AS (2010) CR 21


Provisional edition



(Third part)


Twenty-first sitting

Tuesday 22 June 2010 at 10 a.m.


In this report:

1.       Speeches in English are reported in full.

2.       Speeches in other languages are summarised.

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

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

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

Mr Ēavuşoğlu, President of the Assembly, took the Chair at 10.05 a.m.

THE PRESIDENT – The sitting is open.

1. Election of judges to the European Court of Human Rights in respect of Germany and Malta

THE PRESIDENT – This morning and this afternoon the agenda calls for the election of judges to the European Court of Human Rights in respect of Germany and Malta. The list of candidates and biographical notices are to be found in Document 12240. The voting will take place in the area behind the President’s chair.

At 1 p.m. the voting will be suspended, and it will resume at 3 p.m. At 5 p.m. I shall announce the closing of the poll. As usual, counting will then take place under the supervision of two tellers. I shall now draw by lot the names of the two tellers who will supervise the counting of the votes.

The names of Mr Bremer and Lord Anderson have been drawn. They should go to the back of the President’s chair at 5 p.m.

I now declare the ballot open.

2. Motion to alter the agenda

THE PRESIDENT – I have received notice from Mr Pourgourides, Chairperson of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, that he wishes to propose a change to the agenda agreed yesterday morning. Mr Pourgourides you have the floor for 30 seconds.

Mr POURGOURIDES (Cyprus) – As you know, yesterday morning the Assembly decided to place the debate on the pandemic on Thursday and the debate on the report by the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights on the EU Fundamental Rights Agency on Friday at 10 a.m. As Chairperson of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights I have been asked by the committee to make the following proposal to the Assembly. The change was unexpected and, unfortunately, the rapporteur and I will not be present on Friday morning, so we propose that the Assembly decides this morning to remove our committee’s report from the agenda for Friday and to replace it with the report on prohibiting the marketing and use of the Mosquito youth dispersal device. I understand that this proposal is supported by the Committee on Culture, Science and Education. I hope that that meets with the approval of the Assembly and that our report can be discussed in the future in the Assembly.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. Mr Pourgourides, on behalf of the Committee on Legal Affairs, proposes to withdraw the report on the EU Fundamental Rights Agency from the agenda and to replace it with the report on the Mosquito dispersal device on Friday morning. I understand that the Committee on Culture, Science and Education supports this proposal.

Does anyone object to the proposed change?

It is agreed.

3. Legal remedies for human rights violations in the North Caucasus region

THE PRESIDENT – The next item of business this morning is the debate on the report on legal remedies for human rights violations in the North Caucasus region presented by Mr Marty on behalf of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, Document 12276, followed by an opinion presented by Mrs Brasseur on behalf of the Political Affairs Committee, Document 12301, and a statement by Mr Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, President of the Republic of Ingushetia (Russian Federation).

To allow sufficient time for responses to the debate and for the replies on behalf of the committees, and for voting, we will have to interrupt the list of speakers in the debate at about 11.30 a.m.

Is that agreed to?

It is agreed to.

I call Mr Marty, the rapporteur. You have 13 minutes in total, which you may divide between presentation of the report and reply to the debate.

Mr MARTY (Switzerland) said that he was well aware of the complex nature of the North Caucasus. He remembered that sometimes heated discussions around the Bindig report on human rights violations in Chechnya. He did not intend his speech to be guided by prejudices, but simply wanted to set out the facts. He had researched them widely and spoken to many people in the areas concerned.

An understanding of the history of the Caucasus required appreciation of many factors, including the decline of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the emergence of the area as an independent region following the Cold War. The Caucasus region could be fully understood only through visits and first-hand experience. He thanked members of the Russian delegation for their help in arranging meetings and visits, In particular, he thanked Senator Mukonov and Mr Slutsky, who had accompanied him. He had been moved by the sometimes harrowing stories of the families he had met, and he thanked the non-governmental organisations which had arranged those meetings.

The North Caucasus possessed many contradictions. Everybody recalled images of destruction in Grozny but the city had been rebuilt and all traces of war erased. While there had been substantial material rebuilding, a vacuum remained on rights and justice. People were often able to act with impunity or only to face ineffective trials. There had been more than 160 rulings from the European Court of Human Rights condemning the legal system. Despite the violence of the situation, however, he was keen to stress the warm welcome had received from the people.

There were areas of hope. President Medvedev had stated that the area was his No. 1 problem, and endemic corruption in the police and judiciary had been acknowledged. To acknowledge such problems was an important first step in resolving them. He was pleased to note increased co-operation with the Russian authorities and that President Medvedev had recently held a meeting with human rights groups in the area.

President Yevkurov had recently come to power and had begun to tackle corruption and to meet the families of victims of violence. This was a promising step, to be encouraged. The situation was none the less extremely serious. Terrorism was present and must be fought wherever it was found. Terrorism could be successfully fought only by legal means and by the rule of law. The North Caucasus needed not more repression but more rule of law.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you Mr Marty. You have four minutes remaining.

I call Mrs Brasseur, rapporteur, for the opinion of the Political Affairs Committee. You have four minutes.

Mrs BRASSEUR (Luxembourg) congratulated Mr Marty on a balanced and nuanced report on a difficult situation, and said that she had been deeply moved by victims’ appeals for help. She paid tribute to the courage of witnesses, some of whom were in the public gallery.

Assassination and torture had happened within the territory of the Council of Europe during the 21st century. In spite of efforts by the police and the judiciary, cases had not been prosecuted. Progress had been made but not enough.

Rapporteurs responsible for for monitoring the Russian Federation should make regular reports and give feedback on the situation. Unless justice were a fundamental premise of a state, that state could not function properly. The Assembly was urged to support the report, as amended by the Political Affairs Committee. It was an honour to speak in the presence of Mr Yevkurov.

THE PRESIDENT – I would now like to welcome Mr Yevkurov, President of the Republic of Ingushetia (Russian Federation). Mr Yevkurov will make a statement now and then will have the opportunity to respond at the end of the general debate.

On behalf of the Assembly, I am pleased to welcome Mr. Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, President of the Republic of Ingushetia. Mr President, all of us who have had the opportunity to read Mr Marty’s excellent report are aware of the difficulties you are facing in your republic. As soon as you were elected president last year, you tackled the republic’s problems vigorously and courageously. Yet these problems were not simple. They include widespread corruption, massive unemployment, especially among young people, and last but not least, a wave of terrorism by radical fundamentalists who call themselves Muslims. The problems were unfortunately compounded and not resolved by inappropriate and often even illegal responses of the security forces, which undermined the trust of the population in the state bodies.

Mr President, I would also like to praise your commitment to solving problems on the basis of a real dialogue with civil society – a method which should be followed by all leaders in the North Caucasus region. It was well noted that the head of the Ingush office of Memorial was present and spoke freely at the meeting you organised during Mr Marty’s visit with representatives of civil society. Your efforts were cruelly interrupted, but not stopped, by a bomb last summer that killed members of your entourage and left you severely injured. It is good to see you here in good health. We now look forward to hearing your contribution to this important debate. Mr Yevkurov, you have the floor.

Mr YEVKUROV (President of Ingushetia (Russian Federation)) said that he was grateful for the opportunity and honour of reporting to the Assembly on the situation in the North Caucasus. He was very concerned about human rights and greatly appreciated the attention being paid to the area by the Council of Europe. He agreed with much of Mr Marty’s report and was keen to see further improvements so that the area would not need to be a focus of future Council of Europe concern. There had been great improvements in the past five months, with criminality down 40%, serious crime down 42% and no cases of kidnapping. The situation was improving, and this had happened not just because of the operations of the forces of law and order but because of work with victims’ families. Successes included the 2009 local government elections and greater contact with civil society.

