AS (2017) CR 04



(First part)


Fourth sitting

Tuesday 24 January 2017 at 3.30 p.m.

In this report:

1.       Speeches in English are reported in full.

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

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

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

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

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

(Mr Agramunt, President of the Assembly, took the Chair at 3.40 p.m.)

      The PRESIDENT – The sitting is open.

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

      The PRESIDENT – I must remind you that the vote is again open for the election of two judges to the European Court of Human Rights in respect of Hungary and the Netherlands, as set out in Document 14222, Document 14215 and Document 14231, Addendum 2.

      The poll will close at 5 p.m. Those who have not yet voted may still do so by going to the area behind the President’s Chair. I remind the tellers, Ms Liliana Palihovici, Mr Paul Schnabel, Mr Simonas Gentvilas and Mr Ján Marosz, that they should meet behind the President’s Chair at 5 p.m.

      If possible, the result will be announced before the end of the sitting this afternoon.

2. Changes in the membership of Committees

      The PRESIDENT – Our next business is to consider a change proposed in the membership of committees. This is set out in Document Commissions (2017), Addendum 2. Is the proposed change in the membership of the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy agreed to?

      It is agreed to.

3. Address by Mr Thorbjřrn Jagland, Secretary General of the Council of Europe

      The PRESIDENT – We now come to the communication from Mr Thorbjřrn Jagland, Secretary General of the Council of Europe. After his address, Mr Jagland has kindly agreed to take questions from the floor. It is my pleasure to welcome the Secretary General of the Council of Europe for his beginning-of-year communication.

      Dear Secretary General, before I give you the floor, I would like to thank you for always having an open ear to our questions, concerns, ideas and proposals. We look forward to listening to your communication and to exchanging views with you on the major human rights and democratic challenges facing Europe and discussing how the Council of Europe can intensify its action to respond to them. Many parliamentarians have put their names down to ask you questions, a sign of the commitment to our partnership. Secretary General, it gives me great pleasure to give you the floor.

      Mr JAGLAND (Secretary General of the Council of Europe) – Mr President, dear friends, ladies and gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure to see you all here. 2017 will be a big year for Europe and a highly political one. In France, Germany, the Netherlands and Northern Ireland, and possibly Italy and elsewhere, millions of Europeans will go to the polls. I would wager that the word you will hear more than any other will be “populist”.

      It has become the political fashion to declare as populist any person or party you disagree with. The left says it about the right, the right about the left and the mainstream to discredit the margins, but if everything is populism, then “populism” means nothing. It is time to be clear about what we mean. Populists are almost always anti-establishment, they offer simple solutions to complex problems and they appeal to voters’ emotions. But so do most, if not all, politicians. For an act or an individual to be truly populist, they must go one step further.

      Populism relies on the claim that only we, whoever “we” are, represent the true people. Only we understand their real concerns. This, they claim, gives populists an exclusive moral authority to act on the people’s behalf. How do they then seek to use this moral authority? To take over State institutions and, when it suits them, to bypass existing democratic constraints. Inconvenient passages in the constitution are rewritten, parliamentary opposition is sidelined and disobedient judiciaries are declared to be self-interested or corrupt. The same goes for unsympathetic media. Indeed, the latest tactic of populists is to dismiss every story they dislike as fake news, even though they are usually the most guilty of spreading it. International law becomes an unacceptable impediment on national sovereignty, minority rights an insult to the nation’s values and human rights an elite preoccupation. All are dismissed in the name of the forgotten ordinary man and woman.

      In Europe, we see all this more and more, from fringe parties and, increasingly, mimicked by parties of government too. It goes against everything we have learned over the last 70 years. Since the horrors of the Second World War, Europeans have worked painstakingly to restrain the notion of the absolute sovereignty of the people. We have built constitutional parliamentary democracies precisely because our societies are plural by nature. We have established constitutional courts, independent judiciaries, free media, vibrant civil society, binding international treaties and human rights law. We have done these things to protect citizens from aggressive interests who claim to act in their name and to safeguard individuals and minorities from majoritarian rule. Dear friends, this precious legacy must now be protected.

      It is true that populists enjoy broad support because they are responding to voters’ real and legitimate grievances. It is true that many national democratic institutions have their shortcomings and that Europe’s international organisations, including the Council of Europe, must do more to speak to ordinary people’s concerns. But the answer to the frustration we see in many of our societies is not the populism I have described, nor is it the slow unravelling of careful democratic safeguards to suit one interest or one party. The answer is getting our own houses in order, renewing our institutions so that they better represent and serve all our citizens.

      For weeks now, many in Europe have been despairing at what Donald Trump in the White House – backed, they say, by the Kremlin – will mean for our democratic values, but are our democracies so weak that our fate can be decided by these shifts? We should be spending less time worrying about developments across the Atlantic and more time focusing on ourselves. Europeans are not rejecting the mainstream because of what one politician posts on Twitter. They have lost trust, or at least too many have, in their institutions. Many live with unemployment, widening inequality, prolonged austerity, badly managed migration, housing shortages and poor public services. Their needs are not met by globalisation. On the contrary, too many are left behind.

      The only way to tackle populism effectively is to come up with answers to these problems. We need to show another way – a democratic and international way – to help these people and materially improve our citizens’ lives. My first annual report, which will be published in April, will be devoted to this challenge. It will set out how the Council of Europe and responsible politicians can work together to head off the populist threat by giving citizens effective parliaments, vibrant and plural media, courts they can trust, civil society that empowers them and, crucially, social rights in work, health care and education, in inclusive societies.

      More broadly, over the coming year the Council of Europe will start to show our best side by finding constructive and common solutions to Europe’s big stability challenges, based on our shared values, and helping nation States to achieve things that they could not otherwise do alone. High on the agenda is helping governments address so-called fake news. You have probably now heard this phrase almost as many times as you have heard the word “populist”. Fake news is not a new problem, but it has been put in the spotlight by the US election, and there is a very real risk that it will interfere with Europe’s upcoming elections, too. A big question for us is how States can prevent fake news without overly censoring the Internet. We need proper deterrents, but equally we must minimise the degree to which powerful interests can label all criticism fake news – abusing the term to dismiss dissent.

      Europe already has robust legal tools to help Governments criminalise certain types of fake news while safeguarding free speech. Here I am talking about hateful and violent fake news of the kind that targets minorities and vulnerable groups, such as migrants, Muslims, Roma and ethnic minorities – stories that are especially dangerous in the current climate. The European Court of Human Rights has a clear case law demonstrating when statements are no longer free speech but have become hate speech. Our very successful cyber-crime convention, otherwise known as the Budapest Convention, contains a protocol explicitly outlawing “acts of a racist and xenophobic nature committed through computer systems” – keep this in mind. Both the Court’s case law and the Budapest Convention give States a solid basis on which to criminalise material that promotes or incites hatred, discrimination and violence while still protecting freedom of expression.

      Through the Budapest Convention, we are also helping Europe’s police get the evidence that they need to seek prosecutions for violent and hateful fake news. Gone are the days when all that was necessary was to enter a suspect’s home and seize their hard drive. We can do that now, but today much evidence is held virtually, “in the cloud”, so it is not sufficient to be able to go into a house and seize a computer. The police may know that the information that they need is stored by a given Internet company, but companies continually move data from one server to another, often crossing national borders. It can be a jurisdictional nightmare. I say this because we are currently drafting new laws by which States may co-operate in order to maximise their access to evidence in the cloud. That will be very important to combat fake news that is already a crime and also to combat the hacking of computer systems.

      On migration, over the coming months we will continue to be a staunch defender of the rights of migrants and refugees. These groups are an easy target for populists. This Assembly has been exemplary in this regard, and I am pleased to say that all our monitoring bodies are now doing work in this space, including on helping States to integrate newcomers. I continue to raise the human rights of migrants at the highest political level. Last week, for example, I expressed my concern over draft Slovenian legislation which, if implemented, could lead to collective expulsions and contravene the commitment to non-refoulement. The Slovenian Government responded quickly, offering to work with us on the legislation. My special representative is now on his way to Ljubljana to discuss this with the authorities and the parliament.

      We are striving to help the many children affected by the crisis, particularly unaccompanied children. We will shortly publish an action plan dedicated to their welfare. I am deeply concerned about the migrant children now going missing in Europe. Unable to reunite with their families or fearful that they will be deported once they turn 18, many are believed to be disappearing. It is a huge problem for Europe that we have so many disappeared children. They prefer to take their chances in the underbellies of our societies, where they are most likely to be exposed to traffickers, gangs, crime and drugs. What then? We need to help these children to make homes and build lives. If Governments pursue short-sighted policies that drive them into the shadows, our societies will be dealing with the consequences for years to come.

      On Turkey – I know that all of you are interested in what we are doing there, and we are doing things together – we will seek to continue to play an active and useful role. Last July’s coup attempt was outrageous. We cannot say that enough. I stand in continued solidarity with our member State in its fight against terrorism. For us, terrorism is terrorism, wherever we find it. No country should have to deal with so many attacks, of such a barbaric nature, as Turkey has experienced over the last weeks and months.

      Last Friday, Turkey’s parliament agreed a package of constitutional amendments, which are expected to be put to a popular vote. I would like to say this: whether the country moves to a more presidential system of government is a matter for Turkish democracy; Europe contains a mix of systems. However, asking the people to make such deep changes in the structure of the State in the midst of a state of emergency is of very great concern for us, because in a state of emergency civil rights are per se constrained. I hope, therefore, that the state of emergency will come to an end before the referendum takes place.

      When it comes to the content of the change to the constitution, we always look for whether there are checks and balances in the system; it is not the system itself – whether it is presidential or parliamentarian – but whether there are sufficient checks and balances and a distribution of power. I can say that our Venice Commission, which is one of the most credible authorities in the world on constitutional matters, will look into this and issue its opinion before the referendum is held.

      Regarding the measures that have been taken by the Government following the coup attempt, I would like to say to you that, as you know, vast numbers of people have been imprisoned and dismissed and many do not even know why – journalists, teachers, academics, members of parliament, mayors and members of the judiciary. I am not a judge. I cannot say who was or was not responsible for the failed coup, or who does or does not pose a threat to Turkish security, but we can and must do everything within our power to ensure that the rights of all those accused or dismissed, as enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights, are properly applied. This includes, among other things, rights in detention, the right to a fair trial, the right of appeal and freedom of expression and association, and, of course, all in Turkey have the right to come to the Court here in Strasbourg. Before that, they have the right to a fair process at home, and that is what we are working hard to improve because that has not been the case before now.

      We have been engaged in an ongoing dialogue with the Turkish authorities to make specific recommendations on that front and I can confirm that we are now seeing some results. In the early hours of yesterday morning, a number of our recommendations were acted on by the authorities. Under the previous decree, those held in custody could be detained without access to a lawyer for five days. That will no longer be the case. The period of time for which the accused can be held in custody has been reduced from 30 days to seven, and as I understand it the Public Prosecutor will be able to extend it by a further seven but only in specific circumstances. That is an improvement for those who are affected and are in prison, and it will now be up to the Court to decide, when a case is brought to it, whether that period is necessary and proportionate in the current state of emergency in accordance with the Convention.

      It was also announced yesterday that Turkey will establish a new national commission to consider the cases of individuals affected by the decrees. That was our most important recommendation. Up to this point, individuals who were dismissed and organisations that were closed have had no clarity or certainty about where to complain if they wish to contest the decision against them – civil servants and public sector workers, closed associations, foundations and trade unions, private health and education institutions, newspapers, television companies, news agencies and other media outlets. Some have appealed to administrative courts. Cases are piling up at the Constitutional Court in Turkey. Some are coming to our Court. When I was in Ankara in November, I therefore proposed to the Prime Minister and the President a commission to look into the complaints to help to give these people a functioning system of redress at a national level. That is in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, which says that in Europe you must be able to challenge decisions taken against you in the country in which they occur. Such national remedies are essential for the functioning of our Convention system and if the Strasbourg Court were now to be flooded with tens of thousands of cases from Turkey, its citizens could be forced to wait years for their judgment be implemented. We have to avoid that.

      Our proposal has been included in a new decree, and this is incredibly important. Separately, dismissed judges and prosecutors have been given clarity or hard-to-seek redress, and they will be able to go directly to Turkey’s Council of State. If the new commission rules in favour of an individual, we have been told that the decision will be binding. If it does not, the case will be referred to a national court and then, if necessary, to the Constitutional Court, and, of course, the European Court of Human Rights will receive the cases of any individuals who still wish to appeal against the authorities. We hope that this process will enable swifter justice and will reduce mistakes and arbitrariness.

      To do that, the commission must act independently. If it does not, our Court will say so. So, you see, we have put in place something – probably the only thing – that will offer a judicial remedy for all those affected by the attempted coup, including those who were dismissed, the organisations that were closed and the private companies whose property has been confiscated. It is a huge step forward and shows that the Council of Europe can have an influence if we apply our mandate in the right way. Of course, we recognise that our member State has been through a crisis and in such scenarios it is easy to stand back and make a simple judgment about a complex situation. I firmly believe, however, that we can do more good for the Turkish people by remaining engaged in constructive discussions as the challenging situation in Turkey continues to unfold.

      Our informal joint working group, set up with the authorities, will continue to do its work, focusing particularly on freedom of expression. On this point, I also expect concrete results. Journalists and members of parliament play a special role in democratic societies, and depriving them of their liberty has direct consequences for free speech and democratic debate. I strongly believe that they should be able to defend themselves from outside prison walls while awaiting trial.

      The next item is terrorism. Nowhere is it more essential for member States to work together, bound by the rule of law, to keep our citizens safe and to keep our values intact. Since the attack on Charlie Hebdo’s offices in Paris two years ago, the Council of Europe has filled a major hole in international law, criminalising for the first time early acts of preparation for terrorism to help Europe address the surge in foreign terrorist fighters. We have equipped prison and probation officials across the continent with tools to spot and stop radicalisation and we have launched a ground-breaking new programme to teach peaceful democratic culture across Europe schools.

      This year, we will launch two further major initiatives. The first relates to terrorist financing. Right now, wealthy Europeans are helping to bankroll Daesh and others by buying artefacts looted in Syria and Iraq. Cultural trafficking is not a new crime and thanks to the so-called Islamic State the blood antiquities trade is believed to be booming. Europe’s legal defences are inconsistent and weak. Some States, such as France, Italy and Switzerland have robust systems in place, but there remain many gaps that terrorists exploit.

      We will produce the first international treaty to criminalise specific acts supporting the blood antiquities trade. The new convention will help States punish the smugglers, the dodgy officials, the dealers and, where appropriate, the buyers, too. The aim is that the convention can be adopted at the annual ministerial session in May and I hope that this Parliamentary Assembly will help us. You have to give your opinion in advance, as you did with the additional protocol. We had to work speedily and you helped us to do that.

      Secondly, we are revising our guidelines on the support that States provide to victims of terrorism. Sadly the number of such victims is growing, and the assistance received by survivors and their families after an attack is a lottery dependent on where they live. While most States will provide medical care, for example, or cover costs for people injured on their territory, there are only patchy guarantees for European citizens harmed while travelling abroad.

      Commemorations and minutes of silence are important, but these people need long-term health care, psychological support and help with loss of earnings. We believe that governments have a special responsibility for them. They are the victims of terrorist attacks, which are, by definition, attacks on the State. We will therefore seek a much clearer promise of support from all the member States, sending a powerful message to Europe’s enemies: you may not value the lives of our citizens, but we do, and we stand with them until the end.

      We will now move to questions. Dear friends, you are open to put any questions you may have. There are many things happening in Europe and the world for us to discuss. I have sought to outline an agenda built on co-operation, shared values and the rule of law, for the sake of shared stability. It is a very different offer from the one put forward by populists, but it is one that I believe can make a huge difference to the lives of our citizens. In a post-truth age of fake news and, we now hear, alternative facts, where everything is being challenged, our commitment to democracy, to decency and to one another are more important than ever. I look forward to working with you in the years to come. I believe very much that our values have to be protected and be the real alternative for people across the continent. I look forward to your questions.

      The PRESIDENT – Thank you very much for an interesting address, Mr Jagland. Members of the Assembly have questions to put to you. I remind them that questions must be limited to 30 seconds. That enables more speakers to ask questions.

      Mr VILLUMSEN (Denmark, Spokesperson for the Group of the Unified European Left) – I am very worried about the situation we see in several member States where the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights are not respected. We see that in Russia, Azerbaijan and Turkey. I would like to hear your assessment of that situation. I am not sure that what we see in Turkey is progress, rather than just cosmetic. As you perhaps know, there is a problem: it is the government that will appoint the new commission. Are you sure that that is really progress, and is not just cosmetic?

      Mr JAGLAND – I am also concerned about the fact that the Court is more and more under attack in many places. There are also problems with the implementation of judgments. You mentioned Azerbaijan. We have had a common concern there with regard to Ilgar Mammadov, who is still in prison, despite the fact that the Court said he should be released. I therefore invoked Article 52 of the Convention, to investigate how Azerbaijan is implementing the European Convention on Human Rights. The positive news is that the delegation I appointed has now visited Baku, and there seem to be possibilities to advance on that issue. There are other examples that worry us. For instance, I am very worried about the recent judgment of the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation saying that a particular judgment from the Court here in Strasbourg cannot be implemented. We are looking very carefully into the wording of the judgment. There might be an opening to discuss that, but it is too early to say.

      I said this when I spoke about the judgment on prisoner voting in the United Kingdom, where it was argued that the parliament could not implement a judgment, and I will reiterate it here: from the very moment a member State starts to invoke its own constitution and its own parliament against a judgment from the Court, the whole system starts to dissolve. The system is upheld by the fact that member States abide by what is said in Article 46 of the Convention – namely, that all member States shall undertake to implement judgments from the Court. So yes, I am worried, but I am also a man who tries to find solutions, so let us hope that solutions can be found. Again, it is important that you in your national parliaments are aware of all this and, of course, are watching what is going on at the domestic level.

      Mr GULYÁS (Hungary, Spokesperson for the Group of the European People’s Party) – Thank you, Secretary General, for your report. The contribution and expertise of the Council of Europe’s specialised advisory bodies are well known. Besides those mechanisms, what kind of contribution could our Organisation offer in order to respond to threats to the security of Europe and, in particular, to tackle the problems of the recent terrorist attacks? Do you envisage that additional mechanisms or structures will be necessary to address those challenges?

      Mr JAGLAND – I just realised I did not answer the second question from Mr Villumsen on whether the new commission being set up in Turkey is only window dressing or cosmetic. As I said, the crucial issue is whether the commission will be independent and make decisions based on the case law of the European Court of Human Rights and the Convention. The proof of the pudding will be in the eating. Of course, other courts will watch it carefully, and we must keep in mind that all those who go to the commission can complain to other courts. If other courts find out that the commission has not acted in an independent way, there will be consequences. That is the only thing we were able to put in place. We have to try to have trust in our own system, where the European Court of Human Rights is the last resort to which everybody can go. It is the guarantor of the whole system, and it prevails.

      On the security of Europe, I do not think we need additional institutions or instruments, but we always need to look into gaps and black holes in the legislation, which we have done – for instance, by adopting the additional protocol to our Convention. With regard to the financing of terrorism, there might be other gaps – namely, that law enforcement institutions are not able to look into the cloud and find evidence there – which we are working on now, as I outlined in my speech. We are now working on closing that gap as well. Things are developing very fast, with new technologies coming in nearly every week and every month. That is a challenge to us and we need to examine whether new gaps have to be filled in the legal sphere, but I do not think we need new institutions. We have excellent institutions, but we need to use them in a good and speedy way. As I have said, when technologies are developing we also have to develop our legal instruments.

