AA17CR32

AS (2017) CR 32
Provisional edition

2017 ORDINARY SESSION

________________

(Fourth part)

REPORT

Thirty-second sitting

Wednesday 11 October at 10 a.m.

In this report:

1.       Speeches in English are reported in full.

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

3.        The text of the amendments is available at the document centre and on the Assembly’s website.

      Only oral amendments or oral sub-amendments are reproduced in the report of debates.

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

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

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

(Ms Kyriakides, President of the Assembly, took the Chair at 10.00 a.m.)

      The PRESIDENT– The sitting is open.

1. Joint debate: The functioning of democratic institutions in Azerbaijan, and Azerbaijan’s Chairmanship of the Council of Europe: what follow-up on respect for human rights?

      The PRESIDENT– We now come to the joint debate on matters relating to reports from the Monitoring Committee and the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights. The first report is entitled, “The functioning of democratic institutions in Azerbaijan” (Document 14403 and addendum) presented by Mr Stefan Schennach and Mr Cezar Florin Preda. The second report, by Mr Destexhe, is entitled, “Azerbaijan’s Chairmanship of the Council of Europe: what follow-up on respect for human rights?” (Document 14397) and will be presented by Ms Olena Sotnyk.

      We aim to finish this item by about 12 p.m. We will interrupt the list of speakers at about 10.55 a.m.

      I remind members that the time limit on speeches is three minutes.

      The co-rapporteurs from the Monitoring Committee will have 13 minutes to present their report. Ms Sotnyk will then have 13 minutes to present the report by Mr Destexhe.

      I call Mr Schennach and Mr Preda, co-rapporteurs, to present the first report. You have 13 minutes in total, which you may divide between presentation of the report and reply to the debate.

      Mr PREDA (Romania)* – Mr Schennach and I have worked intensively over the past two years to produce this report. During visits to the country, we had intensive talks with the Azeri authorities and also with representatives of civil society, the extra-parliamentary opposition and the independent media to investigate the implementation of the Assembly’s recommendations since its last resolution in 2015. I thank all those to whom we have spoken for their availability and readiness to talk to us.

      There have been some encouraging developments with the freeing of some political prisoners and the reform of penal policies through presidential decree. However, many people remain behind bars. I am convinced that changing the criminal code and criminal policy depends greatly on the independence of the judiciary, which is a major issue in Azerbaijan. It is essential to establish the principle of separation of powers, and the judicial system must be completely independent, impartial and free from any kind of executive influence. Similarly, parliamentary scrutiny should be strengthened, particularly given the recent constitutional changes, which have restricted the ability to scrutinise.

      Mr Schennach and I have spoken to the authorities about the situation of NGOs and we remain concerned by the lack of willingness to change legislation to bring it into line with the Venice Commission recommendations. We are also concerned about the repressive measures aimed at the independent media and those who defend freedom of expression. It is vital to create conditions that will allow NGOs and journalists to work freely, without fear of persecution.

      Another crucial question is the implementation of the decisions of the Court of Human Rights. All member States must conform to the Convention. We cannot accept a selective approach to the judgments of the Strasbourg Court. It is therefore unacceptable that Ilgar Mammadov remains behind bars.

      I ask members to support our report. I hope that it will allow us to improve democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Azerbaijan in the next months and years.

      Mr SCHENNACH (Austria)* – I congratulate you, Ms Kyriakides, on your election as President. It feels really good to be called by you to take the floor.

      We are witnessing a first here today. For the first time in this Chamber, we have a report and an addendum on Azerbaijan which were adopted unanimously in committee. That has never happened before.

      Two years ago, Mr Preda and I took on this co-rapporteurship, and we looked at the Azerbaijani Government’s work programme for five years and together examined what we might like to change, for example, laws about NGOs, and penal and electoral laws. In the past two years, more prisoners than ever before have been released and more prisons in Azerbaijan have been visited.

      We are here to establish a dialogue. In the past few months, being a rapporteur on Azerbaijan has probably been one of the hardest jobs. However, in the report we have clearly indicated where progress has been made. We discussed humanising criminal law and we also looked the law on juveniles and on minorities. I believe that we have made huge progress with the Azerbaijani Government. A lot of crimes have been decriminalised. Apparently, all of that will happen in the course of this year.

      We were also the partners of civil society. We visited and talked to many prisoners, even in the very difficult prison in Gobustan. The report contains all that information, including our concerns, criticism, encouragement and suggestions, but we have also noted the progress made during our negotiations.

Our relationship with Azerbaijan is important for its citizens and for the freedom of the press and media. Defamation, for instance, has finally been taken off the penal code. Mehman Huseynov, Ilgar Mammadov, Ilkin Rustamzade, Fuad Gahramanli and many others are finally free. The only thing they had done was express their opinion. There is huge support for the report and the addendum, and they have been unanimously approved.

      Then we did something even more amazing – something that has never happened before. A few days later, Mr Preda and I travelled to Azerbaijan and discussed the report with the authorities. That was not an easy task, but I told them why the Parliamentary Assembly and the committee had addressed these matters and that the debate and dialogue need to continue. I thank Azerbaijan for that.

      The PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Schennach and Mr Preda. You have just under six minutes remaining. I now call Ms Sotnyk, Chair of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, to present the second report. You have 13 minutes in total, which you may divide between the presentation of the report and the reply to the debate.

      Ms SOTNYK (Ukraine) – Thank you, Madam President. As the new Chairperson of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, I have been tasked with presenting Mr Destexhe’s report. It was approved by the committee on 5 September, with three dissenting opinions expressed against it. It was adopted just a day after The Guardian published its revelations concerning the Azerbaijan laundromat. Following numerous articles in the Belgian press on 16 September about Mr Destexhe’s alleged involvement in the scandal, he resigned from the Belgian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly. Mr Destexhe took over from Pedro Agramunt as the rapporteur after the latter was elected President of the Parliamentary Assembly in January 2016.

      The report originated in a motion for resolution in April 2014. The motion’s supporters had expressed concern about the increase in politically motivated arrests and detentions in Azerbaijan shortly before the country took up the rotating chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers. Regrettably, between May and November 2014, when Azerbaijan chaired the Committee of Ministers, several human rights defenders who had co-operated with our Organisation were arrested and accused of serious tax offences. Most of them were released in 2016. The charges against them have not been dropped in many cases and criminal proceedings are still in place, particularly in the case of the journalist Khadija Ismayilova and the human rights activist Leyla Yunus.

      Mr Destexhe’s report examines human rights in Azerbaijan in 2017, a few years after the motion for resolution was lodged. It focuses on the reported prosecution and detention of non-governmental organisation leaders, human rights defenders and journalists; the violation of freedom of assembly, association, expression and religion; and cases of torture carried out by law enforcement officers and the lack of effective investigation. The report also analyses the judiciary, including the violation of the right to a fair trial and cases of the lack of independence and impartiality of judges.

      The rapporteur did not wish to take a stance on the issue of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience. He simply noted that their numbers range from just a few persons to 160, depending on sources.

      For the preparation of the report, Mr Destexhe visited Baku last February and he subsequently tried to reflect the views of the authorities and various NGOs. While in Baku, he visited a few prisoners of conscience, all of whom, with the exception of Ilgar Mammadov, were released last March.

      On 5 September, when the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights adopted the draft resolution based on this report, it expressed its concern about the reported persecution and detention of NGO leaders, human rights defenders, political activists, journalists, bloggers and lawyers in Azerbaijan. It encouraged the authorities to review the cases of prisoners of conscience and release wrongfully imprisoned persons. The committee also expressed concern about the increasing number of violations of certain human rights such as the prohibition of torture, the right to a fair trial and freedom of expression, association and assembly.

      The committee has addressed a number of concrete recommendations to the authorities in order to stop those violations. In particular, it has condemned instances of torture carried out by law enforcement officers and has called on the authorities to carry out effective investigations into such cases. The committee is also concerned about the lack of independence of the judiciary and the arbitrary application of criminal law, and has called for further reforms in that area.

      The committee has also condemned the hostile climate and restrictive legislation for the work of the media and NGOs, and has ordered the authorities to bring that legislation in line with the standards of the Council of Europe and to create an environment conducive to the activities of the media and NGOs. Moreover, the Azerbaijani authorities should execute fully and quickly the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights, including the Ilgar Mammadov judgment, by ensuring the immediate release of that applicant.

      After the adoption of the report, the Committee of Ministers adopted a decision in which it condemned the fact that Mr Mammadov remains in prison, and announced the launch, for the very first time, of the infringement procedure based on Article 45, paragraph 4 of the European Convention on Human Rights. In view of the recent allegation concerning the Azerbaijani laundromat, the committee also expressed its view on the impact of that money laundering scheme on the work of the Parliamentary Assembly, and called on the Azerbaijani authorities to inquire into those allegations.

      The PRESIDENT – Thank you, Ms Sotnyk. You have seven minutes left. We now proceed to the debate.

      MS JOHNSSON FORNARVE (Sweden, spokesperson for the Group of the Unified European Left) – I thank the rapporteurs for their work. They have raised several important issues, but unfortunately I believe that the report needs to be further strengthened, especially in relation to human rights violations and freedom of expression.

      I condemn the treatment of non-government organisations in Azerbaijan. I remind delegates that every country represented here is a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights, which is intended to guarantee citizens with the right to freedom of association. Moreover, the banking restrictions placed on NGOs, not to mention the freezing of their accounts, must stop.

      Although some might want to celebrate the release of some human rights activists as a positive sign, I would not go so far. We cannot praise that while more political prisoners are sentenced. Today a large number of political prisoners are in jail, often in very hard conditions. Azerbaijan is a country in which the threat of torture is ever present for political prisoners, where a prison sentence may well result in the death of the inmate.

      All political prisoners must be released. Allegations of torture must be investigated and the employees of law enforcement bodies must be held responsible for their crimes. The range of reasons for imprisonment includes criticism of the authorities on Facebook. What are the chances of having a free media in such a climate? Amnesty International has reported allegations that the government is now using malware to infiltrate the computers of human rights activists, bIoggers and journalists. I would like to mention a certain journalist by name. Khadija Ismayilova is this year’s winner of the Right Livelihood Award. She served a year and a half in prison for her fearless investigative journalism concerning corruption at the highest political level. I sincerely hope she will be granted the right to travel to Sweden to participate in the prize ceremony.

      We are seriously worried about the Azerbaijan Government’s large-scale money laundering scheme, which was in operation between 2012 and 2014. It was used inter alia to influence the work of members of the Assembly on the human rights situation in Azerbaijan. The Azerbaijani authorities must start an independent and impartial inquiry into the allegations of corruption without delay, and they must fully co-operate with international authorities and bodies on the issue. Corruption can never be accepted in a democratic society.

      Mr DIVINA (Italy, spokesperson for the Free Democrats Group)* – We are a new group that has just been set up. Since we only came into existence on 29 June, this is the first opportunity we have had to speak. We would like to congratulate you, Madam President, on your election. Along with all the other groups, we have full confidence in you.

      I remind the rapporteur that all countries have to come to terms with their own history. In our view, Azerbaijan has made great strides against the backdrop of its history. It has recently celebrated 25 years of independence, so it is relatively young. It is moving towards European standards, but it is not yet completely aligned with them, and to criticise Azerbaijan for that is a serious mistake. The Monitoring Committee has expressed its satisfaction on the way in which the Azerbaijani authorities have co-operated. That is in the report. The report also states that there is no separation of powers in Azerbaijan. It should also be said that recently in Azerbaijan, a large majority of people voted in favour of a constitutional reform that gave more powers to the executive and the president.

      We have to bear in mind the culture of the country, which is still very much based on a system of strong leadership. We have to allow a certain amount of time to elapse. It is up to the people to decide which steps to take. We do not have some kind of perfect model of democracy to go by. All countries have to decide for themselves which form of government fits best with the time. In ancient Rome, for example, there was a system where a consul governed with the senate in times of peace, but there was a governor in times of war. When the country was no longer at war, Rome reverted to the democratic system. The point I am making is that there is no better or worse system of democracy.

      We have the problems with the judiciary and the appointment of judges and disciplinary sanctions, and the report expresses concern that the judges have put in place a system where they appoint high judicial officials, but that happens everywhere. In my country, Italy, we have the Constitutional Court, which is our supreme authority. Two thirds of its membership is appointed by the political powers and one third is appointed by the judiciary. Azerbaijan is a young, fledging country that deserves our support. We need to give it a helping hand along the way to move towards greater democracy, but to sanction it is not useful or intelligent.

      Mr FISCHER (Germany, spokesperson for the Group of the European People’s Party)* – My group would like to congratulate the rapporteurs on an excellent report. In particular, the report paints a clear picture of the situation in Azerbaijan. It does not try to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes or look at things through rose-coloured glasses. It criticises the situation. The report also demonstrates that the situation in Azerbaijan is not up to our standards.

