AS (2015) CR 06



(First part)


Sixth sitting

Wednesday 28 January 2015 at 3.30 p.m.

In this report:

1.       Speeches in English are reported in full.

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

3.        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 3.35 p.m.)

      THE PRESIDENT – The sitting is open.

I remind colleagues that the vote is in progress to elect a judge to the European Court of Human Rights in respect of Serbia. The poll will close at 5 p.m. Those who have not yet voted may still do so by going to the area behind the President’s chair. The counting of the votes will take place under the supervision of the tellers, Ms Stefanelli and Ms Strenz. I invite them to meet at 5 p.m. behind the President’s chair. The results of the election will be announced before the end of this afternoon’s sitting.

1. Organisation of debates

      THE PRESIDENT – This afternoon, the business is very full. We will have to interrupt the list of speakers in the first debate at about 5.10 p.m. and in the second debate at about 7.20 p.m. to leave sufficient time for the replies on behalf of the committees and the votes. Are these arrangements agreed?

      The arrangements are agreed.

2. Joint debate: Equality and the crisis and Protection of the right to bargain collectively, including the right to strike

      THE PRESIDENT – I warmly welcome the Director-General of the International Labour Organisation, Mr Guy Ryder. Thank you for being with us today. We have just had an exchange of views on a number of issues. Today, you will join the rapporteurs and members of the Assembly in the debate on the right to strike, but we also tackled a number of other issues, including increasing unemployment, and migration and labour. We had a very interesting discussion. When you were kind enough to sign the golden book, you wrote in it that you wished to have constant relations with our Assembly. I thank you very much for that offer. We all agree on that with the greatest pleasure, especially the committee that deals with these issues.

      I will call Mr Nikolaj Villumsen, rapporteur, on behalf of the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination, to speak on the first report, “Equality and the crisis”, in Document 13661. He will be followed by the presentation of an opinion, in Document 13683, by Mr Igor Kolman, on behalf of the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development. The second report is entitled “Protection of the right to bargain collectively, including the right to strike”, in Document 13663, which is presented by Mr Andrej Hunko, rapporteur, on behalf of the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development. That will be followed by a statement by the Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO).

      Mr Villumsen, you have 13 minutes, which you can divide between your presentation of the report and your reply to the debate.

      Mr VILLUMSEN (Denmark) – I thank the ILO’s Director-General, Mr Guy Ryder, for coming here today.

      We know a lot about the economic aspects of the crisis and austerity, but what are the effects on citizens? What are the consequences of the crisis for vulnerable groups – young people, women, migrants, people with disabilities and older persons? What is the relationship between the crisis and equality? That is the topic of this report, which was adopted unanimously by the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination. I have had the honour of investigating the consequences of the crisis and austerity politics for equality. I have been on several fact-finding missions – to Greece, Iceland and Portugal.

      In preparing this report, our Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination held several hearings with Mr Muižnieks, the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe; Mr Quesada, President of the European Committee of Social Rights; and Mr Cercas, the European Parliament’s rapporteur on the Troika. Last October, I had the honour of participating in the high-level conference on the European Social Charter in Turin. I thank all who contributed and helped to realise this report, particularly the excellent staff of the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination, especially Mrs Elodie Fischer.

       The fundamental values of this Assembly are solidarity, equality and dignity for all. They are stated clearly in the Social Charter and are an obligation for our countries. As the Secretary General, Mr Jagland, said clearly, “the crisis and austerity should not allow us to accept to sacrifice the more vulnerable”. The question is: have austerity, and the drastic budget cuts imposed in most countries, actually made the situation worse? Our plenary is not the only place where this is being discussed. It was surely discussed in the recent Greek elections. Austerity can at times be necessary, but not all austerity measures are compatible with human rights standards and values, as this report emphasises.

      Basic human rights have been violated during this crisis. Both the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights and the former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms Pillay, have pointed out that the costs of the crisis have been borne not by those primarily responsible for the crisis, but by those least able to absorb them.

      Recently, the studies of the French economist Mr Piketty have started a worldwide discussion on growing inequalities in our societies. It is crucial for me to state that there are individuals who suffer and who have not had their basic rights secured. For the first time since the Second World War, the young generation faces worse conditions than their parents. In several countries, unemployment rates for young people are about 50 per cent. In many countries, the young and educated are pushed into leaving their countries to look for job opportunities. These young people did not create the crisis, but they are suffering its severe consequences and are in danger of losing hope for the future as they face poverty and social exclusion. We are endangering the future of Europe by marginalising our youth.

      There are women who lose their jobs because they become pregnant or who do not dare to leave their violent husbands because that would leave their children with empty plates. Women face more insecure employment and some are forced to work part-time while others feel that they have to accept sexual harassment in order to keep their job.

      There are disabled citizens who no longer receive a helping hand. Cuts have affected the assistance programmes for people with disabilities in many countries, and they have also limited the possibilities for those people to access our society.

      There are elderly people who never got the calm life they dreamed of after a hard life of working. In many countries, pensions have been cut and the price of health care has gone up. Elderly people are being pushed out of the labour market with no possibility of finding a new job.

      Migrant and Roma citizens face racism and violence from extreme-right groups. All of a sudden, people from minority groups are being blamed for the crisis, even though they were not responsible for either the crisis or austerity.

      The report does not point fingers at specific countries. It looks at the facts, shows best practices and comes up with solutions to secure equality in the future tackling of the crisis. It is the responsibility of the Council of Europe to remind member States, the European Union and international lenders that human rights and equality are not a luxury. The suggestion that countries should ratify the revised European Social Charter is, therefore, an important part of the resolution, because it is a key instrument in securing social rights in times of crisis.

      We have to be honest with ourselves. There is a clash within Europe right now: Europe is fighting Europe. The obligations of the Social Charter of the Council of Europe are simply not being taken into account either by European Union economic governance or by the Troika. They are even being forgotten by member States.

      I recently met the International Monetary Fund in Greece. It was stressed that the programme lacked a social dimension and that the burdens of the crisis and austerity had not been distributed equally due to the high level of corruption and tax avoidance, especially in the wealthy part of Greek society.

      The report makes clear recommendations to use equality and social justice to combat the crisis. Securing social floors, fighting inequality and maintaining social protection can stimulate development, help job creation and reduce poverty. Instead of dismantling the welfare State, it should be preserved in times of crisis so that the weakest are sheltered. A society of every man for himself can be a very costly society in the long term and can destroy the spirit of solidarity.

      The crisis should not be used to justify an important decrease in the levels of protection. In the past few years, the economic crisis and austerity have undoubtedly had a negative impact on the enjoyment of human rights and equality. Politicians have a responsibility to ensure that we go forward with a Europe of people and a Europe of rights. I encourage parliamentarians to take up that task and show our values of equality and solidarity to the public.

      The report also points to some best practices that could be used to mediate the consequences of the crisis for vulnerable groups. Welfare Watch, for example, was set up by the former Government of Iceland so that civil society could give it feedback on its crisis policy. As the former Minister of Health and Social Security and of the Interior, Ögmundur Jónasson, put it to me when I met him during my fact-finding mission: “You can be sure that the big and powerful will complain if they are affected by your policies, but the voice of the weak and small is never heard”.

      The Icelandic Welfare Watch initiative was praised by civil society during the many meetings I had as part of my fact-finding mission. The initiative helped monitor and correct the policies pursued to overcome the crisis. Without social dialogue or an active policy to secure equality, basic human rights will be forgotten. As the Irish President told us yesterday, securing human rights in times of crisis is a responsibility for all member States that have signed and ratified the Social Charter of the Council of Europe.

      I hope the Assembly will support the report and draft resolution, which are the result of compromises and fruitful discussions in the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination.

      THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Villumsen. You have three minutes remaining. I call Mr Kolman, the rapporteur for opinion. You have three minutes.

      Mr KOLMAN (Croatia) – In the past few years, our Assembly has continuously drawn attention to the dramatic effects of the economic crisis on human rights and democracy. We did so when we looked at the impact of austerity measures, we did so when we pointed out the effect of the social, economic and political crisis on the young generation and we did so when we addressed the problems pertaining to access to healthcare, child poverty, the availability of decent work, social exclusion and pensions. Today, we are debating two reports on the impact of the economic crisis and the measures taken to address it. This report is about the impact of the crisis on equality.

      On behalf of the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development, I congratulate the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination and the rapporteur, Mr Nikolaj Villumsen, on addressing this large and complex subject by focusing on some of the most vulnerable groups in our society: women, people with disabilities, older people and the young. Despite the ratification of the Istanbul Convention, violence against women is still a problem.

      Unfortunately, Mr Villumsen’s report confirms most of our Assembly’s previous findings. It points out the disastrous effects of the crisis on those groups and others. We note with concern that the crisis has fed discriminatory and xenophobic discourse and behaviour. We must therefore repeat the message that our member States must uphold human rights not only in times of prosperity but in times of economic crisis. Mr Villumsen’s report does that, and our committee welcomes and supports it. I invite all my colleagues to do the same and to accept the few amendments proposed by our committee, which seek to strengthen the draft resolution. Human and social rights cannot be perceived as luxuries that we can enjoy only in times of plenty.

      THE PRESIDENT – I call Mr Hunko, the rapporteur of the second report. You have 13 minutes in total, which you can divide between your presentation of the report and your reply to the debate.

      Mr HUNKO (Germany)* – I thank the Director-General of the International Labour Organisation, Mr Ryder, who has been kind enough to attend. I am delighted that we are returning to the Council of Europe’s core work of safeguarding human rights, of which social rights are part and parcel. The rights to bargain collectively and to strike are enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Social Charter, and I am very pleased indeed that in recent years the European Court of Human Rights has paid special attention to them.

      The report is a follow-up to a report entitled “Austerity policies – a danger for democracy and social rights”, which we debated two and a half years ago and adopted with a three-quarters majority. Anybody who was here then will remember that we had a heated debate about whether the austerity policies that are being pursued in response to the crisis are justified. The Parliamentary Assembly was the first international body to criticise the way that austerity is being pursued. In the wake of our debate, many more criticisms were levelled at governments’ austerity policies. I am grateful to our Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr Muižnieks, for taking up this issue and for investigating the situation in Greece. I am also grateful to Secretary General Jagland for taking up this issue, and to other international organisations, including the International Labour Organisation and the European Parliament, which have both been highly critical of austerity.

      The rights to bargain collectively and to strike are core social rights. Unfortunately, against the backdrop of the crisis, they have been curtailed in many places. For example, for some years there has been no right to bargain collectively in Greece.

      The report is intended as a reaction to the crisis. However, we have not looked at those rights for 30 years. It is important that we consider them, regardless of whether we are talking about Greece or Germany, and consider whether they are being abrogated in reaction to the crisis. Maren Lambrecht-Feigl and others in the Secretariat were involved in creating the report. I must apologise to the countries that we did not mention, such as Italy and the Balkan countries, which are also concerned about those rights.

      One of the report’s main conclusions is that all countries should sign up to the revised European Social Charter. Currently, 33 countries out of 47 have signed it. Another of its conclusions is that the additional protocol providing for a system of collective complaints should be signed by member States. The body that is responsible for supervising the European Social Charter ought to be able to rule on countries’ compliance with the charter. In February, we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the European Social Charter. It is therefore an important moment to remind ourselves that the right to bargain collectively, the right to organise, the right to belong to a trade union and the right to strike are all at the core of the European Social Charter.

      The European social model is under pressure as a result of the 2008 crisis. However, we must remember that it was not the politicians who dreamed up the wonderful idea of having a European social model. Rather, it came about as a result of the labour movement’s struggles over many decades. It is a form of institutionalised social dialogue between both sides of industry. Even in a time of crisis, we should do everything in our power to maintain it. I am looking forward to hearing from Guy Ryder.

      THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Hunko. You have seven minutes remaining for your replies.

      I am pleased to ask the Director-General of the International Labour Organisation to take the floor. Mr Ryder has some 30 years’ experience in the world of labour, most of it at the international level. He is a former general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, and he held various senior positions at the ILO, including executive director, before being elected Director-General in 2012. Thank you very much for accepting our invitation and coming to give us information in this debate. We look forward to hearing your contribution.

      Mr RYDER (Director-General of the International Labour Organisation) – I thank you for this opportunity. I take it both as an honour and an opportunity – an opportunity because the issues you are considering are at the centre of the ILO’s mandate. The presentations by Mr Villumsen and Mr Hunko have brought out some of the essential points that I wish to base my comments on.

      Let me begin with the context of Europe’s employment situation. Seven years after the onset of the financial crisis, Europe continues to struggle to attain real recovery. That means that unemployment remains unacceptably high. It is falling slightly in some countries but is stubbornly high in the eurozone, with young people the particular victims of the situation. In some member countries, those under 25 are more likely to be unemployed than employed. That should concentrate all our minds. The bad news is that on current trends the global unemployment situation is getting worse, not better.

      Let us remember that, in the first years of crisis, the European social model, labour market institutions and social dialogue were effective in preserving jobs and protecting households. In the same year, Germany and the United States suffered the same decline in GDP, but the United States lost four times as many jobs proportionately as Germany. The European social model provided effective responses. That has changed since 2010 and the onset of the sovereign debt crisis, when the effects of austerity policies set in and placed some of the basic precepts of the European social model under strain. Perhaps my key message to you is that I firmly believe that the proper response to Europe’s multiple challenges lies not in dismantling its social model, or in departing from the basic principles of social justice, social partnership and solidarity that underpin it, but in using those values as instruments of recovery – not as an abstract philosophical notion, but as practical policy instruments. That is one direction we should take. It was not those values that caused the crisis, but they can help us out of it.

      On collective bargaining trends in Europe, I detect three trends that merit your concern. First, we have seen, in the context of crisis response, a removal or restriction of extended collective bargaining agreements. Agreements made by labour market actors have in the past been extended to cover all employees in a given sector. That is increasingly less the case and the coverage of collective bargaining has been reduced accordingly.

      Secondly, there has been a movement to decentralise the level at which bargaining takes place, with profound consequences for the balance of the collective bargaining process. That has happened in a number of countries, particularly in the south of Europe, Greece and Spain being examples. The third trend relates to the public sector, where modifications of existing industrial relations systems have been particularly noticeable, with the obvious intent to make public expenditure savings, sometimes at the expense of collective bargaining principles.

      The right to strike is a matter of controversy in the ILO and I think it proper that I say so. It has been understood for more than half a century in the ILO that the right to strike is a natural corollary of freedom of association and the ILO convention that covers it. That proposition is now under challenge and the ILO has, and has to resolve, a major controversy in relation to the right to strike.

      Trends in collective bargaining are intimately related in our societies to trends and growth of inequality, which did not begin with the crisis but have been exacerbated by it. There are three reasons we should be worried about inequality. One is the obvious imperative of social justice and fairness, which should appeal to us all. The second is that it is increasingly recognised that inequality at today’s levels is a drag on economic growth. That is recognised and has been popularised by ground-breaking research by the International Monetary Fund. It is bad economics. Thirdly, high levels of inequality act as a barrier to social mobility. That is unfair and means that we are wasting talent because talented people no longer have the avenues to progress to exercise those talents.

      I am encouraged that increasing political attention is being given to the crisis of inequality. I was pleased that, in the World Economic Forum in Davos last week, inequality was identified as the most acute global risk factor by business leaders. That is good recognition. The problem is that recognition does not get translated into credible policy reactions. Rather the same reactions tend to militate towards the continued increase of inequality in our societies.

      We need to look at the sources of inequality and to do so we must revert to questions of rights at work, collective bargaining and many others. The fact is that, over 40 years, the labour share of national income has declined in practically all your countries. That did not start with the crisis, and it will not finish with the crisis. The fact is that wages are falling relative to returns on capital and that is breeding increasing inequality in our societies. If you want to deal with inequality, you need to deal with the issues that have been brought to your attention by the rapporteurs.

      What do we need to do about that situation? We need to act on minimum wage policy and on increasingly precarious forms of work. We must restore collective bargaining to its proper place in our working lives. Above all, we need to recommit to processes of social dialogue.

      I give you one example. It has already been mentioned that, in Greece, social dialogue became one of the first victims of the crisis. Effectively, social dialogue no longer exists in Greece. The ILO has made considerable efforts to revive social dialogue in Greece by convening the social partners in Geneva, to some good effect. The problem is that the actors of social dialogue will not be able to return to the negotiating table if, as in the case of Greece, they have reason to consider that their margin of action and the possibility of influencing national policy have been removed and that the interventions of the Troika, European institutions and the IMF have effectively confiscated the possibility of social actors doing the job they would normally do. Important implications for democratic process and legitimacy arise from that consideration.

      I repeat what the President said in her kind introduction. The ILO looks forward to strengthening its contacts and co-operation with the Council of Europe. I said that I took this speech as an opportunity and I hope that the opportunity above all is to move forward in that spirit. I thank you for your attention.

      THE PRESIDENT – Thank you very much for your speech, Mr Ryder, and for the elements you have given us for further discussion. Thank you once more for offering us your co-operation.

      We will now hear the speakers on behalf of the political groups. First, I call Ms Kovács, on behalf of the Group of the European People’s Party.

Mr KOVÁCS (Serbia) – On behalf of the political group I represent, I congratulate the rapporteurs on their excellent work and their important reports which stress various impacts of the crisis and present different points of view.

Today, the whole world is interlinked and there is no field of national importance that has not been internationally regulated, and the field of the economy long ago ceased to be under only national competence, a fact that was undoubtedly confirmed by the economic crisis.

There is no State, neither big nor small, that can cope alone with the current economic challenges, and the way out must be a common path. The European People’s Party (EPP) is of the opinion that every State has a duty to get to grips with the economic crisis and to look not for excuses, but for the ways and means of overcoming it. Our States have the task of adjusting their economies to globalised 21st century markets.

We are convinced that everyone should make his/her own contribution to the reforms. A sustainable economy requires a sound private sector, consolidation of public finances, reduction of budgetary deficits to acceptable limits, and the creation of a more attractive institutional climate for investment.

Austerity measures translated into drastic budgetary cuts have been the main response to the crises. Unfortunately, categories of vulnerable people, including young people, elders, women, people with disabilities and other marginalised groups are facing severe challenges in securing their autonomy. Their unemployment rate is extremely high, there is underemployment and there are gaps in social security protection systems. Therefore, what is needed is better protection of human rights and promotion of equality in times of austerity. Current economic policies should change focus from austerity to investment.

Young people have been one of the groups most affected by the economic crisis in Europe, with youth unemployment the most common pathology of many countries implementing austerity measures. Youth unemployment often pushes young people to leave their country and look for professional opportunities abroad. Therefore, it is essential to secure a safe transition from education to the labour market. To achieve this, an active employment policy and encouragement for recruiting these people are necessary. It is also important to promote similar policies and to try to convince businesses to move people in these categories from precarious to stable jobs. The economic crisis has had an impact on women in different ways and that has been felt more in some countries than in others.