There was more social control over civil servants and the forces of law and order. A human rights ombudsman and an ombudsman for the rights of the child had been set up. Some 43 billion roubles – around €1 billion – would be spent on two federal programmes running from 2010 to 2016 to encourage socio-economic development. Around 18 000 jobs had been created, but unemployment remained a problem, especially youth unemployment, which could lead to radicalisation. His approach was not to punish young people who had been radicalised but to assure them that they would receive minimum penalties if they returned to a normal life. This also applied to those who had left the country. There had been improvements in the process of bringing criminals to justice.

Representatives of the European institutions and the Assembly could come to see what was happening on the ground. He had been very impressed by the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights and by the Chairperson of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, Dick Marty, who had carried out a serious and thorough assessment. He urged the Assembly not to compare the human rights situation with that in other countries but with the previous situation in Ingushetia. The situation had improved greatly.

In the six years since terrorists had attacked the country, 90 civil servants had lost their lives. Years of legal vacuum had resulted in an upsurge in criminality. The government was doing all that it could to turn the area into one of peace and development, and he was more interested than anyone else in bringing peace and order to the country. He would tackle any abuses of human rights. He did not deny that human rights violations took place, but his aim was not for people to be in the service of authority, but for authority to be in the service of the people. He thanked the Assembly for caring about the situation in his country.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you very much, Mr Yevkurov, for your most interesting address.

In the debate I call first Mrs Beck on behalf of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.

(Mr Fahey, Vice-President of the Assembly, took the Chair in place of Mr Ēavaşoğlu.)

Mrs BECK (Germany) thanked Dick Marty for his honest vision. She paid tribute to a video which had shown testimony from ordinary people in a desperate situation. Men in black uniforms had searched homes and removed people. Letters to the police, the state prosecutor and even to the President seldom received replies. She recalled the deaths of Natalia Estemirova and Anna Politkovskaya, for whose killings there had been no resolution. Many years ago, people had been concerned about the plight of the mothers of the “disappeared” in Argentina, but those women were victims in our own Council of Europe area.

There could be no peace without justice. Islamic extremism was being combated, but trust could not be established unless the values of the Council of Europe were respected. The European Court of Human Rights could order compensation in cases of human rights abuses, but the solution lay not in money but in implementation. The Council of Europe should follow up 10 test cases, ensuring that they were properly pursued.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. I now call Mr Lotman, who will speak on behalf of the Group of the Unified European Left.

Mr LOTMAN (Estonia) – The issue of human rights in North Caucasus is so burning and tragic that, once again, it seems somehow inappropriate to congratulate the rapporteur, so I will say only that Dick Marty has maintained his high standard of reporting – the work on the North Caucasus is as thorough as that on secret detention by the CIA.

The substance of the report is tragic indeed. In the North Caucasus, lawlessness, terror and impunity rule. The terror is carried out from two sides: the government is killing, abducting and torturing at will, while an insurgency that has been ruthlessly battered for years has itself turned, in its desperation, into ruthless terrorism. However, it is clear that the majority of the horrible crimes in question are committed by the authorities and paramilitary gangs connected to them.

The report justly points out that the situation is at its worst in Chechnya – the authorities maintain a climate of fear; judicial and democratic institutions do not function; and human rights activists continue to disappear – but the resurgence of terror in Dagestan is also causing concern. There is some hope for improvement in Ingushetia, but even there assassinations and the disappearances of those critical of the authorities are reported.

As usual in these extreme situations, it is women who suffer most. The situation of women’s rights has deteriorated to a horrible extent – “bride abductions” have become commonplace in Chechnya, and that is tolerated by the authorities. Indeed, the infamous Ramzan Kadyrov – the self-styled ruler of Chechnya installed by the federal authorities, the man whose portraits are everywhere in that troubled republic, watching people “Big Brother” style – has said “a woman should be considered as property owned by a man.”

So, after about 150 years of the more or less universal abolition of slavery, we have a self-styled ruler who openly states that women can be kept as slaves. He is seconded by the so-called ombudsman – is not that ironic? – who openly justifies savage murders of young women by referring to what he calls those who “forget the code of conduct that should be followed by mountain women” – that is, by the victims.

On behalf of the Group of the Unified European Left, let me ask the Russian Government: is that also your view of human rights? How can the head of a regional administration in a Council of Europe member state openly justify gender-based slavery?

Saying that this is some sort of deep tradition firmly rooted in Chechnyan culture is rubbish. I cannot recall either of the freely elected presidents of the country – the late Johar Dudajev and the late Aslan Mashadov – stating anything like that.

Of course, women do not just suffer passively. It is no coincidence that among the most outspoken critics of these horrible crimes were two women: Russian journalist, Anna Politkovskaia, and Chechnya human rights activist, Natalia Estemirova. As we all know, both have been assassinated. As we all remember, the murderers have never been brought to justice. As we all understand, those killings could not have happened without the direct involvement of the authorities.

That is all part of what has been called in an open letter signed by many prominent persons – among others, Vaclav Havel, Desmond Tutu and Grigori Yavlinksy – “Killing Justice in Russia”. The authors of the letter asked the Russian Government to protect people in danger and to ensure quick and effective investigations of the murders of human rights activists, journalists and independent-minded jurists. That is the very least that we also can demand – if we are worth our reputation as the champions of democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

Let us adopt the report, but that is not the end of the matter. If we are indeed what we claim to be – guardians of human rights – we have to continue our work until this horror ends.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. The next speaker is Mr Herkel, who will speak on behalf of the Group of the European People’s Party.

Mr HERKEL (Estonia) – I thank the rapporteur – the work has been done well and this report is one of the most important of recent years. The last report on the human rights situation in Chechnya was produced four years ago. Unfortunately, the topic was forgotten.

What happened during those years? First, the worst scenario predicted by our former rapporteur, Mr Bindig, became reality: the climate of impunity, which has its origins in Chechnya and Ingushetia, is spreading further into other regions in North Caucasus.

Secondly, cases of violent death and disappearances have not stopped. During recent years, those include examples involving outstanding journalists and human rights defenders. The names of Politkovskaia and Estemirova have already been mentioned. Let me also refer to Yevloyev, Gaisanova and Sadulayev.

Thirdly, the European Court of Human Rights, which is very important, started to make decisions on the cases related to the second war in Chechnya. Since 2007, more than 150 cases have been decided against the Russian Federation with respect to human rights violations in North Caucasus, mainly in Chechnya. However, the findings of the European Court were not implemented. That is the problem. Furthermore, many cases are still pending.

Alexey Malashenko, from the Carnegie Centre in Moscow, recently described the situation in North Caucasus using such words as “demodernisation”, “Islamisation” and “archaisation” of society. Also, the vendetta is returning.

A few moments ago, Mr Lotman referred to words used by the President of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov: “a woman should be considered as property owned by a man.” In certain cases, the husband or the brother even kills the woman. We are deeply concerned about that. We need to ask, what is the essence of the so-called Kadyrov peace? Yes, there is no war any more, but at the same time society is moving backwards through the centuries.

There is another important problem: the international community has no clear plan and strategy for how to address such problems with the political leadership of the Russian Federation. That is not an easy question, but silence is the worst solution.

Fortunately, the report is clear evidence that we will not remain silent and that we are dealing with the most important and difficult problems. Not everything that is going on in North Caucasus is included – for example, a group of Circassians addressed me yesterday to make their problems more visible. There are many forgotten nations and many forgotten problems in North Causcaus, but few reports are as good as the one that we are considering today.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. The next speaker is Mr Marcenaro, who will speak on behalf of the Socialist Group.

Mr MARCENARO (Italy) thanked Mr Marty for his report and highlighted the work of the Commissioner for Human Rights, who had also contributed. He commended three characteristics of the Marty report. The first was the loyalty it showed to the key principles of the Council: democracy, human rights and the rule of law. Mr Marty was correct to state that these could not be abandoned in the fight against terrorism. This position was made all the more convincing given Mr Marty’s role as rapporteur and his writings about rendition. There was no hint of double standards.

