AS (2013) CR 12



(Second part)


Twelfth Sitting

Tuesday 23 April 2013 at 10.00 a.m.

In this report:

1.       Speeches in English are reported in full.

2.       Speeches in other languages are reported using the interpretation and are marked with an asterisk.

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

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

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

(Mr Mignon, President of the Assembly, took the Chair at 10.05 a.m.)

THE PRESIDENT* – The sitting is open.

1. Changes in the membership of committees

THE PRESIDENT* – Our first item of business is to consider changes proposed in the membership of committees. These are set out in document Commissions (2013) 04 Addendum 2.

Are the proposed changes in the membership of the Migration Committee agreed?

They are agreed


2. Post-monitoring dialogue with Turkey

THE PRESIDENT* – The next item is the debate on the report, presented by Ms Durrieu on behalf of the Monitoring Committee, on post-monitoring dialogue with Turkey. I remind members that yesterday we decided we would limit speaking time in this debate to three minutes. I invite you to respect that limit. We need to conclude our business by noon. I will have to interrupt the list of speakers at about 11 so that we have time to listen to the replies from the Monitoring Committee and conduct the necessary vote.

Is that agreed?

It is agreed.

I call Ms Durrieu. You have 13 minutes in total, which you can divide as you wish. You can make your presentation and then reply to speakers in the debate, and you will also be able to reply immediately to the spokespersons of the political groups. You have the floor.

Ms DURRIEU (France)* – Dear colleagues, post-monitoring in Turkey started in 2004. It is now 2013, so it has been a long process. Resolution 1380 (2004), which set out 12 points to be verified, needs to be reviewed and its implementation considered. Much has been done on constitutional reform in Turkey; the fourth reform package on the judiciary has come out, and we are expecting a lot from that. However, a number of matters have not been resolved.

Coincidentally, as well as this report there is a European Parliament report on the issue. It is interesting that the analyses are similar. Our assessment leads us to conclude that although much has been done, much remains to be done in such fundamental areas as human rights. Article 24 of the European Parliament report relates to paragraph 4 of our report. The European Parliament encourages the European Commission to open negotiations on chapters 22, 23 and 24, on judicial reform and human rights, at the outset of the wider negotiations and to close them only at the end. We say the same thing.

Turkey is a very large and great country. It is crucial for the Mediterranean region and therefore for the European Union as well. Its history and economy are well known. Turkey has political stability in a region shaken to the core by the Arab Spring and the resulting instability. It is an essential country – a benchmark country. We still have a lot of concerns about Turkey, because reality leads us to conclude that much still remains to be done, especially on human rights protection. This problem has to be viewed in the political context. A transition from the previous Kemalist regime is evolving. With the military having been in power for a long time, Mr Erdoğan is now Prime Minister. Politics is a living organism. There is still some confrontation between the past and the present, but the former conspiracies are now being resolved. There are significant trials, such as the Ergenekon trials, which affect a lot of people and are filling the prisons of Turkey. We cannot fail to be moved by the situation set out in the report.

We do share common values – democracy and human rights – and there is a will to make sure that they are well entrenched. For the sake of all countries in Europe, member States of the Council of Europe – the conscience of the continent – must continue to pursue change and must address the absence of certain fundamental freedoms, including the right to demonstrate and freedom of expression. The overall conclusion is that the process is not complete and we must bring it to fruition, and that will be done. The Turks have introduced a lot of reforms, although they are not fully finished or implemented. The 12 points that we set out in Resolution 1380 show that the constitution is being reformed, but the commission responsible is still working on it, and we need to encourage it to continue; it has the political will to do so. One of the 12 points states that the electoral threshold of 10% is still in place. We do not have a satisfactory answer to the question of the right to conscientious objection. The sticking points seem to be the problem of national minorities, and regional languages, various points in the criminal code, the implementation of judicial reforms, and the policy involving recognition of the existence of minorities. Constitutional reform is also a problem because of the definition of citizenship and nationality and the issue of decentralisation.

A lot of essential things have been done. It is the Turkish people who will decide and who will appreciate these changes. In 2014 there will be presidential elections and in 2015 there will be parliamentary elections, so there are some very significant democratic moments ahead. I am convinced that the Turkish people will do what is required to make sure that the elections bring the overall transition to fruition. This co-operation, dialogue and mutual understanding is all the more important because we are also supporting the improvement of relations between Turkey and the European Union in a context that will, I hope, be politically serene. The Turkish problems need to be resolved by Turks, especially the conflict with the Kurds. Talks are under way, and we hope that they will result in a peaceful solution. Then we will be able to state that Turkey has made very positive steps and has come to the end of a difficult process.

THE PRESIDENT* – Thank you, Ms Durrieu. You will have five minutes to respond to the speakers in the debate. I call Mr Díaz Tejera, on behalf of the Socialist Group.

Mr DÍAZ TEJERA (Spain)* – It is an honour for me to speak on behalf of the Socialist Group. I thank our colleague Josette Durrieu for this wonderful report, which runs to 65 pages. I urge all members of the Assembly to read all of it carefully because it details the situation of one of the founder members of the Council of Europe, which has been negotiating about membership of the European Union for years but is already playing an extremely important role for a number of countries that view it as a point of reference, or a benchmark, for the future development of their societies.

This morning we need to flag up where progress has been made and where advances are still required. Reform of the judiciary is not the only important thing in a democratic society: what really defines society is the way in which it treats its minorities. We have to look at what the majority does, but there can be a majority in a dictatorship. The real hallmark of a democracy is how it treats its minorities, be they ethnic, religious or sexual minorities, and the safeguards that the State puts in place to protect them. Enormous strides have been made in this respect, but there is still a lot of room for improvement. We need an overhaul of the judiciary, we need to guarantee the independence of the courts, and we need to see to it that the legitimate rights of all citizens are properly protected, particularly in cases to which the State is party. There are certain shortcomings in relation to information on human rights as well as gaps in the legislation on terrorism. We in Spain have a certain amount of experience in how to resolve certain conflicts that have been marked by terrorism.

The socialists in this Chamber support Ms Durrieu in all the work that she has done. We assure our Turkish colleagues that we are fond of their country. We want it to move forward in building a democratic society, and they can count on us to help them along in that process. We are loyal friends – that is the watchword – but we have to say, with the greatest respect, that in relation to human rights, the constitution, the judiciary and education there is still an awful lot of work to do.

THE PRESIDENT* – Thank you. I call Mr Hancock, on behalf of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.

Mr HANCOCK (United Kingdom) – I, like the previous speaker, urge members to read the report, even though that takes time because it contains 70-odd pages. It goes into areas that perhaps it need not. I do not believe it is the responsibility of the Council of Europe to question or examine a country’s foreign policy, but this report attempts to do so, which is not in anyone’s best interests.

I am enormously grateful for the part Turkey has played and continues to play in offering humanitarian aid to the people who, sadly, have had to flee oppression and the war in Syria. I commend Turkey for that, and it should not go unmentioned today.

The report clearly establishes that Turkey, despite some of the great impediments it has encountered, has taken major steps in the right direction. Those steps are not acknowledged as much in the report as they should have been; nobody could have imagined that Turkey was going to have an easy task, and the report does not examine fully the way in which the progress being made in Turkey has spread across the community. The report says “It is up to the Turkish institutions and the Turkish people to define the country’s future democratic system and type of governance.” We say it is up to the people, and surely this Assembly stands for the right of the people inside the country to determine their own future. However, this report seems to be very critical of the decisions that the Turkish people have made in their journey to a greater democratic sense of government. We should be wary of directing that sort of unfair criticism towards them.

We can congratulate ourselves on working carefully and conscientiously to help Turkey to assimilate more into the family of Europe, through the European Union, but we should also, in all circumstances, congratulate Turkey on the steps it has taken and wish it well for the future. The resolution that was voted down in the committee earlier this morning on whether post-monitoring should be stopped should be seriously considered today by the Assembly, because I, for one, believe that Turkey has done enough in the right direction to warrant more than this report gives it.

THE PRESIDENT* – Thank you, Mr Hancock. I call Mr Walter, who will speak on behalf of the European Democrat Group.

Mr WALTER (United Kingdom) – I congratulate the rapporteur on her report. Ms Durrieu has always approached these tasks with great passion and diligence, but I sense in some of the report a little tension between her view of the world and that of the Turkish Government and the Turkish people. None the less, we have to understand clearly what Turkey is. The modern Turkish State dates its history back to 1923 and Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who wanted to create a western nation that had European values. A bold leader, he abolished the Arabic alphabet and introduced a western Latin alphabet, and made a number of other fundamental changes to place Turkey alongside other countries here in Europe.

A lot of progress has been made in Turkey in the intervening years but, sadly, there have also been a number of military coups and constitutional changes – Turkey is not alone among European countries in that. This Parliamentary Assembly ended the full monitoring procedure for Turkey in 2004 and we entered this post-monitoring phase. Of course there are still issues that Turkey has to address, many of which the rapporteur highlights, but I wish to echo what my colleague Michael Hancock has just said: perhaps we should be looking at the end point in the monitoring and post-monitoring procedure for Turkey. We have to recognise the progress that has been made, particularly the economic and political progress made in the past 10 years.

The fundamental point I wish to make is that the Turkish people and the Turkish political parties – all of them – share our values and the values of this Assembly. So although we may not today pass the amendment to end the post-monitoring procedure for Turkey we should have a clear date in our minds for achieving that, because Turkey and the Turkish people deserve that recognition.

THE PRESIDENT* – Thank you, Mr Walter. I call Mr Hunko, who will speak on behalf of the Group of the Unified European Left.

Mr HUNKO* (Germany) – Thank you, Mr President. Ms Durrieu, your very good report has struck the right balance in terms of the elements in Turkey. The interesting debate that is being held in Europe about the direction in which Turkey is moving is stirring up a lot of passions and differences of opinion. What we can say is that the development has been contradictory, as we saw for ourselves as election observers in the Kurdish regions of Turkey. For example, we saw not only well-organised opportunities for people to vote in prisons, but police and servicemen present in the voting booths or voting areas in other voting regions. I have been a rapporteur for my political group in the Bundestag for Turkey’s accession talks to the European Union, and we are giving conflicting signals. Major headway is being made in some areas, as has been highlighted, but we need to be aware that things have gone backwards on human rights. That led to last autumn’s European Commission report which levelled some criticism at Turkey in this area. I remind the Assembly that eight members elected in June 2010 are still in prison in Turkey – I have visited Selma Irmak, Faysal Sariyildiz in Mardin and Mustafa Balbay, who is being held near Istanbul. A large number of elected mayors, many of whom were elected with a two thirds majority, are also in prison. We have to tackle these matters, which have been clearly portrayed in the report.

Finally, I wish to mention one thing that has shocked me in recent months. A well-known Turkish-German writer, whom I know, has been dealing with the history of Armenia from a Turkish perspective and has been sentenced to life imprisonment – that should be condemned. The report is good and we support it.

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

Mr SASI (Finland) – Turkey is an important member of the Council of Europe, and it is a Muslim European country. Looking at Turkey’s environment, we see Syria, Iran, Iraq and Lebanon, and, a little further away, north Africa, and we see instability and violence. Our mission in this Assembly must be for Turkey to become a model country for all Muslim nations. Turkey can show that when you apply democracy, human rights and respect for minorities, and you have a functioning market economy, you can have success in your own country and improve the well-being of your people. That could lead to the people in neighbouring countries wanting change so that they can have democracy and human rights.

Turkey also plays an important role in the western Balkans, where there is a substantial Muslim minority. Turkey can balance the situation in that area, and its activities are greatly welcomed. Its investments show good will and ease the situation there. It is our duty, and that of the European Union, to show Turkey the way to success.

We have already seen great progress in Turkey, especially in the last 10 years. At the moment, we are seeing very high economic growth; democracy has been strengthened; and the rights of minorities have been improved. However, reading Ms Durrieu’s report, which is very long and very good, we see that there is still much to do. We have to strengthen democracy in Turkey – politicians must play a key role in that – and local administration must also be strengthened.

We must look at Turkey’s legal system, however. Turkey keeps a substantial number of people in pre-trial prisons, and it has many journalists in prison, which is a real danger for freedom of expression. It is therefore a little premature to discuss whether we should end the post-monitoring process. There also needs to be better protection for the rights of minorities. The problems of Kurdish minorities must be solved and there must be more local autonomy. We have to take the opportunity offered by the current peace process with the PKK. The rights of religious minorities must also be strengthened, and the equality of women is very important.

We have to support Turkey in its strategies on Syria because it is doing excellent work in that respect, and we are obliged to help it. In addition, Cyprus faces huge economic challenges, and we must all co-operate closely to find a solution to the Cypriot question as soon as possible.

THE PRESIDENT* – Thank you. The rapporteur will respond to the remarks of speakers from the political groups when she speaks at the end of the debate. The next speaker is Mr Toshev.

Mr TOSHEV (Bulgaria) – In her report, Ms Josette Durrieu, on behalf of the Monitoring Committee, acknowledges the progress achieved by Turkey in moving towards achieving Council of Europe standards. I stress that our Assembly not only insists that Turkey take concrete action, but stands ready to assist it in meeting those high standards, as we should do in our big European family.

One factor underlying the achievements in Turkish society has been the great economic growth in the country over the last 10 years. That has led to the formation of a new middle class of economically active people, many of them from the heart of Anatolia, where people are traditionally conservative and religious. Ten years ago, they had much lower standards of living and their first priority was the fight against poverty. The establishment of a new housing policy and a free medical care system accessible to all, along with the existence of plentiful opportunities for economic activities, mean that those people have started to support measures designed to help Turkey meet European standards.

