AS (2017) CR 08
2017 ORDINARY SESSION
Thursday 26 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 Rouquet, Vice-President of the Assembly, took the Chair at 3.35 p.m.)
The PRESIDENT* – The sitting is open.
1. Current affairs debate: The situation in Syria and its effects upon surrounding countries
The PRESIDENT* – On Monday morning, the Assembly agreed to limit speaking time to three minutes. However, in view of the number of speakers on the speaking lists for this afternoon’s debates, I propose to increase the speaking time allowed from three to four minutes. Is that agreed?
The first item of business this afternoon is a current affairs debate on the situation in Syria and its effects upon surrounding countries. The debate is limited to one and a half hours. Speaking time is limited to four minutes for all members except the first speaker, chosen by the Bureau, who is allowed 10 minutes. The debate will therefore end at about 5.00 p.m.
Sir Roger GALE (United Kingdom) – As I look around the hemicycle this afternoon, it is rather like being at one of those minor league football matches where they read the crowd changes to the team. That is a pity, because what we are here to discuss is probably the worst humanitarian crisis that has faced the continent of Europe since the end of the Second World War. There is no report. There will be no vote. I have no written speech. What you will get from me is what you see and feel and hear from the heart and from the head. I will leave it to colleagues to decide where that balance lies.
The United Kingdom delegation, on a cross-party basis, decided to put this subject forward for debate. I am speaking for the delegation, but, in doing that, I know I am also speaking because this current affairs debate was chosen unopposed by delegations from 47 member States of the Council of Europe. We felt it was right and proper to do this this afternoon because while we are meeting and eating and drinking, there are hundreds of thousands of Syrians who are freezing and starving. The reason for that is, of course, the political situation and civil war in Syria.
The Council of Europe has got to consider that, and, if we are about human rights, it has got to take action, because the greatest of human rights are the right to life, the right to food and the right to have a roof over your head. This week we have spent a lot of time speaking about all sorts of other matters that to these people are extraneous while they are dying. We need to be clear about that.
We have seen the destruction in this civil war and this proxy war. We may not have been there, but we have seen it on television, night after night. We have seen a country destroyed. We have seen the effects of government military action, rebel military action, NATO military action and what I would say was Russian war crime. We have seen destroyed homes, destroyed schools and destroyed hospitals. They did not bomb themselves. This is what humanity, if that is what it can be called, has done to humankind. As a result, there has been a tide of refugees.
Russia, Turkey and Iran have been engaged in discussions, and at the moment there is a fragile peace. Whether that peace will hold, only time will tell, and there have been breaches; but what we do know is that in Syria, 6.3 million have been displaced internally and 4.9 million trapped in enclaves in their own country. There are 13.5 million people in need of assistance, 3 million refugees in camps in Turkey and 1.5 million in Lebanon. Jordan is playing host to more refugees per capita than any other country in the world – as Annette Groth told us in the debate on migration this morning, one of those refugee camps is Jordan’s fourth largest city – and there are hundreds of thousands of refugees in Iraq. These are not numbers; these are people. These are men and women, and scores and scores of children.
In addition to the effects on the surrounding countries – the ones I have just named – thousands of people have been dispersed throughout Europe, through Greece, into the Balkans and then the wider Europe beyond. Their plight is desperate. They are living in tented cities. They are living in makeshift camps. They are derelict. They are cold. They are squatting in unheated industrial buildings. They have little food.
In his debate this morning, my colleague Ian Liddell-Grainger referred to the need for understanding, compassion and practical help. That help is needed now, before more are added to the thousands that in that civil war have already died. It is right to look at long-term solutions. Leyla Usta from Turkey said this morning that many of the people in the Turkish camps want to go home, but they cannot go home because there are no homes to go to. Those homes have been destroyed, so they are isolated. If it was not for a relatively few, very brave people and international bodies taking care of them, more would already have died. This is an immediate need. We can discuss long-term solutions and how many countries have how many people in the future, but unless we do something now, there will be more death and more misery.
In 1956, the Russians invaded Hungary. I was 13. We saw and heard the reports of the refugees coming across the bridge at Andau before the borders were closed. This 13-year-old and many others sold our toys and went round the town collecting tents, blankets and clothes for those refugees. Metaphorically, the time has come to sell our toys again. Tomorrow will be too late for some children who freeze to death tonight. Your grandchildren, my grandchildren are the same age; your children, my children are the same age. They are dying.
The United Kingdom has made the most generous humanitarian offer in our history – £2.3 billion. Other countries have made similar, very generous contributions to those providing aid at the moment, but we have got to do more. This Council of Europe, if we mean anything at all, has got to do more and fast.
I have one message for my colleagues here this afternoon. I beg you, please, in the name of whatever God you pray to or none, go back to your countries, talk to your colleagues in parliament, talk to you governments, and do not say, “What are you going to do?” Please, say, “What are we going to do?”, and please let us do it now.
Mr VILLUMSEN (Denmark, Spokesperson for the Group of the Unified European Left) – Dear colleagues, the civil war in Syria is a great tragedy. The level of suffering is difficult to comprehend. It is urgent that we condemn the war crimes and call for the prosecution of those responsible.
Earlier today we discussed the refugee crisis here in the plenary. A large part of the refugees coming to Europe are desperately fleeing the war crimes of Daesh and the Assad regime. Far too often, there is a discussion – which I actually think is quite relevant – about how we can secure and help refugees in their own countries and neighbouring countries, so that they do not have to run away to Europe. I think all of us in the Assembly today agree that the aim of our work, the aim of our countries and the aim of world policy should be that no one is forced to flee and that if they are forced to flee, they should not be forced to flee very far.
If we look at the numbers today, it is clear that a large majority of refugees are internally displaced in their own countries or living just inside neighbouring countries, but here there is a grave lack of help. Dear colleagues, the UN is not getting sufficient funding. Not enough money is going to the programmes that should be helping those in need – not in Syria and not in the neighbouring countries. It is time to act.
I would like to turn your attention to the large areas of north-eastern Syria that have been liberated by pro-democratic and Kurdish forces. There are millions of civilians living there who are being protected by those pro-democratic forces. Many of our countries use these Kurdish and pro-democratic forces as foot soldiers in the fight against Daesh, but the civilians in these areas do not receive the aid, food or medicine that they need. What they are experiencing is attack by Turkey. They are under a humanitarian blockade not only by Daesh and the Assad regime, but by Turkey.
Dear friends, this is unacceptable. If we want peace and stability in Turkey and in Syria, it is time to act. Let us help the pro-democratic and Kurdish forces to protect the civilians in their areas. Let us ensure that the pro-democratic forces are included in the peace process that is taking place – not excluded, as they are today. And let us state clearly that humanitarian aid should not be a tool of war but is a basic right for all. If we do not support those forces in Syria that defend our values today, we will bitterly regret it in future, and the millions of civilians there will not get the help that they need.
The PRESIDENT* – Thank you, Mr Villumsen.
Mr Pieter Omtzigt was due to speak on behalf of the EPP group, but I do not see him in the Chamber. I call Ms Soraya Rodríguez Ramos, who will speak on behalf of the Socialist Group.
Ms RODRÍGUEZ RAMOS (Spain, Spokesperson for the Socialist Group)* – The six years of conflict and extreme brutality and violence in Syria have caused the deaths of more than 400 000 people, and more than 13 million Syrians now need humanitarian aid. There are more than 8 million displaced persons inside Syria, and more than 4 million have fled the country. Aleppo was the epicentre of the war, but we cannot forget the fights in other cities of the north-east of Syria and the suburbs of Damascus. More than 4 million people live in cities under siege, where they receive no food and the basic infrastructure providing water and electricity has been destroyed. The whole Syrian territory is under a permanent humanitarian crisis. UNICEF tells us that more than 6 million children need humanitarian assistance as a matter of urgency.
All the parties to the conflict – the pro-Government forces, the opposition and the terrorists – have breached international law on human rights and humanitarian assistance, in particular by bombing civilian areas and using weapons that are considered chemical weapons under the relevant international treaty. Civilian areas have been bombed deliberately. There can be no fair and lasting peace without accountability, and that is why this Assembly should repeat its plea that all who are responsible for these war crimes should be tried. We need to repeat our support for the resolution of the United Nations and ensure that the situation in Syria is put before the International Criminal Court. Unfortunately, Russia and China are making sure that the court has no remit to investigate these war crimes. Without accountability, violence will increase and the victims will continue to suffer.
We also need to repeat to all the parties involved in this conflict that they have taken on a commitment, under the resolution of the United Nations, to put an end to all attacks against the population. We must repeat here once again that the International Commission of Inquiry under the United Nations has collected evidence that demonstrates that at least 200 000 people are being deprived of their liberty by the Syrian Government in inhuman conditions. Millions of Syrians have died under torture and from disease. It is urgent today that the Syrian authorities let humanitarian bodies and the United Nations into these detention facilities. We must demand the immediate release of all persons who have been detained in Syrian territory in an arbitrary way.
Dear colleagues, every day we are witnesses to the atrocities carried out by the Jihadi groups in particular, with summary executions and extreme violence. Today, this Assembly must once again underline the importance of effectively cutting off all means of funding to Daesh and foreign fighters and impede weapons from reaching the Jihadi fighters.
Today in this Assembly, we should also repeat our support for, and solidarity with, the neighbouring countries in the region that are taking in the greatest number of refugees, in particular Lebanon and Jordan. We also need to call upon our Governments to abide by the commitments to provide financial aid that they took on at the London conference on supporting Syria, which took place in February 2016.
Mr ÖNAL (Turkey, Spokesperson for the European Conservatives Group)* – Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, members, as you know, there is a civil war raging in Syria and a humanitarian tragedy. Ever since the start of the events in Syria, the problems that we have encountered could and should have been resolved through meeting the democratic demands of the Syrian people and maintaining the territorial integrity of Syria. That is why efforts need to be made to resolve the problem through diplomatic means. Those sensitivities have been expressed throughout the discussion process in Astana as well.
One of the countries most affected by the events in Syria is Turkey. The problems in Iraq and Syria have also made it logistically easier for those people who wish to damage Turkey. Turkey is threatened by Daesh, the YPG and the PKK. All these movements benefit from confusion in the region in order to carry out terrorist attacks in Turkey. Over the past year, we have lost more than 400 of our citizens as a result of such terrorist attacks in Turkey. Likewise, these organisations are conducting activities that jeopardise the territorial integrity of Syria, and they are trying to impose hegemony in certain areas of Syria while massacring completely innocent people in those regions.
Given its position in the international community, and above all given its geopolitical situation, Turkey is compelled directly to address all these challenges that it faces. Regrettably, it is not receiving the requisite support from the international community. For these reasons, Turkey was compelled to launch the Euphrates Shield operation, and it has managed to clear Daesh from an area of about 1,800 square kilometres. It is important that we now keep these zones completely free of terrorist activity. As you know, Daesh is our common enemy, and we must be resolute in fighting against Daesh and other terrorist organisations.
Moreover, the objective of the YPG in the region is not to combat Daesh but to divide up Syria. The YPG is presented as an organisation fighting Daesh and it is being given weapons, and that must be brought to an end as soon as possible. In the activities of organisations such as the YPG and the PKK, we see that they are being given weapons by countries that we view as friends. That is very grievous and saddening for us.
I would especially like to thank Sir Roger Gale for his speech earlier, because he very well summarised what is happening in Syria and proposed a way forward to resolve it. To ensure peace in the region, I would like to propose that we heed the will of the majority of the Syrian people. Once that peace has been established, measures must be put in place for democratic elections. We must fight against all the terrorist organisations and ensure that, in these critical areas of the Middle East, such terrorist organisations can no longer maintain a footing. This is a common task and endeavour for us all. Thank you.
Mr XUCLÀ (Spain, Spokesperson for the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe)* – I congratulate Sir Roger Gale on introducing the debate. The suggestion for it was made in Cyprus and I supported the idea.
This is not a current affairs debate in the sense that is about this week, or this month. This problem has been persistent for several years, from the beginning of the century. We have not experienced such a serious and widespread humanitarian crisis since the crisis in the Balkans in the 1990s. Colleagues from the Balkans in the Chamber might think that we reacted rather late in the day to the situation in that region and that our reaction was perhaps not appropriate, but of course we did react. In this case, we are talking about a far more complex situation.
We need to face this crisis. Of course, we need to take all the humanitarian measures that have been mentioned. Hundreds and thousands of people have been displaced internally, as is been said, and people who wish to enter Europe are exercising considerable migratory pressure in Turkey and Greece. When a citizen arrives in Greece he or she arrives into the European Union and, once again, the European Union has failed to define a common border policy, a common migration policy and a common asylum policy.
We are talking about political refugees, not economic migrants. We are talking about people and families who had to move because of their political beliefs and positions. They can no longer stay where they were living and where their ancestors lived. I feel pessimistic, however. I fear that this war may be very long. There is one factor at play here – international terrorism, in the midst of the Syrian conflict. That is why this war has nothing to do with the war we saw in the Balkans in the 1990s. It is a war of power in the Middle East. The borders that were set 100 years ago were, to a great extent, artificial. They were post-colonial.