Secondly, the report was lucid, providing nuanced debate and leaving no stone unturned, while yet not preaching or leaving the victims of violence unacknowledged. It highlighted contradictions in Russian society, which ran all the way up to the president.

Finally the report delivered a compassion not always found in reports of this type. The victims of violence were presented with dignity and were not instrumentalised. He stressed the importance of Mr Marty’s statement that when we forget the victims, we forget justice.

He stressed that the Russian delegation in the committee was in favour of the report, which highlighted the power of the Council as a force for human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you.

I remind members that the elections for judges to the Human Rights Court in respect of Germany and Malta are open, and you are encouraged to cast your votes in the booths behind me. They are open until 1 p.m. and again from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Please do not leave voting until the very end. I encourage you to cast your vote as soon as possible.

The next speaker is Mr Farina. He is not here, so I call Mrs Kiuru. She is not here, so the next speaker is Mr Kandelaki.

Mr KANDELAKI (Georgia) – First, I wish to thank Mr Marty for the excellent and courageous work that he has done over the last few years to tell the stories of the region. In discussing the current situation, we should not lose sight of the context. Of course, what is happening is very important, but what has happened is equally important. Yesterday, we heard the story of victims of terrible crimes committed in the North Caucasus. We should not forget that these victims are a few out of thousands upon thousands.

We also heard from the representatives of several Russian human rights organisations, who said that the overall civilian death toll from the two Chechen wars and their aftermath is some 100 000. That is a terribly big number and by any measure qualifies as mass murder. There are individuals on trial in The Hague for similar crimes, so the question is: why the double standard? What has the Russian Government done to bring the perpetrators of those crimes to justice? The answer is nothing or almost nothing. For example, Colonel Budanov raped and killed a young Chechen girl, but he is still free and is regarded as a hero. General Shamanov is accused of war crimes by Human Rights Watch, but he has been promoted to commander of the Russian airborne troops and commanded the Russian invasion of Georgia in 2008.

Those who insist that Russia belongs to this Organisation agree that Russia does not implement any of the recommendations of this Assembly – as it has openly confirmed – but that depriving Russia of its place here would deprive Russian citizens of the opportunity to take cases to the Court. That is a legitimate argument, but we have heard recently that some 260 rulings await implementation. In April, we heard from the Russian Foreign Minister, Mr Lavrov, who criticised the Court in an unprecedented attack. He claimed that it had been politicised. That is a scandalous claim and we should react to it.

In January, we heard a report from the United Nations Committee against Torture on secret prisons in the North Caucasus, and that issue must be addressed.

The tragedy of Chechnya and the continuing crimes being committed in North Caucasus are not the first that Russia has committed in the region, but it is in denial. The Circassian people have lost up to 1 million people and only 10% still live in their homelands, but they still await any acknowledgement of their tragedy by the Russian authorities.

This Organisation is based on values and if we want those values to be implemented effectively in all member states, we have to be consistent. A great example of consistency is Protocol No. 14. Only as a result of consistent pressure on the Russian Federation did it eventually ratify the protocol. Unless we exert consistent pressure on Russia, we will not achieve results.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. The next speaker is Mr Badré.

Mr BADRÉ (France) said that the report embodied the two key characteristics of human rights defenders – courage and intellectual honesty. It did not lecture but neither did it mince its words. It raised important questions for the Council. Was it wrong to allow Russia membership of the Council of Europe when it had violated the key principles of human rights? This either undermined the credibility of the Council or showed that it had no power. The Assembly had to make a firm decision: if a member state violated the values of the Organisation, the Assembly could not just wait to see what happened.

Two wars in Chechnya had radicalised forces there and created a grave terrorist threat. The analysis was clear: the instability of the North Caucasus resulted from a failure of the state authorities to build a society based on the rule of law. Corruption and injustice in the North Caucasus had created a cloak of fear. The question was whether the Assembly was willing to act to stop obvious violations of its principles.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Badré. The next speaker is Mr Kosachev.

Mr KOSACHEV (Russian Federation) thanked the rapporteur, on behalf of all the Russian delegation, for his work in producing such a high-quality, balanced and professional report, which was a step in the right direction to improve the situation in the North Caucasus region. The report did not just comment on the situation but provided an in-depth analysis and highlighted numerous ways out of a difficult situation.

People had talked about the complete failure or the absolute failure of the North Caucasus region, but it would be a failure if the EU and the Council of Europe did not combat people who used terrorist methods to come into and remain in power. Previous political leaders in the region had used such tactics, even if this were no longer the case.

Three types of people were involved in discussions about the North Caucasus. First were those from the North Caucasus region, including delegates to the Assembly and visitors present, who had suffered and were victims. Secondly, there were those who had visited the region in order to understand the situation. He thanked colleagues who had visited and sought to see the situation on the ground.

Thirdly, there were those who had not visited the region but had instead read the press and received all their information from the mass media. Such people saw the situation in black and white terms which did not correspond to reality.

Some had talked about “a self-appointed President”, and such comments should not be made, because they insulted all those who had voted for the President.

Law and order was returning to the region and people were being punished for their crimes. Some 300 000 people had returned to the Chechnyan Republic, showing that people were voting with their feet. The region’s population had increased by more than 40% in the past five years. People who had visited the region knew that, but it was a fact that ought to be placed on the record.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Kosachev. The next speaker is Mr Slutsky.

Mr SLUTSKY (Russian Federation) said that this was the first time in 14 years of the Russian Federation’s membership of the Council of Europe that its delegation had voted in favour of a report on this issue. The situation in the region was improving but the Assembly had to compare the situation now with that of a few years ago; that was the correct comparison to make. At that time, the concept of human rights had not existed, and there were ghost towns and towns in ruins. Now the area was one of the most blossoming parts of the Russian Federation, with crime figures quickly plummeting towards zero.

There had been two very different reports on this issue. Mr Bindig’s report allowed the Council of Europe to do more than any other organisation to improve the region, but it suffered from the sin of subjectivity. Mr Marty’s report was extremely balanced and accurate. It was still very critical, but objective.

It had been said that one could not build a society on the basis of cowardice. That was not happening. A society was being built on the basis of bravery and courage. There had been a decision to apply the constitution to the letter in the region.

There were some shortcomings in the most recent report, including some of the way in which the authorities were characterised. People were grateful to the president for the work that he had done, which meant that they could live in peace and stability.

As a whole, though, the report was a model of objectivity on a complex situation. It should form the basis of future co-operation between the Council of Europe and the Russian Federation. Members could nitpick about details but, all in all, the report was irreproachable. Mr Marty should continue his work on the North Caucasus region, as he could do more to improve the situation.

The Russian Federation delegation voted freely, not as a group, and he personally would vote in favour of the report and would encourage colleagues to do likewise.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. The next speaker is Mr Gross.

Mr GROSS (Switzerland) – Thank you, Mr President. Dear colleagues, one of Mr Marty’s achievements has not yet been praised enough. In addition to his extraordinary empathy and the fact that, as a liberal, he is following the advice of Jean Jaurčs in attempting to find the truth and to tell it, for the first time in the 15 years or so that the Russian Federation has been a member of the Council of Europe a rapporteur has managed to bring Memorial – the most respectful defender of human rights in the Northern Caucasus – on to the same side as Mr Slutsky and almost the entire Russian delegation. That is a huge achievement, for which we should praise Mr Marty and be grateful to him.