      Ms MIKKO (Estonia, Spokesperson for the Socialist Group) – Secretary General, as you know, the Assembly decided yesterday, at the beginning of our part-session, not to have an urgent debate on Turkey. We parliamentarians voluntarily distanced ourselves from discussing serious processes taking place in one of our member States. What kind of concrete tools does the Council of Europe have to keep Turkey on the unchangeable path of democracy, the rule of law and human rights?

      Mr JAGLAND – First, it is important to understand that we cannot put in place new people in Turkey. These people have elected a Parliament and Turkey has a Government based on that Parliament, and we cannot do anything about that. What we can do is hold Turkey accountable to the obligations under the Convention, and we have good tools to do that with. That is why we have entered into a dialogue with the Turkish authorities after the attempted coup; we are seeking to explain to them and work with them on how they should deal with this matter in the aftermath of that. Although that approach has not produced all the results we wanted, it has produced good results. That is the only way in which we can work. The role of the Parliamentary Assembly and whether or not it should have an urgent debate is not my business; my business is to use the best intergovernmental tools we have to help Turkey to be on the right track. One can say that we have at least partly succeeded in that, but it remains to be seen how things are being implemented. I say it again and again, but the ultimate tool we have is the Court and the fact that States are obliged to implement its decisions. The whole system of the Council of Europe relies on that fact, which is why, as I said earlier, it is so important to protect the role of the Court.

      Ms GILLAN (United Kingdom, Spokesperson for the European Conservatives Group) – Thank you, Secretary General, for your address. With the acknowledged rise of populism and increasing scepticism about European institutions, what greater support could you offer to reinforce with their home countries the value placed on the work of MPs in this place for peace, democracy and human rights? Will your report in April include plans to raise the profile and status of the Council of Europe with all domestic commentators, parliaments and people?

      Mr JAGLAND – We are working on that all the time, and the only way to increase the relevance of the Council of Europe is by using our mandate in a good way. As I see it, a good way is by not becoming a non-governmental organisation; NGOs are very important in our societies, but we have a different role. We cannot sit here criticising everybody every day – that is for others to do. On Turkey, which is a good example, my role was to apply the best bodies we have in a very strict legal way. I could have been tempted to become a judge and say “All these people are totally innocent. Those are guilty”, but that is not my role and it is not our role. Our role is to put in place judicial safeguards for all the people. That is the only way in which the Council of Europe can be relevant. You have to do everything you can at the domestic level to explain our role. At that level, we can also increase the authority of the Court. I say again that without the Court the European Convention would have been nothing. Only when we have a strong Court, which national parliaments respect and whose judgments they implement, do we have a strong system. So there are many things we can contribute with at the national level.

      Mr van de VEN (Netherlands, Spokesperson for the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe) – Mr Secretary General, yesterday we discussed and voted on the issue of whether or not to hold an urgent procedure debate on the political situation in Turkey. The discussion was a balancing act between the principle of holding such a debate and the opportunity of such a debate in view of the reality of that political situation. My question is: in what way do the Council of Europe and we as the Parliamentary Assembly benefit from this effort we make? What is the goal of that effort? Do you see progress? If so, how would you quantify success?

      Mr JAGLAND – It is difficult to quantify success, as you indicated. We can define it only if we apply it to concrete situations and cases, as I did for example with regard to Azerbaijan. It is not right to say this is a success, because it is a necessity, but if we could soon get Ilgar Mammadov out of prison we would show that the Court is strong and the Convention is strong on behalf of one individual. It is a success if we are able to put in place judicial guarantees and remedies for 130 000 people in Turkey – without the Council of Europe we would not have had this and now we do. It will be an even bigger success if the mechanisms now being put in place prove to be independent, and make decisions on the basis of the case law of the Court and the Convention. That is the way in which we can measure success. We always have to keep in mind that the Council of Europe is there for individuals – for the rights of people. If we have focused on that, we can succeed in the way we see in the examples I gave. The Parliamentary Assembly has time and again played a very active role in this regard, on behalf of people. We were put in place because of people. So please continue doing as you have done in the past and watching whether people’s rights are being put in place, guaranteed and respected in our member States.

      The PRESIDENT – Questions will now be asked in groups of three. As Ms Naghdalyan is not here, I call Lord Foulkes.

      Lord FOULKES (United Kingdom) – Mr Jagland, I do not think you answered Mrs Gillan’s question. If the United Kingdom Government succeeds in withdrawing from the European Union, the Council of Europe will be even more important for our European engagement. Yet there are hints and suggestions that our government might next withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights and, thereby, membership of the Council of Europe. What will you personally do to remind the British Government of the importance of this institution?

      Mr V. HUSEYNOV (Azerbaijan) – The Council of Europe is always concerned with humanitarian aspects of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. In that regard, we are grateful for your recent statement on the return of the body of the Azerbaijani serviceman killed on 29 December 2016. As you may know, two Azerbaijani civilians were taken hostage in Kalbajar region, an occupied territory of Azerbaijan. Their relatives have already appealed to the European Court of Human Rights. Given the humanitarian situation and the Court’s case law in similar cases, has the time come to urge Armenia to release those illegally imprisoned hostages?

      Ms GÜNAY (Turkey)* – Terrorism is a global threat that also threatens the values of the Council of Europe. Do you believe that the member States give Turkey enough support in its struggle against terrorism? What concrete steps can be taken to fight terrorism?

      Mr JAGLAND – What do I do to remind the United Kingdom Government and Parliament about the importance of the Convention? Well, I have done it again and again. We have produced, for instance, a paper on many of the Court’s judgments that have benefited British citizens. I could mention many, but it would take too much time. The problem is that only one issue – prisoners’ voting rights – has been discussed. We should all do more to inform the authorities, the parliament and the public how important the Court has been for ordinary people in the United Kingdom. From a wider perspective, it is important for the United Kingdom to have this European legal basis that connects 47 member States to the same legal standards. It is important that the Russian Federation, Turkey and many other States are part of this. It is about the stability of Europe, which is beneficial to the United Kingdom as well.

      As I have said in London many times, if the United Kingdom does not want to implement a judgment from the Court, other States might do the same, and that would be the beginning of the dissolution of the whole connected system. We must focus on what membership means at the domestic level and from the wider European perspective. I have been in the House of Commons several times, and spoken with the Government many times – always a fruitful discussion – and I will continue to do that.

      I am aware of the two Azerbaijani civilians, and I raised the matter a long time ago – I think it was two years ago – with the President of Armenia. After the exchange that took place on 29 December, I also stated that the body should be transferred back to Azerbaijan. I say this on the back of what I have said about the role of the Council of Europe: we must have people’s concerns in mind. We are not a party to the Minsk process and we are not a peacemaker, but when it comes to humanitarian issues such as this one, we always speak out. It would be a very good gesture to transfer the two prisoners to Azerbaijan. In times of conflict, one should always look to humanitarian gestures in order to lower tensions. I can say this here and now because I said it to the President of Armenia at least two years ago. I even said that if I could help to transfer those people, I would be glad to do it.

      Ms Günay asked whether the member States of the Council of Europe give Turkey sufficient support to combat terrorism. Well, I do not know, but we should do everything we can to help Turkey in this situation. Terrorism is terrorism – full stop. Over the years, I have seen how terrorists have not only harmed their victims, but have helped the enemies of democracy. Terrorism always enhances antidemocratic forces and transforms societies. Terrorism did not help the Palestinians, and it does not help the Syrians or the Turkish people. It has created a difficult political situation in Turkey. It is in our interest to combat terrorism, whatever it is and wherever it appears. That is, and has always been, my principal stand, but I have no judgment on whether the member States can do more.

      The PRESIDENT – We must now conclude the questions to Mr Jagland. Secretary General, thank you very much for that exchange of views. You set out an ambitious agenda for the year, which corresponds fully to our Assembly’s priorities. I look forward to our fruitful co-operation.

      Allow me to mention just three issues. Counteracting populism is one of my key objectives. I share your concerns: populism will be a real issue in US politics this year. We heard your message loud and clear. As representative of Europe’s democratic political forces, we will promote a realistic political discourse and oppose alternative facts and fake news.

      I look forward to the main immigration debate that we will organise in June. I am sure that your contribution to that debate will be most valuable.

      All bodies in the Council of Europe must stand together in democratic support for Turkey. That means providing words of support but also of caution when we see risks to the standards we are bound to uphold in the Council of Europe. I look forward to co-operating with the Turkish authorities, and with you and our monitoring bodies.

      Thank you very much, Mr Secretary General.

      I must remind the Assembly that the vote is again open for the election of two judges to the European Court of Human Rights in respect of Hungary and the Netherlands.

      The poll will close at 5 p.m. Those who have not yet voted may still do so by going to the area behind the President’s Chair.

      (Ms Oomen-Ruijten, Vice-President of the Assembly, took the Chair in place of Mr Agramunt.)

4. Attacks against journalists and media freedom in Europe

      The PRESIDENT – The next item of business this afternoon is a debate on the report titled “Attacks against journalists and media freedom in Europe”, Document 14229. It will be presented by Mr Volodymyr Ariev on behalf of the Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media.

      I propose that in order to finish by 6.50 p.m., we shall interrupt the list of speakers at about 6.10 p.m. to allow time for the reply and the vote. Is that agreed?

      I remind you that the time limit for speeches is three minutes.

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

      Mr ARIEV (Ukraine) – I have to start alone, because we are waiting for the secretariat.

      Seldom do I start with my personal story, but this issue is special for me, because I was a journalist before I was elected to parliament. I lived in a State that was restoring its democratic traditions. Ukrainian journalists faced censorship and saw the funerals of our friends before press freedom and rights were established more strongly.

      Press freedom used to be a basic right for democratic communities in Europe, but the situation has been getting worse since our last report on this topic, adopted in 2015. Journalists have been targeted during demonstrations, and there have been dozens of attacks against media outlets in different States. The Council of Europe established a special platform for protecting journalists’ safety, and the hundreds of alerts that were tabled by almost all Council of Europe member States should have concerned every responsible politician. My report deals with 16 murder cases and 150 arrests of journalists and media employees, mainly in Turkey but also in Azerbaijan, Russia and the Ukrainian territories annexed and occupied by the Russian Federation. It takes into account the very serious consequences of the situation in Turkey, namely the failed coup d’état, the terrorist attacks, the crisis caused by the enormous number of refugees and the war in Syria.

      We call for all journalists who have not been indicted for participating in terrorist acts to be released from detention. We welcome the release from detention of Khadija Ismayilova in Azerbaijan, but we have to turn our attention to the concerning situation of one of the country’s most popular journalists and bloggers, Mehman Huseynov, who was detained just a few weeks ago. We have to reiterate our demands to the Russian authorities to release the film director Oleg Sentsov and to set free the Ukrainian correspondent Roman Sushchenko, who is charged by the FSB with so-called espionage. We must defend from prosecution the Crimean journalist Mykola Semena, who faces a five-year prison sentence for separatism after he called for Crimea to be a part of Ukraine. We must prevent the systematic harassment of the free and independent media in Russian-annexed Crimea, which has included a raid on the Crimean Tartar ATR television station.

      I have in my hand a declaration by Mykola Semena’s colleagues – Crimean journalists, editors, writers, scientists and those who studied journalism with him in the university in Kiev. They address us: “We are very disturbed about the fate of Mykola Semena. He is now facing 5 years in prison as a result of charges of ‘separatism’ trumped-up against him by the illegal Russian occupation regime in Crimea. Dear deputies of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, we appeal to you to defend Mykola Semena and other journalists persecuted by the Kremlin’s regime for their supporting European Union values.”

      There are other problems. Some Council of Europe member States still criminalise defamation in their legislation, which can be used to harass independent media outlets, as happened in Georgia to the Rustavi 2 channel. There are complaints about the lack of independence in public media, an absence of media ownership transparency and conflicts over the issuing of licences. Some journalists’ right to apply for vacant positions in companies is limited, contrary to European labour laws. There are clear signs of possible discrimination, such as in the recent case of Euronews, which triggered a one-day strike.

      Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and the Republic of Moldova are engaged in military conflicts, some of which are so-called frozen conflicts. People are dying in the conflict around the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan, as well as in the Ukrainian region of Crimea and other regions in eastern Ukraine. That affects those countries and the media situation. Propaganda and hatred are problems, as is the media’s access to conflict areas. Journalists’ ability to work securely in those areas is under threat. The governments in Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine cannot control media freedom in the occupied territories because they lack influence over those areas.

      Several terrible terrorist attacks have occurred in Belgium, France and Turkey, which have required stricter security measures. Proportionality is required in those actions, and media freedom must be respected so the public can receive all the information they need in those democratic societies. Otherwise, the terrorists will have succeeded in undermining public trust in our countries’ democratic institutions.

      Hearing about the facts of those cases, we should react as if we were directly damaged. Democratic institutions can be stable only when the press is free, honest, transparent and strong. We have seen top politicians weaken media freedom, from Moscow to Washington DC. Adopting this report would prepare the ground for strengthening democracy and the rule of law. Should you see any violation of press freedom, you need to make sure you react immediately.

      To make real progress on press freedom in Europe, we must strongly resist every single breach of journalists’ rights. We cannot tolerate such actions without reacting, lest we reach the point of no return having ignored them. Hopefully, we will never let that happen.

      The PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Ariev. You have six minutes and 20 seconds left for your reply at the end of the debate.

      In the debate, I call first the speakers on behalf of the political groups. The first speaker is Lady Eccles.

      Lady ECCLES (United Kingdom, Spokesperson for the European Conservatives Group) – Madam President, dear colleagues, we are here today to debate the report by my colleague Volodymyr Ariev. On behalf of the European Conservative Group, I thank him for this thorough report.

      The right to freedom of expression and information constitutes one of the essential foundations of a democratic society. It is one of the basic conditions for its progress and the development of every individual. Without media freedom, no democracy can exist.

      The European media landscape has changed considerably through Internet and social media. While the evening news on television had a central role for the public two decades ago, we now receive news and opinions on our mobile phones and computers at any moment of the day and night. Despite this change, editorial media and journalists still play a vital role in informing the public and shaping public opinion. The alarmingly high numbers of journalists murdered or attacked show us that journalism continues to have a great influence today, as it did decades ago.

      This report, based on the Secretary General’s Platform established two years ago, is a useful source of information. As the report states, the Platform’s alerts and governments’ responses are to be used for in-depth analysis of serious cases of attacks on journalists and media freedom, especially where the severity and frequency of such attacks indicate systemic problems in member States. Throughout its preparation, the rapporteur has shown that he not only knows journalism well, but that he understands the current challenges many European States are facing. The media has been attacked by terrorists in Paris, as well as by the plotters of the failed coup in Turkey. It is also used for propaganda in the conflict in Ukraine. At the same time, it is mainly through media that the public is informed about these attacks on democracy.

      As Mr Ariev visited Hungary and Turkey for the preparation of the report, he was able to discuss matters directly with the media and the authorities. He also discussed relevant questions with other national delegations. His report was therefore approved unanimously by the Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media.

      In conclusion, I commend the report for adoption by our Assembly.

      Ms BRASSEUR (Luxembourg, Spokesperson for the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe)* – Freedom of expression and freedom of the media are absolutely fundamental to our democracies. Attacks against journalists, against the media and against freedom of expression are attacks against democracy. These attacks are coming from terrorist groups – we have seen what terror they can spread – and from authorities and powers-that-be in certain countries. We must resolutely combat both phenomena, because they are undermining the strength of our democracies.

      This is not a new phenomenon, of course, but I have the impression that attacks against journalists are intensifying day by day. I therefore call on the Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media and the rapporteur to keep this report up to date. If we vote for this resolution, as our colleague Lady Eccles suggested, that is good, but it is just a one-day effort and we need to keep a watch over the situation.

      What is happening in various countries? Let me start with Turkey where, for instance, Can Dündar has been found guilty. He had to leave the country and his spouse is unable to re-join him. There are other well known cases in Turkey of journalists in prison. This is nothing new. A few years ago, the then Prime Minister of Turkey, Mr Erdoğan, appeared before us. I put a question to him about a journalist in prison. He told us that the journalist had violated the common law of his country, and that there was a separation of powers and an independent judiciary.

      Of course, there must be no impunity for journalists – or for politicians either. If someone commits a crime under the law, they must be prosecuted and judged appropriately. However, there are countries where journalists suddenly turn out to have drugs in their home – obviously falsified charges. That is a violation of our fundamental principles. We must remain vigilant and I welcome the efforts of the rapporteur.

      It is not only the countries I have referred to that are of concern. Other countries are mentioned in the report. In the Russian Federation, for instance, various media channels have simply been closed down. Some of them were quite small, but once it happens, it can continue to happen. There are also concerns about media freedom in Poland and Hungary.

      On behalf of my group, I congratulate the rapporteur. I urge you to support the report, but I urge you first and foremost to continue the work of vigilance and supervision. Without journalists and their work, our democracies are gravely threatened.

      The PRESIDENT – Thank you very much, Ms Brasseur.

      It is now nearly 5 p.m. Does any member still wish to vote in the election of judges to the European Court of Human Rights?

      We now continue the debate on attacks against journalists and media freedom in Europe. I call Ms Kavvadia.

      Ms KAVVADIA (Greece, Spokesperson for the Group of the Unified Left) – The issue of media freedom in Europe is not only fundamental in the overall struggle to preserve democratic freedoms in our continent; it also deeply concerns me, as I myself am a journalist. Indeed, I have had a personal experience of what the suppression of media freedom feels like, as I vividly recall the abrupt and violent closure of the Greek Public Broadcaster ERT in 2013, an event that many members of this Assembly must also remember.

      For the past two years, the current Greek Government of the left has been engaged in a continuous struggle to introduce fairness, ensure transparency and install legal order in a formerly lawless and unregulated media landscape that provided fertile ground for corruption and all sorts of opaque and unwarranted links between private media owners, financial interests and political parties. This is all reflected in the report of the ad hoc committee set up by the Hellenic Parliament precisely to investigate those links. The report is the product of several months of open debate and public examination of evidence. In this struggle, the Hellenic Republic is showing in practice its respect for the rule of law, especially in the process of granting of television broadcasting licences for the very first time, since for the past 27 years no private TV broadcaster in Greece operated legally – something that might come as a surprise to many Members of this Assembly, but is, however, true.

      Yes, media freedom is absolutely essential for democracy in Europe. And media freedom means a free press, the freedom to express opinions and engage in dialogue, and the freedom to seek out and expose the truth. However, I must point out that unfortunately this Assembly will not be holding a debate during this session on the country where media freedom is perhaps most threatened, where journalists are most under attack and where Article 10 of the ECHR is most violated today: Turkey. This fact alone is deplorable and goes against the principles of the Council. Despite the fact that Turkey is mentioned in the report, not holding an urgent debate on this situation is a bad sign for the reliability, credibility and effectiveness of the Organisation. This needs to be corrected urgently.

      Media freedom, free press, and the freedom of thought and expression are among the pillars of our common European legal culture. It is of paramount importance today, in an age when those pillars face new threats and challenges, that we remain true to the founding principles of the Council of Europe.

      The PRESIDENT – Thank you, Ms Kavvadia.

      The ballot for electing two judges to the European Court of Human Rights in respect of Hungary and the Netherlands is now closed. The votes will be counted under the supervision of the tellers, Ms Liliana Palihovici, Mr Paul Schnabel, Mr Simonas Gentvilas and Mr Ján Marosz. I invite them to go at once to meet behind the President’s Chair. I hope to be able to announce the results of the election before the end of the sitting this afternoon.

      We will now return to the list of speakers on behalf of political groups.

