AA14CR33

AS (2014) CR 33

2014 ORDINARY SESSION

________________________

(Fourth part)

REPORT

Thirty-third sitting

Wednesday 1 October 2014 at 3.30 p.m.

In this report:

1.       Speeches in English are reported in full.

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

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

4. Corrections should be handed in at Room 1059A no later than 24 hours after the report has been circulated

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

      (Ms Brasseur, President of the Assembly, took the Chair at 3.30 p.m.)

      THE PRESIDENT – The sitting is open. I call Mr Hancock on a point of order.

Mr HANCOCK (United Kingdom) – At the sitting of the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy that has just finished, the members of Armenian delegation said – unfortunately – that they will not co-operate with the rapporteur on Nagorno-Karabakh appointed by the committee. Will you use your good offices to ask them to reconsider? It is in nobody’s interests for them to persist in such a position. Should they do so, will the Bureau take up the matter of their credentials?

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Hancock. I will of course refer that matter to the Bureau, which will meet on Friday.

1. The functioning of democratic institutions in Georgia (resumed debate)

THE PRESIDENT – We will continue with the agenda and return to this morning’s debate. I call the Chairperson of the Monitoring Committee, Mr Schennach.

Mr SCHENNACH (Austria)* – I am grateful to the Assembly as a whole for what has occasionally been an emotionally charged debate. I represent the Monitoring Committee, which debated the report yesterday. As chairperson, I am responsible for all my rapporteurs: I must stand behind them and support them. Later today, you will hear how the committee voted, including that the rapporteur was against the committee’s view. It is certainly not the first time that that has happened in the history of the Council of Europe, but we do not want a situation in which rapporteurs are forced to vote against their own report. I therefore advise the Assembly to vote to refer the report back for reconsideration by the committee so that the rapporteur is able to vote in its favour. It is important for chairs to support their rapporteurs, and if a rapporteur is unable to subscribe to his or her own report, they should be given an opportunity to discuss it afresh in committee to try to find a way in which they can do so.

      THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. I call Mr Kandelaki on a point of order.

Mr KANDELAKI (Georgia) – I want to inform the Assembly that about half an hour ago the Georgian Prime Minister made a public statement that he has agreed with the Council of Europe to delete critical points from the resolution. He meant the points adopted by an overwhelming majority in the committee. The committee has made its opinion extremely clear, by the very large margin of 25 votes to two, so it would be very disrespectful to the committee to send back the report at this point.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Kandelaki. I call Sir Roger Gale on a point of order.

Sir Roger GALE (United Kingdom) – I have just been shown a copy of the e-mail, which is quite disgraceful. The fact that any politician from outside the Chamber should seek to influence a report in such a way is completely out of order. The e-mail ought to be published. More importantly, however, we should proceed immediately to put to the vote the changes agreed by the Monitoring Committee.

      THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Sir Roger. I call Mr Jensen on a point of order.

Mr JENSEN (Denmark) – I must admit that neither of the two co-rapporteurs have seen the statement by the Georgian Prime Minister. Because there is now such confusion about what he has or has not said, I and my co-rapporteur support the proposal of the Chairperson of the Monitoring Committee to withdraw the report so that we can follow up on what the Georgian Prime Minister has said. In the light of this confusion, let us pull the report back to the Monitoring Committee for us to follow it all up.

Mr BINLEY (United Kingdom) – On a point of order, Madam President.

THE PRESIDENT – No.

Mr BINLEY (United Kingdom) – Are you refusing a point of order, Madam President?

THE PRESIDENT – No, I am not; I just want to explain that the rapporteur has now proposed to send the report back to the committee.

Mr BINLEY (United Kingdom) – It is on that point that I want to raise a point of order, Madam President.

THE PRESIDENT –Give me a chance, Mr Binley. I just want to explain the procedure. With such a proposal, it is up to the Assembly to vote on it. According to our rules – I am speaking under the direction of the Secretary General – one member should speak for the proposal and one against, and we should then vote on it. I just wanted to remind members of our rules. I call Mr Binley on a point of order.