The war also has a religious component. As you know, religious wars in Europe have usually lasted about 30 years. I do not know whether this war will last 30 years; I hope that it will last for less. It is important that we show respect for the Muslims present in this Chamber. If we invoke the religious origins of the conflict between Sunnis and Shia, that might prove extremely complex. Religious wars are, of course, difficult to settle.
We, as Europeans, as Westerners, must also recognise that mistakes were made following the fall of the Berlin Wall. We saw a consolidation of our Western democracy model and some thinkers and politicians thought that democracy could be exported easily and quickly. A grave mistake was made in Iraq. We saw the process of democratic consolidation as calling for assistance, not intervention. That mistake has been made. President Obama and Secretary Clinton have not made that mistake in Syria, but after the serious mistakes that have been made we must cope with the humanitarian crisis and reflect on the role of international diplomacy at a time when social media and terrorist networks are threatening the classical structures of our States.
The PRESIDENT* – Thank you, Mr Xuclà.
I still do not see Mr Omtzigt, so we will move on to the general list of speakers. I call Ms Schou.
Ms SCHOU (Norway) – I thank Sir Roger Gale for speaking from his heart and his head. Sadly, an end to the war in Syria is nowhere in sight. The suffering of the Syrian people continues and the repercussions of the conflict are felt far beyond Syria and its neighbouring countries. We see direct effects in Europe. Syrian refugees are knocking on our doors, and we have experienced numerous terrorist attacks springing out of the conflict.
As fellow human beings we cannot but be affected by the gruesome stories and images coming out of Syria, particularly from Aleppo. Innocent civilians have paid the highest price. Trapped in a city at the crux of the conflict, they have lost their homes and livelihood. They have been denied access to humanitarian aid, and more than 300 000 Syrians have had to pay for the conflict with their lives. In November the Standing Committee adopted a very important resolution on the situation in Aleppo. The point about humanitarian aid is of particular importance – humanitarian organisations must be given access to conflict areas so that human suffering can be alleviated.
As members of the Council of Europe we have a moral obligation to raise our voices and take action when human rights are violated. We can contribute with humanitarian aid. The need for aid in Syria and its neighbouring countries is still very high. The Norwegian Government was the initiator of the London conference last year, and is now doing its utmost to fulfil our promises. With donations of about €300 million in 2016, Norway is the fifth largest donor.
This week we have seen yet another attempt to foster dialogue between the warring parties in Syria, with meagre results. The Russian-Turkish initiative for dialogue between the parties was supported by the United Nations, and the efforts of United Nations Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura are to be commended. Let us hope that the Syria talks in Geneva in February will take the parties one step closer to a peaceful solution to this awful war. We must continue to support the United Nations efforts on Syria.
Mr BAPT (France)* – A little earlier, Sir Roger moved us by describing the suffering of the Syrian people, which has gone on for far too long. Such suffering has been experienced within Syria by millions of displaced persons and also outside its borders. The Turkish representative, Mr Önal, has just told us of the endeavours to relieve that suffering but, aside from the humanitarian aspect, if we are to alleviate it, to stop it and to allow for the return of the refugees, a ceasefire needs to be respected. We cannot alleviate suffering without a ceasefire, so we must welcome the initiative of Turkey, Russia and Iran, with a number of other groups and UN representatives, in trying to make progress with the ceasefire in Astana, but that will not last long given the complexity of the domestic Syrian situation and the number of groups fighting among themselves and forming a succession of alliances. Groups that are regarded as moderate are making alliances with the worst of the worst, whether that is al-Nusra or Isis. Going beyond the ceasefire, we need to deal with the political transition rapidly.
A political solution requires, first, recognition that there is still a single Syrian State. We saw the effects when the State was destroyed in Iraq. More than 1.2 million Iraqis have been killed since the invasion of Iraq by the Western coalition. We have also seen the effects in Syria, with the disintegration of the State leading to continued emigration, which is not only political but also economic and even climate-driven. Where there is no State, the law of the warlords prevails. In Iraq and Syria, we must protect what remains of the State and bolster it.
In that regard, it is particularly counterproductive for a number of European countries to have called for the departure of Bashar al-Assad as a precondition for beginning any negotiations on a political solution. We underestimated the way in which the conflict would be perpetuated. In the first months of 2011 and 2012, we assumed that Assad’s days were numbered, that he would only last a few weeks and that all we had to do was arm a few groups. Those arms were then seized by al-Qaeda and other extremist groups, and then ISIS, to compound and deepen the suffering. We need to bolster the political transition process and work with the actors in the field. When we emerged from the genocide in Cambodia, Western countries sat down with the leaders of the Khmer Rouge without judging anyone or calling for the International Criminal Court to intervene.
We need to act straight away in order to bolster the ceasefire and to separate the jihadists from those who are still subject to Western, American or Turkish influence. The extension of the ceasefire may then be forthcoming. We need to act on the political front to preserve the State and ensure that the rule of the Ba’ath party gives way little by little to a democratic system. We also need to think of the religious minorities who must be protected and who do not want to see the imposition of Sharia Law. Whole hosts of Christians, Kurds, Alawites, Druze and Ismailis, as well as many of the Sunni merchant class, support the preservation of the State. On the basis of that State, let us ensure that Syria has a bright future that is commensurate with its tremendous historical contribution.
Mr KANDELAKI (Georgia) – Thank you, Mr Gale, for your passionate speech. There are so many things we all agree on when it comes to the tragedy in Syria. We all agree that there has been a tragedy of unheard-of proportions in the past few decades. We all agree that the tremendous humanitarian consequences of the tragedy and the problems Europe faces are unheard of since the Second World War. We all agree that more humanitarian aid is needed to alleviate the suffering of the victims. Indeed, many, if not all, of our countries, including mine, have committed resources to that end, although of course more are needed. Although it alleviates the suffering, humanitarian aid alone cannot stop those who commit these crimes and atrocities.
It is an undisputed fact that the involvement of the Russian Federation in this tragedy has only increased the scale of casualties. Of course, the Russian Federation is not the only actor, by far, in this war, but it is the only actor that is a member of this Organisation. The Council of Europe has no army or tanks and aeroplanes to send over to Syria and confront those who commit atrocities, but it should seriously consider whether it is going to do anything about the actions that one of its member States has taken in Syria.
The voting rights of that member State’s delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe have been taken away because of its aggression against another member State: Ukraine. However, I do not think the Council of Europe has come up with any proposals – even modest ones – on moves towards the Russian Federation for the actions it has taken in Syria. The time has come to ask the Committee of Ministers and, indeed, members of this Assembly a question: can a country that commits acts considered by Human Rights Watch and other credible groups to be war crimes continue to be a member of the Council of Europe?
Finally, one more thing that the Council of Europe can do, with its enormous apparatus and expertise, is to aid various groups and victims, first and foremost, to put forward criminal cases and put together law suits in the International Criminal Court – meaningful legal action – so that the perpetrators of these horrendous crimes and war crimes are brought to justice sooner rather than later.
The PRESIDENT* – Thank you, Mr Kandelaki.
As Mr Gutiérrez is not here, I call Ms Gafarova.
Ms GAFAROVA (Azerbaijan) – As Chair of the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons, I would like to draw members’ attention to the humanitarian plight in Syria and the dramatic consequences of the conflict for neighbouring countries. Up to now, more than 1 million people in Syria have lost their lives as a result of the conflict, and 6.5 million people have been displaced within the country. That enormous figure has to be added to the half a million Palestinian refugees who had settled in Syria before the outbreak of the conflict. Furthermore, an estimated 13.5 million people are living in a precarious situation within the country.
It is estimated that more than 4.8 million Syrians have fled the armed hostilities since 2011. Yesterday in the Migration Committee we heard the dramatic stories of three of them, who came to Strasbourg as asylum seekers. However, the overwhelming majority of refugees do not get as far as France, Germany or Sweden. They do not cross the Mediterranean Sea. They just cross the Syrian border and remain in the neighbouring countries: Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. I remind members that according to the UNHCR, there are more 3 million refugees in Turkey, 2 million of whom are Syrian. Lebanon, a country of 4.5 million people, hosts 1 million refugees.
In Jordan, a country of less than 10 million people, refugees amount to 3.5 million people. That is almost 40% of the population. Of those, 1.5 million are Syrian refugees, who have arrived recently. During our conversation yesterday, the Migration Committee held an exchange of views with the Jordanian delegation and learnt about the devastating impact the Syrian conflict has had on the country’s economic and social situation. The arrival of so many refugees in a country that already hosts a massive refugee population has put additional pressure on the economy, finances and social services.
The living conditions of Syrian refugees in all these countries have dramatically deteriorated with the protraction of the Syrian crisis over the past year. The deterioration of refugees’ situation is a major push factor for many of them to cross the Mediterranean and risk their lives. If we do not want to see more people dying in the Mediterranean Sea, we have to exert pressure on our governments to contribute financially to the neighbouring countries, in particular those I have mentioned, so that reception conditions for refugees are improved.
Mr BÜCHEL (Switzerland)* – I am the chairman of the foreign policy committee of one of the two parliamentary chambers in my country and, like politicians in the 47 member States of the Council of Europe, we have been dealing with the situation in Syria for some time now. My committee has had occasion to meet the United Nations special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, but it is sobering to have to concede that we are all powerless.
I am not going to repeat what has already been said in English, Spanish, Turkish and French here this afternoon. I will not be able to put it in as eloquent a way as Sir Roger Gale and I might not be able to find the right words, such as those used by Jordi Xuclà, so let me concentrate on addressing the talks on Syria in Astana. As you know, the talks ended on Tuesday. Who was in the driving seat? It was Russia, Iran and Turkey. The talks in the Kazakh capital were intended to serve as preparation for the coming round of negotiations in Geneva, which have been scheduled for 8 February. What aims and objectives have been established in respect of these talks? It is essential that the fragile ceasefire be enforced robustly and that we ensure safe access to humanitarian aid.
How did these negotiations go? At the start of the Astana conference, representatives of the regime and rebel representatives were meeting for the first time in the same room, where some icy glances were exchanged but very little else. Talks with the United Nations negotiators then took place in separate rooms. The Syrian branch of al-Qaeda boycotted the meetings, as its representatives refused to meet the regime; they have a jihadi agenda that transcends the border of Syria proper, and they attacked the positions held by rebels who were attending the Astana talks. Kurdish units were similarly not invited to Kazakhstan and they have established an autonomous area along the Turkish border in the north. Those who were present accused one another reciprocally of having broken the shaky ceasefire, so there were quite a lot of theatrics. Of more significance, perhaps, are the talks that took place between Iran, Russia and Turkey behind the scenes, but we know little about them. What we do know is that the US influence continues to dwindle; it was represented through the US ambassador in Kazakhstan only.
The humanitarian tragedy in Syria and neighbouring countries is beyond description, but Europe is also affected to a large extent. The repercussions of the conflict in Syria will concern us for many years to come, as Jordi Xuclà highlighted well. Whether we like it or not, countries in Europe will in future have to grapple far more intensively and seriously with the conflict in Syria than they have done until now. Let us go home and do something; as Sir Roger Gale has said, Europe must finally wake up.
The PRESIDENT* – Thank you, Mr Büchel. As Ms Karapetyan and Ms Naghdalyan are not here, I call Ms Pashayeva.
Ms PASHAYEVA (Azerbaijan)* – I have worked several times as a journalist in Syria and it is in that capacity that I should thank Sir Roger Gale for his intervention, because we are seeing a dreadful tragedy there at the moment. We have met immigrants in Turkey and I need to make an appeal on that. We have discussed Syria a number of times here, and seen the effects of this situation in Europe and in the Middle East. Like many of my colleagues, I think we first need to tackle the reasons that have driven people to emigrate. That means increasing the support provided by European countries and by the Parliamentary Assembly, otherwise this situation will threaten the whole of Europe and beyond. I have met the Turkmen who have left Syria, and all they want is to have their voices heard in the Council of Europe. The Syrian Turkmen are experiencing major tragedies and they want the Council of Europe to be more sensitive to the inhuman tragedy they are experiencing. They want greater support and it is the Council of Europe which can help to resolve their problem. The other ethnic groups who have had to leave Syria feel likewise.
If we are really to discuss this issue, we need to look at the Middle East and Syria more broadly, because all the wars and violence on the borders of Europe are felt more acutely in those regions. Turkey has a long border with Syria and 3 million Syrian refugees. It opened its borders and it is a member of the Council of Europe, yet Turkey is isolated in dealing with this problem. That is why there needs to be an increase in support for Turkey; saying we support Turkey is not sufficient – this needs deeds. We also need to step up efforts to combat terrorism. Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon are trying to assist the refugees in those countries, which is why Europe must be more sensitive to the refugees fleeing Syria. This is a humanitarian duty, yet we see very poor behaviour towards such refugees in a number of countries – that is unconscionable.
