AS (2016) CR 36
2016 ORDINARY SESSION
Friday 14 October 2016 at 10 a.m.
In this report:
1. Speeches in English are reported in full.
2. Speeches in other languages are reported using the interpretation and are marked with an asterisk.
3. 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.
(Mr Rouquet, Vice-President of the Assembly, took the Chair at 10.05 a.m.)
The PRESIDENT* – The sitting is open.
1. The impact of European population dynamics on migration policies
The PRESIDENT* – The first item of business this morning is the debate on Kristin Řrmen Johnsen’s report on behalf of the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons, titled “The impact of European population dynamics on migration policies” (Document 14143 and Addendum).
In order to finish by 11.35 a.m. and leave time for the reply and the vote, we must interrupt the list of speakers at about 11.20 a.m.
I call Ms Johnsen. You have 13 minutes in total, which you may divide as you see fit between the presentation of the report and the reply to speakers in the debate.
Ms JOHNSEN (Norway) – This is my first report for this Assembly, but it is very important. It concerns the topic of our survival in Europe, because Europe is facing a demographic winter. Women are having fewer children and our population is growing older. The average birth rate is low, at 1.5 children per woman, which is significantly lower than the 2.1 needed for simple replacement of generations. Simultaneously, many European countries are experiencing increasing life expectancy. That is good, but it results in an ageing population and a gradually shrinking workforce. That is directly affecting the social and economic development of Europe, with a serious impact on labour markets, welfare systems, and economic development. For some eastern European countries, this negative development is reinforced by extensive labour immigration, with people leaving their countries to search for work and better living conditions abroad. At the same time, the working-age population continues to grow in many non-European countries, which cannot absorb them in their own labour markets, hence creating migration potential.
Conscious of the demographic trends, I wanted to analyse their impact on migration policies. I also wanted to explore how proactive migration policies can impact negatively on democratic development. My report is based on the expert analysis of Professor Gérard-François Dumont of the Sorbonne, hearings in the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons and fact-finding missions to Germany and Moldova – two countries experiencing the ongoing migration crisis very differently. Germany has received the highest number of refugees and migrants, while Moldova has received very few. In fact, Moldova is seriously challenged by labour emigration.
The main conclusion of my report, and the basis of my proposed resolution, is that migration and migration policies alone will not change demographic decline, but they are important factors in counter-balancing the negative developments in Europe. In the resolution, I propose inviting Council of Europe member States to develop policies aimed at striking a better balance between family and working life and to introduce policies increasing women’s participation in the labour market “by providing the necessary training programmes, flexible working hours, parental leave…and family planning assistance, as well as material incentives,” which should be provided to achieve this aim. Allowing parents to decide how many children they want while letting both parents work is probably the most efficient policy to increase birth rates in Europe.
In the report, I also encourage labour market, salary and pension system reforms to encourage the employment of senior citizens. With life expectancy increasing, a lower rate of retirement is expensive and puts high demand on our welfare societies. Few of us can afford to have an increasingly large part of the population outside the labour market.
It is also important to develop policies appealing to the young generation and to prevent the rural exodus of young people. That is especially important in countries that are experiencing a high level of labour emigration. Emigration, especially from rural areas in some eastern European countries, has created serious social problems because of children being left behind by parents working abroad. That makes children’s mental and physical health worse. Their school performance suffers and they are prone to social problems and vulnerable to trafficking and labour expectations. That issue deserves special attention from the Assembly.
Although migration cannot be a permanent solution to Europe’s demographic challenges, proactive migration should include policies to improve the situation. We should analyse the labour market to identify where there is a labour shortage and eliminate obstacles to facilitate the rapid entry of migrants into the labour market. We should also facilitate the recognition of educational diplomas and the vocational skills of migrants and develop vocational training and language courses for migrant women. I also recommend integration policies to ensure that migrants are not segregated in host societies.
Europe is diverse. Some countries experience high rates of youth unemployment. Others need more workers and some see many of their nationals emigrating to work in other parts of Europe. In a diverse Europe, it is impossible to find a one-size-fits-all policy. Each country must develop its own policies, but those policies must be based on a few basic principles, which you will find in the draft resolution. I look forward to your discussion.
The PRESIDENT* – Thank you, Ms Johnsen. You will have six and a half minutes to reply speakers later in the debate. I call Mr Schneider.
Mr SCHNEIDER (France, Spokesperson for the Group of the European People’s Party)* – One of the main challenges for Europe is managing migration in the short and long term. Take Africa: the population of sub-Saharan Africa has increased by a factor of 10 in the last 100 years, rising from 180 million to 1.8 billion. In the next 30 years, Africa will have to house, feed and employ an extra 1 billion inhabitants, including many young people. On top of that, climate change will drive more migrants towards Europe.
Some feel that migration is a threat, but if we establish genuine strategies and a co-ordinated migration policy, these waves of migration will be a golden opportunity for our continent, which is experiencing a so-called grey revolution. Think of the successive waves of migrants in our mines, building sites and factories who have contributed to our economic growth in the 30 post-war boom years. The majority are perfectly well integrated, by the way, which is something we should perhaps talk about more.
We should not be under any illusion that, when it comes to qualified migrants, we are up against competition from countries such as Canada – some people talk about the brain drain. We should also take into account the enormous contribution that these people make to their countries of origin, as their remittances are often much greater than the development aid that we send to the country and they go to those who are most in need. However, if we are going to put in place the right conditions for these migrants, we must be able to analyse our economy and identify our needs. Recognising degrees and qualifications is crucial. Migration is an issue not only for the South, but for Europe as a whole. We should allow migrants to work legally and clamp down on all forms of trafficking and the black-market employment – I should really call it exploitation – of men and women.
In future, we also have to make sure that people can cross the Mediterranean safely. You used those terms in your report, and I think the resolution is courageous. We need policies to put an end to these perilous journeys, which is precisely why we need a co-ordinated European strategy in this regard. That should be a top priority for all our organisations and particularly this one, which defends human rights.
Lord ANDERSON (United Kingdom, Spokesperson for the Socialist Group) – The report is valuable but I hope our distinguished rapporteur will forgive me if I say that I found it somewhat unrealistic and its focus too narrow and too reliant on a distinguished French professor of demography. It deals with demography but not with the implications of social science and the effect on the real people whom we try to represent.
Of course we need skilled immigration, but it would be too facile to say that the problems of an ageing Europe can be solved by an influx of young people from the developing world. The population boom in Africa is a major challenge to us. There is a curious reluctance to discuss its implications. I understand, for example, that it has not been discussed of late in the United Nations Security Council, as it is too hot a potato, yet the numbers and projections have been clearly set out in the 2015 United Nations report and by the Population Institute.
I will cite some figures to show the scale of the challenge. There are now just over 1 billion people in Africa. By 2050, there will be 2.5 billion. Since 1975, the population of Egypt has doubled, rising to 80 million. In 1960, Nigeria had 50 million people, whereas now there are more than 180 million. By 2050, there will be more than 400 million, surpassing the population of the United States and making Nigeria the third most populous country in the world. Similar projections can be made for other vulnerable countries, including Eritrea, the Sudans, Yemen and so on. Niger is the poorest country in the world and has the fastest-growing population, with an increase projected of 300% by 2050. It averages 7.6 births per woman – no wonder it has the second-highest score in gender inequality, so there is a feminist argument here too.
A high proportion of these young people see little future for themselves at home. Where will they go, where will they be fed and where will they be housed if they do not go north to Europe? Are we ready to accept them? As politicians, we ignore these pressures and the concerns of our people at our peril – hence my amendment to recognise the scale of the problem and to consult and co-operate with sender countries to meet the looming challenge.
Ms PALLARÉS (Andorra, Spokesperson for the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe)* – I thank the rapporteur for her important and necessary report on a very current issue. We must confront the situation and take clear decisions. Can migration solve the problem of our ageing populations and remedy the economic and social consequences? On one hand, the Council of Europe’s member States have the oldest population in the world and a birth rate well below the world average. On the other hand, for historical reasons, we account for the largest number of migrants, which has had a major impact on our continent.
The report highlights positive aspects of selective immigration, such as in Canada, Australia and New Zealand, which show that immigration can make a positive contribution to economic growth and help to improve demographics. We have a similar control system in Andorra. Our quota system sets the number of permits depending on business demands. In the winter months, there are special seasonal quotas to meet the demands of our ski resorts and the tourism sector. However, qualified foreigners are admitted year-round if they have a contract upon arrival. We need to tackle the issue in demographic terms. How far can we go? How many people can we actually welcome and care for? As I said, there are examples of how our economy has benefited. The complexity of the labour markets in many countries, all of which are different, means that dealing with this non-selective migratory crisis is not straightforward. Some countries have structural unemployment, which is why many think that welcoming more people is unrealistic and unacceptable, but that need not be the case.
The draft resolution proposes some measures that the ALDE group will support. An analysis of the labour market is essential to ensure that immigrants’ skills add to GDP. The Assembly must consider going further and reinventing ourselves in the face of this new challenge. Member States need to work out how to go forward. The right policies must be in place to ensure that families are welcomed into our communities.
I congratulate the rapporteur. The report provides an opportunity for us to dive deeper into this subject.
Ms GÜNAY (Turkey, Spokesperson for the European Conservatives Group)* – I thank the rapporteur for her report, which includes observations about Europe’s population dynamics. We do not usually speak about this important topic and the report contains significant references to the close relationship between population structure and migration. As members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, we have many responsibilities in this area. It is obvious that Europe is suffering from a demographic winter, so it is important to consider the economic and cultural consequences of a lack of population growth and the loss of dynamism. We need to determine the shortcomings of the labour market and should direct migration to areas where the work force is lacking. We must attract qualified migrants by removing barriers to entry.
Promoting population growth is also important. Steps should be taken to ensure that families can have as many children as they want, such as through policies on balancing work and family life. States should play an active role in protecting the dynamism of population structures. If such steps are not taken, we may not be able to support welfare payments for our ageing European populations. Turkey is the only Council of Europe country that continues to have a growing population and it employs several policies to support that growth. Turkey also receives a significant number of migrants and currently hosts 3 million refugees – close to the population of a small European country. Registered schoolchildren number 757 000, 250 000 of whom are children from welcome centres. Some 150 000 babies have been born since 2011 and 54% of the migrant population in Turkey is aged between zero and 18.
Unfortunately, sentiments regarding mass migration in Europe are negative, which has led to tighter border controls and some ill treatment. The emergence of such treatment is contrary to our European values. There is a perception that Europe is trying to stop migration and migratory flows. That is worrying, so we must continue to protect the rights of migrants and refugees.
Ms SANDBĆK (Denmark, Spokesperson for the Group of the Unified European Left) – I thank the rapporteur on behalf of the Group of the Unified European Left for this important report. There is a political crisis across Europe as a result of the massive numbers of people fleeing their countries due to war and climate change, but our governments unfortunately lack the political leadership and courage to find mutual solutions to common problems. We need political action and brave political leadership to find the tools to solve this crisis. The report has the potential to play a significant role in that regard because it clearly shows that we need people to move to our countries if we want to maintain our current welfare levels.