      Mr STROE (Romania, Spokesperson for the Group of the European People’s Party) – Madam President, dear colleagues, freedom of the media is and has been for centuries a fundamental freedom. Sadly, Europe is not immune from the serious problems that can restrict media freedom and pluralism and prevent them from playing their safeguarding role. I want to underline the important role played by the Platform to promote the protection of journalism and safety of journalists, an important tool that is designed to improve the protection of journalists, to better address threats and violence against media professionals and to foster early warning mechanisms and response capacity within the Council of Europe.

      Systematic attacks against journalists are obviously human rights violations. The draft resolution states: “The Assembly notes with sadness that 16 journalists have died violently in member States since January 2015.” That is a terrible fact that goes against our key values in a democratic society. I raise the following question: can reporters be efficiently prepared to face the dangers? Ensuring the safety of journalists is complex and requires a multi-faceted approach. The challenges for journalists who are reporting from an armed conflict situation may not be the same as for those who are engaged in investigative journalism. Journalists are particularly vulnerable in societies where the rule of law is absent and the implementation of human rights is weak. Corruption, intimidation, reprisals and weak judicial systems that favour impunity must be tackled in a more serious way. Journalists are watchdogs who can ring alarm bells and elucidate unacceptable situations that need urgent action, so it is essential that they are afforded the necessary protection to allow them to carry out their important work.

      However, journalists can also be manipulated for propaganda purposes, especially if they do not comply with basic standards of ethical reporting. Such manipulation can have very negative consequences. It can transform journalists into a “legitimate” target, as it provides so-called justification for their harassment.

      We need to aim all our efforts at ensuring an independent media environment that is characterised by transparency, pluralism, diversity and a strong ethical approach. A culture of respect for human rights, the rule of law and democracy is essential for the protection of journalists.

      Ms BILGEHAN (Turkey, Spokesperson for the Socialist Group)* – Thank you very much, Madam President. I shall speak in Turkish, if I may; please put your headsets on.

      (The speaker continued in Turkish.)

      “If it is done properly, journalism is the best profession in the world.” That was a statement made by a very dignified journalist: my father, who was imprisoned for two years for the same cause.Vo

      Volodymyr Ariev’s report says that by the year 2016 journalism had become one of the riskiest professions in Europe. In the last two years, more than 16 journalists have been killed in member States and many have been physically assaulted. In Bulgaria, Stoyan Tonchev was hit with baseball bats. In Croatia, Željko Peratović was assaulted by three people. The AFP correspondent David Perrotin was assaulted by 10 people. In Serbia, the investigative journalist Ivan Ninić was hit with metal rods. In Kaliningrad, Igor Rudnikov had to be taken to intensive care because of the violence he faced. In many countries, journalists are being attacked by security and police.

      Unfortunately, in my country, Turkey, many journalists are in prison. Some have been imprisoned for months without an indictment. Some are sick; some are very old. Ever since the state of emergency was declared in June, more than 3 000 journalists have been laid off and 52 newspapers, 28 TV channels and 28 publishing houses have been closed down.

      Mr Ariev’s report gave us the chance to listen to professional organisations in Istanbul. We were together with Mr Ariev, and the Flego resolution of 2015 clearly said that such interviews and discussions should indeed be held by parliaments. The examples I gave you are based on the April report by the Council of Europe’s Platform to promote the protection of journalism and safety of journalists, which clearly shows that there are very many difficulties.

      Those who fear the truth also fear journalists. Those who keep democracies alive are respectable, honest politicians and journalists who write the truth and nothing but the truth. In fact, journalists do not utter lies, distort or fabricate news. There are good and bad journalists. I would like the report to take that into account to make sure that we can protect journalists.

      The PRESIDENT – Rapporteur, you are allowed to reply now or after the debate.

      Mr ARIEV – I will reply after the debate.

      The PRESIDENT – In that case, I will call the first person on the speakers list, Ms Schneider-Schneiter.

      Ms SCHNEIDER-SCHNEITER (Switzerland)* – The right to freedom of expression and independent information from the media is the main plank of our democracies. The only disquieting thing in my own country is that we are seeing more media mergers. Media are now in the ownership of very few, which means that we do not have diversity. However, in comparison to the abuses that have been flagged up in the report, the situation in my country is pretty good. Reporters Without Borders has just moved Switzerland up from 20th place to 7th place on its list, and it judges that the situation is quite satisfactory.

      That is why it is so important that Switzerland does not allow itself to be put under pressure by other countries or in any way jeopardise or gamble with its very high media standards. We are often asked by other States to change our media laws when, for example, presidents have been offended. If powerful individuals are offended and feel that censorship is appropriate, it will be impossible for us to have any political discussion, but variety and diversity of opinion is very important in order to find sustainable, long-term solutions.

      Many journalists are in prison because of what they have written. The situation is serious and requires measures to be taken. That is why the report is important, and we are very grateful to the rapporteur. The Council of Europe must take it most seriously and condemn abuses in the strongest possible terms. It is therefore important that we co-operate with other international organisations such as the United Nations.

      For all those reasons, I support the idea of having a United Nations special envoy for the protection of journalists, who could co-ordinate the protection of journalists, ensure that international law is respected and try to counter and reduce acts of violence against journalists. Existing United Nations resolutions have not really been effective. Without any effective protection for journalists, it will be impossible for us to guarantee any kind of press freedom, which is a serious situation in which to be in terms of the rule of law, democracy and human rights.

      Ms HOFFMANN (Hungary)* – In the Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media we have been discussing Mr Ariev’s report for quite some time. We fully agree as to the importance and topicality of the subject. I congratulate the rapporteur, who managed to collect and scrutinise a lot of information. Thanks to that, he has done an enormous amount of detailed work that is properly documented. The report is an important, objective document. He has tried to strike the appropriate balance between different opinions, which is not always a straightforward task.

      The amendments I would like to support are particularly those tabled by Mr Attila Tilki and Mr Rudy Salles, which would not change the design or the key points made in the resolutions; in a way, the amendments make points more generally or make them more specific. That is why I appeal to all of my colleagues please to support them.

      Unfortunately, as usual we do not have a lot of speaking time, so I will address just three aspects of the work of journalists. First, I would like to make it very clear that the role they play, particularly when we are talking about investigative journalism, is irreplaceable. It is essential for our basic, shared values: the right to information; transparency; and decision making. In other words, they serve democracy, and our democratic States, by which I refer to the 47 member States of the Council of Europe, must therefore guarantee their safety. They must safeguard the circumstances in which journalists can do their jobs freely without fear of attack so that they can carry on working and serving the public interest. Indeed, States should create the necessary legal circumstances and financial conditions that will allow journalists to continue with their work and to ensure that they reach the highest standards in terms of quality. That is because looking for and interpreting information is not just a quantitative matter but a qualitative matter.

      Secondly, wherever possible we should stand up to say that any kind of attack on a journalist is unacceptable. Words cannot be strong enough when it comes to speaking out against such attacks, because journalists need to do their jobs and, if you prevent them from doing that, you are committing a serious offence. We must therefore speak out very clearly against that. Mr Ariev talked about the 16 journalists who have died violently since the start of 2015. This is a terrible state of affairs, and I take this opportunity to extend my condolences to the families and those close to those journalists.

      Thirdly, I would like to say a few words about the responsibility of journalists. I can make a straightforward statement: journalists cannot and must not lie. They must open up their vision to all of reality and all the facts in the world.

      Mr CEPEDA (Spain)* – I join all those who have congratulated the rapporteur, Mr Ariev, on the excellent job he has done with the report. This is clearly an extremely important matter, as a series of colleagues have underlined in their comments. The fact is, it is of paramount importance to defend journalists, whose daily work involves seeking out truth and affects many millions of people. In recent sessions of the Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media we have also debated this issue, and it is important that the report refers to the dual phenomenon that has characterised society in recent months and years: the confrontation between freedom and security.

      Many of us have witnessed terrorist attacks, many of which have targeted highly advanced democratic countries, and in the face of those attacks such advanced countries have declared states of emergency and rolled out considerable means that have had effects on freedom of expression and of the media. In theory, those are one-offs. However, the report refers to such cases, and it is important that it does so. At the same time, the work of the Platform and work in general in the Council of Europe is extremely important.

      The report should not be seen as our work’s objective; it is actually a starting point, enabling us to consolidate better this fundamental pillar of our democratic States, in tune with values that underpin the work of the Council of Europe: freedom, democracy and, above all, freedom of expression. I thank Mr Ariev for his excellent work, which I think has furthered that cause.

      The PRESIDENT – Sir Roger Gale is not present, so I call Mr Schennach.

      Mr SCHENNACH (Austria)* – Congratulations, Volodymyr Ariev. I commend you on this excellent report. I agree with Ms Brasseur that we should be conducting this exercise regularly, every other year. The media is the fourth power in the distribution of powers in our States; we have executive power, legislative power and justiciability alongside the media. Indeed, if I look at the media landscape in a given country, that gives me an idea of that country’s democratic maturity and the democratic standards applicable there. The report gives us an indication of the critical situation that prevails in some of our member States.

      When it comes to media ownership, we can look at Macedonia, Montenegro and Moldova in particular and the ownership structures there, but what about Poland and Hungary? It seems to be the case that the winner takes it all. From a legal point of view, that cannot be right or appropriate. There is also the misconception regarding what a government is and is not entitled to do. Then there is Azerbaijan, and the report also talks about Ukraine. It is a worrying state of affairs. We know that in Ukraine there have been events. It is not just a question of mentioning Azerbaijan and Russia; there are things happening in many places.

      I would like to direct our vision towards one country that we discussed yesterday. In particular, one of my colleagues talked about Turkey, and you may remember that two more television stations were closed as our debate was proceeding here: Kanal 12 and On4. In the meantime, we have 142 journalists behind bars in Turkey and five press agencies, 17 television stations, 22 radio broadcasters, 44 daily newspapers and 19 magazines, be they weekly or monthly, also closed down. All of this has happened. These numbers tell us something. This is democracy going off the rails, because you no longer have plurality in the media landscape. There is a famous journalist, who, speaking after the so-called “mahalle” arrests, said on Turkish television, “Wake up.” It is important to remember that. There is no point going on like this. Ladies and gentlemen, it is now up to us to have this urgent debate about Turkey. We need to have it. Whether you like it or not, we need to have the discussion, because the media landscape in Turkey is really in a state of emergency.

      Mr ÖNAL (Turkey)* – Distinguished chair, ladies and gentlemen, freedom of the media is indeed a very important value. Free media allows for access to information and also aids democracy. The existence of a critical media is of course important for accountability and transparency, but this only applies to real journalists who do their job decently. I am not talking about journalists who use it as a weapon to commit terrorism, attempt coups or kill people.

      Unfortunately, the report contains a number of allegations against Turkey. I personally do not think they are healthy. I would like to explain my point of view. Recently, Turkey has been collectively attacked by a number of terror organisations. Daesh and the PKK have attacked Turkey, leading to serious loss of life. Furthermore, the failed coup by the FETÖ organisation has killed 250 people. Daesh, the PKK, FETÖ – whatever their name is, not only do these terror organisations kill people, but there are psychological dimensions to the massacres they carry out, and they use this as a weapon to gain an advantage. Sometimes they use their handlers inside the media and sometimes they use other ways to justify their means. It is unacceptable for journalists to praise failed coups or other fascist actions. Indeed, some journalists collaborate and co-operate in other offences by means of what they write. There are those who give aid by creating logistical support or giving intelligence to these terror organisations.

      Media institutions must be very clear about those who are doing a proper job and those who are not. This is the only way they will be assisting journalism. To give you a clearer picture of Turkey, let me end with a simple question. If the terrorists who carried out the attacks in Paris and Brussels had had press cards or belonged to a newspaper, would you still call them journalists?

      Mr MARQUES (Portugal) – I congratulate the rapporteur on what is a brave report. It is amazing and even scary that in the 21st century we are discussing freedom of the media in Europe and attacks on journalists. We are not discussing freedom of speech or freedom of the press in Cuba, North Korea or Venezuela; the focus is on Europe and countries that are members of the Council of Europe. The report is very good and mentions problems in Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Turkey and many other countries, but we also have problems in countries such as Greece, Poland and even my country, albeit at different levels. We all remember the cartoons in Denmark and France and the attacks on these journalists.

      There are many different threats to the freedom of press. Most of these countries have internal means to solve the problem and some of them can deal with it, but I would like to make a different point. Are we sure that there is really a free press in all the countries that are not mentioned in this report, with all the different threats from media concentration, lobbies and manipulation? Does not the financial weakness of some newspapers and radio or TV stations make them equally liable to infringements of press freedom as the cases we are discussing today? I agree that the Parliamentary Assembly should condemn these cases, but we must not forget those who quietly manipulate and influence reality through their journalists to pursue their own interests.

      If media concentration or ownership is dangerous to some economic groups, there is also a threat from submitting to lobbies, shadowy causes, personal political agendas or even some social movements. Sometimes we face threats and manipulation in our countries that we are not aware of. The worst threats to press freedom and democracy are those that are normally discreet and subtle. The shadows are everywhere, not only when we see them for real, in front of our eyes. We should fight for freedom of the press, here and everywhere else, but always in the Council of Europe.

      Ms CHUGOSHVILI (Georgia) – I thank the rapporteur for the work he undertook in preparing this report and putting the issue on the agenda. Freedom of the media is indisputably vital for any democratic society. It is also important to have accurate information in the resolutions of the Parliamentary Assembly. In that respect, I would like to draw your attention to the statement in the resolution relating to media plurality and diversity in Georgia. In our opinion, it does not reflect the real circumstances, in terms of media freedom in Georgia.

      Over the last few years, significant changes have been made to promote media plurality and diversity in Georgia. As a result, 49 media outlets have been operating in Georgia since 2015. Progress on media freedom has been praised by organisations such as Freedom House, Reporters Without Borders, the World Bank and even the Parliamentary Assembly’s observation mission to Georgia, which mentioned in its report that “Georgia has a wide range of media outlets and a lively media environment,” adding that “There have been improvements since 2012 in the overall pluralism of the media landscape,” and that “The media legislation provides a sound framework for freedom of the media.” This was mentioned by the Parliamentary Assembly itself.

      Regarding the possible changes in ownership of media outlets, I would like to underline that those private disputes started a long time ago, in 2008, and now the case is pending before the court. Disputes between the owners and changes in media ownership cannot be a matter of concern in themselves. These changes might become actual concerns if they affect media freedom and pluralism or the editorial policy of media outlets. Therefore, I would like to state very firmly that the legal process has had no impact on the editorial independence of any TV companies in Georgia. It did not result in a change of media management, and neither did it cause changes in editorial policy or in journalists’ professional activities. The documents submitted by the rapporteur have not proven otherwise. Therefore, I would like to ask my colleagues to support the amendments that have been submitted by me and the Georgian delegation.

      Mr JENSSEN (Norway) – Thank you, Madam President. It is said that truth is the first casualty of war, but in many countries you do not need a war to undermine those reporting the truth. Even in our member States, journalists are being attacked, harassed and intimidated – and even killed – for doing their job, while exercising their fundamental human rights in what are, or should be, safe and democratic societies. It is a disgrace, no matter who is responsible, be it the authorities, individuals or others in any particular country.

      The report before us underlines that, as we know, we still have member States within the Council of Europe that have fundamentally important tasks ahead of them. If you truly want to uphold or move towards a society with respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law – the very foundation of this Organisation – you simply cannot do that without a free press. It is a prerequisite. But pointing fingers is not very helpful, and I appreciate and commend the efforts being done by many member States to strengthen the conditions for free speech and a free press, working towards complying with international and Council of Europe standards.

      Norway will also be a contributor. Last year, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign affairs launched a strategy for promoting freedom of expression in our international co-operation. We will increase our efforts to support independent media, to ensure protection of people who express themselves in public and to give people better access to information.

      The media not only report news but also shed light on the use and misuse of power. In this respect, I feel that the signals from the new American President are worrisome. Of course, you cannot compare boycotting a news network or using “alternative facts” with harassment or illegal detention of journalists, but it is worrisome when such an institution shows outright disrespect for the free press – and, for that matter, the truth. It is perhaps more important than ever for the Council of Europe member States to stand by, and live by, our principles and values.

      Finally, I regret to say this, but I congratulate Mr Ariev on his report – the regret being because of the saddening content of the report, for which Mr Ariev is, of course, not to blame.

      Mr R. HUSEYNOV (Azerbaijan) – Along with all its virtues, journalism is a restless profession. So has it been always and everywhere in the world, and most likely it will be so in future as well. Besides fatal endings, dozens of other forms of pressure – from financial problems to administrative impediments, moral attacks and various menaces – haunt the media and its representatives. How can one escape these?

      I have been occupied with journalism all my life, and I continue such activities also today. This is a native field for me, so I consider every journalist who is loyal to his occupation to be my colleague and thus feel ready and obliged to be constantly on their side protecting their interests. On the other hand, ensuring that journalists are protected from threats has one aspect that depends on themselves: a high degree of professionalism is the most reliable armour of journalism.

      Dear colleagues, the inclusion in the agenda for this part-session of two serious reports, on large-scale media and journalists’ freedom of expression, is an additional proof of the degree of importance of these problems in the political arena and in the life of society.

      I would like to conclude by mentioning two points relating to Azerbaijan that are reflected in the report that we are debating. First, I thank the rapporteur for underlining that Azerbaijan is a country that has made progress on the topic that was being investigated. Secondly, a notable point focused on in the report is the fate of journalists and media in the occupied Azerbaijani territories, including Nagorno-Karabakh, and in other spaces under the control of separatist regimes, such as Abkhazia in Georgia and Transnistria in Moldova. The resolution expresses serious concern about the situation in those territories, rightly naming it as illegal and non-transparent. Certainly, the only way to eliminate these abnormal situations is to succeed in ending the current occupation and separatism in those territories, and ensuring full international control over them.

      Let us name separatists as separatists; let us name terrorists as terrorists; let us name occupiers as occupiers. No hypocrisy should be permissible here, and the name of everyone should be indicated precisely. We should not make efforts towards concealing this through different provocations, as our Armenian representative’s colleagues have done, but we should try to expose it always and to eliminate such unlawful trends. Therefore, I ask the Assembly to support the objective, very balanced position of the committee in this regard.

      Finally, I wish that such attacks should never target journalists and media but be always and totally directed against such cases which are incompatible with law and justice.

      Mr FARMANYAN (Armenia) – Colleagues, there is not much to say about media freedom in this Chamber. It is quite clear: media freedom is core for any democracy. If freedom of the media is assured, then democracy has a chance. If journalists are deprived of their right to cover things as they see fit, and if they are attacked, then democracy is endangered and many nations become hostages of their own autocratic regimes.

      I am not going to talk about Armenia, simply because there is no reference to Armenia in the report. Thanks be to God, Armenia has a good record on media freedom. What I want to talk about is the astounding reference to Nagorno-Karabakh in paragraph 9 – I would call it a quite manipulative reference – where Mr Ariev has included, in a report devoted to media freedom, phrasing that suggests that Nagorno-Karabakh is a part of Azerbaijan and that it is a non-transparent and lawless area. The simple question that comes up is why that reference is included.

      Colleagues, when in this Chamber well-thought-out lies and misguided notions are heard and voiced by some, then the truth should be voiced louder by many. The reference is there simply because the Azeri Government needs it. Do you think that the Azeri Government needs it because it cares about media freedom? Never. It cares about media freedom in Nagorno-Karabakh but not in Azerbaijan. All of us know well what is going on in Azerbaijan with regard to democracy. It is really a ridiculous picture.

