AS (2014) CR 24



(Third part)


Twenty-fourth sitting

Wednesday 25 June at 3.30 p.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 Flego, Vice-President of the Assembly, took the Chair at 3.30 p.m.)

The PRESIDENT – The sitting is open.

1. Parliamentary contribution to resolving the Western Sahara conflict

The PRESIDENT – This morning, it was decided that the time limit for speeches this afternoon would be three minutes. However, given changes to the speakers lists and the number of amendments, I propose that we return to four minutes for speeches this afternoon.

The first item of business this afternoon is the debate on the report titled “Parliamentary contribution to resolving the Western Sahara conflict”, Document 13526, presented by Ms Liliane Maury-Pasquier on behalf of the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy with an opinion presented by Ms Maria Teresa Bertuzzi on behalf of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, Document 13544.

      In order to finish by 5.30 p.m., we must interrupt the list of speakers at about 5 p.m. to allow time for the reply and the vote. Are these arrangements agreed to? They are agreed to.

I call Ms Maury-Pasquier, rapporteur. You have 13 minutes in total, which you may divide between presentation of the report and reply to the debate.

      Ms MAURY PASQUIER (Switzerland)* – I was appointed Rapporteur of the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy on 21 June 2011 in the context of the procedure designed to grant partnership for democracy status with our Assembly to the Moroccan Parliament. At the time, it seemed impossible for members of the committee to consider that request without raising the issue of the Western Sahara, as its status as a non-self-governing territory and the situation there throw up a series related to issues that are close to our hearts, such as democracy, the rule of law and the promotion of human rights. For that reason, the committee, followed by the Assembly, incorporated the issue of the Western Sahara in a specific paragraph of Resolution 1818 of 2011, which granted the Moroccan Parliament partner for democracy status. The Assembly called on the Moroccan Parliament to “enhance its contribution to solving the Western Sahara problem in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the United Nations Security Council”.

In parallel, to ensure that the Assembly's decision to grant that status does not hinge solely on the question of the Western Sahara, a proposed resolution has been tabled that is the result of work in which I have been involved over the past three years. Of course, I do not need to tell you how hard that has been. We need only to consider the fact that the United Nations Secretary-General and his entire organisation, his special representatives, his personal envoys and the United Nations Mission for the Organisation of a Referendum in Western Sahara – MINURSO – have been trying for so long to contribute to a political, fair and lasting solution. Not one member of this Assembly, not even with the support of our colleagues and the Secretariat, will be able to come up with a solution to this.

As I present the situation in Western Sahara to you, I will inevitably have to contend with the fact that the history and geography of the region are subject to different interpretations from those on either side of the conflict. How can we sum up the situation in Western Sahara? It is very difficult, but I shall try to do it in the most neutral terms possible by discussing the history of the conflict. As the MINURSO background document States, the Western Sahara is a territory on the north-west coast of Africa bordered by Morocco, Mauritania and Algeria that was administered by Spain until 1976. Both Morocco and Mauritania affirmed their claim to the territory, a claim opposed by the Frente Popular para la Liberación de Saguia el-Hamra y de Río de Oro – the so-called Polisario Front.

Mauritania renounced all claims to the Western Sahara in 1979, but both Morocco, which decided to reintegrate Western Sahara in its territory, and the Polisario Front, which declared a Sahrawi Arab democratic republic in 1976, claim sovereignty in the territory, which has a United Nations status of non-self-governing. Over the past 40 years, a large number of events have occurred one after the other either in the Western Sahara or at an international level, including the adoption of a United Nations Security Council settlement plan in 1990; the creation and employment of MINURSO in 1991; the initial plan to hold a referendum in 1991; the creation of a cease-fire; the process of identifying what should have enabled the referendum to take place; the designation of special representatives and personal envoys of the United Nations Secretary-General; negotiations with representatives of both parties, as well as those of Mauritania and Algeria; direct and indirect formal and informal talks; and the adoption of several successive resolutions. However, ultimately we still have diverging views.

Morocco proposes a plan to grant wider autonomy, whereas the Polisario Front proposes a referendum offering three solutions: integration into the Kingdom of Morocco, self-governance or independence. At the same time, the situation for the people concerned is very difficult. The territory is divided by a wall of sand 2 000 km in length and is contaminated by anti-personnel mines that continue to put the lives of refugees in danger as well as those of the nomads. The territory is one of the most seriously affected in the world, according to the United Nations Mine Action Service.

The area to the west is under Moroccan control, whereas the area to the east is under the control of the Polisario Front. In the camps in Tindouf, several tens of thousands of people are living in difficult conditions, some of them ever since they were born. They are totally reliant on international aid, despite the organisation of the camps. These refugees have sometimes been separated from their families ever since the conflict broke out, despite the fact that in 2004 the UNHCR set up trust-building measures to create contacts between families that had been split up in the Western Sahara.

The part of the Western Sahara that is under Moroccan control has seen several protests over the past few years with a view to drawing attention to a number of concerns about human rights, socio-economic problems and political claims, particularly the right to self-determination. These protests were sometimes brutally put down. Accusations have also been made to me, relayed by credible international non-governmental organisations working in the field of human rights, concerning arbitrary arrests and the violation of freedom of expression, assembly or association. As the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan Méndez, stated in 2013, a tendency to “acts of torture and ill-treatment during the detention and arrest process can be detected”. Of course, over several years, a feeling of frustration, impatience and injustice has developed, particularly among young people. That is an issue of some concern to observers.

It is also important to point out the recent geopolitical developments throughout the Sahel region, with conflicts in Mali and other neighbouring concern. They are of course a cause for concern, as the conflicts could worsen. To fully understand the situation, I went to Morocco, to Rabat and to Western Sahara – to Laayoune – and also to Algiers and to the refugee camps close to Tindouf. On each occasion, I was able fully to take advantage of the invaluable help provided by all authorities and I thank them for that and for enabling me to carry out my work in the best conditions.

In addition to these visits, the committee held no fewer than five hearings, which provided us with a large amount of information and an opportunity for parliamentarians on both sides of the conflict to hear from and meet representatives of NGOs and civil society. This may be one of the main merits of this report. Of course, the draft resolution before us today does not reinvent the wheel; I have not found Columbus’s egg. The text simply reaffirms our support for the United Nations’s negotiating process on compliance with fundamental freedoms and highlights all those aspects that are at the heart of the values and concerns of the Council of Europe. First and foremost, of course, are human rights and, consequently, fundamental freedoms.

The most recent resolution adopted by the United Nations Security Council, on 29 April, reaffirms the United Nations’s wish to help parties reach a just, lasting and mutually acceptable solution that would allow the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara through arrangements that comply with the aims and principles set out in the United Nations Charter, and noting the responsibilities of all parties along these lines.

It remains for me to call, as the Security Council has done, on our partner for democracy and the other parties concerned to show a spirit of compromise, and to ask the Assembly to lend its support to this draft resolution.

The PRESIDENT – You have four and half minutes remaining. I now call Ms Bertuzzi, Rapporteur of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, to present the committee’s opinion. You have four minutes.

Ms BERTUZZI (Italy)* – In May, I was entrusted by the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights with expressing a view on the draft resolution submitted by our colleague, Ms Maury Pasquier. On behalf of the committee, I thank her for the serious and in-depth work that she has done over the years. Her report on the conflict in Western Sahara is very detailed and provides us with a safe, authoritative basis from which to propose to the Assembly a resolution that could be an authentic contribution to a solution of the Western Saharan question. The report provides us with a complete and balanced view of the situation. The complex elements that comprise it, as well as the questions that are not resolved, are the result of a sequence of events over too long a span of time. The report highlights the progress made by Morocco on different questions asked by the Parliamentary Assembly when the Moroccan Parliament was invited to be a partner for democracy. However, the course towards guaranteeing human rights is not yet complete.

I turn to the subject before the Assembly: presumed breaches of human rights in Western Sahara, which have been denounced by representatives of international organisations and authoritative people in the field of defending human rights. As the report says, these must be taken very seriously. The report refers to the positive development of the Moroccan Parliament’s partnership for democracy. However, the use of the word “presumed” indicates the difficulty of getting a monitored vision of the situation, despite the work that has been performed by Morocco’s National Human Rights Council, which should be further strengthened, a point made in paragraph 99 of the report. That is why there has been a call for organisations that defend human rights to extend their monitoring activities to impartial, professional bodies. This activity should be entrusted to the MINURSO project. This has been supported by an amendment that was voted for by a majority of my committee.

The report deals with different matters concerning the humanitarian situation and human rights in Western Sahara and the Sahel. This accompanies an acute social and economic crisis and the situation in the Tindouf refugee camp in Algeria. These matters also concern associations and civil society, and there is increasing frustration among the populations affected, especially among the young.

On 29 April 2014, the Security Council of the United Nations extended the MINURSO mandate to 30 April 2015 with a view to continuing negotiations under the Secretary-General of the United Nations. However, there are important reminders concerning rights, especially but not only those that refer to freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, the guarantee of a fair trial and the prohibition of torture and excessive use of force against those who protest. To strengthen these human rights, as Rapporteur of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, I propose a number of amendments that have been approved by the committee. I emphasise that these changes to the text of the resolution exclusively concern the use of more specific legal terminology or certain fundamental aspects of human rights that are covered in the report and the resolution.

The PRESIDENT – I call Ms Schou on behalf of the Group of the European People’s Party.

Ms SCHOU (Norway) – The United Nations considers Western Sahara the largest unsolved colonial question in the world today. For almost 40 years, the conflict has been a source of hardship and suffering. As members of the Council of Europe and the United Nations, we all have a responsibility to keep this conflict on the agenda. It is important that we continue to put pressure on the parties involved to find a peaceful solution in accordance with the United Nations Charter. Any solution must provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara. I therefore welcome this resolution, which calls not only on all parties to the conflict but on all members of the Council of Europe to intensify their efforts and work together to find a just and final political solution.

Despite some progress, the rapporteur is still concerned about alleged human rights violations in Western Sahara and the humanitarian situation in the Tindouf camps. Human rights remain an essential factor in any comprehensive settlement of the conflict. Continued violations of human rights, particularly of freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and freedom of association, do not create a good climate for negotiations. I therefore support the resolution’s strong emphasis on respect for human rights, as well as the call for Moroccan authorities and the Polisario Front to step up their co-operation with national and international human rights bodies, particularly the United Nations Human Rights Council and the CNDH – the Conseil National des Droits de l’Homme – as well as the international and national committees of the Red Cross. As a PACE partner for democracy, the Moroccan Parliament has a clear responsibility. I expect the Moroccan Parliament to contribute strongly to the improvement of the human rights situation by urging the Moroccan Government to implement all the recommendations made by the United Nations and the CNDH.

I find Ms Maury Pasquier’s report well-balanced and I recommend that the parliamentarians of my group support the draft resolution without the suggested amendments.

The PRESIDENT – I call Mr Liddell-Grainger to speak on behalf of the European Democrat Group.

Mr LIDDELL-GRAINGER (United Kingdom) – There is a lot to be celebrated in this report. It certainly highlights the issues arising from the situation that has unfolded in Western Sahara over a long time. However, that is probably also its weakness. The balance between what we can do and what we cannot is profoundly laid out in the report. For all that has been tried over the years, it has boiled down to one organisation, the United Nations, to try to get the balance right. That has to be celebrated at all levels. Although there have been immeasurable difficulties, including people resigning, it is the only mechanism that will change things.

There is also a lot to celebrate in the way that Morocco has handled the situation. It has gone from having an autocratic king a few years ago to having a constitutional monarch. It has changed the way in which its parliament operates – both the lower and upper houses. That is to be celebrated. Involving the Moroccan National Human Rights Council, which was set up in 2011, is a remarkable way of taking this matter forward.

If there is a criticism to make, it is that we, as a collective of countries and nations, should be helping Morocco with its governance. We should help it to do the job that we have been doing here for 60 years. That is what we stand for, so we should help Moroccans to embrace it. Human rights are important across the world and we should help a country that has not always had them.

As the report states, Morocco has signed up to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It has set up the Equality and Reconciliation Commission to look into the “Years of Lead”. All the way through, there is an attempt to find consensus and to bring together groups of people that had been diametrically opposed. All our countries have faced that. We faced it in Northern Ireland. The help that we can give is to push the United Nations process and empower it to keep doing the job that it is doing.

There is nothing wrong with the recommendations in the report. They are fine. However, I have a horrible feeling that, with these recommendations, we might still be here in 40 years’ time explaining why there is still a sand bar, why there is still such low education and why the young are still frustrated – all the arguments that have been put forward so eloquently by both rapporteurs today.

      Perhaps we should be doing more. The rapporteurs should be asked – perhaps they cannot be; I do not know the ins and outs of it – what we can do to strengthen the governance of Morocco. Can we give more strength to Moroccan democracy? Can we give more help to Moroccan governance? Can we give more help to make people understand how best to achieve what they want, which is a peaceful solution in a country that needs it? If we can take that forward as the aspirational view of the Council of Europe, we really will have achieved something though this report. Unless we do, as I have said, I can see us sitting in this Chamber again saying, “We’ve only moved on a very little way.”

      It is with a delighted heart that I say that this is a good, balanced report, but it is with a slightly heavy heart that I say that we have an awful lot more to do to get a clear achievement for both sides in this dispute.

The PRESIDENT – I call Ms Fiala to speak on behalf of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.

Ms FIALA (Switzerland) – Morocco is one of our partners for democracy, like the Palestinian Legislative Council and Kyrgyzstan. On behalf of ALDE, I thank the rapporteur for her important and difficult work in this field.

We must remember Resolution 1818 of 2011, “Request for Partner for Democracy status with the Parliamentary Assembly submitted by the Parliament of Morocco”. Paragraph 11 of the resolution is important. It states that “the Assembly expects that Morocco will continue to seek the settlement of international disputes by peaceful means in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations. In this context, it particularly calls on the Parliament of Morocco to enhance its contribution to solving the Western Sahara problem in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the United Nations Security Council.”

From reading today’s report and hearing the contribution of Liliane Maury Pasquier, we certainly understand that there is still a lot to do, although it cannot be denied that there has been some progress. At the same time, the Assembly still expects Morocco to act in line with the United Nations Charter and to find peaceful ways to find solutions to the problems in Western Sahara. Today, we are still full of sorrow. How long this process is taking and how slowly it progresses!

Western Sahara still does not have self-governance and it is still de facto under the Moroccan regime. We must call upon all parties to find acceptable solutions for both sides. The people of Western Sahara must have self-determination. The Sahrawi people must have rights, laws and judicial organs, as well as the financial resources that are necessary to guarantee development. They also have the right to a referendum.

Young people are increasingly frustrated. The question of human rights is crucial to finding peace in conflicts. It seems that human rights are still violated, including freedom of speech, and that there is still torture. The Assembly and ALDE call upon the Government of Morocco to enhance its co-operation with the CNDH and the International Committee of the Red Cross. It must agree to allow the freedoms of speech and assembly, and it must ensure that the police force takes only modest, measured action where necessary. We agree with what the rapporteur said about the creation of the network in parliament against the death sentence.

The Assembly demands that the representatives of the Polisario Front and Algeria allow the identification of people in the Tindouf camps, improve humanitarian matters, such as the freedom of movement within the camps and improve the culture of respect towards human rights in detention centres and refugee centres.

We thank the rapporteur for her work and hope that Morocco is willing to follow our advice and demands.

The PRESIDENT – I call Mr Villumsen to speak on behalf of the Group of the Unified European Left.

Mr VILLUMSEN (Denmark) – I thank the rapporteur for a good report.

The Group of the Unified European Left is very much in favour of our partnership with Morocco. We are happy that it was the Council of Europe’s first partner for democracy. However, from the partnership follow obligations. There are obligations to honour international law and human rights – the very values of our Assembly. It is therefore important that we are discussing Western Sahara today. Morocco’s occupation is violating international law and the very principles of this Assembly.

I am happy that the report clearly supports the United Nations’s decision that Western Sahara has the right to self-determination and that there should be a democratic referendum so that the Sahrawi people can determine their own future. There has to be a political solution to the conflict between the Kingdom of Morocco and the Sahrawi people that follows the United Nations guidelines. Unfortunately, Morocco is not currently living up to its obligations to the United Nations. It has not followed the decision of the United Nations. The Sahrawi people are suffering daily from human rights violations and a lack of democratic rights. We, as an Assembly, must stress the need for Morocco to stop those violations and stop the misery.

We need to demand that the United Nations includes monitoring of human rights in the MINURSO mandate. We have to ask ourselves why all United Nations missions include monitoring of human rights apart from the mission in Western Sahara. That makes no sense. I therefore fully endorse Amendment 11 from the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights to include monitoring of human rights in the United Nations mission. I would simply not understand if we, as an Assembly put into this world to secure human rights, did not pass that amendment and the others proposed by the committee. We would have to ask ourselves what the values of our Assembly are if they are not human rights.

It is important that the debate today is not the end of our engagement in seeking a solution to the Western Sahara conflict, but, rather, the beginning of an active engagement. There is great need to act. As we are having our debate, the resources of Western Sahara are being exploited by many of our member States and by the European Union. Recently, the European Union and Morocco signed a fisheries agreement. While the Sahrawi people are trapped in refugee camps in the Sahara desert, European fishermen are fishing the fish of that people’s waters – the national resources of their country are being exploited. Not only is that in violation of international law, it is undermining the future of a Western Sahara State. This is not about being for or against Morocco; this is about living up to our commitment to human rights, international law and democracy. This is about stating clearly that the Sahrawi people also have the right to self-determination, dignity and peace.