As the Croatian President said yesterday, there is no peace without justice. Justice means fighting impunity – that is the objective side of it. Justice also means addressing the needs of the people who suffered, because it also has a subjective dimension. That is exactly what some of the rulers in these countries do not respect and do not do. That is why Mr Marty’s advice in paragraph 11 on page 10 of the report is so good. He suggests that, like him, the most responsible people in the Russian Government should go to listen to, and speak with, the people who have suffered. I remember what happened about five years ago, when 300 school children were killed in Beslan in one of the most awful terrorist attacks – Mr Putin went there. He flew over the region and saw how devastated it was, after which investment was made and the cities and economy were rebuilt. That happened only after some responsible people saw the situation; you have to feel what these people feel in order to do what you can to overcome their grievance. The point that we have to continue to discuss with Mr Slutsky is that it is easier to repair the buildings than to bring justice to the blessed souls. That is why we need the commitment of the Russian authorities to bring justice also in the subjective sense to those people, who suffered so much.

I listened to what the President of the Republic of Ingushetia had to say and thank him very much for coming to speak to us. He said that he did not understand why many young people are tempted to follow the path of religious radicalisation. I wish to make the point that when we do not respect our values, when we adopt a cynical attitude to crimes and torture, and when we speak without respecting those who disagree with us politically, we produce those young people who look to the “real” values on the wrong side. In that sense, the responsibility of the people with power is to respect our values, especially if they do not want too many young people to be tempted to follow the wrong radical fundamentalist ways. We must take that into account, because we can thus see the mirror of our wrongdoings when we are trying to understand why many young people turn their backs on us.

We are taking this new approach – it is the approach that Mr Zakayev and the President of Russia asked for – and it gives us a huge opportunity. As a rapporteur on Russia, I am ready to continue along this line but, like Mr Slutsky, I think that Dick Marty should also not give up this work. Thank you very much.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. The next speaker is Mrs Goryacheva of the Russian Federation.

Mrs GORYACHEVA (Russian Federation) said that the issue under discussion was one of grave concern to many Russians and a source of serious tension. More than 500 terrorist acts had been committed in the region. A third of them had involved explosives and the deaths of innocent people. Some 255 civil servants working for the forces of law and order had died at the hands of bandits. Ten Muslim religious leaders had also died, as had famous journalists and human rights advocates.

Violence was not contained in the region. For example, on 29 March there had been two simultaneous explosions in Russia, which had led to people dying on the Metro. The loss of a loved one naturally led to anger and hatred, and people were now calling for extreme measures to be used by the special services against terrorists. When emotions became enflamed, reason was often silenced.

It was important to understand the issues underlying the situation in the region. These included high levels of poverty, weak social policy, no economic development, an average wage half that of the Russian average, high unemployment, and the presence of refugees, with 20% of the population being refugees. The clan system, corruption and the use of force also contributed.

The Russian Federal Government was aware of these issues and was seeking to develop the region, particularly by combating youth unemployment. Young people needed to be provided with hope and the chance of improving their lives if they were to be persuaded to engage in a new society. An advisory body on the region had been created that reported directly to the President of Russia. Among its primary functions were good control over the forces of law and order and the combating of abuse committed by those in uniform. Hotlines for victims had also been set up so that they could contact help immediately.

In relation to the work of the Strasbourg Court, the Russian Federation had to do more than just pay compensation. It had to ensure that the judiciary was functioning properly.

Attempts to destabilise the situation from outside could not be ignored. Mercenaries from 50 countries had died in the region, and hundreds of millions of dollars had been sent to help the bandits. That kind of help was not needed, but it had to be acknowledged that it was happening.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. I now call Mrs Schuster.

Mrs SCHUSTER (Germany) praised the painstaking and comprehensive report, and said that human rights violations in the North Caucasus region were a cause of great concern. She invited colleagues to obtain further information on the families of the victims from the video which was being shown. This gave details of terrible events including the abduction of children six years ago. Relatives’ appeals to the authorities had proved fruitless. She had been moved by their dignity and the fact that they did not want to remain silent. She thanked Dick Marty for giving the families of victims this voice.

The Council of Europe had to counter what had happened, to establish the facts and to ensure that security forces guilty of human rights violations were brought to justice. She drew attention to the plight of human right activists in the region, particularly those working for the organisation Memorial in Dagestan. The Council of Europe must support human rights activists in their fight.

As the report had said, the involvement of the International Committee of the Red Cross was also of great importance. The Assembly must do all that it could to support human rights and the rule of law in the region. At present, there was no rule of law, but rule without law. So much needed to be done, for injustice anywhere was a threat to justice everywhere.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mrs Schuster. The next speaker is Mr Fadzaev.

Mr FADZAEV (Russian Federation) praised the report, and said that he had recently visited Chechnya, at the invitation of the president, to attend a memorial service for the previous president. He urged his colleagues to visit the republic, which was blossoming. There were human rights violations but the situation was much improved. All must work to ensure stability in the North Caucasus region and those who were supporting terrorism should stop. Support for terrorists was coming from outside the Russian Federation. Despite the war, countries had to work together to achieve peace and the Council of Europe could do a lot to improve the situation. The Presidents of Ingushetia and the Chechen Republic were risking their lives and needed the support of the Council of Europe in their efforts to create a better future.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Fadzaev. The next speaker is Mr Umakhanov.

Mr UMAKHANOV (Russian Federation) said that protecting human rights had to be the No. 1 priority. The fact that the rapporteur had visited the region was of great importance and the message about the importance of human rights had been heard in the region. The rapporteur had met the forces of law and order and representatives of civil society and had produced a balanced report.

The address by the President of Ingushetia had shown how important were the values of the Council of Europe, and high-level discussions on these issues had taken place. There had been important measures to strengthen civil society.

A representative for the region could not been happy with everything in the report, but the professionalism and the sincerity of the rapporteur were to be respected. Measures to combat terrorism could not be successful if human rights were not respected.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. The final speaker is Mrs Reps.

Mrs REPS (Estonia) – Thank you, Mr President. Going back to many of the comments made here, starting with the President at the beginning, I ask with sorrow: why are we discussing this matter here? This kind of question should be solved at home; I fully agree with that. We would all be very pleased if we did not have to return to the North Caucasus region’s human rights violations, but unfortunately we are coming back to the issue with serious concerns. One of the previous speakers talked about stability, and the stability of the nation is something that we need to look at. Let us look at that. Yes, we are coming out of a war, but stability comes with so-called anti-terrorist acts. Those anti-terrorist acts go hand in hand with what the European Court of Human Rights says are serious violations of Article 2 on the right to life and Article 3, which deals with the prohibition of torture.

I have heard many witnesses here, and read reports from others, and what has come across clearly is that there has been torture, murder and a systematic way of spreading terror and fear. On the one hand we are striving for stability, but on the other hand we are reaching that stability in the northern Caucasus with clear violations of human rights and international law, so the Assembly demands a full investigation of these cases. Court charges must also be executed, not only in financial terms but in real terms; in most cases, the Court has been asking for a fully fledged investigation into what has happened. The Assembly’s second demand is to stop the machinery that spreads terror and fear. It is believed in many countries – today, we are discussing the Russian Federation – that one can fight terrorism by spreading terror and fear but in real terms, the only result is innocent victims, not only those who have been involved or their relatives but also women and children who are suffering in this situation.

The spread of terror means that innocent victims are also being tortured and murdered. The cases have not been investigated, and clear lines relating to these alleged situations can be drawn from Court judgments to the security forces and linked directly to the Russian Federation. Today in the Assembly, we have heard that the amendments from the Russian Federation delegation clearly say that it is interested in co-operation. I very much expect, first, that the machinery of terror will be stopped and, second, that fully fledged investigations will be put into force. Then maybe we will not have to come back to violations of human rights in the North Caucasus on such serious terms again.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. That concludes the list of speakers.

I call Mr Yevkurov, President of the Republic of Ingushetia, to reply.

Mr YEVKUROV pointed to the difficulty of countries judging other countries. He hoped that the Estonian delegate who had made accusations against the Ingushetian authorities would resign if the authorities were cleared by the courts. Given the events of August 2008, he had to ask: who was to judge?