We cannot allow social rights to be undermined, as they mainly affect lower income classes and the most vulnerable categories of the population. We need to see more respect for social rights, as well as the spirit of solidarity in a society, in maintaining a high level of social protection and combating inequalities.

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

Mr DAEMS (Belgium) – The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) adheres to investing in social rights, which is an investment in the future. We agree about that. We also agree that social partners should be considered as partners in economic performance. Hence they should contribute to growth and job creation.

We also firmly believe in the right of freedom of assembly, including the right to strike as a means of balancing out bargaining. Basically, the right to strike is the right to oppose a certain situation. Of course, it also means that other people have the right not to oppose such situations. We believe, as liberals, that we also have to defend these fundamental rights. For us, collective force is a means to create a level playing field between all the different partners, to come to a decent, good conclusion in any conflict. Also, we believe that this could enhance fair – not necessarily equal – distribution of wealth creation.

I come from Belgium, where 96% of our workers are covered by collective bargaining, so it is easy for me to intervene on this matter. However, throughout Europe, all systems are different, so I should like to emphasise a few elements. First, I take an example from the Belgian context. The right to strike does not give people the right to make sure that others do not work: the right to strike is also the right to work. I emphasise this because, on many occasions, the effect of a strike is that people who want to work are not allowed to do so, and this is affecting the reputation of the labour unions, which is bad.

Secondly, collective action means responsibility and accountability. One of the downsides of unions today, throughout Europe, is that accountability is not necessarily an element of their action. We should do something in this regard to create a level playing field between the partners. I suppose that that is exactly the debate that you are having in the ILO, Mr Ryder. I think that, if you were to balance the responsibility and accountability of all partners, and to balance the right to strike and the right to work, this would probably go some way down the road to having a level playing field between all the partners.

What we have on paper saying that we must end austerity policies is a little too large-scale. We liberals believe that you cannot have an austerity policy on social rights. However, austerity does not necessarily mean that only certain elements should be tackled. We believe that often public institutions are too fat and have too much money to spend, not only on social issues, but also on other issues, and that austerity in that sense should be an element of policies made by local governments.

THE PRESIDENT – I call Lord Balfe, on behalf of the European Conservatives Group.

Lord BALFE (United Kingdom) – I congratulate the three rapporteurs, and Mr Ryder, from the ILO, for his intervention.

I want to make two separate points on each of the reports. First, on equality, there is a fundamental issue that we have to get to grips with, which is that rich people and rich businesses are now beyond the control of the State. Frankly, the very rich have become a stateless group, who, thanks to the machinations or otherwise of the G7 – or the G8 as it used to be – and the G20, have now effectively managed to escape all taxation. Many of them are domiciled for tax purposes in countries that exist under the protection of those countries of the G20 or the G7 – places such as Guernsey or the Cayman Islands, or our own beloved Monaco. There are many ways of escaping tax and I am afraid the very rich have worked out how to do it, and until we get to grips with that, we will not get anywhere.

Regarding rich corporations, some of us in the United Kingdom have looked with interest and amazement at the revelations that have come out of Luxembourg about the way in which tax treatment has been afforded to companies – and that can apply to the Netherlands, too, for that matter. It seems that there is a tax competition going on, which is robbing national exchequers and consequently robbing the poor to boost the rich.

I make those two points on equality. It is no good addressing all the other things around the margin – they do not really matter – because those two points are the fundamentals.

On trade unions, I take a rather tougher line than our rapporteurs. We believe in collective bargaining. Of course, you have to have collective bargaining: it is a right. Let me remind members that there are trade unions on the left as well as on the right of the political spectrum, and trade unions provide social protection for a wide range of workers – they are not just the province of the far left.

Having said that, in the United Kingdom for the last 20 years we have had, more or less, a consensus. The Labour party, as far as I know, has no proposals for reforming trade union law. We face public sector strikes, often called with very low turnouts, that inconvenience many people, often the very poor, the mothers who have to take time off to care for children and the workers who cannot get to work to do their jobs. We believe that if there is going to be a strike, it has to be based legitimately on a reasonable proportion of workers voting for that strike to take place before it takes place. I do not think that we can say that there is nothing yet to be done, but there is not that much to be done in our country, anyway.

      THE PRESIDENT – I call Mr Elzinga, who speaks on behalf of the Group of the Unified European Left.

      Mr ELZINGA (Netherlands) – I congratulate the rapporteurs on their excellent reports, and not only because they are both from an excellent political group, but because they have shown that the so-called radical left is very reasonable and produces responsible and balanced reports that enjoy broad support in their respective committees and that are based on the Council of Europe’s core values.

      The disadvantage of dealing with two reports in one debate is that neither receives the full attention it deserves. However, in this case we have good reason to combine the two, as they are definitely related; they both deal not only with the effects of the crisis, but with the effects that are in line, as we know from experience and research that socio-economic rights, including trade union rights, are essential for stimulating equality.

      Inequality in the broadest sense, whether social or economic, is real, and it is bad. As the Assembly’s rapporteur on the OECD, I highlight the words of the OECD’s Secretary-General, Angel Gurría, in the Assembly last October: “Inequality is growing. We are going in the wrong direction fast. Inequality is a big problem.” Mr Gurría was addressing the issue, as he has done on many occasions over the past few years, because there is mounting evidence from the OECD that inequality hampers economic growth.

      More equality is not just a goal in itself, strengthening social cohesion and tolerance and reducing poverty, unemployment and discrimination; it is also a precondition for restoring trust and economic recovery. From the other perspective, Mr Villumsen’s report shows that the lack of economic recovery deepens the inequalities it describes. It is therefore obvious that we should fully support the draft resolution from the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination.

      The support of socio-economic rights is in line with the revised European social charter and the ILO’s core labour standards, including the right to collective bargaining and the right to strike. It is just as important to reach that goal. Mr Hunko’s report deals with that, so the draft resolution from the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development should also be fully supported. On top of that, and in response to the ILO’s Director-General, Guy Ryder, I ask you, my fellow parliamentarians, to demand from your governments that they back up the ILO’s independent committee of experts on the right to strike in the ILO’s governing body in its upcoming meeting in March.

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

      THE PRESIDENT – I call Ms Wurm, who speaks on behalf of the Socialist Group.

      Ms WURM (Austria)* – I thank the rapporteurs for their excellent reports. I worked with Mr Villumsen in the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination while the report was being drafted. The reports describe the impact of the lasting austerity policies and show the huge challenges in the social area. We have talked about high unemployment, particularly youth unemployment, increasing poverty and rising social inequality, which of course threaten social cohesion.

      In the light of the continuing economic difficulties, increasing debt and tight State budgets, we are seeing cuts in social expenditure. That is an easy option, and of course it leads to considerable hardship for the population, while labour legislation has been weakened massively in some countries. That shows that the approach is the wrong one. In years of crisis, countries with highly developed social welfare systems have above-average growth. In other words, the welfare State and economic growth are not mutually exclusive. On the contrary, they can be mutually beneficial.

      Short-term macroeconomic strategies have to be re-orientated. The current failings have to be halted. A short-term focus on budgetary consolidation, without taking into account the repercussions for growth or the social impact, will undermine the European design. Solid finances are of course necessary in the long term, but reducing debt or the deficit should not be at the expense of long-term investment in education and social assistance. We need a radical political change. We need measures that look to the future. European governments should tackle the multi-dimensional challenges of the past with more targeted employment policies, for example.

      A number of international organisations, including the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, have given warnings, and I think that they should be heard. The right to strike should not be undermined, collective bargaining and minimum wages need to be worked out together with the social partners. That has to be our objective. We should therefore be promoting the right to strike, not undermining it. We have to ensure social cohesion within society, and that is only possible with more equality in our societies.

      THE PRESIDENT – That concludes the speakers from political groups. The next speaker is Ms Maury Pasquier.

      Ms MAURY PASQUIER (Switzerland)* – The economy is in crisis to various degrees in pretty much all the member States of the Council of Europe, but the methods chosen to tackle the crisis have often served to exacerbate it. We now find measures that act to the detriment of the most vulnerable groups in society, as well as threats to the right to bargain collectively and the right to strike.

      Austerity is fuelling inequality, which is harmful to the economy as well as to society as a whole, because these policies lead to greater exclusion and general dissatisfaction. They fuel division, rather than cohesion; extremism, rather than democracy; and stigmatism and rejection, rather than respect for others. That is why we must tackle inequalities and try to improve social protection, because that is a way of stimulating growth while strengthening the foundations of European societies. Social rights are enshrined in the revised European Social Charter, as are the rights of trade unions and the rights to bargain collectively and to strike. They are long-standing, acquired rights for workers.

      There are other rights on remuneration, training and health and professional security that are also covered by the Social Charter. Austerity runs the risk of undermining those rights and threatening social dialogue. We are witnessing a very stubborn trend. We are seeing wages plummet, working conditions deteriorate and – I return to this point again – inequality widen. Workers are seeing that there is greater discrimination and poorer conditions when it comes to maternity leave, and students, elderly people and those with disabilities are not spared any of those trends. That is why it is most urgent that we invest in genuine equality of opportunity to ensure that each and every one of us in society has real prospects for the future so that we can live together in order to prevent the murderous fanaticism we have seen on our continent. We have to respect people and their rights in order to build a future. It is unthinkable, and indeed unprofitable, to cut social rights and make deep, savage cuts to democracy. We need to strengthen rights. The crisis should serve as an opportunity for us to learn lessons in order to do better in future.

      THE PRESIDENT – Mr Dişli is not here, so I call Mr Voruz

Mr VORUZ (Switzerland)* – The reports speak for themselves, although their content is rather worrying. The statement of the director-general of the ILO also held our attention. Using the pretext of an economic crisis, the famous Troika has given the go-ahead for the general dismantling of trade union rights, including the right to strike. A number of States have been funding deficits that were run up by banks. Those banks were in a parlous state and have been shored up using taxpayers' money with a view to offsetting tax deficits. Those States are now turning their attention to employees and to small and medium-sized enterprises.

The Troika – the European Central Bank, the European Union and the International Monetary Fund – is imposing drastic and draconian measures that affect those who already have very little and the most vulnerable in our society. The Troika, with the assistance of the governments of the countries concerned, is forcing employees, craftspeople and SMEs to undergo swingeing cuts while they give tax gifts to multinationals and the wealthiest people in the world. That calls into question social dialogue and the possibility of collective bargaining, depriving the weakest of the possibility of defending themselves. That, of course, is not defensible.

Although most countries in the European Union are in crisis, I think we are bowing far too much to the dictates of the Troika and capitalist blackmail at the expense of the fundamental rights of all citizens of all countries in the Council of Europe, whether or not they are members of the European Union.

Spain, Cyprus, Greece and other countries are starting to question that approach. This is a new development, and the report, if I have read it correctly, suggests that Turkey, too, is making important progress on social rights and trade union rights, although there are obvious and flagrant shortcomings. The trade union movement must now ensure social dialogue and the right to collective bargaining and negotiations in which employer and employee representatives attempt to reach common solutions.

I was a trade union secretary for many years. The Swiss people have just voted to include the right to strike in the federal constitution, even if that right is only possible once all other negotiating possibilities are exhausted or if one party has violated trade union law. I have run over my allotted time, but this is such an important issue that, as a former trade union secretary, I wanted to say that we must uphold those rights. It is not enough to say we need this or that – we need to act.

      THE PRESIDENT – I remind members that the vote to elect a judge to the European Court of Human Rights is in progress. The ballot will close at 5 p.m. and those who have not yet voted may still do so by going to the area behind the President's chair. I now call Mr O'Reilly.

      Mr O’REILLY (Ireland) – We all accept that we must keep public debt under control and that we must work towards reducing overrun public debt. That is a generally accepted principle and I know of no administration that can go about its business otherwise. The question is how we do that. What are our criteria and what are our values as we do it?

I know that this is a multi-country Assembly, but when we addressed this question in my country we did a couple of things that I think were helpful and that can be recommended. First, we maintained our core social welfare payments. Secondly, we maintained the minimum wage. Thirdly, we had collective bargaining and national agreements. We also took as many people on lower incomes as possible out of the tax net, protecting them in that way. I think that adopting that strategy on a European basis is the way to go.

The big thing in establishing equality, creating social justice and giving fair play to people is giving people work. Our great failure in Europe, across all countries of the Council of Europe, has been that we have not treated youth unemployment as an emergency, as a crisis or as something that deserves multi-faceted emergency responses. We have not been quick enough to implement the youth guarantee scheme on the ground and we have not done enough at a European level to deal with youth unemployment. Radical strategies are needed to deal with it and everybody has the right to participate in the economy and in society. We cannot have a generation of young people who will be denied that right. We must have an enormous focus on that.

Employment creation is at the core of resolving the economic crisis. You need to maintain prudent economics at a national level, governed by the principles I set out at the beginning of my speech. At the same time, you need to maintain and create stimulus at a European level. I hope that the quantitative easing of last week will help to some degree, and although I do not think it will be enough to deal with the problem, it is part of the solution. Getting people working is at a premium and if we adopt strategies for that, everything else will follow. A person with work has the dignity of work and an income and can participate fully in society. At the moment, we are excluding too many.

      Ms KORENJAK KRAMAR (Slovenia) – When we debate the economy and the crisis, we need to revive the debate on the fundamental values of the European Union through the prism of our time and through dialogue with civil society. We must also look for answers to challenges such as inequality, poverty, youth unemployment and social exclusion.

The crisis can undermine equality by bringing change to our society and behaviour. Rising unemployment means that many people, especially the young, lose hope in the future of their countries' economies. Unfortunately, the consequences go far beyond the economic sphere. I am talking not only about the economic crisis but about a crisis in values, in which they are challenged, and our response reflects our vision of society and our commitment to ensure respect for people and their work.

We cannot solve the economic crisis through short-term measures. Solutions should be considered responsibly, bearing in mind the long-term perspective. That means positive measures to protect those in vulnerable categories, such as disabled people, young people, women and older people. That is why I think that our role is to preserve and defend human rights, and to defend solidarity and tolerance as postulates of our societies.

      Ms MULIĆ (Croatia) – I congratulate Mr Villumsen on his work, which calls to mind many reports, papers and Council of Europe resolutions and recommendations. One is the recommendation on women and the economic and financial crisis that we in the Parliamentary Assembly adopted five years ago. I regret that we in the national governments of the Council of Europe member States have not learned much since. Clear evidence of that is the fact that the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development identified 180 violations of the European Social Charter provisions on access to health and social protection across 38 European countries.

In the seven years since the economic crisis hit the majority of member States, have we seen the vulnerable categories of people having higher influence in political representation or in decision-making positions in finance or in the economy? Clearly not. Instead, we, as European society, are confronted with higher unemployment, poverty, widening income gaps, rising discrimination and intolerance, and terrorism as a consequence of marginalised individuals or groups.

      Instead of putting efforts into creating societies that are more just, more democratic and more respectful of human rights, we see evidence that austerity measures have had a negative impact on the enjoyment of human rights and equality. The austerity measures have increased the misery and deprivation of vulnerable people, and their human dignity is at stake.

      In exercising austerity measures, national governments tend to neglect the fact that high levels of social protection to combat inequalities can contribute to stimulating growth and reducing poverty in the long term. They take advice from International Monetary Fund to make cuts, but they do not heed that institution’s arguments that high income inequality can be detrimental to achieving macroeconomic stability and growth. They take short-term instead of long-term action.

      The World Bank development report for 2012 is about gender equality and development. We can apply its conclusions on equality as one of the core values of our civilisation, based on the need to respect human rights. Equality is a core development objective in its own right, but it is also smart economics, enhancing productivity and improving other development outcomes, including prospects for the next generation. It requires more funding, more experimentation and systematic evaluation, and broader partnerships that include the private sector, development agencies and civil society organisations.

      We should keep this in mind and, as national parliamentarians, raise our voices and exercise parliamentary oversight over governmental responses to the economic crisis in order to secure growth, development and a Europe faithful to its values of solidarity, equality and dignity for all.

      Ms CHRISTOFFERSEN (Norway) – On this very day, a historic general strike is taking place in Norway and all trade unions, irrespective of affiliation, are participating. The strike is partly supported by student       organisations, non-governmental organisations for disabled people, humanitarian organisations, youth organisations, the farmers union and some smaller enterprises. Even priests in the Norwegian Church are taking part.

      The background is the conservative government’s severe attack on important labour protection laws. The strikers are protesting against a new carte blanche approach to temporary employment and a weakening of protection against long working hours and more compulsory overtime without extra pay, including extended work on Sundays. In addition, the government proposes to weaken the role of the unions in protecting people against unhealthy working hours and to repeal the unions’ right to take collective law suits against employers who break the law and companies hiring illegal labour through temporary work agencies. If the government’s draft law is adopted, temporary workers will have to go to court on their own. Everybody knows that even if they have the resources, which is unlikely, and guts to do so, that would be end of their employment.

      The broad mobilisation in Norway today must be seen against the background of some very alarming trends in parts of today’s working life. Temporary work, contract labour, social dumping, moonlighting and other labour market crime is spreading throughout many industries, such as construction, farming, hotels, restaurants, cleaning, transportation and aviation. As a result, the unions are weakened at a time when they should be strengthened, in the common interest of both labour and decent employers.

      By pure coincidence, a report on collective bargaining and the right to strike has been presented to the Parliamentary Assembly on the very same day as the Norwegian general strike takes place – or perhaps the timing is not that random after all. Policies attacking labour protection and weakening the social dialogue are well known in several European countries – policies that have been proved to be failures, as is clearly stated in Mr Hunko's report.

      The basis of the Norwegian welfare society is well-functioning tripartite co-operation over decades. The result is a society with small differences between its people. That is also relevant to our debate about fighting terrorism. Now people know that these values are in danger and, fortunately, protest in large numbers. Let us hope our government will listen.

      Ms QUINTANILLA (Spain)* – I congratulate the rapporteur, Mr Villumsen, on this outstanding report, which I welcome.

      We in this Chamber need to say specifically how the economic crisis can affect equality of opportunity for young people, women and dependent people in our communities and throughout society. We should all recall the words used by the Secretary-General of the OECD, Mr Gurría, when he addressed the Parliamentary Assembly during our September session, when we were also talking about the economic crisis and my country. He said that the economic crisis has been especially harsh on Spanish society and that Prime Minister Rajoy had taken important measures to stop Spanish society suffering and to salvage the economy, which showed that we were on the correct path. The Spanish economy is growing faster than those of the countries around us and statistics show a real increase in employment in 2014.

      In Spain, the harsh crisis of equality is affecting women in particular, but Spain has shut down no centres that provide assistance to the victims of domestic violence. Spain provides legal assistance to women suffering from gender-based violence. Indeed, we increased our 2014-15 budget for that purpose by 7% because we believe in equality. We could do all this because Spanish society has made the necessary sacrifices to come out of the economic crisis and because our government has the political will to believe in the need to protect women who are victims of domestic violence.

