AS (2012) CR 06

2012 ORDINARY SESSION

________________________

(First part)

REPORT

Sixth Sitting

Wednesday 25 January 2012 at 3.30 p.m.

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.

The contents page for this sitting is given at the end of the report.

Mr Mignon, President of the Assembly, took the Chair at 3.35 p.m.

THE PRESIDENT (Translation) – The sitting is open.

1. Written declaration

THE PRESIDENT (Translation) – A written declaration, No. 505, has been tabled, entitled “Call to draw attention to the persistent scourge of impunity in Turkey”, which has been signed by 35 members, Document 12849.

Any member, substitute, observer or partner for democracy may add his or her signature to this written declaration in the Table Office, Room 1083.

2. Changes in the membership of committees

THE PRESIDENT (Translation) – Our next item of business is to consider changes proposed in the membership of committees. These are set out in document Commissions (2012) 01 Addendum 4.

Are the proposed changes in the membership of the Assembly’s committees agreed to?

They are agreed.

3. Address by Ms Tarja Halonen, President of Finland

THE PRESIDENT welcomed Ms Halonen to the Chamber and noted that she had been a delegate herself from 1991-95. Through her significant work for the Council of Europe, she had left her own mark on the Organisation.

Both he and Ms Halonen had enjoyed the privilege of being members of the Assembly during the 1990s when a large number of countries had acceded to the Council of Europe. In recognition of her work to establish a procedure for monitoring States following their accession, this process continued to be known as the “Halonen directive”.

Ms Halonen had also worked hard to achieve equality between men and women. She had addressed the Assembly many times as a minister. She was a politician of great charisma who had always supported the Council of Europe, especially in relation to the European Union. The Council of Europe could count on Ms Halonen’s support in bringing the remaining European Union countries into the European Convention on Human Rights.

It was a particular pleasure to welcome Ms Halonen as she was the first head of State to address the Assembly under Mr Mignon’s presidency. Ms Halonen was invited to take the floor.

Ms HALONEN (President of Finland) – Dear colleagues – I think I may call you that, given our shared past – it is always a great pleasure to address the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. As the only genuinely pan-European Organisation based on the values of human rights, democracy and the rule of law, the Council of Europe has played a uniquely important role in uniting the whole of our continent and removing many of the old dividing lines. That has created a solid foundation for further European integration.

As you know, I had the pleasure of serving in this Assembly as a member of the Finnish national delegation between 1991 and 1995, so I am aware, as is the President of the Assembly, that there are many people to thank for the rapid enlargement of this Organisation. Those years were a time of new hope and opportunities for Europe. As the wave of democratisation swept over the continent, joining the Council of Europe became the first goal for countries on the path to democracy. Those years were also the start of my long relationship with you here in the Assembly.

The Parliamentary Assembly has played an important role in helping member States live up to their promises. I participated in the process of establishing the mechanism for monitoring the compliance of member States with their membership obligations and commitments. Nowadays, the mechanism covers all member States. As no country is perfect, such monitoring mechanisms continue to be of the utmost importance, and therefore need our full support.

One of the many challenges facing our societies today is the increase in inequality, both within countries and between them. The United Nations High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability, which I recently chaired together with President Jacob Zuma of South Africa, emphasised the equal importance of the economic, social and environmental pillars of sustainable development, which I often call “the modern trinity”. Growing inequality, discrimination and intolerance are not forces of nature. They can be fought, and to reverse their progress we must pay particular attention to the rights of minorities and other vulnerable groups.

Representative democracy gives the majority the right to make decisions that apply to everyone, but that right brings with it the responsibility to protect the rights of minorities without discrimination. There is a direct link between political security and stability, sustainable development and the protection of human rights, as we have seen many times in Europe and all over the world.

We must pay attention to the implementation of economic, social and cultural rights. Everyone needs decent work and basic social protection, and in this context I draw attention to the difficult situation of the Roma people. They are a truly pan-European minority but as a group are far more likely to face discrimination than other groups. Their socio-economic position is weaker than that of other groups in all member States, and even in this group women and children are particularly vulnerable.

The Council of Europe is a forum well suited to finding common solutions and ways to improve the situation of the Roma, and to learning from best practice in different member States. I appreciate the work done by the Council of Europe human rights mechanisms and the Parliamentary Assembly to raise their concerns, and the consistent work of the Secretary General. It is of the utmost importance, however, to ensure that the Roma themselves can participate in decision making at all levels and influence decisions that concern them. The establishment of the European Roma and Travellers Forum was an important step in this direction. This forum should do what it can to ensure that the voice of all Roma is heard in decisions affecting them.

Colleagues, you will know that I am nearly at the end of my second term as President of Finland, and that in February we will have the honour of hosting a meeting of European presidents – the so-called Arraiolos group – in Helsinki, at which we will discuss the issue of tolerance and ways of combating discrimination. I have invited the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Mr Jagland, to introduce the subject, and I hope that it will help the situation of the Roma and strengthen the links between the European Union, the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

The Council of Europe’s human rights standards and mechanisms serve as an important inspiration for many. The proper functioning of the European Court of Human Rights is important to the safeguarding of effective supervision of the protection of human rights. We look forward to a successful reform of the European Court of Human Rights, which will help in freeing the Court from its backlog of cases. At the same time, it is crucial to safeguard the individual right to complaint. The protection of the human rights of Europeans must not be weakened. We must bear it in mind that the Court has been a true success story – as I said, it is full of sad stories with happy endings – which is why people are so interested in it.

All of us should look in the mirror now and then: the situation in the Court reflects the situation in our countries. The complaints reflect existing problems on the ground. Member states bear the main responsibility for ensuring that the domestic courts assume their primary role in ensuring the protection of human rights and the implementation of the Convention and its case law. I know that there is still a lot of work to be done, and it is important that the Assembly remains vigilant.

Finland was active in setting up the Office of the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights – I remember the day when we succeeded. The Commissioner’s mandate enables him or her to take up topical human rights problems in any member state, be it freedom of speech, the rights of minorities or emerging issues, such as the rights of the elderly – the senior citizens. I am pleased with how this institution has become the European human rights watchdog. It certainly deserves our support.

I would like to express my deepest appreciation to the first two holders of this function, Mr Álvaro Gil-Robles and Mr Thomas Hammarberg. They have both done excellent work and been very successful in promoting human rights as well as the role of the Council of Europe. I also congratulate the newly elected commissioner, Nils Muižnieks, and wish him all the best for the coming six years. We must give him and his office our full support in their valuable efforts to raise the human rights standards in all our member States. Let them feel that we are backing them, because in that way they can succeed.

Recent events in northern Africa and the Middle East have once again emphasised that development, human rights, and peace and security are interlinked. The popular calls for reform have also demonstrated the important role that civil society can play in advancing democracy and human rights. Women in northern Africa and the Middle East have actively participated in the political movements for democracy, social justice and equality. Women and men have marched together for a better future for themselves and future generations, and it is important that they continue to participate side by side in building democratic societies. I have said many times in this Chamber that you can throw away a dictatorship in one night but you cannot build a new democratic system in one night, so we have to be very patient in helping to build the new system.

There is still a lot to do in order to make sure that equality before the law also means equality in practice. The Council of Europe has always been a front-runner on issues of equality, and I look forward to seeing the entry into force, as soon as possible, of the latest Council of Europe Conventions on gender equality and on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.

The situation of children and youth also needs our special attention. Opportunities for education and decent work are of crucial importance. Prolonged unemployment often leads to poverty and lack of future prospects. We need to make sure that young people will not become alienated or excluded from our society and will feel that they are welcomed as new members. I strongly support the reform of the Council of Europe, and so does my country. It will lead to an Organisation that is even better at promoting its core values of respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

The OSCE, the Council of Europe and the European Union all have their respective roles to play and their activities should be mutually reinforcing. It seems to me, as has already been mentioned, that the European Union and the Council of Europe have already found a fruitful synergy where the Council of Europe expertise is supported by European Union resources, but more would be welcome. Through its important work for human rights and all democratic forces, the Council of Europe has been an important source of hope for us all since its foundation in 1949.

Dear parliamentarians, this is the last time I address you as the President of the Republic of Finland, but do not feel relaxed – I might find reasons to come again in some other role. Let me thank you for the excellent and fruitful co-operation we have had throughout the years and wish you success in your important work.

THE PRESIDENT (Translation) – Thank you very much, Ms Halonen, for your most interesting address. Members of the Assembly have questions to put to you.

The first question is from Ms Čigāne who speaks on behalf of the Group of the European People’s Party.

Ms ČIGĀNE (Latvia) – My question is about Finland’s domestic policy. There is at least one area where many member States can follow Finland’s good example – that of youth education. Finland scores very highly in different surveys in terms of youth education. How did Finnish society reach a consensus that this is an area in which you needed to invest? How did you implement the reforms to achieve such high youth educational standards?

THE PRESIDENT (Translation) – Thank you. Would you like to answer that question, Ms Halonen?

Ms HALONEN – Sometimes a lack of natural resources can provide other opportunities. You know that we lack oil or gas and these other natural resources – we have just had a nice cold winter with a lot of snow. The only capital we have in which to invest is the people. Like all other Nordic countries, we have a certain kind of collective responsibility because of these circumstances and we want to guarantee the future of the next generation. In that way, our long history has helped us to understand that education is the key. We have a long tradition of a very broad education, meaning that every boy and girl will be guaranteed an education free of charge. The quality is also important. The education of teachers has been the key answer to that. The Programme for International Student Assessment survey showed that my country is among the best in the world and very often the best. But we are still not happy because we want this to be continued with secondary education providing the opportunity to take up education, further education, employment or training. In that way, the young ones will consider that they were full members of society.

Secondly, I always say to the younger generation, “Be happy that you have the best education ever in our history but your education will be old-fashioned much sooner than it was for your parents. So be prepared for lifelong learning.” I think that this is the next step for all of us in Europe.

International comparisons show that the education system in Finland and other Nordic countries when it comes to hard global competition is a very good resource for getting not-so-bad results.

(Mr Mota Amaral, Vice-President of the Assembly, took the Chair in place of Mr Mignon.)

THE PRESIDENT – May I remind all members that the time limit for questions to our distinguished guest is 30 seconds?

The next question is from Mr Iwiński, who speaks on behalf of the Socialist Group.

Mr IWIŃSKI (Poland) – Given your great experience in Strasbourg and as the head of State in Helsinki, what is your opinion of the most effective ways and means of combating increasing waves of nationalism, often coupled with euroscepticism? It is enough to mention Mr Soini’s party in Finland and the present situation in Hungary — I shall confine myself to those cases.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. Would you like to answer that question, Ms Halonen?

Ms HALONEN – I think it is the same problem whatever the society. It is natural to love your own country but to see also the experience of different nations is a real richness of Europe. With globalisation, every country is too small to be on its own. The best way to tell this to our people is to say that all European countries, including Germany, France, Italy and Spain, are not big in terms of global comparison. This is hard to explain because everybody thinks that their own home is the best; they want to close the windows and doors and be happy. But that is no longer possible in the globalised world. We benefit greatly from international co-operation, but it takes a lot of time to work together, which is the only way to achieve better harmony in the future. You are all members of parliament and experts in your own country; I would be very happy if you could exchange views and experiences and if we could learn from each other. Let us learn from the best practices and try to avoid the worst implementations.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. The next question is from Mr Liddell-Grainger, who speaks on behalf of the European Democrat Group.

Mr LIDDELL-GRAINGER (United Kingdom) – Given your views about the Court, what practical solutions would you suggest to cut costs, deal with the backlog and make the Court more efficient? What would your recipe for success be?

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. Would you like to answer that question, Ms Halonen?

Ms HALONEN – There are different signals. The European Court of Human Rights has been one of the Council of Europe’s best success stories. People know that sad stories can have happy endings but we also know that in many of these cases it would be better to explain to people in our member countries that they will not get a positive result. We have to solve this in different ways. Let us be happy that people have become active, but let us be more active in finding national, local and common solutions to these problems. I do not think that we should try to stop the flow of these requests to the Court because then we will hide the need for new reforms, but we should study more which cases and from which countries most of the appeals come, and then try to find a solution.

I sincerely encourage the Human Rights Commissioner to work in close co-operation with the Court in such a way that we can find the key issues. When member States have ratified the necessary conventions, we can also start to reform the Court. I am optimistic that we can find a fast track to reform. Please remember that the good side of this request by our citizens is that they have found the importance of the rule of law. So, by working at a local and national level, and with the help of the Human Rights Commissioner and that of the Court, we will get a more positive answer than just trying to cut costs.

THE PRESIDENT – The next question is from Mr Xuclŕ, who will speak on behalf of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.

Mr XUCLŔ (Spain) thanked the President and commented that a democracy could not be created in a day. He asked what the necessary steps were to achieve democracy and noted that some countries were still developing their democracies while being monitored by the Council of Europe

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. Would you like to answer that question, Ms Halonen?

Ms HALONEN – Let us take first the question of Europe itself and the area of the Council’s member countries. It would be nice to see the miracle, but I do not think that we will. It seems a long time ago – the early 1990s – since we saw the rapid enlargement of the Council of Europe. But in historical terms, the building of a new democracy in those countries – countries that are now members of the Council of Europe, and of the European Union – has taken a very short time. The political system is working in most of those countries quite well, but it takes much longer to educate people about good governance and the rule of law and to establish a good civil service. These are important issues.

Countries that are not members of the European Union have the same rights, and some of them have done a very good job in this regard. Norway – Mr Jagland’s country – is an excellent example of a high-quality country that is outside the European Union, and so is Switzerland. Those are good examples of countries that take a different approach. I very much encourage you to work with newer members such as Ukraine, and please do not isolate Belarus, for example.

I know that your programme addresses near-neighbourhood regions such as northern Africa and the Middle East. The question of what constitutes legal and illegal immigration poses difficulties, as does the issue of trafficking people. We cannot just close the doors, because we do not want to live in a fortress. We have to work together with our neighbours in such a way as to create a more harmonious place to live.

In a global future, the populations of Europe and the USA will increase by little more than 10%. You might say to me that our economies constitute about 70% of the global economy, but you know that the BRIC countries – Brazil, Russia, India and China – and some others are becoming economically more important. It is high time that we created a more harmonious world in order to save the planet and protect generations to come.

Yes, we have to concentrate very much on our own member States, but please do not think that the world stops outside the borders of Europe.

THE PRESIDENT – The next question is from Mr Kox, who will speak on behalf of the Group of the Unified European Left.

Mr KOX (Netherlands) – Elected parliamentarians are the basis of democracy. Nevertheless, we see in several European countries that elected MPs are imprisoned because they are said to have abused the law. We see this contradiction between the electoral will of the voters and the law. As a wise person, could you give us guidance? Is it right to put elected parliamentarians into prison, or should we deal with this issue in another way?

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. Would you like to answer that question, Ms Halonen?

Ms HALONEN – I am not trying to flatter you just because you are the Parliamentary Assembly – I held ministerial positions, including as Minister for Foreign Affairs – for a long time so I am familiar with the ministerial side – but the Assembly is the best place to discuss such issues. Many of you represent your own parliaments, and you also have all your own contacts here with the Inter-Parliamentary Union, so there are different ways in which you can act. You know how elections work. Of course, ministers make good critics and they are democratic, but they need their colleagues.

My advice to you is to take primary responsibility for the democratic system, to draw attention to the difficulties that may arise in certain countries and to work together with the OSCE so that you can find more effective ways to monitor elections. The media are the watchdog of free and fair elections, but as we see in many countries, not everything that gets printed in the newspapers is true. Let us be realistic and pragmatic and try to achieve better co-operation with the European Union, the United Nations and other actors, so that we can achieve a more effective result. Please do not wait for the miracle; it will take time.

THE PRESIDENT – The next question is from Ms Marin.

Ms MARIN (France) noted the diversity of electricity production in Finland and asked why this approach had been taken.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. Would you like to answer that question, Ms Halonen?

Ms HALONEN – That is a good question from the French! We have a different opinion when it comes to the politics of energy. Finland is one of the countries that have recently built nuclear power plants. When I was a member of parliament, I voted against that, but then came the Kyoto Protocol and many MPs in Finland and other countries recognised that nuclear power could be a way to solve the energy issue for the time being. However, there are serious consequences. We know that there is a negative side to the traditional ways of creating energy, and that is why I have supported renewable energy sources, in order to find a way to solve the important issue of sustainable development.

There are difficulties that Finland, Sweden, Germany and France are doing their utmost to solve, in order to be a good example. However, if we cannot get the emerging economies of the world to come on board, we will not be able to save the planet. That is why I hope that we can intensify international co-operation, which could cover the needs of industry and households so that we can achieve a more sustainable future.

I am very pleased that the Secretary-General of the United Nations has made special efforts in that regard, and I hope that my own country will obey the rules better in the future. I approve of the way in which the international co-operation system has worked so far, and I believe that, as a pragmatic people, we will make further advances in the future.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Ms Halonen. The next question is from Ms Papadimitriou.

Ms PAPADIMITRIOU (Greece) – The countries of the European south, especially Greece, suffer considerably as a result of the massive influx of illegal migrants from Asia and Africa who enter our territory in the hope of passing through it and settling in northern and central European countries that provide better living conditions. Should not Council of Europe and European Union member States share the burden of that phenomenon and contribute to the humanitarian task – in practice, not in words – rather than simply giving safe lessons about respect for human rights?

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. Ms Halonen, would you like to answer that question?

Ms HALONEN – The two issues are not contradictory. We must treat all people who come to Europe in the same way when it comes to respecting their human rights. However, we must not think that we can solve the problem on our own. As I said earlier, we must not think that we can close the doors and windows and create our own national order – our own continental home. We are part of the planet. I know that Europe is starting to co-operate with north Africa, but it is also important to work more effectively with central Africa. We should think about what has led to the conditions in which people in those countries are living. As its name suggests, the Council of Europe is here to represent Europe, but it must broaden its focus.

We must also do something about the criminality of those who try to make money by trafficking and making false promises to desperate people. Even if we manage to do that, however, we must bear in mind that in many countries people are so poor that they will voluntarily take the risks involved in trying to come to Europe and will pay a lot of money to do so. International co-operation is the best solution. As you said in your question, this is our common responsibility; it is not just the responsibility of the border countries. Finland is one of the border countries, in the north of Europe, but although it is a border country in European Union terms, it is no longer a border country in terms of the Council of Europe. Broader neighbourhood politics are a good answer, as is global activity in, for instance, the United Nations. We have not seen a single global agreement that could deal with the problems of migration and the movement of people over borders. The United Nations has not been able to produce such an agreement, but a great deal could be achieved with the help of the Council of Europe.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Ms Halonen. The next question is from Mr Vareikis.

Mr VAREIKIS (Lithuania) – During the Cold War years, the key word in Finnish foreign policy was “neutrality”. Your country organised the Helsinki process, which could be said to have marked the beginning of the end of the Cold War. What does “neutrality” mean in the 21st century? Perhaps it is no longer relevant. If that is so, what is the key word in your country’s present foreign policy?

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. Ms Halonen, would you like to answer that question?

Ms HALONEN – You are right. We do not use the word “neutrality” any more. We describe ourselves as being militarily non-aligned, which means that we are not a member of NATO, along with Sweden, Austria, Ireland and, I believe, Malta. In the European Union, we are aligned in the broader security sense.

I believe that what we need in Europe is neighbourhood politics. Finland has interesting and active neighbours: Sweden to the west, Norway to the north-west, Estonia to the south and Russia to the east. Russia is, of course, no longer the Soviet Union. Because there have been many wars between us and our eastern neighbours, we must be patient if we are to build good neighbourly relations. I think that both the Russian and the Finnish delegations would agree that we now have very good neighbourhood politics. The more exchanges of ideas and trade – for instance, more and more tourists from the east have been coming to Finland – the more pragmatic problems arise, but the solutions to those problems increase as well.

Learning to know each other is key to our national foreign policy. We are very much members of the Nordic family, and this year we will be standing for the Security Council as a common candidate for the Nordic countries. We have many ideas for making global politics more active. We have our family of Nordic countries, and we have good relations with our neighbours. We have our common home in the broader Europe. However, we also feel that we are global citizens.

I could have given a much longer answer, but you would not have liked that, Mr President.

(Mr Mignon, President of the Assembly, took the Chair in place of Mr Mota Amaral.)

THE PRESIDENT (Translation) – Thank you, Ms Halonen. Ms Pashayeva is not present, so the next question is from Mr Gaudi Nagy.

Mr GAUDI NAGY (Hungary) – I congratulate you on being the first female President of Finland, Ms Halonen. You are a strong fighter for human rights and you lead a country that provides one of the best examples of how national communities should be treated. You introduced the doctrine that is named after you – the Halonen doctrine – according to which a new country that enters a body like the Council of Europe must implement all the prescriptions of that body. What about countries such as Romania that are not inclined to implement, for instance, Recommendation 1201, which affords special status to the almost 1 million settlers who are living in Romania?

THE PRESIDENT (Translation) – Thank you. Ms Halonen, would you like to answer that question?

Ms HALONEN – As I said earlier, at a time of rapid enlargement of the Council of Europe and, subsequently, the European Union, we faced the challenge of finding a way of advancing the democratic process in a more positive way. In the Council of Europe, we concluded that a new democratic State with full respect for human rights, the rule of law and social justice could not be built overnight, and that it would be best to start with a basic package. After the candidate country has passed this first threshold, it should make a serious public commitment to making reforms. This succeeded pretty well. I was once a rapporteur in connection with Slovakia and I hope that there are some members from Slovakia present. As I say, there has been success. The new member countries, as we called them in those days, used to complain and ask, “How is it possible that you are scrutinising our system in so much detail, when the old members could be seen to have made some mistakes themselves?” Sometimes we adopted a rather bad sense of humour and said, “You see, the founding members of the club always have all the privileges.” Sooner or later, however, we came to the same conclusion. Now there are no longer new members and old members; we are all equal members of the Council of Europe. We all have to acknowledge that nobody is perfect – not one person or not one country.

We must now follow up the processes, implement the agreements and find ways to face the new challenges. It should be quite natural for us to do that. Whatever country we are in, we know that the systems that were founded 20 years ago are still valid; we are making reforms all the time. Sometimes neighbours can help, and sometimes so can Strasbourg. They can help us to find our way to the goals we want faster and easier than we could do by ourselves.

Sometimes one member country says something about another member country, but I would say that they are being brotherly or sisterly critics of each other. I hope that what is said is for good purposes. If ways can be found, why not follow them? Conversely, those on the receiving end of the criticisms should not think, “Oh, they do not love us.” It is not a question of love; it is just a question of becoming better. Everyone, myself included, can talk about what new steps countries should be taking. However, I would say that we should not underestimate the help of our friends and neighbours, particularly here where the culture of Europe is a common forum and there are human rights organisations, including the new Human Rights Commission. They point the way – not to criticise but to help to find a solution.

