AS (2018) CR 06
2018 ORDINARY SESSION
Wednesday 24 January 2018 at 3.30 p.m.
In this report:
1. Speeches in English are reported in full.
2. Speeches in other languages are reported using the interpretation and are marked with an asterisk
3. The text of the amendments is available at the document centre and on the Assembly’s website.
Only oral amendments or oral sub-amendments are reproduced in the report of debates.
4. Speeches in German and Italian are reproduced in full in a separate document.
5. Corrections should be handed in at Room 1059A not later than 24 hours after the report has been circulated.
The contents page for this sitting is given at the end of the report.
(Mr Nicoletti, President of the Assembly, took the Chair at 3.35 p.m.)
The PRESIDENT – The sitting is open.
1. Election of the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights (2nd round)
The PRESIDENT – The ballot in the second round to elect the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights was suspended at 1 p.m. and is now open for voting. The poll will close at 5 p.m. Those who have not yet voted may still do so by going to the area behind the President’s chair. I remind the tellers – Mr Sorre, Ms Pashayeva, Mr Kobza and Mr Destrebecq – that they should meet behind the President’s chair at 5 p.m.
The result will be announced before the end of the sitting this afternoon.
2. Address by Mr Lars Lřkke Rasmussen, Prime Minister of Denmark
The PRESIDENT – We will now hear an address by Mr Lars Lřkke Rasmussen, Prime Minister of Denmark. After his address, Mr Rasmussen will take questions from the floor.
Dear Prime Minister, it is a great honour to welcome you to the Chamber of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, which brings together members of parliament from all over Europe, at the moment when your country, Denmark, is chairing the Committee of Ministers of our Organisation. Let me say a special word of gratitude for the generous hospitality that the Standing Committee received from the Danish Parliament during its last meeting in November.
This week, we not only have the privilege of welcoming you to our Assembly; we were also honoured by the visit of Her Royal Highness the Crown Princess of Denmark, and that of Mr Anders Samuelsen, Danish Minister of Foreign Affairs, in his capacity as Chairman of the Committee of Ministers. That is clearly a strong signal of your country’s deep commitment to our Organisation.
Prime Minister, Denmark’s chairmanship comes at a very difficult time for our continent. The refugee and migration crisis and its humanitarian consequences, continuing gender inequality, increasing distrust between our member States and the terrorism threat, which your own country has experienced, are affecting our daily lives and our future. Your personal experience of tackling gender inequality and other complex social and environmental issues is of great interest to the Assembly. We therefore look forward to hearing your views and thoughts on how to address today’s global challenges.
It is my honour to give you the floor.
Mr RASMUSSEN (Prime Minister of Denmark) – Mr President, Mr Secretary General, excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, I am honoured to stand here today in the heart of Europe and in the halls of the Parliamentary Assembly, as many leaders of Europe have done before me. Almost 70 years ago, 10 nations took the first step to form the Council of Europe. Denmark was one of them. Since then, both Europe and the Council of Europe have come a long way.
Today, 47 member States constitute one of the most important institutions created in Europe since the Second World War. For decades, the Council of Europe has protected and promoted the core values of Europe – human rights, democracy and the rule of law – with great success. The Europe of today is a better Europe – much better. None of us is able to predict the future, but we are obliged to learn from the past.
Throughout its history, Europe has been the cradle of democracy and a centre of enlightenment. But as we all know, it has not always been a continent of peace and freedom. In fact, no continent on earth has produced as much conflict, suppression and man-made devastation within the last 2 000 years as Europe. Yet, on the ashes of the Second World War, true leaders and visionaries wanted to ensure that the darkness of war and persecution would never again haunt Europe; and, to uphold the peace, the European Convention on Human Rights was born.
Today, the principles of the Convention still constitute the moral and legal guidelines of our European family. The standards of human rights are higher than in any other region of the world. We continue to pursue even better protection of the rule of law standards – standards against which we measure the success of our societies. We must cherish this legacy given to us by the leaders of the past, but we are also obligated to future-proof the solutions of the past and make sure that they fit the challenges of our time.
My ambition is clear. I want to hand over an even better Europe to my children and grandchildren – a Europe where democracy, human rights and the rule of law are upheld as the core values and guiding principles for our everyday life; where no one is exposed to torture or degrading treatment; where prejudice does not taint human relations; where equal opportunities for women and men flourish; and where our children are raised to become the democratic citizens of tomorrow. This requires international co-operation and binding legal rules based on the broad support, ownership and commitment of member States and the people of Europe.
Denmark is – and always has been – a strong supporter of the European human rights system. This is the exact reason why the main priority of the Danish chairmanship will be the continued reform of the European human rights system. An effective human rights system is a benefit for all of Europe. That is why we need an ongoing, honest and open debate about how we ensure the relevance and effective functioning of the Convention system, building on the successes we have achieved and confronting new challenges as they arise. And there are challenges, right now and when looking into the future.
First, there is the significant challenge of inadequate national implementation, particularly in relation to serious, systemic and structural human rights problems in some States. Let me give an example that has given rise to a heated discussion in Denmark. In recent years, the Court has clearly identified the problems that several member States face in their prison systems. It has also advised what measures are necessary to solve them. Yet the problems remain in several countries. This is unacceptable not only to the people who are serving their sentences in those prisons, but also to the countries that actually do live up to the minimum standards under the Convention. It is simply not fair that countries such as Denmark end up housing foreign criminals because of the poor prison conditions in their home countries.
Secondly, there is a challenge concerning the interpretation of the Convention. The question has been asked as to whether the Court goes too far in its interpretation and leaves too little room to the national democracies. It is no secret that we have had such discussions in Denmark too. We have seen cases where it has been considered a violation of the right to family life when hard-core foreign criminals are deported to their home countries – decisions that I honestly cannot understand and that do not resonate with the general public’s understanding of human rights.
Questions related to the Court’s jurisdiction and authority are sometimes perceived as an unpatriotic swipe at human rights and the Strasbourg Court. That could not be more wrong; it is quite the contrary. If we care about human rights and preserving the authority of the Court, we must also be able to discuss the difficult questions, openly and honestly. If not, we risk losing public support for human rights and – this is important – we risk losing support more broadly for international co-operation, which would be one of the biggest failures that our generation could produce.
Thirdly, the challenge of the Court’s caseload remains a serious problem. Today, applicants with potentially well-founded complaints regarding serious violations of human rights have to wait for years for their case to be resolved. This is unacceptable.
We have to deal with these challenges together. Together we must remain committed to continuously improving the Convention system, and to taking the necessary steps to ensure its relevance and effective functioning. We need a system that is tougher on countries that do not fulfil their human rights obligations. At the same time, we need a system that does not interfere too much in countries that take human rights seriously. There are indications that the Court is moving in the right direction, and that is very positive. We must support and encourage this development. Important results have been achieved: the efficiency of the Court has been improved; the need for more effective implementation has been emphasised; and, above all, the principle of subsidiarity has been strengthened.
In order to ensure the continued positive developments, in April Denmark will host a conference for ministers in Copenhagen to adopt a political declaration that gives new impetus to the ongoing reform of the Convention system. The process started in Interlaken in 2010 and has continued in İzmir, Brighton and Brussels, and it provides an important opportunity for member States to set the future direction towards a more effective, focused and balanced Convention system – a vision that I fully support. The Convention system was never intended to replace our national institutions in the first place, or to act as a court of fourth instance. Not only is it practically impossible for 47 judges in Strasbourg to handle appeal cases from more than 800 million people; it also risks making the Convention system less relevant, instead of making it an embedded part of our national systems. The system should empower national authorities to do their job.
We should not forget that the member States are the primary protectors of Convention rights. In doing so, they should be given reasonable room for manoeuvre – a margin of appreciation – subject, of course, to the supervision of the Court. This constitutes the concept of shared responsibility. With Protocol No. 15, subsidiarity will move into the text of the European Convention on Human Rights itself. This signals an important step forward towards a better balance between the national and European levels of the Convention system. A key priority for our chairmanship is to ensure that Protocol No. 15 comes into effect. Since we initiated our campaign, eight member States have ratified, but six have not. We encourage those remaining member States to follow suit.
I see absolutely no contradiction between believing passionately that human rights are important and at the same time believing that some decisions that relate to human rights are more appropriately decided at national level. The way forward is to reform in order to preserve, while maintaining focus on the core pillars of the Organisation: human rights, democracy and the rule of law. For a system of shared responsibility to work, there must be an ongoing dialogue between member States and the Court. No one has an interest in a Convention system that is perceived as out of sync by member States or the broader public. This requires an effort from all sides. The Court must listen to member States and their concerns, but as member States we must also communicate more clearly and directly with the Court, explaining our concerns and positions, including on sensitive and difficult issues. Ladies and gentlemen, we hope for the support of all relevant actors in the Council of Europe, including the Parliamentary Assembly, in addressing these important issues.
Seventy-one years ago, the late Prime Minister Winston Churchill expressed a great vision. He said that “we must re-create the European family in a regional structure…and the first practical step will be to form a Council of Europe.” That vision became reality. Churchill and his fellow European leaders wanted to reform Europe and make it shine in order to replace darkness with light. They succeeded. Today we need to ask ourselves how we can ensure that the universal rights of the past will continue to be our guidelines in the future. History has taught us that the best way forward is an open-minded and constructive dialogue on the challenges we face and an ambition to make progress. With necessary and clever reforms, we can strike the right balance, and by doing so we will enhance the protection of human rights, democracy and the rule of law. The Council of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights are true jewels. It is our job to make them shine.
Our vision is clear. The tracks have already been laid out and now we must move forward. We hope for your support in doing so. Thank you very much for your attention.
The PRESIDENT – Thank you, Prime Minister, for your most interesting address. Members of the Assembly have questions to put to you. I remind them that questions must be limited to 30 seconds and no more; colleagues should be asking questions, not making speeches. The first question is from Mr Vareikis of Lithuania.
Mr VAREIKIS (Lithuania, Spokesperson for the Group of the European People’s Party) – As the President said, I am from Lithuania, a Baltic State. Prime Minister, 25 years ago your country was the most active promoter of integrating that region into the European structure. It was a geopolitical idea from Denmark. What kind of geopolitical ideas have you now? Are you promoting the integration of some other regions into Western Europe as soon as possible, as you did for us a quarter of a century ago?
Mr RASMUSSEN – Thank you for that question. I think I should stick to a short answer. Our approach is still exactly the same as it was years ago. I am truly a believer in an integrated Europe. I represent a small country with an open, market-oriented economy and we have gained all our prosperity through interaction with our neighbouring countries. That is exactly why I think we should put more emphasis on solving these challenges, which are common challenges. It is also why we should put more effort, especially in the European Union, into securing our external borders, because if we do so we can continuously work towards a more open and integrated Europe.
Ms STRIK (Netherlands, Spokesperson for the Socialists, Democrats and Greens Group) – Prime Minister, you mentioned the importance of an effective human rights system. Do you agree that independent interpretation and application of the Convention by the Court is a crucial condition for that? In several member States, we are now seeing the concerning results of the loss of independence of judges. Can you ensure that your proposals refrain from putting any form of pressure on the Court? What concrete measures do you propose to solve the practical challenges that you referred to, such as lack of compliance or implementation of case law by member States?
Mr RASMUSSEN – I can assure you that I am a total believer in an independent judicial system. That is why we have engaged so much in this discussion. It goes without saying that the Court is challenged by a heavy caseload, which is a problem that we have to solve, as I mentioned in my speech. Among many problems, I draw your attention to the fact that some member States have not embedded the Convention in their own national judicial systems. That is a crucial point of interest. It is why the whole idea of shared responsibility and a closer dialogue between the Court and member States is so crucial.
Mr HENRIKSEN (Denmark, Spokesperson for the European Conservatives Group) – It is good to see you here today, Prime Minister. On behalf of my group, I have two questions. First, will you kindly inform the Assembly how far the Danish Government has got in its approach of securing the endorsement of a different interpretation of the European Convention on Human Rights to make it easier for member States to deport criminal immigrants, as well as securing member States’ right to a national agenda in legal and immigration matters? Secondly, will you give your assessment of the development of the human rights situation in the Russian Federation and Ukraine?
Mr RASMUSSEN – In addition to what I mentioned in my speech, I can tell you that we recently facilitated a high-level expert conference in Kokkedal, a city close to Copenhagen. We invited member States for an open and constructive debate on key issues. Thirty-nine member States took part, which I interpret as a clear commitment from member States to moving forward. It is our intention to move forward with negotiating; hopefully, we will adopt a declaration in April or May in Copenhagen. Our ambition is to adopt a political declaration that takes stock of the current reform process, proposes new measures to strengthen the Convention system and provides guidelines for further reform work.
One of our many ideas is to make it easier for member States to intervene in cases before the Court and argue their case. That is a specific priority for us. Just this morning, I had the opportunity to discuss with the President of the Court what we are doing. I see absolutely no conflict. Everybody is eager to protect the human rights system, but we have to solve different challenges at the same time. They include not only the Court’s caseload but the fact that, as I mentioned, we should give greater room to manoeuvre to those countries that actually fulfil their human rights obligations.
That leads me to a short answer to your last question. Without going into details, let me say that it is obvious that we are faced with the reality that human rights are violated in some member States in some specific areas. On Ukraine, the human rights of all people in Crimea must be secured, in accordance with the relevant Council of Europe instruments, particularly the European Convention on Human Rights. All parties must display constructive engagement with that, and I express my full support for the Secretary General in his endeavours. Let me add to that by saying that Denmark is very much engaged in Ukraine and has taken the lead in promoting good governance and the rule of law there. As I have said, there are still challenges linked to that.
Mr BILDARRATZ (Spain, Spokesperson for the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe)* – Prime Minister, some years ago Denmark decided to undergo an institutional reform and I would like to know about its effectiveness, especially in terms of the identity of democracy; we are even talking about changing constituencies. You always affirm that one has to look after people from the closest institutions. So how, 10 years later, do you assess the result of the institutional reforms? After the Gothenburg Agreement, and in the new social plan, is it possible to complement the social policies that you pursue with the new social pillar created by the European Union?
Mr RASMUSSEN – I am not convinced I am answering the right question, but I can reflect on the social pillar. Being Prime Minister in what I regard as a well-functioning social nation with a long tradition of providing equality and opportunities, I think this European debate about social cohesion is of great relevance. It was a good and important step forward that we had this meeting in Gothenburg a couple of months ago, where we agreed in principle about social guidelines. We now have to implement these ideas. In order to do so, we need a fully fledged strategy, because this is also about competitiveness, closing the skills gap and labour market reforms – it isn’t easy. The most important signal I could give today would be to say that we cannot ensure this only by a decision taken in Brussels or in Strasbourg; each nation State has a responsibility here and there is some homework to be done. I am proud that in Denmark we have a long tradition of bringing all the social partners to the negotiating table. Most recently we have adopted tripartite agreements, which will perhaps serve as an example to be followed in other countries. If we do not solve problems that are close to people, where we are talking about the challenges linked to migration or unemployment and, in particular, youth employment, we will lose the support of the people. This is indeed an important question, and I thank you for drawing my attention to it.
Mr CROWE (Ireland, Spokesperson for the Group of the Unified European Left) – Prime Minister, the European Union has established the permanent structured cooperation – PESCO. My party, Sinn Féin, opposed the creation of PESCO, because we believe it will further militarise the European Union, which is unnecessary, and will create a European army, which is unwanted and dangerous. For those reasons, and because it would undermine Ireland’s policy of neutrality, we campaigned against Ireland’s involvement in PESCO. Denmark has opted out of PESCO, an approach I very much support. Can you explain the Danish people’s particular concerns about joining this European military alliance?
Mr RASMUSSEN – I am afraid I will disappoint you a bit, because personally and politically I am in favour of Europe taking greater responsibility in this area of security, given the new security situation in our neighbourhood. For legal reasons, Denmark cannot participate in this, because we have a legally binding opt-out on European Union defence policy. We would need a referendum if we were to opt in instead of opt out, and I do not think this is the time for referendums. So you cannot interpret the fact that we are not joining PESCO as a signal that Denmark is against this idea; we are a core member of NATO. The new Administration in the White House and the security situation in our neighbourhood, about which I will not go into details, mean it is obvious that Europe must pay more attention to this area. Given that Denmark is a NATO member and a member of the European Union with this legally binding opt-out, my priority is to ensure that we do not copy and paste capacity within the NATO framework and within the European Union framework; we have to make sure that the European strategy creates real added value to what is already going on in NATO.
Ms GAMBARO (Italy, Spokesperson for the Free Democrats Group) – Prime Minister, we appreciate your strong commitment to human rights and the Council of Europe’s core values. How do you think the Council of Europe could bring all member States together into a common place where human rights are respected in the same way?
Mr RASMUSSEN – I do not think there is an easy answer to that question. A lot of hard work is being done and we should continue what is already going on – meetings such as this one, with a conversation and dialogue such as this one. Again, I refer to my first intervention and this whole idea of bringing not only experts but politicians together in an open-minded dialogue about how we should create and protect the best possible European human rights protection system. All of us need to speak out when we see violations of human rights. I will stick to that; it would be nice if I could invent some shortcut, but there is no shortcut – we just have to continue the hard work. I admire the job done in this body, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. If we look in the history books, we see they are full of concrete examples of people who have gained freedom and had a much better life due to interventions from members of this body. You should take this as a strong signal to continue what you are already doing.
The PRESIDENT – That was the last question on behalf of the political groups. We now continue with the speaker’s list, and we will have groups of three questions.
Ms DURANTON (France)* – Out of 175 States ranked, Denmark has for several years been No. 1 on Transparency International’s corruption perceptions index. Congratulations on that. How do you explain that situation, and how could Denmark help other countries to make progress in combating corruption?
Mr HOWELL (United Kingdom) – It was highlighted in the press recently that Denmark pays millions of krone annually for mistaken arrests and detention. Would you like to comment on the Danish justice system and the country’s preparedness to deal with terrorism?
Mr SCHWABE (Germany)* – The debate on the Council of Europe’s human rights mission is not new. The Court has been discussed, and we need to look at what has happened. One of the Assembly’s most important tasks is to protect the European Court of Human Rights, and we have to meet that challenge. What can the Committee of Ministers do to better support the Court?
Mr RASMUSSEN – First, I will give a short response to our colleague from the United Kingdom. I think you will find the answer in Denmark’s very well-functioning judicial system. That leads me to my answer to the last question. It could hopefully serve as an example for others to follow. That is why I am so engaged in the idea of shared responsibilities between the national and European level, so that we can at the European level concentrate our resources and energy on countries that are really challenged.