During its chairmanship of the Council of Europe, the Turkish Government initiated the adoption by the Committee of Ministers of a new European convention aimed at preventing domestic violence. I want to express my satisfaction with the establishment of a Turkish ombudsman’s office, which began receiving complaints on 29 March 2013.

We should all applaud the restitution of the property of Christian communities in Turkey, including the Bulgarian community, and Turkey’s readiness to grant permission to the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople to reopen the High Theological school of Halki. I dare to believe that the process will be finished soon.

Among the problems that remain is the need for religious communities to register as legal entities, which is essential for full compliance with European standards. There is also a need to address the implementation of Resolution 1704 (2010) item 19.13, relating to the desecration of the Catholic cemetery in the Edirne-Karaagac quarter.

The redefinition of the army was a major change, and achievement, in Turkey’s internal policy. Turkey’s expression of solidarity with the extremely large number of refugees from Syria and its reconciliation talks with the State of Israel are very positive steps that are admired by the European Union and the international community as a whole. However, the proclamation of a new foreign policy of neo-Osmanism is definitely not the right path towards European Union membership.

Finally, Turkey needs to address the problem of Turkish citizens who live abroad and cannot vote in Turkish embassies or consulates, but only on the State border of Turkey, as well as that of the 10% electoral threshold, which is the highest in Europe.

THE PRESIDENT* – Thank you. The next speaker is Mr Mogens Jensen.

      Mr M. JENSEN (Denmark) – I very much agree with the conclusion of Ms Durrieu’s report, which is that a process of major reform has taken place in Turkey against a difficult and complex background. There is no doubt that, as the report says, Turkey has become a benchmark for Muslim countries in the southern Mediterranean and indeed around the world. However, Turkey still needs to take steps to get fully in line with the fundamental values of human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

According to the report on media freedom adopted by the Assembly in January, Turkey is estimated to have more journalists in detention than any other State in the world – a point made by Mr Sasi. The majority have been charged and/or convicted under laws related to terrorism, incitement to violence or hatred, or insulting the Turkish nation or institutions of the State. As you may know, the Commissioner for Human Rights at the time, Thomas Hammarberg, visited Turkey in July 2011, where he stated that the large number of journalists in prison was a symptom of a systematic dysfunction in the workings of the Turkish judicial process and that current practices had a distinct chilling effect on freedom of expression. He specified to the Turkish authorities a number of fundamental changes to the country’s laws and practices which are necessary to bring Turkey into compliance with the Convention and with case law of the European Court of Human Rights.

Another matter on which Turkey has to take action is discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The recent report on the subject by Mr Gross, which was adopted by the Assembly, showed that several gay and transsexual persons have been killed over the past few years in Turkey, which is, of course, totally unacceptable. The government has to carry out thorough investigations, secure the prosecution of suspects in those cases and pass effective legislation to ensure equality and non-discrimination in Turkish society. I think that we are all confident that the government is working to do that, and that it will achieve its goal, but more and faster action is needed.

THE PRESIDENT* – Thank you. The next speaker is Ms Gündeş Bakir.

      Ms GÜNDEŞ BAKIR (Turkey) – Turkey is a pluralist democracy with a multi-party system, free elections and separation of powers. We, the Turkish people, are Europeans. We belong to the west and we share European values. The Council of Europe is our home. If we carefully scrutinise the last 10 years, we see clearly that Turkey has made tremendous progress towards its final goal of European Union membership. In that time, the death penalty has been abolished; people have been granted the right of individual appeal to the constitutional court, and the cultural rights of ethnic groups, particularly Kurds, have been recognised. The state of emergency in the south-eastern provinces has been abolished, villagers have returned, and social and economic development programmes have been initiated. There is a 24-hour television broadcast in Kurdish. It is possible to open language schools to study Kurdish and to teach Kurdish in universities. The Kurdish language may be used in election campaigns and to defend oneself in court cases. A peace process has been started to put an end to terror.

Significant economic progress has been achieved despite the world economic crisis. Gross domestic product per capita has more than tripled in the past 10 years. Among OECD member States Turkey is the country that has most greatly improved the distribution of wealth.

The Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds from Crime was ratified in 2004: the revised European Social Charter was ratified in 2007; and the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism was ratified in 2012. In 2011, the optional protocol to the United Nations Convention against Torture was ratified. The criminal code has been reformed and military tutelage has been abolished. A constitutional referendum was held in September 2010, the result of which broadened trade union rights and freedom of association.

With assistance from the Council of Europe, the police, the gendarmerie, judges and prosecutors undergo training. An ombudsman has been established. Turkey recently adopted its fourth judicial reform package, which strengthens the presumption of innocence, restricts pre-trial detention and provides the right to ask for compensation for pre-trial detention. The distinction between freedom of expression and terrorist propaganda has been reinforced. The reform package also abolished the time limit for trying torture cases and decriminalised the propaganda of conscientious objection.

There is now a law on foreigners and international protection, which will improve conditions for foreigners irrespective of their status. Turkey is also the first country that signed and ratified the European Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence without any reservation.

Over the past 10 years, Turkey has clearly demonstrated its commitment and ability to fulfil its obligations as a Council of Europe member State. Given the reforms completed and the progress achieved since 2001, as the report recognises, I call on member States of the Council of Europe to support the closure of the post-monitoring phase with Turkey.

THE PRESIDENT* – Thank you. I call Ms Bakoyannis.

Ms BAKOYANNIS (Greece) – Few countries go through such a marked transitional phase as Turkey. The country is changing fast, and its importance is rising. Since 2004, when the monitoring of Turkey by the Assembly ended, the country has embarked on major reforms, some of which are still pending. Twelve outstanding points still required action when the monitoring phase ended, and they are now reviewed by our Assembly.

My general impression of the reforms is mixed. On the one hand, there has been a stream of changes, most of them positive – for example, the redefinition of the army’s role, the prevalence of political over military power and, most excitingly, the progress on issues regarding Turkey’s large Kurdish component. There are many fields in which progress in adjusting to Council of Europe standards has been paramount, and I have mentioned only three that appear more important to me.

On the other hand, as Ms Durrieu’s report clearly underlines, the general feeling is much more one of transition than of a completed set of reforms. On the republic’s institutional front, much will depend, for example, on the expected changes in the constitution. In other fields, such as gender equality, the prevention of torture, pre-trial detention and the distinction between freedom of expression and terrorist propaganda, short-term results have not matched expectations. Finally, in many other important fields, such as conscientious objection and gay rights, no real steps have been taken.

On issues of special interest to Greece that also relate to the fundamental principles of the Council of Europe, there has, unfortunately, been little progress. The report mentions only some of them. It mentions that Turkey has not yet reopened the Halki seminary, thus refusing the Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarchate not only its centuries-old title but the elementary right to train its clergy. However, there is no mention of Turkey’s constant breaches of fundamental United Nations, Council of Europe and European Union principles, such as disrespect for the national sovereignty of Council of Europe member States; making overt threats, such as the infamous casus belli against Greece, which is exercising its rights in accordance to provisions in the law of the sea; and the unheard-of occupation of nearly 40% of the territory of a Council of Europe and European Union State, Cyprus, at a time when Turkey is negotiating for full European Union membership. Let me be clear: Greece supports European Union membership for Turkey, because we strongly believe that this government will ultimately be able to solve its long-standing problems, so that it can be a full member of the European Union.

I congratulate Turkey on launching the reforms, and I encourage the Turkish government to continue. If it is able to solve the Kurdish problem, and I hope it will, it will be able, with the help of Greece, to solve the problem of Cyprus.

THE PRESIDENT* – Thank you. I call Mr Slutsky.

Mr SLUTSKY (Russian Federation)* – I thank Josette Durrieu for her work and for her excellent report, which was approved unanimously in the Monitoring Committee.

Since monitoring was closed and the post-monitoring dialogue started, Turkey has done a lot to build a democratic State and society. Mr Çavuşoğlu, who was President of our Assembly, contributed greatly to bringing Turkey closer to the fundamental values of the Council of Europe. Since the constitutional reforms started in 2008, as the report notes in its preamble, Turkey has become a benchmark and exemplar for the countries of north Africa that are undergoing the Arab Spring.

One particular aspect of the report is its length – it tries to cover absolutely everything. Many points that were raised in it were not covered at all in the report of 2004. In 2004, we identified 12 points that the post-monitoring dialogue should concentrate on. Of them, about 10 have been completed, but here we see the huge report. I once again congratulate Josette and the secretariat for the hard work that has been done, but it seems that we have changed the post-monitoring process for Turkey. That has also been the case for the Russian Federation, where 23 commitments were unfulfilled and we have now fulfilled 21 of them. The Council of Europe plays a special role in Europe. Its monitoring process is one of the keystones of what we do, but if we turn it into such a process we will discredit ourselves.

Turkey has gone a long way towards meeting the high standards of the Council of Europe, so I call on all colleagues to vote in favour of Amendment 8, which calls for the closing of the post-monitoring dialogue with Turkey.

THE PRESIDENT* – Thank you. I call Ms Memecan.

Ms MEMECAN (Turkey) – I would like to thank the rapporteur, the secretariat and all colleagues for their supportive words. The report recognises the fulfillment of most of the 12 requirements, and it acknowledges the tremendous political and economic progress that Turkey has made in the past decade and its role as a regional power.

In its past, Turkey was captive to a tutelage regime. The alliance of a political party and its ideological supporters in the bureaucracy, judiciary and media was guided by the military and favored a certain elite over the rest of society. Wealth and resources were distributed among this elitist alliance through a tightly controlled closed economic system.

This deep State system fabricated threats to national unity and secularism to justify its existence and maintain control over the public. In every decade since the 1960s, this system has been defended by bloody military intervention. Thousands of people lost their lives and hundreds of thousands were tortured. Instability prevailed, and Turkey remained in the monitoring process. With this historic context in mind, the past progressive decade can be defined as a true revolution in Turkey. Turkey has been going through its own spring, and the tutelage regime is being dismantled.

All citizens of the country are being pulled into the system, so they can benefit from equal opportunities, live in dignity and prosperity and have a say in the governance of their country. The democratic rights of our Kurdish citizens have been addressed. Non-Muslim minorities have made historic gains in the past decade. Initiatives have given recognition and power to the Roma. Concrete dialogue has been established with the Alevi community. The judicial system has been upgraded, in close co-operation with the European Court of Human Rights and the Venice Commission. A civilian constitution is being developed. Perpetrators of past military coups are being brought to justice. The recently initiated peace process to solve the terrorism problem will further bring security and prosperity throughout the country. The governing party’s strong popular mandate allowed it to deal with these deeply rooted structures.

Turkey’s globally recognised economic success was mainly possible due to all these democratic reforms, which transferred economic power from the ruling elite to the people. This is an ongoing process, and Turkey is committed to pursue it further. As the head of the Turkish delegation, I can say confidently that Turkey has gone far beyond the framework of post-monitoring dialogue, and I expect the Assembly to recognise that fact as well.

THE PRESIDENT* – Thank you very much indeed. I call Mr Dişli.

Mr DIŞLI (Turkey) – I, too, would like to thank the rapporteur and the secretariat for their work on the post-monitoring dialogue process with Turkey. However, as one of the Turkish parliamentarians, I need to express my disappointment about the fact that the report does not focus enough on the positive developments that have occurred in Turkey, despite our best efforts to provide the rapporteur with adequate information.

First, I would like to underline the fact that Turkey is in a post-monitoring dialogue process, not in a monitoring process. However, the rapporteur has written an explanatory memorandum of 259 paragraphs and 45 pages that touches on nearly every topic related to Turkey, without considering whether they accord with the post-monitoring dialogue process.

Secondly, Turkey’s ongoing historical transformation in political, economic and social spheres is a result of the strong commitment of the Turkish Government, opposition and people to democracy, the rule of law and human rights: the fundamental values of the Council of Europe. The unwavering series of reforms undertaken by the Turkish Government have ensured that Turkey is not a country of military coups and economic crises, as in the past, but a beacon of democratic governance, coupled with sound economic management in a volatile region.

If the post-monitoring dialogue process does not support these developments and portrays a false image of Turkey in which a departure from the principle of secularism and arbitrary prosecutions is taking place, I am of the opinion that we need seriously to reconsider the framework of the post-monitoring dialogue process. You must know that we promised the Turkish people to continue to upgrade Turkey to the highest possible economic and political standards.

Finally, you cannot encourage Turkey, as most of you say, by maintaining post-monitoring dialogue.

THE PRESIDENT* – Thank you very much. I call Mr Rouquet.

Mr ROUQUET (France)* – On the 10th anniversary of the electoral victory of the Justice and Development Party, many Turkish newspapers headlined their editions “The AKP and the Anatolian revolution”. Indeed, over the past decade Turkey has undergone major upheavals, to put it mildly. Since the monitoring procedure closed in 2004, the country has embarked on significant efforts better to meet the requirements of the Council of Europe.

The report drafted by Josette Durrieu paints a remarkable picture, and she is to be thanked for her careful analysis and sure judgment. The report has three striking features. First, there is the redefinition of the role of the army and the demilitarisation of political life. There is no real democracy when the military dictate civil law. Also, there has been a deepening of individual and collective human rights, as well as the adoption of several packages of judicial reforms designed to strengthen the pre-eminence of the law in the functioning of Turkish institutions.