THE PRESIDENT – The next question is from Ms Err. She is not here. The next question is from Mr Kaikkonen.

Mr KAIKKONEN (Finland) – As we have heard today Ms Halonen, you know Europe very well and you are very good at global policies. I would like to hear your opinion on this question. If you look at Finland from the global point of view, what does it look like?

Ms HALONEN – Cold and small! Let us be honest when we are in our own family. If we visit African or Asian countries, we find that they have a rather old-fashioned picture of Europe. They have their own economic and cultural ties to Europe in some cases. People might know some of the big countries like the United Kingdom, France, Spain and perhaps some others; I suspect that they will not know much about Slovenia. They might have heard about Finland but they might have to think about whether we have a queen or a president. It is, of course, the same when it comes to our knowledge of African and Asian countries. We know some of the big ones, but not all of them; perhaps our picture is old fashioned.

That is why, Mr Kaikkonen, when my African friends say I should come and see the new Africa and Asia, I say they should come and see the new Europe. It might be the first contact for European countries with an African member of parliament or an Asian minister. Broader international co-operation is so important. I hope that we will secure the co-operation of those who have older and longer experience in Europe. They have often had experience of rapid development – and that will be greatly welcomed in many parts of the world.

As I have already said a few times today, we offer quality rather than quantity, but that does not mean that we should be arrogant. I have not always known exactly how much progress has been made in some countries when it comes to gender equality, environmental sustainability and so forth. There are not so many old-fashioned, arrogant gentlemen around; more and more are women. Let us break those old-fashioned pictures. We should be proud of which country we come from. Have people ever been to Finnish towns? Have they seen how far we have come towards being a modern European country in such a short time? We are ready to learn from them.

It sounds very poetic, but this is really our old planet and it should be okay for our future generations. We need very close co-operation with other parts of the world. In that way, we will help all our children to survive.

THE PRESIDENT (Translation) – The last question is from Ms Pelkonen.

Ms PELKONEN (Finland) – The principle of gender equality is written in the European Union treaties. The Treaty of Rome demanded that member States guaranteed equal pay for equal work. Gender equality, however, is far from what it should be in Europe. On average, women still earn 17% less than men. In your view, Ms President, what are the greatest obstacles to gender equality in Europe? As one of the forerunners of equality, how can Finland serve as an example for the rest of Europe?

THE PRESIDENT (Translation) – Thank you. Would you like to answer the question, Ms Halonen?

Ms HALONEN – If nobody had achieved anything in this area it would be a very hard task. We know that there is a problem of lagging gender equality in many countries, but we can learn from each other. In Finland we have even survived having a lady president for 12 years, and in the recent past we had a government comprising a slight majority of women. However, we have not succeeded so well in business; many countries have a better position for women in business. I hope we can learn from you. Members of the Parliamentary Assembly have ties and networks. In Finland, when it comes to employees, the women tend to work very much in the sector of health, education and social welfare – and, more recently, in the environment. They often have a better education than men, and they do very well at school, university and even at higher levels.

The situation is still complicated in working life. Salaries in those sectors where women predominate are not as high as in those where men traditionally predominate – in heavy industry and so forth. We need to recognise the value of services; that is one way to proceed, although it is sometimes difficult to get this through. As the member who put the question well knows, we need decisive politics in our own countries, but we also need to follow examples from other member States. I hope that we do not need to wait for the following generations to get this work done. We in Finland have tried, and nobody else has made it any better. What we have noticed is that in business life those corporations that have both men and women on their boards get better results than those that have only men on their boards. I do not think that is only because they have women on their boards; it also shows that they have been more open-minded in finding new solutions. If anyone is interested in this topic, I think they will be able to find statistics illustrating what I have just said.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. We must now conclude the questions to Ms Halonen. It has been a great pleasure to listen to you and to hear your frank answers. It has been a great honour for us to welcome you here today. Thank you.

4. Address by the Rt Hon. David Cameron MP, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

THE PRESIDENT (Translation) – Many colleagues want to ask questions, so I appeal to you all to respect the 30-second time limit for questions.

We now have the honour of hearing an address by Mr David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. After his address, the Prime Minister has kindly agreed to take questions from the floor.

(The speaker continued in French) (Translation)

He welcomed Mr Cameron on behalf of all members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, and said that he was addressing the Assembly at a symbolic moment because the United Kingdom was the current Chair of the Committee of Ministers. It was an historic time in Europe and a period of great change. For example, there was the on-going economic crisis in the Eurozone, the expansion of the internet and digital media and the rise of extremist groups and parties. In the face of such issues, it was vital to remain united and committed to the European cause.

Challenging times brought to mind the words of one of Mr Cameron’s predecessors, Sir Winston Churchill, when he addressed the inaugural session of the Assembly on 10 August 1949. Mr Churchill had said that the delegates were meeting not as representatives of their different countries or different political parties but as Europeans marching together hand in hand and, if necessary, shoulder to shoulder in order to revive the past glories of Europe and to establish Europe as an independent power in the new world. It was obvious that Mr Cameron was also committed to this project. He clearly shared the vision that had enabled the Council of Europe to be a driving force in the process of European reconstruction following the fall of the Berlin Wall and that enabled its current work protecting human rights both within and beyond Europe’s borders.

The United Kingdom’s commitment to this project had been further reaffirmed by David Lidington, the United Kingdom’s Minister for Europe, when he had addressed the Assembly on 24 January.

Mr Cameron had a clear set of priorities for the United Kingdom’s chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers. The Assembly was looking forward to hearing his views: he was invited to take the floor.

Mr CAMERON (Prime Minister of the United Kingdom) – Thank you for that kind and generous introduction.

Once in a generation, each member state has the honour of leading the Council of Europe and today I want to speak about the once-in-a-generation chance that we have, together, to improve the way we enhance the causes of human rights, of freedom and of dignity. We have an ambitious agenda for the coming months – to reinforce local democracy, to combat discrimination, and to strengthen the rule of law across Europe – but, as you know, the focus of our chairmanship is our joint effort to reform the European Court of Human Rights.

The role of the Court has never been more challenging. As the Council has expanded, more and more people have applied to seek justice. We need to work together to ensure that, throughout these changes, the Court remains true to its original intention: to uphold the Convention and to prevent the abuse of human rights. So today I want to explain why I believe the Court needs reform and set out some of the proposals that are on the table.

First, I want to make something clear: human rights is a cause that runs deep in the British heart and long in British history. In the 13th century, Magna Carta set down specific rights for citizens, including the right to freedom from unlawful detention. In the 17th century in Britain, the Petition of Right gave new authority to Parliament and the Bill of Rights set limits on the power of the monarchy. By the 18th century, it was said that this spirit of liberty was so deeply implanted in our constitution and rooted in our very soil that a slave, the moment he landed in England, falls under the protection of the laws and, with regard to all natural rights, instantly became a free man. It was that spirit that led to the abolition of slavery, that drove the battle against tyranny in two world wars, and that inspired Winston Churchill to promise that the end of the world struggle would see the enthronement of human rights. As he put it, victory in that war was the victory of an ideal founded on the right of the common man, on the dignity of the human being and on the conception of the state as servant, not master, of its people. These beliefs have animated the British people for centuries, and they still animate us today.

When the Arab Spring erupted, the United Kingdom was a principal supporter of resolutions at the United Nations Human Rights Council. We are leading, with European Union partners, efforts to maintain the pressure on Syria. We played a key role in securing European Union sanctions against Iran. Through the United Nations, we are working to empower women in Afghanistan, Iraq and throughout the Middle East. We have pledged additional money to the Special Fund of the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention against Torture, and we are contributing to the Council of Europe’s own Human Rights Trust Fund. All these are clear signals of our belief in fundamental human rights, and if called to defend that belief, not just with words, but with action, we act. When the people of Libya were reaching for the chance to shape their own destiny, Britain stepped forward, with our allies, to help. Visiting Tripoli a few months ago and seeing the crowds of people jubilant and free, I was reminded of something that Margaret Thatcher once said: “The spirit of freedom is too strong to be crushed by the tanks of tyrants.” It is our hope that this spirit of freedom spreads further, and we will continue to support those reaching for it across the Arab world.

We are not, and never will be, a country that walks on by while human rights are trampled into the dust. This has a lot to do with Britain’s national character – a love of freedom, an instinctive loathing of over-mighty authority – but it is also about our national interest: to live, to travel, to trade in a more open and secure world. When a government respects its citizens’ human rights, it makes for a more stable country, and that is good for all of us. It was that great champion of freedom, Václav Havel, who put it best: “Without free, self-respecting and autonomous citizens there can be no free and independent nations. Without internal peace, that is, peace among citizens and between the citizens and the State, there can be no guarantee of external peace.” In other words, a commitment to human rights is both morally right and strategically right.

I want no one here to doubt, therefore, the British commitment to defending human rights. Nor do I want anyone to doubt the British understanding that the Council of Europe, the Convention and the Court have played a vital role in upholding those rights. But believing those things does not mean sticking to the status quo. As we are agreed, the time is right to ask some serious questions about how the Court is working.

More than 60 years ago, the Convention was drafted with some very clear intentions. It was born on a continent reeling from totalitarian rule. It was shocked by the brutality of the Holocaust and sickened by man’s inhumanity to man. Its purpose was clear: to spread across our continent respect for fundamental human rights, including the right to life, liberty and the integrity of the person. And it has achieved some vital things over the decades: from exposing torture to winning victories against degrading treatment in police custody and holding heavy-handed States to account. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, it has played a major role in strengthening democracy across central and eastern Europe.

Furthermore, we should remember that oppression and brutality are not just facts about Europe’s past; as we sit here today, people in Belarus are being thrown into prison for their political beliefs and dissidents’ voices are being silenced and their rights crushed. What is happening less than 1 000 miles from here underlines the continuing importance and relevance of the Council of Europe, the Convention and the Court. It reminds us that now, more than ever, we need a Court that is a beacon for the cause of human rights, ruthlessly focused on defending human freedom and dignity, and respected across the continent and the world.

In that spirit, I have come to speak to you today. Today, the ability of the Court to play that vital role is under threat. As I see it, there are three interlinking issues that should cause us concern. First, the Court is being compelled to do too much, and that threatens its ability to do that which is most important. We have seen a massive increase in the number of cases. In the first 40 years of its existence, 45 000 cases were presented to the Court. In 2010 alone, 61 300 applications were presented. That has created, and goes on creating, a huge backlog – it was more than 160 000 at its peak. There can still be a delay of years before cases are heard, which means that tens of thousands of people have their lives put on hold. Those cases will inevitably include some of the most serious cases – cases of detention, torture and people who have had their fundamental rights denied.

Let me be clear: impressive steps are already being taken to filter out inadmissible cases more quickly. The Court should be congratulated on that. But a new problem is emerging. More and more of the backlog now comprises admissible cases that, according to current criteria, should be heard in full. Again, the Court is doing good work to deal with that. A system to prioritise the most important cases is in place, but the sheer volume risks urgent cases getting stuck in the queue. That means that the very purpose of the Court – to prevent the most serious violations of human rights – is under threat.

The flood of cases is linked to the second issue. The Court is properly safeguarding the right of individual petition, and that is a principle to which the United Kingdom is committed, but with that comes the risk of turning the Court into a court of the fourth instance, because there will already have been a first hearing in a court, a second hearing in an appeal court, and a third in a supreme or constitutional court. In effect, that gives an extra bite at the cherry to anyone who is dissatisfied with a domestic ruling, even when that judgment is reasonable, well founded and in line with the Convention.

Quite simply, the Court must be able to protect itself against spurious cases that have been dealt with at the national level. A good start has been made with Protocol No. 14, which makes it clear that cases are not admissible where there is no significant disadvantage to the applicant. The initial case in which that protocol has been used shows exactly what I mean. The applicant, in this case, took a bus company to court for €90 compensation because they felt that their journey from Bucharest to Madrid had not been as comfortable as advertised. One of the matters at issue was that the bus company did not provide fully reclining seats. Now, the domestic courts had turned him down, and he was taking the case to the Court. I think we can all agree that fully reclining seats would be most desirable on a trip from Bucharest to Madrid, but I think that we can also agree that it was a completely trivial case, and not the kind of case that should be heard here. The Court agreed with that, and rightly rejected the claim. That case underlines how important it is for the Court to have consistent power to control the cases that it admits.

I come to the third issue. The Court is, quite rightly, determined to ensure that consistent standards of rights are upheld across the 47 member States, but at times it has felt to us in national governments that what is called the margin of appreciation, which allows different interpretations of the Convention, has shrunk, and that not enough account is being taken of democratic decisions of national parliaments. I think that we should be frank about the fallout from this issue. As the margin of appreciation has shrunk, so the controversy has grown.

You will know that in the United Kingdom there is a lively debate about how human rights law works and how our national courts interact with Europe. Yes, some of this is misinterpretation, but some of this is credible democratic anxiety, as with the prisoner voting issue. I completely understand the Court’s belief that a national decision must be properly made, but in the end I believe that when such an issue has been subjected to proper, reasoned, democratic debate and has met with detailed scrutiny by national courts in line with the Convention, the decision should be treated with respect.

Another example of this issue – and one, I suspect, on which we can all agree – is the area of immigration. At Izmir, we collectively invited the Court to avoid intervening except in the most exceptional cases. All States agreed that the Court was, in some cases, too ready to substitute its judgments for those of reasonable national processes, and all agreed at Izmir that that was not the role of the Court. In other words, the Court should not see itself as an immigration tribunal.

Linked to that is the issue of terrorism. Protecting a country from terrorism is one of the most important tasks of any government. Again, no one should argue – I would never argue – that we defend our system of rights and freedoms by suspending those rights and freedoms, but we have a real problem when it comes to foreign nationals who threaten our security. In Britain, we have gone through all reasonable national processes, including painstaking international agreements on how they should be treated and scrutiny by our own courts, yet we are still unable to deport them.

It is not, therefore, that some people start asking questions about whether the current arrangements are sensible – of course, no decent country should deport people if they were to be tortured – but the problem today is that we can end up with someone who has no right to live in your country, whom you are convinced, and have good reason to be convinced, means to do your country harm, yet there are circumstances in which you cannot try them, detain them or deport them.

So having put in place every possible safeguard to ensure that the European Convention on Human Rights is not violated, we still cannot fulfil our duty to law-abiding citizens to protect them. Together, we have to find a solution to that. These concerns are shared by many member States, and at their heart is not antipathy to human rights, but anxiety that the concept of human rights is in danger of being distorted. As a result, for too many people the very concept of rights is in danger of slipping from something noble to something that can become discredited, and that should be of great concern to us all.

Upholding and promoting human rights is not something that governments and the Court can do alone – it is something that we need all our societies to be engaged with. When controversial rulings overshadow the good and patient long-term work that has been done, that not only fails to do justice to the work of the Court but has a corrosive effect on people’s support for human rights. The Court cannot afford to lose the confidence of the people of Europe.

Taken together, these issues threaten to shift the role of the Court away from its key objectives. The Court should be free to deal with the most serious violations of human rights. It should not be swamped with an endless backlog of cases. The Court should ensure that the right to individual petition counts, but it should not act as a small claims court.

The Court should hold us all to account; it should not undermine its own reputation by going over national decisions where it does not need to. For the sake of the 800 million people the Court serves, we need to reform it so that it is true to its original purpose. Already, 47 members are agreed on this, and great work has been done. We would like to use the chairmanship to progress that work. This is the right moment for reforms – reforms that are practical, sensible and that will, we believe, enhance the reputation of the Court.

We are looking to improve the efficiency of the Court; new rules could enable it to focus more efficiently and transparently on the most important cases. We ought to improve the procedures for nominating judges. The Assembly needs consistently strong shortlists from which to elect judges, and clear guidelines on national selection procedures could help with that. We are hoping to get consensus on strengthening subsidiarity, the principle that, where possible, final decisions should be made nationally.

It is, of course, correct that the Court should hold governments to account where they fail to protect human rights. In these instances, of course it is right for the Court to intervene, but what we are all striving for is that national governments should take primary responsibility for safeguarding their citizens’ rights, and that they should do that well. Subsidiarity is a fundamental principle of the convention, and at Izmir we were all clear that more needed to be done to give it practical effect. For that reason, we will shortly set out our proposals for pushing responsibility to the national system. In that way, we can free up the Court to concentrate on the worst, the most flagrant, human rights violations, and to challenge national courts when they clearly have not followed the Convention.

Of course, rebalancing this relationship is a two-way street. The other side of the deal is that members must get better at implementing the Convention at national level. That is why in the United Kingdom we are investigating the case for a Bill of Rights, and thoroughly examining the way in which our liberties are protected. Parliaments also have a key role and we are proud of the role that our Joint Committee on Human Rights plays. Of course, this Assembly makes a vital contribution, helping States to honour their obligations. Together, through these institutions, we can reduce the number of violations and ultimately ease the burden on the Court.

Let me finish by saying this: with this chairmanship we have a clear opportunity to agree a practical programme of reform. It should be built on the noble intentions of the Convention and it should be forged through consensus. It should be driven by a belief in fundamental human rights and a passion to advance them. This is undoubtedly a challenge, but I believe that it is a challenge we can meet together. Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT (Translation) – Thank you for your riveting statement. Now we have question time; you are well accustomed to this.

The first question is from Mr Volontč on behalf of the Group of the European People’s Party.

Mr VOLONTČ (Italy) – One of the most important political actions of your government is the promotion of subsidiarity, which you call the big society – the responsibility of each person, each family and each local community, the three fundamental values of every Council of Europe member State. How is work going, particularly concerning a new family policy to define your government’s priorities after the acts of vandalism in August?

THE PRESIDENT (Translation) – Would you like to answer that question, Mr Cameron?

Mr CAMERON – I strongly believe that if you want to achieve social change, improve the state of your society and build a stronger country, you cannot rely on government alone. The concept of the big society is simply asking what we, as individuals, parents, businesses and local organisations, can do to solve complex social problems and make the country a stronger place. It consists of encouraging philanthropy, obviously, but it is also about devolving power to the lowest level so that community organisations, community groups, local government – what I would call the little platoons that make up society – are capable of delivering that change. We are passing legislation in our parliament to empower small local organisations and give them greater control in our country.

Part of it is also about trying to strengthen families – the building block of a strong and good society. We should be looking at all the ways in which we can bolster and build up families. When we think, as you put in your question, about what happened on the streets of the United Kingdom last August, we know that there is a response involving crime, policing, punishment and court cases, but we also know that there is a role for accepting that in the end it is families, not the State, who bring up children and we need to help them with the vital work that they do.

THE PRESIDENT (Translation) – Thank you. The next question is from Mr Michel on behalf of the Socialist Group.

Mr MICHEL (France) asked whether the United Kingdom Government would implement the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights immediately and completely. Problems with the administration of the Court should not be used as an excuse to question its jurisdiction.

THE PRESIDENT (Translation) – Would you like to answer that question, Mr Cameron?

Mr CAMERON – Whether in the context of the European Union or the Council of Europe and the ECHR, Britain has always been pretty prompt at putting into place the judgments and laws that we are required to implement. We may have a reputation for complaining about these things, and for questioning whether this European law is really necessary and this regulation is something that we want to do in the context of the European Union, but when it comes to which countries put those laws in place, or indeed puts in place the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights, I would argue that we are pretty fast in doing so. We have a pretty fundamental approach towards the rule of law, which is that you should not sign up to things that you are not subsequently prepared to put into your own legal system. So I think that we have a fairly good record on that and I would challenge the point that you put.

THE PRESIDENT (Translation) – The next question is from Mr Seyidov on behalf of the European Democrat Group.

Mr SEYIDOV (Azerbaijan) – I welcome you to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. In our group, there is a large number of representatives from different European countries including the United Kingdom, Russia, Georgia and Azerbaijan. I am from Azerbaijan, and despite the fact that we are representatives of different cultures, we are fighting for common European values. In your previous speeches you have expressed your opinion concerning multiculturalism. Could you clarify your understanding of this phenomenon?

THE PRESIDENT (Translation) – Would you like to answer that question, Mr Cameron?

Mr CAMERON – Thank you for that welcome. I made a speech in Germany last year trying to explain what I felt about this. Britain is a very good example of a country that is a successful multiracial democracy. People from all over the world and communities from all parts of the world live in Britain with full rights and full participation. I think we have demonstrated how you can tackle racism and have people from different cultures and countries living together.

However, on the journey we have made, we have sometimes made mistakes. In the speech I gave last year, I said there was a time when we had an approach that I would refer to as State multiculturalism: it was almost as if the State were encouraging people from different countries and cultures, instead of trying to integrate more and build a new home together. The State was almost treating them as separate cultures and entities in the country. That approach has been a mistake, so when I say that State multiculturalism has



failed, I am not in any way saying that the idea and the delivery of a multiracial democracy is not possible. It is not just possible – we in Britain are showing how it can and should be done, as are many of the countries represented here. However, it should not be done through treating people as representatives of different blocs.

The Chief Rabbi in Britain has it particularly well when he said: we are not trying to create a series of different, segmented houses; we should be focusing on a home that we are building together. That also delivers a message that those people who come to live in your country are not just expected to assimilate into your culture: they are bringing something to your country that is going to be different and will benefit you as you build something positive together. So I say yes to the building in Britain of a multiracial democracy, but I say no to State multiculturalism that treats people as members of groups. We should treat our citizens as citizens – as individuals with full rights – rather than just thinking that they belong to a different bloc.

THE PRESIDENT (Translation) – The next question is from Ms Lundgren, who will speak on behalf of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.

Ms LUNDGREN (Sweden) – Mr Prime Minister, we welcome the Lisbon Treaty, which provides a legal obligation for the European Union’s accession to the European Convention on Human Rights. We noted the intense negotiations that have taken place since June 2010, showing that the complex technical and legal issues can be resolved. What is needed now is clear and unequivocal political commitment on the part of the 27 European Union member States. Why is there a perception that your government is blocking this process?

THE PRESIDENT (Translation) – Thank you. Would you like to answer that question, Mr Cameron?

Mr CAMERON – We are not blocking the process, but it is important to recognise that the European Union’s accession to the Council of Europe and the European Convention on Human Rights is an important step, and a new and different step. It is the first time that an organisation, rather than a country, has joined, so there are some complex questions that have to be worked through. Britain and other European countries that are signatories to the Lisbon Treaty are committed to answering those questions and working this through.

This perhaps goes back to the question I answered earlier. It may be boring, but we in Britain are great believers that you have to try to answer these questions in advance of signing up to something, and that is exactly the process that we are going through at the moment.

THE PRESIDENT (Translation) – The next question is from Mr Kox, on behalf of the Group of the Unified European Left.

Mr KOX (Netherlands) – Thank you, Prime Minister, for your passionate speech on human rights. In times of crisis – when there is an austerity policy, or a wish for speedier decision making – human rights can come under severe pressure. How do you view this threat, and how can we deal with it in order to uphold social and democratic human rights, especially in times of crisis?