      Another question that comes up is why the honourable Mr Ariev has put that reference there. Unfortunately, it is not because Mr Ariev has paid a visit to Nagorno-Karabakh. He has not done a fact-finding mission. He has not used Freedom House or Reporters without Borders records, where Nagorno-Karabakh has a better position than Azerbaijan itself. We see the reason in his interview with the Azerbaijani press, where he excuses himself in front of Ilham Aliyev by saying that his grandmother is an Azerbaijani. That was his wording.

      Finally, we should remember that we are not on a battlefield. We are not hostages. I know how tired you all are of this Armenian-Azerbaijani fighting and of this formulation. Let us reject it and support the amendments, sending a clear message to President Aliyev that he should find new markets for trading instead of Strasbourg.

      The PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Farmanyan. I call Mr Ariev on a point of order.

      Mr ARIEV (Ukraine) – Dear colleagues, the end of our Armenian colleague’s speech looks like discrimination based on nationality. I have Azerbaijanis in my deep past, but my grandfather is Jewish and my grandmother is Russian. As you see, it is not reflected in my position. My position is clearly based on international law and society. This misinterpretation of my words should not be repeated in the Chamber, as that represents an attempt to put pressure on me as the rapporteur.

      The PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Ariev. We will proceed with the debate. I call Mr Le Borgn’.

      Mr LE BORGN’ (France) – Thank you, Madam President. I thank the rapporteur, Mr Ariev, for his hard work on this issue of attacks against journalists and press freedom in Europe. We should be able to take press freedom for granted in democracies, underpinned by human rights, but unfortunately that is not the case. In some member States of the Council of Europe, the situation is deteriorating. That has been demonstrated by the league table published by Reporters Without Borders. Do I need to remind members that press freedom is one of the keystones of democracy set out in Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights? Without a free and independent press that is willing to cock a snook at authority and to accuse those guilty of wrongdoing, we cannot have a genuine democracy.

      Far too many leaders in Europe would like to see a docile, subservient press, and that mindset leads to journalists being attacked, to newspapers being bought out and to threats being made against journalists – pressure is put on them, they are kidnapped, imprisoned and, sadly, murdered. Such outrages are obviously unacceptable, and the rapporteur is quite right to underline the dramatic situation facing press freedom and journalists in Crimea, in Donbass, which is occupied by separatist forces, in Poland, in Turkey and in Hungary. That list could be longer, and our concerns go beyond those few countries.

      There are problems, albeit of differing degrees of seriousness, in practically all our countries. What about the fact that the authorities are often the biggest advertisers in newspapers, or that they appoint the directors of public broadcasters and newspapers? Obviously, we must ensure that the Platform to protect journalists, set up by the Committee of Ministers in 2015, is given the resources it needs, but we must also ensure that we have independent bodies for making appointments in and supervising the world of journalism, protecting journalists, preventing them having to reveal their sources and giving them the chance to act as whistleblowers.

      I want to finish with a quote from Albert Londres, the great French journalist. He said: “Our job is not to please, nor to do wrong. It is to twist the pen in the wound.” That, I think, is one of the most striking illustrations of the value of the profession of journalist, which we, as parliamentarians, are duty bound to protect.

      Mr KYRITSIS (Greece)* – The issues surrounding Turkey and journalists show us once again that it was a big mistake not to have an urgent debate on Turkey here in our Chamber. There can be no freedom of speech without freedom of the media, and in Europe that freedom is extremely important, as is well described in the report. It is crucial that we take this into consideration in all European governments, as we are being confronted by a shift towards post-truth governments. We must protect journalists through three means: executive power and executive decisions; the Internet and appropriate digital dissemination laws; and the activity of journalists. In my country, following numerous efforts over several decades, we have brought an end to major opposition among our parties and have managed to resolve those issues.

      Ms KARAPETYAN (Armenia) – It is traditional to thank the rapporteur for their good work, but unfortunately it is impossible to follow that tradition in this case. A very sensitive and important topic has become an issue used to manipulate very strong political issues and play not only with high politics but with human lives.

      In paragraph 9 of the draft resolution, there is a statement that has nothing to do with reality. The rapporteur is sure that “the protection of media freedom under Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights (ETS No. 5) is also absent in other territories of member States" – meaning the conflict areas, including Nagorno-Karabakh. The rapporteur did not even familiarise himself with the statistics from human rights watchdogs, including Freedom House reports in which the media in the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic is recognized as partly free. That record is much better than that of Azerbaijan.

      The rapporteur ignores those facts even after being provided with the proper information. More than that, he was absolutely closed to any kind of co-operation. He did not request any information about the area he refers to, and surprisingly stopped receiving emails and phone calls after we asked him to rely not only on Azerbaijani propaganda. This is a fact. Instead of having a report with deep analysis of this crucial issue, the rapporteur steps into political wording, again using the one-sided wording and dangerous phases that led us to the sad events of April 2016. Having the support of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, a report that used the same wording influenced overt offensive operations in the line of contact by Azerbaijan using heavy weaponry just a few months ago. During this four-day war, as it was later called, a great number of key international media visited Nagorno-Karabakh – between 1 to 8 April alone there were 68 journalists and 37 media organisations, and more than 100 journalists joined them later, broadcasting from the exact places of armed operations. I can name them: CNN, RAI, Al Jazeera, The New York Times, LifeNews, Medusa and so on. Many of you might remember the live interviews with the Foreign Affairs Minister of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic on CNN. Is that proof that there is no freedom of media in that area? No, it proves quite the opposite.

      I would sadly declare that preparing reports without visits to and deep research about the areas concerned is becoming common for us. A year ago, we all together rejected such a report. Let us stop this bad tendency in our cradle of democracy. Let us not close our eyes to the fact that this cradle of democracy is, step by step, becoming a cradle of corruption. I really do not want to use this wording, but the interview of the rapporteur with apologies to the Azerbaijani President proves his deep interest in presenting Azerbaijani interests. Let us not let anyone play with our reputation.

      Ms CROZON (France)* – Free communication of thoughts and opinions is one of our most precious human rights. That is reflected in Article 11 of the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen and in Article 10 of the ECHR. For more than 200 years, we have been defending this idea. We cannot have a democratic society if we do not guarantee everyone the right to express their opinions publicly – as long as they do not, of course, disturb the rights of others – and the right to be informed.

      And yet, look at Russia, Hungary, Ukraine and Azerbaijan. Altogether, 32 member States were concerned in 2016 by one of the 230 alerts sent out by the Platform for the protection of journalism, the security and safety of journalists and the freedom of the press. I would therefore like to thank you, rapporteur, for the work you are doing with that Platform. It not only helps to defend our main principles, but allows us to follow up the situations of individual journalists who have been prevented from doing their work properly, while maintaining a dialogue with the authorities of all our States in order to ensure we find a solution that respects journalists’ rights.

      I shall not mention all the countries listed in the report. It is not a ranking of different countries according to how they deal with freedom of expression. However, I would like to share my concerns about information we have received from Turkey following the coup d’état. Of course, all of us spoke out firmly against the coup d’état, but according to journalists’ trade unions, 142 colleagues are behind bars in Turkey right now because they are accused of having links with terrorist organisations. Some 3 000 journalists are out of work because 168 media outlets have been closed down for the same reason. Legislation has also been adopted under the state of emergency.

      I understand that Turkey needs to prosecute those who might be championing terrorism, but that is not the case when we are talking about Cumhuriyet and its journalists, who were placed behind bars because they reported on the implications of Turkish services in arms and so on, or when we are talking about Reporters Without Borders representatives being arrested just because they support the freedom to inform others. It is not true either when 1 500 cases are opened for insulting the head of State. We understand, of course, that national security is important, but it cannot be used as a pretext to gag differences of opinion. We simply cannot accept that. We need freedom. I argue that only those who are worried about their own status are fearful of what is written about them.

      Ms USTA (Turkey)* – The report we are discussing today concerns journalism and contributes to the health of the profession. I would therefore like to thank the rapporteur. However, there are some issues that I do not understand.

      The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines journalism as collecting news and information to inform people in a simple and understandable manner. That means there is no manipulation or misinformation by means of the media and no call to certain organisations to attempt a coup or to carry out a bombing. However, we see in the report the names of certain people who are being prosecuted for committing those crimes, and it tries to portray them as being prosecuted because of journalistic activities. If we are to uphold and protect journalism and to ensure that real journalists can perform their duties, the coup plotters and those who kill people or are involved in theft should be prosecuted for the crimes they commit. We cannot give any group or profession the freedom to commit crime.

      As members will know, certain communications can be sent to the Council of Europe Platform for the protection of journalism. However, there is no system that filters and checks the accuracy of such communications. That creates certain suspicions. For example, a newspaper that was allegedly aiding and abetting coup plotters was confiscated. That is considered to be an intervention in the freedom of the media, but a journalist who aids and abets a terrorist organisation is portrayed, when arrested, as being detained because of his journalistic activities. That is why I would like to make a call to all of you that we have to protect real and true journalism.

      Mr DIVINA (Italy)* – I would like to pick up where our Turkish colleague left off. We have not heard many speakers this evening set out objective, detached ideas about this issue. There is a very real imbalance here. Nobody is drawing a distinction between good and bad journalism. In all our countries, I do not believe there is a deficit when it comes to freedom of the press. We have freedom in our systems that has very broad borders. It gives people the right to criticise others, which in many cases actually borders on the right to offend.

      If we look at the report, we see the same names as usual: Turkey, Azerbaijan and Russia. Those are countries with strong governments and authoritarian administrations. However, in countries where the world of politics is better described as weak, politics are subject to the whims of the media. In many cases, the media direct or condition public choices. Moreover, they direct the choices of not only the general public but politicians. That is the worst thing about it. All too often in our countries, politicians are judged via the media before the judiciary has a chance to have its say. People are too quick to use charges of slander, which in many cases simply cannot be proved. Such charges can cause irreversible damage to individuals.

      The ongoing trend is even worse. Journalism and journalists increasingly focus on sensational news. That is what sells newspapers. Let me cite the example of the State-owned TV broadcaster in Italy. One of the main Italian channels really put its foot on the accelerator. When it finally closed down, it was subject to €500 million of damages by people who had sued the broadcaster. Who will pay those damages? The Italian taxpayer will pay. We are talking about a very sensitive issue, but it is important we try to tackle it with an objective approach.

      (Ms Schou, Vice-President of the Assembly, took the Chair in place of Ms Oomen-Ruijten)

      Ms DURANTON (France)* – I congratulate our rapporteur, Mr Ariev, and most warmly thank him for his excellent report. He has done the work of an investigative parliamentarian. In the same way, we have investigative journalists, but they are much too frequently subject to intimidation, threats, harassment and violence. That is inadmissible and intolerable. We should certainly welcome the fact that the Council of Europe has set up a Platform that seeks to strengthen the protection of the press and ensure the security of journalists. Its mechanism, based on alerts submitted by partner associations, should incite governments, as well as the parliaments that come together within our Assembly, to meet their commitments.

      Combating the insecurity of journalists is a high priority in many forums: the United Nations, UNESCO, the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe – not forgetting the European Union, for those among us who are members of it. Because we are members of these organisations, and signatories of the conventions or treaties at their heart, we have an obligation to act. Whenever journalists are subject to aggression or when perpetrators of violence are not prosecuted, there is a serious shortcoming on the part of the governments in respect of the democratic ethics that unite us. When the executive does not act, it is our role as parliamentarians to exercise the necessary pressure. Let us use commissions of inquiry and question sessions to make sure that governments become responsible.

      Freedom of the press and parliamentary freedom go hand in hand, and to undermine the one is to undermine the other. The pluralism of opinion is really our business, as it is for journalists, whatever the type of media involved, be it public or private, digital or traditional. For them, as for us, there can be no freedom without security. The United Nations resolution of 2013 on the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity, by deciding on an ambitious plan of action, has shed light on the urgency and scope of the problem. The resolution has turned 2 November of each year into an “International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists”. Like all days dedicated to tackling human rights emergencies, that symbolic decision is a step in the right direction, but we are confronted with urgency on an everyday basis. The bad example comes from above, and not only in countries whose democratic maturity is not certain; the electoral campaign in that great democracy of the United States was very disquieting in this regard. The new president, who was then a candidate, said certain unacceptable things about journalists. Let us watch out for such abuses, because they could free up other aggressive approaches.

      Ms SOTNYK (Ukraine) – We are used to calling the media the fourth power in the State, but power means not only influence, but responsibility. Today, we are facing opposing challenges in respect of having an independent media. An independent and objective media is becoming more the exception than the rule. The media is more often turning into the tool of influence, manipulation and the distortion of information. In hybrid war conditions, special attention must be paid to the establishment of distribution channels for outright propaganda and distorted information. The common saying goes, “The one who owns information owns the world”, but today it would be more appropriate to say, “The one who owns international media rules the world.” For example, “Russia Today” is a channel that has become a special weapon in Russian hands. Many European States only now are starting to feel its influence and threat, and to introduce direct broadcasting restrictions.

      Authorities that are not interested in open and fair coverage of the activity and situation in their country are openly and crudely interfering in journalistic activity. Sometimes that turns into interventions and the threat of attacks, but sometimes it turns into threats to the life and health of journalists. How can we keep a balance in a world where almost everyone can produce and distribute information? How can we protect an independent media that is pressured not only by attacks from its State, but by having very limited resources for its existence? The resolution before us is not focused on these very complicated and crucial questions, but sooner or later, because this is very important, we will need to find the solutions on them. If we do not, the independent media will disappear from our information radars.

      Ms GOSSELIN-FLEURY (France)* – Voltaire, back as long ago as the 18th century, talked about how important it was to support the freedom of the press. For him, that was what lay at the basis of all other freedoms. For that reason alone, our Assembly needs to be firm with those who flout these rules and violate this fundamental freedom. The report talks about attacks against journalists, and there are all sorts of attacks: pressure, censorship, imprisonment, bans on publication and, in some extreme cases, assassinations. I am surprised to find that although the resolution speaks rightly of the situation in Turkey, Russia and Belarus, it hardly mentions another country which holds the record when it comes to the freedom of the press here in the Council of Europe and which has little respect for this matter – Azerbaijan.

      If we look at the Reporters Without Borders ranking on freedom of expression, we will find that Azerbaijan is 163rd out of 180. What I deplore in the report is that the rapporteur seems to excuse the policy of that country because of the frozen conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. Attacks on press freedom and arrests of journalists in Azerbaijan are not happening in the conflict zones or in the buffer zones; they are happening elsewhere. There is therefore no pluralism; any kind of critical voice is now silenced. In 2016, following international pressure, particularly from the United States of America, some journalists were released in Azerbaijan, but other new media outlets were closed. The financial director of the newspaper Azadliq is behind bars, for example, and one of the main journalists has been in prison since 2015 because, apparently, he waved a bottle of water at a passer-by. We must also consider those who have sought refuge in France.

      This is an intolerable situation and the Council of Europe must shoulder its responsibilities. Some are doing so: the Commissioner for Human Rights has joined proceedings before the European Court of Human Rights as a third party, where Azerbaijan has been found responsible for breaches of the freedom of expression several times. I have not been a member of this Assembly for many years, but I have noted that when it comes to the rule of law in many cases Azerbaijan does not seem to share our values entirely. I am convinced that this Chamber has to be a Chamber of dialogue, not of exclusion, but, nevertheless, rapporteur, there are some silences and omissions in the report. They are not acceptable if we really are talking about the freedom of the press, bearing in mind that other bodies of the Council of Europe, be it the Secretary General or the Committee of Ministers, have started new, exceptional proceedings against Azerbaijan because of the dramatic human rights situation in that country.

      The PRESIDENT – Thank you, Ms Gosselin-Fleury.

      We have to stop the list of speakers now, with Ms Gosselin-Fleury having been the last speaker in the debate. The speeches of members on the speakers list who have been present during the debate but have not been able to speak may be given to the Table Office for publication in the Official Report. I remind colleagues that the texts are to be submitted in typescript, ideally electronically, no later than four hours after the list of speakers is interrupted.

      The debate is closed.

5. Election of judges to the European Court of Human Rights (Result)

      The PRESIDENT – Before I call the rapporteur, I will announce the result of the election of judges to the European Court of Human Rights in respect of Hungary and the Netherlands on 24 January 2017, in the first part of the 2017 ordinary session.


      Number voting: 186

       Blank or spoiled ballot papers: 7

       Votes cast: 179

       Absolute majority: 90

      The votes were cast as follows:

      Ms Krisztina Füzi-Rozsnyai: 34

      Mr Péter Paczolay: 91

      Mr Pál Sonnevend: 54

      Mr Paczolay, having obtained an absolute majority of votes cast, is elected a judge of the European Court of Human Rights for a term of office of nine years which shall commence as from 1 February 2017 and in any event no later than three months after his election.


      Number voting: 186

      Blank or spoiled ballot papers: 7

      Votes cast: 179

      Absolute majority: 90

      The votes were cast as follows:

      Mr Martin Kuijer: 57

      Mr Rick Lawson: 18

      Ms Jolien Schukking: 104

      Ms Schukking, having obtained an absolute majority of votes cast, is elected a judge of the European Court of Human Rights for a term of office of nine years which shall commence no later than three months after her election.

6. Attacks against journalists and media freedom in Europe (continued)

      The PRESIDENT – I call the rapporteur to reply to the debate. Mr Ariev, you have six minutes.

      Mr ARIEV (Ukraine) – First, I thank all members who supported my report and the efforts of my colleagues on the Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media in collecting the information and working with the Platform for the safety of journalism established in the Council of Europe under the responsibility of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe. It was a difficult task but we have tried to produce a balanced report and not to miss any cases that are hot on the agenda in Council of Europe States. I also thank our Armenian delegation, who criticised me here and who have been distributing sheets showing my interview in which I was promoting myself while the President of Cyprus was speaking in the Chamber. However, I have a comment to make about the fact that I was excluded from the discussion. Yesterday, at the Group of the European People’s Party dinner, I spent about three hours at one table with the Armenian delegation, discussing the amendments to paragraph 9. It must have been a very successful dinner to forget that; I still remember it.

      Attacks to media outlets and individual journalists are not acceptable. I thank all speakers who confirmed that such attacks will not continue in the Council of Europe States that share our joint values. I call on the parliamentarians of all States in which the situation is getting worse to take all the cases seriously and to work with their governments to establish media plurality and support media freedom.

      I call upon Turkish colleagues to release all journalists who have not had direct involvement with the failed coup from detention, and to continue the investigation and legal procedure without keeping them imprisoned. Considering the very difficult situation in that State, I call on them to establish media pluralism and to continue moving towards European standards.

      On the suggestions about good and bad journalism, we have a choice. If you see bad journalism, do not read it anymore. People from a wider audience – not only politicians – can promote activity and thoughts about bad media, and call on others not to read it. However, bad media and good media may exist; they have a right to freedom of expression. Everyone targeted by the media can use legal instruments in their discussions about the content of the media. We must promote the platform of the Council of Europe as a good example of how to react in a fast and proper way to the violation of media outlets and individual journalists.

      I hope that we will work on a motion for the next report. My colleagues had a good idea about continuing such reports every year, and we will table a motion. I hope that we keep sharing our common values and stay strong; otherwise we will hurt ourselves as democratic leaders in our States. We need free media to protect our States from authoritarian development. After the election in the United States, for example, Europe could be a good example to the world of how to keep media freedom.

      The PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Ariev. Does one of the vice-chairpersons wish to speak?

