AS (2015) CR 02



(First part)


Second sitting

Monday 26 January 2015 at 3 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. The text of the amendments is available at the document centre and on the Assembly’s website. Only oral amendments or oral sub-amendments are reproduced in the report of debates.

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

5.       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.

(Ms Brasseur, President of the Assembly, took the Chair at 3.10 p.m.)

      THE PRESIDENT* – The sitting is open.

I remind all members, including substitutes and observers and partners for democracy, to sign the attendance lists outside the doors of the Chamber at the beginning of every sitting.

1. Communication from the Committee of Ministers

      THE PRESIDENT* – We will hear a communication from the Committee of Ministers to the Parliamentary Assembly. The communication will be delivered by Mr Didier Reynders, the Belgian Minister for Foreign and European Affairs and Chairperson of the Committee of Ministers.

      Minister, I wish you a warm welcome to this Chamber within the house of democracy. We have already had the opportunity to have a first exchange of views at the meeting of the Standing Committee that was held in Brussels and we are going to continue our discussion this afternoon. I point out from the outset that the Parliamentary Assembly fully shares the priorities of the Belgian chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers. You have announced a series of events that will be taking place and, during the bilateral meeting that we held just now, you pointed out that it is important for us to come up with concrete solutions. I was delighted to hear that, following the commemorative ceremony for the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp and after giving her emotional account, Mrs Grinspan agreed to attend a colloquium to be held on 8 May in Belgium on tolerance and how tolerance should be stronger than hatred.

      Our Assembly has taken a series of measures. This week, we will set up a parliamentary platform against hatred, to which we hope that we can all contribute. Last September, along with the Speaker of the Norwegian Parliament, we supported the idea of making 22 July a day against hate crimes. I certainly hope that we will be able to get that off the ground. I give you the floor without further ado.

      Mr REYNDERS (Minister for Foreign and European Affairs of Belgium, Chairperson of the Committee of Ministers) – Thank you, Madam President, for your kind words of welcome; we spoke before the sitting.

      Members of Parliament, ladies and gentlemen, it is an honour to be here today. I had the privilege of explaining in detail the priorities of the Belgian chairmanship in November; I therefore refer you to the document distributed then by the Secretariat, and to the speech I gave to the Bureau of the Assembly in Brussels in November. Today I will concentrate on a few of our priorities, on our achievements so far and on some important events ahead of us.

      The situation in Eastern Ukraine remains very worrying. With the increase in violence over the weekend, the commitments of the parties are more disconnected than ever from the reality on the ground. It is urgent that all parties – including Russia, whose influence on the ground is undeniable – implement fully and faithfully the Minsk memorandum and the follow-up protocol. During my trip to Russia and Ukraine in December, I had the opportunity to underline the Council of Europe’s expectations regarding the ongoing and expected reforms relating to fundamental rights, democratisation and the fight against corruption. In that context, the involvement of Russia with the Council of Europe remains of the utmost importance – for Russia, as well as for the Organisation.

      The criminal attacks in Paris, and last year in Brussels, have given a new wake-up call to our countries. As the whole world commemorates the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the concentration and extermination camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau tomorrow – the Council of Europe did so today – we cannot forget that European values should not be taken for granted. The horrors of Auschwitz were the culmination of a regime based on hatred, intolerance and the denial of basic human values. In opposition to that, the Council of Europe was created as the guardian of human rights on the European continent. The aim of the Council of Europe, “to achieve a greater unity between its members for the purpose of safeguarding and realising the ideals and principles which are their common heritage”, is more relevant than ever.

      We have to ensure that we have the proper tools at our disposal to defend our societies against radicalism and terrorism. The Committee of Ministers has decided to step up its action to promote tolerance, and to fight against radicalisation that leads to terrorism. The 47 countries of the Council of Europe have to reaffirm their commitment to the values that we are protecting, which are threatened from outside and inside our societies. We need to look at the direct security threat, of course, but most importantly, we have to look beyond that and address the long-term challenges of education. We have to ensure that our values form an integral part of the identity of each and every citizen of our countries. The Council of Europe is in a privileged position to help us do that. Due prominence will be given to this theme in May at the ministerial session in Brussels that will conclude our chairmanship, during which we hope to adopt a plan of action on this topic.

      Last week, a committee of intergovernmental experts was created to update the Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism, and to include legally binding measures to deal with the threat of returning foreign terrorist fighters. However, our actions should not rely exclusively on legal instruments, even if they are an essential part of our strategy. We must also design strong tools for education. We must avoid radicalisation, notably in prisons. We must fight hate speech. We must also strengthen the already very important role that the Court plays in ensuring that the human rights that we are committed to protecting are fully respected in every step that we take, including those that we take to oppose radicalisation and terrorism. As I shall explain, these topics were already at the heart of our priorities and our programme for the coming months.

      (The speaker continued in French.)

      In November, I had the opportunity to underline our wish to strengthen co-operation and synergies between organisations, particularly those international organisations playing an active role in the same fields in Europe. I will travel to Vienna shortly to present the Belgian chairmanship’s programme to the OSCE and to meet its Secretary General, who will also develop concrete operational ideas, with a view to strengthening synergies between our organisations. Also in November, I organised a trilateral meeting between myself, Secretary General Jagland and High Representative Mogherini.

      Looking beyond Europe, I will also have an opportunity to go to Geneva to meet the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. I am delighted that he will come to Strasbourg, too, where experts will come together to discuss the topical issue of the interaction between business and human rights – a subject on which the United Nations and the Council of Europe can do mutually beneficial work. The Council of Europe has a key asset: the ability to develop standards and ensure that they are implemented, whether through the European Court of Human Rights or through the Venice Commission.

I also intend to continue to work on the ground, following our trip to Ukraine and Russia last December. As Chair of the Committee of Ministers, at the end of April, I will travel to Armenia and Azerbaijan, as well as to the Western Balkans, and pay special attention to the synergies between different organisations.

Co-operation and consultation continue on the high-level conference on shared responsibility for the implementation of the European Convention on Human Rights. Belgium would like to provide fresh impetus to the reform process initially instigated in Interlaken in 2010 and continued in Izmir and Brighton. We want to enable the Court, which has an ever more crucial role to play, to carry out, in the very best conditions, its key task, which is to defend human rights in all member States. The main principle underlying the conference is shared responsibility between the States’ parties, the Court and the Committee of Ministers. I do not want to second guess the result of the conference – it is currently in the throes of preparation – but I do wish to underline the responsibility of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to guarantee democratic oversight of the implementation of Court rulings.

Freedom of the press and freedom of expression are not absolute. With the No Hate Speech campaign, the Council of Europe has clearly demonstrated its commitment to combating hate speech. This question has taken on a new dimension at a time when we have seen the horrific effects of such discourse in Paris, Brussels and elsewhere. Belgium plans to hold a conference on tolerance being stronger than hatred. The conference will continue the work started by the Council of Europe campaign to reduce the acceptance of hate speech and to strengthen the involvement of young people and citizens. I commend the Assembly’s commitment. The parliamentary alliance against hatred will be launched in the near future.

I wish to underline the importance of a conference held at the very beginning of our chairmanship to promote the MEDIANE tool. It brought together media professionals from different member States of the Council of Europe and addressed the way in which the media can accompany rather than simply experience the deep-rooted changes our societies are undergoing, including the growing diversity linked to the impact of immigration and globalisation. By including that diversity in its work, the media can provide solutions to one of the most difficult problems of our time, namely combating extremism in all its different forms.

One of the priorities of the Belgian chairmanship is to protect vulnerable people. There will be a number of events devoted to the vulnerable categories of people in our society. On 4 December, a Council of Europe learning programme was officially launched. It is devoted to all the different links between the European Convention on Human Rights and asylum. A conference was also held on including people with disabilities in preparing for and responding to disasters. Following co-operation between the Belgian authorities and the Council of Europe children’s rights division on the 25th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, a European conference on the best interests of the child was held in Brussels in December. It set out the milestones to help practitioners and political decision makers to take on board the best interests of the child in their decisions. On the importance we attach to young people, the second European convention on the work of young people will be held in Brussels from 27 to 30 April.

Social rights are inextricably linked to all human rights and are an integral part of the European societal model. Following on from the high level conference on the European social charter, which was held in Turin on 17 and 18 October, Belgium will hold a colloquium on 12 and 13 February, in which it will endeavour to provide further fresh impetus to the implementation of the results of that conference.

I have not given an exhaustive list of the events that have been, or will be, held during Belgium’s chairmanship. Belgium will be delighted, in close co-operation with the Secretary General and the other 46 member States of the Council of Europe, to continue the intense work on our priorities right up to the ministerial session in Brussels on 19 May. That will be an opportunity to take stock of the achievements of the Council of Europe and continue its work on human rights, the rule of law and democracy. Depending on how things develop in a number of member States – there are some concrete cases – we will undertake initiatives. For instance, a Committee of Ministers meeting will be held tomorrow to deal with the situation in Ukraine, and in the weeks and months to come, we will endeavour to bring together education ministers as part of the work to combat radicalism.

I am at the Assembly’s disposal to answer any questions members may want to ask and to hear any proposals or comments they may want to make.

THE PRESIDENT* – Thank you, Mr Reynders, for reminding us of the priorities of the Belgian chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers. I am delighted that there is very good co-operation between your chairmanship and the Parliamentary Assembly.

I will now call members to put questions to the minister. I remind the Assembly that each speaker has no more than 30 seconds’ speaking time and that speakers should ask questions rather than make statements. I call Ms Christoffersen, who speaks on behalf of the Socialist Group.

Ms CHRISTOFFERSEN (Norway) – Last year, 3 000 refugees went to their graves in the Mediterranean. In June, the Assembly adopted Recommendation 2046 by a 93% majority. It urged the adoption of a common European responsibility for the rescue and disembarkation of refugees and for new rules to be initiated for greater solidarity across Europe in processing asylum applications. How will the Committee of Ministers follow up on that?