THE PRESIDENT (Translation) – Thank you. Would you like to answer that question, Mr Cameron?

Mr CAMERON – Thank you. I think you make an important point. Post-9/11, we have all seen, perhaps particularly in western Europe, huge pressures on governments in dealing with the terrorist threat. It is important to remember how people and politicians felt in the immediate aftermath of those days, and the measures many European governments felt it necessary to take to safeguard their populations. This goes exactly to the point you are making: what is it in a system that helps us to make sure that governments do not overstep the mark and do not override important human rights concerns? That is where, clearly, there is an important role for the European Convention on Human Rights and for what our domestic courts do.

However, there is a balance to that as well, as shown in the examples I gave. I do believe that you have to have an answer to the issue of the deportation of foreign nationals who come to your country who have no right to be there, and who are threatening your country. You have to be able to try them, deport them or detain them – you have to have an answer. You have to be able to do something to protect your people, and I fear that, at the moment, we do not have a good enough answer, which is why I raised that case. However, I completely agree with you: you need to make sure that government is government under the law, and there are times when governments – even governments with long democratic traditions – can overstep that line. It is important that you have legal and other processes, and checks and balances in your constitution, to prevent that from happening.

THE PRESIDENT (Translation) – The next question is from Mr Reiss.

Mr REISS (France) noted that the United Kingdom had supported President Chirac’s 2005 proposal for a tax on plane tickets, and asked whether the United Kingdom would similarly support President Sarkozy’s proposals for a tax on financial market transactions.

THE PRESIDENT (Translation) – Thank you. Would you like to answer that question, Mr Cameron?

Mr CAMERON – I certainly agree with President Sarkozy that we should ask the financial sector and banks to make a fair contribution to the deficit reduction and fiscal programmes that we all have in our countries. In Britain, we have a financial transaction tax of a sort: we have stamp duty on share dealings, and yet we have one of the busiest stock markets anywhere in the world. So, I recommend this tax to other countries that want to tax their financial institutions more. We have introduced a bank levy, so we are taking about Ł2.5 billion off our banks every year. Again, this is an approach that works.

The problem I have with the financial transaction tax is that, unless it is applied everywhere in the world, it will drive the activity to jurisdictions that do not have the tax. You do not have to believe me: the European Commission has produced an excellent report pointing out that this tax could cost European Union countries more than 400 000 jobs. At a time when we are trying to pay down our deficits, get our economies growing and make sure there are jobs and employment in our countries, doing something that our own organisation, the European Commission, says would cost more than 400 000 jobs is an extraordinary thing to do.

I have great regard for Nicolas Sarkozy. We work very closely together on many issues, Libya included, but on this issue, we do not agree. Unless this tax were applied everywhere in the world, it would have the effects that I mentioned, and that would cost jobs and cost investment in our own countries. Therefore, I think that would be a mistake.

THE PRESIDENT (Translation) – The next question is from Mr Agramunt.

Mr AGRAMUNT (Spain) asked what was the United Kingdom’s position with regard to the following: the European Union, the Schengen Agreement, the European Monetary Union and the decolonisation process.

THE PRESIDENT (Translation) – Thank you. Would you like to answer that question, Mr Cameron?

Mr CAMERON – On the issue of the Schengen treaty and the monetary union treaty, Britain is not part of either the single currency or the Schengen no-borders agreement, and we do not believe that it is in our national interests to be so. We think we should look after our own borders and we think we have some advantages from doing that.

Obviously, I want the countries in the single currency to sort out the problems and issues around the euro at the moment, but Britain is not a member and is not going to join. We think that we are fully capable of having our own currency and our own arrangements and of setting our own interest rates to suit our own economic needs. At the moment, with all the difficulties that we face, I think that that is more important than usual.

I am not sure whether the last part of your question was on Gibraltar or the issue of the Falklands, which has been raised recently. I have a very clear view: we should stand for self-determination, and as long as people in a part of the world that is part of the United Kingdom, effectively, want to remain with that status, far from being decolonialisation, it would actually be recolonialisation to go against their wishes, and that is the case in all those instances.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Cameron. The next question is from Mr Omtzigt.

Mr OMTZIGT (Netherlands) – Thank you for a clear speech in which you rightly placed on our member States the onus of taking a stance on the European Convention on Human Rights. How do you think Russia is implementing the Convention in general and in a particular case, the Magnitski case? In that case, someone was beaten to death after 358 days in detention, and numerous pieces of research indicate that he was tortured to death. Will you help the Russians to open a dialogue on how a proper investigation and a proper prosecution can be conducted?

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. Mr Cameron, would you like to answer that question?

Mr CAMERON – The case that you have raised is extremely important. I raised the subject of such cases recently when I went to Moscow and met President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin. Cases such as the Litvinenko case in the United Kingdom and the Magnitski case in Russia are important, and clearly more progress needs to be made. I do not think that any country – whether it is France, Britain, Germany, Spain or Italy – should hesitate to engage with Russia and to have a relationship with Russia and its government, but the flip side of that is that we should never be coy about raising those important cases and pointing out that we all have an obligation to secure human rights and dignity in our own countries. We should raise those cases with other countries as well, and I have done so.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Cameron. The next question is from Mr Vrettos.

Mr VRETTOS (Greece) – Illegal migration to Europe, mainly southern Europe, has increased dramatically during the last three or four years. Given the burden that that places on our societies and all the ramifications that it entails, do you not think that the European Union should shape and pursue new policies based on solidarity and the need for countries to share the burden of an unavoidable humanitarian phenomenon?

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. Mr Cameron, would you like to answer that question?

Mr CAMERON – That issue often arises at European Council meetings. It is clear that the burden of migratory pressures has increased in recent years, and that it has had a particular impact on Italy and Greece. Malta also incurred a huge burden at the time of the events in Libya.

I think that there is a role for the European Union, and FRONTEX has played an important role. However, before we become involved in arguments about burden-sharing, we should look at the most recent figures showing which countries have borne the greatest burden in terms of the number of asylum seekers. They are northern European countries such as Britain, Sweden and Holland. I think that we should invest in the front end in trying to deal with the migration issue, rather than jumping on to the idea of burden-sharing, not least because countries might initially think that burden-sharing would suit them and later discover that that was not the case.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Cameron. The next question is from Mr Harangozó.

Mr HARANGOZÓ (Hungary) – In November, the Hungarian media reported that the Hungarian Government and your governing Conservative party were to establish a joint working group to examine the similar governmental measures in our two countries. In which fields would close co-operation apply? May I also ask whether you would encourage new and emerging democracies to follow Prime Minister Orbán’s example and consolidate democracy and the rule of law?

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. Mr Cameron, would you like to answer that question?

Mr CAMERON – Britain and Hungary clearly have some common interests, including completing the single market in Europe, trying to establish growth in Europe, and trying to ensure that the trade agreements that Europe fixes with other, faster-growing parts of the world are concluded swiftly. The Hungarian Prime Minister and I have had, and will continue to have, discussions about those matters. Hungary currently has differences with the European Union over rights and democracy. Those will have to be resolved, and I am sure that they will be.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Cameron. The next question is from Ms Zohrabyan.

Ms ZOHRABYAN (Armenia) said that the United Kingdom was one of the largest investors in the Azerbaijani economy. Given that the Government of Azerbaijan was attempting to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict by force, was the United Kingdom worried that their investment in Azerbaijan might be used to re-launch the war?

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. Mr Cameron, would you like to answer that question?

Mr CAMERON – Obviously we do not want that to happen. We are supporters of the Minsk Group and the process that is under way to try solve the issues surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh. We hope that Armenia and Azerbaijan will be able to get together and do that.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Cameron. The next question is from Mr Nikoloski.

Mr NIKOLOSKI (“The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”) – The United Kingdom is one of the most prominent members of NATO. As you know, the Republic of Macedonia was invited to the 2008 NATO summit, but the Greek Government vetoed its attendance. Can Macedonia expect an invitation to the Chicago summit this year, given the decision of the International Court of Justice that Greece has no lawful right to rule on NATO membership of the Republic of Macedonia?

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. Mr Cameron, would you like to answer that question?

Mr CAMERON – I support Macedonian membership of NATO and the European Union. I think that you are taking steps to embed democracy and the market economy in your country, and I think that we should be open to your membership of those important international organisations as part of that process. I know that there is ongoing debate and concern about the name. I hope that that can be resolved, and that the Greeks can see the situation from the viewpoint that they have things that your country wants. They are members of NATO and the European Union. They have those advantages. Membership has been helpful to their country just as it can be helpful to yours, and I hope that a resolution can be found that will give both countries the dignity that they require over the naming issue.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Cameron. The next question is from Ms Mogherini Rebesani.

Ms MOGHERINI REBESANI (Italy) – So far, you and your government have said no to many different European proposals for ending the economic crisis, last but not least the new European Union treaty and the financial transaction tax. What are your concrete proposals for solving the global crisis for which finance is largely responsible, and which has had such dramatic effects on people’s rights and dignity?

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. Mr Cameron, would you like to answer that question?

Mr CAMERON – I do not accept for a minute that we have said no to any proposal that would help Europe to escape from its current difficulties, and I cannot see for a moment how a European financial transaction tax that is not imposed on the rest of the world could work. It might make us feel good for five minutes, but it would result in businesses and jobs relocating in other parts of the world outside Europe. It would cost us jobs and investment. I cannot remotely see what it could ever have to do with growing the European economy, and growth is what we need today. We need jobs for our young people, and we need investment. We need people to invest in the European Union rather than taking their investment out of it.

I believe that Britain plays an important role in Europe in pushing forward the things that would really make a difference. If we completed the single market, it would give a big boost to our economies and to jobs. The same would apply if we completed a single market in energy and in services. If we signed free trade treaties with India, South America, Canada and the United States, that too would make a difference. All those things are very much on the British agenda. I hope that we will be able to achieve some of them at the European Council on 30 January, and more during the rest of the year. We have a very positive and very engaged agenda.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Cameron. The next question is from Mr Avital, observer from Israel.

Mr AVITAL (Israel) – As the representative of the Israeli Parliament, I am naturally keen to know your thoughts about the Middle East. The Middle East is no longer a code name only for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, however crucial and important that may be. It now stretches from the Maghreb countries through Egypt and Jordan, and the unrest in Syria and Lebanon, all the way to the Iranian nuclear threat. How do you prioritise your concerns in the context of the Middle East?

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. Mr Cameron, would you like to answer that question?

Mr CAMERON – It is probably a mistake to prioritise such things in a “one, two, three, four” sense. It is not a good idea to pronounce on whether the Iranian nuclear issue is more important than another issue. We need to deal with all those issues. We need to put the maximum pressure on Iran to change its path and not to go down the road towards nuclear arms. We need to do all that we can to persuade Israel and the Palestinian Authority to continue the talks that started in Jordan and to resolve that process.

One very sensible remark was made to me. I was told that if we want to heal many of the problems and divisions that have affected the Middle East in the past, we should start with the fact that al-Qaeda has come under enormous pressure and bin Laden is no more. That is stage one. We can see stage two in the Arab Spring and the growth of democracy and freedom in countries that have been condemned to dictatorship for years. Stage three would be a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict – a two-state solution with Israelis and Palestinians living alongside each other. If we achieve those three things in the early part of this century, we would have a more prosperous and more peaceful Middle East for everyone to enjoy.

THE PRESIDENT – The next question is from Ms Vėsaitė.

Ms VĖSAITĖ (Lithuania) – Honourable Prime Minister, I have a feeling that the world is governed not by democratically elected parliaments and governments, but by the banks – and the majority of them are situated in London. My question is: What is your recipe for reconstructing the financial markets so that they invest not in casino games, but in the real economy?

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. Would you like to answer the question, Mr Cameron?

Mr CAMERON – It is right to reform our financial institutions, and the British Government is doing precisely that. We started by ensuring that they make a fair contribution, which is what the bank levy is about. We had a major review, and we are going to separate the investment arms – what could be called the casino arms – from the commercial, lending parts of the banks, so that one is not threatened by the other. We also need much better regulation of our banks – not just in respect of the products they sell, but in the sense of macro-prudential regulation. That means the regulation of the level of borrowing in the economy.

I think the mistake made in Britain, and perhaps in other parts of the world too, was that there was not a sufficiently clear view about the massive over-leverage that was taking place. To be fair, it was not just the banks, as it also affected governments and households. It was this triple leverage that got so many of our economies into trouble.

It is not right to say, however, that everything is the responsibility of the banks. Many governments spent too much, borrowed too much and did not think enough about the future. We should not fall conveniently into the trap of thinking that we can blame the banks for everything and let all the politicians off the hook. We have to recognise that some of the problems that we face in Europe include not just over-indebted banks, but over-indebted governments. We need to deal with both of those problems. Even when we have dealt with over-indebted governments – this is one of the big arguments at the heart of the eurozone at the moment – we have to recognise that the other deficit that matters in Europe is not each country’s budget deficit but the trade deficit of countries that are in the eurozone but not coping with its competitive pressures. That is a real part of the pressure at the heart of the system. If we think that taxing the banks some more and having austerity programmes for governments and others will solve the problems of the eurozone, we are making a very big mistake.

THE PRESIDENT – The next question is from Mr Leigh.

Mr LEIGH (United Kingdom) – Welcome to Strasbourg, Prime Minister. Is it not a problem that, as designed by its founders, the Convention was about how to deal with totalitarian governments? For instance, in the original Convention, the right of prisoners to vote was deliberately excluded. Now, however, the Court sees the Convention as a “living instrument”, so it is pursuing democratic governments and preventing them from carrying out the democratic wishes of their own people, instead of concentrating on real abuses in Europe.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. Would you like to answer the question Mr Cameron?

Mr CAMERON – Thank you for your welcome. Having done Prime Minister’s Questions in the United Kingdom Parliament at 12 o’clock this morning, I must say that this is a far more civilised atmosphere – perhaps there are some lessons we can learn there! I do not entirely agree with the point about the European Convention. As I said in my speech, the Council of Europe and the Convention grew up at a time when Europe had to deal with recovering from totalitarianism and appalling acts against humanity. That was the original conception of the Court and the Council. As I said in response to Mr Omtzigt earlier, it is a living business in that some countries in Europe are going to have more routine abuses of human rights on which the Court should focus its attention, yet in all countries there are pressures on democratic politicians to take steps and measures, and we should all believe in a government under the rule of law. That is a profound point for all who believe in democracy and rights. Of course, the ECHR can have a role in overseeing that.

Now the focus should be on the most egregious breaches of human rights and on the countries and governments where that is happening the most. As I say, we should accept governments under the rule of law and the ECHR is part of that as I set out in my speech. Together, we can make some real improvements. This is an Organisation of complete unanimity; change will not happen unless we all agree. I hope that what I have shown today is that this change will come from a spirit whereby we want human rights to succeed and to thrive right across the European continent. We are acting in good faith to try to get reforms that will make this a reality.

THE PRESIDENT – The next question is from Mr Kaikkonen.

Mr KAIKKONEN (Finland) – I would like to put to you the same question that I put to President Tarja Halonen, as I would like to hear your opinion. If you look at a Europe from a global point of view, from outside, what does it look like?

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. Would you like to answer the question, Mr Cameron?

Mr CAMERON – The honest answer is that it is a picture of two parts. People can look at Europe from the outside and they see democracy, great freedoms, a commitment to human rights – some of the things we have talked about today – and shared European values. We saw them last year and many other countries aspire to them. That is the positive part of the picture. The negative part of the picture is the economic picture. Right across Europe, we see slow growth or no growth. We see rising unemployment, particularly youth unemployment, and we see economies that are struggling when other parts of the world – the Brazils, Indias, Chinas are growing very rapidly. That provides a challenge to our politicians, our leaders, our governments and, indeed, to our whole countries: are we prepared to allow Europe to stagnate economically while holding on to our excellent democratic and liberal values, or are we prepared to take the steps that will mean us having another great European century? I think we have to take those steps.

We have many things going for us economically; we have some of the best universities in the world; we are incredibly inventive and creative; we have some of the most extraordinary companies in all sorts of different sectors from pharmaceuticals to aerospace; we have the single market, which is the biggest in the world. We just need the political will to make the most of it, to take down the barriers, to get rid of the regulations, to make it easier to start a business, to make it easier to employ people, to make it more possible to grow, expand and succeed – as European countries have done in centuries past. I do not think that the dream of an economically successful Europe as well as a democratically developed Europe is over, but it is going to take a lot of boldness and courage at a time when the European economy is struggling and other parts of the world are growing. I am an optimist, not a pessimist. We know what the solutions to these problems are; we just need the boldness to grab them.

THE PRESIDENT – The next question is from Ms Bakir.

Ms BAKIR (Turkey) – The new law passed by the French Senate this week makes it a criminal offence to question publicly some disputed events during the First World War. The law relates to freedom of expression, the right to individual opinions and to conduct independent academic research on history. It is a political exploitation of history before the elections in France. What is your point of view on this new French law, which curtails a fundamental human right to freedom of expression? Should national parliaments legislate on history?

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. Would you like to answer the question, Mr Cameron?

Mr CAMERON – I think it is difficult to comment on another country’s laws which are passed by its parliament. In the United Kingdom, we have on occasion passed legislation that has looked back – making it possible to prosecute people for appalling war crimes, for example. I think that was the right thing to do. Our position on the issue raised is clear. Appalling things happened to the Armenian people; appalling atrocities were committed. It is important to state that, but we have to live in the present. I believe that trying to fashion stronger relationships between Turkey and all members of the European Union is in all our interests. Turkey is key to meeting many of the challenges that we face in the world, such as securing economic growth in Europe – an important topic, that we have just been talking about – or tackling the threat of terror and nuclear-armed States in the Middle East. If we want to demonstrate how Muslim, Christian, Jew, Hindu and Sikh can all live together, having a predominantly Muslim Turkey inside the European Union is the right thing to do. I therefore profoundly believe that we should work on the relationship between Turkey and all European States, but in the end it is up to each individual European State, including France, to make up its own mind about how to approach that. My commitment is very clear: I think the British-Turkish relationship is strong, and stronger than it has been for many years, and I am committed to further strengthening it.

THE PRESIDENT (Translation) – The last question is from Mr Assaf, Palestinian National Authority, Partner for Democracy.

Mr ASSAF (Palestinian National Authority) – Mr Prime Minister, your meeting with Mr Mahmoud Abbas a week or so ago left Mr Abbas quite pleased and satisfied. It has raised our people’s hopes that the United Kingdom might be more assertive in pursuing the two-state solution. What specific steps might the United Kingdom take? Secondly, in October last year this Assembly called on all the Arabian countries who were members of the Security Council to vote in favour of the Palestinian state. What is the United Kingdom’s position on this?

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. Would you like to answer that question, Mr Cameron?

Mr CAMERON – Yes, I am afraid this will have to be the last question. Thank you for that question. It is good that we have now struck a balance as we have had one Israeli question and one Palestinian question.

Our position is very clear. We are strong supporters of the two-state solution. We want to see Israel democratic, secure and safe within its borders, and a new State of Palestine that can be a proper home for the Palestinian people. We will do everything we can to help bring that about. That is why I met President Abbas earlier this year. I also spoke to Prime Minister Netanyahu yesterday. The key this year is that talks have started in Jordan. We want those talks to continue. The problem is that those of us who want to see a solution to this issue cannot want it more than you two both want it. We need to do everything we can to encourage both sides to sit at that table and talk. I think that for the Israelis that means confidence-building measures so that the Palestinians know that they are negotiating with someone in good faith who wants to find a solution, and I think that for the Palestinians it means not setting out too many preconditions before the talks start.

In the end, the only way you can resolve the final-status issues – whether about Jerusalem, the right to return, or swaps – is by the Palestinians and the Israelis sitting down and talking to each other. All the rest of us can do is try to help bring that about. That is the commitment from Britain, a good friend of Israel, a good friend of the Palestinian people, and a supporter of the two-state solution, but we want you to talk this year, because every year that goes by is a year in which we miss the chance of a solution that would drain so much poison from our world and give the Palestinian people the homeland they deserve.

THE PRESIDENT (Translation) – That brings an end to the questions to Mr Cameron. I thank you most warmly for your address and for the quality of the answers that you have given. That confirms what I said earlier: I think that you are a great tennis player. Have a safe journey home.

(Ms de Pourbaix-Lundin, Vice-President of the Assembly, took the Chair in place of Mr Mignon.)

5. The honouring of obligations and commitments by Serbia

THE PRESIDENT – The next order of business this afternoon is the debate on the report on “The honouring of obligations and commitments by Serbia” presented by Mr Harutyunyan and Mr Saar on behalf of the Monitoring Committee, Document 12813.

I remind the Assembly that we have already agreed to limit speaking times this afternoon to three minutes.

To leave sufficient time for the next debate and to allow time for responses in this debate and for voting, we will have to interrupt the list of speakers in this debate at about 7 p.m.

The arrangements are agreed.

I first call Mr Harutyunyan, co-rapporteur. You and Mr Saar have 13 minutes in total, which you may divide between presentation of the report and reply to the debate.

Mr HARUTYUNYAN (Armenia) – Dear colleagues, the report details the changes made in Serbia since 2009, when the Assembly adopted Resolution 1661 (2009). During this period, three visits were organised to the country and I can report to the Assembly that Serbia has over the past two years made significant progress towards complying with Council of Europe standards and norms by steadily implementing any obligations and commitments.

In the last resolution on Serbia, the Assembly invited the Serbian authorities to draw up a road map addressing the implementation of the outstanding obligations and commitments in respect of co-operation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, as well as the functioning of democratic institutions, the rule of law and human rights.

We thank the Serbian delegation for its continued co-operation, and particularly for the submission and periodic update of the road map, which became a practical tool for the Serbian authorities and the Monitoring Committee to develop a common vision of the evolution of the monitoring process. The report was prepared at a crucial moment for Serbia, which has been striving to join the European Union. That aspiration also served to boost the reform process and led to the adoption of an impressive number of laws addressing many requirements listed in our resolutions. The report acknowledges the great progress that Serbia has achieved in just a few years, while also identifying the key remaining commitments that are yet to be fulfilled, with a view to considering the launch of a post-monitoring dialogue with Serbia.

Let me list the key achievements. First, Serbia played a positive and constructive role in the stabilisation of the region. Over the past three years, Serbia has significantly enhanced its relationships with neighbouring countries, and the National Assembly of Serbia played an important role in that process.

Secondly, Serbia has deployed considerable efforts, in conjunction with Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro, to reach a durable long-term solution for the return of refugees and displaced persons.

Thirdly, Serbia actively co-operated with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and succeeded in arresting two indicted war crime fugitives.

Fourthly, in accordance with requests from this Assembly and the Venice Commission, the Serbian Parliament reformed the electoral law and abolished the so-called “party administrated mandates” and the “blank resignation”.