      The PRESIDENT – I call Ms Durrieu to take the floor on behalf of the Socialist Group.

      Ms DURRIEU (France)* – Thank you, Liliane – yours was not an easy task to perform. As you said, the report represents three years of work, and a lot of work has been done collectively, too, by the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy, which unanimously decided on a text and looked at it again after amendments proposed by the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights. The exercise has been a challenge to the rapporteur, with this subject matter and at the level of the Council of Europe, because we are saying that the Assembly and the text of its report might contribute to the resolution of the conflict in Western Sahara. Why not, if we could do so? Why not attempt to do so? That is an ambition.

The topic is complex and the problem has not been solved in 40 years by any party, including, notably, the United Nations. Were the problem simple, we would not still be talking about it. This is a frozen file. It is not in the media and we are talking about it here genuinely for the first time. It would be normal to set human rights at the centre of any settlement, as is our obligation in a situation of conflict that has been going on for 40 years. Moreover, there is a victim, the Sahrawi people, who is suffering. The report was not an easy one to prepare.

      What about the Moroccans? They have been at the Council of Europe as one of the new partners for democracy for a short while. Morocco was the first, then the Palestinians, Jordan and Kyrgyzstan came in. We went out to meet them and to ask if they were interested; they came along. The aim is to accompany them along the road to democracy; they have trodden quite a lot of the path. It turns out, however, that we are opening up the most difficult problem at the outset, which means that we are to an extent hiding – as Lord Anderson said – the considerable reforms that Morocco has achieved and which for it constitute great progress. Our role is to be objective and cautious. Liliane and the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy have come together to produce a Columbus’s egg, a synthesis, so let us avoid unbalancing a text in which every word has weight and force; everything, including the order in which it has been said, reflects a laborious collective effort of the committee.

The status quo has lasted for too long. Let us mention the parties: the Polisario Front, Morocco and Algeria. I will come back to the problem of Algeria, but the parties involved are all defending positions that cannot be reconciled. We have to reconcile them. Since 1976, the Polisario Front has been proclaiming its rights, wanting a referendum on independence and integration; in that year, it proclaimed the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic. Obviously, Morocco is administering the territory de facto today, but in 2007 it made a proposal for broader autonomy. The United Nations mission, MINURSO, has been maintaining the cease-fire since 1991, undertaking de-mining and trying to provide answers, unsuccessfully.

      The contention over Western Sahara in the Sahel-Sahara area is a subject of concern. What is the genuine cause of a situation that has lasted so long? Why do we not talk about that? Is it the ongoing dispute between Morocco and Algeria? I tend to believe so. The United Nations process is not leading to anything. Some countries that are members of the Group of Friends on Western Sahara, including France, consider the plan for broad autonomy a serious and credible basis from which to head towards a negotiated solution. Others should make proposals. In my opinion, the key to the problem is to be found in dialogue between Morocco and Algeria. Out of that dialogue, a solution would emerge for Western Sahara. The process of integration between the three Maghreb countries is absolutely necessary both for them and for Europe.

      The PRESIDENT – Ms Maury Pasquier will reply at the end of the debate. I call Mr Recordon, with the request to stay within the time limit as much as possible.

      Mr RECORDON (Switzerland)* – I thank both the main rapporteur and the rapporteur for opinion for their excellent work. I note in particular that the main report is pretty severe, but perhaps not quite severe enough. The additions of the rapporteur for opinion, with the support of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, have been useful. The additional information is very welcome, and I encourage us to adopt it – I will come back to that later.

      Morocco as a state has achieved considerable progress, although on human rights and democracy that has been restricted to what is happening inside its own country. In foreign policy and its relations with Western Sahara – whether or not we consider that area an extension of Algeria, although that is not my case – Morocco is rather behind our expectations of it. That is dangerous, because the lack of democracy and human rights in Western Sahara sows the seeds of despair.

There is a political necessity to promote human rights if we believe they are absent. If we wish to promote movements such as al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and al-Qaeda in the Mashreq – we can see what that is producing in Iraq – or Boko Haram in Nigeria, not to mention the Central African Republic, let us continue to let them set up. However, as those who made excellent speeches on behalf of the political groups have said, we must have a solution under the aegis of the United Nations. We want self-determination and the end of formal decolonisation, but we do not want the situation to descend into catastrophe, not just for the region, but for Europe.

There is a human interest but also a major political one in ensuring that self-determination is built. How can we help? Should we think about helping to set up a true human rights court along the lines of the one we have in Strasbourg? Could partners for democracy be included in the framework? It might be worth thinking about those useful steps, but as things stand, we must be more severe. We must be stricter in the report.

Among the many amendments tabled by the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, I stress the importance of adopting Amendment 5, on arbitrary arrest and detention; and Amendment 7, on economic, social and cultural rights, which go far further than simple humanitarian rights, however important they might be. There is also a need for MINURSO to follow-up on human rights. My Moroccan friends in the Assembly and others have said that that amendment is bothersome politically. Yes, human rights are bothersome politically and a thorn in the flesh. It is not an argument to say, “Oh well, we don’t want them because they run counter to the interests of my country.” If my own country said that, it would be an honour for me to ensure that human rights predominate over my country’s simple interests. That is why I urge the Assembly to adopt Amendment 11.

Mr MOTA AMARAL (Portugal)* – The Western Sahara conflict goes back a long way, much further back than the past 40 years. As usual in Africa, it is regrettably the result of the movements of indigenous peoples and of territorial partition wrought by European colonial powers.

In its current form, the conflict is the direct responsibility of the United Nations Secretary-General, and we must respect his remit and his purview. The specific ambit of the Council of Europe is the championing of the dignity of the human individual exercised by means of respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law. Our Assembly affords that activity its parliamentary dimension. It is in that setting that we should view the report of Ms Liliane Maury Pasquier. I congratulate her on the quality of her document and the clever balance struck between its observations and proposals. Her dedication has taken her into the field to several places, sometimes dangerous places, in order to make a more meaningful assessment of the human rights situation. I highlight the impartiality of the observations and conclusions submitted for our approval.

The situation from the standpoint of international law is familiar to us, as are the positions of the two parties. The representatives of the Kingdom of Morocco and the representatives of the Sahrawi people have been set forth clearly. The appeal for a solution found through dialogue and respect for fundamental rights appears naturally and insistently. A referendum on self-determination is consistent with the United Nations Charter as long as it is possible to organise it with democratic guarantees and credibility. They have not yet been recognised by the United Nations authorities, so I encourage Morocco to carry out in Western Sahara the first experiment in regional autonomy. As the instigator of a similar project in the Azores that brought about democracy and development, I am in a position to guarantee to both parties that that is a positive and worthwhile avenue to pursue.

Our Moroccan colleagues, members of the delegation from the chambers of the Moroccan Parliament, who were the first to receive from our Assembly the honourable and demanding status of partners for democracy, have actively co-operated in developing proposals based on consensus. That attitude fits with our firm commitment to building a modern democracy that respects human rights in their country. We should welcome progress to that end, which benefits the Moroccan people. The trust we invest in Morocco to promote human rights and find a solution to the Sahrawi conflict through dialogue has serious justification. The Moroccan parliamentarians, our colleagues, have personally vouched for it. The proposed solution approved in Athens by the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy warrants unanimous support by our Assembly.

The PRESIDENT – I call Mr Yatim from Morocco, Partner for Democracy.

Mr YATIM (Morocco)* – Mr Mota Amaral has described the differences on the issue of the Western Sahara. As we know, Morocco regained its independence gradually, through different international agreements signed with former colonial powers in 1956 and 1958. The region has been known as Western Sahara since 1975. Algeria has opposed the process, one reason given being the cold war. The United Nations became involved. After several efforts to come up with a lasting solution through a referendum, the United Nations Security Council realised that it could not be brought about. The complex character and diverse nature of the situation, and differences of opinion between different parties to the conflict, have caused the United Nations Secretary-General to conclude that a referendum is inapplicable, and that the parties should strive to come up with a negotiated political solution.

A different position has been taken by the United Nations Security Council and the United Nations General Assembly. The most recent position, as of April 2014, called on the international community to advocate a politically negotiated solution. To respond to the Secretary-General’s call, and to bring an end to the political deadlock, on 11 April 2007, Morocco suggested an initiative based on self-governance, in compliance with international law. That is the only credible and realistic initiative put forward up until now.

The Council of Europe and the Assembly should not overlook the fact that several resolutions, including Resolution 1818, have clearly defined their role. The role of the Council of Europe and the Assembly is to support United Nations efforts. The Moroccan delegation confirms that it is ready and willing to honour its commitments in the context of its partnership agreement. We call on this distinguished Assembly to remain vigilant vis-à-vis any attempts to cause it to adopt provisions on, for instance, human rights monitoring, that will make resolving the conflict more complex and difficult. As you know, the mandate is to maintain peace. No new United Nations resolution mentions monitoring in the Western Sahara. Any measures that go beyond that would have a serious impact on the stability of the region.

Finally, I would like to state that Morocco feels that parliamentary institutions have a key role to play, as well as national institutions such as the CNDH, the Moroccan National Human Rights Council, which is a credible body that is recognised internationally. They will remain vigilant and very active. Morocco has shown that it is willing to rise to the challenges by respecting human rights throughout its territory, including on issues related to the Sahara. Please be assured that we will continue to fight to champion human rights throughout our territory.

      Lord ANDERSON (United Kingdom) – Ms Maury Pasquier has produced a valuable report. I am sure she would be the first to recognise that one needs to approach this problem in a spirit of humility and understanding. Why? Because this has been a frozen conflict for more than 40 years. There are, as Ms Durrieu said, a number of countries involved, apart from the Polisario Front – Algeria and Morocco itself. Perhaps what is most important is that it has been the graveyard for so many reports from so many special representatives of the United Nations. Where they have failed, let us at least try to make a modest contribution.

      I will make a number of reflections. First, we talk about human rights. One thing is absolutely clear to me: if one looks comparatively in the region, Morocco is a relative model. Around Morocco we have Algeria, Mauritania and Libya. Therefore, although there is no model of perfect human rights, we should at least applaud the progress that has been made and is being made in Morocco.

      Secondly, we in Europe have a clear interest in solving this problem. Why? Because if we are to make any serious progress on relations between the north of the Mediterranean and the south of the Mediterranean, we need to remove this obstacle. We have had the Barcelona Process in 1995 and we have had Euromed. All have run into the sands – or perhaps run into the Mediterranean Sea – in large part because of the differences between Algeria and Morocco.

      Thirdly, there is a danger of us as parliamentarians – perhaps the European Parliament succumbed to this danger – trying to look at the problem entirely through anti-colonial spectacles. Yes, of course, there is a colonial element, but there is much more. I have spoken on this issue for my party for a number of years. I have visited both sides and listened to both sides. I have seen much to admire on both sides. However, I recall that in the 1970s and 1980s, it was the Soviet Union and its allies that, for their own reasons, put this issue in a totally anti-colonial context.

This issue is far more nuanced than that. There is, of course, the fact of the fluid border over this time. Many Sahrawis are actively involved in the Moroccan Government at the moment. There are clear problems in terms of the referendum. It is wrong to regard the issue simply in terms of decolonisation, although it does contain some elements of that. Perhaps the United Nations General Assembly and the Parliamentary Assembly have fallen into that trap. Any initiative we make must look clearly at the historical context and the failure of a series of United Nations proposals. We need to look carefully at the fact that in 2007 the Government of Morocco made a very far-reaching proposal for autonomy that, in my judgment, is given insufficient attention in the report. From a UK perspective, in Northern Ireland, Sinn Féin did not abandon its dreams of a united Ireland. Nevertheless, it entered into negotiation and a serious political process. I see no evidence yet of that happening.

      Finally, this frozen conflict has lasted for 40 years. There is a proposal on the table for extensive autonomy. Let us try to ensure that the conflict does not last another 40 years.

      The PRESIDENT* – The next speaker is Mr Ameur from Morocco, Partner for Democracy.

      Mr AMEUR (Morocco)* – The draft resolution produced by Ms Maury Pasquier is the fruit of a long process of exchanges and intensive debate. Its strength is in the compromise on which it is built and in the promising paths it explores. This is why it was unanimously voted for by the members of the committee in Athens in May. The Moroccan delegation has several remarks to make on its content, but we feel that its general line remains balanced and has justified our support for its proposals. I avail myself of this opportunity to reaffirm our firm will, as members of parliament and partners for democracy, to honour the commitments to which we have subscribed. We are convinced that our presence within this honourable institution is of use only if it allows us to consolidate our achievements and, above all, to improve our actions in the field of democracy, human rights and fundamental freedoms.

      Morocco remains convinced that the solution to the Sahara conflict will perforce have to go through political compromise. To that purpose, it supports the efforts of the United Nations and the offer of enlarged extended autonomy to be set in the framework, whereas Polisario and Algeria have for 40 years been sticking to their initial position – the organisation of a referendum that the United Nations has already stated would be inapplicable because of insurmountable obstacles.

Failing a credible political offer, Polisario and Algeria are trying to stifle the political process through the instrumentalisation of the question of human rights. Morocco is proud of what it has achieved in this field and is aware of weaknesses and the efforts it has to make in the future, but it is firmly opposed to any attempt whatsoever to discredit its credibility and its unique experience in the field of human rights in a region where tyranny, instability and systematic breaches of human rights are daily occurrences. Morocco has nothing to conceal. It has joined all the United Nations mechanisms and supported the establishment of instruments and independent bodies in the field of human rights. It has to assume its responsibilities in the southern provinces, but elsewhere in the other provinces of Morocco too.

In conclusion, I would like to address the honourable parliamentarians who support Polisario. First, I pay tribute to their humanitarian work for the displaced populations in the area. I ask them to avail themselves of their proximity and friendship with Polisario and Algeria so that they genuinely and sincerely undertake to follow a political process and so put an end to the suffering and distress of the populations in the camps. The question of human rights is crucial and has to be the subject of every effort and sacrifice, but they will always remain a source of tension and conflict so long as there are no clear political prospects – hence the emergence of the need to work for a just and sustainable political solution and a compromise, because politics is the art of compromise.

      Ms ARIB (Netherlands) – First, let me take this opportunity to congratulate Mr Jagland on his re-election. I thank Ms Maury Pasquier for her interesting report, which could contribute to a better dialogue between the parties. It is important that the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe encourages co-operation between the different parties, including the National Human Rights Council and the International Committee of the Red Cross, and finds solutions for missing persons in the conflict.

      It is also important that human rights are respected in the camps and that we start a dialogue between the unrecognised Sahrawi civil society and human rights defenders based in the Tindouf camps and the Algerian Parliament and representatives of the Polisario Front to facilitate negotiations.

      It is fruitful to hold this debate on the report in a spirit of mutual respect and with a desire to find a solution to this long dispute, because this conflict has been going on for nearly 40 years and it has cost many lives. It is in the interest of all parties that we start to look for solutions. Perhaps this report could be the basis of such a solution, working with the United Nations.

      Mr LOUKAIDES (Cyprus) – I thank Ms Maury Pasquier for her well-written and balanced report. Western Sahara is the final territory on the African continent that for decades has been waiting for its decolonisation. Based on the principles of the Council of Europe, we express our full support for the right of the people of Western Sahara to self-determination. They are entitled to exercise that right by holding a free referendum to decide whether it should be an independent State or within the Kingdom of Morocco. Only such a solution can ensure respect for international law, peace and security for all the peoples of the region. That is not just the position of the Polisario Front, but a demand of the United Nations Charter as well as of the recent United Nations Security Resolution for the renewal of MINURSO. We believe that that fundamental principle should guide the decisions of the Parliamentary Assembly concerning Western Sahara.

      At the same time, the foreign occupation and violations of the rights of the people of Western Sahara also includes looting of its natural wealth. Such rich resources – fisheries and oil fields – that belong to the people of Western Sahara are today the subject of extensive economic exploitation by the Moroccan monarchy in collaboration with powerful big business from Europe, but the Sahrawi people see no benefit. Those are violations of the United Nations Charter, the resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly and international law that safeguards the rights of the people of the non-autonomous areas to their rich economic resources.

      We welcome the positive steps made by Moroccan authorities, but they should implement recommendations on respect for human rights and, in particular, those based on the special procedures of the United Nations Human Rights Council. The Moroccan authorities should also end all forms of oppression and violence against the Sahrawi people, release all Sahrawi political prisoners, end the repression of demonstrators and end the use of torture by the security forces.

      Furthermore, through legislative provisions, the Moroccan authorities are urged to ensure freedom of expression, freedom of the press, freedom of association and the right to hold rallies. They should end the use of military courts for citizens as well as ensuring freedom of movement in Western Sahara for journalists, MPs, MEPs and human rights organisations. For such calls not to remain as mere wishes, an international monitoring and surveillance mechanism for the human rights situation should be established. We have pointed out Polisario as a positive in its preparedness for the establishment of such a mechanism in both Western Sahara and the Tindouf camps, but the Moroccan side must also accept the extension of the MINURSO mandate.

      The PRESIDENT – I call Mr Bensaid from Morocco, Partner for Democracy.