Mr REYNDERS* – How to respond to dramatic events linked to migratory flows is a constant concern of ours. The Committee of Ministers replied to Recommendation 2046, which was adopted last year and relates to what action could be taken. The Committee of Ministers feels that it is vital to promote consistent and effective implementation of the legal framework through which search and rescue policies are carried out in Europe. It is very important to strengthen co-ordination and co-operation on current activities before embarking on new activities, so that we can avoid any duplication of effort. Organisations need to step up their co-operation. The Committee of Ministers has taken note of the Parliamentary Assembly’s proposal to hold a thematic debate on the recommendation. We will continue to work with other partners, particularly the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and we will look at what can be done. The Committee of Ministers wishes to work along those lines and in co-operation with different bodies and organisations in Europe and beyond.

THE PRESIDENT* – I call Mr Vercamer, who speaks on behalf of the Group of the European People’s Party.

Mr VERCAMER (Belgium)* – At the beginning of the Belgian chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers, young representatives highlighted their concerns and aspirations about youth unemployment, access to culture, housing and education. Of course, combating youth unemployment should be one of our priorities. To what extent has that been taken on board by the Belgian chairmanship?

      Mr REYNDERS* – The issue is discussed regularly at meetings of the Bureau. It is important to take on board the comments of young people. As I said earlier, that issue cuts across the programme of the Belgian chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers. For instance, the issue of hate speech does not concern only young people. We have been asked to take a concrete and operational approach, and we will develop the Belgian chairmanship with that in mind. We will take small steps, but we will work in a determined way.

      In December, at a conference on the best interests of the child, we heard the views of three child representatives. Their contributions will be taken on board, and a conference to mark the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child will be held in April. We must not only look at the labour market but acknowledge the role that young people can play. We must ensure that they play a full role as citizens and are fully emancipated. Young people should be seen as a driving force in Europe. The Committee of Ministers fully supports work on empowering young people in the democratic process. It attaches a great deal of importance to the role that young people can play in underprivileged areas. However, they must have access to social rights, and we must develop guidelines on how they can access those rights.

      In the World Forum for Democracy, held in November last year, we discussed the new dynamic that young people can create and the roles that business leaders, non-governmental organisations and the media can play. In the working sessions, we listened to what young people had to say. Among the work that we will carry out in the Belgian chairmanship, it is crucial that we listen to representatives of youth organisations with a view to making concrete proposals that dovetail with the wishes of young people, not only with those of the experts.

      THE PRESIDENT – I call Mr Naimski from Poland on behalf of the European Conservatives Group.

      Mr NAIMSKI (Poland) – Despite the Minsk agreement, Ukraine is bleeding and Ukrainians are being killed not only by Russian separatists, but by Russian troops. What is your opinion of the necessity of imposing proper, effective sanctions against the Russian Federation?

      Mr REYNDERS – I spoke earlier about collaboration among different organisations. You asked about the necessity of imposing sanctions. There are decisions to be made, and in the hours and days to come, we will have many meetings in different organisations. We will discuss that issue today in the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe and perhaps in two or three days in the European Union in Brussels. Sanctions can be applied in such a context, but, of course, we need to go further. As the Minister for Foreign and European Affairs of Belgium, I want to confirm that it is important that we put pressure on the different actors to come to a solution.

      We need to organise dialogue with the different parties. That is why, in my capacity as Chair of the Committee of Ministers, I organised a visit to Kiev and Moscow in December to speak about the situation in Crimea and in the eastern part of Ukraine, and also about the human rights situation. It is important that we stay in touch with all the parties. That occasion enabled us to promote reforms in Ukraine, and I am sure that the Council of Europe has the tools to help Ukraine to go further with those reforms. The visit to Moscow was an occasion to insist on human rights. It is important to maintain open dialogue with all partners on that issue.

      We must insist that it is impossible to reach a solution with military tools. We must ask that all violence is stopped – unfortunately, we have seen much violence in the past few days. We must all ask that the Minsk agreement is adhered to, which is important because it is the only agreement that can help us find a political solution.

      All the different institutions must provide all possible help. The Council of Europe can monitor the human rights situation and help Ukraine improve its organisation at a constitutional level and in terms of legal reforms. I confess that there are many ways in which to answer your question, and there will be other places to speak about sanctions, dialogue and the capacity to help those countries.

      THE PRESIDENT* – I call Mr Daems on behalf of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.

      Mr DAEMS (Belgium) – The Ukrainian and Russian crisis is very important to this Assembly and to Europe as a whole. The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe welcomes your action plan for Ukraine in 2015 to 2017. However, there is a risk that it will have no result if we do not find a solution to the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. My question is very concrete: apart from sanctions, what building blocks do we need to re-establish confidence between the parties and create a basis for peace and prosperity between those two countries and between the Russian Federation and Europe as a whole?

      Mr REYNDERS* – We can try to establish some sort of confidence-building process and create principles that must be respected. The Committee of Ministers has often called for Ukraine’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence to be fully respected. It condemned the annexation by the Russian Federation and called on it to withdraw all its troops from Ukraine and to refrain from any future military incursions into it.

      (The speaker continued in English.)

      There must be clear principles before dialogue is opened. If possible, we should set up a confidence-building process. That can be achieved in different ways. Like the Secretary General and others, I went to Kiev and Moscow to organise discussions not only about the situation in the region but about human rights. However, there are many other things to discuss with the Russian Federation, including the situation in Syria and the issue of nuclear power in Iran. Later this year, there will be an important conference on climate change in Paris. We must also have a real discussion about energy.

      If it is possible to make some progress on those things through dialogue, it is possible to make progress on respecting the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine. However, the first step is to re-establish the cease-fire. I was more optimistic a few weeks ago before the recent violence. However, through our contacts and meetings, we were able to establish a cease-fire for several weeks. We need to re-establish it, acting on the same principles. We must discuss many different issues with the Russian Federation.

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

      Mr KOX (Netherlands) – The Council of Europe has two statutory bodies. One, the Parliamentary Assembly, will discuss in the coming days its relations with the delegation from the Parliament of the Russian Federation. The other is the Committee of Ministers. Can you inform us whether the Russian Government participates as before in all the work of the Committee of Ministers? Are there specific limitations with regard to the Russian Federation’s co-operation? Do you envisage under your presidency taking new measures to limit the Russian Federation’s ability to co-operate in the Committee of Ministers? That information will be important to all of us when we take part in the debate in the coming days.

      Mr REYNDERS – The Council of Europe remains an important forum for dialogue on matters relating to democracy, the rule of law and human rights. Active Russian participation in all its organs, including the European Court of Human Rights, the Venice Commission and the Parliamentary Assembly, is crucial to the interests of Russia, the Council of Europe and its members. My Russian counterpart and the President of the Duma fully share that view; I had the opportunity to meet him again in December. The Belgian chairmanship sees reinforcement of the Council of Europe’s institutions and mechanisms on all three pillars as a priority.

      I believe that it is important for the Committee of Ministers to go further and have an open dialogue. We have not taken any new measures in the last few weeks. I do not intend to do so in the next weeks, but who knows? I do not know what the situation on the ground in the next few weeks or months will be. Of course, I do not want to interfere in the decisions of the Assembly on its relations with the different participants. However, as Chair of the Committee of Ministers, I am sure that we need to discuss these matters with all members. Of course it is not possible all the time to reach consensus, but without the capacity to stay in touch and organise a dialogue at least among Ministers, it will be impossible to find a way to achieve what you all ask for: a political solution.

      Mr LE BORGN’ (France)* – Your country, Belgium, and my country, France, have both been the victim of fatal, monstrous attacks in the past year. What is to be done to protect Europeans and to respect their rights? What does the Belgian presidency intend to do in the Council of Europe in the light of the events that have taken place?

      Mr REYNDERS* – Last year, in the heart of Brussels, we were the victims of an attack in the Jewish museum. A suspect is under arrest. The suspicion is that someone who came from Syria perpetrated that attack. Unfortunately, that was followed by the attacks in Paris. We think that those people were trained in Yemen. The first response is about making the city secure as quickly as possible, identifying the individuals and protecting our fellow citizens from the risks. Measures have also been taken in other institutions. There has been co-operation between the police, the security services and other agencies to protect our citizens.

      The events in Brussels and Paris affected us all. The first thing that needed to be done was to condemn them. As Chair of the Committee of Ministers, first, I expressed our full solidarity with the Government and the people of France. We also participated in every event that followed. On 14 January, the Committee of Ministers, on behalf of the governments of all 47 Council of Europe States, stated how important it was for us to have a single united response to terrorism and to be specific in our response.

      We consider that we are in the right place to take specific action because of our shared values and our ability to establish long-term preventive measures. Meetings are taking place between education ministers because we think that it is important to have exchanges of best practice and specific programmes and curricula to explain to children what living together means – to explain what it means to live in a society that shares the same values. Recently, we have spoken also about the importance of having an action plan and a political declaration. That will come out in May, at the end of our chairmanship.

      I stress that we are going to have constant meetings where we will bring up the same overarching themes. In education, measures need to be taken – they already have been in many countries – to prevent radicalisation of prisoners, which is important. We need to separate the more radical individuals from the rest of the prison population. We know that often people come out of prison much more advanced criminals. We must make sure that people do not come out much more radicalised. We need to be there for people in prison and to offer them education. That is another important aspect of our work.

      There are three pillars to the Council of Europe. One is to strengthen the use of the legal framework against terrorism and to support fundamental values. As I said, we can do that through education and in other ways to attack radicalism at the root. We will have specific proposals to bring. We will talk more about them when the education ministers have had a chance to meet. We will then be able to offer specific policies at the end of the Belgian chairmanship.

      Mr DÍAZ TEJERA (Spain)* – After each terrorist attack, we hear people say that the best way to tackle terrorism is to cut back on people’s freedoms. The terrorists get what they want if that happens. What criminal code reforms would be necessary? What else is needed besides better co-ordination between police forces? Would it be a positive thing to cut back on people’s freedoms in Europe?

