2000 ORDINARY SESSION
Monday 24 January 2000 at 3 p.m.
In this report:
1. Speeches in English are reported in full.
2. Speeches in other languages are summarised.
3. Speeches in German and Italian are reproduced in full in a separate
Corrections should be handed in at Room 1059A not later than 24 hours
after the report has been circulated.
Mr Ehrmann, the oldest member present, took the Chair at 3 p.m.
1. Opening of the 2000
THE PRESIDENT (Translation).- The sitting is open.
In accordance with Article 32 of the Statute and Rules 1 and 5 of the
Rules of Procedure, I declare open the ordinary session of the Parliamentary Assembly of
the Council of Europe for 2000.
2. Address by the
THE PRESIDENT regretted the moves that had been made to prevent the
oldest member from addressing the Assembly. He defended the right of the oldest member to
make a speech. He saw the expression of contrary views as a personal attack. His father
and, more recently he, had fought to defend liberty in France, and a change in the rules
to prevent the oldest member from speaking was against freedom of speech.
3. Examination of credentials
THE PRESIDENT (Translation).- The first order of the day is the
examination of credentials of members of the Assembly and of special guests of the
Assembly, which have been submitted to the President in accordance with Rules 6 and 59 of
the Rules of Procedure.
The names of the Representatives, Substitutes and Special Guests are in
Document 8622. If no credentials are contested, the credentials will be ratified.
Are any credentials contested?
Mr Van der LINDEN (Netherlands) spoke for the European
Peoples Party. When Russia had joined the Council of Europe, it had promised to
pursue peaceful resolution of conflict. The Council of Europe had already called for a
ceasefire in Chechnya; without that there should be a question around Russias status
and credentials. The Council of Europes philosophy on human rights had clearly been
breached in Russia and that should be discussed.
THE PRESIDENT (Translation).- Does the challenge have the support of
ten members of the Assembly belonging to at least five national delegations?
Could they please rise?
At least ten members belonging to at least five national delegations have stood.
The credentials of the national delegation of Russia have been
challenged on substantial grounds in accordance with Rule 8 of the Rules of Procedure. The
Bureau has proposed that under Rule 8 (3) the credentials be referred, without debate, to
the Political Affairs Committee for report and to the Committees on Rules of Procedure and
Immunities and on Legal Affairs and Human Rights for opinions.
Are these references agreed?
They are agreed.
Mr Glotov has asked for the floor.
Mr GLOTOV (Russian Federation) said it seemed to be unproductive
to prevent the participation of the delegation of the Russian Federation in the
Parliamentary Assembly. Over the past five years the delegation had done much to bring
standards in the Russian Federation up to the standards and norms of the Council of
Europe. The Russian Federation had ratified the norms of the European Convention on Human
THE PRESIDENT (Translation).- There can be no debate on the issue.
Under Rule 8 (3), the Political Affairs Committee shall report within 24 hours
if possible, and the Assembly shall consider the report as soon as possible thereafter.
The Chair will make proposals for the examination by the Assembly of the committee's
report when we consider the order of business.
I remind you that Representatives or Substitutes whose credentials are
contested are entitled to take their seats provisionally, in accordance with Rule 8 (6),
until the Assembly has reached a decision in their case; however, they may not vote in any
proceedings relating to the examination of their own credentials.
The other credentials set out in Document 8622 are ratified.
4. Election of the
President of the Assembly
THE PRESIDENT.- The next order of the day is the election of the
President of the Assembly.
Under Rule 13 of the Rules of Procedure, no Representative can be a
candidate for the presidency unless his candidature has been submitted in writing by at
least ten Representatives or Substitutes at least 48 hours before the opening of the
I have received only one candidature: that of Lord Russell-Johnston.
In accordance with Rule 13, I therefore declare Lord Russell-Johnston
elected President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe for this session.
Lord Russell-Johnston, I congratulate you on your election.
(Lord Russell-Johnston, President of the Assembly, took the Chair in
place of Mr Ehrmann.)
THE PRESIDENT.- Dear friends, I welcome you to the January 2000
part-session and I wish all of you a happy new year. I also want to thank you most warmly
for the honour of being re-elected as President of this Assembly.
I remember vividly the moment of my election, a year ago tomorrow. I
was sitting down there with my friend Victor Ruffy, who sadly is leaving us, waiting for
the outcome of the vote. It is a year that has fled past. I have visited eighteen of our
member states and candidate countries, and addressed twelve national parliaments. It was
also a year of dramatic challenges to our Assembly, which, as so often in the past, has
taken a leading political role in the Organisation, promoting and defending our values and
principles in various parts of our continent.
In the Balkans, we have asked and obtained the opening of the Council
of Europe office in Pristina. The Council of Europe made an important contribution to the
international efforts dealing with the refugee crisis in Albania last spring. Even if
people have now returned to their homes, our work in helping Albania must continue. We
have continued contacts with the democratic forces within the Federal Republic of
Yugoslavia, and I personally visited Podgorica last July to meet with President Djukanovic
of Montenegro, who later - as you will remember - addressed the Assembly. Our Political
Affairs Committee organised a conference on the parliamentary contribution to the
stability pact for south-eastern Europe in November in Sofia, and the conclusions of this
meeting should allow parliamentarians to play a greater role in its implementation.
In Moldova, the Assembly, together with the Venice Commission, has
tried to help to bring a solution to the constitutional deadlock there, before it develops
into a crisis of even greater proportions, and I addressed their parliament on 6 December.
I see Mrs Josette Durrieu, in front of me, who has put an enormous amount of
work into solving those problems.
Ukraines compliance with the commitments and obligations as a
member of our organisation was one of the principal concerns of the Assembly throughout
the last year. Our pressure has been successful - I see Mr Oliynyk over there - and the
recent measures, effectively abolishing the death penalty and adopting important laws, are
a positive sign of Ukraines readiness to complete its democratic reforms. Proper
functioning of parliament is an essential part of this process, and we are concerned by
what Mr Oliynyk told us this morning in the Bureau about problems in that regard.
In the south Caucasus, the Assembly has helped to establish regularly
parliamentary co-operation between Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. This initiative, which
is without precedent, has already proven its importance in the creation of an atmosphere
of greater understanding, tolerance and dialogue, within which all remaining disputes
between and within the three countries will, we hope, be more easily resolved.
Unfortunately, while south of the Caucasus mountains the political
situation has improved and given us some hope for a stable peace, the situation in the
northern Caucasus has been getting worse. Just a few days ago, I returned from my visit to
Russia. Together with a group of our colleagues, I went to Moscow and held meetings with
the highest representatives of Russia, including acting President Putin.
We went to Butlikh in the north of Dagestan, just on the border with
Chechnya, and heard dramatic testimonies of the people from the villages there of how they
had been attacked and destroyed by Basayev and his men in August last year. In Chechnya
itself, we went to Gudermes and Tolstoi-Yurt, where we heard accounts, often conflicting
ones - that is a problem we always face - of the situation there. Neither Gudermes nor
Tolstoi-Yurt had seen much fighting, and the situation, even if still very difficult, is
incomparably better than in other places, especially Grozny, where weeks of heavy shelling
have kept people prisoner in their cellars and makeshift shelters, with little food or
medicine, and human lives are being lost every day.
We also went to the refugee camp in Karabulakh in Ingushetia. People in
the camps were angry: angry with their own leadership, because they held it responsible
for the situation that preceded the war; most of all angry with the Russian Government,
for not wanting or not being able to resolve the situation in another way than war; and
angry with the Russian security forces for conducting the war in a way that is hurting so
many innocent people.
We met people who have gone through hell and have not yet fully
returned. The people of Ingushetia are demonstrating remarkable solidarity, and most of
the refugees there are placed with host families, but those in camps live in very
difficult situations, in spite of the efforts of the Ingush and federal authorities and
the trickling - it is indeed small - international assistance.
In my inaugural speech, a year ago, I told you that I wanted to see
things for myself. I still do, but I realise better today that such visits, important
though they unquestionably are, can afford one only what the Germans call an
"Augenblick", a fraction of an impression, a quick look into a situation that is
always complex and very often tragic.
A particular moment in the visit to the refugee camp will remain with
me for a long time. In a tent, I was listening to a Chechen woman describing her
situation. Half behind her on the lower part of one of the bunk beds sat one of her
daughters, a girl of about fourteen. As I listened to the mother, I watched her. I saw the
tears well up. I saw her try to fight them back and fail. I watched her finally
noiselessly sobbing. That was not a display for me: it was a young person helpless in
Both in the first Chechen war and now, this Assembly has held a
consistent position. Russian entry was delayed until 1996 and part of the accession
agreement was that it would solve internal conflicts peacefully. It has broken that
On 4 November, in the Standing Committee, in Strasbourg, we called for
a ceasefire. Three and a half months on from the launch of the offensive, there has been
no response and the continued bombing and shelling of Grozny, inevitably indiscriminate in
its effects, has continued. We do not know how many civilians, women and children and old
people, are still in the cellars of Grozny. Some say as many as 40 000 - I suspect that
that is an exaggeration - but we can be sure that conditions are now much more horrible
than those during the siege of Sarajevo, which shocked and revolted the world community.
We must also take account of detailed allegations by respected human
rights organisations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch of human rights
violations, as well as the forceful condemnation of Médecins sans Frontières. Our
Russian hosts complained that the views of the world community on the conflict in Chechnya
are distorted and based on insufficient and erroneous information. If that is true, they
should accept their part of the responsibility for restricting access to media and human
That is why we have suggested to the Russians that they allow free
access to Chechnya to the representatives of the media. Of course there are security
risks, but they also existed during the previous conflict, when journalists were free to
go anywhere. Journalists themselves must make their own decisions. That is why we asked
acting President Putin to agree - and he did - to a Council of Europe presence in the
region, either in Ingushetia or, if possible, in the northern part of Chechnya itself.
If that agreement is followed through - and I expect that the Assembly
will make recommendations to that effect to the Committee of Ministers - that will
certainly help to improve the situation and increase access to objective information on
the human rights situation in the northern Caucasus. That, as I said to acting President
Putin, is also to the benefit of the Russian side. A permanent international presence in
the region will not only be able to collect objective and reliable information on human
rights violations but serve as a deterrent against such violations occurring.
After our visit, we had a better understanding of the Russian position.
The Russians explained why they are doing what they are doing and we listened. However,
even after the visit, some of our questions and concerns remained unanswered. We were told
that the situation before was untenable, that criminality was rampant and that President
Maskhadov was either a powerless figure or a supporter of armed gangs that regularly
attacked the neighbouring republics.
We were told that children were not going to school, that hospitals did
not work and that no salaries or pensions had been paid out. That is all probably true,
but what remains unclear is how anybody can expect to reverse the situation through
bombardment and indiscriminate destruction. In fact, the Russian state has some
responsibility for allowing the situation to develop unchecked between 1997 and 1999, as
acting President Putin conceded.
If we concentrate much of our comments on Russia - I say this
particularly to our Russian friends - it is because Russia is a democratic sovereign state
and a member of our organisations. There is no doubt that there were great and numerous
abuses of human rights in Chechnya and the forging of a relationship - exactly how
extensive it is hard to say - with terrorists from outside the republic. If the Chechen
leadership wants to preserve its chances of being considered a legitimate interlocutor in
the search for a political solution, it has an opportunity to do so by releasing,
unconditionally, all hostages that it currently holds.
In the Council of Europe, we are proud of our values, principles and
standards and of our accumulated experience in the protection of human rights. We often
call ourselves the democratic conscience of Europe. If we want to be a conscience, we
should be a good one, not a bad one.
Chechnya is a tragic conflict in which our most fundamental values are
being seriously challenged. We cannot defend them through empty rhetoric. We have to act,
because Russia is our member, and because it is our friend. We need to help Russia: help
it to understand that it should end the war, help it to end it, and then help it again to
rebuild peace in the northern Caucasus.
This year, 2000, is the first year of the new millennium. We should
start the next thousand years on a better and more peaceful note than the one on which the
previous thousand years ended.
At the beginning, I wished you all a happy new year, but as we unfold
the map of the new millennium, let us do all that is within our power to prevent it from
being stained with a young girls tears.
Dear colleagues, in the period since our previous meeting, we have lost
two of our colleagues, Alphonse Theis from Luxembourg and Nilde Iotti from Italy. It was
with the utmost sadness we learned of the premature death of our dear colleague, Mr
Alphonse Theis. A member of the Assembly since September 1994, Mr Theis served as
rapporteur of the Committee on the Budget on many occasions and contributed to the setting
up of the Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men. We will remember him as a
man of great knowledge, a devoted European and a warm and generous human being.