      Ms GAFAROVA (Azerbaijan) – I congratulate the rapporteur, my colleague, Mr Villumsen, on his excellent report. The economic crisis has indeed hit the majority of Council of Europe member States, and the long-term impact on the population goes beyond the economic sphere. I agree with him when he mentions the impact of the crisis and austerity measures on specific groups in society such as women, people with disabilities and young people.

      The crisis has resulted in higher unemployment, lower social cohesion, greater poverty, rising inequalities and income gaps and increasing discrimination and intolerance. In fact, the reasons for these processes differ and cannot be explained solely by economic factors. Even economic reasons play a lesser role. However, this is a reality and a serious menace that threatens the world. Therefore, so long as we are not taken by surprise, every country has to undertake preventive measures. Let me give some information on how my country, Azerbaijan, has done so.

      Azerbaijan is known as an oil-exporting country, yet it nevertheless managed to minimise the effect of a slump in oil prices on the world markets. Five years ago, having overcome the expected consequences of the financial crisis due to its governmental economic programmes, Azerbaijan was a country with some of the smallest economic losses in the world. The reason for its strong economic performance lies in its powerful economic policy, and the improvement of its macroeconomic policy, which improved the business environment. On the other hand, the non-oil sector is growing in Azerbaijan. The share of the non-oil sector in gross domestic product is increasing every year, and has already reached 50%.

      The State programme for the social and economic development of regions, and the implementation of industrial programmes, will play an important role in the development of the non-oil sector. Nowadays, one of the Azerbaijani Government’s most important priorities is the development of activities for young people – especially women – in society, and their integration into the social system, as well as finding a settlement to the problem of unemployment. Different government programmes are being realised, and much has been done. The government also provides people with the necessary conditions to give them an opportunity to show their potential in the political and economic fields. All that allows us to step up efforts to combat gender-based discrimination in the labour market and to pay more attention to and to invest in combating youth unemployment and the social exclusion of young people – in general, to protect equality and ensure respect for people and their work.

      Ms MATTILA (Finland) – I warmly thank my Nordic colleague, Mr Villumsen, for this report, because the economic crisis has been affecting Europe since 2008 and has led to severe austerity measures. If we do not consider that issue and try to counteract the possible negative consequences of those measures in society as a whole, we will also face a crisis of democracy. I thank the rapporteur for presenting a clear case and a model solution – namely the Icelandic Welfare Watch. The welfare measures proposed in Iceland, which include increased co-operation between social partners, could be useful in some situations in all European countries. As we know, Iceland faced an economic crisis a few years ago, and it decided to respond with various measures – I believe people know what we are talking about.

      We cannot afford to lose an entire generation of young people to unemployment. Work is the best measure for social security and mental health support, and I thank the rapporteur for raising the issue in the report. We must recognise that not addressing the problems caused by unemployment will become expensive. Economic policies in Greece led to a situation in which Greek people voted with an overwhelming majority against the European Union Stability and Growth Pact. We politicians can politicise – so they say – but ordinary people cannot. However, they can vote. Political parties should encourage citizens, especially young people, actively to participate in politics. We should be alarmed when young people become increasingly uninterested in politics and, as stated in the report, it is of great concern when young people feel that they do not have a role in the political decision-making process.

      Finally, I thank the rapporteur for addressing concrete, everyday problems in the report, such as discrimination against women in the labour market due to maternity leave, and the increasing precariousness and vulnerability of older people in the labour market, to name but a few. Social justice must not be compromised, even if the economy is in recession. As has already been said in the debate, we know the problems, so let us act.

      Mr MOTA AMARAL (Portugal) – I congratulate our colleagues, Nikolaj Villumsen and Andrej Hunko, both members of the Group of the Unified European Left, on their reports. The Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination and the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development, as well as their dedicated secretariats, are also to be commended.

      This debate is very timely. The economic crisis that Europe has been through in recent years is being addressed with strong austerity measures. In some cases, such as Portugal, careful attention was given to less privileged people who deserved and received special protection, even though such measures were perhaps insufficient. In order to pay previously incurred public debts and balance the State budget, many countries imposed budgetary cuts to social services, benefits and investment, together with enormous tax increases. The natural consequences of such measures were increased unemployment, the failure of enterprises, bank defaults, the impoverishment of the middle class, and a general increase in poverty.

      Proclaimed structural reforms, which were allegedly aimed at improving productivity and the competitiveness of European economies in deregulated international markets, dramatically reduced the statutes and rights of workers and their unions, and put millions of people out of their jobs and even their homes, destroying reasonable conditions for a peaceful family life. The younger generation was incentivised to emigrate; middle-aged jobless people have few chances and even less hope.

      It has become politically correct in certain media and political circles to consider that tragic situation as normal and perhaps beneficial. The ideological speech of neo-liberalism sounds triumphant. Our Assembly must rise to put an end to that situation, and proclaim once more the core values of the Council of Europe. Fundamental human rights are at stake when millions of people slump into unemployment and poverty. The strength of a pluralistic democracy is not compatible with a fragile, unstable middle class. Growing inequality is clearly a threat to the social and political model of our societies, and an invitation to all forms of extremism. Let us not close our eyes, and even less our minds.

      Globalisation must be regulated, and human rights and democracy must also be globalised. The International Labour Organisation has an important role to play in this field, and it must urgently put a halt to social and ecological dumping, both of which are creating new forms of exploitation and even slavery of the labour force in poorer countries. That is destroying our economies and even perhaps the sustainability of our planet’s natural resources. The authority of democratic States is a permanent tool to protect the more vulnerable members of society and grant social justice to all. Those principles must be respected, and a serious effort must be made so that in Europe, and around the world, the energies of all mankind can be summoned by a new dawn of hope.

      Mr DÍAZ TEJERA (Spain)* – First, I apologise because yesterday I was asked to take part in a meeting with the Commissioner for Human Rights and I was not able to take the floor in the Chamber. However, I could not have refused to attend that meeting because it was to consider the situation of immigrants from Africa. As somebody from the left, it was important that I attended because I fundamentally disagree with the idea of turning people away at our borders, particularly if they are seeking asylum for whatever reason, political or economic, and it was important for me to make my views known to him.

      I applaud what Mr Mota Amaral said, and it harks back to what the President of Ireland said, as well as to the words of Pope Francis when he addressed the Assembly. We are essentially talking about the challenges of the modern era, one of which is a widening gulf and increased inequality fuelled by the crisis. Some people use terrorism as a pretext for curtailing political freedoms, but when there is a crisis in the economy, people similarly use that as a pretext for curtailing economic and social rights. Our greatest achievements are the fruits of the labours of social democracy and Christian democracy between the 1950s and the 1970s, to create a consensus. That has come about as a result of the agreement between both sides of industry – between employers and workers.


I am not going to come here and go on about what is happening in my country – I can do that back home – but when somebody here says, “Spain is a paradise on earth”, I have to say that that is simply not the case. It is not how ordinary Spaniards would characterise the situation. Employees are being dismissed and one full-time job is divided into four simply to boost the employment numbers. In practice, that means greater fragility and a casualised form of labour. Our workers need protection. They need to have hope in the labour market.

      As to the labour courts extending the application of collective bargaining agreements, that is not something that a parliamentarian can do; it is a matter for the courts. We have seen the enactment of a labour law that has taken rights away from workers. I congratulate the rapporteur on the report, but the Council of Europe is simply doing its duty in this, as we cannot build a democratic society if we do not respect pluralism. It is not acceptable when people cannot use their talents and find that they do not have the economic wherewithal on which to live. There cannot be a good policy if it is not a good social policy. We need good labour policies and good social policies. For that to happen, there has to be agreement between the bosses and the workers.

      THE PRESIDENT – I have to interrupt the debate for a moment, as it is nearly 5 p.m. Any members who wish to vote in the election of a judge to the European Court of Human Rights should do so quickly. The counting of votes will take place under the supervision of the tellers, Ms Stefanelli and Ms Strenz. I invite them to meet behind the President’s chair. The results of the election will be announced before the end of this afternoon’s sitting. We now move on with the debate. I call Mr Destexhe.

      Mr DESTEXHE (Belgium)* – In Belgium, the right to strike is not in the constitution and it is not anchored in any law, yet it is almost absolute. Our Swiss colleague explained that there are now laws on the subject and that the right to strike is part of the Swiss Constitution as a solution of last resort. In Belgium, however, there are lots of wildcat strikes and there is no limit to the right to strike – perhaps that is made possible by the fact that there is no legislation on the subject.

      To judge by the report, Belgium appears to be faring well in the social stakes. Some 96% of employees are covered by collective bargaining. I think that that is the second highest figure after France, where 98% of employees are covered. The figure is just 62% throughout Europe. The United Kingdom is down at 29%, with Poland at 25%. The figure for the country of my neighbour, Mr Díaz Tejera, is 70%, so he is not doing badly at all.

      I support what Mr Daems, the representative of ALDE, said. We want to support the right to strike, but in recent months in Belgium there have been incidents of industrial action where there have been excesses – strikers have blocked important roads and a number of workers have been prevented from working. The press was not able to say whether the strike had been a success. Belgium had been brought to a standstill for some time, but was that the result of workers’ action or of the fact that roads were blockaded? There were blockades at important roads in industrial zones, which meant that people could not get to their place of work, so it was difficult to establish whether people were on strike or whether they wanted to go to work.

      It is important that the right to strike should remain absolute, but for that to happen we have to ensure that those who wish to go to work during a strike should have the freedom to do so. In Belgium, we have not struck the right balance. Following the recent incidents, much criticism has been voiced over the right to strike, but if we want to uphold that right we also have to uphold the right to go to work for those who wish to.

      Mr HANŽEK (Slovenia) – The great catch-the-cash game, which was started in the economy by neoliberal corporations decades ago, ended up in an economic disaster that spilled over into the other spheres of life. The reason given for the need for a fragile State was higher productivity and GDP growth, but the final outcome was a global economic crisis whose consequences are now being borne by those who had no part in it – the citizens without real economic and political power. The world is split into the 1% of those who have and the 99% of those who have not. That is all stated in the excellent reports that we are adopting today. The crisis has resulted in higher unemployment and it has undermined social cohesion. It has caused greater poverty, rising inequality, wider income gaps and so on. It is imperative to implement the documents.

      I draw attention to yet another question. Are austerity measures merely a wrong response to the crisis or is the crisis one means of achieving the basic objective – the highest possible concentration of wealth in the hands of a greedy fraction of the population? What leads me to such thinking? In the years preceding the crisis, economic growth in my country was outstanding. Back then, the prevailing idea was that it was necessary to help the rich so that they would provide jobs, strong economic growth and a reduction in poverty.

      It took the crisis to lay bare that neoliberal ideology. Capital was invested not in sustainable jobs but in symbols of wealth and tax havens. Debts were socialised by the State and the responsibility for repayment was placed on the shoulders of the citizen under an ideology of saving. False saving continued even after GDP growth resumed. Although GDP rose, the government continued to uphold the ideology of austerity. Insensitivity to the needs of the weakest were exposed by a single measure – the government abolished the funds for learning assistance that had been provided to children with special needs, disregarding the Council of Europe’s warning in the two documents. Austerity is not economic need; it is an ideology.

      THE PRESIDENT – We have to stick to our timings, so 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. I remind colleagues that the texts are to be submitted in typescript, electronically if possible, no later than four hours after the list of speakers is interrupted.

      Mr Ryder, would you like to respond to the debate? You have five minutes.

      Mr RYDER (Director-General of the International Labour Organisation) – I have benefited very much from listening to this important debate, and enjoyed it greatly. I want to make a few brief comments in response to what I heard. Everyone here has been very clear in emphasising the need to respect the fundamental right to bargain collectively and to strike – I have heard no contrary opinion expressed – but it would be a mistake to believe that there is an inevitable contradiction between respect for those rights, and indeed the promotion of jobs and growth, on the one hand and attempts to redress deficits in public finances on the other. These should not be seen as opposing or competing paradigms. As has been said, we need to strive for the types of policies that can combine all these elements. That is not a contradiction in terms; it is the fundamental policy challenge before us, and it can be done.

      In response to a number of speeches made, and to clarify the ILO’s position on this matter, let me say that the ILO has never held that the right to strike is an unlimited right. Over the years, the ILO has developed, as I said in my speech, a quite detailed body of jurisprudence that makes very clear the restrictions on strike action, and the necessary prerequisites that must be respected in exercising the right to strike. That would address some of the points made this afternoon.

      A number of members spoke about the absolute need to protect the most vulnerable as we seek to counteract the crisis. That is most important if we are to avoid the greatest excesses of social suffering and meet the criteria of fairness and social justice in our policies. I have noted two categories that have received particular attention in this debate. The first is obviously youth; we know that youth are the most badly affected by unemployment in Europe and elsewhere. It is very important that targeted measures to promote the insertion of youths in labour markets be regarded as an investment, not a cost. That is not simply a rhetorical difference. The fact is that money spent – for example through the European youth guarantee – on getting young people work experience or added training opportunities is very much outweighed by the benefits that result, if one takes into account gains in production and reductions in payment of social benefits. We need to look at this as investment, not cost. We cannot delay too long, because the longer young people are out of labour markets, the more difficult it is for them to get back, and the greater the scarring effects, which can last a lifetime.

      The second category is women. I do not want to go into the details on the differential gender effects of the crisis; just bear in mind that there has been no unambiguous move towards a narrowing of the gender pay gap in recent years, and that women’s participation rates in labour markets around the world remains 26 percentage points lower than men’s.

The third group that I wanted to mention as being particularly vulnerable and deserving of our attention is migrant workers. Through an unfortunate concomitance of circumstances, migrants are vulnerable in labour markets for many reasons, and the political atmosphere around issues of migration in our societies strikes me as adding particularly to the dangers involved.

      Taxation policy has been mentioned as one way of combating inequity and inequality in our societies, and so it is. It is also an important element in consolidating public finances. Corporations or individuals who do not pay taxes at reasonable prescribed rates represent a very important hole in public finances, and in our circumstances, that is something that we should not tolerate.

      Finally, Europe does not exist in a vacuum. A number of members spoke from a wider perspective, on the need to address the management of the global economy. Clearly, the types of values and objectives promoted in this Assembly in Europe need to be promoted in the rest of the global economy. That is in the enlightened self-interest of Europe, and to the benefit of your fellow citizens in other regions. Thank you again for this opportunity, Mr President.

      THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Ryder. I call on Mr Hunko, Rapporteur for the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development, to reply. You have seven minutes.

      Mr HUNKO (Germany)* – I am grateful to all colleagues for their contributions. If our debate was truly representative of those in our national parliaments, the European Parliament and the European Commission, we would be in a very good position to implement the conclusions of the report. I fear, however, that the debate was not wholly representative, and that we have a great deal of work ahead of us.

      I would like to pick up on something that Mr Ryder said in his first contribution. He talked about the difference between reactions to the crisis – between that of Germany and the United States, for example, particularly on safeguarding labour rights. As I come from Germany, I would like to dwell on that briefly. It is true that in 2008, in the wake of the financial and banking crisis, a number of positive steps were taken. I am from the opposition in Germany, but I make no bones about the fact that positive steps were taken to prevent the crisis from generating an increase in unemployment and a decrease in short-term contracts; if a company had too few orders, and cuts were made in that company, the shortfall could be made up by the public authority. That was a way of preserving jobs and allowing the economy to get back on its feet quickly.

      However, I am sorry to say that in subsequent years, in Greece, in the Troika’s policy – of course, Germany was involved in that policy – there were no such measures taken to prevent the economy from falling off a cliff. Essentially, austerity was imposed on the country, which found itself in a vicious circle. It is simply unable to emerge from this monetary crisis. We should learn from that.

      In his first contribution, Mr Ryder raised an issue relating to collective bargaining agreements that people did not revisit much in the debate. Against the backdrop of the crisis, the scope for trade unions to engage in collective bargaining and assert their rights is being put under pressure. That is why we in this Assembly should work with organisations such as the ILO to counter that trend, because we need a form of internationalisation. Otherwise, workers’ rights will be put under pressure, even if that is not what people intend or wish to see.

      During the debate, I think we all realised that it is very difficult to deal separately with the economy and social rights. As Mr O’Reilly said, the debate focused on both. After 2008-09, public debt in the eurozone went up from about 75% to 90%. Recent investigations have shown that the reason for that was that the banks had to be bailed out and rescued, so it is simply not acceptable – this is an important criticism – for the burden to fall on the shoulders of the weakest in society. They are bearing the brunt of all the cuts of the austerity policies that were required as a result of spiralling public indebtedness.

      It goes without saying that the right to strike cannot be unrestricted – of course it cannot. Indeed, the case law of the European Court of Human Rights bears that out: there is no such thing as an unfettered right to strike. Clearly, there have to be restrictions on any such right.

      We have also heard that cutting excessive red tape is necessary. That is all well and good, but cutting red tape cannot be equated with austerity. The recent elections in Greece, which has been mentioned several times, were a rising up of the people against austerity. The government is now reducing the number of ministries from 18 to 10. Wherever there has been excess there can, of course, be cuts, but that is not austerity: if something is pointless it does not need to be maintained. However, if we keep pushing for more austerity and more savings, we will find ourselves in a vicious circle.

      The report is directed towards the trade unions and business representatives. Ms Christoffersen talked about today’s general strike in Norway, which shows that this debate is by no means abstract; it is, rather, rooted in reality. In November, Brussels witnessed one of the biggest general strikes in history. The Nobel laureate Paul Krugman has written that every citizen “has an equal say in our political process. In practice, of course, some of us are more equal than others…Given this reality, it’s important to have institutions that can act as counterweights to the power of big money. And unions are among the most important of these institutions.”

      If we want to send out a message, it must be that the right to bargain collectively, including the right to strike, is an important European right that needs to be strengthened and we would be doing the European people a service in doing so.

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

      Mr GHILETCHI (Republic of Moldova) – On behalf of the committee, I congratulate both rapporteurs, particularly Mr Hunko, who prepared his report on behalf of the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development. I thank Mr Ryder for his contribution to the committee’s work and to this part-session. As most speakers have said, the reports are necessary and relevant to the situation in Europe today. I probably do not need to encourage colleagues to vote in favour of the reports, because I am sure they will do so.

      The problems we are tackling are complex – there are no easy solutions – but it is important that we try to come up with solutions. Mr Hunko has put a lot of effort into his report. It was agreed unanimously by the committee and I also understand that no amendments have been tabled. It is important that the Assembly comes to a consensus and that we engage in dialogue as we attempt to solve a very serious and complex problem. Once again, I thank the rapporteurs, particularly Mr Hunko, and encourage the Assembly to support the reports.

      THE PRESIDENT – I now call Mr Villumsen, Rapporteur of the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination, to reply. You have three minutes.

      Mr VILLUMSEN (Denmark) – I thank colleagues for a very good debate. I also thank the national delegations, who very helpful in providing the necessary assistance for the fact-finding missions to the countries I visited.