The report suggests that we need to make it more attractive for families to have more children. That is no doubt an important issue but I would have liked the report to have focused chiefly on the role that immigrants, specifically refugees, can play. It is vital that member States carry out the necessary analysis and have political plans to integrate refugees and migrants into the work force and communities. Studies by scientists from Stanford University, Zurich University and the London School of Economics show that for every year a refugee is kept waiting to obtain asylum, their working capacity diminishes by 20% due to the strain.
The Group of the Unified European Left welcomes the report’s call for member States to view migrants and refugees as a resource instead of a burden and to understand that integration relates to the labour market, local communities and social and cultural life. Integration is not only about what we need as countries, but about protecting refugees’ human rights and making it possible for them to integrate into our societies. Proper integration will require entrepreneurial thinking and the political will to invest in migrants and refugees. We therefore welcome the report’s call to eliminate national legislative obstacles to migrants quickly and smoothly entering the labour market. We need to be more aware of the qualifications of refugees and migrants and to recognise their qualifications and skills.
We welcome the report’s focus on the development of long-term political strategies based on the needs of the labour market, but we also urge member States not to lose sight of the creativeness and entrepreneurial thinking in the education of the migrants and refugees, in order to keep evolving our labour markets. Let us act now to reduce the discrimination and xenophobia that we see today before they get worse.
The PRESIDENT* – Rapporteur, do you wish to respond to the group speakers now, or at the end of the debate?
Ms JOHNSEN (Norway)* – I wish to speak at the end of the debate.
The PRESIDENT* – I call Mr Schennach.
Mr SCHENNACH (Austria)* – Rapporteur, thank you for this superb report. Unlike my friend Lord Anderson, I am not frightened or concerned when reading it, and instead I see its great potential.
In my country, if the people who were born outside our borders stopped working for just one day, the place would grind to a halt. Migration helps us, and I think your idea of a “demographic winter” is very interesting – I congratulate you on that – because it shows us that we are in an ageing society. One third of all businesses come from abroad, those businesses create jobs and we need people to fill those posts. In health care, 95% of people who work in care for the elderly come from abroad and, in our building sites, if we had no migrants, nothing would be built in our country.
Nevertheless, the majority of the migrants in Austria come from Germany, and the situation there is not simple. We have to help people to integrate, but we need to recognise that integration is difficult – it does not simply happen by itself, and we have to work on it. We have to show a will to get people integrated.
You wrote that we need to stop people leaving rural areas, but that is difficult. You need to speak to young women about that, because it is they who leave the villages, and when the young women leave, the villages die. That is the problem we have in rural areas. We need to work to guarantee gender equality, not only in pay, but in childcare – we need more equality. It is not enough to say, “I want to get a better balance between family and working life”, only for enough effective childcare not to be provided. That is not acceptable.
We need to introduce the clear measures mentioned in your report such as language and professional training, or facilitating the recognition of professional qualifications. We need to take such steps now, because we are losing human capital as we speak.
The other thing we need is sensible migration legislation. We drafted an opinion on the European Union’s blue card, which has so far not been very effective and needs to be reformed. Again, thank you very much for your report, which is a really impressive piece of work.
Mr VARVITSIOTIS (Greece)* – I congratulate the rapporteur and commend her on having chosen the subject.
It is too early for Europe to be talking about a voluntary migration policy, because at the moment we do not have any kind of migration policy. We have labour market policies, but how can we talk in such terms about sectors that have to make up for their own weaknesses by bringing in migrants? We cannot control migration on our borders and, last year, we had huge problems with the uncontrolled arrival of migrants Europe. Subsequently, the agreement with Turkey resolved the problem miraculously. Today, in Greece, we are down to the same levels as in 2014, so we have about 100 people on average arriving in the country daily. By the end of the year, we will have 100 000 people stuck in Greece, mainly on our islands.
Tourism was down by 60% this year, in particular on Chios, Samos and Lesbos, because of uncontrolled migration, and we are beginning to see the rise of racist and xenophobic sentiments. In Greece, we have a populist, left-wing government, but it is becoming a country in which helpless people are stuck. How can we move to voluntary immigration policies if no other countries in Europe are prepared to accept the relocation of refugees? Not a single country is prepared to take in refugees as was agreed.
We all know what we need to do: beef up Frontex, put more resources into the hot spots and get people from across Europe to help with the processing of asylum seekers in Greece. We know what needs to be done, but to date none of it has been done. This is an ambitious and very interesting report, but before we can do any of that, we need to face up to some of the more urgent problems confronting us and to implement the agreements that we have already entered into.
Mr KÖCK (Austria)* – The report is very good, and the subject matter will be of great interest to us in future. I was having a discussion with some journalists and a researcher in which the question was asked: “What will the situation be in 300 years’ time? Will China, America or another country dominate the world?” The researcher’s answer was that any nation with a high birth rate would dominate the world.
The report is good because it focuses on two aspects, the low birth rate in Europe and the fact that migrants can compensate for that, redressing the balance. The report includes some excellent ideas about how we Europeans could be encouraged to give birth to more children. One aspect, however, might not be in the report. Recently, I met a doctor who told me about studies of moving from one generation with couples of the age of about 50 who might have 17 children and numerous grandchildren to a totally changed situation within the course of two generations. We have reduced birth rates by about 10%, because it is so difficult for people to reconcile family and professional life, or they might not have money to spend on children. Statistically, in wealthy countries and regions you find the lowest number of children, and I am sure members are familiar with the phenomenon of double income, no kids. We have to deal with that trend.
On migration, we need to be cautious, and we should not be naďve in our approach. I refer to an article by Ayaan Hirsi Ali in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. The article is about a study of immigration, and it concludes that many immigrants come from regions that are not free and where issues such as sexuality and wealth are problematic. There is a real contrast between those countries and our European countries. Some people who come to live in Europe want to integrate, but others are religious fanatics and do not want to integrate. Others are traumatised, which will make it difficult for them to integrate in the long term. Others simply seek a better social safety net. We need to talk about those things. How do we deal with migratory flows and different categories of migrants? In the study, Hirsi Ali states that some 60% of migrants consider religious law more important than the law of their host country.
There are many changes afoot, and it is excellent that the report has addressed this issue. I look forward to further work on the matter.
Mr GRIN (Switzerland)* – I thank Ms Johnsen for this report on a very topical issue. Europe is experiencing high migration pressure, which affects our demographic situation. Migration flows can help compensate for our demographic situation, but two preconditions must be met: control and integration. Migrants must integrate for the sake of social cohesion. For that to happen, they must be given language and professional training, and we need to view such policies as an investment. To ensure that all children integrate properly, we must make sure that migration does not create competition for workers who are already in the country, and that it responds to the real needs of the economy. The recent problems in Germany, which are due to the fact that Germany has been too welcoming to migrants, show us clearly the difficulties that can arise. We must implement good asylum policies and the right economic policies to tackle the problem of migrants seeing Europe as an El Dorado.
If everything goes all right, we will not need to worry, but if there are problems, we must be able to introduce limits. We need to guarantee special protection for young migrants and provide social assistance. We need to guarantee health care and make sure that children develop well physically and psychologically, as we discussed yesterday in relation to Mr Di Stefano’s report. The solutions are not easy to find, but we cannot allow the creation of ghettoes populated by first and second-generation migrants who develop a negative image of the country in which they live.
We are all affected by the tragedy that is unfolding day after day in the Mediterranean, and we need to take steps to deal with it here. We can develop a common European solution to the migration crisis only if we act at the source of the problem – that is, on the African coast where smugglers benefit from the situation by sending migrants out to sea in dangerous vessels. Migration has potential benefits for European democracy, but if it is not properly managed, it will become a problem for the countries that receive the migrants.
Ms JOHNSSON FORNARVE (Sweden) – The report addresses the problem that the average global birth rate has reached a record low of 1.5 children per woman. At the same time, Council of Europe countries have the oldest populations in the world. We must be aware that economic considerations are the main reason why young adults choose not to have children. Europe still has high unemployment, which affects women particularly hard. There are large gaps in childcare, which is often very expensive. If we want young parents to have more children, we must ensure that the economic and social conditions exist to enable them to do so, and we must build strong welfare systems.
The report discusses the importance of implementing a strategy for introducing national childcare to encourage young people to combine work and family life. Such a strategy must ensure that care is available at all hours. Young women must be able to work in areas such as healthcare, which often requires work at nights and weekends. Childcare must also be subsidised by society to ensure that it is not too expensive for families. The report proposes the introduction of labour market reforms to encourage the employment of senior citizens, but I believe that we must first ensure that everyone really can work until retirement. Many people, particularly women, stop working before retirement because they are worn out as a result of poor working conditions and environment.
Instead of urging older people to work more, we must ensure that young people and immigrants who are outside the labour market get jobs. The report addresses a number of important issues that must be solved to deal with that. It is essential that immigrants have the opportunity to learn the new language as soon as possible, preferably during the asylum process. Language teaching can be combined with vocational training and professional practice to enable immigrants to enter the labour market quickly. It is also important to find out what skills immigrants already have as soon as possible; otherwise, there is a great risk that important experience and knowledge will be lost. Our societies must, therefore, facilitate the recognition of migrants’ educational diplomas and vocational skills as soon as we can.
The report lacks something important concerning labour migration, namely the need to ensure that all workers have the same rights, wages and conditions in the labour market regardless of where they come from. That will help to prevent wage dumping and the creation of a grey market where immigrants work under worse conditions than do the domestic labour force. I have tabled an amendment about that.
The PRESIDENT – Mr Divina is not here, so I call Mr Černoch.
Mr ČERNOCH (Czech Republic) – The draft resolution entitled “The impact of European population dynamics on migration policies” is so grave and scandalous that at the outset I say categorically: reject it. Instead of supporting our families and young people, the resolution proposes that we should encourage immigration to increase the population of Europe and fill jobs. Instead of the European Union finally starting to protect its borders, we invent resolutions that will make the immigration crisis worse. Imagine the consequences. The draft resolution states that the reduction in the number of people of working age in Europe creates the need to attract young skilled migrants. But I ask: who are skilled migrants? How many of the migrants who arrive in huge waves are qualified? Are there not already enough unemployed people in Europe?
Perhaps more scandalous is the suggestion in the resolution that our response to population challenges should be to make better use of current migratory flows to Europe. We cannot seriously mean to force women to have children with immigrants from Africa and Islamic countries. There is no need to emphasise what Europe has been brought to; just look at Western countries and cities. The reality is that immigrants come from completely different cultures, and often religions, which are incompatible with our values. Are incoming people who refuse to respect our laws the people who will save Europe? Is this what we really want? I do not.
The Czech Republic is a sovereign State and it is my duty and responsibility to set the best conditions for our families. They should be able to have more children because they know that they can safeguard them. We must give our people jobs and set up a social system. The Council of Europe should appeal to European States to create the best possible conditions for young people, set the best pro-family policies and teach our children our traditions, culture and values. This is the way to go if we are not to worry that these will die out.
Mr PACKALÉN (Finland) – I thank the rapporteur for an interesting report. I have concerns about the European labour markets. There are differences between the demand for labour in different regions in the European Union. Unlike the northern European countries, such as those in Scandinavia, the southern European countries have certain sectors, such as agriculture, where there is high demand for labour. It is, however, cheap labour.