Fifthly, an impressive number of laws, particularly in the field of human rights, were adopted. But of course adoption of the laws is just a first step; their proper implementation is no less important. In this regard, we were impressed by the efforts to set up independent regulatory mechanisms, such as the office of the ombudsman and the commissioner for the protection of equality, both of which have tangible input into the decision-making process. Finally, I would like to mention one more field on a positive note. All requested conventions, except the Madrid Convention on Transfrontier Co-operation, were ratified.

Dear colleagues, no democracy is perfect. Many issues related to the functioning of democratic institutions would most certainly need to be looked at in the frameworks of the post-monitoring dialogue. However, we propose to focus our attention on the key issues that must be addressed by Serbia to close the monitoring process. The first is the setting up of an independent justice system. The reform of the judiciary still has to be completed. That concerns, in particular, the review of the cases of several hundred non-elected judges. Despite new rules adopted in May 2011, there are still questions about whether the process is being conducted in a fair and transparent manner. Two weeks ago, the ombudsman issued an opinion warning that in its current composition the High Judicial Council is reaching illegitimate decisions owing to the lack of a quorum. We will follow the finalisation of this process, but that might still take some time.

Secondly, the question of the media still needs to be addressed. Issues of concern are: the repeated violence against journalists, especially investigative journalists; problems related to non-transparent media ownership; unfair competition in very small markets; the funding and thus the independence of the media; and self-censorship by a growing number of badly paid journalists. The new media strategy recently adopted will need to be put in practice in line with Council of Europe standards.

Thirdly, corruption is still far too widespread and is like gangrene on many spheres of society. We have some concerns about whether the cases of corruption are duly prosecuted when they are known. The country recently adopted a law on the funding of political activities, but we doubt that sufficient means were allocated to monitor the effective implementation of the law and to apply sanctions in case of its violation. In our opinion, the role of the anti-corruption agency and the anti-corruption council should be clarified and strengthened.

Fourthly, there is the fight against discrimination and the protection of the rights of minorities. We have already mentioned, on a positive note, the increasing role of the ombudsman and the commissioner for the protection of equality. Nevertheless, the protection of the rights of minorities and the fight against discrimination are still far from being won. We remain especially concerned about the situation of the Roma community, which has, despite steps taken by the authorities, insufficient access to education, housing and social rights, and faces multiple discrimination.

Dear colleagues, in anticipation of your interventions, I would like to address one issue: Kosovo. It is probably better to answer this possible question now: why was Kosovo not covered in the report? It was not covered because this issue is being dealt with by the Political Affairs Committee. However, in our report, Serbia is invited to continue its dialogue with Pristina by peaceful and diplomatic means in the framework of the monitoring procedure.

At the same time, we cannot ignore the fact that the issue of Kosovo impacts on the domestic politics and has had a negative impact on the integration process in the European Union. Last summer’s developments are presented in the explanatory memorandum in paragraphs 23 to 38. Paragraph 5 condemns the violent events, and welcomes the continuation of the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, as well as the agreement reached so far. In Paragraph 6, we reiterate the position adopted by the Assembly in 2009.

Dear colleagues, in light of the aforementioned observations, we propose that the Assembly encourage Serbia to pursue its reform process and to work on the four areas mentioned above, which are essential to pave the way for the post-monitoring dialogue with Serbia. As I have said, those four areas are: the judiciary, the fight against corruption, the media and the fight against discrimination. The new parliament and government, to be elected in 2012, should be encouraged to continue the reform process, with a view to fulfilling the Council of Europe obligations and commitments, and to further adopt and effectively implement the newly adopted legislation, strategies and action plans. Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT – Before I give the floor to Mr Saar, I ask Mr Gaudi Nagy to remove the flag from his table. It is against the rules and is an indignity to the Assembly. I call Mr Gaudi Nagy on a point of order.

Mr GAUDI NAGY (Hungary) – I am a human rights lawyer, and I do not think that my having a flag on the table should make people uncomfortable. This a free Assembly. We are talking about democracy and the rule of law. I do not want to bother anyone. I am keen to listen to this debate, and I would like to take part. I do not want my flag to make anyone uncomfortable – I do not want to hurt anyone – but I think that it is a normal thing. We are in Europe. I do not want to bother anyone. I am a little bit embarrassed, because I do not know any kind of rule in the rules of procedure that prohibits –

THE PRESIDENT – You are out of time. You have spoken for too long already. It is an indignity to the Assembly. We do not have any symbols here. No one else has a symbol, so please take the flag down. We shall continue, and I hope that you obey me. Please take it down.

I now call Mr Saar, the co-rapporteur. You have five minutes, 11 seconds remaining.

Mr SAAR (Estonia) – I would like to thank the Serbian delegation for their co-operation and other colleagues for their input to the report. Given that my colleague, Davit, made such an exhaustive speech, I can only say that I am fully in harmony with his words. I shall not add anything else.

THE PRESIDENT – You and your co-rapporteur have a total of four-and-a-half minutes remaining. I now call Lord Anderson, who will speak on behalf of the Socialist Group. I remind colleagues that the speaking time is three minutes.

Lord ANDERSON (United Kingdom) – Ms President, I offer the warmest congratulations to our harmonious co-rapporteurs on their serious report, which in my judgment is basically fair. Certainly, there are shortcomings in Serbia. As pointed out, there are corruption and problems with the judiciary and media, but let us be honest: there are faults in every Council of Europe country, including my own. For example, one of Serbia’s neighbours, a Council of Europe country, is currently accused of sliding towards authoritarianism, and another of its neighbours, about to join the European Union, is prosecuting its former prime minister for corruption.

The truth is that there is a positive dynamic in Serbia, which we hope will be maintained. In passing, I would like to praise President Tadić for visiting Srebrenica and Vukovar. It is most important that we, as politicians, understand the sensitivities of other countries and look at the direction of travel, and refrain from imposing conditions beyond the reach of those countries, at least at the moment. In respect of Serbia, we must understand its painful past. In time, Serbia must clearly recognise Kosovo, but it will take time. Just as Serbia has not recognised Kosovo, however, so many European Union and Council of Europe countries have not yet recognised it. Everyone recognises that all we can ask is that Serbia engages in a dialogue on the issue in good faith and implements – this is the important point made by the co-rapporteurs – agreement is reached. Yes, the report is positive, but am I right in saying that it is marginally less positive than the Commission report? Cannot a plausible case be made that Serbia is at a similar stage of democratic development along with a number of other countries which are members of the Council of Europe?

Let us, like the co-rapporteurs, praise the progress made and look forward to the time when Serbia is no longer subject to our monitoring.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. I call next Mr Donaldson on behalf of the European Democrat Group.

Mr DONALDSON (United Kingdom) – I would like to add to the words of congratulations that have been offered to the rapporteurs on their report. I had the opportunity to spend a few days in Belgrade last week and found a wide range of Serbian opinion, including from representatives of the Albanian minority in Serbia. I agree with the rapporteurs that significant progress has been made by Serbia in honouring its obligations and commitments. However, my discussion with a member of the Serbian Parliament representing the Albanian minority suggested that there is still some work to be done in addressing minority rights, including investment in infrastructure, further recognition of educational qualifications and improving access to state jobs for Albanians.

Much of my dialogue concentrated on the situation with Kosovo. In this regard, we feel that more can be done to improve co-operation. Indeed, I am struck by the need for an enhanced process of dialogue between the various States in the south-east Europe region, including Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia, as well as Kosovo, of course. The purpose of this dialogue would be to promote greater reconciliation and co-operation. Such dialogue is essential to ensuring the stability of the region. Equally, Serbia has a key role to play in this process, and this needs to be recognised by everyone. Assisting Serbia to complete the process towards candidate status for the European Union is crucial to ensuring the establishment of regional stability. Treating Serbia as some kind of pariah, as some may desire, is not in the strategic interests of anyone and certainly not of the neighbouring States or the stability of the region.

I learned in Belgrade that Serbia has continuing concerns about what President Tadić has described as the problems in Kosovo, particularly of the rights of Serbs living in the enclaves in mid and south Kosovo, and of course in north Kosovo, where we have recently seen incidents of violence. Equally, Kosovo has a range of outstanding issues that need to be resolved, not least of which is its participation in the relevant international and regional bodies.

As someone who was previously involved in the peace process in Northern Ireland, I recognise the importance of an inclusive process of dialogue as a basis for achieving reconciliation. Inclusivity is important and strong leadership is essential for Serbia and for the region. While much has been achieved, so much more is required. We encourage the rapporteurs to continue in their work. Let us all assist Serbia and the other states in the region to achieve stability and peace for their part of Europe.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. I call now Ms Beck, who speaks on behalf of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.

Ms BECK (Germany) thanked the rapporteurs for the report and said it was excellent to hear good news for a change.

The monitoring process gave a positive view of Serbia’s route to membership of the European Union. In particular, reforms of the Serbian Parliament and the judicial and legal system were positive. However, issues remained. One such issue was corruption, although this problem was not unique to Serbia or indeed new democracies in general. Northern Kosovo also had a role to play. She was particularly aware of the situation having recently visited German Kfor troops in Northern Kosovo. One of them had been injured. Both ethnic Albanians and ethnic Serbs were involved in organised crime, and the rule of law needed to be applied in the area.

The Serbian Government was now working with the Albanian Government to try to achieve good neighbourly relations, something that was essential if Serbia was to be able to join the European Union. This was a difficult process and one that had to be addressed by the current government, even though it had nothing to do with the Milošević regime. In particular, surrendering part of the territory was a difficult matter and one that Germany itself had experienced when the German Democrat Republic was formed. However, it was an important matter for Serbia to tackle in order to become part of the European Union.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. I call now Mr Papadimoulis who speaks on behalf of the Group of the Unified European Left.

Mr PAPADIMOULIS (Greece) congratulated the Monitoring Committee on its excellent work and noted Serbia’s progress in recent years, in particular since the adoption of Resolution 1661 by the Assembly in 2009.

Major reforms had been implemented by Serbia including decentralisation and judicial and legal reforms but there were issues still to be resolved. Resolution would require both diplomatic and political means and co-operation with neighbouring countries. The divisions caused by war needed to be bridged. Transparency and fairness in the media were also important.

Serbia had taken considerable strides towards progress and if the Council of Europe accepted and endorsed the report with a strong majority it would help encourage further progress. It was not in Serbia’s or the Council of Europe’s interest for Serbia to be isolated – it needed to find its true place in the Council of Europe.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Papadimoulis.

The next speaker is Mr Vareikis, who will speak on behalf of the Group of the European People’s Party.

Mr VAREIKIS (Lithuania) – Yesterday, when I spoke about Bosnia and Herzegovina, I said that the people of the western Balkans should not read too much history; rather, they have to start to write the new history. Today, I can say with satisfaction that Serbia is at least trying to write a new history – this time, a pro-European history. Everyone knows that Serbia’s history is a painful one. There are many positives and perhaps a lot of things that we do not like, but the new European direction is certainly very clear.

I want to thank the rapporteurs, who noticed real changes in Serbia’s attitude to Europe. That is reflected in the report, the key word in which is “progress”. The country is truly progressing, and this is good news not only for Serbia but for us. Speaking geopolitically, the western Balkans region is changing in terms of quantity, and quantity will turn into quality only after Serbia finds a new quality. I cannot imagine a real change in the western Balkans without change in Serbia. However, progress is now very evident.

The draft resolution is very long but it is very positive. Paragraph 9 contains a list of good things already done by Serbia, whereas paragraphs 10 and 11 contain a long list of things – not bad things – that need to be done. Many of the things listed are technical, not political problems. Of course, technical problems take time to fix, and people need to be patient because Serbia is going through all the difficulties that post-dictatorial and post-communist countries have to go through. Such efforts are not always successful – there are good examples and bad examples – but Serbia now occupies the middle of the road, and now is a crucial time as it continues to move towards Europe. Of course, not everything is settled; there is the question of Kosovo and many other such questions. Serbia needs to move towards Europe, and given its lack of wealth, we need to help it financially. There are many regions, such as Vojvodina, that need finance.

However, generally speaking, I am optimistic, and I hope the report will help Serbia to continue its progress.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Vareikis. The next speaker is Mr Fournier.

Mr FOURNIER (France) said that he derived considerable satisfaction from seeing Serbia on the road to progress. Bringing Serbia’s legislation up to European Union standards was going hand in hand with diplomatic progress. It was hoped that such progress in respect of Kosovo would follow Serbia’s accomplishments with its other neighbours. Indeed, the relationship between Belgrade and Pristina was key.

The European Commission’s report of October 2011 noted the progress Serbia had made and recommended that Serbia should be granted the status of candidate country for the European Union, subject to the decision of the European Council. The Council was due to consider this matter in March 2012 and the arrest of Ratko Mladić and Goran Hadžić were important steps in this regard.

He welcomed the report, which was not seeking unanimity but was seeking agreement to continue with the monitoring procedure.

Minorities represented over 5% of the Serbian population. These minorities were grouped in a homogenous formation in parts of the country. Improving the fate of minorities was key to avoiding further Balkanisation which would be a backward step for the region.

He supported the rapporteurs and hoped that the report would help to anchor Serbia in the European Union.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Fournier. The next speaker is Mr Michel.

Mr MICHEL (France) said that having been a member of the Council of Europe for a number of years, Serbia at last seemed to have shaken off the poor reputation it had acquired because of the war.

The report was excellent and the European Commission’s report noted progress and also the normalisation of diplomatic relations including relations with Kosovo where a number of practical measures, such as improving customs procedures, were facilitating matters for citizens.

While the report noted that steps remained to be taken, he hoped that Serbia would remain robust and stable. Serbia’s recent endorsement of democrat principles harked back to the start of the 20th century when the country promulgated a model for democracy. As Serbia continued to make progress, it would be possible to close the monitoring process.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. I now call Ms Bakir.

Ms BAKIR (Turkey) – Thank you, Mr President, for giving us the opportunity to exchange views on the honouring of obligations and commitments by Serbia.

I congratulate the Serbian Parliament on passing a resolution in March 2010 condemning the crimes committed in Srebrenica in 1995, and on its close co-operation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Serbia should also be congratulated on its impressive progress in modernising its legislation to conform with the European Union in nearly all areas, including the economy, intellectual property rights and foreign trade. However, despite its adoption of the necessary laws, the implementation of those new laws is still inconsistent. Furthermore, the education, health and energy sectors are still in need of serious structural reform. Political appointees direct large, inefficient state enterprises that are managed more like social non-profit-making organisations than modern businesses. Unemployment is still at an alarmingly high level – about 20%.

Serbia should certainly be congratulated on the arrest of Slobodan Milošević, Ratko Mladić and Goran Hadžić, and on their extradition to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. However, the Assembly should strongly support and encourage the arrest, and facilitate the trial, of other war criminals who collaborated with Milošević, Mladić and Hadžić during the war and whose freedom may pose a threat to the security of civil society in Serbia as a whole. Covering up all the crimes against humanity that were perpetrated against civilians during the Bosnian war by arresting only three war criminals will hurt our conscience, and will contradict European moral and ethical values. Serbia also needs to find and arrest the people who helped Mladić and Hadžić to escape arrest for more than 16 years.

The international community expects Serbia to continue her full support for Bosnia and to co-operate with EULEX – the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo – and Kfor, the Kosovo Stabilization Force. The possible secession of Republika Srpska from Bosnia would destabilise the region as a whole and jeopardise Serbia’s European Union targets. The political and security situations in the Balkans are still fragile, and the continued support of the international community is immensely important. The existence of a United Nations-appointed Office of the High Representative, created by the Dayton Accord, is still crucial to progress and improvement in the region, and it should not be abolished before security, stability and the rule of law have been fully established in Bosnia.

We should support a constructive, forward-looking dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo if we want to establish a long-term relationship. The full territorial integrity and sovereignty of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo are prerequisites for Serbia’s eventual membership of NATO and the European Union. Those goals would be destroyed by the possibility of war, as most European Union member States would be unwilling to import a Serbian territorial conflict into the European Union.

I want to emphasise the importance of a progressive democratic regime in Serbia that will establish a prosperous democracy, fully integrated with Euro-Atlantic institutions.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Ms Bakir. I now call Mr Badea.

Mr BADEA (Romania) said that Serbia belonged to the European family: it was a member of the Council of Europe and was seeking accession to the European Union. The criteria for becoming a full member of the European Union were mirrored in the report of the Monitoring Committee.

Serbia had shown much progress on democratic reform in recent years and had laid down the constitutional foundations for the rule of law. However, the Serbian Government had not been offering adequate protection to minority groups, especially the Romanian community known as the Vlachs. The Vlachs were unable freely to practise their religion, speak their mother tongue or express their cultural identity. As a minority, they were intimidated by threats and harassment. For example, in December 2011, a number of Romanian community leaders had been attacked on the same night, which implied some kind of co-ordinated action. He was disappointed by the Serbian Government’s lack of progress on this issue. The denial of the Vlach identity needed to come to an end. It was not acceptable that Serbia was attempting to create an artificial language and culture for that community which was deliberately different from the Romanian language and culture. Creation of an artificial language was reminiscent of the so-called Moldovan language, which was created in a similar manner. In 1999, Romanian protestors had taken to the streets of Bucharest to show solidarity. The lack of progress in the years since then had lost Serbia a great deal of international support.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Badea. I now call Ms Vučković.

Ms VUČKOVIĆ (Serbia) – I thank the rapporteurs for the efforts that they have invested in the preparation of their comprehensive and detailed report. It, and the draft resolution, strike a positive note. The report praises the reforms that have been initiated and the results that have been achieved, and it is true that enormous efforts have been devoted to Serbia over the past two years.

Many issues have been dealt with in the report, and I am not going to deal with all of them. I will say, however, that although reforms have not been completed in every area and must continue to be made, the problems are being addressed seriously and continuously. In respect of reform of the judiciary, challenges have been addressed in co-operation with the European Commission and the Venice Commission. As for fighting corruption, there is a new legal framework, the anti-corruption agency is functioning more and more effectively, and there is more efficient judicial processing of corruption cases. Those are all elements of the overall nationally co-ordinated efforts to reduce corruption.

However, I find the report somewhat harsh in view of all that has been achieved and all the standards that have been implemented. I think that those impressive reforms deserve congratulations. One could reasonably ask whether the monitoring procedure needs to be pursued. Post-monitoring could also have been proposed. In 2003, when Serbia became a fully fledged member of the Council of Europe, we said that we welcomed our obligations and commitments much more than the benefits we expected our membership to confer, and for that reason we do not mind if the monitoring process continues. However, for the sake of objectivity, we compared this report with final monitoring reports on other transitional countries. When the monitoring mission was closed, one country lacked the institution of an ombudsman, while in another it was only at that point that the authorities had been called on to adopt the anti-corruption law. It is reasonable to ask whether the criteria for resumption of monitoring could not have been formulated in a more objective manner.

For that reason, we feel a certain disappointment and consider the resolution to be somewhat severe. However, we understand that reforms are being implemented for the benefit of our citizens, our society and the character of our State. We want to be a democratic State, with strong protection for our human rights and a rule of law that functions as it does in other European democracies. We will therefore continue to work with our colleagues in the Council of Europe to improve our performance in implementing European standards in order to ensure that reforms in Serbia are real and sustainable.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. Next I call Mr Frunda.

Mr FRUNDA (Romania) – First, I want to congratulate the rapporteurs on their work and to continue what Ms Vučković already started. I think that we have to continue with monitoring first and foremost in the interest of the Serbian people.

I understand Serbia and I appreciate all the work that was done there from 2003 onwards. At the same time, I have to say that many things still need to be done with regard to corruption, relations between Serbia and the international court, Serbia’s obligation to accuse all those criminals that should be accused and, most important of all for the Council of Europe, human rights.

I appreciate that the country is not starting from a point of dialogue with the national minorities. There is the issue of collective punishment of the national minorities. Some laws were drawn up, however, and some national minorities are in a better position than they were five or seven years ago. At the same time, it still happens that a Hungarian girl can get beaten on the streets just because she speaks Hungarian. The windows of a Romanian priest’s home were broken just because he was Romanian Orthodox, not Serbian Orthodox. Some national councils cannot implement their policies because the regional governments will not let them do their work. People are going to the courts, but the original authorities do not respect the Serbian court’s decisions. In that case, how can we justify stopping the monitoring? How can we speak about the rule of law when these problems are occurring?

There are some question marks in that the rapporteurs did not reflect the severity of the problem sufficiently. They are not open enough to accept such amendments. My colleague, Mr Badea, was right. The Serbian authorities are still using the principle of divide and rule when they say that Romanians and others are not the same people, even though they speak the same language, have the same religion and have the same traditions. They are the same people. There will come a time when the Serbians will understand that it is in their own interests to respect the rights of national minorities – in fact, not just in laws. In a sense, the Serbian people will be free only when the national minorities are free in their country. Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. I call Mr Corlăţean.

Mr CORLĂŢEAN (Romania) congratulated the rapporteurs on what had been a difficult report. He thanked them for their conclusions, most of which he agreed with.

Significant progress had been made in Serbia and the Assembly was right to continue to encourage this. The government in Belgrade had, in recent times, taken many courageous decisions which would, no doubt, be helpful in relation to its application for accession to the European Union. That application was supported by Romania.

Progress was still needed in certain essential areas and an example would be the protection of national minorities in Serbia, a complex issue already touched upon by the rapporteurs and others in the debate. The Serbian Government needed to make progress on the protection of the Romanian minority, especially with respect to those wishing to express their Romanian identity.

Serbia had signed up to many conventions and the Serbian Government now needed to show that it would comply with their terms, for example by protecting the fundamental right to freedom of religion. Such a commitment would certainly assist Serbia’s application for accession to the European Union.

THE PRESIDENT – The next speaker is Mr Aligrudić.

Mr ALIGRUDIĆ (Serbia) – First of all, I would like to thank the rapporteurs for their efforts in preparing this resolution. At the same time, I would like to express my regret that the resolution has not proposed the closure of the current monitoring procedure for Serbia, especially if we compare the situation in Serbia with that of other member States that are now in post-monitoring dialogue.

I have some other objections to the text, which make it difficult for me to vote for it. On the one hand, it rightly notes that Serbia has not completed the reform of the judiciary, that the fight against corruption should be conducted more effectively and that the media situation needs to be improved. On the other hand, however, this resolution calls for amendments to the constitution in order to abolish an imperative mandate – despite the fact that the constitution does not envisage the imperative mandate at all. The resolution condemns the violent incidents in northern Kosovo that occurred in July 2011, but it does not say that the victims of these incidents, caused by the Kosovo police force, were mostly the Serbian population.