The Director-General of the ILO, Mr Ryder, rightly pointed out that at the beginning of the financial crisis, the European social model helped to mediate its effects. It is striking that, since then, that very social model has been dismantled little by little. Equality and social justice are of value and the Social Charter of the Council of Europe makes a commitment to them, but they are also an effective tool to help us exit the crisis. As our fact-finding visit to Iceland showed, investments in welfare and equality can provide such help and, as several colleagues have said, the secretary-general of the OECD stressed their importance when he visited our Assembly. They are also an important tool in ensuring social dialogue.

I remind the Assembly that national human rights institutions can be very useful in the production of vulnerable group impact assessments for debates in national parliaments on how to deal with the crisis. Unfortunately, however, such institutions have also faced cuts in many countries.

It is important to stress that equality should not only be part of our speeches, but an active part of the solution to the crisis. I agree with Ms Mulić that the Social Charter has been violated far too often. My good friend Mr Mota Amaral, who is a fellow member of the Group of the European People’s Party, made the striking point that the neoliberal solution to the crisis has violated the values of the Council of Europe and our Social Charter on several occasions.

Finally, I hope that by adopting this report and resolution we can help strengthen the influence of the values of equality and solidarity, which are needed both socially and economically, on the future tackling of the crisis. I hope the Assembly will support the report.

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

Ms BİLGEHAN (Turkey)* – This debate has given us an opportunity to discuss the impact of the economic crisis and austerity measures on equality in society, which is a very important issue that we have overlooked for far too long.

I congratulate Mr Villumsen on his report, on his work in bringing together its different threads and on making specific recommendations to our governments and parliaments. Since Mr Villumsen’s nomination as rapporteur in September 2013, the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination has discussed his report on a number of occasions during hearings and fact-finding visits. The members of the committee worked with the rapporteur in drawing up the report. Committee members provided information on the situation in their respective countries, and in that way contributed to fleshing out the report. The report is the result of a consensus following a number of discussions.

      The rapporteur was keen to take on board the comments and information provided by individual members. I want to underscore that effort, with a view to reaching a broad consensus on the text, which pulls no punches in seeking to ensure equality, a high level of social protection and social justice. It promotes a participation-based approach in the fight against corruption, discrimination, intolerance, hatred and racism in times of crisis and economic prosperity. It is a perfect report. I also congratulate Mr Hunko. I hope you will all support the draft resolutions and show this Assembly’s commitment to upholding public freedoms.

      THE PRESIDENT – That ends the debate. The Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination has presented a draft resolution, to which five amendments have been tabled. They will be taken in numerical order. I remind you that speeches on amendments are limited to 30 seconds.

      I understand that the Chairperson of the Committee on Equalities and Non-Discrimination wishes to propose to the Assembly that Amendments 1, 2 and 3 to the draft resolution, which were unanimously approved by the committee, should be declared as agreed by the Assembly. Is that so, Ms Bilgehan?

      Ms BİLGEHAN (Turkey) – Yes.

      THE PRESIDENT – Does anyone object? That is not the case.

      Amendments 1 to 3 are adopted.

      I call Mr Kolman to support Amendment 4 on behalf of the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development. You have 30 seconds.

      Mr KOLMAN (Croatia) – The European Social Charter stipulates that member States should provide elderly persons with adequate resources to enable them to lead a decent life and play an active part in public, social and cultural life. The European Committee of Social Rights considers pensions and social assistance levels to be appropriate where the amount of benefits paid to a person monthly is not manifestly below the poverty threshold, which is 40% to 50% of the median equivalent income. It must be not only a guaranteed income, but an adequate income.

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

      What is the opinion of the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination?

      Ms BİLGEHAN (Turkey) – In favour.

      THE PRESIDENT – The vote is open.

      Amendment 4 is adopted.

      I call Mr Kolman to support Amendment 5 on behalf of the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development. You have 30 seconds.

      Mr KOLMAN (Croatia) – The amendment proposes to harmonise the paragraph with the declaration adopted by the Sub-Committee on the European Social Charter at the high-level conference held last October in Turin. Basically, we propose to harmonise the article with a declaration of our own body on the same issue.

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

      What is the opinion of the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination?

      Ms BİLGEHAN (Turkey) – In favour.

      THE PRESIDENT – The vote is open.

      Amendment 5 is adopted.

      We will now proceed to vote on the whole of the draft resolution contained in Document 13661, as amended.

      The vote is open.

      The draft resolution in Document 13661, as amended, is adopted, with 129 votes for, 1 against and 4 abstentions.

      The Committee on Social Affairs, Heath and Sustainable Development has presented a draft resolution to which no amendments have been tabled.

      We will now proceed to vote on the draft resolution contained in Document 13663.

      The vote is open.

      The draft resolution in Document 13663 is adopted, with 136 votes for, 2 against and 2 abstentions.

3. Election of judges to the European Court of Human Rights

      (Ms Brasseur, President of the Assembly, took the Chair in place of Mr Giovagnoli)

      THE PRESIDENT* – I must now announce the results of the ballot in the election of a judge to the European Court of Human Rights in respect of Serbia.

      Number of members voting: 167

      Blank or spoiled ballot papers: 8

      Votes cast: 159

      A relative majority is required.

      The votes cast were as follows:

      Mr Branko Lubarda: 90

      Mr Branko Rakić: 57

      Ms Spomenka Zarić: 12

      Accordingly, Mr Lubarda, having obtained a simple majority of votes cast, is elected a judge of the European Court of Human Rights for a term of office of nine years starting not later than three months from his election.

(Ms Brasseur, President of the Assembly, took the Chair in place of Mr Giovagnoli.)

4. Challenge, on substantive grounds, of the still unratified credentials of the delegation of the Russian Federation

      THE PRESIDENT* – The next item of business is the debate on the report entitled “Challenge, on substantive grounds, of the still unratified credentials of the delegation of the Russian Federation”, Document 13685, presented by Mr Stefan Schennach on behalf of the Committee on the Honouring of Obligations and Commitments by Member States of the Council of Europe, with an opinion, Document 13689, presented by Mr Hans Franken on behalf of the Committee on Rules of Procedure, Immunities and Institutional Affairs.

      I remind you that we have already agreed that in order to finish by 8 p.m. we shall interrupt the list of speakers at about 7.20 p.m. to allow time for the reply and the vote.

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

      Mr SCHENNACH (Austria) – For the second time in less than a year, I have been called upon as Chair of the Monitoring Committee to present a report on the issue of the credentials of the delegation of the Russian Federation. In my April 2014 report, I recommended to the Assembly that we suspend those credentials until the end of the year. One measure advocated was the creation of an ad hoc committee on Russia’s neighbourhood policy. It took some months to move from the boycott of the Russian delegation to some kind of dialogue with it.

      I have written the report under pressure of the events taking place in Crimea now. We know how the situation has evolved. A member State of the Council of Europe, Ukraine, has been destabilised. We know what form that destabilisation has taken. Thousands of people have paid for it with their lives. We know that the rule of law is absent. Persons described as “volunteers” and military forces are in part of a member State of the Council of Europe. The border of a member State of the Council of Europe is being violated. The border is not being respected as we understand the term, given the sovereignty of individual member States of the Council of Europe.

      Despite that, I have come up with a report addressing the issue from a different perspective. I wanted a strong report, one that stands for strength. It is important that the impetus for dialogue, which needs to thrive in the Council of Europe, should not flounder following the boycott.

      Some things would not tolerate any delay. I am thinking of the liberation of Nadiia Savchenko, for example. We will dispatch a team on behalf of the Monitoring Committee to Crimea with a view to ascertaining the situation in respect of human rights and the persecution of minorities. We cannot afford to waste any time. That is why I said to the Monitoring Committee that we need to show strength. In a monthly progress report, we need to state clearly what our demands are to the Russian Federation. The demands are in the report.

      In the committee, I heard from all sides the language that is expressed clearly in the monitoring report. We have stated clearly what our demands are. To comply with those requirements in such a short time will be difficult for the Russian Federation but it is only right that we come forward with those demands. As I say, time is of the essence. We could all decide to annul or withdraw the credentials to appear as heroes. For me, what is important is to achieve results.

      Only yesterday, we discussed the report on the consequences of the situation for refugees in Eastern Ukraine. It is important that we act. However, I have understood the comments made by the committee. That is why I am prepared to make a compromise in the form of an oral sub-amendment that I wish to move. It is important that the Assembly is not divided. All those who attended the Monitoring Committee meeting will know my position on the amendments to improve the wording. I think that the committee accepted my position unanimously. However, I refer you to Amendment 28 and the sub-amendment that has been tabled by Axel Fischer. I make this plea. We need a substantial majority to back that proposal but at the same time we need to appeal to the Russian Federation to understand that something has shifted in terms of the discussion since April. Therefore, it should not be tempted to fall into the reflex of closing shop and rejecting Amendment 28 and the oral sub-amendment. We were right to table that amendment in the light of the situation in Ukraine. Axel Fischer talks about the period until April – the period into the next part-session. However, we need a process where we at the level of the Parliamentary Assembly can continue with that dialogue. We and the Russian side have to find some middle way to uphold the values of the Council of Europe so that we can move forward together.

      If we look at the events in Ukraine, we are talking about the destabilisation of a member State of the Council of Europe. The scale of the conflict could be compared with that in the territory of the former Yugoslavia. There are serious military consequences as a result of destabilisation. If we enter into this compromise, the Russian Federation has to take that major step in our direction. I do not think we are asking too much of the Russian Federation. We have to understand the context. In this report – this is new compared with the report I presented in April – we mention Transnistria, Abkhazia, Ossetia and Nagorno-Karabakh. The description of the situation is therefore far more detailed. That is why it is important that we now engage in that dialogue. If we are prepared to enter into the compromise in respect of Amendment 28, together we can show strength and proceed from a position of strength. However, in order for that to happen we have, first, to insist on the release of Nadiia Savchenko. Secondly, we would need to dispatch a delegation to Crimea straight away, and I am prepared to go along with what the Russian delegation has called for – that we send a similar delegation to Eastern Ukraine. That is something we will certainly do.

      We can ensure that the corresponding decision is taken in the Monitoring Committee, and that we will be ready to go in that respect. So I appeal to Mr Pushkov: if we can enter into this compromise together, we can get somewhere, rather than standing at the margins looking on and being tempted to fall prey to a reflex.

      THE PRESIDENT* – I now ask Mr Franken to present the opinion of the Committee on Rules of Procedure, Immunities and Institutional Affairs. You have three minutes.

Mr FRANKEN (Netherlands) – First, I congratulate the rapporteur of the Monitoring Committee on his interesting report, which presents an in-depth analysis of the grounds that justify the challenge to the credentials of the Russian delegation. For the second time in just one year, our Assembly is called on to play its role of arbitrator and defender of democratic values and human rights in the framework of a challenge to the credentials of a delegation in this Assembly.

The Committee on Rules of Procedure, Immunities and Institutional Affairs has been mandated to consider whether the proposal contained in the Monitoring Committee’s report on the challenge on substantive grounds to the credentials of the Russian delegation complies with the Rules of Procedure, in particular Rule 10, and the Statute of the Council of Europe.

Moreover, at its meeting yesterday, my committee considered one of the issues raised in the report presented by the Monitoring Committee, namely the case of Ms Nadiia Savchenko. She is a member of the Verkhovna Rada and a member of the Ukrainian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly for the 2015 session. She has been in detention in the Russian Federation since June 2014.

The Bureau of the Assembly has requested an opinion from the Committee on Rules of Procedure, Immunities and Institutional Affairs on the status of Ms Savchenko with regard to Council of Europe immunity or, more precisely, how she may benefit from the protection afforded under the General Agreement on Privileges and Immunities of the Council of Europe and its Protocol.

The principle of parliamentary inviolability – immunity, in the strict sense – as recognised in the General Agreement on Privileges and Immunities of the Council of Europe, protects any parliamentarian from arrest, detention or prosecution without the authorisation of the parliament to which he or she belongs or of the Parliamentary Assembly.

Ms Savchenko enjoys European parliamentary immunity as a member of the Parliamentary Assembly. This immunity has an absolute nature, in that it is based on international law. The parliamentary immunity of a member of the Assembly must be waived before his or her freedom can be restricted, and the Assembly alone is able to waive the immunity of a member. With effect from the point of the ratification of credentials, Ms Savchenko can no longer be subject to any detention or prosecution measures, and any ongoing proceedings should be suspended for the duration of her term of office.

The Committee on Rules of Procedure, Immunities and Institutional Affairs therefore decided that these conclusions shall be reflected in the draft resolution, and it approved an amendment in which it demands that the Russian authorities honour their international law obligations and commitments under the General Agreement on Privileges and Immunities of the Council of Europe. This amendment has been unanimously supported by the Monitoring Committee, and we are grateful for this.

With regard to the conclusions made by the Monitoring Committee in its draft resolution as to the ratification of the Russian credentials and possible sanctions, my committee recalls that in September 2014 it approved, at the request of the Bureau, an opinion on rights of participation or representation of Assembly members who may be deprived or suspended in the context of a challenge of credentials. I also refer to this document.

The debate about this particular subject is far from over, and the Committee on Rules of Procedure, Immunities and Institutional Affairs will likely continue to reflect further on this important procedure.

THE PRESIDENT* – The rapporteurs have concluded their presentations. We now start the debate.

I call the first speaker, Mr Xuclà, on behalf of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.

Mr XUCLÀ (Spain)* – On 5 May 1949, following two world wars, the Council of Europe was founded, and it has since been extended to 47 countries. We now find ourselves facing the most dangerous conflict on European soil since the Second World War.

I think we can safely say that many of us suffered because of the wars in Yugoslavia and Ukraine, if not in the previous world wars, because those are the two wars that have marked our lives, and they test our values and the channels of dialogue.

The International Court of Justice condemned the use of force on the part of the Russian Federation. ALDE stands shoulder to shoulder with the Ukrainian people, who are the first victims of this war, and we believe that the Assembly and the Council of Europe are duty bound to play a role in helping to alleviate a humanitarian crisis that is afflicting many thousands of Ukrainians. We believe that this is one of our duties. We need to send an unequivocal political message to Russia, and we very much hope that we will be able to arrive at consensus on this.

There are different currents of opinion in ALDE, as in all the other political groups, about the way to approach this issue of verifying the credentials of the Russian delegation. This morning, ALDE decided that the suspension should be extended, but some felt that the best way of being helpful and useful, under the constraints within which we work, is to follow the road map presented to us by Mr Schennach – namely, to await June and see what progress has been made by then.

All of us here know that there is far more that unites us than divides us. We must not fragment. We must maintain our principles and we must retain our commitment to dialogue, in the face of violations of international law. On 5 May 1949, the founding fathers of the Council of Europe took steps to turn the Council of Europe into a venue for dialogue and exchanges and for restoring lost trust. We have lived through tragic events and, at the moment, peace seems a long, long way off. We should never, ever forget that the Council of Europe is where aggressors and victims should meet. This is where we meet, and it is where men and women from the war in Yugoslavia met.

Russia needs to face up to its responsibilities once again, and we must make it possible for it to remedy the harm that it has caused. We should do as was done on 5 May 1949.

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

      Mr WALTER (United Kingdom) – There is a real danger that, at the end of today, this Assembly will look stupid and supine. Mr Schennach is a much respected member of this Assembly and Chair of the Monitoring Committee. His report is concise and clear. In April, we imposed sanctions against the Russian delegation, following their enthusiastic support for the annexation of Crimea and their failure to recognise the territorial integrity and sovereignty of another member State. We did not close off dialogue. The Russian delegation has been welcome to attend our meetings and explain its position, but for nine months it chose not to attend.

      The report is clear that nothing has changed. In fact, Russian military involvement in Eastern Ukraine is a further violation of its sovereignty. Madam President, why should we now weaken the sanctions? Mr Schennach, why should we now restore the Russian delegation’s voting rights? The Russian delegation is still in breach of the basic principles of this Organisation. This is not the time to weaken our stand. The Russian delegation has shown no contrition, no apology and no remorse. On the contrary, Russia has continued to threaten its neighbours.

      I consider myself a good European. I believe in European solidarity. I remind colleagues from all 28 European Union countries, and from Norway, Iceland, Albania, Montenegro and Switzerland, that together our governments, with the support of our parliaments and our peoples, have supported sanctions and reinforced them. Let us today across the whole of Europe show real European solidarity with the people of Ukraine, as well as those of Georgia and Moldova, in defence of the rule of law and the values of the Council of Europe.

      Colleagues, I implore you to keep the sanctions on Russia until it shows some remorse and restores Ukraine’s territorial integrity. Mr Schennach, and colleagues from across Europe, please support us. Remember: if you feed the bear, he might eat your hand.

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

      Mr KOX (Netherlands) – I will not follow Bob Walter in suggesting that this Assembly might look stupid tonight. I cherish this European platform for parliamentary diplomacy and had thought that Bob Walter was on my side. I am sorry that he appears to have lost that idea.

      The political group to which I belong is by far the smallest, so we cannot use our votes to really influence the Assembly’s decisions; we can only use our arguments. I will therefore explain why we are in favour of this resolution and why we oppose any amendments that would change its very nature.

      First, we think that it is important to signal that any member State that does not respect the territorial integrity of another is in clear breach of international law. If the resolution emphasises that, it will have our support.

      Secondly, we think that it is important for our biggest member State to do its utmost to help end the gruesome civil war in Ukraine, and that it is important to signal that this Assembly is not convinced that Russia is doing its utmost in that regard. If the resolution underlines that, it will have our support.

      Thirdly, we think that it is important to signal that other players, notably the European Union and the United States, should refrain from anything that might escalate the conflict and do more to help end the armed confrontation. If the resolution supports that, it will have our support.

      Fourthly, we think that it is important never to forget that the first responsibility to end the armed confrontation and return to the negotiating table lies with the Ukrainian Government and those who are rebelling against it. We think that it is important to recall President Poroshenko’s solemn declaration that there is no military solution to the conflict. If the resolution acknowledges that, it will have our support.

      Fifthly, the resolution is a result of long and difficult negotiations between members and political groups, and it has the support of four or five leaders of political groups. A compromise reached in that way should be dealt with very carefully. If the resolution is protected in this way, we will support it.

      Sixthly, as the resolution is a compromise, we have big problems with amendments that, according to the rapporteur, will change its very nature. We ask those who want to propose such amendments to consider carefully whether they want to make the change and, in so doing, threaten the whole project.

      Seventhly, if we change the nature of the resolution, it might send a message to the Russian Parliament to suspend its co-operation with this Assembly, which would not be wise but could easily happen. That could stimulate Russia to take a more negative position overall towards the organs of the Council of Europe, first and foremost our European Court of Human Rights, which protects 130 million Russian citizens. Let us not forget that that, too, is at stake.