Friends, the war and violence in Syria have generated conditions that have prompted people to flee, so we must help them, irrespective of their ethnic origin or religious beliefs. This is a necessity, stemming from our humanity. Trying to use and exploit these immigrants and refugees for a host of political calculations is the wrong road to take, and it is also condemned in international treaties. The fact that Armenians who were living in Syria are being hosted in occupied territories in Azerbaijan rather than in Armenia is intolerable, and this approach runs completely counter to the OSCE’s decisions. We must put an end to this situation as soon as possible. The fact that the Armenians are establishing Armenians who are leaving Syria not in Armenia but in occupied territory in Azerbaijan is only inflicting damage on those individuals. It is also detrimental to the Nagorno-Karabakh issue, which is so sensitive for the Council of Europe, and it runs counter to the peace process. In the Council of Europe, through the Parliamentary Assembly and through the person of the Secretary General, a number of appeals have been made for no new initiatives to be taken which would hamper the peace process in Nagorno-Karabakh. We endorse that position.
Once again, I join Sir Roger Gale in stressing that every possible support should be extended to the Syrian refugees.
(Mr Jordana, Vice-President of the Assembly, took the Chair in place of Mr Rouquet.)
Mr SCULLY (United Kingdom) – We have spent much time spent talking about the refugee crisis in Europe over my first year as a member of this body, and we are absolutely right to do so. I welcome the opportunity to discuss the matter again at future sessions. What we are doing, however, is working out how to manage the situation, not solve it. Why? It is because there is only one certain way of solving the Syrian refugee crisis and that is to end the conflict in Syria. So we move on to another difficult, complex problem, as we have heard from other speakers; the only way to end the conflict is a genuine and inclusive political settlement based on transition away from the Assad regime to a government that is representative of all Syrians and which will protect all Syrians’ rights.
The start of the Astana talks showed the gulf of difference between the two sides and the size of the task ahead. We must hope for progress in the UN-mediated talks due to begin shortly. The vacuum caused by instability in Syria allowed Daesh to gain a foothold in the country, but the global coalition – the unified body of 68 countries – has had significant success, with Daesh’s finances hit and leadership undermined, and the flow of foreign fighters falling by up to 90%. The coalition has worked well to reclaim territory held by Daesh, including much of the land bordering Turkey. That area is crucial if we are to manage the movement of people displaced from their homes.
The UK took an important decision at the start of the conflict to concentrate on supporting refugees close to their own border, rather than encouraging the perilous boat trips that have killed so many and fuelled both the hatred and human traffickers’ lack of regard for human lives. Our Government has pledged £2.3 billion in response to the crisis. That is our largest response to a single humanitarian crisis. We need others to join us and other countries in this effort, and that is why the UK co-hosted the Supporting Syria and the Region conference last year, securing pledges of $12 billion – the largest amount raised in one day for a humanitarian crisis. However, this is not a competition for philanthropy and generosity. It is about how the money is spent and the outcomes that improve the daily lives of millions of people fleeing their homes – real people, not just statistics in a government report or media story.
We need to look at the whole region and the effect on Syria’s immediate neighbours. Lebanon and Jordan have done so much to take in millions of people fleeing Syria. Indeed, we have a debate about Lebanon later this afternoon. We cannot allow these countries to be destabilised by the intensity of the situation they face. The UK Government commends Turkey, as I do, for its generosity in hosting 2.8 million Syrian refugees, as well as its commitment, reaffirmed in London, to provide education for all school-aged Syrian children and its role in helping to secure a ceasefire, however fragile that is at the moment. I hope that Turkey will open more border crossings into Syria for humanitarian assistance, as we seek to regain that land on the Syrian side. In tackling the situation in Syria, we must do whatever possible to ensure the stability of whole region. In doing so, perhaps we can finally take a massive step towards solving – not managing – the refugee crisis in Europe.
Mr DIVINA (Italy)* – We need to be clear: the conflict in Syria did not just rise out of the blue. It is to do with the US’s policies in the Mediterranean. The Nobel peace prize winner, Barack Obama, decided to eliminate all the dictators in North Africa and democratise all these countries: Ben Ali in Tunisia; Mubarak in Egypt; and certainly Gaddafi in Libya – which perhaps could not be said to be democratic. By employing different means, those leaders were toppled. They were not great democrats, but at least they ensured some kind of stability on the southern shore of the Mediterranean. This American design was missing Syria, where each of Assad’s errors came hard on the heels of the next. The per capita income in Libya under Gaddafi was $14 000 per annum. Today, the country is suffering with hunger and starvation.
In Syria, the Americans decided to arm the rebels – the so-called freedom fighters – opposing Assad. I think that we would define them differently today. They are affiliated, one way or another, with fundamentalist forces and the command of Daesh. The only country that has understood the drama in Syria and Iraq seems to be Russia. Fortunately, Russia is forcing the parties to cease hostilities, otherwise we would be facing another Afghanistan, where the Americans, with a view to ousting the Russians, started arming the Taliban, and we know what happened there. We are now some 16 years down the road from efforts to oust the Taliban. Europe has adopted a subordinate position and has not really batted an eyelid, and ISIS has gained further power. How many people have been decapitated and burnt alive? I think we have seen all the possible horrors on that front.
As far as Turkey is concerned, it was thought that the Kurdish problem might be resolved by others elsewhere, but the Kurds have had to pay a very high price. They have been massacred and formed one of the few forces to put up resistance in the face of ISIS. Fortunately, things seem to be changing. There seems to be a single vision between Russia and the USA on the situation in Syria. It is being said for the first time that Assad is not the No. 1 problem in global politics. He might be a problem for the Syrians, but the real problem is international terrorism, which affects all democratic countries around the world and the poor people who have to live in the countries concerned. We have to look at Syria as a military problem. If we do not find a military solution to the humanitarian problems, we will never find a solution.
At the end of April 1945 in Europe, citizens awoke and were happy. They were as poor and hungry as they were the previous day, but they woke up happy because bombs were no longer raining down on their heads. That is the first real problem that we have to tackle for the Syrian population.
Mr ZAYADIN (Jordan, Partner for Democracy) – I thank the European community for its support for Jordan, especially the valuable support that comes at a time when we face major challenges and strife. For seven years, the Syrian people have faced a bloody reality on the ground that has inflicted death, and the destruction of homes and cities. It has resulted in the dispossession of more than 6 million innocent civilians, 1.4 million of whom took refuge in Jordan. Some 51% of those suffering under the impact of the atrocities are children. Jordan’s hospitality is proof that my country has spared no means to do what it can to alleviate harm and hardship despite its limited resources and the economic hardships Jordanians face at a time when the region is boiling with violence and unrest on three of our four borders.
Jordan has a population of 9.5 million inhabitants, approximately 3.5 million of whom are refugees; 1.4 million are Syrian refugees. The large influx of refugees into Jordan has placed a heavy burden on the State’s educational system, health system, infrastructure and job market. As a result, poverty levels in Jordan have risen. Al-Zaatari camp in Jordan has become the fourth largest city in the country. Moreover, Jordan – a stable country in a turbulent region – has made and continues to make whatever efforts are required to face the challenge of terrorism as a result of the situation in Syria and Iraq, and we exert all diplomatic efforts to see the Syrian conflict resolved.
However, donor countries have contributed no more than 35% of the cost of hosting the refugees. Although we hold all the warring parties on the ground responsible for the catastrophe that has befallen the Syrian people, we all have to face up to our humanitarian responsibilities towards the innocent. Jordan cannot be left alone to fend for itself without resources.
I hereby call on the European community and global communities, first, to exert pressure on the countries that are well known for financing extremist groups and, secondly, to stand solidly behind Jordan and extend it the support it needs to continue its humanitarian efforts with refugees, to eliminate terrorism, which is being exported beyond our region, and to survive financially while doing so. I wish you great success in your meetings, and I look forward to co-operating with you for the benefit of our nations.
Mr WIECHEL (Sweden) – As the tragic and horrible war in Syria enters its sixth year, I am sure we all hope to see the beginning of the end of the conflict, or at least a ceasefire that can lead to peace and the democratisation of Syria. I hope we are approaching a stage where all the fighting factions – except the various Islamist factions, such as the groups within the Army of Conquest and Islamic State – are able to sit down and negotiate a ceasefire. The best way for us to reach our common goal of ensuring less violence and more democracy is a ceasefire. We therefore need to encourage talks between the Syrian Government and the non-Jihadist factions that respect secularism and reject radical Islamist and misanthropic ideas.
It is time to end the bloodshed. Perhaps the negotiations held this week in Astana in Kazakhstan, which will soon be continued in Geneva, will mark such a start, even though they have revealed deep-seated differences and hostility among the delegations. It is essential that all outside powers involved in the conflict assume their responsibilities. I am thinking not least of the Turkish armed intervention in Syria. In particular, we should be worried about Turkey’s attacks on the Kurdish members of the Syrian Democratic Forces, which are supported by many Western powers, including the United States and France. The Council of Europe must take Turkey to task for that and for its worrying support for radical Salafist and Islamist interests.
Peace in Syria matters not only to the long-suffering people of that country but to us Europeans. The massive influx of Syrian refugees has contributed to the immigration crisis that afflicts our continent, which has caused, among other things, a rise in criminality, radicalisation and hostility among various groups in the overstretched host countries. We must all promote a comprehensive and lasting peace in Syria and support the neighbouring countries that provide shelter and safety for refugees. I, too, thank Jordan and other neighbouring countries. We need to help to rebuild Syria materially and psychologically, and thereby enable its citizens to build a future close to home, rather than risk their lives for an uncertain future in countries far from their homeland.
The PRESIDENT* – Thank you, Mr Wiechel.
That concludes the list of speakers.
I remind you that at the end of a current affairs debate, the Assembly is not asked to decide upon a text. Nevertheless, this debate has allowed for an interesting exchange of views among members of the Assembly. The matter may be referred by the Bureau to the responsible committee for a report.
2. The progress of the Assembly’s monitoring procedure (September 2015-December 2016) and the periodic review of the honouring of obligations by Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France and Germany
The PRESIDENT* – The next item of business this afternoon is the debate on the report titled “The progress of the Assembly’s monitoring procedure (September 2015-December 2016) and the periodic review of the honouring of obligations by Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France and Germany” (Document 14213 Parts 1 to 7) presented by Mr Cezar Florin Preda on behalf of the Monitoring Committee.
The debate will finish at 6 p.m.
I remind you that the time limit for speeches is four minutes.
I call Mr Cezar Florin Preda, rapporteur. You have 13 minutes in total, which you may divide between presentation of the report and reply to the debate.
Mr PREDA (Romania) – Dear colleagues, it is a pleasure for me, as Chairman of the Monitoring Committee, to present the annual report of the monitoring procedure of the Assembly.
The Monitoring Committee has been presenting the report to the Assembly for 18 years now. Just as in previous years, the report shows the importance of the difficult work carried out by the committee and its rapporteurs to monitor the obligations linked to membership of the Council, and the commitments agreed to during the accession of all member States of the Council of Europe – not just those placed under a sensu stricto monitoring procedure or those that take part in a post-monitoring dialogue.
My report clearly demonstrates that the monitoring of all the countries continued last year. The monitoring procedure continued without interruption throughout the reference period. The rapporteurs worked relentlessly and paid regular visits to the countries they were in charge of. On the basis of these visits, they drafted notes which were then declassified and are now available on the Assembly’s website. The notes and the reports highlight the dialogue and the good relations between the rapporteurs, the national delegations and the authorities of the countries they were responsible for. Allow me to take the opportunity to thank the national delegations and the authorities of all the countries concerned for the co-operation and assistance they offered to the committee and its rapporteurs, without which our work would have been very difficult to carry out.
The main conclusions of this procedure, concerning the nine States that come under the monitoring procedure proper and the four countries that take part in the post-monitoring dialogue, are presented in the draft resolution. As in previous years, I highlighted the progress achieved, the persistent problems and the recommendations drafted to respond to the remaining concerns. This is far from being a comprehensive list, whether we are talking about the progress achieved or the remaining issues, but the conclusions reflect the broad range of points addressed by the rapporteurs.
The committee is in charge of monitoring, for all member States of the Council of Europe, the fulfilment of obligations linked to membership of the Organisation. Since 2014, it has sought to deepen and strengthen monitoring in the countries that do not come under the monitoring procedure proper, or which are engaged in a post-monitoring dialogue. The committee therefore decided to draw up periodic detailed reports for those countries, on the basis of both the committee’s reports and those of other monitoring bodies of the Council of Europe. This year, the committee drafted periodic reports on Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland and Germany. The reports are appended to the present document and their recommendations are reflected in the draft resolutions.
The reaction of the authorities of the countries under periodic review shows that the work carried out by the committee is appreciated. I would like to express my gratitude to the authorities of the countries concerned for the co-operation and the detailed comments we received on the draft reports. These observations were taken into consideration when drafting the final reports and they genuinely contributed to the quality of the document.
Dear colleagues, allow me to conclude this brief introduction by thanking all the co-rapporteurs for their work. Being a co-rapporteur of a country takes a lot of time and requires a great deal of personal investment. The co-rapporteurs are essential to the success of the monitoring procedure. Without them, the report could not have been drafted. I also thank the committee’s secretariat. The rapporteurs would not have been able to carry out their work without them.