Ms Duranton asked about Denmark’s position with regard to corruption. There is a national and an international angle to the answer. On a domestic level, you will find the answer in the transparency of Danish society. Denmark is a small country, with only 5.8 million people, and it is very well organised. A couple of years ago, we made structural administrative reforms, emphasising efficiency at the municipal and regional levels. The smallness of our country, the fact that our system is so well organised and perhaps also the fact that Denmark is an equal society in comparison with other societies are the reasons behind the fact that we are No. 1 on that list, which I am proud of. That also gives us an obligation to reach out at an international level. We have done so and will continue to do so. The fight against corruption is a fight in favour of personal freedom and the possibilities of taxpayers and people in our societies.
Mr De BRUYN (Belgium) – I would like to express my appreciation for the plans by the Danish chairmanship to hold a conference on the theme of “Private and family life: achieving equality regardless of sexual orientation” as an adjunct to the meeting of the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Copenhagen in March. On other fronts, there have been serious setbacks to the rights of LGBTI people in some European countries, particularly in Chechnya, Azerbaijan and more recently in Turkey. What steps does Denmark, as chair of the Committee of Ministers, consider can be taken by the Council of Europe to address those issues?
Mr SŘNDERGAARD (Denmark) – In your speech, you mentioned the lack of implementation of the Court’s rulings, but what concretely does the Danish chairmanship plan to do about that? What is its concrete proposal? Will that be part of the Copenhagen Declaration that the Prime Minister plans to get approved by the end of the Danish chairmanship?
Ms SCHOU (Norway) – One of your priorities for the chairmanship is to stimulate the involvement of children and youth in democracy. I fully support that goal. Education on democratic citizenship and human rights is a prerequisite for upholding and strengthening the European human rights system in a future Europe. What is your main initiative to strengthen the involvement of children and youth? Is the European Wergeland Centre a central part of that goal?
Mr RASMUSSEN – Thank you for three very important questions. I apologise that I will probably not be able, within the time I have, to answer them in detail.
The first question was about LGBTI people. Fighting in favour of tolerance and protecting minorities’ right to live their own lives is probably the most important thing. That is basically what Europe and civilisation is all about. That is a key priority for Denmark, not only in relation to our chairmanship but in many other areas. I am proud that Denmark has been chosen to facilitate WorldPride and the big European sport event related to it in a few years’ time.
Even though we have come a long way, we still have challenges – perhaps not so much in our legal system, but among people. If we want to promote equal opportunities for everybody and the right to live your own life, it is not only about political initiatives and new legislation. It is also about continuing dialogue and debate. That is going on in this very body, and I very much support that. I encourage you to continue to voice public criticism when countries systematically violate the human rights of LGBTI persons – for instance, by banning Pride events.
To my colleague from the Danish Parliament, Mr Sřndergaard, I say that, yes, there is a lack of willingness in certain countries. I am not in a position here to point the finger, but I just mention the very obvious fact that there is a challenge that we have to face if we want a more efficient human rights protection system in Europe. That is among the things that we are going to discuss in the lead-up to the meeting in Copenhagen. I discussed with the President today the whole idea of how we can secure the embedding of the Convention in national judicial systems. That is among the answers to that question. We have to follow that up and find ways of including it in our final declaration.
Children’s education and gender equality are among the five priorities of our chairmanship and, as Her Royal Highness the Crown Princess mentioned yesterday, together with this Assembly, we will organise a conference in Copenhagen focusing on good practice and inclusive policies on family and private life for same-sex couples. We will facilitate a seminar entitled “Democratic culture: from words to action” in April in Copenhagen. That will be based on the Council of Europe toolbox for teaching democratic citizens. I totally agree that everything starts in childhood and we should give our youngsters – the next European generation – the tools with which they can act and live in a democratic society. That is also a way to avoid radicalisation, to ensure integration and to understand that people can be different; we have just discussed the LGBTI question but others could also be mentioned. It is a way forward to overcome these differences among people.
Ms HOFFMANN (Hungary)* – Illegal immigration and parallel societies resulting from that phenomenon constitute a serious risk to security and a major challenge to European societies. We need a strict and systematic immigration policy, such as Hungary and Denmark have applied, to protect European citizens. Through what means could you successfully reduce illegal immigration so as to guarantee citizens’ security?
Mr ZINGERIS (Lithuania) – Thank you Prime Minister for your broad and concise answers. I have two tiny questions. One is related to this Assembly. In 1960, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, led by the chair of the Danish delegation, Madam Lowzow, passed a resolution on not recognising the occupation of the Baltic countries. How will we preserve her memory? She was a prominent figure in European life who died in 1985. We need such Europeans to be remembered as examples.
Ms De SUTTER (Belgium) – We have heard you pleading for reform of the European human rights system. You want to make it easier for member States to intervene directly in Court cases and call it “shared responsibility”. But can you address the fear that this could risk the deterioration of the human rights system, leading to the belief that human rights are not universal but subject to the subsidiarity principle, which could lead to cherry-picking?
Mr RASMUSSEN – The principles are universal. There is no discussion about that. I thank Ms De Sutter for raising that question because it gives me an opportunity to emphasise that. I put absolutely no question mark over the fact that human rights are universal, and in this pan-European context. We should discuss with an open mind how to establish the best system to ensure that these rights are fulfilled and that people are protected in reality. In that discussion, it is a fact that there is a severe caseload right now. We should try to solve that problem. One way, among others, is to engage the national level more. That is the original concept: human rights should be implemented at national level. But in reality, if you look at member States, you will see clear differences between them. Some member States produce many cases to the European Court, some produce fewer. You cannot just conclude that the countries with the big backlog of cases are necessarily the ones with the biggest problems. It could also be linked to the fact that, at national level, for technical reasons or owing to tradition or whatever, they do not take the Convention into account in the proper way.
If there is closer working between the national level and the Court and – excuse my bad English – we could teach these countries better to integrate or implement the Convention, we could avoid cases at European level. We could then move our focus to the cases where we have severe problems. It is crucial to state that the rights are universal but there is shared responsibility for ensuring that they are fulfilled in reality.
To my Lithuanian friend, may I say that I am fully aware of the remarkable role Marie-Antoinette von Lowzow played in history, when your country did not have the same freedom and democracy that it has today. I am very grateful to you for bringing her name up. You asked about how to preserve her memory, but you did exactly that by drawing the attention of the Assembly to her many achievements, one of which was her work on the resolution about the situation of the Baltic States under the Iron Curtain.
Finally, I come to the big question raised by Ms Hoffmann. I fully agree that in order to ensure social and cultural cohesion in Europe, we have to find ways to solve illegal migration to Europe. There is no quick fix. We need to implement a fully fledged strategy and, among many other things, we need to protect our external borders much better than we do today.
Protecting our external borders is not the whole answer, however, as we cannot solve our problems just by raising fences. We should give more impetus to reaching out to the countries of origin and the fight against the root causes, and that is why I find it very promising that in the past few years we have developed our policy towards Africa. We are not yet there, but we have developed the policy on – this could be labelled in many different ways – this more-for-more attitude. We must close a win-win deal with the Africans, giving them better access to trade with Europe, even more support in capacity building and promoting good governance, humanitarian assistance, investment in infrastructure and so on. On the other hand, they should promise that we can return illegal migrants to their countries of origin. Right now, we are taking small steps in that direction.
We could do more and we could work much faster if more countries were devoted to this. I am proud to say that I represent a country – I think there are only five, six or seven in the world – that fulfils the United Nations recommendation on aid, at 0.7% of GNI. I call for other countries to do more, because if we take a long-term perspective and look at the demographics, it goes without saying that unless we create hope for the future among young Africans there will be pressure on Europe. In the short term, there are many things you can do. We have done a lot in Denmark. We have strengthened our own policy, and I am proud to say that in the past year we received the lowest number of asylum seekers and illegal migrants that we have had in the past nine years. Much could be done at a national level, but if we really want to solve the problem we need a totally new partnership between Europe and Africa. That would be my answer.
THE PRESIDENT – We must now conclude the questions to the Prime Minister. On behalf of the Assembly, Mr Rasmussen, I thank you most warmly for your address and the answers that you have given to the questions.
I must remind members of the Assembly that the vote is in progress to elect the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights. The poll will close at 5 p.m. Those who have not yet voted may still do so by going to the area behind the President’s chair.
(Ms Mendes, Vice-President of the Assembly, took the Chair in place of Mr Nicoletti.)
3. The Turkish military intervention in Syria (current affairs debate)
THE PRESIDENT* – The next item of business this afternoon is a current affairs debate on the Turkish military intervention in Syria.
Speaking time is limited to three minutes for all members except the first speaker, chosen by the Bureau, who is allowed 10 minutes. We need to finish this debate at about 5.30 p.m.
The first speaker is Mr Tiny Kox, who was selected by the Bureau. You have 10 minutes.
Mr KOX (Netherlands) – When most of us were on our way to Strasbourg, the President Erdoğan of Turkey ordered his army to start a military intervention in the neighbouring State, Syria. Last weekend, warplanes started to bomb parts of the Kurdish Syrian area in the region of Afrin. Thereafter, Turkish troops and tanks crossed the Turkish-Syrian border.
As we speak in this Chamber with representatives of our member States, one member State’s government has started a new front in an ongoing cruel war in Syria. This Assembly, which has already shown its deep concern about everything that is happening in Syria, cannot turn a blind eye to new developments over there, which will lead to more atrocities, more wounded, more killed and more displaced citizens. Once again, a political dispute leads to a violent reaction and will add to the already huge threats of the Syrian conflict to regional and international security.
I thank the Assembly for granting my group’s request for a current affairs debate on how best to deal with these shocking new developments, and granting me the honour of opening the debate with some introductory remarks and proposals. With Turkey’s military intervention in Syria, we are entering a new phase in the Syrian war, which has already cost so many lives and so much civilisation. First, as part of the so-called Arab Spring, we had a peaceful uprising against the lack of democracy, human rights and social and economic progress in Syria, followed by its brutal suppression by President Assad’s regime. We then witnessed how parts of the opposition decided on armed resistance after Islamic State used the internal chaos in Syria to create its own strongholds in the country from where it could spread its terrorist threats throughout the world. Then, we saw how foreign powers got themselves involved militarily in Syrian developments, partly at the request of the Syrian Government, as with the Russian Federation, and partly at the request of the opposing forces, as with the United States. A broad coalition, also led by the United States, started its own military alliance against the threat of Islamic State-Daesh.
Thousands of civilians have been killed, and millions have become internally displaced persons or refugees. Many are now seeking shelter in our member States. Instead of contributing to the restoration of order and peace, the Turkish authorities have put extra fuel on the fire by starting unilateral military intervention in Syria. How should we monitor this unilateral decision and its effect in the region and worldwide? In general, international law prohibits States from using military force on the territory of another State. Article 2.4 of the United Nations Charter states: “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.” There are only three situations in which this general prohibition can be lifted. One, a State can be invited by another State to assist it in maintaining or restoring domestic peace and security. Two, a State can be mandated by the United Nations Security Council to use force in order to restore or maintain international peace and stability under Article 42. Three, a State may exercise its rights to self-defence under Article 51.
The first two conditions are obviously not met. Syria explicitly opposes the Turkish military intervention and there is no mandate whatever from the United Nations Security Council, which has only started to discuss recent events. The Turkish Government also does not base its intervention on those two possibilities, but states that its unilateral military action is related to the right to self-defence. Already between August 2016 and March 2017, Turkey militarily intervened in Syria with its Operation Euphrates Shield. Then, too, its actions were justified as self-defence against the shelling of Turkish territory by Islamic State, but in practice almost all the military strikes were not directed against Daesh but against the Kurdish YPG, the militia of the democratic self-administration of Rojava in northern Syria, which is de facto independent from the Syrian Government in Damascus.
The recent Operation Olive Branch is portrayed as a necessary reaction to the direct and immediate threat to Turkish security. However, to date, no proof has been given by Turkey of this position. On the contrary, the region that is now under Turkish fire – Afrin – happens to be one of the few places that has managed so far to stay outside the violent clashes in Syria. It has therefore become a place of shelter for thousands of IDPs from the rest of Syria. In a series of statements, President Erdoğan has made it perfectly clear that this military intervention has other goals than self-defence. In October last year, he stated in the Russian press that Turkey was ready to launch a large military operation in northern Syria and even to annex Manbij and Raqqa to its areas of influence to prevent the establishment of a Kurdish State.
It is clear that President Erdoğan is completely opposed to the development on the Turkish southern border of an ever more autonomous Kurdish region in Syria, but in no way does international law allow him to oppose that political development in his neighbouring State by military intervention in that State. Nor can this military operation be seen as a short and quick reaction to an immediate threat. Turkish authorities have made it clear that the army is entering northern Syria to stay there. Prime Minister Yıldırım stated that the aim of the military intervention is to establish a 30 km safe zone deep in Syria. The self-administration of Rojava intends in no way to give the Turkish army free access to its territory. Thus it seems that a violent clash is unavoidable. Already several people have been wounded or killed, people are on the run and structures have been destroyed by Turkish warplanes and tanks.
Overall, instability in Syria and the region will grow again and security will again be further undermined by this unilateral Turkish operation. At the same time, Turkish military intervention against the Kurds in Syria will upset the Kurdish communities in Turkey. Since President Erdoğan jeopardised the peace process between the Turkish authorities and the Kurdish communities in his country on the eve of the 2015 parliamentary elections, the suppression of Kurdish citizens in Turkey has increased enormously, with continuous attacks against communities and their representatives, including the elected parliamentarians of Turkey’s third biggest party in parliament, HDP.
We can expect that the longer the intervention in Syria lasts and the more violence is used, the more internal tensions in Turkey will grow and lead to new explosions of violence over there. We have already heard President Erdoğan say that those in Turkey who want to use the fundamental rights of freedom to gather and freedom of expression to oppose this military intervention will pay a high price. Such language violates Turkish obligations as a Council of Europe member State under the European Convention and increases the fear that we will have a new round of human rights violations in our member State.
We should act now, as we have done in the past. We reacted several times to the crisis in Syria and asked how the Council of Europe could be of any help to the citizens there and in protecting international security. I would appreciate it if colleagues would commend the following four proposals. First, to call on the Turkish authorities to immediately stop their military intervention in Syria, to respect the Charter of the United Nations and to look for political ways to solve political problems, including security needs. Secondly, to call on Council of Europe member States to use their influence in the United Nations Security Council to have, as soon as possible, a Security Council resolution demanding the end of hostilities and the immediate withdrawal of the Turkish army from Syrian soil, and calling specifically on those Council of Europe member States that have a seat on the Security Council to support such a resolution. Thirdly, to call on the Council of Europe to use all its possibilities – the Committee of Ministers, the Assembly, the Secretary General and the Commissioner for Human Rights – to convince our member State, Turkey, that this unilateral military intervention violates the Charter of the United Nations and the values and principles of our Organisation. Fourthly, to call on the Turkish authorities and the Turkish-Kurdish community to restart the peace process that was jeopardised in 2015 but which is, according to Resolution 1925 (2013), “the obvious way forward in ending violence and creating a peaceful environment for the solution of the Kurdish question.”
I look forward to the reaction of colleagues to those four proposals.
The PRESIDENT* – Thank you, Mr Kox. The speakers on the list have three minutes. I call Ms Pashayeva.
Ms PASHAYEVA (Azerbaijan, Spokesperson for the Free Democrats Group) – It is clear that to maintain regional and international peace and security, the eradication of the danger of terrorism is extremely important. I have been to Turkey several times. I have visited the Turkish-Syrian border regions, and I have visited refugee camps and talked to people who have suffered directly at the hands of the terrorist organisations. I know that those people seek assistance from the Council of Europe. As the guardian of human rights in Europe, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has an obligation to address this human tragedy in its entirety.
As a founding member of the Council of Europe, Turkey took steps to ensure the security of its citizens, as well as safeguarding the fundamental rights of civilians affected. In this context, it is apparent that Operation Olive Branch by the Turkish armed forces is aimed at securing Turkey’s border security and the neutralisation of the terror threat in the region, thus saving civilians living in the region from terrorist attacks and threats.
Furthermore, Operation Olive Branch is launched in accordance with Turkey’s rights deriving from international law. In this context, several United Nations decisions against terrorism, and the right of self-defence in Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, justify the intervention of Turkey. The purpose of PYD/YPG in Syria was not to fight Daesh but to create a fait accompli on the ground, to occupy territories and to alter the demographics in its favour. Turkey has suffered from terrorist attacks carried out by both YPG and Daesh. These terrorist attacks resulted in the deaths of many innocent people.
I hope that Turkey’s operation will bring peace and stability to northern Syria and that people in the region never again become the subject of treacherous terrorist attacks.
Mr STROE (Romania, Spokesperson for the Group of the European People’s Party) – News of armed conflict is always alarming, and it is even more worrying when it comes from Syria, whose innocent civilians have had to confront the tragedy of war for too long.
Reports from Afrin indicate that there are many victims among combatants and non-combatants. When shells rain down on residential areas, it is inevitable that there will be innocent victims. The same people who fled the barbarity of Daesh now fear for their lives again. Almost 800 000 civilians, among them many Yazidi and Christian refugees, live in the area. According to their spokespersons’ public statements, they now fear the jihadist groups operating in the shadow of the Turkish offensive.
All parties involved in the armed conflict – in particular, those who initiated it – bear the responsibility for protecting civilians. It is true, and all international partners acknowledge, that Turkey has a legitimate right to protect itself against terrorist attacks, but it seems that the Turkish Government is deploying a military tool to solve a police problem. Will a new wave of refugees solve its security concerns? In conclusion, we urge member States to identify a peaceful solution to the conflict, keeping in mind the fact that our most important concern is the safety of innocent civilians on both sides of the border.
Ms MIKKO (Estonia, Spokesperson for the Socialists, Democrats and Greens Group) – Today, we are debating an extremely serious subject in this Chamber. One thing is clear: as Europeans, we need not only to express our thoughts but to act. Turkey risks escalating Syria’s humanitarian crisis, and civilians are in danger. We are very concerned about the consequences of the Turkish assault on the Syrian border. The United Nations estimates that 5 000 people have been displaced by clashes between Turkish-led forces and Kurdish fighters in north-western Syria. Furthermore, an estimated 323 000 civilians are at great risk. The most important thing is to protect civilians and respect international law. Turkey should exercise restraint in its military action.
This operation has opened up an unnecessary new front in that already complicated conflict, and could divert the coalition-backed Syrian Kurdish combatants from the main and essential objective: the fight against Daesh and other terrorist groups. Turkey should concentrate its efforts on combating Daesh. It is essential to avoid any civilian casualties. The humanitarian risks should be rapidly assessed, and full humanitarian access should be guaranteed to the affected areas. Moreover, Turkey has detained a total of 150 people for writing social media posts about its military campaign against the Kurdish militia in Syria since the operation began. Detainees include politicians, journalists and activists. A lasting political settlement in Syria can be achieved only through a United Nations process.
We should also ask questions about the consequences of the military intervention for Turkey. First, to what extent could the intervention further affect the already stalled resolution process on the Kurdish issue in Turkey? Secondly, to what extent could it lead to a further limitation of fundamental freedoms, such as the right to free expression and demonstration, which are already severely strained under the continued state of emergency since July 2016? Those core issues are of direct interest to our Organisation.