      Eighthly, this week the Chair of the Committee of Ministers explained in this Chamber that there are no limitations sought or imposed upon the functioning of the Russian Government in that statutory body of the Council of Europe. If all our governments find it necessary to maintain their diplomatic platform, why should we parliamentarians deprive ourselves and the other statutory body of this Organisation of the most important international arena for parliamentarians in Europe? As long as our governments maintain their dialogue with Russia, we should not refrain from it.

      Ladies and gentleman, now you know my group’s arguments. I will listen carefully to all your arguments.

      THE PRESIDENT – I call Mr Gross, who speaks on behalf of the Socialist Group.

      Mr GROSS (Switzerland)* – The Socialist Group thanks Stefan for his tremendous work, the painstaking way in which he went about it and his innovative approach. Over the past few days, we have had three opportunities, six hours and 50 participants to try and form an opinion, and the majority supports the report and the new rationale. The rationale is self-explanatory. We are the home of democracy, and we do not throw out the miscreants as though they were pupils being expelled from school. Rather, we are like a hospital for democracy. If anyone is ailing, you do what you can to cure them and help them overcome a crisis. That is what we are here for. That is what we need to do in the face of this conflict.

      We are seeing all kinds of rights being ridden over roughshod, but there is no solution if we go down the road of conflict. Only a peaceful solution is possible. If we are to have a peaceful solution, we have to talk to one another. We have to convince those on the other side that they have made mistakes and ensure that they are confronted with the consequences of their actions. We must extend a helping hand, and the only way to do that is by engaging with those who hold different opinions. That is precisely what we do here. It is not about chucking people out. Rather, it is about being savvy, showing them that what they are doing is simply not on. If we want that badly enough, we must adopt Stefan’s road map.

      The Assembly is now willing to work together. We need to look at the situation in Crimea and Donbass and show the Russian delegation that the situation is intolerable. We have to work in the interests of the ordinary people and overcome the war. That is why we need the Russians here alongside us. Throwing them out would be the simplest solution, but that is like a really bad teacher simply giving his pupils very poor marks. We do not just want to stand up and say that we were very strict just so as to be able to have clear consciences. Rather, we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work together. We should not think that we would be showing our strength by punishing the miscreants. That is not the way to make progress; if you do not even try to do that at the start, that is to capitulate and to be weak.

      THE PRESIDENT* – I call Mr Agramunt to speak on behalf of the Group of the European People’s Party.

      Mr AGRAMUNT (Spain)* – Resolution 1990, passed last April, as is well known, gave the conditions under which Russia could come back into the Assembly. I trusted that the Minsk agreement would be the basis for return to normality through respect for the cease-fire and for dialogue. However, the reality is very different.

Hopes for the Minsk solution were dashed, with thousands killed, including women and children – people were dying each day on both sides of the conflict – and with refugees amounting to more than 1.5 million, both in Ukraine and outside it. The situation for the Crimean Tatars is appalling; there has been a crackdown on the press in the Donbass and Crimea. There have been terrorist acts in Odessa, Kiev and Kharkiv and there has now been an attack on civilians in Mariupol, with 30 dead and 100 injured. We have also seen other attacks on the civilian population in Mariupol and Donetsk. How can a country such as Russia, which knew that this week we were going to have an important debate on its credentials, have done nothing to reduce the tension? Instead, it has increased it.

Russia is party to the Minsk agreement and it has the authority to release Nadiia Savchenko, who has parliamentary immunity that Russia has not respected, as we have heard today. Russia has the power to protect the border with Ukraine and prevent the passage of mercenaries, soldiers and arms across the border. It has the power to exert its influence on the rebels in Ukraine and to stop the war right now. For all these reasons, the Group of the European People's Party, which I represent here, must note the lack of will on the Russian side to reduce tension and comply with the Minsk agreement and stop the war.

I am a fervent advocate of dialogue, consensus and above all peace. The Assembly is the right place for the representatives of the Russians and Ukrainians, together with us, to have a dialogue and debate the issues. For that, we need the conditions that were rightly listed by Mr Schennach in his excellent report. Our group, by an overwhelming majority, proposes that there is no objective reason for returning the voting rights of the Russian delegation and that if there is no progress between now and April – or if there are positive changes – we can have another debate and reconsider the issue. Our group will reject all the amendments except for Amendments 13, 29, 27, 28, so long as the oral sub-amendment is adopted, 23 and 22. We will also listen to the proposal made by the rapporteur, Mr Schennach, about a new oral sub-amendment on the position to be taken in due course.

      THE PRESIDENT – I see that the rapporteur wishes to respond at the end of the debate, so I call Ms Vėsaitė.

      Ms VĖSAITĖ (Lithuania) – Nine months ago, we adopted the resolution by which the Russian delegation's voting rights have been suspended. Is that not enough time for Russia to do at least something positive to solve the conflict? All they did was arrogantly leave the Assembly and escape having a dialogue with us.

That resolution said that the Assembly reserved the right to annul the credentials of the Russian delegation if they did not de-escalate the situation and reverse the annexation of Crimea. Have they done anything about that? No, nothing. The situation is dramatically deteriorating while there are efforts to soften the sanctions. That looks like a mockery of the whole essence of the Assembly and of the Council of Europe as a whole.

Does anybody in this Chamber still believe that Russia stands aside from the war in Ukraine? Thousands of people have been killed and more than 1 million have become refugees. How would you vote today if they were your relatives or friends? Even now, as we are speaking, people might be being killed. If we soften the sanctions on the Russian delegation, what will the Ukrainian delegation say to their people when they go back? Are they being left alone? Is Europe – Europe, in whose democracy the Ukrainians believe so much – supporting them? I will have doubts about that if we vote to lift the suspension of Russia's voting rights.

The suspension of voting rights does not mean the suspension of participation or of having a political dialogue. It was the Russian delegation that decided not to have the dialogue, not us. Now it dares to blackmail the Council of Europe by saying that it will leave this institution if we do not return its voting rights. While we are making concessions and trying politely to suggest political dialogue, Russia is trying to stretch the limits further. When the Russians finish with Ukraine, you never know which country might be next. Might it be Moldova, Georgia or perhaps the Baltic States?

In his report, Mr Schennach is sending a strong political message to the Kremlin. The Monitoring Committee has found a very clever political solution, so I support the report and urge you to vote for Amendment 28.

      Ms DJUROVIĆ (Serbia) – Since last April, when the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe voted to suspend the voting rights of the Russian delegation, the Russian Federation has frequently been mentioned in discussions on many topics, but in the absence of its elected representatives. One of the main topics of this part-session is the question of the credentials of the Russian delegation and this is the first time that I have applied to speak and express my opinion, as I do not want my silence to be interpreted as support for those who are louder in expressing theirs. The fact that they are louder does not mean that they are right.

All of us in this Chamber are not just the MPs of the countries we come from but members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, which involves not just certain rights but certain obligations, including an obligation to maintain the relevance and reputation of the Council of Europe as an institution. Secretary General Jagland has always emphasised that his main priorities include increasing our visibility and strengthening our reputation and relevance. That is primarily achieved by obtaining results in tackling conflict situations, such as that between Ukraine and Russia.

MPs of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Parliamentary Assembly have obviously understood that better than us, as they have not even discussed the suspension of the voting rights of the Russian delegation but have rather promoted dialogue. Today, they can boast of the results that they have achieved, which have enabled the OSCE further to strengthen its global position. We should ask ourselves what we have done and whether we have done anything to strengthen the position of the Council of Europe in any way. I am afraid that we have not. Instead of learning from previous mistakes, there are even new proposals not to ratify the credentials of the Russian delegation. That is, in my opinion, exactly opposite to the fundamental principle that the Council of Europe is based on and is certainly contrary to the principle of dialogue, and it would diminish the Council of Europe’s position as an institution.

      I might never agree with the positions taken by MPs of the Russian Federation or of any other member State, but I will always fight for their democratic right to express their opinion. I will never vote for the exclusion of any Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe member from any country. MPs are elected representatives of the citizens of the countries they come from. By excluding them, you are excluding the citizens of that country, which is not in line with the Council of Europe’s spirit. We should bear in mind that it was established with the aim of promoting democracy and human rights.

      I will vote for the ratification of credentials and voting rights of the Russian delegation. I invite all members not to be led by their personal feelings when voting, but to vote, as responsible politicians, in line with the Council of Europe’s interests, and this interest is definitely dialogue.

      Mr BOROWSKI (Poland) – This report contains deep and precise analysis, but its conclusions are completely contradictory. Paragraph 16 of the resolution of April 2014, which limits the powers of the Russian delegation said: “The Assembly reserves the right to annul the credentials of the Russian delegation, if the Russian Federation does not de-escalate the situation and reverse the annexation of Crimea”. I stress the use of the word “annul” – cancel, not lift or soften. Crimea is still occupied by Russia. Instead of de-escalation, the violence has been stepped up and spread.

      Immediately after grasping Crimea, Russia began to encourage and support separatists in Eastern Ukraine by dispatching weapons and troops there. The separatists and disguised Russian soldiers permanently break the Minsk agreement and attack not only the Ukrainian army but civilians, as happened recently in Mariupol. Chauvinist and slanderous propaganda is being spread in Russia, and the democratically elected Ukrainian Government is denounced as a junta and labelled fascist.

      All these facts convince us that Russia cannot accept the fact that Ukraine can choose its own way – the path to Europe. In April, Russian delegates assured us that the so-called “small, green people” in Crimea had nothing to do with the Russian army and that their weapons were bought in the shops. After three months, Mr Putin admitted lying. Yesterday, our Russian friends were trying to convince us that there are no Russian soldiers or Russian weapons in Donbass. Dear friends, please do not insult our intelligence!

      In conclusion, the restrictions imposed in April should be maintained and a clear sign should be sent that the Council of Europe expects that the Russian Federation will assure a real cease-fire, start to withdraw heavy weapons and troops from Donbass and allow the Ukrainian authorities to control their borders. Only these steps can provide reasons to lift or limit the sanctions. There is no need to insert into the report 21 partly unrealistic conditions, while easing the sanctions. The Russian delegation threatens withdrawing Russia from the Council of Europe. If that happens, we will regret it, but free democratic countries defend their values and cannot give in to blackmail. We must say loudly and clearly that the Council of Europe will never accept any aggression. If Russia wants to be a member of the Council of Europe, it has to observe common rules and values.

      Mr ZINGERIS (Lithuania) – Today, we are facing a decision about a very clear issue: a member of the Council of Europe has attacked another country. Mr Gross, who is a good democrat and dear friend of democracy throughout the world, has just said that our Organisation is like a hospital. If it is like a hospital, Andreas, I shall cite one of Russia’s obligations when it entered this great hospital, the Council of Europe, in 1996: “to ratify, within six months from the time of accession, the agreement of 21 October 1994 between the Russian and Moldovan Governments, and to continue the withdrawal of the 14th Army and its equipment from the territory of Moldova within a time-limit of three years from the date of signature of the agreement”.

      Have the problems of the Transnistria region been solved or have the wounds of the Georgian war healed? No. So, Mr Gross, most of your 28 points have not been fulfilled after entering the hospital. In a hospital, you cure the patient, but he has not been healed since 1996. I am sorry, Andreas, but 19 years have passed and we should not turn this hospital into the cemetery of European values.

      I have been here since 1993. I remember the brave Russian democrat, Sergei Kovalev, and other friends of mine and yours, Andreas, who were in the Russian delegation. What has become of them now? They have become foreign agents under the law on foreign agents and NGOs in Russia.

      Where is our diversity of opinion? Even yesterday, the Ukrainian delegation expressed absolute diversity of opinion about the military situation in Ukraine. They expressed all possible opinions. Now we have only one opinion: everything is all right with our dear friends from Russia.

      Finally, what should we do with the Helsinki Act and with points about the stability of the borders? All the agreements relate to the post-war order. Should we open the Pandora’s box of negotiating our European borders? What about the European Union? Ukraine would like to become a member of the European Union. We hope that Russia will become one in the future. I hope that Ukraine has the right to become a member of the European Union and it should not be punished for doing so. From my point of view, we should support the report and vote in favour of Amendment 28.

      Ms BECK (Germany) – We are not talking about Ukraine and Russia only today; we are talking about the Assembly’s authority. In April, the Assembly decided that if the annexation of Crimea was not reversed and if the situation did not get better, we would consider removing these credentials. No one is now talking about taking away Russia’s credentials totally. We are talking now about the question of whether the Russians should get all their rights, including the right to vote in the Chamber, or whether we should ensure the Assembly’s authority.

      Since the resolution in April, which we all decided together, nothing has got better; everything has got worse. We not only have the annexation of Crimea but the undercover war in Donbass. The secretary general of the OSCE said today that the weapons are coming from Russia. We had the shooting down of MH17 and 300 civilians lost their lives. We had the rockets on Mariupol just a few days ago.

      In such a situation, our colleagues from Russia are not patients. I think that we should respect them and take them seriously as adult, responsible parliamentarians. Until now, however, they have not shown that they want to debate with us. I can say that from a German perspective because I think that no chancellor or foreign minister has had such close contact with the Russian Administration as those from Germany. There have been hundreds of telephone calls, tens of meetings, different formats – the Geneva format, the Normandy format, the Minsk format – and every time, the Russian delegation backed away from what it promised and signed. That is a terrible situation, and I think, dear Andy, that our colleagues – indeed, dear Russians, you are here; you must be held responsible for what you are doing. If we do not hold you responsible and instead treat you like children, that is not correct. I respect you.

      Dear colleagues from Russia, if you want the delegation to stay, please do not threaten us. Do not tell us that you will leave if we do not do what you want. Yes, you are invited to come back, but you must accept that voting rights will be returned to you only when things have really started to change for the better.

      Mr ROMANOVICH (Russian Federation)* – For today’s debate, I had prepared a carefully crafted text, but I now have to change what I was going to read out and answer some of the questions that have been asked and address points that have been raised. I say to the distinguished member of the German Parliament – if we are to talk as adults and respect one another – that what this measure really amounts to is an attempt to exclude our country from pan-European dialogue, and that is a very serious matter.

      Another serious issue is that we are in danger of opening up Pandora’s box. We talk about Ms Savchenko – I fully respect the woman, but unfortunately she is in prison and the situation is a Pandora’s box. We will end up with members of our Parliamentary Assembly who are subject to serious judicial sentences and have been found guilty. Mr Lugovoi is subject to an arrest warrant in the United Kingdom, but what about Viktor Bout who was illegally moved out to the United States? Could he find himself on the list, and then be able to participate in the Parliamentary Assembly? No. What are the real reasons for excluding the Russian Federation from pan-European dialogue? I appeal to all members of the Assembly to assess the situation in which we now find ourselves. Nobody is blackmailing anybody. We are holding out a hand. We want to engage in dialogue with a view to bringing to an end a conflict with a country that is our fraternal neighbour.

      Mr POZZO DI BORGO (France)* – To tackle the substance of this issue, we must consider three elements: first, the status of parliamentarians vis-à-vis the Committee of Ministers; secondly, the effectiveness of the sanctions that our Assembly voted for in April; and thirdly, the overall political and diplomatic situation.

      We suspended the voting rights of our Russian colleagues last year, but what was the result? First and foremost, we deprived ourselves of the possibility of discussing issues with our colleagues in both the plenary session and the committees, and our President had to make the greatest of efforts to keep open the channels between Strasbourg and Moscow. I note, moreover, that the Russians continued to participate normally in the Committee of Ministers. Why should we parliamentarians cut ourselves off from any kind of room for manoeuvre and thereby bring about the doom of parliamentary diplomacy?

      We are all parliamentarians, and I am shocked that the sanctions that were decided by the European community and parliamentarians should affect other parliamentarians in this way. I am shocked that our Assembly’s Rules of Procedure mean that people can demand the suspension of voting rights of other parliamentarians. I am shocked that those Rules of Procedure are used against human rights and the separation of powers. I am shocked because suspending the voting rights of a parliamentarian is a trend that is out of line and too close to an authoritarian or even totalitarian concept of the way that a Parliamentary Assembly should exercise powers. I am also a member of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly. Russians are still members of that assembly, and the OSCE has been much more effective in trying to resolve this conflict than the Council of Europe – let us think about that.

      My second point concerns whether we think that sanctions have in any way changed the way things are on the ground. I do not think so. Fighting in Donbass has started up again over the past few weeks, and the report of the Astana summit and the Normandy format, which was initially expected on 15 January, does not augur well. Discussions on the future status of the separatist regions in the east of Ukraine – one aspect of the Minsk agreement – are getting nowhere.

      In spite of everything, I remain convinced that it is in the interests of both Ukraine and Russia to de-escalate the situation. Kiev is aware that it is impossible to retake the Donbass by force of arms, especially given the fact that the ongoing war is ruining its economy and preventing it from implementing the structural reforms that the country so badly needs. Moscow is isolated on the international scene, and its economy is suffering from European Union sanctions, even though the dramatic fall in the price of oil has contributed to the situation. Parliamentarians must have freedom to vote; that is the most important thing I have to say.

      Ms L’OVOCHKINA (Ukraine) – Many of you know that the south-east of Ukraine, the Donbass region, and Crimea, did not participate in the parliamentary elections that were held in Ukraine, and those regions are under-represented in the Ukrainian Parliament, and completely unrepresented in the Ukrainian Government. I belong to the political force that represents south-east Ukraine, and I want to emphasise to the Assembly that some people are directly suffering from the conflict – I mean those who stay in Donbass, Luhansk or the occupied territory of Crimea. The rest of the people in south-east Ukraine – Kharkiv, Odessa, Zaporizhia, Dnipropetrovsk and other cities – are simply afraid of war coming to their doors.

      As a representative of south-east Ukraine in this Assembly, I wish to say that the people want nothing but peace. Peace is essential for the people of Ukraine. However, I must also be frank and open and say that there are political forces in Ukraine that request and promote war, and I believe that the Assembly should discourage the ancient-style initiatives of our Prime Minister, such as building a wall between Russia and Ukraine.

      We should discourage the desire for war of Mr Turchynov, the head of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine. He makes open political statements saying that only war and victory will resolve the situation in the east of Ukraine. He even has a nickname – “The Bloody Pastor” – in Ukraine, and I believe that such things are done to distract the Ukrainian population from the government’s economic failures, ongoing corruption, and the lack of reforms. I agree with the rapporteur, who said that dialogue is needed, but dialogue is also needed within Ukraine – comprehensive constitutional reform should be the basis for dialogue among the regions of Ukraine. There must be a dialogue between us and the Russian Federation at the presidential level, at the parliamentary level and at the government level. However, I also agree with the rapporteur that pressure must be kept up. I believe that we should keep the sanctions in place to encourage Russia to engage in meaningful and essential dialogue with Ukraine and the whole of Europe.

