2004 ORDINARY SESSION 

(Second part)

REPORT
 

Fifteenth sitting

Thursday 29 April 2004 at 3 p.m.

PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS IS A PROVISIONAL VERSION OF THE REPORT OF THE DEBATE
OF 29 APRIL 2004 AT 3 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.

4. 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.         Organisation of debates

3.         Cyprus

Presentation by Mr Eörsi or report of the Political Affairs Committee (Doc. 10161); presentation by Mr Jurgens of opinion of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights (Doc. 10164)

Speakers:
Mr Mooney (Ireland)
Mr Atkinson (United Kingdom)
Mr Kox (Netherlands)
Mr Severin (Romania)
Mr van der Linden (Netherlands)
Mr Vrettos (Greece)
Lord Kilclooney (United Kingdom)
Mr Blankenborg (Norway)
Mr Marty (Switzerland)
Mr Pourgourides (Cyprus)
Mr O’Hara (United Kingdom)
Mr Meimarakis (Greece)
Mr Ateş (Turkey)
Mr Hancock (United Kingdom)
Mr McNamara (United Kingdom)
Mr Wielowieyski (Poland)
Mr Christodoulides (Cyprus)
Mr Mercan (Turkey)

Replies:
Mr Eörsi (Hungary)

Amendment Nos. 1 and 12 agreed to
Draft resolution in Doc. 10161, as amended, adopted

4.         Albania

Presentation by Mr Smorawiński and Mr Sřndergaard of report of the Committee on the Honouring of Obligations and Commitments by Member Sates of the Council of Europe (Monitoring Committee) (Doc. 10116)

Speakers:
Mr Cabrnoch (Czech Republic)
Mr van Winsen (Netherlands)
Mr Koçi (Albania)
Mr Tepshi (Albania)
Ms Milotinova (Bulgaria)
Mr Dedja (Albania)
Ms Topalli (Albania)

Reply
Mr Smorawiński (Poland)

Amendments Nos. 3 and 2, as amended adopted
Draft Doc. 10116, as amended, agreed to

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


Ms Severinsen, Vice-President of the Assembly, took the chair at 3.05 p.m.

THE PRESIDENT. – The sitting is open.

1. Minutes of proceedings

THE PRESIDENT. – The minutes of the twelfth, thirteenth and fourteenth sittings have not yet been distributed. They will be presented for approval at a later sitting.

2. Organisation of debates

THE PRESIDENT. – This afternoon’s business is very full, with debates on two reports for which there is a total of thirty speakers, and sixteen amendments to consider.

We will have to interrupt the list of speakers in the first debate at about 4.40 p.m. and the list of speakers in the second debate at about 6.15 p.m. in order to leave sufficient time for the replies on behalf of the committees and the votes. The second debate will start at about 5.30 p.m.

Are these arrangements agreed?

They are agreed.

3. Cyprus

THE PRESIDENT. – The first item of business this afternoon is the urgent procedure debate on the report on Cyprus presented by Mr Eörsi on behalf of the Political Affairs Committee, in Document 10161, with an opinion presented by Mr Jurgens on behalf of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, in Document 10164.

The list of speakers closed at 12 noon. Twenty-two names are on the list, and twelve amendments have been tabled.

I remind you that we have already agreed that in order to finish by 5.30 p.m., we shall interrupt the list of speakers at about 4.40 p.m. to allow time for the reply and the vote.

I call Mr Eörsi, Rapporteur of the Political Affairs Committee. You have eight minutes.

Mr EÖRSI (Hungary). – Madam President and dear colleagues, I am sure that many if not all of you will recall – it was not that long ago – that we had very good discussions about Cyprus in our part-session in January. I should like to remind colleagues that that was the very first time in our history that we adopted a resolution on Cyprus with full consensus. No amendment was tabled. There were no votes against. There were no abstentions. It was such a wonderful moment in our history of dealing with Cyprus. I really think that that happened not because of the beauty of the report itself, but because of a unique historical situation. There was such an atmosphere.

I visited Cyprus just after that and met the leaders of both communities. It was wonderful to see that, without exception, all political leaders in the Republic of Cyprus were in favour of the Annan plan, presented by the Secretary-General of the United Nations. When we visited the northern part of Cyprus, we found that not all politicians, but a growing number, supported the Annan plan. 

We tried to find out the feelings of the Turkish Cypriot people. Our understanding is that the overwhelming majority of the Turkish Cypriot people are in favour of the Annan plan and, consequently, of the reunification of the island. Of course, that is why we were so enthusiastic in January; we all wanted the last iron curtain in Europe – one that divides a capital city – to be abolished.

Now, colleagues, why do we have an urgent debate today? We all know what has happened since then: there were two referenda in both parts of the island and we know that in the northern part of Cyprus, two thirds of the people who went to the polling stations expressed, through the ballot, a huge majority in favour of reunification. Unfortunately, however, in the southern part of the Republic of Cyprus, three fourths of the people went to the polling station to express their disagreement. They voted against the Annan plan.

I pay tribute to all supporters, on both parts of the island, who campaigned in favour of the Annan plan. Of course, I pay tribute to those in northern Cyprus and to our colleagues in the Assembly who campaigned for a yes vote.  We heard the arguments of those who criticised the Annan plan. Perhaps we agree with the details of some of them, but there was no alternative. For those who wanted more from the plan, we regret to say that there was no better deal.

Sometimes I believe that there are people and politicians, not only in Cyprus but everywhere, who would like to rewrite history. I emphasise that it is impossible to do that, and that we often have to find compromises based on reality. We must now ask what happens next. Some of our colleagues from the Cypriot delegation asked why we should bury the Annan plan. It is an interesting question from politicians who represent people, three fourths of whom rejected that plan. Mr Kofi Annan himself said that he would forget it because it was rejected by such a large majority. In such circumstances, how could he say that it remained on the table?

However, I would like to respond to those who believe that the Annan plan should be retained. Our President comes from Denmark and she will remember the referendum on the Maastricht treaty. It was rejected but Danish political leaders were very clear about what they wanted. I wonder what the President of Cyprus, Mr Papadopoulos, would say. I wonder whether he believes that that the referendum should be held again because the issues were not properly explained and there was no alternative to the plan. I should love our colleagues to take a lead in Cyprus in campaigning for the Annan plan. We have not heard such a declaration, but if one were made, I am sure that the Assembly would be extremely supportive.

What can we do now? This is an urgent debate and we must pass urgent resolutions. It is obvious that the Turkish Cypriot community has a deep desire to come closer to European structures. At least, they expressed such a desire through the ballot. This Assembly, with members of parliament from forty-six member states, cannot ignore or betray that desire, which the Turkish Cypriot community expressed. I do not believe that we should move in the direction of recognition. Why not? Because we are still interested in a united Cyprus and if we begin to speak or drop hints about recognition, we play into the hands of those in northern Cyprus who talk about a separate state. That is not our goal – we want unity, not separation.

We can do several things. First, the Turkish Cypriot people in the northern part of the island cannot be punished for the negative vote in the other part. If the Turkish Cypriot people wish to become part of Europe, we must consider what we can do about it. First, we must stop denying them the opportunity of participating in European debates. We can call on international organisations, which have the responsibility to consider whether the isolation policy is good or whether it punishes Turkish Cypriots. We should do that.

We could stop the policy of inviting representatives of the Turkish Cypriot community to debates that are only about Cyprus. If they want to participate in debates about all sorts of European matters, the Political Affairs Committee proposes extending an invitation to them to attend all debates in this Assembly and its committees, thereby enabling them to take part, as we do, in the great and beautiful European debate. I hope that the Assembly will support this urgent resolution. Later, we can produce a new report with more specific and detailed resolutions about how we can help.

THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you, Mr Eörsi. I call Mr Jurgens to present the opinion of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights. He has three minutes.

Mr JURGENS (Netherlands). – There are famous examples in history of opportunities that are presented but are not taken. Those missed opportunities have consequences, sometimes for a long time afterwards. Such an opportunity patently occurred on Sunday 24 April. In the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, some members stressed that the Greek Cypriots had a perfect right to reject the Annan proposal. That is correct. However, the second question is: was it wise? Could it turn out to be gross stupidity if, with hindsight, it could be perceived as the last genuine chance to reunite the island after thirty years? We hope that that will not turn out to be true.

A major shift has taken place in our perception of the problem. The blame was laid until now on Turkey and its puppet regime in northern Cyprus. Since 24 April, the blame is levelled at the Greek Cypriot leadership, especially of the president. Consequently, the international isolation of northern Cyprus is dissolving. The committee hopes that the no vote will not mean that the momentum created by the Annan proposal will cease. We hope that possibilities will exist to do what the rapporteur of the Political Affairs Committee, Mr Eörsi, suggested. We hope that perhaps the Danish example will be followed and that perhaps in a new referendum, a new willingness to reunite the island will be expressed.

The Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights has tabled two amendments, but I shall present them when we discuss the amendments.

THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you, Mr Jurgens. I call Mr Mooney on behalf of the Liberal, Democratic and Reformers’ Group.

Mr MOONEY (Ireland). – First, I wish to commend the initiative of my colleague, Mr Eörsi, in placing this important issue before the Assembly for urgent debate. I say at the outset that, although I am Irish, I do not speak on behalf of my country or the European presidency, which Ireland has the honour to hold, on this issue. However, as spokesman for the Liberal, Democratic and Reformers’ Group, I reflect the widespread views of my colleagues when I express deep disappointment at the rejection by a majority of Greek Cypriots of the Annan plan.

I also wish to make it clear that, as a democrat, I fully respect the will of the Greek Cypriot people as expressed in their decision. The world has watched the unfolding tragedy of the Cypriot story since the illegal occupation of the northern part of the island in 1974 and the efforts of Cypriots and the international community to resolve the issues that have caused division and so much personal heartbreak. It should not be forgotten in the disappointment consequent on the no vote that the obdurate and stubborn resistance of Mr Denktash over many years to solving the problem of Cyprus, coupled with the questionable motives of previous Turkish Governments, has instilled a deep suspicion in the majority of Greek Cypriots. In my opinion, that prevailing attitude underlined the opposition to the Annan plan.

I suggest, therefore, that as we attempt to move forward, those in the Turkish Cypriot community must understand that they, too, have obligations and challenges to face in any new round of negotiations. The permanent presence of Turkish troops on the island, the intervention rights of Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom, the future of Turkish settlers in line with United Nations Security Council resolutions and, of course, the right of displaced persons to return to their homes strongly influenced the no vote, among other issues.

I regret that accusations have been levelled at Cypriot broadcasting and that there is an allegation that the media denied access to those on the yes side, especially high officials of the European Union. As I have a special interest in the media, I am happy to refute allegations in letters that I have been sent by the director general of the Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation and a statement issued on its behalf. It is important to put on record the fact that the directors of the Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation categorically state that it has not interfered in any way, nor does it intend to interfere, or host interviews with Commissioner Verheugen or any other European official. That would be against the freedom of expression that the Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation fully respects and adheres to.

There are several parallels to be drawn between Cyprus and Ireland. As an Irish nationalist, I believe in a united Ireland where unionist and nationalist can rule together in peace and harmony for the benefit of all, but I also accept that any negotiations towards that end must be based on mutual respect for the two traditions on the island. The republic’s membership of the European Union has brought enormous benefit, and that will be the case for Cyprus too. I rejoice that the Republic of Cyprus will join us in Ireland on Saturday as we celebrate the historic enlargement of the EU. It saddens all of us that we will not be able to welcome a reunited Cyprus then, but the signs are hopeful. As the motion states, we should welcome the initiative of the General Affairs and External Relations Council in Luxembourg in agreement with the Government of the Republic of Cyprus immediately to provide €259 million towards the economic regeneration of the northern part of the island in recognition of the fact that the people living there should not be punished for the overall no vote. However, I caution against any suggestion that the proposal, welcome as it is, edges towards political recognition of the partitioned part of the island. In that context, I put on record the deep appreciation of the Irish people for the peacekeeping role of Irish soldiers and others who have been wearing the blue helmet since the United Nations force in Cyprus was established in 1964.