Last year, our Assembly expressed its many concerns about the fact that Turkey has not fulfilled its obligations towards the Council of Europe. Our Assembly should clearly state that this military operation, whatever its justification, cannot be carried out at the expense of the fundamental rights of people in Turkey and civilians in Syria. We therefore urge our Turkish colleagues to do their utmost to seek peace and stability through diplomatic and political channels at home and abroad. The Assembly will remain supportive of any steps in that direction.
Mr SEYIDOV (Azerbaijan, Spokesperson for the European Conservatives Group) – We sometimes hear about very strange approaches, and the attitudes we have heard in this discussion are vivid examples. We can all see that we are suffering from terror, not only in Turkey but in all our countries: the Netherlands, Belgium, the United Kingdom, France and Azerbaijan. Terror is a cancer in the body of Europe. When one country is doing its best to prevent that disease and create a normal environment with human rights, we use words such as “invasion” and “intervention” in the title of the report. This is neither an intervention nor an invasion; it is a military operation against the cancer, against the terror with two faces: the face of Daesh and the face of the PKK. Both of those internationally recognised terrorist organisations are dangerous threats for Europe and for mankind.
Turkey has decided to do its best to clean the territory and create an environment acceptable to the international community. In the messages that it sent to the international organisations, it said that it is not going to occupy those territories in the way that other countries, such as Azerbaijan, are occupied. It said that it informed the United States of America that the 4 000 trucks that have been donated to that terrorist organisation could create a lot of problems. It informed the international community and international organisations, but nobody cared about that. Now that Turkey has started its military operation because of us – because of our children and families; because of London, Paris, Baku and other capitals – we claim that it is an invasion. No, today Turkey needs our support. This is the only way to deal with terror, and I hope Turkey can manage it.
Mr MARUKYAN (Armenia, Spokesperson for the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe) – On Monday, when we were starting our session in this Chamber, Turkish ground troops, assisted by rebels from the Free Syrian Army, crossed into northern Syria as part of the offensive called Operation Olive Branch to push out the Kurdish People’s Protection Units – the YPG. The Turkish Prime Minister, Binali Yıldırım, said that the aim is to establish a 30 km – or 19 mile – safe zone deep inside Syria. Some 25 000 pro-Turkish fighters have joined the offensive, rebel commander Major Yasser Abdul Rahim told Reuters.
Turkey’s full-scale intrusion into Afrin with the Free Syrian Army has severe consequences for the civilian population living in the province, who are subject to shelling and bombardment from the Turkish air force. The region was one of the few parts of Syria that was relatively stable and untouched by the Syrian conflict. It now faces the full-scale consequences of the Turkish offensive. The number of civilian victims of bombardments is mounting day by day. Thousands of civilians are reported to be fleeing the province. At the end of 2017, there were already 6.6 million people displaced inside Syria. Afrin, which is home to an estimated 600 000 people, is adjacent to Idlib province, where more than 200 000 people have been displaced by fighting since mid-December. What is being done to help the civilians fleeing Afrin province? As I understand it, nothing has been done. The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe is deeply concerned about the emergency situation and the civilian casualties as a result of attacks on peaceful towns and cities. We hereby call on Turkey to cease its military operations and refrain from further escalation of attacks.
In this regard, the United States, France and other international actors have already voiced their concerns and called for a halt to military actions. France has called on the United Nations Security Council to address the issue urgently. The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe supports these announcements and calls on the international community to intervene and stop the further increase in violence and mass human rights violations in Syria.
The PRESIDENT* – It is now 5 p.m. Does any member still wish to vote in the election of the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights? The ballot is now closed.
Will Mr Sorre, Ms Pashayeva, Mr Kobza and Mr Destrebecq please proceed immediately to the telling of the votes? If possible, the results of the election will be announced before the end of the session or, failing that, at the opening of the next session.
We will now resume our debate. I call Mr Kürkçü.
Mr KÜRKÇÜ (Turkey, Spokesperson for the Group of the Unified European Left) – I thank Tiny Kox for his excellent opening remarks. We are here today to understand what has turned Syria’s always peaceful, olive-producing Kurdish-majority town of Afrin into a theatre of war. Since 20 January, Afrin has been subject to an incursion by the Turkish armed forces and a “fact-based” military operation sarcastically dubbed Operation Olive Branch. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights – and despite official denials – many civilians, including children and the elderly, have lost their lives in air raids and artillery shelling, while thousands have fled their homes.
Ankara says the incursion is in conformity with Article 51 of the United Nations Charter and United Nations General Assembly resolutions, yet to this day Turkey has not come under a single military attack, as defined in the United Nations Charter, from the inhabitants of Afrin, nor has the town ever hosted a single Daesh unit, the target of the United Nations resolutions. No United Nations resolutions have been issued against the YPG. The YPG – the military target of the incursion – was born from the struggle for survival by the peoples of northern Syria in the face of horrendous Daesh massacres. Following the legendary defence of the people of Kobanî, in 2014, it has become a symbol of hope not only for its own people but for the whole world in defence of human dignity against Daesh across the globe.
I would like to jog your memories. In 2016, the Assembly awarded a Yazidi woman, Nadia Murad, the Václav Havel Prize for the courage she displayed during years of captivity at the hands of Daesh as a sex slave. Thousands of other Yazidi women were rescued from slavery by the Kurdish Women’s Defence Units – the YPJ – between 2014 and 2017, when Daesh was finally defeated. These women were role models for young women across the globe. Nowhere else in the world but Ankara were they labelled as terrorists. They were the cover stars of mainstream magazines across the world. Now Ankara is targeting these women, but not because they are terrorists: rather, they are part of autonomous administrations that rule themselves, in their native tongue, across northern Syria. They are thus setting a bad example to the Kurds of Turkey. What a crime! Throughout human history, for a people to arise from nothing to represent hope for humanity could be seen as nothing but virtuous.
Lacking any moral or military justification, the Afrin incursion comes at a time when voter support for Turkey’s ruling party ahead of the 2019 general election is plummeting. The only plausible, yet unacceptable, reason for the incursion is as possible leverage for fanning nationalism in Turkey and crushing the opposition, using the war as justification. Many tens of people who have called on the government to stop the war have been arrested. I wish the Assembly would spend more time analysing the inner workings of the unresolved Kurdish question in Turkey, instead of closing its eyes to a war far away from home, and call on Turkey to raise the right to live in peace to the top of the agenda and release all those detained in prison for defending the peace.
Ms De SUTTER (Belgium) – On Monday, as the Assembly began its work week, 24 people were arrested in Turkey, accused of spreading pro-Kurdish propaganda. Meanwhile, the Turkish army advanced ground troops towards the Kurdish-held city of Afrin, as we have heard. The city is home to many thousands of people, and we already have reports of at least 260 killed by Turkish troops. The citizens of Afrin are now engulfed by the brutality of the “safe zone” that Turkish Prime Minister Yıldırım claims to want to create in Syria. Yet as Mr Jagland said on Monday, "Crossing a border is easy, but it is difficult to stop." Turkey has crossed the Syrian border. Where will it end?
The Turkish Government has dubbed its offensive into Syria “Operation Olive Branch”. This is not a serious name. This operation is not an olive branch; it is not a move for peace. It is a disaster; it is a clear worsening of the humanitarian situation. It is also completely unacceptable. The Turkish military intervention into Syria’s territory has already caused numerous casualties, according to local and international reports. Moreover, hundreds of thousands more people are now being forced to take refuge, fleeing the fighting in the midst of the sub-zero winter months. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has confirmed that innocents trying to escape the violence in Syria have been found frozen to death as they slept outdoors.
It is incontrovertible that the situation represents a catastrophe in the context of human rights in the region. Turkey’s offensive into Afrin’s territory will exacerbate the civil war in Syria. It had seemed that diplomacy was perhaps beginning to work. Now Turkey’s actions will greatly compound the problems facing civilians, among them many women and children. The Russian Federation and the United States are playing proxy games in the region. Turkey is taking advantage of the situation for its own agenda, and it has brought us to this dangerous point.
This Assembly has a responsibility to call the world’s attention to abuses of human rights. Member States must stand for diplomatic solutions. We must condemn these movements of bombers, tanks and ground troops towards the Syrian Kurds. The actions of the Turkish Government in this regard are unquestionably inexcusable. We stand for peace and human rights. We stand against violent incursion. We must therefore stand against this military action and all the powers that disregard human suffering in Syria.
Mr TÜRKEŞ (Turkey)* – Turkey is in a constant battle with many terrorist organisations that pose a threat to its national security. In this context, Operation Euphrates Shield helped to clean the Turkey-Syria border and liberated an area of over 2 000 sq. km. It has also created a safe area, so that the Syrians could go back.
However, the terrorist threat is unfortunately not over. In the Afrin zone, in north-west Syria, terrorist organisations – including the PKK, the KCK, the PYD and the YPG – pose a threat to the lives and properties of people in the region and people across the border in Turkey. They have carried that a step further recently: in the Turkish provinces of Hatay and Kilis, there have been more than 700 attacks. There is a risk that the Daesh elements that came from other parts of Syria and are located in the region could attack Turkey and pass over into Europe.
The existence of those terrorist organisations in the Afrin region is a big threat to Syria’s territorial integrity. Within that framework, the Turkish armed forces started Operation Olive Branch. Turkey took the necessary steps in order to notify the relevant international parties under international law. The United Nations was informed, Syria’s consulate general in Istanbul was notified, permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and other neighbours of Syria and their ambassadors were invited to the foreign ministry and were informed. Let us not forget that the terrorist organisations caused more than 3.5 million people to desert their homes, and most came to Turkey as a safe haven.
Finally, the operation is not against any element of the sovereign State of Syria. It is aimed only at the terrorist organisations. It has a limited scope and is not an occupation. Once the mission is over, Turkish armed forces will come back.
Mr KILIÇ (Turkey) – As the armed conflict in Syria continues unabated into its seventh year, the spill-over effects of the war have exceeded the borders of Syria. The terrorist organisations that have found a foothold in the region pose a serious threat to regional and international security. Turkey’s national security has been under direct threat from those terrorist organisations, among which Daesh, the PYG and the YPG are at the top of the list.
In order to counter that terrorist threat, Turkish armed forces started Operation Olive Branch in Afrin on 20 January 2018 at 5 p.m. The Turkish armed forces aim to neutralise the terrorist elements belonging to the PKK, the PYD, the YPG and Daesh in the Afrin region in the north-western part of Syria, in order to ensure the security and stability of our borders and to save the people of the region from oppression and persecution. Members will see in reports from the Atlantic Council, Amnesty International and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights that PYG, the PYD and the YPG have been committing atrocities against the Kurdish population of those regions. Turkey has no problem with its Kurdish sisters and brothers; Turkey has a problem with the PKK, the YPG and the PYD. Operation Olive Branch was launched in accordance with international law and will continue to abide by it.
Child soldiers and civilians are being forced into the way and have arms put into their hands. Some 3.5 million people have fled Syria and the region to seek safe haven in Turkey. Saying that Turkey is not doing its humanitarian duty is just false, because Turkey now hosts more than 3.5 million refugees from different countries in different parts of the region. No other member State represented in the Chamber hosts so many refugees. The problem we are seeing arise here is not a humanitarian crisis but a problem of terror, and the terror problem has to be addressed – there is no way around it. If we take the steps to do so, we ask our allies to stand by us. That is all we are doing.
We are taking the utmost precautions to avoid in any way harming civilians. That is not our aim. Our aim is to fight against and crush the terrorist groups – especially Daesh, the PKK and the YPG. I believe that some of the remarks that have been made in this Chamber are only fuelling and helping terrorist groups, rather than people and States and our aim to bring forward humanitarian ideas. We have to stand by freedom and democracy, and we have to fight against terrorists, together and united.
Mr CROWE (Ireland) – Turkey’s invasion of Syria is a breach of international law. The Turkish narrative will say that it is about security, but attacks on Turkey have never come from that region. The assault on Afrin will cause huge civilian casualties and further destabilise the region. It is wrong on so many levels and must be condemned by the Assembly.
We are aware of the human rights violations that the Turkish army, under President Erdoğan’s command, has committed against Kurds and others in south-east Turkey. In March 2017, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights released a hard-hitting report on the serious human rights and international law violations by Turkish security forces. More than half a million people have been displaced, cities have been destroyed, 100 000 people have been dismissed from their jobs and tens of thousands of people have been jailed and tortured, including members of parliament, mayors, local representatives, journalists and human rights defenders.
The HDP is the third largest party in the Turkish Parliament and it has also been targeted by the Turkish Government, primarily because of its electoral success. My fear is that Turkey’s brutal tactics against civilians and legitimate opposition will be replicated in Afrin. My fear is that that will lead to widespread illegal territorial land grabs and settlements, as we have already seen in Cyprus.
The Kurdish People’s Protection Units has been successful in fighting Daesh in Afrin. It has bravely driven Daesh out of its strongholds in northern Syria, creating a free, safe and inclusive area for many oppressed minorities. This invasion will undoubtedly hamper the fight against Daesh, but that should not come as a complete surprise, given the many questions surrounding Turkey’s covert support for radical jihadist groups in Syria. During the bloody battle of Kobanî, when wave after wave of Daesh attacks pummelled the besieged city, Turkish soldiers sat in their tanks and watched the battle unfold a short distance away. Kurdish resistance held out and Kobanî was liberated from Daesh again.
The anti-democratic policies of the Turkish Government in its own country are unjust and unacceptable and have been condemned and subjected to monitoring by members of the Assembly. This ongoing illegal invasion of Afrin must be condemned by democrats and all of us who want to see a viable, long-term peaceful settlement for Syria and its people.
Ms GAFAROVA (Azerbaijan) – Turkey has directly faced the impacts of the Syrian conflict since its beginning. The power vacuum in Syria created a favourable environment for terrorist groups, which constitute a grave security threat for Turkey.
The worsening humanitarian situation has affected Turkey as well. Currently, Turkey hosts more than 3.5 million Syrians who fled from the zones of armed conflict, so Turkey has a lot at stake in the Syrian situation. That is why Turkey successfully carried out Operation Euphrates Shield against Daesh. An area of 2 000 sq. km and 243 residential areas of various sizes were cleared of terrorist groups, creating a practically terror-free safe zone.
The aim of Operation Olive Branch, carried out by Turkish armed forces, is to neutralise the terrorist menace in the region and to ensure the safety of Turkey’s borders, as well as to protect civilians living in the area against terrorist attacks and threats from the PYD, the YPG and Daesh. The operations of the Turkish armed forces are based on the substantial documents of international law. Turkey, acting within the frames of international law, implements its rights deriving from the resolution on combating terrorism adopted by the United Nations Security Council, and implements its right to defend itself as reflected in Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. At the level of heads of State and government, Turkey guarantees the territorial integrity of Syria.
I am from a country that has suffered very much from terrorism. We suffered heavy losses as victims of the policy of terrorism carried out by Armenia for years and years. A policy of genocide has been implemented in Khojaly and other towns in our country. There are more than 1 million refugees – our native citizens – in our country. I could continue with the long list of our sufferings, but I would like to state that we therefore strongly condemn terrorism in all its manifestations, and support the efforts of the international community in the battle against it. It is particularly important to uproot the menace of terrorism in order to achieve regional and international peace and security.
We, the parliamentarians of the Council of Europe, should support Turkey in its fight against terrorism, as it will bring peace and stability to the region. When Operation Olive Branch is complete, Turkey will have created a space in the region where Syrian refugees can safely live. The operation will purge tyrannies from the area and people will not have to leave their country. We have to remember that terrorism is an international evil and efforts towards its elimination should be supported. If Europe wants to uphold its own values, it must side with Turkey and support Operation Olive Branch.
Mr MİROĞLU (Turkey)* – The film “Post” or “Pentagon Papers” clearly shows the kind of situation we face. When it comes to perception, people are prevented from getting the correct news and the media is manipulating information. The United States started proxy wars with the operation in Iraq and other interventions in the Middle East and elsewhere. And unfortunately these global perception operations are targeting our region.
From the speeches I have heard, I understand that some members of the Assembly really need to update their information on the Kurdish issue and the Middle East. Instead of accusing Turkey, members of the Council of Europe should realise that in the coming decades – within this century – there will be no peace in Europe if there is no stability and peace in Damascus, Baghdad and Diyarbakır, and if the territorial integrity of Turkey, Syria and Iraq is not protected. But how are you going to ensure this stability – by sending arms to the terrorists and building armies from terrorist organisations?
The United States comes all the way across the Atlantic and creates a non-State army, and when we ask the Americans what they are doing, they say, “We are going to use this against Iran.” Where do the United States get this legitimacy from? How can we be sure that this measure will not be used against Turkey one day? Unfortunately, the YPG – which is organised against Turkey – is only controlled by one single force, and that force is called the PKK. These organisations are all mobilised against Turkey and continue to attack Turkey. Turkey is a member of NATO, wants to become a member of the European Union and is a founding member of the Council of Europe, but we are unfortunately left alone in our fight against terrorism.
The YPG is using Arabs, Turks, Turkmens and Yemenis as human shields. Two years ago, it occupied certain towns in the south-east of Turkey, and caused great damage to civilians. It is now implementing the same strategy in Afrin. Many years ago, if people had proposed the establishment of a group like the IRA or ETA in the middle of Europe, what would you have said? Turkey’s operation is against not the people, but a terrorist organisation, and it is being done with a view to bringing peace and stability to the region.
Mr HUNKO (Germany)* – I say very clearly to the Turkish Government and colleagues here who have just spoken in favour of this military intervention in Syria: you have no right. You cannot ignore international law and just make up your own rules. There are very clear rules. There is a ban on the use of violence, and that ban can only be lifted in exceptional circumstances – for example, if the Syrian Government says, “Please give us a hand”, if there is a direct threat or if the United Nations Security Council has decided that it should be lifted. None of this has happened. You are just making up your own rules and saying, “Oh, we’re actually just fighting terrorism.” Well, I can tell you that the YPG, which is being attacked in Afrin now, is not recognised by most States as a terrorist organisation. There have been no YPG attacks in Paris, London, Berlin and Brussels. Those attacks were from the so-called Islamic State or other jihadists. The YPG and the Syrian Kurds are the very people who have sacrificed themselves to fight against Islamic State. You have no right to use the victims of terrorism in Europe as an excuse for this war.
I thank Mr Kox, who initiated this debate, for his balanced presentation of the conflict, and I return to these points because they are very important. This action is a clear breach of international law and we should condemn it out of hand. We should call on the Turkish Government to stop this military intervention immediately and withdraw its troops; we should call on our countries to go to the United Nations Security Council and speak in favour of these aims; and we should ask the other institutions of the Council of Europe to call for this and to be active.