Mrs Iotti, who was a Vice-President of the Assembly, died on 4
December. During all of her life she fought for a more just society. She also did great
work to promote equality of opportunity between women and men and was one of the main
personalities behind the reform of family legislation in Italy.
Mrs Iotti was a member of the Italian Parliament from 1946. She was the
only woman in the committee that drafted the Italian Constitution. Times have changed
since then, but that was remarkable then. Between 1979 and 1992, she was a widely
respected president of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, although her party was in
opposition. That, too, was a political achievement which is still to be matched.
Mrs Iotti joined the Assembly in 1996. She was particularly interested
in the strengthening of the relations with central and east European countries. She was a
great personality and a prominent member of the Assembly. She will not be forgotten. As a
mark of respect to our two colleagues, I will now ask you, please, to rise for a minute of
(The Assembly observed a minutes silence)
of Vice-Presidents of the Assembly
THE PRESIDENT.- The next order of the day is the election of
Vice-Presidents of the Assembly.
I remind members that no Representative or Substitute can be elected as
a Vice-President unless he or she has been proposed in writing by the chairperson of his
or her national delegation, on behalf of the delegation, in accordance with the system for
the geographical rotation of Bureau seats.
If a national delegation with a right to a seat puts forward no
candidate, the seat remains vacant. That is the case in respect of Croatia, for obvious
I have received eighteen candidatures submitted in due form. They are
listed on the notice paper, with the exception of a late nomination, Mr Prusak from the
Russian Federation, and they are listed in order of age. As delegates have the list, I do
not propose to read it out unless that is demanded.
If there is no request for a vote in respect of one or more candidates,
by at least twenty members, the candidates proposed by their national delegations
will be declared elected.
That is the case. I declare the candidates listed elected as
Vice-President of the Assembly. They take precedence in age order, which is the order in
which they are listed.
6. Request for urgent
THE PRESIDENT.- Before we examine the draft order of business, the
Assembly needs to consider a request submitted in due form under the urgent procedure
provided for in Rule 50 of the Rules of Procedure, on the conflict in Chechnya.
At its meeting on 10 January, the Bureau approved this request, and
therefore recommends to the Assembly that the matter be place on the order paper for this
I propose that the debate take place on Thursday 27 January between 10
a.m. and 12 noon. In order to allow as many speakers as possible to take part in the
debate, and to allow for the contribution from Mr Ivanov, the Minister of Foreign Affairs
in Russia, who must return to Russia at about midday, I propose that the debate should
continue in the afternoon between 3 p.m. and roughly 4.15 p.m.
Does the Assembly agree to this proposal?
The request for urgent procedure is approved.
We must now agree the reference to committees of the subject for the
urgent procedure debate. I remind you that all our debates are required to be conducted on
the basis of a report from the competent committee.
I propose that the subject be referred to the Political Affairs
Committee for report and to the Committees on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, and on
Migration, Refugees and Demography for opinions.
Is that agreed?
The proposals are agreed.
7. Adoption of the order of
THE PRESIDENT.- The next order of the day is the adoption of the
order of business for the first part of the ordinary session for 2000.
The draft order of business that is submitted for the Assemblys
approval was brought up to date by the Bureau on 10 January and this morning. Arrangements
for the organisation of debates, speakers lists and the tabling of amendments are
set out in todays notice paper.
The following modifications are proposed to the order of business. For
Thursday 27 January, as I outlined, the urgent debate on the conflict in Chechnya
will be extended into the afternoon from 3 p.m. until about 4.15 p.m. The deadline for the
tabling of amendments for that debate will be 1 p.m. on Wednesday, 26 January.
Owing to the fact that the credentials of the Russian delegation have
been challenged, the report of the Political Affairs Committee on the credentials of the
Russian delegation will be debated on Thursday after the debate on the conflict in
Chechnya. It seems sensible that we should hear the entire debate on Chechnya before we
turn to that question. The reports on health security, Document 8551, and on antibiotics
in agriculture, Document 8591, will then be debated together, beginning at 5 p.m.
Is there any objection?
There is none.
The order of business for this part-session, as amended, is
8. Appointment of committees
THE PRESIDENT.- The next item is the appointment of members of
committees. The candidatures for the thirteen general committees and the proposals of the
Bureau for the Monitoring Committee have been published in documents, Committees (2000) 1
and Addendum I, and Committees (2000) 2.
If the Assembly approves the proposals, the committees are accordingly
These candidatures are submitted to the Assembly under Rule 43 (6).
Are the proposals approved?
The proposed candidatures are approved.
The committees are appointed accordingly.
9. Welcome to Mexico delegation
THE PRESIDENT.- I now have the happy task of welcoming the Mexican
delegation, which is for the first time enjoying observer status at our Assembly. It is a
promising sign that the delegation includes the Chairman of the Senates Foreign
Affairs Committee, whom I greet wholeheartedly and not for the first time, together with
the other members of the delegation. We have a long-standing relationship with the Mexican
Parliament. For example, we have had close contacts already in the framework of the
Strasbourg conferences on parliamentary democracy and earlier, through various
Since the 1960s, the Parliamentary Assembly has shown a growing
interest in the problems of the Latin American countries. The real breakthrough came
between 1994 and 1996 when Mexican parliamentary delegations participated for the first
time in our annual debates on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. We welcome the fact that regular
contact has been established with the Parliamentary Assemblys Political Affairs
Committee. I am convinced that the Mexican delegation will fully exploit the possibilities
of its new status in this Assembly, and we look forward very much to ever closer
relations. Let us work for that.
I give the floor to Senator Solana.
Mr SOLANA (Observer from Mexico) thanked the President
and the Assembly for the opportunities that would be provided by Mexicos new status.
His delegation comprised six members of the Mexican Senate and Chamber of Deputies,
covering the three main political parties there. He envisaged that improved dialogue
between Mexico and Europe would result from their new presence.
Thank you very much, Mr Solana, and thank you for giving an example to
all my friends and colleagues of how to make a succinct, short and clear speech.
10. Organisation of debates
THE PRESIDENT.- Our business for this afternoon comprises three
debates, with, in total, a list of forty-nine speakers and five amendments to consider
before 7.30 p.m. I therefore propose that debates be organised as follows.
I suggest that our debate on the Progress Report be concluded no later
than 5.30 p.m., and that the list of speakers in the debate on democracy and economic
development be interrupted at 6.40 p.m. and the list of speakers on non-formal education
and voluntary service at 7.20 p.m.
Is that agreed?
It is agreed.
11. Progress Report
THE PRESIDENT.- The next order of the day is the presentation of and
debate on the Progress Report of the Bureau and the Standing Committee (Doc. 8596 and
Addendum I on the Öcalan trial). With these documents, the Assembly will also
consider the various reports of the ad hoc committees to observe elections (Docs.
8605 (Georgia), 8603 (Ukraine), 8604 ("the former Yugoslav Republic of
Macedonia"), 8623 (Russia) and 8624 (Croatia).
The list of speakers closed at 1 p.m. Seventeen names are on the list.
I remind you that the debate must be concluded by 5.30 p.m.
I call Mr Klaus Bühler to present the Progress Report, for which he
has eight minutes. I also congratulate him on his election as President of the Western
European Union Assembly.
Mr BÜHLER (Germany) apologised to the Assembly for not being
able to handle all questions, as he was standing in at the last minute in the absence of
The Council of Europe had faced a number of recent challenges. The
problem in the Ukraine over the abolition of the death penalty had now been resolved, but
there were other difficulties, which had had to be dealt with during the past year. They
included consideration of the role of the Council of Europe in the stability pact in
south-east Europe and clarification of the competencies and responsibilities of the OSCE
and Council of Europe in monitoring elections. The financial position of the Council of
Europe in relation to its activities in south-east Europe needed to be addressed as there
was sufficient funding only to the end of March. He asked the Assembly to consider
increasing allocations for its work. The opportunity afforded by the fiftieth anniversary
of the Council of Europe had been well seized by some member states, which had
successfully publicised its work.
The Organisation had monitored the general elections in three member
states - Georgia, Croatia and the Russian Federation - and presidential elections in
another three member states - "the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia",
Croatia and Ukraine. In future, the Organisation should consider improving co-operation
with OSCE. Elections were monitored by parliamentarians with great experience: OSCE tended
to use younger people who were trained in election observation at the last minute. It was
important to monitor the success of those elections.
The President had alluded to the Organisation and the situation in
Chechnya. The Organisation had been the first political institution to gain access to
Chechnya, through the political pressure which it was able to exert on the international
stage. He did not want to pre-empt the actions of the President or discussions in
committees. The issue had been discussed that morning in the Bureau.
He was very happy to welcome the delegation from Mexico. Kazakhstan,
Tunisia and Algeria had also indicated that they would like to be considered for observer
He knew that the President had been having discussions with Mrs
Fontaine, the President of the European Parliament.
The Torture Committee had been the first institution to have access to
Abdullah Öcalan during his trial. The decision of the Turkish Parliament in suspending
the sentence of the court in the Öcalan case until a decision had been taken by the
European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg was welcome.
He thanked the rapporteurs and the delegates for their attention.
THE PRESIDENT.- The debate will be broken at 4.30 p.m. to enable a
short speech by Mrs Rosario Green, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mexico. We shall now
hear a series of rapporteurs, starting with Mr Terry Davis of the United Kingdom, who was
rapporteur for the elections in Georgia.
Mr DAVIS (United Kingdom).- I thank my colleagues in the ad
hoc committee who observed the elections in Georgia. That task was not easy, for
geographical reasons, and members of the committee worked well together. I thank also
members of the secretariat who were with us, who made it possible for us to observe the
elections. I thank also the head of the permanent OSCE mission, Mr Lacombe, who is
resident in Tbilisi and who was tremendously helpful, not only in respect of the details
of organisation, but in his discussions with us about the situation in Georgia. Above all,
I should like to thank the Georgian authorities and their parliament, and of course the
people of Georgia.
I was left with two overall impressions of the elections, which we
regarded as satisfactory. The first was the tremendous enthusiasm with which the people of
Georgia took part in the elections. These were the first elections since Georgia joined
the Council of Europe. Secondly, my colleagues and I were impressed by the fact that, in
spite of strong political differences - Georgia has a robust democracy - fervent
supporters of political parties worked together at a local level with the local
authorities to ensure that the elections were fair.
We make a number of criticisms in our report. They are intended to be
helpful because, in many ways, the general election in Georgia was seen as a forerunner of
the presidential election, which will take place in a few weeks. We made constructive
criticisms in the hope that they would help the Georgian authorities to organise an even
better election for the president.
The point that I want to emphasise most is that, although we witnessed
defects and irregularities and received many complaints about what had happened during,
and particularly before, the election, many of the criticisms were local in the sense that
they applied in some polling stations but not in others. For example, some of my
colleagues saw family voting taking place, but I went to many polling stations with the
secretariat and we did not see a single example of family voting. I asked local people,
including politicians and observers from political parties, whether family voting was
taking place and they looked at me in amazement, and said, "Of course not. Our
election officials will not allow it. The fact that it is not happening is not because you
are here; it does not happen at all. We have no complaints." That was the testimony
of the opposition parties.
Our overall impression was that the local people were enthusiastic
about the opportunity to choose their government and to vote for a majority in parliament
and on practical matters the political parties worked together very well.
THE PRESIDENT.- Thank you, Mr Davis. I am not sure whether Ms Jenny
Jones or Mr Andreas Gross will deal with the elections in the Ukraine. Ms Jones is here.
Ms JONES (Untied Kingdom).- As you quite rightly pointed out,
Mr President, the election in Ukraine went to two rounds. I was the rapporteur for
the first round and Andreas Gross was the rapporteur for the second. We have decided
that we will each make a short contribution, because this is a lengthy report and we both
have something to say.
The report gives the details and the make-up of the committee and the
way in which we set about our work. It also contains copies of the press releases that
were given out at the press conferences held the day after the elections in Kyiv. It is
worth pointing out that this, the third presidential election in Ukraine, was taking place
in very difficult circumstances. The economy was in decline; reform has been slow and
political life has been all but paralysed by the antagonism between parliament and the
We want to highlight two facts about the first round of the elections.