But old habits die hard, and last January 15 lawyers were arrested in Istanbul and their offices searched. A few days ago, the pianist Fazil Say was given a 10-month suspended prison sentence for making statements that the court ruled were an insult to religious values. These decisions, whether taken by a branch of the executive or by the judiciary, are an attack on those who stand for the right of the defence or who act as cultural spokespeople, and that jeopardises human rights. So Turkey still has a long way to go, but is that too surprising?

As our rapporteur has quite rightly pointed out, the country has embarked on a major process of political change by reforming not only its law and institutions, but its culture and mindsets. That transition will take time. Nor should we forget that Turkey often uses such attacks on human rights as a pretext in fighting terrorism. If Turkey is to anchor human rights once and for all, it is vital that it addresses the Kurdish issue. I am delighted about the recent overtures that have been made in various quarters. They are absolutely vital.

If Turkey is to make more progress, it must confront its past. Believe me, as a French citizen, I know just how difficult it is to open painful chapters in your history. France took 50 years to recognise the official role of the State in the deportation of the Jews, and it is having trouble forming an objective, calm view of colonisation – not to mention the war in Algeria.

To conclude, it is my wish that Turkey will be able to muster the strength to utter the words that we are waiting to hear because, beyond Armenia, Europe as a whole would find a fresh impetus towards reconciliation and peace.

THE PRESIDENT* – Thank you. I call Mr Omtzigt.

Mr OMTZIGT (Netherlands) – I thank the rapporteur for a thorough report, with 59 pages and three pages of reply from the Turkish delegation. A lot of progress has been made, but much progress still needs to be made by Turkey.

I am somewhat surprised that a number of us have stated that there should be a fixed date by which to end post-monitoring. No, there should be a fixed standard by which to end post-monitoring. That is what we should all strive here for, and I challenge Ms Durrieu to comment on that in her reply. It would be nice to say exactly what Turkey should do to escape from post-monitoring in due course. That should be the ultimate aim of the Turkish authorities.

Minorities are mentioned a number of times in the report, but I worry about the fact that we approved Resolution 1704 (2010) on freedom of religion in Turkey. Paragraph 20 asked the Turkish authorities to provide a written reply to the issues in that report. Despite four reminders from the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, the Turkish did not respond.

Of course, some progress is being made with the Halki seminary – I welcome that – but I am particularly worried about what is happening with, for example, the Mor Gabriel monastery in south-east Turkey. I worry that Turkey still recognises only three minorities, and those minorities are not mentioned in the Lausanne Treaty. It would be good to have an official reply from Turkey on its progress.

Turkey has made some progress, but a country that has more journalists in prison than any other country in the Council of Europe, that has elected politicians in detention and that still struggles with the recognition of the Armenian genocide is not ready to escape the post-monitoring procedure. I therefore ask colleagues not to support Amendment 8, which asks for that process to be closed.

The PRESIDENT* – Thank you. I call Ms Bílgehan.

Ms BİLGEHAN (Turkey)* – I thank Ms Durrieu for her difficult work and for her perseverance. It cannot have been easy to understand a country such as Turkey, a country that is undergoing reform and that is in transition, but what is it transitioning to?

There has certainly been a lot of progress. I started my political career at the Council of Europe in 2003, when Turkey had turned a page in its history and wanted to put an end to the events following the 1980 coup d’Etat. There was zero tolerance of torture, the state of emergency was lifted, capital punishment was abolished and cultural rights were recognised. We were a good national team. The government and opposition united to vote in packages of reform and I was one of those who joyfully welcomed the Parliamentary Assembly’s decision to close the monitoring process in 2004. Ms Durrieu was then the Chairperson of the Monitoring Committee.

Since then, there have been ups and downs. We have a pragmatic government. Turkey is an exception in the region and in Europe and I am proud of that. We have been economically successful and we provide a good model of humanitarian aid with 220 000 Syrian refugees on our territory. We have reconciled with Israel and have fraternal relations with Palestine. Efforts have been made to stop violence on our territory and to change the constitution. We have also had a fourth package of judicial reform, but that leads one to wonder why the government is taking so long to come up with a new law. In the meantime, people have been in pre-trial detention for five years or more without even knowing what they will be charged with. They lose their families and their jobs. Rectors of universities, students, journalists, writers, generals who saw combat in Bosnia, Somalia or Afghanistan and democratically elected officials, including eight parliamentarians, are in prison on pre-trial detention. Only one case involving parliamentarians has come to trial. They are accused of attempted coups d’Etat, but the definition of terrorism is extremely broad. Are we in the process of a purge? Is it a new period of totalitarianism, with wire-tapping and so on?

Some points in the fourth package of reform are very significant. Important changes to the criminal code are being introduced, but nothing states that the case law of the European Court of Human Rights on the length of detention will be applied. Ms Durrieu’s report is optimistic and she counts on the support of the Council of Europe, but I count on the Turkish people, who deserve a good dose of democracy.

The PRESIDENT* – Thank you. I call Mr Bockel.

Mr BOCKEL (France)* – I commend Josette Durrieu for her excellent report, which is clear and balanced and fairly underlines Turkey’s undeniable progress in honouring its commitments as well as the reforms that are still needed. At the end of the report, however, one is left feeling ambivalent. Some steps need to be taken by the Turkish authorities on most of the fields studied by the Monitoring Committee, including fine tuning here and there, to lead our Assembly to envisage continuing the dialogue.

We can, of course, offer congratulations as we highlight examples of how Turkey has turned away from an authoritarian concept of democracy, but those congratulations are tempered by failings or shortcomings in the legislative system. That is the case with the new Turkish criminal code, which promotes a more liberal concept of freedom of expression but is tempered by a failure to abrogate article 301, which clamps down on attacks on the Turkish identity and the Turkish nation. That crime is relatively unclear and can be interpreted in several ways. For example, the Turkish pianist Fazil Say was recently arrested. What did he do wrong? His actions constituted an insult to religious values and he has been condemned to a 12-month suspended prison sentence.

Turkey is clearly determined to bring its legislation into line with the Council of Europe’s values and standards. It is an active member of the Council of Europe and I do not think that the authorities will be ambivalent about what is laid out in the report. The Turkish Government’s approach is singular as it is trying to reconcile compliance with democratic values and religious values with a country where secular traditions no longer need to be demonstrated. I do not think that Islam is incompatible with individual freedoms and the rule of law, but it is still important for religion to adapt to our values, which cannot be tempered for spiritual reasons.

Modern Turkey is a success story with a major political role. It is a major country that we admire and love. I hope that its attempts to join the European Union will continue and that it will continue to tread the path of the values we all defend. I want the dialogue to continue. As several colleagues have mentioned, in addition to the code and text there are a number of clear examples of where it is important for Turkey to continue to modernise and to promote democracy. We know that that is not easy and we in the Council of Europe want to be there to help.

The PRESIDENT* – Thank you. The last speaker is Ms Schuster.

Ms SCHUSTER (Germany)* – I warmly thank the rapporteur, who has done a difficult job. I was in Ankara and Istanbul last autumn for political discussions and I thank the Turkish authorities for the way they received us and for their hospitality. We saw perceptible signs of the economic boom in the country.

Let me talk about the post-monitoring process. It is important that it should always be understood as an opportunity. It is not about the Council of Europe or the Parliamentary Assembly having something against a given country; we hold democracy and human rights in that country in such high regard that we feel we have to speak out. That is at the core of monitoring.

Let me begin by praising Turkey. It was the first country to sign the Istanbul convention, which shows that there are lights and shadows in the process. Previous speakers have referred repeatedly to the sentencing of Fazil Say for his tweets. We cannot countenance that in a State governed by the rule of law, particularly not when someone is sentenced to a lengthy period of imprisonment. Previous speakers also mentioned the plight of journalists, and Reporters Without Borders records that at least 39 journalists were in detention as a result of their professional work. Reform is urgently needed.

The reform of the Turkish court system is also important. I welcome the third and fourth packages of judicial reform, but there must be a restrictive definition of terrorist offences and a limit to the amount of time somebody can spend on remand. The role of special courts must also be curtailed. The present interpretation of anti-terror legislation has not been uniform and has not always been in compliance with the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights.

In the light of all of that, I believe that we should support the report. Unfortunately we cannot close the post-monitoring dialogue, but we should certainly support Turkey in all its efforts.

THE PRESIDENT* – Thank you very much. Colleagues, I am very sorry but unfortunately I have to interrupt the list of speakers. Those of you who have signed up to the list of speakers and are here in the Chamber can, if you wish, hand your speeches in typescript within the next 24 hours to the Table Office for publication in the official report.

I now call Ms Durrieu, the rapporteur, to reply. You have five minutes.

Ms DURRIEU (France) – Thank you very much, Mr President. I begin by expressing very warm thanks to the entire Turkish delegation for its support throughout our mission. I also thank the Turkish authorities, who were very available in the field, and especially the Minister of Justice, who has done a huge amount of work – we co-operated very closely with him. I also thank the secretariat, most particularly Sylvie Affholder. Thank you all for your help.

We decided that there should be this post-monitoring dialogue after the monitoring. As members may recall, I was the Chairperson of the Monitoring Committee at the time. I am not sure that the best way of proceeding is to go from monitoring to post-monitoring, as the monitoring should be done until it is completed – done well and then closed. However, I am a politician; we were told that there were 12 points and we looked at those points. One has to look at the political context of the time, and that is why this aspect was covered in the report as well. Moreover, the reform of the constitution of 1982 has also not been completed. We could have stopped with that, as that was the essential point – that is what will decide the political life of Turkey as soon as it is implemented, especially in 2014 and 2015 when elections will be held.

The report therefore considered what has been done with these 12 points. Unfortunately, they have not all been fulfilled. As many have said, it is important that Turkey continue to be a benchmark country. It is a reference country, which is becoming increasingly true by virtue of the positive developments under way. It is, indeed, a benchmark for the entire southern shore of the Mediterranean. However, it must be even more of a benchmark, with full respect for democracy, human rights and the rule of law. Turkey is a country which gives us a lot of hope for the future. It must affirm itself as a model in all these fields, and we need to make very high demands of it and expect a lot from it. The fact that the fourth package came out on 13 April came to light after the committee had completed our report and our work on it had essentially been completed. Some speakers have talked emotionally about the absence of the freedom of expression. Many people – soldiers, journalists and so on – do not have full freedom of expression and that must be brought to an end. I am sure that Turkey is capable of achieving that goal.

I again welcome the huge effort that Turkey has made to take care of the Syrian refugees. We have seen that in the camps, and it is a shining example. When we see what it has done in that regard we can imagine that Turkey can become a great country in all respects. I also express the fervent wish that the peace negotiations with the Kurds will come to fruition and result in that conflict coming to an end. One member said that the Council of Europe is our house. Yes, it is our house, and it is your house and it is the house of the Turks. Turkey was a founding member of the Council of Europe. That is one more reason why you must become a benchmark country. Given that the Council of Europe is your home as well, I very much hope that, in political terms, it will also be your future.

THE PRESIDENT* – I now call the chairperson of the committee, Mr Herkel. You have three minutes.

Mr HERKEL (Estonia)* – Thank you, Mr President. As many speakers have said, Turkey is one of the biggest countries in our family. It is also a benchmark of the region and for the region. It serves as a positive model for a number of the countries surrounding it even if they are not members of our Organisation. The issue that we are addressing is therefore very important.

Post-monitoring can be as complicated and profound a procedure as monitoring because of the size of this country and the associated problems, even if the procedure is not frequently used. I thank Ms Durrieu for her commitment. She did a very good job and always had very strong opinions in the committee. She sometimes gave long explanations but was always focused on the subject. I also thank Ms Memecan, from the Turkish side, for helping us to create the friendly atmosphere that always prevailed in the committee even when the questions were complicated and we disagreed on some of the approaches. I also thank the ladies from the secretariat. Without them it would be impossible to prepare such important reports.

There are 27 amendments to consider. I think that the committee has agreed a very good procedure this morning for dealing with the amendments quickly in the Chamber. I share the opinion of the rapporteur that we should not support Amendment 8. We must go further with the post-monitoring dialogue. Problems remain despite the fact that Turkey is a model country for many of our eastern neighbours. It is therefore very important for this process to continue.

THE PRESIDENT* – Thank you. The debate is closed. The Monitoring Committee has presented a draft resolution to which 27 amendments and one sub-amendment have been tabled. Mr Herkel, the Chairperson of the Monitoring Committee, wishes to propose to the Assembly that Amendments 1, 25 and 7 to the draft resolution, which were unanimously approved by the committee, should be declared as agreed by the Assembly under Rule 33.10.

The committee’s Amendments 26 and 27 were also agreed unanimously by the committee. However, as they have an impact on other amendments which were not adopted unanimously, they will have to be taken up separately. Is that so, Mr Herkel?

Mr HERKEL (Estonia)* – Yes.

THE PRESIDENT* – Does anyone object to those three amendments being agreed by the Assembly?

There is no objection.

The following amendments have been adopted:

Amendment 1, tabled by Ms Gündeş Bakir, Mr Aligrudić, Dame Angela Watkinson, Mr Evans and Mr Leigh, which is, in the draft resolution, paragraph 11.1, in the first sentence, after the word “third”, to insert the following words: “and fourth”.

Amendment 25, tabled by the Committee on the Honouring of Obligations and Commitments by Member States of the Council of Europe (Monitoring Committee), which is, in the draft resolution, after paragraph 11.5, to insert the following paragraph:

“The Assembly notes that the adoption of the ‘fourth package of judicial reforms’ should make possible the abolition of the time limit for torture cases and the reopening of the trials in the cases in which the European Court of Human Rights has found a lack of effective investigations, in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights.”

