolute nonsense. If I read out the wording, that in itself will explain the problem. Who will decide when "the outcome of an independent, impartial, international investigation of war crimes is known?" Investigations of war crimes in Bosnia are still going on six years after the crimes were committed, and something similar could happen with Chechnya. The amendment suggests an endless time limit, and should be rejected. We have other alternatives, and we should not fall into the easy mode of accepting an amendment that promises something, yet can deliver nothing.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- What is the opinion of the committee on the amendment?

 

Mr DAVIS (United Kingdom).- The committee is against the amendment.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Voting is now open.

 

Amendment No. 5 is rejected.

 

We now come to Amendment No. 1, which is, in the conclusion, replace paragraph 10 with the following text:

 

"The Assembly decides to ratify the credentials of the delegation of the Russian Federation, but to deprive the members of the delegation of their voting rights in the Assembly and its bodies in accordance with Rule 8.5.c of the Rules of Procedure."

 

I call Mr Frunda to support Amendment No. 1.

 

Mr FRUNDA (Romania).- It is clear, after more than six hours of debate, that most people who have spoken have expressed their desire not to leave the delegation of the Russian Federation isolated, but still to take steps that would allow the Parliamentary Assembly to remain consistent with its principles and keep its credibility, while at the same time giving a friendly hand to the Russian delegation, so as to increase the power of the parties in Russia that favour integration in Europe. That is why I firmly support our amendment, which says that we confirm the credentials of the delegation, but suspend its voting rights both in the plenary session and in committee.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment?

 

I call Mr Rogozin to speak against the amendment.

 

Mr ROGOZIN (Russian Federation) said that the Russian delegation wanted to work with the Council of Europe. Certain forces had opposed the arrival of the Russian delegation, but it had come and had started work. The amendment was unacceptable as it would negate everything that had been discussed hitherto.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- What is the opinion of the committee on the amendment?

 

Mr DAVIS (United Kingdom).- The committee is against the amendment.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Voting is now open.

 

Amendment No. 1 is adopted.

 

As a consequence of that, the other amendment falls.

 

Mr ROGOZIN (Russian Federation), on a point of order, said that the Russian delegation regretted that it would no longer be participating in the work of the Assembly. He wished the Assembly well.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Thank you, Mr Rogozin.

 

We will now proceed to vote -

 

Mr SOLONARI (Moldova).- On a point of order before we vote, Mr President. Could you advise the Assembly what majority is required.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- I am advised that a simple majority, not a qualified majority, is required.

 

We will now proceed to vote on the conclusions of the Political Affairs Committee in Doc. 8698, as amended.

 

Mr SCHIEDER (Austria).- As amended?

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Yes. The voting is now open.

 

I am concerned lest members are not clear. They are voting on the conclusions, as amended, so effectively they are voting again on Amendment No. 1, which has substituted what was in the original conclusions.

 

Mr SCHIEDER (Austria).- Would you be so kind, Mr President, as to tell us what this means? It is clear what is meant if we vote "Yes". That means that we vote for the amended text. If we vote "No", do we vote down an amended text or do we say that the credentials should not be given? Is it "No" to the proposal or "No" to the credentials? You should tell us the exact legal meaning of a "No" vote.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- To vote "Yes" means to vote again in favour of Amendment No. 1, which says: "The Assembly decides to ratify the credentials of the delegation of the Russian Federation, but to deprive the members of the delegation of their voting rights in the Assembly and its bodies in accordance with Rule 8.5.c of the Rules of Procedure." That is what you will be voting for if you vote "Yes". If you vote "No", you are voting against that. Voting "No" in effect is non-ratification.

 

Mr GJELLEROD (Denmark).- You said, Mr President, that a simple majority is needed, but are we not voting on a report? Are we not voting on a conclusion from Mrs Ojuland’s report, as amended? Therefore, is a simple majority or a two-thirds majority needed?

 

THE PRESIDENT.- My understanding and advice is that it requires a simple majority.