Mr BENSAID (Morocco)* – “A problem without solution is a problem wrongly posed”, as Albert Einstein said, so let us ask the right questions. Which states want the conflict to be perpetuated? When the agreement was reached between Morocco and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe for us to be a partner for democracy, we established a relationship based on trust, confidence and shared values that we want to see continue, because without confidence no enduring solution will be possible.

      On the parliamentary contribution to resolving the Western Saharan conflict, it is vital to remember that any contributions can only be political, but equally that politics are vital to allow us to find a mutually acceptable final solution to this question, which has caused such woe. Let us be clear: Algeria has hijacked this issue and the conflict has gone on for too long. For 15 years, Morocco has called for the opening of the borders with Algeria and for Maghreb integration. It has also proposed an autonomy plan, which is the only acceptable solution.

      With regard to human rights, which are mentioned many times in the report, we endorse the position taken in the Assembly on the right of people to live with respect and dignity not just in the Sahara but all the regions of Morocco. That is a challenge for us as parliamentarians. The National Human Rights Council in Morocco has been given reinforced powers for investigation; it has a body responsible for monitoring human rights at the regional level and for receiving and examining complaints and producing periodical and special reports. Three regional commissions of the National Human Rights Council were set up in the southern provinces during December 2011 through an open participatory process. Those include all actors, including separatists, whatever their positions on the future of the region. The council has its own purview and means of action. I reiterate that it is the only institution for human rights of its nature in the Maghreb region, respecting the Paris agreement.

      I started with Einstein, but I would like to end with Mandela, who said, “The best weapon is to sit down and talk.” That is a message we want to send to all the parties in this conflict.

      Mr VALEN (Norway) – Time sometimes dilutes our sense of right and wrong. If wrongdoing lasts long enough, it numbs us and it feels less urgent to make it right. Years of democratic process in Morocco make us less aware, whether we like it or not, of the fact that Morocco has occupied Western Sahara for 40 years. My party, the Socialist Left Party of Norway, and the Labour Party of Norway consider Western Sahara to be occupied and we call for a self-governing, independent Western Sahara in accordance with the will of the people of that area.

      Like the West Bank in Palestine, Western Sahara is isolated and divided by a wall that entraps the people. There is no moral or political justification for the continued Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara. The occupation makes Western Sahara the last country in Africa not to enjoy sovereignty. It adds suffering and injustice to an already unstable Sahel-Saharan region and it hinders the possible future acceptance of Morocco as a free, emerging democracy. It will never be a free country with equal rights for all as long as it maintains by force the occupation of another country.

      Parliamentarians from all the member States of the Council of Europe have a responsibility to contribute to resolving this conflict. Backing up the ongoing occupation out of economic self-interest, as several European countries insist on doing – including the European Union – is a failure to fulfil that responsibility. The Norwegian foreign authorities recommend that there be no Norwegian economic activity in Western Sahara, as it would legitimise the current situation. I call on my fellow parliamentarians in this Assembly to work towards similar measures in your home countries. The conflict cannot be solved without dialogue and negotiation – that is true – but we must still be able to separate right from wrong, and the ongoing occupation of Western Sahara is a definite wrong.

      The PRESIDENT* – The next speaker is Ms El Ouafi from Morocco, Partner for Democracy.

      Ms EL OUAFI (Morocco)* – I thank the rapporteur for her work on the difficult topic of the conflict in the Sahara, which has lasted for some 40 years. I wish to share with the Assembly some elements for consideration for the purposes of resolving the problem and contributing to a just, realistic and mutually accepted resolution.

      First, the persistence of this problem in a particular geopolitical context increasingly brings international powers to act so as to resolve the question swiftly. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe can be a force to change the situation. The region is experiencing more and more problems, such as increasing clandestine emigration to Europe, the proliferation of terrorist movements and the development of criminal networks. The Moroccan proposition to grant Western Sahara autonomous status, presented to the United Nations on 11 April 2007, should not be isolated from other regional developments. The Moroccan initiative to grant the Saharan region this status has sparked a reaction among my Sahrawi colleagues, women who are fellow members of the Moroccan Parliament. They do not accept being treated as colonists. The Moroccan proposal is set in a geopolitical context marked by revolutions in the Maghreb, a climate of instability, terrorism and threats to regional security. Morocco assumes its responsibilities by presenting this political solution and it remains the only main actor that has sought to play an ambitious role at global level regarding the political, economic and social side of things.

      Secondly, I look at the example of the European experience – I am a European immigrant and I feel European myself – and I ask why we are being asked to tread a different path from that covered by Europe to find a solution. The experiences of Germany, Italy, Belgium and Spain are of convergence and regionalisation in the context of sovereignty, and that too is the Moroccan proposal. So the plans for autonomy suggested by Morocco would allow one to establish local practices through legislative, executive and judicial authorities that would have jurisdiction in different fields of social and economic life, managed by the Sahrawis themselves. The Spanish, Germans and Belgians ask as much for themselves in federal states or regional blocs, and we have representatives of those areas in this Parliamentary Assembly.

Morocco has nothing to hide concerning Amendment 11. Let us recall the three recent visits of the United Nations rapporteur for human rights. We are the only country in the Maghreb region or Muslim Africa to have invited other international rapporteurs to visit our territories and the Sahara. We are also the only country to have collaborated with the Council of Europe for the purposes of respecting human rights, the rule of law and fundamental freedoms in our dear country, which is only 15 kilometres away from Europe.

      Mr JÓNASSON (Iceland) – I thank the rapporteur for a balanced, informative and wise report. The parties of the left support its proposals, as well as the amendments from the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights. I come from Iceland, a small nation State. Iceland was settled mainly from Norway, but also from the British Isles, the Orkneys and Ireland, which explains my brown eyes, in the ninth century. We came under the Norwegian crown in the 13th century, and when Norway came under Denmark we followed suit, together with Greenland and the Faroe Islands. Then in the 19th century, Norway became independent from Denmark. There was a national movement for independence in the 19th century and we got home rule in 1904. We acquired commonwealth status in 1918 and we became an independent republic in 1944.

      We were lucky: we were under the best colonial power in the world. Our human and democratic rights to self-determination were always respected. What did that mean for us? It meant independence. What did that mean for Denmark? It meant respect from us, and even love and affection. We still teach Danish in Icelandic schools, not because we are forced to, but because we want to. We have close co-operation and excellent relations with Denmark – we go there to study and on holidays. So when the rapporteur says that she has not found the egg of Columbus – how to solve this situation – I maintain that it is to be found in our historical experiences with the Danes. That is also why we always support the self-determination of people. We were the first nation to recognise the Baltic States when they broke away from the Soviet Union. That is also why the Icelandic Parliament unanimously supported a motion in favour of self-determination for the people of Western Sahara. We urge the Assembly to support the amendment and the right to self-determination in that part of the world.

      The PRESIDENT – That concludes the list of speakers.

      I call Ms Maury Pasquier to reply to the debate. You have five minutes left.

      Ms MAURY PASQUIER (Switzerland)* – Colleagues, thank you for your active participation in this debate. I am delighted that we have Moroccan parliamentarians present who can highlight their points of view. It is a real pity that we have not been able to hear from Sahrawi parliamentarians; I am sure that they too would have been able to give their points of view. We have heard that, since 2007, Morocco has proposed only one credible, acceptable initiative. I am sure that if Sahrawi representatives were present, we would be hearing that for several years, they have been proposing a referendum with three different options. Unfortunately, no headway has been made over the past few years. If we really want to make headway and move towards the fair, lasting and mutually acceptable solution that the Security Council has mentioned, all parties must make efforts to move towards such a solution.

      A number of you have referred to a feeling of deadlock or a dead end, and I certainly share that feeling of frustration; I am concerned that the situation might be the same in 40 years’ time. That said, there are a number of reasons for hope, as well as cause for concern, as to how the Western Sahara will develop. There will be changes in the near future – of course, there must be. Proof of that comes from the report that the Economic, Social and Environmental Council of Morocco submitted to King Mohammed VI in October last year, in which the council confirmed the underlying dissatisfaction, frustration, impatience and feeling of injustice experienced by the population in Western Sahara. The council also stated that the successful implementation of a new development model it has put forward hinges on changes that must be carried out before local elections can be held in 2015.

The United Nations Secretary General also mentioned 2015 in his report last year. He said: “I call upon the parties to recognize the need for urgent progress and to engage seriously on the two core issues in the Security Council’s guidance: the content of a political solution and the form of self-determination. I ask that the international community, and in particular the neighbouring States and the members of the Group of Friends, provide support for this endeavour. If, even so, no progress occurs before April 2015” – once again we are hearing April 2015 – “the time will have come to engage the members of the Council in a comprehensive review of the framework that it provided for the negotiating process”. As you can see, pressure really is being applied.

There is a feeling of urgency and frustration that we must extricate ourselves from the crisis. We in the home of democracy and human rights must do everything in our power to advance the cause of democracy and human rights. I was delighted to hear from the Moroccan parliamentarians that human rights are vital in Morocco and must be upheld and defended. We fully share that view and support all efforts to defend human rights in not only all 47 members of the Council of Europe but the countries that have partnership for democracy status in the Parliamentary Assembly. Against that backdrop, I hope that the Assembly can help parliamentarians to foster dialogue and bring the parties closer together in order to reach a famous political solution that is lasting, just and mutually acceptable. I really wish for that to happen.

The PRESIDENT – The vice-chairman of the committee has two minutes.

Ms GILLAN (United Kingdom) – It is a great pleasure to rise for the second time to support another Swiss socialist member; I do so with a joyous heart because there is no doubt that Ms Maury Pasquier has produced a work of integrity, as we have heard from all speakers around the Chamber. She has put in some fine work to produce a well-balanced and excellent report. I also thank Ms Bertuzzi, who has also worked diligently to fine tune things. You will see later the results of the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy and its opinions on some of the amendments.

Resolving the conflict in Western Sahara is quite obviously a major work in progress, to which the report contributes. The continued negotiations under United Nations Security Council Resolution 2152 are endorsed and encouraged. It is also good that the progress in Morocco is recognised and encouraged, and that particular credit is given to all the work done by the Moroccan National Human Rights Council. The report reflects the universal wish to find the just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution that has been put forward. It is a report without fear or favour that engages positively with a sensitive issue, which reflects well on the work of the rapporteur, her colleague, the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy and the Parliamentary Assembly.

The PRESIDENT –  The debate is closed.

The Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy has presented a draft resolution to which 14 amendments have been tabled. The amendments will be taken in the order in which they appear in the Compendium and the Organisation of Debates. I remind you that speeches on amendments are limited to 30 seconds.

We come to Amendment 1, tabled by the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, which is, in the draft resolution, after paragraph 4.2, to insert the following paragraph:

“encourages the parties to enhance the involvement of Sahrawis in political negotiations, in line with the ‘principle that the interests of the inhabitants of [non-self-governing] territories are paramount’, as laid down in Article 73 of the United Nations Charter”.

      I call Ms Bertuzzi to support Amendment 1.

      Ms BERTUZZI (Italy)* – The amendment was tabled to highlight the need to encourage the parties to enhance the involvement of Sahrawis in political negotiations, in line with the principle that the interests of the inhabitants of non-self-governing territories are paramount, as laid down in Article 73 of the United Nations Charter. The United Nations Secretary General, Mr Ban Ki-moon, recently reiterated that principle.

      The PRESIDENT – Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment? I call Mr Bockel.

      Mr BOCKEL (France)* – The Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights has tabled a number of amendments. Several of us will have the opportunity to express ourselves; we consider the amendment to run counter to the general balance of the text evoked before the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy – most notably at its meeting in Athens – which was the result of a compromise that fully respects the spirit of the report and avoids stigmatising the parties.

      The PRESIDENT – What is the opinion of the committee?

      Ms GILLAN (United Kingdom) – In favour.

      The PRESIDENT – The vote is open.

We come to Amendment 2, tabled by the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, which is, in the draft resolution, at the end of paragraph 4.7, to replace the words “without waiting for a final political settlement of the conflict, which is the goal to aim for that will allow for the full enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms” with the following words: “without prejudice to a political resolution of the conflict regarding the status of the territory”.

I call Ms Bertuzzi to support Amendment 2.

Ms BERTUZZI (Italy)* – To avoid divergent interpretations, we want expressly to evoke the obligation of the Moroccan authorities to ensure respect for human rights, as envisaged under national and international undertakings.

The PRESIDENT – Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment? I call Ms Durrieu.

Ms DURRIEU (France)* – In the spirit of what Jean-Marie Bockel said a moment ago, we do not want any change in wording that would make the report – a fragile edifice – repetitive or ponderous. The amendment would make the balance of the report even more fragile. We did a lot of work on it, and did so objectively, so we are against the amendment.

The PRESIDENT – What is the opinion of the committee?

Ms GILLAN (United Kingdom) – The committee is in favour.

The PRESIDENT – The vote is open.

We come to Amendment 3, tabled by the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, which is, in the draft resolution, paragraph 4.8, before the word “committed”, to insert the word “allegedly”.

I call Ms Bertuzzi to support Amendment 3.

Ms BERTUZZI (Italy)* – The amendment supports the principle of the presumption of innocence. We would like to use more specific legal terminology to distinguish between criminals who have been sentenced and persons who have allegedly committed an offence.

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

What is the opinion of the committee?

Ms GILLAN (United Kingdom) – The committee is against the amendment.

The PRESIDENT – The vote is open.

Amendment 3 is rejected.

We come to Amendment 12, tabled by Mr Mota Amaral, Mr Girzyński, Mr Bockel, Ms Centemero and Lord Anderson, which is, in the draft resolution, paragraph 4.11, after the words “the global financial crisis,” to insert the following words: “the diversion of humanitarian aid,”.

I call Mr Mota Amaral to support Amendment 12.

Mr MOTA AMARAL (Portugal) – In the spirit of members’ wishes to keep the balance of the document approved in Athens, I do not wish to press the amendment.

The PRESIDENT – Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment? I call Ms Maury Pasquier.

Ms MAURY PASQUIER (Switzerland)* – Amendment 12, which is intended to help the balance of the report, does not appear to go along quite the right lines. The text that was unanimously agreed is balanced, and it does not mention the point raised in the amendment for the simple reason that there is no evidence of it. I have not found any examples of it.

Mr MOTA AMARAL (Portugal) – For that reason, I said that I did not wish to press the amendment.

The PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Mota Amaral. Amendment 12 is not moved.

We come to Amendment 4, tabled by the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, which is, in the draft resolution, to replace paragraph 5.2 with the following paragraph:

“fully and speedily implement the recommendations made by United Nations human rights bodies, and to continue to cooperate effectively with and facilitate visits by these mechanisms to Western Sahara;”

I call Ms Bertuzzi to support Amendment 4.

Ms BERTUZZI (Italy)* – The amendment would make the draft resolution more linguistically specific and put its message across more clearly. We suggest that recommendations from all the competent United Nations human rights bodies be fully and speedily implemented, and that full co-operation be continued.

The PRESIDENT – Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment? I call Mr Bockel.

Ms BOCKEL (France)* – This is another example of what I was saying earlier. The initial text was perfectly clear, but the amendment would add a superfluous sentence and create an imbalance. It would give the impression of a constantly querying attitude and would lessen the effectiveness of what we are trying to do. We have produced a balanced text.

The PRESIDENT – What is the opinion of the committee?

Ms GILLAN (United Kingdom) – The committee is against the amendment.

The PRESIDENT – The vote is open.

Amendment 4 is rejected.

We come to Amendment 5, tabled by the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, which is, in the draft resolution, at the end of paragraph 5.7, to insert the following words: “, and to put an end to the practice of arbitrary arrest and detention”.

I call Ms Bertuzzi to support Amendment 5.

Ms BERTUZZI (Italy)* – It is pointed out in the report that many international organisations have indicated that there have been cases of arbitrary arrest and detention of Sahrawis who have demonstrated for independence. The amendment would make a specific reference to that.

The PRESIDENT – Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment? I call Mr Bockel.

Ms BOCKEL (France)* – The text of the paragraph is tough – it talks of torture and extorted confessions. We have discussed in the debate Morocco’s progress with regard to human rights, but we did not intend to cover in the report the matter mentioned in the amendment. Had we wanted to do so, we would have done. Again, the amendment would create an imbalance by pointing the finger, which would run counter to the objective that is clearly stated in the report.

The PRESIDENT – What is the opinion of the committee?

Ms GILLAN (United Kingdom) – The committee is against the amendment.

The PRESIDENT – The vote is open.

Amendment 5 is rejected.

We come to Amendment 6, tabled by the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, which is, in the draft resolution, to replace paragraph 6.2 with the following paragraph:

“continue to cooperate effectively with and facilitate visits by United Nations human rights bodies to the refugee camps near Tindouf;”

I call Ms Bertuzzi to support Amendment 6.

Ms BERTUZZI (Italy)* – In mentioning the Polisario Front and Algeria, we should refer not just to the special procedures of the United Nations Human Rights Council but to all United Nations human rights bodies.

The PRESIDENT – Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment? I call Mr Bockel.

Ms BOCKEL (France)* – The amendment refers specifically to the Tindouf area, whereas the report is more general. We do not want to deviate from the initial message. What would the amendment contribute except, once again, an imbalance?

The PRESIDENT – What is the opinion of the committee?

Ms GILLAN (United Kingdom) – The committee is against the amendment.

The PRESIDENT – The vote is open.

Amendment 6 is rejected.