Amendment 7, tabled by Ms Gündeş Bakir, Dame Angela Watkinson, Mr Evans, Mr Leigh and Ms Pashayeva, which is, in the draft resolution, in paragraph 16.1, third sentence, after the words “March 2012”, to insert the following words: “without any reservation”.

We will take the other amendments in the order in which they appear in the final version of the compendium of amendments. I remind members that speaking time is limited to 30 seconds.

We come to Amendment 12, tabled by Mr Kürkçü, Mr Kox, Mr Loukaides, Mr Dragasakis, Ms Werner, Mr Villumsen and Mr Hunko, which is, in the draft resolution, paragraph 3, at the end of the second sentence, to replace the words “and the Kurdish question and the PKK terrorism that has claimed over 40 000 victims” with the following words: “and the Kurdish question in Turkey and the conflict between the Turkish state and the PKK that has claimed over 40 000 victims”.

I call Mr Hunko to support Amendment 12.

Mr HUNKO (Germany)* – Thank you very much, Mr President. Many speakers have talked about the peace process, which we should support. We discussed this amendment in great detail in the committee. It is designed to insert quite neutral wording in the report regarding the conflict between the PKK and Turkey. That is why we wish to talk about the conflict and the 40 000 victims and not about terrorism.

THE PRESIDENT* – Thank you very much. Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment?

I call Mr Koç.

Mr KOÇ (Turkey)* – The PKK is a terrorist organisation. If it is presented as a legal or responsible grouping, that really will just not work.

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

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

THE PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

Amendment 12 is adopted.

      We come to Amendment 23, tabled by Mr Kürkçü, Mr Kox, Ms Werner, Mr Schennach, Mr Villumsen and Mr Hunko, which is, in the draft resolution, to replace paragraph 4 with the following paragraph: “The Assembly notes that Turkey has been a candidate for accession to the European Union since 1999. It welcomes the redynamisation of the discussions and believes that the opening of the chapters 23 and 24 concerning human rights and justice as a first step would help consolidate the reform process and underpin the action of the Council of Europe.”

I call Ms Durrieu to support Amendment 23.

      Mr HUNKO (Germany)* – This amendment—

      THE PRESIDENT* – You do not have the floor, Mr Hunko.

      Ms DURRIEU (France)* – The amendment updates the document due to a change in the situation in Turkey.

      Mr HUNKO (Germany)* – I wished to speak on this amendment.

      Mr ÇAVUŞOĞLU (Turkey) – I think we are making a technical mistake. The amendment is not tabled by the rapporteur or by the committee but by Mr Hunko and Mr Kürkçü.

      THE PRESIDENT* – There is a mistake in my notes. We are discussing Amendment 23 and I am very sorry Mr Hunko; you do have the floor.

      Mr HUNKO (Germany)* – Thank you. The amendment relates to a former wording, but I now do not want to move the amendment.

      THE PRESIDENT* – Mr Hunko is not moving the amendment. Does anyone want to re-table it? That is not the case. Amendment 23 is not moved.

We come to Amendment 21, tabled by Mr Kürkçü, Mr Kox, Mr Loukaides, Mr Dragasakis, Ms Werner, Mr Villumsen and Mr Hunko, which is, in the draft resolution, at the end of paragraph 5, to add the following words:

“Nonetheless, the Assembly notes that the economic progress made in the last years is yet to fulfill the popular expectations of equal distribution of wealth. It calls on Turkey to adopt measures to ensure that economic progress benefits all parts of society, especially vulnerable groups. The Assembly calls on Turkey to uphold its strong relations and commitments to the Council of Europe in view of its growing international power.”

      I call Mr Kürkçü to support Amendment 21.

      Mr KÜRKÇÜ (Turkey) – We tabled the amendment because, despite great economic progress, income distribution differentials have increased eightfold between the richest 20% and the poorest 20%, so we are calling for a more egalitarian approach in Turkey for distributing the wealth gained through economic progress.

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

      Mr DIŞLI (Turkey) – There is no such equal income distribution in the economic real world. The Gini coefficient, which measures income distribution, has increased tremendously in recent years, so we cannot accept the equal distribution of all income.

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

      Mr HERKEL (Estonia) – The amendment was rejected.

      THE PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      Amendment 21 is rejected.

      We come to Amendment 22, tabled by Mr Kürkçü, Mr Kox, Mr Loukaides, Mr Dragasakis, Ms Werner, Mr Villumsen and Mr Hunko, which is, in the draft resolution, paragraph 10.2, to replace the words “Turkish institutions and the Turkish people” with the following words: “institutions and citizens of Turkey”.

      I call Mr Kürkçü to support Amendment 22.

      Mr KÜRKÇÜ (Turkey) – We propose the change due to the wording of the sentence, which goes against Turkey’s multi-ethnic and multi-religious complexion.

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

      Mr DIŞLI (Turkey) – People who live in Turkey are Turkish people. There is no discrimination.

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

      Mr HERKEL (Estonia) – The committee voted in favour of the amendment.

      THE PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      Amendment 22 is adopted.

      Amendment 1 was adopted unanimously, so we come to Amendment 2, tabled by Ms Gündeş Bakir, Dame Angela Watkinson, Mr Evans, Mr Leigh and Ms Pashayeva, which is, in the draft resolution, in paragraph 11.1, to delete the third and the fourth sentences.

      I call Ms Gündeş Bakir to support Amendment 2.

      Ms GÜNDEŞ BAKIR (Turkey) – With the fourth reform package, the presumption of innocence is strengthened, the pre-trial detention is restricted and the right to ask for compensation for pre-trial detention is provided. Previously, in the objections to pre-trial detention, only the views of the prosecutors were taken by the judges. With the fourth reform package, however, the defendant’s view will also be taken. The amendment proposes an update in the light of the fourth judicial reform package.

      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 amendment was rejected.

      THE PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      Amendment 2 is rejected.

      We come to Amendment 24, tabled by the Committee on the Honouring of Obligations and Commitments by Member States of the Council of Europe (Monitoring Committee), which is, in the draft resolution, to replace paragraph 11.5 with the following paragraph:

“The Assembly welcomes the adoption on 11 April 2013 of the ‘fourth package of judicial reforms’. The amendments of, in particular, the Criminal Code and the anti-terrorism legislation should help to bring Turkish legislation into line with the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights, as requested. They should also help to clarify the distinction between freedom of expression and terrorist propaganda, as expected. The Assembly renews its request for Article 301 of the Criminal Code to be repealed.”

      I call Ms Durrieu to support Amendment 24 on behalf of the Monitoring Committee.

      Ms DURRIEU (France)* – The amendment brings the text in line with the changing situation in Turkey. I will be saying that several times because we are taking the fourth judicial reform package into consideration.

      THE PRESIDENT* – We come to Sub-Amendment 1 to Amendment 24, tabled by Mr Geraint Davies, Mr Prescott, Ms Riordan, Mr Sheridan and Mr Hood, which is, at the end of Amendment 24, to add the following words: “as well as Article 125 of the Criminal Code which criminalizes defamation. The Assembly also calls for a review to the definitions of offences related to terrorism and membership of a criminal organization in law in line with the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights.”

      I call Mr Geraint Davies to support the sub-amendment.

      Mr G. DAVIES (United Kingdom) – The sub-amendment repeals Article 125 of the Turkish Criminal Code, which allows Turkish courts to send journalists to prison for criticising Turkish politicians and public officials. Repealing the article will ensure that public officials have to withstand greater public scrutiny, just as we do, in line with international standards. The sub-amendment would also review the definition of terrorism in Article 1 of the code, which is being used to prosecute critics of the government in violation of the right to freedom of expression.

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

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

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

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

      The vote is open.

      Sub-Amendment 1 is adopted.

      Does anyone wish to speak against Amendment 24? That is not the case.

      The committee is obviously in favour.

      The vote is open.

      Amendment 24, as amended, is adopted.

      THE PRESIDENT* – Amendment 25 was adopted, so we come to Amendment 3, tabled by Ms Gündeş Bakir, Dame Angela Watkinson, Mr Evans, Mr Leigh and Ms Pashayeva, which is, in the draft resolution, in paragraph 11.7, to delete the second, third and fourth sentences.

Let me clarify that if this amendment is adopted, Amendment 13 falls. I call Ms Gündeş Bakir to support Amendment 3.

Ms GÜNDEŞ BAKIR (Turkey) – We are surprised by the comments in the post-monitoring report, as this topic has nothing to do with the post-monitoring of a member State. Many member States that are not in the monitoring or post-monitoring phases already have Catholic schools, which is a very positive thing in my opinion. Catholic schools are the best high schools in Belgium and Belgian families always prefer them. The Imam Hatip schools should also be of no concern, as the Ministry of Education curriculum is compulsory in all secondary schools, including the Imam Hatip schools.

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 is against.

      THE PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      Amendment 3 is rejected.

      We come to Amendment 13, tabled by Ms Memecan, Mr Kayatürk, Mr Dişli, Ms Erkal Kara, Mr Türkeş and Mr Çavuşoğlu, which is, in the draft resolution, paragraph 11.7, to delete the second and third sentences.

      I call Ms Memecan to support Amendment 13.

      Ms MEMECAN (Turkey) – This amendment is in the same spirit, so we will not move it.

      THE PRESIDENT* – Amendment 13 is not moved.

      We come to Amendment 4, tabled by Ms Gündeş Bakir, Dame Angela Watkinson, Mr Evans, Mr Leigh and Ms Pashayeva, which is, in the draft resolution, to replace paragraph 12.4 with the following paragraph: “The Assembly welcomes the adoption of new legislation related to the decriminalization of the propaganda of conscientious objection within the framework of the 4th judicial reform package.”

      I call Ms Gündeş Bakir to support Amendment 4.

      Ms GÜNDEŞ BAKIR (Turkey) – With the fourth judicial package, the law is reformed in such a way as to respect the freedom of expression in accordance with the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights. This amendment updates the report in the light of new developments.

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 is against.

      THE PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      Amendment 4 is rejected.

      We come to Amendment 16, tabled by Mr Kürkçü, Mr Kox, Mr Loukaides, Mr Dragasakis, Ms Werner, Mr Villumsen and Mr Hunko, which is, in the draft resolution, paragraph 13.1, to replace the word “invites” with the following word: “urges”.

      I call Mr Villumsen to support Amendment 16.

      Mr VILLUMSEN (Denmark) – This amendment has been tabled because we as an Assembly need to take recommendations seriously. It is based on a recommendation put forward by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities. The word “invite”, is weak. If we instead use the word “urges”, that demonstrates a serious wish that Turkey should follow the recommendations.

      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 is in favour.

      THE PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      Amendment 16 is adopted.

      We come to Amendment 17, tabled by Mr Kürkçü, Mr Kox, Mr Loukaides, Mr Dragasakis, Ms Werner, Mr Villumsen and Mr Hunko, which is, in the draft resolution, paragraph 13.2, first sentence, to replace the words “on compensation for damage caused by terrorism” with the following words: “on compensation for damage arising from terrorism and from the measures taken against terrorism”.

      I call Mr Hunko to support Amendment 17.

      Mr HUNKO* (Germany) – This amendment concerns Law no. 5233, on compensation for damage caused by terrorism. This is mentioned in paragraph 7.7 of the resolution, which refers to the “Law on Compensation for Damage arising from Terrorism and from the Measures Taken against Terrorism”. We should use the full title of this law.

      THE PRESIDENT* – I have been informed that Ms Durrieu wishes to propose an oral sub-amendment, on behalf of the Monitoring Committee, as follows:

      “In Amendment 17, to delete the words ‘terrorism and from the measures taken against terrorism’ and replace with ‘terror and combating terror’.”In

      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 Ms Durrieu to support her oral sub-amendment.

      Ms DURRIEU* (France) – The amendment simply changes some terms in the text. It is simply correcting the title concerning the law on compensation for damage caused by terrorism and from measures taken against terrorism.

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

      That is not the case.

      What is the opinion of Mr Hunko?

      Mr HUNKO* (Germany) – I am in favour.

      THE PRESIDENT* – The committee is obviously in favour.

      Mr HERKEL (Estonia) – We are in favour.

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

      The vote is open.

      The oral-sub amendment is adopted.

      Does anyone wish to speak against Amendment 17, 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 Amendment 17, as amended, to the vote.

      The vote is open.

      Amendment 17, as amended, is adopted.

      We come to Amendment 5, tabled by Ms Gündeş Bakir, Dame Angela Watkinson, Mr Evans, Mr Leigh and Ms Pashayeva, which is, in the draft resolution, in paragraph 14.3, to replace the second sentence with the following sentence: “The Assembly also commends Turkey for adopting a law on aliens and international protection which will improve the conditions of foreigners irrespective of their status.”

      If this amendment is agreed to, Amendment 26 falls.

      I call Ms Gündeş Bakir to support Amendment 5.

      Ms GÜNDEŞ BAKIR (Turkey) – The amendment is self-explanatory and is an update of the report, as this law was adopted by the Turkish parliament after the report was drafted.

      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 did not support this amendment, but we do support the next amendment, which is similar. So the committee is against the amendment.

      THE PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      Amendment 5 is rejected.

      We come to Amendment 26, tabled by the Committee on the Honouring of Obligations and Commitments by Member States of the Council of Europe (Monitoring Committee), which is, in the draft resolution, paragraph 14.3, to replace the second sentence with the following sentence: “Furthermore, the Assembly welcomes the adoption, on 4 April 2013, of the Law on foreigners and international protection, which constitutes a significant step forward in the protection of the rights of foreigners, irrespective of their status.”