The PRESIDENT* – Thank you, Mr Preda. You have 8 minutes and 14 seconds to reply to speakers in the debate.
We now move to the speakers on behalf of political groups. I call John Howell.
Mr HOWELL (United Kingdom, Spokesperson for the European Conservatives Group) – I have read the reports on the countries covered by the Assembly’s monitoring procedures. I understand the difficulties that must have been encountered in examining countries that are either founder members, or are advanced and civilised places. Finland, for example, is described as one of the most incorrupt places in Europe. However, it is good that these reports are done and I, too, give my thanks to the rapporteurs. There are issues, such as media freedom and the integrity of news editors, which need to be examined in every country. As we saw the Christmas before last, that integrity was called into question in Germany and in other countries in relation to the reporting of the molestation of women by people alleged to be Muslim migrants. It is therefore necessary to keep on top of these issues.
I wish to make a number of points in respect of two countries. First, France is suffering problems associated with terrible terrorist attacks. We should all feel the greatest empathy with France in the face of these attacks. Some of the international press may not think the French reaction is strong enough, but the Act of 21 July, with the powers it gives the police and how it approaches terrorism, should be supported. The report speaks of the need for balance in France’s approach to ensure that the standards and values of the Council of Europe are maintained. Given the scale of the terrorist attacks, I think the French Government’s action is proportionate.
Secondly, we need to recognise the impact on Germany of accepting so many migrants. On the one hand we need to recognise the country’s humanitarian position, but on the other we should accept that this has provoked intense debate and comment. The report rightly draws attention to Islamophobia and anti-refugee protests, and to the stance the country has adopted.
In both countries, there are two issues to address: the prevalence of hate crime and how it is dealt with, and attacks on women. It is not just about having the right laws in place; it is also about using them effectively to stop hate crime and attacks on women. Neither can be tolerated and both are likely to be on the increase, so the monitoring of those areas is to be applauded.
The rapporteur calls for balance between tackling the challenges that these countries face from the threat of terrorism and protecting values that we all hold dear. We do not want our values to be compromised and the terrorists to succeed, but we do want to stamp out the terrorism in the first place. It is a very difficult balance, but I have every confidence that it is being achieved and that it will not deflect us from rigorously stamping out terrorism across mainland Europe.
The PRESIDENT* – I do not see Mr Destexhe in the Chamber. I therefore call Mr Villumsen.
Mr VILLUMSEN (Denmark, Spokesperson for the Group of the Unified European Left) – I thank the rapporteur for a good report. If Amendment 9 on Azerbaijan is passed, as it was by the committee, that will make it even better.
Why do we have monitoring? I stand here as a parliamentarian from Denmark discussing a report that deals with Denmark. Sometimes in this Assembly we hear that if someone makes a critique of a country or invites it to do something, they are anti-that country. I would like to state clearly that it is not anti-Danish, anti-Finnish, anti-German or anti-French to vote in favour of the report – of course not. When we joined this Assembly and signed the European Convention on Human Rights, the people of our countries had their human rights secured. That is the brilliant idea behind the Council of Europe. The Convention was born of the horrors and bloody fighting that we saw here in Europe in the Second World War. At the very entrance of this Assembly is a memorial of the liberation of Auschwitz – you can see it tonight when you walk out of the building – and tomorrow we will mark the 72-year anniversary of that liberation. The Council of Europe was founded to secure the human rights of our people. It was founded to say, “Never again.”
The monitoring process gives our governments a helping hand in securing the rights of our people – rights that our countries have signed up to secure. Unfortunately, great violations are taking place in Europe right now. The advice of this Assembly and even the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights are far too often ignored, not least in Russia, Azerbaijan and Turkey. However, as the report points out, there are also improvements to be made in Denmark. The Convention is not there for fun. It is there to help our governments and our people, through the monitoring process.
I support the report. It is helpful for my country, just as the monitoring process is helpful for all our countries. I endorse the report, dear colleagues, and I ask you to do the same.
The PRESIDENT* – I do not see Mr Roca, the spokesperson for the Group of the European People’s Party, in the Chamber. I therefore give the floor to Mr Schennach.
Mr SCHENNACH (Austria, Spokesperson for the Socialist Group)* – I thank my successor as Chairperson of the Monitoring Committee for his very comprehensive report, which is a testament to the significance of the committee and to the huge amount of work it does to assess the situation in different countries.
We can see that progress has been made in certain areas, such as the judicial system. The judiciary has been strengthened and made more independent in a certain number of countries, which is very welcome, as is the release of Khadija Ismayilova in Azerbaijan, for example. Unfortunately, there has been some backtracking in the areas of media, corruption and elections.
The report calls for the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights to be enforced. That is a very serious matter and a very topical issue, because in one country it is being suggested that rulings of the Court should be complied with, which is most regrettable. We need to call on Bosnia, for the eighth or 10th time, to comply with the Court’s judgment in the important case of Sejdić and Finci. It is also important that Azerbaijan executes the Court’s judgment on Ilgar Mammadov. These are very sensitive issues, because they concern the basic obligations entered into on accession to the Council of Europe. The Court’s rulings have to be executed – that is not even a subject for debate. I therefore appeal for us to refrain from the kinds of discussion that we have seen emerging in certain member States: “What is our position vis-à-vis a ruling handed down by the Court?”
The report makes a number of proposals that call on various member States to accede to Council of Europe conventions. I must single out the European Social Charter, because I think it is important that all member States ratify it.
Turkey is a special case; that emerges clearly in the report. There have been mass arrests and an end to media pluralism and media freedom. Members of parliament have been arrested and imprisoned. In no member State should members of parliament be imprisoned. We need to show the utmost solidarity with imprisoned members of parliament. I believe that Turkey will shortly be the subject of a separate report.
We have had important debates on such subjects as religious freedom. The Başkan – the governor – of the Gagauzian minority spoke to the committee and we had a special seminar. Some 10 years on from events, how do we handle minorities? We want to avoid having a two-class system; all countries have to submit to the monitoring process. This time it is Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France and Germany; before that it was Belgium, Andorra and Cyprus.
Speaking from the perspective of an Austrian member of the Council of Europe, I thank you for the intense, detailed discussion about my own country and the recognition of the fact that we have had some 1 million refugees, of whom 10% have remained. Many receive medical care, so that has caused a particular strain. However, proposals have been sent our way, and we will take them seriously and do our best to implement them. From Austria’s point of view, thank you for a very fair, detailed and comprehensive handling of the situation in my country.
(Ms Gambaro, Vice-President of the Assembly, took the Chair in place of Mr Jordana.)
The PRESIDENT* – Mr Preda, do you wish to reply?
Mr PREDA (Romania)* – I do not wish to reply, but I would like to make a comment on Mr Howell’s point about the state of emergency in France. That is a fact, and indeed there is a national debate in France – I saw this on television today – in which the left and right have different positions on how long the State can remain in a state of emergency. The same question arises in the case of Turkey and its state of emergency.
It is true to say that for a consolidated, very democratic State such as France, that is a serious decision to take, which is linked to national security. That is why I would rather refrain from making any recommendations on duration. It is not within my remit to assess the ins and outs and conditions that should be taken into account to extend the state of emergency.
The PRESIDENT* – Thank you, Mr Preda.
We will now proceed to the general list of speakers. I give the floor to Mr Seyidov.
Mr SEYIDOV (Azerbaijan) – This is an important report for which I express my gratitude to the rapporteur and the Monitoring Committee. There are nine countries under monitoring and four under post-monitoring, and today we see that not only those countries but so-called old democracies have been investigated. That is a very good sign. When we talk in the Chamber, we say that we are from the same family and we can see that each country has its own problems. Nobody is perfect. However, since nobody is perfect, why are there only 9 + 4 under monitoring? The report is a vivid example for how we should do our best to analyse the situation in all countries.
We can see that the Council of Europe is doing its best for the so-called new democracies on the rule of law, democracy and human rights. At the same time, we can see that in old democracies some forces try to use democratic values against democratic institutions. We see that, unfortunately, democracy is very fragile and weak in fighting against those who fight against democracy. The terrorist acts in France, Belgium, Germany and other countries are another vivid example that show why we should monitor the situation. We should create a special body, perhaps within the Monitoring Committee, to investigate how some forces try to use democratic values against democracy. That is currently the No. 1 question in Europe, as we see ultra-right movements coming to power and anti-Semitism and Islamophobia on the rise, and, unfortunately refugees and people who came to Europe to live normal lives have met with difficulties.
We face two problematic issues that are different but close to each other. On one side, we should be doing our best to promote democracy in our countries. On that, I express my gratitude to the rapporteur. Problematic issues in my country have also been mentioned. As I said, nobody is perfect, but we are doing our best to do whatever we can on human rights, democracy and the rule of law. Many people mentioned in the Council of Europe’s concern list have already been released, we are just now talking about the new version of the law on non-governmental organisations and communication is ongoing with the Venice Commission. We are doing our best to organise constructive dialogue between the authorities and the Council of Europe Monitoring Committee rapporteurs. That is one side of the problem.
The other side of the problem is in the old democracies, where we should do our best to prevent populist speeches, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and violence against those who are not the same, if I may use that expression. There is intolerance in the old democracies, which means, “I have to be with you, but I hate you.” That is terrible, because at the end of the story another problematic issue will be on the stage.
If we are to promote democracy in new democracies, we should defend democracy in all democracies. How can we do that? We should do our best to create more visible, stronger monitoring mechanisms in the Council of Europe. We should spread the monitoring mechanism to all 47 countries. Nobody should be spared from the procedure. That is the way to be objective, to avoid double standards and to create new standards in the Council of Europe.
Mr MİROĞLU (Turkey)* – First, I would like to remind you of one thing. Turkey is one of the countries that drafted the European Convention on Human Rights and, given the terrible threats we face, Turkey’s priority has always been to protect the right to life of our citizens and their security as well as fundamental rights and the European Convention on Human Rights. After the attempted coup on 15 July last year, Turkey has been battling about a dozen terrorist organisations, including FETÖ, Daesh and a load of others. That is why it had to decree a state of emergency.
Turkey is conducting all of its judicial proceedings work under the state of emergency in the context of the European Convention on Human Rights. Irrespective of what the report may say, there is currently no debate in Turkey on restoring the death penalty. The members of the Monitoring Committee who were able to visit Turkey recently saw that for themselves.
Dear colleagues, you can well understand that you cannot talk about human rights without talking about the right to life. There have been more than 20 bomb attacks, and more than 450 people died as a result of them. In 2016, 20 car bombs and 492 terrorist attacks were prevented at the last minute thanks to the intelligence services. Thousands of people have lost their lives as a result of PKK attacks. Our services have had to take a number of measures so that Kurdish citizens are not to be affected by all of that. The curfews in that region were lifted today. It is only in clearly delimited areas where military operations are under way that a curfew can still provisionally be declared, and only for the duration of those operations.
The more PKK attacks there are, the more committed the Turkish people will be to their sovereignty and integrity, so when it is proposed that we should negotiate with terrorist organisations, this is something that it is impossible even to countenance, and we should not have to countenance it. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe is a human rights Organisation. As such, this sort of proposal should not even feature in the reports of this Organisation. There is only one solution to PKK terrorism and that is for that organisation to unconditionally put an end to the armed struggle and the terrorism it is waging in Turkey, and it should leave Turkey. In this difficult situation, the Council of Europe should not isolate certain countries by attacking them unfairly. On the contrary, they should be supported in their endeavours to uphold democracy.
The PRESIDENT* – That brings us to the end of the list of speakers.
I call the rapporteur to reply on behalf of the Monitoring Committee. You have seven minutes.
Mr PREDA (Romania)* – I will not need seven minutes, only two. I do not want to reply to the debate; I would just like to say a few words to my colleague Mr Miroğlu, who said that the justification for the state of emergency in Turkey was the fight against terrorism. If there are casualties, this is of course serious, and there are victims – that is true. At the same time, thousands of people are in prison without trial. That is a different matter. We should look at all of this clearly. You also need to look at the situation of journalists, judges and others, whether they are in prison or free.
The PRESIDENT* – The Monitoring Committee has presented a draft resolution to which 13 amendments have been tabled. I understand that the Chair of the Monitoring Committee wishes to propose to the Assembly that Amendments 11, 12, 13, 8 and 1 to the draft resolution, which were unanimously approved by the committee, should be declared as adopted by the Assembly. Is that correct?
Mr PREDA (Romania)* – Yes.
The PRESIDENT* – Are there any objections? That is not the case.
As there is no objection, I declare that Amendments 11, 12, 13, 8 and 1 to the draft resolution have been adopted.
Amendments 11, 12, 13, 8 and 1 are adopted.
The other amendments will be taken in the order in which they appear in the revised compendium and the Organisation of Debates, Document 14213, Part 1. I remind you that speeches on amendments are limited to 30 seconds.
We come to Amendment 5, which is, in the draft resolution, paragraph 9.4, replace the words “settle the issue of” with the following words: “fulfil the commitment to”.