There is strong sympathy in Ireland for the people of Cyprus in both communities. We understand the challenge of working to overcome a history of bitter intercommunal division. For us, sadly, it is still a living history, as acts of violence continue to be perpetrated on our divided community in parts of Northern Ireland. I strongly support the vision of a shared destiny for citizens of a united Cyprus in the European Union. I urge both sides to return to the negotiating table, as this moment in history must be seized by political leaders on the island. The economic support for the northern part of the island sends a strong message of good will to the people of the republic of Cyprus. Finally,  I am reminded of a famous quote by one of Ireland’s outstanding parliamentarians of the nineteenth century, Charles Stewart Parnell, as he fought for the peaceful resolution of the age-old problem between Britain and Ireland in a warning that resonates in today’s debate: “Let no man set boundaries to the march of a nation”.

THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you, Mr Mooney. I call on Mr Atkinson to speak on behalf of the European Democratic Group.

Mr ATKINSON (United Kingdom). – Last week, the people of Cyprus had their first opportunity after thirty years of division, to decide whether they are really Cypriots, that is, Cypriots first. To our surprise, the Turkish Cypriots voted to say that they are Cypriots first. To our disappointment, the Greek Cypriots voted to say that they are Greek Cypriots first. All of us in the Assembly, along with the rest of the world, say that that cannot be the end of the history of Cyprus. None of us should accept that Cyprus should henceforth be two completely separate countries. We must all wait until the Cypriot people are confident enough to return to the question. The tragedy of last week is that some Cypriots will now benefit from all the opportunities that membership of the European Union will bring while the rest of the Cypriot people will not.

What is the role of the Council of Europe now? We in the European Democratic Group applaud the ongoing work of the rapporteur, Mr Eörsi, on Cyprus. He is having a very busy week, and we appreciate the production of his report. He has anticipated in the draft resolution many of the things that we would have recommended. We support an end to the isolation of the Turkish Cypriot community, and welcome new measures announced by the European Union to prevent the economic isolation of the Turkish Cypriot community. Of course, we look forward to the full and active participation of a Turkish Cypriot delegation in the work of the Assembly and its committees, as Mr Eörsi proposes. In doing so, they will meet regularly their Greek Cypriot counterparts, as well as colleagues from Greece and Turkey in Strasbourg. That is one of the most valuable roles that the Assembly can play – to encourage the “parliamentary dimension”. There are confidence-building measures that both Greece and Turkey can take further to improve the climate for new negotiations between the two Cypriot communities. Greece should continue to stress that Enosis is completely inconceivable. Turkey can immediately withdraw some troops from the island, with more to follow. At the end of the day, however, it is the people of Cyprus and, in particular, the leaders of both communities, who must redouble their efforts at co-operation, consultation and communication and accept that both communities are Cypriot first and Cypriot only. They must return to dialogue, dialogue, dialogue, because that is the only way forward.

When the Berlin Wall came down, east and west Germany did not immediately reunite into one country and one people. Last year, the gates that divided Nicosia were opened, and Cypriots went back to see their old homes and to become reacquainted with their former neighbours. Give them time, and I am convinced that they will, after all, decide that they are one people and one country.

THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you, Mr Atkinson. I call Mr Kox on behalf of the Group of the Unified European Left.

Mr KOX (Netherlands). – This is the first time that I have been allowed to speak on behalf of the Unified European Left, and I hope that it will not be the last. Cyprus is not the easiest subject to start with but I shall try my best.

This week, many people, including politicians, ministers and others, expressed disappointment at the results of the Cypriot referendum. Because of the overwhelming no vote, the division of the state of Cyprus will continue, and no one knows for how long. Without doubt, the people who are most disappointed are the people of Cyprus themselves, as they pay the price for the continuing division of their island. They have paid a similarly high price over recent decades, when Cyprus was not always at the top of the international agenda. For decades, they asked for international assistance to end the illegal division of their country, and it is very sad that after all these years of division, the majority of the people were not able to say yes to the Annan plan.

Instead of criticising those who said no in the referendum, it would be wiser to examine why so many people who long for the reunification of their country nevertheless found it necessary to say no to the Annan plan or, to put it more clearly, some aspects of the plan, as no voter in Cyprus could read the United Nations Secretary-General’s complete proposal – it is over 10 000 pages-long.

Two major points in the plan caused its rejection – the continuation for many years to come of a foreign military presence by Turkey, Greece and the United Kingdom in Cyprus and, more importantly, a lack of realistic implementation mechanisms to ensure that agreements on, for example, the right for refugees to return home can be put into practice.

Whereas the majority of Greek Cypriots voted no in the referendum, the majority of the Turkish Cypriot community voted yes and in my opinion that is something that we must examine. After years of stubborn resistance by the so-called government of northern Cyprus, the result of the referendum proves that a majority of all Cypriots are now in favour of reunification, and that includes those in the northern part of the country. The difference of opinion is no longer “if” but “how” and under what conditions reunification should take place. In my opinion and that of my group, that is a very positive result of the referendum.

We should not speak so negatively about the results of the referendum. If we do so, we ignore the fact that it is in the nature of a referendum that you can vote yes or no. If you could only vote yes, there is something wrong with the idea of a referendum, according to democratic principles. We have to respect the result of that democratic choice made by the people of Cyprus, so we cannot agree with the formulation in paragraph 1 of the draft resolution.

We should now, as the Council of Europe, encourage the people of Cyprus to continue their efforts to bring the illegal division of their state to an end as soon as possible and reunite their country. There is momentum, both in the international community and in Cyprus, to do so. In order to make clear the importance with which the international community regards reunification, it is important to end the isolation of the Turkish Cypriot people. The proposals of the Cypriot Government and of the European Union are important steps. Proposals that give the Turkish Cypriot people the right to be represented in the work of the Council of Europe also have the full support of my group. The more we can integrate the Turkish people into the normal world, the greater our chance to end division.

Let us bear in mind, however, that ending the isolation of the Turkish Cypriot people is more than just recognising the illegal division of Cyprus. Of course, that is something we should never do. The Council of Europe and the United Nations have made it clear time and again that the Turkish occupation was and remains illegal. We should take care that the Assembly adopts no resolution that is not wholly clear on that point. In our opinion, the formulation of paragraph 6 is not correct, as is also stated in the conclusions of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights.

THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you, Mr Kox. I call Mr Severin on behalf of the Socialist Group.

Mr SEVERIN (Romania). – I want to express the views of my colleagues in the Socialist Group on this issue. However, first and foremost I want to express our disappointment and sorrow, not only because the “no” response to the Annan plan is a missed opportunity to solve a long and painful crisis, but also because it has apparently resulted in some mistrust and nervousness among the members of our Assembly. That is why I urge all those involved to transform that failure into a renewed opportunity.

Today, we are not supposed to be discussing the merits and weaknesses of the Annan plan. Nor are we supposed to be saying who was wrong or who was right in their answers to the referendum. We are not supposed to be punishing people or rewarding them. We must simply ensure that everyone understands that we in our turn understand all the messages being sent to us and that we shall respond accordingly. More importantly, we must rescue the crisis resolution process and the Cyprus reunification process and put them back on track.

Within that framework, we must recognise that the Greek Cypriot community expressed rejection of the plan presented to it, as did Mr Denktash and other prominent leaders in the Turkish Cypriot community. We must also recognise that the majority of the Turkish Cypriot community expressed a wish to accept the proposed solution for reunification and declared readiness to see a united Cyprus within a united Europe.

After acknowledging all of this, what must we do? As the rapporteur suggested, we should include the Turkish Cypriot community in the political dialogue and should give social and economic assistance to better prepare the community for our goal of the reunification of Cyprus and Europe. We should also assist the democratisation of the Turkish Cypriot community and continue the assistance given to the Greek Cypriot community in that regard.

However there are some things that we should not do. We should avoid any steps that might lead to precipitate change in the status of international law, as that might only serve to undermine the future of Cyprus and its unification. We should avoid everything that might perpetuate the division of the island.

We must ensure that the resolution we shall adopt is correctly interpreted. It should not read in such a way that it perpetuates division, nor should it be interpreted as suggesting a change in legal international status.

We must show our understanding and solidarity towards the Turkish Cypriot community, which has expressed the wish to join us. Above all, we should do our utmost to ensure the resumption of the crisis resolution process, based on the Annan plan, or a fine-tuned Annan plan or Annan plan plus. We should go back to the referendum process and produce a vision for the people of Cyprus – an inspiring solution that will bring them all together in support of a clear “yes” so that we do not miss this historic chance a second time.

Thank you very much.

THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you very much, Mr Severin. I call Mr van der Linden on behalf of the Group of the European People’s Party.

Mr VAN DER LINDEN (Netherlands) said that at the end of the month there would be ten new member states in the European Union. That would be an historic moment. Accession to the European Union of a unified Cyprus was on the verge of happening. Everyone had supported that. European co-operation was predicated on integration. The Annan plan had the support of the Council of Ministers and should have been accepted by all communities. However, Mr Papadopoulos had turned his face against the message and had campaigned against the Annan plan along with Mr Denktash and others in the Turkish community.

The events of 1 May would be overshadowed by the results of the referendum, as had the position of the Greek Government. Mr Pourgourides had been placed in a difficult position and he had been courageous and constructive in the debate in an attempt to build bridges and to demonstrate the merits of tolerance and co-existence. From 1 May, the European Union would be importing potential problems and conflict. The no- vote was a terrible disappointment. Yesterday, the President of the Council of Ministers had appealed to the Council of Europe to continue with its activities, not to close doors and to work towards reunification.

The Annan plan was a useful instrument. One positive feature of the result was that the Turkish community had said yes. The way that it had voted had the potential to pave the way to the eventual reunification of Cyprus. The Council of Europe had to support that process by working for integration in areas of sport, culture, trade and development.

The European Union proposals were intended to bring the north of Cyprus out of its isolation. In order to continue the reunification process, all the stops had to be pulled out. The positive aspects of the referendum process should be worked on; the future of both parts of Cyprus lay in reunification.

THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you, Mr van der Linden. I call Mr Vrettos.

Mr VRETTOS (Greece) said that the two thirds of Turkish Cypriots who had decided to vote in favour of reunification had voted for the Turkish military to withdraw. As far as the Greek Cypriots were concerned, there were many negative aspects to the Annan plan. The main reason for the no vote, however, was the fear that the Annan plan would not in fact be implemented. Greek Cypriots needed assurances on this point.

The so-called Prime Minster of the Turkish community had recently said that if Turkey did not become an European Union member, then the Turkish military would not withdraw from northern Cyprus. The legal status of northern Cyprus had to be changed. Both sides were realistic about the prospects for reunification; they realised the need for a bicommunal country. The Greek Cypriots liked the Turkish Cypriots and wanted to help them with their economic problems. Sanctions should not be imposed on the Greek Cypriots simply on the basis of the “no” vote. Dialogue should continue on the basis of the Annan plan. Equally, however, the Turkey should not rest on its laurels, and think that it could continue its occupation.

THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you, Mr Vrettos. I call Lord Kilclooney.

Lord KILCLOONEY (United Kingdom). – At this historic time of European Union enlargement, it is greatly disappointing that Cyprus is not entering in its entirety. Cyprus is an emotional subject, and I pay tribute to the rapporteur, Mr Eörsi, for his balanced and fair report.

As everyone now knows, the Annan plan for a united Cyprus was supported by the Turkish Cypriots, but rejected by the Greek Cypriots. Now the United Nations has withdrawn from Cyprus and the Annan plan is no longer on the table. The European Union takes over ownership of the problem, and it must continue to encourage Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots to enter into dialogue, leading to an eventual agreement.