      The report starts with the question of the independence of the judiciary. We in the Council of Europe have clear ideas about how independent the judiciary has to be, and the report shows clearly that Azerbaijan does not come up to the mark. The previous speaker pointed out that democracies must develop. Yes, they must develop, but they must develop in the right direction, which is towards our standards. The report talks about police brutality in Azerbaijan and the situation in prisons. The Committee of Ministers should take up the situation of Ilgar Mammadov, who has been rotting in jail for years, even though the European Court of Human Rights said that he should be released. There is a procedure under Article 46(4), but he remains in jail. The NGOs in Azerbaijan are not the kind of NGOs we would imagine in our countries. Human rights defenders do not have the room to fight for human rights. Sentences are too long and administrative detention is too long, and those things have to be addressed.

      It is not just about pointing a finger at a country, but highlighting the problems and working together to solve them. We raised the fact that some of the judgments handed down by the ECHR have not been implemented. The Mammadov example is a case in point. The other thing is that there is far too much power in the hands of the president. Many countries have a presidential system, but there has to be some kind of restriction on powers, and that is something that the report rightly criticises.

      On the positive side, there is a lot of cultural diversity in Azerbaijan, as the report says. For a Muslim State, religious tolerance there is very good. We should be prepared to talk, but we should point out the problems, not just to criticise a country, but to improve the situation for the people in the country. That is our job here. I am glad that some amendments to the report have been passed in the committees. If we pass them here in the Chamber, the report will be enhanced. I once again thank the rapporteurs.

      The PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Fischer. We have a very long list of speakers, so I ask everyone to try to keep within the three-minute limit. I call Mr Schwabe on behalf of the Socialist Group.

      Mr SCHWABE (Germany, spokesperson for the Socialist Group)* – Normally one would start by thanking the rapporteurs, and I want to do that, but it is difficult to thank Mr Destexhe, who produced the first report, because he is not here anymore. As we talk about Azerbaijan, we need to talk a little bit about what happens here in the Parliamentary Assembly in terms of corruption. We have at least three cases where people who have been blamed have admitted that they received money from Azerbaijan: Mr Volontè, Mr Lintner and our colleague Karin Strenz, who admitted she received some €30,000.

      Members may recall that we had a critical but realistic report on Azerbaijan that was not approved, and my colleague will talk about that. So I am really pleased that we are faced with a completely different situation today. We have two reports that we can now accept.

      This has nothing to do with any kind of resentment against any country, but we need to defend the reputation of the Council of Europe. It is very important that we all make an effort to protect our values of human rights, the rule of law and democracy. All this needs to be part and parcel of our approach to Azerbaijan. For a period after 1990 it was felt that people in Azerbaijan were going in the right direction and took this seriously, but then all of a sudden they moved in a totally different direction, and today they turn their back aggressively against these values. I therefore very much welcome the fact that the Committee of Ministers has taken up article 46(4) in the case of Mammadov and will be acting accordingly. At the end of the day, we in the Parliamentary Assembly cannot change the situation in these countries, but we can speak out clearly. That is what we need to do and that is what we are doing in a very good report. Stefan Schennach has done some very good work In the Monitoring Committee. He visited a lot of prisons, and that was important work.

      At least part of Alain’s text remains in the report of the Human Rights Committee. I understand that there is a little bit of that spirit still seeping through. However, I do believe that the committee has done an extremely good job and that the draft resolution has been amended in such a way as to be sharpened. We need to have clear language – to call a spade a spade. A journalist is in prison, there is no proper opposition, and NGOs cannot really work properly – all these things need to be mentioned quite clearly. I therefore believe that we can adopt this report and start a dialogue with Azerbaijan.

      Mr TARCZYŃSKI (Poland, spokesperson for the European Conservatives Group) – We had some differences between us during the work of the committee, but overall I think it is a very good report. I thank the rapporteurs for their work.

      Unfortunately, Mr Huseynov wondered in the committee whether this discussion and this report is based on Islamophobia. It is not, Mr Huseynov – it has nothing to do with Islamophobia. I always try to protect those who are attacked or criticised. I am Polish, so I know how it is to be criticised by judicial or European institutions, but this has nothing to do with Islamophobia. Do not mix religion with this document and this Chamber.

      In general, the most important thing for the NGOs and the political prisoners is that there is progress. The report is very clear and realistic about that. Obviously Azerbaijan has a lot of work to do and goals to be achieved to get rid of the criticism, but it is on the right track. Mr Divina said that it is not about democracy only, but the direction of democracy. In my opinion, there is democracy or there is not democracy. In democracies, different directions have nothing to do with it; you are a free country or you are not a free country. As I said, Azerbaijan has a long way to go, but it is going in the right direction. The report is objective and realistic. Thank you again for this document and its realistic language. It is not criticising and pointing the finger but being very realistic in showing the path and the goal to be achieved. Again, please do not mix religion with this document.

      Ms BRASSEUR (Luxembourg, spokesperson for the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe) – First, I congratulate you, Ms Kyriakides, on your election. You are the right woman in the right place, so thank you very much and good luck.

      I congratulate the rapporteurs on the report. It was very difficult work because of the circumstances. In 2104, after Azerbaijan’s chairmanship of the Committee of the Ministers, we all hoped that there would be progress in Azerbaijan, but we see that there is regression on many points. I listened carefully Mr Seyidov on Monday when he spoke about the progress report. He said that there was regression in the Council of Europe and, in effect, reversed the situation. I quote: “When we hear from officials of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and officials from the Council of Europe – for example, the Secretary General – very intolerant and aggressive statements concerning the member States, we start to ask why we are here.” I remind our Azeri colleagues that there are very many shortcomings in Azerbaijan that are pointed out by this excellent report. There is repression of civil society. Azerbaijan is in 162nd place in the press freedom index and ranks 123rd in the corruption index. There is a lack of implementing the decisions of the Court of Human Rights.

      Concerning the allegations of corruption – although I do not want to repeat what colleague Schwabe said – we have to make it clear that corruption cannot be accepted, either in a member State or here. We have to blame the Azeris and those who tried to corrupt, but we also have to blame our members who accepted money from Azerbaijan, for which we now have the evidence. There is the Laundromat report which says that US$2.9 billion has been spent by Azerbaijan to take influence. There is the refusal of Azerbaijan to publish the CPT report. If there is nothing to hide, I ask the authorities of Azerbaijan please to authorise the publication of this report. There is a refusal to investigate ill-treatment and torture. It is not what is said by our members that damages Azerbaijan – it is the country’s lack of progress. Please follow the recommendations of this excellent report.

      Mr OMTZIGT (Netherlands) – Congratulations, Ms Kyriakides, on being elected as President and on your excellent speech on what you intend doing in the period when you are in the Chair. This Assembly needs you, and we are proud of you.

      We are not so proud of Azerbaijan. We have two reports on the functioning – I would say the malfunctioning – of democratic institutions in Azerbaijan. I have never written dissenting opinion, but this was the time to do so. That is because this country is in totally the last place in the corruption index and in the press freedom index. It has political prisoners. When will Mr Mammadov be released? There was more than €2.5 billion to bribe politicians and divert payments – the Laundromat case. This report asks Azerbaijan to start an investigation immediately by itself.

      This time, I am not going to ask questions of the rapporteurs but of my Azerbaijan colleagues who will speak later. Do they think we should start an investigation into the Laundromat case? Will they co-operate to get this investigation, or are they going to blame the rest of Europe? Are they going to see that it is their obligation under the treaty to make sure that Mr Mammadov is released? Will they ask their government, in written or oral questions, to publish the CPT report? Five or six reports are secret. We do not know whether there is maltreatment, but you cannot say there is no maltreatment if you keep it secret. So please, colleagues from Azerbaijan, take your chance. Tell us what you are doing, for the sake of your own citizens. At least ask Mr Suleymanov, who is not speaking today, one question: what did you do with Mr Volontè and will you come clean on that?

      Mr STRÄSSER (Germany)* – I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to speak today. Following 12 years of membership, this will be my last speech in the Assembly. It is extremely moving to speak on a subject on which I have worked very hard and that we have debated together. I am extremely grateful that the Assembly has once again taken up this subject and that a clear message is being sent out against the backdrop of our many conversations and debates in recent weeks, months and years.

      We would all like to have solutions to remedy the many failures and shortcomings on which we have shone a light and it would be nice to think that we are on the right track, but following on from my rapporteurship, I am sorry to say that sufficient progress has not been made. People are creating the impression that we are focusing on just one country, but we are not putting any single country in the dock. Rather, all countries have to be taken to task, and we have to scrutinise whether they are abiding by human rights and applying judgments of the European Court of Human Rights – that applies to Turkey, Armenia, Germany and all countries. We have to have discussions, however painful they might be.

      In my country, we accept and execute the judgments of the European Court. We have talked about that on many occasions, just as we have spoken about the fate of Mr Mammadov. It is simply not on that a member State of the Council of Europe continues to flout the judgments of the European Court, and we know that at least 100 judgments have not been implemented, which is why we are right to demand explanations.

      Four years ago we debated a report that is important to me. I will not comment on the result, but I will quote one of our colleagues from Azerbaijan, “The Council of Europe is not Mr Strässer’s. This is my Council of Europe.” That should not be the mentality of people in this Chamber, because the Council of Europe does not belong to any of us. Rather, we are here to see to it that the Convention is respected, and we are accountable only to the voters whose interests we represent. They have placed great hope in this wonderful institution, and we have to do everything in our power, in the face of these corruption allegations, to defend this highlight of the post-war era, this bulwark for democracy, the rule of law and human rights. That is why I wish the Assembly every success in implementing human rights throughout the world.

      Mr SEYIDOV (Azerbaijan) – Madam President, I congratulate you on being elected to your important position. I wish you every success.

      The report is very critical, and we do not agree with certain statements, but its general attitude is one of dialogue. Azerbaijan is always in favour of dialogue and constructive communication with all institutions, including the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. We have never rejected objective, constructive criticism, but unfortunately what can we do? Despite all Azerbaijan’s achievements in our 16 years of membership, we are under pressure, pressure and, again, pressure.

      In answer to Mr Omtzigt, it is not enough just to present yourself as an objective defender of democracy. We know who is behind you. We know about your supporters from Armenia. Enough. Everybody knows your objective in-common position.

      Enough of asking why Azerbaijan is not ready to do something. My question is a bit different. Why, for example, is the Council of Europe not investigating the situation at the European Court of Human Rights, where 10,000 applications have been waiting? The Secretary General of the Council of Europe accepts the top position, “General,” but he forgets that he is also “Secretary.” He should do his best to establish dialogue between countries. He is doing his best to establish acceptable communications – acceptable to him – with the Russian Federation, but he is very tough with Azerbaijan.

      Despite all the criticism, we have changed a lot in our country with the Monitoring Committee, but we have been waiting for respect and mutual understanding. In this case, we will be able to continue our communication.

      Mr HERKEL (Estonia) – Congratulations, Madam President.

      I was rapporteur on Azerbaijan for six years from 2004 to 2010, and afterwards I chaired the Monitoring Committee. I know the story of Azerbaijan in this House. During those years I never witnessed bribery in a very strict sense, but I always felt something was wrong with the opinions expressed by some colleagues and with how the so-called friends of Azerbaijan gathered for the election observation missions. Only later was it called “caviar diplomacy,” and now we have evidence of how money was used to bribe politicians. The international network of political corruption was much wider than we then realised, and it was orchestrated from Baku.

      I read the reports and questioned whether there are still signs of illogical attempts to calm the criticism, and I found such signs. Paragraph 77 of the explanatory memorandum on the report of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, for example, states that we should address the situation without criticising the Azerbaijani authorities too harshly and publicly. The final paragraph states that the monitoring of human rights in Azerbaijan should be “entrusted solely” to the Monitoring Committee. What about political prisoners? The report of the Monitoring Committee refers to “so-called ‘political prisoners’”. Ilgar Mammadov and Mehman Huseynov, and many others, are political prisoners, and the Assembly should accept that.

      I will finish by remembering the case of Elmar Huseynov, a prominent independent journalist who was murdered in 2005. I was a young reporter; it was shocking. Only after 12 years do we now get from the European Court of Human Rights some consideration into the inadequacy of the investigation in Azerbaijan. There is also inadequacy in addressing the problems that we are raising today.

      Mr EFSTATHIOU (Cyprus) – Allow me to express my congratulations on your nomination, Madam President, and say how proud I feel for you and what you stand for. I also congratulate Mr Omtzigt and Mr Schwabe on their speeches here today.

      The report reveals detailed accounts of numerous human rights abuses, a continuous crackdown on civil society, rampant corruption among policy makers, and an overall deteriorating human rights situation. Relevant judgments by the European Court of Human Rights continue to highlight the erosion of basic political rights in Azerbaijan, and certain judgments remain ineffective.