Discussions had to be frank. Speakers had referred to witnesses; he himself had spoken to witnesses the previous day. Assembly members had not, however, spoken to the relatives of all those who had, in turn, been victimised by the “victims”. Relatives were not objective and could not accept that their sons were criminals.

He was grateful to the International Committee of the Red Cross for its help to searching for the disappeared some of whose bodies had been found and returned to their families.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Yevkurov. I call Mr Marty, rapporteur, who has four minutes.

Mr MARTY (Switzerland) thanked delegates for their kind comments. He felt that Mr Slutsky had been right to describe him as neither “pro-Russian”, nor “anti-Russian”. The Assembly had to move beyond such categorisations and should be concerned for the rights of individuals instead. He was pleased that the report had been supported on all sides, including by governments and non-governmental organisations. This would be the beginning of a dialogue and the start of major developments.

The debate had touched on overseas influences in the region but this infiltration had taken place because injustice in the region had created fertile ground for radicalisation. He called on Mr Yevkurov to speak out against human rights abuses by his security services. The population of his region and that throughout Europe must be shown that justice had been done. The killings that had taken place, regardless of the provocation, were not acceptable.

He asked President Yevkurov to leave knowing that he could make a major difference. More than words was required, and it was up to everybody to ensure that reality on the ground matched the dialogue. The population of the North Caucasus region needed justice to be seen to be done.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Marty. We compliment you on a job well done. Indeed, there is unanimous agreement with your sentiments.

Does the chairman of the committee, Mr Pourgourides, wish to speak? You have two minutes.

Mr POURGOURIDES (Cyprus) – The report that is before the Assembly is the product of lengthy and careful discussion in the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights. It is a very balanced report, which is the product of repeated compromises between the rapporteur and the members of the Russian delegation in an effort to put before the Assembly a document that can receive the most widespread support.

I offer my warm congratulations on the climate of compromise that prevailed in the committee during the discussions on the report. I congratulate the Russian members of the committee on the position that they have taken, and Mr Marty on the stance that he has taken. As you know, Mr Marty is one of the pillars of the Assembly when it comes to human rights. We feel very proud that he is a member of our committee. We gave his work strong support, because he deserves that.

Human rights violations cannot be accepted, and I am glad that the members of the Russian delegation support that line. As a result of the report, we can feel quite sure that there will be substantial progress in the region. Therefore, this work will produce the results that we are all aiming at. I warmly congratulate Mr Marty and all of us on this work.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Pourgourides. We all agree with your sentiment that there will be substantial progress in this region. We congratulate you on your leadership of the committee and on a job well done.

The debate is closed.

The Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights has presented a draft resolution to which 11 amendments have been tabled, and a draft recommendation to which no amendments have been tabled. The amendments for the draft resolution will be taken in the order in which they appear in the compendium.

I understand that the Chairperson of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights wishes to propose to the Assembly that the following amendments, which were unanimously approved by the committee, should be declared as agreed by the Assembly under Rule 33.10.

The amendments are Nos. 1, 3, 9, 11 and 7 to the draft resolution.

Is that so Mr Pourgourides?

Mr POURGOURIDES (Cyprus) – Indeed, Mr President. What you have said is correct.

THE PRESIDENT – Does anyone wish to object? That is not the case.

The following amendments have been adopted:

Amendment No.1, tabled by Mrs Anne Brasseur, on behalf of the Political Affairs Committee, which is, in the draft resolution, paragraph 3, replace the words “families of the victims” with the following words: “friends and families of victims of all types of violence, including those”.

Amendment No. 3, tabled by Mrs Anne Brasseur, on behalf of the Political Affairs Committee, which is, in the draft resolution, paragraph 9, replace the words “its aversion to” with the following words: “its unequivocal condemnation of”.

Amendment No. 9, tabled by Mr Andres Herkel, Mr Egidijus Vareikis, Mr Christos Pourgourides, Mrs Tineke Strik and Mrs Doris Stump, which is, in the draft resolution, at the end of paragraph 12, add the following words:

“In this respect, the Assembly invites the Austrian and Russian authorities to cooperate in order to fully elucidate this case.”

Amendment No. 11, tabled by Mr Tiny Kox, Mr Holger Haibach, Mr Andres Herkel, Mr Christos Pourgourides and Mrs Tineke Strik, which is, in the draft resolution, at the end of paragraph 13.1.4, add the following words: “, and take the necessary general measures effectively to prevent such violations in future”.

Amendment No. 7, tabled by Mr Valery Parfenov, Mr Sergey Markov, Mr Valeriy Sudarenkov, Mrs Svetlana Goryacheva and Mr Oleg Panteleev, which is, in the draft resolution, replace paragraph 13.3.2 and paragraph 13.3.3 with the following sub-paragraph:

“guarantee adequate protection to refugees from the North Caucasus who have been harboured in their territory, and consider with the greatest care and caution requests concerning their extradition, in compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights;”.

We now come to Amendment No. 10, tabled by Mr Tiny Kox, Mr Holger Haibach, Mr Egidijus Vareikis, Mr Andres Herkel and Mr Michael Hancock, which is, in the draft resolution, paragraph 4.3, after the first sentence insert the following sentence:

“Serious human rights violations are being reported, such as enforced disappearances and killings of civilians, including possible extrajudicial executions by law enforcement officials.”

I call Mr Herkel to support Amendment No. 10. You have 30 seconds.

Mr HERKEL (Estonia) – We would like to be more exact about human rights violations committed in Dagestan, especially the role of law enforcement officials. That is also referred to in the memorandum – in paragraph 37, for example.

THE PRESIDENT – Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment?

I call Mr Umakhanov to speak against the amendment. You have 30 seconds.

Mr UMAKHANOV (Russian Federation) said that Amendment No. 10 had been discussed in committee. The report was strong because it was balanced and was based only on the facts. This amendment would change that and would weaken the report. It should therefore be rejected.

THE PRESIDENT – What is the opinion of the committee?

Mr POURGOURIDES (Cyprus) – The committee rejected the amendment.

THE PRESIDENT – The vote is open.

Amendment No. 10 is rejected.

We come now to Amendment No. 2, tabled by Mrs Anne Brasseur, on behalf of the Political Affairs Committee, which is, in the draft resolution, at the end of paragraph 5, add the following sentence:

“A high-level state committee on disappeared persons needs to be set up.”

I call Mrs Brasseur to support Amendment No. 2.

Mrs BRASSEUR (Luxembourg) said that paragraph 5 of the draft resolution referred to the important work of the International Committee of the Red Cross in the region. The ICRC had asked for a high-level state committee on missing persons. The Political Affairs Committee supported this and requested that the amendment be made.

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

What is the opinion of the committee?

Mr POURGOURIDES (Cyprus) – We voted gladly in favour.

THE PRESIDENT – The vote is open.

Amendment No. 2 is adopted.

We come to Amendment No. 4, tabled by Mrs Anne Brasseur, on behalf of the Political Affairs Committee, which is, in the draft resolution, paragraph 11, after the words “is imposed”, insert the following words: “, sometimes in a humiliating manner,”.

I call Mrs Brasseur to support Amendment No. 4.

Mrs BRASSEUR (Luxembourg) said that Amendment No. 4 had been tabled because of concerns about the treatment of women in Chechnya. The insertion of the words “sometimes in a humiliating manner” would stress the way in which women had been treated.

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

What is the opinion of the committee?

Mr POURGOURIDES (Cyprus) – We voted in favour.

THE PRESIDENT – The vote is open.

Amendment No. 4 is adopted.