There is also the question of salary. In Finland, an increasing number of workers receive housing benefit from the government because their salaries are not sufficient to cover housing and basic living costs. Starting a family is difficult in this kind of economic reality. Many native European workers have to rely on benefits and so will many migrants who enter the European Union job market. Taking hidden unemployment into account, tens of millions of native Europeans are unemployed. Europe does not need more unskilled migrant workers because unemployment will continue to worsen due to the effects of digitalisation, artificial intelligence, robotics and technological innovations. These major technological changes mean that there are fewer economic possibilities to successfully integrate migrants who are already in Europe. The more migrants there are looking for work, the more difficult the already difficult employment situation gets. When too many people are fighting over diminishing resources in the same territory for a prolonged period, the inevitable outcome is social unrest.
Ms SCHOU (Norway) – The report highlights a topic of concern for the majority of countries in Europe. At the same time as we are experiencing a decline in birth rates, the population is ageing rapidly. The consequence is a severe reduction in the number of Europeans of working age, which leads to unsustainable social and economic developments. The report concludes that migrants alone cannot change the demographic winter in Europe. To respond to the present challenges, a cross-sectoral approach to social, labour market and immigration policies should be implemented.
I commend Ms Johnsen for her focus on immigrant women. For migration to have a positive effect on demographic development, good integration and rapid entry into the labour market are of great importance. This goes for everyone. We know from experience that when immigrant women participate actively in the labour market, it has a positive effect on integration in general and hinders unwanted segregation. Often, however, immigrant women stay at home without participating in the labour market. As the rapporteur points out, this has a negative impact on integration. Training for immigrant women who need help to access the labour market is therefore a good investment.
I applaud Ms Johnsen’s emphasis on the need for a better balance between work and family life. Allowing both parents to work has an important positive impact on the economic and social development of society. In Norway, 77% of women and 83% of men aged between 20 and 66 are working. At the same time, we have one of the highest birth rates in Europe. Today, human resources contribute 80% of the national wealth. It is the most important contributor to the Norwegian economy and hence a precondition for a sustainable welfare State. Oil revenues constitute only 3% of our national wealth. This underlines Ms Johnsen’s point about the importance of encouraging people, both nationals and immigrants, to work, particularly women and immigrant women.
Mr REISS (France)* – Never since the Second World War has Europe been confronted by an influx of migrants on this scale. Europe cannot simply wait and see; we need to take initiatives for concerted action and management of the situation.
The rapporteur’s findings are correct: we will need qualified migrants to cope with the workforce shortage in some economic sectors. Skilled migrants are of interest to Europeans but we also need to give some thought to the social conditions that we want to make available – or not – to these migrants. For instance, will they be entitled to social benefits? Will they be entitled to decent housing? What about family reunion? How are we to organise that? You cannot just say to these migrants, “You’re a doctor. It so happens we have a job for you in a rural area – just come along,” particularly bearing in mind that there is some competition now. There is, in effect, competition between our countries. We want to attract and retain skilled refugees.
Social condition problems include integration issues. That is also something we need to think about. It is not enough to attract migrants; we also need to think about how we welcome them, how we integrate them socially and how we ensure that we do not increase the number of poor workers who, despite having a salary, cannot find housing or guarantee a decent life with their families. We are experiencing social dumping in Europe and it could get worse because of qualified workers coming from very poor countries. Again, that is something to which we need to give some thought.
The report mentions diplomas and their recognition. In the European Union, a debate is already raging about the recognition of some training courses and diplomas. Under those circumstances, how can we expect non-European diplomas to be accepted by everyone without first giving some thought to the worth attached to that experience and those skills?
Integration will also have to include knowing the language of your host country. Other colleagues have already spoken about this. It is a major aspect and we must be realistic in broaching it. How can you possibly work in a country if you do not speak its language? Frankly, when you are trying to recruit engineers or doctors, it is an illusion to think that they can learn a language on the hoof, so to speak. If we want to be efficient, language skills must become a sine qua non.
Finally, the addendum to the report on Moldova was of great interest to me. It so happens that I am the chairperson of the France-Moldova friendship group at the French National Assembly. I know exactly what remittances mean for emigrants from Moldova, a country with few resources. Again, we need to think about this together. There will be de facto competition between, on the one hand, migrants from eastern Europe and, on the other, migrants from Africa. The countries of eastern Europe, which are also affected by the demographic winter, see their young people heading westward, hoping to achieve a better life for themselves and their families. Sometimes they leave behind families and children to do that. Can we accept that? We need to be very careful about the message that we send to these young working-age Europeans in the choices we make in migration policies.
Ms CHRISTOFFERSEN (Norway) – The combination of low birth rates, a rapidly ageing population and longer life expectancy is a bad one for future welfare. This report highlights work migration as one of several means to prevent a situation in the near future where we will not be able to improve welfare or to manage to afford our present level. Crucially, an increase in employment will be necessary.
Some speakers have mentioned that the perspective of this report is too narrow, and that we have to recognise that Europe will not be able to absorb a booming population in Africa with no livelihood in their own countries. That is true of course, but that is another issue and not what this report is about. This is a report on issues of concern throughout our own continent. It is about our own conditions – some of us are not exactly young anymore – and it is about the future of our children and grandchildren.
Norway is a welfare State. Some seem to believe that that is because of oil, but that is a fallacy. Of course oil helps, but only if the returns are allocated to the benefit of all. However, Norway became a welfare State before oil was discovered. Our welfare is a result of free education for all, as well as deliberate policies facilitating important labour reserves to enter the labour market. As much as 87% of our national wealth is from the value of work.
From 1970 onwards, labour force participation in Norway rose significantly because of women’s increased participation in the paid workforce, facilitated by a policy of kindergartens, paid parental leave – including a daddy quota – and paid absence when caring for sick children. This potential is largely utilised. We have also succeeded in reforming our pension system to encourage elderly and disabled people to stay in the work force longer, combining pension and salaries from work.
As a consequence of European Union enlargement, labour immigration has risen sharply. Actually, those migrants’ contribution to our production capacity helped us through the financial crises, and improves our ability to meet the welfare challenges in the future. Refugees might do the same if we manage to utilise or improve their skills and integrate them into our society. That is especially important in respect of immigrant women, partly because of their great influence on the next generation. A prerequisite is that we succeed in building inclusive societies, and, in times of growing nationalism, manage to see that immigration can be a positive factor for our future welfare.
Mr CSENGER-ZALÁN (Hungary) – I thank the rapporteur for doing an excellent job.
The draft resolution deals with probably the two most serious recent challenges for Europe: the so-called demographic winter and mass migration. Nowadays, we can read in many publications that population decline in Europe seems unstoppable, so our continent needs new labour forces and, according to these authors, mass migration should be the solution. In some European countries, that is perhaps the case, but I am sure migration cannot be the general wonder weapon or offer a long-term solution. When the integration of newcomers is successful, their demographic indicators will soon become as bad as ours are today, and, naturally, if the integration does not work, a parallel society emerges, which cannot be our goal.
The greatest asset of the resolution is that it offers recommendations on how to change the demographic trends. My opinion is that this alone can be, and must be, the long-term solution. In Hungary, after an apparently permanent decline in fertility, in the last five years, the birth rate has started to grow, thanks to the government’s family policies, such as family taxation, tax reductions for newly married couples, and low-interest loans for housing. To obtain the necessary labour force, we have to use only, or mainly, internal sources to tackle the demographic challenge. External sources like migration will generate new, and probably bigger, problems for us all.
Finally, I have a criticism of Amendment 2, which lists the push factors of inter-European migration, including corruption, bad governance, and a lack of fair justice systems. On the one hand, it is unfair to stigmatise eastern European countries in general; on the other hand, the main reason that people try to find jobs in western countries is not the above-mentioned circumstances but the five times –in some cases up to 10 times – higher salaries. This income gap is valid also for the middle European countries like Poland, Slovakia, Romania and Hungary. I will therefore vote against Amendment 2, but in favour of the whole resolution.
Mr SHAHGELDYAN (Armenia)* – I thank the rapporteur.
The migrant issue is a very important one: migration flows are an issue for the whole world, which is globalising. These flows have increased following armed conflicts. We Armenians understand the problems relating to migrants and refugees. The first large migration flow that Armenia experienced started during the Armenian genocide. The second flow followed the assassination of Armenians in Baku and other towns and villages in Azerbaijan. Now these flows are coming as a result of the crisis in the Middle East; many Armenians live in that region.
Armenia has received about 15 000 migrants, and not just from the Middle East. We have a multidimensional approach to the issue that includes education, ongoing training, health care and family support. In terms of the number of migrants we receive, we rank third in the world for migrants as a proportion of our population. In the European context, therefore, Armenia does very well at integrating its migrants both from a political and social point of view.
We have worked with others who are dealing with migration issues as a result of conflict in the Middle East, and the biggest problem is integration. We have also been establishing contacts with other European countries and organisations to make it possible for migrants to integrate better, focusing on continuing training and education. That is particularly important for young people. This is the key challenge.
Armenia is developing its migrant policy without international financing, but we have found a model that works well, and we are willing to share it with other countries and organisations.
Mr UYSAL (Turkey)* – European population dynamics are not an agenda item that we discuss very often, but we know that in the short and longer term, they will have a significant impact on European countries. I thank the rapporteur, Ms Johnsen, for drawing attention to this important subject. The report contains important observations about migration and population dynamics.
Many European countries face a demographic winter – their population is ageing rather than increasing – and they must manage the situation in the best way possible; otherwise, the welfare system will become unsustainable and many things that we take for granted as social rights today may become an unaffordable luxury. That is why we must manage the situation effectively. As the report states, the changes in population dynamics can be successfully managed only through a holistic approach.
In that context, one of the most effective ways of combating the demographic winter is to develop social policies that allow families to have more children. Striking the right balance between family and work life will continue to be very important. Turkey is much better off than many European countries in this respect, in that Turkey is the only member State of the Council of Europe that has exceeded the threshold for replacing its generations. That is why we are in a relatively better position, and that is due to a number of policies that Turkey has implemented in recent years to support population development.
As the report states, migration policies and population dynamics should be considered hand in hand. A successful migration policy can help to alleviate some of the negative impact of population dynamics, or even eliminate them completely. For that reason, we must investigate shortcomings in the labour market and ensure that we use migration as an important policy means to make up for them. We should not consider migration only in terms of economic output; we must also understand that it is important for strengthening society as a whole, if proper integration can be achieved. Although the report focuses on migrants, we should also focus on refugees. Their access to the labour market will continue not only to be very important for them but to contribute to the development of host countries.
THE PRESIDENT* – That concludes the list of speakers, but we have a few minutes left, so would Ms Palihovici like to speak?
Ms PALIHOVICI (Republic of Moldova)* – Thank you, Ms Johnsen, for deciding to visit the Republic of Moldova on your last fact-finding mission. I understand very well the arguments for coming to Moldova while preparing your report on the impact of European population dynamics on migration policies. Unfortunately, the Republic of Moldova has a very low fertility rate and one of the lowest life expectancies in Europe. All this is due to a long economic and political crisis, and a very long period of Russian army presence in Moldovan territory. These have caused a high emigration rate in the Moldovan population and those most affected are young people. Although 20 years ago, the Republic of Moldova was known as the country with the highest percentage of young people demographically, today, about 17% of the population are older people. It is significantly influencing the economic development of my country.