The first concerns the election day itself, which we found by and large to be orderly and
relaxed. Our observers were able to carry out their work without any hindrance and we
found many people to be extremely helpful. The election administration and the general
respect for electoral procedures have improved considerably since the previous
presidential election in 1994 and the parliamentary elections in 1998. We were all
extremely impressed by the helpfulness of the staff in the polling stations. The Ukrainian
people had a keen enthusiasm to vote and the staff were extremely helpful in enabling all
voters to carry out their democratic duty.
Some irregularities were observed; they are detailed in the report, so
I shall not repeat them here. None of those irregularities was major and we are satisfied
overall with the election day, but the irregularities need to be addressed.
Unfortunately, by contrast, the election campaign was highly
questionable and gave us grave cause for concern. There were incidents of serious violence
against presidential candidates; newspapers were forged; there was biased coverage of
candidates by television stations, and the state television station was heavily weighted
in favour of President Kôutchma. Allegations of harassment of the independent media
were numerous. The body responsible for dealing with such complaints was not functioning
during the campaign because it did not have a quorum. Our conclusion was that the election
campaign did not come up to European standards and fell well short of what could be
expected of a member state of the Council of Europe.
To allow Andreas some time, I shall conclude by saying that we were
impressed by the commitment of the Ukrainian people to democracy and their enthusiasm for
taking part in the elections. The hard-pressed people of Ukraine deserve an overdue sense
of responsibility from their executive and their parliament. The new leadership in Ukraine
must press ahead with revitalising the political process and with economic reform.
THE PRESIDENT.- Thank you. I call Mr Gross.
Mr GROSS (Switzerland).- Thank you, Mr President. I should like
to refer to two issues mentioned in the report which need more reflection. It was
clear from what we saw in Ukraine that democracy is more than a technique - it is a set of
values, processes and attitudes. The legitimacy of the outcome of an election is based on
the fairness, accessibility and balance of the electoral process. Democracy is also rooted
in a countrys cultural background. Political opponents must be respected and not
regarded as the enemy in a war. The winner of an election does not own the state as if it
were private property.
Those points are central to Ukraines problems. Doubts about the
legitimacy of the presidency have arisen because of the lack of balance in the process for
the first and second round of voting, and particularly the gap between the two. There were
particular problems with the media, access to resources and the misuse of state power.
Those doubts do not help the president to solve the countrys enormous problems. It
is difficult for the necessary support to be given when such defects have been observed in
the process, because the president needs power to deal with the problems. However, power
depends on legitimacy.
THE PRESIDENT.- Thank you. The next rapporteur is Henning Gjellerod,
who will report on the presidential elections in Macedonia.
Mr GJELLEROD (Denmark).- Thank you, Mr President. On 31 October
I led a Council of Europe team to observe the presidential election in Macedonia. We
co-operated closely with the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe and the
Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights. The mission was headed by Mark
Stevens and the level of co-operation was excellent.
We declared the first round of the election satisfactory, although
there were some irregularities. Some polling stations had great difficulty opening. We saw
family voting and other irregularities, particularly in the west of the country.
None of the six candidates obtained 50% in the first round, so a second
round was needed two weeks later. We were not able to observe the second round, so it was
observed by the ODIHR delegation alone. Unfortunately, there were more irregularities in
the second round, but the result was clear. Mr Trajkovski of VMRO got around 53% and Mr
Petkovski got around 47%. There were complaints about the procedures in some polling
stations, so on 5 December there was a re-run in 230 polling stations. The result of the
second round was not affected and Mr Trajkovski remained president.
The elections show that democracy in Macedonia is fragile. Monitoring
and help from the Council of Europe are still necessary. As a member of the Monitoring
Committee, I know that we are keeping an eye on the situation. I congratulate our
colleagues from Macedonia on coming through the process.
THE PRESIDENT.- Thank you. I call Mr David Atkinson to report on the
parliamentary elections in Russia.
Mr ATKINSON (United Kingdom).- The elections were the third
since the end of the one-party state in Russia. Four years ago, I reported to this
Assembly on the second such elections, which we found to be well prepared and conducted
but confusing to many voters because forty-three parties fielded candidates. We are
pleased to report that this time there were new limits on the number of parties, as we had
recommended, so the ballot papers contained only twenty-six names. We have concluded that
this election was also free, but the conduct of the campaign was much worse than last time
- it was not fair, it was not clean and it was not honest.
As the leader of our delegation, Mr Muehlemann, said in Moscow, the
elections demonstrate that Russia maintains its democratic course and that pluralism is
accepted almost everywhere in the federation. For a country that knew no democracy before
1989, that is encouraging. However, it is disappointing that shortcomings from last time
remain and that new and unacceptable practices have emerged this time. Those problems must
be clearly and carefully explained to the Russian authorities to ensure that they are not
repeated in the presidential elections in less that two months.
Once again, Mr Muehlemann is indebted to the thirty-one colleagues and
their staff who volunteered to observe the elections. We formed five teams away from
Moscow. Their reports contained similar themes, including the determination of voters to
exercise their right to choose between the twenty-six parties and the professionalism of
the vast majority of those who ran the polls and the counts.
However, every team reported shortcomings to add to our conclusions
about the unfairness of the long campaign, which was neither clean nor honest. We are
nauseated by the state control of television, which enables the Kremlin to promote allies
and destroy opponents, by the blatant use of federal power in the regions, which enables
local governors to favour particular candidates, by election rules being bent by the
commission, by the role of big business in financing campaigns and by the media dominance
of two tycoons who have for too long sought to impose their preferences. Some may say that
similar problems exist elsewhere. We say that they should not exist anywhere. We expect
existing laws to be enforced and new reforms to be put in place as soon as possible.
In paragraph 13 we have listed ten reforms that we want in place before
the presidential elections in March. We want an end to the appointment by businesses,
institutions and parties of local election commissions. Elections should be run by local
government, as happens in most member states. We want an end to the principle of immunity
for those who are elected. It must be wrong for people to stand not because they want to
serve, but to avoid being investigated for corruption and crimes including murder. We want
an end to the buying of votes from homeless people in return for money or beer. We insist
on a secret ballot. It may be traditional for families to discuss their voting intentions
around the table at the polling station, but it is illegal. We want an end to the public
listing of the assets of each candidate. That information should be private and subject to
registration only on election.
All those proposals are contained in the report and should now go to
the two rapporteurs on the monitoring of Russia. Their task will be immensely
important, particularly after the election of a new Russian president. They will need to
clarify the outstanding issues for the new administration to accept and deliver to this
We will no longer have the unique expertise of Ernst Muehlemann to whom
this Assembly should pay tribute for his tireless and courageous work on the monitoring of
Russia since accession. We look to his successor on the Monitoring Committee, together
with Rudolf Bindig, to prepare a new information report on Russia for the Assembly to
debate before this year is out, taking account of these findings from the monitoring team
that followed the elections last month.
THE PRESIDENT.- Thank you, David. I cannot see Mrs Vermot-Mangold, so I
call Mr Hornhues, who speaks on behalf of the Christian Democratic Group.
Mr HORNHUES (Germany) thanked the rapporteurs both for their
work and for the content of their reports. The Council of Europe had made important and
significant progress during the last period. In particular, it should be proud of its
contribution to a number of democratic elections that had been held successfully.
The Council of Europe should be clear that matters concerning Öcalan
should be addressed at the Council of Europe and the Court of Human Rights should have the
opportunity to have an input. The Council of Europe also had an important role to play in
the stability pact of South-east Asia, which had been raised earlier in the debate.
Sometimes the European Union took over the reins. It was true that the EU had the
advantage of resources over the Council of Europe, but the Council of Europe had the
advantage of representing the whole of Europe, not just the member states of the EU.
The Council of Europe should deal with the questions of European
cultural identity, for example, the recognition of school leaving certificates to provide
increased comparability and exchangeability. There should also be more co-operation on the
content of school textbooks.
The Council of Europe should have a dialogue with the European Union on
the Convention on Human Rights, which was very dear to the heart of the Council of Europe.
The likes of Öcalan and Krenz needed a final court of appeal such as that provided by the
Council of Europe - there was no point in Germany and Turkey having different final courts
THE PRESIDENT.- Thank you. I now see Mrs Vermot-Mangold, so I invite
her to give the report of the Croatian elections.
Mrs VERMOT-MANGOLD (Switzerland) said that on 3 January 2000
Croatia had held the first election to take place in the world in 2000. The OSCE, Council
of Europe and the Organisation for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights had been
invited by the Speaker of the Croatian Parliament to observe the election. For the first
time, observers had been allowed into the polling booths. The procedures had been
correctly followed, especially in the light of the organisational difficulties which had
been faced. The election had been a success, with a 77% turn out, much higher than in the
election in Switzerland in 1999.
There had been a shortage of envelopes and screening of booths had been
inadequate, but more serious problems had emerged. Voting rights were linked to
citizenship, but there was unequal access to citizenship. In particular, Croatian Serbs
and Serbs living abroad, as well as internally displaced Serbs, had been excluded. The
state media had concentrated primarily on the manifesto of the party of government, with
other parties being squeezed out, whereas the independent media had been attacked for
having challenged the moral bona fides of certain parties.
She regretted the continued discrimination against Serbs in elections
and the apparent unequal treatment of some parties in election campaigns. Despite those
reservations, she believed that elections in Croatia could be considered fair. Women now
made up around a quarter of representatives in parliament, and that placed Croatia higher
than many other countries. She asked the Assembly to support moves to improve the
democratic process there.
THE PRESIDENT.- Thank you. I will next call Mr Marmazov of Ukraine, who
speaks on behalf of the Group of the Unified European Left. After he sits down, I will
break the debate to enable Mrs Rosario Green to speak to us.
Mr MARMAZOV (Ukraine) considered the recent presidential elections in
the Ukraine. The report before the Assembly was a good reflection of what had happened.
There had been abuse of executive power and misuse of state resources to support a
particular candidate. Electoral malpractice and increased activity by organised criminals
were threatening democratic rights in Ukraine. He urged the Council of Europe urgently to
assess the situation there and report to the Assembly and Committee of Ministers. There
was a need for early intervention in advance of any constitutional change.
THE PRESIDENT.- Thank you, Mr Marmazov.
Statement by Mrs Rosario Green, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mexico
THE PRESIDENT.- I now break the debate to allow the Minister of
Foreign Affairs of Mexico, Mrs Rosario Green, to speak to us.
Madam Minister, we are delighted to receive you here today at the
opening of the Assembly session, especially after having already welcomed the observer
delegation from the Mexican Parliament.
First, allow me to congratulate your country again most warmly on
having obtained observer status with the Council of Europe in December 1999. I know that
on that very day you addressed the Mexican Senate to announce the decision of the
Committee of Ministers and to underline the fact that Mexico shares the values upheld by
the Council of Europe. You observe a democratic practice that many of our members should
use more often. As I said to you over lunch, I am sure that you have much to teach us.
The granting of observer status to Mexico is the result of a consistent
policy carried out by the Mexican Government to establish closer relations with Europe and
the European institutions. Your membership of the European Bank for Reconstruction and
Development is proof of your country's commitment to the democratic reconstruction of
central and eastern European countries which, as you know, are members of our family.
I would also like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the
contribution that Mexican parliamentary delegations have made to the Assembly's work in
the framework of our debates on the activities of the Organisation for Economic
Co-operation and Development since 1994 and, since 1996, the European Bank for
Reconstruction and Development. I am sure that, in their new capacity as observers, the
Mexican parliamentarians will take a very active part in our work.
We know, Madam Minister, that you are a very prominent politician with
great experience in foreign policy and that you served as Deputy Secretary General of the
United Nations under Mr Boutros Boutros-Ghali. We were talking about that over lunch.
Perhaps my colleagues are less aware that you have also been a professor at various
universities and an economist, and have worked with the World Bank.
Again, let me say that I am very happy to welcome you. I give you the
Mrs GREEN (Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mexico).- Lord
Russell-Johnston, members of the Parliamentary Assembly, ladies and gentlemen, it is a
distinct honour for me to be the first Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mexico to address
the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. My presence here, in the most
representative body of this continent, constitutes the culmination of a long-standing goal
of the government of President Zedillo to bring Mexico closer to Europe and thus to
enhance our shared commitments to peace, social justice, development, democracy, human
rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as the rule of law.