      Mr REYNDERS* – As I said, it is important for the Council of Europe to move forward in relation to its specific strength in legal systems. Let me give one example that we come up against regularly in Belgium: how to find a balance between the protection of privacy and the exchange of information between services. This affects many members of this Assembly. In the Schengen area, people can move freely between countries. The question is, in what way is it dangerous in terms of people’s privacy to allow the authorities in different parts of the Schengen area to know about the movements of people across the borders? One example is the lists of passengers on flights. There are many other examples. We need to find a balance. Many say that we do not need databases on that kind of thing within the Schengen area. Of course, it is possible that some people are going to say, “We should go back to border controls. We should take a step backwards and turn our backs on what has been achieved by having the Schengen area.” I do not think that is the right way, but this is what faces the Council of Europe. We need to be clear-headed, to be aware of all the issues which are likely to arise in the next few years, and to retain the balance between the need for privacy and the need to combat terrorism.

      Having said that, in the immediate future we must be thinking in terms of prevention and asking how we can attack this problem at its root. How can we work with young people, both within and beyond Europe – I mentioned this a moment ago in reply to another question – to work out how to prevent them from being radicalised in the way that we have seen? Beyond our discussions, specific measures are being implemented in education and social rights, too.

      Mr HUSEYNOV (Azerbaijan) – For half a year, you have been granted high authority here as chairperson. Can you demand that the Armenian State, as an actor standing behind the scenes, immediately and unconditionally releases Dilgam Asgarov, sentenced to life imprisonment, and Shanbaz Guliyev, sentenced to 22 years’ imprisonment? They were taken hostage in the Armenian-occupied Azerbaijani region of Kalbajar and illegally judged by the separatist regime in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Mr REYNDERS – I am sure that I have been searching, but I have not seen any activities from the Committee of Ministers about those two people. However, I will verify the exact situation before my visit to Armenia. I have heard your question, but I will be very frank: I do not see any activity in the Committee of Ministers about that, but I will ask what the exact situation is before visiting Armenia.

Ms ERKAL KARA (Turkey)* – At the end of January, a Turk, Cemil Kaya, was killed by the police in Belgium by a tear gas canister which hit him near his heart. We must make sure that we avoid the growing polarisation that is threatening social cohesion in Europe. In that context, what measures are you intending to take to calm social tensions and to prevent polarisation and hate acts of any kind?

Mr REYNDERS* – May I start by replying to your first, very specific, question? We did everything possible to make sure that there should be representatives of the Turkish authorities in Belgium, working with the police to find out exactly what happened, because of course you have to take into account the specifics of the situation, so we want to make sure that our work is totally transparent. In Belgium, we are working closely with the Turkish authorities.

Beyond that, as I was saying a few moments ago, there is all the work being done to prevent the radicalisation of youth, to make sure that everyone is included, which means giving people new bearings, wherever they come from – whichever part of Europe or wherever else – through education and training, to make sure that they have access to the life of our society, first and foremost through the world of work. This is the issue of inclusion, which we regard as so important.

Throughout the Council of Europe area, if something happens to someone because they come from another Council of Europe country, or perhaps from beyond the Council of Europe, it is so important that we work in full transparency. That is why we have invited the Turkish authorities to have their representatives involved in our work finding out what happened.

Mr NIKOLOSKI (“The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”) – I would like to raise an issue to do with migrants coming from the east, namely from the wars in Iraq and Syria. They are crossing the Balkans, including my country, Macedonia. I think we need to fight jointly, together with the European Union, and its States, and the Council of Europe, to prevent this. Often, they enter from a European Union country or from a non-member country, and then they enter other European Union countries again. It is a big problem and a humanitarian crisis. Together we should find a way to fight against this and find better measures in challenging this issue.

Mr REYNDERS – First, I have said that, since the beginning of our presidency, we have tried to organise better collaboration, if it is possible, between the Council of Europe and the European Union. We organised immediately a meeting with the Secretary General and the High Representative, Ms Mogherini, in Brussels. We will do the same in the near future.

Secondly, on whether it is possible to avoid the presence of so-called foreign fighters who are coming back to the European continent, we need to exchange more intelligence. I have said that last week we had a meeting in London with part – 21 members – of the military coalition in Iraq. We have more than 60 in the coalition, but in this small group of 21 member States we have tried to enhance the capacity to exchange more information, and more on intelligence. To be concrete, we have discussed this with our Turkish colleague to be sure that it is possible to do more.

From the Belgian point of view, just to give an example, for some time we have had, with Turkey, trilateral meetings with the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Justice and Home Affairs, to be sure that it is possible to work together. That may be the way to work with a neighbour country on such a situation on the ground. However, that is for security issues. For the rest of the issues, of course, I return to the need to find the root causes of the phenomenon. That is the most difficult matter.

At the level of the Council of Europe, again, we ask how it is possible to fight those foreign fighters not only on the ground in Syria or Iraq, or in Europe, but also on the Internet. Also in relation to the Internet, regarding the previous question, it is important to do that with a balanced vision and not to go too far, so that there are problems with privacy or human rights and freedom of speech and expression on the Internet. It must be done with regard to the capacity to fight against the foreign fighters and against extremism. It has been possible, in the past decade, to do that to fight against paedophilia, for example. Why not do it to fight against extremism, in a balanced way? Again, there are possible collaborations with different countries in respect of this issue.

Mr SHLEGEL (Russian Federation)* – Chairman, thank you for these balanced opinions. I have a question about ethics. Here in the Assembly, we have been talking about Auschwitz. Unfortunately, I did not hear a single word about who liberated Auschwitz. It was Russians, Ukrainians, Jews, Armenians and other troops who liberated Auschwitz. It is amazing, don’t you think, that there was not a single word about the liberators of Auschwitz during the commemoration?

      Mr REYNDERS* – Madam President, and perhaps Mr Secretary General too, you heard what was said – I, too, was on the steps of the building – and the role played by the Soviet troops was not only mentioned, but welcomed. It was clearly recognised how much is owed to them, and that many of the victims of the Nazi regime were not only Jews, but Roma and homosexuals, but the righteous came to their aid and it was clearly recognised that all those who helped liberate the camps played their part. It was said clearly during the Assembly’s commemorations that it was Soviet troops who liberated the camps. The Secretary General had the opportunity when he spoke to describe what was achieved by the Soviet troops. I am going to Auschwitz for the commemorations, where the same message will be conveyed clearly.

       Mr MIGNON (France)* – On 18 December, the European Court of Justice gave a negative opinion on the European Union’s adherence to the European Convention on Human Rights, stating that it is against the Lisbon Treaty. I think that most of us were amazed and disappointed, because we have worked for so long to have the European Union become party to the Convention. What can be done now that the ECJ has made that judgment?

      Mr REYNDERS* – We were expecting the comments from the European Court of Justice to be commented upon. We learned on 18 December that it was a negative opinion. Some of the points made were hard to take, but they all need to be examined. The court’s opinion is being discussed by the legal department and by the Council of Europe’s experts. We want to hear what they have to say about the court’s decision before responding. The Belgian presidency considers that there is work that can be done to bring the European Union into the processes of the European Court of Human Rights, and that we will find a way of tackling this that will conform with the European Union’s treaties so that it can become a party to the Convention and all that is specific to that, politically speaking. Sometimes life gives us surprises, and sometimes it gives us a lot of hard work on the legal front, but luckily the Council of Europe is the world’s greatest authority in these matters, so there is much hope that success will be achievable. There has now been a request that the Council of Europe and the European Commission consider what should be done about the opinion handed down by the court. We hope that that work will bear fruit. The Belgian presidency is confident that progress can be made.

      THE PRESIDENT* – Unfortunately, we must now interrupt the list of speakers, even though a few more members had hoped to ask a question. A written question from Mr Hunko and the minister’s reply can be found in the document before you. Minister, I wish you every success in your continuing work. You took over the chairmanship at a difficult time, but if we work together we can find solutions to all these problems. In the next few events organised under the Belgian presidency, we will have an opportunity to meet you again. Thank you.

2. Progress report

      THE PRESIDENT* – The next item on the agenda is the debate on the progress report of the Bureau and the Standing Committee, Document 13668, Addendum I and Addendum II, Document 13669. With this we will consider the reports from the ad hoc committees on the parliamentary elections in Tunisia in October 2014, Document 13654, on the presidential elections in Tunisia on 23 November and 21 December 2014, Document 13672, and the parliamentary elections in the Republic of Moldova in November 2014, Document 13671.

      The speakers list closed at 12 noon today. In view of the length of that list, I remind you that we agreed this morning to limit the speaking time to three minutes.

      The sitting must conclude at 5.30 p.m. I therefore propose to interrupt the list of speakers at about 5.25 p.m. Is that agreed?

      I call Mr Chope to present the progress report.

      (The speaker continued in English.)

      Mr Chope, you have 13 minutes in total. You may use that time for the presentation, but you will also need some time to answer questions. You have the floor.

      Mr CHOPE (United Kingdom) – Madam President, may I begin by warmly congratulating you on your re-election this morning?

      The progress report covers the period from 3 October to today, and the documents before us show how much activity there has been over the period. I cannot do justice to the range and depth of it all, so I will concentrate on one or two key issues. I thank the incoming Belgian chairmanship for hosting the Bureau and Standing Committee meetings in Brussels in November and for giving us the opportunity to participate in the sunset ceremony at the Tyne Cot memorial and visit the magnificent First World War museum at Ypres. It was very timely, in this the 100th anniversary year of the outbreak of the Great War.

      The Belgian Foreign Minister said earlier that we must implement the Minsk memorandum and the follow-up protocol, and that that must be done by everybody, including Russia. Madam President, earlier you reminded us of the stalemate in Crimea, stating that the annexation was a flagrant violation of international law. The Bureau has concentrated on those themes and concerns in recent weeks and months. The Presidential Committee has been very active in trying to assist in the delivery of a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Ukraine. We have engaged in exhausting and exhaustive dialogue with the Russian delegation. We recently met the new Ukrainian Prime Minister and Foreign Minister and members of the new Ukrainian delegation.

      The Presidential Committee is a strange beast. Under Rule 14, it comprises the chairmen of the political groups and the President and the Secretary General of the Assembly. It is a consultative body for the Bureau and for the President of the Assembly. In other words, the Presidential Committee needs to be the servant of the Bureau and, through the Bureau, the servant of the Assembly. It must not be seen as remote, secretive or superior. In the spirit of that belief, I will try to share with members some of our work.

