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Opening of sitting No. 24

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

15:34:42

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The sitting is open

Ladies and gentlemen, the elections for the Secretary General of the Council of Europe and judges to the European Court of Human Rights in respect of Estonia and Germany, as well as the elections for the second round of the election of a Vice-President in respect of the Russian Federation, will once again be open.

I would remind you that the votes take place in the rotunda behind the presidency. They will be closed at 6pm. The counting will take place immediately afterwards, under the usual conditions, outside the Chamber under the supervision of the tellers appointed for each election, i. e. Mrs PASHAYEVA and Mr. VICKERS for the election of a Vice-President in respect of the Russian Federation; Mr CAZEAU, Mrs BONELL, Mrs GROZDANOVA and Mrs WONNER for the election of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe and judges to the European Court of Human Rights in respect of Estonia and Germany.

I remind the tellers that they must be in the rotunda behind the presidency at the closure of the voting. The results of the vote shall be announced, if possible, before the end of this meeting and, failing that, at the opening of the next meeting. The polls are open.

Of course, we are continuing our work during this time.

The next item is the debate on the challenge of the unratified credentials of the parliamentary delegation of the Russian Federation. I would like to inform you that the Committee on Rules of Procedure, which was seized of the challenge of credentials on formal grounds, was unable to adopt a report. Therefore, as I announced to you this morning at the opening of the meeting, the issue of challenging credentials on formal grounds has been removed from our agenda.

The Assembly remains seized of the question of the challenge of credentials on formal grounds but cannot, however, take a decision, in accordance with its Rules of Procedure in Rule 10.3. The members of the Russian delegation remain provisionally members with the same rights as the other members of the Assembly.

We will hear, first, on the challenge of the still unratified credentials of parliamentary questions of the Russian Federation and, on substantial grounds, the presentation of Mr GALE, and then the presentation of Mr FASSINO for the oral opinion of the Committee on Rules of Procedure, Immunities and Institutional Affairs.

The rapporteur has a total speaking time of 13 minutes, which he may divide at his discretion between the presentation of the report and the reply to the various interventions.

I give the floor to Mr GALE, rapporteur of the Monitoring Committee.

Elections (continued) : Secretary General of the Council of Europe / Judges to the European Court of Human Rights / Election of a Vice-President of the Assembly in respect of the Russian Federation (2nd round)

Sir Roger GALE

United Kingdom, EC, Rapporteur 

15:37:55

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Thank you Madam President.

Can I start immediately by paying tribute to the team sitting behind me. Particularly to Agnieszka Nachilo and Bas Klein. Two of the finest civil servants in this building who have worked tirelessly to deliver a report under very difficult and very stressful circumstances.

On Tuesday afternoon, I was charged with the duty of seeking to prepare a report. That appointment in itself, because I'm a Chariman of the Committee on the Honouring of Obligations and Commitments by Member States of the Council of Europe (Monitoring Committee), was not uncontentious. There doesn't seem to be anything about this situation that is uncontentious. However. I listened in the small hours of the morning to the debate on Monday.

While there are those who will again say this, I have sought faithfully to reflect the opinions and the democratic decisions taken by this Assembly on Monday night. So you will find, Madam President, that this report recommends that insofar as this challenge is concerned (the other remains outstanding), but in so far this challenge is concerned, there is a recommendation that the Assembly should acknowledge the credentials of the Russian Federation.

But, there were three positions possible to us. One was to accept without qualification. Another was to deny. And the third was to accept with conditions. My original report was based upon the third option. An acceptance with conditions. Because I believe that we owe that to, for example, the families of people that lost their lives in aircraft MH17. To the families of the Ukranian sailors who are still imprisoned in Russia. And a raft of other concerns. That I have sought faithfully to try to reflect in the report.

I'm indebted to the Committee on the Honouring of Obligations and Commitments by Member States of the Council of Europe (Monitoring Committee) for some of their wiser observations, and the report has been amended in that light. But there are other observations that I cannot and will not accept.

What I intend to do now, Madam President, with your consent, is to take my seat to listen to the debate, and then to use the majority of the time that is available to me to respond properly to the concerns that have been raised. Thank you very much indeed.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

15:40:47

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Thank you Mr. GALE.

You have ten minutes to answer the questions and interventions of my colleague.

Mr FASSINO, you have the floor to present the oral opinion of the Committee on Rules of Procedure.

Mr Piero FASSINO

Italy, SOC, Rapporteur for opinion 

15:41:07

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Madame President,

The Rules of Procedure Committee debated yesterday, even for a long time, but did not reach a decision that would allow a resolution to be adopted, as you have already mentioned.

At the same time, the Monitoring Committee adopted a resolution ratifying the credentials, the one presented by Sir Roger GALE. It is a resolution which ratifies the credentials without introducing sanctions, but which makes very pressing demands of the Russian authorities: the request that a monitoring commission should be able to visit Russia as soon as possible, and then carry out all the necessary checks and investigations; the request for the release of the 24 seamen detained by the Russian authorities after the accident in the Kerč Sea; the immediate payment to the Council of Europe of the fees which have not yet been paid; genuine and serious cooperation by the Russian authorities to shed light on the case of the shooting down of the Malaysian Airlines aircraft; cooperation by the Russian authorities to establish responsibility for the murder of Nemcov; and a commitment to combat all violence against the LGBT community, starting with the violence which continues to be perpetrated in Chechnya.

On the basis of the resolution ratifying the credentials without introducing sanctions, but urging the Russian authorities to comply with these requests, the Monitoring Committee has decided to submit a report to this House by April 2020. On the basis of this text and the debate that has taken place, the Rules of Procedure Committee considered yesterday evening that the monitoring resolution is in accordance with the Rules and the Statute of this House. Thank you.

Debate: Challenge, on substantive grounds, of the still unratified credentials of the parliamentary delegation of the Russian Federation|According to Rule 8.3 of the Assembly’s Rules of Procedure

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

15:43:50

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Thank you.

In the general discussion I give the floor to Mr ŠEŠELJ for the GDL Group.

Mr Aleksandar ŠEŠELJ

Serbia, FDG, Spokesperson for the group 

15:44:00

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Thank you.

Dear Colleagues, today is a very important day for the Council of Europe. We are contemplating the lifting of sanctions, for the first time, against Russia as one of the European institutions. I would like to congratulate all the delegates in the pace for their historic role.

Other international institutions should follow the example of the Council of Europe and stop participating in the campaign against Russia. The Council of Europe should respect the choice of more than 140 million citizens of Russia that have elected their own representatives. In restricting any rights to Russians, you are doing a disservice to the people of the Russian Federation. You are not respecting them.

And I think the Council of Europe is an institution, after all, which is concerned to uphold Human rights and democracy. It should not allow itself to become an instrument of countries who seek conflict with Russia. Russia is not the aggressor. Russia is not an enemy of Europe. The enemies of Europe are those who turn their backs on European values. Values in the European Charter of Human Rights.

Dear colleagues, the priority for the Council of Europe must be to fight against the rise of fascism in countries where the Nazis of the Second World War are reappearing. The vote to confirm the Russian credentials is a vote for freedom, for democracy, for dialogue and for cooperation. And a vote against the credentials is a vote against Europe. Thank you.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

15:46:29

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I give the floor to Mr OMTZIGT for the EPP/CD Group.

Mr Pieter OMTZIGT

Netherlands, EPP/CD, Spokesperson for the group 

15:46:39

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Thank you Madam Chair.

I am speaking on behalf of the EPP Group. To be fair, we do think differently on whether we should have adopted the Ms Petra De SUTTER's report in our group. For once we allow the Russian delegation to be part here. We expect them to observe the international rules. That means that we firmly believe that Russia occupying part of Ukraine, the Donbass, and Crimea, part of Georgia, South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and part of Moldova is not keeping to its international obligations. And we should optimally solve those problems by peaceful means.

In my political group there are differences of opinion on whether that will work or not. And that's the essence of why we're talking as politicians. The essence is that we hope that by talking, sometimes by shouting and shouting abuse of each other –but that's still a lot better, Madam President, than using weapons– that we will solve problems. Now that we've taken this route, we should solve those problems. We can only start solving those problems from our very firm principles. Principles in Human rights. Principles in Rule of law. And that is why we do expect from Russia, whatever the outcome of the vote, that we do not recognise the occupation. That we expect Ukrainian sailors to be released. Their dues to be paid. That there is a full investigation into why Nemtsov was murdered. And as a Dutchman I have to say, full cooperation with the MH17 investigation in which nearly 200 people from my country died. It was shot down. The Russian Federation showed the radar data on national television. Five years later, the radar data from Rostov Airport has still not been made available to the investigators.

Those things, and the fact that there is now a criminal prosecution, means that if we work together on Human rights, we should work together on finding out who did that. That is our firm commitment under Article 2 of the European Convention of Human Rights. There will be tough talks, but it is necessary that we have that. And I hope that will be the end of this difficult week in our Assembly. Thank you.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

15:49:39

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Thank you.

I give the floor to Mr SCHWABE for the Socialist Group.

Mr Frank SCHWABE

Germany, SOC, Spokesperson for the group 

15:49:45

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Madam President

Ladies and gentlemen,

We started a path together on Monday and today it is up to us, I believe, to be consistent and to go a little further along this path.

We've talked about how it's not about Russia alone. Of course it's about Russia. Now this report is about Russia, but it is all about looking at how this organisation is armed; how it is prepared for the challenge of the future.

It has become clear that if we have two bodies, the Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly –and nowhere does the Parliamentary Assembly of an organisation have as much power as we do– then we can only act and act together. Unilateral sanctions imposed by part of the organisation ultimately lead to a situation from which we actually cannot get out and where we cannot get any further. That is why, in the end, this debate has brought something, even for those who may now criticise it: the path we are taking today and which we can go along with. It brought something, namely that the Committee of Ministers was sent on the way to develop a new procedure to make this organization better. To make this organization more resistant to states that massively violate the rights.

That is why it is right to continue working on this procedure. Every country, Russia, but also many other countries, must know that we are at any rate elected on the basis of the Parliamentary Assembly to start this procedure accordingly. We have also taken the Russian case as an opportunity to look into the financial situation of this organisation. Even without Russia having paid no contributions, this is not a good situation; it is sometimes miserable in many areas. If I just look at the buildings of this organization. That is why I want to say here that the Russian case –if Russia comes back now and pays– does not solve the question at all. We will have to deal with the financial question and the sustainability of this organization also further.

As far as Russia is concerned, I would like to strongly contradict my colleague who spoke earlier. These sanctions here have nothing to do with the sanctions of the European Union. As I come from Germany, I want to say explicitly that these sanctions imposed by the European Union are the right ones, because we want Russia to accept that the Crimea, that Donbass, is part of Ukraine and the other occupied parts of Georgia are, and so on.

Until that doesn't change, even if we have problems, but this organisation is about organising dialogue, conducting dialogue and finally ensuring that we can monitor; that we ensure that court rulings are recognised; that is just not enough at the moment.

We can't monitor enough Russian territory. I myself would like to go to Chechnya and draw up a corresponding report on the Human rights situation in the North Caucasus, so we should be consistent in this respect.

Dear colleagues,

We should give the Russian delegation the opportunity to participate fully and then see if the Russian delegation ensures that we can exercise our rights in monitoring in Russia, because those are the red lines we have. The implementation of the court rulings of the Human Court and the full access of the bodies of this organization accordingly to the countries. We all have the opportunity, as with all countries, to have a look at the situation again in January of next year. That is why I am asking you today to approve the credentials.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

15:53:05

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Thank you.

I call Mr KIRAL on behalf of the EC Group.

Mr Serhii KIRAL

Ukraine, EC, Spokesperson for the group 

15:53:11

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Thank you Madam President.

Indeed I wouldn't say this is a happy moment. It is a sad moment for the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly.

If you have been following the reaction after yesterday's vote for the De SUTTER report, throughout Europe and the European Union, the outburst of anger, disappointment and depression even about what's happening with the principles and the values in this organisation. This is astonishing.

I don't think we have to be consistent in that respect. I think we have to change. You all wanted and aspired for the dialogue. The De SUTTER report has allowed for the dialogue. But the dialogue doesn't start with pure appeasement. The dialogue doesn't start with impunity. 

I believe the report which has been compiled following the challenges on credentials on substantive grounds is a worst report than the original text.

I believe that not only these conditions which were put forward in the report, but the provisional sanctions, which of course are not automatic, which of course are conditional to the delivery of the Russian Federation on this obligation and commitment by the October part session or the January part session.

But we have to keep Russia accountable for all the crimes it did. We cannot neglect and ignore the resolutions and the work which was done in this assembly, together with all of you, based on the values and the principles of this organisation in the previous years.

Ukraine is a victim. Georgia is a victim. We are now being punished for being a victim. The perpetrator is being rewarded. I think this is not consistency which Mr Frank SCHWABE is talking about. This is notthe happy moment which Mr Aleksandar ŠEŠELJ is talking about.