Mr Mooney, on behalf of the Liberal, Democratic and Reformers’ Group, said that there was no censorship in Greek Cyprus during the referendum campaign. Allegations were made against the Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation. He checked those with it, and, of course, it denied them. However, he should have read the Greek newspapers in Cyprus, especially the well known Cyprus Mail. On 20 April, it said that the well known Greek Cypriot politician, George Vassiliou, leader of the United Democrats, had “announced that the two Greek Cypriot stations had refused to interview Verheugen…Freedom of information has been temporarily suspended at the state-controlled Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation as the government has opted to impose a mild form of censorship. The decision led to the cancellation of an interview of UN mediator, Alvaro de Soto, which was scheduled to be screened last night. CyBC and Antenna had both declined interviews with EU Enlargement Commissioner, Gunther Verheugen, who had wanted to talk about the consequences of a ‘no’ vote for the Greek Cypriots. Minister for Commerce, George Lillikas, in a television interview, said this decision was perfectly correct as it prevented interference in a Cypriot affair. This was a blatant justification of state censorship by a minister. What Lillikas and his government are saying is that they will decide what views people are allowed to hear and that foreigners’ right to free speech is temporarily restricted. These are practices deployed by totalitarian regimes and not democratic states that respect human rights. That is a Greek Cypriot newspaper, confirming that there was censorship.

Now we move forward. The referendum is over, and the EU is taking over the responsibility. We need the creation of confidence-building measures between the Greek and the Turkish Cypriots. Both have real fears. I know that; I have been in that country every year for the past thirty years.

It was great that last year the Denktash government opened up the green line. There must be further easing of the movement of people across the green line, and all trade embargoes against the Turkish Cypriots should be removed. It is great to know that the European Union made such a decision yesterday. There must also be investment in Turkish Cyprus, which has been much denied by the embargoes over the past thirty years. As Mr van der Linden said, the European Union has announced that several hundred million euros will be invested in northern Cyprus. Attention must be paid to communications. Northern Cyprus has not been allowed to have postal communications or transport communications, and those issues must be addressed.

Above all, when are we ever going to give both communities the right to be heard in this arena? It is impossible to make a fair judgment on the problems of Cyprus if we continue to close our ears to one side of the argument. I hope that one day we will be fair minded and give equal status – or at least, not equal status, but an equal right to speak here – to the Turkish Cypriots.

The barriers are coming down in Cyprus, and the Council of Europe must encourage further Turkish Cypriot involvement in Europe. The Turkish Cypriots have taken the first step by supporting the Annan plan. At the same time, we must send a clear message to our Greek Cypriot friends that the fact that they voted against the UN plan does not give them the right to veto progress towards a settlement in the island.

THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you, Lord Kilclooney. The next speaker is Mr Blankenborg.

Mr BLANKENBORG (Norway). – Thank you, Madam President. This may not be the time to declare sympathy, or the opposite, to one or the other of the parties in Cyprus. I shall simply say that often, if not always, it takes a lot of courage to defend and promote compromises. That is a special problem for political leaders, and it takes a lot of courage for them to try to convince people that the bitter pills of compromise must be swallowed. I therefore pay a special tribute to those who defended the Annan plan in Cyprus.

I do not say that the no-sayers were wrong. They used their democratic rights, and they were in the majority. The Annan plan offered less than many voters had hoped for – but it was the only solution offered. The only conclusion that we can read from the referendum is the following: there was a majority in favour of the plan in the north and a majority against the plan in the Republic of Cyprus; consequently, it was rejected.

We do not know what the no-sayers voted in favour of. My country, Norway, has spent a lot of time discussing what the no-sayers voted for, and I would not recommend our friends in Cyprus to do the same. Most of the no-sayers would probably say that they were in favour of some solution but they did not know which solution, and we do not have the right to make an interpretation on their behalf. We should express our own views on the way ahead for Cyprus.

I see from the newspapers that Mr Denktash is quoted – I do not know whether correctly - as saying, “I am not tired, I am not sad. I have the peace of mind that comes when a great load is taken off you.” I hope that my friend Mr Denktash is misinterpreting the situation in Cyprus. The Annan plan is history, but we cannot let the status quo prevail. That does not mean that we do not respect the outcome of the referendum, but it does mean that we cannot accept either the status quo or a permanent division.

It is premature to say exactly which is the right way to go, and perhaps some of the conclusions of the draft resolution that I shall support are premature, or not very wise; only history will show. The same goes for some of the amendments that I shall support. I shall be specific, which is a risky business. I support, and even sponsor, amendments intended to open up far-reaching trade and international contacts for the Turkish Cypriots. However, I cannot support amendments that would create formal co-operation between the elected assembly of the Turkish Cypriots and the Council of Europe, because that would be contrary to international legal standards.

I do not think that this contradicts what the rapporteur said when he invited representatives from the Turkish Cypriot community to have a regular presence in the Council of Europe. It is possible to have a combination. The important thing is the Assembly’s intention to show that the referendum was not the final word in the process of the reunification of Cyprus, but just a referendum on one concrete plan. It is up to us, and to the rest of the international community, to push ahead for new initiatives.

THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you, Mr Blankenborg. The next speaker is Mr Marty.

Mr MARTY (Switzerland) said that he knew both sides of Cyprus through his work in producing a report on the island for the Assembly. He had met nice people on both sides who wanted peace and who wanted to live peacefully together.

The referendum result was disappointing, especially as Swiss mediation had been unsuccessful. But perhaps the result had been predictable. Switzerland has had many referendums on various issues. Politicians had become used to the voice of the people and respected their decisions. People often did not want to be rushed into such decisions. It was often easier to convince a parliament than a people.

Even if the press had been more open and the environment generally more conducive, it was probable that the result would have remained the same. There had not been enough time for voters to digest the Annan plan sufficiently. The result might not have reflected an outright rejection. It is possible that it had indicated that the voters had not been sufficiently convinced.

A yes vote in the north was not equivalent to a yes vote in the south. The vote in the north was encouraging and suggested irreversible momentum towards reunification.  The vote in the south was not a definite no. It was important that the motivation behind that vote was examined. A solution could not be imposed on Cyprus. A long history of fruitless interference by major powers had proved that Cypriots needed to draw on their resources to find their own solution. Humility and patience were required.

THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you, Mr Marty. I call Mr Pourgourides.

Mr POURGOURIDES (Cyprus). – First, I should like to thank my group leader, Mr van der Linden, for his kind words, which I greatly appreciated.

As most of you know, I worked very hard for a yes vote in the referendum. My party did the same. My party leadership daily called upon our supporters loudly and clearly to vote yes. Our supporters in the past have always faithfully followed the decisions of their leadership. In the referendum, however, more than half of our supporters voted no. Those who voted no are not against reunification. They are strongly in favour of a solution and reunification. I can say that because I know most of them personally – Cyprus is a very small island, as you know. They could not vote yes despite our strong urge to them to do so because they had no trust that Turkey would honour the agreement.

All the previous governments of Turkey were not in favour of a solution as most of you know. Their policy was that a “no” solution was a solution. The present government has changed that policy in the last year or so. I believe that that change is sincere and honest, but most Greek Cypriots do not have my education, political contacts or knowledge. They needed time to believe the change in Turkish policy. They needed time to realise that that change was true, sincere and honest. They voted no because they were feeling insecure. Most of you do not know the feeling of insecurity because you have grown up in environments where you have been secure all your lives.

The permanent presence of Turkish troops in Cyprus – even after Turkey’s entry into the European Union as a full member – is something that causes fear and resentment in the hearts of most Greek Cypriots.

To meet the deadline of 1 May, the plan was put before the people of Cyprus in a very rash manner. The UN Special Representative in Cyprus, my good friend Mr Alvaro de Soto, admitted that in a public interview that he gave a few days ago. Shall we condemn and punish the Greek Cypriots for voting no under those circumstances? As a result of the Greek vote, are we going to forget the Turkish invasion of Cyprus? Are we going to forget the repeated serious violations of Greek Cypriots’ human rights? Are we going to forget that the so-called Turkish republic in the north of Cyprus is an illegal entity, not recognised by anybody but Turkey?

The rapporteur has worked very hard for the reunification of Cyprus – I warmly thank him for that – but his report is, I am afraid, spreading the seeds of partition in Cyprus. His draft resolution is unacceptable, as he does not clarify that there is no question of a formal legal recognition of the Turkish republic of northern Cyprus. It is unacceptable to me, and I am fighting and prepared to sacrifice my life for reunification. It does not propose reunification, something for which we fought very hard, and I repeat that we are prepared to sacrifice our lives. I cannot vote for it as it is contrary to the decisions of the European Union taken yesterday. It is a report that destroys bridges between the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.

I have devoted all my political life to building bridges with the Turkish Cypriots. I will not change course now. I called upon you to support our amendments, as their aim is solely to promote reunification. Many thanks for listening to me here today.

THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you, Mr Pourgourides. I call Mr O’Hara.

Mr O’HARA (United Kingdom). – I have a long history of involvement in seeking a just and viable solution to the Cyprus problem. Like Mr Mooney, I have some insight into the problems of sectarian division in a small community. My concern is for the sake of Turkish Cypriots no less than Greek Cypriots because the human rights of Turkish Cypriots as well as those of Greek Cypriots have been violated for thirty years. Their economic prospects have also been blighted in the past thirty years. It therefore deeply saddens me that Greek Cypriots felt that they had to reject the final version of the Annan plan. However, I understand. I feel for them and I am only glad that I did not have to vote last weekend.

I deeply regret the consequences, which mean that 180 000 Greek Cypriot refugees are prevented from returning to their homes, 38 000 foreign troops remain on the island, and that barbed wire, minefields, no man’s land and dead zones will continue to exist there. Unless we revisit the situation, the consequences of the 1974 invasion may become a permanent reality. We must work to prevent that from happening.

Early this week, the Guardian newspaper in the United Kingdom published an editorial that was deeply critical of the Greek Cypriots for voting no. That is surprising because the Guardian has always been supportive of, and sympathetic to, the Greek Cypriots. However, even in the midst of its criticism, the newspaper acknowledged that Annan V was not fair. Why was it not fair? Any objective observer might comment that, in a referendum in two different communities with widely different interests at stake, it was at least possible, nay likely, that if three quarters on one side voted no and two thirds on the other voted yes, perhaps the offer was not even-handed. It is worth noting that if the votes of both sides were aggregated, that would show that a large majority voted no.

Why was the settlement unfair? In general terms, the Greeks have made all the concessions in the past thirty years whereas Mr Denktash has never moved from insistence on recognition for his illegal statelet. The Greeks, despite misgivings, accepted the proposal for the principle of a bicommunal, bizonal federal republic. The Greeks embraced the confidence-building measures of Mr Boutros-Ghali. Yet the perverted response of Mr Denktash – for example, the terms that he imposed on the opening up of Famagusta – removed any confidence that the confidence-building measures might have inspired.

Let us consider the settlement on offer in Annan V. It is a strange negotiation that produces proposals, which are increasingly advantageous to one side and disadvantageous to the other. Let me be clear. I appreciate the fact that the Government of Turkey finally committed itself to supporting a resolution of the problem. It was a change from the mantra of, “There is no problem – it was solved thirty years ago.” The Turkish Government may claim that it went the extra mile to get a solution. However, I maintain that the United Nations went the extra mile to meet the Turkish Government more than half way. How else can you explain the United Nations acceptance of all eleven last-minute amendments that the Turkish Government proposed?

Let us consider what made Annan V so difficult for the Greeks to swallow. It proposed permanent derogation from the principles of membership of the EU; it would have prevented some Greek Cypriots from ever returning to their homes; it would mean permanent stationing of a foreign army on sovereign territory and legalisation of the status of Turkish immigrants – ethnic engineering or ethnic cleansing, for want of a better description. It also proposed scrapping the precedent of the European Court of Human Rights’ decision about compensation rights, as in the Loizidou case, and imposition, in effect, on Greek Cypriots of the costs of paying their own compensation. The list goes on. No wonder the Greeks felt unable to swallow it. It was akin to the godfather offer: half a loaf, take it or leave it, the alternative is even worse.