The resolution welcomes the adoption of the law on jurisdiction of the autonomous province of Vojvodina and the statute of Vojvodina, which was adopted later, but does not take note of the fact that it was done in reverse order. The statute should have been adopted first and then the law on jurisdiction. Mind you, both documents are contrary to the constitution of the Republic of Serbia. The proceedings before the constitutional court have been initiated, but there is no word about it in the resolution.

The resolution welcomes the adoption of the law on the national assembly and its new rules of procedure even though these acts are used by the ruling majority to suppress the running of open debates in parliament, frustrating citizens’ proposals. The opposition and citizens are entitled to this under the constitution. There are other examples where Serbia is asked to do something that has been done a long time ago, but now I do not have time to talk about all these things. I have time only to draw to your attention that certain amendments to the text have been tabled by colleagues who are openly asking Serbia to accept, explicitly or implicitly, a unilaterally declared independence for Kosovo. This is contrary to a policy of status neutrality for the Council of Europe.

There are also amendments aimed at infinite continuation of the monitoring process for Serbia, for example, those that refer to the arrest and prosecution of all those who aided and assisted those indicted at The Hague. Serbia has arrested and extradited to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia all those indicted of war crimes. Of course, judicial proceedings should be launched against those who aided and supported them, but if this is a condition for the closure of the monitoring for Serbia, then it will never be fully fulfilled. Moreover, those amendments that ask Serbia to do something that is already being done are simply pointless. Dear colleagues, I ask you not to accept these amendments in order to prevent this already imprecise text of the resolution from becoming a disastrous one.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Aligrudić. I now call Mr Haugli.

Mr HAUGLI (Norway) – It is great to read a report that is not only strong, thorough and balanced, but that also illustrates that progress has been made and gives reason for optimism. Serbia is clearly on the right track.

I congratulate the rapporteurs. I was particularly pleased by the amount of detail, especially in the recommendations. Our Serbian colleagues also deserve praise for their impatience to keep progressing and for stating clearly that they are committed to addressing the concerns that have been raised. There are four main issues: reform of the justice system, independence of the media, fighting corruption and combating discrimination. I shall focus on the last of those issues.

The adoption of the new anti-discrimination law in 2009 is a milestone, as it provides legal protection for all. The election of Serbia’s first commissioner for equality is also a milestone. I understand that freedom of expression and of assembly of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender groups has been an area of particular concern to the Serbian authorities. In October 2010, a “Pride” parade took place in Belgrade for the first time in almost 10 years. It enjoyed the backing of the political leadership and received full protection from the State. That peaceful demonstration was, however, met by violent counter-demonstrations. Some 6 000 extremists attacked the police and official buildings, and vandalised cars and shops. Several people were injured.

As a consequence, in 2011 the parade was banned. The reason given was the violence of the previous year. That decision is understandable, but it is also unacceptable. Ultra-nationalist groups celebrated the ban as a victory, as, indeed, it was for them. When peaceful activists are forced into silence by violent extremists, the latter have won. Peaceful demonstrators must be protected. There is a cost in doing that, but the alternative, which is to let the mob rule the streets, is unacceptable. Freedom of speech must be freedom of speech for all.

We can all do more, particularly through education. In the 1990s, the “All different, All equal” campaign was a successful Europe-wide tool to educate young people about racism. Perhaps it is time for a new campaign in the same spirit – all different, all equal – aimed at young people. There is no quick fix against hatred, extremism or intolerance, but as President Tarja Halonen just reminded us, they are not forces of nature and can be fought.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. I now call Ms Papadimitriou. She is not present. I call Mr Braun. He is not here. I call Mr Marcenaro. He is not here either. I call Mr Schennach.

Mr SCHENNACH (Austria) said that only the previous day he had tried to awaken the Assembly’s understanding of the issues affecting Bosnia and Herzegovina. Now he was delighted, as an Austrian, to be able to discuss such an excellent report on Serbia. The report was not only accurate and fair; it also showed that Serbia had made enormous progress. This progress was especially welcome given the way in which the previous Serbian regime had driven the country into a psychological, political and economic dead-end.



It was true that the report highlighted problems, but it also gave cause for hope. Serbia remained a multi-ethnic country. The report demonstrated that monitoring could be extremely helpful for countries such as Serbia where minorities of all kinds needed the support of the Council of Europe. Serbia needed to work towards establishing a functioning judiciary and a free press. Serbian colleagues would hopefully recognise that monitoring could be a very helpful process.

All countries were familiar with the toxic smoke of nationalism. This was a particular threat in Serbia where there was the added danger of nationalism merging with organised crime. The Serbian leadership had to acknowledge this threat and take a much more active stance against it. Further action was also required with regard to Kosovo. Work on these issues would be very much in the spirit of the murdered Serbian Prime Minster Zoran Djindjic.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Schennach. I now call Mr Chisu, observer from Canada.

Mr CHISU (Canada) – Thank you, Mr President. I am pleased to have the opportunity to address this Assembly on Serbia’s honouring of its obligations and commitments. As noted by the co-rapporteurs, Serbia has clearly made considerable progress in meeting important commitments in respect of co-operation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, in reforming its electoral laws and its criminal justice system, in enhancing its relations with its neighbours, and in taking measures to improve the protection of minorities.

Canada, along with the international community, is encouraged by the positive steps Serbia has taken under the presidency of Boris Tadić to achieve many of the reforms that are widely viewed as essential for Serbia to become a fully functioning member of the community of nations that values democracy and the rule of law. The co-rapporteurs highlighted the considerable progress that has been made in Serbia’s relationships with the Council of Europe and the European Union, while also highlighting that further progress needs to be made. I therefore want to touch on Canada’s relationship with Serbia and its response to the progress Serbia has made.

First, Canada has welcomed Serbia’s arrest of the two remaining fugitives from the ICTY, Ratko Mladić and Goran Hadžić, and has applauded the efforts of President Tadić to foster regional co-operation and reconciliation. Canada and Serbia have also signed a memorandum of understanding on the prosecution of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. Beginning in 2010, there have also been registered, continual reciprocal high-level visits between Canada and Serbia, notably that of the Canadian Defence Minister to Belgrade in 2011. That was the first visit by a Canadian ministerial delegation since 2001.

Although Canada is generally pleased with the progress of our relationship with Serbia, we continue to be concerned about its record on protecting human rights and the issue of corruption in a number of sectors. There is still prejudice against a number of minorities, notably Roma and Albanians, despite recent efforts by Serbia to protect human and minority rights. Corruption remains a challenge, especially in health care, despite some recent bold measures taken by the government to combat corruption.

I commend Serbia’s political leadership on the tremendous progress it has made in trying to establish a strong, stable, free-market democracy. However, I also echo the recommendations of the co-rapporteurs that Serbia must continue along this path as reform is still needed in a number of important areas.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. The next speaker is Mr Kalmár.

Mr KALMÁR (Hungary) – Hungary has a great interest in the Euro-Atlantic integration of Serbia, as the country is our southern neighbour. Moreover, a Hungarian community of about 300 000 people live in northern Serbia in Vojvodina.

The 2010 Act on National Councils of National Minorities and the election of those minorities are undoubtedly positive developments. However, to take full advantage of their abilities and the opportunities available, to the benefit of national minorities, co-operation and co-ordination between the councils and relevant ministries of the Serbian Government should be further strengthened.

The Act on Rehabilitation was adopted by the Serbian National Assembly on 5 December 2011. The text of the relevant paragraphs from this act were agreed by the representatives of the Serbian Government and the Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians, and as a result the act was able to solve the problem created by

the adoption, earlier in September, of the Act on Property Restitution and Compensation. Certain provisions of the latter act discriminated against the Hungarian community in Vojvodina and reintroduced the unacceptable principles of collective guilt.

That issue shows that the sustainability of democratic development in Serbia is still in a delicate situation. I have to draw the Assembly’s attention to the fact that violent incidents still frequently occur in municipalities with ethnically mixed populations. I urge the Serbian authorities fully to investigate all cases when there is a legitimate suspicion that the incidents were ethnically motivated. The legal obligation to respect the rights of national minorities also requires the proper investigation of the frequently occurring graffiti calling for violence or intolerance against minorities.

In the near future, greater autonomy for Vojvodina should be granted, taking into account Recommendation 1832 (2011) of the Council of Europe. I also wish to mention the problems caused by the high numbers of illegal immigrants who gather at the Hungarian-Serbian border in certain municipalities in Serbia. These people seek asylum in Serbia in growing numbers. While the legal framework to address this situation has been established in Serbia, institutional structures and capacities should be considerably upgraded to deal with these illegal immigrants and asylum seekers. Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, I call Mr Gardetto.

Mr GARDETTO (Monaco) said he was delighted that the Serbian Parliament had established a road map for implementing its commitments. The election of a new government in Serbia had allowed progress towards political stability and the development of human rights, democracy, and the rule of law. Serbia had also made welcome progress towards joining the European Union. In addition, Serbia should be commended for working closely with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and assisting in the arrests of the remaining war criminals.

The rapporteurs should be thanked for recognising the role Serbia had played in stabilising the Balkan region. Even so, there remained many problems, especially in Kosovo, a region in dire need of reconstruction. Serbia had an extremely high proportion of refugees and displaced persons, the majority of whom were in camps without water or electricity. They were completely neglected by the State.

Recent elections had been administered in line with international standards but further work was needed on improving transparency, especially in the funding of political parties.

Important steps had been taken to combat corruption but anti-corruption measures were not always adequately funded and this meant they did not always succeed. Serbia also needed to take further action to improve press freedom, and to address issues around war crimes, witness protection, and organised crime. Work in all of these areas would require an increase in resources. The Serbian delegates needed to be encouraged to continue down this positive path.

THE PRESIDENT –Thank you. I call Ms Kovács.

Ms KOVÁCS (Serbia) – Distinguished President, dear colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, and co-rapporteurs, I address you today as a representative of a minority in Serbia – Hungarians living in Vojvodina – which is why I will focus on the situation of national minorities in Vojvodina. Many positive developments have taken place over the past few years, such as the adoption of the Act on National Councils of National Minorities, which clarifies their election modalities and responsibilities as well as the methods of their financing, but there is still work to be done. For example, there have been complaints about the violation of the guaranteed competencies of national councils by, among others, some local municipalities. The Assembly should call on the authorities to respond to those complaints.

The national councils of national minorities have competencies in four important fields: the use of minority languages, education, culture and media. The government should further develop minority rights by implementing effectively the existing rights, particularly on the use of minority languages and the representation of minorities on administrative bodies at all levels. I would like to emphasise the importance of decentralisation to improving the efficiency of the State and bringing it closer to its citizens. I also urge the continuation of the process of transferring responsibilities to Vojvodina by adopting the act on financing Vojvodina, which would enable Vojvodina to exercise its jurisdiction.




With regard to the privatisation of the electronic media broadcasting of minority programmes, our aim is to make it possible for local government to set up media outlets in minority languages. We cannot tolerate the rights that we have fought for and achieved turning into fruitless effort, so we welcome the newly adopted media strategy that envisages those rights being given to national councils and calls for the application of this document to grant constitutional guarantees to achieved minority rights.

Unfortunately, national minority members are still not represented in sufficient numbers in State institutions, such as in courts, the prosecution service and the police, despite the existing programme to increase the representation of minorities in State institutions and the adopted conclusions of the Serbian Government concerning measures for participation of minorities in public administration.

Finally, I would like to stress that we, Hungarian MPs, do not only engage in minority issues; we also contribute to Serbia’s European Union integration. In the past four years, the government and the parliament worked hard on the European Union integration process, and we are looking forward to finally being granted candidacy status.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. I call Mr Nikoloski. It seems he is not here. I call Mr Gaudi Nagy.

Mr GAUDI NAGY (Hungary) – I would like to enhance the important fact that was referred to by one of my colleagues, and by my Romanian and Hungarian friends and colleagues as well as those from other nations, that there are many unsolved problems in Serbia in terms of human rights and minority rights. I am interested in what happened in monitoring Serbia’s success in the implementation of the rule of law and democracy and the law of the Council of Europe. I was astonished to find that in 2008 a great report, carried out in part by Mr Gross, contained many of the same sentences that are in this report. Let me give one example. It talks about aggressive actions against people belonging to minority communities. There is a lot of that happening in Serbia, and not all so long ago. Last Christmas, an elderly couple came back from celebrating mass in church and were harshly beaten just because they were Hungarians. Serbia undertook an obligation to take positive steps to protect people belonging to minority groups. I am astonished that those kind of actions occur.

What about the European Convention on Nationality or the Council of Europe Convention on the Avoidance of Statelessness in relation to State Succession? These conventions were not ratified and implemented by Serbia. I hope that Serbia will find a way to turn in a direction that leads it to the European Union but before it accesses the European Union, it must comply with all the obligations prescribed by the Council of Europe and the European Union. Territorial autonomy must be ensured for the Hungarian people and all the minorities which hanker after that. All kind of discrimination against minorities should cease. Illegal immigration should be stopped and there should be compensation in terms of the victims who were massacred by communists in the Second World War.

THE PRESIDENT – The next speaker is Mr Varvitsiotis but he is not here.

That concludes the list of speakers. I call Mr Saar and Mr Harutyunyan to reply to the debate. You have a total of four and a half minutes for your contribution.

Mr SAAR (Estonia) – I thank all speakers for the discussion and the feedback about the report. I will briefly answer some points with which I do not agree.

Mr Gaudi Nagy just told us that the precondition to entering the European Union is to get the approval of this house. That is not true – these are two different organisations. The European Union can decide whatever it wants; it is not a precondition that we say, “Yes, you are now ready for the European Union.”

Mr Frunda raised the point about blocs – whether they are blocs or whether they are not. I do not think it is in the hands of this Organisation to tell people whether they are what they think they are. I am not going to sign such a position in any report. People decide for themselves what they are and what they want to be but we can talk about what their conditions are and what the State must provide.

Last but not least – and this is most important – I can understand the disappointment of our Serbian colleagues that we are not talking now about entering a post-monitoring dialogue. Of course we hope to do so in the very near future. They claim that some countries have achieved their post-monitoring dialogue much more easily, but we have sometimes made mistakes in recent years by giving some countries post-


monitoring dialogue when they may not have been so well prepared. It seems that they may be for ever in this post-monitoring situation; we do not see clear improvements. Going back some years, some countries were very well prepared and left the post-monitoring situation within a year. If I could choose for my country, I would choose the second version – to be well prepared and to leave any kind of monitoring situation soon.

THE PRESIDENT – You have one minute, Mr Harutyunyan.

Mr HARUTYUNYAN (Armenia) – I thank the co-rapporteurs who worked on the previous report, who invested significant effort in assisting us to prepare this report. Their co-operation with the Serbian delegation is worth considering as an example.

Finally, I stress that Serbia is on the right track and we have to praise its achievements. It is most important that both co-rapporteurs are really sure that the next report will be produced much sooner than is envisaged in the rules. We are really sure that Serbia is moving in the right direction.

THE PRESIDENT – Does the chairperson of the committee, Mr Herkel, wish to speak? You have two minutes.

Mr HERKEL (Estonia) – On behalf of the Monitoring Committee, I thank the rapporteurs and their staff. It was not an easy report and we heard quite different views about it in the discussion. Yes, Serbia has met many of the requirements tabled by the Council of Europe and we want to express our satisfaction with this on-going process. At the same time, the report also addresses some essential issues which have still not been resolved in the best possible way, such as the judiciary and the media, as well as corruption and minority issues. Those are very typical monitoring issues.

On behalf of the committee, I also thank our colleagues in the Serbian delegation for their readiness to co-operate. Several good steps were taken by the Serbian Parliament recently – it is remarkable.

I would like to return to the issue of Serbia being committed to join the European Union. Yes, they are different organisations, but this perspective certainly boosted the democratic reform process. A lot has already been done but there are still challenges ahead. I invite colleagues to support the draft resolution and the amendments tabled by the Monitoring Committee.

(Mr Mota Amaral, Vice-President of the Assembly, took the Chair in place of Ms de Pourbaix-Lundin.)

THE PRESIDENT – The debate is closed, The Monitoring Committee has presented a draft resolution to which 17 amendments have been tabled. I understand that the Chairperson of the Monitoring Committee wishes to propose to the Assembly that the following amendments, which were unanimously approved by the Monitoring Committee, should be declared as agreed by the Assembly under Rule 33.11.

The amendments are 9 and 17 to the draft resolution.

Is that so Mr Herkel?

Mr HERKEL (Estonia) – Yes.

THE PRESIDENT – Are there any objections? That is not the case.

The following amendments have been adopted:

Amendment 9, tabled by Ms Kovács, Mr Frunda, Mr Gardetto, Mr Kalmár, Mr Gruber, Mr Koszorús, Mr Szabó, Mr Braun, Mr Harangozó and Mr Gross, which is, in the draft resolution, paragraph 11.3, replace the words “and the representation of minorities in political and administrative bodies at all levels” with the following words:” culture and media”.

Amendment 17, tabled by Mr Haugli, Ms Mogherini Rebesani, Mr Lydeka, Ms Arib, Ms Wurm, Mr Biedron, Mr Gardetto, Ms Andersen, Ms Woldseth, Ms Christoffersen, Mr Gunnarsson, Ms Ohlsson, Ms Loklindt, Ms Err, Ms Koleva and Ms Carloni, which is, in the draft resolution, paragraph 11.8.1, after the words “National Minorities (ETS No. 157)” insert the following words:

“, Recommendation (2010)5 of the Committee of Ministers on measures to combat discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity,”.

We will proceed to consider the remaining amendments in the order set out in the organisation of debates. I remind members that speeches on amendments are limited to 30 seconds.

We come to Amendment 3, tabled by Ms Bakir, Mr Disli, Mr Kayatürk, Mr Mustafa and Mr Türkes, which is, in the draft resolution, at the end of paragraph 4.1, add the following words:

“However, as the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, we should strongly support and encourage and facilitate the arrest and the trial of other war criminals who were collaborators of Milošević, Mladić and Hadžić during the war and whose freedom may pose a threat to the security of the civil society in Serbia as a whole. To cover up and conceal all the crimes against humanity perpetrated against civilians during the Bosnia war by the arrest of only 3 war criminals will hurt our conscience and will be in contradiction to the European moral and ethical values. Serbia also needs to find and arrest the people who helped Mladić and Hadžić’s escape from arrest for more than 16 years.”.

I call Ms Bakir to support Amendment 3. If this amendment is agreed to, Amendment 1 falls.

Ms BAKIR (Turkey) – I strongly believe that, through the arrest of the collaborators of Milošević, Mladić and Hadžić, true justice for the victims of the Bosnian war will be ensured. These men and their collaborators are guilty of horrendous war crimes and of aiding and supporting genocide. Their arrest can bring some much-needed comfort to the civilian victims – women and children – of the war crimes committed during the Bosnian war. The arrest of the people who helped Mladić and Hadžić evade arrest for more 16 years will also discourage those around the world who plan to carry out similar terrible crimes.

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

Mr ALIGRUDIĆ (Serbia) – This constitutes an infinite obligation on Serbia. It does not just encourage Serbia to arrest or investigate all those who helped Mladić, Hadžić and others; rather, it is a constant and infinite obligation that the prosecutor cannot meet. Also, it is not true that, as the amendment states, only three indictees were arrested and transferred to The Hague. More than 30 were transferred, for Christ’s sake, during all those years!

THE PRESIDENT – What is the opinion of the committee?

Mr HERKEL (Estonia) – The amendment was rejected.

THE PRESIDENT – The vote is open.

Amendment 3 is rejected.

THE PRESIDENT – We come to Amendment 1, tabled by Lord Anderson, Lord Boswell, Baroness Eccles, Lord Tomlinson, Mr Sheridan and Mr Connarty, which is, in the draft resolution, at the end of paragraph 4.1, add the following sentence:

“The Assembly further encourages the Serbian authorities to identify and bring to justice those who aided and abetted the fugitives.”

I call Lord Anderson to support Amendment 1.

Lord ANDERSON (United Kingdom) – The amendment is self-explanatory. It covers not only war criminals but those who allowed them to escape justice for so long.

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

What is the opinion of the committee?

Mr HERKEL (Estonia) – The committee voted for this amendment.

THE PRESIDENT – The vote is open.

THE PRESIDENT – We come to Amendment 4, tabled by Ms Bakir, Mr Disli, Mr Kayatürk, Mr Mustafa and Mr Ahmet Kutamis Türkes, which is, in the draft resolution, paragraph 5, second sentence, after the words “The Assembly strongly condemns the violent incidents”, insert the following words:” involving the criminal structures in northern Kosovo”.

I call Ms Bakir to support Amendment 4.

Ms BAKIR (Turkey) – In fact, the Kfor spokesman has made a clear statement on this issue. Pipe bombs have been thrown at Kfor personnel and there are confirmed reports of shots being fired at them. There are also reports of injuries to Kfor soldiers. I strongly believe that we should clearly address the true source of violence in this report, and this is the reason behind the amendment.

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

Mr ALIGRUDIĆ (Serbia) – This practically implies that the people who live in the northern parts of Kosovo are criminals, because the amendment does not refer to criminals or criminal organisations in the whole territory of Kosovo, or the whole territory of Serbia. This is virtually impossible, and such a position is not in line with the status of neutrality of the Council of Europe.

THE PRESIDENT – What is the opinion of the committee?

Mr HERKEL (Estonia) – The committee voted against.

THE PRESIDENT – The vote is open.

Amendment 4 is rejected.

THE PRESIDENT – We come to Amendment 2, tabled by Lord Anderson, Lord Boswell, Baroness Eccles, Lord Tomlinson, Mr Sheridan and Mr Connarty, which is, in the draft resolution, paragraph 8, replace the last sentence with the following sentence:

“It also welcomes the fact that the European Council will decide in February/March 2012 to grant candidate status to Serbia after it has examined and confirmed that Serbia has continued to show credible commitment and achieved further progress in moving forward with the implementation in good faith of the agreements reached in the dialogue with Priština, has reached an agreement on inclusive regional co-operation, and has actively co-operated to enable the European Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) and Kfor to execute their mandates.”

I call Lord Anderson to support Amendment 2.

Lord ANDERSON (United Kingdom) – This is a total rewriting. I have put “welcomes” instead of “notes”, and there is one small grammatical correction. The amendment reproduces all the elements of the European Council decision. The original draft included only a part of it.

THE PRESIDENT – I have been informed that the co-rapporteurs wish to propose an oral sub-amendment, as follows: in Amendment 2 replace the word “welcomes” with “notes”.

In my opinion, the oral sub-amendment is in order under our rules. However, do 10 or more members object to the oral sub-amendment being debated?

That is not the case. I therefore call one of the co-rapporteurs to support the oral sub-amendment.

Mr HARUTYUNYAN (Armenia) – It is more correct to use the word “notes”. That is the usual practice when we are mentioning something decided by other organisations.

THE PRESIDENT – Does anyone wish to speak against the oral sub-amendment? I call Lord Anderson.