      The state of affairs in Azerbaijan represents a fundamental challenge to the principles and values of the European Convention on Human Rights, which Azerbaijan ratified 14 or 16 years ago. It is therefore my opinion that this Assembly must take bolder action when addressing human rights in Azerbaijan. That clear message and firm position is not, and must not be seen as, an anti-Azeri or anti-Muslim campaign. It is in fact a tribute to Azerbaijan’s people and the rule of law that they merit but are denied by their own authorities.

      We need in Azerbaijan – a member of the Council of Europe – a comprehensive policy aimed at achieving lasting change in the areas outlined in the report, and a tangible improvement in human rights. That should start with the release of political prisoners or prisoners of conscience. That is why, as my eminent colleague Mr Schwabe stated earlier, it is imperative that the Council of Europe, including the Assembly, the Committee of Ministers, and the Commissioner for Human Rights, send out the same consistent and clear message to the Azerbaijan authorities.

      Mr V. HUSEYNOV (Azerbaijan) – As a general rule we thank the rapporteurs, but this time I will instead note their hard work. We know and observe the criticism, and the amount of blackmailing to which they were exposed during the drafting of this report. We do not agree with many of the points noted by the rapporteurs, but we do share some common concerns.

      Azerbaijan has been a loyal partner to the Council of Europe and we implemented the requirements of its standards and conventions. That was noted in the reports on the substructures of the Council of Europe by GRECO and the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice – CEPEJ - as well as by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture. We require Azerbaijan to publish the CPT reports – indeed, some were recently published, but we did not refer at the same time to the positive developments noted in the GRECO and CEPEJ reports. How can we undermine the credibility of the judiciary in the report on Azerbaijan, when CEPEJ, which is part of the Council of Europe, evaluated the efficiency of the judiciary and stated that there have been reforms and developments?

      I also wish to speak about information that is based on open source and allegations. Yesterday in a committee meeting we saw a strange thing. Many amendments were tabled that had one purpose: to make the language stricter. The amendments were discussed in a previous committee meeting and rejected, yet somehow yesterday we adopted them all. This is not about making the Assembly stricter; it is about our negligence and our attitude towards the documents. When we add allegations from open sources into our documents, we legitimise them and enable those documents to become the tools of campaigns or centres that are trying to influence our Assembly and our work. To me that is an important point – it is about negligence.

      The report notes certain cases of detention in Azerbaijan, but it does not mention the release of hundreds of people as the result of pardoning decrees, amnesty laws and harmonisation reforms. We note the concerns of NGOs, but not the many decrees that introduced a system that eliminates the bureaucratic barriers that created the issue. When voting on the report and the amendments, we should understand that many amendments tabled by our distinguished colleagues who are behind campaigns against the country. That includes Mr Omtzigt and Mr Schwabe, whose name was linked to different reports regarding the Armenian connection and the Armenian lobby. I ask my colleagues to be informed about that and not to be negligent.

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

      I now call Mr Preda or Mr Schennach to reply to the debate. You have six minutes.

      Mr SCHENNACH (Austria) – I will take three minutes and leave three for my colleague.

      (The speaker continued in German)

      Thank you for this frank debate. I would like to reply to two points. First, Ms Johnsson Fornaue, in every visit – we went to the Supreme Court and the constitutional court – we raised the question of frozen bank accounts, and many of those accounts were then opened as a result. We managed to visit Khadija Ismayilova, and we raised that issue at every visit. We went there six times, and she was one of the most important people we spoke to.

      Mr Divina, in the monitoring report there is nothing about the referendum. We have our own opinion on that and do not want to get into the issue here. Many of the people we spoke to said that there is no valid separation of powers, which is why for the first time the report focuses deliberately on the arbitrary nature of police treatment. We asked for, and received, figures on police violence and brutality and the massive problems that we could sense. That is why we suggested a gender-balanced police system. If there are more women in the Azeri police force, we could assume that there would be far less abuse. In Azerbaijan we need an independent body that will inspect the police and check on what they are doing.

      As Mr Omtzigt stated in the addendum, which I advise everybody to read, the two CPT rapporteurs called for work on Gobustan to be continued, and for the publication of the latest CPT reports – we welcome that in one of the amendments.

      Thank you all for your contributions to the debate. Before Mr Preda speaks, I would like to say that one of the most important issues, as in any post-Soviet State, is the independence of the public prosecutor. The prosecutor’s office is an instrument of political power, and that is a difficult nut to crack.

      Once again I ask you, particularly with regard to Amendment 1, to follow the rapporteurs’ advice and not accept the amendment because it would delete something we very much want to have in: the political influence brought to bear on the prosecutor’s office. There needs to be a clear separation there.

      Mr PREDA (Romania)* – I will give you some specific answers. Ms Johnsson Fornarve, you are right: Amnesty International is very much the focus of our attention. Whenever we go to Azerbaijan there is analysis of this list. It is true that we have to conclude in our report on Khadija Ismayilova that freedom of movement does not appear to be a freedom within a single country. We believe it is freedom of movement in the whole world.

      Mr Seyidov, congratulations and criticism are at the same level. You need to establish a balance. There is more criticism than congratulation, but we need to make specific reference to the achievement of progress. Mr Fischer and Mr Schwabe, common sense is not enough. There is debate and analysis as to the speed at which decisions are taken by this Organisation. Ms Brasseur and Mr Omtzigt, I respect what you said, but this Organisation has already established a mechanism on these matters.

      I am very pleased because I know, Mr Strässer, it is true that it is extraordinary to be a rapporteur on this particular report on Azerbaijan. I am sure we can progress our careers here, but the difference between your report and our report is that yours was discussed at great length, but it was not balanced. Our report was adopted unanimously in our committee.

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

      Ms STONYK (Ukraine) – On behalf of our committee, I highlight that our main goal is to protect the rule of law and the values of this assembly. That is what we were trying to do yesterday when we worked hard on this resolution. I express my appreciation for all the members of the committee who helped us to do that.

      I shall respond to the members of our Assembly from Azerbaijan. We expect that you will be not just loyal partners, but an equal member State that will respect and follow our principles and values. I shall respond to what you said about Mr Omtzigt. His question was very direct and concerned particular corruption allegations. It is not correct or ethical to respond with blame instead.

      I know what is behind our committee: our Convention on Human Rights, the value of the rule of law and respect for the main freedoms. That is what our committee was trying to do when we used very clear language – I thank Mr Schwabe and Ms Brasseur for mentioning this. We directly sent a message to Azerbaijan saying that, as a committee, we expect they will inquire into the allegations of corruption.

      The PRESIDENT* – Would the vice-chair of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights like to respond?

      Mr FABRITIUS (Germany)* – Our new chair, Ms Stonyk, is standing in for the former rapporteur. Therefore, it falls to me as a vice-chair to say a word or two on our behalf. I can keep it very brief. When Mr Destexhe stood down yesterday the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights supported a whole raft of amendments with a very large majority. We believe it is important to call these issues by name. I hope that since we adopted them with such a considerable majority the Assembly will now be able to find some very clear language towards Azerbaijan. I believe Mr Destexhe’s report will then stand in contrast to the resolution, but I believe the various dissenting opinions explain the discrepancy between the text and the resolution of the amendments. I therefore call on members of the Assembly to lend their support to the resolution and our amendments.

      I shall say very briefly to Mr Seyidov from Azerbaijan – the rapporteur already alluded to this – that in Germany we say that people tend to speak the way that they are. It is highly regrettable that your State seems to have pointed the finger at others when faced with these allegations of corruption.

      Mr MAHOUX (Belgium)* – I also congratulate the co-rapporteurs. I speak as a vice-chairman of the Monitoring Committee. The rapporteur is a rapporteur for all the countries on due procedures to monitoring procedures, so the committee has approved this report. The report refers to the separation of powers of the judiciary and the functioning of penal law. It also refers to human rights; the functioning of civil society and respect for political freedoms; political prisoners; freedom of the media; and freedom of expression.

      The committee calls for the full implementation of the sentences of the European Court of Human Rights on the release of political prisoners, because there are justified doubts as to whether they should be imprisoned.

      After adopting the report the rapporteurs travelled to Azerbaijan. This made it possible to establish an interesting dialogue. We have underscored the importance and interest of this visit after the adoption of this report.

      The rapporteurs have suggested amendments referring to five points: political prisoners who have recently been released, and those who are still in prison; the procedure started by the Committee of Ministers and the rapporteur for the application for Article 46.4 of the Convention; the Ilgar Mammadov case against Azerbaijan; and the situation of the press body and the chair and vice-chair of that organisation. This is the most recent development.

      The PRESIDENT* – This closes the debate and brings us to the first report on the functioning of the democratic institutions in Azerbaijan.

      We have a draft resolution with 25 amendments and five sub-amendments that have been approved. I understand that the chairperson of the Monitoring Committee wishes to propose to the Assembly that Amendments 5, 6, 22, 23, 13, 15, 24 and 25, which were adopted unanimously by the committee, should be declared as agreed by the Assembly.

      Is that so, Mr Preda?

      Mr PREDA (Romania)* – Yes.

      The PRESIDENT* – Are there any objections?

      Amendments 5, 6, 22, 23, 13, 15, 24 and 25 are adopted.

      Ms FATALIYEVA (Azerbaijan) – Paragraph 3 states that the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan controls the Prosecutor’s Office. That expression is a great surprise; the basis and reasons for it are not clear. According to the constitution of Azerbaijan, the Prosecutor’s Office is an integral part of the judicial system and is independent from the other branches of Government. The President or any other board of Executive power does not control the activities of the Prosecutor’s Office and does not give instructions to it. On the contrary, the Prosecutor’s Office controls the activity of the Executive branch. The President does not give instructions to the Prosecutor’s Office regarding any criminal case.

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

      Mr SCHENNACH (Austria) – We absolutely disagree with that position. This is a very important moment for the whole report. There are positive developments on the judges and the court, but the prosecution is very close to the politics there. We ask you not to be in favour of the amendment, because this is a very important moment for the report.

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

      Mr MAHOUX (Belgium)* – The committee is against with a large majority.

      The PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      Amendment 1 is rejected.

      I call Ms Johnsson Fornarve to support Amendment 17.

      Ms JOHNSSON FORNARVE (Sweden) – I am in favour of the amendment, which would delete the last sentence in paragraph 3, because whether there are any independent judges in Azerbaijan is questionable. It is therefore better to delete the sentence.

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

      Mr PREDA (Romania)* – We are against the amendment because if something is positive, one should point it out.

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

      Mr MAHOUX (Belgium)* – The committee is against with a large majority.

      The PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      Amendment 17 is rejected.

      The PRESIDENT* – I call Mr Seyidov to support Amendment 2.

      Mr SEYIDOV (Azerbaijan) – I do not wish to press the amendment.

      The PRESIDENT* – Amendment 2 is not moved. I call Mr Seyidov to support Amendment 3.

      Mr SEYIDOV (Azerbaijan) – I do not wish to press the amendment.

      The PRESIDENT* – Amendment 3 is not moved. I call Mr Seyidov to support Amendment 10.

      Mr SEYIDOV (Azerbaijan) – Amendment 10 provides statistical facts and is in line with the preceding sentence, which provides information on recent reform on the “humanisation of criminal policies”. It is in the scope of the paragraph and shows the real impact of the reform.

      The PRESIDENT* – Does anyone want to speak against the amendment?

      Mr PREDA (Romania)* – We are against the amendment because although it is true that this is about statistics, we have two different statistics for Azerbaijan on this issue, so if we do not have a reliable figure, it is probably better not to include it.

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

      Mr MAHOUX (Belgium)* – The committee is against.

      The PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      Amendment 10 is rejected.

      The PRESIDENT* – We come to Amendment 18, which is, in the draft resolution, at the end of paragraph 6, insert the following sentences: “In 2013-2017, 20 journalists and bloggers were arrested on criminal charges (drug trafficking or hooliganism). There are groups of so-called ‘prisoners of Facebook’, young people who go to prison because of criticising the policy of the authorities on Facebook. Today, 15 journalists and bloggers are in prison.”

      I call Ms Lotta Johnsson Fornarve to support Amendment 18, which is subject to a sub-amendment.

      Ms JOHNSSON FORNARVE (Sweden) – I support Amendment 18 because it is important to mention the journalists and bloggers who have been arrested just because they were critical.

      The PRESIDENT* – We now come to the sub-amendment, tabled by the Monitoring Committee, which proposes the following, “In amendment 18, replace the number ‘20’ with the word ‘several’ and delete the last sentence.”

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

      What is the opinion of the mover of the main amendment on the sub-amendment?

      Ms JOHNSSON FORNARVE (Sweden) – I am in favour of the sub-amendment.

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

      Mr MAHOUX (Belgium)* – The committee is in favour with a large majority.