We come to Amendment 7, tabled by the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, which is, in the draft resolution, at the end of paragraph 6.3, to replace the words “and the fulfilment of their obligations regarding humanitarian rights” with the following words: “and to undertake to guarantee the full exercise by the camp population of their basic human rights, including their economic, social and cultural rights”.

I call Ms Bertuzzi to support Amendment 7.

Ms BERTUZZI (Italy)* – The Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights approved the amendment to ensure that the resolution has greater linguistic clarity.

The PRESIDENT – Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment? I call Mr Bockel.

      Mr BOCKEL (France)* – The legitimacy of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights is not to be contested. It does its work, which contributes to the quality of our debate. Economic and social rights feature in the report in several places – we have not forgotten about them – but once again the amendment would send out another message. We are invoking the humanitarian aspects and we should not bring the other aspects into the argument. The amendment runs counter to our ensuring a legible and useful text that gets things moving in the region.

The PRESIDENT – What is the opinion of the committee?

      Ms GILLAN (United Kingdom) – The committee is against.

      The PRESIDENT – The vote is open.

      Amendment 7 is rejected.

      We come to Amendment 13, tabled by Mr Mota Amaral, Mr Girzyński, Mr Bockel, Ms Centemero and Lord Anderson, which is, in the draft resolution, after paragraph 6.3, to insert the following paragraph:

“co-operate with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and United Nations special mechanisms with a view to clarifying the cases of Moroccan missing persons in the Tindouf camps within Algerian territory;”.

      I call Mr Mota Amaral to support Amendment 13.

      Mr MOTA AMARAL (Portugal) – I agree with the idea of maintaining the consensus of Athens, but the amendment concerns a particular human rights case. We want clarification about the situation for missing Moroccan citizens who have disappeared in the camps of Tindouf in Algerian territory.

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

What is the opinion of the committee?

Ms GILLAN (United Kingdom) – The committee is in favour.

The PRESIDENT – The vote is open.

Amendment 13 is accepted.

      We come to Amendment 8, tabled by the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, which is, in the draft resolution, to replace paragraph 6.7 with the following paragraph:

“develop a culture of human rights in the Tindouf camps and ensure respect for those rights, in order to protect the displaced populations from any kind of violence.”

I call Ms Bertuzzi to support Amendment 8.

      Ms BERTUZZI (Italy)* – The amendment speaks for itself.

      The PRESIDENT – Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment? I call Mr Bockel.

Mr BOCKEL (France)* – What does the amendment contribute to the text? It is already fully explicit that the target is the Tindouf camps. I do not see what the amendment can contribute to a text that is clear and precise and is about the human rights training of judges, prosecutors and so on.

The PRESIDENT – What is the opinion of the committee?

Ms GILLAN (United Kingdom) – The committee is against.

      The PRESIDENT – The vote is open.

      Amendment 8 is rejected.

We come to Amendment 9, tabled by the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, which is, in the draft resolution, paragraph 8.1, before the words “all the recommendations made”, to insert the following words: “fully and speedily”.

I call Ms Bertuzzi to support Amendment 9.

      Ms BERTUZZI (Italy)* – The amendment is tabled to reflect the spirit of urgency prompted by the April deadline.

The PRESIDENT – Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment? I call Ms Durrieu.

Ms DURRIEU (France)* – I am against the amendment because we thought we had reached a certain cadence in the text. At points, we say things very bluntly and we have stayed with the original text for paragraph 6.7. The text is both strict and complete. We do not need to add things systematically and we consider this addition to be useless and a step too far.

      The PRESIDENT – What is the opinion of the committee?

      Ms GILLAN (United Kingdom) – The committee is against.

      The PRESIDENT – The vote is open.

      Amendment 9 is rejected.

      We come to Amendment 10, tabled by the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, which is, in the draft resolution, paragraph 9.1, after the words “find a just and final political solution to the conflict”, to insert the following words: “in the light of Security Council Resolution 2152 (2014)”.

I call Ms Bertuzzi to support Amendment 10.

Ms BERTUZZI (Italy)* – The amendment is clear.

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

Lord ANDERSON (United Kingdom) – The amendment is surplus to requirement. We all know that there are a large number of resolutions from the United Nations Security Council dealing with different points. This happens to be the most recent, but many others could have been cited. Why cite one and not the others?

      The PRESIDENT – What is the opinion of the committee?

Ms GILLAN (United Kingdom) – The committee is against.

The PRESIDENT – The vote is open.

Amendment 10 is rejected.

We come to Amendment 11, tabled by the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, which is, in the draft resolution, after paragraph 9.2, to insert the following paragraph:

“support, within the United Nations, the inclusion of human rights monitoring in the MINURSO mandate.”

I call Ms Bertuzzi to support Amendment 11.

Ms BERTUZZI (Italy)* – Various members of the committee felt that monitoring in the region should be intensified and carried out in an impartial, professional and competent manner and that MINURSO, as the most relevant professional body, should have human rights monitoring added to its remit.

The PRESIDENT – Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment? I call Mr Bockel.

Mr BOCKEL (France)* – The United Nations is of course our partner and the excellent report refers to it more than once, but the monitoring of human rights is our business, as we propose further down in the text, and we should not give the mandate to MINURSO. The Parliamentary Assembly and the Council of Europe are called on to monitor human rights, so we should not constantly split up our work. That sends a negative message to our partners.

      The PRESIDENT – What is the opinion of the committee?

Ms GILLAN (United Kingdom) – The committee is against.

The PRESIDENT – The vote is open.

Amendment 11 is rejected.

We come to Amendment 14, tabled by Mr Mota Amaral, Mr Girzyński, Mr Bockel, Ms Centemero and Lord Anderson, which is, in the draft resolution, to replace paragraph 10 with the following paragraph:

“Lastly, the Assembly believes that the implementation of this resolution by the parties should permit progress towards a negotiated, just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution to the conflict. In this context the Assembly stands ready to help facilitate direct contacts between the parties concerned.”

I call Mr Mota Amaral to support Amendment 14.

Mr MOTA AMARAL (Portugal) – In the spirit of maintaining the consensus of Athens, and with the agreement of the subscribers to this amendment, I do not wish to press Amendment 14.

The PRESIDENT – The amendment is not moved.

We will now proceed to the vote on the draft resolution contained in Document 13526, as amended.

The vote is open.

I thank the rapporteur and both committees and congratulate them.

2. Joint Debate

Identities and diversity within intercultural societies and

Integration of migrants in Europe: the need for a proactive, long-term and global policy

The PRESIDENT – Now we come to the joint debate on two reports. The first is from the Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media and is entitled “Identities and diversity within intercultural societies”. It will be presented by Mr Carlos Costa Neves. The second report, from the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons, is entitled “Integration of migrants in Europe: the need for a proactive, long-term and global policy” and will be presented by Ms Marietta Karamanli.

Rapporteurs, you have 13 minutes, which may be divided between presentation of the report and replies to the debate. First, I call Mr Costa Neves.

(Mr Giovagnoli, Vice-President of the Assembly, took the Chair in place of Mr Flego.)

Mr COSTA NEVES (Portugal) – Intercultural societies are the positive match between diversity and cohesion. They represent a major societal change, which requires adjustments in the design of cultural, education, youth and social cohesion policies. This report is about people – about Europe, our countries and cities, our families and our neighbours. It is about each one of us and our specific composite identities. It goes beyond the simple recognition of diversity and the promotion of tolerance towards recognition of the originality of each identity and the promotion of positive exchanges and interaction, bearing in mind that intercultural exchange means mutual transformation. The report is not about immigration, or even about majorities and minorities. It is about us living together as equals with dignity.

This Assembly has long pleaded for a society without any form of marginalisation, in which everyone has the right and the opportunity to develop as people whose dignity and identity are fully respected. As you know, this does not always happen as a natural evolution in society. Groups struggle for recognition of their identity and clashes of views tend to prevent dialogue and exchange. The differences in how we perceive each other may lead to invisible barriers, such as stereotypes and prejudices that are extremely hard to break. Therefore, we must join forces to ensure respect for human rights and cultural differences. However, to be effective we need to share not only the aim but the strategy to achieve this.

First, we should acknowledge the challenges ahead of us. The main political one is to ensure real commitment to democracy and human rights. This commitment should reach all areas of policy making and permeate the way that values are transmitted from one generation to the next. We must state clearly that we need respect for difference. Views that deny the human dignity of others are unacceptable in a democratic society.

Secondly, we must stress that education and cultural policies must be enhanced to develop a culture of democracy that sustains the “living together” society, while bearing in mind the close interconnections with youth and media policies. We should focus more on how people communicate and aim to improve people’s acceptance of difference and respectful attitudes towards otherness.

Thirdly, we should go beyond the general consensus over the need for intercultural dialogue and education for democratic citizenship. We have to discuss the specific competencies that will give people a foundation on which to build their relations with other members of society, from next-door neighbour to anyone else in Europe and beyond.

Last but not least, we must pay greater attention to the school environment. We have to include references to attitudes.

      This report supports the Council of Europe’s intergovernmental work to develop soft power policies and information tools to assist member States in shaping the new intercultural processes, mechanisms and relationships that are required to address the compelling diversity challenge in Europe and neighbouring regions. Accordingly, it recommends that the Committee of Ministers should “encourage integrated activities between different sectors of the Council of Europe to develop innovative approaches to diversity management and, in this framework, hold with different stakeholders in the member States ‘thematic’ biennial platforms to discuss and advance policy orientations and exchange best practices”.

In particular, we value the implementation of the Council of Europe Charter on Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights, the activities of the Intercultural Cities Network and the ongoing Media in Europe for Diversity Inclusiveness programme, or MEDIANE.

The report sets out a vision for contemporary society and could, therefore, be perceived by some as far removed from political reality. However, I insist that without this vision, we will not be able to manage the accelerating demographic change in Europe in a democratic manner. We must recognise the positive role that different cultures can play in shaping our individual identities and our common European identity. We must always bear it in mind that intercultural exchange means mutual transformation.

The PRESIDENT – You have six minutes remaining. I call Ms Karamanli, rapporteur, to present the second report. You have 13 minutes.

Ms KARAMANLI (France)* – I am honoured to champion the proposed resolution that has been submitted to the Parliamentary Assembly and the report that underpins it.

The report follows on from a proposed resolution of 2011, the first signatory of which was Ms Fiala. I was not a signatory. Its authors stated that the key to sound integration was mutual responsibility and interest, multi-sectoral participation and a strategic approach. I took over the draft report from Ms Pelin Gündeş Bakir. I thank her for all the information that she garnered, which contributed to our thinking.

We benefited from the information and observations that have already been gathered on three main issues: the right to work, litigation and democratic participation. On each of those issues, we tried to take an objective approach by using the figures. Our idea was not to convey the reality that is experienced by dozens of millions of immigrants through just a few figures, but to highlight the divergences. Often, those are understandable because of the time involved, the social milieu, the various degrees of blending and the ability of institutions to take effective steps. Sometimes, divergences have persisted because of the shortcomings of political measures. Sometimes, they have proved difficult to understand because too much time has passed. The data are put in context by a more natural assessment that is based on qualitative testimony from immigrants in major European cities.

My approach will focus on the notion of integration, the discrepancies that we have seen because of inadequate integration and the measures that are required as part of a proactive, long-term and comprehensive policy. Integration is a two-way street. The aim of immigrants and the host society must be gradually to include in society those who are joining it through language rights, law and culture.

Assessing whether integration has been a success or a failure is difficult for several reasons. Integration takes time. It will vary depending on the size of the country. It evolves over time. Countries that have for a long time been lands of emigration sometimes become lands of immigration. It is, by definition, a process that is difficult to gauge. For it to succeed, several steps must be taken in several areas of improvement. That justifies the title that we adopted for the report, which seeks to be more proactive.

There are significant divergences in three areas. Many of the data on access to work point in the same direction. There is often poor access to the labour market not only for immigrants, but for their children, who are often citizens of the host country. In France, the overall unemployment rate is 9.6%, whereas the rate for immigrants stands at 16.4%. According to an OECD study, the loss of opportunity for those with foreign origins is significant. Their chance of being on the dole is increased by some 50%. At the same time, there is often a mismatch between the skills level of the foreign person and his or her employment in the host country. The result is a loss of skills, experience and dynamism, all of which our countries in crisis need now and in the future.

In education, there is often a risk of segregation between the children of immigrants and the children of those who hail from the country. Educational systems in Europe are often poorly suited to these realities. The support for new language learning is often scant. There are three main factors at work. First, the skill of knowing two languages is often not recognised. Secondly, there is a concentration of underachieving pupils in the same schools and the same classes, which often results from a failure to mingle in neighbourhoods and regions. Thirdly, it is difficult in schools to change the perceptions of pupils, which are again the result of cultural mindsets. To use a sociological term, there are contextual effects that are mutually reinforcing and that lead to schools being less able to overcome academic and social segregation.

Lastly, although the extent of democratic participation is difficult to establish, the report differentiates between several levels, including the acquisition of the nationality of the host country, which can be gauged through the number of naturalised individuals, and participation in public life through the exercise of fundamental freedoms, such as the freedoms of expression and association. Those issues have been the subject of several resolutions and recommendations of our Assembly, which all point in the same direction.

I will not go into detail on our main recommendations, but will set out their overall thrust. The main idea is that our current integration policies leave untapped opportunities. We should probe ways and means of tapping those opportunities in a meaningful way. We also proposed, inter alia, facilitating greater access to vocational training for legal migrants and their children; the recognition of diplomas and qualifications that have been acquired outside the host country; the introduction of effective measures to combat discrimination in the labour market; fostering proficiency in the language of the host country through education; and the promotion of educational practices that place an emphasis of social intermingling.

One of the main means of ensuring that better action is taken is better co-operation between the key players. We seek a comprehensive approach through increasing the joint endeavours of governments, local authorities and non-governmental organisations. We feel that our countries should, as far as possible, restore comprehensive policies that ensure that there is better redistribution of wealth for the benefit of all those who have scant cultural and economic resources. That should cover all immigrant populations – recent and less recent alike. In other words, there should be universal programmes that also take into account certain specificities, because they have a knock-on effect. Such mechanisms often do a very good job of redistributing wealth and often produce less stigma.

      On the voting rights of foreigners who have been living for several years in a country in local elections, our suggestion is in every respect consistent with the text already adopted by our Assembly in 2005, which received the agreement in principle of the Committee of Ministers in 2006. That is already eight years ago. What was proposed then was the idea of granting an active and passive right to vote for all local elections for the benefit of all legal residents, which is consistent with the Code of Good Practice in Electoral Matters of the Venice Commission.

      The PRESIDENT – You have five minutes remaining. I call Ms Erkal Kara to speak on behalf of the European Democrat Group. You have four minutes.

      Ms ERKAL KARA (Turkey)* – Economic problems, the rise of xenophobia and Islamophobia, and concerns about irregular migration have given rise to a debate on the state of migration in Europe. In that context, the report puts forward some revealing observations, to which we should attach importance. I thank Ms Karamanli for her excellent analysis.

      Many countries are affected by the question of integration, so we should adopt a multidimensional and transnational approach. The schizophrenic viewpoint adopted by Europe, as indicated in the report, gives rise to serious concerns about the capacity of Europe to integrate its immigrants successfully. As members of this august body, however, we should remain vigilant and try to turn back the rise of xenophobia and Islamophobia, which became more apparent in the elections to the European Parliament.

Bilateral labour agreements between Turkey and several European countries marked the beginning of the voyage of Turkish immigrants towards European countries. We must remember that the immigrant workers were invited by the host countries, and they contributed to their economic growth. It was originally thought that the migrant workers would return to their countries in the medium term, so neither the host countries nor the country of origin saw fit to develop policies to support processes of participation and integration of immigrants. That, no doubt, was a mistake.

Recent efforts by certain European countries to make up for shortcomings in the area of integration should be welcomed, while we take into consideration the need to revise existing policies in order to find better solutions. Integration is no longer sufficient for our democratic societies. Our priorities should be to think up and to implement policies to encourage equal participation by immigrants.

      To conclude, I emphasise the fact that immigration is a two-way street. Both immigrants and the host society should make efforts to ensure that successful integration takes place. In some member States, it is considered that failure of integration should be attributed exclusively to immigrants. That mental barrier feeds xenophobia and Islamophobia, and harms social harmony. Member countries should take the necessary measures to prevent the growing threats to the values of Council of Europe.

The PRESIDENT* – I call Mr Kolman to speak on behalf of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.

Mr KOLMAN (Croatia) – I congratulate both rapporteurs on their work. It is sad and worrying that we are discussing such issues under the dark clouds of rising xenophobic and intolerant political movements across large parts of Europe. Yet it makes us all even more aware of the need to change our practices further and faster, so that our children will not have to go through the tragic experiences that our forefathers had to go through, such as people being thrown into furnaces just because they were different.

      We need to give strong and honest support to a concept that the liberals have been talking about for a long time. We need individual freedom based on individual identity. We strongly believe that the individual identity of every single one of us is the foundation of our freedom. We also believe that making the mistake of perceiving the world around us through a bipolar concept of minority versus majority is very dangerous. There are no minorities or majorities; we are all a minority or a majority at the same time, though more often a minority than a majority. We live in a time of composite identities, which has erased all the strong differences between the two categories.