 

Mr FRUNDA (Romania).- You are right, Mr President, because under Rule 8.5 the Assembly accepted the amendment of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights. In this case we can vote on two alternatives: the credentials with the suspension of the right of vote in plenary and in committee or no credentials. There is no third way.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- I am very grateful to you. That was my interpretation - that the Assembly votes for the credentials with the suspension of voting or if it votes against it is voting against ratification.

 

The voting is now open.

 

The conclusions, as amended, are adopted.

I thank members for the patience they have shown during this long and difficult debate.

 

3. New technologies in small and medium-sized enterprises

(Mr Behrendt, Vice-President of the Assembly, took the Chair in place of Lord Russell-Johnston.)

 

THE PRESIDENT.- The second item of business this afternoon is the debate on new technologies in small and medium-sized enterprises (Document 8587), to be presented by Mr Birraux and Mr Steolea on behalf of the Committee on Science and Technology.

 

We want to get on with our agenda, so I ask those who want to talk about the events surrounding the previous debate to do so outside the Chamber. That will allow those who want to follow this debate to do so without hindrance.

 

As time is very short, I suggest that we limit speeches to four minutes. I do not see anybody opposing that, so it is accepted.

 

The list of speakers for the second item of business closed at noon today. There are ten names on the list. I call Mr Birraux and Mr Steolea to present the report on behalf of the Committee on Science and Technology. They have eight minutes.

 

Mr BIRRAUX (France) said that in the previous debate the Assembly had demonstrated its concerns regarding human rights. However, the Council of Europe was also concerned about economic development. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) were important to that development, particularly in transitional economies. There were around 20 million SMEs in Europe, and they contributed very significantly to development and employment.

 

SMEs had to be aware of technological advances and be able to use them to their benefit. They did not often have their own research facilities, but they had to be able to have access to the latest technological findings and practices. Funding was an important issue. Helping SMEs gain access to innovative technologies helped not only the companies themselves, but their local communities. Employment produced as a result of SMEs’ activities was an important factor in social inclusion.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Thank you for keeping to the time limit, Mr Birraux. The next speaker is Mr Steolea.

 

Mr STEOLEA (Romania) said that new technologies helped companies and countries innovate. In the European Union, over 60% of employment was in SMEs. In central and eastern Europe, the number of SMEs was rising rapidly as economies developed. The financial difficulties of universities had resulted in many researchers leaving to work in industry or to set up their own SMEs. In some cases, however, national regulations created a situation of insecurity rather than encouragement for SMEs. Over 40% of SMEs in central and eastern Europe disappeared within three years. It was clear that SMEs needed more support. The spread of new technology throughout the sector might help to tackle social exclusion and encourage economic growth. In central and eastern Europe, start-up costs for SMEs were lower than elsewhere. SMEs were vital to the future economic and employment prospects of all Council of Europe countries, and for economic development in particular localities. The Council of Europe should examine the role of SMEs in greater depth and consider what support strategies might be appropriate. Some measures which might be implemented by governments were mentioned in the draft recommendation.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Thank you, Mr Steolea. I must inform the Assembly that it is proposed that the sitting end at 7.30 p.m. This will allow about thirty minutes for each report to be debated. The reason is that the interpreters are needed for a joint committee. I call the first speaker, who is Mr Kurucsai, speaking on behalf of the Group of the Unified European Left.

 

Mr KURUCSAI (Hungary).- I understand that time is short, so I shall try to be brief. Many people have talked about the political changes that took place in central Europe ten years ago. It was well known across Europe that Hungary was the happiest barrack among the east European socialist regimes. There have been several interpretations of this belief. To me, the most obvious one is that, before 1989 and the political changes, about 16 000 small enterprises and 320 000 private enterprises operated in Hungary. Some 95% of the economic organisations operating at that time were small enterprises. Their number exceeded 1 million by 1995.