I call Ms Tamar Chugoshvili to support Amendment 5. You have 30 seconds.
Ms CHUGOSHVILI (Georgia) – This is a technical amendment that would replace “settle the issue of” with “fulfil the commitment to”.
The PRESIDENT* – I have been informed that Mr Preda wishes to propose an oral sub-amendment, on behalf of the Monitoring Committee, which is as follows: in Amendment 5, after “to” add “ensure”. Paragraph 9.4 of the amended draft resolution would therefore be worded as follows: “Georgia: the ongoing reform of the justice system and the organisation of competitive parliamentary elections in line with European standards, as well as the efforts to fulfil the commitment to ensure the repatriation of the deported Meskhetian population”.
In my opinion, the oral sub-amendment is in order under our rules. However, we cannot consider it if at least 10 members stand to show their objection.
As there is no objection, I call Mr Preda to support his oral sub-amendment on behalf of the Monitoring Committee.
Mr PREDA (Romania)* – This is merely a technical amendment.
The PRESIDENT* – Does anyone wish to speak against the oral sub-amendment? That is not the case.
What is the opinion of Ms Chugoshvili?
Ms CHUGOSHVILI (Georgia) – In favour.
The PRESIDENT* – I presume that the committee is in favour?
Mr PREDA (Romania)* – Yes, by a substantial majority.
The PRESIDENT* – I shall 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, as amended? That is not the case.
What is the opinion of the Monitoring Committee on the amendment, as amended?
Mr PREDA (Romania)* – In favour, by a substantial majority.
The PRESIDENT* – I shall now put Amendment 5, as amended, to the vote.
The vote is open.
Amendment 5, as amended, is adopted.
We come to Amendment 9. I call Mr Kox to support the amendment.
Mr KOX (Netherlands) – The amendment, which I think is in line with the text that the rapporteur has proposed, places a bit more emphasis on what is going wrong in Azerbaijan and refers not only to the non-execution of judgments by the European Court of Human Rights, but to the “harassment, arrests and persecution of human rights defenders, political activists, journalists and bloggers”. It also makes more concrete the wrongdoing by the State of Azerbaijan with regard to the imprisonment of Ilgar Mammadov. I am glad that the committee was very much in favour of the amendment.
The PRESIDENT* – Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment? I call Mr Seyidov.
Mr SEYIDOV (Azerbaijan) – As I mentioned in my speech, when you always point the finger at one country, it is not only a problem for that country but for those who created the problem. We are in very close contact with our friends from the Council of Europe. The process is going in the right direction, as the Secretary General, the President of the Parliamentary Assembly and our colleagues here have already mentioned. The report already contains these items. Additional stressing of these points and additional finger-pointing at the country is not good practice. That is why I am against the amendment.
The PRESIDENT* – What is the opinion of the committee?
Mr PREDA (Romania)* – In favour, by a substantial majority.
The PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.
Amendment 9 is adopted.
We come to Amendment 6. I call Ms Chugoshvili to support Amendment 6.
Ms CHUGOSHVILI (Georgia) – In paragraph 10.7, where concerns are expressed regarding the Russian Federation, we are asking that, in the sentence that refers to the “war in eastern Ukraine”, the following text be added: “and the occupation and illegal recognition of independence of Abkhazia, Georgia and South Ossetia, Georgia,”.
The PRESIDENT* – Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment? That is not the case.
What is the opinion of the committee?
Mr PREDA (Romania)* – In favour, by a large majority.
The PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.
Amendment 6 is adopted.
We come to Amendment 10. I understand that Mr Kox does not wish to move Amendment 10. Is that correct, Mr Kox?
Mr KOX (Netherlands) – Yes.
The PRESIDENT* – Does anyone else wish to move the amendment? That is not the case, so Amendment 10 is not moved.
We come to Amendment 7. If I am correct, Ms Chugoshvili does not wish to move Amendment 7. Is that correct?
Ms CHUGOSHVILI (Georgia) – Yes.
The PRESIDENT* – Does anyone else wish to move the amendment? That is not the case, so Amendment 7 is not moved.
We come to Amendment 2. I call Mr Önal to support Amendment 2.
Mr ÖNAL (Turkey) – The investigations are taking place in full respect of the rule of law and the European Court of Human Rights. The current wording implies an incorrect accusation and is a factual mistake.
The PRESIDENT* – Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment? That is not the case.
What is the opinion of the committee?
Mr PREDA (Romania)* – Against, by a large majority.
The PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.
Amendment 2 is rejected.
We come to Amendment 3. I call Mr Önal to support Amendment 3.
Mr ÖNAL (Turkey) – There is no attempt to introduce the death penalty in Turkey, neither are there any discussions on this issue, as was observed by the Ad hoc committee of the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy and the post-monitoring co-rapporteurs. The draft resolution should be updated.
The PRESIDENT* – Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment? I call Mr Schennach.
Mr SCHENNACH (Austria) – The Republic of Turkey has said many times that this is ready to go at any time. The Foreign Minister has also said that. The state of debate is always that they inform international society that they are considering this method. In this report, we must clearly make the biggest and strongest statement that, if a member State introduces the death penalty, it can no longer be a member State. So we are against the amendment.
The PRESIDENT* – What is the opinion of the committee?
Mr PREDA (Romania)* – Against, by a large majority.
The PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.
Amendment 3 is rejected.
We come to Amendment 4. I call Mr Önal to support the amendment.
Mr ÖNAL (Turkey) – The curfews have already been abolished in the majority of the districts concerned. The basic humanitarian conditions of the population affected are ensured by the relevant ministries. Again, the draft resolution is not up to date. The peace process was undermined because of the PKK attacks, which do not stop accelerating.
The PRESIDENT* – Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment? I call Mr Kox.
Mr KOX (Netherlands) – I think that it is wise of the rapporteur that he refers in the draft resolution to the need to restart the peace process and to end the curfews. I do not see any reason to skip this important message by deleting this conclusion from the report. I hope that, as the committee did, the Assembly will reject the amendment.
The PRESIDENT* – What is the opinion of the committee?
Mr PREDA (Romania)* – Against, by a large majority.
The PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.
Amendment 4 is rejected.
We will now proceed to vote on the draft resolution contained in Document 14213, Part 1, as amended. A simple majority is required.
The vote is open.
The draft resolution in Document 14213, Part 1, as amended, is adopted, with 56 votes for, 4 against and 8 abstentions.
3. The situation in Lebanon and challenges for regional stability and European security
The PRESIDENT* – The next item of business this afternoon is the debate on the report titled “The situation in Lebanon and challenges for regional stability and European security”, Document 14226, presented by Mr Tobias Zech on behalf of the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy.
Rapporteur, you have 13 minutes in total, which you may divide, at your discretion, between presentation of the report and your reply to the debate. You have the floor.
Mr ZECH (Germany)* – Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, I am delighted to be able to discuss this important topic with you here this afternoon. We are talking about Lebanon, which is a small country in the Middle East but a country that knows freedom and diversity, which are European values. In other words, it stands as an example in the Middle East and deserves our support and attention, and therefore today’s debate is certainly warranted.
However, the country is facing serious problems, and perhaps I can just single out one or two that are mentioned in the report. The civil war in Syria, which has been raging now for six years, is in Lebanon’s direct neighbourhood – in its backyard. We have been discussing the rather volatile security situation as a result, but of course Lebanon has had to face an influx of refugees. It is a small country and is in fact the country that has taken in the most refugees per capita – more than 1 million from Syria and some 350 000 Palestinians, some of whom have been living in refugee camps in Lebanon for some 70 years.
Local authorities and municipalities are bearing the brunt of the influx of refugees. I visited a number in Qaraoun, a town in the east with 5 000 inhabitants and 5 000 refugees. You can imagine what that means in terms of social cohesion, infrastructure, local authority infrastructure and the political system, which is under considerable strain. Lebanon has had a historically determined no-camp policy, but, given the difficulties in the past two and half years, it is hard. The situation has been exacerbated by the fact that it has not proved possible to appoint a president, which meant the legislature was unable at an executive level to face up to the challenges of this massive influx of refugees.
As a result of the war in Syria, the security situation is very volatile. Border crosspoints cannot be patrolled and al-Nusra and Daesh are taking refuge in these areas. Lebanon does not have the security forces in the south or elsewhere to defend itself and Hezbollah combat troops are having an influence. Lebanon has signed up to a non-interventionalist policy, but the presence of Hezbollah is exacerbating the situation. Lebanon is a refuge, and greater security is being increasingly being called into question, so there is a need for security measures. Lebanese and Palestinian security forces have the situation more or less under control, but there are constant difficulties.
For two and a half years Lebanon has had no president because, as you can see in the report, the most important offices are apportioned according to religious affiliation. The presidency falls to the Christian parties, divided in to pro and anti-Syrian camps, and for two and a half years they could not come to an agreement on the candidate for president. Following the withdrawal of Geagea, things were moving again. On 31 October, Michel Aoun was elected as the new Lebanese president and took up political responsibility. On 18 December, Mr Hariri was appointed prime minister and was therefore able to form a government.
An active neighbourhood policy is necessary from our perspective as the Council of Europe. We have had a number of discussions this morning; we talked about migration policy and the need to adjust our foreign policy. This is all having an impact on our foreign policies, hence the need to pay attention to what is happening in Lebanon. I have visited the area on a number of occasions and on Monday I am flying back and will be having talks with people in positions of responsibility.
I think people in Lebanon thought, “Have you forgotten us? Can’t you see what is happening?” Some time ago in London there was a donors’ conference with a view to providing greater funding for refugees. We are trying to provide some kind of political support for Lebanon. We are seeing the influence of other countries, whether that is Hezbollah via Tehran or other groups being funded by Saudi Arabia. There is massive foreign influence in Lebanon, but if there is a country in the Middle East that could stand as an example of a multi-ethnic and multi-faith society and of a vital, vibrant democracy then, although there is room for improvement, it has to be Lebanon.
It was important to elect a president, and that has now happened. We now have to consider the preparation for the elections that are around the corner, and discuss the changes to the electoral law. I think we will have a lively debate today. We need to send a clear signal that the situation in Lebanon concerns us and we should extend a helping hand and offer co-operation. We must work more closely with the Lebanese Parliament – that is a wish being expressed by both sides. We certainly need to work with our Lebanese counterparts and to offer Lebanon partnership for democracy status. I want to offer to the Lebanese Parliament the expertise of the Venice Commission on reform of electoral law, for example. If countries in our direct neighbourhood want to avail themselves of the expertise of the Venice Commission, they should not be deprived of that. Lebanon is in our direct neighbourhood and we should make that offer.
I thank the Committee and João Ary, who has been of great assistance, travelled with me and provided considerable input to the report. I am looking forward to the debate.
The PRESIDENT* – Thank you, Mr Zech. You have five minutes and 42 seconds left to respond to the debate.
We shall begin the list of speakers on behalf of political groups. I call Ms van Miltenburg.
Ms van MILTENBURG (Netherlands, Spokesperson for the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe) – Mr Tobias Zech has written a report on the situation in Lebanon and challenges for regional stability and European security and, on behalf of the ALDE group, I thank him for his efforts.
As Mr Zech wrote, Lebanon is a unique country. It is religiously diverse; it is still fairly prosperous despite the many challenges; and it is a democracy, however imperfect it may seem from our point of view. The Lebanese educational system is good and its people are well educated. On paper Lebanon has every opportunity to stay prosperous, but the country faces many challenges, and it has been like that for many decades.
Since the beginning of the Syrian conflict, our Assembly has adopted numerous resolutions addressing the situation of Syrian refugees in Lebanon. For a population of 4.5 million people, there are now between 1 million and 1.5 million Syrian refugees. Even though Lebanon does its utmost to solve the refugee problem, with a lot of financial and other aid from the international community, there are simply too many refugees to ensure that all their basic needs are met.
Mr Zech’s report addresses both the ongoing refugee crisis and the constitutional crisis that kept Lebanon in its grip for more than two and a half years and which was only resolved last October by the election of Michel Aoun as President of Lebanon. I will address both issues. First, on democracy, although it took them a long time Lebanese politicians found a way out of their constitutional crisis despite the fact that, and I now quote the report, "Many Lebanese politicians…are convinced that decisions concerning Lebanon are taken abroad (in Riyadh, Tehran, Moscow or Washington)". This apparent lack of self-determination is in my view a big threat for the nation and its people. I therefore support the conclusion of the report to offer the Lebanese Parliament our help as an Assembly in any way desired by the Lebanese.
On the matter of the refugee crisis I agree that the international community should show solidarity and, luckily, it has been doing so for a long time now. Many individual countries give aid, as do the United Nations, the European Union and many NGOs. There are also several attempts to resolve the war in Syria and restore peace, so that all refugees can return home. Ending the war is, of course, the best solution for everybody in the region and outside it.