At the outset, I acknowledge the appreciation of the Government of
Mexico to this body for the firm support given to our request to become a permanent
observer at the Council of Europe. Your backing, as well as the final decision of the
Committee of Ministers, constitutes a vote in favour of strengthening and deepening the
ties between Europe and Mexico. You can be assured that we fully recognise that this
status represents a significant responsibility and that we will fulfil our commitments to
I am also pleased to note that this Assembly is, as of this date,
enlarged by six observer seats for members of the Mexican Congress. I am sure that
the Mexican parliamentary delegation shares our belief that today marks the beginning of a
new and promising page in the historic relationship between Mexico and Europe.
Mexico wants to broaden substantially its relations of friendship and
co-operation with this continent. We want to be partners in creating better opportunities
for economic growth and development in order to achieve higher living standards for our
peoples and to contribute even further to international peace and stability. This is,
indeed, our foremost challenge, one for which I believe we are prepared, both because of
our foreign policy strategy and because of the profound changes that my country has
undergone, specifically concerning social issues, economic growth, democracy and human
rights. Let me therefore refer to some of those issues.
Mexico pursues an active diplomacy based on principles that are
enshrined in our federal constitution. We strongly believe in the values of
self-determination; non-intervention in internal affairs; peaceful resolution of
controversy; proscription of the threat or the use of force in international relations;
legal equality among states; and international co-operation for development. In accordance
with those principles, we have articulated a strategy centred basically on two lines of
action: the diversification of our foreign relations and the promotion of international
Within this framework, Europe occupies a privileged position. At the
bilateral level, we have strengthened our political, economic, social and cultural ties
with all the countries of the region. At the same time, with the nations of the European
Union, our relationship has significantly increased. We are members of the European Bank
for Reconstruction and Development, and of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and
Development. In 1997, we signed the agreement for economic partnership, political
co-operation and co-operation with the European Union, and recently we successfully
completed negotiations for a free trade agreement with the European Union.
Mexico has also played an active role in bringing the Latin-American
region closer to Europe. Last June, with Brazil and Germany, we presided over the historic
summit of heads of state and government of Latin America and the Caribbean and the
European Union. At that summit in Rio de Janeiro, my country was able to pursue its
conviction regarding the need to increase the flow of bi-regional co-operation, as well as
the level of political understanding.
That is why being accepted as a permanent observer at the Council of
Europe is an additional and important step in our goal to fortify our links with Europe,
particularly with each and all the members of the Council. Our presence in this body will
not only give us the opportunity to exchange information and experience on issues of
mutual concern but, most relevant, enable us to work together to enhance and promote the
values that we share. We are convinced that Mexico and Europe need to stand together, work
together and deal in a co-operative fashion with the challenges that lie ahead for the new
Let me turn to some issues concerning developments in my country, which
I am sure will be of interest to all of you. The Government of Mexico is fully committed
to policies aimed at building a country where justice prevails and one where all Mexicans
enjoy a productive life and where all rights and liberties are respected. We are a diverse
country in terms of culture and race, and we are proud of our diversity. There are,
indeed, many Mexicos that co-exist and share the common goal of consolidating a strong,
stable, peaceful and creative nation. We obviously have problems and deficiencies, which
we regret, but we also have the political will to solve them.
In that regard, my government has implemented a social development
policy aimed at alleviating the situation of those regions in my country that have
historically experienced unfair disadvantages in the opportunities for development. We
still have an important social debt that can be met only through the effective eradication
of extreme poverty and the permanent promotion of social policies in education, health,
welfare and housing. This is why this year we will spend 60 cents out of every peso on
programmes destined to support these policies.
In order to guarantee the availability of resources to meet our social
needs, the Mexican Government will continue to implement sound and sustainable economic
policies. A long-standing process of structural reform, together with responsible fiscal
and monetary policies, has helped to strengthen the Mexican economy and to reduce its
vulnerability to the fluctuations of the global economy. Positive economic performance in
1999 underscored the effectiveness of this strategy. For the year 2000, our objectives
include an orderly economic transition into the next Administration, as well as a greater
expansion of production and employment and the further abatement of inflation.
Trade and foreign investment will continue to play an important role in
our economic strategy. The Mexican Government is engaged in the construction of a network
of trade partners, in which North America, Latin America, Asia and now Europe are already
included. We are convinced that free trade is a powerful instrument for the promotion of
economic growth, job creation and new opportunities for social advancement.
Together with the members of the Council of Europe, Mexico considers
democracy fundamental to the development and well-being of our nation. In the past five
years, we have undergone a profound political transition, and today no one can deny that
Mexico is a more pluralistic and democratic society. The administration of President
Zedillo has implemented a series of reforms to streamline the government, to make it more
accountable and more responsible to our societys demands and to root out corruption.
Furthermore, the electoral authorities, such as the Federal Electoral Institute and the
Electorate Tribunal, are now autonomous, independent and trustworthy.
Today, more than one-third of Mexicos population, at both the
provincial and the municipal level, is governed by political parties different from that
of the Presidents. In 1997, for the first time in history, the citizens of Mexico
City elected their mayor, and they will do so again this year. In addition, a pluralist
Congress plays a constructive and active role in governance, wielding a healthy system of
checks and balances on the Executive.
Civil society has gained a central and increasingly responsible role in
the democratisation process. Non-governmental organisations work on a host of issues, from
environmental degradation and human rights to corruption and consumer rights. Mexico also
shares with Europe a commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights. We are
party to forty-five international instruments on that subject. Within the past twelve
months, we have accepted the compulsory jurisdiction of the inter-American Court of Human
Rights and ratified the inter-American convention on the prevention, punishment and the
eradication of violence against women, the international convention on the protection of
the rights of all migrant workers and their families, and the optional protocol to the
American convention on human rights in the fields of economic, social and cultural rights.
We comply with our commitments to the human rights institutions of the
United Nations and the Organisation of American States, and have adopted an open policy
which has brought to Mexico at our invitation several special rapporteurs of the United
Nations as well as the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mrs Mary Robinson. At
the domestic level, we actively promote a culture of human rights that will both
strengthen and encourage the respect of fundamental norms as well as the ability of the
state effectively to combat any violation of them, eradicating enjoyment of impunity for
good. In this regard, the role of the now autonomous national commission on human rights -
our ombudsman - and its network of thirty-two local commissions has been significant.
Mr President, members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of
Europe, Mexico is proud of its achievements but aware of the need to move forward in the
fields to which I have referred. We are endowed with tenacity and persistence. We will
continue to make our diversity the source of our strength. We will deepen our democratic
ideals, conscious that that is the best way not only to overcome conflicts, but to build
the free, just and prosperous nation that all Mexicans want for themselves and their
children. I am sure that our participation in the Council of Europe will contribute to
bolstering our determination to achieve those goals. I thank the Assembly for its
attention and for the invitation to speak.
THE PRESIDENT.- Thank you, Mrs Green. We are very happy to welcome you
13. Progress Report
THE PRESIDENT.- We will now resume the debate on the Progress
I call Mr Gunnar Jansson, who will speak on behalf of the Liberal
Mr JANSSON (Finland).- On behalf of the Liberal Group, I
congratulate you, Mr President, on your re-election.
I wish to touch on two points on the report. The first relates to the
Öcalan trial in Turkey, which is a member state, and the second to relations with the
European Union, referred to on page 11 of the report.
It is worth mentioning that the Parliamentary Assembly observes not
just in applicant states; increasingly, it does so in member states, which is a fairly new
phenomenon. The Assembly also follows events in the member states of our family of
democracies, such as our pilot case in Turkey where we have followed - perhaps I should
not use the word
"monitored" - and ensured the presence of the Assembly at the trial of Mr
Öcalan. That welcome development gives the Assembly an opportunity to follow events even
in those member states that were adopted as members fifty years ago. Each member is a
potential subject of monitoring.
The Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights has tried to define the
criteria for the behaviour of members of the Council of Europe so that they act in such a
way that they could, if not already members, become members. If that sentence was a bit
complicated, I am sorry. What I mean is that if one is in a marriage, one should behave as
one would if one were not married so that one could become married.
On 25 November, the Court of Cassation confirmed the death sentence
pronounced in June against Abdullah Öcalan - outside the period to which the report
refers - by the Turkish state security court in Ankara. As is noted in the Bureaus
decision, I participated in the trial to ensure the presence of the Parliamentary
Assembly. My findings are outlined in the addendum to the report. I should add that, now
that legal remedies in Turkey have been exhausted, an application is pending before the
European Court of Human Rights. We must trust our Turkish colleagues - the government or
the parliament; I understood our rapporteur to refer to the parliament: although the case
has not yet come before it, it will. Turkey has promised not to execute the verdict before
a final decision has been taken here in Strasbourg. That is a good way to behave.
My second point relates to page 11 of the Progress Report and the
Presidents discussions with reference to the draft European Union charter on
fundamental rights. I refer to that briefly today, as we will tomorrow have an extremely
important debate on the report of the Legal Affairs Committee. I am pleased that our
President is undertaking those activities, and as a member of the drafting body in the EU,
I should like to point out that that matter is one of our most important projects.
THE PRESIDENT.- Thank you, Mr Jansson, and thank you for that glimpse
of the matrimonial philosophy of the Ċland Islands. It was quite interesting.
I call Mr David Yemets of Ukraine to speak on behalf of the European
Mr YEMETS (Ukraine) thanked the President on behalf of the
majority in the Ukrainian Parliament who had authorised him to inform the Assembly of the
current situation in the Ukrainian Parliament. The parliamentary majority had expressed a
lack of confidence in the Speaker and Deputy Speaker, who had been dismissed. The Speaker
however, had refused to recognise the will of the Parliamentary majority and was therefore
in breach of the constitution. He was not allowing Parliament to sit in its proper place.
The Parliament of Ukraine had therefore decided to hold plenary
sessions at separate locations. Ukraine was seeking to resolve that situation.
THE PRESIDENT.- Thank you, Mr Yemets. The next speaker is
Mrs BIGA-FRIGANOVIC (Croatia).- I thank our colleagues
who observed our parliamentary elections on 3 January on behalf of the Council of Europe
and OSCE. Their report is very objective. The atmosphere of those elections and the
presidential elections that are taking place today contribute to the further
democratisation of the Croatian state.
The Social Democratic Party in coalition with the Croatian Social
Liberal Party has won a majority in the Croatian Parliament. Four opposition parties - the
Liberal Party, the Croatian Peasant Party, the Croatian Peoples Party and Istrian
Democratic Sabor - will also help to compose the coalitional governing majority in the
parliament and the government. We are now faced with a huge task of further
democratisation of the state; serious economic, social and legal reforms and the
strengthening of the role of parliament and government. We must also include Croatia in
On the Council of Europes relations with Croatia, I expect that
the monitoring procedure will be concluded after the fulfilment of all obligations and
commitments undertaken by the Croatian authorities. The constitution of the new parliament
formed on 2 February will nominate a new delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly.
Some of us who are present at this session will not attend again. I take this opportunity
to thank my colleagues from the Croatian delegation as well as all colleagues in the
Parliamentary Assembly for their successful and friendly co-operation. Working with them
has been an enriching professional experience, but above all I have been enriched as a
human being by having so many dear friendships with people from all over Europe.
THE PRESIDENT.- Thank you, Mrs Biga-Friganovic.
I call Mr Surján.
Mr SURJÁN (Hungary).- I want to comment on only one small part
of an enormously progressive report - that which concerns Chechnya. I was proud to hear in
the media about the unanimously accepted decision made by our Bureau in December. That was
an important act by the outgoing Bureau. Irrespective of the fact that, after one has
visited Moscow, ones views might change because nothing is black and white, the
Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe is obliged to object if human rights in
any part of the world, particularly a member state, are violated. The unanimous decision
was therefore of great importance.
However, I am not happy if a member state is to be suspended or its
credentials questioned. That is a hard decision to make. However, if the Chechens have
acted wrongly, are terrorists or have violated human rights, that is not an excuse for any
government to do the same. That idea has great importance for our future.
It would be nice to be able to maintain the discussion within the
family. The Council of Europe is a form of European family in which member states may
discuss matters, but in the long run negotiations should lead to a solution, which is
lacking in the case of Chechnya. I hope that the debate that has started today will result
in a good solution that can help the Russian Government and the Chechens to manage their
problems without a civil war. Thank you for your attention.
THE PRESIDENT.- Thank you. I now call Mr Gürkan.
Mr GÜRKAN (Turkey).- I should like to make a few remarks,
particularly about the Georgian elections, which were an impressive achievement in such a
I thank Mr Davis for his comprehensive report. His work reveals the
extent to which Georgia has undergone democratisation. The first and second rounds of the
parliamentary elections, which were held on 3 October and 14 November 1999,
constitute the first parliamentary elections in Georgia following the countrys
accession to the Council of Europe.