We therefore agree with and support the idea that openness and intercultural competence need to be taught from a very early age, in nurseries and kindergartens. If we do not start right away, we shall be too late. If we accept the reality that we live in a society where each individual has a specific identity that is at least a little different from everyone else’s, we must be prepared to accept another dangerous prospect as well, which is that, if we are not properly equipped to accept differences, we will end up hating and fearing everyone else, because everyone else is different. That is a very gloomy prospect.

That case applies especially to the integration of migrants. Integration does not mean assimilation or erasing differences; it means taking differences on board and learning from each other. As for identities and diversity, integration is a two-way street. That means that we need to change constantly, in communication with others, to achieve the equilibrium in which we can live together with mutual understanding and respect.

What is particularly worrying in the report on the integration of migrants is the problem of integration that continues through the generations. Children of immigrants, often born in the country in which they live, might have less contact with its society than their parents – unemployment, poor education, lack of perspective – and that creates ghettoes, in the head and in our cities. Ghettoes are a breeding ground for fear and mistrust, and they are the opposite of integration; ghettoes are disintegration in its purest form. Again, therefore, we call for Council of Europe member states to invest in education, especially language skills, from a very early age.

In conclusion, both integration and respect of individual identities constitute the essence of achieving personal freedom. In unfortunate times, when from the highest political places we hear ever louder voices questioning our freedoms and suggesting other concepts that we thought had been left safely in the past, we need to get involved even more.

The PRESIDENT – I call Ms Katrivanou to speak on behalf of the Group of the Unified European Left. We have to check whether there is a problem with the translation.

Ms KATRIVANOU (Greece) – If there is a problem, I will speak in English. This is my first time speaking in the Chamber and I am happy to do so. The report definitely goes in a positive direction. Nobody could disagree with the facts that it states – that immigrants continue to suffer from economic and social inequality, which leads to their marginalisation and the augmentation of ghettos.

As the report says, this difficult situation is not abstract and is not due to simply to anti-immigration and super-nationalistic propaganda. The policies of States and the European Union emphasise a fortress Europe, and the logic of push-backs and repatriation. Many governments promote racist measures and xenophobic logic. Our Prime Minister Samaras, and previously Berlusconi and Sarkozy, legitimised the concepts of the ultra-right in the consciousness of the people. One result of that is the rise of the neo-Nazis in Greece, who got 16% in the latest elections.

On top of that, the policy of austerity destroys the social network, shrinks democracy and marginalises people. That creates the ground on which xenophobic, anti-immigrant and ultra-right parties can flourish and become bigger. In order to work against xenophobia, neo-Nazi and ultra-right beliefs, it is crucial that we pursue specific policies, on both the national and the European level, that promote integration. The first such policy is the legalisation of immigrants who have connections with the country, so that they have access to the basic social goods, such as work, health and education. That would help us to create social cohesion and security.

Secondly, immigrants who live a long time in a country should have access to citizenship. That should also apply to kids who have been born and raised in a country or who have studied in the country. For example, in Greece, we do not have a citizenship law concerning second-generation kids. Thirdly, immigrants and refugees must have the right to family life without any financial prerequisites and not depending on how long they have been in a country.

We must develop policies on reception rather than detention. People are kept in detention centres in Greece for 18 months just because they have no papers. There is a new law that means people can be held in detention centres without limit of time, until it is possible to send them back home. Ultimately, that is against the constitution and against human rights.

Apart from everything I have read, the thing that changed me was what I saw when I visited the port of Piraeus with the UN. I saw the refugees who had survived crossing the sea. It is similar to the situation in Lampedusa. Nine mothers and three babies were dead. There was a look of hopelessness on people’s faces. The only thing they wanted were the bodies of their people. That cannot go on. We cannot have a Europe that is a fortress, and that kills people in the sea. Everybody who comes here that way must be saved, whatever their legal status, and whether they are immigrants or refugees.

The last thing I want to say – I thank colleagues for their patience – is on the belief that we should have a fortress around Europe. Apart from the fact that it is inhuman, it is also the result of hypnosis. Europe is not an island and it cannot be a fortress. Even if the flow stops momentarily to one country, people will be redirected to another.

The PRESIDENT – Thank you. We deeply apologise for the translation problem, but you managed to translate your notes very well. I call Mr Corsini to speak on behalf of the Socialist Group.

      Mr CORSINI (Italy)* – I express my appreciation of the two rapporteurs, Mr Costa Neves, of the Committee on Culture, Science and Education, and Ms Karamanli. The reports are the fruit of a thorough and far-ranging discussion and an expression of different opinions. Of course, they are political in nature, but they are complementary and convergent, which is very reassuring with regard to the future prospects for Europe.

      We can see a number of themes in the proposals. There is an historical reading of the European situation. The European identity is the result of multiple European identities that have been stratified – added on, one above another – over centuries. The notion of identity that is being promoted is highly divisible. It is one based on relations and links. We are not thinking about Europe as a fortress or a closed unit, but as the result of meeting and exchange. We therefore have a composite identity. In addition to historical identity and historical thinking, we have an awareness of the current crisis today which might give rise to radical and extremist approaches and xenophobia. For Europe, there is the phantom of new leaders of new forms of racism that are not ideological, but are additional forms that compete with one another and are based on Eurocentrism.

The two rapporteurs agree that they are writing a dictionary of our present day society, which can be looked at from the viewpoint of assimilationism, multiculturalism and interculturalism. We are talking about institutional proposals. They are not thinking about different institutions, but suggesting significant proposals for the implementation of good practices and good policies.

First and foremost, the conclusion of Mr Costa Neves’ report describes five different typologies, depending on the definition of the main fields of action. They come from a summary of the problems of intercultural practices, as understood as part of an overall policy. I am thinking particularly about the organisation of minority groups; the whole question of the labour market, which really does not include young people; and the vulnerabilities typical of certain sectors of society, whose reception and schooling cannot be understood simply as clampdown policies. They have to be accompanied by a choice of integration, consideration of how cities are organised – the question of governance – and how to face up to Islamic tendencies.

On the whole, the report is very positive. The countries of the Council of Europe, to which these recommendations and the resolution are addressed, should take the report into consideration. It contains specific indications that could give rise to an inclusive policy for individual countries and for the Europe of the future.

      The PRESIDENT – I call Mr Csenger-Zalán, on behalf of the Group of the European People’s Party.

      Mr CSENGER-ZALÁN (Hungary) – Let me congratulate both rapporteurs for their very interesting and important reports. They address the crucial topic of our European societies. It should be emphasised that the economic and financial crisis that hit our everyday life could lead to the fading away of solidarity in our societies. A key element to maintaining and strengthening respect for identity and diversity in European intercultural society is to foster mutual understanding between co-existing national, religious and linguistic communities by all possible means.

The report emphasises the main areas and responsibilities of governments and society. It rightly points out that the protection of the human and cultural rights of ethnic minorities, as well as immigrant communities within a distinct culture, should be preserved, and that this requires a radical shift from the policies of assimilation that assert the homogeneous culture of the majority. The right to self-determination is a decisive factor in maintaining identity. Both states and communities have tasks to accomplish in this respect. Nevertheless, it has to be emphasised that there are significant differences in approach when we speak about traditional national minorities or immigrant communities. The report adopted during the last April session, on traditional national minorities, outlined clearly positive experiences in this respect. The report by Mr Costa Neves also quotes numerous positive examples in Europe and initiatives that should be realised in the near future.

Here at the Council of Europe, we have the legal background suitable to face and solve these challenges. The Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities is a unique and solid basis for the protection of the human rights of these communities. We should make efforts to integrate the positive experience of these documents into the legal practice of the European Union. We should bear in mind that the integration of immigrant communities has to be cemented from two directions. First, governments, civil organisations and educational systems should facilitate the inclusion of the immigrants, with the clear intention of ensuring that these communities can maintain their identity. On the other hand, immigrants should respect and become acquainted with the cultural interethnic behaviour and practice of the host country. The process is not a one-way street and all pedestrians have a responsibility to respect the traffic rules.

      The PRESIDENT – The rapporteurs will reply at the end of the debate. I call Mr Le Borgn'.

      Mr LE BORGN' (France)* – I commend Mr Costa Neves on the quality of his report on identities and diversity within intercultural societies.

      Our European societies are diverse. Many of them have been diverse for a long time, even though they sometimes find that hard to acknowledge. Europe is a continent of migrations. Cultural barriers are now receding because globalisation has speeded up, yet the movement towards interculturality as such is nothing new. What is new is the very open mistrust that people are showing towards this phenomenon. How can we not be worried about recent events such as the European elections in which political parties that contain in their DNA hatred, xenophobia and racism have done so well? These parties are trying to demolish the social fabric. They are doing this because they have their own projects and their own mission. They want a society with no differences. For them, women and men who come from afar or who might have a slightly different colour of skin should simply not form part of their society. They are rejecting cultural diversity, yet that cultural diversity is the reality of today and it is very much the reality of tomorrow. Cultural diversity is not a danger – on the contrary, it is an asset for our countries. It is also an asset for every single one of us individually.

      We must learn about cultural diversity first and foremost in State schools. We must have a mixture of all different origins, backgrounds and faiths. It is at that very young age, with the hard work and patience of teachers, that we can help to build an acknowledgement and acceptance of others. A society should not crack because of mistrust, prejudices and shoddy political calculations. That should not happen if young people wake up to see what is around them. Education is therefore of paramount importance for equality. The first message that I would therefore address to governments, thanks to Mr Costa Neves’ report, is that they must integrate learning about identity and diversity in multicultural societies into their school curriculums.

We should also support all intercultural initiatives. Often, such initiatives are modest, local projects. Two weeks ago, I was impressed by a Sport Sans Frontières project I saw in Kosovo. They use sport to bring young people from different Kosovar communities who otherwise would not meet. Through collective games, they feel the solidarity of playing in a team and the desire to win. The joy of being brought together is the best schooling in life. The Council of Europe should have a solid programme with financial support for such initiatives, which often lack resources.

Another example is the Franco-German Youth Office, an intergovernmental organisation, which I saw recently in Macedonia. It has a project in which it is helping 10 Slavic and Albanian teachers to exchange information and history about the eastern front. They presented their – initially radically opposed – points of view, but together they have been able to develop a common way of reading history, inspired by a Franco-German textbook. That is a very interesting example that, among many others, deserves our support. The construction of Europe is precisely about that. Surely we, the Council of Europe, as the house of democracy, peace and law, should play a paramount role in that.

      Mr MOTA AMARAL (Portugal) – I have a very short statement on this afternoon’s joint debate, which brings to our Assembly’s consideration some important challenges faced by our modern societies. On the one hand, in some areas there are no longer any borders separating people from one another. Thanks to mass communications, new technologies have made the world a global village.

      On the other hand, European societies are evolving from their traditional homogenies to become multi-ethnic and multicultural, as migrants of various origins come to settle in Europe. Our rapporteur, Mr Carlos Costa Neves, whom I congratulate warmly on his excellent report, provided us with substantial food for thought about the new cultural environment in our open societies. He suggests that individuals and communities are now confronted with so many different models and values that it is almost inevitable that they should become multicultural, with people able to choose and accept whichever elements of those cultures they consider appropriate.

      Will that attitude lead to cultural relativism, with all such elements placed at the same level? I do not think so, as every person should keep their own scale of principles and values. However, mutual respect and understanding provide a strong base for living together with tolerance.

      Another question is the integration of migrants in Europe, which Ms Marietta Karamanli analysed in her report, on which I congratulate her. We have discussed this issue in our Assembly on many occasions and I am afraid that this will not be the last time. Immigration is a serious question indeed for European citizens, so they deserve clear policies for the acceptance and integration of migrants in each member country and in Europe as a whole. The principles and rules of the Council of Europe on the respect of human rights, if respected with an open heart, will be of great advantage to all parties facing such challenges.

      Mr FRÉCON (France)* – I congratulate the two rapporteurs, who have produced excellent reports. I want to talk about intercultural societies. I salute the humanist approach that our colleague Carlos Costa Neves took in producing his rich report. I appreciated in particular the composite identity concept he developed, which perfectly mirrors the reality of contemporary societies: they are complex and heterogeneous in nature.

      The draft resolutions and draft recommendations rightly call on us to promote cultural diversity, which is just as necessary for humankind as biodiversity is in the natural world. Such an approach is most welcome, but far from naturally spontaneous: on the contrary, many people seek to set up their cultural, social and religious reference points as overriding standards, thus feeding into the thesis of the inexorable clash of civilisations and cultures that sadly we see developing.

      Going back to 2001 and the 9/11 attacks, that year saw the adoption of two significant texts that sought to restate the importance of cultural diversity in our societies. We had the Cotonou declaration at the conference of French-speaking culture ministers that restated that cultural diversity constitutes one of the major challenges of the 21st century. In the same year, there was also a Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity produced by UNESCO, which was a normative instrument that recognised for the first time cultural diversity as being “the common heritage of humanity.” The safeguarding of heritage is an imperative, practical and ethical requirement, which is part and parcel of retaining human dignity. However, cultural diversity is not set in stone, which makes it possible to move away from segregation and fundamentalism, which seek to elevate cultural differences to the point of dogma. Culture is an evolutionary process that guarantees the survival of humanity.

      Globalisation must be humanised if it is to be perceived as a positive phenomenon. Cultural diversity is less threatened by intolerance – we hope that intolerance is transitory and a reflection of the crisis – than by the tendency towards standardised patterns of living, which we see in the vanishing of languages and dialects. Communities are unsettled about the disappearance of their specific traditions, such as modes of dress and food. The consumption of standardised products around the globe poses a threat to those regional differences. From that point of view, the defence mounted by France’s cultural exception is a bulwark against excessive Anglo-Saxon cultural uniformity and standardisation. It is important that our Assembly reaffirms that that intercultural dialogue constitutes the best guarantee for peace.

      Mr ABAD (France)* – I pay tribute to the work done by the rapporteurs, Mr Costa Neves and Ms Karamanli. On Mr Costa Neves’ report, it is important to remember identity and diversity within intercultural European societies, because Europe is built on a series of mixtures of identities, which allows us to protect our migrants and safeguard the rights of minorities while allowing us to have multiculturalism in Europe.

      I wish to focus more on the second report. Ms Karamanli is right to say that the integration of migrants in Europe has not always worked. That has accompanied a deep economic crisis, but some of the remedies that have been adopted do not really do the job, particularly in the current economic situation. As the report says, successful integration is of benefit to all, and it cannot just mean providing social measures for immigration. It can only be a success if we can afford proper dignity to those who arrive, and that requires the right political will. The recognition of the right to vote in local elections is not necessarily right in a number of countries.

We need to be more ambitious in what we do for migrants and to promote integration, especially for immigration supported by documentation, which brings wealth to our societies. Europe should not be a fortress, but nor should it be a sieve – the truth lies somewhere in between. We need to reform the Schengen Accords. As in the case of the euro, migratory flows should be the expression of a political desire by a member State, and there should be a Schengen policy with common ground rules and punishment of any States that do not comply. It is fundamental, if we want to make a success of the immigration of migrants, to have better control of migration flows through the European Union and, above all, through Schengen and the role of several other institutions, such as the Frontex agency.

When we mention good examples of integration, we often think of Canada and the US, which are trying to attract skilled workers who can integrate well. Family life needs to be respected, and family reunification can help integration, but it should be on the condition that the people who are coming in can maintain the families who are joining them and promote their integration.

The report mentions language proficiency, and it is so important to know the host country’s language as that allows migrants to get to know other people, to emerge from the ghetto and to enjoy a degree of independence – all vital for successful integration. Language can transmit the values of democracy, the rule of law and human rights, and all our measures on education and fighting discrimination can help with that. It is true that at the elections on 25 May Europe offered us a paltry picture of democracy, but nothing would be worse than to start drumming up hatred of foreigners. Our history and, indeed, our freedom owe a great deal to immigrants who fought shoulder to shoulder with us when our values were threatened. We need to have the courage to build a multicultural European society and carry out the necessary reforms to host perhaps fewer people but to integrate them more successfully.

Ms GAFAROVA (Azerbaijan) – This issue is very important, because individual and collective identities are rapidly evolving in today’s Europe. In the 21st century, particularly in the period of globalisation, assimilation of national boundaries and the formation of cultural diversity are essential conditions for human society. I agree with Mr Costa Neves about the need to recognise the role of different cultures in the building of national identities and of a European identity characterised by diversity, pluralism and respect for human rights and dignity.

When talking about cultural diversity, it is impossible not to mention multiculturalism which has, as we know, different definitions in different countries. Different thoughts about multiculturalism have been expressed in recent years. Some believe that multiculturalism has failed – a thought also expressed in the report of Mr Costa Neves. I do not agree with the rapporteur when he says that multiculturalism has led to further cultural isolation of minority communities. I strongly believe that life has proved that there is no practical alternative to multiculturalism. The alternatives are discrimination, xenophobia and racism.

The report gives information about cultural diversity in some member States of the Council of Europe. It is even possible to find a reference to Armenia being a country with cultural diversity. That is surprising, because Armenia is a mono-ethnic country. It is a pity that the report does not contain enough information about other member States, such as my country, Azerbaijan. Heads of State and representatives of other nations and religions who visit Azerbaijan consider our country to be an example of tolerance and cultural diversity, following a progressive model. Azerbaijan has been a homeland for representatives of all ethnicities and religions for centuries. We are proud that the independent Azerbaijan is still a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country. We are proud that the Christian and Jewish communities in Azerbaijan enjoy equal rights alongside the Muslim community.