       I call Ms Durrieu to support Amendment 26.

      Ms DURRIEU (France)* – Again, this deals with the same issues.

      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 is in favour.

      THE PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      Amendment 26 is adopted.

      We come to Amendment 6, tabled by Ms Gündeş Bakir, Dame Angela Watkinson, Mr Evans, Mr Leigh and Ms Pashayeva, which is, in the draft resolution, in paragraph 14.3, to delete the third sentence.

      I call Ms Gündeş Bakir to support Amendment 6.

      Ms GÜNDEŞ BAKIR (Turkey) – The geographical limitation implemented by Turkey is not a reservation of Turkey – on the contrary, it is a right recognised by article 1(B) of the 1951 Geneva Convention. The ECHR’s judgment in the case of A.G. and others v. Turkey (Application No. 40229/98, 15 June 1999) found in favour of Turkey. It is crucial that we protect the borders of the Council of Europe against illegal migration. This is the reason behind the amendment.

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

I call Mr Omtzigt to speak against the amendment.

      Mr OMTZIGT (Netherlands) – We are talking about the same amendment, but this amendment would remove the phrase “urges Turkey to continue to its co-operation with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees” – which, by the way, is more important than ever during the Syrian conflict – “and reiterates its call to lift the geographical limitation of the Geneva Convention”. It would be good if Turkey did that, so I ask that we reject the amendment.

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

      Mr HERKEL (Estonia) – The committee is against.

      THE PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      Amendment 6 is rejected.

We come to Amendment 19, tabled by Mr Kürkçü, Mr Kox, Mr Loukaides, Mr Dragasakis, Ms Werner, Mr Villumsen and Mr Hunko, which is, in the draft resolution, paragraph 14.4, to replace the words “the terrorist acts related to the PKK,” with the following words: “the ongoing armed conflict”.

      I call Mr Kürkçü to support Amendment 19.

      Mr KÜRKÇÜ (Turkey) – Paragraph 14.4 tries to find a political solution, but we can find a political solution only to an armed conflict, not to a terrorist act. The wording should be corrected accordingly. “The ongoing armed conflict” is semantically, logically and historically correct, so I ask members to vote in favour.

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

      I call Mr Walter.

      Mr WALTER (United Kingdom) – Very simply, the PKK is recognised as a terrorist organisation by the European Union. For that reason, we can indeed talk about “terrorist acts” and should reject the amendment.

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

      Mr HERKEL (Estonia) – The committee is against.

THE PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

Amendment 19 is rejected.

      We come to Amendment 14, tabled by Mr Hancock, Ms Memecan, Mr Kayatürk, Ms Erkal Kara, Mr Dişli, Mr Ahmet Türkeş, Mr Çavuşoğlu, which is, in the draft resolution, paragraph 14.4, in the last sentence, to delete the following words: “reiterates that a political solution must be found to the Kurdish question and”.

      I call Mr Hancock to support Amendment 14.

      Mr HANCOCK (United Kingdom) – There should be a unanimous vote in favour of the amendment. Most of us would want all the parties involved to aspire to a cessation of all violence, whatever its form or origin, as a precondition for any negotiations. To link the two things is wrong, so deleting the words would make a much more powerful and positive statement about what we all believe to be the correct thing to do.

      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 is against.

THE PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

Amendment 14 is rejected.

We come to Amendment 9, tabled by Mr Harutyunyan, Ms Karapetyan, Ms Hovhannisyan, Mr Ghiletchi, Mr Hörster, Mr Moreno Palanques, Mr Strässer, Ms Strenz, Ms Postanjyan, Mr Omtzigt and Mr Aligrudić, which is, in the draft resolution, to replace paragraph 15.5 with the following paragraph:

“While acknowledging that the recent reforms to Turkish legislation have improved relations with the non-Muslim religious communities, the Assembly, nevertheless, urges Turkey to implement the requirements of paragraph 19.2 of the Assembly Resolution 1704 (2010) and the recommendations of Venice Commission included in the Opinion CDL-AD(2010)005 adopted in March 2010, in order to guarantee the fundamental right of freedom of religion, particularly through recognizing the legal personality of non-Muslim religious communities, which would secure access to justice and protection of property rights.”

I call Mr Harutyunyan to support Amendment 9.

Mr HARUTYUNYAN (Armenia) – The amendment specifies in greater detail what we expect from Turkey to guarantee the fundamental right of freedom of religion by making reference to the Assembly’s own documents.

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 is in favour.

THE PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

Amendment 9 is adopted.

We come to Amendment 18, tabled by Mr Kürkçü, Mr Kox, Mr Loukaides, Mr Dragasakis, Ms Werner, Mr Villumsen and Mr Hunko, which is, in the draft resolution, paragraph 15.6, to replace the words “notes the stepping up of dialogue with the Alevi community,” with the following words: “urges the launching of a conclusive dialogue with the Alevi community,”.

I call Mr Kürkçü to move Amendment 18.

Mr KÜRKÇÜ (Turkey) – There is no ongoing dialogue with the Alevi community so “stepping up” is not the correct phrase. We request that a conclusive dialogue should be launched to solve the problems of the Alevi community. The amendment would have a strong impact on the report as a whole.

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 is in favour.

THE PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

Amendment 18 is adopted.

We come to Amendment 15, tabled by Mr Hancock, Ms Memecan, Mr Kayatürk, Ms Erkal Kara, Mr Dişli, Mr Ahmet Türkeş and Mr Çavuşoğlu, which is, in the draft resolution, paragraph 15.6, to replace the words “and the return of confiscated property” with the following words: “and investigations into confiscated property claims”.

I call Mr Hancock to support Amendment 15.

Mr HANCOCK (United Kingdom) – The paragraph relates to this one community only. There is controversy about whether property was confiscated or not; there are two sides to the issue. The report cannot make the judgment involved in saying that the property has to be returned because it has not substantially proved that it was confiscated. The amendment suggests that investigations into confiscated property claims be made.

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

I call Mr Omtzigt.

Mr OMTZIGT (Netherlands) – The Turkish State has already started to return some of the confiscated property and it has been established that some of the property has been confiscated. Replacing “return of confiscated property” with a suggestion that the claims be investigated – and so stopping the property from being returned – would be a step backwards. It would be a good idea to reject the amendment.

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

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

THE PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

Amendment 15 is adopted.

We come to Amendment 27, tabled by the Committee on the Honouring of Obligations and Commitments by Member States of the Council of Europe (Monitoring Committee), which is, in the draft resolution, to replace paragraph 15.8 with the following paragraph:

“The Assembly welcomes the Turkish authorities’ official resumption, in December 2012, of exploratory talks with the PKK leader. It also welcomes of the peace process, which it believes is obviously the way forward in ending violence and creating a peaceful environment for the solution of the Kurdish issue. The Assembly is aware that the process is fragile and should be accompanied by the withdrawal of the PKK activists from Turkey. A “Committee of Wise People”, made of 63 members, has been put in place. The Assembly wishes that it be representative of all actors of society and of the different political forces to support efforts to bring the initiative to a successful conclusion.”

I call Ms Durrieu to support Amendment 27 on behalf of the Monitoring Committee.

Ms DURRIEU (France)* – I am in favour of the amendment. The wording is not neutral – “PKK activists from Turkey”, so, yes, you can say “terrorists”. I did not opt for the word “terrorists” as there is no universal definition of it; that is why I used the word “activists”.

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

      The committee is obviously in favour.

      The vote is open.

      Amendment 27 is adopted and therefore amendment 20 falls.

We come to Amendment 10, tabled by Mr Harutyunyan, Ms Karapetyan, Ms Arpine Hovhannisyan, Mr Ghiletchi, Mr Hörster, Mr Moreno Palanques, Mr Strässer, Ms Strenz, Ms Postanjyan, Mr Omtzigt and Mr Aligrudić, which is, in the draft resolution, after paragraph 15.8, to insert the following paragraph:

“While acknowledging the importance of minority schools for the preservation of the indentity of the national minorities, the Assembly, nevertheless, regrets that the law of 2007 on private teaching establishments did not reflect the requirements set forth in paragraph 19.14 of the Assembly Resolution 1704 (2010). Therefore the Assembly urges Turkey to adapt the legislation so as to allow children from non-Muslim minorities, but without Turkish nationality, to be admitted to minority schools. In this regard the Assembly, while taking into account the reciprocity practice applied in certain cases, notes that ad hoc solutions are not a sufficient remedy for the problem.”

      I call Mr Harutyunyan to support Amendment 10.

      Mr HARUTYUNYAN (Armenia) – The purpose of the amendment is to enshrine in law the right of children without Turkish nationality to be admitted to minority schools. An ad hoc solution is in force at the moment, but we are asking that the right be enshrined in law.

      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 is in favour.

THE PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

Amendment 10 is adopted.

We come to Amendment 11, tabled by Mr Omtzigt, Ms Von Cramon-Taubadel, Mr Kandelaki, Mr Ghiletchi and Mr Sobolev, which is, in the draft resolution, after paragraph 15.8, to insert the following paragraph:

“The Assembly notes that Turkey has not sent a reply to Resolution 1704 on freedom of religion. It invites Turkey to send a reply to the outstanding questions within two months.”

I call Mr Omtzigt to support Amendment 11.

Mr OMTZIGT (Netherlands) – In 2010, we adopted a report with a resolution on freedom of religion for non-Muslim communities in Turkey. At the end of the resolution, we asked the Turkish authorities to send a reply to our request by February 2011. Despite numerous requests from the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, the Turkish delegation has not replied. If we take our work seriously, we should give them the opportunity to reply. That is what I am asking for in the amendment.

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 is in favour.

THE PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

Amendment 11 is adopted.

      THE PRESIDENT* – Amendment 7 has been considered, so we come to Amendment 8, tabled by Ms Gündeş Bakir, Mr Aligrudić, Dame Angela Watkinson, Mr Evans and, Mr Leigh, which is, in the draft resolution, to replace paragraph 18 with the following paragraph: “The Assembly resolves to close the post-monitoring with Turkey with the confidence that Turkish authorities will continue the process of reform.”

      I call Ms Gündeş Bakir to support Amendment 8.

      Ms GÜNDEŞ BAKIR (Turkey) – I firmly believe that over the past 10 years Turkey has clearly demonstrated its commitment and ability to fulfil its obligations as a Council of Europe member state. Given the reforms completed and the progress achieved since 2001, I call on all member states of the Council of Europe to support the closure of the post-monitoring dialogue with Turkey.

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

      Mr HUNKO (Germany)* – The amendment turns the report on its head with its idea of closing down the monitoring procedure. As we have heard, there are all kinds of contradictory developments, and so we should continue our post-monitoring dialogue to help Turkey to continue to make progress.

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

      Mr HERKEL (Estonia) – The committee is opposed.

      THE PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      Amendment 8 is rejected.

      We will now proceed to vote on the whole of the draft resolution contained in Document 13160, as amended.

      The vote is open.

      The draft resolution in Document 13160, as amended, is adopted, with 142 votes for, 35 against and 6 abstentions.

3. Address by Mr Bidzina Ivanishvili, Prime Minister of Georgia

      THE PRESIDENT* – We now have the honour of hearing an address by Mr Bidzina Ivanishvili, Prime Minister of Georgia. After his address Mr Ivanishvili will take questions from the floor.

      Prime Minister, allow me once again to welcome you most warmly to this Chamber of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, which is your home, as I told you yesterday. As you are aware, our Assembly fully supports the democratic reforms under way in your country as well as your moves towards European integration. We are therefore delighted to see that your country is making steady progress on both these fronts.

      Recent parliamentary elections, which our Assembly observed, were very closely contested and well organised. The fact that there was a change in the parliamentary majority that was democratic is testament to the maturity of the institutions in your country. Allow me to repeat what I said to President Saakashvili when he was here: that you should not see a change in the majority as some kind of dysfunctioning of the political process. Quite the contrary: it gives you an opportunity to strengthen democratic institutions and to maintain a climate of dialogue between the government and opposition. That is by no means easy, but the country and the people of Georgia need a stable political environment in order to make progress with reforms. I am delighted that you have already made considerable headway. You recently adopted a constitutional amendment that made it possible to defuse tension and to initiate dialogue between the government and opposition. What is more, amendments to legislation and to the judicial system have strengthened the independence of the judiciary, in keeping with our recommendations. It is important that you now continue in that vein, and I can assure you, Prime Minister, that you can count on our support. I am delighted to give you the floor.

Mr IVANISHVILI* (Prime Minister of Georgia) – Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, members of the Parliamentary Assembly, this is the first time I have had the honour as Prime Minister to speak before a European institution. It is therefore no coincidence that I should speak first before you, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, because you are the leading institution supporting and protecting true democracy in Europe. You, more than anyone, are aware that democracy is not established by announcements in fine words but painstakingly built by working together in constructive co-operation. It is before you that I have come to speak because I am well aware that you are the best architects of European democracy.

Here in Strasbourg, as a French citizen, of course I could not resist commencing my address to you in French, but now I would like to continue in Georgian, my mother tongue.

(The speaker continued in Georgian.)

You have embarked on the path of European values founded centuries ago, and we are conscious that transitional democracies have only recently joined you on this path. We carry a difficult past, and that is why this great body is especially important to our countries, which only now take steps towards full European integration. You are the living embodiment of Europe’s dream of peaceful co-operation. You not only project a vision; you work hard to make it happen.