I thank the rapporteur for the fact that after spending one and a half days in the Republic of Moldova, she has understood the realities of my country very well and the causes of its high emigration rate, and has emphasised that in the addendum to the report. I also thank you, Ms Johnsen, for stressing that even if Moldova adopts the national demographic strategy for 2011 to 2025 and other important documents, it will not do enough to help our demographic situation. What will help Moldova is a new strategy for economic development and new opportunities for young people, to encourage them to remain in Moldova and develop their country and themselves. These are the recommendations that you made for my country, but I am convinced that those options should be available not only to Moldova but to all countries in central and eastern Europe that are facing the same problems. Thank you for visiting and paying attention to the Republic of Moldova, and thank you for this very good report.
THE PRESIDENT* – We now come to the reply from the chair of the committee. Ms Johnsen, you have the floor.
Ms JOHNSEN (Norway) – Dear colleagues, thank you for a good debate. Of course this issue causes debate and differences of opinion. That is good; arguments are better when they involve discussion. What Europe is facing on a broad scale means that we need to be more innovative, create more jobs and be more attractive. Both the West and the East are competing with us. The report challenges our way of living and outlines the demographic winter that we face – or, as it has been put in this debate, the grey revolution.
In my home town, we were short of labour, and we had to ask around in Europe for people to come there to work in the timber industry. The Turks took up the challenge. As a result, today there is a large Turkish population in Drammen, living very well with others. Then the timber industry declined while new jobs in technology increased, and we faced a new challenge: how can we import people with knowledge of technology, and how can we educate them?
Europe is changing. We know that people in the grey revolution who are past 70 are hospitalised four times more than 40-year-olds. Those in nursing homes use seven times more drugs than 20-year-olds. I am not saying that there is anything wrong with being old; I am saying that it costs society to provide the welfare and quality of life that elderly people deserve. Who will create jobs and work to sustain that? Immigration is part of the answer. It is not the whole answer, but this debate has shown that we must do better on integration.
Language has been stressed, and it is important. It is also important to acknowledge the education and experience of people who migrate to Europe, and to get people into the work force. I like the expression that we are losing human capital by keeping people waiting in immigration centres and not letting them start to work with the language once they are granted asylum or accepted into the country.
We learn something new in every debate. I liked the phrase, “double income, no kids”. I had never heard it before, but it rings true. We need to make it easier for women in the work force to access quality kindergartens so that they can build and sustain a family.
As has been stressed, we also need control. This report does not take up the issue of the total immigration pressure faced by Europe. It argues that we need immigration in order to have a sustainable welfare system, but of course we need control. We need to do better on migration.
Social dumping and the grey market have been mentioned, and that is also very important. We cannot create a parallel society in which those who migrate to Europe work for a different wage and in different working conditions. In the long term, that will make us unattractive, and entrepreneurs and those who create jobs will move elsewhere, such as Canada or Australia. We must present ourselves as an attractive continent, both for those who come here and for young people.
We have also discussed the issue of young people and women leaving villages and rural areas. That is a challenge in all our countries. How do we create jobs in rural areas, make them interesting and help people stay there? We need to look into economic incentives, which is a national issue. We need to work on how we can keep people in the villages. We must work on helping them to gain access to training and universities, including distance learning.
I thank everyone who has participated in the debate, which has been very fruitful, and the German and Moldovan delegations for receiving me. I also thank Olga who helped compile the report and whose input was valuable. I hope that the Assembly will continue to discuss the topic, because it needs attention. Perhaps the most important thing is that we make Europe attractive, not only for young people so that they want to stay here, but for immigrants who want to create a future here.
The PRESIDENT* – Does the chairperson the committee wish to speak? You have two minutes.
Ms GAFAROVA (Azerbaijan) – I thank my colleague, Ms Johnsen, for her work. Her report has generated much interest in the committee, and I hope that it will also contribute to increasing public awareness of the positive aspects of migration that may not be well known to the citizens of all countries, thereby enriching public debate on the subject. One of the consequences of the present migration and refugee crisis is the growing influence of populist parties, which often use false arguments against migration. It is our responsibility to provide our people with unbiased, objective information and to demonstrate the opportunities created by migration. Ms Johnsen’s report accomplishes that task.
The Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons is preparing another report that builds on Ms Johnsen’s conclusions and reflects on the economic aspects of migration in the light of demographic changes in Europe. It is called “Migration as an opportunity for European development”, and the rapporteur, Mr Rigoni, hopes to submit it to the committee sometime next year. The committee is also preparing another report, entitled “How to encourage the migration of international students across Europe”. Its rapporteur is the Earl of Dundee and it deals with another positive aspect, namely the opportunities created by the migration of young, educated people.
On behalf of the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons, I thank all speakers for their contributions to the debate, and I hope that the committee’s draft resolution will be approved.
The PRESIDENT* – The debate is closed.
The Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons has presented a draft resolution, to which four amendments and one sub-amendment have been tabled.
I understand that the chair of the committee wishes to propose to the Assembly that Amendment 2 to the draft resolution, which was unanimously approved by the committee, should be declared as agreed by the Assembly. Is that the case?
Ms GAFAROVA (Azerbaijan) – Yes, a large majority of the committee favoured Amendment 2.
The PRESIDENT* – Does anyone object?
Mr CSENGER-ZALÁN (Hungary) – I object. The committee did not vote on Amendment 2 yesterday. Therefore, according to our rules, we must vote on it.
The PRESIDENT* – I am sorry, Ms Gafarova, but, as there is an objection, your request is rejected, so we will have to vote on the amendment.
Ms GAFAROVA (Azerbaijan) – The committee voted on the amendment on Tuesday.
The PRESIDENT* – If there is an objection, we have to vote on the amendment. We will resolve the issue in that way.
I call Ms Johnsen to support Amendment 2.
Ms JOHNSEN (Norway) – This came about as a result of my visit to Moldova. Many people, including young people, are leaving the country. The amendment stresses that we should try to stop that and create jobs in the country for those young people. As has been said, the push factors are a result of bad governance and a lack of fair justice systems, and that should be worked on. I recommend that you support the amendment.
The PRESIDENT* – Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment? That is not the case.
What is the opinion of the committee?
Ms GAFAROVA (Azerbaijan) – The committee is in favour.
The PRESIDENT – I shall now put the amendment to the vote.
The vote is open.
Amendment 2 is adopted.
We come to Amendment 3. I call Ms Johnsson Fornarve to support the amendment.
Ms JOHNSSON FORNARVE (Sweden) – The amendment is important. This is not a small detail; it is important for parents and in particular for women. It must be possible for women to work and take the many kinds of jobs that exist in the labour market, including jobs in the welfare system, such as health care services. Those jobs are often not 9 to 5 but require people to work in the evenings and at weekends. It is therefore important that society provides childcare at inconvenient hours. I call on the Assembly to support the amendment.
The PRESIDENT* – Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment? That is not the case.
What is the opinion of the committee?
Ms GAFAROVA (Azerbaijan) – The committee rejected the amendment by seven votes to five.
The PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.
Amendment 3 is adopted.
We come to Amendment 4, which is, in the draft resolution, after paragraph 7.3.3, insert the following paragraph: “creating a social protocol, including any legislation and regulation required in order to guarantee that migrant workers have pay and conditions equivalent to those of national workers;”.
I call Ms Johnsson Fornarve to support Amendment 4.
Ms JOHNSSON FORNARVE (Sweden) – The amendment speaks for itself.
The PRESIDENT* – We now come to the sub-amendment, tabled by the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons, which would replace the words “creating a social protocol, including any legislation and regulation required in order to guarantee” with the following words: “taking appropriate measures to ensure”. I call the rapporteur, Ms Johnsen, to support the sub-amendment on behalf of the committee.
Ms JOHNSEN (Norway) – The sub-amendment does not instruct countries to create legislation and regulation. In terms of creating a social protocol, we are not demanding that countries create new legislation. That would be unrealistic.
The PRESIDENT* – Does anyone wish to speak against the sub-amendment? That is not the case.
What is the opinion of the mover of the main amendment on the sub-amendment?
Ms JOHNSSON FORNARVE (Sweden) – I agree with the compromise.
The PRESIDENT* – What is the opinion of the committee?
Ms GAFAROVA (Azerbaijan) – Amendment 4 and the sub-amendment were agreed by a large majority.
The PRESIDENT* – I shall now put the sub-amendment to the vote.
The vote is open.
The sub-amendment is adopted.
Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment, as amended? That is not the case.
The committee has already provided its opinion. It is in favour.
I shall now put the amendment, as amended, to the vote.
The vote is open.
Amendment 4, as amended, is adopted.
We come to Amendment 1. I call Lord Anderson to support the amendment.
Lord ANDERSON (United Kingdom) – Apparently the committee is not planning any report on an important matter, which is the other side of the equation. Yes, immigration overall is positive, but let us not put our heads in the sand about the scale of the challenge to come. The amendment puts the challenge in the wider context of a booming African population. I urge the committee to accept the amendment, so as to give a wider perspective to a valuable report.
The PRESIDENT* – Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment? I call Ms Johnsen to speak against the amendment.
Ms JOHNSEN (Norway) – I think the amendment undermines the whole idea of the report. The amendment belongs in a different report that stresses the problem in terms of the situation in Africa. It does not belong here.
The PRESIDENT* – What is the opinion of the committee?
Ms GAFAROVA (Azerbaijan) – The amendment was rejected by a large majority.
The PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.
Amendment 1 is rejected.
We will now proceed to vote on the whole of the draft resolution contained in Document 14143, as amended. A simple majority is required.
The vote is open.
The draft resolution in Document 14143, as amended, is adopted, with 45 votes for, 1 against and 2 abstentions.
2. Free Debate
The PRESIDENT* – We now come to the free debate in accordance with Article 39 of the Rules of Procedure.
I remind members that this debate is for topics not already on the agenda agreed on Monday morning. As President Agramunt reminded us at the beginning of this session, in accordance with Article 22, all members of the Assembly must show courtesy and respect to each other, as well as to the President and the Vice-Presidents who are presiding over the session. If members use rude language towards other members, they will be called to order and the floor will be withdrawn, where necessary. I invite members to speak on a subject of their choice for a maximum of three minutes.
The free debate will need to finish by 12.55 pm. I ask all speakers to begin by telling us the issue on which they wish to speak.
I call the first speaker in the debate, Mr Cruchten, on behalf of the Socialist Group.
Mr CRUCHTEN (Luxembourg, Spokesperson for the Socialist Group) – I will speak about the Polish law on abortion. It has been another busy week for us parliamentarians here in Strasbourg. To us and to any observers, it seems that problems do not become smaller. Instead, there are more and more conflicts that need our attention. We have discussed the difficult situation in Turkey, the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and all its consequences and many other topics of concern.
I will briefly raise one topic that should have been on our agenda this week: the recent events in Poland concerning the law on abortion. On 3 October, thousands of women and men rallied in the streets of Warsaw and other major cities to protest against a new abortion law that would toughen existing law by introducing long sentences on the women concerned and their doctors. The proposal would have banned the few legal cases for abortion and would have allowed abortion only if a serious health risk existed for the mother.
In Poland, a minority group of Catholic conservatives is trying to impose its morals and values on the whole population, and it would have succeeded but for the mobilisation of thousands of women and progressive supporters. We should support the Polish women and men from the protest and congratulate them on their massive mobilisation, which resulted in the ruling Law and Justice party finally deciding to withdraw its initial support for the proposal. Nevertheless, the current legislation on abortion in Poland is still one of the most restrictive laws in Europe. In Poland, we see the true cleavage that exists between, on the one hand, European values based on humanism and fundamental rights, and, on the other, every religion, including Christianity and the Catholic Church, which want to impose restrictions on fundamental rights such as the right of a woman over her own body.