      Mr COMTE (Switzerland)* – I will speak briefly, first to say that the draft resolution and draft recommendation are from the committee, not just from the rapporteur. The texts have been examined in committee. Every single word and comma was discussed and adopted by the committee. Naturally, you may have criticisms of the outcome of the committee’s work, but you still have a chance to correct the text before you. Rather than personalising the debate, you should bear in mind that the committee has been working for a year on this report. Committee members have taken the floor on several occasions. It is important for the quality of the debate that, if major amendments are tabled and major criticisms levelled, that should happen sufficiently early in the process. Amendments should not be tabled at the last minute, as that might give the impression that the report was hashed out by one person, whereas the whole committee worked on it for more than a year.

      In the few seconds I have left, l would like to say that this is clearly not the final word on attacks against journalists. We need to be especially vigilant. Some countries are particularly troubling when it comes to the media, but all countries in the Council of Europe are concerned about this issue, especially in the context of terrorism, because each of our countries is establishing legislation that may encroach on personal and journalistic freedoms. This report is an important staging post in this discussion, but our committee will doubtless have many opportunities to deal with this issue again.

      The PRESIDENT – The Culture, Science, Education and Media Committee has presented a draft recommendation to which 24 amendments and one sub-amendment have been tabled, and a draft recommendation to which one amendment has been tabled.

      They will be taken in the order they appear in the revised compendium and the Organisation of Debates, Document 14229. I remind you that speeches on amendments are limited to 30 seconds.

      I understand that the Chairperson of the Culture, Science, Education and Media Committee wishes to propose to the Assembly that Amendments 20, 13, 3 and 11 to the draft resolution, which were unanimously approved by the committee, should be declared as agreed by the Assembly.

      Is that so, Mr Comte?

      Mr COMTE (Switzerland) – Yes.

      The PRESIDENT – Does anyone object?

      As there is no objection, I declare that Amendments 20, 13, 3 and 11 to the draft resolution have been agreed.

      Amendments 20, 13, 3 and 11 are adopted.

      We therefore come to Amendment 22. I call Mr Cruchten to support the amendment. You have 30 seconds.

      Mr CRUCHTEN (Luxembourg) – It is good and fair that our resolution welcomed the release of Ms Ismayilova, although we should also remember that there are still restrictions imposed on her and other journalists. Our resolution should mention that.

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

      What is the opinion of the committee?

      Mr COMTE (Switzerland) – In favour.

      The PRESIDENT – The vote is open.

      We come to Amendment 9 with an oral sub-amendment. I call Ms Nino Goguadze to support the amendment. You have 30 seconds.

      Ms GOGUADZE (Georgia) – There have been significant improvements to media plurality and diversity in Georgia. As a result of legislative reforms, the number of independent media outlets has increased, and a total of 49 media companies now operate in the country. The number of media outlets that broadcast news and political programmes has increased from three to 17. Dear colleagues, I ask for your support to reflect those improvements in the resolution.

      The PRESIDENT – Thank you. I have been informed that Mr Volodymyr Ariev wishes to propose an oral sub-amendment on behalf of the Culture, Science, Education and Media Committee.

      The oral sub-amendment replaces the words added by Amendment 9 with the following words:

      “The Assembly also welcomes Georgian legislation which provides a framework for freedom and stability of the media as well as the law on broadcasting, and encourages all responsible authorities to continue strengthening the independence and diversity of the public and private media.”If

      If the sub-amendment and Amendment 9 are accepted, the effect in the draft resolution would be, at the end of paragraph 2, to add the following words:

      “The Assembly also welcomes Georgian legislation which provides a framework for freedom and stability of the media as well as the law on broadcasting, and encourages all responsible authorities to continue strengthening the independence and diversity of the public and private media.”In

      In my opinion, the oral sub-amendment is in order under our rules.

      However, do 10 or more members object to the oral sub-amendment being debated?

      That is not the case. I therefore call Mr Ariev to support his oral sub-amendment. You have 30 seconds.

      Mr ARIEV (Ukraine) – During our committee meetings, we were informed by our Georgian colleagues about the current situation with the legislation. They gave us the facts. We also got facts about the Georgian media from the Georgian Parliament. We have the chance to call for the authorities to continue to strengthen the independence and diversity of public and private media. The oral sub-amendment reflects more precisely the current situation in Georgia.

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

      What is the opinion of Ms Goguadze?

      Ms GOGUADZE (Georgia) – I support the oral sub-amendment.

      The PRESIDENT – What is the view of the committee?

      Mr COMTE (Switzerland) – In favour.

      The PRESIDENT – I will now put the oral sub-amendment to the vote.

      The vote is open.

      The oral sub-amendment is adopted.

      We will now consider the main amendment, as amended.

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

      What is the opinion of the Culture, Science, Education and Media Committee on the amendment, as amended?

      Mr COMTE (Switzerland) – In favour.

      The PRESIDENT – The vote is open.

      We come to Amendment 10. If this amendment is agreed to, Amendment 21 falls.

      I call Ms Goguadze to support Amendment 10. You have 30 seconds.

      Ms GOGUADZE (Georgia) – The fact is that no changes have been made to the ownership of media outlets since 2014 that could affect media independence, editorial policy or the activities of journalists in Georgia. At the same time, the statement contradicts reports by international organisations, among them the Monitoring Committee’s report, which states that Georgia has a wide range of media outlets and a lively media environment. I ask you to delete this paragraph from the resolution.

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

      Mr JENIŠTA (Czech Republic) – I would like to speak against the amendment. It is also an undisputed fact that international interlocutors, such as the United States Department of State, the European Union and parts of this Organisation, have expressed concerns over the efforts of the government’s proxies – Bidzina Ivanishvili, the oligarch who rules the government – to change ownership of the most popular pro-European television station in Georgia. To delete this paragraph would therefore contradict the undisputed facts.

      The PRESIDENT – What is the opinion of the committee on the amendment?

      Mr COMTE (Switzerland) – The committee is against.

      The PRESIDENT – The vote is open.

      Amendment 10 is rejected.

      We come to Amendment 21. I call Mr Kross to support the amendment. You have 30 seconds.

      Mr KROSS (Estonia) – While it is true that no change of ownership has happened with television stations in Georgia, many members in this Chamber are still worried about the efforts to change ownership. That is why I encourage everyone to support the amendment to paragraph 3.4, which is a very balanced proposal. Efforts to change the ownership of the country’s most popular pro-European television station have caused continued concern among many international interlocutors and among civil society. If we were silent about this, it would by itself send a bad sign to the Georgian Government.

      The PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Kross.

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

      What is the opinion of the committee?

      Mr COMTE (Switzerland) – The committee is in favour.

      The PRESIDENT – The vote is open.

      We come to Amendment 23. I call Mr Cruchten to support the amendment. You have 30 seconds.

      Mr CRUCHTEN (Luxembourg) – In paragraph 4, we named several cases of journalists who have died violently since January 2015. I think it would be only good and fair if we also named the case of Rasim Aliyev, who lost his life in Baku in 2015.

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

      What is the opinion of the committee?

      Mr COMTE (Switzerland) – The committee is against.

      The PRESIDENT – The vote is open.

      Amendment 23 is rejected.

      We come to Amendment 12. I call Ms Günay to support the amendment. You have 30 seconds.

      Ms GÜNAY (Turkey) – After the terrorist attacks in Turkey, measures have been taken in view of the needs and assessments to fight against terrorism. The measures are constantly reviewed. In fact, a decree in law has come into effect, as of 23 January, and restrictions on meetings between lawyers and detainees have been abolished. I therefore ask members 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?

      Mr COMTE (Switzerland) – The committee is against.

      The PRESIDENT – The vote is open.

      Amendment 12 is rejected.

      We come to Amendment 1. I call Ms Johnsson Fornarve to support the amendment. You have 30 seconds.

      Ms JOHNSSON FORNARVE (Sweden) – We have to be aware that “terrorist” is word that is misused in Turkey today. Anybody who is critical of the Turkish Government can be accused of being a terrorist. Journalists are accused of supporting terrorists, but in most cases these are totally unreasonable fabrications. It is instead an attempt to control the media and frighten journalists into silence. No journalist should be in prison just because they are a journalist. I therefore urge members to support the amendment to delete the words “who have not been indicted for actively participating in terrorist acts”.

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

      What is the opinion of the committee?

      Mr COMTE (Switzerland) – The committee is against.

      The PRESIDENT – The vote is open.

      Amendment 1 is rejected.

      We come to Amendment 2. I call Ms Johnsson Fornarve to support the amendment. You have 30 seconds.

      Ms JOHNSSON FORNARVE (Sweden) – I would like to add the name of a journalist to the list of journalists who should be released, that of the Kurdish journalist Mazlum Dolan. There are no Kurdish journalists mentioned in paragraph 7.1. I think there should be, because the Kurdish media and Kurdish journalists have been very badly affected.

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

      What is the opinion of the committee?

      Mr COMTE (Switzerland) – The committee is against.

      The PRESIDENT – The vote is open.

      Amendment 2 is rejected.

      We come to Amendment 14. I call Ms Günay to support the amendment. You have 30 seconds.

      Ms GÜNAY (Turkey) – None of the emergency decrees orders the arrest of writers and media staff. It is impossible for ordinary laws or emergency decrees to render any kind of judgment about individuals or groups, let alone writers and media staff. Such arrests and legal procedures would not comply with the constitution of the Turkish Republic and the logic of the law.

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

      What is the opinion of the committee?

      Mr COMTE (Switzerland) – The committee is against.

      The PRESIDENT – The vote is open.

      Amendment 14 is rejected.

      We come to Amendment 15. I call Ms Günay to support the amendment. You have 30 seconds.

      Ms GÜNAY (Turkey) – The Turkish Radio and Television Corporation is editorially independent. As a public media service, it acts in accordance with the public interest, so please 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?

      Mr COMTE (Switzerland) – The committee is against.

      The PRESIDENT – The vote is open.

      Amendment 15 is rejected.

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

      Mr CRUCHTEN (Luxembourg) – I cannot possibly do this in 30 seconds, so I will just say the following: the Azerbaijani delegation tells us that it is willing to change its legislation and the implementation of the law in many fields. I think that that is a good sign and a good thing, but I also think that in our resolutions we should clearly tell it what we expect from it. The amendment would achieve that.

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

      What is the opinion of the committee?

      Mr COMTE (Switzerland) – The committee is in favour.

      The PRESIDENT – The vote is open.

      Mr RUSTAMYAN (Armenia)* – The objective of the amendment is very clear and simple. Although we want to keep the sense of the paragraph, we suggest deleting anything that is not related to the subject of the report. In particular, problems relating to the actual conflict do not fall within the sphere of influence of the committee or of the rapporteur. The amendment would redress the balance of the report.

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

      Mr SEYIDOV (Azerbaijan) – Our topic today is attacks against journalists – that is the title of the report – but the amendment is an attack on the rapporteur and on the committee. Nobody in this Assembly denies that Transnistria is part of Moldova, that Ossetia is part of Georgia or that Karabakh is an internationally accepted part of Azerbaijan. That is why we are completely against the amendment, which would change the essence of our values.

      The PRESIDENT – What is the opinion of the committee?

      Mr COMTE (Switzerland) – The committee is against.

      The PRESIDENT – The vote is open.

      Amendment 18 is rejected.

      I draw attention to the fact that Amendments 17 and 19 are identical. As Amendment 17 was tabled first, I will call the mover of that amendment to move both amendments.

      Mr FARMANYAN (Armenia) – The amendments are not identical. Let me support Amendment 19.

      The PRESIDENT – They are identical. That is my information.

      I call Mr Seyidov on a point of order.

      Mr SEYIDOV (Azerbaijan) – The amendments are identical.

      The PRESIDENT – We will continue, because the amendments are identical. I call Mr Reiss to support Amendments 17 and 19.

      Mr REISS (France)* – I am one of the co-signatories of Amendment 17. Certain contributions have highlighted the difficulty of the job being done by Mr Ariev. We are trying to mitigate that. We are not talking about countries or regimes with separatist areas. We do not want any grey zones in Europe. We are paying tribute to investigative journalists.

      The PRESIDENT – Does anyone wish to speak against the amendments? I call Mr Seyidov.

      Mr SEYIDOV (Azerbaijan) – We have seen several of these attempts to present exactly the same amendment in a different way. The committee is completely against them. This is just an attempt to repeat something that the Assembly has already denied. The logic is vividly clear: we are defending the Council of Europe’s international standards. We have to reject this attempt to damage our Council of Europe.

      The PRESIDENT – What is the opinion of the committee?

      Mr COMTE (Switzerland) – The committee is against.

      The PRESIDENT – The vote is open.

      Amendments 17 and 19 are rejected.

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

      Mr TILKI (Hungary) – The Hungarian government has always showed readiness to engage in dialogue with all its Council of Europe partners.

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

      What is the opinion of the committee?

      Mr COMTE (Switzerland) – The committee is in favour.

      The PRESIDENT – The vote is open.

      We come to Amendment 5 and its oral sub-amendment. I call Mr Attila Tilki to support Amendment 5.

      Mr TILKI (Hungary) – Following extensive consultation with the Council of Europe, the Hungarian authorities have already made efforts to address the relevant accusation. We have found a compromise with the European Commission and the Council of Europe to modify the law on the media system in Hungary. We have modified our law twice.

      The PRESIDENT – I have been informed that Mr Ariev wishes to propose an oral sub-amendment, which is, in Amendment 5, to replace the word “reconsider” with the word “revise”. The amendment would then read “revise certain parts of its media legislation in in accordance with Opinion No. 798/2015”, and so on.

      In my opinion, the oral sub-amendment is in order under our rules. However, do 10 or more members object to the oral sub-amendment being debated? That is not the case. I therefore call Mr Ariev to support his oral sub-amendment.

      Mr ARIEV (Ukraine) – The new wording is closer to the spirit of the text that we are presenting to the Assembly today. It is more technical but it reads better.

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

      What is the opinion of the mover of the amendment?

      Mr TILKI (Hungary) – I support my amendment and am against the oral sub-amendment.

      The PRESIDENT – What is the opinion of the committee on the oral sub-amendment?

      Mr COMTE (Switzerland) – The committee is in favour.

      The PRESIDENT – I will now put the oral 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.

      What is the opinion of the committee on the amendment, as amended?

      Mr COMTE (Switzerland) – The committee is in favour.

      The PRESIDENT – I will now put Amendment 5, as amended, to the vote. The vote is open.

      We come to Amendment 6, which has an oral sub amendment. I call Mr Tilki to support the amendment. You have 30 seconds.

      Mr TILKI (Hungary) – This law cannot have a negative effect, because the European Commission suspended its operational effect. It is therefore not a part of the Hungarian legal system.

      The PRESIDENT – Thank you. I have been informed that Mr Ariev wishes to propose an oral sub-amendment, as follows: “in Amendment 6, at the end of the amendment, to replace the words ‘tax on the publication of advertisements in the media in Hungary’ with the words ‘discriminatory tax on the publication of advertisements in the media in Hungary’.”

      If Amendment 6 and the oral sub-amendment are accepted, the paragraph in the draft resolution will read as follows: “10.2 reconsider, in accordance with Decision No. SA.39235 of 4 November 2016 by the European Commission, Act XXII of 2014 on Advertisement Tax, which created a discriminatory tax on the publication of advertisements in the media in Hungary.”

      In my opinion, the oral sub-amendment is in order under our rules. However, do 10 or more members object to the oral sub-amendment being debated? That is not the case.

      I therefore call Mr Ariev to support his oral sub-amendment. You have 30 seconds.

      Mr ARIEV (Ukraine) – These words were included in the first draft of the text. I agree with the amendment, but the Venice Commission and the European Commission found such taxation to be discriminatory. That is just a fact, and I would prefer to keep that in the report.

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

      What is the opinion of the mover of the amendment?

      Mr TILKI (Hungary) – Against.

      The PRESIDENT – What is the opinion of the committee?

      Mr COMTE (Switzerland) – The committee is in favour.

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

      The vote is open.

      The oral sub-amendment is adopted.

      Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment, as amended? That is not the case.

      What is the opinion of the committee on the amendment, as amended?

      Mr COMTE (Switzerland) – The committee is in favour.

      The PRESIDENT – I shall now put Amendment 6, as amended, to the vote. The vote is open.

      I have received an oral amendment from Mr Ariev which is as follows: “In the draft resolution, in paragraph 10.3, replace the words ‘in a transparent manner irrespective of their political position towards the government’ with the following words ‘in a fair and transparent manner’.

      If the oral amendment is accepted, paragraph 10.3 in the draft resolution would read as follows: “ensure that advertising contracts by public authorities and State companies are concluded with all media in a fair and transparent manner.”

      If the oral amendment is accepted then Amendment 7 will fall.

      The President may accept an oral amendment on the grounds of promoting clarity, accuracy or conciliation and if there is not opposition from 10 or more members to it being debated. In my opinion, the oral evidence meets the criteria of Rule 34.7.a.

      Is there any opposition to the amendment being debated? That is not the case.

      I therefore call Mr Ariev to support the oral amendment. You have 30 seconds.

      Mr ARIEV (Ukraine) – The oral amendment would encourage the authorities to respect the law. It would make the wording of the paragraph more active to emphasise that point.

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

      What is the opinion of the committee?

      Mr COMTE (Switzerland) – The committee is in favour.

      The PRESIDENT – I shall now put the oral amendment to the vote.

      The vote is open.

      The oral amendment is adopted.

      Amendment 7 therefore falls, and we come to Amendment 8. I call Mr Tilki to support the amendment.

      Mr TILKI (Hungary) – Hungary is one of the members of the Council of Europe whose constitution contains diversity of the media. Importantly, a great part of the Hungarian media is owned by foreign companies.

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

      What is the opinion of the committee?

      Mr COMTE (Switzerland) – The committee is against.

      The PRESIDENT – The vote is open.

      Amendment 8 is rejected.

      The PRESIDENT – We come to Amendment 25, which has a sub-amendment. I call Mr Cruchten to support the amendment. You have 30 seconds.

      Mr CRUCHTEN (Luxembourg) – Our resolution should mention the growing influence of the Polish Government on public media. We should also express our concern about the dismissal of more than 200 journalists from public postings. We will probably now hear that former governments in Poland did similar things, but I stress that we are not here judging governments past or present; we are here to judge the facts presented to us today.

      The PRESIDENT – We now come to the sub-amendment, tabled by Mr Tarczyński, Mr Ast, Mr Bernacki, Mr Leśniak and Mr Wojtyła. Who would like to defend the sub-amendment ?

      Mr OBREMSKI (Poland) – The Council of Europe entrusted two experts with the task of preparing a text for opinion on the draft big media law package in Poland. The Venice Commission’s opinion on the issue would only duplicate the works of the Council of Europe’s experts.

      The PRESIDENT – Does anyone wish to speak against the sub-amendment?

      Mr HALICKI (Poland) – As a former chairperson of the Polish delegation, I would like to say that it is a pity that, at the last moment this afternoon, without checking any facts, the committee approved a sub-amendment that is not based on the truth. We have no plurality in public media at all, and there is no interim law, so please do not spoil Mr Ariev’s important and very good work. The existing text is shorter and connected with reality. Please, members, do not support the sub-amendment.

      The PRESIDENT – What is the opinion of the mover of the amendment?

      Mr CRUCHTEN (Luxembourg) – I would like to stick with the original amendment.

      The PRESIDENT – What is the opinion of the committee on the sub-amendment?

      Mr COMTE (Switzerland) – In favour.

      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.

      What is the opinion of the committee?

      Mr COMTE (Switzerland) – The committee is in favour.

      The PRESIDENT – The vote is open.

      We will now proceed to vote on the whole of the draft resolution contained in Document 14229, as amended. A simple majority is required.

      The vote is open.

      We now come to the draft recommendation in Document 14229, to which one amendment has been tabled.

      We come to Amendment 16. I call Ms Günay to support the amendment.