      The PRESIDENT* – I shall now put the sub-amendment to the vote.

      The vote is open.

      The sub-amendment is adopted.

      Does anyone wish to speak against Amendment 18, as amended? That is not the case.

      What is the opinion of the committee?

      Mr MAHOUX (Belgium)* – The committee is in favour with a large majority.

      The PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      The PRESIDENT* – I call Ms Lotta Johnsson Fornarve to support Amendment 19.

      Mr JOHNSSON FORNARVE (Sweden) – I do not wish to press the amendment.

      The PRESIDENT* – Amendment 19 is not moved. I call Mr Seyidov to support Amendment 4.

      Mr SEYIDOV (Azerbaijan) – We are in favour of Amendment 4, which would insert phrases including “such as” and speaks for itself.

      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)* – We are against the amendment because we are talking about the situation in Azerbaijan, not in other member states. It is not a general report on the whole of the Council of Europe.

      Mr MAHOUX (Belgium)* - We are against it with a large majority.

      The PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      Amendment 4 is rejected.

      That brings us to Amendment 16. I call Mr Schennach to support the amendment.

      Mr SCHENNACH (Austria) – The amendment is necessary because between 2013 and 2016, 100 people from the LGBT community were arrested. We take note that they have been released, but they were beaten and had their hair cut off in police stations. We want to include our concerns and our disagreement with that situation in the report.

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

      Mr SEYIDOV (Azerbaijan) – We discussed this at the committee meeting, but I want to inform the Parliamentary Assembly that we do not have any restriction on any homosexual, transgender, gay or LGBT people in Azerbaijan. It is very important that all people have been released. We do not have any problem with that.

      The PRESIDENT* – Thank you. I suppose the committee is in favour.

      Mr MAHOUX (Belgium)* – Yes, a large majority is in favour.

      The PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      We come to Amendment 7, “In the draft resolution, paragraph 12, in the fifth sentence, after the words ‘in the light of the above, ’, insert the following words: ‘while welcoming the Presidential Order on ‘Establishment of a single-window system for procedure of delivery of grants by foreign donors in the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan’, which simplified procedures and shortened the list of necessary documents and procedural time-limits,’.”.

      I call Mr Seyidov to support Amendment 7.

      Mr SEYIDOV (Azerbaijan) – We are in favour of the amendment. It is very important to take into account the wording that we reflected in the amendment. Please vote in favour.

      The PRESIDENT* – That brings us to the sub-amendment, “In amendment 7, replace the following words ‘while welcoming’ with the following words: ‘the Assembly welcomes’; and replace the words ‘which simplified procedures and shortened the list of necessary documents and procedural time-limits’ with the word: ‘and’.”

      I call Mr Schennach to support the sub-amendment on behalf of the Monitoring Committee.

      Mr SCHENNACH (Austria) – We would like to make Amendment 7 a little shorter and not give a free pass, because we do not know what the one-stop shop is. It is in progress, so that is all we want to say; we do not want to welcome something that does not at the moment exist. That is why we tabled the sub-amendment.

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

      Mr MAHOUX (Belgium)* – A large majority is in favour.

      The PRESIDENT* – Does anyone wish to speak against the sub-amendment? No. What is the opinion of the committee on the sub-amendment?

      Mr MAHOUX (Belgium)* – We are in favour.

      The PRESIDENT* – Let us proceed to the vote. The vote is open.

      The sub-amendment is adopted.

       That brings us back to the amendment. Are there any requests to speak against Amendment 7, as amended? There are none. The committee is obviously in favour. Let us proceed to the vote on Amendment 7, as amended. The vote is open.

      We come to Amendment 8. I call Ms Gafarova to support the amendment.

      Ms GAFAROVA (Azerbaijan) – In recent years, no limitations or restrictions have been imposed on organising and holding opposition rallies and assemblies. All requests for such rallies or assemblies have been answered positively by the government. The opposition in Azerbaijan now holds its meetings in different places, without any intervention of State structures. Therefore, I call colleagues to support the amendment.

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

      Mr SCHENNACH (Austria) – We offered the Azeri delegation a sub-amendment, but they did not accept it, so we are against the amendment because we cannot say that this is the complete situation. Yes, it is true that the opposition rally on 23 September took place without any repression, but we cannot say that is the complete situation. We welcome what happened on 23 September, but the amendment refers to everything. We cannot support that, because it has not been investigated.

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

      Mr MAHOUX (Belgium)* – There is a large majority against.

      The PRESIDENT* – Let us move on to the vote. The vote is open.

      Amendment 8 is rejected.

      I call Ms Gafarova to support Amendment 9.

      MS GAFAROVA (Azerbaijan) – The amendment clarifies the facts, as there have been some releases by judicial decisions, in parallel with presidential pardons. I call colleagues to support the amendment.

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

      What is the opinion of the committee?

      Mr MAHOUX (Belgium)* – A big majority in favour.

      The PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      We now come to Amendment 12, “In the draft resolution, paragraph 14, in the first sentence, after the words ‘prisoners of conscience’, insert the following words: ‘, including the latest releases of Mehman Aliyev and Faiq Amirli,’.”. I call Mr Schennach to support the amendment on behalf of the Monitoring Committee.

      Mr SCHENNACH (Austria) – As we told you earlier, we drove to Azerbaijan the week after the decision on this report. When we arrived, Mr Mehman Aliyev from Turan news was released, and during our stay, Faiq Amirli was released. That is positive, and we wanted to include in the report those two names of people who were released during that time.

      The PRESIDENT* – That brings us to the sub-amendment, “In amendment 12, after the words ‘Faiq Amirli’, insert the following words: ‘as well as the conditional release of 14 persons convicted in the so-called Nardaran case’.” Mr Schennach or Mr Preda, perhaps you will speak in favour of the sub-amendment?

      Mr SCHENNACH (Austria) – This is also our sub-amendment. We wrote in our report that we will also investigate the Nardaran case and so we tabled the sub-amendment as well, which inserts the words, “as well as the conditional release of 14 persons convicted in the so-called Nardaran case”, because 14 further people were released during that time.

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

      The committee is in favour?

      Mr MAHOUX (Belgium)* – Yes, there is a big majority in favour.

      The PRESIDENT* – Let us vote on the sub-amendment. The vote is open.

      The sub-amendment is adopted.

      That brings us back to Amendment 12, as amended. Are there any requests from the floor to speak against the amendment, as amended? That is not the case.

      The committee is obviously in favour.

      The vote is open.

      I understand that Mr Seyidov wishes to withdraw Amendment 11. Do you wish to withdraw it or to keep it?

      Mr SEYIDOV (Azerbaijan) – We discussed this matter yesterday in the committee. The name of Mr Lapshin, who illegally occupied the territories of Azerbaijan, has been mentioned several times in this Assembly. Just recently, the president released Lapshin. He is now absolutely free and is in his own country. Taking into account the constructive approach of the rapporteurs, I withdraw the amendment.

      The PRESIDENT* – Amendment 11 is not moved.

      I call Mr Schennach to support Amendment 14.

      Mr SCHENNACH (Austria) – During our stay after the report was published, we visited two political prisoners for the first time. One was Fuad Gahramanli. The other, who was in pre-trial detention, was Aziz Orujov. They are both on Amnesty International’s list of political prisoners. We always include the names of people we meet when we do our investigations, so please let us add those two important names.

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

      What is the opinion of the committee?

      Mr MAHOUX (Belgium) – There is a big majority in favour.

      The PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      I understand that Ms Johnsson Fornave wishes to withdraw Amendments 20 and 21. Do you confirm that they have been withdrawn?

      Ms JOHNSSON FORNAVE (Sweden) – Yes.

      The PRESIDENT* – Amendments 20 and 21 are not moved.

      We will now proceed to vote on the draft resolution contained in Document 14403, as amended. A simple majority is required.

      The vote is open.

      Mr SCHENNACH (Austria) – On behalf of both rapporteurs, I thank Delphine for her extraordinary work. She was in prison with us six times in two years – we have spent so much time together! Thank you very much.

      The PRESIDENT* – That brings us to the second report entitled “Azerbaijan’s Chairmanship of the Council of Europe: what follow-up on respect for human rights?”.

      The Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights has presented a draft resolution in relation to Document 14397 to which 11 amendments and 1 sub-amendment have been tabled.

      The amendments will be taken in the order in which they appear in the revised compendium.

      I call Ms Johnsson Fornave to support Amendment 1.

      Ms JOHNSSON FORNAVE (Sweden) – At the beginning of paragraph 3, we want to replace the words, “The Assembly takes note that in the course of 2014 several”, with the following words: “The Assembly regrets that the 2014 Azerbaijani Chairmanship coincided with an unprecedented crackdown on human rights in Azerbaijan”.

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

      Mr V. HUSEYNOV (Azerbaijan) – I am against the amendment because it is another example of trying to make the language stricter. There is a huge difference between “several” and “unprecedented crackdown”. I do not think that we should go for such strong wording, especially considering that the rapporteur and committee initially agreed to the existing wording.

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

      Mr FABRITIUS (Germany) – The committee is in favour by a large majority.

      The PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      I call Ms Johnsson Fornave to support Amendment 2.

      Ms JOHNSSON FORNAVE (Sweden) – At the end of paragraph 3, we want to replace the words, “on the basis of alleged charges relating to their work” with the following words: “allegedly in retaliation for their work.”

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

      What is the opinion of the committee on the amendment?

      Mr FABRITIUS (Germany) – The committee is in favour by a large majority.

      The PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      We come to Amendment 3, which is, in the draft resolution, paragraph 4, in the second sentence, to replace the words: “as far as possible, to release wrongfully imprisoned persons, and to” with the following words: “to release all wrongfully imprisoned human rights defenders, journalists, civic and political activists. The authorities should also”.

      I call Ms Johnsson Fornave to support Amendment 3.

      Ms JOHNSSON FORNAVE (Sweden) – We think that it is important that the second sentence of paragraph 4 includes what kind of people are being imprisoned, namely “human rights defenders, journalists, civic and political activists”. It is important to mention those by name.

      The PRESIDENT* – We come now to the sub-amendment, tabled by the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, which is, in amendment 3, to delete the words “all wrongfully imprisoned”; and after the word “activists”, to insert the following words: “who were imprisoned on politically motivated grounds”.

      I call Ms Sotnyk to support the sub-amendment on behalf of the committee.

      Ms SOYNYK (Ukraine) – We decided to change the wording “wrongfully imprisoned” because it is an incorrect legal term. That is why we have changed it to “who were imprisoned on politically motivated grounds”.

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

      Mr SEYIDOV (Azerbaijan) – You can change the wording and put “politically motivated” or something like that, but in reality that is not the case. We are strictly against the sub-amendment because we are doing our best to create dialogue, whereas you are doing your best to exaggerate the situation. That is why I am against the sub-amendment.

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

      Ms JOHNSSON FORNAVE (Sweden) – I am in favour.

      The PRESIDENT* – The committee is obviously in favour.

      Mr FABRITIUS (Germany) – Yes.

      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 FABRITIUS (Germany) – The committee is in favour by a large majority.

      The PRESIDENT* – I shall now put the amendment, as amended, to the vote.

      The vote is open.

      The PRESIDENT* – I call Mr Schwabe to support Amendment 6.

      Mr SCHWABE (Germany) – The report mentions “allegations of violations of certain human rights and fundamental freedoms”. However, there are not only allegations but reports of violations and we should therefore amend the text to read “reports of violations”.

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

      Mr V. HUSEYNOV (Azerbaijan) – If we want to include the word “reports”, we should make the phrase, “allegations and reports”, and not delete “allegations”. If Mr Schwabe agrees, I propose an oral sub-amendment to that effect. Simply replacing the word “allegations” with “reports” is not correct. We need to have the source of the reports. My proposal, to compromise, is that the text should read, “allegations and reports”. If that is not accepted, I am absolutely against the amendment.

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

      Mr FABRITIUS (Germany) – This matter was not discussed in committee, so we have no opinion of the proposal.

      The PRESIDENT* – Under Rule 34.7, exceptionally the President can declare an oral amendment admissible if he feels that it provides clarification, takes account of new facts or allows for positions to be reconciled. I do not believe that this oral sub-amendment meets those criteria.

      What is the view of the committee on Amendment 6?

      Mr FABRITIUS (Germany) – It was approved by a large majority.

      The PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      The PRESIDENT* – I call Mr Schwabe to support Amendment 7.

      Mr SCHWABE (Germany) – It is similar to the previous amendment in that we should describe what is really happening. If we want to be clear about what is happening, we should mention “torture and inhuman and degrading treatment”.

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

      That is not the case.

      What is the opinion of the committee?

      Mr FABRITIUS (Germany) – In favour by a large majority.

      The PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      The PRESIDENT– I call Mr Schwabe to support Amendment 8.