So let us stop criticising the Greek Cypriots for rejecting Annan V. Let us re-examine the Annan plan and consider whether it was deeply flawed. Let us return to the negotiating table and seek a better settlement, which is acceptable to both sides, thereby achieving what I have worked for for so many years, a reunited Cyprus that enables all Cypriots to share equally the benefits of membership of the EU.

THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you, Mr O’Hara. I call Mr Meimarakis.

Mr MEIMARAKIS (Greece) said that everyone understood that this discussion was taking place under pressure, but everyone needed to clear the atmosphere because lucidity would lead to a solution to the problem.

He agreed with the secretary of the ruling party in Greece, that the “no” vote did not relate to antipathy to settlement or co-existence, but to specific provisions in the Annan plan. Greek Cypriots felt that it contained insufficient guarantees for their security and doubted its operability. The plan could have led to friction.

The Parliamentary Assembly did not need to praise or punish. Turkish Cypriots should be part of the European Union but had to accept those benefits and disbenefits as if the Greek Cypriots had voted yes. The Greek Cypriot Government had recently made gestures which had the approval of the Council of Minister of the European Union. While many in the Turkish Cypriot community had voted yes, Mr Denktash wanted no solution whatsoever. Why should he be assisted and the Greek Cypriots punished? The Greek Cypriot community had always tried to work towards a settlement.

As an international organisation, the Parliamentary Assembly had to ensure that it did not give up. It was vital that it continue to encourage both sides to remain engaged. Mr Karamanlis had invited the Prime Minister of Cyprus for a meeting to examine options for a new initiative.

The Parliamentary Assembly needed to vote on a text which conveyed the messages that it was not disappointed in the referendum result, that it recognised the positions of both sides, that it supported reunification, and that it kept alive the hope for a viable solution.

THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you Mr Meimarakis. I call Mr Ateş.

Mr ATEŞ (Turkey). – First, I thank the Greek and Turkish Cypriots who voted yes for the Annan plan in the referendum. I get a sense from some speakers that they blame the Annan plan and that they suggest that it worked against the Greek Cypriots. That is not the case. The Annan plan had three important advantages.

First, if the Annan plan were accepted, all the refugees of 1974, from both sides, could return to their homes in a short time. That was settled. Under the plan, property rights would be restored.

Secondly, the Annan plan dealt convincingly with the question of demilitarisation. The local forces in Cyprus on both sides would be completely disbanded. Turkish peacekeeping forces would be decreased immediately to 6 000, and ultimately to 650 or fewer. They would be balanced by Greek troops and monitored closely by the United Nations. That proposal has been rejected. The third advantage of the plan was the pay structure of a government of, I underline, a united Cyprus republic. That proposal was both workable and raised the imminent prospect of European Union membership.

The plan has been criticised by some of our colleagues, but their criticism is not fair. Many peace plans in Europe, such as those for Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia and Montenegro, do not begin to compare with it. Turkish Cypriots believe in the Annan plan, although it has not fulfilled all their expectations. Inevitably, it is a compromise. However, they accepted it because they want to live in peace with the Greek Cypriots in a united Cyprus. They want prosperity and integration with the outside world. They want to get rid of the unfair and unjust embargoes which have been going on for the past thirty years. They want to end the international isolation to which they have been subject.

Given the Cypriot rejection of the Annan plan, the Turkish Cypriots warn that their fate will be changed. However, they wonder whether the international community will hear their voice, the unbearable embargoes will stop and their isolation will end. It is a high priority for international community to address all those questions in a fair and impartial way. The Turkish Cypriots did what they were asked to do to reunite Cyprus, but others did not want that. They should not be made to suffer because of the rejection by the Greek Cypriots. The fact that reunification will not take place is not their fault.

What more can the Turkish Cypriots do to end their isolation and humiliation? As a pan-European organisation defending human rights, democracy and the rule of law, the Council of Europe, particularly our Parliamentary Assembly, must take a leading role in recognising the democratic rights of the Turkish Cypriots. They are people too and have human rights that should be respected. We cannot tell them that they are isolated or that they cannot sell the things that they produce. We cannot tell them that they cannot take an aeroplane to Europe, England or Germany from their country. We cannot tell them that their harbours are going to be closed and that no vessels can enter them. Those are all human rights violations, and I leave the matter, colleagues, to your conscience.

(Mr Schieder, President of the Assembly, took the Chair in place of Ms Severinsen.)

THE PRESIDENT. – As President of the Assembly, I must inform delegates that I have received a request from the Political Affairs Committee to the effect that, after the vote on the draft resolution, I give the floor to an elected representative of the Turkish Cypriot political community. However, the problem is that it is not usual practice to speak after the vote. If I brought the proposal to you after the vote it would be too late to give that person the floor. On the other hand, to give it to them now in the debate – that has been done previously, not with Cypriot representatives but in other cases – is something that has been done only if a Bureau decision has been made in advance. My decision on the request from the Political Affairs Committee is as follows. I shall treat it in the same way as a change to the order of business, and shall put it to you. If you decide by a two-thirds majority to have a change in proceedings, I will give the last speaker in the debate the same speaking time as an elected representative from the Turkish Cypriot community, who will have an opportunity to speak before the rapporteurs reply. There is no discussion on my ruling, but points of order are possible.

Mr CHRISTODOULIDES (Cyprus). – On a point of order, Mr President. On which rule of procedure have you based your decision that a majority of two thirds is needed and that the Assembly can violate the rules of the Council of Europe?

THE PRESIDENT. – I know that some people think that changes are possible with a simple majority. However, Rule 48 gives the right of adoption of draft recommendations and opinions to the Committee of Ministers, and allows for the adoption of an urgent procedure for an alteration to the order of business. In that case, a two-thirds majority is necessary. If the whole order of business can be changed by a two-thirds majority, so can a particular part. That is a principle of the Roman law, conclusio de majori a minori. Under Rule 48 and that principle, it is logical to ask for a two-thirds majority, no more, no less.

Mr McNAMARA (United Kingdom). – I wish to –

THE PRESIDENT. – No, we are not starting a debate. You are allowed a point of order, Mr McNamara, but you cannot make a statement. You can simply make a request for a vote or something.

Mr McNAMARA (United Kingdom). – I am not seeking to enter into a debate, Mr President. I am just seeking information. You have informed us of a request to speak, but is that person a Turk who voted for the referendum or against it? Why should one have priority over the other? Someone who voted against the referendum voted with the majority on the island of Cyprus.

THE PRESIDENT. – That is not a point of order. You should know that as the vote is secret it is neither right nor appropriate to check how someone voted.

This is the proposal: to decide by a two thirds majority – whether the representative has the right to speak, or not.  I call Mr Mercan. You have one minute.

Mr MERCAN (Turkey). – I just want to remind you that the head of the Turkish Cypriot community Mr Talat spoke to the foreign relations committee of the European Parliament only a few days ago. If he were given a chance to speak there, why cannot we give him the chance to appear before our plenary?

Thank you very much.

THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you, Mr Mercan. Who would like to speak against the proposal?

Mr CHRISTODOULIDES (Cyprus). – Thank you, Mr President.

We have two resolutions in such cases; one was in 1997 and the latest in 2002, so, regarding the representation of elected people from the Turkish Cypriot community, are we not trying to violate the resolutions? If the only way for this Assembly to change the resolution giving those people the right to be present is by inviting my Turkish Cypriot colleague – who is in the corridor – to come to speak, I am very sorry about that, Mr President, very sorry.

THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you, Mr Christodoulides. I just want to make it quite clear that I am not proposing anything. I am in the Chair communicating a formal demand which, I was informed, was decided by a majority of the Political Affairs Committee. It is not my demand but a formal demand submitted to me by the Political Affairs Committee asking me to act. I do not want to comment on it. It is up to the Assembly to decide. Those in favour of giving that right to speak to a representative should vote yes; those against should vote no.

The voting is open. We need a two-thirds majority.

There is not a two-thirds majority.

The proposal will not be adopted.

The next speaker is Mr Hancock.

Mr HANCOCK (United Kingdom). – The Assembly should reflect with great sadness on what has just happened. I commend your efforts, Mr President, in trying to put this matter to us. For a Parliamentary Assembly to deny access to people who want to come to speak to us is a step backwards and one that we shall regret.

This morning, we held a debate on Kosovo and much blame was laid at the door of the international community because it had taken its eye off the ball. The international community thought that the situation was under control and that it would be dealt with by those who had been left in charge. Manifestly, that was not the case.

When we reflect on what happened in the ballot, we must acknowledge that the majority of the people who voted against the settlement must have had that at the back of their mind. Could they trust the international community? Was its track record good enough for them to have the confidence to say, “We trust you”? There were more than 9 000 pages of documentation and it was not even in a form that could be easily disseminated to the overwhelming majority of people. For people to suggest that they did not know what the issues were is naďve in the extreme, but for people to say that it was impossible to read the small print of the proposals is undoubtedly correct. It was a huge task and I defy anyone in this Chamber to claim that they know all the documentation inside out.

Would not it have been nice if the Turkish army had made a gesture of support and if 50% or 65% of them had left Cyprus before the referendum as a token of their support for it? How do we know that the 65 000 Turkish settlers eligible to vote do not make up the overwhelming majority of Turks in the north who voted yes? Surely they would have seen that as the only certain way for them to achieve EU citizenship. Was that not a contributory factor in their yes vote? One would have to be extraordinarily naďve to imagine that it was not a consideration. It certainly would have been for me in that situation.

If I were a Turkish Cypriot, would I have wanted to endorse this vote as eagerly as some have suggested? I do not know. I do not know how easy it would have been for me to regain the property that it now occupied by Greek Cypriots on the Greek side of the island. I do not know whether it was explained fully that I would have the right simply to walk across the green line and re-enter the property that was mine by birthright. Equally, the Greek Cypriots were not convinced that that facility would be offered to them, so surely we are all wrong to be surprised by the outcome of the ballot. So many questions were not answered properly and fully for the benefit of that community.

I am amazed – gobsmacked – by some of the expressions we have heard today, and the idea that people should have been fearless and embraced the proposal. They have had thirty years of partition; they have had thirty years of self-doubt. They did not trust each other, so when the United Nations said, “It’s make your mind up time, take it or leave it. We are not coming back to this, and if you vote against it we will wash our hands of it for a generation,” was that really helpful? Is putting that sort of fait accompli to people in an election really the right way to deal with a situation which has not only caused many people to lose their lives in the past, but for which many people, as we have heard today, continue to be willing to put their lives on the line? We should not be surprised.

As an Organisation, we must work to bring these two communities together, but many issues must be resolved. One of them, sadly, is the inability of our Greek Cypriot colleagues to allow a Turkish Cypriot colleague – a fellow countryman – to speak to this Assembly. I am saddened by that, Doros. I respect you enormously, but you do your case no good at all by refusing this Assembly the opportunity to hear the other side of the story from someone affected. I am with you, Doros, but I am against you on this issue and it has done no good at all to the case of Cyprus.

THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you, Mr Hancock. I call Mr McNamara.

Mr McNAMARA (United Kingdom). – This is the first time that I have spoken in public about the Cyprus issue. When I raised my point of order with you, Mr President, and you chastised me by saying that the vote is secret, I accepted that, but equally if the person coming to speak to us is an elected representative, he represents a party, so I think that we are entitled to know which party that person represents. Then we would know what point of view was being put to us. I thought that that was a fair question because we were not being given that information. It was for that reason that I voted against hearing somebody when I had no idea what particular part of the argument he was going to put forward – whether he was going to express disappointment or glee about the result of the referendum. I think that should be established.