Lord ANDERSON (United Kingdom) – Surely, we are not bound by that convention. If we think something is important and we approve of it, surely we should say so.

THE PRESIDENT – What is the opinion of the committee?

Mr HERKEL (Estonia) – The committee accepted the oral sub-amendment.

THE PRESIDENT – I will now put the oral sub-amendment to the vote.

The vote is open.

The oral sub-amendment is agreed to.

THE PRESIDENT – We will now consider the main amendment, as amended.

Does anyone wish to speak against the main amendment, as amended? That is not the case.

The vote is open.

THE PRESIDENT – We come to Amendment 5, tabled by Ms Bakir, Mr Disli, Mr Kayatürk, Mr Mustafa and Mr Ahmet Kutalmis Türkes, which is, in the draft resolution, after paragraph 8, insert the following paragraph:

“It is very disturbing for European countries when the Serbian leaders boycott important meetings wherein the Kosovo leaders are participating as representatives of an independent country. We should support a constructive, forward looking dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo for a long term relationship which would also have a positive effect on Serbia's relations with its neighbours as well as Europe”.

I call Ms Bakir to support Amendment 5.

Ms BAKIR (Turkey) – Only dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina will solve all the issues related to Kosovo, so a constructive and forward-looking dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo is immensely important in finding a sustainable long-term solution to the status of Kosovo.

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

Mr ALIGRUDIĆ (Serbia) – The same argument applies here. The Council of Europe adopts a neutral position towards Kosovo and Serbia. The amendment practically breaches the status of neutrality of this very Assembly, so please do not accept it.

THE PRESIDENT – What is the opinion of the committee?

Mr HERKEL (Estonia) – The committee is against.

THE PRESIDENT – The vote is open.

Amendment 5 is rejected.

THE PRESIDENT – We come to Amendment 6, tabled by Ms Bakir, Mr Disli, Mr Kayatürk, Mr Ahmet Kutalmis Türkes and Mr Çavusoglu, which is, in the draft resolution, after paragraph 8, insert the following paragraph:

“The full territorial integrity and sovereignty of Bosnia Herzegovina and Kosovo should be respected by Serbia before its eventual Euro-Atlantic integration.”

I call Ms Bakir to support Amendment 6.

Ms BAKIR (Turkey) – The international community expects Serbia to continue her full support for Bosnia and to co-operate with EULEX and Kfor in Kosovo. The secession of Republika Srpska from Bosnia would destabilise the region as a whole and would jeopardise Serbia’s European Union status. The political situation and security in the Balkans are still fragile.

THE PRESIDENT – Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment? I call Lord Anderson.

Lord ANDERSON (United Kingdom) – The amendment seeks to impose an obligation on Serbia that is not an obligation on many members of the community who, for good or bad reasons, do not recognise the sovereignty of Kosovo.

THE PRESIDENT – What is the opinion of the committee?

Mr HERKEL (Estonia) – The committee voted against it.

THE PRESIDENT – The vote is open.

Amendment 6 is rejected.

We come to Amendment 7, tabled by Ms Bakir, Mr Disli, Mr Kayatürk, Mr Ahmet Kutalmis Türkes and Mr Çavusoglu, which is, in the draft resolution, after paragraph 8, insert the following paragraph:

“Serbia should in no way encourage the formation of parallel governmental structures in northern Kosovo and it should respect the Priština government’s right to perform its authority throughout Kosovo”.

I call Ms Bakir to support Amendment 7.

Ms BAKIR (Turkey) – The existence of parallel structures in northern Kosovo can be detrimental to the rule of law, and some have turned into criminal structures. There is also a risk that the illegal Serbian structures in northern Kosovo may turn into paramilitary structures. Security in the Balkans is still fragile, and the Assembly cannot accept the existence of parallel and criminal structures in Europe.

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

Mr ALIGRUDIĆ (Serbia) – I oppose the amendment for the reasons given earlier by Lord Anderson, and which I gave when discussing another of Ms Bakir’s amendments.

THE PRESIDENT – What is the opinion of the committee?

Mr HERKEL (Estonia) – The committee voted against it.

THE PRESIDENT – The vote is open.

Amendment 7 is rejected.

We come to Amendment 8, tabled by Ms Kovács, Mr Frunda, Mr Gardetto, Mr Kalmár, Mr Gruber, Mr Koszorús, Mr Szabó, Mr Braun, Mr Harangozó and Mr Gross, which is, in the draft resolution, after paragraph 9.10.5, insert the following sub-paragraph:

“adopt a Law on the financing of Vojvodina, in order to ensure adequate financial guarantees and to enable Vojvodina to exercise its jurisdiction;”.

I call Ms Kovács to support Amendment 8.

Ms KOVÁCS (Serbia) – The Serbian constitution provides for guarantees that acquired rights to be implemented for the financing of Vojvodina. Article 184 guarantees that its budget should amount to at least 7% of the budget of the Republic of Serbia. However, there are still problems with the implementation of that right, because Vojvodina used to be an economically rich and developed region, although unfortunately it is now underdeveloped.

THE PRESIDENT – We come now to the sub-amendment to Amendment 8, tabled by Mr Harutyunyan, Mr Saar, Mr Zingeris, Ms Reps and Mr Gross, which is, in Amendment 8, delete the words “adopt the law on the financing of Vojvodina, in order to”.

I call Mr Harutyunyan to support the sub-amendment.

Mr HARUTYUNYAN (Armenia) – The most important thing is to ensure that there are adequate guarantees and mechanisms, and we do not think that that should be done by means of the law. There are many other ways of doing it.

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

What is the opinion of the mover of the main amendment?

Ms KOVÁCS (Serbia) – I understand the rapporteur’s view, but I am one of those who is at home fighting for the law to be developed for the financing of Vojvodina, and I do not want those words to be deleted.

THE PRESIDENT – What is the opinion of the committee?

Mr HERKEL (Estonia) – We accepted the sub-amendment.

THE PRESIDENT – I call Mr Harutyunyan to move an oral sub-amendment.

Mr HARUTYUNYAN (Armenia) – In the committee we agreed that we wanted to propose an oral sub-amendment to the written sub-amendment. We think that we should be talking not only about Vojvodina but about guarantees for the Kosovan Government. That is in accordance with our principles. We propose that the amendment should read: “to ensure adequate financial guarantees to enable Vojvodina and local self-government to exercise their jurisdiction.”

THE PRESIDENT – In my opinion, the oral sub-amendment is in order under our rules. However, if 10 or more members oppose that position, the oral sub-amendment cannot be considered.

That is not the case, so the oral sub-amendment can be debated.

I call Lord Anderson to oppose the oral sub-amendment.

Lord ANDERSON (United Kingdom) – We are all politicians, and we all know that regional and local governments demand more money. I simply pose this question: who is to say whether any sum given is adequate?

THE PRESIDENT – What is the opinion of the committee?

Mr HERKEL (Estonia) – As I said earlier, the committee accepted both the oral sub-amendment and the written amendment, as amended.

THE PRESIDENT – We shall now proceed to vote on the oral sub-amendment.

The vote is open.

The oral sub-amendment is adopted.

We shall now proceed to vote on the sub-amendment, as amended.

The vote is open.

The sub-amendment, as amended, is adopted.

We shall now proceed to vote on Amendment 8, as amended.

The vote is open.

We come to Amendment 10, tabled by Ms Kovács, Mr Frunda, Mr Gardetto, Mr Kalmár, Mr Gruber, Mr Koszorús, Mr Szabó, Mr Braun, Mr Harangozó and Mr Gross, which is, in the draft resolution, after paragraph 11.6, insert the following sub-paragraph:

“welcomes the allocation of 10 million RSD (around 100 000 EUR) from the state budget for the Hungarian-Serbian Historians’ Joint Committee that will provide for its effective work;”.

I call Ms Kovács to support Amendment 10.

Ms KOVÁCS (Serbia) – The teaching of history is of the utmost importance to Hungarians living in Vojvodina and to the whole country of Serbia. The work of the Hungarian-Serbian Historians’ Joint Committee helps people to understand the past and to live together in the present and the future. We welcome the allocation of this money from the Serbian State budget to the committee.

THE PRESIDENT – We come now to the sub-amendment to Amendment 10, tabled by Mr Gaudi Nagy, Mr Gardetto, Mr Graf, Mr Hübner, Ms Kaufer and Mr Fischer, which is, at the end of amendment 10, add the following words:

“and, at the same time, welcomes the adoption of the Act on Rehabilitation by the Serbian National Assembly in a non-discriminatory form and urges the Serbian authorities to compensate the victims of crimes against humanity during the Second World War; furthermore calls the authorities to prosecute the perpetrators.”

THE PRESIDENT – I call Mr Gaudi Nagy to support the sub-amendment.

Mr GAUDI NAGY (Hungary) – My colleague Mr Gardetto and I thought it important to praise Serbia for adopting the Act on Rehabilitation, but it should also be borne in mind that 40 000 Hungarians and others were massacred during the Second World War.

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

Mr HARUTYUNYAN (Armenia) – You are going far too far in trying to sub-amend “other ideology”; other ideology was proposed in the amendment. This sub-amendment is unrelated to the idea of establishing a joint committee to write a history that is acceptable to both communities. This sub-amendment deals with compensating the victims of crimes against humanity during the Second World War. We are absolutely against this.

THE PRESIDENT – What is the opinion of the mover of the original amendment?

Ms KOVÁCS (Serbia) – I would like to propose an oral sub-amendment if it is possible –

THE PRESIDENT – I am afraid that it is not possible.

Ms KOVÁCS (Serbia) – Why not? I think an oral sub-amendment is possible. The joint committee is a related issue. We should welcome the adoption of the act of rehabilitation by the Serbian national assembly. I suggest an oral sub-amendment to keep only this first part, while welcoming at the same time the adoption by the Serbian National Assembly of the act I mentioned in a non-discriminatory form. It is connected with the matter of the committee.

THE PRESIDENT – What is the opinion of the committee on such an oral sub-amendment?

Mr HERKEL (Estonia) – The committee did not deal with this new oral sub-amendment, but it is against the sub-amendment and against the main amendment.

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

Mr GAUDI NAGY (Hungary) – I do not see the two propositions as against each other. We are talking law-abiding activity from Serbia internationally. It is not the case that we are going to find out all sorts of things that happened. We are talking about proven facts. It is important for us to urge this kind of activity.

THE PRESIDENT – Let us proceed to vote on the oral sub-amendment.

The vote is open.

The oral sub-amendment is rejected.

Let us proceed to vote on the sub-amendment.

The vote is open.

The sub-amendment is rejected.

We now proceed to vote on amendment 10, which the committee is against.

The vote is open.

Amendment 10 is rejected.

We come to Amendment 16, tabled by Mr Haugli, Ms Mogherini Rebesani, Mr Lydeka, Ms Arib, Ms Wurm, Mr Biedron, Mr Gardetto, Ms Andersen, Ms Woldseth, Ms Christoffersen, Mr Gunnarsson, Ms Ohlsson, Ms Loklindt, Ms Err, Ms Koleva and Ms Carloni, which is, in the draft resolution, after paragraph 11.7, insert the following sub-paragraph:

“regrets that the 2011 Belgrade Pride march was banned in response to threats of violence by extremist groups, and calls on the Serbian authorities to ensure that the right of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons to freedom of assembly and expression is safeguarded in the future;”.

I call Mr Haugli to support amendment 16.

Mr HAUGLI (Norway) – A wise person once said that if we do not believe in freedom of speech for those who disturb us or cause offence, we do not believe in freedom of speech at all. This amendment makes reference to the banning of a peaceful demonstration. I encourage you to support it. It says simply that freedom of assembly and expression must be freedom of assembly and expression for all.

THE PRESIDENT – I call Mr Bakir on a point of order.

Ms BAKIR (Turkey) – In a paper presented to the Presidency, an oral sub-amendment mentioning 8.1 appeared, but we skipped it. I want to remind the Assembly of another oral sub-amendment –

THE PRESIDENT – I am afraid we have voted and we cannot come back to that point. We are debating Amendment 16. Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment? That is not the case.

What is the opinion of the committee?

Mr HERKEL (Estonia) – The committee is in favour.

THE PRESIDENT – The vote is open.

We come to Amendment 11, tabled by Ms Kovács, Mr Frunda, Mr Gardetto, Mr Kalmár, Mr Gruber, Mr Koszorús, Mr Szabó, Mr Braun, Mr Harangozó and Mr Gross, which is, in the draft resolution, after paragraph 11.8.1, insert the following sub-paragraph:

“find a solution for the underrepresentation of national minorities in the public administration and in the courts, as well as in state-owned companies;”.

I call Ms Kovács to support Amendment 11.

Ms KOVÁCS (Serbia) – As I said in my speech, national minority members are not represented in sufficient numbers in State institutions such as the courts, the prosecution, the police and so forth. The government should develop its minority rights policy further by implementing existing rights effectively, particularly in the field of representation of minorities in administrative bodies at all levels. We should support this.

THE PRESIDENT – We come to Sub-amendment 1 to Amendment 11, tabled by Mr Harutyunyan, Mr Saar, Mr Zingeris, Ms Reps and Mr Gross, which is, in amendment 11, replace the words “find a solution for” by the following words:” develop further strategies to remedy”.

I now call Mr Harutyunyan to support sub-amendment 1. You have 30 seconds.

Mr HARUTYUNYAN (Armenia) – Several solutions are already in place as expressed by Ms Kovács. We propose to replace the words “find a solution for” by “develop further strategies to remedy”

THE PRESIDENT – Does anyone wish to speak against Sub-amendment 1?

What is the opinion of the mover of the main amendment? I call Ms Kovács.

Ms KOVÁCS (Serbia) – I agree to it.

THE PRESIDENT – What is the opinion of the committee on Sub-amendment 1?

Mr HERKEL (Estonia) – It was accepted.

THE PRESIDENT – I shall now put Sub-amendment 1 to the vote.

The vote is open.

Sub-amendment 1 is agreed to.

THE PRESIDENT – We now come to Sub-amendment 2 to Amendment 11, tabled by Mr Gaudi Nagy, Mr Gardetto, Mr Disli, Mr Kayatürk, Mr Graf, Mr Hübner, Ms Kaufer, Mr Zeller and Mr Fischer, which is, at the end of amendment 11, add the following words:

“and in the field of education, with special regard to the establishment and maintenance of state institutions for higher education for national communities.”

I call Mr Gaudi Nagy to support Sub-amendment 2.

Mr GAUDI NAGY (Hungary) – This sub-amendment is important for stressing that the Serbian state should establish and maintain a State institution for higher education for national communities. Finland and Sweden are examples. The Swedish people have three universities all run by the State with 600 000 students. There are 300 000 Hungarians within Serbia.

THE PRESIDENT – Does anyone wish to speak against Sub-amendment 2? I call Mr Harutyunyan.

Mr HARUTYUNYAN (Armenia) – This is another case where we are sub-amending an amendment with something that is wholly unrelated. Amendment 11 deals with under-representation of national minorities in public administration. That is fully understandable. If we add to the same sentence “in the field of education” we will be adding something that is not related to the proposition. We are against it.

THE PRESIDENT – What is the opinion of the mover of the main amendment about the sub-amendment? I call Ms Kovács.

Ms KOVÁCS (Serbia) – I agree to it.

THE PRESIDENT – What is the opinion of the committee on Sub-amendment 2?

Mr HERKEL (Estonia) – It was rejected.

THE PRESIDENT – I shall now put Sub-amendment 2 to the vote.

The vote is open.

Sub-amendment 2 is rejected.

Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment, as amended? That is not the case.

What is the opinion of the committee?

Mr HERKEL (Estonia) – The committee is in favour.

THE PRESIDENT – I shall now put the amendment, as amended, to the vote.

The vote is open

Amendment 11, as amended, is agreed to.

We now come to Amendment 12, tabled by Ms Kovács, Mr Frunda, Mr Gardetto, Mr Kalmár, Mr Gruber, Mr Koszorús, Mr Szabó, Mr Braun, Mr Harangozó and Mr Gross, which is, in the draft resolution, paragraph 11.8.3, after the word “operate”, add the following words:

“, as well as the complaints of national councils concerning the respective violations of competences, and provide for adequate response”.

I call Ms Kovács to support Amendment 12.

Ms KOVÁCS (Serbia) – As I have already said, the council of national minorities faces some challenges. We must acknowledge that there are, indeed, some violations on the ground in respect of CNM guarantees and competencies by some local municipalities.

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

Mr HARUTYUNYAN (Armenia) – We are fully aware of the problems facing national minorities, but we trust the mechanisms that are in place in Serbia so there is no need to go into such detail, especially in respect of violations of competencies, because no such case was brought to our attention during our visits. We therefore want to stick with the previous text.

THE PRESIDENT – What is the opinion of the committee on the amendment?

Mr HERKEL (Estonia) – The committee voted against.

THE PRESIDENT – The vote is open.

Amendment 12 is rejected.

We now come to Amendment 14, tabled by Mr Frunda,8 Mr Corlăţean, Mr Badea, Mr Pantiru, Mr Preda, Mr Vitali, Mr Nessa and Ms Gutu, which is, in the draft resolution, at the end of paragraph 11.8.3, add the following words:

“and provide, in this context, an assessment as to the implementation of the Assembly Resolution 1632/2008 regarding the situation of national minorities in Vojvodina and of the Romanian ethnic minority in Serbia;”.

I call Mr Frunda to support Amendment 14.

Mr FRUNDA (Romania) – The amendment speaks for itself.

THE PRESIDENT – We now come to the sub-amendment to Amendment 14, tabled by Mr Gaudi Nagy, Mr Gardetto, Mr Disli, Mr Kayatürk, Mr Graf, Mr Hübner, Ms Kaufer, Mr Zeller and Mr Fischer, which is, at the end of amendment 14, add the following words:

“and implement as soon as possible Assembly Resolution 1832 (2011) that reiterates that member States have to respect basic principles set out in Assembly Resolution 1334 (2003) on positive experiences of autonomous regions as a source of inspiration for conflict resolution in Europe.”

I call Mr. Gaudi Nagy to support Sub-amendment 1.

Mr GAUDI NAGY (Hungary) – It was a good thing that last October this Assembly adopted the very important Resolution 1832 (2011) on autonomous regions, based on the wonderful report of Mr Gross. It is important that all Romanian and Hungarian minorities, and other minorities as well, have these rights.

THE PRESIDENT – Does anyone wish to speak against the sub-amendment? I call Ms Vučković.

Ms VUČKOVIĆ (Serbia) – I am opposed to the sub-amendment because I think it is stepping on to very sensitive ground. The resolutions in question relate equally to all other member States of the Council of Europe, and I do not understand why there should be a new requirement on Serbia to implement these requirements.

THE PRESIDENT – What is the opinion of the mover of the main amendment? I call Mr Frunda.

Mr FRUNDA (Romania) – I accept the sub-amendment. It was a general recommendation. I think it was drafted by our colleague, Mr Gross. It had a huge majority in parliament. It gives a European dimension to the solution, and what is good for Europe has to be good for Serbia as well.

THE PRESIDENT – I call Mr Corlăţean on a point of order.

Mr CORLĂŢEAN (Romania) – When considering the sub-amendment, we must take into account that some who signed the amendment might not agree with the sub-amendment. That is the position I am in.

THE PRESIDENT – We have noted your comments.

What is the opinion of the committee on the sub-amendment?

Mr HERKEL (Estonia) – We voted against the sub-amendment, but in favour of the main amendment.

THE PRESIDENT – I shall now put the sub-amendment to the vote.

The vote is open.

The sub-amendment is rejected.

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

What is the opinion of the committee?

Mr HERKEL (Estonia) – The committee is in favour.

THE PRESIDENT – I shall now put the amendment to the vote.

The vote is open

Amendment 14 is agreed to.

We now come to Amendment 13, tabled by Ms Kovács, Mr Frunda, Mr Gardetto, Mr Kalmár, Mr Gruber, Mr Koszorús, Mr Szabó, Mr Braun, Mr Harangozó and Mr Gross, which is, in the draft resolution, after paragraph 11.8.6.1, insert the following subparagraph:

“with regard to the privatization of the electronic media which are broadcasting minority programs, ensure the application of a media strategy which provides for the constitutional guaranties of minority rights;”.

I call Ms Kovács to support amendment 13.

Ms KOVÁCS (Serbia) – Our aim was to make it possible for local government to be founders of the electronic media in question. We welcome the media strategy that grants that to the council of national minorities.

THE PRESIDENT – We now come to the sub-amendment to Amendment 13, tabled by Mr Harutyunyan, Mr Saar, Mr Zingeris, Ms Reps and Mr Gross, which is, in amendment 13, replace the sentence with the following sentence:

“to secure the constitutional rights of minorities when privatizing the electronic media which are broadcasting minority programmes.”

I call Mr Saar to support Sub-amendment 1.

Mr SAAR (Estonia) – We have merely proposed another wording. The point is exactly the same, but the wording should make it a little easier to understand.

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

What is the opinion of the mover of the main amendment? I call Ms Kovács.

Ms KOVÁCS (Serbia) – I agree, as the content is exactly the same, and I am grateful for the new wording. I am in favour.

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

Mr HERKEL (Estonia) – The committee is in favour.

THE PRESIDENT – I shall now put the sub-amendment to the vote.

The vote is open.

The sub-amendment is agreed to.

Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment, as amended? That is not the case.

What is the opinion of the committee?

Mr HERKEL (Estonia) – The committee is in favour.

THE PRESIDENT – I shall now put the amendment, as amended, to the vote.

The vote is open

Amendment 13, as amended, is agreed to.

THE PRESIDENT – We come now to Amendment 15, tabled by Mr Frunda, Mr Corlăţean, Mr Badea, Mr Pantiru, Mr Preda, Mr Vitali, Mr Nessa and Mrs Gutu, which is, in the draft resolution, at the end of paragraph 14.5, add the following words:” and the other minority groups mentioned in the present resolution.”

I call Mr Frunda to support Amendment 15.

Mr FRUNDA (Romania) – In this amendment, the rapporteurs have focused on the implementation of the rights of national minorities, especially the Roma, but we have to mention other minorities that desire the same rights. That is why we wish to add the words in the amendment.

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

Mr SAAR (Estonia) – We are against the amendment because it is redundant. Paragraph 14.5 of the resolution reads, “full implementation of the rights of minorities, especially Roma.” Adding the proposed statement would not make it clearer, but would shift the focus completely.

THE PRESIDENT – What is the opinion of the committee?

Mr HERKEL (Estonia) – The committee is against the amendment.

THE PRESIDENT – I call Ms Bakir on a point of order.

Ms BAKIR (Turkey) – I have an oral sub-amendment relating to the full implementation of the rights of all minorities. It is not only about the Roma or Vojvodina; there are many minorities whose rights should be ensured. That is my proposal. We should not discriminate. We should make the wording refer to the full implementation of the rights of all minorities.