      Ms GÜNAY (Turkey) – We would like to add a separate paragraph, the reason being that the functioning of the Platform should be revised, as the credibility of this unique tool could be damaged if it is used by various interests and pressure groups. It should be noted that this suggestion has also been made by various high-level authorities and partners from the Council of Europe and the Parliamentary Assembly, including Secretary General Jagland.

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

      Mr ARIEV (Ukraine) – Let me explain how the Platform works. It comes under the responsibility of the Secretary General, but the duty is fulfilled by the partner’s organisation. Interference by the secretariat of the Secretary General is impossible, so I do not think we should limit the activity of the Platform in this way.

      The PRESIDENT – What is the opinion of the committee?

      Mr COMTE (Switzerland) – The committee is against.

      The PRESIDENT – The vote is open.

      Amendment 16 is rejected.

      We will now proceed to vote on the draft recommendation contained in Document 14229. A simple majority is required.

      The vote is open.

(Sir Roger Gale, Vice-President of the Assembly, took the Chair in place of Ms Schou.)

7. The humanitarian crisis in Gaza

      The PRESIDENT – The next item of business this afternoon is the debate on the report entitled “The humanitarian crisis in Gaza”, Document 14224, presented by Ms Eva-Lena Jansson on behalf of the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons, with an opinion presented by Lord Donald Anderson on behalf of the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy, Document 14239. I propose that in order to finish by 8.30 p.m., we shall interrupt the list of speakers at about 8.10 p.m. to allow time for the reply and any votes. Is that agreed? It is agreed.

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

      Ms JANSSON (Sweden) – Today, I present for your attention a draft resolution and the final version of my report on the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. This subject is my first report for the Assembly. I thank the secretariat of the committee for all its support for my work on the report. I also thank the Palestinian delegation and Palestinian Authority, as well as the Israeli authorities, for their input to the report and for their organisation of the programme for my visit to Jerusalem and Ramallah. I remind the Assembly that I was denied entry into Gaza by the Israeli authorities and that Egypt never responded to my request to visit Gaza.

      Colleagues, try to imagine what it would be like to live in one of the world’s most densely populated areas, with severely limited access to fresh water and energy. Try to imagine that you and your family must live in temporary shelters or overcrowded houses for years and rely on international organisations for food assistance. Your children’s school is totally destroyed and access to health care is not even on a basic level. This is the situation inside Gaza that I am trying to give you a picture of. Since the Israeli military operation in the summer of 2014, the situation in Gaza has become even more pressing. Besides the huge number of persons killed, the destruction of civil infrastructure during the operations was enormous. Close to 100 000 people were displaced. The more than nine-year-long blockade of Gaza, by both Israel and Egypt, has subjected the population to collective punishment, which is in violation of international human rights and humanitarian law.

      According to the World Bank, Gaza has one of the highest unemployment rates in the world. The unemployment rate among women exceeds 60%, which is twice that for men. Because of the tradition of women working in the agricultural sector and the fact that the land was heavily damaged during the hostilities, many women lost their employment opportunities. Israeli forces continue to maintain a buffer zone in Gaza due to security concerns, using live fire to maintain the closure, and large areas are now inaccessible to the population. Human rights organisations have documented a massive and exceptional escalation in Israel’s attacks on and harassment of Palestinian fishermen.

      The territory of Gaza is suffering from an insufficient power supply and a lack of drinking water. I mention in the report that the lack of sufficient power supply over the past nine years has disrupted the delivery of basic water, sanitation and hygiene services. Besides the lack of a sufficient power supply, the slow implementation of the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism and the prohibition of the importation of dual-use materials have also contributed to the insufficient water supply. The energy crisis has worsened over the years. Thousands of people recently protested on the streets of Gaza and are blaming Hamas for the power shortage. According to news reports, it was “one of the largest unauthorized protests in the territory since the Islamic militant group took power a decade ago." According to a report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, due to severe damage to the coastal aquifer and the overall environmental degradation Gaza is in danger of becoming unliveable by 2020. This forecast could be the reality before 2020 if no drastic changes are made.

      Around 1.1 million people in the Gaza Strip are in need of humanitarian health and nutrition assistance. The humanitarian crisis is also characterised by the precarious situation of the public health and education systems. The destruction of hospitals and lack of drugs and medical equipment have led to a significant increase in chronic diseases and cases of cancer, and an urgent need for more surgeries. Many schools have been destroyed or damaged and others are being used as emergency shelters for internally displaced persons. United Nations organisations have reported a dramatic increase in cases of psychological trauma and have also identified 360 000 children in need of psychological support, with the majority still in need of attention. It is easy to understand that the effect on traumatised children will also affect the society for many years to come. We can be sure that their childhood, which has been coloured by violence and threat, will affect them as adults and, in turn, the society that they are going to build.

      Women and children are the most vulnerable population groups in the Gaza Strip. Of particular concern is the situation of widows, internally displaced females, women and girls with disabilities, adolescent girls and female farmers. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has pointed out the higher risk of exposure to gender-based violence, and Amnesty International has reported so-called “honour crimes” against women and girls inside Gaza. In my opinion, it is important that the international community should pay special attention to women and children in Gaza, provide them with special protection and ensure the respect of their rights to humanitarian assistance by having a gender perspective.

      The humanitarian crisis in Gaza is on the agenda today. For me, it is important that the people of Gaza can feel that the Parliamentary Assembly is now sending a message: “We will not forget about you.” The aim of the Council of Europe is to defend human rights and also to criticise those who violate these rights. You have now heard a short briefing about the suffering in Gaza due to the lack of human necessities and means for rebuilding. With that in mind, this report has to conclude that lifting the blockade is a vital precondition to the solution of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

      The PRESIDENT – Thank you, Ms Jansson. You have five and a half minutes remaining.

      I now call Lord Anderson, rapporteur for the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy, to present the committee’s opinion.

      Lord ANDERSON (United Kingdom) – Mr President, the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy accepts that the humanitarian situation in Gaza is dire and deteriorating, particularly as it relates to women and children. The committee agreed eight amendments, of which only one, I understand, was not accepted unanimously by the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons, and therefore my task is much easier.

      I refer to previous resolutions of the Assembly, particularly on the two-State solution and on the position on the building of new settlements and the extension of existing settlements. That issue is a precondition for the normalisation of the situation, but it also prevents the realisation of the two-State solution.

      The committee stressed the problems caused by the failure of the two Palestinian factions to reconcile. Another complicating factor, of course, is that the international community considers that Hamas, which won a free election in 2006, is a terrorist organisation. In my view, the tunnels and the rockets could almost certainly be stopped if Hamas sought to do so. In my view, Israel cannot seriously be expected to allow free movement, which would allow terrorists to enter its territory, nor give an open door for the import of military materiel that is likely to be used against it.

      We refer to the status of the Palestinian National Council as a partner for democracy.

      Many of our amendments relate to the status of women. There is clear discrimination against women in Gaza. Much of that contrasts with the position of women in the West Bank, which shows that this is not just a societal problem – it can be changed.

      There is a population boom in Gaza – there were a quarter of million people there in 1948 and 1.9 million there now – which is clearly unsustainable.

      Overall, we thought that this was a good report. We congratulate very much the rapporteur and her staff, as well as Mr Ary, who helped me on the work that has been done.

      The PRESIDENT – Thank you, Lord Anderson. We now come to the speakers on behalf of the political groups.

      Mr BILDARRATZ (Spain, Spokesperson for the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe)* – I am grateful to Ms Jansson for her report. I had the opportunity to enter Gaza before the 2014 armed conflict, in March of that year. I went again just after the armed conflict, so I visited twice in a very short period of time. The situation was unbearable before, but it is impossible to describe how bad it was afterwards.

      There is a lot of information that we should bear in mind. We are talking about an area where population density is among the highest in the world, and, on top of that, we need to add the fact that about 95% of the groundwater is not drinkable. When we consider the congestion, we can see why the United Nations has referred to the development situation in the territory. I also had the opportunity of speaking to young people and women who were receiving training funded by various organisations and institutions, but the tragedy was that they said, “You are helping us to grow, but where will we go after the training?” The only place to go was back home, where there were no jobs and no prospects. They were calling out for a solution, and it is not easy.

      We have had this debate in the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, and I am sure that other groups have too. People have a different view and different ways of looking at a conflict that, as we know, has been around a long time. The questions and sensitivities are all responded to in the report, which sets out goals and targets for the international community and an agenda to be followed by the Israeli Government, as well as for the Palestinians.

      We understand that the Palestinians need to embark on a democratisation process. Let us recall that since 2006 there have been no elections and that they are having to be pushed towards holding municipal elections, which have not yet taken place. We want the citizenship to have minimal basic services: that means water, light, food and for a number of products to be allowed into the territory so that there may be some hope for the citizens of Gaza following the negotiations. The international community should cater for them as they deal with everything that they are suffering.

      The PRESIDENT – Thank you. I remind members that we must stick to our time limits, as a lot of people wish to speak in the debate. If one person overruns too much, it takes time from colleagues. I call Ms Johnsson Fornarve.

      Ms JOHNSSON FORNARVE (Sweden, Spokesperson for the Group of the Unified European Left) – I thank the rapporteur Eva-Lena Jansson for an excellent report. I visited Palestine/Israel last autumn as part of a broad delegation, although we were not allowed to visit Gaza. We were only able to see the area from a hill a couple of kilometres away, but we met several human rights organisations and UN-bodies working in Gaza. They confirmed the picture presented in the report. The Israeli blockade of Gaza has led to a humanitarian catastrophe whereby 2 million people are living in what can best be described as a huge outdoor prison. I was touched deeply by the story of children who went to the border to throw stones at Israeli soldiers. They felt that it did not matter if they were shot, because they saw themselves as the living dead.

      Dependence on food packages is extraordinary. Ten years ago 9 000 parcels were needed; today it is 900 000. Access to water and electricity is limited. It is difficult to get the medical attention one needs due to the lack of medical equipment and people die waiting for care. No child should have to experience war, but eight-year-old children have experienced three wars in Gaza, which creates trauma for life. Reconstruction efforts have been prevented and made difficult because of the blockade, which makes it hard to bring in building materials and tools. Businesses and agriculture suffer due to being unable to get spare parts and that helps further to increase the unemployment rate, which is at 43% and between 65% and 70% among young people and women. Gaza is a ticking time bomb.

      Israel urgently needs to lift the blockade, a blockade that through its collective approach to punishment is a crime against international law. The outside world cannot wait for Israel to act and must act with strength to make this a reality. The outside world must also ensure that the people of Gaza get the support they need in the form of food, medicine and other supplies. Ships to Gaza are a good example of international solidarity, even if they have not succeeded in their mission to break the blockade and help the population.

      The lifting of the blockade would be a step in the right direction towards a lasting solution. Israel must withdraw from the occupied territory, the illegal settlements must be evacuated and a free and democratic Palestinian State must be established within the 1967 borders. I am proud to come from a country that has recognised Palestine, something which strengthens the Palestinian position. I hope that more countries are preparing to follow the Swedish example.

      Mr FEIST (Germany, Spokesperson for the Group of the European People’s Party)* – It is good that we are discussing Gaza and the situation that prevails there. I want to make some points on behalf of my group and some personal comments on subjects that have not yet been mentioned. The report talks about the need for the international community to act and then protagonists on the ground, but I think that the order needs to be changed. It should be about the actors and protagonists on the ground and then about the international community.

Today, we assembled as the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and thought about the victims of the Holocaust, and when it comes to the protagonists on the ground, we have a reigning clique that is anti-Semitic. There is nothing about that in the report.

      Secondly, we talk about Israel’s responsibility, but what about Egypt’s? Gaza has a crossing point not only with Israel but in the direction of Egypt. My question is therefore about how we understand the blockade. What are the causes of the blockade in the West Bank? Although it is called a blockade, we must remember that Israel is under constant threat of rocket fire. That must be mentioned as one of the causes. It should be said that according to independent reports between 800 and 900 lorries cross the border daily. We are talking about 100 lorries an hour, so we cannot really say that there is a blockade on the Israeli side. We need to see what kind of assistance is provided on the Egyptian side, and we have no answer to that question. The report refers to the rather precarious condition of women, but to make Israel responsible for that is somewhat difficult. We are talking about the Government in the Gaza Strip being responsible, so we should use this report to take a different approach to the issue.

      Gaza’s geographical location is almost exactly the same as that of Tel Aviv. It could open up to tourism, for example, but one would need some kind of agreement on the part of the Palestinian authorities, as was the case in the Palestinian-Israeli agreement on water. Why is that not possible in Gaza? It is because Hamas rules. It is referred to as a terrorist organisation. It oppresses its own people and is not prepared to enter into dialogue.

      Ms RODRÍGUEZ RAMOS (Spain, Spokesperson for the Socialist Group)* – First and foremost, I would like to thank the rapporteur for this excellent report. You have managed to overcome all the stumbling blocks to put this report before us.

      I visited Gaza and was there at the time of Operation Cast Lead. It is a very locked-in land. You cannot leave by air or by land. Parents are upset because they do not know how to let their children leave the blockade. It is not an entire blockade, because otherwise the people would have died, but it puts the population in a very difficult situation. Most of them are refugees who lost the war in 1948. They are people who have no future. Some 80% of the population live on humanitarian aid, and 60% have serious problems of malnutrition.

      The report focuses on this matter in an excellent manner. The humanitarian solution to the population of Gaza is to lift the blockade, which has been in existence for nine years, collectively punishing the entire population. That is illegal and is a crime against humanity. From the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, we need to speak out clearly and say that the blockade is limiting the futures and the fundamental right to a dignified life of the citizens of Palestine. Lifting the blockade is also essential to security and stability in the Middle East, which has to be established through negotiations and agreements on a two-State solution, with recognition of the State of Israel and the State of Palestine.

      It also requires an answer to the humanitarian crisis. At the moment, entire populations of men, women and children are living in inhumane conditions. Children with chronic diseases have no access to medicines and drugs. The international community cannot allow that to continue. I am thankful for the report’s appeal to the international community to work with the United Nations Refugee Agency in its efforts and to help the women and mothers of Israel and Palestine, in accordance with United Nations Resolution 1325. We must find a solution to this humanitarian crisis, which calls for the lifting of the blockade now.

      Mr HOWELL (United Kingdom, Spokesperson for the European Conservatives Group) – At the end of the summary of this report, we find the words: “The Palestinian authorities should reject and condemn acts of terrorism against Israel, form an effective and cohesive government bridging the two territories”. That goes to the heart of the problem in Gaza and shows why the report is a touch naďve in what it expects can be done.

      First, it is not only Israel that is imposing restrictions of movement on Gaza; it is also Egypt, for very good reasons. Hamas is a terrorist organisation, which in its current form can have no place in the future of the region. Anwar Sadat, president of the Reform and Development party in Egypt, told us only last night that Egyptian progress on Gaza would not be made until the terrorist situation in Sinai was under control. I have seen the terrorist tunnels that Hamas has built to bring terrorists into Israel. I have witnessed rockets being deployed by Hamas against Israel, and they are not, as some have tried to say, mere toys.

      I mention all of that because if effort and resources were not distracted to those objectives, the humanitarian crisis in Gaza would be ending. Hamas is a despicable organisation that continues to perpetuate the suffering of Gaza’s civilians. Some 160 Gazans have been killed digging the terror tunnels, at least nine of whom were children. Video footage posted by Afaq showed links of children walking through the tunnels, which are decorated with posters of Hamas operatives apparently killed by Israel.

      No peace agreement will be able to guarantee peace in the medium to long term if a generation of Palestinians are growing up indoctrinated in hate. The history of the conflict between Fatah and Hamas and other organisations in Gaza shows the futility of expecting them to establish a cohesive government in the area. The only good news is the recent polling that showed that both Fatah and Hamas were unlikely to win fair elections. The bad news is the preference for organisations that favour Daesh.

      Hamas has a history of misappropriating genuine humanitarian aid. More than six miles of tunnels are being dug each month; 600 000 tonnes of concrete are used in that, with another 5 million needed. Up to $90 million has been misappropriated, and the Hamas leadership has refused the Israeli offer of a desalination plant. This report should condemn Hamas outright. Some 550 rockets and mortars have been identified in the 2014 conflict as being launched from sensitive sites such as schools, hospitals and place of worship. That, too, goes to the heart of the real cause of the problem in Gaza. It is generated from within Gaza, just like the double exit system being employed by Hamas to let people out, even for medical treatment.

      The PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Howell.

      The rapporteur will have the opportunity to reply at the end of the debate. Do you wish to respond at this stage? That is not the case.

      Mr FOURNIER (France)* – The humanitarian situation in Gaza continues to deteriorate. It is directly related to the blockade of the territory imposed by Israel and Egypt. The military operations conducted by Israel have destroyed the bulk of the territory’s infrastructure. This stricken territory of 365 sq. km, into which 1.6 million individuals are crammed, resembles an open air prison. We cannot stand idly by in the face of that distress. Indeed, more than 75 000 people are displaced, and 80% of inhabitants depend on humanitarian aid. Moreover, the blockade prevents the reconstruction of essential infrastructure such as housing and schools. The grave damage visited upon the coastal aquifer may bring about a shortage of drinking water.

      We are not talking about adjudicating on the conflict between Hamas and Israel. Of course we cannot endorse the firing of rockets or violence against the Jewish State, but should we allow an entire population to die because of a few warring groups? I do not think so. To avoid even greater tragedies, I call on everyone to shoulder their responsibility. First, the Palestinian authorities must manage to form an effective and close-knit government that spurns acts of violence against Israel. That will facilitate the recognition of a future Palestinian State. I recall that the French Senate, of which I am a member, took a stand in December 2014 in support of recognising the State of Palestine alongside Israel.

      The Israeli and Egyptian authorities must lift the blockade of the Gaza Strip, to allow for the delivery of building materials and foodstuffs in particular. That should be done in a controlled and gradual manner, to avoid the funnelling of weapons. Lastly, the international community must foot the bill for the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip and avoid a health crisis generated by the shortage of drinking water. Human rights, which are the basis of our Organisation, cannot stop at the borders of Gaza. It is necessary that we afford this currently imprisoned population, deprived of their fundamental rights, a future, so as to have a prospect of peace.

      I hail the French initiative for peace in the Middle East, which brought together at least 75 States and international organisations on 15 January in Paris. It has reminded us that only a two-State solution will guarantee peace in the region. Indeed, the settlement-building process is leading to the creation of a single State for two peoples. In such circumstances, how can one guarantee the Jewishness of that State? How can we get two peoples to cohabit within that State? I say to my dear Palestinian and Israeli friends that there is still time to work and toil together for peace and respect for everyone’s rights, but time is short.

      Mr ABUSHAHLA (Palestine, Partner for Democracy) – I wish to thank Ms Jansson, the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons, and the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy, for this comprehensive and fair report, which emphasised the suffering of my people in Gaza.

      I do not need to repeat what was said about the shortage of the basic needs: health; food; education; the right to travel; and the right for students to go to their universities. We have heard about how fishermen are being prevented from getting their food from the fishes in the sea, through the six-mile limit, which does not allow them to catch anything important. We have heard about how the buffer zone takes about 15% of the land of Gaza on its border, so the people are not allowed to use it. We have also heard about the salty water, the malnutrition that is now noticed among our children and the prevalence of anaemia. I am not going to repeat what has been said, because this report described in a fair way the suffering of my people in Gaza, and the humanitarian crisis that has resulted from the continued blockade by the Israeli army for almost 10 years, the repeated aggression and attacks to which Gaza has been subjected – in 2008, 2012 and 2014 – and the repeated demolition of houses and displacement of the people.