We understand that in general the vote was a significant improvement on
previous elections, and despite some negligible irregularities, it reflected the free will
of the Georgian people. That was acknowledged by many international organisations and
non-governmental institutions, including the Council of Europe. Mr Daviss report
also supports that observation.
I want to emphasise a remark by the rapporteur in the reports
conclusion. Mr Davis states that "the delegation was impressed by the way in
which the Georgians of all political views worked together to ensure that the elections
were an exercise in democracy." That is a key element in understanding the motivation
that secures a healthy democratisation process. Clearly, that understanding exists in
Turkey gives full support to Georgia in her democratisation process.
Privileged relations between Turkey and Georgia are being further improved with recent
developments, which contribute to the stability of the region. From 8 to
14 December 1999, a delegation from the Turkish Grand National Assembly human rights commission, headed by its chairman, Mrs Piskinsüt,
paid a visit to Georgia, during which the members of the delegation were able to examine
the humanitarian situation of the Chechen refugees. We are deeply concerned about the
situation of the refugees, especially given the fact that there is little prospect
of peace. The situation negatively affects the stability in the region, which is already
More recently, on 14 and 15 January, President Demirel visited Tbilisi
and held talks with President Schevardnadze on bilateral and regional issues. In the past
six years, Turkey has extended substantial humanitarian and technical aid to Georgia. The
sum total of aid given since 1992 is almost $17 million. It is essential that the
democratisation process in Georgia is supported by economic development. With that
understanding, Turkey gives a high priority to the realisation of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan
pipeline, among other projects, which will produce better economic prospects not only for
Georgia but for the whole region.
THE PRESIDENT.- Thank you. I call Mr López Henares from Spain.
Mr LÓPEZ HENARES (Spain) asked the Assembly to consider the
recent terrorist attack in Madrid. That was important for the Assembly as that attack was
contrary to the democratic resolution of problems to which members were committed. He had
a written statement to put before the Assembly confirming support for the democratic
process and non-violence in Spain. The recent mass demonstration in Spain showed wide
anti-terrorism feeling there. His declaration asked the Assembly to reaffirm its support
for non-violence and he asked other Assembly members to sign it.
THE PRESIDENT.- Thank you, Mr López Henares. I would like to reiterate
the sympathy that we feel for the Spanish people in their struggle with terrorism,
particularly for the family of the man who was killed. Your written declaration should be
tabled at the Table Office, where signatures can be appended. It will subsequently be
I call Mr Shishlov from the Russian Federation.
Mr SHISHLOV (Russian Federation) thought that observers of
needed to look at the whole of an election campaign. The observation of the elections in
Russia should have been broader, extending the role of the mass media throughout the
campaign and electoral practice in the more outlying parts of the Russian Federation.
Similar concerns could be expressed about Ukraine.
In Chechnya, the visit by the Council of Europe had been useful in
understanding exactly what was happening and giving impetus to achievement of a peaceful
political settlement. Pushing the Russian Federation away from the organisation was not
the best way to go, it could strengthen the hands of those for whom human rights were not
the main concern. The discussion on Thursday should not seek to isolate the Russian
Federation, rather, it should seek to strengthen ties between the Russian Federation, the
organisation and its member states.
THE PRESIDENT.- Thank you, Mr Shishlov. I call Mr Saakashvili.
Mr SAAKASHVILI (Georgia) said that the recent parliamentary
elections had been the first to be observed by the organisation. He was sorry that there
had not been enough delegates to visit all the regions and electoral bureaux. He paid
tribute to Mr Daviss expertise and his thorough understanding of the electoral
procedure. He and all other members of the delegation had worked very hard in monitoring
Georgia was a young democracy. In the past ten years, there had been a
coup and a civil war, but Georgia was now attempting to build consensus. Attempts were
being made to ensure equal access for all political parties to the media and to recognise
the rights of all involved in the political process. The report noted that in most
respects the standards in the election were in keeping with those of the organisation. The
final results were broadly consistent with independent polls and surveys taken during the
campaign. Georgian electoral techniques needed improvement, but by and large all
candidates had had equal access to local and state media. He contrasted that with the
situation in Russia, where financial considerations had determined access to the media.
The democratic process in Georgia was guaranteed by the work of civil
society. The organisation had great prestige in Georgia and he hoped it would continue to
be vigilant in promoting democracy. Georgia had suffered greatly from regional conflicts.
There was a refugee problem, and the Chechen situation had led to Russian bombing of
Suspending the Russian delegation would exacerbate nationalism in
Moscow and anti-Western paranoia throughout Russia. Membership of the organisation had
enabled Russia to learn a great deal about the operation of democratic policy, both
nationally and internationally, and had changed the way in which Russia participated in
other international organisations. Suspension from the organisation might cause Russia to
forget many of those useful lessons.
THE PRESIDENT.- Thank you. You will remember that we wish to complete
the debate by 5.30 p.m., so we have time for two more speakers. I shall call
Mr Obuljen, followed by Mr Glotov.
Mr OBULJEN (Croatia).- Thank you, Mr President. I shall say just
a couple of words about part of the Progress Report of the observation of the
parliamentary elections in Croatia. As a member of the Croatian Democratic Union party,
which is no longer in power after ten years, and lost these elections after winning the
previous eight, I should be unhappy with the results of the elections. But, being a leader
of the outgoing delegation and speaking today probably for the last time in this
hemicycle, I am proud and happy because of some of the conclusions in the report, such as:
"Generally speaking, the elections were held in a normal and orderly manner.
Effective steps were taken to facilitate the work of the national and international
observers. The new legislative framework met, at least in part, the concerns expressed by
the international community."
I could easily argue with some of the other conclusions in the report,
but I leave that to the future delegation. Just today, we are having the first round of
the presidential elections and I hope - moreover, I firmly believe - that they will be as
successfully organised as the parliamentary elections three weeks ago. I believe also that
our delegation, working closely with different bodies of the parliamentary Assembly, also
contributed to the success of the election process. I wish to thank everyone who helped us
in those efforts.
THE PRESIDENT.- Thank you, Mr Obuljen, for your last speech, which was
a credit to you. We thank you also for all the work you have done with us. I call
Mr GLOTOV (Russian Federation) said that he wished to address
the subject of Chechnya. It was important not to break off Russias relations with
the Assembly. Russia had been through difficult times before, and he hoped the Assembly
would come to the right decision.
He thanked his colleagues for the report on the Russian elections,
which noted that they were free and democratic. Sixty-seven million Russians had
voted - 62% of the electorate. Four hundred and forty deputies of the Duma had had
their credentials recognised, and he would provide details of the results in writing.
There were three problems: first, managing the process itself, despite
interference; secondly, the role of the media, particularly the first and second national
channels, and restricted access to the media; and thirdly, insufficient electoral
There was a trend towards the creation of a two to three party system,
but sanctions had been set at a high level. Parties had to pay 15 million roubles to take
part in elections and financial disorder had a negative effect on the party structure.
Some 11½% of electors had not taken part in elections or had voted against all
candidates. Changes were needed in electoral legislation and practice in Russia.
THE PRESIDENT.- Thank you, Mr Glotov. You, too, will not return to the
Assembly and this could well have been your last speech. I take the opportunity to thank
you for your work among us. You have been a very active member of both the Assembly and
I call Mr Bühler to wind up the debate.
Mr BÜHLER (Germany) said that Mr Hornhues had taken a balanced
view, which emphasised that the Council of Europe should remain active in south-east
Europe. Others had pointed out that, when the Council made a final ruling, it had to speak
with one voice.
He supported Mr López Henares in his rejection of violence. Mr
Shishlov had been right to say that the observation of the elections in Russia had been
too short. He, too, wanted a political solution to the problems in Chechnya. Mr
Saakashvili had said that election monitoring in Georgia had been helpful but had not
covered all areas.
He thanked his colleagues for their contributions.
THE PRESIDENT.- Thank you very much indeed, Mr Bühler.
I remind those who are on the list and were present in the Chamber but
were not called that they may submit their speeches in typescript to the Table Office
twenty-four hours of the end of the debate, for publication in the official report.
The debate is closed.
At its meeting on 13 December, the Bureau proposed the references to
committees set out in the Progress Report. They are subject to ratification by the
Rule 24 (2) of the Rules of Procedure.
Does the Assembly approve the references?
They are agreed to.
Note is taken of the Progress Report of the Bureau and the Standing
Committee (Doc. 8596 and addendum) and of the various reports on observations of
elections. I thank Mr Bühler for his involvement.
14. Democracy and
THE PRESIDENT.- The next item of business this afternoon is the
debate on the report on democracy and economic development presented by Mr Elo on behalf
of the Committee on Economic Affairs and Development, Document 8458.
The list of speakers closed at 1 p.m. today. There are twenty-two names
on the list and one amendment has been tabled.
I remind you that we have already agreed that the list of speakers be
interrupted at about 6.40 p.m. to allow time for the reply and the vote.
I see Mr Elo hastening towards his place.
Mr ELO (Finland).- Mr President, dear colleagues, we know from
bitter experience that an unstable or poorly functioning economy can cause a country to
abandon democracy. The Weimar Republic is a good example, but there are many others,
before and since. What is less recognised or what is only beginning to be
recognised today - is that the reverse also holds true. In other words, where democracy
functions badly or not at all, no lasting economic development can take place.
In recent years, we have seen many dramatic financial crises around the
world. They have almost always reflected democratic shortcomings. At the same time, we
have seen how countries with better functioning democracies have, on the whole, been able
to avoid contagion. There is thus - this is the basic message of my report - a clear
relationship between the quality of democracy on the one hand and economic wealth and
progress on the other.
By democracy, I mean much more, of course, than simply having fair
elections, however important those may be. In the word "democracy" I include
wider aspects such as respect for human rights, the rule of law, social justice and
solidarity, transparency and accountability in public affairs, an independent judiciary, a
free press, a firm stand against cronyism and freedom from corruption and economic crime.
Let me say how happy I am that the Committee on Economic Affairs and Development and the
Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights of our Assembly have made the fight against
corruption and economic crime one of their top priorities.
We must repeat the message about the link between democracy and
prosperity in our own countries and internationally, and we must never think that our
democracies are perfect and forever protected from decay, for no democracy is. Any
political system can be perverted, corrupted or destroyed from within. Lack of vigilance
is declines best friend. Democracy must be defended by each generation, by each of
us, each and every day.
In the resolution before you, which I hope you will adopt at the end of
what I am sure will be a rewarding debate, the Committee on Economic Affairs and
Development calls for a much more efficient warning system against emerging financial
crises caused by declining democratic norms. We call it "early attention". We
ask international financial institutions, especially the International Monetary Fund and
the World Bank, to reinforce their "early attention" systems, and to widen them
so that they discover not just cracks in the financial system, but the causes of those
cracks, such as corruption and economic crime. We see encouraging signs of that happening
as a result of the scary lessons learnt over the past few years.
(Mr Davis, Vice-President of the Assembly, took the Chair in place
We express support for the G7 declaration of last year calling for the
strengthening of the international financial architecture, and we ask the IMF to draw up
new country ratings based more on democratic dimensions, and to create a code of conduct
for relations between governments and economic life. Finally, we welcome the new emphasis
placed by our member states and others on world-wide social, labour and environmental
standards. We saw at Seattle how the neglect of such standards can cause great strain in
world relations, and we believe that those standards are essential for the strengthening
of democracy, development and, therefore, world economic stability.
Winston Churchill used to say that democracy was the "worst form
of government, excepting all the others". Today, I think, we can go one better than
Churchill and say with confidence that democracy is the best form of government, including
all the others. The message of my report is that this holds not only for human dignity and
wellbeing in the absolute sense, which we know, but for that part of human dignity and
well-being that depends on economic development and prosperity.
I thank you for your attention and commend the report for your
consideration. I look forward to a lively debate.
THE PRESIDENT.- Thank you, Mr Elo, and thank you for being so brief. In
the debate, I call first Mr Valleix on behalf of the European Democratic Group.
Mr VALLEIX (France) thanked Mr Elo for his report, and his
speech, which had covered many of the points that he had wanted to raise. He underlined
the point that a solid democracy and economic progress went hand in hand, as had been
witnessed over the past ten years.
The first East/West meeting had been held in Budapest in May, where he
had been struck by the economic and political appetite of the eastern countries, which had
raised complex questions about economic and private sector development.