THE PRESIDENT – That is not a point of order. I call Mr Frunda on a point of order.

Mr FRUNDA (Romania) – Mr President, in principle I would like such an amendment, but what the lady has done is against the rules. The amendment was rejected, so it cannot be put as an oral sub-amendment.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you for your support, Mr Frunda. We cannot accept an oral sub-amendment at this time on this point.

The vote is open.

Amendment 15 is rejected.

I call Ms Bakir on a point of order.

Ms BAKIR (Turkey) – I have a proposal for an oral amendment. May I propose it?

THE PRESIDENT – Ms Bakir, I am sorry but we cannot consider an oral amendment via a point of order.

We will now proceed to vote on the whole of the draft resolution contained in Document 12813, as amended.

The vote is open.

The debate is closed. I thank the rapporteurs and the Monitoring Committee.

6. Protecting human rights and dignity by taking into account previously expressed

wishes of patients

THE PRESIDENT – I come now to the next debate. I call Mr Hancock on a point of order.

Mr HANCOCK (United Kingdom) – Mr President, unless we are extraordinarily lucky, and Mr Marquet has been cloned overnight, he appears twice on the speakers list for the next debate, first as the official spokesman for the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe and again as an individual speaker. Nice though that would be, I suggest that he speak as the spokesman for the ALDE and that the next ALDE member, who just so happens to be me, take Mr Marquet’s place.

THE PRESIDENT – I take note of the error in the list of speakers, and I shall correct it.

The next item of business this afternoon is the debate on the Report entitled “Protecting human rights and dignity by taking into account previously expressed wishes of patients”, Document 12804, presented by Mr Xuclŕ on behalf of the former Social, Health and Family Affairs Committee.

I remind colleagues that we have already agreed to limit speaking times this afternoon to 3 minutes. In order to finish by 8.30 p.m., we shall have to interrupt the list of speakers at about 8.20 p.m. to allow time for the reply and the vote.

Is this agreed? I call Mr Rochebloine on a point of order.

Mr ROCHEBLOINE (France) said that the Assembly had spent two hours and 20 minutes considering the report on Serbia. Although this was a very important report, there was now only a short period of time available to consider the equally important next item of business. A great deal of time had been wasted on amendments and sub-amendments to the report on Serbia and in consequence it was vital that the current debate be permitted to continue beyond 8.30 p.m.

THE PRESIDENT – I feel that most of the Chamber is in favour of that position. We shall proceed. I ask colleagues to speak as quickly as possible within the time limits as expressed in our rules. I call Mr Xuclŕ.

Mr XUCLŔ (Spain) thanked delegates for remaining in the Chamber in spite of the late hour, and said that the report dealt with the matter of living wills. Any capable adult was entitled to make known his or her opinion on what ought to happen to them in certain circumstances. For example, prior to medical treatment, they could leave instructions that would have to be taken into account by their family and the medical professionals treating them.

There was already some legislation on this issue in the 47 member States of the Council of Europe but the nature of the legislation varied and in some states there was no legislation at all on this matter. In addition to living wills, the report also discussed the related mechanisms of advance directives and continuing powers of attorney. The report defended certain rights and argued in favour of certain safeguards. The report was based on the principle of dignity and the principle that people should live well and die well.

Some member States required directions in respect of living wills; at present there were major legislative differences between member States in this respect. While the Council of Europe had approved the Oviedo Convention, some member States had not yet adopted it. He hoped that the committee’s report would help encourage broader adoption of the Oviedo Convention.

He asked the Assembly to consider the question,” How many of the 800 million citizens within the Council of Europe’s boundaries have already drawn up a living will?” The answer was probably not more than a few individuals even in those member States with living will legislation.

The report made recommendations that would modernise and improve the current situation so that more people made choices when they still had the capability to do so. For example, resolution 6 made the proposal that there should be a register for living wills such as a State register where they could be deposited. However, the report did not seek to introduce anything that was against the law such as euthanasia. The advancement of science had required the development of new thinking on living wills.

It was important that living wills should not be cast in stone: it should be possible for them to be revoked or revised, and legal representatives should be able to supervise living wills.

He had tabled a number of amendments that took inspiration from United Kingdom legislation with regard to requiring separate representatives for a person’s property interests and their health and welfare issues. He looked forward to an interesting and constructive debate by the Assembly. The debate in committee had been fascinating and very helpful.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. There are six minutes left in which to reply.

The debate is open. The first speaker is Lord Boswell on behalf of the European Democrat Group.

Lord BOSWELL (United Kingdom) – On behalf of the European Democrat Group, I warmly welcome this report on what are some of the most deeply sensitive and personal aspects of our lives. I congratulate the rapporteur on his constructive work and leadership on it.

I know from my own involvement with legislation in the British Parliament how very easy it is to create some kind of sterile but disturbing debate about euthanasia. I do not support either euthanasia or assisted dying, but neither of those subjects has a place in this report. The background to the report as it is presented to us is that we all have populations who are living to a greater age and that many of them – and, of course, us – will sadly, at some stage, lose their mental capacity. We need to encourage all our citizens to face these issues while they are still able to do so by making advance arrangements for the management of their property and, if they wish – and it must be a personal decision – by indicating preferences for the intensity of medical treatment to take place.

In each member state, we need clear arrangements for registering preferences, safeguards for the circumstances if individual circumstances have been changed – for example by advances in science – and finally, robust arrangements to monitor and provide redress for those who have taken responsibility and failed to carry it out. That is true on both property and health matters.

I close with some general points. First, we should not look at these advance decisions as some kind of suicide note or death sentence. They must be amendable at any time. Secondly, no one should undergo intrusive treatment without their personal or previously indicated intention. Thirdly, we should not look to the loss of mental capacity as an absolute; people may retain some capacity, if not total capacity.

Finally, British legislation – very unusually for Britain – commences with a statement of principles. The most important of these is that at all times the best interests of the individual must come first. We must not treat our loved ones as objects. They must retain their moral autonomy wherever possible and at all time their dignity.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Lord Boswell. The next speaker is Mr Marquet, who will speak on behalf of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.

Mr MARQUET (Monaco) said that the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe welcomed the report, which offered effective protection for the dignity of all patients in line with Oviedo Convention. He added his congratulations to France for ratifying the Oviedo Convention, and hoped other member States would follow suit.

The issue of euthanasia was not in the report and this was to be welcomed. A separate debate on euthanasia would be of interest.

Ensuring that a patient’s directions were followed was the best way to guarantee their human rights and therefore it was essential for the report to be approved and for States to implement its recommendations. This was especially true because few citizens currently had access to living wills or similar instruments.

The report offered a clear framework for progress and an annual review of living wills would help support their legal certainty. It was also important to ensure that medical staff and families of patients were well informed about the principles behind living wills.

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

Mr LECOQ (France) said that the rapporteur had done a remarkable job in addressing a fraught ethical question. The issues of euthanasia and the withdrawal of medical treatment were not included in the report, and that was to be welcomed. He was very dismayed that Amendment 4 which sought to include such matters in the resolution. If Amendment 4 were agreed, the Group of the Unified European Left would be unable to support the report.

The freedom and autonomy of patients was important, as was their ability to choose the type of treatment they would receive if they lacked the capacity to decide later on. Both of these issues which were addressed by the report, were important. The French approach provided a good balance between the duty of the doctor to fulfil his Hippocratic oath and save lives, and the choice of the patient.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Lecoq.

The next speaker is Mr Ghiletchi, who will speak on behalf of the Group of the European People’s Party.

Mr GHILETCHI (Republic of Moldova) – Mr President, dear colleagues, I, too, thank the rapporteur, Mr Xuclŕ for presenting a good report on a very sensitive issue. Unfortunately, this problem is neglected in many member States. As a result, many old people across the continent become vulnerable and exposed to high risks and serious challenges.

The recommendation of the report, to adopt legislation and to create instruments to protect the dignity and personal integrity of the patient, must be thoroughly examined and applied by all member States. Countries with no legislation on the matter are encouraged to start with a road map towards such legislation on the basis of the Oviedo Convention, which gives them time to examine the issue and pass appropriate legislation. We must be aware that we are dealing with a sensitive issue, and everything we can do to protect the human rights and dignity of people facing the last stage of life must be done, in the best interests of the patient.

We have to admit that there might be misinterpretation of the legislation, and even of this resolution and recommendation. A very likely misinterpretation is to confuse the living will or advanced directives with euthanasia. In order to avoid this, several amendments were tabled. I am very glad that both the rapporteur and the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development accepted these amendments. I call on the Assembly to support them too. Thus, we will send a clear message to our member States that the Council of Europe is really concerned with the dignity of human life.

It is also important to underline that, in case of doubt, such a decision must always be pro-life and the prolonging of life. Taking account of wishes cannot and must not force the doctor’s hand to terminate somebody’s life. Without denying the principle that the patient’s wishes “shall be taken into account”, it must be stressed that wishes that are against the law or good practice must not be applied.

Another area of concern is the property and assets the patient owns. We cannot ignore the temptation of those who are taking care of patients to get hold of their property, if possible, on the day after the patient signs the living will. In order to avoid such potential abuse, member States are called to put in place a system of supervision. Another recommendation is to divide the function of representing the person between an attorney for property and a separate representative for health and welfare. I thank those who tabled this amendment.

In conclusion, I would like to quote Benjamin Franklin, who once said, “Life’s tragedy is that we get old too soon, and wise too late.” Dear colleagues, let us be wise before it is too late.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. I now call Mr Mahoux on behalf of the Socialist Group.

Mr MAHOUX (Belgium) congratulated the rapporteur and said that he wished that his congratulations could have been without reservation, but the last-minute Amendment 4, tabled by Mr Xuclá contradicted the approach of the report. It was clear that the report concerned living wills. It did not address euthanasia or assisted suicide. Amendment 4 did address those issues.

As both a member of the Assembly and a surgeon, he was aware that advanced directives such as living wills helped doctors deal with patients who lacked mental capacity. The autonomy of patients was in line with the principles of the Council of Europe and also the Bio-ethics Convention (Oviedo Convention). These improved the human rights, choices and freedoms of patients. These were key rights. A living will gave full respect to the choices of the patient even when they were unconscious.

Turning to the substance of the resolution, he hoped that the Assembly would respect the views of those who considered that it was not, and should not be, about euthanasia and assisted suicide. He supported Amendment 4 and hoped that it would be adopted.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. Does the rapporteur wish to respond at this stage? I understand that he will respond at the end of the debate. In the debate, I now call Mr Díaz Tejera.

Mr DĺAZ TEJERA (Spain) referred to a film, Mar Adentro, which addressed the complex issues around death and choice and talked about life, pleasure and freedom. This debate was essentially about freedom and he questioned why the Assembly was returning to this issue now. The debate had not been confined to the issues of freedom and human rights but had addressed separate questions of morality, faith and belief. The Council of Europe was fundamentally concerned with human rights, in this case freedom, and should not concern itself with these other perspectives; questions of morality, faith and belief should be left to experts in those areas.

In principle, the last wishes of an individual should be respected and, where there was doubt, the freedom of that individual should be paramount, even where it contradicted the wishes of the family. He therefore supported Amendment 4. The rapporteur had produced a courageous report.

Theology had no place in a debate which should concern itself exclusively with human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. I now call Ms Marin.

Ms MARIN (France) thought that the rapporteur had produced excellent work on a challenging subject. The recommendations had been balanced, although she found that she could not wholly support them. Instead, she supported the text as amended by the committee. The subject was particularly sensitive because it involved ethical questions.

She wished to relate a personal story which was painful to her but illustrated the difficulty of drawing a clear line. She had had to watch her own father die in pain. She felt helpless even as he begged for help, his body slowly disintegrating yet his mind intact. She felt powerless as she watched him die in an undignified manner, hoping that there was still a chance for his recovery but wincing at the heavy-handed approach of the doctors in charge of his care. She wondered whether emotion was the best guide.

It was all very well to respect the living will of patients but was it really possible to have faith in a living will’s validity when the crucial time came? It was almost impossible to reconcile the respect and dignity of the life of the individual with their living will. The great merit of the report was its very existence and she commended it to the Assembly.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. I now call Mr Leigh.

Mr LEIGH (United Kingdom) – I am afraid that the report is about euthanasia. For decades, proponents of euthanasia in Europe have been waging a campaign that they themselves have admitted is underhanded and secretive. The statement that we are now debating is just the latest small effort in that campaign.

This document states that because of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights “there can be no intervention affecting a person without his or her consent”, yet thousands of unborn children in Europe are killed every single day without their consent. Why are we not approving statements advocating the protection of human rights and dignity at the beginning of life as well as at the end? Advanced directives or living wills were invented by the Voluntary Euthanasia Society in the United Kingdom in the late 1960s, but have come to the fore only in more recent years. I note a tragic and disturbing case that took place in Great Britain. Kerrie Wooltorton, a young woman of just 26 years of age who was suffering from depression, drank a poisonous concoction in an attempt to end her own life. At several points, the emergency services had opportunities to save her life, but they perversely refrained from doing so because she had left a “living will” instructing them not to. The medical services feared that they would be prosecuted for saving her life under the Mental Capacity Act 2005.

Can my fellow delegates here in Strasbourg imagine how they would feel if they received a phone call informing them that one of their children had drunk poison and that ambulance and hospital staff who had everything necessary to save the child’s life stood by not helping instead as the child lay dying? That is a situation that advanced directives or living wills allow. This is not alarmist talk; this is the historic fact, the track record. If the proponents of living wills are appalled by the case of Kerrie Wooltorton, they must join us in rejecting the document under consideration without the clear defences contained in Amendments 1 and 4.

The fact is that euthanasia and suicide do affect others because, as Donne said, no man is an island. The proponents of euthanasia admit that they are implementing a gradualist struggle. As Dr Helgha Kuhse, president of the World Federation of Right-to-Die Societies said in 1984, “If we can get people to accept the removal of all treatment and care – especially the removal of food and fluids – they will see what a painful way this is to die and then, in the patient’s best interests, they will accept the lethal injection.” The slippery slope is very real, and this report is another slide down it. We must accept Amendments 1 and 4.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. The next speaker is Mr Rochebloine.

Mr ROCHEBLOINE (France) said that the draft resolution referred to respect for a private life, respect for dignity and respect for the individual. It appeared acceptable on the surface but its practical effects required closer scrutiny.

He agreed that the last wishes of the individual should be respected but he was concerned about cases where, for example, pressure had been put on the patient to consent to treatment or to consent to the harvesting of organs.

Doctors had to treat patients according to the ethics of their profession. The purpose of treatment at the end of life was palliative and it was essential to ensure that patients were given safe and compassionate treatment.

The issue of the living will gave him pause for thought. If it meant a formalised contract, then he thought that this might be reasonable as such mechanisms already existed elsewhere as a defence to actions in negligence. If, however, it meant that a doctor came under an obligation to stop treatment when

there was still hope for some improvement in the patient’s condition, he could not agree as this placed too much responsibility on the doctor. It was contrary to a doctor’s professional ethics. Indeed, the patient may change his mind or may make some recovery.

He agreed with the general thrust of the report but could not agree with all its recommendations.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. The next speaker is Mr Hancock.

Mr HANCOCK (United Kingdom) – Thank you, Mr President. The first thing I have to say is how disgusted I am at the fact that we have barely enough time to do justice even to those who have stayed here this evening. Sooner or later, the Bureau of this Assembly is going to have to come to terms with the fact that important issues like this must be programmed in a much fairer way. It is totally irresponsible for the Bureau to tell us that we cannot have a proper debate. I resent having to use up part of my allotted three minutes to say this. I hope, Mr President, that you will report back to the Bureau that there was widespread dissatisfaction at what has happened.

This issue is not, as Mr Leigh said it was, about euthanasia. It is about giving people the opportunity to put their house in order at a time in their lives when they are fit and capable of doing so. There is nothing at all hysterical in this report; it deals with a basic right for people to prepare themselves at any time in their lives but particularly towards the end.

I am sure we can all depict tragic tales of family members who have died and been through endless suffering. I lost my closest friend of 48 years just a few weeks ago. A few months before he died, he wrote down his wishes. He was told quite clearly that his cancer was inoperable, and he did not wish to lose whatever time he had to the debilitating effects of the medical and surgical services being offered – and rightly so. Right up to his last breath he was able to have a comprehensive and vivid debate with those people who were with him.

I understand why some people say that this could lead to other things, but that is not what the report says. The report is not a stepping stone to euthanasia; it is a stepping stone to giving people the right to choose for themselves what they want to happen at a time in their lives when they are able to do so. Where is the threat in that? To deny people that chance is to deny them that right. It is very unfair when some people suggest otherwise; it is not fair to the people concerned. The rapporteur did everything he could to ensure that this report received a favourable response in this Assembly. One does not have to be a brain surgeon to know that things can easily be misconstrued in this Assembly. Some people presenting a report can kill a report, and some words in a report can kill a report. On this occasion, this report does everything possible to elicit the support of members present.

I am disappointed that we did not debate this issue at the start of the day when the Assembly would probably have been full and we could have had two and half hours of debate. Once again, Mr President, I say that I hope you will use whatever powers you have to inform your colleagues that what has happened is totally unacceptable and should not be repeated.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. The next speaker is Mr Flynn.

Mr FLYNN (United Kingdom) – I was one of the original signatories to a proposal that was put down by Ms McCafferty in 2009. I want to congratulate the rapporteur on the splendid work that he has done and to express my regret that an attempt has been made to hijack his careful work, which is sound, intelligent and wise. It is a shame that this has happened yet again, as it happened in 2003 and again in 2005. Then we had debates on similar subjects and they were all held on Friday mornings when the number of people present was not representative of the full membership of this Organisation. We all know what happens on Friday mornings when small groups can organise here when many members have gone home.

These amendments have been produced at a time when 85% of the people of Britain are demanding reforms and demanding change. I am afraid that we as legislators tend to be cowardly and refuse to act in that way. We all know the agony suffered by Ms Marin and we have all experienced loved ones dying. Often, their personalities have gone, they no longer exist as our loved ones, and they do not remember who they are or who we are, but their bodies continue to function sometimes in constant physical and mental agony. We cannot say that that is the only choice before us and that there are no other choices, because of course there are.

This report is absolutely right insofar as it goes, but it would be outrageous to allow an amendment to change the entire nature of the report. Some subjects require lengthy investigation, and we cannot make decisions on them by way of an amendment.

We as legislators must also take into account the majority view of the people. My country has been very backward in this regard, but we have seen what has happened elsewhere in the world, where policies have been changed. We must all look at our own situation and decide what we would want in the final days of our life.

We talk a great deal about human rights here. Diane Pretty was a celebrated case in Britain. It was certain that she was going to die in dreadful circumstances, and she wanted a law that would say she could die at a time and in a manner of her choosing. The law said no. However, it is an important human right to have the right to die in a manner of our choosing.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Flynn. I call Mr Farina.

Mr FARINA (Italy) commended the report. It was on a very difficult and sensitive subject, but provided clear and simple solutions. He hoped that the Assembly would agree the proposed amendments as they would strengthen the recommendations of the report. They would ensure that the will of the patient was not disregarded.

The rapporteur had been clear that the report did not discuss euthanasia. However, the use of the term “living will” was inappropriate. Wills were an indication of how a person wished to distribute their goods and possessions. But life and health were not things that could be disposed of by anyone, whether the individual or the State. It would be a grave mistake to infect society with the virus of the “right to die”. In the past, it had not been necessary for a patient to make a written record of his wishes. The fact that a written record was now considered necessary was not because of advances in science, but because of a decline in solidarity and the sense of a shared purpose as a society.

It was notable that in the United States, where there had been a concerted push to persuade people to make living wills, only a small proportion had done so. The reason for this was that people hoped they would be looked after in times of need by good people using their judgment rather than by administrators slavishly following written instructions.

THE PRESIDENT – I am very sorry, but I must close the debate. We will lose the interpretation and that imposes a limit on our debate. 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, in typescript only, to the Table Office for publication in the official report.

I call Mr Xuclŕ, rapporteur, to reply. You have six minutes.

Mr XUCLŔ (Spain) thanked all those who had contributed to the debate and asked to correct his earlier erroneous statement about the number of citizens in the Council of Europe: in fact, there were 800 million citizens in the Council of Europe. The committee had heard a great deal of evidence, including that from doctors. The sum of this evidence was that there was little legal provision for living wills and little awareness of them either. The aim of the report had been to address these issues.

The debate had been constructive. Both the report and committee shared the same purpose: to improve the life of individual human beings.

Mr Farina had questioned the use of the term “living will”. It was easy to argue about terminology but it was more important to focus on the issue itself. In this case, the issue was the right of individuals to express how they wanted to be treated at a difficult and crucial point in their lives. This was a right of all people in civilised societies.

Many delegates had mentioned euthanasia. It was possible that one day a member would be brave enough to table a report on euthanasia. Perhaps that report would even be successful. If the Assembly did ever hold a debate on euthanasia it would need to be a practical and parliamentary debate not a theological one. Any debate would need to be technical in nature, secular and well-informed. The report was not about euthanasia, it was about living wills.

It was only natural that amendments should be tabled and questions asked even as a committee came to the end of a long and considered programme of work. What was important was that the Assembly did not pass amendments that undermined the consensus that had been built by the committee.

Amendment 1 had been withdrawn in committee. Amendment 4 was intended to correct Amendment 1 and to give a clear definition of what the report covered. This was the only reference to euthanasia in the report and any other question relating to euthanasia was not relevant to the debate.

He appealed to all delegates to remember the consensus reached by the committee and to support the committee’s amendments and recommendations.

THE PRESIDENT – Does the chairperson of the committee wish to take the floor? You have 2 minutes.

Ms MAURY PASQUIER (Switzerland) congratulated and thanked the rapporteur, who had done a magnificent job to produce such a balanced and rational report on what was a very sensitive issue.

No amendment was required to the report because it was already very clear. Every individual enjoyed the right to have their wishes on their own medical treatment taken into account.

It was deeply regrettable that the debate had been scheduled for the very end of the day’s proceedings and that the Assembly had only had 45 minutes to consider this extremely important issue.

THE PRESIDENT – I understand your point, Ms Maury Pasquier, but the Chair is not responsible for the situation. I take note of your point and shall refer it to the Bureau.

The debate is closed.

A draft resolution has been presented on behalf of the former Social, Health and Family Affairs Committee to which five amendments have been tabled.

I understand that the Chairperson of the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development wishes to propose to the Assembly that the following amendments, which were unanimously approved by the committee, should be declared as agreed by the Assembly under Rule 33.11.

The amendments are Nos. 3 and 5.

Is that so, Ms Maury Pasquier?

Ms MAURY PASQUIER (Switzerland) – Yes, it is.

THE PRESIDENT – Are there any objections? That is not the case.