      Mr SCHWABE (Germany) – The amendment is about judicial reform. We discussed the matter for a long time, but we decided that we should not say that it has already begun. We have not seen it. We therefore ask the authorities to start judicial reform.

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

      Mr V. HUSEYNOV (Azerbaijan) – This reflects one of the points that I noted in my speech and that the rapporteur approved. The amendment creates a discrepancy with the explanatory part of the report and other Council of Europe reports. Judicial reform in Azerbaijan has been carried out for decades. Many reports prove and welcome that, so the amendment would create a discrepancy and diminish the quality of the report. I kindly ask colleagues not to vote for it.

      The PRESIDENT– What is the opinion of the committee?

      Mr FABRITIUS (Germany) – In favour by a large majority.

      The PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      The PRESIDENT* – I call Mr Schwabe to move Amendment 9.

      Mr SCHWABE (Germany) – We want to ask the Azeri authorities to “begin real and meaningful reforms” in the judicial system.

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

      Mr V. HUSEYNOV (Azerbaijan) – Again, my objections are of the same nature. Many reports say that meaningful, useful and efficient reforms have taken place in Azerbaijan. How can we then make a request to “begin” reforms when Azerbaijan has been a member for 16 years?

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

      Mr FABRITIUS (Germany) – In favour by a large majority.

      The PRESIDENT– The vote is open.

      The PRESIDENT* – I call Mr Schwabe to move Amendment 10.

      Mr SCHWABE (Germany) – We see “systematic restrictions” on civil society and the media in Azerbaijan and we would therefore like to describe them as such.

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

      Mr SEYIDOV (Azerbaijan) – This is very strange. Of course, I understand that some of our colleagues try to exaggerate the situation, but this amendment undermines the paper that you are going to present to the authorities in Azerbaijan. You could write that we are not members of the Council of Europe or the Parliamentary Assembly, and that would be ridiculous.

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

      Mr FABRITIUS (Germany) – In favour by a large majority.

      The PRESIDENT– The vote is open.

      The PRESIDENT* – I call Ms Johnsson Fornarve to support Amendment 4.

      Ms JOHNSSON FORNARVE (Sweden) – It is difficult to ask NGOs “to participate actively in a constructive and co-operative spirit” in such an environment. Dialogue is possible only if the authorities create an environment in which civil society can operate without fear or being targeted for carrying out their activities.

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

      Mr V. HUSEYNOV (Azerbaijan) – Unfortunately, the rapporteur is not here – he knows the situation on the ground. The amendment applies to the only call that the report makes to our civil society. There are different opinions in civil society in Azerbaijan about the way they co-operate with the authorities. I think that the call is positive and would bring people into the dialogue. I support it and am therefore against the amendment. I ask my colleagues to vote against it.

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

      Mr FABRITIUS (Germany) – In favour by a large majority.

      The PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      The PRESIDENT* – I call Mr Schwabe to move Amendment 11.

      Mr SCHWABE (Germany) – As I said in committee, I am a Social Democrat and I would like to speak about poverty and fight against it, but it has nothing to do with the report and therefore the amendment would delete the reference.

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

      Mr V. HUSEYNOV (Azerbaijan) – We all know that economic and social rights go hand in hand with human rights, especially in a country that has more than 1 million refugees as a result of occupation. I think that poverty and economic welfare have a bearing on human rights. The resolution does not mention the rights of those people, but we should at least include the paragraph. That is why I am against the amendment.

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

      Mr FABRITIUS (Germany) – In favour by a large majority.

      The PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      The PRESIDENT* – I call Ms Johnsson Fornarve to move Amendment 5.

      Ms JOHNSSON FORNARVE (Sweden) – We want to delete the words in the amendment from the draft resolution.

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

      Mr V. HUSEYNOV (Azerbaijan) – The words should stay because they are important for the report’s objectivity. It should provide the opinion and interpretation of both sides. The government’s point of view should also appear in the resolution.

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

      Mr FABRITIUS (Germany) – In favour by a large majority.

      The PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      The PRESIDENT* – We will now proceed to vote on the whole of the draft resolution contained in Document 14397, as amended. A simple majority is required.

      The vote is open.

      The PRESIDENT* – Mr Poroshenko’s addressed is scheduled for 12 noon, so we shall suspend the sitting and resume then.

(The sitting, suspended at 11.50 a.m., was resumed at 12.05 p.m. with Ms Kyriakides, President of the Assembly, in the Chair.)

2. Address by Mr Petro Poroshenko, President of Ukraine

      The PRESIDENT – We will now hear an address by Mr Petro Poroshenko, President of Ukraine. I am very pleased also to welcome Mr Pavlo Klimkin, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Ms Liliya Hrynevych, the Minister of Education and Science.

      Dear President, it is a great honour to welcome you to our Assembly Chamber, which you know well from having been a Member of the Assembly from 2001 to 2005 and from your previous visit to Strasbourg in June 2014. At the time of your visit in 2014, Ukraine found itself in a profound crisis, with a huge strain on the Ukrainian people and the stability of the European continent. We hoped that the next time you came we could celebrate the end of the crisis, but that is unfortunately not the case. You came to us at that time with a strong message that it is only through peaceful dialogue that the conflict in Ukraine can be resolved. We welcomed your approach and made it clear that the Assembly would keep Ukraine high on its agenda.

      As you know, we have firmly supported and continue to support Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. We have addressed in various resolutions some of the most urgent political and humanitarian consequences of the conflict. At the same time, we have also insisted on the need to advance the internal reform agenda. In the face of the challenges Ukraine faces, it now needs more than ever to be strong, with stable institutions and democratic structures.

      I therefore commend you on the ambitious reform agenda you have put in place, and the progress achieved. I encourage you to continue on this positive path, and where possible to devote even greater energy to carrying out other urgent reforms. Here I refer in particular to decentralisation—even if the status of parts of Ukraine not under the government’s control cannot be resolved at this moment—as well as the fight against corruption. There will also certainly be recommendations coming from the Assembly tomorrow following the urgent debate on the new Ukrainian law on education. As always, the Assembly stands ready to provide Ukraine with the support it needs.

      Dear President, we now look forward to hearing your message to us. The floor is yours.

      Mr POROSHENKO (President of Ukraine) – Dear Secretary General of the Council of Europe, dear President of the Parliamentary Assembly, dear colleagues, members of the Assembly, ladies and gentlemen, above all allow me to sincerely congratulate Ms Stella Kyriakides on her election to the high position of President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. I am glad that this event has practically coincided with my visit to the Assembly. Such symbolic junctures do not happen that frequently, yet when they happen they are always accurate and timely. Today that is exactly the case. I personally wish you inspiration, energy, and success in achieving the noble mission set by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, as well as protecting the principles upon which this Assembly is founded. There is no place for compromise in these matters, especially with those who by all means intend to compromise the universal value and foundations upon which we build up our co-operation and our societies.

      I would also like to express my words of gratitude for the invitation to address this distinguished Assembly. It is a true honour for me. As a former colleague in the Assembly who spent many years here, I remember that time and remember the importance of the Parliamentary Assembly, and perfectly understand the responsibility that lies upon your shoulders, especially under the current circumstances of extreme populism, numerous cyber-attacks, direct armed aggression, and very aggressive propaganda campaigns. As the President of Ukraine, I sincerely count on your support of my country in these dramatically difficult circumstances.

      Now, we find ourselves, Ukrainians, occupied against our will. Three years ago, I stood here before this Assembly and already as a head of State shared with you our experience from the very first day of countering Russian aggression. I would sincerely wish to address you today with the words that the aggression against my country is over, that within the internationally recognised borders of Ukraine the military action and the blatant occupation of parts of our sovereign territory are over, and that in Ukraine peaceful life gradually returns to the liberated lands depleted by the military action of those who keep saying, “Nas tam nyet” – “We are not there”. They are the occupying power.

      Unfortunately, even three years after my statement before the Assembly, we still have not reached this perspective. We are well aware of the reason why. Dear members of the Assembly, has something changed over these three years in Russian deeds and behaviour? Absolutely nothing. Today, as three years ago, we are forced to keep searching for the response to the Russian aggression – the aggression which turned into the brutal attack not only against Ukraine but against human rights in the very heart of Europe. Russia keeps, bluntly, violating commitments taken upon itself, in the same way that Moscow keeps ignoring our persistent demands, and the demands of the international community, to get back to respecting international law.

      This Assembly has echoed these demands and fixed them in a number of its resolutions. But Russia keeps pretending that it has nothing to do with this. Moscow continues to turn a blind eye to its commitment under the Minsk agreement. Its military forces are still on the territory of Ukraine, both in Crimea and in Donbass. Military assets are still delivered to illegal entities created by Russia. Every day, we receive more worrying news about the blatant violation of human rights in the occupied territories. Release of the hostages and political prisoners is stalled. I cannot but mention Oleg Sentsov, Alexander Kolchenko, Roman Suschenko, and many, many others. For over two years we have fought to free 63-year-old Igor Kozlovsky, the very famous theologian who remained in occupied Donetsk to look after his ill son. The same goes for 28-year-old Stanislav Aseyev, a journalist who was not afraid to write the truth about life in occupied Donetsk. Such stories of Ukrainian hostages number well over 100 already. But even worse is the fact that the number of hostages in Donbass does not cease to rise. People are deliberately chased and captured only for the fact that they are a citizen of their own country – of the Ukrainian state. They are captured with a cynical reason in mind – to blackmail Ukraine, which will never abandon its citizens, neither in Crimea, nor in Donbass, nor in a Russian prison.

      Systemic repression has turned the Crimean peninsula into an island of no freedom and a land of fear. In occupied Crimea, Russia applies the worst practice of the Soviet repressive machine. Anyone who dares to reject the so-called reunification with Russia becomes a victim of arbitrary detention, prosecution, torture, extra-judicial execution, and inhuman treatment. Recently a deputy head of the Mejlis, Akhtem Chiygoz, received the so-called verdict of the occupation authorities. He said that today in Crimea those are tried who defended the laws of their country, the international norms and the rules. Could anyone give more precise words describing the situation in Crimea than Akhtem Chiygoz in his final statement in so-called court? This concerns not only Crimea but Europe as a continent of the rule of law, not the rule of force. The case of another deputy head of the Mejlis, Ilmi Umerov, is also telling. At first, this hero of his people experienced Russian punitive psychiatry. This day, an occupation court has sentenced him to two years in the settlement colony. The piercing chill of Soviet mock trials creeps from this sentence.

      The scale of the crime and violation committed by the occupation authorities in Crimea demonstrates that Russia, which is recognised as an occupying power by the United Nations General Assembly, clearly ignores its international legal commitments. In this context, allow me to express my gratitude for the particular attention that the Parliamentary Assembly and the Council of Europe itself pay to the issue of Crimea. Numerous appeals of the Council of Europe monitoring bodies on human rights to access Crimea are all telling, as was an unprecedented decision by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on the situation in the autonomous republic of Crimea made in the city of Sebastopol, Ukraine, and adopted this May.

      Ladies and gentlemen, allow me once again to ask my question. Has something changed over the three years since my last statement? Definitely, yes. The international coalition in support of Ukraine and the rule of international law has only strengthened, and I am grateful to the honourable members of this Assembly for their solidarity in protecting Ukraine from Russian aggression from the very beginning. The people of Ukraine will always remember the hand of support extended to us by our friends in the most difficult moment of our history.

      Exactly a year ago this Assembly adopted a resolution on the political consequences of the Russian aggression in Ukraine, which states, “only significant and measurable progress towards their implementation can form the basis for the restoration of a fully-fledged, mutually respectful dialogue with the Assembly.” The Assembly rightly reserved the right not to renew the credentials of the Russian delegation if Russia continues its occupation of the sovereign territory of Ukraine. In fact, none of the demands was implemented by Russia.

      It is not just about the implementation of routine documents. Behind the provisions of those documents are human faces and human lives. Hence the resistance to returning to business as usual with Russia in the Assembly and every other international political platform. At this challenging moment, let us be frank with each other and with ourselves. The aim of Russian aggression is to destroy democracy, liberal freedom and human rights. In one place it does it with tanks, and in other places it does it with absolutely fake news; in one place it violates the key principles of international law, and in other places it manipulates consciousness. We have no right to fail against that challenge. We will prove our dignity, and in recent years members of the Council of Europe have experienced the delicacy of Russia’s information warfare. More than once we have seen the language of hatred, violence and discrimination hidden beneath the slogans of free speech. Russia tries to use our own achievements against the democratic community.

      In 1950 Winston Churchill, an ideological father of the Council of Europe, appealed to the Assembly against the background of the Soviet Union’s challenge to a democratic Europe. He admitted that Moscow had a wealth of opportunities to create trouble. Given the circumstances, he said something very important about the prospects of this Assembly, “Either we shall prove our worth and weight and value to Europe or we shall fail.” With those words of wisdom in mind, I strongly reject what some say about a fait accompli on Crimea. This tribune was not invented to call for appeasement or for the trade of territory for money, oil or gas. That has never happened. It was invented to safeguard our fundamental values and principles, and most importantly to defend them at times of need.