In recent decades, many important events on the issue of multicultural and intercultural dialogue have been held on the initiative and with the participation of the Azerbaijani Government. A month ago, the President of Azerbaijan signed a decree on the establishment of the Baku International Centre for Multiculturalism. We should apply our positive experience even more broadly, and information about the cultural diversity of Azerbaijan could enrich the report.

In a period of global threats, terrorism and a tendency towards religious confrontation, our current steps and future measures in this area should not result in disowning our own national, cultural and moral values. On the contrary, we should co-operate with sincerity, respect, love and goodwill, and preserve and protect common human values without forcibly imposing our faith and belief on others. We can realise that aim in Europe, which is the common space of us all.

Ms FABER-VAN DE KLASHORST (Netherlands) – The Council of Europe says that cultural diversity is of paramount importance for a humane society and a stable Europe. That is why it wants to provide more room for more cultures, which are pumped into Europe through the flow of immigration. The cultural traditions of Europe that do not fit in with this inflow have to be eliminated. Civil rights must be harmonised for all citizens, regardless of their background or cultural origin. But what is actually being harmonised? Are our current civil rights going to be harmonised with Sharia law? Everyone's cultural and religious ties are to be recognised and respected. There are now Sharia courts in Europe, which is a genuine nightmare for women.

According to the report, a stop must be put to anti-democratic, populist and xenophobic political parties. However, xenophobia is being confused with realism here. By ridiculing and demonising these parties, the real problems no longer have to be addressed. The fact that the politicians of these parties have been democratically elected is also easily ignored. Over 50% of the European population reject the multicultural society, and the populist parties are the only ones who represent this share of the population. Are the political elite concerned about this? No, the people have to be re-educated, in day-care centres to begin with, and then throughout the entire school years. Teachers have to be trained to sow the seeds of the blessings of the multicultural society in children’s minds, whereas imams continue to sow hatred against the infidel. Dutch school children are already compelled to visit a mosque. The media, too, must be encouraged in adulation of the multicultural society and to agitate against the populist parties, which can be easily arranged with a fistful of euros.

This report aims at making room for Islam in particular to grow to full stature within Europe. It is even claimed that the history of Europe cannot be understood without taking into account the Islamic contribution in various areas, such as science, art, literature and philosophy. But in this case Islam is being mistaken for the Middle East. Once Islam became dominant in the region, little edifying came up any more. Islam means passiveness, as is shown clearly by the number of Nobel prizes won: only seven for 1.4 billion Muslims. By way of comparison, 187 Nobel prizes have been awarded to Jews, who have a population of 12 million. That parallels the Islamic countries’ deprivation compared with modern Israel.

      Immigrants are attracted to Europe because of its higher level of prosperity. Once they have arrived, they want to turn it into their country of origin. Are you still with me? The report advocates the multicultural society, but the fact that Islam wants to be dominant and refuses to adapt itself to any other culture is being ignored. The stronger Islam grows in Europe, the more aggressive it will become. It is significant that the once multicultural Middle East region has now become a monoculture. The report also states that cultural diversity has to be recognised as an innovative factor, but the day Islam becomes dominant it will throw Europe back into the Middle Ages, which were anything but innovative.

      Mr NICOLAIDES (Cyprus) – I congratulate our colleagues, Mr Costa Neves and Ms Karamanli, on their important reports. In today’s Europe, one could say that diverse but interlinked identities within intercultural societies should be one of our greatest challenges and ultimate goals – diverse identities that of course would not aim to intrude on our citizens’ sense of belonging, national roots, culture and civilisation, but that enrich and add new perspectives and balances for European citizens. However, as the rapporteur rightly states, “if not managed positively, cultural differences can lead to radicalization, paralysing forms of conflict and even violence”.

Unfortunately, we have all witnessed, particularly over the past few years, an alarming rise of extreme nationalistic and xenophobic political discourse, and the subsequent rise of political parties of that conviction all over Europe. It is therefore high time that we pushed for an even greater and perhaps more radical change in the way we act, in politics and beyond, so as to achieve the balance between identities and diversity that would create a healthy intercultural dialogue and even healthier societies; progressive societies that are not led by fear of anything different but enriched through tolerance, understanding and a readiness for constructive dialogue that can lead only to development, progress, pluralism, a stronger democracy and adherence to the rule of law.

      People in Europe today face an overwhelming range of economic, demographic, migratory and cultural challenges, which, if not carefully addressed, could seriously hamper any prospect of a healthy intercultural society in Europe and beyond. It is therefore imperative that we reset our goals, policies and strategies, starting from schools and reaching out to the eldest citizens of our continent. That is why I agree with the suggestions in the draft resolution and draft recommendation. It is of paramount importance that we develop, among other things, a comprehensive intercultural strategy that enhances and promotes the parameters that should reflect the important role of different cultures in building national and European identities.

      I conclude by reminding everyone of the words of Maya Angelou, a famous African-American poet, author and civil rights activist who passed away last month. She said: “It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.”

      Mr BOCKEL (France)* – If you are silent, that indicates consent, so I do not want to speak without addressing what was said by our colleague from the Netherlands, Ms Faber-Van De Klashorst. In a rather classic way, she amalgamated truth with untruth in order to convey a number of messages. We have heard populist language of an unacceptable nature right here in the Chamber.

I welcome the exhaustive report by my compatriot, Ms Karamanli, who has worked thoroughly to produce a clear diagnosis of the situation, and I support the overall philosophy put forward. It is true that immigrant populations are often vulnerable and scapegoated; it is also true that integration is a shared process or two-way street in which everyone – new arrivals and the host community – must be involved. In France, as in a number of countries, our modern identity has been built through the contributions of waves of past immigrants – I am talking about the millions of people whose parents were not born in France. They are not a marginal group, but a significant factor.

A lot has been done in France to try to uphold our long tradition as a host community; indeed, we have the reception and integration contract that formalises such arrangements. In several countries, despite the work and effort and despite people having achieved successful integration, we still see instances of failure. Some of our fellow citizens would focus on the failures. Is the glass half-empty or half-full? It depends who is looking at it.

We are confronted by the challenge of migratory flows. Recently, together with my colleagues in the French Senate, I produced a report called “Africa is our Future”, which shows that although there are sometimes amazing opportunities, there are also demographic and immigration challenges and risks. Nevertheless, as a number of colleagues have said, we cannot respond by throwing up a fortress wall. The European Union, which is working reasonably well, cannot cope with these challenges on its own. We must work together with the countries of emigration to come up with responses that take into account the entirety of the phenomenon.

Another challenge is fundamentalist tendencies and communities turning in themselves. We must come together on such issues to offer a collective response. There are also social issues: people have mentioned perceived links between levels of employment, unemployment and immigration, but we cannot just come up with pious exhortations; we must make it clear that Europe can play a useful role. We must get the messages across to our States and to the European Union that we can advocate certain powers confidently. I am sure that that will help us to come up with a lasting response to what is both a challenge and a great advantage to our continent.

      Ms CROZON (France)* – I warmly congratulate the two rapporteurs, who have done excellent work. I wish to speak to Ms Karamanli’s report.

      Over the past few years, with the growing influence of populist and nationalist parties, the debate on migration policies has shifted from discussing economic and social sustainability to questioning the cultural acceptability of migration, which is often connected with concerns about security. We can study the degree of integration of migrant populations in Europe; I tend to use the term “social inclusion” only in relation to people who were born here or who arrived here when they were very young. The rapporteur has described the effect of the discourse about security. The unemployment rate is 10% higher among foreigners than among the host population; the poverty rate is 13% higher; it is virtually impossible for them to buy property; and there is even widening inequality between men and women.

      There are several consequences of the failure to address migration policy – consequences for migrants, for those who have arrived earlier and for those of other nationalities living in the same urban areas. There has been housing segregation and ghettoisation, leading to a deterioration in housing conditions, and local corner shops and all sorts of other public services have disappeared. In other words, there has been a drop in the quality of life. That leads to the exploitation of poverty, which feeds petty crime, the shadow economy and communities looking after their own but becoming hostile to others. Discrimination is no longer based only on ethnic or religious identity; it can be based on postcode. The fear of losing status in society engenders fear of others and feeds racism.

      By addressing only the consequences and not the root causes of the situation, the migratory policies that our states have implemented have made the situation even worse. They have made it acceptable to exclude foreigners in every way. The debate on migration has been seen as being only about stopping illegal immigration. Migrants’ fundamental rights have been restricted, and they have been seen only as people who draw benefits, and therefore it has been argued that we should not attract too many more. However, that has not led to a drop in migratory flows, and it has meant that even foreigners who have their papers and are employed in a regular way feel that their situation is precarious. It is even harder for them to get a job, a flat or a loan.

      The answer to the populist wave that we saw in the recent elections is not insularity. It is not about maintaining a divide between skilled migrants, whom we can choose, and those coming to reunite with family, whom we must simply put up with. On the contrary, it lies in active policies for inclusion, such as helping people to learn the language and enhance their qualifications, mixed housing policies, equality between men and women and seeking to eliminate any form of discrimination. There should be a sense of a contract of rights and duties between a migrant and their host country. That is in everybody’s interest, which is why I will vote for the draft resolution.

      Mr SHAHGELDYAN (Armenia)* – I thank the rapporteurs for their excellent and interesting work, which is based on humanitarian values.

      The reports are very important to Armenians, because we have a diaspora in many different countries and it is important to ensure that their rights are guaranteed in societies that have peace, prosperity and a democratic process that allows them to safeguard their identity and engage in tolerant intercultural exchanges.

      I draw attention to the first paragraph of the draft resolution in the report “Identities and diversity within intercultural societies”. The rapporteur mentions “the cultural effects of globalisation” and “new technologies and media that provide people with easy access to information and platforms for communication.” Globalisation is of course a wonderful opportunity for all of us, particularly young people, to learn more about cultural identities and enrich our own culture by engaging in cross-border intercultural relations within multicultural societies. New media, including social media, also play a crucial role in that process. However, I would like to suggest an addition to paragraph 6.3.2 of the draft resolution, which is about encouraging public media to make a contribution. We should also guarantee that social media can act as an important mechanism for multicultural communication and breaking down barriers. Maurice Duverger, the famous French political scientist, spoke about that.

      One of the most important things in our world is having a culture of peace. I therefore suggest that we encourage the efforts of international organisations to propagate such a culture and ensure that the culture of war, hatred and violence is combated.

      I have spoken today as an Armenian, and I listened to my colleague from Azerbaijan, in response to whom I have to say a few words. The discourse was typical – “Armenians are bad, Azeris are good.” Actually, the situation is somewhat different. In Azerbaijan, there is a policy of hatred, which unfortunately is manifest and visible. History is taught in school books with military rhetoric and hatred towards Armenians and other national minorities. The discourse of the mass media, politicians and senior civil servants is also totally unacceptable. I am afraid that does not allow the creation of a more democratic country – it is a managed country with an autocratic, not a democratic approach. I argue that we should have the same approaches and criteria for all countries.

      If I may, I suggest that we add to what is set out in the draft resolution by encouraging the efforts of international organisations to propagate a culture of peace around the world. We already welcome such efforts, but we should encourage them further.

      Ms FATALIYEVA (Azerbaijan) – The question of identities – national, cultural, religious, ethnic, gender-based or consumer-based – is assuming renewed importance for individuals and groups who see globalisation and cultural change as a threat to their beliefs and ways of life. The growing tensions over identity, which are often the result of the culturalisation of political claims, are in contradiction with the general trend towards the emergence of dynamic and multi-faceted identities.

Political activism related to religious identity can serve as a powerful marker of cultural identity and difference. In that context, there is a risk of religious conviction being instrumentalised for the furtherance of political and other related agendas. That has the potential to precipitate interreligious conflict and dissensions within democratic societies.

There has been a tendency to equate cultural diversity with the diversity of national cultures, yet to some extent national identity is a construct. It is grounded in a sometimes reconstructed past and provides a focus for our sense of commonality. Cultural identity is a more fluid and self-transforming process – less a past inheritance than a future project. In a globalising world, cultural identities often derive from multiple sources. The increasing plasticity of cultural identities reflects the growing complexity of globalised flows of people, goods and information. In a multicultural context, some people will choose to adopt a particular form of identity, others will choose to live in a dual mode and still others will choose to create hybrid identities for themselves. Generally speaking, the blurring of boundaries in the context of globalisation has favoured the emergence of a nomadic spirit that can be seen as the new horizon of contemporary cultural experimentation.

Unfortunately, some political statements and the activities of some media sources do not contribute to the development of inter-civilisation dialogue but instead cause discrimination. We often witness wrong information being given to this Assembly about my country, Azerbaijan. As my colleague has already described the situation in Azerbaijan, I will not go into too much detail, but I want to destroy a myth about so-called phobias in my country. Despite the fact that for more than 20 years 20% of our land has been under occupation, thousands of ethnic Armenians still live in Azerbaijan. Today, Armenia is a homogeneous country. Before Armenia started its military aggression against Azerbaijan, thousands of Azerbaijanis lived in Armenia. Today, you would not find one – they were forced to leave the country by an ethnic cleansing policy.

Before the war started, the Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh was in the majority, enjoying safety and freedom in Azerbaijan, yet they demanded special rights. Later, those Armenians turned every single Azerbaijani from Nagorno-Karabakh into a refugee – an internally displaced person. That is how they deprived the Azerbaijanis who had lived there for hundreds of years of their basic rights. That is part of the history of my country.

As well as intensifying our efforts to ensure the protection of the rights of national minorities, we must decisively combat all negative tendencies. The responsibility of politicians and public figures is, therefore, of great importance. We must also strive in our work to take practical steps to strengthen positive trends. Our world is a big house in which there is a place for everyone and every nation, if only we can have peace, tranquillity and mutual understanding.

      Ms BLONDIN (France)* – It is essential that we preserve and encourage cultural diversity in our societies. I shall not dwell on that. We have already mentioned the need to respect cultural diversity and how worried we are by rising racism and xenophobia in Europe. The results of the European elections speak for themselves.

      I want to make a few points about Mr Costa Neves’ report. Let me set the context. The financial crisis and the economic recession have led to a reduction in our budgets for cultural affairs, which have been deemed some kind of adjustable variable – not a priority or of great importance. Even in France, we have seen a 2% decrease in our cultural budget, yet culture is living – it needs to be fed and stimulated. Claude Lévi-Strauss, in a communication to UNESCO back in 1952, stated that diversity itself – not whatever historical content filled successive periods – needed to be saved. We need to protect diversity, not by setting it in stone but by ensuring that it is constantly renewed.

      I understand the arguments advanced in the report. It talks about setting up an intercultural strategy between States. A dialogue between cultures and respect for different cultures are absolutely necessary if we want to do away with misconceptions about identity. At the same time, however, we should remember how important it is to stimulate culture if we are to avoid short-termism. Today, the construction of individual identities is a composite affair, borrowing from different cultures. We should therefore take note of that fact and avoid stigmatisation or sectarianism. We should translate that fact into practice, into our discourse and into our political action but, most importantly, we should encourage it. I want different member States to take note of that, to wake up to it and to ensure that culture is considered to be no longer of secondary importance, but of primary importance.

      I remind you that the Council of Europe has a tool the primary aim of which is to promote our values of human rights, democracy and the rule of law through an intercultural dialogue with our neighbouring countries and by addressing young people, women and the other target audiences that have been mentioned. I am talking about the North-South Centre of the Council of Europe. It is an atypical set-up. It is quadripartite and represents governments, parliaments, local authorities and civil society that are all active in culture and education, which is precisely what we have been talking about in the debate. It is up to us to make the most of the centre. Let us support it. It is fragile, but it has a useful role to play.

      Let us not forget that culture forms the basis of our society. Culture permeates every aspect of our lives, so I want to finish by referring to Pierre Curzi, the co-chair of the French Canadian Coalition for Cultural Diversity. He said that art and culture are the breeding ground of identity and cohesion in society.

      The PRESIDENT* – The next speaker is Mr Chisu, Observer from Canada.

      Mr CHISU (Canada) – I thank the Assembly for this opportunity to speak. Cultural diversity is a reality everywhere. As people become increasingly mobile, physical boundaries no longer shield one culture from the influence of others. This should be embraced. Intercultural societies bring enormous benefits to a country. Not only is it in the best spirit of openness and tolerance to accept people whose cultures differ from the mainstream, but there are practical benefits for the host or receiving country.

In pure economic terms, terms that all politicians understand, immigrants of diverse backgrounds are an important source of economic growth. Immigrants, regardless of their wealth on arrival, bring enormous qualities to their new homes: resourcefulness, boundless energy and a desire to integrate, to advance in their careers, to provide opportunities for their children that might not have been available to them in their countries of origin, and to contribute to their communities. The evidence for that is undisputed and can found in all countries that receive large numbers of immigrants. It is true of the United States of America and Canada, countries which have been built by immigrants and built on immigration – immigration from all corners of the globe, from rich and poor countries, black and white, east and west, north and south.

Those countries have reaped enormous economic benefits from the contributions of immigrants, but the benefits go beyond the economy. Immigrants have established themselves in all walks of life and in all sectors: in business, academia, government and politics, and the arts. Those successes have enriched the life of these countries. That is equally true in Europe where, thanks to the open borders created by the Schengen agreement and to the principles on which the European Union and the Council of Europe are founded – the principles of respect for human rights, dignity, tolerance and the protection of minorities – Europe has flourished in all its important dimensions. Europe owes much of its success as a polity and as an economic market to the free movement of people and the openness with which it receives people from all parts of the world.