I am speaking because I was shocked by the reaction of the international community to the result of the ballot. I was shocked because people had specifically and directly expressed a point of view about something which the great and the good of the United Nations, the EU and Nato felt should not have been their decision. I was shocked because people said, “Let us reward the Turks and let us punish the Greeks.”

I do not want anyone to be rewarded and anyone to be punished. I want fairness. I am happy to be among those who say that we should lift the economic sanctions because, in many ways, they hurt not the richest in Turkish Cypriot society but the poorest, as we saw in Iraq, where the rich and the elite avoided the sanctions and the poor felt the pressure of them. What I am not happy about is that a people and an island should be played like a piece on a chess board in some great strategic movement of what Mr Bush, Mr Blair, Mr Prodi or Mr Putin thinks will be good for them. People should be entitled to decide what they think is good for them.

I agree with much of what Mr Marty said. That may seem remarkable in the light of our comments about each other earlier in the week, but he hit the ball correctly and scored a six when he said that we should be used to the results of referenda.

I want a peaceful solution, but we cannot say that people must have the Kofi Annan plan or nothing. We must stop and ask ourselves why a majority of Turks voted for it in the north – Mr Hancock hinted at many reasons why they may have done so – and why the Greek Cypriots voted against it. It might not simply have been a matter of not trusting the Turks or the Americans; it might well have been the deep feeling that they were being badly treated and that their legitimate concerns were not being properly examined. Given some of the provisions on settlers and land, the plan could be seen as a victory for aggression. Those matters go to the root of what has happened.

Given the way in which the Annan plan emerged and the time that it took for it to evolve, there was no real opportunity for it to be discussed and digested with either community. The Turks thought that it was good for them, so they decided to go ahead with it, but the Greeks were being asked to take an awful lot on trust in matters on which, right up to the last minute, they had not had an opportunity to examine properly. There was no preparation.

When I think about how the referenda on the Good Friday Agreement were dealt with – the amount of talk and consolidation between the parties and governments involved, and the amount of information that was given on the divided island of Ireland – and the lack of discussion and information in Cyprus, I am not at all surprised by the result. I am just amazed that the powers-to-be thought that there could be any other result. A degree of humility on the part of the powers-to-be would be very welcome.

THE PRESIDENT. – I think it fair to allow more time and I shall call Mr Wielowieyski, Mr Christodoulides and Mr Mercan.

Mr WIELOWIEYSKI (Poland). – was surprised to hear so much disappointment at the result as it was foreseeable, and therefore not a surprise. What surprised him was the passiveness of the European Union, which had failed to provide stronger guarantees. The result was pleasing in the light of the unfavourable circumstances.

Mr Eörsi’s report was positive and had reached appropriate conclusions concerning the embargo and the economic situation. The proposals for co-operation through the Council of Europe were to be applauded. After three decades of conflict and isolation, it was not easy to find the confidence to reach a solution. It would take time to build trust. Moves were required to provide stronger guarantees to protect the rights of individuals and to enable future common institutions to act effectively.

He hoped that the governments of both Greece and Turkey accepted their responsibilities, and offered good will to the delegations from both Greek and Turkish Cyprus.

THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you, Mr Wielowieyski. I call Mr Christodoulides.

Mr CHRISTODOULIDES (Cyprus). – asked how the people of the other new member states of the European Union would have felt had their security been dependent on the previous occupying force in their country. He had fought, through much bloodshed, for thirty years, for the reunification of his country. However, he voted against the proposals, along with 76% of Greek Cypriots.

It was inconceivable to describe him as being opposed to reunification. He had voted ‘no’ because he wanted to reunite Cyprus.

It was necessary to develop an acceptable solution to bring the two parties together and to offer security and integrity to the Cypriot people. Security was not be possible if Greece or Turkey took over responsibility for it; nor was increasing the British presence a solution.

The Annan plan was not practical. For example, 85% of displaced Greek Cypriots would only be able to return to the north if the current occupants, of land and properties whether Turkish Cypriots or immigrants, agreed to leave. The plan raised the possibility of movement but had not addressed the method of achieving it. No-one would go back. Negotiations on the basis of the Annan plan were needed to consider the practical implementation of its provisions. It would have been workable if 90% of the Greek community had voted yes together with the 75% of the Turkish community who had already done so.

THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you, Mr Christodoulides. The last speaker is Mr Mercan.

Mr MERCAN (Turkey). – I sincerely wish that the atmosphere of this discussion had been different and that the Annan plan had been accepted by both sides. Then we would be cheering the united state of Cyprus, and the fact that EU enlargement would go through smoothly and happily. Only today I read in The Guardian an article that spoke of the sorrowful effect on EU enlargement.

It is true that we must respect the will of the people, but did we not discuss and denounce the outcome of the Serbian elections that took place several months ago? We criticised, here in this Hemicycle, the fact that some of the elected members were war criminals. Did we not release a press statement on that matter? Is it not right, therefore, for us to express our disappointment about the result of the referendum? We should not criticise the will of the people, but we should at least show our disappointment.

Secondly, in the previous part-session, did we not decide that the Annan plan was the basis for a solution – that it was a good solution, and even that it was the only solution? I can show you the reports and the resolution. Now the time has come, and the Annan plan has been rejected – and now I am hearing some opposition to that plan. The Annan plan did not satisfy us, either, but my government has learned how to negotiate, compromise and come up with a solution, rather than exacerbating problems that have been neglected for several decades.

Some of you, my friends, have said that the Greek Cypriots have concerns about safety. Have you ever seen the people of a European Union country fighting each other within that country? What better guarantee can there be than belonging to the European Union? The number of Turkish troops would have been reduced to the level agreed in the 1968 treaty, and if both sides agreed they would all have been completely withdrawn. In that case, all the problems with the displacement of people in Cyprus that we have been discussing would have been solved.

Are we not allowed to express our disappointment? A conclusion of the European Council of Ministers said, “The Council noted the results of the referenda in Cyprus…and expressed its strong regret that the accession to the EU of a united Cyprus will not now be possible on 1 May…The Turkish Cypriot community have expressed their clear desire for a future within the European Union. The Council is determined to put an end to the isolation of the Turkish Cypriot community and to facilitate the reunification of Cyprus”– we still have that idea; we are not going back on it – “by encouraging the economic development of the Turkish Cypriot community. The Council invited the Commission to bring forward comprehensive proposals to this end, with particular emphasis on the economic integration of the island and on improving contact between the two communities and with the EU.”

I emphasise that last sentence. Let us work towards that end. Let us try to improve the relationship between the two communities, and the relationship between each of those communities and the Council of Europe.

THE PRESIDENT. – I must now interrupt the list of speakers. The speeches of members on the speakers’ list who have been present during the debate but have not been able to speak may be given to the Table Office for publication in the official report.

I call Mr Eörsi, the rapporteur, to reply. You have four minutes, which may be shared with the rapporteur of the Committee for opinion.

Mr EÖRSI (Hungary). – I shall start with a personal remark in reply to Mr Pourgourides and Mr Christodoulides, who said that we did not know about security problems because we live safely. Let me tell them that I come from a country that won its last war in the 1400s – under King Mátyás, coincidentally. After that we were invaded by the Ottomans, followed by the Habsburgs, and then the Germans; the last Soviet troops left Hungary only fourteen years ago.

Since then, we have campaigned for European Union membership, basically along the same lines as Mr Mercan suggested, arguing that that would be the real security for our country, and that we trusted that as long as Hungary was in the European Union, there would be no more security concerns. I can provide the same or similar arguments for all countries that want to come close to the European Union.

Of course, we all respect the vote, but I agree with those who said that we can still say something about our disappointment.

Let us assume that someone might argue for the restoration of the death penalty. If that were put to a referendum, the death penalty would be restored in many countries. We would hear at least expressions of disappointment about that. So although we respect the referendum, perhaps we should not hide behind it.

There were many arguments against the Annan plan. I heard Mr Kox argue that the plan was perhaps too long. I heard others say that it was perhaps not detailed enough. Of course, we all understand that the Annan plan could not be perfect. As I said earlier, there was unfortunately no alternative to that.

When I was in Greece in January, I was so pleased to see that, in the wake of the political, parliamentary campaign, all Greek political parties supported the Annan plan. I experienced the same thing in Ankara. I thought that that was a very good thing. I agree with those who said that, yes, the attitude of Ankara had changed a lot. Perhaps that came too late. I agree with Mr Hancock and others whose previous proposals suggested that unilateral action should have been taken to withdraw troops because the number of them is too big. However, I think that we should stop blaming each other for the failure and start to think about what can be done in the future.

I heard speakers, such as Mr O’Hara and Mr McNamara, say that the international community should not punish the Greek Cypriots. I think that everyone in the Assembly would agree with that, but I have never seen any proposal that would aim to punish the Greek Cypriot people. That would have been really bad, but it was not proposed by the Political Affairs Committee, by myself or by anyone else.

Mr Ateş and Mr Pourgourides said that electoral recognition should be discussed. I fully agree with them, and we discussed the issue in the Political Affairs Committee. We try to find a balance that achieves all the political goals, without going in the direction of the recognition. I think that we can work together with them along those lines.

What do we propose in our report? We propose that we invite members of the Turkish Cypriot community to take part in European debates. Is that such a bad punishment in respect of the Greek Cypriots? I do not think so. I think that the Assembly could support our resolution with a good heart. Together with our Greek Cypriot colleagues, and of course with our Turkish Cypriot colleagues, I hope that, with the help and support of the Council of Europe, the desire to reunite Cyprus can be achieved in the not too remote future. Thank you, Mr President.

THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you. The four minutes are used.

The debate is closed.

The Political Affairs Committee has presented a draft resolution in Document 10161 to which twelve amendments have been tabled. The amendments will be taken in the order in which they appear in the notice paper, as follows: 8, 1, 3, 9, 10, 11, 4, 12, 7, 2, 5 and 6.

If Amendment No. 12 is agreed to, Amendments Nos. 7 and 2 fall.

I remind you that speeches on amendments are limited to one minute.

We now come to Amendment No, 8, tabled by parliamentarians Christodoulides, Papadimitriou, Varvitsiotis, Vrettos, Dragassakis, Katseli, Meimarakis, O’Hara, Pericleous Papadopoulos, Vis, Meale, Hancock, McNamara, Kocharyan, Geghamyan, Cox, Kosachev, Azzolini, Šami, Jovašević and Daban Alsina, which is in the draft resolution, paragraph 1, replace the first sentence with the following sentence:

"The Assembly noted the results of the referenda in Cyprus on 24 April 2004 and expressed its strong regret that the accession to the EU of a United Cyprus will not now be possible on 1 May 2004."

I call Mr Christodoulides to support Amendment No. 8.

Mr CHRISTODOULIDES (Cyprus). – Thank you, Mr President.

We are trying to convince you that the 76% of the Greek Cypriots who voted no are not against the reunification of Cyprus. They are not in favour of the division of the island, as is indicated in paragraph 1 of the report by Mr Eörsi. Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you.

Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment?

I call Mr Eörsi to speak against the amendment.

Mr EÖRSI (Hungary). – I wish to call the Assembly’s attention to the fact that I never said what the Greek Cypriots wanted, so the allegations that we heard are simply not true. I propose that we express our disappointment at the fact that the unification of the country did not take place. I think that most members will agree with me about that disappointment, without blaming anyone for the result. Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you.

What is the opinion of the committee?

Mr ATEŞ (Turkey). – The committee is against the amendment.

THE PRESIDENT. – The vote is open.

Amendment No. 8 is rejected.

We now come to Amendment No. 1, tabled by parliamentarian Jurgens on behalf of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, which is in the draft resolution, at the end of paragraph 1, add the following sentence:

"The Assembly understands that more time may be needed for the Greek Cypriot population to gain confidence and develop trust in the new, more positive attitude of the Turkish Cypriots, and of Turkey."

I call Mr Jurgens to support Amendment No. 1.