There is no way around this; I was just amazed and stunned by the debate. Cleansing was mentioned. People said that the cities have been “cleaned” of terrorists. There is no way forward other than to go back to the peace process that was announced in 2015. That is the clear position of this Assembly, which has said so over and over again in many resolutions. I say to the Turkish Government, please return to the peace process and withdraw your military from the Syrian Kurdish area.
Mr ÖZSOY (Turkey) – Listening to those who are in favour of this intervention and operation, it seems that they have only one single argument, which is that Turkey is fighting terrorism. I think that they should develop more convincing arguments in order to convince the international community.
In Turkey over the past two years, tens of thousands of people have been sent to prison under the guise of fighting terrorism. These people include members of parliament, elected Kurdish mayors, journalists, civil society representatives and human rights activists. Almost anybody who is critical of the Turkish Government is a terrorist. In fact, when the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe included Turkey in the monitoring process again, representatives of the government said that the Assembly was supporting terrorism. That is why we need to go beyond all this talk of terror.
As a member of the HDP, an opposition party in Turkey, I can tell you this much: there is no fight against terrorism in Turkey, or even in Syria. Under the guise of fighting terrorism, the Turkish Government is fighting against a people: the Kurdish people, who are native to the Middle East and who are trying to develop an autonomous political existence there amidst the crazy political turmoil, chaos and violence. In fact, President Erdoğan himself has said repeatedly that Turkey will do whatever it can to prevent the formation of another northern Iraq in Syria – meaning “We are not going to let the Kurds create their own autonomous administration in Syria.” That is the problem; it has nothing to do with terrorism.
To those who say that there is a fight against terror and who support the Turkish Government’s arguments, I say this: when a country sends more than 70 000 people to prison in a single year on charges related to terrorism, the problem is not the citizens, but the country and its government. Turkey is constantly producing terrorists – real or imagined. I would like all colleagues to deconstruct the argument that Turkey is fighting against terrorism, because anti-terrorism is being used as a medium to criminalise dissent and attack anyone who does not think like the Turkish Government. Unfortunately, President Erdoğan has started his presidential election campaign by invading Afrin. That is the crux of the argument.
Ms DURANTON (France)* – Syria has been affected by civil war since 2011. Major powers have intervened in the conflict in support of different sides, depending on their interests. Turkey has intervened in Syria on a number of occasions. Between August 2016 and March 2017, it carried out a military operation in the north of Syria: the so-called Euphrates Shield operation, the aim of which was to fight against Islamic State and prevent the creation of an autonomous Kurdish region on the Turkish border. The Islamic State fighters were quickly defeated and the Kurdish fighters were obliged to retreat east of the Euphrates. If the West welcomed that intervention, the Syrian Foreign Minister called it a blatant breach of sovereignty. A further Turkish intervention was made in October 2017, with the agreement of the Russians, and was designed to protect the Syrian opposition from Bashar al-Assad.
At the weekend, Turkey launched a vast offensive against the Kurdish YPG fighters on the Turkish border in the Afrin region in the north of Syria. The Turkish army carried out massive bombing in areas that it felt represented allies of the PKK movement, which was carrying out terrorist attacks in its territory. President Erdoğan has stated that that was designed to strengthen the position of the Syrian opposition. We express sympathy for the Kurdish fighters, who have been very brave in fighting against Islamic State. We know what the Turkish military forces are capable of because they are accused of committing numerous acts against the Kurdish civilian population in the south-east of Turkey. Many civilians have been reported killed since the beginning of Operation Olive Branch. Afrin shelters more than 1 million people, including many who have been displaced by the Syrian conflict. I therefore call on the Turkish Government to show as much restraint as possible and avoid wanton shelling.
Of course, Turkey is surrounded by conflict zones and has been a victim of terrorist acts. It is understandable that the Turkish Government is trying to protect its territory, but that must not be done in breach of international law. As a member of the Council of Europe, Turkey should respect the European Convention on Human Rights. Furthermore, the Turkish military intervention designed to create a Sunni zone will not be accepted by other countries. It will exacerbate the conflict and be unlikely to create peace in the region; it is more likely to weaken the ongoing negotiations.
I would like to point out that I am considered a terrorist in Turkey because I was part of a delegation that observed elections there. President Erdoğan accused our delegation of terrorism because we delivered a report that was against what was happening.
Mr ÖNAL (Turkey)* – Turkey has rights that emanate from international law and sovereignty. It enjoys those rights within its borders, and in the international arena it fights against Daesh and the PKK, which are terrorist organisations. Once again, I observe that that has disturbed some Council of Europe members. A 23-year-old music teacher fell martyr to terrorism, but they are not bothered by the deaths of such people; it is interesting to see that they are disturbed only by the deaths of others.
We will keep disturbing terrorist organisations. You may ask why. Ever since 1984, the YPG has been part of the PKK. The total number of people who have lost their lives in these conflicts has reached almost 40 000. There should be a budget of approximately $300 billion for infrastructure and education, but it has been used to fight the PKK. People have been deprived of their right to life, freedom of conscience and freedom of expression, along with many other rights. When the PKK fights a terrorist organisation, you name that other organisation as a bad organisation, but when Turkey fights a terror organisation, you call it a good organisation.
We cannot see that Daesh has been fought against in a proper manner. In Jarabulus and in other areas, Turkey has gained a lot of victories against Daesh. A lot of Daesh members come from Europe and are European citizens. If Turkey had not fought against Daesh, we would be here speaking about other attacks that Daesh had organised. Those who are unable to properly fight against Daesh are blaming us for fighting the PKK. Sanctifying a terrorist organisation does not overlap with the values of the West. Robert Schuman and Konrad Adenauer would turn in their graves if they could see the European people backing terrorism, because that was not their ideal of Europe.
Ms TOPCU (Turkey) – The province of Idlib – the largest remaining opposition-held territory in Syria – is packed with civilians, many of whom have fled from the fighting in other areas across Syria. Its population already exceeds 2 million. Along with the Russian Federation and Iran, Turkey successfully undertook an initiative to ensure lasting peace in Syria during the Astana process. As part of the de-escalation zones, agreed in a tripartite consensus, Turkish forces are also currently in Syria’s Idlib province, which also borders the Afrin region, to monitor the process in military posts.
The Assad regime launched a full-scale offensive against the opposition in northern Idlib province, violating the cease-fire agreement. Following the regime’s assaults, tens of thousands of people fled the province. However, a PKK-affiliated terrorist group, the YPG, did not even hesitate to use those desperate civilians as human shields. Moreover, according to an annual report by the State Department in the United States, the terrorist YPG has been recruiting and using children as young as 11 as militants. Just as before, Turkey has accelerated efforts to address the immediate needs of the recent wave of refugees displaced from opposition-held Idlib province, in line with its humanitarian approach to the crisis in Syria. Aside from those humanitarian efforts on the Syrian crisis, Turkey has been engaging in active policies to put an end to the conflicts and find a sustainable solution.
Turkey has been sternly warning its allies that terrorist groups should not play even the slightest role in the future of war-torn Syria. In that context, the recently launched Operation Olive Branch’s only aim is to eliminate terrorists from its area of operations. That operation does not target Kurdish civilians; it targets only terrorist groups – the PKK, the YPG and Daesh. In conclusion, I firmly hope that the international community will support Turkish efforts to eradicate terrorism.
The PRESIDENT* – Thank you. That brings the list of speakers to an end. I remind you that at the end of a current affairs debate, the Assembly is not asked to decide upon a text or to vote; it is a discussion among members of the Assembly. Nevertheless, the matter may be referred by the Bureau to the appropriate committee for a report subsequently. Thank you all for your participation in this current affairs debate.
4. Election of the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights
The PRESIDENT* – Let me give you the results of the election for the office of Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights.
Number voting: 231
Blank or spoiled ballot papers: 2
Votes cast: 229
The votes were cast as follows:
Mr Goran Klemenčič: 19
Mr Pierre-Yves Le Borgn’: 103
Ms Dunja Mijatović: 107
Therefore, Ms Mijatović, having obtained a relative majority of votes cast, is elected Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights for a term of office of six years, starting on 1 April 2018.
5. The honouring of obligations and commitments by Bosnia and Herzegovina
The PRESIDENT* – The next item of business this afternoon is the debate and vote on the report entitled “The honouring of obligations and commitments by Bosnia and Herzegovina”, Document 14465, presented by the co-rapporteurs Mr Tiny Kox and Sir Roger Gale on behalf of the Committee on the Honouring of Obligations and Commitments by Member States of the Council of Europe.
Let me remind you that on Monday the Assembly decided that the speaking time would be limited to three minutes. We need to complete our consideration of this item, vote included, by 6.55 p.m., so the list of speakers will need to be interrupted at about 6.40 p.m. to allow time for the committee’s reply and the vote.
With that, and in the absence of Sir Roger Gale, I call Mr Kox to introduce the debate and present the report. You have a total speaking time of 13 minutes, which you may divide at your convenience between the presentation of the report and your reply to the debate.
Mr KOX (Netherlands) – First, let me say that I hope that my colleague, Sir Roger Gale, will return to health soon. At the beginning of this speech, I should also say to the lady sitting behind me, Caroline Ravaud, that we wish her well. She has been the expert of the Monitoring Committee and has been involved in very many reports. She is a special expert on Bosnia and Herzegovina. This will be the very last report produced with her great help. I would propose a vote on whether we can allow her to leave this Assembly, because we will miss her very much, but she has already told me that she would not accept the result of it, so it does not make sense to do this – democracy has to function. Thank you very much Caroline for all the good work that you have done for this Organisation.
I am happy to see members of the delegation from the Bosnia and Herzegovina Parliament in this Chamber. We missed you in the past months, and we missed your comments on the report and the resolution, which we gave as a draft to you to commend. Dear colleagues of Bosnia and Herzegovina, you have the dubious honour of being the first delegation that did not make any use of its right – or, to put it better, its obligation – to react to all the findings of the Assembly’s co-rapporteurs. Of course we could conclude that you consider our resolution and report excellent, though they are of course, and so did not feel a need to respond, but in all honesty I do not believe that. I believe that once again it has proved to be impossible to reach a joint position on our findings and proposals in your parliament.
You thereby also highlight to this Assembly that one of the main problems of your country is putting in place functioning democratic institutions, to the benefit of all your citizens. There is a necessity to develop a mainstream in your country, to maintain its stability. According to us, the co-rapporteurs, your country’s stability is under serious threat. Citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina are becoming increasingly fed up with the continued impotence of its democratic institutions in terms of delivering what is most needed. Their trust is decreasing by the day every day that your institutions do not deliver. Some already use the term “failed State”, but the co-rapporteurs do not want the State of Bosnia and Herzegovina to fail, as the consequences would be catastrophic.
We have to recall that it was only a quarter of a century ago that brutal violence unseen in Europe since the end of the Second World War overwhelmed Bosnia and Herzegovina and its citizens. Every time I visit your beautiful country, I am overwhelmed by the references throughout the country to what happened there in the first part of the 1990s. Only after a very long time was the international community able to force the different parties to end their atrocities and to call an end to the civil war. Last month, a tribunal on the former Yugoslavia closed its doors, after having dealt with a long list of war crimes committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and a lot of cases still have to be investigated at home in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The same applies in terms of finding an answer to the issue of missing persons. Without answers, relatives will remain hostages of history.
It has often been said that the Dayton Agreement ended the war, but it was in no way the beginning of a functioning State based on the rule of law. Almost 20 years have passed since Bosnia and Herzegovina became a member of the Council of Europe and got its own delegation in this Assembly. The good news is that it did fulfil several of its commitments and joined several of our conventions. The bad news is that far too many commitments are on hold. In the draft resolution, the co-rapporteurs mention those on-hold commitments, which include the absolute need for constitutional reform in order to create at least the possibility of functioning democratic institutions; the absolute need to implement the verdicts of the European Court of Human Rights and to end discriminatory rules on the elections for the State presidency and the State House of Peoples; and the absolute need to give the citizens of Mostar back the right to choose their representatives in the city council – a right that they have been denied for eight years.
We propose in the resolution that the Assembly state clearly that it is a matter of urgency to implement the constitutional court’s decision of 1 December 2016 on the composition of the Federation House of Peoples, the so-called Ljubić case, well ahead of the next general election later this year. Otherwise, there is a serious risk that government formation at both Federation and State level after the elections will be blocked, and the democratic rights of the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina will again be neglected.
The list of commitments that still have not been delivered is long, but I urge our Bosnia and Herzegovina colleagues to explain at home that Council of Europe membership is not for free. Those who want to belong to this great Organisation, with its great acquis of conventions, have to commit to their obligations. If not, I say to Sarajevo and Banja Luka: we have a problem that makes Apollo 13 seem a minor inconvenience.
I have invited our Bosnia and Herzegovina colleagues to meet me this week here in Strasbourg and soon in Sarajevo and Banja Luka. It is time for you to take up your responsibility and to step up your work and creativity in order to make Bosnia and Herzegovina a functioning member State of the Council of Europe. I am well aware how difficult it is. Nobody would wish a State to be constructed in the way that Bosnia and Herzegovina was, but you stood for election. As parliamentarians, you asked your voters to vote for you in order that you could serve your citizens, so do not tell me that it is impossible to make a functioning State of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It might be, but you cannot use that argument because you are the elected politicians. You have asked for the support of your citizens, so it is up to you to deliver, however difficult it is.
I really hope that by adopting the resolution, the Assembly makes clear that we really want Bosnia and Herzegovina to deliver for the benefit of its citizens and the stability of the country and the broader region. It is urgent that things start moving in this beautiful country, with its enormous number of great problems. Once again, I look to the head of the delegation and say: do not say that it is impossible. You are in charge. You should take care of this. Your citizens deserve it, and I wish you well.
The PRESIDENT* – Thank you. You have four and a half minutes left to respond to the speakers.
Mr Vareikis is not here, so I call Mr Schennach.
Mr SCHENNACH (Austria, Spokesperson for the Socialists, Democrats and Greens Group)* – I congratulate Tiny Kox on the report, which is well considered. First, I would like to take up one or two remarks he made with regard to Caroline. Thank you so much, Caroline. You are a great expert on Bosnia and Herzegovina, and on so many other States. I thank you for what you have achieved. As Tiny Kox said, even if we voted for you not to leave, it would embarrass you.
Bosnia and Herzegovina is very dear to my heart and of great concern to me. The agony of the State and the theft of its young people’s future is awful and distressing. Last year, I published a book and got a lot of young people from Bosnia and Herzegovina together to make statements. Their only prospect, as they saw it, was to leave the country. They could see no future for themselves in the country. Anyone who tried to achieve something would be lost. That is a terrible situation and it is robbing young people of the opportunity to shape their country’s future.
The parties need to show joint leadership. The Dayton Agreement constitution is not a proper constitution for a State. It only recognises three ethnicities and ignores everybody else. Nobody has even thought about implementing the Sejdić and Finci judgment. Even worse for the young people, if one of your parents is a Serb and the other is Bosnian, you have to choose between the two ethnicities. They do not want that. Young people have come to me and said, “It should be enough that I am a citizen of Bosnia and Herzegovina. I am not interested in being a Serb, a Croat or a Bosnian.”
As a former Chairman of the Monitoring Committee, I say that it is intolerable that the Bosnian side has not responded to the report. It underlines that they are not reacting to what is happening in their own country. It is clear that there is only one institution that represents everyone: the Football Association. Otherwise, they could not enter the World cup. It is possible sometimes, and if they can do it for that, why can they not do in other areas?
In the report, it is clear that all sorts of games are going on in the Republika Srpska that are completely unacceptable for the Council of Europe. We must work together, with respect for the Brčko corridor. The city of Mostar should be allowed to function and not be under some kind of trusteeship. That is a scandal for the city of Mostar and all those who shoulder political responsibility for it.
Thank you for this very clear report. I had to say those words because Bosnia and Herzegovina is a country that I have always been in love with.
Earl of DUNDEE (United Kingdom, Spokesperson for the European Conservatives Group) – In my remarks, I would like briefly to connect three considerations: first, the need for electoral adjustments between now and the fixed date of elections in October later in the year; secondly, deployment of social and economic measures advocated within the British-German joint initiative of 2014 and known as the reform agenda; and thirdly, the urgency for co-operation and tolerance to replace current negative and divisive political rhetoric.
Mr Tiny Kox and my United Kingdom colleague Sir Roger Gale are to be warmly congratulated on their very useful and balanced paper on obligations and commitments made by Bosnia and Herzegovina. As they have observed, this country should be commended for the progress that it has already made, including, since 2002, the ratification of 90 Council of Europe conventions; working with programmes for the return of refugees; the adoption in 2015 of an ambitious agenda for change; and, in February 2016, applying for European Union membership. However, so far, not nearly enough electoral reform has occurred. As ruled and emphasised by the constitutional court, such reform is necessary for the city of Mostar as well as for the composition of the Federal House of Peoples, referred to as the Ljubić case.
If properly deployed, the British-German recommendations of 2014 would achieve several purposes. They would strengthen the functioning and independence of the judiciary while helping to fight corruption, organised crime and terrorism. Not least, they would also reinvigorate and inspire confidence in living standards and the economy. Between 2014 and 2016, all this began to happen. For the last two years, however, the process appears to have run out of energy. Therefore, it should be brought back on course.
Equally, every opportunity must be taken to dissuade the prevalent habit of divisive political rhetoric, encouraging instead an attitude of inclusiveness and understanding. Thus leaders in Bosnia and Herzegovina ought to refrain from words or deeds which cause further friction between people and which risk undermining the State and its institutions. In addressing its obligations and commitments here drawn to our attention, both inside and outside the country, every effort, too, should now be made to secure timely European Union membership. Thereby, to the advantage of Europe and this region, the huge potential of Bosnia and Herzegovina would flourish and consolidate.
(Mr O’Reilly, Vice-President of the Assembly, took the Chair in place of Ms Mendes.)
Mr HUNKO (Germany, Spokesperson for the Group of the Unified European Left)* – I thank both rapporteurs. The report and resolution highlight the salient points of the issue. The crucial aspects, concerning the reforms that have to be undertaken at the political level and the whole question of the rule of law, are brought forward most appositely.
I tend to agree with Mr Schennach. I confess that I am not an expert on Bosnia and Herzegovina, but I have been there and my impression is that the forced ethnicisation under the Dayton Accord is a problem that somehow needs to be overcome. I, too, have spoken to people from Bosnia and Herzegovina who flagged up this issue. With the whole question of political participation, everything seems to be split along ethnic dividing lines.
Once again, let me say that I am not an expert – I preface my statements with that caveat. However, over the past few years, I have been able to look at the situation thanks to my presence at the Council of Europe. I have been in situ and I have also been to Serbia, Montenegro, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and so forth. It seems to me that there is a basic issue that needs to be expressed in this debate. The reports are a good piece of constructive work. We are demanding reforms to boost democracy and the rule of law. We are doing all that but, simultaneously, it would appear that in these countries – to some extent, this applies to all these countries separately but also together – people face social and economic problems. How do we address that? If people do not have jobs or any kind of social future, that is precisely the sort of phenomenon that Mr Schennach talked about earlier. Youth will leave these countries because there is no future for them there. That is why the reforms need to be rolled out.