This is indeed a very sad moment.

The only reason I thought and heard from all of you for Russia to come back was to keep Russia accountable, to sanction Russia, to put forward conditions. Now we want it to go unpunished and unaccountable? No, this is not the right thing to do.

I would say this is not about Ukraine in general. I am not worried about Ukraine. Ukraine has been fighting in the east with arms for its independence, sovereignty, and its right for the future.

We will continue to do it without you. Through maybe forming other regional partners and alliances.

I would like to use this opportunity to thank all the Member States who stayed firm by the values and by Ukraine and continue to do that.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

15:56:14

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I call Mr POLIAČIK for the ALDE Group.

Mr Martin POLIAČIK

Slovak Republic, ALDE, Spokesperson for the group 

15:56:22

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Thank you, Madam President.

Ladies and gentlemen, honourable colleagues, how many times have we, any of us, complained that no one actually knows what we are doing here? That the Council of Europe became invisible?

Well, we are on the front pages today. I keep receiving messages from people curious about the purpose of this institution. We are making an impact today and the question is: will the picture we paint this day make us proud? Are we still focused on maintaining peace, promoting human rights, democracy and the rule of law? In the simplest way possible are we working on making the world a better place?

Those questions might be too vague, too far from the topic of this discussion. At the same time, they should always be in the back of our heads when making important decisions.

As a Slovak boy at the age of 10, I watched the Soviet Army leaving my country after years of occupation and I saw the communist regime fall. I witnessed my country becoming independent, democratic and recognised as a proud member of the international community.

Today, the credibility of this very community is at stake. We at ALDE, fully support the notion that no one should be excluded from dialogue and we should keep close contact even with those we strongly disagree with. Talking, explaining ourselves and diplomacy, in general, should be a tool used to achieve mutual understanding.

At the same time, once we establish rules and principles, we need to stick to them. We need to be able to support and justify the values that they are based on and be persistent in enforcing their observance. The delegation of the Russian Federation is back in this hemicycle after 5 years and - it is only fair to say it - not with their homework done.

The assignment formulated by this very assembly, in at least seven resolutions, in the last five years, has remained mostly untouched by the Russian authorities. We believe that that creates a solid ground for a challenge of the credentials and that those who use it to argue in favour of limiting the rights of the Russian delegation do have a valid point.

No matter the outcome today, we believe that in the upcoming months and years, we will be able to talk and work together, not only in the Parliamentary Assembly but, thanks to the proposed joint action mechanism, also with the Committee of Ministers and the new Secretary General. The people of Europe need hope and reassurance that, even when we are facing a strong and prepared opponent, we do our best to stand our ground.

Let's not give them a chance to doubt that. Thank you very much.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

15:59:47

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I call Mr KOX for the UEL Group.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, Spokesperson for the group 

15:59:52

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Thank you very much Madam President.

In April this Assembly decided on my proposal with 3/4 majority that all Member States would have the obligation to participate in both statutory organs of the Council of Europe and the Committee of Ministers and in this Assembly. In May our Ministers of Foreign Affairs meeting in Helsinki came to the same position. That you have to be in both organs of our organisation if you want to be a Member.

On Monday the Ms Petra De SUTTER reports' adoption created the possibility to all Member States to participate on an equal basis in the work of this Assembly. Then the credentials were presented by the Russian Federation's Parliament and I welcome our Russian colleagues here. They have been away too long. We will not discuss the history, but parliaments should be represented here. These credentials are challenged on substantial grounds and our Committee on the Honouring of Obligations and Commitments by Member States of the Council of Europe (Monitoring Committee) proddces a clear Resolution. It says “we confirm the credentials of the Russian Federation delegation“. Secondly, we allow the Russian Federation delegation to participate on an equal basis which is in line with the decision taken by the Committee of Ministers. Thirdly, on equal basis means you have the same rights... The Russian Federation colleagues will have the same rights as everybody here. But it also means you have the same obligations as everybody here. That means when we allow Member states into this Assembly, the Member States also have to allow us to be in their Member States whenever we think necessary to send our rapporteurs to that country. We hope that the Russian Federation delegation will use its now full rights here in a constructive way as we ask all delegations to do so. We want the Russian Federation to cooperate fully with the work of this Assembly.

In the resolution, many calls are made to the Russian Federation to deliver on the promises they made themselves and the conclusions that this Assembly has drawn. In April next year the Committee on the Honouring of Obligations and Commitments by Member States of the Council of Europe (Monitoring Committee) will report on the honouring of obligations and commitments by the Russian Federation. That is an important moment. Then we will be able to judge if there is any progress in line with what we want. By then I hope that also the new robust joint reaction procedure with the Committee of Ministers and the Secretary General and this Assembly will be operational. Because from then it becomes clear that a Member state that blatantly violates its obligations could be either at our call or the call of the Secretary General, or of the Committee of Ministers be confronted with suspension of membership or expulsion of membership. I hope Madam President that we now turn a new page and I welcome again our Russian colleagues. But let's be aware, with rights come obligations. Thank you very much.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

16:03:12

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Mr Rapporteur, you have the opportunity to respond immediately to the spokespersons of the groups.

Would you prefer to do it later?

Thank you.

Sir Roger GALE

United Kingdom, EC, Rapporteur 

16:03:24

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I'll respond later, Madam President. Thank you.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

16:03:27

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Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to remind you that the vote for the election of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, the judges to the European Court of Human Rights and a Vice-President in respect of the Russian Federation, are taking place at this very moment. And that you can therefore participate until the ballots close at the time I mentioned before. 

I now give the floor to Mr. SOBOLEV.

Mr Serhiy SOBOLEV

Ukraine, EPP/CD 

16:03:58

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Thank you.

First of all, I want to thank Sir GALE for excellent work. On the first point of view, very easy, because it's easy to analyse all seven reports on the violation of human rights and the Russian Federation, but of course it was very complicated to understand how on such cases of violation of human rights you can allow to be the equal member of the Council of Europe for the country that did and do these violations?

It's some interesting idea when you read this text, 11 first items you can understand: violation, violation and violation. And what is the proposition? Sir GALE proposed for the Monitoring Committee a very clear thing that is allowed, according to the decision, even in the morning and evening session this Monday. But in the end, we can't find anything. I think that when we are discussing the occupation of Donbass, the annexation of Crimea, we must understand the main principles of this organisation. It's not only principles, its actions.

When any country will have a death penalty even to one man, it will be a prohibition for this country to be a member of this organisation. But when a country, through the Parliament, through the authorities, kills tens of thousands of people, it's not a violation. It's good. You can be a member of this Assembly. We can see a lot of examples of double standards, that it's impossible on this occasion. I think that if we will prepare and see the amendments that gave the Russian Federation the possibility to do all in order to change their human rights situation and other things, it will be a good answer forever. For Ukrainians, it's very important to have Russians here, to answer all the questions we have in this place.

Thank you.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

16:07:02

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I give the floor to Mr KILJUNEN.

Mr Kimmo KILJUNEN

Finland, SOC 

16:07:06

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Madam Chair,

I'm a bit puzzled of recently the discussion here by these two days. I have some elementary questions for you all.

First, is the Council of Europe, by its essence, a human rights organisation or an institution to solve international conflicts?

Secondly, are human rights better protected in Russia if that country is out of Council of Europe than inside it?

Thirdly, out of all pending applications in European Court of Human Rights, 13 000 - that is 20% of all - are from Russia. The next country on the list is Ukrainian with 7 800 pending applications from there, that is 13% of all. If either Russia or Ukraine would be out of the normative system of the Council of Europe, would that improve citizens right of those countries or not?

Fourth, if credentials of Russia are accepted, are Russians coming back without any conditions when all other members including Finland, my country, are subject to many obligations including different types of follow-up mechanisms and monitoring systems?

Fifth, would it be better to have in Europe a closed and isolated Russia, like it used to be during Soviet time, than having Russia as part of our common normative system on human rights, rule of law and democracy?

Sixth, how about parliamentary debate? Is it more fruitful to have the divergent views present in discussion than keeping opposing views outside the chamber?

And last question, seventh. Is marching out from a common platform like our Assembly Hall strengthening or weakening the democratic values that they all claim to protect?

Madam Chair, I apologise, these may be very naive questions but I am a newcomer here.

(APPLAUSE)

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

16:09:37

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I call Mr YEMETS.

Mr Leonid YEMETS

Ukraine, EPP/CD 

16:09:43

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Dear colleagues,

Use your headphones please, because I would now like to change languages. I am going to speak in Russian. The Russian language from this moment in time will always be a reminder of that moment when the Parliamentary Assembly turned its back on its principles and values and took a decision not dignified of an organisation created to protect democracy and human rights.

Each one of you who yesterday voted to lift the sanctions against Russia has hammered a nail into the coffin of the Council of Europe. What is the point of Parliamentary Assembly decisions if you do not respond when they are not implemented? We're not talking about violations on paper here. We are talking about the invasion of a sovereign state. We are talking about tanks. We are talking about missiles. We are talking about tens of thousands of fatalities.

But these facts have caused no impression on you. I do not understand which morals guided the MPs, the five MPs form the Netherlands who voted to lift sanctions on a country that shot down their aeroplane. It was your compatriots that died on that plane. Children. Whole families. You have decided to return those who committed a war crime against your compatriots.

Some say that we need dialogue with the aggressor, the Russian Federation. But you have forgotten the lessons of history. When Hitler annexed Austria, everyone said that we needed dialogue. Hitler invaded France and people continued to talk about dialogue. Hitler was not stopped by dialogue. Millions died as a result. Those who allowed this to happen escaped these consequences. Now those who have voted yesterday, and will vote today, will have to take the responsibility for those fatalities that will come. People will die and this will be your fault. Today it's too late to change the situation. But remember, history will remember your names. Thank you.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

16:12:27

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I call Mr TOLSTOY.

Mr Piotr TOLSTOY

Russian Federation, NR 

16:12:34

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Thank you very much, President.

I'm going to speak in Russian because, in this particular room, many of you don't even know what the Russian delegation looks like. So I think it would be a good idea for you to get to know us.

I'd like to thank Sir Roger GALE for his report, and I'd like to thank the various heads of groups as well. What I'd like to say is that the rights of human beings, and the rule of law, are key values of the Russian Federation. Russia has never denied these particular fundamental rights of individuals. 98% of what is decided here concerning Human Rights, is implemented in the Russian Federation. Monitoring, and all these particular issues that were mentioned here, of course, we're open to these types of things.

However, for dialogue to take place, there has to be two sides. Unfortunately, today, the Assembly is hostage to Ukrainian disinformation. With regards to the events of the last five years, many of the different principles, many of the different ideas rather, that have been expressed here in this particular room, are not even true actually. We're talking about misinformation on a major scale.

I think we have to discuss things within the framework of dialogue. This is very important. If you want to extend a hand to Russia, and Russia to extend a hand to Europe, to western Europe, I think all of that can be done within the framework of the Assembly, here, of PACE. If you want to draw back the hand... Well, I don't think that would be the way to go. I think the way to go is to extend the hand. We are here for that.

Nobody has the right to chase away Russia. We are not school children. We are here as co-locutors with all of you. For us it is extremely important to initiate this particular dialogue, but we can only do this on an equal footing, on an equal basis. As concerns the credentials of our particular delegation, this is of course not a give in. It is very important for us. It is absolutely imperative for that equal footing to exist.

We want to be able to vote on any particular changes to the rules, and on anything that concern the issues of this particular house.

Thank you for the floor.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

16:15:26

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I give the floor to Mr. WILSON.

Mr Phil WILSON

United Kingdom, SOC 

16:15:31

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Thank you, Madam President.

As you go through life you make decisions. Whatever the decision you make, there are always consequences.

On this continent, 70 years ago, we came together as a family of nations to defend human rights, democracy and the rule of law. 

As a consequence of that, we've settled the Council of Europe and it was established to preserve all those principles that we believe in. But when a Member State breaks the principles that underpin the Council of Europe, there should be consequences.

The European Court of Human Rights is there to help in that process, but when one Member State invades another there definitely needs to be consequences.

We find ourselves today in this room considering whether to ratify the credentials of a country - in this case, Russia - which has flagrantly abused those principles by which we as an organisation stand.

In my view, those credentials cannot be accepted without conditions. When we make our deliberations this afternoon we must bear in mind it is our duty as an organisation to defend human rights, democracy and the rule of law, which means if you invade another Member State, you are breaking the rule of international law.

When you interfere in the democratic process of other Member States, that is undemocratic.

When you use chemical agents on the streets of another Member State, that is against the rule of law and human rights.

Obviously, we want to see relations between all our Member States improve all the time - it's an ongoing process. But I think in the case of Russia, I'm afraid we need to be continually vigilant, especially against those Member States like Russia that has behaved in the way it has in the past.