      Mr BINLEY (United Kingdom) – I understand, Madam President. Thank you for that clarification. I point out that the Assembly is an adult body made up of very experienced politicians. It seems sensible to me for the report to be reviewed in the normal way, and for us to hear not only from the rapporteur but from the Monitoring Committee on each amendment. We will then be able to decide on the amendments without the report having to go back to the Monitoring Committee first.

      THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Binley. I call Mr Agramunt on a point of order.

      Mr AGRAMUNT (Spain)* – We have heard what colleagues have to say. Two have said the Monitoring Committee voted overwhelmingly for the report – by 24 votes. There is no doubt about that, and therefore no reason to call the report into question. The report expresses the will of the Monitoring Committee, and I hope that it also expresses the will of the plenary Assembly.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Agramunt. I call Mr Hancock on another point of order.

Mr HANCOCK (United Kingdom) – My point of order is about the propriety or otherwise of the proposition. I was under the impression that the reference back of a report had to be made before it was debated or when the agenda for the week is fixed. If that is not the case, that is fine, but it is certainly my impression that that was the interpretation in the past.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you for asking that question, Mr Hancock, but that is not the case. A reference back has to be made before the final vote on the resolution, at the latest.

      A request has been made to send the report back to the Monitoring Committee. Does anyone wish to speak in its favour? That is not the case. Mr Schennach, you have already spoken about it.

      Does anyone wish to speak against the request? I call Sir Roger Gale.

      Sir Roger GALE (United Kingdom) – The report has effectively already been debated, to take Mr Hancock’s point. It is no longer the property of the Monitoring Committee; it is the property of the Assembly. It has been brought forward, quite correctly, before the Assembly. A series of amendments to it have been tabled, almost all of which were carried overwhelmingly by the Monitoring Committee. It would be quite improper to send it back at this stage. Those amendments should be voted on properly, and we will all democratically abide by the results.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you.

      What is the opinion of the committee?

Mr SCHENNACH (Austria) – The Monitoring Committee did its work and the report was presented.

THE PRESIDENT – We shall now vote on the proposal to send the report back to the Monitoring Committee.

      The vote is open.

      The proposal has been rejected, with 51 votes for, 60 against and 7 abstentions.

      (The speaker continued in French.)

The Monitoring Committee has presented a draft resolution to which 34 amendments and 5 sub-amendments have been tabled.

      The amendments will be taken in the order in which they appear in the Compendium and the Organisation of Debates1. I remind you that speeches on amendments are limited to 30 seconds.

      I understand that Mr Schennach wishes to propose to the Assembly that Amendments 28, 5 and 6 to the draft resolution, which were unanimously approved by the Monitoring Committee, should be declared as adopted by the Assembly.

      Is that so, Mr Schennach?

Mr SCHENNACH (Austria) – Yes.

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

      Amendments 5, 6 and 28 to the draft resolution are adopted.

      I note that Amendments 3 and 4 were unanimously approved by the committee, but as sub-amendments have been tabled to those amendments, they cannot be taken en bloc.

      We come to Amendment 7. I call Ms Magradze to support the amendment.

Ms MAGRADZE (Georgia) – In the first paragraph of the draft resolution, a particular difference needs to be pointed out. The 2012 parliamentary election was not free and fair; the 2013 presidential election was judged to be free and fair, meeting European democratic standards.

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

I call Sir Roger Gale.

Sir Roger GALE (United Kingdom) – I repeat what I said to the Monitoring Committee, which rejected the amendment overwhelmingly. Those of us who attended those elections know that they were free and fair, and the report of the Council of Europe’s monitoring team said they were free and fair. So this is quite wrong.

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

Mr SCHENNACH (Austria) – Against.

THE PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      Amendment 7 is rejected.

      I understand that Ms Magradze wishes to withdraw Amendment 8.

      We come to Amendment 24. I call Ms Pourbaix-Lundin to support the amendment.

Ms POURBAIX-LUNDIN (Sweden) – We want the report to reflect reality, and the reality is that several thousand activists and supporters of the opposition party UNM have been regularly interrogated and intimidated by investigative agencies. That has been confirmed by various NGOs, including Transparency International. The amendment should therefore be made so that the report reflects the reality on the ground in Georgia.