There are currently about 2 000 legal abortions per year in Poland, but, according to women’s groups, between 10 000 and even 150 000 women have an abortion performed illegally or in another country. This proves that such laws are totally ineffective. Moreover, it is discriminatory against poorer women, who cannot afford to travel abroad to have an abortion and are left with dangerous illegal methods. Making abortion illegal does not reduce the number of abortions but only their safety. The right to safe abortion, the right to decide when and whether to become a parent, and the right to a healthy sexuality are issues of human rights and of social justice. They therefore need to be dealt with here in Strasbourg.
Mr XUCLŔ (Spain, Spokesperson for the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe)* – This week, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom announced that in March next year she would trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to embark on the process for exiting the European Union. It is not our business as such, but this suggests that there is a trend towards the renationalisation of certain policies, whereas the solution to our problems is not nationalisation but integration, as well as globalisation – essentially, integration and the furtherance of the European project. Of course, it is crucial that the result of democratic elections be respected, although there was not much in it in the result of the referendum.
At the beginning of this month the Hungarian Government decided to hold a referendum on immigration quotas there to challenge an agreement that had been reached by the member States of the European Union. The referendum failed because of low turnout, but the issue is still a priority for many in relation to the provision of basic services. The trends in the United Kingdom and Hungary regarding referendums show that countries are moving away from European co-operation and integration. We will hear similar noises from certain forces in the French presidential elections next year and in the German elections. Those of us here, as convinced Europeans, must therefore do everything in our power to press ahead with European integration and say loud and clear that the solution is not the renationalisation of policies. A lot of these policies come about as a result of fear – fear of integrating and of joining in a shared European project.
This has been an extremely productive part-session. There have been a few isolated incidents and moments of tension, but if we behave well and are polite, then we can fruitfully use our time here. A climate of calm should reign, and nobody should level unfounded allegations against other parliamentarians. That is contrary to the spirit of parliamentarianism.
The PRESIDENT* – Thank you, Mr Xuclŕ. It goes without saying that we share your feelings in that regard. I hope that everyone will heed that sentiment. I call Ms Günay.
Ms GÜNAY (Turkey, Spokesperson for the European Conservatives Group)* – One could say that 2016 has been a year of difficulties – a very bad year in many ways.
In Turkey, the PKK, Daesh and the Fethullah organisation threaten the lives and property of our people. We continue to fight against these organisations. My hope is that terrorism will not be associated with any ethnic group or religion and that there is no discrimination between terrorist organisations on the international scene. Unfortunately, we have been fighting terrorism for many years. We have lost thousands of our young people to the activities of the PKK and DHKP-C. Their activities are sometimes allowed in some European countries on the assumption that they do not violate the laws there. As we know, however, terrorist organisations do not remain regional or national but are engaging in terrorist activities in a number of countries around the world.
Turkey and European countries have been fighting against Daesh, but European countries do not show the same determination in fighting against the PKK, although it is on the list of terrorist organisations. This brings to mind the possibility that a distinction could be made between “your terrorist” versus “my terrorist”. We should not forget that terrorism is a global threat, and to deal with it we need global co-operation. You remember what happened in Brussels, Paris, Nice, Ankara and in many other places around the world. We see waves of terrorism engulfing many countries. Despite all these developments, the European Union is still asking Turkey for exemptions and making demands that will weaken Turkey’s fight against terrorist organisations. The European Union is asking Turkey to change its anti-terror law while Turkey is fighting against terrorism. This is not acceptable, because the PKK is targeting the fundamental values of Europe – it wants to eliminate fundamental rights and liberties.
Turkey asks the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Council of Europe at large, and European countries for their full support for Turkey in fighting against terrorism. All sorts of terrorist activities should be condemned, irrespective of any political concerns. The PKK, specifically, has human resources, financial resources and means of propaganda in Europe. Our great hope is to see the elimination of such resources of the PKK in Europe. I hope that European countries can do more to prevent the PKK from engaging in many illegal activities, including drug trafficking.
The PRESIDENT* – Thank you, Ms Günay. I remind you, however, that we debated Turkey this week and had a statement from its Minister for Foreign Affairs. I see that there are nine speakers from Turkey on the list, so it is important that you indicate the topic you wish to speak on.
I call Mr Kürkçü.
Mr KÜRKÇÜ (Turkey, Spokesperson for the Group of the Unified European Left) – I am going to follow up the debate on Turkey. Our group is not satisfied with the explanation of the foreign minister—
The PRESIDENT* – Mr Kürkçü, we are not supposed to be going back over issues that have already been dealt with during the week. I said at the beginning that in the free debate we should not go back over subjects that have already been dealt with in the course of the week. You have pretty much the whole Turkish delegation down to speak during this debate, but we do not want a re-run of a debate we have already had. That is not the purpose of the free debate.
Mr KÜRKÇÜ – I am not speaking on my own behalf. I am not speaking exclusively on Turkey, but I am expressing the opinions of the Group of the Unified European Left regarding the previous debate. Is this allowed or not?
The PRESIDENT* – You say you are going to be talking about Turkey. The Assembly rules that we have all agreed for the free debate do not allow people to address issues we have already dealt with in the week. We have had a wide-ranging debate on Turkey this week. President Hollande talked about Turkey, as did the minister from Germany. We had the Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs here, so we are not going to come back to the topic during the free debate, which is designed for people to raise other issues. If you want to speak on behalf of your group about something other than Turkey, I am very happy to give you the floor. Otherwise, I am afraid I cannot. Is that okay?
Mr KÜRKÇÜ (Turkey) – I want to talk about something that has not been said in debates, so may I speak?
The PRESIDENT* – Go ahead, but we do not want to hear 50 different statements on the same subject. You have two minutes and 35 seconds left. Please confine yourself to subjects that we have not dealt with this week.
Mr KÜRKÇÜ (Turkey) – We have not spoken this week about the exodus of intellectuals and professionals from Turkey to Europe and the United States. Despite that, Turkish officials claim that after the clampdown on the junta, the situation in Turkey has improved so much that 80% of the Turkish population is very happy with it. However, reports from the United States and Germany state that applications from Turkey for asylum have doubled in Germany and tripled in the United States. An influx of people from Turkey to Europe and Germany is what is at stake, and this is a matter of concern for those countries. Furthermore, the United States-based Scholar Rescue Fund has declared that there is an “unprecedented” demand for asylum in US universities and the United Kingdom-based Council for At-Risk Academics says that there are three times as many applications for asylum in Britain.
The issue facing us is not one-sided, but multi-faceted; it has become a problem for Europe and the United States. The Council of Europe and the Assembly have to embrace the issue as one that is not on the outskirts of Europe, but at its heart. The Turkish Government should take the recommendation from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to adopt a more inclusive approach to changing Turkey’s anti-terror laws and open a path for criticism without any hindrance. That is our group’s position.
Ms SCHNEIDER-SCHNEITER (Switzerland, Spokesperson for the Group of the European People’s Party)* – I want to speak on behalf of my political group about the future of Europe and the European Union, which is of key importance in respect of the Council of Europe’s mission statement. The European Union finds itself under pressure and Brexit is only the tip of the iceberg. For the European Union project to continue, we need root-and-branch reform. That is the only way of re-establishing trust in the European Union, not only for European Union member States, but for other States who are not members. They need to trust this most important organisation.
Large swathes of European society feel uneasy at the moment. Those who voice that unease do not automatically become anti-European or anti-globalisation. They are, in fact, voicing justified concerns and are entitled to be heard by politicians who should take them seriously and make proposals on how to deal with the situation. My political group is concerned about this unease, the consequence of which could be the drifting apart both of European Union member States and of Europe as a whole.
How can the European Union and Europe respond to those weaknesses and ensure that we tackle the challenges together? It is very much in the Council of Europe’s interest to draw up a clear agenda in that respect to give competences back to member States and give more room for democracy. The agenda needs to take on board people’s concerns, hopes and desires. To give an example, the chaos of the refugee policy that we saw last year simply cannot be allowed to happen again.
Many people in Europe believe that the European Union is the source of the problem, but these are not just European Union problems: we often talk about the consequences of globalisation. We therefore need to convince people that the European Union is part of the solution and not part or the cause of the problem. Only a minority of these individuals are nationalists fundamentally; the large majority want to see greater co-operation between nations and States. Europe should therefore provide solutions in that respect and meet our challenges. For that we need a different European Union – one with profound reforms that allows us to return to our core remit. The European Union is a unique peace project, for Europe and in Europe. It is important for the Council of Europe to bear that in mind and not just rest on its laurels and watch things go by.
As I have the floor, Mr President, let me say a few words about the piece of art outside this Chamber. As you know, there was a brutal attack on this art exhibition. Art is for communication and this incident is not acceptable. I expect those who are responsible for the attack to apologise officially.
The PRESIDENT* – Yes, that came up in the Bureau meeting this morning. That request has been made and has been forthcoming. Thank you, Ms Schneider-Schneiter. I call Mr Rzayev.
Mr RZAYEV (Azerbaijan)* – I shall speak about a conflict. At present, throughout the world and in Europe, we are in crisis geopolitically, and that facilitates the arbitrary manipulation of international law. Unfortunately, Armenia’s policy of occupying Azerbaijan’s territory continues today. The Armenian diaspora is successfully manipulating the political process in these countries. As a result, we cannot resolve the conflict peacefully through the OSCE’s Minsk Group, but we hope that soon the Armenian side will start to act constructively and we will be able to resolve our conflict peacefully.
Everyone sitting here in this Chamber has probably seen, read and heard that in April this year, along the dividing line, there was an active military phase. Both sides lost young soldiers who were stationed on Azerbaijan’s territory at that time. We all need to fight for peace and do everything possible to guarantee that this conflict reaches a peaceful conclusion.
Azerbaijan has been trying to establish contact with people living in Nagorno-Karabakh with the aim of taking peaceful steps to push the peace process forward. I appeal to everyone in the Chamber to support Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh. In this difficult period, we could bring peace to the South Caucasus and show the world that it is possible to resolve differences peacefully. The Nagorno-Karabakh problem can be solved by sitting around the negotiating table. It will be difficult, but it is necessary. I am sure that everyone here supports the Azerbaijanis who are appealing to you for help. We must have dialogue in order to achieve victory.
Ms KOBAKHIDZE (Georgia) – I want to comment on the Georgian parliamentary elections of 8 October. First, allow me to express the Georgian Government’s deep appreciation of the sincere congratulations on the successful elections and the convincing victory of Georgian Dream – Democratic Georgia. I am proud to represent a country that, with the permanent support of the Council of Europe, the OSCE and other relevant institutions, has reaffirmed its status as the leader of democratic transformation in the region. My country has managed to fully implement its international obligations and has proved its firm commitment to European values. The parliamentary elections were a victory for not only Georgian Dream but the whole of Georgian society. We have chosen kindness, mutual respect and a brighter future. Once again, Georgian citizens were given the opportunity to state whether human rights are considered supreme values in Georgia and the answer was certainly yes.