We come now to Amendment No. 5, tabled by Mrs Lydie Err, Mrs Anna Čurdovį, Ms Elvira Kovįcs, Mrs Nursuna Memecan, Mrs Ana Guţu and Mrs Carina Hägg, which is, in the draft resolution, at the end of paragraph 11, add the following sentence:

“In this context, the Assembly is concerned that the ‘moral militia’ threaten the freedom of women to move in complete safety, for example, when they do not wear a scarf or walk alone.”

No one wishes to support the amendment, so it is not moved.

We come to Amendment No. 6, tabled by Mrs Lydie Err, Mrs Anna Čurdovį, Ms Virįg Kaufer, Mrs Andreja Rihter, Mrs Ingrida Circene, Mr Håkon Haugli, Mrs Carmen Quintanilla Barba, Ms Elvira Kovįcs, Mrs Nursuna Memecan, Mrs Ana Guţu, Mrs Carina Hägg and Mrs Mailis Reps, which is, in the draft resolution, after paragraph 13.1.2, insert the following sub-paragraph:

“provide the necessary conditions to ensure that human rights victims have access to justice and are free to exercise their rights to an effective remedy before a judicial body and to adequate protection;”.

I call Mrs Circene to support the amendment.

Mrs CIRCENE (Latvia) – The amendment speaks for itself.

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

What is the opinion of the committee?

Mr POURGOURIDES (Cyprus) – The committee is in favour.

THE PRESIDENT – The vote is open.

Amendment No. 6 is adopted.

We come now to Amendment No. 8, tabled by Mr Tiny Kox, Mr Holger Haibach, Mr Andres Herkel, Mrs Tineke Strik and Mr Christos Pourgourides, which is, in the draft resolution, paragraph 14, after the words “The Assembly”, insert the following words:

“resolves to continue its dedicated monitoring and public reporting on the human rights situation in the North Caucasus. It”.

I have been informed that Mr Pourgourides, on behalf of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, wishes to propose an oral sub-amendment, as follows:

“In Amendment No. 8, replace the words ‘resolves to continue its dedicated monitoring and public reporting on the human rights situation in the North Caucasus. It’ with the words ‘The Assembly requests its Monitoring Committee to pay particular attention to the evolution of the human rights situation in the North Caucacus. It’.”

In my opinion, the oral sub-amendment is in order under our rules.

However, do 10 or more members object to the oral sub-amendment being debated? That is not the case. I therefore call Mr Pourgourides to support the oral sub-amendment.

Mr POURGOURIDES (Cyprus) – The oral sub-amendment was unanimously supported by the committee. It is self-explanatory. We want the Monitoring Committee to monitor the situation, because the committee cannot keep the situation under constant review. It can do so stage by stage, or report by report only.

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

What is the opinion of the mover of the amendment?

Mr KOX (Netherlands) – I accept it.

THE PRESIDENT – The vote is open.

The oral sub-amendment is adopted.

Does anyone wish to speak against Amendment No. 8, as amended? That is not the case.

What is the opinion of the committee?

Mr POURGOURIDES (Cyprus) – The committee is in favour.

THE PRESIDENT – The vote is open.

Amendment No. 8, as amended, is adopted.

We will now proceed to vote on the whole of the draft resolution contained in Document 12276, as amended.

The vote is open.

The draft resolution in Document 12276 , as amended, is adopted, with 132 votes for, 0 against and 6 abstentions.

We will now proceed to vote on the draft recommendation contained in Document 12276.

The vote is open.

The draft recommendation in Document 12276 is adopted, with 127 votes for, 0 against and 4 abstentions.

THE PRESIDENT – Before we move to our next item of business, I would like to remind you that the vote is in progress to elect judges to the European Court of Human Rights in respect of Germany and Malta. The poll will close at 1 p.m. and reopen at 3 p.m. those who have not yet voted may do so by going to the area behind the President’s chair. I urge those of you who have not yet to do so.

(Mr Ēavuşoğlu, President of the Assembly, took the Chair in place of Mr Fahey.)

4. Address by Mr Milo Đukanović, Prime Minister of Montenegro

THE PRESIDENT – We now have the honour of hearing an address by Milo Đukanović, Prime Minister of Montenegro. After his address, the Prime Minister has kindly agreed to take questions from the floor.

It is a pleasure and an honour to welcome you to our Chamber one month after our meeting in Podgorica in the course of my official visit.

Mr Đukanović, you have had an impressively long and prestigious political career. Few leaders of your generation can count on a similar wealth of experience: you were head of the government at the age of 29!

You led your country to its new position in the international community and, three years ago, to accession to the Council of Europe as an independent state. When negotiations for accession to the European Union start, next year, you will continue to accompany Montenegro on its European path.

When we met, you reaffirmed your commitment to the values and principles of the Council of Europe. I was pleased to see that your words were followed by deeds: in this short while, Montenegro has ratified numerous Council of Europe conventions. The new law on the election of councillors and members of parliament of Montenegro was also a good example of co-operation with the Council of Europe, in particular with the Venice Commission. However, as you know, work is not over, and the difficult part might yet be to come: once ratified, conventions need to be enforced consistently.

Mr Đukanović, your presence here shows again your involvement and gives me at the same time the opportunity to confirm once more that, whenever needed, your country has the full support of the Parliamentary Assembly and of the Council of Europe as a whole.

Prime Minister, you have the floor.

Mr ŠUKANOVIĆ (Prime Minister of Montenegro) said that it was a great honour, as President of Montenegro, the youngest member of the Council of Europe but a country with a long and deep history, to address the Assembly. He thanked the President for the invitation and for taking the time to visit Montenegro during recent difficult events.

It was a time for reform for the Council of Europe. This was necessary for it to be able to carry out its role of protecting human rights and the rule of law. Montenegro would continue its work to become a fully functioning democracy.

The Secretary General should be thanked for his actions to make the Council of Europe a modern institution and to improve relations with the European Union and the United Nations. This was important if continued stability were to be achieved through strengthening the rule of law.

It was a particular privilege to be speaking during the 60th anniversary of the European Convention on Human Rights. Montenegro had recently had a referendum on maintaining independence which had been conducted to the highest standards. Montenegro was continuing to improve its democratic standards, particularly through co-operation under the Venice Convention. Montenegro was also acting to spread democratic values throughout the region.

Internally, efforts were being made to improve relationships between numerous ethnic and religious minorities. Montenegro had also successfully established a separate judiciary, legislature and executive.

It was important to continue strengthening democratic institutions and the rule of law. Work was also being done to fight organised crime and corruption and to ensure that policies aimed at reducing such activity were fully implemented.

Montenegro was enjoying micro-economic stability and had had a good tourist season. It was one of the European countries that received the largest amount of foreign direct investment, with more than 80% coming from EU member states, and that trend was continuing this year. This was leading to increased investment in infrastructure energy and tourism, which was further developing the country. He thanked the Council of Europe Development Bank for taking part in so many projects in Montenegro.

Montenegro was also part of a coalition working to solve mainly international problems. Progress was being made on EU-Atlantic relations and liberalisation of the visa regime. By the end of the year, he hoped that Montenegro would have candidate country status. Work on this was going well and Montenegro had to date successfully answered all the EU’s questions.

The stability and association agreement had recently entered into force and this week in Luxembourg there had been the first high-level meeting on implementation. He had also attended a high-level summit in Sarajevo and was committed to continuing improvement of European-Atlantic relations.

Reform should be carried out for the benefit of citizens, and the positive reaction of the EU had helped encourage Montenegro to do better. European-Atlantic integration guaranteed a stable and democratic West Balkans, which would aid stability in both the Balkan region and the Mediterranean, and that in turn would aid global stability.

A lot had been done in a short time. A membership action plan for the EU had been agreed last November, and last week had seen the first meeting on the two-year plan. The first Montenegro contingent had taken part in the international security assistance force mission in the German part of Afghanistan.