It is important for us to remember that, as rapporteurs for these countries, we cannot solve these problems, but it is nevertheless important to highlight that there are economic and financial issues at stake here. There is the whole European Union process and the pre-accession phase. That all needs to be addressed properly but no investment is being made in these countries. There are big programmes for reconstruction, which we need for the whole of the Balkans and for Greece. We need a new Marshall Plan. We can pay lip service to all that, but all these problems will contribute to a situation where our work here unfortunately will come up against obstacles time and time again. That is not an excuse, nor it is an excuse for the countries concerned. They should implement what is set out here, but there are fundamental, systemic problems that we need to address.
Mr LINK (Germany, Spokesperson for the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe) – On behalf of my group, I commend the rapporteurs for their work on this thorough report. While it illustrates progress in some areas, by and large it is further testimony to the fact that the political leadership in Bosnia and Herzegovina is struggling to find a common vision for the future of their country, and struggling so far without success.
When the Assembly debated the last such report in 2013, there was hope that political infighting on a vital question could be overcome: the implementation of Sejdić and Finci. At the time, political leaders of Bosnia and Herzegovina came together in Brussels and agreed to work out an implementation plan with electoral modalities that would meet the concerns of their constituent peoples and international standards for truly democratic elections. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, ODIHR and others, including myself in my previous function as director of ODIHR at the time, closely monitored the general elections in 2014. It really troubles me and my group to see that nothing has come out of this initiative. No further progress has been made in implementing Sejdić and Finci, and Bosnia and Herzegovina’s legal framework contains other restrictions that are not in accordance with international standards for free and fair elections. I cannot stress enough that limitations based on ethnicity and residence on the right to vote or stand as a candidate should be removed from the law. Such restrictions violate citizens’ fundamental rights and remain a large impediment to a truly free and democratic society. They will also remain a large impediment on the European trajectory of Bosnia and Herzegovina. If things continue as they stand, European Union membership for Bosnia and Herzegovina threatens to remain an illusion.
In this Assembly, we take note of and are grateful for the energy invested by individual politicians, both nationally and internationally, in engaging with each other to find a solution to these fundamental issues. However, all these initiatives have so far not resulted in success. Quite the contrary: the rights of the individual in Bosnia and Herzegovina still fall victim to the vested interests of the constituent communities. Therefore, continued monitoring with political and legal pressure remain essential.
On behalf of ALDE, I once again thank Sir Roger and Tiny Kox for this very substantial report.
The PRESIDENT – The rapporteur will reply at the end of the debate, so I call Mr Fournier.
Mr FOURNIER (France)* – I thank the rapporteurs for the quality of their report, which gives us a perfect grasp of the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which has been a member of the Council of Europe since 2002 and presided over the Committee of Ministers in the second half of 2015, so it is very well integrated into the Organisation. Nonetheless, the report shows that there is much work to be done before it shares our standards and that is why I support the rapporteurs’ proposal to continue monitoring.
Bosnia and Herzegovina is undeniably confronted with onerous structural handicaps: a war that left more than 100,000 victims and more than 2.2 million displaced people; a country in ruins; an archaic economy; and a system of institutions that is intimidatingly complex and ineffective, merely showing up the weakness of the State. The most serious problem remains the predominance in politics and society of the various ethnic divisions, with the multiple types of discrimination to which that leads. Bosnia and Herzegovina is a deeply divided country where old hatreds endure. Sure, there has been some progress, and that is welcome, particularly as regards combating corruption and organised crime to such a degree that the country will soon be able to come off the grey list for money launderers. With that, negotiations with the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development should be resumed. However, no positive trend is perceptible in the long term. Every sign of progress has a big question mark over it.
The impetus of reforms came to a halt with the prospect of elections, which should be taking place next autumn. The Bosnian authorities cannot seem to get it together to reform the electoral law, and more and more often they refuse to implement court decisions – not only those of the Strasbourg Court but those of the national constitutional court. Moreover, the law and the courts remain excessively politicised, meaning that citizens have no confidence in either. We can understand that.
There is one thing that the Bosnian leadership agrees on: it wants to become a member of the European Union, and in February 2016 it made the application. However, that European rapprochement is a long way in the future, as we saw when Commissioner Hahn criticised the lack of tangible results so strongly and even threatened to close that window of opportunity. The European Union requires better protections for the press, LGBT individuals and minorities, particularly Roma. What is at stake is the whole future of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Council of Europe can and must help this fragile country.
Ms SMITH (United Kingdom) – It is a pleasure to speak about such an excellent report, and I congratulate the co-rapporteurs on its thorough and comprehensive analysis. I visited Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2008 as a member of a parliamentary delegation of the United Kingdom. Our visit involved meeting politicians and civil society representatives across the country. We travelled to Mostar, and one of the main features of this report – the failure to deliver local elections there – sadly reminds me of the division and hostility I witnessed between the Croats and the Bosnians in the area. My overall analysis from the 2008 visit resonates strongly with the report, despite the fact that some progress has been made on the main issues.
Bosnia and Herzegovina, a country offering great potential, lags behind economically. Its public sector remains dominant, working effectively as a drag on economic development, and excessive regulation acts as a barrier to securing a healthy market economy. Some 27.7% of the working population is unemployed and 48% live below the poverty line. Insufficient economic progress is, of course, extremely worrying, but it is also inextricably linked to the political paralysis that blights the country. The report explores the roots of the situation and succinctly summarises them at the beginning of paragraph 124, which states that “Bosnia and Herzegovina is not a democracy but an ethnocracy”. The report therefore lays out a depressing analysis.
Constitutional, political and economic matters remain entrenched and unresolved. I would assert, however, that progress in these key areas will be extremely difficult as long as human rights issues remain unresolved. In particular, I draw attention to the need for justice and truth for the victims of war crimes and to the ongoing search for missing persons. Although the remains of about 70% of the missing persons have been identified, there is clearly still a lot more to do; 7 000 remain missing, yet the Missing Persons Institute of Bosnia and Herzegovina is underfunded, with its budget halved since its inception. I am firmly of the view that truth and reconciliation are the vital prerequisites to progress in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and I hope that the Council of Europe can help the country focus on this process.
In 2008, I witnessed and felt deeply the sorrow, anger and despair that the extremely brave people of Bosnia and Herzegovina felt and the devastating impact of the war on in their lives. Not until we deliver truth and reconciliation will our valued friends in that country be able to move on to secure the successful, secure and just society that they deserve.
Mr ŠEPIĆ (Bosnia and Herzegovina) – First, let me thank all who have voted today for the Bosnian candidate for the Commissioner for Human Rights. That is a great victory for us all and I appreciate your promises and support.
Let me also thank all who contributed to the report. It lists some of the important issues that citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina and we, their elected politicians, should have left behind us many years ago, but, unfortunately, we did not. Although many should take responsibility for not doing enough in their position of power, some of us must think about the future and take responsibility for that. The report is not about Bosnians and Herzegovinians, Bosniaks, Serbs, Croats and all the other citizens, because we are much more than what it describes. The report is about Bosnian and Herzegovinian politicians, including me, and also about the international community present in my country, which willingly or unwillingly decided to put the focus on all the things on which we cannot agree or on which it is hard for us to agree. All the issues that matter to citizens were put aside: jobs, the fight against corruption, and good education and good health insurance. Instead, supported by many foreigners, our local leaders have accepted the agenda of big and, for citizens, abstract and not vital issues of the constitution, who elects whom and who gets paid for it. We see the results of such an approach, with the young leaving the country and those who are older becoming hopeless and sad.
I respect the report, because it is balanced and correct. I wish that the Bosnian and Herzegovinian political system, the distribution of powers and the interest of the main political actors meant that we could agree on all this as soon as possible, but our system does not work like that. Despite that, I can promise you all, and our rapporteur, Mr Tiny Kox, who mentioned me especially in his speech, that I will do my best to encourage the majority of the Bosnian people to fight for visible progress, stability, a dignified life for everybody and a European perspective for our country and our children. I thank you again for your support and attention.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. Mr Torun is not here, so I call Mr Hajduković.
Mr HAJDUKOVIĆ (Croatia) – I congratulate the rapporteurs on their good and exhaustive work in this report. It gives a clear and impartial analysis of the state of affairs in Bosnia and Herzegovina and underlines the most important issues.
Much progress has been made by Bosnia and Herzegovina, but a lot more remains to be done, so I believe it will be best to adopt the text as it stands. Let me assure you that a stable, functioning and strong Bosnia and Herzegovina means a stable, functioning and strong region. Coming from Croatia, a neighbouring country, let me assure you how important that is to me, not only because a lot of Croats live in Bosnia and Herzegovina but for the stability and prosperity of the region as well as the European perspective. I especially draw your attention to the part of the resolution that calls for the implementation of the constitutional court’s decisions of 1 December 2016 on the composition of the Federation House of Peoples. I would like to stress that a strong, democratic and functioning country implements the decisions of its institutions. In addition, the implementation of the decisions should provide a strong foundation for political stability as well as equal representation of all peoples living in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The implementation of the court’s decision will therefore serve a double, if not triple, purpose. The point of such resolutions and the monitoring process as a whole is not to criticise and impose but to help the monitored member State to become better and to improve itself. I see the resolution as a nudge in the right direction and call on you to support it.
Ms ANTTILA (Finland) – I thank the rapporteurs for their excellent report on the monitoring process for Bosnia and Herzegovina. I agree that there is a strong need for constitutional reform for the country’s democratic institutions to function properly. The Monitoring Committee rightly raised concerns about the increase in nationalist and ethnic rhetoric, especially ahead of the elections. The growing disrespect for the rule of law is highly worrying. I strongly agree that concrete actions and implementation are needed.
I recognise that recalling the history of a western Balkan country is very important for the understanding of the challenges and of the struggles between ethnic groups and minorities, yet there are several examples from European countries of how constructive dialogue and democracy have won over confrontation. The only way to build sustainable democracy and institutions is to give a voice to all groups, not just the ones that are in power.
At the moment, only Serbs, Croats and Bosnians can run for the State presidency or be elected to the Federation House of Peoples, as the report states. I agree that necessary changes should be made to the constitution and electoral law before the next general election to be held in October.
In the light of the fact that Bosnia and Herzegovina has been a Council of Europe member State for almost 16 years and is seeking membership of the European Union, there are still elements in its constitution that fight against European values, such as the death penalty and the abolished institution of an ombudsman.
The reforms in the report should be implemented in a spirit of constructive dialogue between the various levels of authority. I also believe that the Berlin Process of the western Balkans countries provides a framework for achieving additional real progress in the reform process and reconciliation within and between the societies in the region.
Ms PUTICA (Croatia) – As you can understand, Croatia is more than interested in the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, especially with the task of achieving equality between peoples, referring in that sense to the equality of three constitutional peoples.
The first condition for equality is election law and the adoption of the constitution as a statehood foundation. It is very important for further democrat development and political stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina, because without political stability in that country there will be no stability in the whole region.
Croatia is always, as a State and a member of the European Parliament, ready to support democratic processes in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with special focus on the interests of the Croats there. Let me sum up: we will support the resolution proposed by the committee.
Mr JURATOVIC (Germany)* – I give my thanks and respect to the rapporteurs. I strongly support the motion for a resolution, bearing in mind that we have no other instruments at our disposal. I support it, but I also note that in situ war profiteers of all sorts, in particular nationalist ones, have been able to cope quite well with our political instruments, it would appear.
This is the poorest State in Europe. With 3.2 million people, it has 100 multi-millionaires with capital of €5 billion. The rate of youth unemployment is approximately 40%. What about human rights, which we represent? They are unknown in this country. Communist ideology was simply supplanted by a nationalist one.
Unfortunately, our local institutions have completely lost credibility. Bosnia and Herzegovina has become a playground for various global interests. It has gone to rack and ruin. People have lost faith in any kind of way out. People are leaving the country – in fact, in the last five years, 20% of young people have left.
For all those reasons, I appeal to all members of the Parliamentary Assembly to ensure that in our respective national Parliaments we take political decisions that proactively support democratic structures, human rights and the rule of law in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We also need to strengthen the sovereignty of the local parliaments. We need to make sure that we actively support pro-European political forces in the country, to make sure that the European spirit is maintained locally – the one that is premised on reconciliation, rebuilding and a peaceful future. We need to be there to support it, not abandon it or deal with it purely through NGOs or pilot projects. International institutions should also be empowered to act locally and not just involved as observers from the outside.
Bearing in mind the nascent anti-democratic and nationalist tendencies that we are witnessing in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the country has become a litmus test for our capability and credibility. We need to look at the global situation surrounding the country. We need this State more than it needs us, because this country is a risk factor not only for the region but for the whole of Europe. It is not because of the people. There have been disasters. For instance, two years ago there was a disastrous flood and it showed what people were capable of. We need to make sure that we have a sound political logic, not one premised on individual interests.
Mr GOUTTEFARDE (France)* – I am proud and honoured to address you for the first time in this forum, which represents the idea of a united Europe sharing humanistic values based on the rule of law. I also thank the rapporteurs for their report and the draft resolution, which I find perfectly balanced. While the rapporteurs emphasise the progress made by Bosnia and Herzegovina in the functioning of democratic institutions, particularly since it became a member State of the Council of Europe in 2002, and more recently since the adoption in 2015 of a broad and ambitious reform programme, there is still concern about the lack of progress when it comes to constitutional reform and reform of electoral law.
It is regrettable that inter-ethnic division should endure in the State of Bosnia and Herzegovina and affect the holding and results of elections which are therefore not necessarily in compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights. A more common vision, and the wish for a common destiny between the constituent peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is made more difficult by a very complex institutional framework under the Dayton Agreement, is nevertheless necessary to prevent a major institutional crisis after the elections of October 2018, in order to put an end to the rhetoric of division which is still present in the State.
The scant legislation that has been adopted in 2017 by the Parliament of Bosnia and Herzegovina is hampering the implementation of the reform agenda for 2015-2018, but this agenda is a prerequisite for bringing Bosnia and Herzegovina closer to Europe. Furthermore, we cannot help being concerned by the non-application of a series of decisions handed down by the Constitutional Court of the Federation. The persistent politicisation of the judiciary is also a major source of concern. Therefore it is important that our Assembly remain attentive to the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the proposal to pursue the monitoring procedure, as suggested by the rapporteurs, is very wise.
Ms KRIŠTO (Bosnia and Herzegovina)* – Given that we are discussing Bosnia and Herzegovina, I will take this opportunity to present several important facts. According to Annex 4 of the Dayton Accords, Bosnia and Herzegovina is a State composed of three constituent peoples – Croats, Bosnians and Serbs – as well as other citizens.
Bosnia and Herzegovina is at a turning point: it can either make progress through European Union-Atlantic integration or step back to the status quo, which some people constantly maintain for their own reasons. The European path offers progress and stability for the country; there really is no alternative. All three peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina have different visions of the future, but we all agree that it will be a member of the European Union. I am surprised that the Monitoring Committee report did not devote any attention to the issue of the European Union. However, both the report and the resolution pay much attention to the most important issues in Bosnia and Herzegovina, namely the constitution and electoral law, which, according to decisions of the European Court of Human Rights and the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, contain discriminatory provisions. It is necessary to bring that to the forefront.
The most important issue is the change to electoral law that was implemented following a constitutional court decision that removed the unconstitutional provisions altogether. The constitutional court clearly stated that no people can choose a political representative of another ethnic group. It also emphasised that legitimacy is derived from each people. According to the general principles of democracy, the right to make democratic decisions is realised through legitimate political representation, which must be based on the democratic choice of those who are represented. We therefore feel that legitimate representation is possible only through the new mechanism that is in place.
Another important issue in Bosnia and Herzegovina is the reform of the system of public broadcasting. Under the new decentralised structure, there are several levels of control and many different national minorities are now involved in the landscape.
The European Union perspective is extremely important for the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Unfortunately, we have a number of problems relating to political representation in the country and how it is reflected at a European level. We have to work to overcome the various impediments to creating a better future for Bosnia and Herzegovina. I believe that, with a more honest approach to the various issues, we can reach an effective compromise for the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Once again, I emphasise that Bosnia and Herzegovina is a State of three constituent peoples. Only the legitimate representatives of those peoples should agree on the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina, based on the principle of equality. That will ensure political stability, sustainability, survival and the future of the country in Europe.
Lord FOULKES (United Kingdom) – It is a great pleasure and a privilege to speak under your chairmanship, Mr President. I congratulate you on your election as Vice-President. We are very pleased that an Irishman has been elected to that position. As a representative of the United Kingdom, I want to congratulate you on that.
That helps me to make a point. I find it quite startling that, in the 21st century, there is a country in Europe in which people vote primarily on the basis of their ethnicity, not on the basis of political agendas. I had the privilege of going to Sarajevo last November, when I went to a meeting of socialist parties from all over the Balkans. I went with the chairman of the Party of European Socialists, the former Bulgarian Prime Minister, Mr Stanishev. We were pleased to hear that our sister party, the Social Democratic Party of Bosnia and Herzegovina, is going to be standing on a multi-ethnic platform. That is what should be happening in Europe in the 21st century. We encouraged it to do so and said that it is right to do that. I hope that the groups here – not just the Socialists, Democrats and Greens Group, but all the other groups – talk to their colleagues in Bosnia and Herzegovina and encourage them to do the same. They should put forward political platforms, whatever the politics – right, left or centre – that are good for the country and ask people to vote on the basis of those policies and not on the basis of their ethnicity. That seems the right thing to do in any modern country. I hope that we will all encourage them to do that and that we all support the report.
The PRESIDENT – Thank you very much, Lord Foulkes, for your kind personal remarks. The next speaker is Mr Bosić from Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Mr BOSIĆ (Bosnia and Herzegovina) – I thank the rapporteurs, Sir Roger Gale and Mr Kox, for their impartial study of the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is not easy to stay impartial in Bosnia and Herzegovina, so I congratulate them on doing so. I also thank Caroline Ravaud, who is a real expert on these issues. I sometimes think that she knows the situation better than I do, and I come from Bosnia and Herzegovina. It would be a great loss to lose her as an expert.
I want to start my speech with Leo Tolstoy’s famous saying, “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” We might also apply it to States: all stable and thriving States are alike, while all States with problems in their functioning have their specific reasons for failing. It is not easy to understand the situation in States from the outside. I know that, for many of you, it is hard to understand the subtle relationships among peoples and nations with different views of history and different understandings of the bloody war. People blame each other. I think that the time has come for us to move on. I am sorry that a bleak picture of Bosnia and Herzegovina has been painted here; I hope that it is a little better than that. Somebody said that Bosnia and Herzegovina is a fragile country. Yes, it is and, if you put too much pressure on it, it might break. A lot of people would like that to happen, but unfortunately that cannot happen in a peaceful manner. Bosnia and Herzegovina needs your help and understanding. It needs nudging forward.