Away from the outcome of the elections, the form and procedural aspects are also important. The pre-electoral environment and the polling day itself were competitive, well-administered and in accordance with high international standards, and fundamental freedoms were respected. Despite some destructive groups trying to endanger these democratic and free elections with violence, timely and adequate government action prevented them from affecting the outcome. Thanks to a law initiated by Georgian Dream establishing a 50% threshold, a second round will be held in a number of districts, demonstrating that the 2016 parliamentary elections met the highest democratic standards, which is an achievement of our government. As was the case with the first round held on 8 October, the second round will be conducted in a free, peaceful and transparent environment.
I express my heartfelt gratitude to the observers sent by the Parliamentary Assembly for their invaluable contribution towards strengthening democracy in Georgia. I hope that the PACE will closely monitor the second round as well. Allow me to reaffirm the aspiration of the newly elected parliament to continue democratic reforms and to lead Georgia towards Europe.
Mr VAREIKIS (Lithuania) – I want to speak on a general topic and some of my sentences might continue those of Ms Schneider-Schneiter when she spoke about Europe’s future and the futures of the European Union and our Organisation.
I have been in this Assembly for 12 years and I must confess that I love it very much. I am always happy to sit here from Monday morning until Friday afternoon. We do beautiful things here, but are we effective enough? Does the effectiveness of our work meet our expectations? We will soon go home to our respective countries and say that there were some excellent reports. Some parliamentarians will be happy because their amendments were adopted and some will say, “Our amendments failed, but it’s only the Council of Europe. It’s nothing serious.” Some will say, “We had some excellent reports that we wish well.” There is nothing wrong with that, but what is our authority? Is it legal, moral, political or human?
Over the past few years, how many countries have gone from being under the monitoring procedure to fully fledged democracy? Very few – perhaps even none. How many countries can say that their human rights situation is better than it was 10 or 20 years ago? We have to understand this issue. We have a good Secretariat and we are a unique Organisation – nothing can replace the Council of Europe because its role is very specific – but we have some problems. We have to be more courageous and stricter and take firm positions on what we really want to achieve. We think too much about compromises, which generally means that we achieve nothing.
I read an article this week that told its readers to wake up and realise that history is finished, but we have to go back to history. The article’s assumption about the end of history is wrong. Please do not think that history is finished here in Strasbourg. If we are more serious, stricter and firmer from the next session, our work will be more successful.
Mr ESEYAN (Turkey)* – I want to say a few words about the humanitarian crisis in Aleppo. The European Union and the US are busy with the refugee crisis and elections, but the Aleppo crisis has reached its peak. Some 300 000 civilians in eastern Aleppo have been trapped by the Syrian regime and Russia and need food and water. They have no way to meet their basic needs. The recent bombardments show the wrath of war. A cease-fire was observed during the Sacrifice Feast, but it has ended and there is no hope left.
Over the past couple of weeks, more than 2 000 civilians died in attacks in Aleppo and the surrounding area – more than 2 000. The regime is intentionally bombarding infrastructure and facilities, including hospitals. Such attacks are unacceptable, but we cannot guess how long they will go on for. Barrel bombs have injured more than 100 civilians in al-Sukkari, UN Resolution 2209 was violated following the use of chlorine gas, and a United Nations humanitarian aid convoy was attacked, all of which indicate the regime’s intentions. They do not want peace. These war crimes and crimes against humanity are grave violations of humanitarian law.
Who can forget the picture of five-year-old Omran covered in blood, or the sight of his eyes, his fear? It cried out against the silence of Europeans. How long will we keep our silence? To echo what the previous speaker said, what will our influence as the Council of Europe be? How do we contribute to the right to life of Syrians by only condemning what is taking place? To hear the voice of Omran, we have to ask such questions.
Mr ÖNAL (Turkey)* – I will touch on a couple of issues regarding the Middle East. First, an important item on the international community’s agenda is the operation to be carried out in Mosul. Afterwards, as we all know, it will not be easy to establish a political system that reflects the multi-hued ethnicity of Iraq. The sensitivities of peoples local to the region should be considered when establishing that political system, otherwise there will be further problems and 1 million more people could become refugees and asylum seekers in yet another humanitarian crisis. The Iraqi people need the full support of the international community – we cannot ignore Iraq. Turkey will not leave the Iraqi people to stand alone, and Turkey’s military presence in Iraq is with the consent of the Iraqi Government.
Secondly, another important issue in the region is Palestine. We recommend the implementation of the two-State solution – the Palestinians should be provided with the possibility of living in their own State, with Jerusalem as their capital. We have always emphasised such a solution, which is owed to Palestinian children. Furthermore, Israel should respect all religious monuments, and tensions must be ended. Turkey’s relations with Israel are normalising, and that will contribute to a peace process putting an end to the humanitarian problems of the Palestinians. Turkey will therefore continue to supply humanitarian aid to Gaza, which will be facilitated by the normalisation of Turkey-Israel relations.
Ms GAFAROVA (Azerbaijan) – I will share some information about the Baku International Humanitarian Forum. In a period of global threat from terrorism and a tendency towards religious confrontation, a desire for co-existence requires care and tact, because any steps or future measures should not result in us disowning our national, cultural and moral values.
Religious and national disparities should not cause discord. On the contrary, we have to co-operate with each other with sincerity, respect, love and goodwill to preserve and protect our common values. The expansion and further development of international humanitarian co-operation is the key factor in an effective response to contemporary challenges and threats, and enables the accessibility and expanded application of contemporary management and production technologies, ensuring the wellbeing of present and future generations.
Those very issues were on the agenda of fifth Baku International Humanitarian Forum, which kicked off on 29 September in Baku. The two-day forum brought together about 500 guests from more than 60 countries. The holding of such a forum in Azerbaijan is no coincidence. During the past decades, many important events on the subject of multicultural and intercultural dialogue or humanitarian issues have been held on the initiative of the Azerbaijani Government, with its participation.
The Baku International Humanitarian Forum is an annual platform for eminent representatives of the political, scientific and cultural elites of the world community, including famous statesmen, Nobel Prize winners in various fields of science, and leaders of influential international organisations to hold dialogues, discussions and exchanges of views on a wide range of global issues in the interest of all humanity.
Forum participants noted that a range of countries, including Azerbaijan, have achieved significant progress in recent years in the planning and management of sustainable development, which has been reflected in the figures and reports of international organisations. They paid special attention to the need for further development of international co-operation to transform society from one of consumption into a humanitarian society of consumption on the basis of sensible sufficiency, also achieving a way of life that meets the demands of ecological civilisation.
Participants also acknowledged that the development of human potential through the integration of the latest knowledge and skills, including interdisciplinary ones, into a programme of continuing education, together with an expansion of co-operation in this sphere, are key humanitarian components of sustainable development.
Participants in the humanitarian forum called on the various international and national structures specialising in humanitarian development systematically to hold forums, conferences and round tables to create an atmosphere of tolerance and mutual respect, so resolving contemporary global and local challenges. I strongly believe that holding humanitarian forums allows people from various countries, representatives of different faiths and those with divergent opinions to hear and understand each other.
Ms KERESTECİOĞLU DEMİR (Turkey)* – The conventions that we are party to and the laws we make are not sufficiently implemented. We can see this at the Council of Europe in the remarks of many colleagues.
Sometimes, whether nationally or internationally, we talk about things and keep having discussions before putting what we discussed into conventions and different texts. Those legal texts are adopted as a result of all those discussions, but if they are not effectively implemented – and I see a lot of examples of that in my country – they will not change the lives of people and it becomes merely self-satisfaction for us.
As an activist for women’s rights, I will mention not only the conventions and legal texts that we prepare, but the discourse of politicians, which is important, on equality and gender equality, and the roles that such politicians assume will help to implement the legislation effectively. In my country, for example, Pride parades have been peacefully celebrated, but in recent years they have faced attacks. Now the Pride parade is not allowed, although it is a peaceful demonstration.
We need to have solidarity. We have to consider solidarity that is beyond and above legal texts and conventions. I want to hail Polish women and women’s organisations with respect, because they did not give up and struggled for their rights. Those at the forefront today are usually women. Today, in my country, 24 mayors have been dismissed from work. Women’s rights are not effectively protected in this region. Officials confiscated information about how many women are in shelters. I salute female activists throughout the world, and I wish all my colleagues freedom and success in their endeavours.
The PRESIDENT – Mr Lozovoy is not here, so I call Ms Buliga.
Ms BULIGA (Republic of Moldova)* – On 30 October, our people will directly elect their president in the first presidential election for 20 years, following a decision by the constitutional court. It will be an important day for the Moldovan people. The court decision has given our citizens new hope and confidence in democratic values. Power must remain with the citizens, and only the citizens have the right freely to choose their president. We are responsible for this important democratic exercise, which will involve our whole society. We hope that the elections will be organised in a transparent way. Local authority civil servants will guarantee that observers can observe the process, and the central electoral authorities are prepared to examine any complaint quickly and in a balanced way.
Even though our budget is tight, from this year political parties will be financed by the State. We have distributed some 40 million Moldovan leu to the electoral commission to finance political parties, so they will no longer be financed by money from abroad. It will no longer be possible to use images that are sourced from abroad in electoral campaigns. The money will be allocated on the basis of the results attained in parliamentary and local elections. Money will be assigned to opposition parties according to a study carried out by Promo-Lex. Those important changes were introduced after the adoption of a law on the financing of political parties that governs the mechanism for monitoring the financing of political parties and introduces sanctions for violations of the standards in the electoral code and the criminal code.
One of our aims is to make it possible for Moldovan citizens living abroad to vote. Polling stations abroad will be monitored by the ministry of foreign affairs. We have taken into account the results of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) human rights office monitoring mission of the 2014 parliamentary elections and the 2015 local elections. The Council of Europe has provided constant support to our electoral commission to improve our electoral process and to promote the harmonisation of our national legislation with international standards. I express our appreciation for your commitment and the support you have given to Moldova during its democratisation process. We are counting on fruitful co-operation with you in the future.
The PRESIDENT* – Mr Uysal is not here, so I call Mr Torun.
Mr TORUN (Turkey) – I want to talk about Syria and terrorism. In 2011, when Syrian people took to the streets to demonstrate against the oppressive regime, it responded with barrel bombs and F-16 jets. Peaceful demonstrations became full-scale civil war, and Syria became a haven for terrorists. Just as a swamp attracts mosquitos, Syria attracted all kinds of terrorist organisations. The Syrian conflict is the failure of the international community, which initially did nothing to combat the oppressive regime, and which continues to do nothing about it. Organisations such as ISIS grew out of the conflict. The predecessor of ISIS was al-Qaeda in Iraq. As a result of the sectarian policies of Prime Minister al-Maliki, al-Qaeda in Iraq transformed into the more extreme ISIS and occupied territories in Syria and Iraq. Mosul and Raqqa are both under the control of ISIS.
What is the West doing? Nothing. It is simply supporting other terrorist organisations against ISIS. In Syria, the Americans support the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, the Syrian wing of the Kurdistan Workers Party, which is a terrorist organisation. That will bring more conflict to the region. The same is true in Iraq. The extreme Shia al-Hashd al-Shaabi militia is now being used against ISIS, which further alienates the Sunni population in Iraq. That is not the remedy. In Iraq and Syria, using ethnic and sectarian divisions will create more conflict. The remedy is for the international community to replace policies that create such divisions with more inclusive policies.