When we met the Russians in the Duma in November, I was disappointed to find no recognition from them that Russian troops or mercenaries were engaged in Ukraine and a complete denial that any Russian weapons or equipment were deployed there. As we just heard from the Belgian Foreign Minister, the Committee of Ministers has already called on Russia to withdraw all troops, but that is pretty pointless if the Russians deny that they have any troops there.

      Yesterday, Mr Naryshkin told us in the Presidential Committee that the Russians are not even a party to the Minsk memorandum and the follow-up protocol. He said that they are mere observers. When we went to Kiev earlier this month, we heard a depressing account of human rights abuses in Crimea, the failure of the Russians to honour the Minsk memorandum, the breakdown of the cease-fire and the use of ever more sophisticated weapons in increasing quantities that are being supplied by Russia to the terrorists.

      There is time to refer to only one other item. Appendix 4 of the report sets out what could be a very dangerous precedent for how we interpret our rules in the future. Although the European Democrat Group, rebranded as European Conservatives, had 89 members on 30 June, the date defined in Rule 19.6 as that which is used to calculate budgetary allocations, seats on various committees and chairmanships, the Bureau decided that because the membership of our group had fallen to 60 on 2 July when the removal of the Russians took effect, allocations should be based on 60 members. Although that was not in accordance with the letter of the rules, it was the Bureau’s interpretation of the spirit of the rules.

      We have thereby created a big challenge for ourselves as a rules-based organisation in that we will suspend the application of strict rules if such application offends against the spirit of the rules. I point this out because, although I accept the decision, I think it is important that as we consider the progress report we consider the precedents set for the future. I have put that point firmly on the record and I shall reserve the rest of my time to respond to the points that will be made in this excellent debate.

      THE PRESIDENT – We come now to the reports on the observation missions. I call Mr Gross to present the report of the ad hoc committee on the observation of the parliamentary elections in Tunisia. You have three minutes.

      Mr GROSS (Switzerland)* – I was lucky enough to be part of a very small parliamentary observation mission to the Tunisian elections held before Christmas. I was the head of the delegation and you can familiarise yourself with the outcome of the mission in the report.

       There have not been many positive political developments in the region over the past few years, but Tunisia is an exception as the revolution has certainly been successful. In October, the very first free elections in the history of the country were held. They were highly democratic and had a high degree of legitimacy. The same applies to the presidential elections. That happened on the fourth anniversary of the revolution – is not that the nicest birthday present that Tunisia could have?

       Tunisia is the only country affected by the Arab Spring that has been successful in this regard. What has happened is often compared with the revolutions in Eastern Europe towards the end of the 1980s, and Tunisia has been a success story, thanks to the co-operation and involvement of civil society and of key groups, including the Islamic party and others. In the spirit of co-operation, a number of key figures were appointed heads of committees and commissions who attempted to ensure that democratic institutions could be created through the parliamentary and the presidential elections.

       Of course, not everything is perfect. In paragraph 55, we flag up three different areas where improvements could be made. The electoral roll could be improved, the funding of campaigns needs to be much more transparent and it is important to have more public debate in which all people feel motivated to play a key part so that they can gain greater trust in the democratic process. That is the main challenge in enhancing the democratic legitimacy of the parliament and the presidency. They have a key role to play in economic development and need to restore the trust and faith of the young people who instigated the revolution but who have been disappointed since and have not played such a role in the democratic transition. They need to be brought into this process to help shape their future in society.

      THE PRESIDENT* – I call Mr Bockel to present the report of the ad hoc committee on the observation of the presidential elections in Tunisia. You have three minutes.

      Mr BOCKEL (France)* – Our report complements that which Mr Gross has just presented to us, as he was in Tunisia for the second round of the presidential elections.

      The committee met all the candidates and the independent body that looked after the elections, which did a very professional job, as well as the independent audiovisual communications authority and representatives from the media and civil society. We scattered ourselves around various major cities in the country to source facts and so on and the election was carried out without any major incidents. There were small problems, but nothing major. The atmosphere was very calm and respectful and the organisation was good and disciplined. To be honest, it was quite impressive both in rural areas and in the cities.

      Like Mr Gross’s committee, we had the impression that the presidential election was a new stage in the democratic transition of Tunisia. We should emphasise that. Turnout was relatively high, although, of course, we would always like it to be higher. The citizens expect that the president will take them forward to institutional stability and fruitful co-operation between the parliament and representatives of the government. That is already happening, as the government has been presented to the parliament.

      Progress could still be made, as Mr Gross showed, but there will be some improvement, bearing in mind the contribution that the Venice Commission, which was with us in Tunisia, can make. There are some subjects for discussion. For example, although the constitution says that the president should be Muslim, we feel that future electoral law should be more specific about how candidates should be funded. There should be transparency about resources, and checks on administrative abuse during electoral campaigns. Those are the points on which we feel there could be some improvement, but we are convinced that the Parliamentary Assembly will continue to support the Tunisians in the consolidation of democracy and reform, in the context of parliamentary collaboration, which is what they want.

      THE PRESIDENT* – I call Mr Mignon to present the report of the ad hoc committee on the observation of the parliamentary elections in the Republic of Moldova.

      Mr MIGNON (France)* – Since 1994, we have been examining and observing the elections in the Republic of Moldova, and we note with great satisfaction the evolution of the situation in that small country, which is on the right path to democracy. The representatives of the working group of the ad hoc committee of the Parliamentary Assembly were able to work in excellent conditions, and the people behind me deserve praise and thanks for their extraordinary work. Obviously, observing elections involves a lot of upstream work – a fact that should be underscored publicly.

      We were able to meet and question all main political personalities in the country. We praise the important work done by the Central Electoral Commission, which went far further than we could have imagined, especially in its use of used modern information technology, although that did cause some problems. We have difficulties with wi-fi here, so imagine what trying to use it in the remoter areas beyond Chisinau. We would have liked the Moldovans in Transnistria to participate in the vote, but they had to cross the river that demarcates Transnistria from the rest of Moldova. Some of them crossed, some did not, but we were able to deploy ourselves throughout the country.

      Of course, there were some imperfections. As noted by the Venice Commission, the electoral law was complied with only in part. In other words, there is still more work to do. We regret that a court decision obliged a candidate on the list to withdraw three days before the vote. That obviously created some emotion, but in no way did it alter the sincerity of the vote and the result of the elections. It is true to say that the debate was polarised on a topical issue: is Moldova leaning towards the customs union proposed by the Russian Federation or towards the European Union and its association agreement? That was a big question throughout the campaign, but the results are what they are and a very narrow majority emerged.

       We note that no decision has been taken, but it is practically certain that a new speaker of the parliament will be elected. I hope that a prime minister and a government can be chosen very soon, because that is what Moldova needs. President Timofti has played an important role. I therefore exhort you to accept the report and to give Moldova a further chance.

      THE PRESIDENT* – I thank the rapporteurs. I call Mr Schennach, who will speak on behalf of the Socialist Group.

      Mr SCHENNACH (Austria)* – I congratulate the rapporteurs on the reports.

      Perhaps I can start with Moldova. I was with Jean-Claude Mignon on the pre-election and election missions. Indeed, something has changed in a country with a long crisis in its democratic institutions. There was a deep crisis because of the distrust of politicians. The people now think that a minority government will emerge. That is very exciting and a good thing: an opposition will emerge and a majority will be formed. That is something new, and we should certainly help them as they move forward. I can only support Jean-Claude in saying that it was irritating that one candidate with perhaps 10% to 15% of the vote was suddenly removed from the ballot paper after a second court decision just before the election. The fact that there were only five polling stations for an electorate of 500 000 was not reported. That was not balanced, and it was clearly politically motivated.

      The elections in Tunisia have been a success because of its strong civil society and strong women’s movement, which has provided crucial support to the democratic system.

      There has been an important game of ping-pong between the Presidential Committee and the ad hoc committee about Russian neighbourhood policy in the past few months. After the boycott by the Russian delegation, a form of participation and dialogue has been restored in both committees. What has been discussed and worked out in the ad hoc committee has been taken up by the Presidential Committee and vice versa. That co-operation has been excellent, and as chair of the ad hoc committee, I am particularly grateful to the President and the Parliamentary Assembly for that. We have shown an ability to manage parliamentary crises. Such co-operation seems to work well in the Council of Europe, and I congratulate the rapporteur on that.

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

      THE PRESIDENT – I call Mr Beneyto, who will speak on behalf of the Group of the European People’s Party.

      Mr BENEYTO (Spain)* – I thank Mr Chope for the work that has been done, although my attention was drawn to the fact that he made two rather particular observations. First, he took a very political stance on the question of Ukraine and Russia and in the defence of the specific interests of a particular group. The report refers to a report of the Assembly in relation to the Bureau, so he should have dealt with questions of general interest.

I should like to concentrate on five points. First, what would the adoption of a declaration by a committee mean? Would it be a joint declaration? Is the objective to make the Council of Europe more visible? Secondly, what criteria will be followed in designating such reports? Will the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy be involved if the subject is very general? Thirdly, how will decisions be taken to accept some issues for report and others just for information? For example, would reports on Islamophobia, the persecution of Christian communities in the Near East or the Polish air crash be for information only? Fourthly, what will be the consequences of opening monitoring to members who do not belong to political groups and to partners for democracy? Lastly, it would be useful if the report on co-operation with the European Parliament and other European institutions mentioned all such activities and achievements. That would provide information and transparency and allow members to know about methods of co-operation. I thank Mr Chope for saying that the Presidential Committee should be a service of the Bureau and the Assembly.

      Finally, what is not in the report? In relation to the Committee of Ministers, there was an exchange of opinion with the United Nations regarding human rights. On 12 February, a sub-committee will consider relations with the United Nations, but there is nothing on relations between the Parliamentary Assembly’s activities and the Committee of Ministers, and the same applies to other organs of the Council of Europe – for example, Pharmacopoeia and the monitoring function over the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The reports should mention such activities.

      THE PRESIDENT – I call Mr Heer, who will speak on behalf of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.

      Mr HEER (Switzerland) – I thank the rapporteurs for their reports. I want to concentrate on the elections, including the presidential election, in Tunisia, as I was a member of the observation group with Mr Bockel. Tunisia is today the only State where the Arab Spring has succeeded. We have to admit that it was a failure in Egypt. In Libya, we have turmoil and civil war because the European countries that bombarded Gaddafi out of the country did so without a strategy for what will follow. Wars like that are useless.