I welcome the resolutions proposed by the rapporteurs, Mr Costa Neves and Ms Karamanli, and fully support the analysis in their background study. The message that we all should take is that continued vigilance is necessary in combating discrimination and intolerance. It will continue to rear its ugly head and occasionally manifest itself in extreme forms, such as racism and violence. When it does so, we must be prepared to both recognise it and fight it aggressively. It is my hope that one day there will be no need to debate what it means to have an intercultural society. When intercultural becomes the norm, it will not be analysed from the perspective of the mainstream. It will be mainstream. Let us embrace it. Our societies will be diminished if we cannot openly embrace what diversity has to offer.

Mr JENSSEN (Norway) – I pay tribute to the reports for taking such a positive approach to both migration and cultural diversity. Let that also stand as my sole comment on the words of our colleague from the Netherlands.

Leaving your country can be the result of poverty, war, lack of work or many other reasons. However, no matter what your reason for living in another country, you, the local community and society as a whole have a responsibility for your successful integration into society. Any person should have the opportunity to create a good life for herself and her family, and to be positive contributors to society. I do not mean that simply economically but as new citizens bringing to society diversity, new ideas, cultural exchange, innovation and creativity.

My country, Norway, has about 5 million inhabitants, 15% of whom are immigrants or Norwegian-born children of immigrants. Of these, 50% are from European countries and the other half from the rest of the world. Of course, Norway faces several of the same challenges to successful integration as other European countries. These concern education, access to work, participation in civic society and democratic participation. However, it should also be underlined that there are big differences within the immigrant population. Immigrants do not primarily belong to a group; they are individuals who make different choices for their lives. This should mean that we as countries emphasise that real integration means language skills, education, work and participation, so that you have the possibility of making choices for your life, while ensuring your right to practise your traditions and culture.

We say in Norway that our society would not function if we did not have Swedish waiters in restaurants, Polish builders or Pakistani taxi drivers. Indeed, immigrants – both those who are refugees and those who seek work – make enormous and positive contributions to our society. However, we see every day that immigrants with somewhat different names do not get called to job interviews, even though they have the best qualifications, simply because they have a different name. Immigrants do not have the same fair chance in the job market as the rest of us and this is, unquestionably, discrimination in working life.

Then there is our emphasis on language skills. For Swedes, the Norwegian language is not a problem, but for people from Somalia or Eritrea not speaking Norwegian may be the main barrier to entering any part of society, not only the labour market. Therefore, we offer introductory programmes with extensive language training, which it is the refugee’s right to receive and their obligation to participate in. We also stress that the young children of immigrant parents should go to kindergarten because this is an extremely good way of being introduced to the Norwegian language, which also helps the rest of the family.

I hope our member States will continue to improve their integration policies, providing possibilities and opportunities for the individual and for society as a whole, while keeping a positive approach to migration and cultural diversity.

Ms SANTERINI (Italy)* – I congratulate my two colleagues who presented these reports and resolutions. They have put centre stage the concepts of intercultural dialogue and integration, which are complementary. As has been said, the idea of intercultural dialogue has been central to the whole history of the Council of Europe. I remind members that the Council of Europe was a pioneer organisation in this field from the 1980s onward. Many members may remember that many of us drew inspiration from this concept.

The Council of Europe has been the laboratory for a vision of, and an approach to, interculturalism, and I find that mirrored in the spirit of these resolutions. Europe has certainly changed, but the need for an intercultural approach is still with us in the 21st century. It is highly political because it means that there must be an acceptance of change. As the document says, the change must be on both sides. We need people to be able to coexist in society even though they come from different cultures.

Each human individual is already multicultural because there is no pure culture. We are all blended creatures from birth; we do not become that later. Of course, there are those who think that some races and traditions are superior to others. There are people who are worried about and fearful of Jews, Muslims, Gypsies and Roma and, indeed, their own neighbours, but they should not be. We are all ultimately the same and we have to negotiate this interculturalism to live together in peace. Each party must give something up but that something is given to the other. It is an exchange of cultures. Interculturalism is reciprocal and absolutely necessary in a society where we live cheek by jowl with one another.

We live in an era of Internet-driven globalisation. There are many second and third-generation migrants in our societies, living alongside us. People who say that identities are immutable are creating a negative force that will destroy identity. We are not asking people to give up their identities but just to be prepared to discuss them. In that way, we will see progress.

This approach, as stressed in the resolution, means that we must make policy choices from the first school class onwards. We cannot have schools based on some kind of apartheid system, with certain schools reserved for migrants and their children and others for the society that has always lived in that country. This Assembly has to be more concerned with giving information to politicians and seeing this feed down into different areas of life, such as education.

There is a problem of racism, which is possibly growing in Europe. The flames are being fanned by extremist political movements and we must work together to overcome this.

(Mr Kox, Vice-President of the Assembly, took the chair in place of Mr Giovagnoli)

Ms STRIK (Netherlands) – I thank both rapporteurs for their constructive reports, in which they highlight many different aspects of integration and diversity, including the socio-economic aspects, political participation, language, social cohesion, cultural diversity and non-discrimination. Only a comprehensive approach can result in an effective integration policy. Both rapporteurs substantiated that idea. Integration and participation are beneficial to all parties in society. To reach that level, efforts are needed from all actors – the authorities, native citizens and migrants.

In many European countries, large communities of migrants have already been settled for several generations. In particular, those born here and those who settled here at an early age do not perceive themselves as immigrants but as citizens of the country where they live. For them, it can be quite confronting if the outside world has a different perception, which they notice when they apply for a job, for instance. People can develop a feeling of belonging only if that belonging is experienced on both sides. It is therefore shocking to read in Ms Karamanli’s report how often migrants are still discriminated against in the labour market. As a result, their unemployment rate is relatively high and they more often work in jobs for which they are overqualified. Migrants are hit hardest, especially in times of economic crisis and unemployment such as this. Participation in the labour market is crucial for people, not only so that they have a living, but in order that they can participate in society and gain self-confidence and personal growth.

Although discrimination is difficult to combat, member States should take it very seriously and use all the instruments at their disposal to combat the phenomenon. Furthermore, access to education and language courses can help migrants to get qualified and participate.

Perhaps the most important condition for integration is security of residence. Such security stimulates migrants to invest in their future in Europe and means that they no longer waste their energy because of the fear of being expelled. Permanent residence status offers that security and provides more possibilities for integration. For example, most employers prefer migrants who have a permanent status. It is also easier to buy a house with that status. Many other rights are more accessible once somebody has a strong residence status. Citizenship offers even more security and the right to political participation. Member States have a big interest in promoting the integration of migrants. They should therefore design accessible procedures for gaining permanent residence status and citizenship, taking into account the possibilities and level of knowledge of the migrants.

Countries develop their integration policies by trial and error. Over the past decade, the emphasis in a number of countries has shifted from integration being a common responsibility towards it being solely the responsibility of the migrant. Migrants have to prove that they are well integrated before they are granted a more secure residence status. That is a complete reversal of the previous notion that social and civil rights promote integration. If we really regard integration as beneficial for the whole society, we should provide migrants with the means to integrate well. That requires good access to education and the labour market, good access to permanent residence status or citizenship and the right to family reunification. In return, the society can require that migrants learn the language and participate. A supportive and open attitude from the State and the community is vital for success.

I will make one last remark. As members heard in the contribution of my Dutch colleague from the Wilders party, the openness that we need is under threat in the Netherlands. Some politicians frame migrants as problem-makers. In that way, they fuel mistrust, fear and hatred towards migrants. Worst of all, they take from migrants the feeling of being at home and of being one of us. It is our task to reverse that tendency.

Mr SCHENNACH (Austria)* – I would like to take up what Tineke just said. The four minutes in which we heard from her colleague half an hour ago were appalling. We heard four minutes of xenophobic hate speech. I have realised that more and more Dutch people are moving to Austria. They say that the climate in the Netherlands is permeated with hate and is intolerable.

I ask again why right-wing extreme forces join European institutions if they want to have a pure society. However, today is a good day because the right-wing coalition in the European Parliament has not managed to gain any sway. Extremist MPs cost their countries a lot, but they are free in Europe.

I thank both rapporteurs. As an Austrian, I am amazed at this debate because whenever we talk about migration, people immediately think about Muslims, but the biggest group that is coming into Austria is the Germans. Why should we not discuss the problems that they cause through their sheer numbers, even though they are directors of banks and other highly skilled people?

The year 2014 is a jubilee for Austrians because in 1964, we passed a law to open employment offices in Ankara, Istanbul and Belgrade to ask Gastarbeiter to come. The mistake that we made was that we asked for Gastarbeiter, but the people who turned up were actually human beings with families. Austria is now one of the eight richest countries in the world. That would not have been possible without the people who moved from Ankara, Anatolia, Istanbul and the States of the former Yugoslavia in 1964 and who have been with us ever since. They have made our society more diverse. A third of the businesses in Vienna have a migratory background, and those businesses have created 50% of the jobs. The unemployment rate in Austria is only 6%.

Of course, we do have problems as well. One problem is education, as we have heard today. The children who are born in our country have worse opportunities than they would have if they had been born in their home country and learned the language later. We have to tackle that. Education is one of the biggest keys. German societies in particular have an issue with naturalisation that is based on blood rather than soil. That is a silly situation that has created many hindrances.

Integration, identity and diversity is a difficult subject. The things that the Turkish Prime Minister has said in Germany and Austria are poison to integration. We are trying to achieve integration, but then somebody turns up and gives an electoral campaign speech that destroys the tiny seedling of integration. We need to say that this is poison. What Mr Erdoğan did in Austria a few days ago was very deleterious. We will suffer for years from what he took two hours to say.

Ms GIANNAKAKI (Greece)* – I thank the two rapporteurs for their excellent, constructive reports, which are premised on the humanitarian principles of the Council of Europe that should prevail throughout our European continent.

Immigration is a phenomenon that is linked to human history and human nature. We believe that immigration has become a problem over the past few years because countries see themselves as nation States. However, diversity is actually an asset for our cultures and for modern societies. European history has proven, sometimes very painfully, that anyone who speaks of racial purity is doomed to isolation and destruction.

The member States of the Council of Europe have different policies on immigration and integration. Different models have been tried out in various European countries at a time of crisis, when, unfortunately, migrants are often seen as scapegoats. Europe must come up with a long-term answer that is based on human rights and citizenship for migrants. Surely that is the first step towards integration, but it is not a panacea. Granting citizenship is one thing, but there must also be targeted integration policies, otherwise it is just a piece of paper.

In the times of prosperity, some countries did not grant many people citizenship and did not deal with education or employment. It seems to me that in the 21st century we should be working for co-existence. We should accept whatever is different. If we are talking about intolerance – we do not accept others, we do not tolerate anything that might be different – we are far from our goal.

      What tools do we have? We have legal tools against racism and xenophobia, and we have education to change attitudes. We also need to strengthen our institutions on the European political stage. Unfortunately, we have seen a worrying rise in nationalists and Nazis, and all that is accompanied by sexism and xenophobia. All the different systems are being deployed right now. Such people do not want democracy; they do not even want the law to prevail. Unfortunately, the Mediterranean area has become a graveyard. Look at what is happening on our seas and the thousands of lives lost in the Mediterranean – people who were trying to survive, looking for a new life and seeking shelter in Europe. Supposedly because of the economic crisis, however, Europe simply had contempt for those people.

      There are various proposals for a Europe solution on the table. Unfortunately, the Greek presidency was unsuccessful in achieving anything; I hope that the Italian presidency is more successful. We need to have some burden sharing among all European countries, taking into account GDP and population. We need more positive management of such flows. Countries need to understand that we are talking not about solidarity or charity, but about a contractual obligation under the international conventions that we have signed up to.

      The PRESIDENT – Do you have a point of order, Mr Denemeç, because that is all I can allow?

Mr DENEMEÇ (Turkey) – I would like to say a few words, because of something that Mr Schennach said.

The PRESIDENT – No. I am sorry, unless you make a point of order, you cannot take part in the debate, because you are not on the list of speakers. I call Mr McNamara.

      Mr McNAMARA (Ireland) – I wish to commend both rapporteurs for their excellent reports, but I want to concentrate on that of my colleague, Ms Karamanli, on the integration of migrants in Europe. In the report, she highlights the fact that, as a rule, unemployment rates are higher for immigrants and their offspring than for nationals. Those statistics from the OECD are truly worrying, showing that the employment rate for immigrants is 73%, which is 10% lower than the figure for nationals; unemployment of native-born offspring of immigrants runs at 13.8%, which is about 7% higher than for nationals.

      Given that, we need to look at programmes to counter it. There have been a lot of calls today for more action at a European level and, in the past, I have criticised the European Commission for some of the initiatives that it has funded, as well as for others that it has failed to fund. I want to highlight one initiative in particular, however, the Foundations for Work programme, which is funded by the European Commission through the Leonardo da Vinci lifelong learning stream. It is a two-year project undertaken by six partners across Europe, two in the United Kingdom, one in Sweden, one in Spain, one in Belgium and one in Ireland. The partner in Ireland is a relatively small, independent not-for-profit non-governmental organisation in the city of Limerick, Doras Luimní, which is entirely reliant on funding, most of it coming from Atlantic Philanthropies. That source of funding is likely to dry up in the near future, so it is hoped that such organisations as Doras Luimní could be funded through the European Commission in future.

      The project’s aim is to produce a multimedia training course for 18 to 30-year-old migrants in the Mid-West Region of Ireland, where Limerick is situated, for those who are unemployed or underemployed. Of the six modules, one focuses on working in a team, another on cultural awareness, which is important for migrants and sometimes the offspring of migrants, and another on job-search techniques and interview skills. Those are all important, because as Ms Karamanli points out in her draft resolution: “The poor match of occupational qualifications and skills to the labour market, often due to the non-recognition between States of some qualifications and diplomas, results in a waste of human resources.”

As many speakers today have highlighted, migrants to our countries bring a wealth of human resources; they have been a source of wealth generation in many countries to which they have come in the European Union, as well as migrants to other countries. I am thinking in particular of the migrants running some of the larger corporations in Europe now. We need to welcome and focus on that, and to build and further support concrete initiatives that help the integration of migrants.

      Ms MAGRADZE (Georgia) – I thank the rapporteurs for their reports on the problem, which has become increasingly serious in Europe. The recent European elections were a source of great concern. Migration policy has caused heated debate in member States. Visa liberalisation remains one of the most potent positive drives of pro-Western public opinion in the European neighbourhood. At this point, it is critical to exhibit foresight and to maintain a realistic perspective, because Europe is changing, which will inevitably cause an internal identity crisis.

      The borders in urban areas from Athens to Berlin and from Helsinki to Lisbon are now as important as the European borders from the Aegean to Gibraltar. After all, it is a reflection on how inclusive or exclusive the word “European” can be. That question concerns us. Despite all the odds, in Germany the proverbial ius sanguinis citizenship regime is being adapted to pave the way for political, social and economic inclusion of new citizens. Here, European culture still prevails, so others must follow. Europe cannot be united unless citizenship is the foundation of its civilisation. That is the model for our evolution in Georgia as a polity, although we clearly have a long way to go. What, otherwise, would be the alternative?

      It should be recalled that Russian leverage in the wider post-Soviet region is exercised through a commanding share of remittances, which in some States account for between 30% and 40% of GDP, and yet our citizens in Moscow are paraded on TV to feed scapegoating patriotism. Even third-generation Georgians are likely to be discriminated against. We expect more from Europe. It should be understood that Europe’s influence in our region is primarily moral, normative and, yes, economic. Despite the crisis, the vision of returning to Europe is held tight precisely because of its moral gravity. The bottom line is this: the right to travel, not unlike the euro, is a European dimension that has a tangible grasp on everyday reality.

From the borders of Europe to the suburbs of Paris, the same question is being asked: can we believe in the moral authority of the civilisation that we stand for? That is of the utmost importance. Europe has the right to be self-reflective, but nations that have gone against their geography and assumed the socio-economic cost of reform have the right to believe in a European destiny. We have come to an historical conjunction: we must all strive to make the appointment, despite our fears.

      The PRESIDENT – Mr Yatim and Mr Bensaid are not here, so I call Mr Sabella from Palestine, Partner for Democracy.

      Mr SABELLA (Palestine) – I congratulate both rapporteurs on their timely and challenging reports, but allow me to dwell on the report of Mr Costa Neves, which is on identities and diversity within intercultural societies. The last paragraph in the summary states that “new ways can be found to celebrate cultural diversity as a positive factor for innovation and development.” That conclusion is relevant not only to Europe. It is also relevant, and perhaps more relevant, to societies worldwide that are grappling with issues such as identity, religion and ethnicity. In the Middle East, for example, how can we create intercultural societies if the agendas of religion, ethnicity or nationality are forced on to others? Can we deal effectively with the different spaces of our diverse communities while subscribing to one State and one society that respects all citizens, irrespective of background or any other characteristic? That is a pressing challenge at a time when the refusal to accept others, or even going to the extreme of rejecting them altogether, provides the basis for the dream or aspiration of creating new States that separate long-standing neighbouring communities from one another.