Mr JURGENS (Netherlands). – Mr President, Lord Kilclooney has asked us to consider confidence-building measures in this matter. The Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights wants to be even-handed. One of the confidence-building measures is to lift the isolation of the northern Turkish population. That is one side of the story. The amendment is meant to be even-handed and to have some consolation in respect of the position of the Greek Cypriot population. I am sorry to hear that the Political Affairs Committee will not agree to that even-handedness. I should like to ask it to be more legal than political in this matter.

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

I call Mr Akçam.

Mr AKÇAM (Turkey). – Thank you, Mr President.

We should keep in mind the fact that the Greek Cypriots rejected the Anna plan by an overwhelming majority. We have seen that my country and the Turkish Cypriots have made the greatest efforts, with a positive attitude, in accepting the Annan plan, which was the final compromise for all the parties involved. So I believe that our Assembly will reject this amendment, the aim of which is to find excuses to ignore those realities. Thank you.

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

Mr ATEŞ (Turkey). – The committee is against the amendment.

THE PRESIDENT. – The voting is open.

Amendment No. 1 is adopted.

Amendment No. 3 is withdrawn.

We now come to Amendment No. 9, tabled by parliamentarians Christodoulides, Papadimitriou, Varvitsiotis, Vrettos, Cox, Dragassakis, Katseli, Meimarakis, O’Hara, Pericleous Papadopoulos, Vis, Meale, Hancock, McNamara, Kocharyan, Cliveti, Kosachev, Azzolini, Šami, Jovašević and Daban Alsina, which is in the draft resolution, paragraph 3, replace the second and third sentences with the following words:

"The Council of Europe acknowledges the expressed desire of the majority of Turkish Cypriots for greater openness and urges the taking of rapid and appropriate steps to facilitate the reunification of Cyprus by encouraging their economic and social integration."

I call Mr Christodoulides to support Amendment No. 9.

Mr CHRISTODOULIDES (Cyprus). – Mr President, this is an attempt to give international acceptance to an illegal regime. That is the main reason why I am calling for Assembly to vote against it. Thank you.

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

I call Mr Eörsi.

Mr EÖRSI (Hungary). – Mr President, what we see in the original report is somewhat emotional. We have a right to be emotional when we say that the Assembly cannot ignore or betray the expressed desire of the majority of the Turkish Cypriots, as shown in the ballots. So if we agree to a very legalistic document that perhaps diplomats would understand very well but the people would not, we would lose a touch-point. If we speak to the people, we can use moderate, unemotional views to express what we wish to achieve. On those grounds, I propose the rejection of the amendment.

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

Mr ATEŞ (Turkey). – The committee is against the amendment.

THE PRESIDENT. – The voting is open.

Amendment No. 9 rejected.

We now come to Amendment No. 10, tabled by parliamentarians Christodoulides, Papadimitriou, Varvitsiotis, Vrettos, Pericleous Papadopoulos, Dragassakis, Katseli, Meimarakis, O’Hara, Vis, Meale, Hancock, McNamara, Kocharyan, Geghamyan, Cox, Kosachev, Azzolini, Šami, Jovašević and Daban Alsina, which is in the draft resolution, paragraph 4, delete the words:

"and an easing of the international sanctions against them. The United Nations should also consider whether the resolutions on which the sanctions are based are still justified."

I call Mr Christodoulides to support Amendment No. 10.

Mr CHRISTODOULIDES (Cyprus). – This relates to the issue of international law in respect of UN Resolutions 541 and 550, on the Cyprus issue. We still insist that we as an Assembly must respect the resolutions of the international organisations, including the resolution of this Parliamentary Assembly. Thank you, Mr President.

THE PRESIDENT. – Does anyone wish to speak against the Amendment?

I call Mr Tekelioğlu to speak against the amendment.

Mr TEKELIOĞLU (Turkey). – This is a step backwards. The amendment undermines accurate interpretation and proportionate response to the developments. What more could have been done to remove the international sanctions? Is the Assembly in favour of continuing the embargoes? Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you.

What is the opinion of the committee?

Mr ATEŞ (Turkey). – The committee is against the amendment.

THE PRESIDENT. – The voting is open.

Amendment No. 10 is rejected.

THE PRESIDENT. – We now come to Amendment No. 11, tabled by parliamentarians Christodoulides, Papadimitriou, Varvitsiotis, Vrettos, Pericleous Papadopoulos, Dragassakis, Katseli, Meimarakis, O'Hara, Vis, Meale, Hancock, McNamara, Kocharyan, Geghamyan, Cox, Kosachev, Azzolini, Šami, Jovašević and Daban Alsina in the draft resolution, replace paragraph 5 with the following paragraph:

“The Assembly considers that it is now fair for the Turkish Cypriot Community to participate in the ongoing European political debate.”

I call Mr Christodoulides to support Amendment No. 11.

Mr CHRISTODOULIDES (Cyprus). – The purpose of the amendment is to convince you that the Greek Cypriots in the Republic of Cyprus are not against the Turkish Cypriots. We want them to participate – we asked them to participate in negotiations with the European Union – but as a community, not a state because it an illegal state.

THE PRESIDENT. – Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment? I call Mr Eörsi to speak against Amendment No. 11.

Mr EÖRSI (Hungary). – Nobody in this Assembly proposes that the northern part of Cyprus should be recognised as a state. Again, the difference between the two texts is that the original is somewhat more political and contains some emotion. The amendment is tight, correct and legal, but I believe that, as an Assembly, we can do a little more than that. Again, I stress that nobody proposes the recognition of a state.

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

Mr ATEŞ (Turkey). – The committee is against the amendment.

THE PRESIDENT. – The voting is open.

Amendment No. 11 is rejected.

We come now to Amendment No. 4, tabled by parliamentarians Mercan, Kilclooney, Lindblad, Gündüz, Gülçiçek, Ateş and Blankenborg, which is in the draft resolution, after paragraph 5, insert the following two paragraphs:

“The Assembly strongly believes that the choice of one side should not lead to adverse consequences or punish the other side. Since it is the Greek Cypriot side no vote which has prevented a peaceful settlement, the Assembly, referring to its Resolutions 1267 (2002) and 1362 (2004), asks the international community to put an end to the unfair and unjust isolation inflicted upon the Turkish Cypriots. To this end, the Assembly calls on the UN and the EU:

i.                            to lift economic embargoes on the Turkish Cypriots;

ii.                          to lift restrictions on overseas trade, transport, tourism, sports and cultural activities of the Turkish Cypriots;

iii.                         to ensure that the Turkish Cypriots benefit directly from the European Investment funds

iv.                         to ensure that the Turkish Cypriots directly benefit from Community Programmes, including "twinning" programmes.

The Assembly also calls on the Council of Europe Development Bank to provide assistance to the Turkish Cypriots.”

I call Mr Mercan to support Amendment No 4.

Mr MERCAN (Turkey). – We want to emphasise the sanctions that were imposed on the Turkish Cypriots. The amendment specifies them.

THE PRESIDENT. – Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment? I call Mr McNamara to speak against the amendment.

Mr McNAMARA (United Kingdom). – As I said in my speech, I support lifting the sanctions, but the amendment goes far wider than that. In fact, it starts to blame the Greek Cypriots. The tenor of many of the speeches this afternoon suggested that we are trying to get away from a blame culture and move towards encouraging people to try to co-operate. The amendment includes a specific attack on the Greek vote. That is unhelpful and the Assembly should reject it.

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

Mr ATEŞ (Turkey). – The committee is against the amendment.

THE PRESIDENT. – The voting is open.

Amendment No. 4 is rejected.

We now come to Amendment No. 12, tabled by parliamentarians, Christodoulides, Papadimitriou, Varvitsiotis, Vrettos, Dragassakis, Katseli, Meimarakis, O'Hara, Pericleous Papadopoulos, Hancock, McNamara, Kocharyan, Cox, Geghamyan, Kosachev, Azzolini, Šami, Jovašević and Daban Alsina, which is in the draft resolution, replace paragraph 6 with the following paragraph:

“The Assembly therefore decides to associate more closely elected representatives of the Turkish Cypriot community in the work of the Parliamentary Assembly and its committees, beyond the framework of Assembly Resolution 1113 (1997) and integrated to the Cypriot Delegation.”

If the amendment is agreed, Amendments Nos. 7 and 2 fall. I call Mr Pourgourides to support Amendment No. 12.

Mr POURGOURIDES (Cyprus). – Dear colleagues, the amendment is important and I urge you to support it because if you do not, you will vote in favour of partition of my island. We should not grant any recognition to the parliamentarians of the Turkish community because their parliament is part of the establishment that Mr Denktash set up and aims for recognition of the northern part of Cyprus as an independent state. Please vote for the amendment to secure the reunification of Cyprus.

THE PRESIDENT. – Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment? I call Mr Eörsi to speak against the amendment.

Mr EÖRSI (Hungary). – The movers of the amendment recommend that the Turkish Cypriots should be part of the Cypriot delegation. In an ideal world, that would be fabulous. Unfortunately, because of technical problems, would the Turkish Cypriots have access to all the data or, for example, to the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Nicosia? Who will decide where they can go? The result of the referendum means that we cannot accept this amendment. However, I hope that we can accept its thrust very soon. Of course, rejecting the amendment will not lead to the recognition of the northern part of Cyprus as a state. Up till now, we have invited representatives of the Turkish Cypriot community. We continue to invite the same people on a slightly wider basis. I therefore disagree with the argument of Mr Pourgourides and believe that the amendment should be rejected.

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

Mr ATEŞ (Turkey). – The committee is against the amendment.

THE PRESIDENT. – The voting is open.

Amendment No. 12 is adopted

As Amendment No. 12 has been adopted, Amendments Nos. 7 and 2 fall.

We now come to Amendment No. 5, tabled by parliamentarians Mercan, Kilclooney, Gündüz, Gülçiçek, Ateş and Lindblad, which is in the draft resolution, after paragraph 6, add the following paragraph:

“The Assembly decides to consider making an agreement with the Turkish Cypriot Parliament with a view to establishing co-operation in all fields related to the work of the Assembly.”

I call Mr Mercan to support Amendment No. 5.

Mr MERCAN (Turkey). – I wish that Turkish Cypriot representatives could come here, make their voices heard and participate in the European debate. That is why I have tabled the amendment.

THE PRESIDENT. – Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment? I call Mr McNamara to speak against the amendment.

Mr McNAMARA (United Kingdom). – The amendment, as drafted, speaks about “making an agreement with the Turkish Cypriot Parliament”. That would mean recognition of the Turkish Cypriot Parliament. From what I could gather from the Political Affairs Committee, that is not its intention, and it is right. I hope that its representatives recommend that we vote against the amendment. I certainly will.

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

 Mr ATEŞ (Turkey). – The committee is against the amendment.

THE PRESIDENT. – The voting is open.

Amendment No. 5 is rejected.

We come now to Amendment No. 6. I call Mr Mercan.

Mr MERCAN (Turkey). – I withdraw the amendment.

THE PRESIDENT. – We will now proceed to vote on the whole of the draft resolution contained in Document 10161, as amended.

The voting is open.

The draft resolution in Document 10161, as amended, is adopted.

I thank the relevant committees and members for their co-operation.

(Ms Severinsen, Vice-President of the Assembly, took the Chair in place of Mr Schieder.)

4. Albania

THE PRESIDENT. – The next item of business this afternoon is the debate on the report on the honouring of obligations and commitments by Albania presented by Mr Smorawiński and Mr Sřndergaard of the report of the Committee on the Honouring of Obligations and Commitments by Member States of the Council of Europe (Monitoring Committee) (Document 10116).

The list of speakers closed at 12 noon. Eight names are on the list and four amendments have been tabled.

I remind you that we have already agreed that in order to finish by 6.30 p.m. we shall interrupt the list of speakers at about 6.15 p.m. to allow time for the reply and the vote.