Bosnia and Herzegovina is a State forged in the Dayton peace process. Its structure was formed under international pressure to stop the war. It did not come about as a result of an internal agreement between peoples. Its constitution is the Dayton peace agreement. The specificities of Bosnia and Herzegovina are great, so you must not rush to conclusions. I expect you to help Bosnia and Herzegovina because it needs Europe. Likewise, Europe needs Bosnia and Herzegovina if it wants to live in peace and prosperity.
Mr XUCLŔ (Spain)* – I, too, begin by thanking the co-rapporteurs, Tiny Kox and Sir Roger Gale, for presenting us with this report on Bosnia and Herzegovina and enabling us to discuss it and vote on it. This is an absolutely imperative issue for the Parliamentary Assembly.
I remind you that, not long ago, we discussed suspending Bosnia and Herzegovina if it did not honour certain obligations. This report was put together to confirm that those obligations were met. This is not a routine report but a profoundly urgent one that seeks to assure the Council of Europe, the Parliamentary Assembly and the country under monitoring that everything is working properly. Mr Šepić and Mr Bosić have spoken a lot about the issues, and I have spoken with them. This is a country that has to work together in a concerted way, including with the agency.
I remember, in the course of an electoral observation mission representing the Spanish Parliament, having to wait for the internal police to allow us to cross the border into another part of the country. As you will appreciate, this was a very unusual situation. This was a mission going to observe the elections, during what would be a major challenge for the country under any circumstances. Indeed, the prospect of creating imbalances following the Dayton Accords was a real possibility. The risk has always existed, and it exists right now.
Some of you have spoken about whether we find ourselves facing a democracy or some other structure. We have constituent ethnic groups. We face a very unusual situation, with things taking place that run contrary to the interests of one ethnic group or another, so there is great strife indeed. Hopefully there will be an international conference that takes us beyond the Dayton Accords to see what the country’s future could be, because this is a complex situation and a complex State. There is no question about that.
We in the Parliamentary Assembly often speak about external influences in various States. Bosnia and Herzegovina of course has important links to other countries and influences other countries, and its stability is vital to the region overall. This must be taken into consideration.
The PRESIDENT – Mr Arnaut is not here, so I call Lord Anderson.
Lord ANDERSON (United Kingdom) – I join others in welcoming you to the presidency, and also in congratulating our rapporteurs and wishing Sir Roger Gale a speedy recovery.
Our rapporteurs have been as positive as they can, but overall I think everyone agrees that the report has to be somewhat negative and gloomy. A number of former requirements of the Council of Europe have been met, including in respect of the conventions, but overall implementation has been very patchy indeed and there is a considerable paralysis in the State. Some commentators go so far as to say that the State is perilously close to failing.
The background is of course the civil war of the 1990s in the former Yugoslavia. Bosnia and Herzegovina perhaps paid the greatest price. Paddy Ashdown, who was the United Nations High Representative, said of the Dayton Agreement of 1995 that it was a good agreement for establishing peace, but not for providing a basis for state building. It provided for a complex and bloated bureaucracy, with the several ethnic groups, and prevented the emergence of the necessary leadership able to overcome the vested interests of the public service. It is said that perhaps two thirds of all the jobs are in public administration, and there is of course great corruption.
The Russian Federation acts as a spoiler, meddling in Republika Srpska, and blocking, with President Dodik, any progress towards the West. There is organised crime, Islamic fundamentalism and a massive brain-drain, as young people see no future for themselves in the country. The World Bank claims that 67.6% of young people are unemployed – the worst rate in the world. Old ethnic antagonisms are therefore cemented. The question is the legacy. We know the legacy of the civil war, but is there enough political will in the country to overcome the vested interests that benefit from the current structures? Is there enough political will to modernise and provide a basis – a perspective – for the European Union? Understandably, the door to the European Union is currently closed. The Council of Europe can help, but progress will depend on political will, which is currently lacking. We must not sink into despair; we must look for signs of hope. However, the message of this excellent report is clear: Bosnia and Herzegovina must remain under monitoring.
The PRESIDENT – Thank you for your personal remarks, Lord Anderson. I call Mr Stier.
Mr STIER (Croatia) – I thank the two co-rapporteurs for the proposed resolution. I remember having a conversation several years ago with the late Wilfried Martens, the former chairman of the Group of the European People’s Party and Prime Minister of Belgium, about the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which led us to a comparison with Belgium. What would happen if, for example, the Walloons were outnumbered by the Flemish and could not elect legitimate representatives to the federal parliament? That would certainly block the whole system and destabilise the country.
That is exactly why the Constitutional Court of Bosnia-Herzegovina judged the electoral law to be in need of change, and the international judges on the court were party to that decision. They did so to make sure that all three communities that share Bosnia-Herzegovina are equal in rights, even if they are not equal in numbers. That will create opportunities for pluralism and real democratic competition in every community in electing their legitimate representatives, which would be a first step towards de-ethnicisation. With real democratic pluralism and competition, Christian democrats and social democrats from one community could start to co-operate more closely with their peers from the other communities. It is extremely important, first, to guarantee legitimate representation. I agree with the co-rapporteurs that it is important that the electoral law should be amended before the October elections, otherwise the legitimacy of that election could be called into question. Bosnia and Herzegovina could be blocked and could face another political crisis. We need to avoid that.
The basic principle is that Bosnia and Herzegovina is a country shared by three communities – and, of course, by all the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Ensuring real democratic life in those communities is the first step towards bringing the country closer and towards working together, but there are some signs of hope. The election of the new Commissioner for Human Rights – a candidate from Bosnia and Herzegovina who was supported by all three members of the presidency – was a sign of hope. I congratulate Bosnia and Herzegovina on the election of the new Commissioner for Human Rights.
Ms MARKOVIĆ (Bosnia and Herzegovina)* – The rapporteurs have put huge efforts into this report on Bosnia-Herzegovina, especially given that it is a country of complexities and with specific problems in its political structure. I know that it is often difficult for foreigners to understand the position of Bosnia-Herzegovina – its composition, its political and democratic structure and, in particular, the functioning, or malfunctioning, of its institutions.
Even though the report is large in volume, I must say that the rapporteurs seem to blame everything on one part of Bosnia and Herzegovina: Republika Srpska. You state that 20 years of war have left Bosnia and Herzegovina profoundly divided on ethnic lines, with no shared vision of the future. However, you neglect to give the real reasons for the fact that Bosnia and Herzegovina has by now exhausted all its energies in the hope of becoming a State that can support all its citizens. You also neglect to say that the whole history of Bosnia and Herzegovina, including its joining NATO and its path towards different kinds of European integration, is a mere gesture, and that it is actually suffocating under the weight of its many problems – the political problems and the daily problems faced by the population.
One thing you criticise is the 9 January date for the national day for Republika Srpska, saying that it is unacceptable that Republika Srpska should celebrate its national day, even though it is based on Article 3 of the Holidays with Pay Convention, which establishes the law on State holidays. You also neglect to say that Bosnia and Herzegovina itself does not have any law on State holidays because it has proved impossible to draft such a law at national level.
What we should say is that the main problems facing the country are the dysfunction of legal institutions at State level: the state tribunal, the prosecutor’s office and the constitutional court. There are judges in the State tribunal who have been charged with war crimes but who continue to hand out judgments and legal decisions and who set free people of whom there is proof that they have committed war crimes.
You state that there have been several acts of terrorism over the last few years, including bombs exploding in public places, the attack on the United States embassy and others. You also state that there is a Wahhabi community and that there are still something like 1 500 mujaheddin of paramilitary competence, who mostly originated in the Middle East and North Africa.
In conclusion, I simply say that you are wrong to accuse only one part of Bosnia and Herzegovina and to pin all the country’s problems on that part. One part of the three could neither cause nor resolve all the problems, but the part that you accuse – Republika Srpska and its President, Milorad Dodik – wants to see progress in the country, because it considers Bosnia and Herzegovina as belonging to the Serbs just as much as to the Bosnians, the Croats or whoever else.
Mr KVATCHANTIRADZE (Georgia) – I start by stating my appreciation to the rapporteurs. They deserve applause, because they have done a serious job.
Of course, Bosnia and Herzegovina needs support from all of us, as its partners in the Council of Europe. We support Bosnia and Herzegovina in its process of moving closer to the European Union and its application to become a member. We welcome the reforms on which Bosnia and Herzegovina is focused and encourage it to stay on the path of reform. The process of strengthening democratic institutions is long and complex. Proper development of democratic institutions, along with the rule of law, the protection of human rights and free and fair elections, is vital for every country’s progress.
However, I take this opportunity to point members’ attention to an important issue: the recognition and respect of member States’ sovereignty and territorial integrity, which is fundamental for every member State of the Council of Europe. A few days ago, separatist leaders and leaders of the Georgian territory of South Ossetia, which is occupied by the Russian Federation, were officially welcomed by Republika Srpska at the highest level – by the President of Republika Srpska and the Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church. Although it was declared as a private visit, it should be noted that it is part of the legitimisation process of separatist movements – separatist viruses – in Europe. I do not understand how such so-called private visits can be private when the representatives of the occupying regime and separatists were welcomed at the highest level, but serve the purpose of legitimising separatist movements and when they have been taking place for a long time, supported by the Russian Federation. That is a violation of international law and represents the Russian Federation’s ongoing and unfair policy towards Georgia.
We appreciate the support of Bosnia and Herzegovina for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and its policy of not recognising Georgia’s occupied regions. However, we still think that such actions by the separatists and their protectors and supporters need to be stopped immediately and reacted to appropriately.
The PRESIDENT – That concludes the list of speakers. I call Mr Kox, rapporteur, to reply. You have four and a half minutes.
Mr KOX (Netherlands) – I will make some general remarks and then some remarks directed to our colleagues from Bosnia and Herzegovina. Some say that the report is negative and some say that it is positive, but I cannot estimate by how much. Roger Gale and I had the idea that the report should be objective, which is what we tried to achieve as co-rapporteurs. I will come back later to the criticism that the report is perhaps not honest or balanced enough.
I thank everybody for their participation, which shows that the Assembly takes an interest in Bosnia and Herzegovina. I also thank delegates for their broad support for the general proposals in our resolutions and for their support for the proposal to continue monitoring Bosnia and Herzegovina. I am not a fan of monitoring countries; I do not think that we should monitor any countries. However, given the structure and the great problems of Bosnia and Herzegovina, I think that monitoring is appropriate. I say to Mr Bosić that we are here to help. That is the whole idea. If you can show that we are not of help to you, it will not make sense for us to do these exercises.
I noticed the shared observation that things should be put into a broader context – Mr Schennach, Mr Hunko and others spoke about that – and that we should take into account the question of how a State, without a sound economic and social basis, can convince its citizens that they should be involved in reforms to the democratic institutions. That is a serious problem. The most serious problem is of course that young people in Bosnia and Herzegovina are losing their faith in the State in which they live. They are moving elsewhere, where they are needed more than at home. It is in the interests of us all that we find ways to involve young people in the development of the State of Bosnia and Herzegovina, because without youth there is no future.
I am happy to see members of the Bosnia and Herzegovina delegation here. I very much appreciate the fact that the leader of the delegation, Mr Šepić, said that he thinks the report is balanced and that he respects us and can carry the report. I ask Ms Krišto, Mr Bosić and Ms Marković why, if they missed things in the report, or if they think that things in the report are overdone, they did not use the chance they had, over seven or eight months, to react to the report. I am sorry to say it – I am from the Netherlands and we like to be blunt – but you did not do your work. I hope that we can agree to work together because I will be your rapporteur for the near future. I offer the good services of this Organisation, but I do not understand how you were unable to give birth to an idea in nine months, after we came up with a report and a resolution. Every female is able to give birth to a child in nine months, but it takes Bosnia and Herzegovina nine months to give us no answer at all. Having said that, I hope we can change this in the future; that would be far better.
In response to Ms Marković, if you think that this report is only about one part of Bosnia and Herzegovina, you have read another report. I would like to talk to you about this later. Ms Krišto, you say that there is no path other than the European path. But it should be clear that you cannot enter or cross the European path without implementing the verdicts of the Court. My last remark is in the direction of Mr Bosić, who said, “It is difficult to understand what’s going on in our country.” Sure – I said that we are well aware of how difficult this is. I would not wish for anybody to have to start where you have to start. But it is your country and your responsibility. We cannot do anything about it. You – the elected politicians – are the only ones who can, and should, do something about it. If it is impossible, it is impossible. Nevertheless, as I said to Mr Šepić, it is your responsibility.
I sincerely hope that in the near future – for me, that future starts now – we will operate in a normal and positive way. I will be at your disposal at any moment, as will Sir Roger, but you should also be at our disposal. If we can agree on that, we have a positive result from this debate.
The PRESIDENT – Does the chair of the committee wish to speak? Ms Mikko, you have two minutes.
Ms MIKKO (Estonia) – I congratulate our co-rapporteurs on their outstanding report on Bosnia and Herzegovina, and on carrying out their difficult task of being co-rapporteurs.
The report reminds us of the complexity of the institutional framework of Bosnia and Herzegovina created after the signing of the Dayton Agreement, and the many political and legal obstacles that impede the good functioning of democratic institutions. The report has shed light on the progress made since 2013. We welcome this and are supportive of all efforts made, but some serious challenges remain to be addressed. Let me mention two: the need to implement the 2009 Sejdić and Finci judgment to allow elections that are not discriminatory to be conducted; and the need to adopt the changes to the constitution and the election law before the next general election in October 2018.
I hope that this report will trigger a genuine debate in the country and speed up the expected reforms. Otherwise, the country could face a serious political crisis in the coming months, which could be detrimental to the stability of the whole region. I hope that the delegation of Bosnia and Herzegovina will take the adopted resolution seriously, and be in a position to address the concerns and expectations of our Assembly.
Once again, I congratulate the rapporteurs and reiterate the Monitoring Committee’s support and best wishes for their continued work. I invite our colleagues to support the draft resolution.
The PRESIDENT – The debate is closed.
I understand that the Monitoring Committee wishes to propose to the Assembly that Amendments 3 and 4 to the draft resolution, which were unanimously approved by the committee, should be declared as agreed by the Assembly.
Is that so Mr Kox?
Mr KOX (Netherlands) – Yes.
The PRESIDENT – Does anyone object? That is not the case.
Amendments 3 and 4 are adopted.
The PRESIDENT – We come to Amendment 1. I call Ms Marković to support the amendment.
Ms MARKOVIĆ (Bosnia and Herzegovina)* – I tabled the amendment to paragraph 14 because it presents entity voting as a problem. Entity voting is a constitutional category, and to challenge it challenges the constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In fact, changing the constitution in this way may lead to confrontation and could complicate the situation. Any gesture in this direction is not a gesture of good will.
The PRESIDENT – Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment? I call Mr Kox.
Mr KOX (Netherlands) – I do not see any need to skip this part of the paragraph, as it is factual. It is the conclusion that we have drawn. Skipping this paragraph could lead to similar proposals. As I said, the delegation from Bosnia and Herzegovina had the chance to react. It is a very bad idea to delete a sentence at the last moment. I am against the amendment.
The PRESIDENT – What is the opinion of the committee?
Ms MIKKO (Estonia) – Rejected by a large majority.
The PRESIDENT – The vote is open.
Amendment 1 is rejected.
We come to Amendment 2. I call Ms Marković to support the amendment.
Ms MARKOVIĆ (Bosnia and Herzegovina)* – In paragraph 16, we would like to delete the wording regarding “the decision of Republika Srpska” and so on. This section is about the registration of defence property located on Republika Srpska property. The real reason that Republika Srpska did not register this defence property is because there is no law on State property in our country. For that reason, it is not possible to register defence property. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, all defence property is used without obstacle and without reserve.
The PRESIDENT – Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment? I call Mr Kox.
Mr KOX (Netherlands) – I have the same reaction as I did to Amendment 1. I do not see that it improves the text of the resolution. The resolution states facts. If the delegation had wanted to make comments at an earlier stage, we would have discussed them, but this is not the moment to change the text of a resolution.
The PRESIDENT – What is the opinion of the committee?
Ms MIKKO (Estonia) – Rejected by a large majority.
The PRESIDENT – The vote is open.
Amendment 2 is rejected.
We will now proceed to vote on the draft resolution contained in Document 14465, as amended.
The vote is open.
The draft resolution in Document 14465, as amended, is adopted, with 62 votes for, 2 against and 3 abstentions.
Congratulations to the rapporteurs.
6. The case for drafting a European convention on the profession of lawyer
The PRESIDENT – The next item of business this afternoon is the debate on the report entitled “The case for drafting a European convention on the profession of lawyer”, Document 14453, presented by Ms Sabien Lahaye-Battheu on behalf of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights. In order to finish by 8 p.m., I will interrupt the list of speakers at about 7.45 p.m. to allow time for the reply and the vote.
I call Ms Sabien Lahaye-Battheu, the rapporteur. You have 13 minutes in total, which you may divide between presentation of the report and reply to the debate.
Ms LAHAYE-BATTHEU (Belgium)* – I am very attached to this report, which is my first and is very dear to my heart. It deals with the profession of lawyer, which is essential to the protection of human rights and the rule of law.
Several events linked to the report have taken place on Council of Europe premises today. First, a group of lawyers from Eastern European countries arrived in the Agora building on a study visit. I took part in their work and they told me a number of their concerns about their personal situations and the situations in their countries. Immediately afterwards, I took part in a side event organised by CCBE – the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe – where I heard other lawyers describe the difficulties they face in the exercise of their profession. I was struck by one in particular, who said in English: “Being a lawyer has never been this difficult – it has never been this dangerous.” I am also aware of the issue of bar associations that are no longer independent but under the control of governments, as well as the problem of lawyers who are disbarred.
The Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights also heard from a number of guest speakers. Two lawyers recognised for their defence of human rights, Ayse Bingol Demir from Turkey and Khalid Baghirov from Azerbaijan, described the situation in their countries and the problems that they had faced personally. Civil society associations, including CCBE and the Human Rights House Foundation, presented more general information on the situation in Europe.
Last week, I was approached by another NGO that presented yet more information on other cases, most of which I had been unaware of. Many other organisations have also published reports that describe other cases. It is clear that the problem they describe is becoming worse in an increasing number of our member States. My report includes many examples of lawyers being subjected to pressure, threats and violence. Several have even been killed, clearly for reasons connected to their professional activity. My report is not the only report to have established that; a recent report on human rights defenders by our committee also mentions many such cases, and yet more appear in the Monitoring Committee’s report.