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

      I call Mr Jensen.

Mr JENSEN (Denmark) – We are against the amendment because we clearly touch on this issue in paragraph 9. Our wording is quite frank but also balanced, so there is no partisanship. We favour voting no to the amendment because we believe that our text is clearer.

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

Mr SCHENNACH (Austria) – In favour.

THE PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

We come to Amendment 25. I call Ms Pourbaix-Lundin to support the amendment.

Ms POURBAIX-LUNDIN (Sweden) – This amendment is also intended to make the report reflect reality. The reality is that, two years on, many former members of the ruling party are now under arrest or prosecution, and that should be mentioned in the report because we in this Assembly want to reflect reality, I hope.

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

      I call Mr Chikovani.

Mr CHIKOVANI (Georgia) – The amendment does not just refer to the issues taking place two years ago, but tries to undermine the whole sense of paragraph 2, thereby changing the position presented in the report and indicated by the rapporteurs when preparing the draft resolution. The point could be mentioned somewhere else, but not here.

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

Mr SCHENNACH (Austria) – In favour.

THE PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

We come to Amendment 30. I call Mr Kandelaki to support the amendment. You have 30 seconds.

      Mr KANDELAKI (Georgia) – The reforms as they are cited in the original paragraph can hardly be described as reforms. The Georgian Government has been bombarded by waves of criticism that is in spirit contrary to the claims of the paragraph. I call on the Assembly to support the amendment and delete the paragraph.

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

      Mr JAPARIDZE (Georgia) – I shall contradict my distinguished colleague from the Georgian opposition. The amendment makes it seem like the opposition want to delete all the positive accomplishments made by the Georgian Government. Those achievements have been acknowledged by the international community, including the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

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

      Mr SCHENNACH (Austria) – In favour.

      The PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      We come to amendment 33. I call Mr Kandelaki to support the amendment. You have 30 seconds.

Mr KANDELAKI (Georgia) – It is a publicly known fact, confirmed by public statements by former Prime Minister Ivanishvili, as well as by ministers, that while Mr Ivanishvili resigned and is outside the constitutional framework, he continues to be the main decision-maker in the government. When a panel of experts recently complained about the interior minister, he said, “I will fire him.” It is one thing to consult him, but it is another for him to be in charge of the government. The amendment should be adopted.

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

      Mr JENSEN (Denmark) – We are strongly against the amendment, because if you read what it says, it says that the government consult with him as a former prime minister. I do not know how it is in your countries, but in normal European countries it is absolutely legal for a government to consult with whoever it chooses to consult with. If we approve the amendment, the report will state that we express concern that a current government is talking with a predecessor. That is very much against what this Organisation stands for, so we are against the amendment.

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

      Mr SCHENNACH (Austria) – In favour.

      The PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      Amendment 33 is rejected.

      I call Ms Magradze to support the amendment. You have 30 seconds.

      Ms MAGRADZE (Georgia) – Judicial reform is ongoing in Georgia and is a high priority for the government. The independence of judges has been increased with the depoliticisation of the appointment process, in line with the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission recommendation.

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

      Mr KANDELAKI (Georgia) – I think the fact that the leaders of the main opposition party are either already in jail or being prosecuted disproves the merit of the amendment.

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

      Mr SCHENNACH (Austria) – Against.

The PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      Amendment 9 is rejected.

      We come to Amendment 26, which has a sub-amendment. I call Ms Pourbaix-Lundin to support the amendment. You have 30 seconds.

      Ms POURBAIX-LUNDIN (Sweden) – The amendment would insert the words, "and opposition figures" after "former government members", because that would be a much wider wording. Such figures should be included. I think the rapporteurs agree with that.

      THE PRESIDENT* – We now come to the sub-amendment, tabled by the Monitoring Committee. I call co-rapporteur Mr Cilevičs to support the sub-amendment on behalf of the committee.

      Mr CILEVIČS (Latvia) – The amendment makes an important point, but the sub-amendment would make the wording more precise, so that “and opposition figures” becomes “some of them being leading opposition members”. That is more accurate language, and should the sub-amendment be agreed, we can agree the amendment.

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

      That is not the case.