For I believe we are dealing with a country which relies on descending political groups to deliver its message abroad, whether it's far right or whether it's far left. They want to destroy and ridicule the idea of truth, who believe that headlines are more important than reality, who believed demoralising your opponent and undermining the principles we defend is all to the good.

All of this we must be vigilant against, in my view, no conditions on Russia, then no credentials.

(APPLAUSE)

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

16:18:12

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I give the floor to Mr. LOPUSHANSKYI.

Mr Andrii LOPUSHANSKYI

Ukraine, ALDE 

16:18:22

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Madam Chair. Dear colleagues.

Once again I urge you to remain committed to the principles of democracy, respect for Human rights and the Rule of law on which PACE is based. Today, the Ukrainian delegation together with colleagues from other countries continues to fight for common European values. We must clearly understand that the Russian Federation wishes to return its delegation to PACE only for revenge and to legitimise its illegal activities. Again, I recall that no similar resolutions have been implemented by Russia. Russia continues to behave like a terrorist state for which the rules of peaceful coexistence in an international environment are just empty words. We should not expose ourselves to open blackmail and trade in peace, security and Human rights.

Hundreds of thousands of people watching today's meeting expect from us a unanimous and precise position which is to block the Russian Federation from participating in taking decisions that have an impact on the whole of Europe. I would like to draw your attention to the fact that the Russian Federation has still not complied with the decision of the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea, on the liberation of Ukrainian seamen which are illegally detained by Moscow. What does this mean? These international platforms are necessary for Moscow only to conduct  hybrid information warfare and legitimise illegal acts.

Once we made an irreparable mistake of indulging Hitler which led to the outbreak of the Second World War and tens of millions of victims throughout the world. Russia's imperial goal is to extend its power to Europe, capturing and destabilising you and your territories. Therefore dear colleagues, I urge you not to renew the credentials of the delegation of the Russian Federation. Together we can resist the aggressor preserving a peaceful and democratic Europe for future generations. Thank you for the attention.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

16:20:55

Print intervention

Thank you.

I give the floor to Ms. IONOVA.

Ms Mariia IONOVA

Ukraine, EPP/CD 

16:20:58

Print intervention

Madam President, colleagues, our house is on fire. The first words of an environmental activist Greta Thunberg using the words of Act on climate change.

Today I would like also to use this exact same words: our house, our palace of Europe, is on fire.

Never before, starting with the annexation of Crimea, attack on Eastern Ukraine, continuation of Georgia and Moldova occupation, after a joint investigation team has named four officials –three of them Russian military– responsible for shooting down flight MH17.

Russia is the country where restrictions of the fundamental freedoms of assembly, association and expression as well as on candidate registration have limited the space for political engagement.

Russia is the country where systematic non-authorisation of peaceful demonstration and the use of disproportionate force to disperse them take place.

Russia is the state where the constitutional court allows the country to ignore the European Court for Human Rights rulings.

Russia is the country where torture and death in detention are commonplace which is unacceptable for Council of Europe Member States.

These are just a few examples of how Russia ignores resolution 1896 on honorary obligations and commitments.

I would like to say that you are seeking excuses for thousands of innocent deaths in China, Great Britain, Georgia, Ukraine, the Dutch and Malaysian people.

The Council of Europe has been so focused and brazen in its drive to restore the credentials of a Member State that bravely and persistently violates the principles and values embraced by the Council of Europe. Violation of statutory obligations, I will tell you examples where we have international cases where Ukraine is against Russia.

Can you imagine an 11 years old girl, an 11 years old boy, and have you ever set three prosthetics on one child because its arms and legs were torn off by Russian weapons?

Have you ever been at a funeral where the child rushed to the grave of her father who has then to defend not only the future of his child but the future of other children at the cost of his life.

The price is life.

And you, have you ever talked to a young girl journalist who has been raped by Russian military at the checkpoint when she was travelling to the occupied territory to do her work.

We saw it. I wish you too saw it. It would never let the Russians be in this hall without any sanctions and so you become accomplices of these crimes.

I would like to say that we here, the parliamentarians who defend the principles of the Council of Europe did not lose. Europe in general has lost.

Here are the letters of our Navy officers who are now prisoners of war in the Russian prison Lifortova.

Here is their common message: “Russia's Putin will never kill our freedom, even in prison“.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

16:24:06

Print intervention

I call Mr WHITFIELD.

Mr Martin WHITFIELD

United Kingdom, SOC 

16:24:11

Print intervention

Thank you, Madam President.

This has been, without doubt, one of the most challenging weeks that people have sat around this hemicycle.

Just before I go in to the body of my speech, I would first of all like to thank everyone who I genuinely believed has come together over this week through the De SUTTER report and the debates that have happened to try and find an answer to a problem.

I would like to thank the rapporteurs for their work and the civil servants that sit behind it. I do that because we are individuals who are here representing our constituents, our people who send us here. We find ourselves requested to answer a question of fact: should we allow a group of delegates to come back into this forum, either at all, with conditions or with no conditions?

I think in the few statements that we've heard already we can see the range of problems, from those that bring personal experiences of tragedy, experiences of death, experiences of human rights abuse, and from those who offer a different side, a different version. Friends are friends because they have respect gathered over many many years, but respect starts at the beginning.

But it requires not a closure of history but of opening that book and addressing it, looking back at what has happened to come together to understand the facts of a situation.

If there is an opportunity for this organisation to go forward, it must do so as an open book both ways. It must do so without boundaries to our rapporteurs going where they wish, asking who they wish, and asking what they wish and receiving honest answers. Friends you can trust, friends you can forgive for some mistakes. Those people who wish to be friends requires a time where looking back is answered and going forward is done so in an open and transparent way.

I feel we have missed an opportunity today to lay down conditions for the return, conditions that would have been offered to show faith and goodwill, and conditions that I hope would have been answered and asked for in goodwill. That may not occur today, but what will occur is the future a group of people sitting in this forum looking back at the promises that have been made, the assurances that have been hoped for. The whole world will look at the answers to those questions.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

16:27:01

Print intervention

I call Mr LOGVYNSKYI.

Mr Georgii LOGVYNSKYI

Ukraine, EPP/CD 

16:27:09

Print intervention

Madam Chair.

I am disappointed that colleagues have run off. Yet it is lovely to hear proper Russian language in this House. It's not a question of language however. What are we hearing here? What is behind the words? What is behind the actions? That is what we need to look at. I have had to listen to statements by Russian colleagues and apparently the Europeans asked for this because they couldn't manage without the money. That's what the Russians are saying. And apparently there is not enough Russian language here. We were told that on the contrary, the Russian Federation is an honoured guest, and they would like to come back into this chamber and show that the European community does not respect the values or principles of its own citizens. And it is these very values. But I'm sure we are not going to allow that to happen.

Dear friends, you're talking about dialogue. Well, fine. It's fine to talk to people in any fora. But behind the word dialogue there is action as well. Maybe you've stopped trampling on the rights of Crimean Tartars. Maybe you've stopped seizing our citizens. No, you're carrying on. The dialogue is actually increasing your aggression. This isn't dialogue at all. You're just trying to destroy Europe. You're just trying to destroy an institution. I would say, you're here in Strasbourg. Go to church. Go to the synagogue or whatever and pray for the 20 000 people that have died. Shake the hands of those that have lost their sons and think about the consequences of your actions. Not only in Ukraine. In Georgia, in Azerbaijan, in Moldova. And understand dear Russian colleagues, the language that you're speaking in doesn't matter. Look at the future you're handing on to your children. Are you going to carry on being aggressive? Eventually you are going to be called to account in court. Because aggression according to all international norms is a crime. You're going to have to answer for that sooner or later.

Colleagues who want dialogue, do something good for your citizens, for the citizens of Russia. Return the hostages. Stop saying that you haven't got any prisoners. Their mothers are waiting for them to be returned. Return them to our mothers and children. The world doesn't depend on words and dialogue. It depends on action. And you must act, because if not there will be no Russia any more.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

16:30:31

Print intervention

I call Mrs SOTNYK.

Ms Olena SOTNYK

Ukraine, ALDE 

16:30:34

Print intervention

I wanted to spend this time to remind you also of some lessons from history.

But I don't think that it is a case.

I wanted to remind you of the words of Mr Chamberlain in 1938, when he was trying to explain to the citizens why their country allowed Hitler to occupy the Sudetenland.

He said that it was going to bring peace to a generation but it didn't bring peace, it brought war.

I should better spend my time to one more time remind you of some names –Bekirov, Sentsov, Hryb , Karpyuk, Klykh, Sushchenko– and many others.

I'm sure that each of them could stand here and explain to you who is really Russians, who is Russian society, who is Putin, they would be better than me. They would be much more persuasive, because I couldn't persuade you.

I'm going to spend this time not to just maybe remind you 100 times of what kind of military crimes and other crimes Putin's regime did, not just in my country, but in Georgia, in Moldova, in Syria.

By the way I want to ask my Eastern partners did you ask for example about those of us from Ukraine or children and women from Aleppo, who could survive, or maybe somebody from Crimea, Crimean Tatars who are suffering now, or internally displaced people, more than 2 million, when you decided to sit at this round table and to continue business as usual with Putin.

I realised that it's not about Parliamentary Assembly. The picture is bigger. You want to bring back Russians to business in Europe, in Eastern Europe, and by the way I forgot about Western Europe.

Today they're thinking about Ukraine and Ukraine's suffering and people are dying. You are sitting calmly in your countries. But some days when you are feeding the beast, it becomes stronger and he will come to you and you will remember my words.

I will spend this last 30 seconds for a good reason.

I want to say thank you to those countries, to those people who have been supporting constantly and still support not just Ukraine but its values, standards and this organisation, because it's not you who created and support this organisation, not you who voted yesterday on this embarrassing resolution. It was other people who were stronger, who were real leaders.

I hope that our friends in this Parliamentary Assembly could fight those who do not have any principles, who are trying just to think about their pockets, and not about values. Thank you.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

16:33:51

Print intervention

I call Mr EIDE.

Mr Petter EIDE

Norway, UEL 

16:33:55

Print intervention

Thank you very much, Madam Chair.

It has been two very hard and interesting days, I would say. I would like to start to thank all of you that I worked with to find a solution for a very difficult situation that we have had in this Council for the last five years. If we vote today in consistency with how we voted on Monday during the De SUTTER report and also how we voted in the Monitoring Committee, there will be a majority for the acceptance of the credentials for the Russians.

I understand that the majority of us believe that this is right because this is in the best of interests for the Russian people. We believe that they deserve our protection and we can easily protect them if the Russians are inside the Council than if they are outside the Council. We've also met - there are also Russian representatives here today and today we can actually challenge them directly face-to-face with all the human rights violations that are taking place in Russia.

I think the majority here - I believe there will be a majority - they believe also that this solution will be in the best interest for the Council of Europe. If we face a "Ruxit", that the Russians leave, that might have a very very damaging domino effect. It will weaken the Council. It will weaken the strength of the Convention and it will also weaken the Human Rights Court.

But the acceptance for the credentials is not an acceptance for human rights violations and the violation of international law. So today we also call upon the Russians to respect international law. We also call upon the Russians to take more effort to change the human rights situation for the better inside Russia. We believe that this is easier to do and it's much more effective to do this if we can have these discussions with the Russians when they are inside inside the Council.

If there is a "Ruxit" and the Russians leave the Council, then we will have very very difficult difficulties with protecting both the Russian people and also we might face some problems with having a consistent and strong Council of Europe.

But of course this solution today also comes with a price. The decision we will take today, regardless of the direction, will make the Council of Europe much more polarised than it has been for many many years. We have heard today strong words, strong emotions, accusations and so on. I believe that we need to appeal to each other now. Both parts need to appeal to each other. We need to respect the different views from these two large groups in this room. Particularly those who will win the vote today need to respect the emotions and the strong feelings and also the views of the others.

I believe that if we are not able to bridge that gap between these new polarised organisations, we might come up with new challenges in the future that will actually weaken us. Thank you very much.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

16:37:13

Print intervention

I call Mr KISLYAK.

Mr Sergey KISLYAK

Russian Federation, NR 

16:37:23

Print intervention

Thank you Chair.

I would like to say that our discussion today is a rare one for the Council of Europe. We are not just talking about the credentials of my country. What we are talking about today is the future of this organisation. Here in the discussion we are having today, despite all the differences which exist between different delegations, within delegations. Although there is disagreement, our discussion today is about the Council of Europe. This is a space in which we all exist. It goes from the Atlantic coast all the way to Vladivostok. We're not just talking about a country with a large population. We're talking about a whole space. The Council of Europe's space. Today we have seen that we are working on the agenda of this organisation. We don't want to have an agenda made up of anti-Russian feeling. But we have seen movements here which will make it possible to return this organisation into a position where it is able to function. A forum for dialogue whatever differences of opinion we may have.