I call Mr Smorawiński and one of the co-rapporteurs. You have eight minutes.

Mr SMORAWIŃSKI (Poland). – The Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights opened the monitoring procedure under Order 508 on 6 November 1995, and presented the first report on the honouring of obligations and commitments by Albania in January1997. Since then, a great number of visits have been made by co-rapporteurs and other members of the Assembly and European organisations to discuss the political situation, monitor the honouring of commitments and observe referenda. The last report by co-rapporteurs was presented to the Assembly in June 2000. The resolution recommends following up commitments on freedom of expression, the role of the prosecutor’s office, the independence of the judiciary, constitutional reform and the settlement of international disputes by peaceful means and, of course, the provision of fair and free elections.

In our attempt to assess the current situation in Albania we should bear in mind what happened in the country as a result of the economic and political crisis in 1997 and 1998, the Kosovo war in 1999 and the difficulties that Albanians have had to overcome on the way to democracy. However, we should welcome progress towards a functioning democracy and a state ruled by law made by the Albanian authorities in the past three years. There have been improvements in the functioning of state institutions, notably in the increasing influence of parliament in Albanian political life. Most recently, there has been an unprecedented attempt at inter-party dialogue and co-operation which, in spite of being fragile and short-lived, demonstrated that there was an alternative to the perpetual confrontation and the obstructionism that has dominated Albanian politics.

In the past eighteen months, a surge in legislative activity has produced new laws in all key areas of reform. The government has taken action against human traffickers and succeeded in reducing the level of that illegal trafficking across the Adriatic Sea. Internationally, Albania has begun to negotiate a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the European Union. It has steadily improved relations with all its neighbours, and played a constructive role in helping the international community’s effort in Kosovo. Notable progress has been made in concluding free trade agreements with neighbouring countries.

Despite all those achievements, which we genuinely applaud, we must make some sober conclusions. It is difficult to enact new laws or sign and ratify conventions and protocols, but it is much more difficult to implement recommendations and obligations. In that respect, Albania still has much to do, and the Council of Europe and other European bodies must assist it by urging it to concentrate on the practical side of its decisions. Personally, I am convinced that there is a political will to accelerate the implementation of rules, but the tools and administrative mechanisms needed to do that are still inadequate and ineffective. The judicial system, which should play a critical role in the fight against corruption and organised crime, is weak and ineffective. Its personnel are poorly paid and trained, and seem to be at least partially corrupt. Organised crime benefits from the inefficient operation of police, prosecutors, and the judiciary in finding, arresting, prosecuting and convicting serious offenders.

Despite progress on the adoption of a new electoral code, Albania did not meet the expectations of the international community as a result of difficulties in the local elections of October 2003. Continued problems with voting lists should be quickly resolved, and the administration of elections – at the last moment, that was decided by the two main parties acting alone – should be urgently reviewed. Another urgent problem with elections is loopholes in legislation regulating the financing of electoral campaigns and political parties in general.

The political atmosphere continues to be confrontational. The temptation to settle political disputes outside the democratic institutions such as parliament remains. There are mutual accusations of alleged involvement in criminal and corrupt activities which, if not followed up by judicial investigation, are likely to be self-defeating and will result in loss of credibility for those who make them. More importantly, such concerns damage the confidence of domestic and international investors, thus slowing the country’s economic development. Those opinions are detailed more extensively in the text of our report. The European Commission released its third annual stabilisation and association report on Albania on 29 March, one month after our draft report appeared on the agenda of the Monitoring Committee. In many respects, the report does not merely follow our opinions but is even more critical than we are. As proof, let me quote some sentences: “many of the recommendations included in previous reports have not been properly implemented”, “there is no stability within the two leading political parties and consequently, there is no stability in the country”, “the economy remains informal to a considerable extent”, and so on.

Despite the critical nature of the report, the Albanian Government swiftly accepted its conclusions and even declared that it was “realistic”. It continues to state that Albania’s progress in the stabilisation and association process is a top priority. I wish to stress that future development of relations with the EU will depend on the progress achieved in areas covered by the Assembly’s monitoring. Compliance with the commitments and obligations resulting from Council of Europe membership should be regarded not as a nuisance but as an investment in Albania’s future, and the attitude of the authorities with regard to the monitoring procedure should reflect that.

In conclusion, the co-rapporteurs recommend that the monitoring procedure should remain open until the Albanian authorities achieve further progress in compliance with the obligations and specific commitments resulting from membership of the Council of Europe, notably by demonstrating tangible achievements in preventing and fighting corruption and organised crime, improving their record in the implementation of legislation and carrying out elections in full compliance with international standards. I should like to emphasise that both political parties should take full responsibility for progress in those fields.

THE PRESIDENT.– Thank you, Mr Smorawiński. I call Mr Cabrnoch, speaking on behalf of the European Democratic Group.

Mr CABRNOCH (Czech Republic).– I shall keep my remarks brief.

Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, we are discussing the report of the Monitoring Committee on the situation in Albania. First, let me thank both co-rapporteurs for their work on the preparation of the report.

We are all following the development of democracy in Albania and we are all aware that the situation is not simple. We appreciate the achievements that our Albanian friends have made over the last few years. We welcome their progress in introducing basic democratic principles and in advancing fundamental human rights. However, it is apparent that much work remains to be done.

The obligations and commitments that Albania has accepted in relation to the Council of Europe are consistent with the obligations resulting from the country’s interest in joining the European Union and Nato in the future. It is important that in a short time Albania undertakes a number of major steps, especially in the legislative area. Key areas include consolidation of the rule of law, the functioning of the judicial system and the fight against corruption and organised crime.

I am convinced that the monitoring procedure of the Council of Europe should continue in Albania. I am sure that the Council of Europe, by its consistent pressure for adherence to those commitments, helps the people and the Government of Albania to advance democracy and law. Decreasing that pressure, softening the requirements of the Council of Europe on the observation of those obligations would be inconsistent not only with the interests of the Council of Europe but also, and especially, the interests of the citizens of Albania. That is why I support the report and the draft resolution.

Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT.– Thank you, Mr Cabrnoch. I call Mr van Winsen on behalf of the Group of the European People’s Party.

Mr VAN WINSEN (Netherlands) said that the EPP group appreciated the work of the rapporteurs and their report and resolution. The report had provided a good analysis of the situation and followed a lengthy monitoring period. It was important to assess whether international standards were achievable.

The Prime Minister of the Netherlands had stressed that values and standards should be applied to inspire and motivate the development of civil society.

The report provided evidence that much progress had been made but many shortcomings needed to be addressed. There remained reasons for pessimism, especially the presence of a weak and ineffective government; poor implementation of legislation and law enforcement; the lack of effective financial controls; and poor performance in the fight against organised and international crime. The legal system also required reform.

The organisation of elections was also a cause for concern. There were doubts over the objectivity of the constitutional committees which oversaw elections; the financing of political parties; and the opportunities available to political opponents for public administration functions. Albania was in danger of becoming the only country in the Balkans where free and fair elections were not held. Political stability was a pre-requisite of good democracy.

All of these concerns had a negative effect on the prospect for development and economic progress in Albania. Improvement was essential if Albania’s objective of membership of the Council of Europe was to be achieved. The EPP group was convinced that the monitoring process needed to be continued. The elections in 2005 represented an important test for Albania.

THE PRESIDENT.– Thank you, Mr van Winsen. I call Mr Koçi.

Mr KOÇI (Albania).– Thank you, Madam President.

 Dear colleagues, we do not consider that monitoring is a penalty on our country because we know that in one way every country is monitored – on respect for the criteria and norms of the Council of Europe, especially regarding democracy, the rule of law and human rights. The progress achieved in Albania is obvious when we read the draft report.  In comparison with last year’s report, this draft report is more negative and we need to correct some of the drafting. We have talked to the rapporteurs about that, and we need to avoid any penalties that may be imposed.

Albania is making good progress on democracy and the rule of law. Those who have visited Albania, especially after 1997 when the military mission guaranteed free elections and stability, know that we have sent troops to Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Iraq. The fact that Albania has played and is playing a constructive role in the region to achieve peace and stability, especially in Kosovo, is rightly stressed in the draft report. However, we need to be more efficient in our fight against corruption and organised crime.

Elections are the pillar of democracy. We accept that there was a problem with zone 60 in 2001. We then elected a president through a consensual process, proposed by the opposition, which is now against that president. The results of the last elections, as the international observation mission accepts, show the substantial progress that has been made, especially by the central election commissions in administering them. The police and the media played a good role in conducting the campaign. We still have some technical problems with the voters list, but the report says that there is no political motivation behind that. However, the Albanian authorities must, of course, ensure that there is a proper and true voters list.

There is always a partisan translation in Albania of the documents produced by international organisations. Some people are motivated by political factors when documents have a negative evaluation of Albania – especially of our fight against organised crime or corruption, or of elections that are not considered to be free and in full compliance with international criteria – but that is the responsibility of the government. I thank the rapporteurs and the international organisations for accepting that the responsibility for our problems must lie with the majority party and the opposition. If the draft report is amended, it will be realistic.

THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you, Mr Koçi. I call Mr Tepshi.

Mr TEPSHI (Albania). – I thank the rapporteurs for their endeavours. In the process of monitoring what was going on in Albania, they spent much time in my country. Their patience has produced recommendations that should be considered, especially by our political parties. The two largest parties in Albania – the Socialist Party and the Democratic Party – still cannot find a way to ease the political tensions. That has been mentioned and it is one of the most crucial elements of the debate.

The draft report is, in parts, beyond the standards of any report presented to the Council. As a member of the Monitoring Committee, I have told rapporteurs that we must pay attention to the wording of our reports. The Council has standard documents, which is important. As has been said, there is a partisan interpretation of documents in Albania. Everyone there, including the political parties, should realise that the monitoring procedures are a great help to them. They should behave in line with the rules, standards and parameters set by the Council of Europe. Everyone in the Albanian delegation should accept that those are the most important elements for the future of the country, especially as Albania is also in the process of reaching an agreement with the European Union on a stabilisation and association agreement.

We have made good progress in our democratic development – in the enforcement of democratic institutions and the rule of law – and in our economic development. However, as has been said, there is still much to do. Albania has fulfilled the commitment and obligations as set out in the rules of procedures. We conformed with the monitoring procedures and now have post-monitoring procedures. With other elements, such as electoral procedures, we need to conform to the norms and standards of the Council of Europe. We also need to convince the country’s authorities and political parties that they should be responsible for fair elections.

THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you, Mr Tepshi. I call Ms Milotinova.

Ms MILOTINOVA (Bulgaria). – Thank you, Madam President. I congratulate the rapporteurs on their excellent work, and commend Albania on the progress that it has achieved in the past few years. With the assistance of the Council of Europe, the OSCE and other international institutions, the country should be able to advance further along the road to European and Euro-Atlantic integration. My country, Bulgaria, welcomes Albania’s aspiration to join Nato, and hopes for speedy progress in its negotiations with the EU on a Stabilisation and Association Agreement.

We cannot, however, neglect the shortcomings and difficulties identified in the report. There is too much to be done in that country. The conclusions of the report invite further consistent efforts from Albania, and require a firm political will to proceed with the necessary reforms. Through its assistance and co-operation activities for Albania, the Council of Europe maintains a major role in such crucial areas as the effective functioning of democratic institutions, efficient protection of human rights, respect for national minorities and the rule of law, including the independence of the judiciary, and the fight against organised crime and corruption. The Council of Europe, with the OSCE and other competent international institutions, should do its best to assist Albania in achieving truly free and fair elections at all levels in the future, and to prevent any irregularities. With this in mind, we can give our support to the draft resolution.