It was necessary to remember the basic rules of economics, to consider
the social effects of economic policy to be and to address economic problems more quickly.
The recent difficulties experienced by the WTO in Seattle demonstrated the need for that
Organisation to consider the human dimension of the global economy.
THE PRESIDENT.- Thank you, Mr Valleix.
I call Mr Lotz on behalf of the Liberal Group.
Mr LOTZ (Hungary).- I strongly believe, like our rapporteur,
that states should act as reliable partners in establishing good regulatory frameworks and
good governance, which are "seen as necessary preconditions for a healthy
economy". It is absolutely true that corruption, bribery, economic crime and
disrespect for human rights take root where the rule of law and good governance practices
are weak or absent. As the Assemblys rapporteur on OECD business this year, I remind
the Assembly that OECD recently issued a document entitled "Principles of Corporate
Governance". OECD intended assisting member and non-member governments to evaluate
and improve their legal, institutional and regulatory frameworks for corporate governance,
which are the common basis of good governance practice.
The degree to which corporations observe basic principles of good
corporate governance is an important factor in investment decisions. Of particular
relevance is the relationship between corporate governance and the increasingly
international character of investment. According to our experience, the international flow
of capital enables companies to access financing from a much larger pool of investors. The
relevant good experiences of steady foreign direct investment are analysed in the report
by the example of Hungary over the past decade.
If countries are to reap the full benefits of the global capital
market, and if they are to attract long-term, so-called patient capital, corporate
governance arrangements must be credible and well understood across borders. Adherence to
good corporate practices will help to improve the confidence of domestic investors; it may
reduce the cost of capital and ultimately induce more stable sources of financing. It is
true that there is no single model of good corporate governance. The work carried out in
different countries has identified common elements that underlie good corporate
governance. The OECD principles build on those common elements and are formulated to
embrace the different existing models.
Good governance contains other important elements - also analysed in
report - such as anti-bribery, anti-corruption and regulatory reforms. A significant
milestone in the international fight against corruption was the entry into force of the
OECD convention on combating bribery of foreign public officials. I am sure that the
competent authorities will promote the objectives of the convention worldwide and will
continue to fight against bribery and corruption. That work should examine acts of bribery
in relation to foreign political parties, when advantages are promised or given to a
person in anticipation of that person becoming a foreign public official, and the bribery
of foreign public officials which could be included as a predicated offence in money
Regulatory reform refers to changes that improve the quality of
regulations, such as enhancing the performance, cost-effectiveness or legal quality of
regulations. Reform can mean revision of a single regulation or the scrapping and
rebuilding of an entire regulatory system and its institutions. Successful regulatory
reform has already produced substantial economic and social benefits for citizens, as
demonstrated by varied experience.
In accordance with this excellent report, I can summarise in one
sentence my own opinion and that of my political group. Democracy, transparency, the rule
of law, the constant fight against corruption and good governance practices are vital to
steady economic development. Once again, I congratulate our rapporteur on his excellent
THE PRESIDENT.- Thank you, Mr Lotz.
I call Mr Rakhansky on behalf of the Unified European Left.
Mr RAKHANSKY (Ukraine) believed that a lack of democracy in some
east European countries and a lack of respect for human rights adversely affected their
economic position. Ukraine had many natural resources, but policies to move to a market
economy had yet to be beneficial to national output. Ukraines external debt was
several times higher than its annual budget. It could not be retrieved from that situation
without international co-operation. At the same time, international financial institutions
were demanding the setting of realistic budgets. For instance, a request to drop tariffs
on sunflower seeds had been made, but that would lead to the collapse of the Ukrainian oil
extraction industry and increase imports from America. Such measures would lead to a
substantial reduction in the standard of living in Ukraine.
The Verkhovna Rada had adopted a law on the setting of tariffs. For
Ukraine, the way out should be based on its own solutions - for instance, in the
development of technology and science. The organisation should send a message to the EBRD
and the World Bank telling them to strengthen their social approach.
THE PRESIDENT.- Thank you. I call Mr Bergqvist.
Mr BERGQVIST (Sweden).- What is economic development worth if it
means leaving people behind? What sort of progress allows some people to indulge in luxury
while others are forced to fear sickness and old age? What future will we have if we do
not achieve sustainable development, which also takes nature into account?
Development and democracy are twins, which should be given a chance to
grow up together, supporting and helping each other. Time and again we see how democracy
without development gets into trouble and vice versa. The reason is simple: if people are
not allowed wholeheartedly to participate in building their own society, it becomes
increasingly difficult to sustain economic development.
When I first read Mr Elos report, I said to myself, "It is a
good report, but is it really necessary? Dont we all agree that democracy has a
central role to play in lasting economic development?" However, I then read the
latest issue of Finance and Development, published by the International Monetary
Fund. That quarterly magazine had asked the six heads of the IMF area departments to
analyse the prospects of the six major regions of the world. I became concerned, because
those six key people had so little to say about the need for democratic reforms and
respect for human rights. To be fair, some touched on those subjects more than others did,
but if colleagues read the part about Asia, they will see what I mean. Is it not a shame
that a major international financial institution disregards to that extent the need to
strengthen democratic institutions to promote sustainable economic development?
A society that excludes groups, whether from the ballot box, education
or anything else, will lose ground in forming its economy. We should think also of gender
equality. To give men and women equal opportunities is not only a crucial moral issue, but
a strong driving force for growth and development. The innermost core of democracy is the
principle of the equal value of every person. Economic development must therefore be used
to improve the lot of everyone. The political challenge in Europe and the rest of the
world is to create sustainable development, viable democracy and social justice for each
THE PRESIDENT.- Thank you. I call Mr Leers.
Mr LEERS (Netherlands).- On behalf of my group, EPP, I
compliment the rapporteur on his important and excellent report. It underlines the
reciprocal relationship between democracy and economic development, which was mentioned by
Mr Bergqvist. Economic development can lead a country to a stage at which greater
democracy is not only possible but necessary for further economic development.
As the report stated, "The recent financial crises in various
have not only caused suffering for the population affected",
but hit countries where democracy is weak. Members of the Assembly have an important role
in encouraging those countries to stand firm against corruption and economic crime and to
maintain respect for human rights, the rule of law and social justice. In that respect, my
group fully supports the reports resolution, including the call to reinforce the
early warning system of institutions such as the IMF and the World Bank.
Does the rapporteur agree that international organisations such as the
OECD, WTO, EBRD, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are playing an
important role in overcoming the financial crisis and establishing standards of democracy
and human rights? Does he share the opinion that the principles of democracy should be
taken into account in the practice and implementation of the programmes of the those
organisations? In other words, should countries that want to take part in the programmes
and activities of those organisations be obliged to achieve certain standards of democracy
and human rights? Of course, the Assembly has an important monitoring role which has to be
continued and strengthened.
THE PRESIDENT.- Thank you, Mr Leers, for being so brief. I call
Lord JUDD (United Kingdom).- I, too, want to thank all concerned
for this interesting report. There is now growing acceptance that democracy is essential
to sustain economic success. As has already been suggested in the debate, integrity,
vision, transparency and technocratic competence are also essential ingredients.
I am increasingly concerned by the growing tendency to regard the
market and democracy as two sides of the same coin. Successful governance has always been
about combining the discipline, creativity and drive of the market with intervention by
the government on behalf of society for the common good. An undue emphasis on the market
alone means an undue emphasis on the short term. It does not take into account vital
issues facing humanity, such as the effective management of the environment so that our
children and grandchildren have something with which to look forward. It does not take
account of the social infrastructure of health and education, which are essential for a
decent life for all our children.
We are naturally concerned about corruption, but it is an inevitable
consequence of allowing the market to operate without a system of values. If price is the
determining factor, everybodys opinion is open to bargain. There must be other
absolutes in the system. Values are essential to sustain economic performance.
Globalisation is evident in the private sector and in intergovernmental
organisations. Accountability is vital in both areas. The World Bank has moved a good way
towards recognising that, but there is a tension between it and the International Monetary
Fund, because although good things are being said in IMF circles, it has not shown the
same evidence of accountability to world responsibility that has become increasingly
apparent in the World Bank.
I am becoming alarmed by the World Trade Organisations rhetoric
about level playing fields. It sounds seductive, but the challenge is how to get humanity
to the point at which it has a chance of playing on level playing fields. Earmarked and
specifically tailored policies for real people in real situations are indispensable.
I should also like to mention in passing the vast and obscene profits
that are made from globalised financial transactions. It may not be popular even with my
own government to say so, but we or our children will have to face the issue of global
taxation on such transactions with the technology that is now available. We also need to
consider global taxation on air travel and similar issues, which could enable us to
finance many of the human programmes that the world desperately needs.
I conclude with this thought: we must be careful to avoid inadvertently
having an attitude that demeans the high calling of democracy by seeing it simply as a
tool for creating a successful economy. I unashamedly believe that the test of a
successful economy is what it does for the people in that society. The test of a
successful global economy is whether it caters for the interests of the global community.
History will judge us not by the amount of wealth that we generate, but by how we use that
wealth to ensure that every child has a real opportunity to fulfil their potential to
live, as distinct from merely existing. When we can reach beyond the moon into outer
space, how can we go on living with a situation in which millions of children never have a
chance to live in any sense that every one of us in this Hemicycle takes for granted?
THE PRESIDENT.- Thank you, Lord Judd. I call Mr Pokol from Hungary.
Mr POKOL (Hungary) said that the document under discussion
highlighted many problems. There were two issues: internal political democracy and
international monitoring responsibilities. The report endorsed claims that, without
democracy and societal autonomy, economic development could only continue to a certain
degree. Hungary had seen that until the mid-1980s. The report also highlighted new
problems in south-east Asia which showed that society could not develop if it did not
develop political democracy and a market economy. In those parts of central and eastern
Europe, which used to be within the Soviet bloc, that development continued. The extension
of market mechanisms had to embrace broader societal developments. The state of law, the
democratic process and market mechanisms had to develop further. Hungary had been
fortunate in that, after the 1965 revolution, the party system had been liberalised.
There was a trend towards globalisation. The report noted the
importance of international control, but the increased possibility of control by
international monetary powers had dangers, which raised questions about the democratic
control of international financial institutions. The document also raised the subject of
the need for the enforcement of the powers of the Assembly and the European Parliament in
that regard, but further steps were necessary.
THE PRESIDENT.- Thank you, Mr Pokol. I call Mr Gross from Switzerland.
Mr GROSS (Switzerland) thanked the rapporteur for his report,
which provided an opportunity to address important issues. It seemed that the rapporteur
was playing the role of a good mid-field player, whereas the Commission was shooting nine
times for each goal it scored.
The basis of the democratic state was that all those affected by a
decision should be able to take part in it. That was fundamental to any definition of
democracy. Economies had long since been globalised, but democracy remained national. It
was not enough to simply build national democratic institutions; people wanted
transnational democratic development.
It was true that, in many ways, democratic and economic development
were complementary, but there were also contradictions between them, which should be
named. For example, it was possible in economic terms to become rich alone, but in a
democracy, being alone could lead only to despair, and it was important to work with
others. Rapid economic development was a positive thing, whereas the development of
democratic structures, if carried out too quickly, could exclude people. It was therefore
important to promote democratic as well as economic forces, and to show people that there
were values other than those of the economic marketplace.
THE PRESIDENT.- Thank you, Mr Gross. I call Mr Bianchi.
Mr BIANCHI (Italy) said that, over the past twenty to thirty
years, the world economy had undergone radical changes in a process now known as
globalisation. To protect the interests of the majority, it was necessary to develop
shared principles and solutions to the problems posed by that process. Two simultaneous
processes were taking place: an increase in the overall amount of wealth which was
available and an increase in the numbers of people living below the poverty line, even in
industrialised countries in western Europe.
The need to begin to tackle the economic impact of the multinational
companies, highlighted in paragraph 84 of the report, was important. Ultimately,
globalisation would benefit the world economy, but the major multinationals had great
power in influencing the choices made by states, without having to take responsibility for
those choices. There was a need for improved democratic scrutiny to mitigate the negative
effects of globalisation - for example, the social imbalances with which it was often
associated. The Council of Europe had a role to play in calling on the EU, the European
Investment Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and others to take action
to secure a just and sustainable world order. The private sector should be encouraged to
make social infrastructure investments so that rapid growth could result in better
conditions, and reductions in poverty and in unemployment.