Russia is in favour of dialogue. We are not frightened of monitoring. We will continue to defend our interest. We are also prepared to ask questions about Human rights violations, and we are also prepared to challenge the actions of Member states in other Member states. One of our colleagues from Ukraine started by speaking about a fire in our own house. But looking at our discussion here, we need to look at what happened in Odessa. The fire in Odessa. The people who died there, and what happened there. This is something that we need to look at in our organisation here. But this is not what we're discussing today. These are things we will discuss in the future, and we need to ensure that these discussions are open. We need to ensure that they are serious and fact based discussions. In order for this to happen, Russia needs to be a Member of this organisation. But we need to be an equal Member of this organisation.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

16:40:22

Print intervention

I call Mr VAREIKIS.

Mr Egidijus VAREIKIS

Lithuania, EPP/CD 

16:40:26

Print intervention

Thank you.

Ladies and gentlemen, one clever man whose name was Mr Viktor IELENSKYI, you probably remember this man. He said very often we are trying to solve political and moral problems using technical means. We are failing generally. What we are doing this week here is we are trying to invent a technical device to solve the so-called Russian problem.

But the Russian problem is not a technical problem, it is a moral problem. So we're trying to solve a moral problem with technical means. Probably we will succeed... we are already on the way to inventing the technical device to say that the Russian problem is solved.

But then there's no more problems and that's okay, but in reality technicalities do not solve anything.

My colleagues who are sitting in the Monitoring or Rules Committee they remember that our decisions very often were made with a difference of two or three votes. This means two or three more buttons or less buttons. To push the bottom is the technical action.

So if one side would invite two more friends and ours three less, the decision would be very different.

Do you think the real solution of Human rights issues in Europe can be done with technical means?

Of course not.

I am reflecting. I hear from our Russian colleagues and Russian friends that we need Russia because we need the whole of Europe, whole and free Europe. But the Council of Europe is geographically Europe which is solving a geographical problem. The Council of Europe is a moral institution. That's not the same as geography.

I am asking my dear Russian friends. You are coming here but with your coming here will there be more human rights in Chechnya? Will the sailors be more free? Will the Crimean Tatars be more free after you come here?

If the answer is no, it means that what we are doing is a geographical expansion of the Council of Europe but not a moral one. The Rules Committee where I was the rapporteur said your credentials were approved provisionally.

Provisional is a very nice word. It's not a bad word. Provisional is a word of chance. I say your credentials are provisionally hoping that I will skip that word from your names as soon as possible.

I wish you to help me to say that your credentials are approved forever.

Europe will be a finished project not when geography will prevail but when human rights will prevail.

So welcome on a technicality and I hope for moral responsibility.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

16:43:46

Print intervention

I call Mr ANDERSON.

Lord Donald ANDERSON

United Kingdom, SOC 

16:43:50

Print intervention

Madame President, colleagues,

Are we not in danger of revisiting Canosa? If I employ a lawyer to negotiate with a serial offender and that lawyer accepted unconditionally the undertakings or that other person, I would sack the lawyer immediately for not acting on my behalf. Surely, this is the same position.

Mr ŠEŠELJ said "yes, let us vote for freedom and democracy." Whose freedom? The freedom of the Tatars in Crimea? The freedom of the sailors who languish in prison illegally in Russia? The freedom of Mr SKRIPAL, Mr MAGNITSKY, Mr NEMTSOV? To live their lives as they should?

But Tiny KOX said he hopes, I emphasise, hopes, Russia will change. We don't need to look in the crystal ball, we can look at their actions over the past. Surely, that naive in the extreme and I asked whether dialogue has led to any substantial changes on the part of Russia. I pose this question, are there any boundaries beyond which if someone trespasses, they will not find a place in this home of civil rights? And the answer is, "yes, of course there are boundaries". Capital punishment, hence Belarus is not a member of this organisation. And if Russia tomorrow, were to reimpose capital punishment, they would be out but they can still invade friendly countries, they can still poison people on the streets of the UK, they can still interfere in democratic elections outside, it is surely naive in the extreme to imagine that they will now change their spots and say we can all start afresh.

And remember colleagues, so far as the judgements of the European Court of Human Rights are concerned, Russia has advocated to itself the ability to override any of those judgements that, at least, let us seek clear, copper-bottomed undertakings by Russia and the recognition of their fault in respect of Skripal, in respect to the MH17 and so on.

One last point, colleagues, as we look at the result of this debate so far, who is it who shouts "victory"? The Russian press and their friends? Who? Who is dismayed by this change? Clearly human rights organisations in our countries and those who value the credibility of this organisation.

(APPLAUSE)

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

16:46:40

Print intervention

I call Mr ARIEV.

Mr Volodymyr ARIEV

Ukraine, EPP/CD 

16:46:47

Print intervention

So, now I'm well aware why the celebration of the 70th anniversary was cancelled because there's nothing to celebrate. It's another one, here, the celebration of hypocrisy instead of democracy, political expediency instead of the Rule of law and changing the rules during the game instead of Human rights. I cannot explain the reason of refusal to respect the principles of this organisation. What is it? Fear of an aggressor? Or national interest? I mean they are building North Stream to develop enough oil fields in Russia. Or interest to resume sales of cheese or fruits? I don't know but it is about values to change these things to the basic principles which Europe was built on.

Now, I regret to state, many of us were deceived, we were promised that Russian Federation wouldn't be restored in its full rights, without serious steps from its side. I would like to remind you of Resolution 2132 from 2006 that says that only significant and measurable progress can lead to lifting sanctions. Dear colleagues have you found measurable progress? Maybe I'm blind? Or someone else? We see that the Russian Federation hasn't done anything to come back here, except blackmailing and demanding of the Council of Europe to change the rules on their demand.

We have been promised “no winner, no loser“ but many political leaders that had speeches from this microphone, what is the result? We see now this situation is being called "The Strasbourg Plot". I don't know. History will have its own decision about that but we have to avoid the full shame of that except in amendments about the sanctioning because it's fair.

If we are here for Human rights, we shouldn't forget about the thousands killed, the thousands injured, the millions of internally displaced people after Russian aggression. We shouldn't forget about Crimean Tatars, about political prisoners and mariners kept illegally in Russian prisons, but now you are one step from sharing responsibility on the bloodshed in Ukraine. Would you like to have it? You who will decide push the buttons. Now I would like to thank, all the colleagues who stand on the principles and values in this hemicycle. If we are in the minority, it's a very strong minority and I'm very proud to be part of it now regret I wouldn't like to see in the finish of this discussion, to see the time to call a minute of silence in memoriam of the values and principles of the Council of Europe.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

16:50:05

Print intervention

I call Mr SLUTSKY.

Mr Leonid SLUTSKIY

Russian Federation, NR 

16:50:09

Print intervention

Of course I'm going to speak in Russian.

I would like at this point to remind you that I have served in the Assembly since 2000. All political groups together, united, in order to resolve the problems in the North Caucasus of the Russian Federation. We dealt with various issues in Russia. There was a civil war there. We helped Tadeusz IWIŃSKI, Wolfgang BEHRENDT, Frank SCHWABE and Rudolf BINDIG. These were colleagues of mine from the Socialist Group, who are not in the Assembly right now, but risked their lives many many times so that our Assembly would play a very important role as far as transferring those important principles to those areas.

Now I have Mr Shamsail SARALIEV from the Chechen Republic. He is here with me, and the other Members of the delegation as well. I simply wanted to remind you of those particular times. The Parliamentary Assembly played a very important role as far as peace in the world. More specifically in the North Caucasus.

How can things develop from this particular point? Now we're speaking about the Parliamentary Assembly playing the very important role of defending human rights, rule of law, and we have to work together in this particular venue in order to create those necessary bridges for mutual understanding. And I'd like to say that the Russian Federation might be thousands of kilometres away from this particular room, but it ought to be properly represented in this particular room. We are alive. We are here and we have to work together.

The Russian delegation is in this room right now. We came back so that we can work together in a concerted fashion in the Parliamentary Assembly. So that we can play together the very important role that we must play. Let's not forget that we're discussing a new European architecture where we need to put together all those traditions, all that history and heritage that we have, in order to work effectively for the future. I think  it's very important for us to join hands. If we insult each other, we're not going in the right direction.

We have to go down together that particular course in order to deal with the challenges before us. The Parliamentary Assembly is a very important place in order to deal with very serious problems. Just as those problems in the North Caucasus were dealt with at that time. I think it's absolutely necessary to understand that these credentials must be ratified so we can continue together along that path and resolve our problems together.

Thank you.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

16:53:28

Print intervention

I call Mr IELENSKYI.

The microphone! The microphone!

Mr Viktor IELENSKYI

Ukraine, EPP/CD 

16:53:42

Print intervention

Dear Madam President, dear colleagues,

Within these days, I have had a lot of discussions with our colleagues, with friends, with people who have different opinions and they asked me don't speak about bloodshed, about tears, about aggression, about suffering, be pragmatic. I would like to be pragmatic.

We have heard a lot about principles, about values, about common house, but nothing about the seven resolutions, in the Parliamentary Assembly, adopted within these years. We have heard very kind words about our future in this hall but nothing about Middle East, about Human rights in Crimea, about annexation, about the different issues Russian delegation obliged to do.

I try to be pragmatic. What we did these days? First of all, of course, we gave away our power, our power as a Parliamentary Assembly, and undermined the fundamental principle of law; the principle of division of powers. What we do more, we undermined their sanction and their mechanism, and in this way, we undermined other fundamental principles. We are going to invite people, probably, it has no precedent in parliamentarian history, who openly say we never, ever comply with the rules of Parliamentary Assembly.

That is why I kindly ask you to think about all of this. Think about amendments, think about objections, think about the future of the European house.

Thank you.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

16:56:33

Print intervention

I call Mrs GOLUBEVA.

Ms Marija GOLUBEVA

Latvia, ALDE 

16:56:37

Print intervention

Ladies and gentlemen. We have challenged the credentials of the Russian delegation on both procedural and substantial grounds because we believe that ratifying these credentials unconditionally will not bring us closer to achieving the goals of the Council of Europe: peace and protection of Human rights. On the contrary, it will be a major setback for the very values which we in this Assembly claim to uphold.

The reasons for this are clear. Russia has not followed the resolutions of this Assembly. It has not freed the political prisoners. It has not freed the occupied territories. It has not done anything about the persecution and extra-judicial killings of LGBT people in Chechnya. It has not freed Oleg Sentsov and other prisoners in Ukraine. The sanctions proposed by Sir Roger GALE in the draft report to the Monitoring Committee are therefore fully justified. I suggest that we maintain these sanctions as a condition for the Russian delegation's participation in this Assembly.

Unconditional ratification of credentials would be a sign of weakness and will not help us to uphold peace and Human rights in Europe. Thank you.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

16:58:08

Print intervention

I call Mr GONCHARENKO.

Mr Oleksii GONCHARENKO

Ukraine, EC 

16:58:13

Print intervention

My dear colleagues,

Today is a market day, huge sale. All our values for just 77 million euros. Democracy for 25, human rights for 25, rule of law for 25! It's a good price! We can calculate another way. This week the Council of Europe lost millions of hearts. Hearts of Ukrainians, Estonians, Georgians, Latvians, Poles, Lithuanians, British people. Nearly 50 Euro cents for one heart. It's a good price!

I hear that we're doing it for Russian citizens. To protect them. So, I have a proposition to you let's invite Syria to our organisation because, according to your logic, it's better to have the "butcher" (Bachar) el-Assad here, inside, than outside of our organisation. I thought all my life that the best thing for people who are under Tehran's rule is to fight against Tehran, but not to sit near it. You know Mr TOLSTOY said to us, we are with the open hand and we definitely know what is in your open hand: poison, missiles... to destroy and when the next time Putin kills, blood will be also on your hands.

And you should remember this, Ukrainian film director, Oleg Sentsov, who is imprisoned in the Russian Federation, just for nothing, for more than five years, he said, "if my destiny is to be the nail in the coffin of Tehran, I agree to this destiny. If the destiny of Ukraine, is to be alone in the fight against tyranny, in the fight against this evil, which is coming to us. Okay, let it be."

We will fight to the end, we will never give up and we believe that we will win and I just know that it will be so.

Thank you very much.

(APPLAUSE)

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

17:00:09

Print intervention

I call Mrs CREASY.

Ms Stella CREASY

United Kingdom, SOC 

17:00:13

Print intervention

Thank you Madam Chair. May I start by thanking Sir Roger GALE for all of his hard work on this issue and for trying to ensure that the Council of Europe lives up to its best state and its best values. For us to be able to do that everything we must do must meet three tests. Is it principled? Is it practical? Is it persistent? Because it's the principles that draw us all here today. The principles set out in Article 1 of our statute about greater unity and about the maintenance and further realisation of Human rights and fundamental freedoms. That is why we are all proud to be here today. But the practicality means that that has to be more than words. It has to be in the actions that we take. So the test for us with this report, the test for what we choose to do next is whether it puts into practice those values in a persistent and consistent way.