      The time has come. Moscow has pushed Europe back to the same reality about which Sir Winston Churchill was so concerned almost 70 years ago. That is why the guarantee of our success resides in preserving and strengthening our unity, solidarity and resilience. It is only by respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine that we can achieve peace and stability in Europe. Ukraine strives for peace, as does everyone in this Chamber. As head of State, I want peace for Ukraine and for Europe.

      Those are not mere words. Ukraine has proved on numerous occasions its readiness for a peaceful settlement of the situation artificially created by Russia. Ukraine, and me personally as President, has initiated a long-lasting ceasefire three times in 2017 – the Easter ceasefire, the harvest ceasefire and the back-to-school ceasefire. Russian occupation troops and their proxies violated those ceasefires almost straightaway.

      Last week, the Ukrainian Parliament adopted a law establishing the condition for peaceful settlement of the situation in the Luhansk region of Donbass. We hope that Russia will finally begin to implement the security commitment and the Minsk agreement, and we also expect those steps will allow us to move forward on the deployment of the United Nations peacekeeping operation in Donbass, which is important to bringing peace back to my country.

      I call on the honourable Assembly to continue paying attention to the respect for human rights in occupied Crimea and occupied Donbass. Only with our close attention to those regions will we ease towards prosecutions. I thus call on Assembly members, the Committee of Ministers, the Secretary General, the Commissioner for Human Rights and other relevant monitoring bodies to double their efforts in protecting human rights and freedom.

      I return again to my question. Has something changed in the three years since my last statement? Definitely yes. Ukraine has made considerable progress on internal transformation. Despite the existential changes caused by Russian aggression, this year we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms entering into force in Ukraine. Ukraine continues to implement those commitments as a member State of the Council of Europe while adopting the Council of Europe’s standards on human rights, the rule of law and democracy in its legislation, institutions and practices.

      Last week, we laid another firm brick in our human rights defence wall by ratifying protocols 15 and 16 of the Convention. I am grateful to the Council of Europe, including this Assembly, for actively supporting the reform process in Ukraine. The scope of reform currently being undertaken in Ukraine is quite broad. It ranges from the unprecedented financial and banking reform – we are cleaning our financial and banking system, making it strong and reliable – to the decentralisation reform that Madam President mentioned. That decentralisation was one of my first steps as President, and we are now seeing the first results. The development budget for local communities has increased between seven and 10 times during the war, and local budgets and the structure of the united budget is, step by step, reaching 50%.

      Looking back at Ukraine’s accomplishments, I am particularly pleased that the Council of Europe’s 2015-2017 action plan for Ukraine has become a common story of success. I am proud that the Council of Europe is a co-sponsor of Ukrainian reform, and we have made progress through the joint work of Ukraine and the Council of Europe. We hope that the draft 2018-2021 action plan will be even more ambitious and successful, and we consider it a tool for further progress and reform.

      For us, internal transformation is no less important than the Russian front. I cannot but mention the anti-corruption measures undertaken by my country. We have established unprecedented anti-corruption infrastructure and anti-corruption mechanisms, which are absolutely independent. We have created the important national anti-corruption bureau, a specialised anti-corruption prosecution office and an independent national agency for preventing corruption, which is investigating ministers, members of parliament, local governors and a long list of public servants. The system has already brought positive results, and we now hear more often about criminal cases.

      However, the fight against corruption is not about criminal prosecution alone; more important is the establishment of an effective system to prevent this disease, which eroded Ukraine for years following independence. The launch of a system of electronic declaration of the income, expenses and financial obligations of public servants has become one of the most effective tools in the fight against corruption. That measure does not exist in other countries, but it provides efficiency and is perhaps one of the world’s most ambitious government initiatives regarding transparency and accountability before society and its voters.

      We pay particular attention to the deregulation and minimisation of the influence of public servants, including with the use of new technologies. The introduction of the ProZorro electronic platform – a totally new and transparent public procurement system – is a brilliant success story. The communications strategy aimed at preventing and countering corruption has also been adopted, and it provides for a routine anti-corruption culture in society. One could reasonably ask whether the anti-corruption glass is half empty or half full. My answer is that it is exactly half full.

      The next strategic priority is further to build up the judiciary, and the renewal of social trust in Ukraine. I am sincerely grateful to the Council of Europe for its constant support for that most important reform, which we jointly started back in 2014. The amendment of the constitution regarding the judiciary was adopted with the expert assistance and valuable support of the Venice Commission in 2016, and we implemented every single word of that commission’s recommendations. There are also new laws on the judicial system and the status of judges, the high court council of justice and the constitutional court, and new procedural codes were adopted just a few days ago. Over the next few days they will come to the presidential office to be signed, and all that has happened in less than three years. As the Venice Commission pointed out recently, such reforms are clearly aimed at reconstructing the Ukrainian justice system in accordance with the standards of the Council of Europe, and at securing the rule of law in Ukraine. That tectonic shift has permitted us to fill the judicial system with new substance, and provided the opportunity for us to build a truly independent judicial branch of power, based on European standards.

      A complete reshuffle of the judicial system is under way. It started with the unprecedented re-launch of the supreme court under my initiative. Today Ukraine’s highest judicial institution is being set up from scratch via open competition and with the active participation of civil society. Among the winners of the competition for the post of judges in Ukraine’s new supreme court are lawyers, legal scholars and human rights advocates who have never previously worked as judges, as well as the best judges from all over Ukraine. They have passed a strict and thorough selection, including professional and psychological tests, as well as checks by the national anti-corruption bureau and the national agency for preventing corruption. Of course they must still prove their capabilities in practice, but it should be the best composition of the supreme court in Ukraine’s modern history. The high council of justice decided to submit 111 candidates to be new judges at Ukraine’s supreme court, and I will fulfil the process in the appropriate manner.

      According to new rules, the launch of the new supreme court and the entire judicial system will become the point of no return for judicial reform and the successful steps that we have taken within that framework. I know that the creation of the anti-corruption court requires special attention. The creation of such a court is envisaged by law, and I submitted to Parliament measures on the judiciary and the status of judges that were adopted last year. The Venice Commission welcomed that initiative, and mentioned the need for a clean, independent, and efficient anti-corruption judicial body. We are currently considering the optimal way to establish that vital institution, but obviously we must not lose the substance of the reform behind the name.

      Efforts invested in the establishment of the anti-corruption court will be successful if four elements are taken into account: first, legislation that complies with the Ukrainian constitution; secondly, independent, politically neutral and unbiased members of the commission should select the judges; thirdly, we need candidates who meet the highest standards of professionalism and integrity; and finally, the newly created court should enjoy the full trust of society. Today there are some questions about the quality of the draft laws pending in Verkhovna Rada, and particularly about measures on the establishment of an anti-corruption court that have been submitted by a number of members of parliament. Those provisions seek to restore significant influence over the formation of the anti-corruption court to political bodies such as Verkhovna Rada, the Minister of Justice, and the President, and that gives rise to concern. All judicial reform initiated by me sought to create a court system that is completely independent of politicians.

      Recent expert opinion from the Venice Commission clearly points out that political influence over the formation of the anti-corruption court is unacceptable because it contradicts European standards and the concept of constitutional reform built on the principle of maximum depoliticisation of the judiciary. That is why all democratic political forces and civil society must unite and work together with international experts to prepare professional, new and consolidated draft laws that are passed by Parliament. The main task for Ukraine is not only to establish the anti-corruption court, but to ensure fair legal proceedings within the framework of a unified and renewed system of justice.

      Today, the entire judicial system in Ukraine must be anti-corruption in nature. That is an absolute prerequisite for the restoration of social trust and the strengthening of social unity. We count on the further support of this Assembly for the strengthening of civil society in Ukraine, based on the implementation of democratic standards, support for cultural diversity and the building up of social institutions.

      In that regard I draw the Assembly’s attention to the unreasonable politicisation of the law on education. My stance on education is clear: the nation’s future and security demands quality education and therefore that area should be reformed. Apart from being a significant part of the educational reform, the adopted law has become a law of equal opportunities for each stakeholder in the educational system.

      Let me be clear: opportunities must be equal for all pupils, regardless of their origin, residence or nationality. It is unacceptable that children who belong to national minorities in Ukraine do not have an adequate knowledge of the Ukrainian language, which is needed for further education and in universities or institutes, and which is necessary for a professional career, public service, and self-realisation in Ukraine. The law intends to fix that problem. The Ukrainian Parliament has envisaged an improvement in students learning Ukrainian as part of pre-school and primary education, with a view to creating conditions for studying at a higher level in an official language. At the same time, the law safeguards the right of students to learn their native languages at the required level.

      I remind the Assembly that the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages was adopted in Strasbourg 25 years ago. It stipulates that all commitments related to national minorities should be implemented without prejudice to the teaching of the official language or languages of the State. I believe that the provision of this charter should be applied by all signatories. I reassure you that there would be a guaranteed language right in accordance with the national legislation and with international commitments and standards, including the right to study in a native language.

      At the same time we will provide adequate teaching of the official language, Ukrainian. The best proof of this commitment is our decision to submit the respective article for assessment. It was my instruction to the minister for education and the minister for foreign affairs to send it for the independent assessment of the Venice Commission. I believe its conclusion will lift the controversial interpretation of the law, which is aimed to ensure a decent place for all the national minorities in an integrated Ukrainian society. I am confident that we will implement this assessment of the Venice Commission in our new legislation about education.

      There is hardly a more evident example than Ukraine of a nation that has to fight wars on two fronts at the same time – the front of countering external military aggression and the restoration of sovereignty and territorial integrity, and the front of implementing difficult and complex reform. They say it is impossible to provide and implement reform in the time of war. Ukraine is now an example that not only is this possible, but we can do it in an absolutely responsible way.

      The turning point was the Revolution of Dignity in late 2013 and early 2014. It is symbolic that, on the margins of my visit to Strasbourg, I will inaugurate the star for the heavenly hundred at the Strasbourg alley of stars. It will be a star for those heroes of the Revolution of Dignity who sacrificed their lives for our right to build a new country on the European model, who took the European future of Ukraine as their reason for life, their motivation to struggle against a former regime, and their aspiration for change and transformation in our country. By inaugurating a star for the heavenly hundred we will commemorate their contribution to the history of Ukraine and of Europe. It is our common duty regarding their memory and sacrifice to be in both France and Ukraine to strengthen common values in a peaceful, stable and prosperous Europe. I believe this will come true thanks to our unity and solidarity. I thank you for this unity and solidarity. I thank you for your attention, your support and your confidence in our country.

      Glory to Ukraine and glory to Europe. Thank you.

      The PRESIDENT – Thank you Mr President for your most interesting address. Members of the Assembly have questions they would like to put to you. I remind them that all questions must be limited to 30 seconds and no more. Colleagues need to ask questions and not make speeches.

      I will allow one question from each of the political groups first. I call on Mr Korodi from the EPP to pose their question.

      Mr KORODI (Romania, spokesperson for the Group of the European People’s Party) – Thank you Mr President. We had sufficient information on Crimea so this is our second question. We followed closely the latest development in your country generated by the recent law on education, which limited the right to education in the mother tongue of national minorities. As Council of Europe members say you should abide by the commitments assumed upon your accession, including internal protection of the rights of national minorities, why did you promulgate this law despite the criticisms expressed by your neighbourhood countries and international European institutions and NGOs, having significant ethnic communities in your territory?

      Mr POROSHENKO – Thank you very much indeed for that question. To start with the law on education, our education system vitally needs reform. This is an investment in our future. Ukrainian schools have a great achievement. We want to modernise them to the current world standard.

      Article 7 of the law criticised by some of our European partners intends to improve the use of the Ukrainian language in all spheres of public life, as well as the guaranteed free development of the views of national minorities. But imagine if pupils finishing at British, German or French schools cannot speak English, German or French? How will they survive in those countries? Can you imagine that 75% of graduates that finish school in Deregovka fail the test on the Ukrainian language? They simply do not understand the language. How can they go and survive in the country – go to work, use public services and continue the institutions in Ukraine? This is definitely discrimination for these children.

      We do not have a single word against national minority languages. We would be happy for them to learn them. We already create this opportunity. We only ask them please to learn Ukrainian. This protects the rights of these children and protects them from discrimination. That is why we are absolutely open. We sent the draft law for assessment by the Venice Commission. We are ready for dialogue and ready to implement the results of the assessment in a practical law about secondary education. We specifically did not develop and vote on the law on secondary education because we are awaiting the results of the assessment. This is our readiness for co-operation.