Mr RUSTAMYAN (Armenia)* – First, I say to Mr Rzayev that the conflict is not between the Azeri and Armenian communities in Nagorno-Karabakh, but between Baku and Stepanakert. In recent years, there has been a rather sophisticated quarrel in the Parliamentary Assembly about the democratic processes in countries that are trying to resolve conflicts. Two main concepts are pitted against each other. The first is that conflict interferes with the democratic process, so a country involved in a conflict can ignore some of its commitments. The second is that derogating from democratic standards will curb any potential for resolving a conflict, so non-democratic and authoritarian regimes that do not behave in accordance with internationally recognised principles and rules undermine peaceful negotiations. I fully support the latter idea. People do not want war, and democracy is there so that people can achieve their dreams and live in peace and security.
I believe, however, that what we have seen is the application of the second concept, which has served in Azerbaijan only to reinforce those shortcomings. Azerbaijan is the only country in the Council of Europe in which the president can be repeatedly re-elected. That is not the end of the story. The country has adopted a constitution that further strengthens the hand of the president and allows the Aliyev clan to stay in power permanently. It is just a constitutional sultanate by another name. Yet our observation mission, rather than sounding the alarm, has congratulated the country on how it ran its most recent referendum. Our shared values are under threat. If every time we decide, under the influence of certain forces, to derogate from our principles, nothing will remain to unite us here in this Organisation.
Mr SHAHGELDYAN (Armenia)* – We are still talking about resolving issues and the European approach required for dialogue and communication. This is extremely important in the case of Azerbaijan. Here we have sometimes stated that there is a problem in the approach taken to resolving the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh peacefully. However, we have heard very unhelpful words from Azerbaijan in the Minsk Process. We have seen a negative approach to the peace process without the Minsk Process. The military budget of Azerbaijan is five times larger than that of Armenia. Azerbaijan’s Minister for Defence has announced his desire to resolve the issue using military force. There are plenty more examples of the problems with which we are confronted.
The key challenge today is the approach to be taken by civil society. Civil society in Nagorno-Karabakh is cut off from broader civil society, In Azerbaijan, members of civil society who want to contact members of civil society in Nagorno-Karabakh cannot do so because they are imprisoned. In Azerbaijan there is a blacklist of people who have already visited Nagorno-Karabakh.
This is not a problem of two communities; this is a problem that needs to be resolved within the Minsk framework of negotiations. This is vital. The Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh and the Republic of Armenia are in favour of peace and negotiations are vital. The people of Nagorno-Karabakh are prepared to build peace. The peace negotiations between the capital of Nagorno-Karabakh and Baku can show good will. It is important to have negotiations within European institutions but we need more than that.
Mr R. HUSEYNOV (Azerbaijan) – I shall speak on some aspects of modern Armenian state policy. A few days ago, municipal elections were held in Armenia and, according to accurate information, the elections were as usual accompanied by massive violence in the country. Besides the various pressures put on electors and journalists, characteristic features of such unpleasant incidents include armed conflicts in voting stations, as well as cases of death. In the course of elections, representatives of the criminal world, along with state officials, took an active part in realising scenarios desired by the authorities, thus doing the authorities a service. This is not casual, but the natural situation governed by law in modern Armenia.
A criminal Armenian regime has made terrorism its State policy, relying on an international network of terrorism. Its well-known representatives have demonstrated a hostile attitude to Azerbaijan, occupying 20% of its territory with the aid of big foreign powers. Having seized power, this criminal group did not stop there, targeting Turkey and Georgia with various groundless political and territorial claims. The worst thing is that the Armenian regime, along with generating serious threats to the future of the country by pursuing a hostile policy of occupation against its neighbours, also acts from the same cruel position with respect to its citizens, both politically and economically. What is the fate of those who demand justice and say just and true words in Armenia? What can be the destiny of those who demand justice from pirates and criminals?
I shall present alarming and horrible statistics and the Assembly will witness how ruthlessly the criminal Armenian regime treats those who tell the truth. The world is aware that on the night of 25/26 February 1992, Armenian military units committed genocide in the town of Khojaly. They brutally and with special cruelty killed 613 civilians. Ten countries have already recognised this act of genocide. Gayane Vardanyan, a conscientious Armenian journalist, who wrote the truth about that genocide, perished in a car accident organised by the regime on 6 April 2010. Oppositionist Ayrat Saakyan, who told an international event the genuine facts of the atrocities committed by Armenian armed units in Khojaly, was found dead in a London hotel one week later. Mikael Danielya, another oppositionist and president of the Helsinki Association NGO in Armenia, who apologised to Azerbaijan for Khojaly – a tragedy he considered a genocide, thus showing great civil courage – was murdered on 4 August 2016.
The incumbent Armenian President, Serj Sargsyan, has hands covered in blood from the Nagorno-Karabakh war. He, his predecessor, Robert Kocharyan, and their team mates who share their beliefs and morality have been governing the State through these bandit methods and it is still going on. Is it too late to take the most resolute steps to save the Armenian nation, the region, wider Europe and the world from this terrorist regime?
(Mr Agramunt, President of the Assembly, took the Chair in place of Mr Rouquet.)
Ms KARAPETYAN (Armenia) – I want to reply to my Azeri colleague. Of course, he is from a country that is a specialist in criminal regimes, falsification of referendums, voting and so on, so I would appreciate his talking about his own country, his own voting and his own criminals.
I want to share with members a situation that is becoming very alarming and that will cast a shadow over the whole Assembly. It concerns my former colleague and the former head of my political group, Luca Volontč. There is a great deal of troubling information in the media, with the main role again being played by Azerbaijan. According to the prosecutors of Milan, Luca Volontč, a former MP from the UDC and a former chairman of the EPP at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe who is currently under investigation for corruption and money-laundering, accepted a bribe of €2 030 090 from the Azeri Government. He may have oriented the words of the EPP at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to reject a report on political prisoners in Azerbaijan.
The PRESIDENT – I am sorry. Please stop, Ms Karapetyan. This case is under judgment in Mr Volontč’s own country. This is not a tribunal. I said the same thing this morning to the head of your delegation. Please do not use the Parliamentary Assembly for these questions. If Mr Volontč is condemned in the future, of course we will talk about it, but for the moment he is under investigation, like many people in the world. You have the floor, but not for this. If you continue, you will have to leave the Floor.
Ms KARAPETYAN – I may speak about whatever I think concerning the Parliamentary Assembly. So I will go on. In the open media, everyone may see and read what is going on, so let me go on with my speech. Mr Volontč may have –
The PRESIDENT – No, sorry: I said you may not continue in this way. You are allowed to say everything you want but not on this question. This is under the law of Italy. It is not the business of this Parliamentary Assembly.
Ms KARAPETYAN – I want to say –
The PRESIDENT – I called you to order.
Ms KARAPETYAN – This topic concerns the entire Parliamentary Assembly and I want to share my concerns and thoughts with my colleagues. Why are you shutting me up? May I go on?
The PRESIDENT – Not on this issue.
Ms KARAPETYAN – On the issue of bribery and corruption and anti-lobbying. I will go on.
After this news, I think the whole Assembly will have been shocked. The topics of bribery, corruption and anti-lobbying are talked about by many of our colleagues. These topics are also continuously spoken about privately. But this is quite another case, with concrete and specific facts that the Milan prosecutors have.
The smell of corruption in the Assembly has become real and we should unite in our efforts, Mr President, to clamp down on all bribery and anti-lobbying to protect the main aim of our Assembly. This proves once more the importance of the report of Mr Liddell-Grainger on the “Follow-up to Resolution 1903 (2012): promoting and strengthening transparency, accountability and integrity of Parliamentary Assembly members”. The Parliamentary Assembly must eliminate bribery by letting members talk about these topics. That may be not so good for everyone, but it is a problem.
The PRESIDENT – Thank you. I remind you that this morning in the Bureau we insisted that we should not make accusations without proof. I call Mr Küçükcan.
Mr KÜÇÜKCAN (Turkey) – I will be talking about the Council of Europe and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
We are legitimately questioning member States – observing, monitoring, writing reports, accepting motions and making statements. These are important steps. However, it is now time to turn the spotlight on this institution. We are here to make a change and an impact. It is time to question whether our activities are taken seriously and change people’s lives.
We have many achievements, but also many failures. We must be honest and ready to challenge ourselves. Today we encounter many problems and emerging issues such as wars, conflicts, migration, poverty, discrimination, inequality, refugees, increasing racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. These are all social problems that relate to human rights issues.
Until now, however, it seems that we focus on only a small number of issues and a few countries. We must extend our scope a little, otherwise our credibility and impact will be much less. If we want to make a greater impact, that depends on our credibility and that in turn depends on how we approach issues. If we are selective and focus on just one region, issue or country, people will not take us seriously. Our statements and reports will be criticised ever more.
Let me give an example that we have never talked about here in the Assembly or in committees. The far right is increasing rapidly in many member States. In some, clearly racist parties receive more than 20% of the vote. That is alarming, and such developments contradict the spirit of the values of the Council of Europe. Therefore I urge this institution to cover a wider scope of issues, or our credibility will be at risk.
Ms ZOHRABYAN (Armenia)* – Mr Huseynov should see a psychiatrist in my view.
Now let me move on to my speech. I –
The PRESIDENT – I call you to order. Do not use insults in the Chamber. [Interruption.] You may continue but please do not be insulting. If you are, you will lose the floor.
Ms ZOHRABYAN* – As I was saying, we have a problem afflicting our Organisation. In every session in the last two years, mention has been made of conflicts of interest, lobbying and a phenomenon that has grown deep roots in our Organisation: corruption. Facts have been presented, even from various international organisations that investigate these matters, relating to member States of the Council of Europe which are apparently buying members of our Organisation. These people receive a lot of money from donor countries every month. They have property and businesses in these countries, and they use our Organisation to serve the political interests of the donor countries.
Immediately after the June part-session, the Milan tribunal opened a legal investigation into the case of Luca Volontč, former Vice-President of the Council of Europe.
The PRESIDENT – You know you are not allowed to say that. I cannot accept this. You do not have the floor. Sit down. I call Ms Pashayeva.
Ms PASHAYEVA (Azerbaijan)* – Professor Rafael Huseynov is a colleague we all know. He is well renowned, and I am very critical of the fact that my colleagues here made such allegations against him.
I was planning to deliver another speech, but the Armenian delegation has repeatedly spoken against my country and our president. They have made allegations and have lied about my country. The Armenian members have repeatedly talked about Nagorno-Karabakh. Their statements go against statements by the Council of Europe. There is no republic of Nagorno-Karabakh. These are territories that have been taken over by Armenia. Colleagues who would like to read about it can read Resolution 1416 of the Council of Europe. There is no country that recognises the separatist regime that was allegedly set up in the region. Likewise, international organisations recognise that Armenia has occupied Azerbaijani land. There are international resolutions to that effect.
The Parliamentary Assembly should not limit itself to making resolutions; it should ensure that resolutions are implemented and apply sanctions against countries that do not do so. A member State of the Council of Europe cannot occupy another country’s territory – that message was made very clear when the Assembly discussed what happened in Ukraine – so why is that not the case with what happened in Azerbaijan? Armenia has occupied my country’s territory, and has simply refused to implement the resolutions taken by the Assembly. Why has our Organisation imposed no sanctions? Armenia has prevented more than 1 million refugees from returning to their land. Why is Armenia allowed not to implement Resolution 1416? We have taken decisions that Armenia has simply failed to implement.