Truthfully, when I look at the work of this Assembly over the last five years, I do not believe that we meet that test of persistence. The tests that we set in 2014 in resolution 1990 about Article 3 of the Statute being breached, has not changed. The same test that was set in 2015. Indeed in 2019 the list of concerns that we have about Russia has grown not shrunk. It's not just about the Crimea, Moldova, the Donbass and Georgia. Yesterday this chamber debated the Istanbul Convention. But last year Russia passed a law enacting the decriminalisation of domestic violence against women by their close relatives. We've seen the state-sponsored discrimination and persecution of the LGBTQI community. It's an equality that the Russian members asked for that they deny their very own people, and yet we are here to protect. There has been a huge crackdown on Human rights defenders in Russia. Just recently 400 people arrested for peaceful protests. There is the fate of the Ukrainian sailors. And yes, the people of Soulsbury still await justice. As does the widow of Litvinenko, Boris Nemtsov and the families of all of those on the MH17.

So sanctions matter because they say something about us on those principles and whether we are prepared to be practical and persistent. I want to say to the Russian delegates who have spoken, you make that case most of all because you have shown no concern for Article 1 and Article 3 of our Statute. You have shown no concern in what you have said about the concerns that we have had and have led to you being excluded from this Chamber. The sanctions that we should be setting today are about that equality. Each of us can only uphold Human rights if we stand for Human rights and recognise where we are deficient as a country and state and what we will do to change that.

So I say to colleagues, do not give up on being principled. Do not give up on being practical. Do not give up on being persistent. Let us be clear about what conditions people should expect to meet to be part of this growing... And be the best of the Council of Europe not the worst.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

17:03:14

Print intervention

I call Mr KALASHNIKOV.

Mr Leonid KALASHNIKOV

Russian Federation, NR 

17:03:22

Print intervention

Thank you. Thank you Madam President.

Colleagues, our delegation is made up of different MPs just as yours are. You vote in different ways in each delegation. I'm from the opposition. The opposition was voted directly into the Duma, and that's why we're here. So imagine I got into the Duma, my parliament, after my election about three years ago. Imagine if the ruling party, which we have a lot of disagreement with, but is sitting next to me today, were to say to me, Mr Leonid KALASHNIKOV, you and your party, the Communist Party, are not allowed to vote. We the party, United Russia won't allow you to vote. And yet I have a mandate from my voters. That's why I'm here today. That's why we want to be fully fledged Members of this organisation. So it's not up to you to define if I should speak in this chamber and what I should say. Maybe what I say will not be to your liking. I have journalists that were sitting in Ukraine. I would talk about the Communist Party of Ukraine, which is banned. It's banned in Ukraine. Five years ago a Member of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights came to Ukraine and we tried in the Committee to try to get some answers. And I said, let's send the Venice Commission in. The situation wasn't as dire then. Nobody had been burnt. My relative MP, Kalashnikov, hadn't been killed. Many journalists were killed along the way. And you think peaceful people are being killed now? Not in the Donbass, no. In Mariupol. Why did children die? These are questions I'm going to ask as a full Member of this chamber. I will ask some of my colleagues, with you, and we'll look at this together.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

17:06:10

Print intervention

I call Mr ZINGERIS.

Mr Emanuelis ZINGERIS

Lithuania, EPP/CD 

17:06:17

Print intervention

Dear friends, today is a crucial day.

I am here since 1993, more or less 25 years in the Assembly.

I remember all of the most important debates in our Assembly.

They were mostly not geopolitical. But yesterday –sorry I cannot describe our voting as geopolitical– well we sat at night until one o'clock. Most people were talking about the need of Russia to be here.

So I would like to ask only a few questions.

Mr Leonid KALASHNIKOV said just two minutes ago that Russia's delegation is diverse. They represent all Russian people and all Russian parties.

I remember a time when Sergey KOVALEV was here together with us.

I remember those great democrats from Yeltsin's time. They were in this chamber.

Where are they now?

What is the law about foreign agents, about NGOs in Russia?

What is the real face of Russian democracy?

What about the court of Boris Nemtsov and court decisions and the real possibility of the international community to have a real picture of this terrible assassination of the leader of pro-European Russia.

So we're just talking that Russia is a European state. From the other side we have declarations that Russia is a Euro-Asian state. From the other side we have people who are working for equal rights who are killed in Chechnya in a massive way. Mr. Governor Kadyrov should face an international trial for all his crimes. He should be in The Hague actually after what he did against the human race in Chechnya.

I would like to say that the biggest issue is the real European –not anti-European but European direction of Russia.

The question is who believes in the European way of Russia?

Mr Piotr TOLSTOY, I hope you believe in the European way of Russia. If you believe in the European way of Russia stop financing all anti-European or part of European radical anti-European movements in Europe. Please do that. Stop financing an almost anti-European party starting from Alternative for Germany and Le Pen in France. 

So I would like to say that today we will have our ideas to finalise this report.

Everyone should have their consciousness of how he will vote. Thank you very much.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

17:09:30

Print intervention

I call Mr LACROIX.

 

Mr Christophe LACROIX

Belgium, SOC 

17:09:33

Print intervention

Thank you, Madam President.

Ostracism in Ancient Greece was aimed at banning citizens deemed dangerous for various reasons for a certain period of time, and in turn everything had to be redone.

Russia's reintegration here, after a long period of reflection and a compromise that is difficult to reach, will leave traces, pain and sores that are still vivid, particularly among some delegations, whose emotions I can fully understand. But this difficult compromise must not be seen as being made on the backs of others, but rather as an outstretched hand, without naivety, given the seriousness of the facts: flouting international law and discrimination against minorities.

Without falling into naivety, this compromise aims to maintain the dialogue for a de-escalation and any sanction must serve the purpose of this de-escalation.

You have done it all over again, my Russian friends. From now on, you do not have a blank cheque or a blank cheque in this House. The policy of reaching out aims to give you one last chance. Be up to the task and do not disappoint us, because if the Council of Europe, its values and its future would not emerge unscathed, it is your fellow citizens and their rights that would pay the highest price.

I hope, of course, that it will not come to that. So this is an opportunity for you. A last chance and a way for us not to cut off in a complex geopolitical context where your country must fully reintegrate into this European political consciousness in terms of Human rights, first of all, but also in terms of rebalancing political forces in the concert of nations now dominated by the United States, tomorrow also by China.

Whatever happens, we share a common history and borders. We tell you, therefore, that your place is within the Council of Europe. Be worthy of it, and above all respect what it implies, because we will not be complicit in unacceptable new Russian actions of destabilisation or questioning the achievements through our silence, through wanton and guilty complacency.

We will be vigilant in each of our countries, asking you to refrain from any attempt at cyber attacks, intervention in national electoral processes and encouragement of populism.

We are lucid and we will be firm, in particular, because this Assembly was forged on the preservation of human life and the promotion of human dignity, in particular for LGBTI people.

One of your greatest writers, Dostoyevsky, wrote "beauty will save the world". Keep this in mind, because this beauty is inseparable from goodness. Of course, of course, they will not definitively save the world from any misfortune, but at least they will open us to the extent of reconciliation, to the Imprescriptibility of equal rights, human dignity, freedom, equality and fraternity.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

17:12:42

Print intervention

I call Mrs OZOLA.

Ms Linda OZOLA

Latvia, EPP/CD 

17:12:46

Print intervention

Madam President,

Dear colleagues, yesterday Madame de SUTTER said that all countries are welcome to the Council of Europe if they respect our rules and values, and if not, that we will take strong action against them.

The Assembly has now assured the unconditional return of the Russian Federation delegation to the PACE although we are all aware of the breaches of the Russian Federation in Crimea, East Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, and Russia itself.

As regards to civil society, when it comes to the values and principles that we protect, some have congratulated the civil society in Russia with the return of the country to PACE because of the access to the European Court of Human Rights.

Let me say once again that it is not the Council of Europe providing this access. It is solidly the choice of Russia and its ruling political power that grants or denies access to the Court of Human Rights for its own citizens.

Well colleagues some of you have voted on the resolutions back in 2014, 2015 and 2016 and you all know it so well that none of the conditions and recommendations in these resolutions have been implemented.

You know that Russia has not cooperated with the assembly in good intention. You have been ignored and laughed at. Will you be taken into account in the future do you think? I address those colleagues who have said that you will be demanding Russia when they are back that you will not turn a blind eye on any breaches.

Well dear colleagues they are back, with their rights reinstated. But this is the moment to remind you of the obligations and rules at the same time. This is the moment to demonstrate your demanding stance for the protection of the values so dear to all of us. We should reinstate the minimum sanctions in the report that we will vote on when we vote on the amendments. This is indeed the moment of truth for each and every one of us.

Shall the assembly compromise its fundamental values and devalue its standards for good?

How shall we explain this to our voters back home?

What shall we say to those civil activists of Russia that have sought political asylum in other countries because of the political repercussions against them at home?

Well, colleagues, I'm afraid that if we don't act today, when we can challenge Russia tête-à-tête for what they have not done but should have, that our further work and words here will be worthless.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

17:15:33

Print intervention

I call Mrs RODNINA.

Ms Irina RODNINA

Russian Federation, NR 

17:15:38

Print intervention

Good afternoon colleagues, President.

Many people speaking today have said how long they have been a Member of this organisation. Well I'm here for the first time. I represent our people. I'm a Member of the State Duma. I'm an Olympic gold medal winner in figure skating. I have visited many different countries. I always took part in ice skating championships following the rules. Honouring those rules. And I believe that that is important. It is important for everyone to abide by the rules.

We all need to be open to dialogue. We have been open to dialogue for five years. It is not acceptable if you have a situation were you have one country speaking about another country but the other country is not present to express its position. We are prepared for dialogue. We want to deal with the issues which we are confronted with. We want to resolve this issues together.

I have children. I have grandchildren. I understand that all the issues which we are working on today will not just affect us. They will affect the future of Europe. They will affect the future generations of our country. We need to work to establish peace. That is important for our country, for our people. We understand what peace means, and we are prepared to fight for that. Our people have always stood in favour of peace, and we also stand in favour of democracy and Human rights. We also stand and understand the importance of women, the important role that women play in peace and we need to fight for this peace together. Thank you.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

17:17:52

Print intervention

I call Mrs ZHUROVA.

Ms Svetlana ZHUROVA

Russian Federation, NR 

17:17:57

Print intervention

President. Esteemed colleagues.

Undoubtedly, this is a political venue where political issues are brought to the forefront. And of course, we represent our constituencies. And of course, in our delegation as well, we represent different constituencies. And our constituents ask us how resolutions are adopted. How are things done. Sometimes they are very very demanding and they want to participate in these particular discussions as well. This is very important. These are issues which we all have to bring together and we have to bring them before those who have elected us to the various positions. And in the PACE, of course, the same thing applies. We are responsible to so many different people. I'm here for the first time. Sorry, I have been here before. I've represented the Russian Federation. It was a wonderful experience to be here next to you. Some are gone, others are still here to work in the political groups and the committees as well, to adopt resolutions, decisions. To work on the various issues that concern Rule of law, democracy, Human rights. Of course, everybody with their particular approach from their particular country. We dealt with numerous different issues and we were introduced to issues that were not familiar to us from our particular domestic landscape. A very rich experience it was. When I've participated in different Olympic games, I've invited people to come. To come to the Russian Federation to see how Russia... To see how things are. Because I think it's very important to have that type of contact. We are very very serious in doing the very best that we can.

Monitoring? Well, we are open to that. It is very important. Monitoring missions that have taken place in the past are important, and we are open to those in the future. They are extremely important. We have heard about the responsibilities and rights. Of course we absolutely agree with that. There are those responsibilities. We are ready to take them on. But it is very important for us to be here on an equal footing. It is a major and a very courageous step indeed to have the vote on Monday to decide if the Russian Federation comes back to PACE. I think we have to understand that there are numerous delegations that are here. There are numerous groups that are represented within the Russian delegation as well. We want to work together with you. We feel it would be interesting, it would be difficult work, but it will be extremely important. It will be hot on certain occasions as well, just as it is on the street right now. Thank you.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

17:21:18

Print intervention

The list of speakers is thus exhausted.

Before giving the floor to the Rapporteur of the Monitoring Committee, I remind you that the elections of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe and two judges to the European Court of Human Rights in respect of Estonia and Germany, as well as the election of a Vice-President in respect of the Russian Federation in the second round are in progress.

They will be closed at 6 pm or at the end of the vote on this debate.

Invites those of you who have not yet voted to do so.

I give the floor to Mr. GALE.

Sir Roger GALE

United Kingdom, EC, Rapporteur 

17:22:00

Print intervention

Thank you, Madam President.

I have listened to this afternoon's debate with a growing sense of disappointment. Earlier this afternoon I walked along the committee corridor past the busts of Václav Havel and Alexander Dubček and past the monuments to Winston Churchill and I just wonder, colleagues, what they would make of what is being done here today in the name of democracy.