 

That high number indicated that small and medium-sized enterprises constituted the most successful sector of the Hungarian economy. The politicians thought that it was the most booming field in the economy. At that time, the number of such enterprises was really between 400 000 and 500 000. This corresponds to the European Union average.

 

Small and medium-sized enterprises are struggling all around the world. Two factors make the situation of such companies more difficult in Hungary. On the one hand, there are the consequences of the changes ensuing from the development of the market economy; some unanswered legal questions; disorder related to payments; corruption; excessive taxes and so on. The Hungarian Parliament responded to a long-felt need at the end of last year by adopting a law on small and medium-sized enterprises.

 

The other factors causing Hungarian small enterprises concern were the small number of well-established family businesses and the lack of accumulated capital and experience. There are several so-called "forced enterprises" motivated by the fear of unemployment.

 

As a member of the Hungarian delegation of the Parliamentary Assembly, I am grateful to Mr Birraux, who is a member of the Group of the European People’s Party and the rapporteur. The report reflects the situation of small and medium-sized enterprises. The preliminary draft recommendation provides member states of the Council of Europe with clear guidance in terms of formulating policy concerning the development of small and medium-sized enterprises.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Thank you. The next speaker is Mr Braun.

 

Mr BRAUN (Hungary).- The restructuring of the Hungarian economy has been completed recently. We managed to establish the legal background and institutional framework of the market economy very early on. The privatisation and active investment promotion policies of the Hungarian Government have encouraged multi-national companies to set up in Hungary. We are pleased with the fact that the products manufactured in Hungary require more and more skill and knowledge and the most advanced technology.

 

In that context, the promotion of small and medium-sized enterprises has an important role. The sub-contracting programme, launched by the Hungarian Government in 1997, has as its primary objective helping Hungarian small and medium-sized enterprises act as sub-contractors and be stable and reliable partners of large multi-national companies.

 

This is important from a political point of view as we consider this sector to be the most important engine of economic growth. We expect a lot from SMEs in the area of employment and economic development. By promoting SMEs to achieve international standards, we can assure the competitiveness of the economy and help our capacity to increase productivity and turnover.

 

The aim of the sub-contracting programme is to introduce SMEs in Hungary into the international division of labour, to increase their productivity, to enhance their capacity to satisfy the growing demand for sub-contracting and to increase their technical and economic potential. The programme aims to encourage multi-national companies operating in Hungary to sub-contract to Hungarian companies, thus increasing the added value of their products.

 

I wished to speak in this debate to highlight the relevance of the sub-contracting programme to the topic of new technologies in small and medium-sized enterprises. Multi-national companies do not select their sub-contractors simply on the basis of the lowest bid. Experience shows that buyers are tending to reduce the number of sub-contractors they use. This means that they are enhancing their relationship with those remaining subcontractors with whom they collaborate to develop quality and productivity and to improve delivery times and other measures of efficiency. Buyers expect their direct sub-contractors to use new technology in their particular sphere of activity at both the planning and manufacturing stage. Sub-contractors are expected to pursue a policy of ongoing technological improvement.

 

Experience shows that in Hungary leading multi-national companies often transfer new technologies and know-how to local sub-contractors. They systematically evaluate the technological strength of existing and potential sub-contractors as part of a manufacturing technology audit.

 

The sub-contracting programme is not a general SME development programme. A national sub-contracting information network has been created within the programme dealing with matchmaking and client service. The emphasis is on training and education, as well as consultancy services. The programme provides support for foreign business meetings and participation in trade fairs and exhibitions. There are opportunities to apply for government grants within the programme.

 

Based on Hungary’s positive experience, I want to draw attention to the sub-contracting programme as a successful tool for the development of SMEs. I completely agree with the rapporteurs who prepared the report that the SME sector has a key role to play in the further development of the European economies and in resolving the common problems created by unemployment.

 

Thank you for your kind attention.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Thank you, Mr Braun. The next speaker is Mr Ivanov, on behalf of the Group of the European People’s Party.