      In Tunisia, we have the fortunate situation where, despite discrepancies between the two major candidates – Essebsi and Marzouki – people could see that democracy is working. It was a nasty election campaign, in which Marzouki accused Essebsi of stealing the revolution and Essebsi said that Moncef Marzouki would bring back the Islamists. Despite that, we had a well-organised democratic election with a winner in the second round. The Council of Europe should recognise that result, and I hope that Tunisia will have regular and democratic elections.

      The outgoing president said that Essebsi is a guy from the old network and linked to Ben Ali, but I do not think that is the case. We must give a chance to the new President Essebsi and to the Tunisian people who elected him with a majority. He will now rule Tunisia, and western countries, especially those in Europe, should think about how we can support Tunisia on the way to democracy. Economic support is also needed because Tunisia’s neighbouring countries are in bad shape and that also hurts Tunisia. All in all, when we speak to the Tunisian people, we find that they have a good sense of democracy and a living spirit. That is a good sign for the future and also an example for other countries in the Arab world to see how a democratic society can be built.

      THE PRESIDENT – I call Mr Szczerski on behalf of the European Conservatives Group.

      Mr SZCZERSKI (Poland) – As European Conservatives, we welcome the Bureau’s progress report which shows the good work taking place during difficult times, although we have reservations about Appendix 4, as Mr Chope has said. We salute the good work of Council of Europe observers in Tunisia and Moldova. The elections there give us hope for the future of democracy in Europe.

      On behalf of the European Conservatives Group, I would like to table an amendment in relation to Document 13628. We would like to change the text that considers the motion for a resolution on the crash of the Polish air force plane on 10 April 2010 in Russia from “no further action” to “for report”. The motion is basically an appeal to the Russian Federation to change its unco-operative behaviour in the investigation into this Polish national tragedy, in which the Polish President and almost 100 State officials were killed, and to stop withholding basic evidence for this investigation such as the wreckage of the plane, black boxes and much more.

      Since the motion was placed on the agenda, nothing has changed for the better – indeed, things are getting worse, as we know from the Russian Federation’s reluctant response to investigating another plane crash, war crimes in Ukraine, and even the case of Mr Litvinenko. We must keep up the pressure on that member State of the Council of Europe in order to make its behaviour more co-operative and to make progress towards genuine dialogue. Please support the amendment, which will allow the motion for resolution to be further examined by a proper committee.

      On the report about the elections, I underline Moldova as a success story of a country that is changing into a democracy and taking the European path, despite real geopolitical pressure from outside. It is a democratic hero of today’s Europe, and the progress Moldova has made, which has allowed it to sign an association agreement with the European Union as well as the non-visa regime, is a good example of the progress that can be made, even under strong geopolitical pressure.

      I repeat: please support our amendment in relation to the progress report.

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

      Mr ZIUGANOV* (Russian Federation) – I congratulate my Greek colleagues on their success in the elections. Greece is a democratic country that has paid tribute to, and is focused on, solidarity and justice.

At the same time, we are now commemorating the 70th anniversary of victory over Hitler, and today a major threat to real democracy, human rights and a united Europe is American aggressive globalism, and the Nazi Bandera position that is being put forward by certain circles in Ukraine. The Americans were in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya but that was not enough for them. They have unleashed a major war in Europe to realise their major plan. France was hoping for a Europe from Vladivostok and the Urals through to the Pacific but that is not happening. I ask members of the Assembly to remember that a lot of money is at stake, and we must look at European markets and at interests that are at stake with regard to this war in Europe. We are very much against this and will do everything we can to ensure that peace returns to Ukraine and that Europe is united once again. We have the experience and desire to do that, and we have lived through two wars – I am sure that responsible MPs in Europe will not forget that.

      I was very surprised, when in the Kiev Verkhovna Rada, my colleague, the leader of the Communist Party of Ukraine, Mr Symonenko, a member of the Council of Europe, was beaten up and the Parliamentary Assembly did not say anything. The headquarters of the Communist Party in Ukraine was trashed, and again the Assembly did not say anything. What do we have to do to stop that vandalism? We are in favour of dialogue and we are doing everything to ensure that dialogue continues in the Parliamentary Assembly. I have worked with the Parliamentary Assembly for almost 20 years and I have seen and heard a lot – for example, today we heard a Minister from Belgium speak about the Committee of Ministers and the need for a full dialogue and peaceful solutions. That is crucial for us, and I hope that the Parliamentary Assembly will follow the example of the Committee of Ministers – it is enlightened and I am sure that it will yield success. I very much hope so.

      Mr ROUQUET (France)* – On 31 December 2014, the first democratic hand over of power in Tunisian history took place between the outgoing President, Mr Marzouki, and his successor Mr Essebsi. This first democratic transition in a country of the Arab Spring can only make us rejoice, especially in these difficult times when the values at the source of our European democracy are endangered. I was present at the observation of the first round of presidential elections, and I was struck by the involvement of civil society in Tunisia and the sense of responsibility of its political class. The policy of national dialogue, and the professionalism of the authorities responsible for the organisation of the elections, made it possible for the three votes to be a success. That success is a hope for the Mediterranean basin as a whole, but some aspects seem to be particularly important for the future of Tunisia.

      Ennahda – the Islamist party – with 69 elected, is the second force in the country. Some Tunisian observers consider that the Islamists voluntarily chose not to present a candidate to avoid appearing too powerful and so face undergoing the same repressive policies as their counterparts in Egypt, but that strategy should not make us forget that the Islamists were not defeated and will continue to play an important role in the political life of Tunisia. I have confidence, however, because civil society, and especially women, showed at the time of the Constituent Assembly their capacity to foil any attempt at the Islamisation of Tunisia.

      The split between the north and south of the country and the cartography of votes have shown a dichotomy between the rural south, which voted most for Ennahda – and voted by a majority for Mr Marzouki – and the urban north, which voted for Mr Essebsi. The president-elect, aware of these long-standing divisions in the country, said in his inaugural speech that he would be president of all Tunisians and surprised everyone by opening his speech with a quotation from the Koran, when he is known to be a partisan of secularism.

      If the political transition has been a success, the economic situation is far from being so. The capacity of Europe and the world to invest in the country will be fundamentally important for the future government. I am happy that my country, France, is the first commercial partner of Tunisia. A meeting of donors should take place in the spring to support the necessary reforms.

      Youth has an essential stake in Tunisia today. That theme was absent in the electoral campaign, but the under-40s represent 40% of the population. The price of the survival of institutions that have lasted a long time is to place our trust in the youth of the country. The future of the first democracy of the Arab spring is at stake.

      Mr CSENGER-ZALÁN (Hungary) – In November last year, I participated in the elections held in Moldova as an OSCE short-term observer. The process of voting on election day was generally correct. Some minor failures and irregularities did not substantially influence the result. The only serious problem was the collapse of the electronic register of voters, but that problem was bypassed by the use of the old manual system. However, some disturbing things happened during the campaign. A clone party was registered, misleading voters, even though a court order prohibits that. The third most popular party, the Patria party, led by Mr Renato Usatii, was disqualified just three days before the election. The geographical distribution of polling stations abroad was disproportionate to the number of potential voters in the different countries.

      A number of international organisations monitored the elections. The OSCE and the Parliamentary Assembly were involved, with more than 300 short-term observers, including three Hungarians. The overall impression of the Hungarian observers was that the election was well organised and that on election day only minor irregularities were detected.

      Parties supporting European integration – the Liberal Democratic party, the Democratic party and the Liberal party – retained their parliamentary majority, giving them the opportunity to create a governing coalition. In general, but especially after the elections, the political stability of Moldova is important for Hungary. In line with the European Union’s neighbourhood policy, Moldova is still regarded as a leading partner of Hungary. Regardless of the future composition of the new coalition, Hungary’s concern is to see an independent, democratic, territorially consolidated and sovereign Moldova, with economic and social modernisation in line with European standards.

      Ms DURRIEU (France)* – I, too, will speak about Moldova. This landlocked country, with its neighbours Ukraine and Romania, has part of its territory, Transnistria, amputated and is affected by corruption – let us call a spade a spade. It is seeking internal stability but has never fallen into chaos. This small country occupies an important position geographically and strategically.

      What should we learn from the last elections? I have the most recent information. The pro-European parties – the Democratic party and the Liberal Democratic party – have formed a coalition, although they will not have a majority. The coalition is for a European Moldova. The speaker of the parliament, a member of the Democratic party, has just been elected. The two vice-speakers have also been elected. One is a communist and the other hails from the Liberal Democratic party, which means that the coalition has the support of the Communist party without the Communist party being in the coalition. That is a novel formula, but perhaps it will work. The Communist party was the loser in the election. The winner was not among those that I have just mentioned; it was the party of the pro-Russian Socialist party, which scored 20% and thus constitutes the opposition. The problem will be to know whether the country will finally succeed in changing its constitution in order to be able to elect its president. Without that, the political instability will be chronic.

      Nothing has been gained, but interestingly I find that some progress has been made. The association agreement, which was mentioned a moment ago, was signed in Vilnius by Moldova and Georgia. It was not signed by Ukraine – we know the rest of that story. The agreement involves 28 countries, of which 12 have ratified and the rest should do so soon. That chosen partnership with the European Union in no way excludes relations with Russia. Given Moldova’s history and position, there will obviously always be relations with its powerful neighbour.

      However, we should beware. My colleague, Mr Ziuganov, whom I welcome, has been a member of the Council of Europe for 20 years. He is secretary general of the Communist party. I have heard him use the essential word “partnership”. When we define our relations with Russia globally, that is fundamental. In the meantime, I point out that Transnistria was 20 years ago, Georgia was about 10 years ago, Crimea is not an old story, Donetsk is just the day before yesterday and Mariupol is today, so we should beware. Odessa is not far and neither is Gagauzia or Moldova. Yes, we have to have a partnership with Russia, but if you ask me whether the Moldovans are afraid, I would answer, “Yes, they are afraid.” Let us include all that in tomorrow’s debate about partnership with Russia, but in the context of a global redefinition of our relations.