Today 800 million people in the democracies of Europe are joined through the Council of Europe, the world’s oldest and largest body dedicated to the cause of democracy. For many of you this is an achievement which goes back many decades. The exhausted continent of 1949 has become the most prosperous region on earth – this was not an easy task, as more problems than solutions existed at that time. So we, the young countries of democracy, did our best to become members of the Council of Europe as quickly as possible. Georgia became the 41st member of the Council of Europe in 1999. For my country, it is a thrill to be here among you. We have come late to this club of freedom and we know that we have a long way to go. The election that brought my government to power in October 2012 represented the precedent for the democratic transfer of power in my country, which is why I feel a huge sense of responsibility in addressing you; I know that we are inexperienced in the practice of democracy. As we debate issues with our opponents at home, I can feel how hard it is for us sometimes to pull back from disputes and place our trust in the good will of the other side. Naturally, it would not be easy for you to relate to that.

Georgia’s history has been difficult and we live today in a difficult neighbourhood, with many challenges of a globalised world facing us. That is why we need your help. We need the support of many institutions of the Council of Europe to help guide us through this transition. While continuing on the path of the reforms the previous government instituted during its first years in power, which have been for the benefit of the country, we must replace the authoritarian structures of the later years with a modern civil society. In recent years: almost all fields were controlled by the ruling elite in Georgia; the basic law of the country’s constitution was abused, being practically tailored to serve one man’s ambitions; elite corruption gave no room whatsoever for business to develop; human rights were ignored, with pressure deployed upon not only those holding different views, but their families and acquaintances; and the media were mostly under control. We have begun a healing process which channels deep anger and restores a sense of self-respect to our citizens. That includes not only indicting some former officials for past crimes, but keeping the thousands of loyal civil servants who served the previous government.

That is why we work hard to ensure that our policies are fully transparent. We facilitate the work of western non-governmental organisations present in Georgia and hope for as many visits by parliamentary delegations as can be arranged. At my request, the European Union has appointed Thomas Hammarberg, the former Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, as a special adviser on legal and constitutional reforms and human rights in Georgia. Observers from the OSCE and other inter-governmental and non-governmental organisations will monitor all investigations, prosecutions and trials of former government officials to ensure that they comply with international norms. Our Justice Minister, Tea Tsulukiani, is a former judge of the European Court of Human Rights, and the list of Council of Europe bodies with which we co-operate is long. We are especially grateful to the Venice Commission, which is helping us with judicial reform. We appreciate the debate in the Parliamentary Assembly as an example for our own practices at home. We are working in many agencies and committees of the Council of Europe to ensure that we meet the standards of this Organisation. We are working, in particular, on issues of minority rights, which will help us to make the transition to a new stage in our ongoing relations with the Council of Europe.

That ongoing co-operation will be pursued with the greatest energy, but our democratic vision – our dream for Georgia – goes beyond those important details. I have read the history of the European movement carefully, and I understand that building a united Europe was, above all, a project of peace. Looking back over the past century, one can see how recurring warfare was especially disastrous for small countries caught up in conflicts not of their making. Europe was once a battlefield where small countries were fighting. The awarding of the 2012 Nobel peace prize to the European Union was in recognition of Europe’s historic achievement in building peace. As you all know, warfare has not been overcome completely; small countries, in particular, continue to suffer from aggression. A clear example of that has been seen in my home country, as 20% of our territory was occupied by Russia in 2008. Other conflicts endanger the peace in our region; the Caucasus is not yet a zone of peace.

A special challenge will be building the relations with our largest neighbour, Russia. With a new pragmatic approach, we started bilateral dialogue with Russia and we are returning Georgian products to the Russian market. I can assure you that our position in our relations with Russia will be correct and principled. The appointment of a special representative for relations with Russia clearly demonstrates that we are willing to turn the page and engage in dialogue. In 2010, Georgia unilaterally pledged the non-use of force in the conflict resolution process, and that pledge was endorsed by the parliamentary resolution on 8 March 2013.

In this challenging process, Georgia needs international engagement and support more than ever. The newly started dialogue between Tbilisi and Moscow should not create an impression that Georgia is dealing with the problem on its own and is no longer in need of the support of European partners. We will be realistic about Georgia’s possibilities, recognising that Georgia is a small regional power in a volatile neighbourhood. No sustainable future can be built by projecting military power but there can be no progress towards peace in the region if Georgia is expected to abandon its legitimate interests, especially its territorial integrity and the right of its citizens to return to their homelands. The regulation of these relations will benefit not only Georgia, but the Caucasus in general. Our intention is to use the tools of civil society to help build peace in our region. Above all, we will focus on democracy, as we believe that the security, unity and prosperity of Georgia largely depend on the quality of the democracy. I wish to emphasise that Georgia’s western aspirations – euro-Atlantic integration – represent our strategic choice, one with no alternative. The choice was made by the Georgian people long ago. Georgia’s decision to apply for membership of NATO represents, above all, a deep commitment among our people to live using the values of the west. That commitment was upheld in the resolution on the basic directions of Georgia’s foreign policy, which was unanimously adopted by the Georgian Parliament.

I wish to touch on current and planned developments in my country. The government is working actively on implementing employment policy. We are improving the labour code to meet European standards to the fullest extent possible. I believe that the State should play a decisive role in the development of business and provide development guarantees. Today, business is free from political pressure and soon we will see concrete positive results in investment growth. We have already established fair utility rates based on realistic calculations. Co-operation and negotiations with our partners continue in that regard. The Georgian Government is implementing large-scale agricultural reform, which is unprecedented for the country. Vital health care reform is also under way. The universal health care programme has already been launched. In the next stage of the programme, all citizens of Georgia will enjoy the benefits of the state’s universal medical insurance package, and the system will improve even further in the future.

Building a country on democratic values is impossible without free media. Journalists must be free to criticise the government and thereby provide society with objective information. Our government is absolutely open to media representatives, and their objective appraisal and criticism will benefit our work tremendously.

Reform of the judiciary is the cornerstone of our work to ensure genuine democratic processes in the country. That reform, which has been initiated, is based on the recommendations of local civil society organisations and reflects comments from the Venice Commission and its Georgian judicial branch. I believe that Georgia has a unique chance to establish a truly independent judicial system, free from the executive branch and free from political influence. The Government of Georgia aims not to miss this chance.

The government pays special attention to the integration of ethnic minorities in Georgian society so that they may feel at home in Georgia. We will remain a country where different confessions of faith have co-existed for centuries. The empowerment of social self-governance is one of the preconditions for integration in Georgian society. You will be aware of the high emotions of bodies grounded in local self-government following the October election. Over the years, the public have seen one political force dominate all levels of government, and to this day society finds it difficult to comprehend a new reality when different political forces have decision makers at different levels. The replacement at a national level of the formerly dominant political force installed a sense among the local population that a similar replacement of that force was inevitable in local self-government as well. There is also an unfortunate tradition that, in such situations, local officials in the regions change their party affiliation in favour of the ruling party. This time, events became chaotic and in some cases even exceeded legal boundaries.

The Georgian Government is committed to the constitutional principles of the separation of powers, including the independence of local self-government bodies. At the same time, as a ruling political team, we are obliged to address adequately violations of law. I emphasise that the government and law enforcement agencies will deploy legally stipulated measures to address all instances of use of force, pressure or intimidation should such instances occur.

As we enter our sixth month in office, the Georgian Dream coalition has already established a solid record of achievement. Our programme to build civil society is well under way, the economy is returning to a solid foundation, and recent polls show that the voters are increasingly supportive of their government. We are making steady progress towards Euro-Atlantic integration, and there have even been a few small steps towards negotiations with Russia. Perhaps most encouraging is the fact that, after a rough beginning, we are starting to apply lessons from the Council of Europe on how to build consensus with former adversaries. I am confident that Georgia has finally turned the corner. Our election victory in October was an important next step towards sustainable democracy. Success in that task will be of great importance to the Georgian people. I am certain that it will help us to make an important contribution to the project for peace which is the underlying foundation of the European ideal. Thank you for your attention.

THE PRESIDENT* – Thank you very much, Prime Minister. Now I give the floor to those who have put their names down to ask a question. They have 30 seconds each. First, we will have a response on behalf of the different groups. I call Ms Pourbaix-Lundin, on behalf of the Group of the European People’s Party.

Ms POURBAIX-LUNDIN (Sweden) – You said some time ago that the EPP presidency declaration, which spoke of democratic backsliding in Georgia, a letter from 23 Members of the European Parliament and this Assembly’s resolution on media freedom were shameful lies. If I say that I agree with those critics, what is your response today?

Mr IVANISHVILI* – I think that expressions used by the EPP and other representatives of European structures have often been based on biased, unilateral information distributed by the representatives of the former government, who often spread lies. I have met many leaders from the EPP and have great respect for the party, which is the biggest. I do not think that such misunderstandings will occur in future, and we will co-operate with the EPP.

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

Mr IWIŃSKI (Poland) – Mr President, how do you view internal reconciliation in Georgia given the tension that has existed since the last parliamentary elections? What is your estimation of the prospects of normalisation of relations with Russia? I put the same questions to President Saakashvili in January because, to my mind, it is important to have a comparative approach not only in science but in politics.

Mr IVANISHVILI* – On internal political processes, let me assure you once more that in Georgia only restoration of the justice of processes is happening; there is no selective justice. There is a huge amount of aggression in society, and it is necessary to restore justice. What is happening in Georgia is something that should be happening; it is being carried out by law enforcement bodies. Mr Hammarberg, whom you know very well, is in Georgia observing the process, as are observers from the OSCE, NGOs and civil society. Let me assure you once more that the process is transparent and does not resemble political persecution.

My personal dream, and that of my team, is to settle our relations with our large neighbour, Russia. I am under no illusion that a total restoration of relations can happen very soon, but we hope it is possible. It is easier to get into deadlock than it is to break it. Step by step, by using peaceful expressions, we will settle our relations with Russia. We have already made progress in trade and cultural relations.

THE PRESIDENT* – Thank you. I call Ms Guţu, on behalf of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.

Ms GUŢU (Republic of Moldova)* – Where are the lines of division between you, as Prime Minister of Georgia, and the current president, Mr Saakashvili in this political cohabitation, as we call it, given that Georgia has firmly decided on European integration, which requires the rule of law and respect for fundamental human rights?

      Mr IVANISHVILI* – I think that we are managing with co-habitation. My personal desire is for both the government and the opposition to stand together. There are many problems in our country, and we do not have time to engage in disputes. We should join our efforts and move in the right direction.

      However, co-habitation and the restoration of justice are different matters. We should not confuse politics with justice; those terms are often mistakenly used. There are many talented and gifted people in the opposition. Instead of arguing with each other, we should support each another, but the restoration of justice and co-habitation are different matters.

      THE PRESIDENT* – Thank you. I call Mr Leigh, who will speak on behalf of the European Democrat Group.

Mr LEIGH (United Kingdom) – Prime Minister, following on from your statement about justice, why did you not follow the recommendation of the Venice Commission not to terminate prematurely the High Council of Justice? Also, will you bring the officials who are responsible for putting pressure on the judiciary to book?

Mr IVANISHVILI* – Again I think that you have one-sided information; there are still methods for the opposition to spread lies in Europe. We have taken into account the recommendations to a great extent – perhaps 99% – although some commas or full stops might not have been taken into account. You do not have the necessary information. We took into account the recommendations of the Venice Commission and those of civil society. The Chair of the Supreme Court and Mr Hammarberg agree that our reforms are a good step forward. The only person who is against them is Mr Saakashvili.

THE PRESIDENT* – Thank you. I call Mr Leonid Kalashnikov, who will speak on behalf of the Unified European Left.

Mr L. KALASHNIKOV (Russian Federation)* – Georgia has a law on occupied territories, under which people who enter those territories from somewhere other than Georgia may find themselves in prison for a year or even longer. I know people who have entered South Ossetia and Abkhazia not from Georgia because of the physical impossibility of doing so. They may find themselves in prison. What are you doing to restrict the application of that law, or at least to minimise its effect?

Mr IVANISHVILI* – Regarding the occupied territories, we are not planning any change in the law. If you are referring to the terminology, we have different stipulations.

I was unable to hear the question very well, but I will state our attitude to the territories. We will continuously try to resolve the problem peacefully and to establish relations. To our brothers, the Abkhaz and the Ossetians, I reiterate this message: we will restore our relations and unify our territories only through peaceful means. So far, we do not have any tools to change the situation overnight, but there are other means – for example, peaceful rhetoric – which I am convinced will help us to settle the situation.

We are also trying to make our neighbours understand that the situation is dangerous for Russia’s security. I believe that both sides and Russia will realise that the situation is not beneficial in the long run. I believe that our dialogue will become more concrete, which will finally enable us to restore Georgia’s territorial integrity.

Mr BOCKEL (France)* – Thank you for your encouraging statement on the future of Georgia, Prime Minister. You were talking about the rule of law, and now you have a thorny co-habitation. Manuel Barroso has been talking about selective justice. All those issues are placing question marks over the future development of your country. What are all your energetic political efforts leading to? How long will this go on for?

THE PRESIDENT* – I call Mr Leonid Kalashnikov on a point of order.

Mr L. KALASHNIKOV (Russian Federation)* – There was a mistranslation of my question, which was a specific question. Under the law on occupied territories, a mission, such as the OSCE’s or ours, that enters Abkhazia or South Ossetia not from Georgia may be put in prison for two years.