 

Mr IVANOV (Bulgaria) thanked the rapporteurs. The report emphasised the role of SMEs in diversifying economies. The biggest problem faced by SMEs was competition. SMEs had to introduce new technology. He fully supported the report and its recommendations. SMEs faced particular problems in eastern Europe. Clear and transparent legislation was required. Bulgaria had recently made a couple of useful changes to its legislation that would help SMEs. However, problems of corruption persisted. He wished to refer to the co-operation programmes between the Europe Union and transition economies in relation to SMEs. Europe must allow all its countries to compete on an equal footing. If eastern European countries were to compete, technological change must be introduced. The problems of globalisation could not be addressed without pan-European competition. Technological convergence must be furthered. He hoped that the report’s recommendations would lead to specific action.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Thank you, Mr Ivanov. The next speaker is Mr Kieres.

 

Mr KIERES (Poland).- I fully agree with the opinions and proposals which have been presented today in the report and the recommendation. Small and medium-sized enterprises play an important part with regard not only to economic activities, but to other objectives of the state. The report clearly shows the importance of the small and medium-sized enterprises for the creation of new jobs. They require help from the state. That help should be manifested in particular in the establishment of good laws that would protect the small and medium-sized companies against unfair competition. Is it really necessary, though, directly to support such firms, and is such protection not an infringement of the rules of free competition? In my opinion, that view is unfounded. What is being suggested is not direct interference in market relations, for example, through subsidising economic activities. The report rightly points out that the state and local authorities cannot exempt themselves from an obligation to support small and medium-sized enterprises by removing the obstacles to their development. Large enterprises have easier access to research or new technologies, as well as the resources for financing economic activities. The role of the state and local authorities is to establish stable legal regulations that will enable the firms to adopt development strategies. Frequent changes in the law - for example, with regard to taxation - may make it extremely difficult for a firm to remain in the market because of the strategy previously adopted. A special role in creating favourable conditions for small and medium-sized enterprises is played by local and regional authorities. It is therefore appropriate to treat them in our resolution as being responsible for small and medium-sized enterprises.

 

The report emphasises the fact that those enterprises play an important part in the restructuring of regions. However, we must remember that not all the regions whose economies need restructuring are in the same situation. Some of them receive organisational and financial aid from the state or from international organisations. Others, especially those in central Europe, are often deprived of such aid. As a result, regions and enterprises do not have equal chances.

 

It is only right that we should recommend that European countries should take steps to create favourable conditions for small and medium-sized enterprises. We have put forward concrete proposals. The question that now arises is whether our proposals will be effective. There is a general problem with the effectiveness of our actions. I refer particularly to the political context - to our judgment of democracy, human rights and the rule of law. In my opinion, this issue requires further discussion. We should go back to our earlier proposals and opinions. We should estimate whether and to what extent our remarks and proposals have been acted upon. We should not be content with the documents that we draw up and then quickly forget them. The prestige of the Council of Europe and respect for our activities demand that. Our activities, after all, shape our image in the eyes of public opinion.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Thank you, Mr Kieres for your contribution. The last speaker will be Mr Tiuri.

Mr TIURI (Finland).- The report takes a multi-faceted approach to the problems of small or medium-sized enterprises, which account for 60% of jobs in the European Union. In the United States, small companies with fewer than five employees have created 30% of all new job opportunities in the 1990s. Europe is lagging behind, so the report is most important.

 

Globalisation and rapid technological development offer new possibilities to SMEs. Many new enterprises have been created recently in information and communication technology, and more will emerge in the near future as a result of biotechnology. In many other industries and the service sector, scientific innovation provides opportunities for entrepreneurial activities.

 

The Assembly has to share responsibility of ensuring that the science and technology policies, as well as the industrial and economic policies, adopted in Europe are correct. That emphasises the importance of the task facing the committee.

 

The report proposes many ways of promoting SMEs - including science and technology parks, innovation centres, co-operation between SMEs and universities, and facilitating the injection of risk capital.