I wanted to hold my fire because I wanted to hear this dialogue that was supposed to be taking place. I have listened, this afternoon, carefully, I have taken notes to 6 speeches by representatives of the Russian Federation. I heard no mention, from any of them, about the breach of the Law of the Sea and the 24 Ukrainian sailors held in prison in Moscow. I heard no mention of flight MH17 and any desire to cooperate with those investigating those deaths of men, women and children who have families. I heard no mention of LGBTI rights in Chechnya or elsewhere. Those violations which lead to people being beaten up, murdered even. I heard no mention, it's in this report, of the investigation of the murder of Boris Nemtsov. I didn't even, Madam President, hear any mention of the dues payable to this Parliamentary Assembly in law. Not one of our newfound colleagues touched upon any of these subjects.

So, when I think back over the years that I have been here, on the chairs, including that one, that I've sat in, the resolutions that have been passed and ignored, I wonder just what we are playing at this afternoon. Somebody said to me, earlier this afternoon, if you were a man of honour, you would represent your committee, the one that I thought I was privileged to chair, or you would stand down and let somebody else present this report because you're not representing our views. Well, this man of honour can look in the shaving mirror in the morning and knows what he stands for. He stands for Human rights. He stands for democracy. He stands, yes, for freedom of speech, the speech that might, on occasions, criticise other people. He stands for all of those freedoms that I thought, naively perhaps, that this institution represents.

Out there, in the press that you're going to read when you go home... What did the Belgian papers say this morning? "This is a hobby parliament and they only take any interest when money is at stake" and there is the perception that because we run out of cash because the Russians have withheld these 70 million euros of silver, as I described them the other day, because we run out of the money, we go with a begging bowl, our principles are for sale and, if you don't like them, I've got some more in my back pocket or I needn't have any at all, just so long as we get the money.

Well, one of the speakers this afternoon referred to a blank check. Forgive me, there's no check at all. We are at a Crossroads as Ms OZOLA said, this is the moment of truth. Several of my colleagues, all of them socialist, by the way, have stressed the need for some form of restrictions, some form of sanction. So what I wrote into this report, when I drafted it, reflecting the views of the debate that took place on Monday, reaching the conclusion that I was required to reach, what I wrote into that where some safeguards, some suspensions of some liberties, just until we saw the colour of the cloth, until, in fact, January 2020 when these credentials can be challenged again. In fact, they can be challenged before, when any new restrictions would have to be re-imposed. Much more importantly when, as Tom HAMABURG and I discussed –God was it only yesterday?– this new organisation, this new platform, this joint working party, has had the chance to set down whatever new standards we're going to be supposed to live by. It was a bridging measure and what happened? The Committee took it out.

So, the Committee said, unlike my colleague and, dear friend, Phil WILSON, who wants conditions, unlike Stella CREASY, who made a truly principled speech this afternoon and drew attention to principles and practicalities and persistence, unlike them the committee, which at the moment I preside, decided it wanted to remove these restrictions because the Russian Federation had said, in terms, "no restrictions or we don't come back" because some of the people in this room, including some sitting on that table, believe that we needed the money more than we needed the principles and I'm sorry, it was said this afternoon but the house is on fire. This house is on fire. I can face shame in any manner, in any form. I can look in the mirror in the morning. I don't know how many of my colleagues who vote the other way this afternoon are going to be able to.

So, what I want to say is this, and now I will conclude, the amendments are going to be put before you this afternoon, in a few moments, I hope that, at the very least, this Assembly will have, if not the courage, the common sense, to at least reinstate the safeguards that I built into this report to see us through until January. If that doesn't happen then I'm going to have to advise my friends in this room, as I will myself, to vote against my own report. Thank you, Madam President.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

17:30:51

Print intervention

Mr GALE, with all due respect, I must say here, however, that you have completely gone beyond your role as rapporteur for the Monitoring Committee.

I give the floor to Mr CILEVIČS, Vice-Chairman of the Committee, to speak also on behalf of the Committee.

Mr Boriss CILEVIČS

Latvia, SOC 

17:31:15

Print intervention

Thank you Madam President.

As a representative of the Committee I must be neutral and I must be formal. I would like to stress that this is really a very difficult, very emotional and very divisive issue. Also the issue about principles. We have basically two views. The first view is we must be inclusive and all parliamentary delegations must be present here. Including our Russian friend. And I see it is a point. On the other hand some people are concerned that the unconditional return of the Russian delegation will undermine the credibility of this organisation, will undermine the principles of this body. And I see the point too. So I would like to thank everybody who made contributions to this discussion and this debate. First of all, Sir GALE of course, who did a very difficult job.

I am very much concerned about the general atmosphere during this debate. Both in this hemicycle and in the committee's, which is very far from how it should be in a decent parliament. But that's also our way of life and our way of thinking. Which of the views I mentioned before are correct? Will the return of our Russian friends here facilitate the resolution of the problems we are discussing here? Will this facilitate peace in the Donbass? The restoration of rights of people who are currently suffering? Improvement of Human rights situations in Russia? We will see this very soon in the coming months. The issue is not closed. We will continue the debates on this issue, and I'm sure that in several months we will see who is right and who makes a mistake. Thank you Madam President.

Vote : Challenge, on substantive grounds, of the still unratified credentials of the parliamentary delegation of the Russian Federation

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

17:33:28

Print intervention

The discussion is closed.

We come to the consideration of the report on the Challenge on substantial grounds of the unratified credentials of the parliamentary delegation of the Russian Federation.

The Monitoring Committee has presented a draft resolution to which 19 amendments have been tabled.

I understand that the Chairman of the Monitoring Committee wishes to propose to the Assembly that amendment number 3, which was unanimously adopted by the committee, be considered as adopted by the Assembly.

Is that so, Mr. Chairman?

That was the case.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

17:34:09

Print intervention

Is there any objection?

There is no such thing.

Amendment number 3 on the draft resolution was therefore declared definitively adopted.

We now come to the discussion of the other amendments.

They will be called in the order in which they apply to the text, as published in the collection of amendments, and I would remind you, ladies and gentlemen, that the speaking time for each amendment is limited to 30 seconds.

We are therefore moving on to amendment number 6, and I give the floor to Mr KANDELAKI to support it.

Mr Giorgi KANDELAKI

Georgia, EPP/CD 

17:34:49

Print intervention

Colleagues

In all resolutions we refer to earlier resolutions on different subjects. And in this case, when we mention resolutions on this particular subject of Crimea and so on, the idea of this amendment is simply to enumerate resolutions that this Assembly has adopted in 2009, 2010 and 2011 on the consequences of war between Georgia and Russia.

Thank you.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

17:35:20

Print intervention

Thank you.

Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment?

Mr SCHENNACH.

Mr Stefan SCHENNACH

Austria, SOC 

17:35:30

Print intervention

Dear colleagues.

In the original draft there was a paragraph with the same content which we deleted. Now, it has come back as an amendment. With a big majority, we deleted it again, because all the references are in paragraph 2 and in paragraph 3.

So there is no need for this amendment.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

17:35:55

Print intervention

Thank you.

What is the opinion of the Committee?

Mr Boriss CILEVIČS

Latvia, SOC 

17:35:59

Print intervention

The opinion was rejected by a large majority, Madam President.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

17:36:04

Print intervention

Thank you.

The ballot is open.

The vote is closed.

Amendment 6 is rejected.

Amendment number 1.

I call Mrs GOLUBEVA to support it.

Ms Marija GOLUBEVA

Latvia, ALDE 

17:36:32

Print intervention

Yes, ladies and gentlemen,

We'd like to return to the reference to the resolutions passed before regarding the illegal annexation of Crimea and Russian involvement in Eastern Ukraine. You have said before, many of those who voted for the De SUTTER Report, that you condemn the occupation of Crimea. This is your chance to say so in this Resolution.

Thank you.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

17:36:59

Print intervention

Thank you.

Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment?

Mr SCHENNACH.

Mr Stefan SCHENNACH

Austria, SOC 

17:37:05

Print intervention

Thank you, Madam Chair. It's the same argumentation. All those Resolutions are in paragraph 2 and in paragraph 3. Also the condemning of the annexation and we voted twice against. Also in the original and also with big majority now against amendment number one.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

17:37:26

Print intervention

Thank you.

What is the committee's opinion?

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

17:37:30

Print intervention

Rejected.

The ballot is open.

The vote is closed.

Amendment 1 is rejected.

Amendment No. 2.

I give the floor to Ms. OZOLA.

Ms Linda OZOLA

Latvia, EPP/CD 

17:38:00

Print intervention

Dear colleagues,

We think it's very important to acknowledge the lack of progress with regard to the implementation of the Russian Federation of the demands made by this Assembly's resolutions. Since many of you have spoken in the debate, just a moment ago, on the protection of the values and commitments by the Russian Federation, e think it's important to reflect that also in writing. Thank you.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

17:38:26

Print intervention

Against the amendment, Mr SCHENNACH?

Mr Stefan SCHENNACH

Austria, SOC 

17:38:30

Print intervention

Dear colleagues,

Again, we agreed that we get - latest in April 2020 - a monitoring report regarding Russia. This content should be inside this. So we deleted in the original version, and with a big majority, also as an amendment.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

17:38:50

Print intervention

Thank you.

The committee's opinion: against.

The ballot is open.

The vote is closed.

Amendment No. 2 is rejected.

Amendment No. 8: In accordance with Rule 34.4 of the Rules of Procedure, according to which an amendment is inadmissible if it attempts to render a draft text as a whole inoperative, I am obliged to declare Amendment No. 8 inadmissible, since it would deprive the Commission of a position it must take with regard to the power of the Russian delegation.

We are therefore moving on to Amendment No. 7 and I give the floor to Ms IONOVA to support it.

Ms Mariia IONOVA

Ukraine, EPP/CD 

17:39:56

Print intervention

I'm here.

If I only have 13 minutes, of course then I would like to say, really, to ratify the credentials is just theatre of the absurd without any sanctions, because in our eight resolutions it is written that Russia is an aggression.

I would like to say that you would like to ratify credentials without any sanctions to a country which is killing yesterday, today and tomorrow. You can choose principles but if you return them without any sanctions, you choose dishonour.

Thank you.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

17:40:30

Print intervention

Thank you.

Anyone against the amendment?

Mr SCHENNACH?

Mr Stefan SCHENNACH

Austria, SOC 

17:40:41

Print intervention

This would turn the spirit of the decision from Monday night and the long debate with a big majority adopted into the opposite. And we voted, in the committee today - with a large majority - against this amendment.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

17:41:03

Print intervention

What is the committee's opinion?

Mr Boriss CILEVIČS

Latvia, SOC 

17:41:04

Print intervention

Mr SCHENNACH has done my job today. Indeed, it was rejected by a large majority.

Thank you.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

17:41:10

Print intervention

Thank you.

The ballot is open.

The vote is closed.

Amendment No. 7 is rejected.

Amendment No. 12.

I give the floor to Mr ARIEV.

Mr Volodymyr ARIEV

Ukraine, EPP/CD 

17:41:36

Print intervention

Well, colleagues,

It's a crucial moment now for the Assembly. A cornerstone probably. Do we agree with the following amendments to adopt the sanctions that Russia deserves? That means that the Assembly will save its face.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

17:42:01

Print intervention

Thank you.

Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment?

Mr SCHENNACH.

Mr Stefan SCHENNACH

Austria, SOC 

17:42:08

Print intervention

In the first original draft, we discussed long about this paragraph. The Council of Europe Committees are strong enough to know who they sent, for example, as rapporteur. And free debate is very important to democracy. So we deleted, in the original version and also with a big majority, this amendment.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

17:42:38

Print intervention

For the committee, Mr CILEVIČS?

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

17:42:43

Print intervention

Thank you.

The ballot is open.

The vote is closed.

Amendment 12 is rejected.

Amendment No. 5.

I give the floor to Mr LIDDELL-GRAINGER.

Mr Ian LIDDELL-GRAINGER

United Kingdom, EC 

17:43:05

Print intervention

Madam President. Thank you very much indeed.

This is about obligations to the Council of Europe. When you have people that don't want to comply, or won't comply, we have to do something about this.

And, therefore, what we said is that the Assembly's furthermore results are suspend until the January session of next year. The rights to appoint rapporteurs, the monitoring, and other abilities for us as parliamentarians to take control of our own lives.

This is why we feel this amendment is extremely important. Thank you.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

17:43:32

Print intervention

Thank you.

To speak against the amendment?

Mr. SCHENNACH?

Mr Stefan SCHENNACH

Austria, SOC 

17:43:37

Print intervention

A majority from different political groups defended, in the in the Committee, the spirit of the decision on Monday.

And this is against the decision of Monday. It tries to change it into the opposite.

So we voted against, also because it's no different from the amendments before.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

17:44:02

Print intervention

The Commission's opinion?

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

17:44:05

Print intervention

Thank you.

We will now proceed to vote.

The ballot is open.

The vote is closed.

Amendment 5 is rejected.

Amendment number 14.