Work with the Council of Europe was particularly important for improving human rights and the rule of law. Montenegro had achieved full membership in May 2007. The importance of joining the Council of Europe had been recognised in all spheres of life in Montenegro. He was hopeful that action would be taken to achieve their mutual goals. He placed a high value on the Council of Europe’s work to improve democratic stability, the rule of law and economic development.

The government would implement all suggestions made by the Council of Europe, and the plan for 2008 to 2010 showed that good progress was being made. Of the 78 conventions on human rights, Montenegro had only one more to sign and three more to ratify. He was glad that the Council of Europe was pleased with progress being made but believed that quality of actions was more important than the speed at which they were taken. That was why he was committed not just to ratifying conventions but to achieving their standards so that people could enjoy the rights of 21st century European citizens.

Work was being done to reform the law, the judicial system, education and the prison system. All this work was being done within a human rights framework. In addition, the police were being reformed, action taken to combat corruption and organised crime, and to improve tolerance and to ensure equal treatment of all citizens, including those from the Roma community.

Work with the Venice Commission had been particularly important for the improvement of democracy in Montenegro in 2008-09. Eight laws had been reviewed by the commission, including electoral law and the law of minority rights. Respect for the rule of law was a basic principle and the Commissioner of Human Rights was continuing to monitor the situation in Montenegro.

The work of the European Court of Human Rights was very important, as it provided the pinnacle of protection for human rights. He supported the form of the Court, including the new principles for filtering new applications based on the Interlaken declaration.

Strong efforts were being made to reform national courts, and these needed support from the Council of Europe. A legislative framework had been created to strengthen the capacity of the independent judiciary. This had had positive results, with 76.19% of the previous backlog of cases being dealt with. They were also involved in the project on cybercrime and training for judges run by the Council of Europe. Some 16 of the 24 recommendations had been implemented with the remaining eight partially implemented.

Recommendations in a report by the Council of Europe on the prevention of money laundering and on dealing with the proceeds of organised crime had also been adopted, with 41 of 49 recommendations being taken up.

Montenegro supported all efforts to strengthen human rights and freedom. It had worked to create new legislation and harmonise existing legislation to ensure implementation of the Convention. Institutional capacity was also being strengthened to improve implementation.

In April, the Plenary Assembly of the Council of Europe had issued an opinion on Montenegro. The situation in Montenegro had improved, and he would use the report’s recommendations to make further progress. He was determined to improve the system of law in the country by adopting best practice. He was committed to the core values of the Council of Europe.

Relations with neighbouring countries were of great importance and Montenegro was leading three important regional initiatives. He welcomed the progress made and hoped that dialogue would further improve relations.

He was committed to the rule of law and to an efficient legal system. He hoped that the Council of Europe would continue to support his efforts. A responsible attitude would help with negotiations over European integration.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you very much, Mr Đukanović, for your most interesting address. Members of the Assembly have questions to put to you. I remind them that questions must be limited to 30 seconds and no more. Colleagues should be asking questions and not making speeches.

The first question is from Mr Gardetto on behalf of the Group of the European People’s Party.

Mr GARDETTO (Monaco) drew attention to the plight of refugees and displaced persons in Montenegro. Voluntary and sustainable returns should be a much higher priority in the region and he asked what could be done to achieve sustainable solutions for refugees and displaced people.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. Mr Đukanović, you have the floor.

Mr ĐUKANOVIĆ thanked Mr Gardetto for his contribution as a rapporteur. In the 1990s and at the beginning of the 21st century, Montenegro, like the rest of the world, had experienced problems with the influx of refugees. In the case of Montenegro, refugees had numbered the equivalent of 20% of the population and this had posed a major problem. Wars in the region had invariably had a strong inter-ethnic component and there had been large numbers of refugees from Kosovo and Bosnia. Efforts to resolve these issues were an important obligation in relation to the road map for visa liberalisation by the European Union. Montenegro had to work with the European Union, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and other institutions on these issues.

He believed it was possible to resolve outstanding issues by improving the situation in Bosnia and the relationship between Serbia and Kosovo so that people could return to their homes. The international community could do much to help, but structures had been lacking and there had been insufficient action. The problem had to be solved either by returning refugees to their homes or by helping them to integrate in their new countries. Montenegro had given help with education and health but their place in society was an important question. The governments of the region did not have sufficient resources to deal with this problem.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. The next question is from Mr Fassino on behalf of the Socialist Group.

Mr FASSINO (Italy) said that Mr Đukanović had referred to his desire to improve stability by ensuring that Montenegro joined the EU and transatlantic institutions. This was a valid aspiration. The international community sought to bring stability to the region. He hoped Montenegro would be able to join the European Union as soon as possible. Security in the region was of great importance. Montenegro had been affected by irregular migration flows and organised crime, and this affected not only the country’s well-being but public opinion in European countries.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. Would you like to answer that question, Mr Đukanović?

Mr ĐUKANOVIĆ said that improved security was of the highest priority in all countries in the region and very important for European integration. Europe was all the more concerned because of experiences during enlargement, but these were unsurprising, given the history of the region. There had been ethnic wars and an embargo in the region during the 1990s. As a result, people’s salaries had been so low that they had had a motive to become involved in illegal activities. Criminals in the region were now better integrated than the politicians, so fighting organised crime had to be a high priority.

Montenegro was committed to tackling this issue. It co-operated well with both Interpol and Europol and was working hard to respond to these challenges as part of its moves towards European integration. There tended to be repeated problems with ethnicity in the region, which led to instability. The way forward was integration. This was vital for the states themselves and for the global competitiveness of Europe. Slowing down the process of European integration would have serious consequences.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. I remind colleagues to ask questions in 30 seconds, no more, and only to ask a question, not make a speech.

The next question is from Ms Keaveney on behalf of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.

Ms KEAVENEY (Ireland) – Go raibh maith agat. Prime Minister, you mentioned two words quite a lot there: “stability” and “history”. In that context, I wonder what priority you believe history teaching should have within our education systems to assist in giving our students an understanding of the other within our society so that we can minimise the potential for future conflict through focusing on our similarities within and beyond politics, rather than our differences. What role can the Council of Europe play in assisting with this goal in Montenegro?

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. Would you like to answer that question, Mr Đukanović?

Mr ĐUKANOVIĆ said that the recent history of recurring conflicts was due to insufficient tolerance and insufficient respect for diversity. It was most important to resolve the political problems in the region. Montenegro needed the help of the international community and the Council of Europe to deal with these issues. Reform of the education system and enhancing tolerance would create the conditions for good integration.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. The next question is from Mr Kumcuoğlu, who will speak on behalf of the European Democrat Group.

Mr KUMCUOĞLU (Turkey) – My question is almost the same as that asked by Mr Fassino. Therefore, it has already been answered. However, in my personal capacity as an active member of the Marmara Foundation in Istanbul, I warmly welcome you to the Assembly, Prime Minister, and wish you success in your endeavours.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. Would you like to comment, Mr Šukanović?

Mr ŠUKANOVIĆ (Translation) – Thank you for those comments.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. The next question is from Mr Kox, who will speak on behalf of the Group of the Unified European Left.

Mr KOX (Netherlands) – Prime Minister, the process of European integration also means the accession of the European Union to the European Convention on Human Rights. That process is now finally under way, but it will need ratification from all 47 Council of Europe member states. May we expect Montenegro, as an excellent member of the Council of Europe, to support a short, smooth and efficient process of accession and ratification, as was proposed by our Secretary General, Mr Jagland?

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. Would you like to answer that question, Mr Šukanović?

Mr ŠUKANOVIĆ (Translation) – Very briefly, yes.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. That was a very good and short answer.

The next question is from Mr Petreski.

Mr PETRESKI (“The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”) – Although Montenegro is a small country, it has big responsibilities at the moment – first, as chair of the Central European Initiative and, secondly, as chair of the South-East European Cooperation Process and the Adriatic-Ionian Initiative. How important is regional co-operation for the European and Euro-Atlantic perspective? What can the country and the region do better to fulfil their aspirations?