      Lifting the blockade will help to reduce the suffering and the crisis, but the end of Israeli occupation and the recognition of an independent Palestinian State, based on the borders of 4 June 1967 and with East Jerusalem as its capital, is the sole solution that will establish peace and end the violence in our area. So please accept my appeal to recognise the State of Palestine and to pressure Israel to stop its occupation and its settlements on our land, so that we can enjoy mutual peace and stability in our area.

      Ms ALLAIN (France)* – A few days after the second international conference seeking to re-launch the peace process in the Middle East and a few weeks after the vote on United Nations Resolution 1940(2013) which had already called for the two-State solution and an end to Israeli settlements. We are now forced to note that since the military operation conducted by the Israeli army in 2014 the situation has only worsened. Power cuts, water shortages, malnutrition and difficulty in getting access to medical care are the daily experiences of inhabitants of Gaza.

      The situation of children is particularly dramatic, and I regret that the report has not mentioned the illegal and arbitrary arrests and detention of many children in Israeli military prisons; their number increased threefold between August 2015 and April 2016. Since 2000, at least 8 000 Palestinian children have been detained, interrogated under threat and charged with throwing stones by Israeli justice, suffering the process with physical and psychological violence, and this in violation of the international Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Israel signed in October 1991. UNICEF has found proof of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of these children and adolescents in prison, including rape. The conditions of administrative detention of these children are particularly scandalous. Children are being incarcerated without any clearly defined cause, without a trial and without any legal defence, for a six-month period, which can be renewed without limitation, subject to the sole discretionary authority of the Israeli army. When these children leave, their psychological state of health means that they are incapable of going to school or carrying out a trade.

      The process of the mass arrest of minors clearly targets the future of the Palestinian nation, especially given that, as the report of the NGO Defense for Children International Palestine records, 2016 will remain the year when Israel killed the most minors in the course of the past decade in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Our resolution should therefore call for the repeal of Israeli legislation that makes it possible to condemn to 20 years’ imprisonment minors who are throwing stones and legislation that authorises the imprisonment of children as young as 12. The governments of member States of the Council of Europe should recognise the State of Palestine, within the 1967 frontiers and with East Jerusalem as its capital.

      Ms ĹBERG (Sweden) – I share the opinion of the rapporteur that the humanitarian situation in Gaza is alarming, but not the rapporteur’s conclusion, which puts many demands on Israel, while Hamas, which is responsible for the crisis, is leniently judged. It is sad to see that Hamas’s reckless rule, characterised by corruption and the abuse of power, is being depicted as the fault of the democracy, Israel. Many of the urgent problems affecting the people in Gaza have their origins in Hamas’s violent and illegal ascension to power in 2007. Let me remind members that in 2005 Israel withdrew every single Israeli settlement, settler and soldier from the Gaza Strip and handed it over to the Palestinians, hoping they would turn it into the Singapore of the Middle East. Instead, the world got a tyrannical terror State run by Hamas and more than 20 000 rockets fired at Israeli civilians.

      Hamas is an Islamist terror organization that has no respect for human rights, minority rights, women’s rights, democracy or free speech. Hamas’s blind hatred against the State of Israel is being taken out on its own population in the Gaza Strip, who are even being used as human shields when residential areas are used while conducting warfare against Israel. Certainly, lifting the blockade would improve the situation in Gaza, but to enable that to happen, the legitimate security interests of Israel must be maintained. No nation would tolerate the constant terror of the firing of these missiles, as perpetrated by Hamas. The only possibility for development in the Gaza Strip is to terminate Hamas’s power over it and focusing on peace and reconciliation.

      Mr BYRNE (United Kingdom) – I wish to speak in favour of an excellent report. I wish that it was not necessary to speak about such a disgraceful situation, because the situation in Gaza shames us all. I wish it was not the truth that we are having this debate on a day when a new green light has been given to widespread new settlements across the West Bank that are making the business of peace much harder. I do not know whether I am being naďve, but I do not think that you win peace by imposing the poverty of a prison on the people of Gaza – a part of the world that, right now, cannot trade much, make much, farm much or fish much. How can anyone build a future in such conditions?

      What is good about the report is that it is unequivocal about the right of the State of Israel to take necessary action to defend itself against the appalling cascade of rocket attacks that have flowed from Gaza. I agree that we should table amendments that condemn Hamas in the most unequivocal terms but, friends, let us not look away from the simple truths. Exports from Gaza are now just 5% of what they were before the conflict. Manufacturing in Gaza today employs less than half the number of people from before the conflict. Gaza’s farms once employed 60 000 people. Today, those farms employ just a third of that number. Half the wells in Gaza are still out of action and the seas, as we have heard, are off limits to so many Palestinian fishermen because of the actions of the Israeli navy. More than four out of 10 people in Gaza are now unemployed, and that part of the world has seen the grand total of a 2% growth in wealth over the past 20 years.

      We have to recognise that the best defence against a fanatical Gaza is a flourishing Gaza, but the reality is that the Palestinians are giving up hope, and this Assembly should send a very clear message today that we hear them loud and clear.

      Ms LAVIE (Israel, Observer) – The report is, unfortunately, a distorted and selective misrepresentation of reality. Its failure to take into account proven facts and to rely on hearsay is another step in the recent campaign to hinder Israel’s ability to explain real events.

      Israel unilaterally removed all its citizens from Gaza in 2005. We even removed our dead, but left fully-functioning villages including working infrastructure and successful farms that, prior to leaving Gaza, exported worldwide. All that was donated – freely, but at great emotional cost to our people – to the citizens of Gaza. However, all the existing villages have been bulldozed. Green houses were torn down and infrastructure was damaged all in the name of expelling the Zionist entity, not in the name of Gaza helping its own inhabitants. More than that, almost immediately Israel started to be bombed on a regular basis, missile after missile. Within a year Hamas, a designated terrorist organisation, had ousted members of Fatah, killed them and taken brutal control in a shady election.

      The people in the middle are the citizens of Gaza. The result is a humanitarian crisis brought about by Hamas’s inability to look after the interests of its own citizens. However, it looks after the interests of its own officials extremely well. Israel provides a third of the necessary electricity for Gaza at no cost. Hamas and Fatah cannot decide who will pay to fuel their own power plant – not ours. Who is responsible for the crisis? Europe has sent millions of dollars to prop up and build functioning power plants. Where has the money gone? Why do Hamas officials travel in private jets while their citizens use candles for light? We in Israel have provided $1 billion of free electricity, and we are blamed for a humanitarian crisis? Come on.

      The only digging that has been done in Gaza is the tunnels that run for 3 km under the fields of kibbutz Kerem Shalom, at $2 million per kilometre of tunnel – a wonderful sewerage system indeed, and you, my friends, paid for it. Some 85 000 truckloads of goods went into Gaza between January and June 2016, and 370 cases of smuggling weapons or equipment to make explosives were discovered in just one month. Egypt and Israel have both sealed their borders to stop the smuggling of weapons and terrorists by sea. Hamas built an estimated 200 tunnels between Gaza and Egypt. Remember the cost?

      I ask you, my friends, to look carefully at what you read and think carefully about what you want to say. Use your judgment and ask for accountability for what you pay.

      Mr SCULLY (United Kingdom) – I welcome the report’s objective of trying to highlight the situation of the people in Gaza. However, I also want to talk, as many speakers have, about the wider situation because it is only by doing so that we will be able to resolve this. Paragraph 3 mentions a “collective punishment”. We have heard that Israel has the right to defend its people and the need to be able to stop Hamas re-arming itself, but when it comes to solving the humanitarian crisis, we are in an incredibly difficult position. Hamas has no regard for its own people, throwing rockets indiscriminately into Israeli territory that are embedded in hospitals, schools and densely populated areas.

      Restrictions on the movement of goods and people have been eased in the light of the ceasefire agreement over the past few years, with a 13% increase of goods entering Kerem Shalom, 10 000 Gazans moving into Israel for medical equipment and 100 tonnes of medical equipment going from Israel into Gaza each and every week but, of course, more can be done. The report is right to seek a two-State solution, but just as illegal settlements are a barrier to progress, so is the role of Hamas. Amendment 2 tabled by the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy rightly refers to school textbooks, but as we heard from Mr Howell, more can be done to avoid the indoctrination of the next generation. The fact that a pro-Hamas media organisation is showing films of children having martyrdom effectively pushed upon them is a real barrier to peace.

      We have heard that $90 million has been spent building 36 tunnels, pouring 600 000 tonnes of concrete into them. Just imagine how much good those resources could have done for the people of Gaza. Imagine how much the daily lives of those people could have been improved and how much progress could have been made in the peace process if those diversions had not taken place. A dire humanitarian situation undoubtedly exists in Gaza, but we need a durable agreement that addresses the underlying causes of the conflict and ensures economic recovery. The Israeli Government should further ease restrictions on Gaza and, while it is at it, stop the building of settlements. Attacks against Israel and Israelis must end. The Palestinian Authority needs to resume control of Gaza, restoring effective, accountable government, and we must do all that we can to secure talks without preconditions. Then and only then can we have a lasting solution for the humanitarian situation in Gaza and elsewhere in the region.

      Mr HEER (Switzerland) – I congratulate the rapporteurs on producing this draft resolution without mentioning Hamas once. That is very special. I do not know whether you are blind in your two eyes. It is amazing how one-sided this draft resolution is.

      Only one State in the Middle East shares the Council of Europe’s values of human rights, the rule of law and democracy: Israel. Hamas takes its own people hostage in the Gaza Strip. It has problems not only with Israel, but with Jordan, Egypt and its brothers in Fatah in west Jordan. It is amazing that the report says that the problem is Egypt or Israel. That is completely one-sided, and I urge you to reject the report.

      I want to draw your attention to the fact that 31 000 people from the Gaza Strip have been treated in hospitals in Israel. I do not know how many Israelis have been treated in Gaza. Investment has been made in a special scanner to increase Gaza’s exports, and the border crossings are being upgraded. The Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism put more than 7 million tonnes of construction material into Gaza in the past year. Of the more than 127 000 households that were particularly damaged and authorised for refurbishment, more than 81 000 have had their renovation completed, and the repair of more than 22 000 is under way.

      If the Council of Europe is not capable of condemning a terroristic organisation such as Hamas, perhaps we are in the wrong parliament and should stop the Council of Europe. We see terrorist attacks nearly every month. They now happen in Europe – in Germany and France. We also see suicide bombers in the Muslim world – in Iraq, Syria and so on. You did not mention the cause of the misery in Gaza. It is not Egypt or Israel. It has one name: Hamas. I urge you to vote against this one-sided report.

      Ms JOHNSEN (Norway) – I thank Ms Eva-Lena Jansson for this excellent report, which is important and very timely. The deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza is terrible and shames the international community. We have not forgotten the children of Gaza.

      The people of Gaza lack water, electricity, housing, proper healthcare and schools for the young. Unemployment is sky high and the people are totally dependent on aid. We all know about the long conflict between Israel and Gaza and the Palestinians, the long-lasting blockade of the Gaza Strip, and Hamas’s acts of terrorism against Israel and its own people, but I would like to raise the problem of women. In particular, I would like to mention honour crimes and the fact that women are prevented from owning property, which creates a dire situation for all widows. I support the draft resolution – especially the article on the involvement of women from Israel and Palestine in the peace negotiations. That would improve the situation for women. The report also emphasises the need to ensure special protection for women, children and disabled people. More than 50% of the children in Gaza suffer from physical and psychological trauma. We will have a lost generation, so there is lots of repair work to be done.

      The humanitarian crisis is the result of a long-lasting conflict, to which we must find a political solution. The blockade must be stopped, Israel must collaborate with humanitarian organisations, and Hamas must stop its terrorist attacks. The only sustainable solution to the conflict is a two-State solution, and international assistance is needed to build an efficient Palestinian State. Norway is heading an ad hoc liaison committee which aims to contribute to the international and institutional reconstruction and development of a sustainable economic foundation for a future Palestinian State. That is the only solution. The dire humanitarian and security situation cannot be addressed only with international assistance and aid. A solution between the parties must be found. The free movement of people and goods in and out of Gaza and access to labour and trade markets remain crucial. That is the solution that we all seek. The Council of Europe has not forgotten Gaza. Thank you for the report.

      Baroness MASSEY (United Kingdom) – Like others, I want to talk about the effect of conflict on children. Whatever our faith or our beliefs, we all want better conditions for children. Atrocities are inevitably committed by both sides in conflict situations. Too many children live with the results of armed conflict. This debate is about the consequences of ideologies and conflicts on those who suffer most – very often children.

      Under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, accepted by governments worldwide, all children have the right to non-discrimination, the right to life, survival and development, and the right to be heard, but those rights are denied to children in Gaza. Much of Gaza is in ruins. Children live in poverty, and families cannot afford nutritious food, causing severe health problems in children, such as stunted growth. They cannot access medical care and schooling. There is a shortage of hospitals and medical supplies. Water, sanitation and hygiene are all affected. International charities provide medical equipment, health supplements, therapeutic feeding for undernourished children, neonatal care and support for women through trained midwives, but humanitarian aid cannot resolve the fundamental problems.

      The charities working on the ground with which I have spoken are clear about that and have recommended action. They condemn violence against civilians by all sides. They support a permanent ceasefire as the main response to ensure lasting security for both Israelis and Palestinians. They are clear that all parties to the conflict should promote the provision of aid, and should not restrict it getting to those who most need it. They believe that the international community should propose a time-bound plan to facilitate an end to the blockade, which can be implemented and monitored through the United Nations. They recommend that the pledges made at the Cairo conference on reconstruction and recovery projects should be prioritised. I hope colleagues will agree to all that.

      Unless there is agreement about the wellbeing of children in Gaza, there will be, as the previous speaker said, a lost generation and a tragedy on a massive scale. No child, however they live and whatever their religion or faith, should be subjected to cruelty, a loss of dignity, and sometimes a loss of life.

      Ms De SUTTER (Belgium) – I welcome Ms Jansson’s excellent report, and I hope you will vote in favour of it.

      This year is the 10th anniversary of the blockade of the Gaza strip. Can we imagine living for a decade in a situation of desperate poverty, food insecurity, environmental degradation, a lack of opportunity and isolation? Every now and then, we ask the youngest among us, what do you want to become when you grow up? We ask them about the choices they want to make in an atmosphere in which many plans are possible. They can do those things if they want to. But we cannot ask the children of Gaza, what do you want to become when you grow up? Can you imagine that? It is impossible for those young people to migrate, to build up a business, to get an education, to get a degree or to farm. Medical services are hardly available. The physical and mental health of Gaza residents has degraded severely. Women with breast cancer have been prevented from travelling to Israel for treatment. The blockade has to be lifted.

      Perhaps more important, however, is the fact that for the people of Gaza almost no communication is possible with the outside world. For 10 years now, most inhabitants have been prohibited from travelling to the West Bank, Israel or other parts of the world. Repeated bombings have extensively damaged telephone and Internet services. Practising journalism has at times become very dangerous in the area, and journalists suffer from censorship. This blockade is an impediment to the future of the State of Palestine. The longer Gaza is cut off, the more the Palestinian territories will grow apart, driven by a lack of information of each other’s situations and a lack of interaction between the citizens of the territories. The longer the blockade is in place, the slimmer the chance of a unified Palestinian Authority which is broadly supported by all Palestinian territories. The blockade of the Gaza strip is a great human rights violation and it is our duty to oppose it by all means available to us. Some 1.2 million people are living in the world’s largest open air prison.

      I am glad to see that Ms Jansson’s report looks further than that. Lifting the blockade will not relieve Palestinians of all of their miseries. They are citizens who have a right to a representative government that bridges all territories and houses pluralistic views. Democratic State-building needs to be done. Widespread corruption needs to be eliminated. Women need to be represented and involved. They constitute more than half of the population, yet they are almost completely excluded from the political area at both national and international level.

      Too many people who grew up in war have been led to believe that there are only military solutions to political problems. They are wrong. Only justice leads to justice. The blockade needs to be lifted. Humanitarian aid needs to be increased and the dialogue has to start. I hope you will vote in favour of this report and call upon every State to help to find a sustainable solution to this humanitarian disaster.

      Mr SABELLA (Palestine, Partner for Democracy) – The blockade is a political tool whose consequences affect the majority of the Gaza people, especially children and women. The report by Ms Jansson and her supporting staff is excellent and well-documented, reflecting the harsh humanitarian conditions created by the blockade. For those who read it carefully, the report spares no excuses for those responsible for the variety of humanitarian situations and conditions on the ground. The blockade will not only rob the population of Gaza of hope; it will not change the political realities on the ground – in fact, it consolidates them, as some Israeli experts have pointed out. Accordingly, lifting the blockade would enable the population to breathe some freedom and hope, which would definitely contribute to moving away from recurring wars and military confrontations.

      Allow me to note that the insinuation from Mr Feist ignores the fact that the conflict is a nationalistic conflict between two national groups, each with its own narrative of the land and its history. That has nothing to do with the phenomenon of anti-Semitism, which has its roots in Europe. The population of the Gaza Strip is, by 2025, expected to be close to 4 million, with a majority below the age of 15 years. Can we continue with the present realities? Where will all this end? Clearly, the blockade points to the need for a political solution. To herald the end of Israeli occupation this year, in its 50th year, outstanding issues – the illegal settlements, Jerusalem, the refugees and so on – need to be resolved if we want to end the continuing conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians and our people.

      The report is the writing on the wall. Will the Israeli political establishment heed the conclusions of this report? Or will it, as it does with other reports and United Nations resolutions, disregard it and make the future uncertain and dangerous for all of us – Israelis and Palestinians alike?

      The PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Sabella.

      I am afraid that Ms Yaşar from Turkey will have to be the last speaker. Ms Yaşar, you have the floor.

      Ms YAŞAR (Turkey)* – The most important values of the Council of Europe are being violated in Gaza, and the people of the Gaza Strip are suffering in this war. This is a serious humanitarian crisis. I would like to thank the rapporteur very warmly for her report. It is very important for the Council to be working on this issue and to hold a debate on it. This is a very important way to proceed on human rights. The Gaza Strip is an open air prison, but even prisoners have rights in prisons, whereas the people of Gaza have no rights. They have no electricity and they have no water. There are 16 hours of cuts a day to electricity and water is available for only a few hours a day. This has a negative effect on the population’s health.

      Turkey, from the very beginning of this crisis, and even after the 2014 attacks, has called for the blockade to come to an end. Turkey has always said that we need to meet the needs of the people, and we have expressed solidarity with the people of Gaza. The blockade needs to be removed. These people cannot possibly be ignored at this particular time. We need to show our humanitarian side. We need to prepare a good resolution for the babies, children and young people of Gaza. Maybe there is a ray of hope. In Palestine, there may not be a short-term solution, but if the blockade was lifted the people living in the Gaza Strip would be able to receive humanitarian aid.

      As members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, we have a lot of work to do. We need to explain to our own people what the problems are for the people of Gaza.

      The PRESIDENT – I am afraid that I do now have to interrupt the list of speakers.

      The speeches of members on the speakers list who have been present during the debate but have not been able to speak may be given to the Table Office for publication in the Official Report. I remind colleagues that the texts are to be submitted in typescript, preferably electronically, no later than four hours after the list of speakers is interrupted – in other words, four hours from now.

      I call Ms Jansson to reply. You have five and a half minutes.

      Ms JANSSON (Sweden) – Thank you for all the comments about the report. I would just say that Hamas is mentioned 16 times in the report. In the Assembly, we do not address terrorist organisations. We address the Israeli State and the Palestinian State: the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian Assembly.