 

Europe is becoming the world’s leading knowledge-based society, based on science, technology and know-how. New knowledge and its application require investment in research and development and to achieve that, Council of Europe member states must encourage public support and investment, to increase the number of SMEs and to allow existing enterprises to grow.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Thank you. I am sorry that we have to stop the debate. I remind members on the list who have not been called that they can submit their speeches to the Table Office within 24 hours.

 

I call Mr Birraux, co-rapporteur, to reply.

 

Mr BIRRAUX (France) said that all the speakers had clearly been familiar with the problems faced by SMEs and the role they could play in the future. His Committee was aware of the obstacles faced by such enterprises but had not wanted to focus on this aspect. Rather, they had wanted to consider how to enhance innovation by SMEs. They wanted SMEs to have access to new technologies and to encourage innovation themselves.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Thank you, Mr Birraux. I call Mr Steolea, co-rapporteur. He has one minute and forty-five seconds to speak.

 

Mr STEOLEA (Romania) said he had taken note of Mr Tiuri’s comments. Finland was a very good example of a state which supported SMEs and gave them access to technology. His committee had been particularly keen to stress the importance of staff training.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Thank you. I call Mr Rakhansky, Chairman of the Committee on Science and Technology. He has two minutes.

 

Mr RAKHANSKY (Ukraine) said that the discussion had been very important for all European countries because science and technology was the engine which would drive progress more generally. Technology presented unique opportunities which could lead to lower unemployment and increased productivity. The report mentioned all those areas where improvements should be made and would be particularly useful for those post-Communist countries which were moving away from large-scale state enterprise.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- We come to Amendment No. 1, which is, in the draft recommendation, after paragraph 9.iv.f, insert the following:

 

"to consider increasing public investment in research and development, and to encourage enterprises to do the same;".

 

I call Mr Tiuri to support Amendment No. 1.

 

Mr TIURI (Finland).- I think that it is very important to have more science and technology, funded by public money and also by companies, so I have tabled an amendment supporting the idea that governments of member states should consider increasing public investment in research and development and encourage enterprises to do the same.

 

THE PRESIDENT (Translation).- Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment?…

 

That is not the case.

 

What is the opinion of the committee on the amendment?

 

Mr RAKHANSKY (Ukraine) (Translation).- The committee is in favour of the amendment.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Voting is now open.

 

 

Amendment No. 1 is adopted.

 

We will now proceed to vote on the draft recommendation contained in Document 8587, as amended. I remind members that a two-thirds majority is required, counting only affirmative and negative votes.

 

Voting is now open.

 

 

The recommendation, as amended, is adopted.

 

I congratulate the rapporteurs on their work and on their success.

(Mr Puche, Vice-President of the Assembly, took the Chair in place of Mr Behrendt.)

 

4. Towards the uniform interpretation of Council of Europe conventions:the creation of a general judicial authority

 

THE PRESIDENT (Translation).- The third item this afternoon is the debate on "towards the uniform interpretation of Council of Europe conventions: the creation of a general judicial authority" (Doc. 8662), presented by Mr Svoboda, on behalf of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights.

 

We have to finish by 7.30 pm., so we will have to close the list of speakers five minutes before that.

 

I call Mr Svoboda to present his report. He has eight minutes.

 

Mr SVOBODA (Czech Republic).- Thank you, Mr President. I shall be very brief, because there are few people left in the Chamber, and we are all well informed about the substance of the subject that we are discussing.

 

The Council of Europe was established with the vision of promoting unity between member states, to improve the rule of law and democracy, and to uphold peace and justice in our continent. Before the collapse of the totalitarian regimes that was an easy job, because Europe was divided. Western Europe was totally unified - a club of countries in full
harmony - so it was easy to implement and interpret the conventions, treaties and protocols.