THE PRESIDENT.- Thank you. The next speaker on the list is
Mr Saakashvili from Georgia, but I cannot see him in the Hemicycle, so I call
Mr BESOSTRI (Italy) stressed the need for sustainable economic
development to create stable economies. Those were helped by the trust that creditors gave
to democratic states. In democracies, it was easier to get consensus on economic policies,
even if those created short-term hardship. In non-democratic countries, such moves might
inspire political uprising and revolt. Economic development in undemocratic countries
tended to be unsustainable and unstable and to the benefit of small élites. The
concentration of economic power in Russia and the link with organised crime were examples
of that. Proper democracies fostered transparency and the achievement of economic growth
alongside environmental considerations, but international organisations such as the IMF,
World Bank and WTO had no democratic scrutiny or parliamentary accountability.
THE PRESIDENT.- Thank you.
It has already been agreed that we will interrupt the debate at 6.40
p.m., so the shorter the speeches, the better my chance of getting more people in. The next speaker is Mr Mateju.
Mr MATEJU (Czech Republic).- I join the speakers who have
already congratulated the rapporteur on an excellent and, as our discussions have shown,
extremely challenging report. To be honest, when I read it, I expected many speakers today
to complain about discussing something that is so obvious and natural: the relationship
between democracy and economic development.
I must confess that, a few years ago, at the beginning of the
transformation in eastern Europe, even I was convinced that the vital relationship between
democracy and economic prosperity was obvious, given and natural: something that did not
need to be carefully elaborated, permanently protected and reinforced, because it grew
from the very depth of western democracy.
Ten years of the historic experience of building democracies and
democratic political systems and striving for economic prosperity in post-communist
countries suggest that that is far from the case. That experience shows that there is
nothing obvious and natural in the relationship between democracy and prosperity, just as
there is nothing obvious and natural in the relationship between freedom, the market and
What is freedom without the rule of law? What is the market without
equal opportunity? What is democracy without meritocracy? To go directly to the heart of
the matter, I want to argue that, if people experience unequal opportunity to get ahead in
life, if they see the rule of corruption rather than of law, if they feel that there are
different rules for different people or social groups, they will easily succumb to the
egalitarian ideology of redistribution because, as they view it, it brings safer results
than unfair competition. If that happens, the market and economic competition can easily
lose out to central planning and democracy can lose out to authoritarianism. Then economic
development remains only in the realm of dreams.
I want to illustrate the importance of those relationships by referring
to some very interesting results from the most recent European values study, carried out
last year. It shows that, in the Czech Republic, for example, the proportion of people who
believe that there is equal opportunity for all to succeed in life declined from 48% in
1991 to 29% in 1999. The proportion of people who believe that competition is beneficial
dropped from 75% in 1991 to 45% in 1999. Is it surprising, then, that the number of people
calling for more egalitarian distribution of income is increasing there?
I am convinced that the results only confirm what many of us already
know: inequality must be legitimate to be widely acceptable. There is little doubt that
legitimate inequality based on merit is an essential condition for economic prosperity.
THE PRESIDENT.- Thank you. The next speaker is Mr Weiss.
Mr WEISS (Slovakia).- Thank you very much, Mr President.
I thank Mr Elo for his excellent report and recommendations. When
considering democracy and economic development it is right to stress that the recent
financial crises were caused by, among other factors, rapid technological development,
especially in computers and telecommunications. That has contributed to the growing
tendency of financial markets to overreact, upwards or downwards, in response to the first
signs of trouble. A herd instinct dominates international financial and investment
markets. I agree with the statement in the report that the state should act as a reliable
partner in establishing a good regulatory framework, which is necessary to optimise the
private sectors activities.
I am sure that technological development in computers and
telecommunications plays an important role not only in the international financial
markets, but in non-financial sectors of the real economy. That is why I propose that our
Parliamentary Assembly should in future discuss the phenomenon of
"informatisation" in the process of economic globalisation, with a view to
maximising the contribution of informatisation to effective and stable economic
development and stronger democracy.
THE PRESIDENT.- Thank you for being so brief, Mr Weiss. The next
speaker is Mr Kroupa of the Czech Republic. I do not see him in the Hemicycle, so I
call Mrs Akgönenç.
Mrs AKGÖNENÇ (Turkey).- First, I thank the rapporteur,
Mr Elo, for his valuable contribution to the debate on the relationship between
democracy and economic development. His report draws our attention to some of the crucial
questions in this debate, such as the greater interdependence between national economies,
the growing impact of new technologies, and environmental problems and their link to
recent financial crises and, more globally, to democracy.
The rapporteur successfully demonstrates the intrinsic correlation
between democracy and economic development, illustrated by meaningful examples from around
the world. We believe that economic and social development are highly dependent on the
democratic nature of the state. In an era of global economic co-operation and integrated
regional economies, a democratic deficit in one state can have global financial
I shall give one or two examples. Democracy gives people opportunity
and hope, which is the basis for individual initiative, leading to a better life and a
drive to greater achievement under more democratic regimes. However, in regimes with more
centralist tendencies, the opposite occurs. There is more emphasis on taxation and on
strengthening central authority - in short, more control, more bureaucracy and less
economic progress for the masses. Democracy brings about self-confidence and hope for the
future. Those are two of the principal conditions for entrepreneurship, which is the
engine of economic development and prosperity. Societies with such characteristics would
be more open to reform, progress and improvement in the quality of life for all groups.
In this context, international financial institutions are invested with
the important task of preventing the recurrence of global financial crisis. We therefore
agree with the call for some international financial institutions to reinforce their
"early attention" mechanism in the event of any departure from democratic
standards that may negatively affect the economy of the country concerned and the regional
financial situation. Those financial institutions must seek co-operation and advice from
international human rights organisations, such as the Council of Europe.
Lastly, we welcome the achievements of the Council of Europe as a
standard-setting organisation in respect of not only human rights, but the social and
environmental field. We urge other international forums, such as the International
Monetary Fund and the International Labour Organisation, to assist the Council of Europe
and its member states in further developing these standards and putting them into
THE PRESIDENT.- Thank you. I have now spotted Mr Kroupa. I apologise,
Mr Kroupa; I did not see your hand earlier. I now give you the floor.
Mr KROUPA (Czech Republic) said that the Czech economy had been
greatly influenced by experiences in the Soviet era. All countries in the region had had
their economies affected by decisions that had been taken for non-economic reasons.
Democracy meant that all citizens should be able to take part in public life, and that the
rights of minorities should be protected.
The development of economic situations was clearly determined by
circumstances. In democratic politics, everyone had his own decision-making powers, but
where economics was concerned, many of those with problems had no opportunity to take any
decisions, that would influence the economic climate. The experience of the post-communist
era had borne that out. It had not always been beneficial, but had prepared the Czech
Republic for a new era. It was now possible to make decisions on the basis of what was
necessary for economic development. The transition from a socialist state economy towards
a market economy, which had been started in 1988, had been beneficial.
A democratic society was the most important condition for economic
development. However, it was important that decisions about the economy should be made by
economic officials but that that should not prevent those at the lower levels of the
economy from participating. That also applied to those states with more developed economic
systems. Development was not just about replacing remnants from the communist era in
less-developed economies. The Czech Republics continuing development in political
and economic terms was preparing it well for its accession to the European Union and that
would be of benefit to all member states.
THE PRESIDENT.- Thank you, Mr Kroupa.
It is now 6.40 p.m., the time at which we said that the debate would be
concluded, so I must now interrupt the list of speakers. However, I remind members of the
Assembly who had intended to speak, who are on the list and who are present in the
Chamber, that they may submit their speeches in typescript to the Table Office, room 1083,
within twenty-four hours of the end of the debate - that is, by 6.40 p.m.
tomorrow - and the speeches will be published in the official report.
I call Mr Elo to reply. You have four minutes.
Mr ELO (Finland).- Thank you, Mr President and colleagues, for
your interesting speeches. The debate has reinforced my conviction, mentioned in my
preliminary remarks, that democracy is the best form of government. Democratic governments
must consider the peoples wishes, which is not the case in dictatorships. It is
difficult, if not impossible, for governments in democracies not to pay attention to the
voters. In a democracy, every government is accountable to voters. Elections may come too
soon for many of us, but they always come. A wise government, if it wishes to remain in
power, will try to improve the living conditions of a majority of voters. In a
non-democratic society, however, a government may reduce living standards by cutting
wages, weakening social protection or reducing environmental standards.
Our Parliamentary Assembly must stress the importance of democracy,
especially parliamentary democracy. In some democracies, presidents play a more important
role, but I emphasise the importance of parliamentary democracy. What are the benefits of
economic development if people live in a dictatorship without a right to vote or to
freedom of expression or religion? Mr Leers has probably left, but, in answer to him, I
can say that countries that want to participate in international political organisations
should respect the requirements of democracy and human rights. No country can be a member
of a democratic organisation unless it respects fundamental human rights.
I thank the Assembly for its attention.
THE PRESIDENT. - Thank you, Mr Elo.
I call Mrs Degn, Chairperson of the Committee on Economic Affairs and
Mrs DEGN (Denmark).- Long ago, during the Russian crisis, Mr Elo
asked for the opportunity to write this report. We have learned from that crisis and from
the economic crisis in Asia, as well as from the ten years in transition which we
discussed in London on Thursday. We learned first that economies will not develop
sustainably alongside democracy without properly functioning democratic institutions.
Several colleagues have mentioned globalisation, saying that the flow
of money and capital was a special challenge. We must take note of that and decide how to
handle it. Regional co-operation is part of the answer, but it must be followed up by
democratic institutions that function well so that we do not suffer a democratic deficit
in the proper handling of globalisation.
I thank all those colleagues who spoke in the debate. I have learned
lessons from it. The timing of the debate - ten years after transition - is good. I
particularly thank Mr Elo.
THE PRESIDENT.- Thank you, Mrs Degn.
The debate is closed.
The Committee on Economic Affairs and Development has presented a draft
resolution, to which one amendment has been tabled. I remind you that speeches on
amendments are limited to one minute.
We now come to Amendment No. 1, which is in the draft resolution,
paragraph 5, replace the first sentence by:
"The Assembly, with this in view, calls on the international
financial institutions, in particular the IMF, the World Bank, the European Bank for
Reconstruction and Development and the Bank for Development of the Council of Europe, to
reinforce their early attention role as regards any departure from democratic
standards in individual countries, especially in countries with economies in transition,
with the aim of having a positive influence in strengthening their economies and financial
systems and finding non-standard approaches to such countries."
I call Mr Rakhansky to support the amendment.
Mr RAKHANSKY (Ukraine) thanked the President and said his
amendment added a reference, at paragraph 5, to the European Bank for Reconstruction and
Development and the Social Development Fund of the Council of Europe. During 1999, he had
given serious consideration to the position of Ukraine and had invited financial
institutions to provide additional help for transitional economies.
THE PRESIDENT.- Thank you very much, Mr Rakhansky.
I have received an oral sub-amendment from the Committee on Economic
Affairs and Development, which is, to delete the replacement text offered by the amendment
and insert instead:
"The Assembly, with this in view, calls on the international
financial institutions, in particular the IMF, the World Bank, the European Bank for
Reconstruction and Development and the Bank for Development of the Council of Europe, to
reinforce their early attention role as regards any departure from democratic
standards in individual countries especially as it may affect the soundness of an economy
and its financial system or those of neighbouring countries or the world economy."
I remind the Assembly of Rule 34, paragraph 6, which states,
"After consultation with the Chairman of the Committee concerned, the President may
exceptionally declare an oral amendment or sub-amendment to be in order if, in his
opinion, it is designed to make a correction, to take account of new facts or to lead to
conciliation, and if less than 10 members of the Assembly object."
In my judgment, the oral sub-amendment meets those criteria.
Since that is the case, is there any opposition to the sub-amendment
I call Mrs Degn, Chairperson of the committee, to support oral
Sub-amendment No. 1 for one minute.
Mrs DEGN (Denmark).- I support the oral sub-amendment. We
thankful Mr Rakhansky and his colleagues for presenting Amendment No. 1, but the
committee rejected it because the second part focuses too strongly on those countries in
transition. We also remained unclear about the meaning of the words "finding
non-standard approaches". We thought that the amendment would weaken the text. For
that reason, the committee rejected the amendment as it stands, and I recommend the oral
THE PRESIDENT.- Thank you. Does anyone wish to speak against the oral
What is the opinion of the mover of the amendment, Mr Rakhansky?