      We have talked about lifting the blockade. As I mention in the report, lifting the blockade is vital to any solution to the humanitarian crisis. If the blockade is not lifted, what will happen? It is forecast by UNCTAD that by 2020 Gaza will be unliveable.

      Members have also mentioned women and children. This is a little personal, but two days’ ago I became a grandmother. I want grandmothers in Gaza to have the same opportunity to see their grandchildren being raised, going to school, finding work and having a dream of a future. I dream of my granddaughter’s future. It is important that the grandmothers, grandfathers and the children in Gaza are also able to dream. We all know that the biggest group in Gaza right now is children. If there is no future for children, what kind of future can there be for the rest of us?

      Some members mentioned events outside Gaza, but the subject of my report was the humanitarian situation inside Gaza. Other topics such as settlement or the situation in the West Bank were not within the responsibility of my report. Another member mentioned Egyptian responsibility for the blockade. My report also mentions lifting Egypt’s blockade of Gaza.

      Those are my comments on the wider comments from the Assembly.

      The PRESIDENT – Ms Kyriakides, as chair of the committee, do you wish to speak? I beg your pardon: Ms Gafarova, do you wish to speak?

      Ms GAFAROVA (Azerbaijan) – This report is not just a report on the humanitarian crisis in one part of the world; it is about the fate of almost 2 million trapped in the Gaza strip, who constantly feel unsafe and who lack water and the elementary materials for a normal life. These poor people need our help, not just reports of our discussions. What is particularly striking is that 300 000 children and young people are traumatised by this conflict, which means that its consequences will affect life in Gaza for a generation.

      I thank the rapporteur for her work and for preparing a balanced and objective overview of the humanitarian situation in Gaza. I congratulate her on her insistence on a report based on fact, and on having been able to establish, for the most part, facts that have helped to clarify the practical issues that can be resolved in the short and medium term.

      I believe that, with the amendments tabled by the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy, the resolution will provide a useful and comprehensive summary of the current state of affairs, of the action that needs to be taken on both sides, and of how international organisations such as ours can assist in seeking sustainable solutions. I know that it is idealistic – indeed, unrealistic – to believe that the complicated, long-lasting and tragic history of the region can be pacified with satisfactory political compromises that can be found easily, but a report such as this one can contribute to efforts to maintain the international community’s interest in the matter and to demonstrate once again member States’ willingness to offer assistance.

      The PRESIDENT – Thank you very much, Ms Gafarova. We know each other very well, and I apologise; in future, I will rely on my eyes, not on my script.

      The Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons has presented a draft resolution, Document 14224, to which eight amendments have been tabled. They will be taken in the order in which they appear in the revised compendium and the organisation of debates. I remind colleagues that speeches on amendments are limited to 30 seconds. Please note that Amendment 4 to the Gaza report, Document 14224, is to paragraph 9.2.5, not 9.1.5 as indicated in the compendium.

      I understand that the Chairperson of the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy wishes to propose to the Assembly that Amendments 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7 and 8 to the draft resolution, which were unanimously approved by the committee, should be declared as agreed by the Assembly. Is that so, Ms Gafarova?

      Ms GAFAROVA (Azerbaijan) – The committee is in favour.

      The PRESIDENT – Does anyone object? As there is no objection, I declare that Amendments 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7 and 8 to the draft resolution have been agreed.

      We come to Amendment 4. I call Lord Anderson, on behalf of the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy, to support the amendment.

      Lord ANDERSON (United Kingdom) – The list of permitted materials should be reviewed, and hopefully increased, but let us be realistic and recognise the past evidence of misuse of cement for tunnels and of chemicals for rockets. There lies a case for adequate and effective monitoring.

      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 – The vote is open.

      We will now proceed to vote on the whole of the draft resolution contained in Document 14224, as amended. The vote is open.

8. Next public business

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

      The sitting is closed.

      (The sitting was closed at 8.25 p.m.)


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

2. Changes in the membership of committees

3. Address by Mr Thorbjřrn Jagland, Secretary General of the Council of Europe

Questions: Mr Villumsen, Mr Gulyás, Ms Mikko, Ms Gillan, Mr van der Ven, Lord Foulkes, Mr V. Huseynov, Ms Günay

4. Attacks against journalists and media freedom in Europe

Presentation by Mr Ariev of the report of the Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media, Document 14229

Speakers: Lady Eccles, Ms Brasseur, Ms Kavvadia, Mr Stroe, Ms Bilgehan, Ms Schneider-Schneiter, Ms Hoffmann, Mr Cepeda, Mr Schennach, Mr Önal, Mr Marques, Ms Chugoshvili, Mr Jenssen, Mr R. Huseynov, Mr Farmanyan, Mr Le Borgn’, Mr Kyritsis, Ms Karapetyan, Ms Crozon, Ms Usta, Mr Divina, Ms Duranton, Ms Sotnyk, Ms Gosselin-Fleury

5. Election of judges to the European Court of Human Rights (Result)

6. Attacks against journalists and media freedom in Europe (continued)

Draft resolution in Document 14229, as amended, adopted

Draft recommendation in Document 14229 adopted

7. The humanitarian crisis in Gaza

Presentation by Ms Jansson of the report of the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons, Document 14224

Presentation by Lord Anderson of the opinion of the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy, Document 14239

Speakers: Mr Bildarratz, Ms Johnsson Fornarve, Mr Feist, Ms Rodríguez Ramos, Mr Howell, Mr Fournier, Mr Abushahla, Ms Allain, Ms Ĺberg, Mr Byrne, Ms Lavie, Mr Scully, Mr Heer, Ms Johnsen, Baroness Massey, Ms De Sutter, Mr Sabella, Ms Yaşar

Draft resolution in Document 14224, as amended, adopted

8. Next public business

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.

ĹBERG, Boriana [Ms] (GHASEMI, Tina [Ms])

ALLAIN, Brigitte [Mme]

AMORUSO, Francesco Maria [Mr] (GAMBARO, Adele [Ms])

ANDERSON, Donald [Lord]

ARIEV, Volodymyr [Mr]

ARNAUT, Damir [Mr]

BALIĆ, Marijana [Ms]

BAYDAR, Metin Lütfi [Mr] (KOÇ, Haluk [M.])

BAYKAL, Deniz [Mr]

BEREZA, Boryslav [Mr]

BERNACKI, Włodzimierz [Mr]

BĒRZINŠ, Andris [M.]


BİLGEHAN, Gülsün [Mme]

BILLSTRÖM, Tobias [Mr]

BRASSEUR, Anne [Mme]

BUDNER, Margareta [Ms]

BULIGA, Valentina [Mme]

BYRNE, Liam [Mr] (CRAUSBY, David [Mr])

CATALFO, Nunzia [Ms]

CEPEDA, José [Mr]

ČERNOCH, Marek [Mr] (BENEŠIK, Ondřej [Mr])




COMTE, Raphaël [M.] (FIALA, Doris [Mme])

CORLĂŢEAN, Titus [Mr] (TUDOSE, Mihai [Mr])

CORSINI, Paolo [Mr]

COWEN, Barry [Mr]

COZMANCIUC, Corneliu Mugurel [Mr] (ZZ...)

CROZON, Pascale [Mme] (BAPT, Gérard [M.])


CSÖBÖR, Katalin [Mme]

DAEMS, Hendrik [Mr] (BLANCHART, Philippe [M.])

DALLOZ, Marie-Christine [Mme] (MARIANI, Thierry [M.])

D’AMBROSIO, Vanessa [Ms]

DAVIES, Geraint [Mr]


DESTEXHE, Alain [M.]

DI STEFANO, Manlio [Mr]

DIVINA, Sergio [Mr]

DJUROVIĆ, Aleksandra [Ms]

DOKLE, Namik [M.]

DURANTON, Nicole [Mme]

ECCLES, Diana [Lady]

EẞL, Franz Leonhard [Mr]

EVANS, Nigel [Mr]

FARMANYAN, Samvel [Mr]

FAZZONE, Claudio [Mr] (BERNINI, Anna Maria [Ms])

FEIST, Thomas [Mr] (WELLMANN, Karl-Georg [Mr])

FISCHER, Axel E. [Mr]

FOULKES, George [Lord] (MEALE, Alan [Sir])

FOURNIER, Bernard [M.]


FRESKO-ROLFO, Béatrice [Mme]

FRIDEZ, Pierre-Alain [M.]

GAFAROVA, Sahiba [Ms]


GATTI, Marco [M.]

GENTVILAS, Simonas [Mr] (BUTKEVIČIUS, Algirdas [Mr])


GHILETCHI, Valeriu [Mr]

GILLAN, Cheryl [Ms]

GIRO, Francesco Maria [Mr]

GOGA, Pavol [M.] (PAŠKA, Jaroslav [M.])


GOLUB, Vladyslav [Mr] (GONCHARENKO, Oleksii [Mr])

GONÇALVES, Carlos Alberto [M.]

GOPP, Rainer [Mr]

GORGHIU, Alina Ștefania [Ms]

GORROTXATEGUI, Miren Edurne [Mme] (BALLESTER, Ángela [Ms])

GOSSELIN-FLEURY, Genevičve [Mme] (KARAMANLI, Marietta [Mme])

GOY-CHAVENT, Sylvie [Mme]

GROTH, Annette [Ms] (WERNER, Katrin [Ms])

GULYÁS, Gergely [Mr]

GÜNAY, Emine Nur [Ms]

GUTIÉRREZ, Antonio [Mr]

GYÖNGYÖSI, Márton [Mr]

HAJIYEV, Sabir [Mr]

HALICKI, Andrzej [Mr]

HEER, Alfred [Mr]

HEINRICH, Gabriela [Ms]

HETTO-GAASCH, Françoise [Mme]

HOFFMANN, Rózsa [Mme] (VEJKEY, Imre [Mr])

HOLÍK, Pavel [Mr] (MARKOVÁ, Soňa [Ms])

HOWELL, John [Mr]

HÜBINGER, Anette [Ms]

HUNKO, Andrej [Mr]

HUOVINEN, Susanna [Ms] (GUZENINA, Maria [Ms])

HUSEYNOV, Rafael [Mr]

HUSEYNOV, Vusal [Mr] (MAMMADOV, Muslum [M.])

JANSSON, Eva-Lena [Ms] (GUNNARSSON, Jonas [Mr])

JENIŠTA, Luděk [Mr]

JENSSEN, Frank J. [Mr]

JOHNSEN, Kristin Řrmen [Ms] (VALEN, Snorre Serigstad [Mr])


JORDANA, Carles [M.]


KALMARI, Anne [Ms]

KANELLI, Liana [Ms] (TZAVARAS, Konstantinos [M.])

KARAPETYAN, Naira [Ms] (ZOURABIAN, Levon [Mr])

KARLSSON, Niklas [Mr]


KAVVADIA, Ioanneta [Ms]

KIRAL, Serhii [Mr] (LABAZIUK, Serhiy [Mr])

KLEINBERGA, Nellija [Ms] (LĪBIŅA-EGNERE, Inese [Ms])

KÖCK, Eduard [Mr] (AMON, Werner [Mr])

KORODI, Attila [Mr]

KOVÁCS, Elvira [Ms]

KOX, Tiny [Mr]

KROSS, Eerik-Niiles [Mr]

KÜRKÇÜ, Ertuğrul [Mr]

KYRITSIS, Georgios [Mr]

LE BORGN’, Pierre-Yves [M.]

LE DÉAUT, Jean-Yves [M.]


LESKAJ, Valentina [Ms]


LOGVYNSKYI, Georgii [Mr]

LOUCAIDES, George [Mr]

LUCHERINI, Carlo [Mr] (CHITI, Vannino [Mr])

MADEJ, Róbert [Mr]

MAHOUX, Philippe [M.]

MARQUES, Duarte [Mr]

MARTINS, Alberto [M.]

MASIULIS, Kęstutis [Mr] (ZINGERIS, Emanuelis [Mr])

MASSEY, Doreen [Baroness] (SHARMA, Virendra [Mr])


MENDES, Ana Catarina [Mme]

MIGNON, Jean-Claude [M.]

MIKKO, Marianne [Ms]

MILEWSKI, Daniel [Mr]

MİROĞLU, Orhan [Mr]

MULARCZYK, Arkadiusz [Mr]

MULLEN, Rónán [Mr] (CROWE, Seán [Mr])

MÜLLER, Thomas [Mr]

MUNYAMA, Killion [Mr] (POMASKA, Agnieszka [Ms])

NENUTIL, Miroslav [Mr]

NICOLETTI, Michele [Mr]

OBRADOVIĆ, Marija [Ms]


OBREMSKI, Jarosław [Mr] (KLICH, Bogdan [Mr])

OEHRI, Judith [Ms]

ÖNAL, Suat [Mr]


OVERBEEK, Henk [Mr] (MILTENBURG, Anouchka van [Ms])


PALIHOVICI, Liliana [Ms] (NEGUTA, Andrei [M.])

PALLARÉS, Judith [Ms]

PANTIĆ PILJA, Biljana [Ms]

PASHAYEVA, Ganira [Ms]

PECKOVÁ, Gabriela [Ms] (KOSTŘICA, Rom [Mr])

PODERYS, Virgilijus [Mr] (VAREIKIS, Egidijus [Mr])

PODOLNJAK, Robert [Mr] (HAJDUKOVIĆ, Domagoj [Mr])

POLIAČIK, Martin [Mr]

POSTOICO, Maria [Mme] (VORONIN, Vladimir [M.])

POZZO DI BORGO, Yves [M.] (GROSDIDIER, François [M.])

PREDA, Cezar Florin [M.]

PRUIDZE, Irina [Ms]

RAWERT, Mechthild [Ms] (DROBINSKI-WEIß, Elvira [Ms])

REISS, Frédéric [M.] (JACQUAT, Denis [M.])

RIGONI, Andrea [Mr]

ROCA, Jordi [Mr] (BARREIRO, José Manuel [Mr])


ROJO, Pilar [Ms]

ROSENKRANZ, Barbara [Ms] (KORUN, Alev [Ms])

ROSETA, Helena [Mme]

ROUQUET, René [M.]

RUSTAMYAN, Armen [M.] (NAGHDALYAN, Hermine [Ms])

ŠAKALIENĖ, Dovilė [Ms]

SALMOND, Alex [Mr]

SANDBĆK, Ulla [Ms] (BORK, Tilde [Ms])

SANTA ANA, María Concepción de [Ms]

SANTERINI, Milena [Mme]

SCHENNACH, Stefan [Mr]

SCHNEIDER-SCHNEITER, Elisabeth [Mme] (LOMBARDI, Filippo [M.])

SCHOU, Ingjerd [Ms]

SCHWABE, Frank [Mr]

SCULLY, Paul [Mr] (DONALDSON, Jeffrey [Sir])

ŠEPIĆ, Senad [Mr]

SOBOLEV, Serhiy [Mr]

SOTNYK, Olena [Ms]

SPADONI, Maria Edera [Ms] (SANTANGELO, Vincenzo [Mr])

STOILOV, Yanaki [Mr]

STROE, Ionuț-Marian [Mr]

SUTTER, Petra De [Ms] (DUMERY, Daphné [Ms])

THIÉRY, Damien [M.]

TILKI, Attila [Mr] (CSENGER-ZALÁN, Zsolt [Mr])

TROY, Robert [Mr] (HOPKINS, Maura [Ms])

USTA, Leyla Şahin [Ms]


VEN, Mart van de [Mr]

VILLUMSEN, Nikolaj [Mr]

VLAHOVIĆ, Sanja [Ms] (SEKULIĆ, Predrag [Mr])

VOVK, Viktor [Mr]

WALLINHEIMO, Sinuhe [Mr] (PELKONEN, Jaana [Ms])

WINTERTON, Rosie [Dame]

WOJTYŁA, Andrzej [Mr]

WOLD, Morten [Mr]

WURM, Gisela [Ms]


YAŞAR, Serap [Mme]

YEMETS, Leonid [Mr]


ZELIENKOVÁ, Kristýna [Ms]

ZIMMERMANN, Marie-Jo [Mme]

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

AST, Marek [Mr]

BÜCHEL, Roland Rino [Mr]

CORREIA, Telmo [M.]


FERNANDES, Suella [Ms]

GALE, Roger [Sir]

GERMANN, Hannes [Mr]

LOMBARDI, Filippo [M.]


LUNDGREN, Kerstin [Ms]

MAVROTAS, Georgios [Mr]

McCARTHY, Kerry [Ms]

MEALE, Alan [Sir]

MEIMARAKIS, Evangelos [Mr]

MURRAY, Ian [Mr]

SMITH, Angela [Ms]


VARVITSIOTIS, Miltiadis [Mr]

WILSON, Phil [Mr]

ZINGERIS, Emanuelis [Mr]

Observers / Observateurs


LAVIE, Aliza [Ms]

Partners for democracy / Partenaires pour la démocratie


ABUSHAHLA, Mohammedfaisal [Mr]

ALBAKKAR, Khaled [Mr]

ALQURAN, Ibrahim [Mr]

SABELLA, Bernard [Mr]

ZAYADIN, Kais [Mr]

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

the Parliamentary Assembly)/ Représentants de la communauté chypriote turque

(Conformément ŕ la Résolution 1376 (2004) de l’Assemblée parlementaire)



Appendix/Annexe II

Representatives or Substitutes who took part in the ballot for the Election of Judges to the European Court of Human Rights in respect of Hungary and the Netherlands

Liste des représentants ou suppléants qui ont participé au vote pour l’élection de juges ŕ la Cour européenne des droits de l’homme au titre de la Hongrie et des Pays-Bas

AHMED-SHEIKH, Tasmina [Ms]

ARIEV, Volodymyr [Mr]

BALLESTER, Ángela [Ms] / GORROTXATEGUI, Miren Edurne [Mme]

BAYKAL, Deniz [Mr]

BERNACKI, Włodzimierz [Mr] 

BERNINI, Anna Maria [Ms]/FAZZONE, Claudio [Mr]


COWEN, Barry [Mr] 

CROWE, Seán [Mr]/MULLEN, Rónán [Mr]

CSÖBÖR, Katalin [Mme] 

DIVINA, Sergio [Mr] 

FRESKO-ROLFO, Béatrice [Mme] 

GIRO, Francesco Maria [Mr] 

GOPP, Rainer [Mr] 

GOY-CHAVENT, Sylvie [Mme] 

GÜNAY, Emine Nur [Ms] 

HOPKINS, Maura [Ms] /TROY, Robert [Mr]

JACQUAT, Denis [M.] /REISS, Frédéric [M.]

JORDANA, Carles [M.] 

KARAMANLI, Marietta [Mme] / GOSSELIN-FLEURY, Genevičve [Mme]

KOÇ, Haluk [M.] / BAYDAR, Metin Lütfi [Mr]

KOVÁCS, Elvira [Ms] 

KRONBICHLER, Florian [Mr] 

KROSS, Eerik-Niiles [Mr] 

MADEJ, Róbert [Mr] 

MAHOUX, Philippe [M.] 

MARIANI, Thierry [M.] / DALLOZ, Marie-Christine [Mme]


MILTENBURG, Anouchka van [Ms]/OVERBEEK, Henk [Mr]

MİROĞLU, Orhan [Mr] 

MULARCZYK, Arkadiusz [Mr] 

NICOLETTI, Michele [Mr] 

ÖNAL, Suat [Mr] 


POLIAČIK, Martin [Mr] 

ROUQUET, René [M.] 

SALMOND, Alex [Mr] 

TUDOSE, Mihai [Mr] / CORLĂŢEAN, Titus [Mr]

USTA, Leyla Şahin [Ms] 

WERNER, Katrin [Ms] /GROTH, Annette [Ms]

YAŞAR, Serap [Mme] 

ZIMMERMANN, Marie-Jo [Mme]