Mr ARIEV, you have the floor.

Mr Volodymyr ARIEV

Ukraine, EPP/CD 

17:44:27

Print intervention

Well, I see the mood of the Assembly, but I'll keep on trying.

I think that if fairness and justice has a chance in this hemicycle, it will come here.

If not, shame will come here.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

17:44:45

Print intervention

To speak against the amendment, Mr SCHENNACH.

Lord George FOULKES

United Kingdom, SOC 

17:44:49

Print intervention

(Micro off : interrupted by point of order claim)

Mr Stefan SCHENNACH

Austria, SOC 

17:44:59

Print intervention

It is the right to speak, as a person who is on the Committee, against. And in the end, in the Committee I spoke against the amendments.

I promise to do it also in the hemicycle. It is the same text as before, so please re-check.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

17:45:21

Print intervention

If you will allow me to respond to the point of order raised by Mr FOULKES', he is right.

It is the Commission's responsibility to justify the Commission's position. Having said that, a member of the Assembly does have the right to speak against the amendment. Now, it would certainly be more useful to hear an explanation of the arguments against the amendment, rather than a report back from the Commission.

What is the Commission's opinion?

Mr Boriss CILEVIČS

Latvia, SOC 

17:45:47

Print intervention

The Committee is against.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

17:45:49

Print intervention

Thank you.

We will now proceed to vote.

The ballot is open.

The vote is closed.

Amendment 14 is rejected.

Amendment number 18 now.

I call Mr. ARIEV.

Mr Volodymyr ARIEV

Ukraine, EPP/CD 

17:46:13

Print intervention

In all our resolutions adopted since 2014, there were a list of crimes. Now, we are still having a list of crimes on the table. We propose for the criminals to be just released, for murder, for bloodshed, etc. So, I would like to call all people who stand on principals: vote for this amendment.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

17:46:41

Print intervention

Thank you.

To speak against the amendment, Mr SCHENNACH.

Mr Stefan SCHENNACH

Austria, SOC 

17:46:45

Print intervention

You see, there is in the first line, to suspend until 2020 January part session.

The Ms Petra De SUTTER report is an invitation. Then, we have to make a report from the Committee on the Honouring of Obligations and Commitments by Member States of the Council of Europe (Monitoring Committee). And we made a compromise that this has to be in April 2020.

So, why do you find now that January 2020 is against the compromise, and that it's against the spirit of the mandate?

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

17:47:15

Print intervention

What is the Commission's opinion?

Mr Boriss CILEVIČS

Latvia, SOC 

17:47:17

Print intervention

Rejected.

 

 

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

17:47:18

Print intervention

Thank you.

The ballot is open.

The vote is closed.

Amendment 18 is rejected.

Amendment number 19 now.

I call Mr. ARIEV to support it.

Mr Volodymyr ARIEV

Ukraine, EPP/CD 

17:47:37

Print intervention

I'm sorry colleagues, but what compromise are we speaking about? Compromise means the conclusion of opposition, but our position was completely ignored - not concluded. And that's why we here forgive the aggressor and try maybe in the future thinking how to punish the target of aggression. So I think we shouldn't leave it like that. Please support this amendment.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

17:48:07

Print intervention

Thank you.

To speak against, Mr SCHENNACH.

Mr Stefan SCHENNACH

Austria, SOC 

17:48:11

Print intervention

Against is one more of the same. So we voted against, and it was also from a different political group, which said we start with the Petra De SUTTER report a dialogue, and not start a dialogue with confrontation.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

17:48:28

Print intervention

The Commission's position?

Mr Boriss CILEVIČS

Latvia, SOC 

17:48:30

Print intervention

The committee is against.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

17:48:31

Print intervention

We will now proceed to the vote.

The ballot is open.

The vote is closed.

Amendment No. 19 is rejected.

Amendment No. 13.

Mr ARIEV.

Mr Volodymyr ARIEV

Ukraine, EPP/CD 

17:48:50

Print intervention

If Member States go against the principles of the Council of Europe, they could be punished. But if Parliamentary Assembly goes against the principles, what should be the follow-up? I would like again to remind you of resolution 2132: that only significant and measurable progress can lead to lifting sanctions on Russian delegation. So I would like to ask you again to support this amendment.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

17:49:18

Print intervention

Against the amendment, Mr SCHENNACH?

Mr Stefan SCHENNACH

Austria, SOC 

17:49:22

Print intervention

I'm sorry to say, again, there is no real difference between 19 and 13. We voted against and we think this amendment is not. 

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

17:49:35

Print intervention

The committee's opinion?

Mr Boriss CILEVIČS

Latvia, SOC 

17:49:36

Print intervention

The Committee is against.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

17:49:38

Print intervention

The ballot is open.

The vote is closed.

Amendment No. 13 is rejected.

Amendment No. 12.

Mr ARIEV.

Mr Volodymyr ARIEV

Ukraine, EPP/CD 

17:49:58

Print intervention

I wouldn't like to touch upon other things anymore, but how can you see the possibility when the members of parliament who voted for the annexation of Crimea will monitor the fairness of election in Ukraine, which was a target of aggression of that state?

Is it okay for you, colleagues? If not, please support this amendment.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

17:50:23

Print intervention

Thank you.

This is Amendment No. 11.

Against the amendment, Mr SCHENNACH?

Mr Stefan SCHENNACH

Austria, SOC 

17:50:30

Print intervention

Following all the amendments before, we voted also against this amendment, because there is no difference between all the amendments we voted before, and we checked it before.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

17:50:42

Print intervention

The committee's opinion?

Mr Boriss CILEVIČS

Latvia, SOC 

17:50:43

Print intervention

The committee was against.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

17:50:44

Print intervention

The ballot is open.

The vote is closed.

Amendment No. 11 is rejected.

Amendment No. 17.

Mrs SOTNYK.

Ms Olena SOTNYK

Ukraine, ALDE 

17:51:07

Print intervention

Merci Madam President.

Amendment No. 17.

I heard twice manipulation about the decision on Monday. The decision on Monday was compromised and you just changed the rules and withdrew just some sanctions to vote and to be present in the Assembly and these bodies. All the other sanctions are still in the rules and procedures. Russia committed crimes. Russia annexed Crimea. Russia occupied Ukraine and many many other things. That's why we have it in the rules and procedures and we propose to have the sanctions according to Amendment 17.

Thank you.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

17:51:47

Print intervention

Anyone against the amendment?

Mr SCHENNACH.

Mr Stefan SCHENNACH

Austria, SOC 

17:51:50

Print intervention

Also by Amendment 17. The majority voted against. he content is nothing new from all the other amendments. We checked it before.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

17:52:03

Print intervention

The committee's opinion?

Mr Boriss CILEVIČS

Latvia, SOC 

17:52:04

Print intervention

The committee was against; with 12 votes in favour, 18 against.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

17:52:10

Print intervention

The ballot is open.

The vote is closed.

Amendment 17 is rejected.

Amendment No. 10.

Ms SOTNYK.

Ms Olena SOTNYK

Ukraine, ALDE 

17:52:28

Print intervention

Thank you.

Amendment No. 10.

We still proposed to suspend until January 2020 the rights of the Russian delegation, three debates, to speak on three debates for amendments and table motions. I just can't understand how you propose to do terrorism and put motions about victims or, for example, for the aggressor to put a motion on peace. It's illogical. That's why I propose you to support this amendment.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

17:52:57

Print intervention

Thank you.

Against the amendment, Mr SCHENNACH?

Mr Stefan SCHENNACH

Austria, SOC 

17:53:01

Print intervention

I'm sorry. I have to say again, it's the same of the same, and we voted against and the majority voted against.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

17:53:15

Print intervention

The committee's opinion?

Mr Boriss CILEVIČS

Latvia, SOC 

17:53:16

Print intervention

The committee was against.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

17:53:18

Print intervention

Thank you.

The ballot is open.

The vote is closed.

Amendment No. 10 is rejected.

Amendment No. 15.

Ms SOTNYK.

Ms Olena SOTNYK

Ukraine, ALDE 

17:53:34

Print intervention

Thank you. Thank you.

I just want to remind you that the reason of suspension of the rights of the Russian delegations five years ago was the annexation of Crimea and we stipulated in many of our resolutions, the occupation of Donbass and many, many other crimes. It's still the case, that's why we propose in paragraph 13 to have particular calls to Russian authorities to reverse the illegal annexation of Crimea, the temporarily occupied territories. 

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

17:54:08

Print intervention

We have read the text of the amendment.

Against, Mr SCHENNACH.

Mr Stefan SCHENNACH

Austria, SOC 

17:54:15

Print intervention

When the committee discussed this paragraph the first time, it was four sub-paragraphs. Then we agreed to bring Boris NEMTSOV as sub-paragraph 5, but then our Rapporteur said, "This is not a shopping list", so we can't add and add and add. So in this spirit, we say "no" to this amendment.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

17:54:41

Print intervention

The committee?

Mr Boriss CILEVIČS

Latvia, SOC 

17:54:42

Print intervention

The committee is against.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

17:54:43

Print intervention

Thank you.

We will now proceed to the vote.

The ballot is open.

The vote is closed.

Amendment 15 is rejected.

Amendment No. 16.

Mr SOBOLEV.

Mr Serhiy SOBOLEV

Ukraine, EPP/CD 

17:55:08

Print intervention

Dear colleagues,

This is not a shopping list. It's a life of man who is now in a Russian prison and, according to whom, it's a decision of the European Court of Human Rights to give him the possibility to be in hospital. Please support this amendment. We need only one voice in our committee for this.

Thank you.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

17:55:31

Print intervention

Against the amendment, Mr SCHENNACH?

Mr Stefan SCHENNACH

Austria, SOC 

17:55:34

Print intervention

This will be an important content of the reports about the Russian Federation we will get in April. We did not want to add one as a paragraph more and so we voted against.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

17:55:49

Print intervention

The committee's opinion?

Mr Boriss CILEVIČS

Latvia, SOC 

17:55:51

Print intervention

The amendment was rejected with just one vote; 15 votes in favour, 16 against.

Thank you.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

17:55:59

Print intervention

Thank you.

The ballot is open.

The vote is closed.

Amendment 16 is rejected.

Amendment No. 3, adopted unanimously.

Amendment No. 9.

Ms SOTNYK.

Ms Olena SOTNYK

Ukraine, ALDE 

17:56:22

Print intervention

Yes, thank you.

I just want to remind you that, one of the main arguments for many of the political leaders in your countries, was that if Russia leaves the Council of Europe many citizens of Russia couldn't go to the European Court of Human Rights. But I need to remind you that they have a special law, which gives them the right not to execute the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights. That's why we propose to call Russia to withdraw these legal issues from their law.

Thank you.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

17:56:56

Print intervention

Thank you.

Against the amendment, Mr SCHENNACH?

Mr Stefan SCHENNACH

Austria, SOC 

17:57:00

Print intervention

We discussed this very seriously, and we said that this should be a very important point in the follow-up of the monitoring with the Russian Federation. But it has nothing to do with the credentials, and so we reject it.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

17:57:14

Print intervention

The committee's opinion?

Mr Boriss CILEVIČS

Latvia, SOC 

17:57:16

Print intervention

The Committee voted against, with 18 votes in favour, 23 against and two abstentions.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

17:57:22

Print intervention

Thank you.

The ballot is open.

The vote is closed.

Amendment 9 is rejected.

Amendment No. 4.

Mr LIDDELL-GRAINGER.

 

Mr Ian LIDDELL-GRAINGER

United Kingdom, EC 

17:57:41

Print intervention

Thank you, Madam President. I am just going to read this last amendment out if I may.

The assembly resolved to annul the credentials of the Russian Federation in its 2019 October part-session.

If no progress is made with regard to the implementation of the demands of the Assembly expressed in paragraph 13 of this resolution, I think that makes it very clear we are expecting any country to obligate and their obligations here, and I urge colleagues to support it.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

17:58:09

Print intervention

Against the amendment, Mr SCHENNACH?

Mr Stefan SCHENNACH

Austria, SOC 

17:58:12

Print intervention

Again, in the spirit of the intensive debate on Monday night, with the very, very clear voting, this amendment is absolutely counter to a debate of welcome and to the start of cooperation.

Please don't accept because this - we cannot keep playing for the next and the next and the next session. Please don't accept.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

17:58:40

Print intervention

The Committee's opinion?

Mr Boriss CILEVIČS

Latvia, SOC 

17:58:41

Print intervention

Against with a large majority.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

17:58:43

Print intervention

Thank you.

The vote is open.

The vote is closed.

Amendment 4 is rejected.

We will now proceed to vote on the draft resolution contained in document 14922, as amended.

The vote is open.

The vote is closed.

The resolution was adopted.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is now 6 pm.

Do other members of the Assembly still wish to vote for the election of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe and judges to the European Court of Human Rights in respect of Estonia and Germany or for the election of a Vice-President in respect of the Russian Federation?