The following amendments have been adopted:

Amendment 3, tabled by Lord Boswell, Lord Anderson, Mr Benton, Mr Toshev and Ms Rudd, which is, in the draft resolution, after paragraph 6.2, insert the following sub-paragraph:

“there should be an option to divide the function of representing the person between an attorney for property, and a separate person for health and welfare; provisions for the possibility of a public appointment should also be made in cases where the individual has made no appointment him/herself, where this is in the best interest of the individual;”.

Amendment 5, tabled by Mr Xuclŕ, Ms Bonet Perot, Mr Marquet, Sir Alan Meale, Ms Quintanilla, Mr Costa Neves, Mr Santini, Mr Conde and Mr Gaudi Nagy, which is, in the draft resolution, after paragraph 6.2, insert the following sub-paragraph:

“there should be an option to divide the function of representing the person between an attorney for property, and a separate person for health and welfare; provisions for the possibility of a public appointment should also be made in cases where the individual has made no appointment him/herself, where this is in the best interest of the individual;”.

We will proceed to consider the remaining amendments in the following order: 4, 1 and 2. I remind colleagues that speeches on amendments are limited to 30 seconds.

We come now to Amendment 4, tabled by Mr Xuclŕ, Ms Bonet Perot, Mr Marquet, Sir Alan Meale, Ms Quintanilla, Mr Costa Neves, Mr Santini, Mr Conde and Mr Gaudi Nagy, which is, in the draft resolution, after paragraph 4, insert the following paragraph:

“This resolution is not intended to deal with the issues of euthanasia or assisted suicide. Euthanasia, in the sense of the intentional killing by act or omission of a dependent human being for his or her alleged benefit, should always be prohibited. This resolution thus limits itself to the question of advance directives, living wills and continuing powers of attorney.”

I call Mr Xuclŕ to support Amendment 4.

Mr XUCLŔ (Spain) spoke in favour of Amendment 4, which was necessary because Amendment 1 had been withdrawn in the committee. The amendment was very specific and he hoped that the Assembly would support it.

THE PRESIDENT – I have been informed that Mr Volontč wishes to propose an oral sub-amendment, as follows: in Amendment 4, to replace the word “should” with “must”.

In my opinion, the oral sub-amendment is in order under our rules.

Do 10 or more colleagues object to the oral sub-amendment being debated?

I call Mr Mahoux on a point of order.

Mr MAHOUX (Belgium) asked to move a second oral sub-amendment. Since the rapporteur had made clear that the report did not cover euthanasia, he suggested ending the sentence in question after the words “assisted suicide”.

THE PRESIDENT – There is another oral sub-amendment. What is the opinion of the rapporteur?

Mr XUCLŔ (Spain) said that he had been working on this issue for over a year and it was important not get diverted by other issues. He noted that the Committee had voted in favour of Amendment 4.

THE PRESIDENT – We must respect the rules. There are two oral sub-amendments. I accept both, and we shall vote on them both. That is the democratic solution. I call Mr Volontč to support the first oral sub-amendment.

Mr VOLONTČ (Italy) said that his sub-amendment merely repeated what dozens of resolutions of the Assembly had agreed in the past. The Assembly and the European Convention for Human Rights both agreed that euthanasia was not a right and should be banned.

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

What is the opinion of the committee?

Ms MAURY PASQUIER (Switzerland) said that she accepted Mr Volontč’s sub-amendment.

THE PRESIDENT – I will now put the oral sub-amendment moved by Mr Volontč to the vote.

The vote is open.

The oral sub-amendment is agreed to.

We now come to Mr Mahoux’s oral sub-amendment.

Does anyone wish to speak against it? I call Mr Volontč.

Mr VOLONTČ (Italy) said he opposed Mr Mahoux’s oral sub-amendment both because it went against what the committee had agreed and also because it was procedurally inadmissible.

THE PRESIDENT – We shall still vote on the second oral sub-amendment for the avoidance of doubt.

The vote is open.

The oral sub-amendment is rejected.

THE PRESIDENT – We now come to Amendment 4, as amended.

What is the opinion of the committee?

Ms MAURY PASQUIER (Switzerland) – The committee is in favour.

THE PRESIDENT – The vote is open.

We come to Amendment 1, tabled by Mr Volontč, Lord Boswell, Mr O’Reilly, Mr Gruber, Mr Braun, Mr Badea Mr Frunda, Mr Farina, Mr Santini, Mr Neugebauer, Mr Mayer, Mr Donabauer, Ms Virolainen, Mr Vareikis, Mrs Erkal Kara, Mr Ékes, Mr Nagy, Mr Petrov, Mr Toshev, Ms Herasym’Yuk, Ms Bondarenko, Mr Sobolev, Mr Tsiskarishvili, Ms Quintanilla, Mr Ghiletchi, Ms Palihovici, Mr Agramunt, which, is , in the draft resolution, after paragraph 5.2, insert the following sub-paragraph:

“categorically prohibit all forms of euthanasia and assisted suicide:”.

I call Mr Volontč to support his amendment

Mr VOLONTČ said that, given that Amendment 1 was inconsistent with Amendment 4, he would not move it.

THE PRESIDENT – We come to Amendment 2, tabled by Mr Volontč, Lord Boswell, Mr Gruber, Mr Braun, Mr Badea, Mr Frunda, Mr Renato Farina, Mr Santini, Mr Neugebauer, Mr Mayer, Mr Donabauer, Mr O’Reilly, Mr Vareikis, Ms Erkal Kara, Mr Nagy, Mr Ékes, Mr Petrov, Mr Toshev, Mr Aligrudić, Ms Herasym’yuk, Ms Bondarenko, Mr Sobolev, Mr Aliu, Mr Nikoloski, Mr Zingeris, Ms Quintanilla, Mr Ghiletchi, Ms Palihovici and Mr Agramunt, which is, in the draft resolution, after paragraph 6.6, add the following paragraph:

“surrogate decisions that rely on general value judgements present in society should not be admissible and, in case of doubt, the decision must always be pro life and the prolongation of life.”

I call Mr Volontč to support the amendment.

Ms VOLONTČ (Italy) said that it was important to recollect Recommendation 1418 of June 1999 on the protection of human rights and dignity of the terminally ill and the dying. That recommendation stated that if in doubt the decision should always be for life and the prolongation of life, and that was in line with the principles of the Council of Europe.

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

Mr HANCOCK (United Kingdom) – This beggars belief. I can only cite my own experience. When my 92-year-old mother was in hospital, I was confronted by a doctor who asked me whether I wanted my mother resuscitated under any circumstances whatsoever, which could have intrusive consequences. That is a common question. I was the surrogate in this case, because I happen to be the only next of kin who was available at the time. If you put something like this amendment in, that denies the reality of what goes on every single day. Once again, it is a wrecking amendment for this report and it should be resisted.

THE PRESIDENT – What is the opinion of the committee?

Ms MAURY PASQUIER (Switzerland) – The committee is in favour.

THE PRESIDENT – The vote is open.

THE PRESIDENT – We will now proceed to vote on the whole of the draft resolution contained in Document 12804, as amended.

The vote is open.

We will now proceed to vote on the whole of the draft recommendation contained in Document 12804. A two thirds majority is required.

The vote is open.

7. Organisation of Debates

THE PRESIDENT – In view of the large number of speakers on the list for the current affairs debate tomorrow, I propose that speaking time in that debate be limited to three minutes.

Are these arrangements agreed?

They are agreed.

8. Date, time and agenda of the next sitting

THE PRESIDENT – The Assembly will hold its next public sitting tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. with the agenda which was approved on Monday.

The sitting is closed.

(The sitting was closed at 8.55 p.m.)

CONTENTS

Wednesday 25 January 2012 pm

1.       Written declaration

2.       Changes in membership of committees

3.       Address by Ms Tarja Halonen, President of Finland

      Questions:

      Ms Čigāne (Latvia)

      Mr Iwiński (Poland)

      Mr Liddell-Grainger (United Kingdom)

      Mr Xuclŕ (Spain)

Mr Kox (Netherlands)

Ms Marin (France)

Ms Papadimitriou (Greece)

Mr Vareikis (Lithuania)

Mr Gaudi Nagy (Hungary)

Mr Kaikkonen (Finland)

Ms Pelkonen (Finland)

4.       Address by Mr David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

      Questions:

Mr Volontč (Italy)

Mr Michel (France)

Mr Seyidov (Azerbaijan)

Ms Lundgren (Sweden)

Mr Kox (Netherlands)

Mr Reiss (France)

Mr Agramunt (Spain)

Mr Omtzigt (Netherlands)

Mr Vrettos (Greece)

Mr Harangozó (Hungary)

Ms Zohrabyan (Armenia)

Mr Nikoloski (“The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”)

Ms Mogherini Rebesani (Italy)

Mr Avital (Israel)

Ms Vėsaitė (Lithuania)

Mr Leigh (United Kingdom)

Mr Kaikkonen (Finland)

Ms Bakir (Turkey)

Mr Assaf (Palestinian National Authority)

5.       The honouring of obligations and commitments by Serbia

Presentation by Mr Harutyunyan and Mr Saar of report of the Monitoring Committee, Doc. 12813

Speakers:

Lord Anderson (United Kingdom)

Mr Donaldson (United Kingdom)

Ms Beck (Germany)

Mr Papadimoulis (Greece)

Mr Vareikis (Lithuania)

Mr Fournier (France)

Mr Michel (France)

Ms Bakir (Turkey)

Mr Badea (Romania)

Ms Vučković (Serbia)

Mr Frunda (Romania)

Mr Corlăţean (Romania)

Mr Aligrudić (Serbia)

Mr Haugli (Norway)

Mr Schennach (Austria)

Mr Chisu (Canada)

Mr Kalmár (Hungary)

Mr Gardetto (Monaco)

Ms Kovács (Serbia)

Mr Gaudi Nagy (Hungary)

Replies:

Mr Saar (Estonia)

Mr Harutyunyan (Armenia)

Mr Herkel (Estonia)

Amendments 9, 10, 1, 2 and 8 as amended, 16, 11 as amended, 14, 13 as amended adopted

Draft resolution, as amended, adopted

6.       Protection human rights and dignity

Presentation by Mr Xuclŕ of report of the former Social, Health and Family Affairs Committee, Doc. 12804

Speakers:

Lord Boswell (United Kingdom)

Mr Marquet (Monaco)

Mr Lecoq (France)

Mr Ghiletchi (Republic of Moldova)

Mr Mahoux (Belgium)

Mr Díaz Tejera (Spain)

Ms Marin (France)

Mr Leigh (United Kingdom)

Mr Rochebloine (France)

Mr Hancock (United Kingdom)

Mr Flynn (United Kingdom)

Mr Renato Farina (Italy)

Replies:

Mr Xuclŕ (Spain)

Ms Maury Pasquier (Switzerland)

Amendments 3, 5, 4 as amended and 2 adopted

Draft resolution, as amended, adopted

Draft recommendation adopted

7.       Organisation of debates

8.       Date, time and agenda of the next sitting

APPENDIX

Representatives or Substitutes who signed the Attendance Register in accordance with Rule 11.2 of the Rules of Procedure. The names of Substitutes who replaced absent Representatives are printed in small letters. The names of those who were absent or apologised for absence are followed by an asterisk

Francis AGIUS*

Pedro AGRAMUNT

Arben AHMETAJ*

Miloš ALIGRUDIĆ

Karin ANDERSEN

Donald ANDERSON

Florin Serghei ANGHEL*

Khadija ARIB*

Mörđur ÁRNASON

Francisco ASSIS*

Alexander BABAKOV*

Ţuriđur BACKMAN*

Daniel BACQUELAINE

Viorel Riceard BADEA

Gagik BAGHDASARYAN/Zaruhi Postanjyan

Pelin Gündeş BAKIR

Gerard BARCIA DUEDRA

Doris BARNETT

Meritxell BATET*

Deniz BAYKAL

Marieluise BECK

Alexander van der BELLEN/Sonja Ablinger

Anna BELOUSOVOVÁ*

Deborah BERGAMINI

Robert BIEDROŃ*

Grzegorz BIERECKI

Gülsün BİLGEHAN

Oksana BILOZIR

Brian BINLEY/Edward Leigh

Delia BLANCO*

Roland BLUM/Frédéric Reiss

Jean-Marie BOCKEL*

Eric BOCQUET*

Olena BONDARENKO

Mladen BOSIĆ/Krunoslav Vrdoljak

António BRAGA

Anne BRASSEUR

Márton BRAUN

Federico BRICOLO/Giacomo Stucchi

Ankie BROEKERS-KNOL*

Piet DE BRUYN

Patrizia BUGNANO/Giuliana Carlino

André BUGNON/Elisabeth Schneider-Schneiter

Sylvia CANEL*

Mevlüt ÇAVUŞOĞLU

Mikael CEDERBRATT/Kerstin Lundgren

Otto CHALOUPKA

Vannino CHITI/Anna Maria Carloni

Christopher CHOPE

Lise CHRISTOFFERSEN

Desislav CHUKOLOV/Yuliana Koleva

Lolita ČIGĀNE

Boriss CILEVIČS*

James CLAPPISON

Deirdre CLUNE

Georges COLOMBIER/Jean-Pierre Michel

Agustín CONDE*

Titus CORLĂŢEAN

Igor CORMAN/Stella Jantuan

Telmo CORREIA

Carlos COSTA NEVES

Cristian DAVID*

Joseph DEBONO GRECH*

Giovanna DEBONO*

Armand DE DECKER/Fatiha Saďdi

Arcadio DÍAZ TEJERA

Peter VAN DIJK

Klaas DIJKHOFF

Şaban DİŞLİ

Karl DONABAUER/ Edgar Mayer

Gianpaolo DOZZO/ Paolo Corsini

Daphné DUMERY/Ludo Sannen

Alexander DUNDEE

Josette DURRIEU

Diana ECCLES*

József ÉKES

Tülin ERKAL KARA

Lydie ERR

Nikolay FEDOROV/ Vladimir Zhidkikh

Valeriy FEDOROV

Relu FENECHIU*

Doris FIALA*

Daniela FILIPIOVÁ/Tomáš Jirsa

Axel E. FISCHER*

Jana FISCHEROVÁ

Paul FLYNN

Gvozden Srećko FLEGO

Stanislav FOŘT*

Dario FRANCESCHINI/ Gianni Farina

Hans FRANKEN/Pieter Omtzigt

Jean-Claude FRÉCON/Marie-Jo Zimmermann

Erich Georg FRITZ

Martin FRONC*

György FRUNDA

Giorgi GABASHVILI/Giorgi Kandelaki

Alena GAJDŮŠKOVÁ

Roger GALE

Jean-Charles GARDETTO

Tamás GAUDI NAGY

Valeriu GHILETCHI

Sophia GIANNAKA/Georges Charalambopoulos

Paolo GIARETTA

Michael GLOS*

Obrad GOJKOVIĆ/Snežana Jonica

Jarosław GÓRCZYŃSKI

Svetlana GORYACHEVA

Martin GRAF*

Sylvi GRAHAM/ Ingjerd Schou

Andreas GROSS

Arlette GROSSKOST*

Dzhema GROZDANOVA

Attila GRUBER

Ana GUŢU

Carina HÄGG/Lennart Axelsson

Sabir HAJIYEV

Andrzej HALICKI*

Mike HANCOCK

Margus HANSON/Indrek Saar

Davit HARUTYUNYAN

Hĺkon HAUGLI

Norbert HAUPERT

Oliver HEALD

Alfred HEER/Eric Voruz

Olha HERASYM'YUK

Andres HERKEL

Adam HOFMAN*

Serhiy HOLOVATY

Jim HOOD

Joachim HÖRSTER

Anette HÜBINGER

Andrej HUNKO

Susanna HUOVINEN

Ali HUSEYNLI/Sevinj Fataliyeva

Rafael HUSEYNOV*

Stanisław HUSKOWSKI*

Shpëtim IDRIZI*

Željko IVANJI

Igor IVANOVSKI /Sonja Mirakovska

Tadeusz IWIŃSKI

Denis JACQUAT/ Jacques Legendre

Michael Aastrup JENSEN*

Mats JOHANSSON/Tina Acketoft

Birkir Jón JÓNSSON

Armand JUNG*

Antti KAIKKONEN

Ferenc KALMÁR

Mariusz KAMIŃSKI

Michail KATRINIS/Alexandros Athanasiadis

Burhan KAYATÜRK*

Bogdan KLICH*

Haluk KOÇ

Konstantin KOSACHEV/Oleg Lebedev

Tiny KOX

Marie KRARUP/Esben Lunde Larsen

Borjana KRIŠTO*

Václav KUBATA

Pavol KUBOVIČ*

Jean-Pierre KUCHEIDA

Dalia KUODYTĖ/Egidijus Vareikis

Ertuğrul KÜRKÇÜ

Athina KYRIAKIDOU

Henrik Sass LARSEN*

Jean-Paul LECOQ

Harald LEIBRECHT*

Terry LEYDEN

Inese LĪBIŅA-EGNERE

Yuliya LIOVOCHKINA

Lone LOKLINDT

François LONCLE

Jean-Louis LORRAIN*

George LOUKAIDES

Younal LOUTFI

Saša MAGAZINOVIĆ*

Philippe MAHOUX

Gennaro MALGIERI

Nicole MANZONE-SAQUET/Bernard Marquet

Pietro MARCENARO

Milica MARKOVIĆ

Muriel MARLAND-MILITELLO/Bernard Fournier

Meritxell MATEU PI

Pirkko MATTILA/Jouko Skinnari

Frano MATUŠIĆ

Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Michael McNAMARA/John Paul Phelan

Alan MEALE

Ermira MEHMETI DEVAJA/Imer Aliu

Evangelos MEIMARAKIS*

Ivan MELNIKOV*

Nursuna MEMECAN

José MENDES BOTA

Dragoljub MIĆUNOVIĆ

Jean-Claude MIGNON/Christine Marin

Dangutė MIKUTIENĖ/Birutė Vėsaitė

Akaki MINASHVILI*

Krasimir MINCHEV/Petar Petrov

Federica MOGHERINI REBESANI

Andrey MOLCHANOV*

Jerzy MONTAG*

Patrick MORIAU*

Juan MOSCOSO DEL PRADO*

Joăo Bosco MOTA AMARAL

Arkadiusz MULARCZYK*

Alejandro MUŃOZ ALONSO*

Philippe NACHBAR

Adrian NĂSTASE/Tudor Panţiru

Gebhard NEGELE/Leander Schädler

Pasquale NESSA*

Fritz NEUGEBAUER

Emma NICHOLSON

Tomislav NIKOLIĆ/Nataša Jovanović

Aleksandar NIKOLOSKI

Carina OHLSSON

Joseph O'REILLY

Sandra OSBORNE

Nadia OTTAVIANI/Andrea Zafferani

Liliana PALIHOVICI

Vassiliki PAPANDREOU/ Elsa Papadimitriou

Ganira PASHAYEVA*

Peter PELLEGRINI*

Lajla PERNASKA*

Johannes PFLUG*

Ivan POPESCU

Lisbeth Bech POULSEN*

Marietta de POURBAIX-LUNDIN

Cezar Florin PREDA

John PRESCOTT/Joe Benton

Jakob PRESEČNIK*

Gabino PUCHE

Milorad PUPOVAC

Valeriy PYSARENKO*

Carmen QUINTANILLA

Valentina RADULOVIĆ-ŠĆEPANOVIĆ/Zoran Vukčević

Elżbieta RADZISZEWSKA*

Mailis REPS

Andrea RIGONI

Gonzalo ROBLES*

François ROCHEBLOINE

Maria de Belém ROSEIRA*

René ROUQUET

Marlene RUPPRECHT

Ilir RUSMALI*

Armen RUSTAMYAN

Branko RUŽIĆ/Elvira Kovács

Volodymyr RYBAK/Oleksiy Plotnikov

Rovshan RZAYEV*

Joan SABATÉ*

Džavid ŠABOVIĆ/Ervin Spahić

Giacomo SANTINI

Giuseppe SARO*

Kimmo SASI/Jaana Pelkonen

Stefan SCHENNACH

Marina SCHUSTER

Urs SCHWALLER

Valery SELEZNEV*

Samad SEYIDOV

Jim SHERIDAN*

Mykola SHERSHUN

Ladislav SKOPAL/Dana Váhalová

Leonid SLUTSKY

Serhiy SOBOLEV

Maria STAVROSITU*

Arūnė STIRBLYTĖ

Yanaki STOILOV

Fiorenzo STOLFI

Christoph STRÄSSER

Karin STRENZ*

Valeriy SUDARENKOV

Björn von SYDOW

Petro SYMONENKO*

Vilmos SZABÓ/ Gábor Harangozó

Melinda SZÉKYNÉ SZTRÉMI/ Gábor Tamás Nagy

Chiora TAKTAKISHVILI *

Giorgi TARGAMADZÉ*

Vyacheslav TIMCHENKO*

Dragan TODOROVIĆ*

John E. TOMLINSON

Latchezar TOSHEV

Petré TSISKARISHVILI*

Mihai TUDOSE*

Ahmet Kutalmiş TÜRKEŞ

Tuğrul TÜRKEŞ

Konstantinos TZAVARAS/Dimitrios Papadimoulis

Tomáš ÚLEHLA*

Ilyas UMAKHANOV*

Giuseppe VALENTINO/Renato Farina

Miltiadis VARVITSIOTIS

Stefaan VERCAMER

Anne-Mari VIROLAINEN

Luigi VITALI*

Luca VOLONTČ

Vladimir VORONIN*

Konstantinos VRETTOS

Klaas de VRIES*

Nataša VUČKOVIĆ*

Dmitry VYATKIN*

Piotr WACH

Johann WADEPHUL

Robert WALTER/Ian Liddell-Grainger

Katrin WERNER

Renate WOHLWEND

Karin S. WOLDSETH

Gisela WURM

Jordi XUCLŔ

Karl ZELLER*

Kostiantyn ZHEVAHO/Yevgeniy Suslov

Emanuelis ZINGERIS*

Guennady ZIUGANOV*

Naira ZOHRABYAN

Vacant Seat, Bosnia and Herzegovina*

Vacant Seat, Cyprus*

Vacant Seat, Croatia*

Vacant Seat, Croatia*

Vacant Seat, Russian Federation*

Vacant Seat, Russian Federation*

Vacant Seat, Russian Federation*

Vacant Seat, Russian Federation*

Vacant Seat, Slovenia*

Vacant Seat, Slovenia*

ALSO PRESENT

Representatives and Substitutes not authorised to vote:

Tim BOSWELL

Jeffrey DONALDSON

Johannes HÜBNER

Joăo RAMOS

Luc RECORDON

Martina SCHENK

Observers:

Joyce BATEMAN

Corneliu CHISU

Blanca Judith DÍAZ DELGADO

Consiglio DI NINO

Hervé Pierre GUILLOT

José Luis JAIME CORREA

Partners for democracy:

Najat ALASTAL

Walid ASSAF

Bernard SABELLA