Ms SANDBÆK (Denmark, Spokesperson for the Group of the Unified European Left) – I congratulate the rapporteur on his report. The most important recommendation of the report is, from my point of view, that the international community should thank Lebanon for its hospitality and step up as a matter of urgency the contribution to support and assist the refugees in the country. Yesterday we learned in the Migration Committee that the international community pays only 35% of the expenses of hosting refugees in Jordan. I have visited the Zaatari refugee camp and witnessed the appalling conditions in which the refugees live. I do not know the exact figure for Lebanon, but I expect it is no higher than in Jordan.
There has been no lack of resolutions in the European response to the refugee crisis, but there has been an almost total lack of money. Over and over again, our governments tell us that it is more cost-effective to provide humanitarian aid to a refugee in his or her neighbouring country, but the money is not provided. Resolution 2107, which is unfortunately still relevant, states the following principles: “those fleeing the conflict in Syria are entitled to international protection; that protection is usually, but not always, best provided in countries close to home; these neighbouring countries cannot provide that protection without extensive external support, which must be tailored to their particular circumstances; that support must include sufficient financial assistance as well as technical measures including privileged access to export markets”. That support has not been given. Lebanon does not need our thanks; it needs our support.
I would like to quote another few paragraphs from Resolution 2107, referred to in paragraph 44 of this report, for which Ms Annette Groth was the rapporteur. She says that Lebanon is “under extreme social, political and economic strain. From the refugees’ perspective, problems include: uncertain legal status and protection…lack of decent, affordable housing; food shortages; lack of work permits…leading to irregular employment and exploitation; poverty and debt; inadequate access to health care; inadequate access to education; and recourse to negative coping strategies such as child labour, early marriage and prostitution. From the host communities’ perspective, problems include housing shortages and rent increases, increased food prices, competition in the labour market and reduced wages (especially in informal employment), pressure on municipal services and infrastructure, environmental degradation, and huge budgetary burdens that have increased public debt and undermined economic growth.”
From the perspective of both refugees and host communities, the current situation is untenable. It is quite understandable that refugees seek refuge in European countries, despite all the ordeals involved in doing so. As stated in the report, we must offer political and economic support to one of the few stable countries in the region. Stability in the Middle East is security for Europe. It is therefore our responsibility to support Lebanon, but it is foremost our moral responsibility.
Mr VAREIKIS (Lithuania, Spokesperson for the Group of the European People’s Party) – We are discussing today the unique, specific and very beautiful country of Lebanon. It is an example for us in many respects. People who remember, as I do, the 1960s and ‘70s will know that until the ‘70s, Lebanon was a success story and an example of a country’s development. It was called the Switzerland of the Middle East. We had an example of how different confessions and ethnic groups can co-exist in one country. When the civil war started in the 1970s, Lebanon became a constantly problematic country and an example of how different confessions and ethnic groups cannot co-exist without fighting on different issues.
Today, we have good news and bad news. The good news is that Lebanon finally has a stable government; I say stable because it has managed to elect a president. It has a prime minister, and there is co-operation between the president, who is Christian, and the prime minister, who is Muslim. The other good news is that Lebanon is somehow still managing to deal with 1.5 million refugees. I cannot imagine a European State having 20% of the people on its soil being refugees.
There is also bad news: Lebanon’s stability is very fragile. All the confessions and political groups are under the influence of different foreign countries, including Iran and the different parts of the Syrian civil war. There is also the influence of Israel, no doubt, and probably of some western European States. The country is very fragile, and nobody knows how long it can sustain the current situation.
What do we have to do? The report and the draft resolution state clearly what our task is. Lebanon is a very important country for Europe; there is no doubt about that. The draft resolution says: “The Assembly thanks Lebanon for its hospitality”. That is true. For me, the very important parts of the resolution are paragraphs 10 and 11. Paragraph 10 shows the Assembly behaving in a wise way, by calling on the Lebanese Parliament to consider asking the European Commission for Democracy through Law – the Venice Commission – for its assistance. That is very important. Paragraph 11 then states: “the Assembly decides to develop relations with the Lebanese Parliament”. That is also very important. If the Assembly decides to have more serious relations with the Lebanese Parliament and Lebanon as a country, that will be a step in the right direction. I wish the Assembly to take that step.
Mr KVATCHANTIRADZE (Georgia, Spokesperson for the Socialist Group) – I have to start by expressing our gratitude to the rapporteur, Mr Zech, who has done wonderful work. However, I would like to highlight some important issues.
More and more people and politicians today are talking about Christians of the Orient, to whose defence Europe is historically committed. I agree, but when we are protecting Christians of the Orient, we have to protect Muslims of the Levant as well. Therefore we need to keep Lebanon under that umbrella, and the international community has to promote and protect that unique model. There is a need to call on enlightened leaders of all 18 communities. If we in the Assembly want to give suggestions for tomorrow, we have to support the rebuilding of the political community in Lebanon and to empower civil society. These are people we should bet on, to make them the political leaders of tomorrow.
However, the biggest problem we could face in Lebanon is not inside the communities; the problem could come from the heavy number of Syrian refugees. Taking into consideration the life and health conditions of the refugees and the insufficient response so far, we should intensify the support and assistance provided to the refugees in the country. But we have to keep on monitoring at all levels to make sure it is managed correctly and with transparency. It is worth keeping this on the radar of the international community. If this country collapses, the domino effect will be great – this is not about the orient only. If the international community does not concentrate on these issues, we cannot forecast how this will turn out.
If we in the Assembly want to create change, we have to go off-road; we have to find new people and new faces. Today, the new faces will be found in the civil society and in the diaspora, which comprises approximately 14 million to 15 million Lebanese living outside Lebanon. Therefore, we believe that diaspora representatives could serve as capacity builders, transferring the knowledge they have obtained abroad to Lebanese institutions. Then, Lebanon will change. The last thing to mention is the Lebanese lifestyle and Lebanese culture. That is great thing, and nobody and no weapon could kill it. While Lebanon has soul, no bomb can kill it. We all have to agree that Lebanon must not be allowed to be affected by what is happening in Syria, and we have to do our best to help and protect this unique country. For me, Lebanon is more than a country – this is a mission.
Mr SCULLY (United Kingdom, Spokesperson for the European Conservatives Group) – The numbers in the report speak for themselves when we consider how important Lebanon’s role in the refugee crisis is. We are talking about 1.5 million Syrians joining the 450 000 Palestinians who have been there for many years. Lebanon hosts more refugees per head than any country in the world, so it is crucial that we support this small country that faces big challenges.
Instability can cause a vacuum, and a vacuum creates space that can be filled by extremists who have no regard to the welfare of their people. We have seen how Daesh thrives in such vacuums. As well as the increase in refugee flows, Lebanon faces an increased terror threat. I cautiously welcome the fact that a two and half year absence of leadership has come to an end, with a fully functioning government in place for the first time since May 2014. The note of caution is the shadow of Hezbollah remaining in the country – it is a destabilising force, which is the last thing the country needs. The UK Government, like some others, proscribes the military wing of Hezbollah but not the political, despite our long experience with the IRA-Sinn Féin. In years gone by, Irish republicans had an Armalite and ballot box strategy. Hezbollah cannot have a gun in one hand and the ballot box in the other. It has shown that it will move seamlessly between the two if it does not like the decisions that are made. A notable example of that, which is referred to in the report, was its seizure of Beirut in 2008 following two political decrees that it did not like. Its aggression towards Israel and its part in propping up the Assad regime does nothing for the people of Lebanon. We cannot afford Lebanon to be another front where Shia and Sunni differences are fought out.
The report reaffirms our commitment to supporting Lebanon’s stability and security, which is an incredibly important thing that we must do, as has been said. The UK has committed more than £436 million to support Lebanese stability and security, including £61.5 million for border security and about £340 million in humanitarian support to refugees and local communities. That demonstrates our commitment, and many other countries show similar commitment, but we can all always do more. The climate for refugees remains tough, with them being routinely marginalised by the domestic population. Some politicians are beginning to call for them to be returned to safe zones inside Syria. All of us therefore need to support the Government of Lebanon if it is to achieve its ambitious five-year programme on education, economic opportunity and jobs. We must work to encourage Lebanon to continue its support for refugees and focus on stability, rather than feeding pro-Iran/pro-Saudi differences, with those countries feeling that they are making decisions on behalf of Lebanon.
Partner for democracy status, as mentioned in this report, shows that we need to lead the way to having an open, transparent government. Hezbollah has been described as a State within a State, but that cannot be good for democracy, for the refugees situated in Lebanon or for the people of Lebanon. So let us work together to see what we can do to have open democracy, with Hezbollah being nowhere near it.
The PRESIDENT* – Thank you, Mr Scully.
We will now move on to the general list of speakers. Mr Fridez is not here, so I call Mr Efstathiou.
Mr EFSTATHIOU (Cyprus) – Lebanon is proof of how the divisive elements of the political system imposed on the Lebanese people have proven to be the major reason for their misfortunes. We have to stress that the Lebanese people are not divided because of the different religions or ethnicities, but are comprised of them. Imperialist forces, through their “divide and rule” policy, arbitrarily divided the region according to their own interests and standards. This is the essence of the problem in Lebanon and in the area: the division imposed by outside interference. Our aim as European neighbours is to contribute to Lebanon’s unity, which needs to be reflected in its constitution, institutions and policies towards the Lebanese people, notwithstanding their religion, sect or dogma, or whether the refugees come from Palestine or Syria.
It is precisely for this reason that Lebanon merits our full attention and support. The precarious situation of its economy, the unsustainable refugee situation – with refugees making up 25% of the population – the continuous civil war in Syria, the foreign interventions, the inherent instability of the whole region, together with the divisive elements mentioned previously, could fuel much tension, with dire consequences for not only the Middle East, but for European security more generally.
Any review of Lebanon’s electoral law which is proposed must ensure that parliamentary elections can be held effectively, with direct representation assured, through universal and national suffrage. The Venice Commission’s expertise would be valuable in this respect, taking always into consideration Lebanon’s particularities and factual situation. Civil society in Lebanon is vibrant, and it is calling for a more active role in decision making and awareness raising. Gender equality needs to be assured and the nationality law needs to be urgently addressed so that children born from Lebanese women are officially recognised as Lebanese citizens. Refugee rights need also be reconsidered, as current legislation curbs some of their very basic human rights, despite the good faith and generosity of the Lebanese people and authorities.
Tangible, closer and institutionalised co-operation between the Lebanese Parliament and the Parliamentary Assembly should thus be encouraged at all levels, including through partner for democracy status, which has already yielded positive results for other countries, including Jordan and Morocco. As parliamentarians, we should also seek to mobilise our respective governments, and the international community as a whole, to assist Lebanon, particularly through true, competent and efficient financial support to address the refugee and humanitarian situation on the ground. Let us support Lebanon in such a way that it continues to stand out in the Middle East.
Although this well-elaborated report is mild and timid, I endorse it. But I add that we all have to show solidarity and respect Lebanon’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence, as should have been the case also with Syria.
Mr KIRAL (Ukraine) – I thank the rapporteur for an interesting and concise report. I read it with great interest and found a lot of similarities with my country, which I will address in my speech. The Lebanese Republic is the oldest democracy in the region. It is culturally and religiously diverse. We might call it the Switzerland of the Middle East. Nevertheless, it is not yet a Switzerland in the modern State-building sense due to external interference, which is one of the key underlying problems in Lebanon.
There are a vast number of refugees in Lebanon from Assad’s Syria due to the war that is backed by Russia and Iran, which aim to dominate the region by causing chaos and instability. Most recently, the conflict led to the postponement until June 2017 of the Lebanese parliamentary elections. The president was recently elected after 46 attempts in two and a half years of uncertainty and deteriorating public services. Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia supply arms and money, and meddle in Lebanese domestic policy through propaganda and cronies, just as Russia exerted its pressure, interfering in Ukraine by sponsoring political parties, NGOs and State-owned media propaganda. The hybrid warfare continues, embracing all the free world. Let us ask ourselves how different some States could have been without foreign interference in their domestic affairs; remember Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine and Lebanon.
Like in Ukraine, weak Lebanese State institutions and the rule of law may, if empowered, have created a stronger State, but that is not in the interests of external powers. Warlords and tribal leadership took over conventional State duties, providing Lebanese citizens with security and access to services, somewhat similar to Sicily. Like in Ukraine, civil society plays an important role in drafting and advocating necessary legislation. But Lebanon needs no further democracy, as suggested by the report. Instead, it needs to improve the capacity of its existing one. It needs impartial and meritocratic bureaucratic institutions to solve the problems of regular people and ensure rule of law. It also needs: support with connectivity and mobility, as Commissioner Hahn said in his speech; more trade and tourism, particularly after Saudi Arabia recently withdrew its support to Lebanon; investment instruments; and fewer technical assistants and consultants, which do not add value.
Lebanon needs small and medium-sized enterprise development and support programmes, particularly for refugees. According to my information, most refugees come from well-to-do families in Syria, so they have some money to invest in SMEs. It is better to give a fishing rod than a fish for a more sustainable solution. The country needs general refugee integration programmes, as millions have lived in 12 refugee camps for generations – more than 60 years.
We need Lebanon. If we do not support the country, we will not have a role model or an influence for peace in the region. We need to support Lebanon, just as we need to support Ukraine to have peace in eastern Europe.