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. Would you like to answer that question, Mr Šukanović?

Mr ŠUKANOVIĆ agreed that regional co-operation was extremely important and would be a bridge to reconciliation. Many barriers to regional co-operation dated to the wars of the 1990s but he was doing his best to remove them. He viewed regional co-operation as a good resting ground for further European integration. The three initiatives on regional co-operation to which Montenegro was party were a sign of the trust that could be placed in Montenegro.

He highlighted problems that had recently arisen regarding the attendance of representatives from Serbia and Kosovo but reiterated that only a full forum of regional co-operation would prepare the countries of the region for future EU membership.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. The next question is from Mr Galati.

Mr GALATI (Italy) highlighted a recent report from Amnesty International which had praised Montenegro’s progress on respecting human rights. He asked what policies were in place to encourage further progress on human rights ahead of EU membership and possible candidate status for Montenegro in 2011.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. Would you like to answer that question, Mr Šukanović?

Mr ŠUKANOVIĆ said that Montenegro had demonstrated persistence and responsibility to maintain progress and had challenged those who doubted the Montenegro’s viability as a state. The Montenegro people had vigorously met the obligations placed on them and had responded vigorously to all EU Commission challenges and questions. He accepted that these were small steps and the big challenge remained the rule of law and corruption. How Montenegro met those challenges would be the key issue in the development of Montenegro’s democracy and economy.

The past three years had seen a large amount of economic growth in Montenegro and much foreign investment. In order to give confidence to investors and to tackle the problems around the rule of law, Montenegro had harmonised its legal system with that of the EU.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. The next question is from Mr Vareikis.

Mr VAREIKIS (Lithuania) – Prime Minister, you rightly said that your country is still not a member of the European Union, and is not even a candidate, but your national currency is the euro. Somehow, in a non-legal sense, your country is a member of the eurozone. My question is about the future of your national currency. Do you plan to introduce a national currency or do you plan to remain with the euro? What is your relationship with the European Central Bank?

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. Would you like to answer that question, Mr Šukanović?

Mr ŠUKANOVIĆ said that Mr Vareikis was correct to say that Montenegro’s use of the euro supplied a precedent. He referred to Montenegro’s time as part of the former Yugoslavia, an era of hyper-inflation. To tackle that problem, use of the Deutschemark had been allowed in Montenegro and this had ultimately been replaced by the euro. Use of the euro was an advantage, but at one time had involved painful reforms at a heavy price. He believed that the large amount of foreign investment in Montenegro owed much to the adoption of the euro as an official currency.

Montenegro was trying to be responsible and although it was not bound by the Maastricht criteria, its national debt level was only 36% of GDP. This was much lower than in other, more developed economies in the eurozone. He was conscious of the problems but remained committed to a responsible policy. He confirmed that there were no plans to reintroduce a national currency.

THE PRESIDENT – The next question is from Mrs Lavtižar-Bebler.

Mrs LAVTIŽAR-BEBLER (Slovenia) – I congratulate Montenegro on its achievements on its way to becoming a member of the European Union. Montenegro is one of the programme priorities for Slovenian development aid. We hope that your country will soon correct its insufficiencies in the fight against organised crime and corruption, and the freedom of the media. We also hope that your country will be given candidate status in 2010. It would therefore be interesting to hear what your main expectations are for Montenegro in relation to accession.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. Mr Prime Minister, you have the floor.

Mr ŠUKANOVIĆ said that Montenegro had chosen the path of reform to gain a higher quality of living. European integration would be welcomed but was not an end in itself, merely an incentive to further reforms. Full EU integration must not be hurried and he did not want to set a deadline on this.

He said that Montenegro had the potential to be the most developed state of the former Yugoslavia. He said that GDP was around €5 000 below potential but planned improvements in infrastructure and transport would raise GDP and kick start the economy. His priority was to raise living standards but he believed that Montenegro had everything in place to achieve candidate status and a date for beginning negotiations for full EU membership this year. He was keen to avoid the bad precedent of “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” which had achieved candidate status without being given a date for the start of negotiations.

THE PRESIDENT – The next question is from Mr Iwiński.

Mr IWIŃSKI (Poland) – Your country is an oasis of stability in the region, and thanks to that you have had many investments from the EU and Russia. My question is about minorities. One reason for instability in the region used to be the poor approach to minorities. What is the situation in your parliament? In the past, you had an original project for minorities of more than 5% to have an additional three members and for those of less than 5% to have at least one representative. How is that project going, because it used to be a bone of contention in Montenegro?

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. Would you like to answer that question, Mr Đukanović?

Mr ŠUKANOVIĆ reiterated his pride in how Montenegro had managed the rights of minorities. After the break-up of the former Yugoslavia, Montenegro was the only state without a war on its territory. Even though Montenegro was small, underdeveloped and multi-ethnic and had received many refugees in its territory, it had no outstanding issues regarding minority rights, an achievement which went back to the Petrovic dynasty. Problems existed but were very marginal.

He noted that the government coalition voluntarily included parties representing Albanians and other ethnic minorities in Macedonia and the government had shown itself willing to co-operate with all parties which supported Macedonia as a civic state. Electoral legislation did exist with a provision for the Albanian minority who were guaranteed seats in parliament. He said that this system would soon be replaced by an integrated system giving representation to all minorities, and that this system had been approved by the Venice Commission.

THE PRESIDENT – We must now conclude the questions to Mr Đukanović. On behalf of the Assembly I thank him most warmly for his address and for the answers that he has given to questions.

Before we conclude this morning’s session, I would like to remind you that the vote to elect judges to the European Court of Human Rights in respect of Germany and Malta will close at the end of this morning’s session. The poll will reopen at 3 p.m. Those who have not yet voted may do so by going to the area behind the President’s chair at that time.

5. Date, time and orders of the day of the next sitting

THE PRESIDENT – I propose that the Assembly holds its next public sitting this afternoon at 3 p.m. with the agenda that was approved yesterday.

Are there any objections? That is not the case.

The agenda for the next sitting is therefore agreed.

The sitting is closed.

(The sitting was closed at1.05 p.m.)


1.        Election of judges to the European Court of Human Rights in respect of Germany and Malta

2.        Motion to alter the agenda

3.        Legal remedies for human rights violations in the North Caucasus region


Mr Marty (Switzerland)

Mrs Brasseur (Luxembourg)

Mr Yevkurov (President of the Republic of Ingushetia, Russian Federation)

Mrs Beck (Germany)

Mr Lotman (Estonia)

Mr Herkel (Estonia)

Mr Marcenaro (Italy)

Mr Kandelaki (Georgia)

Mr Badré (France)

Mr Kosachev (Russian Federation)

Mr Slutsky (Russian Federation)

Mr Gross (Switzerland)

Mrs Goryacheva (Russian Federation)

Mrs Schuster (Germany)

Mr Fadzaev (Russian Federation)

Mr Umakhanov (Russian Federation)

Mrs Reps (Estonia)

Amendments Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 9 and 11 adopted

Oral sub-amendment to Amendment No. 8 adopted

Amendment No. 8, as amended, adopted

Amendment No. 10 not adopted

Draft resolution in Doc. 12276, as amended, adopted

Draft recommendation in Doc. 12276 adopted.

4.        Address by Mr Milo Đukanović, Prime Minister of Montenegro


      Mr Gardetto (Monaco)

      Mr Fassino (Italy)

      Ms Keaveney (Ireland)

      Mr Kumcuoğlu (Turkey)

      Mr Kox (Netherlands)

      Mr Ivanovski (The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia)

      Mr Galati (Italy)

      Mr Vareikis (Lithuania)

      Mrs Lavtizar-Bebler (Slovenia)

      Mr Iwiński (Poland)

5.        Date, time and agenda of the next meeting