      Let me give you my own examples. I was born in Bolhrad in the south of the Odessa region – the centre of the Bulgarian minority in Ukraine.

      (The speaker continued in Bulgarian.)

      I speak Bulgarian.

      (The speaker continued in English.)

      Then I moved to the city where the Romanian minority lives.

      (The speaker continued in Romanian.)

      I also speak Romanian.

      (The speaker continued in English.)

      I then worked in Kiev with our Polish colleagues.

      (The speaker continued in Polish.)

      I also speak Polish.

      (The speaker continued in English.)

      I also fluently speak English.

      (The speaker continued in Russian.)

      Of course, I can speak Russian extremely well.

      (The speaker continued in Ukrainian.)

      I obviously also speak Ukrainian.

      (The speaker continued in English.)

      This creates a unique opportunity. That is what I want to see among our national minority regions: to be bilingual or trilingual, the same as in any other country. Is anybody against that?

      We have in Article 7 a guarantee for the children who learn European languages – not only English and French, but Hungarian, Polish, Bulgarian, Romanian and others. At the end of their fifth year of study, up to 60% of their education would be a national minority language and 40% would be Ukrainian. In the 12th year of study it would be a different proportion – 40% would be a national minority language and 60% would be the official language. It would not only be national minority languages, but some disciplines would be presented in a national minority language.

      This is the law we are talking about. We should depoliticise the discussion and have clear and friendly co-operation. We are open to this co-operation. I asked a member of my Government – the Minister for Education – to come here to Strasbourg. They had a very long discussion. If necessary, Minister Hrynevych is happy to meet you, to listen to you and to implement steps to address every single thing that worries you. We are open. We are European. We meet the criteria of all the conventions. Together we can solve any problem, including this one.

      Ms BARNETT (Germany, Spokesperson for the Socialist Group)* – Thank you very much for your interesting presentation, President Poroshenko. What internal, domestic political difficulties do you think still affect your implementation of the Minsk agreement, particularly with regard to the Donbass? What is standing in the way of a political solution and what will you do to bring about one?

      Mr POROSHENKO – Thank you for your question. This is extremely important in better understanding the current situation. In February 2015 and September 2014, we signed up to the Minsk agreement, which has two parts: a security package and a political package. From the political package, Ukraine voted for the amnesty law and for the special order for some regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. We voted in Parliament on the line that defines the occupied territory, and we should implement this law, and we voted for the constitution on first reading. We have implemented 95% of the political package.

      As for the security package, from the Russians we are waiting first and foremost for the ceasefire. We have not had one single day without firing and we have paid the highest price for that. More than 2 700 Ukrainian soldiers and more than 7 000 civilians were killed in this war. We demand a ceasefire as point No. 1. Point No. 2 is the withdrawal of all the foreign troops, including Russian troops, from the occupied territory. That is their obligation under Minsk. Can you imagine any political process taking place when we have occupying troops in the Donbass? Can you imagine any election meeting OSCE criteria or any democratic standards under the occupation of the Russian army and Russian proxies? With 45,000 people with arms in their hands, can you imagine a free and fair election? Nobody would have the opportunity to run a campaign with the participation of Ukrainian political parties, Ukrainian media and the Ukrainian election commission. There would be no participation with anything. It would be the same as the fake referendum in Crimea and the fake election in 2014. That is why we demand the implementation of the security package, please. We demand uninterrupted access for the special monitoring mission of OSCE observers to all the occupied territories, including the border. We demand the release of all hostages. Everything is now in the hands of one person: Putin. That is why our solidarity and unity is vitally important.

      As a demonstration of our decisiveness, last week I, as President of Ukraine, introduced two very important laws to Parliament. One was on reunification of the country and the other was on the continuation of the special order law, because when we voted on that in 2014, we thought everything would be finished in 2017 and that this territory would be reintegrated into Ukraine, but nothing has happened. The law will continue for another year. I thank all my Members of Parliament who voted in support of my proposal. It is a very bright demonstration that Ukraine is united and capable of implementing all its obligations. The only things we need are unity and world solidarity, and responsible behaviour from Russia.

      When I was in New York we agreed a very important initiative involving the Blue Helmets – the United Nations peacekeepers – under the mandate of the United Nations Security Council. How could anybody be against that? It would secure the territory, because at the very next moment every Russian soldier who is on that territory would be brightly presented to the world community. We need to insist on that. We need peace in my country. We need to stop killing Ukrainians. We need to restore law and order. This is a vitally important question for me, and I again thank all the Assembly for the very strong support you have demonstrated during the last year. It has been vital for us, so thank you.

      Ms GILLAN (United Kingdom, Spokesperson for the European Conservatives Group) – President, on behalf of the European Conservatives I congratulate you on an astute and forthright speech to our Assembly today. Without a solution to the illegal actions of Russia in Crimea, their actions will poison European relations for years to come. How would you view, under the highest international scrutiny of PACE, the OSCE and the EU, the possibility of another referendum in Crimea with three choices: to stay with Ukraine; to stay with Russia; or to be semi-independent under UN supervision? Could you accept such a referendum and could you abide by the will of the people?

      Mr POROSHENKO – Thank you very much for those encouraging words. I am ready to accept anything that is adequate for the Ukrainian constitution. Under our constitution we can have local and national referendums. Territorial integrity and sovereignty is the competence of national referendums, but before we talk about anything, Crimea should be returned to Ukrainian sovereignty. We would then be ready for any negotiation and to launch any democratic process under the Ukrainian constitution. If Crimea is under the illegal annexation of the Russia Federation, which happened in spring 2014 and has been confirmed by all the international documents, it will be impossible because it is under occupation. Can you imagine a referendum in the Czech Sudetenland in 1938? This is the same: it is impossible to hold a referendum under the barrels of Russian tanks. It would not be a referendum and would have nothing to do with democracy. Crimea should be returned to the Ukraine.

      By the way, we are not selling or buying Crimea. It is not a question of money, gas, oil or anything else. It is about law and order in Europe and security in Europe and the whole world. After illegal annexation of the Crimea, Russia completely destroyed the whole post-war security system established under the UN Security Council, where Russia is one of the P5 members. Russia, together with the UK, the US, France, and China was a guarantor of our sovereignty, territory and integrity under the Budapest memorandum, when the Ukraine voluntarily gave up the third biggest nuclear arsenal in the world. Do you think that Russia would have attacked us if we had nuclear weapons? I doubt it. But this is not a question of us demanding the nuclear weapons back. On the contrary, we think that the system of non-proliferation is the way to global security. That is another reason why we need unity and solidarity with the whole civilised world. I thank you and I thank Britain for the strong support for our sovereignty.

      Ms BRASSEUR (Luxembourg, spokesperson for the Alliance for Liberals and Democrats for Europe) – Mr President, welcome back to the Council of Europe, where I had the honour and the pleasure to receive you three years ago.

      In your remarkable speech, you referred to combating corruption, which is one of the greatest challenges, among others, that you have to fight. You also referred to the Venice Commission, which said that the provision has to be withdrawn and that you now have to introduce a new text to create an anti-corruption body. You said you are going to do that. Do you have the majority in the Verkhovna Rada to give effect to that request? Do you have the right people to implement that important law afterwards?

      Mr POROSHENKOFirst, I want to thank you personally, and the Assembly, for the very warm welcome given to me, my country and my people three years ago. I remember that and thank you for your hospitality and your strong and firm position.

      I definitely think that we have a majority for the anti-corruption court as a symbol. Unfortunately, as you know, in parliament, the devil is in the detail. That is why it is extremely important that I want to have the votes of the whole parliament – all members; we are not talking about the coalition. Corruption is a cancer in any country. They should find a compromise, present it to me, and I will be immediately ready to initiate that draft law. We should work hard, but again, we have done a great job in the last three years to create such anti-corruption institutions that never before existed in our world, which is extremely important. I give the example of electronic declarations. All members of parliament, all ministers and all governors have to declare how many lamps, candelabra and pots they have in their homes. The price of being a public servant is being transparent. The National Anti-Corruption Bureau, which even today is investigating and arresting ministers, has full independence. Now, we should concentrate efforts to help parliament find a compromise with Russia.

      I strongly believe in my parliament. It has done a great job on all the reform and I am absolutely confident that it will find an opportunity to vote on and to implement the anti-corruption court. I would remind you that the first mention of the term anti-corruption court in Ukrainian legislation was in my draft law, which has been voted through and has already come into force. That is why I am completely optimistic on that.

      I want to thank the Venice Commission once again, because it plays a very important role in judicial reform. Every draft law is assessed by the Venice Commission and it is very important that we have that trust. We trust the Council of Europe and the Venice Commission, and they trust us. That is a unique form of co-operation.

      Mr KOX (Netherlands, spokesperson for the Group of the Unified European Left) – Mr President, in 2014, you said to this Assembly that the only way out of the crisis in Ukraine was via peaceful dialogue. When we visited you in Kiev a year later, in 2015, with the Presidential Committee, you repeated that idea: peaceful dialogue, no military solution possible. It is now October 2017 and still the peaceful dialogue with the citizens in the east of your country has to start. You put the blame on the Russian Federation, and they bear a huge responsibility, but where is your responsibility to finally do what you promised – to start a peaceful dialogue with the citizens of your country to find an end to this horrible crisis? I look forward to your answer.

      Mr POROSHENKO – Look, since our meeting in 2014, Ukraine has delivered two-thirds of occupied Donbass. In every single town and village where we do not have Russian troops, believe me, we have a fantastic dialogue. We do not have one single tiny problem. We are investing a huge amount of money to restore the infrastructure, with the assistance of our partners. I visit Donbass every month, opening schools, bridges, roads and kindergartens. We have a fantastic dialogue there.

      Can you imagine any dialogue in the occupied territory? The only pre-condition for that dialogue is the withdrawal of Russian troops. We do not have any tiny conflict. From the very beginning Russia wanted to present the situation as a civil war, but I am proud that we now have a full list of evidence about the Russian presence, Russian hybrid war, Russian propaganda and Russian provocation. It is not just just a few thousand people, it is several million people, who now live in a disastrous humanitarian condition, with a disastrous level of unemployment, with disastrous conditions for the elderly, with limited access for children to education and with a disastrous level of poverty. People hate the idea of continuing to live under those conditions. That is why our co-ordinated position is vitally important, with the implementation of the Minsk agreement and its security package. I am absolutely confident that when we have peacekeepers – the Blue Helmets – and the security pre-condition, we will immediately do the same as we have done in Sloviansk, Lisichansk, Kramatorsk and in many, many other cities including Mariupol, where we have restored law and order and have a fantastic dialogue with the local communities. There is not any single reason for disturbance. That is why our unity and solidarity is so important.

      The PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr President, for your comprehensive address and for updating us on the advancement of the reforms in Ukraine. We particularly appreciate your country’s efforts to reform the judiciary, to fight corruption and to guarantee the highest ethical standards, as well as to promote decentralisation. Your views on the way forward for a peaceful settlement of the conflict in Donbass are also very important. For there to be peace, stability and respect for human rights, violence and fighting must stop. It is therefore very important to ensure full implementation of the Minsk agreement.

      On behalf of the Assembly, I thank you most warmly for your address and for the answers given to questions. I wish you and Ukraine every success. Thank you.

3. Next public business

      The PRESIDENT – The Assembly will hold its next public sitting this afternoon at 3.30 p.m. with the agenda that was approved on Monday.

      The sitting is closed.

      (The sitting was closed at 1.10 p.m.)

CONTENTS

1. Joint debate: The functioning of democratic institutions in Azerbaijan, and Azerbaijan’s Chairmanship of the Council of Europe: what follow-up on respect for human rights?

Presentation by Mr Schennach and 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 14403 and Addendum.

Presentation by Ms Sotnyk of the report of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, Document 14397

Speakers: Ms Johnsson Fornarve, Mr Divina, Mr Fischer, Mr Schwabe, Mr Tarczyński, Ms Brasseur, Mr Omtzigt, Mr Strässer, Mr Seyidov, Mr Herkel, Mr V. Huseynov

Draft resolution in Document 14403, as amended, adopted

Draft resolution in Document 14397, as amended, adopted

2. Address by Mr Petro Poroshenko, President of Ukraine

Questions: Mr Korodi, Ms Barnett, Ms Gillan, Ms Brasseur, Mr Kox

3. Next public business

Appendix

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.

