AS (2012) CR 02
2012 ORDINARY SESSION
Monday 23 January 2012 at 3 pm
The following texts were submitted for inclusion in the official report by members who were present in the Chamber but were prevented by lack of time from delivering them.
Mr GHILETCHI (Republic of Moldova) ) — On behalf of the Moldovan delegation I want to thank Mr Çavuşoğlu for his leadership and the impact he had in the work of the Assembly. At the same time, I congratulate Mr Jean-Claude Mignon and wish him strength and wisdom in fulfilling this hard task.
I thank Mr Kox for leading the electoral mission and presenting a good report regarding the observation of the parliamentary elections in the Russian Federation. Although I have been to Russia many times, that was my first mission as an international observer, which made the trip somehow special. Like many other observers, I was eager to see how the electoral process was organised, what were the programmes offered by political parties and how people would respond to this.
My first contact with the immigration officer at the airport border control disappointed me. When the young lady asked me the purpose of my visiting Russia, I told her that I came to observe the Duma elections. First, she said: wonderful, but then she added that she was not going to vote on Sunday. She did not want to spoil her weekend. The results were predictable anyway, she said. I think her words expressed the opinion of the majority of people or as Mr Kox put it, it was a widespread perception that individual voters could not influence the outcome of elections.
On the election day, the picture was slightly better. I saw many people who came to vote hoping for a better future. The voting process was organised relatively well, but the counting was tense. Unfortunately, the elections were marked by lack of fairness. It is good to know that President Medvedev proposed a comprehensive reform of the Russian political system and Prime Minister Putin ordered that cameras should be installed in all polling stations for the next elections. To have authentic democracy in Russia is important not just for the Russian people, but for all Europe, especially for eastern Europe. It is a known fact that the key to the most frozen conflicts in the former USSR area is in Kremlin.
The tragic case that happened in Moldova on the first day of the New Year at the Vadul lui Vodă checkpoint where a Russian soldier killed a young Moldovan shows once again how important and vital it is to solve the Transnistrian conflict. To replace the military mission with an international civil mission is an imperative priority. Regrettably, the Russian ambassador in Moldova made provocative and offensive statements after this tragic incident, which caused a lot of tension on both sides of the Nistru River. I express my hope that with a new leader in the separatist region and the re-elected Russian authorities there will be significant progress made in solving the conflict.
In conclusion, I would like to challenge our Russian colleagues with a statement made by David Lloyd George: “Don’t be afraid to take a big step if one is indicated; you can’t cross a chasm in two small jumps.”
I would like to make one more comment regarding my fellow colleague Mr Petrenco. His call to the Assembly to abstain from Cold War rhetoric toward Russia is not a sincere one, if at the same time he uses much worse rhetoric toward his own country. In this context, I would like to ask Mr Kox, whom I respect highly, whether the position expressed by Mr Petrenco represents the position of the UEL or his own position.
I want to assure the Parliamentary Assembly that the Moldovan Government will respect the standards of the Council of Europe in its attempts to find a solution for the on-going crisis we have been in during the last three years.
Mr MENDES BOTA (Portugal) — This is the first time that the progress report includes information about the gender breakdown of the overall Assembly composition and of the main leadership positions in the Assembly as well as in Committees. I am pleased that the Bureau agreed with the proposal of the former Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and men to publish detailed statistics about gender equality in our Assembly together with an assessment of the trend: are we making progress towards more gender equality or are we regressing? Making statistics publicly available has the advantage of ensuring transparency. As we all know, the best way to avoid tackling a problem is hiding it. From now on we will know exactly where we stand.
And where do we stand? If I may say it frankly, as an Assembly which praises itself as the home of democracy, which speaks for the promotion and defence of human rights, who has repeatedly committed itself – in a wealth of resolutions and several passages of its rules of procedure – to take into account the principle of gender equality, we are not so good. In 2011, women represented only 30% of the membership of the Assembly; 20% of chairpersons; 28% of committees’ and bureau members, and 37% of rapporteurs for report.
Looking at these figures a bit more in detail, we find out that the situation is rather polarised: women represented only 15% of the members and 11% of rapporteurs for report in the Political Affairs Committee while, at the other end of the spectrum, they were 69% of the members and 70% of the rapporteurs for report in the Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men. Other committees in which women’s representation in 2011 was above the Assembly’s average, were the Committee on Culture, Science and Education and the Social, Health and Family Affairs Committee.
Statistics tell us two facts: that women are under-represented in all Assembly leadership positions and that there is a tendency to segmentation, with women being more present in “soft” and less present in “hard” issues. Statistics basically tell us that we may be good at preaching but, in reality the situation in the home of democracy is not very different from the situation outside. Statistics give us facts that we have to interpret and take into account and on which we must act. It is not enough to say that we are not so good. We should be better.
There are a number of measures that we can take, but I would like to mention a few. This time, I will not talk about quotas but about best practices. Chairpersons – of national delegations, political groups and committees – have a key role to play to promote women’s active participation, and avoid that certain areas become a stronghold for men. Committee chairpersons should encourage women to put forward their names as candidates for rapporteurships and other assignments. What is more, in my opinion, they should postpone the vote on rapporteurships in cases where all the candidates were of the same sex.
At the same time, however, women should be more daring and pro-active in asking to be given important and visible tasks. This will give more courage to other women. This will also get us all the more used to seeing women in prominent positions, reinforce their legitimacy as leaders and allow for women’s talent and competence to emerge. Men on the other hand, should understand that lack of gender equality is not a problem for women, it is a problem for all of us, if we believe in the true foundation of democracy and human rights.
Colleagues, if we really believe in what we recommend to others, we should do it ourselves in the first place.