Mr HOWELL (United Kingdom) – There is no doubt that Lebanon is an extremely volatile country riddled with sectarian tensions and foreign interventions. I would love to be able to help Lebanon in the way in which the rapporteur suggests, but there is a problem that we must address before we do so. The election of the president has moved us on very little. Hezbollah, the radical Shia Islamist terror group, which has already been mentioned, is an Iranian-backed organisation that has de facto control of Lebanon’s Government and which boasts the country’s largest military infrastructure. Any discussion of the help that can be given to Lebanon must take that into account.
The EU proscribed Hezbollah’s military wing as a terrorist organisation after a UK-led effort. The US, Canada, Australia, the Netherlands and Israel designate the entirety of Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation. In March 2016, even the Arab League announced that it considers Hezbollah a terrorist organisation. Hezbollah has more than doubled its fighting capacity since the 2006 war, and currently has an estimated 45 000 fighters, many of which have extensive battle experience from their time in Syria. The organisation is deeply engaged in supporting President Assad’s regime in Syria, providing thousands of fighters since the civil war began in 2011, of which up to 2 000 have reportedly been killed and 5 000 wounded. It is therefore one of the organisations that is responsible for creating the refugee crisis in the first place. Before leaving office in December 2016, former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reportedly expressed concern to the UN Security Council that Iran’s supplying of weapons to Hezbollah violates a longstanding arms embargo against the country.
It is in this context that we need to review the conclusions of the report. It is right to say, “Problems in Lebanon will not be completely solved if Syria is not fixed.” The report brings out the involvement of both Iran and Saudi Arabia in Lebanon. The question is, how can the Council of Europe be involved in a country like this without giving comfort to a terrorist organisation or by providing resources that will not be appropriated and misused? The report is silent on that. I can understand the wish of the rapporteur to concentrate on the problems created by the presence of so many refugees, but we need to work towards disarming Hezbollah, which is believed to have amassed a current arsenal of up to 150 000 rockets – more than 10 times the amount it had in 2006 – including hundreds of long-range Iranian missiles. In June 2016, Hezbollah acknowledged that it is receiving missiles from Iran – likely satellite-guided missiles. The organisation’s rearmament since the 2006 second Lebanon war has not been prevented, despite the presence of United Nations observers from the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon.
Until we solve the problem, the laudable aims of the rapporteur will be difficult to implement in Lebanon, although I do not hesitate in looking for opportunities to push them forward.
Mr ÖNAL (Turkey)* – One of the most important things we can do to ensure stability in the Middle East is to ensure stability in Lebanon, which would promote security not only in the Middle East but in Europe. The Council of Europe and the Parliamentary Assembly should play a role in guiding the resolution of Lebanon’s political problems. As the rapporteur rightly said, we should invite the Lebanese Parliament to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and encourage it to apply for partner for democracy status.
I am happy that a new president, Michel Aoun, has been elected after the seat was vacant for two and a half years. I believe that he will be successful in fulfilling his duties. Parties from across the political spectrum in Lebanon have to work together to overcome the political bottlenecks for the benefit of the Lebanese people. They must also agree on a constitutional framework, which I believe would have positive repercussions for peace and stability in the region.
As a result of consultations that Prime Minister Saad Hariri had with all political parties in Lebanon, a new Lebanese Government was established following the election of the president. Hopefully, the political institutions in the country will become operational, in line with the expectations of the Lebanese people. In short, the political process that started with the election of the 13th President of Lebanon has been taken forward with the new government, which was established by an inclusive approach. That important development will help to ensure Lebanon’s sovereignty, security and stability. I hope that the new government will endorse that inclusive approach, and that the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe will contribute to those developments.
I believe that the biggest priority for the new government should be to hold a general election in June 2017, given that elections were postponed twice previously. It would be useful if that were contained in the draft resolution.
Mr BAPT (France)* – I am delighted with this draft resolution, in which the rapporteur ably describes the stakes in Lebanon and beyond. Lebanon must be a constant and regular partner of the Council of Europe. I welcome the election of the new president, Michel Aoun, whom I met in 1989 in his palace, which was on the firing line of the Syrian artillery. He was in exile for a long time, but he always pushed for Lebanon’s independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty, and the preservation of its original political model. Lebanon was an exemplar of democracy in the Middle East, and it respected its minorities. It had the good fortune of not containing a single ethnic group that was larger than the others, so compromise had to be reached.
There has been a very long vacancy in the presidency, but the Lebanese, having come out of a long civil war, understand that having stable national institutions is positive. The contrary has happened in Syria, Libya and so on. When a State breaks down, militias arise and foreign intervention becomes easier, so State institutions are needed to ensure territorial integrity and sovereignty, and all communities need to be involved in them. It is positive that the communities have come together. The fact that, after taking up the presidency, Aoun chose Riyadh as his first destination for a State visit shows that he has extraordinary vision and that he is a real statesman. The situation is very different in Iran, Iraq and Syria.
Of course, there should be legislative elections as quickly as possible, but President Aoun also wants to introduce electoral reform. It is striking to note that, generation after generation, the same leading families are at the top of everything. Electoral reform should be carried out, if possible before June, to ensure that civil society is more involved in the democratic process. It is also important that corruption is combated. Environmental protection has to be improved, as the environment has been threatened by the breakdown of waste and water management.
We have to avoid creating scapegoats. Hezbollah was born out of popular resistance to Israel’s occupation of the south of Lebanon, which left the Shiites without any investment. It is a nationalistic organisation, although it has the alliances that we all know about. We Europeans should support Lebanon with a view to ensuring national unity. We must not disturb the delicate compromise that is still in place despite the uncertainties in that region.
Mr MADISON (Estonia) – I will make three points about the report. The first speaker to talk about the terrorist organisation Hezbollah was a British colleague from the European Conservatives Group. As we see from the report, Hezbollah is still working in Lebanon and trying to organise attacks against Israel. That is absolutely unacceptable. The European community has to work together to fix the problem, because in Lebanon there is no control over radical Islam. It is not covered by democracy or the rule of law.
The second issue connected to Lebanon is the refugee crisis. Like Jordan, it contains 1.5 million refugees. If there is no control over the refugee crisis, we cannot solve the problem. The EU has a duty to solve the problem of the refugees in Lebanon, especially in the refugee camps. I, too, visited the refugee camp in Zaatari in Jordan, and it has huge problems. One of our mistakes in Europe is that we were blind to the problem for several years after 2012. We did not really understand the problem until a mass of refugees came to Europe – more than 1 million last year. That is one of the biggest problems that the new Government of Lebanon has.
The refugee crisis is also connected directly to the fact that there is no control over the borders. We cannot solve the refugee problem unless we solve the real problem: the borders. There has been no working government for two years, so we cannot expect the new government to control the crisis on the borders – especially on the Mediterranean Sea.
In Europe, we also have political problems. There will be elections this year. If we cannot control the European Union’s external borders – the Schengen area and NATO – the problem will only get worse. We therefore have a duty to help the Lebanese Government and take control of the European Union’s external borders. At the same time, we have to work with the refugee camps in Lebanon and Jordan. The refugees I met in Lebanon and Jordan all want to go back home when the war is over. Ending the war will be a long process. In the meantime, we have to ensure that the refugees in Lebanon, in particular the children, can survive and have an acceptable life.
Ms GÜNAY (Turkey) – I appreciate the report prepared by Mr Zech regarding the situation in Lebanon and the challenges for regional stability and European security. Mr Zech’s report clearly identifies the crucial elements in today’s Lebanese politics, where reconciliation among different groups is needed.
The Parliamentary Assembly’s continued support is important to Lebanon in terms of its unique characteristics, the ongoing conflict in neighbouring Syria and the generally volatile situation in the wider Middle East. For this reason, I support the Parliamentary Assembly’s decision to develop relations with the Lebanese Parliament. Turkey has always supported the independence, security and stability of Lebanon. I welcome both the election of President Michel Aoun and the formation of the new Lebanese Government, headed by Prime Minister Saad Hariri. These very important internal political developments should be reflected in the draft resolution.
I also wish to see further political reconciliation, especially in line with the upcoming general elections scheduled to take place before 22 June 2017. The country needs to settle the revision of its electoral laws, as well as the preparation of the national elections before 22 June 2017. That will be obtained under Venice Commission supervision and its parliament should be encouraged to apply for partnership for democracy status to the Assembly, as the report recommends.
Another essential point that should be discussed is the refugee crisis Lebanon faces. As one of the largest host countries of refugees, I urge the Parliamentary Assembly and the Council to draw even more attention to the plight of refugees. Despite the resolutions put forward since 2012, it is our duty to step up contributions to increase financial support and resettlement opportunities for the approximately 2 million refugees.
The PRESIDENT – Thank you, Ms Günay.
Is Elie Elalouf here? No. I call Mr Sabella. You have the floor.
Mr SABELLA (Palestine, Partner for Democracy) – Thank you, Mr President and ladies and gentlemen. Allow me to share with you some personal reflections from my visit to Lebanon last week. Beirut needs reconstruction. My non-academic and non-official knowledge of Lebanon comes primarily from taxi drivers, who differed in their assessments of newcomers and refugees depending on each driver’s background and their experiences with Syrians, Egyptians, Iraqis and Palestinians.
I was in Beirut for a meeting of the Middle East Council of Churches and we were invited to have a meeting with the new President of Lebanon. In the meeting, President Michel Aoun was very knowledgeable about the decline of Christians in the Middle East. He was concerned about it and impressed on us the need to work for vibrant and inclusive societies across the Middle East. Lebanon needs the support of all to continue as a State and a society that is capable of meeting its challenges, including those posed by the nearly 1.5 million Syrian refugees and the nearly 500 000 Palestinian refugees.
Mr Zech’s report rightly states that the election of a new president does not herald the end to the various problems facing Lebanon. Europe, and the Council of Europe in particular, needs to pledge its support for Lebanon. Lebanon is a model for democracy, and the ability of various religious and ethnic groups to live together in harmony.
The Palestinian National Authority has committed to non-interference in domestic Lebanese matters. It has kept this pledge very conscientiously. One Beirut taxi driver pointed out to me that the stability and future prospects of Lebanon cannot be assured without a just and lasting solution to the Palestinian refugee problem, including for those living in Lebanon, and the peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I remember a talk I had some years ago, when the late Prime Minister Hariri was still in charge. One of his aides told me that Lebanon dreams of having eventual peace with Israel in order to move forward towards a good solution. I could not but agree strongly with the Beirut taxi driver.
I thank Mr Zech heartily for an inclusive and comprehensive report on Lebanon.
Mr ABUSHAHLA (Palestine, Partner for Democracy) – My colleague, Mr Sabella, has said most of what I meant to say about this nice country in the Middle East, which we like very much. It is a State of democracy and reconciliation. The delicate balance between the different groups is the secret of Lebanon’s ongoing success. Whenever this delicate balance is affected there are troubles. We should support the parties, and not look for differences here and there.
The people have elected a new president and a new government has been formed. They need our support. The country is a very good example of reconciliation and peace between different ethnic and religious groups. What Lebanon really needs is financial support. It is suffering an economic crisis and its infrastructure has been destroyed. They have had to accept 1.5 million new refugees. Palestinians in refugee camps are really suffering – I want to stress that point. There is a great shortage of infrastructure, schools and hospitals. UNRWA – the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East – is responsible for providing relief to those people. It was founded after the 1948 Nakba, when Palestinians had to leave their homes. Palestinian refugees are suffering in very bad conditions. Even the Beddawi camp, which was destroyed during the clashes that happened there more than five years ago, has not been reconstructed until now.
At its last meeting, which was held in Lebanon, UNRWA made an appeal to all the countries that support it. It faces a budget shortage and it needs help to continue its work helping Palestinian refugees. We appeal for help with stabilisation in Lebanon and support for the government of this beautiful country, which used to be described in our area as an oasis of beauty, democracy, education and joy in the Middle East.
Ms ALQAWASMI (Palestine, Partner for Democracy) – Despite the presidential election, the nomination of the prime minister and the formation of the cabinet, the situation in Lebanon is still fragile. Lebanon is a mosaic State with different colours and differently sized components, and it can be a good or bad example of the integration of the complete picture. The keywords are stability and civil rights. With long-lasting Israeli occupation of parts of its land, as well as of Syrian and Palestinian lands, stability cannot be achieved. Because of that factor, there will always be multiple actors with different views.
The sustainable development goals for 2030, which were accepted by all the countries of the UN General Assembly, focus on a comprehensive approach. The 16th goal focuses on stability and peace, and the 17th focuses on sharing and co-ordination between all stakeholders. One of the best slogans, #NoHateNoFear, comes from this Assembly, but we have to look at it the other way around too: no fear, no hate. Everywhere, and at every time, the majority of people are moderate. Radicalisation is an abnormal phenomenon, and it would be catastrophic if it were taken to reflect not just individual but mass behaviour. Through continuous political, social, economic and other forms of pressure, it can become a dominant phenomenon that can be used for the transformation of fear into hate.