Finally, let me draw the attention of the Assembly to one element involving national minorities where the assistance of the Council of Europe could be appropriate and instrumental. I refer to paragraphs 94 to 99 of the report and paragraph 16.iii of the draft resolution. Like practically all other countries in South-eastern Europe, modern Albania came into being as a multi-ethnic state. As elsewhere, numerous ethnic and religious communities have been living side by side on its territory for centuries. The history of the Bulgarian ethnic community in Albania, too, is centuries long. Those people, inhabiting mainly areas in Golo Brdo, Gora, Prespa and some others, are loyal citizens of Albania and want to work for and live in a prosperous democratic country, as all other Albanians do.

Those people also want to be able to keep their identity, their language and culture, and their links with their relatives in Bulgaria and other neighbouring countries where Bulgarians live; they also want to study their mother tongue and have broadcasts in their own language. Therefore, in respect of the issues covered by the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, I would very much encourage our Albanian friends to consider offering to our compatriots in Albania the same equal treatment as they have a commitment to offer to other minority groups, including due recognition of their status.

THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you, Ms Milotinova. The next speaker is Mr Dedja.

Mr DEDJA (Albania) said he was happy to be present after eighteen months of absence due to other political pressures. He said that many of the delegates from his country represented the new Albanian political class. While he did not support all the comments made in the report, he supported the comments of Mr Koçi and did not want to repeat what those comments.

Albania had changed greatly over the past seven years and even in last three since the last debate on Albania in the Assembly. It was true that there were still challenges to be faced. Those challenges included corruption and organised crime, but were challenges that also faced western Europe and of other parts of eastern Europe. There were also problems surrounding poverty and the need to make improvements with regard to the rule of law.

He asked Mr Berisha to put an end to his policy of opposing co-operation with the majority and for him to help to move matters forward. That was the will of both the international community and the Albanian people.

He disagreed with the need for continued monitoring of the situation in Albania and that it was not linked to Albanian aspirations regarding the European Union. Albania had honoured those commitments made in 1995 when it joined the Council of Europe. Albania was now a normal country.

THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you, Mr Dedja.

Mr BERISHA (Albania) contested Mr Dedja’s comments, on a point of order.

THE PRESIDENT. – That is not a point of order, Mr Berisha.

Mr BERISHA (Albania). – It’s just that he mentioned me.

Ms TOPALLI (Albania). – I congratulate the rapporteurs and the Monitoring Committee on their draft resolution and report on Albania, which I find very helpful and realistic for my country. Albania is at a crossroads. According to the International Monetary Fund, two thirds of taxes are evaded, 46% of Albanians live below the poverty line and 37% of them are unemployed, and for several years foreign investment has been only half of that made in Macedonia. Every year, 100 000 Albanians leave the country. Albanian organised crime is declared by Europol to be the most dangerous in Europe, and there is no real will to fight it. Albania is among the most corrupt countries on our planet, and is there no real fighting against that, either.

It is my deep conviction that the fundamental cause of such a bleak record lies in the fact that Albania is the only country in the Balkans which, according to international records, has not held free and fair elections for seven years. Local elections held in 2000 were declared by international observers not to be free and fair, and in the five rounds of parliamentary elections on 26 June 2001, Mr Nano, the Prime Minister, created the infamous case of constituency No. 60, by which he fabricated nine members of parliament for a constituency in which only 7 000 votes were cast, thus taking eight seats from the opposition.

The Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights report on those elections concluded that “serious growing violence in successive rounds forced the mission to change its overall assessment on this election”, and that “its shortcomings were not due to technicalities”. Following that report, the European Parliament approved a resolution making the opening of negotiations on stabilisation and association with Albania conditional on the election of a consensual president and election reform.

In order to encourage free and fair elections, we as the opposition accepted the election of a consensual president and, with the assistance of the presence of the OSCE in Tirana, we voted on a consensual basis in parliament on the new electoral code, but immediately after the election code passed, the government, in violation of the law, unbalanced the Central Election Commission again – from four to three, to five to two – in favour of the government, as it was before. In addition, Prime Minister Nano blocked all campaign funds for the opposition party until last week, while making use of all the government facilities for its own party.

On 12 October 2003, voting day, more than 15% of the residents of Tirana, Surres, Shkroda and other cities were barred from voting, as they could not find their names on the voter’s list. That is why the final ODHIR report says that local elections of Albania did not meet OSCE and international standards for free and fair elections.

Madam President, it is quite clear that the prime minister of Albania will do anything but accept the will of his nation. Instead of engaging in a free and fair process, the government criticised the OSCE and asked to interrupt the Council of Europe monitoring process without fulfilling Albania’s obligations.

I believe that it is time to send the strongest signal to the Albanian government about the serious consequences that it could face if the forthcoming elections were manipulated. Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you, Ms Topalli.

That concludes the list of speakers.

I call Mr Smorawiński, the rapporteur, to reply.

Mr SMORAWIŃSKI (Poland). – Thank you, Madam President.

I would like to express my great thanks to all speakers for their opinions. We had the opportunity to listen to some very contrary and different opinions. It is our privilege as parliamentarians to have different opinions. However, in my opinion, the report is very balanced. As rapporteurs, we try to show the progress that the Albanians have made. We are all agreed on that, but we must also agree about the fact that a lot remains to be done. Both political forces must work very hard to make progress. Thank you very much for the discussion.

THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you.

The debate is closed.

The Monitoring Committee has presented a draft resolution in Document 10116 to which four amendments have been tabled.

They will be taken in the order in which they appear in the notice paper, as follows: 3, 1, 4 and 2.

I remind you that speeches on amendments are limited to 1 minute.

We now come to Amendment 3, tabled by Smorawiński, Sřndergaard, Jaskiernia, Cilevičs, Mikkelsen and Eörsi, which is in the draft resolution, at the end of paragraph 6, insert the following words:

"This affects also the enforcement of the new laws, in particular with regard to serious crimes."

I call Mr Smorawiński to support Amendment No. 3.

Mr SMORAWIŃSKI (Poland). – Thank you, Madam President.

Both co-rapporteurs have discussed this amendment with other groups. We would like to emphasise once again how important and necessary it is to fight against serious crimes, so we decided to ask for the inclusion of this short sentence. Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT. – Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment? That is not the case.

What is the opinion of the committee?

Mr SMORAWIŃSKI (Poland). – The committee support the amendment.

THE PRESIDENT. – The voting is open.

Amendment No. 3 is adopted.

We now come to Amendment 1, tabled by Koçi, Dedja, Shakhtakhtinskaya, de Zulueta and Tepshi, which is in the draft resolution, replace paragraph 7 with the following paragraph:

"Organised crime benefits from the inefficient operation of police, prosecutors, and the judiciary in successfully finding, arresting, prosecuting and convicting every serious offender of the law. Insufficient progress in the fight against organised crime threatens to undermine not only democracy and the rule of law but the economic prospects and political stability of the country."

I call Mr Koçi to support Amendment No. 1.

Mr KOÇI (Albania). – Thank you, Madam President.

This represents only a reorganisation of the paragraph to avoid the total deniable dimension of the function of the institution. Thank you.

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

I call Mr Berisha to speak against the amendment.

Mr BERISHA (Albania). – The text in the resolution is correct, and I believe that we should not make certain decisions in respect of finding people guilty for all the huge amount of organised crime in Albania. This relates to not just the police and prosecutor’s office. I wish to remind you that, two months ago, the general prosecutor’s driver was executed in the middle of Tirana by a gang that was totally linked to the highest politicians of Albania. The text proposed by the Monitoring Committee is correct.

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

Mr SMORAWIŃSKI (Poland). – During the discussion, we have heard about the wording of the report. I think that there has been a kind of consensus, and our committee is in favour of this amendment.

THE PRESIDENT. – The voting is open.

 Amendment No. 1 is rejected.

We now come to Amendment No. 4, tabled by Smorawiński, Sřndergaard, Jaskiernia, Cilevičs, Mikkelsen and Eörsi, which is in the draft resolution, after paragraph 16.v, insert the following sub-paragraph:

"complete the transition of the Albania RTV from a state television service to a neutral public service broadcaster."

I call Mr Smorawiński to support Amendment No. 4.

Mr SMORAWIŃSKI (Poland). – This paragraph was in our previous report, but during the discussions ion the Monitoring Committee, it became apparent that we were not sure about certain things in relation to radio and television. We have now checked. We were correct, so we decided to reconsider and to propose that this paragraph be put into the text.

THE PRESIDENT. – Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment? That is not the case.

What is the opinion of the committee?

Mr SMORAWIŃSKI (Poland). – The committee support the amendment.

THE PRESIDENT. – The voting is open.

Amendment No. 4 is adopted.

We now come to Amendment No. 2 tabled by parliamentarians Raguž, Stankevič, Gündüz, Spindelegger and Hakl, which is in the draft resolution, at the end of paragraph 18, add the following words:

“The forthcoming legislative elections in Albania should be conducted freely and fairly and fully in accordance with the standards laid down by the Council of Europe. Should this not be the case, the credentials of the Albanian delegation to the Council of Europe should be suspended.”

I call Mr Gündüz to support Amendment No. 2.

Mr Süleyman GÜNDÜZ (Turkey). – I support the amendment.

THE PRESIDENT. – I understand that Mr Koçi wishes to propose an oral sub-amendment, which reads as follows:

“In the amendment, leave out the words ‘freely and fairly and fully’.”

I call Mr Koçi to move the oral sub-amendment.

Mr KOÇI (Albania). – Of course, we agree that the forthcoming elections should comply fully with international standards, but we should delete the words “freely and fairly” because they suggest that elections up to now have not been free and fair. It sounds like a criticism.

THE PRESIDENT. – In my opinion, the oral sub-amendment meets the criteria of Rule 34.6, and can be considered unless ten or more members of the Assembly object. Is there any opposition to the oral sub-amendment being debated?

As more than ten members object, we cannot debate the oral sub-amendment.

Mr KOÇI (Albania). – On a point of order. I do not want the Albanian delegation to sound ridiculous, but Ms Topalli and Mr Berisha are present in the sitting. Mr Berisha is a member of the delegation and Ms Topalli is the substitute. She had the floor, so only one, not both of them should be present.

THE PRESIDENT. – Since more than ten persons opposed debating the amendment, we cannot consider it.

I understand that Mr Smorawiński wishes to propose an oral sub-amendment, which reads as follows:

“In the amendment, to replace the words ‘the credentials of the Albanian delegation to the Council of Europe should be suspended’ with ‘the Assembly resolves to reconsider the credentials of the Albanian delegation in accordance with Rule 9 of the Rules of Procedure’.”

In my opinion, the oral sub-amendment meets the criteria of Rule 34.6, and can be considered unless ten or more members of the Assembly object. Is there any opposition to the oral sub-amendment being debated? That is not the case. I call Mr Smorawiński to support the oral sub-amendment.

Mr SMORAWIŃSKI (Poland). – We are convinced that we cannot automatically punish a country by suspending credentials. We therefore suggest that, after the phrase “Should this not be the case”, the amendment should read “the Assembly resolves to reconsider the credentials of the Albanian delegation in accordance with Rule 9 of the Rules of Procedure”. That reads a little more softly.

THE PRESIDENT. – Does anyone wish to speak against the oral sub-amendment? That is not the case.

What is the opinion of the committee?

Mr SMORAWIŃSKI (Poland). – The committee supports the oral sub-amendment.

THE PRESIDENT. – The voting is open.

The oral sub-amendment is adopted.

Does anyone wish to speak against Amendment No. 2, as amended?

What is the opinion of the committee?

Mr SMORAWIŃSKI (Poland). – The committee is in favour of the amendment.

THE PRESIDENT. – The voting is open.

Amendment No. 2, as amended, is adopted.

We will now proceed to vote on the whole of the draft resolution contained in Document 10116, as amended.

The voting is open.

The draft resolution in Document 10116, as amended, is adopted.

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

THE PRESIDENT. – 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 earlier.

Are there any objections? That is not the case.

The orders of the day of the next sitting are therefore agreed.

The sitting is closed.

(The sitting was closed at 6.15 p.m.)