      Mr PUSHKOV (Russian Federation) – As we have confirmed quite a few times, Russia is interested in keeping up a dialogue and co-operation with the Parliamentary Assembly. That is why, even after the sanctions were introduced against our delegation, in contradiction of the principles of parliamentarianism, Russia still had contacts with the Parliamentary Assembly. Although we could not take part in the workings of the Assembly as an equal partner – sanctions precluded that – we still maintained contacts and we had a number of meetings with the Presidential Committee, in Paris, in Strasbourg and in Moscow, we took part in the workings of some committees of the Parliamentary Assembly and we accepted the monitoring missions in Russia.

      Therefore, in the spirit of dialogue and co-operation, the Russian delegation is willing to address the Russian authorities to allow representatives of the Parliamentary Assembly, if they wish, to visit Ms Savchenko in the place of her detention, to have a clear idea of her physical state and to be able to exchange opinions with her. I want to let you know that Ms Savchenko is not just a member of parliament; she is a military person who is accused of the serious crime of assisting in the killing of two Russian journalists. In spite of that, we are quite willing to make this move.

      We are also willing, as we informed the Presidential Committee, to let a mission of the Monitoring Committee visit Crimea to prepare a report on human rights there. At the same time, we insist on a report being prepared on the violations of human rights in Eastern Ukraine. We heard just now that there is a war party. Yesterday, when we discussed the issue of refugees, we bypassed the question of why about a million people have left Eastern Ukraine – to a large extent, they were running from the devastation that was brought to the area by the Ukrainian army. The Minsk agreement calls for a cease-fire on both sides. I think that it is well known that at least a large part of what happens in Eastern Ukraine is the responsibility of the Ukrainian military forces.

      We are not blackmailing anybody and I suggest that we refrain from using such offensive language. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe should take a balanced opinion. Without Russia, will the old European inter-parliamentary dialogue be more productive or less productive? Will it help to bring about a solution to the crisis in Ukraine? Who wins from ending such a dialogue? What will prevail, finally – emotions or reason? It is up to you to give the answer.

      Mr SUDARENKOV (Russian Federation)* – May I make a little digression to 2009, when we discussed a similar issue? At that time, the then President, Mr de Puig, who I think was a great parliamentarian, asked us all a question: “Have we done everything we can to deal with the situation?” That is the right question to ask today, too. As I see it, all of us – I include myself; I am criticising myself first and foremost – have taken up positions that are not consistent with the main aim of this Organisation, as expressed by our Secretary General, to represent all sides of the question. I do not see all sides of the question being represented. One side, yes, but what about the other side? How can we have dialogue with only one side represented?

      If we have dialogue, we do not have to assess the situation in the virtual world, on the Internet. We do not have to talk about the people living in Russia who are former Ukrainians. Let us talk about who is undermining the Minsk agreement. Let us talk about who is preventing a settlement from being achieved. As I see it, the Parliamentary Assembly did not understand the situation in Ukraine when it was developing. The key to any conflict is in the roots – the beginning – of that conflict. At that time, nobody wanted to look into what was happening and we see the results today.

      If we adopt a hard-line resolution, it will not change anything. It will keep things one-sided, as they have been so often before. We should bear in mind the fact that up to 75% of my fellow Russians have no objection to the idea of Russia no longer being a part of the Parliamentary Assembly. That is a matter of concern for me and, I think, not just for me alone.

      Mr MARIANI (France)* – In three weeks, I will be present – like a number of you, perhaps – in Vienna for the Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE. The OSCE exists to deal with questions of security; that is its purpose. At the OSCE, I have met Ukrainians, Russians, Americans and Europeans – all members of parliament. Despite the situation, in the OSCE, dialogue is on-going. As Mr Pozzo di Borgo said, the governments are continuing to engage in dialogue. Other international organisations and diplomats are continuing with the dialogue. What do we want to do? Do we want to be the only Assembly where the dialogue has been completely broken off for a whole year?

      Let us look at the results of the last nine months. The result has been zero – nothing. Who in this Assembly could think for one second that depriving a delegation of the right to vote would bring about peace? If that were the case, of course I would deprive the delegation of the right to vote. However, like you, I am familiar with history. I know that the blockade of England by Napoleon and the sanctions against Cuba by the United States led to nothing. If sanctions were to bring about peace, then okay – let us wait and see. The fact is, however, that sanctions lead each time to a loss of dialogue and a loss of confidence.

      If we give a chance for dialogue once again for a short period, would that bring about peace? I do not know, but at least it would give peace a chance. We can all list massacres and say, “Remember Mariupol and Odessa.” Is that a solution or might we in a few months’ time find ourselves in a position where we could add a few more towns to that list? Twenty-four hours ago, Mr Sheridan reminded us that a million people have been displaced in Ukraine and that many lives have been lost. How many refugees are there? I do not know, but, unlike Mr Walter, I do not think that this is a matter of being brave or pusillanimous. I want everyone to defend their deeply held convictions, whether they support Mr Schennach’s report or not. On Monday, Mr Reynders stressed that Russia’s involvement in the Council of Europe is crucial, not only for Russia, but for us. I am convinced that it would be counter-productive to vote against Mr Schennach’s report, because we would then continue in our current position of ignorance. We need to remain in dialogue. Sometimes it is difficult to understand one another. Mr Schennach, I will support your report.

      Mr SLUTSKY (Russian Federation)* – This is a moment of truth in our Parliamentary Assembly, of which I have been a member for 14 years. We have been together on many difficult occasions; when blood was shed in Chechnya, we worked hard on that and found a solution. We were deprived of our right to vote then, too, but that did not help. Any sanction, split, or undermining of parliamentary diplomacy will not work. We need to unite our nations, look for the points on which we can agree, and use that as a basis for finding a solution.

      The same thing happened in 2008-09, when the whole world laboured under the illusion that the Russian Federation had attacked poor defenceless Georgia. Once again, we worked hard on that, as we did in the case of the Chechen Republic, and of South Ossetia. You will recall Frank Judd, Andreas Gross and Rudolf Bindig; Andreas Gross is still with the Assembly. Now Mr Schennach is proposing something constructive: setting up a working group and having a special report on the situation in Crimea. We are talking about taking steps together that will allow us to find the truth and do away with the lies polluting the political sphere – lies that those who want to build a unipolar world are interested in telling. That is resulting in blood being spilled in the Russian world.

      The Russian Federation is a great power; it will not hold out its hands, begging for its credentials to be ratified. We want to participate in the most all-encompassing organisation of Europe, which is the Council of Europe, and in particular in its Parliamentary Assembly. Today more than ever before, we must find a way that will either bring us closer together or divide us and send us in different directions, resulting in a split of Europe. I think we must stay together to build our common European house on the basis of the great Council of Europe values. I call on you to vote in favour of the Schennach report and against the destructive Amendment 28.

      Ms ZELIENKOVÁ (Czech Republic) – In response to the occupation of Crimea, we withdrew Russian voting rights and deprived Russia of all leading positions within the Parliamentary Assembly last April. We also reserved the right to annul the credentials of the Russian delegation if Russia did not reverse its annexation of Crimea. How has the situation evolved since then? Russia, illegally and illegitimately, made Crimea part of its territory. As a consequence, an atmosphere of fear was established. Human rights violations, murders, kidnappings, imprisonments and intimidation of not only direct opponents of the occupation but all Crimean Tatars and Ukrainians have become part of daily life in Crimea. Tens of thousands of people have fled, having been deprived of their dignity, property and homeland.

      We all know what followed: Russia tried to apply the same scenario to the area of Donbass. As with the Crimean crisis, Moscow claims that it has nothing to do with this annexation of Ukrainian territory. However, we all know that Russia is the initiator and administrator of the armed rebellion against the Ukrainian State. Our observers, journalists and secret services daily inform us of convoys of armoured vehicles, including fighting vehicles, weapons and dozens of Russian soldiers heading from Russia to the Ukrainian territories, which are under attacks from rebels.

      We are aware that this war chased hundreds of thousands of people from their homes. We are aware that it caused a lot of hatred, and that it will be long before these people can again live together peacefully. We are also aware that no one hurt the Russian-speaking citizens of Ukraine as much as President Putin. We are aware that without Russian support, the war would be long over. We must annul the credentials of the Russian delegation today, rather than simply renewing the recent limitations in the Parliamentary Assembly, because Russia has just started a new war. Russia must also realise that if it continues with its expansive politics, it will not be welcome in the Council of Europe any more.

      Ms CHRISTOFFERSEN (Norway) – I thank the rapporteur for his very balanced report. We are in an extremely difficult situation. What is the right thing to do? I wish I knew. What I do know is that we have an obligation towards the people of Ukraine, and we must strongly condemn Russia’s lack of respect for international law. Through its actions, Russia has inflicted unbelievable pain and suffering on innocent people. War is unacceptable, as is annexation of the territory of another country.

      In this tragic situation for Ukraine, Europe, and even Russia itself, many speakers in the Assembly have called for the Council of Europe to show its strength. We can all agree on that, but what is strength in this most dangerous crisis for Europe since the Second World War? In my opinion, it would be showing strength to contribute to a peaceful solution, which is something that, unfortunately, no one has been able to achieve – in other words, to make a difference. We have a common goal: peace in Ukraine. We differ, though, when it comes to effective means. Last year, we tried to force a solution by limiting the Russian credentials, but that did not work. The suffering of the Ukrainian people is growing, and the war continues to escalate.

      The report suggests another solution, based on the work done in the ad hoc sub-committee on Russia’s neighbourhood policy. The Russian delegation took part in discussions in these meetings. They gave some limited signals of being willing to take part in further dialogue and in setting up a special working group with high representatives from the Duma and the Verkhovna Rada, as well as independent international experts. I find this road map worth trying. A precondition for the Russian delegation is that their credentials are not limited this time. Some have called this giving in to Russian blackmail. It could also be seen as an attempt to keep the dialogue going in hope of finding a solution for peace. The benefit of bringing in independent experts might be that this working group could go deeper into the conflict than we have been able to so far.

      For this Assembly, human rights are at stake. For Russia, I think this war is more about naval bases in Crimea and access to the Black Sea. If independent experts could contribute to finding solutions to the underlying conflicts, perhaps we could gradually manoeuvre into a better position to end this tragedy. In that sense, I think the resolution represents a balance between head and heart that is worth trying until June.

      Mr ARIEV (Ukraine) – Before distinguished colleagues vote, I call on them to look at some photos I have of Mariupol. Of course, you could visit Donbass and speak to the relatives of people killed by Russian weapons, but the photos might help you understand the situation from a distance. If you want further evidence of Russian involvement in Ukraine, you could look at the photos of Russian soldiers in Donetsk pictured with the leader of the so-called “Donetsk People’s Republic”, or at the photo of that same person’s military ticket, which was issued by the Russian Federation’s ministry of defence. We have enough evidence of the Russian military’s presence on Ukraine’s territory.

      I have been asked why we have to impose sanctions on Russian parliamentarians, if perhaps it is not fair, but I remind the Assembly that they are guilty of many things. First, they voted for the annexation of Crimea – people present in this Chamber voted for that. They also voted for Russian troops to invade Ukraine – they gave permission for that. We have heard no regrets from them and they have not taken a step back. Has there been any dialogue since Resolution 1990 was adopted last April? Yesterday we heard definitions of the word “dialogue” and I called on the President to stop it, because it was offensive to Ukrainians and contained elements of hate speech. Paragraph 16 of Resolution 1990 reserved the right of the Assembly to annul the credentials of the Russian delegation. We do not insist on that, but it is illogical that sanctions be kept at the same level, because the Russians have not taken a step back.

      The report is full of impressive quotations and facts, but there is a lack of coherence. It is like giving a €15 fine for murder. If there are clear facts, they must be met with corresponding sanctions. As a compromise, I call on the Assembly to support Amendment 14 and only one of the oral sub-amendments.

      Mr BELYAKOV (Russian Federation)* – We have heard a lot of criticism today of the Russian delegation, but the delegation is not uniform in its composition. I represent an opposition party and we have often worked with European institutions on accusations of falsification of election results. Over the past five years, at least two of my colleagues have suffered: one was killed by firearms and the other was seriously wounded.

      When a large number of declarations started to appear in the mass media about the supposed presence of Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory, as the chairman of an anti-corruption committee in the Russian Federation, I was very interested in finding documentary evidence. I very much regret, however, that I did not manage to find anything. Many have talked about supposedly thousands of Russian soldiers crossing the Ukrainian border with tanks and artillery, but where are the dead and wounded Russian soldiers? Where are the prisoners of war? I have looked for proof of their supposed activities on Ukrainian territory, but I have not found any.

      The European media constantly report that military aircraft and tanks are entering Crimea and Eastern Ukraine, but there is no factual evidence for that. Apparently there are photographs. Show them to us – I would like to see them on the television, but that does not happen. There is a flow of propaganda.

      The situation reminds me of what happened in Iraq. We will discuss media liberty tomorrow. All the media said there were weapons of mass destruction and even nuclear weapons in Iraq and that we had to take over Iraq in order to save democracy, but that turned out to be completely untrue. That is exactly what is happening today to the Russian Federation.

We are in favour of parliamentary dialogue. We have participated in a lot of meetings and have included Sergey Naryshkin, the speaker of our parliament, in the Russian delegation. How much more evidence do you need to be convinced that we want to engage in dialogue? It is deplorable that so many lies are being repeated. A lot of people in this Chamber do not understand that they are under the influence of mendacious propaganda.

Mr SOBOLEV (Ukraine) – The main argument we hear now is that we need dialogue. We Ukrainians have waited for that dialogue for the past one to two months. We have even waited for that dialogue these past three days, not only with those present in the Chamber, but with the Speaker of State Duma of the Russian Federation, Mr Naryshkin, who had the opportunity to attend a round-table meeting.

We are referred to as the Ukrainian junta. The speaker of the State Duma – a State servant – does not recognise the Ukrainian President, Government or parliamentarians, and yet they want dialogue? What are we waiting for? We are waiting for Russian delegates to apologise for their decision to send Russian troops. That was the decision of their State Duma, but they do not see what they voted for – troops in my country. Thousands have been killed, tens of thousands wounded and 1 million have lost their homes. Perhaps you should apologise for that. Perhaps you should apologise for the annexation of Crimea. But all you say is, “No, they’re not our troops. There are no tanks in Crimea.” Please go to Crimea to see them. You say, “There are no dead or wounded Russian soldiers,” but who are we giving each day to your government? Who now controls 220 km2 of Ukrainian land? Russians and the terrorists they finance.

Please answer this question: what are these “humanitarian” convoys passing through our land? Why are more and more people being killed by your weapons after the convoys have been through? You give no answer. I am sorry, but that is not dialogue.

I thank the rapporteur for his excellent report, which includes all the facts about Russian troops, but we want the compromise offered by Amendment 28. It is an excellent amendment, which gives Russia three months to fulfil its obligations to Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova. We will see how things stand in April. If progress has been made, we will go forward. If not, then sorry – this Organisation has principles and we will not change them because somebody wants to kill somebody else.

      Mr KVATCHANTIRADZE (Georgia) – A week ago, I had the chance to visit Ukraine, and I can confirm that the situation in that country is extraordinarily worrying. It has regressed since this Assembly’s previous session. Russia continues cynically to challenge the international community and violate all the basic principles of the Council of Europe and its Assembly. There is no reason not to maintain the status quo for the Russian delegates, at least until the next session.

      Unfortunately, nobody in Russia’s political establishment understands the imperatives of democracy – we have witnessed that in this Chamber. Russian policy towards Ukraine, which is not the best example of democracy, reflects nothing other than the relationship between a sovereign and their vassal. Russia stirred up separatist tensions and provided military support. Like Mr Slutsky yesterday, Mr Belyakov said that there is no evidence of a Russian military presence on Ukrainian territory. But why have Russian soldiers stated that there are hundreds of Russians graves in Russian cities far from Ukrainian territory?

      If the Assembly does not vote to maintain the status quo for the Russian delegation, Ukraine will be returned to the Russian sphere of influence. Perhaps not all the Assembly’s resolutions and recommendations have historical value, but the one that we are debating today certainly does. People have a growing sense of disappointment and irritation about the wavering of the European institutions and their member countries towards Russia’s militaristic policy. We must be firm in our support for the peaceful resolution of all conflicts.

      If we were to reinstate full membership for the Russian Federation today, we would be violating our principles under pressure from the Russian military machine. Since the previous session, the situation in Ukraine has worsened and become more unpredictable. It will be difficult, but freedom and life are never easy; to die or to become a slave is easier. If we fail to maintain the status quo today, we will be victims of the situation. I call on all of you not to make that historical mistake.

      Mr JAPARIDZE (Georgia) – Membership of the Council of Europe and the Parliamentary Assembly is a privilege, not a right. Member States subject themselves to its jurisdiction and its decisions. If the Parliamentary Assembly is to have any meaning, its members must accept its rules. Unfortunately, the Russian Federation, by its actions in Ukraine, Georgia and elsewhere, has shown that it has no intention of living according to those rules. It illegally annexed Crimea, it encouraged and supported the separatists in East Ukraine and it has been occupying Georgian territory since 2008.

      Ironically, members have been arguing that the Russian delegates should be allowed to take part in the Parliamentary Assembly again at a time when Russia’s military pressure on Ukraine is increasing. It is more evident today than it was when Russia was first banned from voting in Parliamentary Assembly sessions nearly a year ago. Since then, nearly 5 000 Ukrainians have died as a result of Russian aggression. Recently, Russia agreed so-called treaties with Abkhazia and South Ossetia. It is clear that Russia tramples on democracy and basic human rights wherever it goes.

      Our Assembly stands on commonly accepted normative foundations and beliefs. Russia’s successive violations of the national sovereignty of Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine and its illicit use of force show clearly that it has no intention of honouring our common principles. Restoring the credentials of the Russian delegation would legitimise the use of force and indicate that violating the norms and principles that make the Parliamentary Assembly a meaningful forum is acceptable. It would undermine the political and moral standing of our Assembly.

      If and when the Russian authorities show that they are willing to live by the rules accepted by the Parliamentary Assembly, we can reconsider the situation. That should be the compromise that you urge us to think about, Mr Schennach.

      Mr LOGVYNSKYI (Ukraine) – The issue of the credentials of the Russian delegation in the Parliamentary Assembly pertains to our self-respect and our respect for our Organisation and the principles on which it was built.

      On accession to the Council of Europe, Russia committed itself to the general obligations in the Statute of the Council of Europe, according to which, “the pursuit of peace based upon justice and international co-operation is vital”. Nevertheless, over the past 20 years, the Assembly has constantly reproached Russia for its relationships with its neighbouring States, including its failure to return diplomatic property to the Baltic States and its aggressive conflicts in Moldova and Georgia.

      Russia is trying to prove that the rule of force is above the rule of law. At stake today is not merely the credentials of a particular delegation of a particular State, but the viability of the Council of Europe. We forgave Russia for its hostilities in Transnistria, and we got a war in Georgia; we forgave it for South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and we got its annexation of Crimea and a war in Donbass. If you forgive it for Ukraine, be ready to be next. If we allow Russia to ignore the key principles of the Council of Europe, we will destroy the Council of Europe by depriving its existence of meaning.