The Arab League has endorsed the Arab Peace Initiative for ending this conflict. The initiative has been accepted by all Arab countries, by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, by UN countries and even by the UN Security Council – it is only Israel that does not accept it. With cyber-technology, the impact of ideas can no longer be restricted in any region, including our homes, so we have to work collectively against negative ideas and their negative impacts. Implementing human rights, European values, international law and UN resolutions will be the key to ending all these kinds of conflict and resolving all these abnormal behaviours. I call on the Assembly to accept and adopt the Arab Peace Initiative.
The PRESIDENT – Thank you, Ms Alqawasmi.
That concludes the list of speakers. Mr Zech, as rapporteur you have up to six minutes to reply.
Mr ZECH (Germany)* – I do not think I will need all six minutes. We have had a very good and lively debate. Let me home in on the biggest question mark, which is how we should deal with Hezbollah. We addressed Hezbollah in the report, but our colleague rightly said – and I can only agree – that we cannot be seen to support terrorism. The military wing of Hezbollah is a terrorist organisation and, as such, is banned in my country. However, as rapporteur I have had to get to grips with the issue of Hezbollah, not only as a terrorist organisation but as a political force that has been involved in government for the last two years. I met representatives of all parliamentary parties, including Hezbollah, in order to be able to give you a complete picture of the situation.
My suggestion is that the Venice Commission should help in overhauling the electoral law and that we do what can to improve democratic structures. I do not think that that promotes terrorism in any way – quite the contrary. The best weapon against terrorism is democracy. If we in the Council of Europe can lend a helping hand and support the country in its efforts to roll out democracy, we will be sending out a very positive signal. It would certainly show that we recognise what the situation in Lebanon is and that we are addressing it.
Once again, I thank colleagues for the debate and I commend the report to you.
The PRESIDENT – Mr Korodi, as vice-chairperson of the committee, do you wish to speak?
Mr KORODI (Romania) – Since we began to work on the Lebanon report, a lot of positive changes have happened in the country. That is one of the most important elements. We can use those positive developments in our work in collaborating with Lebanon, its new president and the Lebanese Parliament. It is important to mention that.
In the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy, we adopted Mr Zech’s report unanimously: all colleagues present at our last debate supported the draft resolution. The fact that there is only one friendly amendment confirms the large consensus of the Assembly for asking the international community to step up urgently its contribution to support and assist the refugees in the country and to develop relations with the Lebanese Parliament.
I want to thank Mr Zech for his intensive work. It was important that we had a good report and I hope that the Assembly will support it.
The PRESIDENT – The Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy has presented a draft resolution, Document 14226, to which one amendment and one sub-amendment have been tabled.
I remind you that speeches on amendments are limited to 30 seconds.
We come to Amendment 1, which has a sub-amendment. I call Mr Ünal to support the amendment.
Mr ÜNAL (Turkey)* – It is very important to mention the government that was established in Lebanon on 18 December 2016. We should also refer to the election that is to be held. The amendment serves that purpose.
The PRESIDENT – We now come to the sub-amendment, tabled by the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy. I call the rapporteur, Mr Zech, to support the sub-amendment.
Mr ZECH (Germany)* – I can accept both the amendment and the sub-amendment. The amendment is correct and we should support it. We agreed on the report on 15 December and just three days later the government was formed, so there was a change afterwards. I therefore thank the person who tabled the amendment. We know that the dissolution of the government does not actually solve the problems.
The PRESIDENT – Does anyone wish to speak against the sub-amendment? That is not the case.
What is the opinion of the mover of the amendment?
Mr ÜNAL (Turkey)* – In favour.
The PRESIDENT – Thank you. I assume that the committee is in favour of the sub-amendment.
Mr KORODI (Romania) – Yes, the committee was unanimously 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 KORODI (Romania) – The committee supports the amendment unanimously.
The PRESIDENT – The vote is open.
Amendment 1, as amended, is adopted.
The PRESIDENT – We will now proceed to vote on the whole of the draft resolution contained in Document 14226, as amended.
The vote is open.
The draft resolution in Document 14226, as amended, is adopted, with 43 votes for, 1 against and 1 abstention.
4. Next public business
The PRESIDENT – The Assembly will hold its next public sitting tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. with the agenda that was approved on Monday morning.
The sitting is closed.
(The sitting was closed at 6.55 p.m.)
1. Current affairs debate: The situation in Syria and its effects upon surrounding countries
Speakers: Sir Roger Gale, Mr Villumsen, Ms Rodríguez Ramos, Mr Önal, Mr Xuclà, Ms Schou, Mr Bapt, Mr Kandelaki, Ms Gafarova, Mr Büchel, Ms Pashayeva, Mr Scully, Mr Divina, Mr Zayadin, Mr Wiechel
2. The progress of the Assembly’s monitoring procedure (September 2015-December 2016) and the periodic review of the honouring of obligations by Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France and Germany
Presentation by Mr Preda of the report of the Committee on the Honouring of Obligations and Commitments by Member States of the Council of Europe (Monitoring Committee), Document 14213
Speakers: Mr Howell, Mr Villumsen, Mr Schennach, Mr Seyidov, Mr Miroğlu
Draft resolution in Document 14213, Part 1, as amended, adopted
3. The situation in Lebanon and challenges for regional stability and European security
Presentation by Mr Zech of the report of the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy, Document 14226
Speakers: Ms van Miltenburg, Ms Sandbæk, Mr Vareikis, Mr Kvatchantiradze, Mr Scully, Mr Efstathiou, Mr Kiral, Mr Howell, Mr Önal, Mr Bapt, Mr Madison, Ms Günay, Mr Sabella, Mr Abushahla, Ms Alqawasmi
Draft resolution in Document 14226, as amended, adopted
4. 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 à l’article 12.2 du Règlement.Le nom des personnes remplacées suit celui des Membres remplaçant, entre parenthèses.
ÅBERG, Boriana [Ms] (BILLSTRÖM, Tobias [Mr])
ADAM, Claude [M.] (BRASSEUR, Anne [Mme])
ARNAUT, Damir [Mr]
BAPT, Gérard [M.]
BAYDAR, Metin Lütfi [Mr] (KOÇ, Haluk [M.])
BEREZA, Boryslav [Mr]
BILDARRATZ, Jokin [Mr]
BÜCHEL, Roland Rino [Mr] (HEER, Alfred [Mr])
BUDNER, Margareta [Ms]
BULIGA, Valentina [Mme]
ČERNOCH, Marek [Mr] (BENEŠIK, Ondřej [Mr])
CHRISTOFFERSEN, Lise [Ms]
CORSINI, Paolo [Mr]
CRUCHTEN, Yves [M.]
DIVINA, Sergio [Mr]
DUMERY, Daphné [Ms]
EFSTATHIOU, Constantinos [M.] (LOUCAIDES, George [Mr])
EVANS, Nigel [Mr]
FAZZONE, Claudio [Mr] (BERNINI, Anna Maria [Ms])
GAFAROVA, Sahiba [Ms]
GALE, Roger [Sir]
GAMBARO, Adele [Ms]
GHILETCHI, Valeriu [Mr]
GILLAN, Cheryl [Ms]
GIRO, Francesco Maria [Mr]
GOGA, Pavol [M.] (PAŠKA, Jaroslav [M.])
GOLUB, Vladyslav [Mr] (GERASHCHENKO, Iryna [Mme])
GONÇALVES, Carlos Alberto [M.]
GOPP, Rainer [Mr]
GORROTXATEGUI, Miren Edurne [Mme] (BALLESTER, Ángela [Ms])
GRIN, Jean-Pierre [M.] (FRIDEZ, Pierre-Alain [M.])
GROTH, Annette [Ms] (WERNER, Katrin [Ms])
GÜNAY, Emine Nur [Ms]
HETTO-GAASCH, Françoise [Mme]
HIGGINS, Alice-Mary [Ms] (HOPKINS, Maura [Ms])
HOLÍK, Pavel [Mr] (MARKOVÁ, Soňa [Ms])
HOWELL, John [Mr]
HÜBINGER, Anette [Ms]
HUSEYNOV, Vusal [Mr] (MAMMADOV, Muslum [M.])
JANSSON, Eva-Lena [Ms] (GUNNARSSON, Jonas [Mr])
JENIŠTA, Luděk [Mr]
JOHNSSON FORNARVE, Lotta [Ms] (OHLSSON, Carina [Ms])
KANDELAKI, Giorgi [Mr] (BAKRADZE, David [Mr])
KARAPETYAN, Naira [Ms] (ZOURABIAN, Levon [Mr])
KAVVADIA, Ioanneta [Ms]
KERESTECİOĞLU DEMİR, Filiz [Ms]
KIRAL, Serhii [Mr] (LABAZIUK, Serhiy [Mr])
KLEINBERGA, Nellija [Ms] (LĪBIŅA-EGNERE, Inese [Ms])
KORODI, Attila [Mr]
KÜRKÇÜ, Ertuğrul [Mr]
KVATCHANTIRADZE, Zviad [Mr]
KYRIAKIDES, Stella [Ms]
KYRITSIS, Georgios [Mr]
LE DÉAUT, Jean-Yves [M.]
LEITE RAMOS, Luís [M.]
LOGVYNSKYI, Georgii [Mr]
LOMBARDI, Filippo [M.]
LOUHELAINEN, Anne [Ms] (PACKALÉN, Tom [Mr])
MADEJ, Róbert [Mr]
MADISON, Jaak [Mr] (KROSS, Eerik-Niiles [Mr])
MAROSZ, Ján [Mr]
MAURY PASQUIER, Liliane [Mme]
MIKKO, Marianne [Ms]
MILTENBURG, Anouchka van [Ms]
MİROĞLU, Orhan [Mr]
MÜLLER, Thomas [Mr]
NENUTIL, Miroslav [Mr]
NICOLETTI, Michele [Mr]
NOVIKOV, Andrei [Mr]
OBREMSKI, Jarosław [Mr] (KLICH, Bogdan [Mr])
ÖNAL, Suat [Mr]
PALIHOVICI, Liliana [Ms] (NEGUTA, Andrei [M.])
PASHAYEVA, Ganira [Ms]
PECKOVÁ, Gabriela [Ms] (KOSTŘICA, Rom [Mr])
PODERYS, Virgilijus [Mr] (BUTKEVIČIUS, Algirdas [Mr])
POSTOICO, Maria [Mme] (VORONIN, Vladimir [M.])
PREDA, Cezar Florin [M.]
RIBERAYGUA, Patrícia [Mme] (JORDANA, Carles [M.])
RODRÍGUEZ RAMOS, Soraya [Mme]
SANDBÆK, Ulla [Ms] (BORK, Tilde [Ms])
SANTA ANA, María Concepción de [Ms]
SCHENNACH, Stefan [Mr]
SCHNEIDER, André [M.] (ROCHEBLOINE, François [M.])
SCHOU, Ingjerd [Ms]
SCHWABE, Frank [Mr]
SCULLY, Paul [Mr] (DONALDSON, Jeffrey [Sir])
ŠEPIĆ, Senad [Mr]
SEYIDOV, Samad [Mr]
SOBOLEV, Serhiy [Mr]
TAMAŠUNIENĖ, Rita [Ms] (ŠAKALIENĖ, Dovilė [Ms])
TORNARE, Manuel [M.] (FIALA, Doris [Mme])
USOV, Kostiantyn [Mr] (GONCHARENKO, Oleksii [Mr])
USTA, Leyla Şahin [Ms]
VÁHALOVÁ, Dana [Ms]
VAREIKIS, Egidijus [Mr]
VEN, Mart van de [Mr]
VILLUMSEN, Nikolaj [Mr]
VOVK, Viktor [Mr]
WIECHEL, Markus [Mr] (NISSINEN, Johan [Mr])
WINTERTON, Rosie [Dame]
WOJTYŁA, Andrzej [Mr]
XUCLÀ, Jordi [Mr] (RODRÍGUEZ HERNÁNDEZ, Melisa [Ms])
YAŞAR, Serap [Mme]
YEMETS, Leonid [Mr]
ZECH, Tobias [Mr]
ZINGERIS, Emanuelis [Mr]
ZOTEA, Alina [Ms] (GHIMPU, Mihai [Mr])
Also signed the register / Ont également signé le registre
Representatives or Substitutes not authorised to vote / Représentants ou suppléants non autorisés à voter
CORREIA, Telmo [M.]
GERMANN, Hannes [Mr]
GOGUADZE, Nino [Ms]
GRYFFROY, Andries [Mr]
MASIULIS, Kęstutis [Mr]
McCARTHY, Kerry [Ms]
ÖZSOY, Hişyar [Mr]
SMITH, Angela [Ms]
TSKITISHVILI, Dimitri [Mr]
Observers / Observateurs
LARIOS CÓRDOVA, Héctor [Mr]
Partners for democracy / Partenaires pour la démocratie
ABU DALBOUH, Reem [Ms]
ABUSHAHLA, Mohammedfaisal [Mr]
ALBAKKAR, Khaled [Mr]
ALQAWASMI, Sahar [Ms]
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 à la Résolution 1376 (2004) de l’Assemblée parlementaire)