The situation is absolutely unacceptable. The side event at lunchtime today organised by the CCBE was entitled “Lawyers under threat: the end of the rule of law in Europe?” – a rather dramatic title, perhaps, but one that is quite justified. If lawyers cannot exercise their professional activities independently and free from pressure from authorities or anyone else, the judicial protection of human rights and the proper functioning of the judiciary in general are placed in jeopardy. There is therefore a very real threat to the rule of law. The problem affects the Council of Europe itself as an Organisation that defends democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
Having said all that, the main objective of my report was not to draw up a comprehensive inventory of the problems that lawyers have faced and continue to face. The draft recommendation refers to the situation in general, without reference to any specific countries. However, in order to explain why action is needed, my explanatory memorandum presents information relating to many countries and specifies that the situation in some of them is particularly worrying. One conclusion that we can draw is that issues linked to the free exercise of the profession of lawyer are very widespread. Introducing a binding instrument with a general scope is perfectly justified, but given the main objective described in the report’s title – to draft a Council of Europe convention on the profession of lawyer – it is not necessary, and might even be counterproductive, to point the finger at a given State in the recommendation.
With regard to the possible content of a future convention, there are already a number of relevant standards relating to the profession of lawyer, including in the European Convention on Human Rights and the case law of the Court. However, with respect to specific details, we have only non-binding instruments, such as the Committee of Ministers Recommendation of 2000. In addition to those sources, there are also other non-binding standards that contain more detail and have been put forward by international associations of lawyers. It is not up to us to write a draft of a new convention, but we can guide the Committee of Ministers towards existing texts as a source of inspiration.
My report also notes legal and regulatory developments that have affected lawyers, particularly those linked to the fight against corruption, money laundering and terrorism. Any work on a future convention should take those developments into account in order to reinforce existing safeguards.
Along with a new convention, we also need an early warning mechanism. The existing Council of Europe platform on the protection of journalists would be an excellent model for such a mechanism. The Assembly has already called for the creation of a similar platform for human rights defenders. We should reiterate that call and stress that the new mechanism should include lawyers in its scope.
Another matter that is not included in the proposal but which I find interesting nevertheless is the situation of in-house lawyers – company lawyers. I have met several representatives of company lawyers’ associations, whose main concern is the lack of recognition of legal privilege in many States. I refer to the legal privilege of lawyers in their communications with the management of companies and I suggest that this issue should be taken on board by the Council of Europe. That, however, can be discussed in the framework of another report.
In conclusion, we should not forget that lawyers are human rights defenders and are often confronted by public authorities in defending the interests of their clients. The Assembly should continue to protect them and to promote their essential role. I thank my colleagues from the committee, as well as the secretariat, particularly Mr Milner, for the work that we have conducted together in a very good atmosphere.
The PRESIDENT – You have four minutes remaining to respond to the debate. We come now to the list of speakers. First, I call Mr Corlăţean.
Mr CORLĂŢEAN (Romania, Spokesperson for the Socialists, Democrats and Greens Group)* - On behalf of my group, I take this opportunity to commend the rapporteur for her excellent work. The report contains good conclusions and excellent recommendations. This subject matter is very important to the administration of justice in our democratic countries. We tend to concentrate on judges, magistrates, prosecutors or the higher counsels of the magistracy. We also tend to talk about the independence of the justice system, but what about lawyers? They have an important role to play in the administration of justice, including the promotion of human rights and maintaining the rights of the defence. Let us not lose sight of that.
We subscribe to the rapporteur’s conclusions on the need to implement recommendation No. R (2000) 21 from the Committee of Ministers on the freedom of the profession of lawyers and, in particular, on the mandate that we are seeking from the Committee of Ministers to draw up some recommendations – something legally binding. We are talking about a convention applicable to this profession and some salient elements that need to be guaranteed. They should become a European standard – a common, compulsory one for all our member States, particularly when it comes to the freedom to exercise this profession. That is very important.
I share the rapporteur’s concerns. She talks about abuses in many of our member States, with actions taken against lawyers and physical violence used against them. Sometimes even public officials are responsible for such acts. This is worrying. We need to make sure that we safeguard the integrity of lawyers and client-lawyer privileges and we should look not only at the requirements of the inquiries in question but at these underlying principles. That last point is an issue for my country, too.
We therefore need to respond on a European scale. We need to guarantee these fundamental rights so that lawyers can practise their profession freely, without constraint. There is of course a distinction between the profession of lawyer and the rights and rules of access to the profession. We must also address the whole issue of company lawyers and their status. They, too, are important – I do not renege on that – but that it is a different matter. I support the setting up an early warning system in Europe, which could be premised on the models that we already know from other areas. They work well within our Organisation, so let us take inspiration from them.
In conclusion, let me say once again that my group supports this draft resolution and we hope that the Assembly will adopt it.
Sir Edward LEIGH (United Kingdom, Spokesperson for the European Conservatives Group) – No doubt this is a worthy resolution and report and no doubt the convention that it refers to, if implemented, would not cause too much harm, but I question whether, for most of Europe, it is really necessary. Indeed, I would say that we need another European convention regulating our professions like we need a hole in the head.
The rapporteur suggested that we are perhaps facing “the end of the rule of law in Europe”. That is a ludicrous overstatement. I have been a barrister in England for more than 40 years and I can say that the examples from England given in the report, which I am familiar with, are utterly trivial. In no sense whatsoever are lawyers in Britain – or indeed in France, the Netherlands or Germany – who are precisely the sort of people who are best equipped to defend themselves, as that is what their job is, under any sort of threat.
Abuses of course take place in some parts of Europe and lawyers, like people in any other profession, may fall out with the government of the day and their human rights may suffer. They may suffer false imprisonment and all the rest of it. We know that abuses take place in certain countries of the former Soviet Union, but is it really contended that, if we pass yet another convention and pour out more reams of paper, any of these regimes that are persecuting their own people will be persuaded and will desist simply because of a convention passed by the Council of Europe? Sadly, if a regime wants to go against basic principles and natural law, it will do so.
In Britain, we have been governed by the rule of law for 500 years, but we are very proud of the fact that we created the Magna Carta. The very first item of the Magna Carta was that the English Church shall be free and shall have her rights entire and her liberties inviolate, but when it was politically convenient for those rights to be violated, they were, by the King – this was on both sides of the argument of the Reformation. This happens in all countries that are suffering from tyranny, so I question whether a convention such as this will achieve a great deal.
I wish to end on a note about the Council of Europe. It has a large bureaucracy, is trying to contend with huge budgetary constraints and has been afflicted by corruption, so it really has to concentrate on where the problems are. The Council of Europe should have a laser-like focus on where the problems are in certain States in the former Soviet Union, where there are real human rights abuses. That is what we should do. By all means, if the Russian Federation has to come back into this Assembly we can send out monitoring teams and hold the Russian Federation up to full transparency, but we must not believe we can solve this problem by just another European convention.
Mr MARUKYAN (Armenia, Spokesperson for the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe) – Before becoming a parliamentarian, I worked as a human rights advocate for about 12 years, which is why the idea of drafting a convention on the profession of lawyer is important to me. My group strongly supports such a convention and the report, sharing the vision behind these steps. I thank the rapporteur, Ms Lahaye-Battheu, for her valuable work and wish to emphasise some important aspects of it.
As the report rightly states, the specific role of lawyers gives them a central position in the administration of justice, as protagonists and intermediaries between the public and the courts. However, in that process, it is crucial to provide security for lawyers and to allow them to be able to perform their professional duties effectively. Necessary measures should be taken in order to ensure those guarantees in relation to fundamental principles, such as ensuring access to a lawyer and lawyers’ access to their clients and beneficiaries.
The report comprehensively covered important occasions when lawyers in Europe were under physical threat, but it should be noted that all over Europe human rights organisations are under greater pressure and threats. The driving force behind these organisations is the lawyers, who perform their professional duties through human rights organisations and, ultimately, become the target of the authorities or different forces.
To secure lawyers’ ability to perform their professional duties effectively, national legislation should be reviewed in order to avoid the creation of artificial obstacles, such as the inclusion of a clause in a criminal code stipulating a fine for lawyers who express a disrespectful attitude towards the court, which Armenia unfortunately did recently and which will perhaps become leverage in the hands of authorities, to be used against lawyers.
Access to a lawyer is an issue that should be addressed at national level, by not only promoting their physical accessibility but increasing trust and confidence in the profession. I restate that existing standards do not have a binding status, and the current situation, in which lawyers are under increasing pressure and are not always properly protected in many countries, strongly underlines the necessity to establish a new and more effective instrument in this field, in the form of a convention. On behalf of ALDE, I call for drafting such a convention based on the existing Committee of Ministers recommendation, taking into account subsequent standards and developments in the surrounding legal context. It is beyond doubt that the convention should include an effective binding mechanism and be open to accession by non-member States.
To conclude, I say to my British colleague that you cannot compare Britain with other States that are in transition and developing the rule of law and new standards, and where the court system is not the same as the one you enjoy in Britain.
Ms KERESTECİOĞLU DEMİR (Turkey, Spokesperson for the Group of the Unified European Left) – Today is 24 January, the international Day of the Endangered Lawyer, and this year the focus will be on Egypt. I salute Egyptian lawyers and all my colleagues who work hard under pressure and are in prison all over the world.
I congratulate Ms Lahaye-Battheu for expressing the problems of lawyers in a clear and impartial manner. As a deputy who has been a lawyer for more than 30 years, I have to admit that the situation has worsened for lawyers in Turkey and many other countries. Lawyers are the voice and assurance of the freedom of people who seek rights, and as representatives of independent advocacy, they are the founding elements of the law. There is no justice in a system where lawyers are not free.
In Turkey, for example, lawyers are at the forefront of the groups most affected by the state of emergency that is constantly being re-announced. During this period of serious violations of the right to defence, hundreds of lawyers have been arrested. Lawyers’ right to defend has also been seriously damaged by the decree laws enacted under the state of emergency. Hundreds of lawyers who were unlawfully investigated because of organisational crimes were banned from advocating for those who were investigated for the same crime. Upon the request of the public prosecutor and the ruling of the judge, preventing lawyers from interviewing their client for 24 hours was legalised. During interviews between detainees and lawyers, audio and video recordings of the interviewee are legalised. On the other hand, wherever there is oppression, there is resistance. Lawyers have been keeping a “justice watch” in a court for 42 weeks to show solidarity with their imprisoned colleagues and to seek justice.
As the report states, similar violations have occurred in member States, even to such extremes as physical assault and murder. For that reason, we need to act immediately. A binding convention and a committee of experts examining the situation in signatory countries are very important for the profession of lawyer. For instance, GREVIO plays a crucial role in implementation of the Istanbul Convention. We have to support a similar committee for the rights of lawyers. For all those reasons, I want to express once more that I support the report on judicial independence and a fair judiciary. It is our responsibility to protect lawyers who try to practise their profession by putting their lives at risk.
Mr DIVINA (Italy, Spokesperson for the Free Democrats Group)* – Ms Lahaye-Battheu, I want to speak about something that you did not mention in your report. Lawyers play a key role in ensuring that individual rights are protected. Lawyers are not protecting their own rights. They are protecting the citizens whom they represent. In the debate, a lot has been said about threats against lawyers, but if a lawyer is not in a position to work under proper conditions, the problem is not the lawyer; it is the individual who is paying for his services and does not receive those services because of a threat. The question is: how do we defend the rights of individuals? A lawyer who works freely and exercises his role effectively is the other side of the coin.
In the 27 member States of the European Union, the principle of free competition has been introduced, alongside the free exercise of any profession. We find ourselves in a free market of goods, but that free market has had a deleterious effect on the way that this profession operates. On the one hand, we see the very high rates that lawyers charge and the effect on proper representation of individuals. We also see the blurry situation between lawyers and judges, with each appearing to infringe upon the roles and exercising of the profession of the other.
Huge amounts are paid for these services. There has to be a proper price that is sustainable and that people can bear. Citizens must receive the proper legal representation that they require. We have to first guarantee that lawyers can work seriously to represent their client’s rights, and then we can speak about the lawyers’ issues and problems.
Mr LOGVYNSKYI (Ukraine, Spokesperson for the Group of the European People’s Party) – May I start by saying how grateful I am to the rapporteur for the very important work that has been done? The objective is to defend not a group or profession but justice and the rule of law. It is the lawyer who does the work that creates the just balance within the justice system, in the interests of society and of both the prosecution and defence.
We talk a lot here at the Council of Europe about European values, but some people do not just talk about them; they actually implement them and make them live. So today, as an advocate, a lawyer and a human rights defender, I can state that, particularly in the younger democracies, there are huge numbers of violations of lawyers’ rights in their professional lives, for instance, in respect of confidentiality with clients. I have so often heard people say, “How can you defend a killer or a thief?” Especially in the younger democracies, the number of accused in these categories who receive verdicts of not guilty is less than 1%. Their only hope of a defence is from their lawyer.
That is particularly clear in annexed Crimea, where people cannot find a lawyer because lawyers do not want to defend Crimean Tatars. Nikolai Paltsev, after a PACE visit, was seized as he left the plane – the very topic on which he had spoken at the Council of Europe. Such violations require our support. We must support this report because we need to see absolute justice defended without the State interfering with the confidentiality between lawyer and client. This is the work of our Assembly, so I call on you all to support lawyers, because if lawyers cannot support themselves, society has no defenders left. I again thank the rapporteurs. Please support this important report for the Council of Europe and for the cause of justice.
The PRESIDENT – The rapporteur will reply at the end of the debate. Ms Gorghiu. is not here, so I call Ms Beselia.
Ms BESELIA (Georgia) – I appreciate the effort the rapporteur has put into preparing this report.
The profession of lawyer is honourable, responsible and involves high risk because lawyers defend the interests of other people. I used to be a lawyer in criminal cases for 14 years and I understand very well how important it is for the profession to enjoy strong guarantees of protection.
I fully agree with the recommendations in the draft resolution. Georgia is a good example in respect of what we used to have and what we have today on standards. Until 2012, lawyers were often detained or imprisoned without legal grounds. Since 2012, we have released illegally detained lawyers. We have created new guarantees in the criminal code to protect lawyers in criminal proceedings and equated the guarantees to lawyers with the protection guaranteed for judges, prosecutors and investigators. Additionally, we have written legal guarantees for lawyers into the new constitution. That shows that protection of the legal profession is very important for us. It is therefore important that the Council of Europe creates strong guarantees for the protection of the legal profession, as Georgia has done at the legislative level.
The profession of lawyer must, in its turn, have high ethical standards. Every member State of the Council of Europe needs to have a framework of fundamental guarantees by which human rights will be protected in every country.
Mr DİŞLİ (Turkey) – The profession of lawyer is a public service profession. Examination of the report gives the impression that it focuses on civil society and the human rights advocacy dimension of the profession rather than on its public service dimension. I emphasise that there are also no European conventions on the other pillars of the judiciary, namely judges and public prosecutors.
It is understood that there may be a need to update the Committee of Ministers recommendation on the profession of lawyer in the light of developments since its adoption. The report states that a convention on the profession of lawyer could be prepared on the basis of the basic principles of the recommendation. However, only a limited number of these basic principles seem to have content appropriate for transfer to a convention.
The report proposes a mechanism for a supervisory body. The rapporteur suggests a structure similar to the platform for journalists. However, that platform is criticised even by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe in respect of the role of NGOs, which participate in the process. The platform’s effectiveness is also questioned. On the other hand, the profession of lawyer, unlike journalism, is a constituent pillar of the judiciary because of its defence function. Therefore, a supervisory mechanism could result in intervention in judicial proceedings.
Until today, the Committee of Ministers has addressed issues of efficiency and the independence of the judiciary with recommendations, guidelines or good practice documents. Consequently, it would be appropriate to update the existing recommendation instead of having a new European convention. This issue should be addressed with recommendations or guidelines.
The PRESIDENT – I must now interrupt the list of speakers. The speeches of members on the speakers’ list who have been present during the debate but have not been able to speak may be given to the Table Office for publication in the Official Report. I remind colleagues that typewritten texts can be submitted, electronically if possible, no later than four hours after the list of speakers is interrupted.
I call Ms Lahaye-Battheu to reply. You have four minutes.
Ms LAHAYE-BATTEHEU (Belgium)* – I thank colleagues who spoken today for their support of the report. Sir Edward Leigh said that there are no problems in Great Britain. I invite him to read page 11 of the report, where there is an example of pressure on lawyers even in the United Kingdom. With everything that the report describes and what we have heard today, it is clear that there are increasingly serious issues affecting the profession of lawyer. The report must be adopted so that we can improve the situation of many lawyers in our member States. That is what we are here for. We work for the members of the Council of Europe.
Mr Dişli said that it was not necessary to adopt a new convention. I agree – we do not want the Committee of Ministers to begin this exercise afresh. That is why we refer to existing instruments. We would like to invite the Committee of Ministers to begin work on the basis of what already exists. Most important, we need a binding instrument, not a non-binding one like that we already have today.
The PRESIDENT – I call Mr Schwabe, the chair of the committee. You have two minutes.
Mr SCHWABE (Germany) – It is a pity we cannot continue the discussion, but it is late.
Human rights are under pressure. We all know that human rights defenders and lawyers are under special pressure. Not all lawyers are human rights defenders, but many are, and they are in a pressure situation. I can only confirm on behalf of the committee that our rapporteur has enjoyed its full support throughout her mandate. The hearings she organised for the committee with leaders of the legal profession from all over Europe were most informative, and we have seen how important it is for the rule of law if the legal profession is protected and can carry out its important work without interference from the State or fear for people’s own safety. I therefore call on you as an Assembly to adopt the recommendation with a majority – probably a good one – and to send a strong signal to the Committee of Ministers that it must take action and come up with a convention soon.
The PRESIDENT – The debate is closed.
The Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights has presented a draft recommendation, to which four amendments and two sub-amendments have been tabled.
They will be taken in the order in which they appear in the revised Compendium. I remind you that speeches on amendments are limited to 30 seconds.
We come to Amendment 1, which has a sub-amendment. I call Mr Logvynskyi to support the amendment. You have 30 seconds.
Mr LOGVYNSKYI (Ukraine) – The breach of warranty of laws and privilege, and the use of illegal investigative activities, is a key problem in Ukraine and other countries in the Council of Europe. This is why we must pay attention to these problems and I ask you to support the amendment and the sub-amendment.
The PRESIDENT – I call Mr Thiery to support the sub-amendment. I cannot see him. Does anyone else want to support the sub-amendment? I call Mr Logvynskyi.
Mr LOGVYNSKYI (Ukraine) – I would like to move the sub-amendment on behalf of those who are not present in the Chamber, as I am one of its authors.
The PRESIDENT – Does anyone wish to speak against the sub-amendment? That is not the case.
What is the opinion of the mover of the main amendment?
Mr LOGVYNSKYI (Ukraine) – In favour.
The PRESIDENT – What is the opinion of the committee on the sub-amendment?
Mr SCHWABE (Germany) – The committee was in favour.
The PRESIDENT – The vote is open.
The sub-amendment is adopted.
Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment, as amended? That is not the case.
What is the opinion of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights?
Mr SCHWABE (Germany) – The amendment, as amended, was approved by a majority.
The PRESIDENT – I shall now put the amendment, as amended, to the vote.