Mr IVANISHVILI* – The question was clear. The law is not going to change. Clearly we greatly wish to fix the situation with Russia, but it is logical that we correct the law. If someone breaks it for the first time, we will issue a small fine and explain to that person what the law is. That will enhance the settlement of relations between us and our larger neighbour.

      THE PRESIDENT* – Mr Bockel has not had a reply on energy policy. I call Mr Bockel.

      Mr BOCKEL (France)* – My question was about the rule of law, and I finished by asking about your energy policy. What energy policy do you have to guarantee the independence and development of Georgia?

      Mr IVANISHVILI* – The main question is a legal one, which is why we have gathered here so many representatives of the Georgian Parliament. Of course, the main goal is to restore justice in our country and to establish a really independent judicial system, to enable our citizens to live in a country ruled with justice and by law. Therefore, we will not spare our efforts to make our judiciary independent, to build democratic institutions.

      Energy is the most attractive sector for investors in our country. Energy independence is one of the main components of security for any country. Therefore, we are engaged in building hydro power stations in Georgia, and we will continue their construction in the future. Of course, we welcome the construction of the large-scale pipelines that traverse Georgian territory. We will continue our relations with our neighbours to enhance Georgia’s function as a transit zone, and that will be beneficial to the rest of the world as well.

      THE PRESIDENT* – Thank you very much. I call Mr Díaz Tejera.

      Mr DÍAZ TEJERA (Spain)* – Democratic society needs to protect its minorities, whether ethnic, religious or sexual. Given the Kutaisi case, do you think that it is a good thing for democratic society in Georgia that ferocious attacks have been carried out on minorities?

      Mr IVANISHVILI* – We are, of course, very open to all minority groups in our population. They are regular members of our society. I assure the audience in the Chamber that if anything of the sort happens in Georgia, the reaction of the government and law enforcement bodies will be very harsh. I do not believe that Georgia is different from the rest of Europe from this point of view. The problem of ethnic minorities in Georgia is non-existent. Perhaps there are some excesses of different types, but the government’s reaction is adequate. I reiterate that our whole team and members of our coalition are absolutely transparent and take an open attitude to ethnic minorities. They are fully fledged members of our society, and we will spare no effort in making them feel that that is so in the future.

      THE PRESIDENT* – Thank you very much. I call Mr Pushkov.

      Mr PUSHKOV (       Russian Federation)* – Mr Ivanishvili, we are delighted to welcome you to the Chamber. We in the Parliamentary Assembly have just decided that the people of Kosovo can be represented by two deputies from the Kosovo Parliament, without the right to vote, but some people have no access to the Parliamentary Assembly. Do you agree that the people of South Ossetia and Abkhazia should also have the right to be heard in this forum?

      Mr IVANISHVILI* – Ossetia and Abkhazia are parts of Georgia. Correspondingly, Ossetians and Abkhazians, along with our delegation, have the possibility to participate in the Council of Europe. On your specific example of Kosovo, you know that Kosovo invited international observers and was open to international co-operation. Unfortunately, that has not happened in our situation. We do not have elementary monitoring, even to carry out humanitarian projects in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which are very close. Unfortunately, I therefore cannot see this perspective.

      THE PRESIDENT* – Thank you very much. I call Ms Pashayeva.

      Ms PASHAYEVA (Azerbaijan)* – My question also relates to national minorities in your country, including Azerbaijanis – the biggest national minority in Georgia. In your capacity as prime minister, what steps do you intend to take towards settling the problems of national minorities, including Azerbaijanis? You have made certain promises about solving the Georgian citizenship problems of Azerbaijanis. Has there been any progress with respect to the realisation of those promises?

      Mr IVANISHVILI* – I visited Georgia’s regions during the election process, and I often hold meetings with ethnic Azerbaijanis who are our citizens and with other ethnic groups. I have very good, friendly personal relations with them. I can assure you that problems for Azerbaijani, Armenian or any other ethnic group do not exist generally, but I hear such questions reiterated in the Council of Europe. We have Council of Europe obligations and have given commitments in the Charter on regional or minority languages. Let me assure you that our new government will do its best, so that such minorities feel not only that they are fully fledged citizens of Georgia, but that, like other Georgians, Georgia is their homeland. I do not think that today’s situation is bad, but it needs improvement.

On languages, we will do our best to fulfil our obligations and commitments to the Council of Europe. Let me reiterate that there is no problem for national minorities or for the protection of regional languages. There is no problem with studying the State language; that will allow them to become more fully integrated into society. We will do our best to carry out that process.

      THE PRESIDENT* – Thank you very much. I call Mr Zourabian.

      Mr ZOURABIAN (Armenia)* – I would like to ask about the possible reopening of the Abkhaz railroad. Do you agree that that reopening would contribute to Georgian-Abkhaz reconciliation, to confidence building and to economic co-operation in the region?

      Mr IVANISHVILI* – I shall give a short answer because I do not want to leave any question unanswered. I am sure that the railway can be reopened, but perhaps doing so will not be easy in the short term because many interrelated questions are involved, such as our relations with Russia and with our Abkhaz brothers, as well as the reaction during my visit to Armenia. It is not a simple process, and it is very much connected with politics. It needs time, but it will happen and all the rights of the interested parties will be protected.

      Mr MENDES BOTA (Portugal) – As general rapporteur on violence against women, I visited Georgia last year and witnessed the efforts, commitment and progress that have been made on that. I hope that your government will remain committed to the cause and will sign and ratify the Istanbul Convention as soon as possible. That would contribute to raising awareness and could also help to prevent acts of violence such as the one against a member of this Assembly, Ms Chiora Taktakishvili, who was brutally assaulted by a demonstrator as the police stood passive.

      Mr IVANISHVILI* – We have managed to discuss the Istanbul Convention and assignments have been distributed, so in the near future we will rectify the situation. As for the specific case of Ms Chiora Taktakishvili, there are many questions, of course. It is regretful it happened as it did, but there are many questions about it. It was not directly a case of violence against women, but a political act that had been well elaborated and thought through, so it needs assessment. Of course, I regret that it happened, but the law enforcement bodies reacted adequately, believe me, and the guilty were punished.

      Mr HERKEL (Estonia) – Whenever I meet Georgian politicians from either side, they have a lot of criticism for their opponents. I want to look at this from a different angle. What are the biggest mistakes you or your political movement have made in your relations with the opposition? We have heard several examples of selective justice. How do you reconcile them?

      Mr IVANISHVILI* – Thank you for your question, which makes it clear that criticism can be heard at a general rhetorical level about both the opposition and the ruling parties. It would be better if you received more information about it and allocated more time to studying the question. We do not only criticise each other at a generally rhetorical level. I assure you that I, personally, do not spare any efforts in my appeals to society to assure the audience that we need to settle the situation with the opposition. We need to establish normal relations, but that is not that easy. Although I do not have time to explain the subtleties, let me ask you once more to be more attentive to the question. Mr Hammarberg is observing the situation, but if any of your respective parties express a wish to send representatives to Georgia, they will be only too welcome to do so. Let them collect the information on the spot, because we thirst for your advice.

It makes no sense to start a rhetorical dispute, as the opposition is continuing to use language that is not quite clear to address their own population. In my personal meetings with Mr Saakashvili and other representatives of the opposition and in all my public appearances with journalists, I call on them to speak in clear and understandable language to their own people. They are always speaking to you, to the Europeans and the Americans, and in most cases their speeches are not clear and understandable for the Georgian public. Their speeches are saturated with a lot of lies. That is why they lost the election. I see no wish on their behalf to change, and it creates problems for them.

      Ms KHIDASHELI (Georgia) – I want to make a short comment on the issue raised by the EPP representative about the media resolution. As a member of the Georgian delegation to the Assembly, let me say that we deeply regret the resolution passed on media freedom in Georgia. The problem is that on 7 November 2007, Imedi TV was raided by police special forces.

      The PRESIDENT* – Ms Khidasheli, I am sorry, but you are supposed to be asking a question. You are not here to make a statement; you should just ask your question.

      Ms KHIDASHELI – After the elections, the police-raided TV company was returned to its original owners. If that is the route the Georgian Government plans to take in restorative justice, will it restore justice in thousands of cases of deprivation of property for the citizens and businesses of Georgia? What tools will the government use in implementing restorative justice?

      Mr IVANISHVILI* – I think that was more of a commentary than a question. I can explain further, however. Of course, there were mistakes when the Council of Europe adopted a resolution telling the government that we were damaging the interests of the media, extending pressure and so on. The outstanding example of the TV channel Imedi in 2007 is a concrete illustration of how the previous Government tried to tell lies to the international community. On 7 November 2007, a peaceful rally was dissolved by the Government who burst into the private independent television company. Since then, the channel solely served the interests of Saakashvili. When our government came to power, we returned the company to its legitimate owner. It was freed from the terrorist act perpetrated a few years ago and justice was restored. Instead of thanks from the Council of Europe, we received the resolution that has been mentioned. That shows that the art of lies was mastered by the previous government, who misled you so that you took that resolution. That is why I insist that the information should be double checked – on both sides – when the Council of Europe decides to take a resolution.

      Mr VAREIKIS (Lithuania) – We are in the Council of Europe, which is a human rights organisation, and we often have practical questions. For example, today we will be discussing the Magnitsky list, which is an issue of human rights. What do you think about problems such as Magnitsky, Tymoshenko and the authoritarian regime in Minsk? What is your official opinion and what is your country’s opinion?

      Mr IVANISHVILI* – Of course, I am well aware of those problems, including the Magnitsky list. I know what is going on in Ukraine, too, but I know much better what is going on in my country and what was going on there. Human rights were totally violated during the previous Government’s tenure. When we talk about cohabitation, we must remember the cases of selective justice. Human rights were totally violated under the conditions of the Saakashvili regime. The situation became very grave in this respect.

      As for Ukraine, we do not have the right to criticise other countries that are coping with a heavy legacy which ended only recently. I reiterate that human rights were totally violated in our country, but that our government will try its best to restore justice in this sphere. Our government will do everything in its power to bring itself closer to “old Europe”, the family to which we wish to belong, and our main task is the protection of human rights. Georgia is working to eliminate such issues entirely by improving the judiciary, the mass media and so on. The protection of human rights is the most European of tasks and we are fully committed to it. We will not spare any effort in seeking to achieve it.

      Ms VON CRAMON-TAUBADEL (Germany)* – Recently I had an opportunity to travel through your country and my impression overall was very positive: the progress was visible. What post-cohabitation alternative are you developing to ensure that you can actually implement your political goals in a more ambitious way?

Mr IVANISHVILI* – In six months it is possible, although very difficult, to accomplish enough to boast about. However, it is excellent that you saw a lot of progress during your trip, and I thank you for your comments. I assure you from the government side that there is no problem with cohabitation, as some concrete examples have shown. We regard it as one aspect in the process of restoring justice, so it is good that you noticed progress in that respect. To this day, however, not one ambassador has been endorsed by our president – that is how he is hindering the process. This man ruled the country but is now blocking developments. He is doing all he can to avoid enabling the courts to become independent. I would again invite all members to come to Georgia so that you can see it all with your own eyes and be witnesses to the process.

Mr A. TÜRKEŞ (Turkey) – Georgia became a member of the Council of Europe in April 1999, at which point Georgia assumed the commitments attending membership. One of those commitments was to ensure the return of the Ahiska Turks to their homeland in Georgia. So far, of a total of 5 841 applications, only 863 have been granted repatriation status. What are your plans regarding the repatriation process for the Ahiska Turks? Will you facilitate and accelerate the bureaucratic procedures and remove the deadline for applications?

Mr IVANISHVILI* – In all my meetings today and yesterday I mentioned our obligations and commitments, but I would add now that on 27 March the new government decided to accelerate these processes to the maximum extent. More than 800 applications have been dealt with already but we will be able to accelerate this process in the next two years so that we can establish who has the desire and basis in fact to receive Georgian citizenship through this accelerated procedure. By all means we will fulfil our obligations to the Council.

Mr M. JENSEN (Denmark) – As you will know, in 2010 the Committee of Ministers adopted its recommendation on combating discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. In a recent reply to the Council of Europe regarding implementation of the recommendation your government, with great honesty, acknowledges: “There are persistent challenges present which need to be further addressed”. What steps is your government taking to address these challenges, and does it have an action plan to implement the Committee of Ministers’ recommendation?

Mr IVANISHVILI* – We are working on legislation to combat discrimination and will adopt it in the near future. As for the current situation and our team, I assure you that our law enforcement bodies react to any violation whether it be discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or anything else. That is how it has been and how it will be. I assure you that we are working on a law against discrimination and that we will adopt it in the near future.

Mr GIRZYŃSKI (Poland) – The former President of Poland, Lech Kaczyński, who tragically died three years ago in Russia, loved Georgia very much. He risked his life for Georgia during the Russian aggression against Georgia in 2008. You do not like your president, Mr Saakashvili, but you seem to like the President of Russia, Mr Putin, very much. Do you think that Putin was responsible for the ethnic cleansing of Georgia in 2008? What are your plans for the independence of Georgia? Do you want to defend its independence together with Mr Saakashvili?