 

After the collapse of the totalitarian regimes things were different, because Europe is now more heterogeneous and less harmonious, so we urgently need to improve the rule of law. We must also interpret in full harmony the conventions and protocols in our continent.

 

That is the purpose of the proposal to establish a new judicial body to stand behind the protocols, conventions and treaties - 175 of them in all. The Court of Human Rights deals only with the convention on human rights. That is why we urgently need to have a new judicial body to stand behind the other legal instruments of the Council of Europe.

 

We have two options. The first is to extend the jurisdiction of the existing Court of Human Rights; the second is to establish the new judicial body. I propose to start with a relatively small body composed of five or seven judges, which could go forwards step by step, and initiate the new judicial authority.

 

This is important in the context of the aim now being discussed in the European Union, which is preparing the new charter on human rights; I am afraid that that could create a double standard on human rights. We will have to compete with the European Union, and I believe that we have a good chance of success. In passing the recommendation today, we have a unique chance to strengthen the Council of Europe and achieve greater unity between member states. Accepting my proposal means underlining the rule of law in Europe.

 

THE PRESIDENT (Translation).- Thank you, Mr Svoboda. The next speaker is Mr Pokol, who will speak on behalf of the Group of the European People’s Party.

 

Mr POKOL (Hungary).- Dear colleagues, the plenary session does not seem to be paying such great attention to this topic as it paid to the Chechen problem earlier. None the less, it is an important topic in the context of the future functioning of the Council of Europe.

 

There are almost 200 conventions of the Council of Europe, but most of them have no serious controlling mechanisms. If we had a court with general judicial competence, the adherence of member states to those conventions could be enhanced, and there could be greater acceptance of their rules. Loosely, one can say that they could be turned from dead letters into authentic legal rules.

 

The conventions of the Council of Europe strive to realise the norms of the rule of law in member states, and a development plan to that end is to be welcomed. It will mean a more unified structure for the Council of Europe, and the countries of central and eastern Europe that lived under the domination of the Soviet empire, as Hungary did, have a strong interest in the creation of a unified Europe. But, because of the great cultural, social, political and economic differences between the member states of the contemporary Council of Europe, some problems could emerge after the creation of a more unified functioning of the Council of Europe.

 

That is why I can support versions of the recommendations of the report which are more modest. Thus, I could not support a newly created court with general judicial authority, but I could support the enlargement of the existing Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

 

The same moderation can be emphasised in respect of the competence of such an enlarged court. The creation of self-executing legal materials within the rules of the conventions, recommended by the report, has to be avoided.

 

I should like to call attention to a side effect of the plan being realised successfully. It will mean that new circumstances emerge for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. The seriousness of conventions adopted by the Assembly will be enhanced because of the judicial support for the rules of those conventions. We must therefore reflect more seriously in the future on all the rules, and modifications of them, which are made by representatives. For example, the existing practice which makes it possible for a handful of representatives sometimes to make a valid decision in the plenary session must be stopped and the quorum must be regarded more seriously. With a court with general judicial competence, the Council of Europe will become more serious, and it will bring a higher requirement for the functioning of the Parliamentary Assembly. I think that we need it.

 

THE PRESIDENT (Translation).- Thank you. I call Mr Jaskiernia, who will speak on behalf of the Socialist Group.

 

Mr JASKIERNIA (Poland).- I should like first to congratulate the rapporteur, Mr Cyril Svoboda, on a very important and excellent report. I should also like to mention our former colleague in the Legal Affairs Committee, Mr Walter Schwimmer, now Secretary General of the Council of Europe, who was not only the author of the motion, but the rapporteur who started the process in the Legal Affairs and Human Rights Committee.

 

We are approaching a very important subject, because the need for the general judicial authority is clearly observed in the Council of Europe member states. So the proposals put forward by the Committee - "making binding opinions on the interpretation and application of Council of Europe conventions at the request of one or several member states or at the request of the Committee of Ministers or of the Parliamentary Assembly" and "making non-binding opinions at the request of one or several member states or of one of the two organs of the Council of Europe" - create an important subject for the general judicial authority when it is established.