      Putin’s Russia has set itself in opposition to the whole world. We applaud all the States that have introduced sanctions against the aggressor; they are supporting not only Ukraine but the basis of world order. Modern international law suggests that aggressors should be called to account not only by the victims of the aggression but by any member of the international community. That is what the European Union, the United States of America, Canada, Australia, Japan and many others are doing now. The Council of Europe must join the single voice of the civilised world.

      Angela Merkel said in her new year address: “There can be absolutely no doubt that we want security in Europe with Russia and not against Russia.” She said that there can, however, be no question “of Europe accepting the law of the jungle where the stronger side violates international law. We cannot accept this, and we will not accept it.” Please keep that in mind and do not bring the jungle into the Council of Europe.

      Ms GERASHCHENKO (Ukraine)* – A year ago, the Council of State of the Russian Federation voted for its troops to burst into the territory of Ukraine. The Russian politicians who are in the plenary hall today voted for war against Ukraine. They have allowed Ukrainian women and children to be killed.

      Some people in the Russian political arena have suffered visa sanctions; they have been refused the right of entry into European Union countries. However, they are here today in Strasbourg as if nothing had happened because they have diplomatic immunity as members of the delegation to this Assembly. At the same time Ukrainian MP Nadiia Savchenko, who also has diplomatic immunity, remains in a Russian prison.

      Today, we see that Russian policy is based on a lack of respect for any standards or rules. A year ago, Russian President Putin declared to the entire world that there were no Russian troops in Crimea. Then he acknowledged the presence of the Russian army on the territory of the peninsula. Every day, we receive information about repression against the Crimean Tatars. Our colleague, the leader of the Crimean Tatars, does not have the right to enter occupied Crimea.

      The President of the Russian Federation has also stated that if necessary he would put women and children in front of Russian troops. At the moment, pro-Russian terrorists are setting up weapons on the roofs of civilian districts, in school playgrounds and hospitals. Women and children are suffering the most from the war in the Donbass. Terrorists have subjected a Boeing aircraft, a bus close to Volnovakha and the civilian district of Mariupol to attacks using Grad rockets. The Russian authorities are blackmailing the world and Ukraine and demanding the opening of negotiations with the terrorists, the national republics of Luhansk and Donetsk. They are doing the same with the shield made up of women and children.

      That is why today we ask the entire world, as well as this Assembly, to show solidarity with Ukraine. We are grateful to all those who say, “I am Mariupol, I am Ukraine. I am against the terrorists and the countries that support the terrorists.”

      The Ukraine President, the Ukrainian authorities and the people of Ukraine are for a peaceful settlement of the conflict in Donbass, but is dialogue possible under the shelling and the firing of Grad rockets? We appeal for an immediate return to the Minsk protocol. Those agreements should be enacted. We need a genuine cease-fire. The Russian Federation and the terrorists must free all prisoners and hostages. Ukraine alone must control its borders. Our army is on the territory of Ukraine. It is doing its duty. What are Russian soldiers and weapons doing in Ukraine? That is why we demand first of all a return to the agreements signed in Minsk. Only afterwards will we be able to talk about the return of the rights of the Russian delegation.

      Ms KHIDASHELI (Georgia) – Mr Slutsky has become my inspiration in this session. I agree with you when you say that today is the moment of truth for the Parliamentary Assembly. Ms Beck said correctly that this is not about Georgia or Ukraine but about the Council of Europe. The vote that will take place here is about the words that we love to say so much here all the time about our values. Today, in the vote, we will show whether those values are still there, or they are just words.

      For the past three days, I have kept hearing words of solidarity: “We know, we regret, we understand the feelings of Georgians and Ukrainians.” I am sorry to say to my colleagues that this is not about Georgians and Ukrainians. This is about the whole of Europe. This is about every European sitting in this Chamber. When we talk about the aggression in the middle of Europe and the bombs falling in the middle of Europe, this is not about the feelings of Georgians or Ukrainians. It is about all of us. It is about every European, regardless of how many kilometres they live from Mariupol, Tskhinvali, Sukhumi or the other cities that have been occupied by the Russian Federation.

      In this debate, we are still hearing questions about the possibility for dialogue. The door to dialogue was open for nine months. I underline that over and again. It has been said here many times. The dialogue has been offered to Russia every day, morning and evening from April, when the resolution was passed, but the Russians decided to go away and not be part of the dialogue. Today, I am hearing that we need to have them on board. Yes, we Georgians also want them to be on board, but please do not forget that the board that the Russians see is cleansed of Georgians. The board they see is cleansed of Ukrainians. That is the alternative they are giving to all of you. Either you agree with that or you disagree. Today’s vote will answer that: whether you want just Russians on board, or you want everyone sitting in this room, including Georgians and Ukrainians, on board, where that dialogue should take place.

      Lord ANDERSON (United Kingdom) – How do I follow such a fine speech? Our rapporteur has made an honest and strenuous effort to find a way through but I believe that his report is based on an illusion. Paragraph 13 states, “there have been clear signals that the Duma is now willing to engage in such a constructive dialogue with the Assembly.” Where is the evidence?

      We are told that we can visit the imprisoned member of parliament. Is she to be a bargaining counter? She should not have been imprisoned in the first place. She is under parliamentary immunity. We are also told that a delegation can visit Crimea. What could it possibly find? The key point is that Crimea has been annexed by Russia against all international norms. Can any visiting delegation gainsay that? Russia and her allies are in total control of Crimea.

      Voting rights have achieved great symbolic significance here, as if, if we were to drop the voting ban on the Russian delegation, suddenly all doors would open and President Putin would say, “Fine, I can now have compromises.” Everyone believes in dialogue. Dialogue is the raison d’être of our Assembly, but dialogue assumes that there is a willingness to engage in serious dialogue. If our Russian colleagues want to have dialogue, they can have dialogue now. They are here. Is there a serious dialogue? It is they who have chosen to boycott the Assembly. If they want dialogue, let them do it.

      I pose this question: why did we impose sanctions in the first place? It was because of Crimea and the destabilising efforts of Russia in Eastern Ukraine. Those tanks were not bought in shops. They were imported from Russia. Has there been any change since we imposed that sanction? No. It has become worse. I invite colleagues to read the defiant speech of President Putin in his state of the nation address in December.

      Why should we move? It is Russia that should move. Of course we expect concessions also from the Ukrainian Government. What message would be sent if we were now to dilute the sanctions and say to our Russian colleagues, “Yes, you can have voting rights”? It would be counter to what is being done in other international forums. It will encourage Russia and reduce this Organisation’s credibility. It would send the wrong signal. Surely we should maintain the status quo.

      What we are talking about is very serious. Yesterday, it was Georgia and Ukraine. Perhaps it is far from your doorsteps. Tomorrow it might be Latvia, Estonia or Lithuania. The next day it might be Poland. We are not far away from the moment we have all seen with the iron curtain. Let me reiterate: today saying no to those sanctions means that we apologise to the Russians. Every one of us who voted in April will be apologising for the mistakes we made in April. I strongly advise you not to do that and not to give them the green light for another occupation and military advance.

      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. I remind colleagues that the texts are to be submitted in typescript, electronically if possible, no later than four hours after the list of speakers is interrupted.

      I call Mr Schennach, rapporteur, to reply. You have three minutes.

Mr SCHENNACH (Austria)* – I thank all who have spoken this afternoon on a decisive issue for this Assembly. Something has changed from when I was here in April. We have all discussed the matter and we have also heard from the Russian Federation – I acknowledge that.

We must conduct this dialogue, but at the same time we have concluded that there is great mistrust. A decision before the Monitoring Committee provides for acceptance of Amendment 28, which states that we will decide on voting rights later. Axel Fischer from Germany has proposed not June, but April.

We could try to secure confidence by achieving five things: the immediate right to visit Nadiia Savchenko; immediate set-up of the monitoring committee or group for Crimea; deployment of the group between the Rada and the Duma; right of entry for the Crimean leader; and setting up the ad hoc committee. The opportunity to prove the willingness to do these things was provided. There was an oral amendment. We thought about deleting “Standing Committee”, so that that dialogue could be conducted – and then we could create something together.

I appeal to the left – to my own political group, the Socialist Group – and to national delegations, such as yours Ms Djurović, to view all of this as an opportunity for a compromise. Then it will be not 51% to 49% or 55% to 45%, but 80% or 90% of us here saying yes to dialogue, as we realise that what is happening in Ukraine is one of the most terrible situations that we are witnessing currently in Europe.

I urge you all to lend your support to such a compromise. If we do that we will be strong, and we can use the full clout of this Assembly for good.

THE PRESIDENT – Does one of the vice-chairpersons of the committee wish to speak? I call Mr Cilevičs. You have two minutes.

Mr CILEVIČS (Latvia) – We are all politicians and this means that our responsibility goes beyond just naming and shaming. In many cases, including this one, it is not so difficult to say who is responsible and who is guilty; it is much more difficult to ask what we can do to find some ways to improve the situation. We are all united in a strong wish and determination to do our best to stop violence and human suffering and – let’s call a spade a spade – to stop war in the heart of Europe. However, we have quite different views, as we heard in this debate, about how to achieve this in practice and about what our Assembly can do to ameliorate the suffering of Europeans – of our people.

Our rapporteur, Mr Schennach, has been working really hard. He prepared an excellent report that many speakers praised, even if they disagreed with the conclusions.

We had a heated and emotional but, generally, in my view, very constructive debate in the Monitoring Committee. Now the decision is in your hands. The future will show whether we were correct when taking decisions and whether, indeed, we helped to resolve this problem and contributed something, or whether we were guided just by emotions. It is very difficult. When we vote, we always do so partly with our hearts and partly with our brains. So let us try to find the proper proportion between the heart and the brain.

THE PRESIDENT – The debate is closed.

The Monitoring Committee has presented a draft resolution, Document 13685, to which 29 amendments have been tabled. However, I must inform the Assembly that Amendments 14 and 2 have been ruled out of order and will therefore not be considered.

I understand that the Vice-Chairperson of the Monitoring Committee wishes to propose to the Assembly that Amendments 29, 27 and 22 to the draft resolution, which were unanimously approved by the committee, should be declared as agreed by the Assembly.

Is that so?

Mr CILEVIČS (Latvia) – Yes.

THE PRESIDENT* – Does anyone object? There is no objection.

Amendments 29, 27 and 22 are adopted.

The remaining amendments will be taken in the order in which they appear in the revised compendium, which was issued this afternoon. Colleagues, I remind you that speaking time for each amendment is restricted to 30 seconds.

We come now to Amendment 3. I call Mr Zheleznyak to support the amendment.

Mr ZHELEZNYAK (Russian Federation)* – In paragraph 2 we want to add the idea of setting up an investigative sub-committee to look at all the events since August 2013. I think the work of such an investigative sub-committee could make it possible for the Parliamentary Assembly to get a better sense of the origins of this conflict and therefore make it easier to find a solution.

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

Mr SCHENNACH (Austria) – We are against the amendment, because we do not need this now: we have a lot to do. That was a proposal from 2014 and now we have other political actions to achieve. The time will come when somebody has to investigate – in about 10 years – but we do not need it now and it makes no sense to have it in this report.

THE PRESIDENT – What is the opinion of the committee?

Mr CILEVIČS (Latvia) – Against.

THE PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

Amendment 3 is rejected.

      We come to Amendment 4. I call Mr Zheleznyak to support the amendment.

      Mr ZHELEZNYAK (Russian Federation)* – There is all sorts of information in the mass media, and it is not always verified. We must base what we do on proven facts, which is why we propose inserting the word “alleged” before “deaths and disappearances”.

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

      Mr SCHENNACH (Austria) – For the Council of Europe, facts are set out in the report of our Commissioner for Human Rights, and as rapporteur I used exactly those words.

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

      Mr CILEVIČS (Latvia) – The committee is against.

      THE PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      Amendment 4 is rejected.

      I call Mr Aleksandrov on a point of order.

      Mr ALEKSANDROV (Russian Federation)* – My voting machine is not working. Is that deliberate?

      THE PRESIDENT* – It is because your delegation does not have the right to vote.

      Amendment 5 falls because Amendment 4 was not adopted.

      We come to Amendment 6. I call Mr Zheleznyak to support the amendment.

      Mr ZHELEZNYAK (Russian Federation)* – We once again suggest inserting the word “alleged”, this time before the words “arms supplies”, because once again we are convinced that what is written in the draft resolution is based on a lot of hypotheses, not facts. If we want to preserve our self-respect, we must base what we do on facts. If those facts later turn out to be untrue, we will have egg on our faces.

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

      Mr ARIEV (Ukraine) – Last year we heard a speech here from our colleague the leader of the Crimean Tatars, Mustafa Dzhemilev, who clearly proved the disappearances and deaths of activists in Crimea. It is an absolutely proven fact, so the word “alleged” should not be used.

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

Mr CILEVIČS (Latvia) – The committee is against.

THE PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

Amendment 6 is rejected.

We come to Amendment 7. I call Mr Zheleznyak to support the amendment.

Mr ZHELEZNYAK (Russian Federation)* – We propose that what is required of the Russian authorities should be extended to the authorities of other Council of Europe member States and observers, because there are many confirmations that the volunteers in Eastern Ukraine include citizens of many States, not just the Russian Federation.

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

      Mr SCHENNACH (Austria) – I am against the amendment. Some volunteers from other States might be there illegally, but we are talking about responsibility and no other States are involved.

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

      Mr CILEVIČS (Latvia) – The committee is against.

      THE PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      Amendment 7 is rejected.

      We come to Amendment 8. I call Mr Zheleznyak to support the amendment.

      Mr ZHELEZNYAK (Russian Federation)* – We propose broadening the drafting by using the term “opposing forces”, rather than “insurgent forces”, so that the requirement not to supply arms is imposed equally on all sides, because that is the best way to de-escalate.

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

      Mr SCHENNACH (Austria) – The amendment would weaken my report, which has very clear wording already.

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

      Mr CILEVIČS (Latvia) – The committee is against.

      THE PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      Amendment 8 is rejected.

      We come to Amendment 9. I call Mr Zheleznyak to support the amendment.

      Mr ZHELEZNYAK (Russian Federation)* – I once again insist that it is a fact that there are people from different member States engaged in military activities in Eastern Ukraine, not just from the Russian Federation, and we need to ensure that they all leave.

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

      Mr SCHENNACH (Austria) – It is possible that there are about a dozen volunteers from other countries, but I am using the wording of the OSCE. If 98% of the volunteers are Russian, the text we have is correct.

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

      Mr CILEVIČS (Latvia) – The committee is against.

      THE PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      Amendment 9 is rejected.

      We come to Amendment 10. I call Mr Zheleznyak to support the amendment.

      Mr ZHELEZNYAK (Russian Federation)* – We are talking about criminalising participation by civilians in armed conflicts abroad, but such criminalisation is something that other Council of Europe member States should do in equal measure, not just the Russian Federation. That could de-escalate this conflict and many others. We therefore propose deleting the word “Russian”.

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

      Mr SCHENNACH (Austria) – Paragraph 7.3 is very clear that this is about Russian volunteers, so clearly 7.4 should refer to “Russian civilians”.

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

      Mr CILEVIČS (Latvia) – The committee is against.

      THE PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      Amendment 10 is rejected.

      We come now to Amendment 11. I call Mr Zheleznyak to support the amendment.

      Mr ZHELEZNYAK (Russian Federation)* – The amendment suggests that the prosecution to the full extent of the law of participants as volunteers in the armed conflict should apply to all citizens in all States under all laws. If the provision were limited only to Russian citizens, that would reduce the effectiveness of the decision and citizens of other States would be able to participate in such armed conflicts. Would that not be slightly paradoxical?

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

      Mr SCHENNACH (Austria) – My report makes it very clear who has responsibility and who has to do something. This is a battle about the wording, not about reality.

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

      Mr CILEVIČS (Latvia) – The committee is against.

      THE PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      Amendment 11 is rejected.

      We come to Amendment 1. I call Mr Chope to support the amendment.

      Mr CHOPE (United Kingdom) – The amendment expresses our grave concern that the Russian Federation is now denying that it is even party to the Minsk agreement and protocols. Both Mr Naryshkin and Mr Slutsky assert that, as Russia is only an observer, it is under no obligation to honour the Minsk agreement and protocols. That is outrageous, and I hope that people will support the amendment.

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

      Mr KOX (Netherlands) – As the rapporteur states time and again, we should ensure that we have facts in the report. I follow the situation closely, but I am not aware that that is the official position of the Russian Government. It is the idea of our colleague Mr Chope, who says that other people have said that. We should stick to the facts and this is not factual. Surely President Putin does not see himself as a simple observer of the Minsk accord. The amendment does not make sense.

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

      Mr CILEVIČS (Latvia) – The committee is in favour.

      THE PRESIDENT*– The vote is open.

      Amendment 1 is adopted.

      We come to Amendment 21. I call Ms Gerashchenko to support the amendment.

      Ms GERASHCHENKO (Ukraine) – We have a lot of proof of military presence in Donbass and we are asking the Assembly to consider the republics as terrorist organisations supported by the Russian Federation.

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

      Mr KOX (Netherlands) – We should take care that we do not use terms too easily. The Council of Europe has its own Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism, which deals with such issues. Introducing that terminology to the report does not help us. The situation is already difficult enough and these organisations are not on the list of terrorist organisations. Let us stick to the text proposed by Mr Schennach.

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

      Mr CILEVIČS (Latvia) – The committee is against.

      THE PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      Amendment 21 is rejected.

      THE PRESIDENT* – We come to Amendment 13. I call Mr Sobolev to support the amendment.

      Mr SOBOLEV (Ukraine) – You must understand that Ms Savchenko has had no decision from a Russian court for six months. She is only in detention, so she can be freed in 24 hours. If Russian prosecutors want to take action, they can, but she is not guilty and no Russian court has approved this.

      THE PRESIDENT* – We come to the oral sub-amendment to Amendment 13, tabled by Mr Schennach, which is, at the end, to insert the words “and hand her over to a third country”.

      The oral sub-amendment is admissible, provided there are no objections. If anyone thinks that it should not be considered, please indicate that by standing. Ten full members or substitutes would have to object to the oral sub-amendment. That is not the case

I call Mr Schennach to support the oral sub-amendment.

      Mr SCHENNACH (Austria) – We need a solution about Nadiia Savchenko within a very short time and we cannot wait for discussion between Russia and Ukraine. We have international mechanisms – The Hague, Strasbourg and the presidential country of the Council of Europe – so she could be handed over to one of those three countries.

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

      Lord ANDERSON (United Kingdom) – Does it make any difference? We are asking for her to be returned, directly or indirectly. In any event, any reasonable third country would pass her to Ukraine, so I do not think the sub-amendment makes any difference whatsoever to the fate of the prisoner.

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

      Mr CILEVIČS (Latvia) – The committee is in favour.