The vote is open.
Amendment 1, as amended, is adopted.
We come to Amendment 2. I call Mr Logvynskyi to support the amendment. You have 30 seconds.
Mr LOGVYNSKYI (Ukraine) – We were asking for the addition of the United Nations Basic Principles, but after conversation with the secretary of the committee we decided not to move the amendment.
The PRESIDENT – Does anyone wish to move the amendment? That is not the case.
Amendment 2 is not moved.
We come to Amendment 3, which has a sub-amendment. I call Mr Logvynskyi to support the amendment. You have 30 seconds.
Mr LOGVYNSKYI (Ukraine) – It is important to mention that lawyers should enjoy civil and criminal immunities for statements made in good faith, in writing or orally, in pleading before a court, tribunal or legal administrative authorities during their professional practice.
The PRESIDENT – I call Mr Thiery to support the sub-amendment.
Mr THIERY (Belgium)* – I am sorry, but you have asked me twice to defend the amendment and I did not table it. I think there is a misunderstanding.
The PRESIDENT – Your name is down in the revised Compendium as one of those who tabled it. I apologise. Does anyone else want to support the sub-amendment? I call Mr Logvynskyi.
Mr LOGVYNSKYI (Ukraine) – I support the sub-amendment. It makes some changes to improve the style of the report.
The PRESIDENT – Does anyone wish to speak against the sub-amendment? That is not the case.
What is the opinion of the committee on the sub-amendment?
Mr SCHWABE (Germany) – The sub-amendment was approved by a large majority.
The PRESIDENT – I shall now put the sub-amendment to the vote.
The vote is open.
The sub-amendment is adopted.
Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment, as amended? That is not the case.
What is the opinion of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights?
Mr SCHWABE (Germany) – The amendment, as amended, was approved with a large majority.
The PRESIDENT – I shall now put the amendment, as amended, to the vote.
The vote is open.
Amendment 3, as amended, is adopted.
I understand that Mr Logvynskyi wishes to withdraw Amendment 4. Does anyone else wish to move it? Amendment 4 is not moved.
We will now proceed to vote on the whole of the draft recommendation contained in Document 14453, as amended. A simple majority is required.
The vote is open.
The draft recommendation in Document 14453, as amended, is adopted, with 33 votes for, 4 against and 0 abstentions.
7. Next public business
THE PRESIDENT – The Assembly will hold its next public sitting tomorrow at 10 a.m. with the agenda that was approved on Monday.
The sitting is closed.
(The sitting was closed at 8 p.m.)
1. Election of the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights
2. Address by Mr Lars Lřkke Rasmussen, Prime Minister of Denmark
Questions: Mr Vareikis, Ms Strik, Mr Henriksen, Mr Bildarratz, Mr Crowe, Ms Gambaro, Ms Duranton, Mr Schwabe, Mr De Bruyn, Mr Sřndergaard, Ms Schou, Ms Hoffmann, Mr Zingeris and Ms De Sutter
3. The Turkish military intervention in Syria (current affairs debate)
Speakers: Mr Kox, Ms Pashayeva, Mr Stroe, Ms Mikko, Mr Seyidov, Mr Marukyan, Kürkçü, Ms De Sutter, Mr Türkeş, Mr Kiliç, Mr Crowe, Ms Gafarova, Mr Miroğlu, Mr Hunko, Mr Özsoy, Ms Duranton, Mr Önal and Ms Topcu
4. Election of the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights (results)
5. The honouring of obligations and commitments by Bosnia and Herzegovina
Presentation by Mr Kox of report of the Committee on the Honouring of Obligations and Commitments by Member States of the Council of Europe, Document 14465
Speakers: Mr Schennach, Earl of Dundee, Mr Hunko, Mr Link, Mr Fournier, Ms Smith, Mr Šepić, Mr Hajduković, Ms Anttila, Ms Putica, Mr Juratovic, Mr Gouttefarde, Ms Krišto, Lord Foulkes, Mr Bosić, Mr Xuclŕ, Lord Anderson, Mr Stier, Ms Marković and Mr Kvatchantiradze
Replies: Mr Kox and Ms Mikko
Amendments 3 and 4 adopted.
Draft resolution in Document 14465, as amended, adopted
6. The case for drafting a European convention on the profession of lawyer
Presentation by Ms Lahaye-Battheu of report of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, Document 14453
Speakers: Mr Corlăţean, Sir Edward Leigh, Mr Marukyan, Ms Kerestecioğlu Demir, Mr Divina, Mr Logvynskiyi, Ms Beselia and Mr Dişli
Replies: Ms Lahaye-Battheu and Mr Schwabe
Amendments 1 as amended and 3 as amended, adopted
Draft recommendation in Document 14453, as amended, adopted
7. Next public business
Appendix I / Annexe I
Representatives or Substitutes who signed the register of attendance in accordance with Rule 12.2 of the Rules of Procedure.The names of members substituted follow (in brackets) the names of participating members.
Liste des représentants ou suppléants ayant signé le registre de présence, conformément ŕ l’article 12.2 du Rčglement.Le nom des personnes remplacées suit celui des Membres remplaçant, entre parenthčses.
ĹBERG, Boriana [Ms]
ADAM, Claude [M.] (BRASSEUR, Anne [Mme])
ĆVARSDÓTTIR, Thorhildur Sunna [Ms]
AGHAYEVA, Ulviyye [Ms]
AGRAMUNT, Pedro [M.]
AKTAY, Yasin [Mr]
AMON, Werner [Mr]
ANDERSON, Donald [Lord] (MASSEY, Doreen [Baroness])
ANTTILA, Sirkka-Liisa [Ms]
ARNAUT, Damir [Mr]
BALÁŽ, Radovan [Mr] (PAŠKA, Jaroslav [M.])
BALFE, Richard [Lord] (ECCLES, Diana [Lady])
BATRINCEA, Vlad [Mr]
BECHT, Olivier [M.]
BERNACKI, Włodzimierz [Mr]
BĒRZINŠ, Andris [M.]
BESELIA, Eka [Ms] (PRUIDZE, Irina [Ms])
BILDARRATZ, Jokin [Mr]
BİLGEHAN, Gülsün [Mme]
BLONDIN, Maryvonne [Mme]
BOSIĆ, Mladen [Mr]
BOUYX, Bertrand [M.] (MAIRE, Jacques [M.])
BRUIJN-WEZEMAN, Reina de [Ms] (MULDER, Anne [Mr])
BRUYN, Piet De [Mr]
BUSHATI, Ervin [Mr]
ĆATOVIĆ, Marija Maja [Ms]
CEPEDA, José [Mr]
CERİTOĞLU KURT, Lütfiye İlksen [Ms] (ŞAHİN USTA, Leyla [Ms])
CHRISTODOULOPOULOU, Anastasia [Ms]
CHRISTOFFERSEN, Lise [Ms]
CORLĂŢEAN, Titus [Mr]
COURSON, Yolaine de [Mme] (GAILLOT, Albane [Mme])
CROWE, Seán [Mr]
CRUCHTEN, Yves [M.]
DAEMS, Hendrik [Mr] (DUMERY, Daphné [Ms])
DALLOZ, Marie-Christine [Mme]
DE TEMMERMAN, Jennifer [Mme]
DİŞLİ, Şaban [Mr]
DIVINA, Sergio [Mr]
DUNDEE, Alexander [The Earl of] [ ]
DURANTON, Nicole [Mme]
EIDE, Petter [Mr] (EIDE, Espen Barth [Mr])
ENGIN, Didem [Ms] (BAYKAL, Deniz [Mr])
ESSL, Franz Leonhard [Mr]
ESTRELA, Edite [Mme] (ROSETA, Helena [Mme])
EVANS, Nigel [Mr]
FILIPOVSKI, Dubravka [Ms] (PANTIĆ PILJA, Biljana [Ms])
FOULKES, George [Lord] (PRESCOTT, John [Mr])
FOURNIER, Bernard [M.]
FRIDEZ, Pierre-Alain [M.]
GAFAROVA, Sahiba [Ms]
GAMBARO, Adele [Ms]
GATTOLIN, André [M.] (GOY-CHAVENT, Sylvie [Mme])
GHILETCHI, Valeriu [Mr]
GILLAN, Cheryl [Dame]
GOGA, Pavol [M.] (KRESÁK, Peter [Mr])
GOLUB, Vladyslav [Mr] (GERASHCHENKO, Iryna [Mme])
GONÇALVES, Carlos Alberto [M.]
GOUTTEFARDE, Fabien [M.]
GRAF, Martin [Mr]
GUNNARSSON, Jonas [Mr]
GUTIÉRREZ, Antonio [Mr]
GUZENINA, Maria [Ms]
HAJDUKOVIĆ, Domagoj [Mr]
HAJIYEV, Sabir [Mr]
HALICKI, Andrzej [Mr]
HEBNER, Martin [Mr] (KLEINWAECHTER, Norbert [Mr])
HEER, Alfred [Mr]
HENRIKSEN, Martin [Mr]
HOFFMANN, Rózsa [Mme] (CSÖBÖR, Katalin [Mme])
HOWELL, John [Mr]
HUNKO, Andrej [Mr]
JENIŠTA, Luděk [Mr]
JENSEN, Gyde [Ms]
JENSEN, Michael Aastrup [Mr]
JENSEN, Mogens [Mr]
JONES, Susan Elan [Ms]
JURATOVIC, Josip [Mr] (SCHÄFER, Axel [Mr])
KALMARI, Anne [Ms]
KAPUR, Mudassar [Mr] (WOLD, Morten [Mr])
KARLSSON, Niklas [Mr]
KAVVADIA, Ioanneta [Ms]
KESİCİ, İlhan [Mr]
KILIÇ, Akif Çağatay [Mr]
KIRAL, Serhii [Mr] (SOTNYK, Olena [Ms])
KOÇ, Haluk [M.]
KOPŘIVA, František [Mr]
KOVÁCS, Elvira [Ms]
KOX, Tiny [Mr]
KRIŠTO, Borjana [Ms]
KÜRKÇÜ, Ertuğrul [Mr]
KVATCHANTIRADZE, Zviad [Mr]
KYTÝR, Jaroslav [Mr]
LACROIX, Christophe [M.]
LAHAYE-BATTHEU, Sabien [Mme] (VERCAMER, Stefaan [M.])
LEIGH, Edward [Sir]
LEITE RAMOS, Luís [M.]
LĪBIŅA-EGNERE, Inese [Ms]
LINK, Michael [Mr] (KUHLE, Konstantin [Mr])
LOGVYNSKYI, Georgii [Mr]
LOMBARDI, Filippo [M.]
LOPUSHANSKYI, Andrii [Mr] (DZHEMILIEV, Mustafa [Mr])
LOUHELAINEN, Anne [Ms] (PACKALÉN, Tom [Mr])
LOUIS, Alexandra [Mme]
MARKOVIĆ, Milica [Mme]
MAROSZ, Ján [Mr]
McCARTHY, Kerry [Ms]
MEHL, Emilie Enger [Ms]
MEIMARAKIS, Evangelos [Mr]
MENDES, Ana Catarina [Mme]
MIKKO, Marianne [Ms]
MİROĞLU, Orhan [Mr]
MULLEN, Rónán [Mr] (HOPKINS, Maura [Ms])
MÜLLER, Thomas [Mr]
MUNYAMA, Killion [Mr] (TRUSKOLASKI, Krzysztof [Mr])
NÉMETH, Zsolt [Mr]
NENUTIL, Miroslav [Mr]
NICK, Andreas [Mr]
NICOLAE, Andrei [Mr] (TUȘA, Adriana Diana [Ms])
OBRADOVIĆ, Marija [Ms]
OHLSSON, Carina [Ms]
ÖNAL, Suat [Mr]
OOMEN-RUIJTEN, Ria [Ms]
O’REILLY, Joseph [Mr]
ÖZSOY, Hişyar [Mr] (KERESTECİOĞLU DEMİR, Filiz [Ms])
PASHAYEVA, Ganira [Ms]
PELKONEN, Jaana Maarit [Ms]
POCIEJ, Aleksander [M.] (POMASKA, Agnieszka [Ms])
PREDA, Cezar Florin [M.]
PRUNĂ, Cristina-Mădălina [Ms]
PSYCHOGIOS, Georgios [Mr] (ANAGNOSTOPOULOU, Athanasia [Ms])
PUTICA, Sanja [Ms]
REISS, Frédéric [M.] (ABAD, Damien [M.])
RIGONI, Andrea [Mr]
RUSTAMYAN, Armen [M.]
SANTA ANA, María Concepción de [Ms]
SCHENNACH, Stefan [Mr]
SCHOU, Ingjerd [Ms]
SCHWABE, Frank [Mr]
ŠEPIĆ, Senad [Mr]
ŠEŠELJ, Aleksandar [Mr]
SEYIDOV, Samad [Mr]
SHARMA, Virendra [Mr]
SHEPPARD, Tommy [Mr] (BARDELL, Hannah [Ms])
SILVA, Adăo [M.]
SMITH, Angela [Ms]
SOBOLEV, Serhiy [Mr]
SŘNDERGAARD, Sřren [Mr]
STELLINI, David [Mr]
STIER, Davor Ivo [Mr]
STRIK, Tineke [Ms]
STROE, Ionuț-Marian [Mr]
ŞUPAC, Inna [Ms]
SUTTER, Petra De [Ms] (BLANCHART, Philippe [M.])
THIÉRY, Damien [M.]
THÓRARINSSON, Birgir [Mr] (ÓLASON, Bergţór [Mr])
TOPCU, Zühal [Ms]
TORNARE, Manuel [M.] (MAURY PASQUIER, Liliane [Mme])
TROY, Robert [Mr] (COWEN, Barry [Mr])
TÜRKEŞ, Yıldırım Tuğrul [Mr]
ULLRICH, Volker [Mr]
VALLINI, André [M.] (GROSDIDIER, François [M.])
VAREIKIS, Egidijus [Mr]
VEN, Mart van de [Mr]
VOVK, Viktor [Mr] (LIASHKO, Oleh [Mr])
WASERMAN, Sylvain [M.]
WENAWESER, Christoph [Mr]
WHITFIELD, Martin [Mr] (GALE, Roger [Sir])
WILSON, Phil [Mr]
WOJTYŁA, Andrzej [Mr]
XUCLŔ, Jordi [Mr] (BARREIRO, José Manuel [Mr])
YAŞAR, Serap [Mme]
ZINGERIS, Emanuelis [Mr]
Also signed the register / Ont également signé le registre
Representatives or Substitutes not authorised to vote / Représentants ou suppléants non autorisés ŕ voter
BÜCHEL, Roland Rino [Mr]
BULIGA, Valentina [Mme]
CORREIA, Telmo [M.]
CREASY, Stella [Ms]
JANIK, Grzegorz [Mr]
JŘRGENSEN, Jan E. [Mr]
KELLEHER, Colette [Ms]
KERESTECİOĞLU DEMİR, Filiz [Ms]
KERN, Claude [M.]
LANGBALLE, Christian [Mr]
LEŚNIAK, Józef [M.]
MAGAZINOVIĆ, Saša [Mr]
MARUKYAN, Edmon [Mr]
PALLARÉS, Judith [Ms]
RUSSELL, Simon [Lord]
UCA, Feleknas [Ms]
WIECHEL, Markus [Mr]
Observers / Observateurs
SANTANA GARCÍA, José de Jesús [Mr]
Partners for democracy / Partenaires pour la démocratie
ALAZZAM, Riad [Mr]
ALQAWASMI, Sahar [Ms]
AMRAOUI, Allal [M.]
BOUANOU, Abdellah [M.]
EL FILALI, Hassan [M.]
EL MOKRIE EL IDRISSI, Abouzaid [M.]
HAMIDINE, Abdelali [M.]
KHADER, Qais [Mr]
LABLAK, Aicha [Mme]
MUFLIH, Haya [Ms]
SABELLA, Bernard [Mr]
Appendix II / Annexe II
Representatives or Substitutes who took part in the ballot for the election of the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights / Représentants ou suppléants qui ont participé au vote pour l’élection du/de la Commissaire aux droits de l’homme du Conseil de l’Europe
AGRAMUNT, Pedro [M.] A
AKTAY, Yasin [Mr] B
BARDELL, Hannah [Ms] / SHEPPARD, Tommy [Mr]
BERNHARD, Marc [Mr] / OEHME, Ulrich [Mr]
BURES, Doris [Ms] / KASSEGGER, Axel [Mr]
BUSHATI, Ervin [Mr] C
CATALFO, Nunzia [Ms] /SPADONI, Maria Edera [Ms]
CEPEDA, José [Mr] C
CHRISTODOULOPOULOU, Anastasia [Ms] D
DONALDSON, Jeffrey [Sir] / BLENCATHRA, David [Lord]
DUMERY, Daphné [Ms] / DAEMS, Hendrik [Mr]
DUNDEE, Alexander [The Earl of]
EVANS, Nigel [Mr] F
FARMANYAN, Samvel [Mr] G
GILLAN, Cheryl [Dame] G
GRAF, Martin [Mr] G
GUZENINA, Maria [Ms] H
HOPKINS, Maura [Ms] / MULLEN, Rónán [Mr]
JENSEN, Gyde [Ms] J
JENSEN, Michael Aastrup [Mr] K
KESİCİ, İlhan [Mr] K
KILIÇ, Akif Çağatay [Mr] K
KRARUP, Marie [Ms] K
KRESÁK, Peter [Mr] / GOGA, Pavol [M.]
KROSS, Eerik-Niiles [Mr] / AEG, Raivo [Mr]
KUHLE, Konstantin [Mr] / LINK, Michael [Mr]
KVATCHANTIRADZE, Zviad [Mr] L
LIASHKO, Oleh [Mr] / VOVK, Viktor [Mr]
LOGVYNSKYI, Georgii [Mr] M
MALLIA, Emanuel [Mr] M
MEHL, Emilie Enger [Ms] M
MEIMARAKIS, Evangelos [Mr] M
MIKKO, Marianne [Ms] M
MİROĞLU, Orhan [Mr] M
MÜLLER, Thomas [Mr] N
NÉMETH, Zsolt [Mr] Ó
ÓLASON, Bergţór [Mr] / THÓRARINSSON, Birgir [Mr]
ÖNAL, Suat [Mr] O
OOMEN-RUIJTEN, Ria [Ms] P
PACKALÉN, Tom [Mr] / LOUHELAINEN, Anne [Ms]
PREDA, Cezar Florin [M.] R
RIGONI, Andrea [Mr] S
SANTA ANA, María Concepción de [Ms] Š
ŠEŠELJ, Aleksandar [Mr] S
SHEHU, Tritan [Mr] S
STELLINI, David [Mr] U
ULLRICH, Volker [Mr] W
WASERMAN, Sylvain [M.] W
WILSON, Phil [Mr] W
WOLD, Morten [Mr] / KAPUR, Mudassar [Mr]
ZOHRABYAN, Naira [Mme]