 

I say, "when it is established", because we can see the history: a recommendation in 1951 on the establishment of single European jurisdiction; a recommendation in 1952 on the establishment of a European Court of Justice and of a European Act for the peaceful settlement of disputes; the 1957 motion on the establishment of a European Supreme Court; the 1959 recommendation on the uniform interpretation of European treaties; the 1963 recommendation on the uniform interpretation of European treaties; and the 1966 recommendation on the uniform interpretation of treaties. That shows us that the idea has been around for a long time. Unfortunately, it has never been realised.

 

It is interesting to observe that the only action by the Committee of Ministers was the adoption in 1969 of Resolutions (69) 27 and 28, which called upon the secretariat to collect and distribute information on the application and interpretation of European treaties. We learn from Mr Svoboda’s report that "the two resolutions were never applied on account of their inherent shortcomings: absence of a committee to consider possible divergent interpretations and lack of resources."

 

We in the Socialist Group fully support the report, but we are worried whether the Czech Republic initiative will come to fruition this time. Do we have a real intention to change the situation? Do we have the resources? Unfortunately, in recent years we have had many beautiful initiatives, with scant resources offered to them. That includes the Council of Europe Human Rights Commission. Therefore, let us hope that the Committee of Ministers will not only analyse the recommendation, but take real action.

 

We have many conventions. We need to create a genuine uniform interpretation. The proposals by the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights are realistic and very serious, and I agree with my colleagues who have already spoken that they are modest. A real step forward was made at the Second Summit of Heads of State and Government when the initiative was offered. I hope that the Committee of Ministers will make a genuine advance. The Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights will support the development, because several times we have discovered loopholes in the Council of Europe’s system, and it is time to change that.

 

THE PRESIDENT.- Thank you, Mr Jaskiernia. The next speaker is Mr Akçali.

 

Mr AKÇALI (Turkey) said that the proposal to set up a general judicial authority was very interesting and needed further discussion. In general, he found the report satisfactory. There was a clear need for greater uniformity and co-operation in relation to international agreements within the Council of Europe. However, he questioned whether it would be realistic to have a single judicial authority responsible for over 175 conventions and protocols. Such a body would have a very heavy burden and would have to cover an extremely wide range of topics. A number of Council of Europe conventions already provided for mechanisms to ensure control as well as uniform interpretation and application, and these were functioning well. For example, there was the committee responsible for the European Social Charter. Agreements should be controlled by committees of independent experts. One important function of such agreements was international co-operation. In creating a new institution, other issues also had to be considered. The first such issue was the scarce financial resources of the Council of Europe. The budget had not increased for many years, making the recommendation unrealistic. This did not mean that it was not important to uphold the agreements and conventions of the Council of Europe.

THE PRESIDENT (Translation).- Thank you, Mr Akçali.

 

Mr Kresák is not here, so I call Mr Etherington.

 

Mr ETHERINGTON (United Kingdom).- It is nice to get a second opportunity to speak in the one day, which is fairly unusual in this Chamber.

 

I express my appreciation to Mr Svoboda, the rapporteur, because his report is very interesting. It is also very surprising. I read it as a document of social and legal history. It highlights something that I wonder we did not recognise some years earlier: we have a void in the structure of the Council of Europe. There is not much point in good legislation, if there is nowhere to go to ensure that it is enforced. To some degree, that appears to be so.

 

The report talks about the international court and arbitration, which hardly ever seems to take place, yet apparently most such matters are dealt with by negotiation. That is fine - nobody wants to stop negotiation - but for a well-defined and well-organised body, there must be a proper disputes settlement procedure. We do not have that at the moment.

 

I am sorry that I was late and missed a little of the debate, but I heard one speaker mention the involvement of the European Union. If this Organisation does not fill the void to which I referred, the EU will - it is obviously keen to participate. By so doing, it will eventually start to weaken the power and respect of our court - the European Court of Human Rights - and competition will arise.