      Mr FOURNIER (France)* – Let me first pay tribute to the quality of the electoral observation work done in Tunisia by my colleagues, particularly the chair of the delegation, my compatriot Jean-Marie Bockel.

      For the first time since 1956, the Tunisians have democratically elected a president through a two-round electoral system, which is of course a welcome departure from the Ben Ali era and many other Arab political regimes. They have thus completely reorganised the structures of their State. The results of the presidential election were clear-cut, although there was not a landslide, and that has put an end to a rather chaotic transition period, particularly after the October parliamentary elections. We should congratulate the Tunisians on the peaceful handover. Of course, there are fears about what happens now, but let us not condemn people before they have done anything.

      The new head of State, Beji Caid Essebsi, faces the challenges of unemployment, poverty and low growth, and Tunisia has many security problems along its frontiers. After the fall of the Ben Ali regime, and of Gaddafi in Libya, the traditionally marginalised areas have been a growing source of instability for Tunisia. Since 2013, in the west, near the Algerian border, there have been ever more encounters between the security forces and jihadist brigades, which have led to the deaths of dozens of soldiers. The campaign against radical Islamism has been stepped up, but the Tunisian authorities face two major difficulties: fragmentation of the jihadist movement, which makes it difficult to check on what the jihadists are doing; and ever closer links between jihadists and those trafficking weapons and drugs. A solid alliance seems to be forming between those two groups, which may lead to loss of control over whole sections of the border.

      South and east Tunisia are directly affected by the collapse of the Libyan State. Since the fall of Gaddafi, more than 600 000 Libyans have moved to Tunisia, and that has upset the old tribal balances. More generally, Tunisian authorities fear terrorist pressure as a result of the onward march of Islamic State. Tunisia, however, has maintained its historical role by not sinking into chaos, violence, or repression, unlike many Arab Spring countries. We need to help Tunisia meet its challenges.

      Mr BUGNON (Switzerland)* – I observed the parliamentary elections both in the Tunis region, and 200 km south, both near and in the city of Sfax. I have observed elections in several countries, and it is easy to tell whether the atmosphere is positive or negative. After visiting a few polling stations, one perceives whether there is a calm ambience, or whether there is nervousness and apprehension in the air. I confirm what others have said about Tunisia: we were amazed by the preparations for the elections, the fantastic way in which they took place, the calm mood in the 20 or so stations that my team visited, the pride that the electors – men and women – took in exercising their will to vote, and the will to meet this challenge. It proved that people really wanted democracy, and for the first time, the country exercised its right to vote in an exemplary manner.

      In the morning, before polling stations opened, there were queues of people waiting calmly. The criticisms that can be made on points of detail are insignificant when one looks at the process more broadly, which can be considered a success. I emphasise the role played by the Constituent Assembly, which managed Tunisian affairs between the departure of Ben Ali and the genuinely democratic elections, and the role played by the Venice Commission in the preparation of the new constitution. The Venice Commission and the Council of Europe played a very important role in the elections on that level.

      The result of the elections was accepted by the political parties, which is a sign that they are genuinely seeking to establish democracy. We know that these issues can be sensitive, and just one match can make the gunpowder explode; we have to continue to monitor the establishment of the new government and parliament, so that things continue to work well and develop on the right lines. I have always said that political stability allows for economic development. Given the way that they have managed the elections, our Tunisian friends deserve tranquillity, and I hope that economic development follows this process of democratisation.

      Mr FRÉCON (France)* – I shall speak about the situation in Moldova after the parliamentary elections on 30 November. In his report on the observation of those elections, my compatriot and friend Jean-Claude Mignon noted that the vote went well, largely, despite a few problems connected to the independence of the media and the rules on the funding of political parties and electoral campaigns. The elections took place at a crucial moment for Moldova, which faced strong regional tensions connected to events in Ukraine; more broadly, Europeans are having difficulty reaching a common position on Eastern Europe and Russia, but we will come back to that. In the current uncertainty, Moldova remains on a quest for regional anchorage. It has to strike a subtle balance between its privileged relations with Russia and European integration, bearing in mind complex factors, both internal and external.

      Internally, the country remains economically fragile, despite the undeniably dynamic growth that I witnessed during the observation mission. Its foreign trade is mostly with European markets, but its links with Russia are still very strong, notably in the field of energy. Also, there is a strong Moldovan migrant worker presence in Russia, and their money transfers represent about a quarter of Moldova’s wealth. There are various external influences on Moldova – Romanian, Russian, Ukrainian and European – yet this relatively young country that came about after the implosion of the Soviet Union aspires to stability. In that complex context, the victory of the pro-European political parties in the parliamentary elections on 30 November should allow Moldova to move towards stronger European integration. According to some sources, it could soon submit its candidacy for membership of the European Union, but the difficulty the pro-European forces have in forming a government is a cause for concern. We were told that they had been vanquished, but that may have been to discredit the European project in the eyes of Moldovan citizens. It is the duty of the Council of Europe, its Parliamentary Assembly and its various bodies to help a country that has firmly decided to respect the Council of Europe’s values and adopt its norms.

      Ms A. HOVHANNISYAN (Armenia) – I thank the rapporteur for presenting the progress report. I will focus on developments in my region since October 2014. Despite the calls of the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group on those involved in the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan to prepare their populations for peace, not war, the latter country has continued its warmongering and hawkish rhetoric against Armenia, disseminating anti-Armenian hate speech, just as the Hutus did in their infamous radio broadcasts during the 100 days of conflict in Rwanda.

      Since our Assembly’s October 2014 session, Azerbaijan’s military forces have upscaled their deadly attacks and started to use high-calibre weaponry for the first time. That has resulted in more Armenian fatalities. Men and women in uniform and civilians have lost their lives. The Armenian delegation has many times voiced its concerns that an unbalanced, one-sided resolution on Nagorno-Karabakh would further destabilise the situation in the region and give Azerbaijan carte blanche to unleash new cross-border assaults that would undoubtedly result in more and more casualties.

      Now it is time to start acting rather than talking. Even if we do talk better than we act, urgent action is an absolute necessity. What can we in this grand Chamber do to stop the carnage? The answer we keep hearing is that the Assembly could intervene in the resolution process in parallel with the only internationally mandated body – the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs – while at the same time taking no responsibility whatsoever for the consequences of such an intervention.

      The tragic incident of the downing of the unarmed Armenian military helicopter near the Nagorno-Karabakh line of contact, in which three air force crew members were killed, showed that calls from the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs had no effect at all on the Azerbaijani side. In fact, as well as rejecting those calls, the Azerbaijani military kept the area under permanent fire for 10 days straight, preventing the rescue and recovery teams, the OSCE officers and the Red Cross from even approaching the site. Recently, especially during this month, Azerbaijan has ambushed the Armenian positions almost every day, throwing its special forces at us and leaving behind many of its own dead, with considerable numbers of Armenian officers losing their lives as well. Those attacks are fully in line with the almost daily annunciations and hate speeches by the Azerbaijani dictator, Ilham Aliyev, who, as we know, has no regard for human life, including that of his own military.

      The actions of Azerbaijan demonstrate its shameless disregard toward the OSCE Minsk Group and the international community as a whole. In fact, we suspect that Azerbaijan has secretly adopted a new policy of purposefully undermining the efforts of the Minsk Group co-chairs in order to divert the efforts of mediation to its own and biased partners and/or to solve the problem militarily.

      We have a moral obligation to prevent acts of aggression and war crimes perpetrated against the Armenian side. We should implement a mechanism that will allow us to clearly unmask the true perpetrator of the cease-fire regime violations.

      Ms NAGHDALYAN (Armenia) – In November 2014, the Parliamentary Assembly adopted a resolution on measures to prevent abuse of the Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons and condemned Azerbaijan’s use of the Council of Europe treaty on the transfer of prisoners to justify the immediate release of Safarov. The Assembly recalled that the principles of good faith in international relations and of the rule of law require treaties to be interpreted in line with their objectives and purposes. We welcome the Assembly’s fundamental position on this issue and the unity of members on the need to prevent future flagrant misuse of the convention similar to that by the Azerbaijani authorities in 2012 with regard to Safarov’s case. The Azerbaijani delegation tried to justify a barbaric crime and to incite anti-Armenian hatred. That is a very dangerous policy and it threatens not only Armenia, but the larger region: tomorrow anyone could become a target for Azerbaijan.

That is why we exercise maximum caution when encountering colleagues’ initiatives to address the delicate issue of Nagorno-Karabakh. All provocative discussions on this sensitive subject, as well as any unbalanced document produced by an international organisation, provide fertile ground for instability on the border. Azerbaijan does its utmost to undermine the situation in the conflict zone. Azerbaijani provocations on the border have resulted in numerous deaths on both sides, the responsibility for which lies solely with the Azerbaijani authorities.

The recent shooting down by Azerbaijani armed forces of a Nagorno-Karabakh defence army helicopter during a training flight took the lives of three young servicemen and it was yet another manifestation of Baku’s criminal provocation. It has ignored the appeals of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs and of the international community with regard to non-use of force and the implementation of confidence-building measures. Day by day, Baku is deepening the gap between itself and the civilised world.

All those facts demonstrate that Azerbaijan has become a serious threat to security and stability in the region. I reiterate that we fully agree with the Minsk Group co-chairs that the conflict cannot be resolved by any means other than peace. The sooner the Azerbaijani leadership understands that, the more results the negotiation process can achieve for the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Mr PUSHKOV (Russian Federation) – This Assembly has a special responsibility to keep the history of Europe intact. This year is the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. We all know that modern Europe is based on the legal framework and principles inherited as a result of our common victory over Nazism and fascism in Europe. Today we have commemorated the 70th year after the liberation of Auschwitz and we should do our utmost to honour the memory of those who gave their lives for liberating Europe from that evil.

Unfortunately, more and more attempts are being made to put into question the history of the Second World War, and we should be aware of those attempts. When visiting Berlin, the Prime Minister of Ukraine said there was a Soviet invasion of Ukraine and Germany, but that is meaningless, because Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union, and, of course, Soviet troops did not invade Germany – Germany and Europe were liberated from Nazism. We all know that Russia was a leading member of the anti-Hitler coalition and its actions were justified, as were those of the United States, the United Kingdom, the French and others. To speak of invasion is to rewrite the history of the Second World War and, in a way, to give support to the Third Reich, which is morally inadmissible.