Mr IVANISHVILI* – I will inform you about my approach. Politics should not be based on love between and among people, but heads of government should love all nations and all countries and call everything by its proper name. I am very grateful that you have just reminded us of Mr Kaczyński. I was very concerned about that tragedy; we have always considered Poland to be one of our friends. As for territorial integrity and Russia, Saakashvili has made his own mistakes in this process. Our people have their own demands and questions for their government regarding the mistakes that were made. If Saakashvili had not made such mistakes it would have been very difficult for this aggression to be carried out. As for your question to me, I always try to act correctly. Your rhetoric, like that of Saakashvili, seeks to draw me into dispute. I have no desire to engage in a dispute. Our country received the treatment that it did because of Saakashvili’s rhetoric. We are attempting now, so far as possible, to act diplomatically to correct the mistakes that were made. We will do our best to express ourselves correctly in our words and actions. I assure you that we can settle the matter in this manner.

Mr AGUZAROV (Russian Federation)* – Prime Minister, we regard your winning of the October 2012 election as a great achievement for democracy in Georgia. We understand how difficult your life is being made by what you inherited from the previous regime, but we hope that Georgia will carry out the necessary democratic reforms, as well as the other specific tasks that you have set yourself, and will rise before not only Europe, but the whole world as a worthy bearer of the torch of democracy.

      Georgia considers Abkhazia and South Ossetia as part of Georgia, but the Abkhaz and Ossetians consider them as their lands. The problem, however, is not with the land itself; it is that Abkhazia and South Ossetia do not want to be part of Georgia. Understanding that well, Georgia began aggression against South Ossetia in August 2008. The new Georgian Government is now repairing its relationship with the Russian Federation, but can rapprochement with Russia fit comfortably with Georgia’s announcements on South Ossetia and Abkhazia, or is there no turning back on that?

      THE PRESIDENT* – I am sorry to interrupt again, but I must remind speakers that this is an opportunity to ask questions. Each of you has 30 seconds. You do not have the right to make a statement.

      Mr IVANISHVILI* – That was a brief historic overview of our country. Let me remind you that the Georgian Government made many mistakes over the past 20 years regarding our Abkhaz and Ossetian brothers, but mistakes were made on both sides. Those wounds need time to heal. Our aim is not to repeat such things and we do not even consider the possibility of using force. We will use public diplomacy and peaceful means. I always assure our Abkhaz and Ossetian brothers that we will never apply force or violence, because we need patience and peace to achieve Georgia’s main aims: reviving the economy; developing democratic institutions; and improving relations with the Abkhaz, the Ossetians, Europe and Russia. We need time and we need to take the right steps. Only after that can we speak of historical progress. We need questions from all sides, because it will otherwise be difficult to make any decisions. We want to make Georgia democratic and economically strong. I am sure that our Ossetian and Abkhaz brothers understand that we will restore our united country.

      Mr XUCLÀ (Spain)* – What form will the local government reform process take? You won the elections, you have the majority, and you have to act with the generosity of someone who holds such a majority. You have to work towards reconciliation in your country and lead a mature democracy in which both the majority and the minority feel represented in the same political system.

      Mr IVANISHVILI* – The current situation with self-government organisations is chaotic. I assure you that the Government has never intervened in the process. That is not our strategy. The misunderstandings and chaos were the reason for the situation that I tried to portray, and it is one of the main problems of our country. The reaction of law-enforcement bodies to the self-governance violations was strict. Eleven criminal cases were filed and the reaction was adequate. As I understand it, the process has changed from being active to passive and is now extinguished.

The answer is easy. Instead of intervening, we are working hard on the new structures and laws of self-governance. The draft law has already been published in the regions for further discussion. We are trying to bring it closer to the European model, because, under the previous Government, self-government was absolutely non-existent and one person was ruling the country. We will maintain whatever was good in the previous system, but this reform is the most challenging for me and my government. We are trying to change our society to increase political culture, which is currently lacking, and that is under development. Georgia has an ancient culture, but we are not really experienced in self-governance. We are therefore attaching great importance to local self-government organisations, and we will teach people on the spot how to control their own government. We will teach the population that, unlike under the previous government, this government is the public’s servant. The process is not at all simple and we fully realise that. We are trying to implement innovative and new reforms in this field.

Finally, I think the draft law is good enough, but we have a whole year for discussion and feedback. We want to establish real self-government institutions in the regions and will endow them with the maximum possible rights. That is our strategy. Your question was about the situation today. Such self-government organisations were previously non-existent in Georgia. Whatever was there was artificial and superficial. We are striving to establish real self-governance.

THE PRESIDENT* – We must now conclude the questions to Mr Ivanishvili. Thank you for coming to Strasbourg, for giving us your statement and for making yourself so available for questions. I must apologise to colleagues who were not able to ask questions.

4. Next public business

THE PRESIDENT* – The Assembly will hold its next public sitting this afternoon at 3.30 p.m. with the agenda which was approved on Monday morning.

The sitting is adjourned.

(The sitting was closed at 1.10 p.m.)


1. Changes in the membership of committees

2. Post-monitoring dialogue with Turkey

Presentation of report of the Committee on the Honouring of Obligations and Commitments by Member States of the Council of Europe by Ms Durrieu, Document 13160

Speakers: Mr Díaz Tejera (Spain), Mr Hancock (United Kingdom), Mr Walter (United Kingdom), Mr Hunko (Germany), Mr Sasi (Finland), Mr Toshev (Bulgaria), Mr M. Jensen (Denmark), Ms Gündeş Bakir (Turkey), Ms Bakoyannis (Greece), Mr Slutsky (Russian Federation), Ms Memecan (Turkey), Mr Dişli (Turkey), Mr Rouquet (France), Mr Omtzigt (Netherlands), Ms Bilgehan (Turkey), Mr Bockel (France), Mr Schuster (Germany).

Replies: Ms Durrieu (France), Mr Herkel (Estonia)

Amendments 1, 25, 7, 12, 22, 24, as amended, 16, 17, as amended, 26, 9, 18, 15, 27, 10 and 11 adopted.

Draft resolution in Document 13160, as amended, adopted.

3. Address from Mr Bidzina Ivanishvili, Prime Minister of Georgia

Questions: Ms Pourbaix-Lundin (Sweden), Mr Iwinski (Poland), Mr Gutu (Republic of Moldova), Mr Leigh (United Kingdom), Mr L Kalashnikov (Russian Federation), Mr Bockel (France), Mr Díaz Tejera (Spain),Mr Pushkov (Russian Federation), Ms Pashayeva (Azerbaijan), Mr Zourabian (Armenia), Mr Mendes Bota (Portugal), Mr Herkel (Estonia), Ms Khidasheli (Georgia), Mr Vareikis (Lithuania), Ms Von Cramon-Taubadel (Germany), Mr A. Türkeş (Turkey), Mr M Jensen (Denmark), Mr Girzyński (Poland), Mr Aguzarov (Russian Federation), Mr Xuclà (Spain)

4. Next public business


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.




Jean-Charles ALLAVENA

Karin ANDERSEN/Ingjerd Schou

Lord Donald ANDERSON

Paride ANDREOLI/Gerardo Giovagnoli

Khadija ARIB

Volodymyr ARIEV


Francisco ASSIS*

Danielle AUROI*





Gérard BAPT/Jean-Pierre Michel



José Manuel BARREIRO*


Marieluise BECK

José María BENEYTO

Levan BERDZENISHVILI/Tinatin Khidasheli




Brian BINLEY/Edward Leigh

Ľuboš BLAHA/Darina Gabániová


Jean-Marie BOCKEL



Mladen BOSIĆ

António BRAGA


Márton BRAUN

Federico BRICOLO/Rossana Boldi



Patrizia BUGNANO/Giuliana Carlino

André BUGNON/Elisabeth Schneider-Schneiter

Natalia BURYKINA/Tamerlan Aguzarov

Sylvia CANEL*





Vannino CHITI/Paolo Corsini

Tudor-Alexandru CHIUARIU/Corneliu Mugurel Cozmanciuc

Christopher CHOPE


Desislav CHUKOLOV*

Lolita ČIGĀNE/Jānis Dombrava


Henryk CIOCH/Grzegorz Czelej


Deirdre CLUNE

Agustín CONDE*





Armand De DECKER/Ludo Sannen



Peter van DIJK


Aleksandra DJUROVIĆ





Daphné DUMERY*

Alexander [The Earl of] DUNDEE/Cheryl Gillan



Baroness Diana ECCLES*


Gianni FARINA*


Cătălin Daniel FENECHIU

Vyacheslav FETISOV/Alexander Sidyakin

Doris FIALA*

Daniela FILIPIOVÁ/Miroslav Krejča


Jana FISCHEROVÁ/Kateřina Konečná

Gvozden Srećko FLEGO*


Jean-Claude FRÉCON/Maryvonne Blondin


Erich Georg FRITZ

Martin FRONC*

Sir Roger GALE





Michael GLOS*

Pavol GOGA

Jarosław GÓRCZYŃSKI/ Zbigniew Girzyński

Alina Ştefania GORGHIU


Martin GRAF*


Andreas GROSS



Attila GRUBER*

Gergely GULYÁS




Carina HÄGG






Håkon HAUGLI/Anette Trettebergstuen


Alfred HEER/Luc Recordon

Martin HENRIKSEN/Mette Reissmann







Andrej HUNKO


Ali HUSEYNLI/Sahiba Gafarova


Shpëtim IDRIZI*

Vladimir ILIĆ/Vesna Marjanović




Denis JACQUAT/Jacques Legendre




Michael Aastrup JENSEN


Jadranka JOKSIMOVIĆ/Katarina Rakić

Birkir Jón JÓNSSON*

Čedomir JOVANOVIĆ/Svetislava Bulajić



Božidar KALMETA/Ivan Račan







Bogdan KLICH/Iwona Guzowska

Serhiy KLYUEV/Volodymyr Pylypenko

Haluk KOÇ




Tiny KOX

Borjana KRIŠTO/Nermina Kapetanović

Dmitry KRYVITSKY/Alexander Ter-Avanesov

Václav KUBATA/Dana Váhalová

Ertuğrul KÜRKÇÜ

Athina KYRIAKIDOU/Stella Kyriakides

Jean-Yves LE DÉAUT*

Igor LEBEDEV/Robert Shlegel



Christophe LÉONARD/Bernadette Bourzai


Inese LĪBIŅA-EGNERE/Aleksandrs Sakovskis

Lone LOKLINDT/Sophie Løhde

François LONCLE/Gérard Terrier

Jean-Louis LORRAIN/Bernard Fournier


Younal LOUTFI*


Saša MAGAZINOVIĆ/Ismeta Dervoz

Philippe MAHOUX*

Gennaro MALGIERI/Renato Farina


Thierry MARIANI*

Epameinondas MARIAS


Meritxell MATEU PI




Michael McNAMARA*

Sir Alan MEALE/Michael Connarty


Ivan MELNIKOV/Leonid Kalashnikov



Jean-Claude MIGNON/Marie-Jo Zimmermann

Djordje MILIĆEVIĆ/Stefana Miladinović


Andrey MOLCHANOV/Yury Shamkov

Jerzy MONTAG/Viola Von Cramon-Taubadel


Patrick MORIAU*




Lydia MUTSCH/Fernand Boden

Lev MYRYMSKYI/Serhiy Labaziuk

Philippe NACHBAR*



Aleksandar NENKOV*

Pasquale NESSA


Baroness Emma NICHOLSON

Elena NIKOLAEVA/Otari Arshba

Aleksandar NIKOLOSKI

Mirosława NYKIEL

Judith OEHRI




Sandra OSBORNE/Geraint Davies



Eva PARERA/Jordi Xuclà



Johannes PFLUG*

Danny PIETERS/Sabine Vermeulen

Foteini PIPILI


Lisbeth Bech POULSEN/Nikolaj Villumsen


Cezar Florin PREDA



Gabino PUCHE*


Mailis REPS*


Andrea RIGONI*

François ROCHEBLOINE/Frédéric Reiss

Maria de Belém ROSEIRA*




Pavlo RYABIKIN/Iryna Gerashchenko

Rovshan RZAYEV/Sevinj Fataliyeva


Giuseppe SARO*

Kimmo SASI






Senad ŠEPIĆ*






Ladislav SKOPAL





Christoph STRÄSSER*


Ionuţ-Marian STROE

Giacomo STUCCHI*


Björn von SYDOW/Lennart Axelsson


Vilmos SZABÓ*



Vyacheslav TIMCHENKO

Romana TOMC/Iva Dimic


Latchezar TOSHEV


Ahmet Kutalmiş TÜRKEŞ

Tuğrul TÜRKEŞ*

Theodora TZAKRI/Konstantinos Triantafyllos

Tomáš ÚLEHLA/Pavel Lebeda

Ilyas UMAKHANOV/Vitaly Ignatenko


Miltiadis VARVITSIOTIS/Spyridon Taliadouros

Volodymyr VECHERKO/Larysa Melnychuk

Mark VERHEIJEN/Pieter Omtzigt




Vladimir VORONIN/Grigore Petrenco

Tanja VRBAT/Melita Mulić

Klaas de VRIES



Piotr WACH



Dame Angela WATKINSON*


Karin S. WOLDSETH/Øyvind Vaksdal

Gisela WURM



Svetlana ZHUROVA*

Emanuelis ZINGERIS/Egidijus Vareikis

Guennady ZIUGANOV/Vassiliy Likhachev

Naira ZOHRABYAN/Zaruhi Postanjyan


Vacant Seat, Cyprus*

Vacant Seat, Montenegro*


Representatives and Substitutes not authorised to vote

Rainer GOPP

Katherine ZAPPONE




Sladan ĆOSIĆ



Partners for Democracy


Mohammed Mehdi BENSAID



Representatives of the Turkish Cypriot Community (In accordance to Resolution 1376 (2004) of the Parliamentary Assembly)


Ahmet ETI