 

People talk about finance and great expense, but tremendous expense is incurred when matters are not resolved, although it is often not categorised or estimated. I would certainly like the full weight of the Council of Europe behind the issue. This is not a legal matter; this is physics. Nature abhors a vacuum, and strives to fill it. In this case, the European Union will fill that vacuum, and we will lose a tremendous amount of credibility.

 

I am pleased that the issue has finally been raised. I am not being critical, but I am amazed that, despite so many expert people in this Organisation, it has apparently taken thirty-six years for someone to realise that something needs to be addressed. Only in recent years have we finally got round to doing so.

 

I wish the rapporteur every success on the subject. As our Secretary General, Walter Schwimmer, was one of the architects of the move, the matter might be prioritised. I do hope so.

 

THE PRESIDENT (Translation).- Thank you, Mr Etherington. The next speaker is Mr Zeynalov.

 

Mr ZEYNALOV (Special Guest from Azerbajan) said that the experience of the European Court of Human Rights demonstrated that the creation of a General Judicial Authority would have a beneficial impact on the implementation of legislation in member states. Such additional legislative power would be useful. The Council of Europe had itself suggested that such a body should be created. It was generally accepted that the effectiveness of documents depended on their enforcement. Creating a General Judicial Authority would be a step in the right direction. It would assist in the introduction of pan-European standards. Interpretations of the law should be kept to a minimum. Countries, and also international organisations such as the OSCE and the UN, would be able to use the Authority to resolve difficulties of interpretation.

 

A General Judicial Authority would be able to make interpretations and apply conventions; it could also receive inquiries from states, other bodies and indeed, the Council of Europe itself. If the Authority were to be effective, some reorganisation of the European relationships would be necessary. Nevertheless, such reorganisation would be beneficial as a whole.

 

THE PRESIDENT (Translation).- That concludes the list of speakers. I call Mr Svoboda to respond to the debate.

 

Mr SVOBODA (Czech Republic).- I extend my thanks to all speakers. The only problem is whether we establish a new body or extend the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights. That will be a matter for future discussion, and it will be up to the Committee of Ministers. Once again, I thank those who took part in our discussions.

 

THE PRESIDENT (Translation).- Thank you, Mr Svoboda. I call Mr Jansson, the Chairman of the committee.

 

Mr JANSSON (Finland).- Conventions are connected to the very definition of sovereignty. Sovereignty normally can be divided into two parts: internal sovereignty, concerning how one organises life and society within one’s own borders, and external sovereignty, concerning a country’s relationships outside its borders and what kind of relationships it has.

 

In our globalised world - with a globalised economy and politics - it is normal for all countries to have external relationships. If we are to behave in a civilised way in these relationships, there is a need for conventions.

 

We have tried to create a new way of thinking in the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights and I share the view of many speakers that the report represents that new way of thinking. We have heard that the present system began 36 years ago and now the whole world is globalised, with people of all countries coming closer together. There is a need for a more unified interpretation of the noble principles under which we operate. This results in conventions, although that concept may be dangerous, as it relates also to the framework within the European Union concerning the Charter of Fundamental Rights. However, that is a completely different question on which Mr Svoboda has touched.

 

THE PRESIDENT (Translation).- Thank you, Mr Jansson. The debate is now closed.

 

The Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights has presented a draft recommendation in Document 8662.

 

We will now proceed to vote on the whole of the draft recommendation contained in Document 8662.

The draft recommendation is adopted.

 

5. Date, time and orders of the day of the next sitting

THE PRESIDENT (Translation).- I propose that the Assembly hold its next public sitting tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. with the orders of the day which were approved on Monday 3 April.

 

Are there any objections?…

 

That is not the case.

 

The orders of the day are therefore agreed.

 

Does anyone wish to speak?...

 

The sitting is closed.

 

(The sitting was closed at 7.30 p.m.)