The next day, the Foreign Affairs Minister of Poland decided to provide a clarification by saying that Auschwitz was liberated by Ukrainians. Once again, that does not make sense other than as a political provocation. Of course, Ukrainians were part of the Red Army, which liberated Auschwitz, but Russians, Jews, Tatars, Azeris, Armenians and representatives of all nationalities that comprised the Soviet Union were also part of the Red Army, so to single out one nation for political reasons is ethically and morally unacceptable.

I am calling for us to keep in mind who liberated us in the Second World War – be that the Americans, the British, the French, the Russians or any of the many other nations that fought against Hitlerism – and not to put that into question.

Mr GHILETCHI (Republic of Moldova) – First, I thank the observation mission, particularly Mr Jean-Claude Mignon for a meticulous and objective election observation report and for keeping Moldova on the right track.

Secondly, I want to share some personal feelings about my country. I was born in Moldova and have lived there for almost 55 years – it is hard to believe that I am so old. I spent 31 years of my life in Soviet Moldova and have spent 24 years in democratic Moldova, which allows me to compare the past with the present. Even though 24 years have passed, I still remember how we felt during the events of August 1991 – with what is called in Russian the GKChP. The collapse of the USSR caused mixed feelings: fear mixed with joy, and anxiety mixed with hope for a new future.

      Soon after Moldova’s declaration of independence on August 27, it opened a new chapter in its history. It began with the construction of the democratic institutions. As the Republic of Moldova had never been an independent State, construction began from ground zero and nobody knew what the new road would look like. Looking back, the road was full of challenges, difficulties and trials, but also joys and victories; it was worth going down. The good news is that we did not stop, but continued our journey despite the challenges, some of which we faced recently. The recent elections showed that Moldova faces a new, existential challenge. Unfortunately, there are still strong forces and voices that want to return Moldova to ground zero – the point from which we started 24 years ago.

      The best thing about the elections is that a majority of people – albeit a small majority – decided to go forward, not backwards. Of course, shortcomings are inevitable in all democracies, not only young democracies, but there is good news: the people of Moldova made their choice freely, as the report states, and that gives us hope. In conclusion, I believe that there is cause for hope and that there will be better future for my small but beautiful country. With God’s help, your help and the help of European nations, Moldova will make it.

      Mr DİŞLİ (Turkey) – One positive result of the Arab Spring was the emergence of Tunisian democracy. In the last three months of last year, Tunisians took part in parliamentary and presidential elections. The parliamentary elections of 26 October 2014 and the two rounds of the presidential elections were free, inclusive and transparent. The electoral administration was favourable, in that its interaction with international observers and civil society demonstrated a high degree of professionalism, which served the integrity of the electoral process. However, the low participation of young people, women and disadvantaged groups in the electoral process was concerning, as was the poor coverage of the elections in the Tunisian media.

      The two rounds of the presidential elections on 23 November and 21 December 2014 marked a crucial stage in Tunisia’s post-revolutionary transition. It is evident that the two rounds of voting in the presidential election were completed in accordance with democratic standards. The Independent High Authority for Elections contributed to the peaceful and precise conduct in both stages of the election. A culture of democracy was shown not only by the electoral administration body but by the people of Tunisia, who went to the polls with the spirit of democratic maturity. That manifestation of the will of the Tunisian people through free and fair elections is an exemplary development both for the country and for the entire region. It takes us towards a secure, stable and prosperous future. The major obstacle to progress is the state of the Tunisian economy, especially as tourism is struggling and the burden of the huge number of Libyans in Tunisia is piling up. However, I am confident that the process of democratic transition will be successfully concluded in Tunisia.

      Mr SLUTSKY (Russian Federation)* – I cannot say much in three minutes. The progress report shows that this year will be important for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. You are going to decide what the role of Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in the future architecture of Europe will be. Will it play an independent role, based on its own traditions, which have been formed in the 60 years of its history, or will it be governed by ideas that come from external political sources, and which distort the essence of the co-operation between Strasbourg and Moscow and between the Parliamentary Assembly and the Russian delegation?

      We are looking at the elections in Tunisia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria and Ukraine. However, how can there be democratic elections in Ukraine if the two biggest parties are banned, if 1 million people are basically cut out in the south-east of the country, if dissent from journalists is not tolerated and if people are persecuted? I call on the Ukrainian delegation to work with the Parliamentary Assembly, which is, after all, the broadest parliamentary set-up in our continent. We must try to solve political questions together. It is difficult, but we need to work together on humanitarian issues, which we will discuss tomorrow morning, and we must discuss the real situation on the ground.

      In other European organisations, we have looked at the truth about the Chechen situation and the situation in South Ossetia. It is incumbent on us to understand that Russia is not fighting in the south-east of Ukraine. The Minsk agreement is being breached not by Russia but by the Ukrainian regime, backed by Western institutions that want a unipolar world. The Ukrainian people are paying for that. The Council of Europe must find the truth, and I call on all of you to work constructively to that end.

      THE PRESIDENT – I call Ms Khidasheli from Georgia. I am afraid that she must be the last speaker.

      Ms KHIDASHELI (Georgia) – First, I thank the rapporteurs – especially the heads of the monitoring missions in Tunisia and Moldova – for the wonderful job that they did. I had the privilege of being part of the Tunisian observation mission, and I cannot resist putting on the record my appreciation of the work done by both missions and by the Tunisian authorities – in particular, the high electoral authority of Tunisia, which commands a high level of trust that is exceptional among transitional countries. It should be congratulated, and its achievements should be underlined. I congratulate the Tunisian people on their peaceful transition, and on their trust in democracy and in their country. I hope that making Tunisia a partner country of this Assembly will help its democratic endeavours and prevent yet another failure of democratic transition. I am optimistic that we will do our best to make that process even more interesting, democratic and transparent.

      Unfortunately, I was not in Moldova, so I could not follow its electoral process on the ground. I hope only that this Assembly will be strong enough to prevent outside forces and other countries from influencing the electoral processes of a member State, whether Moldova, Ukraine, Georgia or any other country. It was attempted in Moldova, it is being attempted in Ukraine and it was frequently attempted in my country. It is this Assembly’s responsibility and burden to prevent the influence of other States and to ensure that the only people in the game are the nation, its voters and its political parties.

      May I say a couple of things about what we have just heard? I cannot resist responding to it. We have just heard that we are all fantasising about Russia’s role in the Ukraine crisis, about the war that is going on in one of our member countries and about Georgia. Unfortunately, a member State of the Assembly is fighting, occupying and annexing parts of other member States of the Council of Europe and democratic States. We should stop that. We should do everything possible not to allow the cynicism that we have just heard here to continue. We should do everything possible not to allow the Russian Federation’s actions in those sovereign States to continue.

      THE PRESIDENT – I must now interrupt the list of speakers. The speeches of members on the speakers list who have been present during the debate but have not been able to speak may be given to the Table Office for publication in the Official Report, electronically if possible, no later than four hours after the list of speakers was interrupted.

      Mr Chope, do you wish to reply? You have seven and a half minutes remaining.

      Mr CHOPE (United Kingdom) – This has been a good debate. I am not going to respond to the many contributions on the elections in Moldova and in Tunisia because I was not there and I have nothing to add to the comments already made.

May I take up some of the other points? Mr Beneyto raised a number of questions. I am not sure that he is still in his place, but one was relevant to the point made by Mr Szczerski. Mr Beneyto asked who decides whether a report is referred to a committee, whether it is referred for information or whether no further action is taken. The answer is that ultimately it is for this Assembly – the people in this Chamber – to decide on those matters.

      The Bureau makes recommendations, but as we can see from the progress report those recommendations are subject to the Assembly’s approval. Paragraph 4.1 deals with Document 13628, on the crash of the Polish Air Force Tu-154 transporting the Polish delegation on 10 April 2010 on the Russian Federation’s territory. The Bureau recommended “no further action”, but it is clear that it is subject to ratification by this Assembly. I have looked it up and found that some 44 members supported the resolution. If there is a vote on this, it will be for the Assembly to decide whether it wishes to take ownership of the issue and have it referred to the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, or whether it is prepared to accept the Bureau’s decision, which I think went through on the nod. Both Mr Beneyto and Mr Szczerski highlighted that ultimate sovereignty over these matters rests with this body, rather than with the Bureau. We will have an opportunity later to decide how we are going to exercise that sovereignty.

      Other speakers included Ms Naghdalyan from Armenia, who supported the way the Safarov debate had been dealt with. As I was the rapporteur on that, I am grateful to her for those comments. She and Ms Arpine Hovhannisyan from Armenia raised again the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan and the ineffective role of the OSCE. I know that you, Mr President, would like as a rapporteur to look into the issues relating to Armenia and Azerbaijan and particularly Nagorno-Karabakh and the territories around it. I hope that you will be able to make progress on that. What has happened this afternoon is a further reminder that this is a frozen conflict that needs to be resolved.

      I do sometimes agree with Mr Pushkov and I certainly agree with his speech this afternoon. I was present for the ceremony earlier. I heard the Secretary General of the Council of Europe pay tribute and give due credit to the Russian involvement in the liberation of Auschwitz. It would be absurd for anyone to baulk at giving credit where it is due. It has always been said that as long as an objective is achieved it does not matter who takes the credit, but it is wrong for someone, an organisation or a country that deserves credit, to be denied that credit. There were obviously Ukrainians in the liberation army. It is good to be reminded of that history.

      I could not agree with Mr Slutsky’s comments at all. He took us back to my opening remarks. We have been trying to engage as a Presidential Committee with members of the Russian delegation in a process of dialogue. For him to assert that Russia is not in breach of the Minsk agreements or protocols defies facts, unless you say that the signature of President Putin on the paper in relation to the agreements and protocols was forged and the documents are therefore worthless. I fear that what is happening is that, because the Minsk agreements do not suit the Russian Federation, it is trying to disown them. We have to face up to the facts on that.