Mr RAKHANSKY (Ukraine) said that he would agree to remove the
phrase "non-standard approaches", but preferred to keep the rest of the
THE PRESIDENT.- The committee is obviously in favour of the oral
sub-amendment, but the mover of the amendment is against it. I shall now put the oral
sub-amendment to the vote by a show of hands
The oral sub-amendment is adopted.
Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment, as amended?
That is not the case.
I shall now put the amendment, as amended, to the vote by a show of
The amendment, as amended, is adopted.
We will now proceed to vote on the whole of the draft resolution
contained in Document 8458, as amended.
The draft resolution, as amended, is adopted.
Non-formal education and transnational long-term voluntary service for young people
THE PRESIDENT.- The next item of business this afternoon is the
debate on the report on non-formal education and the opinion on the draft convention on
the promotion of a transnational long-term voluntary service for young people, presented
by Mr Dumitrescu on behalf of the Committee on Culture and Education,
Documents 8595 and 8597.
The list of speakers closed at 1 p.m. today. There are ten names on the
list and four amendments have been tabled.
I remind you that we have already agreed that the list of speakers will
be interrupted at about 7.25 p.m. to allow time for the reply and the vote.
I call Mr Dumitrescu to present his report and the opinion.
Mr DUMITRESCU (Romania) said that it was his intention to
present the report and opinion at the same time.
It was acknowledged that education could lead to improvements in
respect of social exclusion. Education had to be strengthened through the provision of
non-formal education, which was not structured and took place outside the formal education
system, for example in conferences on social rights held by trade unions. There were
several different types of non-formal education: community work; social work;
facilitation; and youth organisations, which had always been seen as specialists.
The report included examples of differences in national and local
traditions. Non-formal education should include people of all ages, and should form an
integral part of all education. It was important for the Council of Europe, together with
other supra-national bodies, to consider non-formal educational activities. Transnational
voluntary service could be viewed as a branch of non-formal education, as was recognised
in the draft convention. The year 2001 was to be the UN Year of Voluntary Service, so it
was important that the convention be ratified in advance.
(Mr Evangelisti, Vice-President of the Assembly, took the Chair in
place of Mr Davis.)
THE PRESIDENT.- Thank you, Mr Dumitrescu. I call
Mrs ISOHOOKANA-ASUNMAA (Finland).- I thank our rapporteur,
Mr Dumitrescu, for emphasising to us the importance of non-formal education. The
report presents many convincing arguments, including the philosophy of lifelong education
- the insight that men and women can develop and learn regardless of age. The
possibilities for self-development are numerous. It is important for our countries to
support various forms of non-formal education openly and without prejudice.
The unique nature of non-formal education lies in its flexibility and
its respect for diversity and the different circumstances in which we live. It is not
possible for the report to deal with all forms of non-formal education. I should like to
stress that it can offer unemployed or retired people excellent opportunities. Governments
should offer concrete aid, at least for those types of non-formal education that aim to
improve the life of marginalised groups.
I am convinced that non-governmental organisations will become
increasingly important in the development of our society. We should seek to promote
education organised by institutions other than formal institutions. Non-governmental
organisations can contribute greatly toward the creation of a better environment or the
production of safe and healthy food, for example.
The Finnish Constitution guarantees NGOs opportunities to participate.
Several organise training and education for those interested in issues such as
environmental protection and the implementation of land use. That is only one example of
how people can take part and be highly motivated by learning about new issues.
THE PRESIDENT.- Thank you, Mrs Isohookana-Asunmaa. I call
Mr Díaz de Mera.
Mr DÍAZ DE MERA (Spain) spoke on behalf of the Group of the
European Peoples party. He congratulated Mr Dumitrescu on his hard work and timely
report. Formal education in itself could not meet the challenges presented by a complex,
wider society without strengthening conventional educational systems through the
development of non-formal educational purposes. Official and transnational recognition was
helping to increase the status of non-formal education across Europe. That, in turn, was
working against social exclusion. New concepts of continuing education were enabling
people to acquire knowledge, which was of practical use. All aspects of non-governmental
civil society were useful in that context.
The substantive and integral nature of non-formal education should be
officially recognised as part of the educational process and non-governmental
organisations had a vital role to play. It was necessary to find a way to create a more
egalitarian educational system which would recognise the non-formal educational
achievements made by those from more disadvantaged groups of the population. It was now
necessary to send a resolution to the Committee of Ministers, which would give some
impetus to the proposals and provide incentives to consolidate them. The Peoples
Group supported the facilitation of transnational service for young people all over Europe
through legislative frameworks set out in Document 8597.
THE PRESIDENT.- Thank you. I call Mrs Akgönenç.
Mrs AKGÖNENÇ (Turkey).- In an age of increasing communication
facilities and technology, individuals and groups are forced to seek new and innovative
ways to educate themselves and many others. The changing economic and financial activities
and the continual progress of industry require new techniques, on-the-job training and new
skills. All those changes force non-formal education methods to become more popular. In
that respect, I wish to express my appreciation of the work done by our rapporteur, Mr
New conditions in a rapidly changing world require new applications.
Besides, in the process of globalisation, societies and nations face two different
challenges. The first is an inevitable barrage of information and the impact of new
changes all over the world. The second is the struggle of the individual or the group to
preserve their identities. To achieve that, they need to know more about their own culture
and strengths. Under these conditions, traditional formal education falls short of demand
and targets. In multi-cultural societies, almost the only way to achieve the desired level
of education is with the help of the non-formal education system. We have seen good
examples of attempts at that in some Council of Europe member states.
The issue of non-formal education should be taken into consideration in
relation to its positive effect on social cohesion in societies. I wish to congratulate
once again the author of the report and the Council on a timely and very useful study
produced for this forum.
THE PRESIDENT.- Thank you. I call Lord Judd.
Lord JUDD (United Kingdom).- As so often in the Council of
Europe, we find ourselves dealing with imaginative and constructive ideas about how we can
build a stable future at the end of the day, having been totally pre-occupied with all the
crises that have overtaken us because we have failed to build constructively for the
future. I congratulate everybody concerned with the report, because it is an imaginative
and important contribution to building a stable future in our own continent and more
I hope that I may be forgiven for drawing briefly on personal
experience. My first job in life was as the secretary general of International Voluntary
Service, which was the British branch of Service Civil International. Its aim was to bring
people from across the world together in community service, and I saw for myself the
excitement of such work. People discovered at first hand what social problems really were
and were able to share their experiences with people from a different background and
upbringing, thereby deepening their educational experience. Later in life, I became
director of our Voluntary Service Overseas, which is our programme for volunteers working
in the third world, and today I am the national president of the YMCA.
What I find most exciting about the report is that we live in the
context of a society which has become increasingly impersonal. We know the price of
everything and the value of very little. We can measure everything, but we do not
understand things in depth. Young people are under tremendous pressure to qualify
technologically and technocratically for their careers. I believe that that will build
great instability into society, if our future leaders and decision makers are not aware of
the issues that confront them in society as a whole.
The importance of such voluntary service being underpinned by the
measures suggested is that it will enhance the opportunities for young people to have an
emotional - in the creative, imaginative and positive sense of the word - as well as a
technocratic experience of what development and education are about. I welcome the report
because, in the midst of all the pressures of modern society, we have the problem of a
declining sense of solidarity. We talk about international reality and globalisation, but
people do not have an instinctive sense of solidarity internationally. We talk about the
deprived, the excluded and the poor, but how often do we talk with and for them? The
proposals will give young people an opportunity to understand the problems of people in
those situations and the ability to relate to and support them, both now and later in
I wish to mention two cautions. First, it seems to me that care needs
to be taken in devising programmes, so that experiences are real and not superficial. We
also need to take care to ensure that those who have problems already from being part of
the excluded do not become tools to allow other people to receive further education. We
need to ensure that the young people contribute to the solutions for the people with whom
they are working and are not simply having another selfish learning experience, although
obviously that experience is vital.
The other caution is simple. One of the great things about voluntary
service is its spontaneity. It is about people relating to other people, not because of an
official structure but because they care and they want to develop that sense of caring. We
must be very careful, as we start to regulate and to introduce administrative arrangements
the better to co-ordinate such activity, that we do not kill that spirit of creativity and
spontaneity, which is the essence of voluntary service at its best.
THE PRESIDENT (Translation).- I must now interrupt the list of
speakers. I remind you that those who are on the list and present in the Chamber but who
are not able to speak may submit their speeches in typescript to the Table Office within
twenty-four hours of the end of the debate for publication in the official report.
I call Mr Dumitrescu, the rapporteur, to reply.
Mr DUMITRESCU (Romania) thanked all the speakers. While the
report was about lifelong learning and young people, the philosophy embraced older people
and a larger part of society and therefore needed wider definition. He hoped to develop
some idea of what non-formal education needed to be. Lord Judd had described the work of
voluntary groups. The process did not need control, but needed a framework for
recognition. He expressed regret that such important matters were debated so late.
THE PRESIDENT.- Thank you. I call Mr Roseta to reply on behalf of the
Mr ROSETA (Portugal) congratulated the rapporteur and
contributors to the debate. The growing importance of lifelong teaching was in stimulating
important values and responding to the rapid development of knowledge. Equal opportunities
programmes were essential, but they should not jeopardise spontaneity. The Council of
Europe was a pioneer in opening new perspectives in education and other areas, and had
demonstrated new avenues for development.
THE PRESIDENT.- Thank you, Mr Roseta.
The debate is closed.
The Committee on Culture and Education has presented a draft
recommendation on Documents 8595 and 8596. Three amendments and a sub-amendment have been
tabled. They will be taken in the following order: Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 4.
We come now to Amendment No. 1, which is in paragraph 7.i, after the
words "lifelong learning process", insert the words: "and in youth
I call Mr Jakic to speak to the amendment. You have one minute.
Mr JAKIC (Slovenia).- Mr President, may I have three
minutes, because I would like to speak to all three amendments together? Thank you.
Non-formal education is a collection of teaching tools and learning
schemes that are seen as creative and innovative alternatives to traditional and classical
teaching systems. Via personal interaction and flexibility in approaching problems and
solutions, people can discuss matters of relevance to their lives as citizens, and pool
their knowledge. A variety of agents take part in the process, but most are in
organisations involved in youth and community work.
As Chairman of the Sub-Committee on Youth and Sport, I welcome the
inclusion of some European Youth Forum proposals in the recommendations. I emphasise the
importance of youth participation, and the contribution that young people and their
organisations can and do make to the encouragement of peace and democracy in their
societies through non-formal education methods. Young people's voluntary efforts must be
recognised and encouraged by governments, through youth policy and more adequate support
Mr Zingeris and I tabled three amendments with that in mind and I hope
that they will be supported.
Mr Zingeris and I also support the sub-amendment to the third amendment
proposed by the Committee on Culture and Education.
THE PRESIDENT (Translation).- Thank you.
Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment?
That is not the case.
What is the opinion of the committee?
Mr DUMITRESCU (Romania).- In favour.
THE PRESIDENT (Translation).- I shall now put the amendment to the vote
by a show of hands
Amendment No. 1 is adopted.
We come now to Amendment No. 2, which is at the end of paragraph 7.iii,
add the words:
"in co-operation with non-governmental organisations and
especially youth NGOs".
Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment?
That is not the case.
What is the opinion of the committee?
Mr DUMITRESCU (Romania).- In favour.
THE PRESIDENT (Translation).- I shall now put the amendment to a vote
by a show of hands
Amendment No. 2 is adopted.
We come now to Amendment No. 3, which is in paragraph 7.v, replace the
"encourage more people to take advantage of non-formal
education" by "provide support and encourage more young people to educate and be
educated in a non-formal way (peer education)".
I call Mr Dumitrescu to speak to the amendment.
Mr DUMITRESCU (Romania) said that the amendment had been amended
slightly for clarity.
THE PRESIDENT (Translation).- I shall now put the amendment to the vote
by a show of hands
Amendment No. 3 is adopted.
We now come to amendment No. 4, which is, at the end of paragraph 8.iv,
add the words:
"and the United Nations Volunteers programme".
Mr DUMITRESCU (Romania) supported the amendment.
THE PRESIDENT (Translation).- Does anyone wish to speak against the
That is not the case.
The opinion of the committee has already been made clear.
I will now put the amendment to the vote by a show of hands
Amendment No. 4 is adopted.
We will now proceed to vote on the whole of the draft
recommendation contained in Document 8595, as amended.
The draft recommendation, as amended, is adopted.
We shall now proceed to vote on the whole of the draft opinion
contained in Document 8597.
The draft opinion is adopted.