      A distinguished parliamentarian just referred to the global village. The global village also involves shared values. We reach out to each other through cyberspace – I see this among young people of different nationalities and groups – to learn about different traditions and cultures. It is an exciting world that brings people together, and especially young people. Nevertheless, some people, and perhaps many, want to keep things to themselves and exclude others from their geographic, cognitive and other ethnocentric spaces. How can we learn from good examples of societies that celebrate cultural diversity? As was aptly pointed out by Mr Costa Neves, how can we strategise interculturally? We need to do that in order to create a thriving global village, with societies side by side that promote the welfare and rights of their citizens, irrespective of ethnicity, religion or sub-culture, or any other particular characteristics. Is that a utopian vision? We should put ourselves to work together to make it a realistic vision. I reckon that is the greatest challenge our world faces together today.

      The PRESIDENT – As Ms El Ouafi is not with us, that concludes the list of speakers. However, I notice that Mr Denemeç is most eager to add something to the debate. As we have some time left, I will give him the floor.

      Mr DENEMEÇ (Turkey) – I would like to talk about integration, which is a big issue in the European Union and throughout Europe. Since the 1960s – for more than 50 years – many Turkish citizens have lived and worked in other European countries. Turkey faces many problems for that reason. Integration is very important. We push our people who live outside Turkey to integrate with the societies where they live.

      Turkey is a democratic country. For the first time, Turkish citizens who live outside Turkey will vote in Turkish presidential elections. That means that our democracy is increasing. Millions of Turkish people live in other European countries. For that reason, the Prime Minister of Turkey visited countries such as Germany, France and Austria. He always says to Turkish people living in other countries, “Please integrate with this society. You have to integrate and be in a better position, and you have to contribute to the country where you live. This is your country. Turkey is also your country.” He asks them to integrate, but not to assimilate. That is important. To say that such words are poisonous is completely wrong.

      The PRESIDENT – I call Ms Karamanli, the rapporteur, to reply. You have five minutes left.

      Ms KARAMANLI (France)* – I will not take all that time, because the statements made by my colleagues have essentially endorsed our work. There was a twin presentation of the reports and resolutions because the subjects dovetail neatly.

      We have talked about the need for both sides to work towards a better cultural understanding, and referred to the fact that we need to look at the social implications of bringing immigrants and citizens closer together. Colleagues have talked about education and stressed what we refer to in the report as “integration”. It is a long-term process but it involves both sides.

      I thank everyone who has contributed to the report, and the sessional services, who have facilitated our work. As a result, once again, through the resolutions and the reports, the Council of Europe can continue to work in a relevant fashion. We are the cynosure of the parliaments we work in. The report can be a useful contribution to our various integration policies. Integration is a challenge, but it will be an advantage, too. We need a policy across the board to achieve integration successfully. The different parliaments have all worked on integrating immigrants into society.

We need to continue with the policy of integration. It is wrong to talk of failure, because talk of failure implies that we expect 100% success, but that will never happen. We must identify policies that produce the best effects and propose them to others, who in turn can draw inspiration from them.

      My final point is on another aspect of the report – the right to vote – which colleagues have mentioned. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has been calling for change in that respect for some time.

We need to work on policies on regular immigration, but we must also look at policies on irregular immigration. There is no point in turning our eyes away and failing to hear what happens in neighbouring countries that have unmanageable migration flows. We should have a genuine wish to provide a reasonable reception for migrants and help them in our countries. Let us not forget that there are countries where war is raging today. There are hostilities and there is dire poverty. If we do not take those situations into account we will not have done a decent job of work. Through your interventions and contributions, you have expressed the need for a seamless and forward-looking policy on integrating immigrants in Europe. Thank you for your confidence and for your participation.

      The PRESIDENT* – Does the vice-chair, Mr Rouquet, want to add anything?

      Mr ROUQUET (France)* – I have listened with great interest to the speakers on this report. The results of the last two European elections have shown how important these issues are for our democracy. I want to raise a couple of issues on the Karamanli report, which makes many fundamental points. I was lucky enough to be elected for some years in a French city where one quarter of the population were immigrants, and I see it as an opportunity that it is a working-class town that is very much characterised by solidarity. Integration through education, which you mentioned in your resolution, is essential. I would like to mention a measure that has been implemented in France, which I think is an example of best practice: an initiative to open schools up to parents to promote integration, so that parents of immigrant or foreign children can become acquainted with their schools and help their children more. This is an important initiative, because it allows immigrant women and their families to help their children and improve their start in life.

We must conduct the fight against discrimination with great vigour. The French road map on republican equality, which was presented in February, is very clear: access to equal opportunities for everybody should be safeguarded, particularly on employment, and we should eliminate any discrimination in public life. I congratulate you once again and I hope there will be a unanimous vote on this important issue.

      The PRESIDENT – I call the rapporteur, Mr Costa Neves. You still have six minutes left.

Mr COSTA NEVES (Portugal)* – I would like to make a general comment and three specific comments in response to three interventions.

First, in response to Ms Gafarova from Azerbaijan, I would have been happy to include in my report the experience of Azerbaijan, but that experience was not presented to our committee.

On multiculturalism, I tried to set out three different stages. The first stage relates to the option for assimilation, which in a way denied difference and made the “other” equal – it imposed equality. That evolved into the concept of multiculturalism. This is a more interesting concept, in which we accept difference but at the same time say that each identity must be in its own place. In a way, the concept says, “Be free in the ghetto.” That was the second stage and we have to admit that. Now, when we speak about intercultural societies we are speaking not only about tolerance and acceptance, but making the assumption that we are different and that we accept mutual transformation. I think that this is a better answer which matches our respect for human rights and the other. I therefore believe that I am right to state that multiculturalism failed. It failed because it means just leaving people side by side without their knowing and understanding each other. My claim is that we must have intercultural societies where we interact in constructive relationships; or, as we said, where we really live together.

My second response is to Ms Faber-Van De Klashorst from the Netherlands. My report does not mention Muslims, Christians or any other religions; it talks about us and in particular our youth – our children. They have grown up with multiple cultural references that have been offered to them by fathers, mothers, relatives, friends, teachers, the experience of studying abroad, colleagues at work and the Internet. This means composite cultural affiliation – nothing more. We can continue to ignore the fact that our culture is not monochrome but polychrome, or we can build on it. We can fear that we are losing something, or we can trust that we are becoming richer. The latter is my position, of course.

The third comment to which I want to respond was from Ms Blondin.

(The speaker continued in French.)

You talked about the North-South Centre in your contribution to the debate. That is indeed a very important instrument in helping to promote an intercultural society. Thank you so much for having raised that point.

The PRESIDENT* – Would the chair of the Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media like to add anything?

Ms GUŢU (Republic of Moldova)* – On behalf of the Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media, I thank all colleagues who spoke to the report on identities and diversity within intercultural societies. The subject of identity and diversity represents one of the greatest challenges to Europe today and it can make a major contribution to stability and democracy. Of course, this is only the beginning of our political debate on this matter and it is important to achieve a political consensus in the member States of the Council of Europe at central level, nationally and locally. Our societies have become more and more diverse and intercultural. That is why we need to look again at the relationships between us and how we can fight racism and intolerance.

The concept of compound or plural identities, which the rapporteur mentions, is very important. The younger generation have a sort of kaleidoscopic vision that is new. We need to take this message to our national parliaments. In the draft resolution and recommendation, which I hope we will all vote in favour of, there are some specific proposals on how to influence national policies on intercultural relations.

I thank Mr Carlos Costa Neves in particular for drafting the report and conducting the operation with sensitivity and conviction. On behalf of the committee, I thank the Portuguese delegation for hosting us in Lisbon in October last year, when we had a debate with Dr Jorge Sampaio, the former President of Portugal and United Nations High Representative for the Alliance of Civilisations. I also thank the Directorate General Democracy of the Council of Europe and all partners who helped to bring the report to fruition. The report is so interesting, but it represents only the beginning for future debates.

      The PRESIDENT – The debate is now closed.

      We will now proceed to vote on the whole of the draft resolution contained in Document 13522.

      The vote is open.

      We will now proceed to vote on the whole of the draft recommendation contained in Document 13522.

      The vote is open.

      We will now take the draft resolution from the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons on “Integration of migrants in Europe: the need for a proactive, long-term and global policy”, Document 13530.

      No amendments have been tabled to the draft resolution.

      We now proceed to vote on the whole of the draft resolution contained in Document 13530.

      The vote is open.

3. Time limits on speeches

The PRESIDENT – In light of the time available and the number of speakers on the list tomorrow morning, I propose that speaking time in the debate will be limited to three minutes.

4. Next public sitting

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

The sitting is closed.

(The sitting was closed at 7.55 p.m.)


1. Parliamentary contribution to resolving the Western Sahara conflict

Presentation by Ms Maury Pasquier of report of the Committee on Political Affairs Democracy in Document 13526

Presentation by Ms Bertuzzi of opinion of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights in Document 13544

Speakers: Ms Schou (Norway), Mr Liddell-Grainger (United Kingdom), Ms Fiala (Switzerland), Mr Villumsen (Denmark), Ms Durrieu (France), Mr Recordon (Switzerland), Mr Mota Amaral (Portugal), Mr Yatim (Morocco), Lord Anderson (United Kingdom), Mr Ameur (Morocco), Ms Arib (Netherlands), Mr Loukaides (Cyprus), Mr Bensaid (Morocco), Mr Valen (Norway), Ms El Ouafi (Morocco) Mr Jónasson (Iceland)

Replies: Ms Maury Pasquier (Switzerland), Ms Gillan (United Kingdom)

Amendments 1, 2 and 13 adopted

Draft resolution in Document 13526, as amended, adopted

2. Joint Debate

Presentation by Mr Costa Neves of report of the Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media, “Identities and diversity within intercultural societies” in Document 13522

Presentation by Ms Karamanli of report of the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons, Integration of migrants in Europe: the need for a proactive, long-term and global policy” in Document 13530.

Speakers: Ms Erkal Kara (Turkey), Mr Kolman (Croatia), Ms Katrivanou (Greece), Mr Corsini (Italy), Mr Csenger-Zalán (Hungary), Mr Le Borgn' (France), Mr Mota Amaral (Portugal), Mr Frécon (France), Mr Abad (France), Ms Gafarova (Azerbaijan), Ms Faber-Van de Klashorst (Netherlands), Mr Nicolaides (Cyprus), Mr Bockel (France), Ms Crozon (France), Mr Shahgeldyan (Armenia), Ms Fataliyeva (Azerbaijan), Ms Blondin (France), Mr Chisu (Canada), Mr Jenssen (Norway), Ms Santerini (Italy), Ms Strik (Netherlands), Mr Schennach (Austria), Ms Giannakaki (Greece), Mr McNamara (Ireland), Ms Magradze (Georgia), Mr Sabella (Palestine) and Mr Denemeç (Turkey)

Replies: Ms Karamanli (France), Mr Rouquet (France), Mr Costa Neves (Portugal), Ms Guţu (Republic of Moldova)

Draft resolution in Document 13522 adopted

Draft recommendation in Document 13522 adopted

Draft resolution in Document 13530 adopted

3. Time limits on speeches

4. Next public sitting

Appendix I

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


Alexey Ivanovich ALEKSANDROV*

Jean-Charles ALLAVENA*

Werner AMON*


Lord Donald ANDERSON


Khadija ARIB

Volodymyr ARIEV

Francisco ASSIS*

Danielle AUROI/Maryvonne Blondin


Egemen BAĞIŞ*

Theodora BAKOYANNIS/Maria Giannakaki


Taulant BALLA*

Gérard BAPT/Pascale Crozon



José Manuel BARREIRO*


Marieluise BECK*

Ondřej BENEŠIK/Marek Černoch

José María BENEYTO*




Anna Maria BERNINI/Claudio Fazzone

Maria Teresa BERTUZZI*




Ľuboš BLAHA*

Philippe BLANCHART/Fatiha Saïdi


Jean-Marie BOCKEL




Mladen BOSIĆ*

António BRAGA*

Anne BRASSEUR/Claude Adam

Alessandro BRATTI*




Nunzia CATALFO/Maria Edera Spadoni

Mikael CEDERBRATT/Mikael Oscarsson


Lorenzo CESA/Milena Santerini


Vannino CHITI/Luis Alberto Orellana

Tudor-Alexandru CHIUARIU*

Christopher CHOPE


Desislav CHUKOLOV*

Lolita ČIGĀNE*


Henryk CIOCH


Deirdre CLUNE/Olivia Mitchell

Agustín CONDE*








Katalin CSÖBÖR*



Armand De DECKER*





Peter van DIJK


Aleksandra DJUROVIĆ


Ioannis DRAGASAKIS/Vasiliki Katrivanou




Alexander [The Earl of] DUNDEE*



Lady Diana ECCLES*


Franz Leonhard EßL*



Cătălin Daniel FENECHIU

Vyacheslav FETISOV*


Daniela FILIPIOVÁ/Pavel Lebeda



Gvozden Srećko FLEGO*



Jean-Claude FRÉCON


Martin FRONC

Sir Roger GALE*





Francesco Maria GIRO

Pavol GOGA*

Jarosław GÓRCZYŃSKI/Zbigniew Girzyński

Alina Ştefania GORGHIU


Sandro GOZI*

Fred de GRAAF/Tineke Strik

Patrick De GROOTE*

Andreas GROSS


Mehmet Kasim GÜLPINAR

Gergely GULYÁS*

Nazmi GÜR





Carina HÄGG

Sabir HAJIYEV/Sevinj Fataliyeva

Andrzej HALICKI*

Hamid HAMID*

Mike HANCOCK/Charles Kennedy


Alfred HEER/Luc Recordon






Arpine HOVHANNISYAN/Mher Shahgeldyan


Johannes HÜBNER*

Andrej HUNKO*

Ali HUSEYNLI/Sahiba Gafarova




Igor IVANOVSKI/Imer Aliu

Tadeusz IWIŃSKI*

Denis JACQUAT/Damien Abad

Gediminas JAKAVONIS*



Tedo JAPARIDZE/Guguli Magradze

Michael Aastrup JENSEN*



Aleksandar JOVIČIĆ







Jan KAŹMIERCZAK/ Łukasz Zbonikowski


Bogdan KLICH*

Serhiy KLYUEV*

Haluk KOÇ*


Kateřina KONEČNÁ/Miroslav Krejča

Unnur Brá KONRÁÐSDÓTTIR/Brynjar Níelsson

Attila KORODI*




Tiny KOX

Astrid KRAG*

Borjana KRIŠTO*


Athina KYRIAKIDOU/Nicos Nicolaides

Jean-Yves LE DÉAUT


Christophe LÉONARD/Gérard Terrier

Valentina LESKAJ




François LONCLE/Pierre-Yves Le Borgn'



Trine Pertou MACH/Nikolaj Villumsen


Philippe MAHOUX

Thierry MARIANI*


Meritxell MATEU PI




Michael McNAMARA

Sir Alan MEALE





Jean-Claude MIGNON/Jacques Legendre

Philipp MIßFELDER*




Arkadiusz MULARCZYK*

Melita MULIĆ/Ivan Račan

Lev MYRYMSKYIAndriy Shevchenko

Philippe NACHBAR*



Marian NEACŞU*


Baroness Emma NICHOLSON/Paul Flynn



Aleksandar NIKOLOSKI

Mirosława NYKIEL/Adam Rogacki



Judith OEHRI





Aleksandra OSTERMAN*

José Ignacio PALACIOS*


Eva PARERA/Jordi Xuclà


Foteini PIPILI*

Stanislav POLČÁK/Gabriela Pecková



Cezar Florin PREDA*

John PRESCOTT/Linda Riordan


Gabino PUCHE


Mailis REPS/Rait Maruste


Andrea RIGONI*


Maria de Belém ROSEIRA*



Rovshan RZAYEV*

Indrek SAAR*


Kimmo SASI



Ingjerd SCHOU



Laura SEARA*

Predrag SEKULIĆ*


Aleksandar SENIĆ

Senad ŠEPIĆ*


Jim SHERIDAN/Michael Connarty



Arturas SKARDŽIUS/Algis Kašėta



Lorella STEFANELLI/Gerardo Giovagnoli



Ionuţ-Marian STROE*


Björn von SYDOW



Vyacheslav TIMCHENKO*

Romana TOMC*




Ahmet Kutalmiş TÜRKEŞ

Tuğrul TÜRKEŞ*

Konstantinos TZAVARAS*



Olga-Nantia VALAVANI

Snorre Serigstad VALEN

Petrit VASILI/Silva Caka

Volodymyr VECHERKO*


Mark VERHEIJEN/Marjolein Faber-Van De Klashorst


Anne-Mari VIROLAINEN/Sirkka-Liisa Anttila

Vladimir VORONIN*

Klaas de VRIES*



Piotr WACH/Grzegorz Czelej

Robert WALTER/Cheryl Gillan

Dame Angela WATKINSON*

Karl-Georg WELLMANN*

Katrin WERNER*

Morten WOLD

Gisela WURM*

Tobias ZECH*

Kristýna ZELIENKOVÁ/ Ivana Dobešová

Marie-Jo ZIMMERMANN/Frédéric Reiss

Emanuelis ZINGERIS

Guennady ZIUGANOV*



Vacant Seat, Cyprus*


Representatives and Substitutes not authorised to vote



Hans Fredrik GRØVAN



Corneliu CHISU


Partners for democracy

Mohammed AMEUR

Mohammed Mehdi BENSAID

Abdelkebir BERKIA




Mohamed YATIM