      THE PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      The oral sub-amendment is adopted.

      THE PRESIDENT* – Does anyone wish to speak against Amendment 13, as amended? I call Mr Kox.

      Mr KOX (Netherlands) – Facts are important. It is known that three weeks ago you, Madam President, and the Presidential Committee were informed by our Ukrainian counterparts of this serious problem with the immunity of a member of our Assembly. Since then, you have done a lot, the Assembly has done a lot and there are the beginnings of an agreement with Russia that we should do something about it. Adding that this should all happen within 24 hours does not make the chances of Ms Savchenko’s being released as quickly as possible any better. Let us stick to the facts and not accept the amendment.

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

      Mr CILEVIČS (Latvia) – The committee is in favour.

      THE PRESIDENT*– The vote is open.

      Amendment 13, as amended, is adopted.

      We come to Amendment 12. I call Mr Zheleznyak to support the amendment.

      Mr ZHELEZNYAK (Russian Federation)* – The 14th army left Transnistria a very long time ago. A very small contingent of our soldiers, who are there simply to protect the weapons and munitions, is very important to defend the rest of Europe. Despite its obligations, the Ukrainian side does not allow us to move those munitions and that equipment through its territory to Russia, so we have to keep them there.

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

      Mr GHILETCHI (Republic of Moldova) – In 1995, in Istanbul, the Russian Federation undertook the obligation to withdraw its troops and military equipment from the territory of the Republic of Moldova. Sixteen years later, it proposes to annul this obligation. That is how it views dialogue. Unfortunately, there is a technical problem. We should ask it to withdraw military troops from the territory of the Republic of Moldova, as has been stated several times in the resolutions of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

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

      Mr CILEVIČS (Latvia) – The committee is against the amendment.

      THE PRESIDENT* – The vote is open. [Interruption.] The noise you can hear is the wind outside, so do not feel afraid.

      Amendment 12 is rejected.

      We come to Amendment 24. I call Mr Kandelaki to support the amendment.

      Mr KANDELAKI (Georgia) – The amendment would delete part of the original paragraph that mentions positive signals coming from the Russian Federation. People are dying every day, and this fact cannot be counted as any kind of positive signal. So, naturally, the part that eulogises Russian so-called positive signals should be deleted.

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

      Mr SCHENNACH (Austria) – With this sentence we state our experience. We got these signals as a result of the ad hoc committee, and the Monitoring Committee is following them.

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

      Mr CILEVIČS (Latvia) – The committee is against the amendment.

      THE PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      Amendment 24 is rejected.

      We come to Amendment 26. If the amendment is adopted, Amendments 25, 18, 16 and 28 will fall. I call Mr Bakradze to support the amendment.

      Mr BAKRADZE (Georgia) – Paragraph 16 of the resolution that we adopted in April says: “The Assembly reserves the right to annul the credentials of the Russian delegation, if the Russian Federation does not de-escalate the situation and reverse the annexation of Crimea”. Today, we do not see the reversal of the annexation of Crimea. Crimea is as it was. The situation in Eastern Ukraine is more tense now and is escalating. I call on you, dear colleagues, to demonstrate that our words are credible and that we can keep our promises on important political commitments.

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

      Mr SCHENNACH (Austria) – The majority in the committee voted for Amendment 28, not for Amendment 26, which is radically against the spirit of the report.

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

      Mr CILEVIČS (Latvia) – The committee is against the amendment.

      THE PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      Amendment 26 is rejected.

Amendment 15 therefore falls.

      We come to Amendment 25. If the amendment is adopted, Amendments 18, 16, 28 and 20 will fall. I call Mr Kandelaki to support the amendment.

      Mr KANDELAKI (Georgia) – I do not wish to press the amendment.

      THE PRESIDENT* – Amendment 25 is not moved.

      We come to Amendment 18. If the amendment is adopted, Amendments 16, 28 and 20 will fall. If Amendment 16 is rejected, identical Amendments 17 and 19 will fall. I call Ms Sotnyk to support the amendment.

      Ms SOTNYK (Ukraine) – I want to highlight two main points. According to paragraphs 5, 7, 10 and 11 of the report, Russia has committed flagrant violations of international law because no progress has been made since last April. The report recognises the worsening situation in Ukraine. There are no grounds to lift the restrictions previously imposed on members of the Russian delegation. That is why I propose to add a restriction on voting rights and the right to be represented at the Bureau of the Assembly, the Presidential Committee and the Standing Committee.

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

      Mr SCHENNACH (Austria) – The committee also voted with a big majority against the amendment because, like the previous amendment, it goes against the spirit of the report and would make the compromise in Amendment 28 impossible.

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

      Mr CILEVIČS (Latvia) – The committee is against the amendment.

      THE PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      Amendment 18 is rejected.

      Identical Amendments 17 and 19 therefore fall.

      We come to Amendment 16. If the amendment is adopted, Amendments 28 and 20 will fall. I call Ms Zelienková to support the amendment.

      Ms ZELIENKOVÁ (Czech Republic) – Under this amendment, we would reject the Russian delegation’s voting rights.

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

      Mr SCHENNACH (Austria) – The same majority said no for the same reasons as before.

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

      Mr CILEVIČS (Latvia) – The committee is against the amendment.

      THE PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      Amendment 16 is rejected.

       We come to Amendment 28, to which two oral sub-amendments have been moved. If Amendment 28 is carried, Amendment 20 will fall. I call Mr Omtzigt to support the amendment.

      Mr OMTZIGT (Netherlands) – This is the compromise amendment that was mentioned. Last year, we said we would take away the voting rights from the Russian delegation, but that if things got better they would get them back. Things have not got better, so the amendment suggests that we take away the voting rights again this session, but that we will be willing to talk later in the year if Russia sticks to its commitments in the Minsk agreement, and by withdrawing its troops, in which case voting rights can be restored. It also suggests taking away the places of the Russian delegation in the Bureau, Presidential Committee and the Standing Committee.

      THE PRESIDENT* – We come now to Oral Sub-amendment 1, which has been submitted by Mr Pedro Agramunt. It goes as follows:

      “In Amendment 28, to delete the word “June” and replace with “April”Th

The Assembly would therefore resolve to return to the issue, with a view to reinstating these two rights at the April 2015 part-session. I consider Oral Sub-amendment 1 to be in order under our rules.

      However, do 10 or more members object to Oral Sub-amendment 1 being debated? That is not the case.

      I therefore call Mr Agramunt to support Oral Sub-amendment 1.

      Mr AGRAMUNT (Spain)* – Oral Sub-amendment 1 is very simple and concerns the date when we will consider this issue in more detail and see whether we can have greater dialogue in this Assembly. It is not much, but it is at least something, and almost all members of the committee agreed with it.

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

      What is the opinion of the committee?

      Mr CILEVIČS (Latvia) – The committee was in favour of the oral sub-amendment.

      The PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      Oral Sub-amendment 1 is adopted.

      Mr Schennach has submitted a second oral sub-amendment, which is to delete the words “Standing Committee” from Amendment 28. I call Mr Schennach to support the Oral Sub-amendment 2.

      Mr SCHENNACH (Austria) – Oral Sub-amendment 2 is a compromise. Mr Agramunt said that this is a question of dialogue, so please delete the words “Standing Committee”, which will mean that we can continue our dialogue in the Standing Committee.

      THE PRESIDENT* – I consider Oral Sub-amendment 2 to be in order under our rules.

      However, do 10 or more members object to Oral Sub-amendment 2 being debated?

      More than 10 members have objected, so Oral Sub-amendment 2 cannot be debated.

      Amendment 28 has therefore been amended by Oral Sub-amendment 1.

      Does anyone wish to speak against Amendment 28, as amended? I call Mr Kox.

      Mr KOX (Netherlands) – This is very difficult for us all. If we reach a compromise, I do not understand why some colleagues ruin that compromise and then amend the amendment in a way that makes it unacceptable for us all. That is not the spirit of compromise and dialogue. Keeping the Russians out of the Standing Committee – the smaller Parliamentary Assembly – but having them here does not make sense. Stefan Schennach’s proposal was correct, but now that we boycott that part of the dialogue, I must ask colleagues to reject the amendment.

      THE PRESIDENT* – What is the opinion of the committee of Amendment 28, as amended by Oral Sub-amendment 1?

      Mr CILEVIČS (Latvia) – The committee was in favour.

      The PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      Amendment 28, as amended, is adopted.

      We now come to Amendment 23. I call Mr Gross to support the amendment.

      Mr GROSS (Switzerland) – The amendment states what the working group is allowed to do, which is to help realise everything in the resolution.

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

      What is the opinion of the committee?

      Mr CILEVIČS (Latvia) – The committee was in favour.

      THE PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      Amendment 23 is adopted.

      We will now proceed to vote on the whole of the draft resolution contained in Document 13685, as amended. A simple majority is required.

      The vote is open.

      The draft resolution in Document 13685, as amended, is adopted, with 160 votes for, 42 against and 11 abstentions.

      I thank rapporteurs and members of the Assembly for a good debate.

5. Next public business

      THE PRESIDENT – The Assembly will hold its next public sitting tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. with the Agenda that was approved on Monday 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 closed at 8.20 p.m.)


1. Organisation of debates

2. Joint debate: Equality and the crisis and Protection of the right to bargain collectively, including the right to strike

Presentation by Mr Villumsen of report of the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination in Doc. 13661

Presentation by Mr Kolman of opinion of the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development in Doc. 13683

Presentation by Mr Hunko of report of the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development in Doc. 13663

Statement by Mr Ryder, Director-General of the International Labour Organisation

Speakers: Ms Kovács (Serbia), Mr Daems (Belgium), Lord Balfe (United Kingdom), Mr Elzinga (Netherlands), Ms Wurm (Austria), Ms Maury Pasquier (Switzerland), Mr Voruz (Switzerland), Mr O’Reilly (Ireland), Ms Korenjak Kramar (Slovenia), Ms Mulić (Croatia), Ms Christoffersen (Norway), Ms Quintanilla (Spain), Ms Gafarova (Azerbaijan), Ms Mattila (Finland), Mr Mota Amaral (Portugal), Mr Díaz Tejera (Spain), Mr Destexhe (Belgium) and Mr Hanžek (Slovenia),

Replies: Mr Ryder (Director-General of the International Labour Organisation), Mr Hunko (Germany), Mr Ghiletchi (Republic of Moldova), Mr Villumsen (Denmark) and Ms Bilgehan (Turkey)

Amendments 1 to 5 adopted

Draft resolution in Doc. 13661, as amended, adopted

Draft resolution in Doc. 13663 adopted

3. Election of judges to the Court of European Human Rights

4. Challenge, on substantive grounds, of the still ungratified credentials of the delegation of the Russian Federation

Presentation of by Mr Schennach of report of the Monitoring Committee in Doc. 13685

Presentation by Mr Franken of opinion of the Committee on Rules of Procedure, Immunities and Institutional Affairs in Doc. 13689

Speakers: Mr Xuclà (Spain), Mr Walter (United Kingdom), Mr Kox (Netherlands), Mr Gross (Switzerland), Mr Agramunt (Spain), Ms Vėsaitė (Lithuania), Ms Djurović (Serbia), Mr Borowski (Poland), Mr Zingeris (Lithuania), Ms Beck (Germany), Mr Romanovich (Russian Federation), Mr Pozzo di Borgo (France), Ms L’Ovochkina (Ukraine), Mr Pushkov (Russian Federation), Mr Sudarenkov (Russian Federation), Mr Mariani (France), Mr Slutsky (Russian Federation), Ms Zelienková (Czech Republic), Ms Christoffersen (Norway), Mr Ariev (Ukraine), Mr Belyakov (Russian Federation), Mr Sobolev (Ukraine), Mr Kvatchantiradze (Georgia), Mr Japaridze (Georgia), Mr Logvynskyi (Ukraine), Ms Gerashchenko (Ukraine), Ms Khidasheli (Georgia) and Lord Anderson (United Kingdom)

Replies: Mr Schennach (Austria) and Mr Cilevičs (Latvia),

Amendments 29, 27, 22, 1, 13 as amended, 28 as amended and 23 adopted

Draft resolution in Doc. 13685, as amended, adopted

5. Next public sitting

Appendix I

Representatives or Substitutes who signed the Attendance Register in accordance with Rule 12.2 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-Charles ALLAVENA

Werner AMON/ Christine Muttonen



Lord Donald ANDERSON


Khadija ARIB/Tuur Elzinga

Volodymyr ARIEV

Egemen BAĞIŞ*



Taulant BALLA*

Gérard BAPT*

Gerard BARCIA DUEDRA/Josep Anton Bardina Pau

Doris BARNETT/Annette Groth

José Manuel BARREIRO/Ángel Pintado


Marieluise BECK

Ondřej BENEŠIK/ Gabriela Pecková

José María BENEYTO/Carmen Quintanilla


Sali BERISHA/Oerd Bylykbashi

Anna Maria BERNINI/Claudio Fazzone

Maria Teresa BERTUZZI*




Ľuboš BLAHA*


Jean-Marie BOCKEL*


Mladen BOSIĆ*

António BRAGA*

Anne BRASSEUR/Claude Adam

Alessandro BRATTI*

Piet De BRUYN/Hendrik Daems




Natalia BURYKINA/Robert Shlegel




Vannino CHITI*

Tudor-Alexandru CHIUARIU/Viorel Riceard Badea

Christopher CHOPE


Henryk CIOCH


Agustín CONDE








Katalin CSÖBÖR






Peter van DIJK


Aleksandra DJUROVIĆ




Alexander [The Earl of] DUNDEE



Mustafa DZHEMILIEV/Mariia Ionova


Lady Diana ECCLES


Franz Leonhard EßL*



Cătălin Daniel FENECHIU

Vyacheslav FETISOV*


Daniela FILIPIOVÁ/Miroslav Antl



Gvozden Srećko FLEGO




Martin FRONC*

Sir Roger GALE






Francesco Maria GIRO*

Pavol GOGA*

Carlos Alberto GONÇALVES

Alina Ştefania GORGHIU*


Sandro GOZI*

Fred de GRAAF/Pieter Omtzigt


Andreas GROSS


Mehmet Kasim GÜLPINAR/Ahmet Berat Çonkar

Gergely GULYÁS*


Nazmi GÜR

Antonio GUTIÉRREZ/Jordi Xuclà





Alfred HEER/Maximilian Reimann




Oleksii HONCHARENKO/Svitlana Zalishchuk

Jim HOOD/David Crausby



Johannes HÜBNER*

Andrej HUNKO




Florin IORDACHE/Daniel Florea



Gediminas JAKAVONIS/Dalia Kuodytė



Michael Aastrup JENSEN


Florina-Ruxandra JIPA*


Aleksandar JOVIČIĆ*


Antti KAIKKONEN/Sirkka-Liisa Anttila

Mustafa KARADAYI/Hamid Hamid


Niklas KARLSSON/Lotta Johnsson Fornarve

Andreja KATIČ/Matjaž Hanžek

Charles KENNEDY*



Bogdan KLICH*

Haluk KOÇ


Unnur Brá KONRÁÐSDÓTTIR/Brynjar Níelsson







Tiny KOX

Borjana KRIŠTO*


Marek KRZĄKAŁA/Iwona Guzowska






Pierre-Yves LE BORGN'

Jean-Yves LE DÉAUT*


Valentina LESKAJ*




François LONCLE*



Jacob LUND

Trine Pertou MACH/Nikolaj Villumsen


Philippe MAHOUX




Meritxell MATEU PI





Michael McNAMARA/John Halligan

Sir Alan MEALE



Ana Catarina MENDONÇA


Jean-Claude MIGNON






Melita MULIĆ





Marian NEACŞU*


Miroslav NENUTIL

Baroness Emma NICHOLSON/Ian Liddell-Grainger


Aleksandar NIKOLOSKI



Judith OEHRI



Maciej ORZECHOWSKI/Killion Munyama

Sandra OSBORNE/Michael Connarty

José Ignacio PALACIOS



Waldemar PAWLAK/Marek Borowski

Foteini PIPILI*

Vladimir PLIGIN*

Cezar Florin PREDA


Gabino PUCHE


Mailis REPS/Rait Maruste


François ROCHEBLOINE/Yves Pozzo Di Borgo



Maria de Belém ROSEIRA*


Rovshan RZAYEV

Indrek SAAR*




Kimmo SASI




Ingjerd SCHOU


Urs SCHWALLER/Eric Voruz

Salvador SEDÓ

Predrag SEKULIĆ*


Aleksandar SENIĆ

Senad ŠEPIĆ*

Samad SEYIDOV/Sahiba Gafarova

Jim SHERIDAN/Jeffrey Donaldson











Ionuţ-Marian STROE*



Damien THIÉRY/Cindy Franssen




Mihai TUDOSE/Corneliu Mugurel Cozmanciuc

Goran TUPONJA/Snežana Jonica

Ahmet Kutalmiş TÜRKEŞ


Konstantinos TZAVARAS*

Ilyas UMAKHANOV/Anton Belyakov


Olga-Nantia VALAVANI*

Snorre Serigstad VALEN*

Petrit VASILI*

Imre VEJKEY/Rózsa Hoffmann





Vladimir VORONIN*

Viktor VOVK

Klaas de VRIES



Piotr WACH*


Dame Angela WATKINSON*

Tom WATSON/Geraint Davies

Karl-Georg WELLMANN*


Morten WOLD/Tore Hagebakken

Gisela WURM


Leonid YEMETS/Pavlo Unguryan

Tobias ZECH



Marie-Jo ZIMMERMANN/Marie-Christine Dalloz

Emanuelis ZINGERIS

Guennady ZIUGANOV*

Naira ZOHRABYAN/Naira Karapetyan

Levon ZOURABIAN/Mher Shahgeldyan

Vacant Seat, Cyprus*

Vacant Seat, France*

Vacant Seat, Republic of Moldova*

Vacant Seat, Republic of Moldova*

Vacant Seat, ‘‘The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’’*


Representatives and Substitutes not authorised to vote

Lord Richard BALFE





Helena HATKA

Jean-Claude FRECON



Corneliu CHISU

Partners for democracy



Mohammed AMEUR

El Mokhtar GHAMBOU



Mohamed YATIM

Appendix II

Representatives or Substitutes who took part in the ballot for the election of a judge to the European Court of Human Rights in respect of Serbia

Egemen BAĞIŞ

José María BENEYTO/Carmen Quintanilla

Sali BERISHA/Oerd Bylykbashi

António BRAGA

Anne BRASSEUR/Claude Adam









Daniela FILIPIOVÁ/Miroslav Antl



Sandro GOZI

Mehmet Kasim GÜLPINAR/Ahmet Berat Çonkar

Jim HOOD/David Crausby





Andreja KATIČ/Matjaž Hanžek

Haluk KOÇ




Jacob LUND

Sir Alan MEALE



Miroslav NENUTIL





Rovshan RZAYEV


Urs SCHWALLER/Eric Voruz