ÅBERG, Boriana [Ms]
AHMED-SHEIKH, Tasmina [Ms]
ALEKSANDROV, Nikolay [Mr] (BOGDANOV, Krasimir [Mr])
AMON, Werner [Mr]
ANDERSON, Donald [Lord]
ANTTILA, Sirkka-Liisa [Ms]
ARIEV, Volodymyr [Mr]
ARNAUT, Damir [Mr]
BADEA, Viorel Riceard [M.] (PLEȘOIANU, Liviu Ioan Adrian [Mr])
BARNETT, Doris [Ms]
BARTOS, Mónika [Ms] (CSÖBÖR, Katalin [Mme])
BATRINCEA, Vlad [Mr]
BAYKAL, Deniz [Mr]
BEREZA, Boryslav [Mr]
BERNACKI, Włodzimierz [Mr]
BĒRZINŠ, Andris [M.]
BEUS RICHEMBERGH, Goran [Mr]
BILDARRATZ, Jokin [Mr]
BİLGEHAN, Gülsün [Mme]
BILOVOL, Oleksandr [Mr] (LABAZIUK, Serhiy [Mr])
BÎZGAN-GAYRAL, Oana-Mioara [Ms] (PRUNĂ, Cristina-Mădălina [Ms])
BLONDIN, Maryvonne [Mme]
BOSIĆ, Mladen [Mr]
BOUYX, Bertrand [M.] (SORRE, Bertrand [M.])
BRASSEUR, Anne [Mme]
BRUIJN-WEZEMAN, Reina de [Ms] (MULDER, Anne [Mr])
BRUYN, Piet De [Mr]
BÜCHEL, Roland Rino [Mr] (FIALA, Doris [Mme])
BUSHATI, Ervin [Mr]
BUSHKA, Klotilda [Ms]
BUSTINDUY, Pablo [Mr] (BALLESTER, Ángela [Ms])
BUTKEVIČIUS, Algirdas [Mr]
ČERNOCH, Marek [Mr] (MARKOVÁ, Soňa [Ms])
CHRISTOFFERSEN, Lise [Ms]
CIMOSZEWICZ, Tomasz [Mr] (POMASKA, Agnieszka [Ms])
CORLĂŢEAN, Titus [Mr]
CORSINI, Paolo [Mr]
D'AMBROSIO, Vanessa [Ms]
DAMYANOVA, Milena [Mme]
DE TEMMERMAN, Jennifer [Mme]
DEMETER, Márta [Ms] (GYÖNGYÖSI, Márton [Mr])
DI STEFANO, Manlio [Mr]
DİŞLİ, Şaban [Mr]
DIVINA, Sergio [Mr]
DUMERY, Daphné [Ms]
DUMITRESCU, Cristian-Sorin [M.] (BRĂILOIU, Tit-Liviu [Mr])
DURANTON, Nicole [Mme]
DURRIEU, Josette [Mme]
DZHEMILIEV, Mustafa [Mr]
EBERLE-STRUB, Susanne [Ms]
ECCLES, Diana [Lady]
EFSTATHIOU, Constantinos [M.] (KYRIAKIDES, Stella [Ms])
ESTRELA, Edite [Mme] (ROSETA, Helena [Mme])
FABRITIUS, Bernd [Mr] (OBERMEIER, Julia [Ms])
FATALIYEVA, Sevinj [Ms] (MAMMADOV, Muslum [M.])
FAZZONE, Claudio [Mr] (BERNINI, Anna Maria [Ms])
FINCKH-KRÄMER, Ute [Ms]
FISCHER, Axel [Mr]
FOULKES, George [Lord] (CRAUSBY, David [Mr])
FOURNIER, Bernard [M.]
FRIDEZ, Pierre-Alain [M.]
GAFAROVA, Sahiba [Ms]
GAILLOT, Albane [Mme]
GALE, Roger [Sir]
GAMBARO, Adele [Ms]
GATTI, Marco [M.]
GERASHCHENKO, Iryna [Mme]
GHILETCHI, Valeriu [Mr]
GILLAN, Cheryl [Ms]
GIRO, Francesco Maria [Mr]
GODSKESEN, Ingebjørg [Ms] (WOLD, Morten [Mr])
GONÇALVES, Carlos Alberto [M.]
GONCHARENKO, Oleksii [Mr]
GORGHIU, Alina Ștefania [Ms]
GOUTTEFARDE, Fabien [M.]
GRECH, Etienne [Mr] (CUTAJAR, Rosianne [Ms])
GRIN, Jean-Pierre [M.] (HEER, Alfred [Mr])
GROTH, Annette [Ms] (WERNER, Katrin [Ms])
GROZDANOVA, Dzhema [Ms]
GÜNAY, Emine Nur [Ms]
GUZENINA, Maria [Ms]
HAJDUKOVIĆ, Domagoj [Mr]
HAMID, Hamid [Mr]
HARANGOZÓ, Gábor [Mr] (MESTERHÁZY, Attila [Mr])
HEINRICH, Gabriela [Ms]
HERKEL, Andres [Mr] (NOVIKOV, Andrei [Mr])
HIGGINS, Alice-Mary [Ms] (CROWE, Seán [Mr])
HOFFMANN, Rózsa [Mme] (VEJKEY, Imre [Mr])
HOLÍK, Pavel [Mr] (BENEŠIK, Ondřej [Mr])
HONKONEN, Petri [Mr] (KALMARI, Anne [Ms])
HOPKINS, Maura [Ms]
HRISTOV, Plamen [Mr]
HUNKO, Andrej [Mr]
HUSEYNOV, Rafael [Mr]
HUSEYNOV, Vusal [Mr] (HAJIYEV, Sabir [Mr])
JABLIANOV, Valeri [Mr]
JANSSON, Eva-Lena [Ms] (KARLSSON, Niklas [Mr])
JENIŠTA, Luděk [Mr]
JOHNSSON FORNARVE, Lotta [Ms] (GUNNARSSON, Jonas [Mr])
KESİCİ, İlhan [Mr]
KLEINBERGA, Nellija [Ms] (LAIZĀNE, Inese [Ms])
KOÇ, Haluk [M.]
KORENJAK KRAMAR, Ksenija [Ms]
KORODI, Attila [Mr]
KOVÁCS, Elvira [Ms]
KOX, Tiny [Mr]
KRIŠTO, Borjana [Ms]
KÜÇÜKCAN, Talip [Mr]
L OVOCHKINA, Yuliya [Ms]
LAMBERT, Jérôme [M.]
LEITE RAMOS, Luís [M.]
LIASHKO, Oleh [Mr]
LĪBIŅA-EGNERE, Inese [Ms]
LOGVYNSKYI, Georgii [Mr]
LOUCAIDES, George [Mr]
LOUHELAINEN, Anne [Ms] (PACKALÉN, Tom [Mr])
LOUIS, Alexandra [Mme]
LUCHERINI, Carlo [Mr] (BERTUZZI, Maria Teresa [Ms])
LUPU, Marian [Mr] (BULIGA, Valentina [Mme])
MAHOUX, Philippe [M.]
MAIRE, Jacques [M.]
MALLIA, Emanuel [Mr]
MARKOVIĆ, Milica [Mme]
MASIULIS, Kęstutis [Mr] (VAREIKIS, Egidijus [Mr])
MASSEY, Doreen [Baroness] (WINTERTON, Rosie [Dame])
MAURY PASQUIER, Liliane [Mme]
MEALE, Alan [Sir]
MERGEN, Martine [Mme] (HETTO-GAASCH, Françoise [Mme])
MÜLLER, Thomas [Mr]
MUNYAMA, Killion [Mr] (HALICKI, Andrzej [Mr])
NAGHDALYAN, Hermine [Ms] (FARMANYAN, Samvel [Mr])
NĚMCOVÁ, Miroslava [Ms] (ZELIENKOVÁ, Kristýna [Ms])
NÉMETH, Zsolt [Mr]
NENUTIL, Miroslav [Mr]
NICOLETTI, Michele [Mr]
NISSINEN, Johan [Mr]
OBRADOVIĆ, Jasmina [Ms] (BOJIĆ, Milovan [Mr])
OBRADOVIĆ, Marija [Ms]
OBRADOVIĆ, Žarko [Mr]
OBREMSKI, Jarosław [Mr] (MILEWSKI, Daniel [Mr])
OHLSSON, Carina [Ms]
OMTZIGT, Pieter [Mr] (STIENEN, Petra [Ms])
ÖNAL, Suat [Mr]
OOMEN-RUIJTEN, Ria [Ms]
PALLARÉS, Judith [Ms]
PANTIĆ PILJA, Biljana [Ms]
PASHAYEVA, Ganira [Ms]
PECKOVÁ, Gabriela [Ms] (KOSTŘICA, Rom [Mr])
POCIEJ, Aleksander [M.] (KLICH, Bogdan [Mr])
POSTOICO, Maria [Mme] (VORONIN, Vladimir [M.])
PSYCHOGIOS, Georgios [Mr] (KAVVADIA, Ioanneta [Ms])
REISS, Frédéric [M.] (ABAD, Damien [M.])
REISS, Frédéric [M.] (ABAD, Damien [M.])
RIBERAYGUA, Patrícia [Mme] (JORDANA, Carles [M.])
RODRÍGUEZ HERNÁNDEZ, Melisa [Ms]
RUSTAMYAN, Armen [M.]
ŞAHİN USTA, Leyla [Ms]
SALMOND, Alex [Mr]
SANDBÆK, Ulla [Ms] (JENSEN, Mogens [Mr])
SCHENNACH, Stefan [Mr]
SCHNEIDER-SCHNEITER, Elisabeth [Mme] (LOMBARDI, Filippo [M.])
SCHOU, Ingjerd [Ms]
SCHWABE, Frank [Mr]
ŠEPIĆ, Senad [Mr]
SEYIDOV, Samad [Mr]
SHALSI, Eduard [Mr]
SHARMA, Virendra [Mr]
SILVA, Adão [M.]
ŠIRCELJ, Andrej [Mr]
SOBOLEV, Serhiy [Mr]
SØNDERGAARD, Søren [Mr]
SOTNYK, Olena [Ms]
ȘTEFAN, Corneliu [Mr]
STELLINI, David [Mr]
STEVANOVIĆ, Aleksandar [Mr]
STRÄSSER, Christoph [Mr] (DROBINSKI-WEISS, Elvira [Ms])
STRIK, Tineke [Ms]
STROE, Ionuț-Marian [Mr]
TAQUET, Adrien [M.] (TRISSE, Nicole [Mme])
TARCZYŃSKI, Dominik [Mr]
THIÉRY, Damien [M.]
TILKI, Attila [Mr] (CSENGER-ZALÁN, Zsolt [Mr])
TOPCU, Zühal [Ms]
TRUSKOLASKI, Krzysztof [Mr]
TUȘA, Adriana Diana [Ms]
VÁHALOVÁ, Dana [Ms]
VARVITSIOTIS, Miltiadis [Mr] (BAKOYANNIS, Theodora [Ms])
VEN, Mart van de [Mr]
VENIZELOS, Evangelos [M.] (CHRISTODOULOPOULOU, Anastasia [Ms])
VERCAMER, Stefaan [M.]
WALLINHEIMO, Sinuhe [Mr] (PELKONEN, Jaana Maarit [Ms])
WASERMAN, Sylvain [M.]
WENAWESER, Christoph [Mr]
WOJTYŁA, Andrzej [Mr]
WURM, Gisela [Ms]
XUCLÀ, Jordi [Mr] (GARCÍA ALBIOL, Xavier [Mr])
YAŞAR, Serap [Mme]
YEMETS, Leonid [Mr]
ZECH, Tobias [Mr]
ZOHRABYAN, Naira [Mme]

Also signed the register

Representatives or Substitutes not authorised to vote

ANTL, Miroslav [M.]
BYRNE, Liam [Mr]
CORREIA, Telmo [M.]
COZMANCIUC, Corneliu Mugurel [Mr]
GERMANN, Hannes [Mr]
GOLUB, Vladyslav [Mr]
HAJIYEV, Sabir [Mr]
IBRYAMOV, Dzheyhan [Mr]
LOPUSHANSKYI, Andrii [Mr]
MAELEN, Dirk Van der [Mr]
MAKHMUDYAN, Rustam [Mr]
MARUKYAN, Edmon [Mr]
MELKUMYAN, Mikayel [M.]
NAUDI ZAMORA, Víctor [M.]
NICOLINI, Marco [Mr]
NOVYNSKYI, Vadym [Mr]
POPA, Ion [M.]
SMITH, Angela [Ms]
ZAVOLI, Roger [Mr]

Observers

LARIOS CÓRDOVA, Héctor [Mr]
RAMÍREZ NÚÑEZ, Ulises [Mr]
SANTANA GARCÍA, José de Jesús [Mr]
TILSON, David [Mr]
WHALEN, Nick [Mr]

Partners for democracy

ALQAWASMI, Sahar [Ms]
AMRAOUI, Allal [M.]
BOUANOU, Abdellah [M.]
CHAGAF, Aziza [Mme]
EL FILALI, Hassan [M.]
EL MOKRIE EL IDRISSI, Abouzaid [M.]
HAMIDINE, Abdelali [M.]
LABLAK, Aicha [Mme]
SABELLA, Bernard [Mr]

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

Mehmet ÇAĞLAR
Erdal ÖZCENK