If that is the case, I would ask you to go and vote and do so immediately.

The vote to elect the Secretary General of the Council of Europe and of judges to the European Court of Human Rights in respect of Estonia and Germany, as well as the votes for the second round of the election of a Vice-President in respect of the Russian Federation, have now closed.

I invite the tellers, Mrs Ganira PASHAYEVA, Mr Martin VICKERS, Mr Bernard CAZEAU, Mrs Mònica BONELL, Mrs DZHEMA and Mrs Martinne WONNER to join the Rotunda behind the presidency to count the votes.

The results of the votes shall be announced, if possible, before the end of this meeting or, failing that, at the opening of the next meeting.

We shall now resume our discussions.

The next item of business this afternoon is the presentation by Mr Peter OMTZIGT of the report of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights entitled The murder of Mrs Daphne Caruana Galizia and the rule of law in Malta and elsewhere, ensuring that all the light is shed on it. It is in document 14906.

I would remind you that the rapporteur has a total of 13 minutes' speaking time, which he may divide at his discretion between the presentation of his report and the reply to the speakers.

I call Mr OMTZIGT, Rapporteur of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, and I feel this report deserves as much attention and respect as the previous report.

Mr KOX, you have the floor.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL 

18:01:54

Print intervention

We have started now. Some people are shouting, but we have started our debate. I want to listen to the Rapporteur, so could you please say to these people that they go outside.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

18:02:09

Print intervention

You're right, Mr. KOX, but I doubt they'll hear me and listen to me and get out.

I, therefore, propose that we interrupt the meeting for five minutes.

(Interruption of the sitting)

We are resuming our business.

Mrs OOMEN-RUIJTEN has a point of order.

Ms Ria OOMEN-RUIJTEN

Netherlands, EPP/CD 

18:07:56

Print intervention

Yes, Madam Chair.

In this debate, we had proof that we should change the rules because, as members of parliament, we were insulted by a rapporteur. And the rapporteur has to defend the opinion of the committee who voted.

As an answer I got in the Monitoring Committee, "We don't have that in the rules."

As a man of honour, he should have stood up until we took it up in the rules voluntarily and not insult his colleagues. That is not the way we have to behave in the parliament.

So I would like you to look over this rule but also the last rule, where we voted 10 times the same amendments, because that can also cause accidents.

So please take it up for the next bureau and come up with proposals.

Thank you very much.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

18:09:12

Print intervention

Thank you, Ms OOMEN-RUIJTEN,

What I can tell you in response to your speech is that this week's debates have indeed shown a number of regulatory problems, a number of shortcomings in our Rules of Procedure and I have no doubt that we will do everything we can to improve these things and to have more appropriate answers in subsequent debates.

You just let me finish answering the previous point of order and I give you the floor.

Ms Stella CREASY

United Kingdom, SOC 

18:09:49

Print intervention

Madam Chairman,

I apologise, but the gentleman that the person has just spoken to, is not in the chamber to be able to hear the concern, or to be able to answer to it. We have had a difficult debate today, but if people want to stand up for speaking to each other with respect, then we have to respect people being in the room, to be able to hear the concern.

Sir Roger Gale is a man of honour, even if you disagree with him, and I know he would want to listen and hear your results. So to ask him to be in the room before you insult him, is a basic point of principle.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

18:10:21

Print intervention

Thank you.

What I can tell you – can you listen to my answer, so you also know what I am telling you – is that I have no doubt that Ms OOMEN-RUIJTEN will tell Mr GALE what she just told us, and if she did so it is simply because it is now that we are just at the end of this debate and it is, therefore, now that she should speak.

Mr ZINGERIS, you have to press the button if you want there to be interpreters and you want to be heard. You have the floor.

Mr Emanuelis ZINGERIS

Lithuania, EPP/CD 

18:10:51

Print intervention

Yes, Madam President.

During the debate when I spoke about the crimes of Governor Kadyrov, after that a young gentleman appeared next to me and he told me that he is Mr Kadyrov - probably he is Mr Kadyrov's relative or son. And then he told me that he will continue with me not only to speak, and he told me, "No, it will not end with your speech."

Please, if we are talking with military guys like Mr Kadyrov, please inform the intelligence of France and ask them to have some consequences for such people who are not letting us be safe in this chamber.

Thank you. I'm talking about Mr Kadyrov. Thank you.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

18:11:35

Print intervention

Mr ZINGERIS, thank you for pointing this out to us.

Please inform us directly, including the Parliamentary Assembly's services, so that we can respond to your request, which must indeed be verified.

Any other points of order, statements?

That is not the case.

We can therefore resume our work with the debate on the report Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination and the rule of law in Malta and beyond: ensuring that the whole truth emerges.

As I said earlier, the rapporteur of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, Mr Peter OMTZIGT, has the floor.

He has a total time of 13 minutes.

Debate: Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination and the rule of law in Malta and beyond: ensuring that the whole truth emerges

Mr Pieter OMTZIGT

Netherlands, EPP/CD, Rapporteur 

18:12:27

Print intervention

Dear President, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,

Freedom of speech and freedom of the media, respect for the rule of law and prevention of impunity: these are the essential pillars of our democracy. When a journalist who reports on government corruption is assassinated, when the suspected killers are not put on trial, and the masterminds are not identified when allegations of corruption in the entourage of powerful prime ministers go unchecked, then something is going badly wrong.

I was talking about the situation in Malta today. Daphne Caruana Galicia was *the* investigative journalist in Malta.

She broke news from all the major scandals. She was a wife and a mother. She left her husband Peter and three sons, Matthew, Andrew and Paul, a close happy loving family.

On 16th of October 2016 outside of her family home she was blown to pieces by a bomb in her car. Her son Matthew found the body parts lying on the ground and saw his mother trapped inside the blazing wreckage.

Her sons are still fighting for justice. They're watching this debate as is her sister.

I know that the Maltese police got assistance from foreign police forces.

Within weeks three suspects were arrested and charged. But that's 18 months ago. Every month or so or twice a month the three suspects are taken to half-day committal hearings. Painfully slow, inefficient and torturous.

The suspects have still not been indicted. They are still not on trial. If the Attorney General does not indict the suspects within the next 39 days they will be released on bail. Could the Maltese police stop them from absconding? Italy and Libya are close by. Malta has a long history of smuggling.

The murder of her is not the only issue that Malta has failed to resolve. Recent years have seen a series of scandals. Many of them involve corruption and money laundering by the Prime Minister's Chief of Staff, Keith Schembri, a government minister Konrad Mizzi, and an old friend of Mr Schembri called Brian Tonna who is an accountant and an Iranian-owned bank called Pilatus.

Keep four things in mind if you look at these scandals.

First, the basic facts: secret offshore companies, bank accounts, contracts, agreements, connections and so on are not contested.

Second, none of them have been properly investigated. The police economic crimes unit has failed to refuse to act on numerous reports from Malta's anti-money laundering body. The Attorney General could act but hasn't. Opposition MPs and civil society have requested magisterial inquiries, in most cases more than two years ago. None of them produce any results yet.

Third, Mr Schembri is still the prime minister's Chief of Staff. Mr Mizzi is still a government minister and prime minister Joseph Muscat refuses to even consider dismissing them.

Well even in Mongolia you're dismissed if you are a minister in the Panama Papers and in Spain, by the way. But not here.

Mr Tonna and his accountancy firm continue to receive government contracts.

Fourth, Daphne Caruana Galizia led the reporting on most of these scandals.

No one thinks that the three suspects had their own motives for killing her; she never wrote about them. Everyone agrees that someone else commissioned the assassination. If you want to find the killer of a journalist, the first place to look should be the people she wrote about.

Last autumn a Maltese police source said they were close to arresting the masterminds. The Interior Minister seemed to confirm this; later his own ministry claimed that he was misquoted. No one was arrested.

Reports say that foreign police sources involved in the investigation cannot understand why no-one has been arrested yet.

It's been 20 months since she has been killed, 18 months since three suspects were charged.

The Maltese government said that it would leave no stone unturned.

When I visited Malta I met Police Commissioner Lawrence Cutajar and Inspector Keith Arnaud who is leading the investigation. The commissioner was defensive but not very informative. Inspector Arnaud came across as serious, professional and determined. But he seems to have little support and few resources. The executive director of Europol, Rob Wainwright, criticised the Maltese authorities cooperation on the Caruana Galizia murder investigation in a public letter, and the commissioner told me that he was talking about border control .

I checked with Mr Wainwright; he wasn't talking about border control. He was talking about this murder case.

Maltese magistrates are also investigating the murder. The first investigating magistrate had to recuse herself. The second seems very active. After eight months work prime minister Muscat removed him from the investigation by promoting him to judge. Apparently this magistrate had requested copies of the prime minister's mobile phone records. Yes, in Malta judges and magistrates are appointed by the prime minister – so much for the separation of power. I'll come back to this.

The third investigating magistrate has been working for a year but this is not his full-time job. He still has a full caseload in court. There's no news on the progress. Many people suspect that the lack of progress is not just due to an efficiency of confusion. To understand why, we must look at the Maltese criminal justice system.

In Malta, the prime minister appoints judges and magistrates. He appoints the attorney general and the police commissioner. Many judicial appointments in recent years have close connections to the governing Labour party. The prime minister has a free choice so there's no guarantee that they were not appointed for their political sympathies. Anyone who wants to become a magistrate or a judge knows that they will need the approval of the prime minister. This inevitably casts doubt on their independence and impartiality, especially on cases that affect the interests of the government.

The prime minister is on to his fifth police commissioner. Any senior police officer who wants to become commissioner knows that he needs the approval of the prime minister. What's more, they know the prime minister can sack – and he did with one. This inevitably casts doubt on the independence and impartiality of the police, especially when the police is investigating interests of the government.

By the way this is just the criminal justice system, the prime minister also appoints the most senior civil servants in every ministry: the security commissioner, the data protection commissioner, lots of supervising agencies in the office of prime minister we have the whistle blowing agency and many many other senior officials and public bodies.

You can read the full details in my report.

There may be other countries where the executive was one or the other of these powers but no other prime minister in the Council of Europe has all of them. The prime minister is predominant and is so clearly the centre of political power.

Those are the words of the Venice Commission.

There have been many specific problems with the murder investigation. The magistrate who first took charge of the investigation had to recuse herself. The prime minister removed her successor from the investigation, causing delay and disruption. A police officer first appointed was married to a Labour government minister. He stepped down only after the courts ruled that he had a potential conflict of interest. Two magistrates appointed to the committee proceedings had to recuse themselves. Daphne's family, fearing for the safety of her sources, gave her laptops and hard drives to the German police. The German police told the Maltese authorities that they could request copies of all relevant information. The Maltese authorities never replied.

Multiple sources said that they saw economy minister Chris Cardona with one of the suspects before and after the murder. Daphne had reported that Mr Cardona had visited a German brothel during an official trip. He sued her and actually froze her assets. If she had won the case it would have been the end of Mr Cardona's career as a politician and a lawyer. The police never interrogated him.

The suspects seemed to know that they were going to be arrested. A notorious police officer was said to have tipped them off: he was quietly moved to another job but not investigated. The Maltese security service had been monitoring one of the suspects for a month before the murder. They deny any prior knowledge of the murder plot, but questions remain.

Two of the prime minister's communication aides made outrageous statements about the case. One of them even suggested that Daphne's own family was complicit in the murder.

On several occasions the interior minister made reckless statements that could have prejudiced the search for the masterminds.

As the Venice Commission recalls, the mere knowledge of an assassination on the part of the authorities gives rise in obligation under Article 2 of the Convention to carry out an effective investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death.

The European court has stated that the authorities have a particular duty to protect journalists.

In the case of assassinated journalist Anna Politkovskaya, the court stated that it was of the utmost important to examine a possible connection of her killing to the investigative journalist's work.

To put it bluntly, the Maltese authorities have had their chance and they blew it.

That's why my report calls for an independent inquiry into the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia and all the surrounding circumstances. Effective action must be taken now while the evidence is still available and relatively fresh after almost two years.

Malta also urgently needs constitutional reform. Reform of the judicial system, especially the appointment of judges. Reform of the criminal justice system, especially the office of the attorney general. Reform of parliament, which fails to control the executive. And all of the other reforms that have been recommended by the Venice Commission and our anti-corruption body GRECO, which wrote an extremely critical report.

The current government has promised reforms since 2013. It created commissions and committees, but achieved little. These are problems not only for Malta and its citizens. Malta's problems are European problems. The poorly regulated passport and visa schemes means that you get access not only to Malta, but to all European countries and all Schengen countries. Poorly regulated banking means that these banks can also bank in the banking union.

Then I could talk about online casinos and cryptocurrency sectors...

The assembly, Europe's guardian of the rule of law, should follow the situation in Malta closely. The Monitoring Committee has chosen Malta for its next progress report, but if things do not improve we should be ready to do more than that. In the meantime I call on you to support a draft resolution presented by the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights.

Thank you.