We know that the Court in Strasbourg has already taken decisions about some of those refugees, but although those judgments were passed months ago, Armenia has taken no steps whatever. It has simply ignored all our resolutions, and taken two people as refugees and refused to return them.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. Mr Goncharenko is not here, so I call Ms Ceritoğlu Kurt.
Ms CERİTOĞLU KURT (Turkey)* – I condemn some of the behaviour of elected parliamentarians in this Chamber.
On 11 October, we celebrated the International Day of the Girl, which aims to end discrimination and ensure that girls benefit from human rights. Canada, Peru and Turkey have played key roles in ensuring that the International Day of the Girl was adopted. I myself have a daughter, who is in this very Chamber. I would like to celebrate the International Day of the Girl on behalf of all girls in this room.
Gender discrimination starts at an early age, according to UNICEF reports. A survey found that one underage girl is married off every seven seconds. Unfortunately, girls and children suffer in refugee camps. They are subjected to violence and cannot enjoy their childhood. Children must be allowed to enjoy their childhood, but these children are not allowed to play innocently. The girls of today will be the politicians, businesspeople and leaders of the future. Most importantly, they are the building blocks of society. It is our duty to ensure that our girls grow up healthy and strong.
International organisations play a key role in raising awareness of the importance of girls. I believe in the projects adopted by the Council of Europe, especially the One in Five campaign. We in Turkey host a lot of Syrian refugees, including many minors and children. We must ensure that all children have a legal right to enjoy their freedoms and rights. It is important that all member States prepare a better future for our children. We must ensure that we leave a better future for everyone.
THE PRESIDENT – That concludes the list of speakers, so the debate is closed.
3. Progress report of the Bureau and the Standing Committee
THE PRESIDENT – We turn now to the Progress report of the Bureau.
This morning the Bureau has proposed several references to committees. They are set out in the progress report (Document 14150, Addendum III). These references must be submitted for ratification by the Assembly in accordance with Article 26.3 of the Rules of Procedure.
Are there any objections to these references?
There are no objections. The references are approved.
I now propose that the other proposals in the progress report (Document 14150, Addendum III) be ratified. Are there any objections?
There are no objections. The progress report is approved.
4. Voting champions
THE PRESIDENT – I am pleased to be able to announce the names of our voting champions, those members who have taken part in the most votes during this part-session.
Ms Maury Pasquier.
I congratulate all of them. As is traditional, we have small gifts for the champions, and I invite them to come to collect them. [Applause.]
5. End of the part-session
THE PRESIDENT – We have now come to the end of our business.
I thank all members of the Assembly, particularly rapporteurs of committees, for their hard work during this part-session.
Thank you also to the Vice-Presidents who chaired during this part-session: Sir Roger Gale, Ms Gambaro, Ms Guzenina, Ms Naghdalyan, Mr Nikoloski, Ms Palihovici and Mr Rouquet. I would also like to thank the staff and interpreters, both permanent and temporary, who have worked hard to make the part-session a success.
The first part of the 2017 session will be held from 23 to 27 January 2017.
I declare the fourth part of the 2016 session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe closed.
(The sitting was closed at 1 p.m.)
1. The impact of European population dynamics on migration policies
Presentation by Ms Johnsen of report of the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons in Document 14143 and Addendum
Speakers: Mr Schneider, Lord Anderson, Ms Pallarés, Ms Günay, Ms Sandbćk, Mr Schennach, Mr Varvitsiotis, Mr Köck, Mr Grin, Ms Johnsson Fornarve, Mr Černoch, Mr Packalén, Ms Schou, Mr Reiss, Ms Christoffersen, Mr Csenger-Zalán, Mr Shahgeldyan, Mr Uysal and Ms Palihovici,
Replies: Ms Johnsen and Ms Gafarova
Amendments 2, 3, and 4 as amended, adopted
Draft resolution, as amended, adopted
2. Free debate
Speakers: Mr Cruchten, Mr Xuclŕ, Ms Günay, Mr Kürkçü, Ms Schneider-Schneiter, Mr Rzayev, Ms Kobakhidze, Mr Vareikis, Mr Eseyan, Mr Önal, Ms Gafarova, Ms Kerestecioğlu Demir, Ms Buliga, Mr Torun, Mr Rustamyan, Mr Shahgeldyan, Mr R. Huseynov, Ms Karapetyan, Mr Küçükcan, Ms Zohrabyan, Ms Pashayeva and Ms Ceritoğlu Kurt
3. Progress report of the Bureau and the Standing Committee
4. Voting champions
5. End of the part-session
Appendix / Annexe
Representatives or Substitutes who signed the register of attendance in accordance with Rule 12.2 of the Rules of Procedure. The names of members substituted follow (in brackets) the names of participating members.
Liste des représentants ou suppléants ayant signé le registre de présence, conformément ŕ l'article 12.2 du Rčglement. Le nom des personnes remplacées suit celui des Membres remplaçant, entre parenthčses.
ANDERSON, Donald [Lord]
ARENT, Iwona [Ms]
ARIEV, Volodymyr [Mr]
ARNAUT, Damir [Mr]
BAYKAL, Deniz [Mr]
BERNACKI, Włodzimierz [Mr]
BILDARRATZ, Jokin [Mr]
BRASSEUR, Anne [Mme]
BRUYN, Piet De [Mr]
BUDNER, Margareta [Ms]
BULIGA, Valentina [Mme]
CERİTOĞLU KURT, Lütfiye İlksen [Ms] (MİROĞLU, Orhan [Mr])
ČERNOCH, Marek [Mr] (BENEŠIK, Ondřej [Mr])
CHRISTOFFERSEN, Lise [Ms]
CILEVIČS, Boriss [Mr] (BĒRZINŠ, Andris [M.])
CIMOSZEWICZ, Tomasz [Mr] (POMASKA, Agnieszka [Ms])
CORSINI, Paolo [Mr]
CRUCHTEN, Yves [M.]
CSENGER-ZALÁN, Zsolt [Mr]
ECCLES, Diana [Lady]
ESEYAN, Markar [Mr]
FISCHER, Axel E. [Mr]
FISCHEROVÁ, Jana [Ms] (ZELIENKOVÁ, Kristýna [Ms])
GAFAROVA, Sahiba [Ms]
GARCÍA ALBIOL, Xavier [Mr]
GIRO, Francesco Maria [Mr]
GONÇALVES, Carlos Alberto [M.]
GOPP, Rainer [Mr]
GORROTXATEGUI, Miren Edurne [Mme] (DOMENECH, Francesc Xavier [Mr])
GRIN, Jean-Pierre [M.] (FIALA, Doris [Mme])
GÜNAY, Emine Nur [Ms]
GUTIÉRREZ, Antonio [Mr]
HAMID, Hamid [Mr]
HEER, Alfred [Mr]
HOLÍK, Pavel [Mr] (MARKOVÁ, Soňa [Ms])
HUSEYNOV, Rafael [Mr]
HUSEYNOV, Vusal [Mr] (MAMMADOV, Muslum [M.])
JAKAVONIS, Gediminas [M.]
JOHNSEN, Kristin Řrmen [Ms] (JENSSEN, Frank J. [Mr])
JOHNSSON FORNARVE, Lotta [Ms] (GUNNARSSON, Jonas [Mr])
JÓNASSON, Ögmundur [Mr]
JORDANA, Carles [M.] (ZZ...)
KALMARI, Anne [Ms]
KARAPETYAN, Naira [Ms] (ZOURABIAN, Levon [Mr])
KERESTECİOĞLU DEMİR, Filiz [Ms]
KESİCİ, İlhan [Mr]
KOBAKHIDZE, Manana [Ms]
KÖCK, Eduard [Mr] (AMON, Werner [Mr])
KOSTŘICA, Rom [Mr]
KÜÇÜKCAN, Talip [Mr]
KÜRKÇÜ, Ertuğrul [Mr]
LOGVYNSKYI, Georgii [Mr]
LOUHELAINEN, Anne [Ms] (PELKONEN, Jaana [Ms])
LUIS, Teófilo de [Mr] (BARREIRO, José Manuel [Mr])
MASSEY, Doreen [Baroness] (SHERRIFF, Paula [Ms])
MAURY PASQUIER, Liliane [Mme]
MÜLLER, Thomas [Mr]
NENUTIL, Miroslav [Mr]
OBREMSKI, Jarosław [Mr] (WOJTYŁA, Andrzej [Mr])
ÖNAL, Suat [Mr]
PACKALÉN, Tom [Mr]
PALIHOVICI, Liliana [Ms] (NEGUTA, Andrei [M.])
PALLARÉS, Judith [Ms]
PASHAYEVA, Ganira [Ms]
POSTOICO, Maria [Mme] (VORONIN, Vladimir [M.])
REICHARDT, André [M.] (DURANTON, Nicole [Mme])
REISS, Frédéric [M.] (ZIMMERMANN, Marie-Jo [Mme])
ROUQUET, René [M.]
RUSTAMYAN, Armen [M.] (NAGHDALYAN, Hermine [Ms])
RZAYEV, Rovshan [Mr] (HAJIYEV, Sabir [Mr])
SANDBĆK, Ulla [Ms] (BORK, Tilde [Ms])
SAVCHENKO, Nadiia [Ms]
SCHENNACH, Stefan [Mr]
SCHNEIDER, André [M.] (MARIANI, Thierry [M.])
SCHNEIDER-SCHNEITER, Elisabeth [Mme] (LOMBARDI, Filippo [M.])
SCHOU, Ingjerd [Ms]
SEYIDOV, Samad [Mr]
SHAHGELDYAN, Mher [M.] (FARMANYAN, Samvel [Mr])
SILVA, Adăo [M.]
SOBOLEV, Serhiy [Mr]
THIÉRY, Damien [M.]
TORNARE, Manuel [M.] (FRIDEZ, Pierre-Alain [M.])
TORUN, Cemalettin Kani [Mr]
TRUSKOLASKI, Krzysztof [Mr]
UYSAL, Burhanettin [Mr] (BABAOĞLU, Mehmet [Mr])
VÁHALOVÁ, Dana [Ms]
VALEN, Snorre Serigstad [Mr]
VAREIKIS, Egidijus [Mr] (SKARDŽIUS, Arturas [Mr])
VARVITSIOTIS, Miltiadis [Mr] (CHRISTODOULOPOULOU, Anastasia [Ms])
VEN, Mart van de [Mr]
VILLUMSEN, Nikolaj [Mr]
WIECHEL, Markus [Mr] (NISSINEN, Johan [Mr])
XUCLŔ, Jordi [Mr]
YEMETS, Leonid [Mr]
ZOHRABYAN, Naira [Mme]
Also signed the register / Ont également signé le registre
Representatives or Substitutes not authorised to vote /
Représentants ou suppléants non autorisés ŕ voter
BEREZA, Boryslav [Mr]
HAJIYEV, Sabir [Mr]
MELKUMYAN, Mikayel [M.]
NAGHDALYAN, Hermine [Ms]
OSUCH, Jacek [Mr]
Observers / Observateurs
Partners for democracy / Partenaires pour la démocratie