      Ms Khidasheli from Georgia reminded us of the situation. I think she gave the best response to Mr Slutsky. He has to get real. The Russian Federation has the attitude that you can make agreements and then break them and deny you ever made them. That takes us back to the agreement that was made with Ukraine that it would give up its nuclear weapons and capabilities in return for various guarantees of its territorial integrity and sovereignty. That agreement has been broken by the Russian Federation. We need to realise that countries that have a record of making promises and agreements and then not complying with them should be treated with a lot of scepticism. That is the response I would make to Mr Slutsky.

      Over this period, we have had a lack of progress. We have been going backwards when compared with the values and objectives of this great Assembly and Organisation. Probably the brightest element of what has happened over this period is the result of the elections in Tunisia. There we have a new democracy on the march. I was lucky enough to go and monitor the earlier elections in Tunisia. Tremendous progress is being made there. Congratulations to that country. An enormous amount of credit is due to that great organ of the Council of Europe, the Venice Commission, which drew up a new constitution that is the core of the new democracy in Tunisia.

      THE PRESIDENT – The Bureau has proposed several references to committees. They are set out in the progress report.

Mr Szczerski, you wish to raise an objection. You have 30 seconds.

Mr SZCZERSKI (Poland) – Our objection is to do with finalising the oral amendment. We ask the Assembly to support it, which means changing the Bureau recommendation for the document concerning the plane crash on 10 April from “No further action” to “For report”. This was a bipartisan motion for resolution signed by all the members of different political groups in the Chamber. Please support it so that it can be further developed in the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights.

THE PRESIDENT – Mr Szczerski proposes that Document 13628 be referred to the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights for a report instead of no further action.

      Does anybody wish to speak against Mr Szczerski’s proposal?

That is not the case.

What is the position of the Bureau, Mr Chope?

      Mr CHOPE (United Kingdom) – We know the position of the Bureau, but now I think the Bureau would take the view that this is a matter for the sovereignty of this Assembly.

THE PRESIDENT – We now proceed to a vote on Mr Szczerski’s proposal.

      The vote is open.

      The proposal is agreed to.

Are there any other objections to references to committee?

That is not the case.

      The remaining references to committee proposed by the Bureau are ratified.

      I invite the Assembly to approve the remainder of the progress report, Document 13628, Addendum I, and Addendum II, Document 13669.

The progress report of the Bureau and the Standing Committee is approved.

3. Next public business

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

      I remind delegates to ensure that they remove their passes from the voting slots and take them with them when leaving the hemicycle.

      The sitting is closed.

(The sitting was closed at 5.35 p.m.)


1. Communication from the Committee of Ministers

Presentation by Mr Reynders, Minister for Foreign and European Affairs of Belgium, Chairperson of the Committee of Ministers


Ms Christoffersen (Norway), Mr Vercamer (Belgium), Mr Naimski (Poland), Mr Daems (Belgium), Mr Kox (Netherlands), Mr Le Borgn’ (France), Mr Díaz Tejera (Spain), Mr Huseynov (Azerbaijan), Ms Erkal Kara (Turkey), Mr Nikoloski (“The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”), Mr Shlegel (Russian Federation) and Mr Mignon (France)

2. Progress report

Presentation by Mr Chope of the Progress Report of the Bureau and the Standing Committee, Document 13668, Addendum I and Addendum II, Document 13669

Presentation by Mr Gross of report of the ad hoc committee on the parliamentary elections in Tunisia in October 2014, Document 13654

Presentation by Mr Bockel of report of the ad hoc committee on the observation of the presidential election in Tunisia on 23 November and 21 December 2014, Document 13672

Presentation by Mr Mignon of report of the ad hoc committee on the parliamentary elections in the Republic of Moldova in November 2014, Document 13671

Speakers: Mr Schennach (Austria), Mr Beneyto (Spain), Mr Heer (Switzerland), Mr Szczerski (Poland), Mr Ziuganov (Russian Federation), Mr Rouquet (France), Mr Csenger-Zalán (Hungary), Ms Durrieu (France), Mr Fournier (France), Mr Bugnon (Switzerland), Mr Frécon (France), Ms A. Hovhannisyan (Armenia), Ms Naghdalyan (Armenia), Mr Pushkov (Russian Federation), Mr Ghiletchi (Republic of Moldova), Mr Dişli (Turkey), Mr Slutsky (Russian Federation) and Ms Khidasheli (Georgia)

Reply: Mr Chope (United Kingdom)

3. Next public business

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*

Brigitte ALLAIN/Jean-Claude Frécon

Jean-Charles ALLAVENA

Werner AMON/Christine Muttonen



Lord Donald ANDERSON


Khadija ARIB*

Volodymyr ARIEV

Egemen BAĞIŞ*



Taulant BALLA*

Gérard BAPT*

Gerard BARCIA DUEDRA/Josep Anton Bardina Pau


José Manuel BARREIRO/Jordi Xuclà


Marieluise BECK*

Ondřej BENEŠIK/ Gabriela Pecková

José María BENEYTO

Deborah BERGAMINI/Giuseppe Galati


Anna Maria BERNINI/Claudio Fazzone

Maria Teresa BERTUZZI*




Ľuboš BLAHA/Darina Gabániová


Jean-Marie BOCKEL


Mladen BOSIĆ*

António BRAGA*

Anne BRASSEUR/Claude Adam

Alessandro BRATTI*

Piet De BRUYN/Petra De Sutter


Gerold BÜCHEL*


Natalia BURYKINA/Robert Shlegel




Vannino CHITI

Tudor-Alexandru CHIUARIU/Viorel Riceard Badea

Christopher CHOPE


Henryk CIOCH


Agustín CONDE/Carmen Quintanilla








Katalin CSÖBÖR






Peter van DIJK*


Aleksandra DJUROVIĆ



Daphné DUMERY/ Hendrik Daems

Alexander [The Earl of] DUNDEE*





Lady Diana ECCLES*


Franz Leonhard EßL/Edgar Mayer


Joseph FENECH ADAMI/Charlò Bonnici

Cătălin Daniel FENECHIU

Vyacheslav FETISOV/Lidia Antonova

Doris FIALA/Luc Recordon

Daniela FILIPIOVÁ/Miroslav Antl



Gvozden Srećko FLEGO



Béatrice FRESKO-ROLFO/Christian Barilaro

Martin FRONC

Sir Roger GALE



Iryna GERASHCHENKO/Sergiy Vlasenko



Francesco Maria GIRO*

Pavol GOGA

Carlos Alberto GONÇALVES

Alina Ştefania GORGHIU


Sandro GOZI*

Fred de GRAAF/Pieter Omtzigt


Andreas GROSS


Mehmet Kasim GÜLPINAR

Gergely GULYÁS/Jenő Manninger


Nazmi GÜR


Maria GUZENINA/Sirkka-Liisa Anttila




Alfred HEER




Oleksii HONCHARENKO/Svitlana Zalishchuk

Jim HOOD/David Crausby



Johannes HÜBNER

Andrej HUNKO




Florin IORDACHE/Daniel Florea


Denis JACQUAT/Frédéric Reiss




Michael Aastrup JENSEN*


Florina-Ruxandra JIPA*


Aleksandar JOVIČIĆ*



Mustafa KARADAYI/Hamid Hamid

Marietta KARAMANLI/Rudy Salles


Andreja KATIČ/Matjaž Hanžek

Charles KENNEDY*



Bogdan KLICH/Marek Borowski

Haluk KOÇ









Tiny KOX

Borjana KRIŠTO*

Julia KRONLID/Johan Nissinen

Marek KRZĄKAŁA/ Iwona Guzowska






Pierre-Yves LE BORGN’

Jean-Yves LE DÉAUT


Valentina LESKAJ




François LONCLE/Marie-Christine Dalloz



Jacob LUND*

Trine Pertou MACH/Nikolaj Villumsen


Philippe MAHOUX




Meritxell MATEU PI


Pirkko MATTILA/Mika Raatikainen


Liliane MAURY PASQUIER/Eric Voruz

Michael McNAMARA

Sir Alan MEALE



Ana Catarina MENDONÇA*

Attila MESTERHÁZY/Gábor Harangozó

Jean-Claude MIGNON

Philipp MIßFELDER*





Melita MULIĆ





Marian NEACŞU/Florin Costin Pâslaru


Miroslav NENUTIL

Baroness Emma NICHOLSON*


Aleksandar NIKOLOSKI



Judith OEHRI



Maciej ORZECHOWSKI/Jan Rzymełka

Sandra OSBORNE/Michael Connarty

José Ignacio PALACIOS



Waldemar PAWLAK/Jarosław Sellin

Foteini PIPILI*

Vladimir PLIGIN*

Cezar Florin PREDA


Gabino PUCHE*


Mailis REPS / Rait Maruste

Andrea RIGONI*




Maria de Belém ROSEIRA


Rovshan RZAYEV

Indrek SAAR*

Àlex SÁEZ*



Kimmo SASI




Ingjerd SCHOU


Urs SCHWALLER/Elisabeth Schneider-Schneiter

Salvador SEDÓ

Predrag SEKULIĆ*


Aleksandar SENIĆ

Senad ŠEPIĆ*













Ionuţ-Marian STROE









Ahmet Kutalmiş TÜRKEŞ


Konstantinos TZAVARAS*

Ilyas UMAKHANOV/Anton Belyakov


Olga-Nantia VALAVANI*

Snorre Serigstad VALEN*


Imre VEJKEY/Rózsa Hoffmann





Vladimir VORONIN/Maria Postoico

Viktor VOVK

Klaas de VRIES*



Piotr WACH


Dame Angela WATKINSON*


Karl-Georg WELLMANN*

Katrin WERNER*

Morten WOLD/Ingebjørg Godskesen

Gisela WURM


Leonid YEMETS/ Pavlo Unguryan

Tobias ZECH




Emanuelis ZINGERIS


Naira ZOHRABYAN/Naira Karapetyan


Vacant Seat, Cyprus*

Vacant Seat, France/Maryvonne Blondin

Vacant Seat, Republic of Moldova*

Vacant Seat, Republic of Moldova*

Vacant Seat, ‘‘The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’’/ Vladimir Gjorchev


Representatives and Substitutes not authorised to vote

Helena HATKA








Corneliu CHISU

Partners for democracy



Mohammed AMEUR




Mohamed YATIM