      What is the opinion of Ms Pourbaix-Lundin?

      Ms POURBAIX-LUNDIN (Sweden) – I think we can all live with the sub-amendment.

THE PRESIDENT* – The Committee is obviously in favour of the sub-amendment.

      I shall now put sub-amendment 1 to the vote.

      The vote is open.

      Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment, as amended? I call Mr Chikovani.

      Mr CHIKOVANI (Georgia) – This whole debate is going to turn into some kind of mess. That has already been started by one of my colleagues. The figures have been arrested. The report says that the Council of Europe is taking note of the matter, but the amendment is getting carried away when it says that they have been arrested because they are opposition figures. None of the charges or claims filed against them was connected to their duties or roles as opposition leaders. It was connected to the previous official positioning.

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

      Mr SCHENNACH (Austria) – In favour.

      The PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      We come to Amendment 10. I call Ms Magradze to support the amendment. You have 30 seconds.

      Ms MAGRADZE (Georgia) – In the 2010 report by the Council of Europe on the activity of the judicial system in Georgia, the system was evaluated very negatively. The same judges are in place, and that is why we find it appropriate to have a three-year probation period for judges appointed to a life term in office, as is the case in many European countries, including Germany, Bulgaria and Hungary.

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

      Mr CILEVIČS (Latvia) – This is a consistent position of the Assembly. We were previously advised to reduce the probation period. The report also completely matches up with what the Venice Commission says, so I am against the amendment.

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

      Mr SCHENNACH (Austria) – Against.

      The PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      Amendment 10 is rejected.

      I call Ms Magradze to support Amendment 11.

Ms MAGRADZE (Georgia) – The use of pre-trial detention is no longer rife within Georgia. We now have 26% of cases in 2013 versus 46% in 2012.

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

      Mr KANDELAKI (Georgia) – An overwhelming majority of credible NGOs continue to report that this is indeed a problem. The fact that a large number of major opposition figures are in pre-trial detention, such as the campaign manager of the main opposition party, who was thrown into pre-trial detention five days before the run-off, illustrates that it is not only a problem but continues to be used for political purposes.

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

      Mr SCHENNACH (Austria) – The committee is against.

      THE PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      Amendment 11 is rejected.

      I call Mr Kandelaki to support Amendment 31.

      Mr KANDELAKI (Georgia) – This amendment also relates to what I have already said previously – that it is absolutely unacceptable for the concept of pre-trial detention to be used for political purposes. There can be hardly anyone in this room who would argue against that.

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

Mr CILEVIČS (Latvia) – I am not going to argue against this. Of course the matter is self-evident, but technically this is the wrong place to mention it. We have said that on several occasions. In this paragraph we enumerate in a very detailed manner all the conditions that have been formulated by the Venice Commission and other bodies. The amendment makes the wording of the paragraph worse, so for the purposes of clarity I suggest that it be rejected.

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

      Mr SCHENNACH (Austria) – The committee is in favour.

      THE PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      I understand that Ms Magradze wishes to withdraw Amendment 12.

      We now come to Amendment 27. I call Mr Omtzigt to support the amendment.

Mr OMTZIGT (Netherlands) – This amendment refers to a number of recent cases in which assets have been frozen even though the accusations do not involve illicit assets, and in which the assets of family members have been frozen. In my speech, I gave the example of the freezing of the assets not only of the former president, which one can understand, but of his wife and mother, and the taking away of his mother’s car. That goes well beyond the borders of what is reasonable. That is the reason for the amendment. If someone else wants to take out the word “widespread”, that is up for discussion, but this is happening and it should not be happening.

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

Mr JENSEN (Denmark) – Mr Omtzigt almost said what I wanted to say, which is that we have not found evidence to support the idea that this is widespread. If the amendment is accepted, it will go against facts. We have heard reports about the president’s family. That is of course worrying, and we will follow it up, but we have no evidence at all to support its being widespread and including family members of opposition figures and former governmental officials. That is factually untrue and not proven.

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

Mr SCHENNACH (Austria) – The committee is in favour.

THE PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      I call Mr Kandelaki to support Amendment 32.

Mr KANDELAKI (Georgia) – To say that the Assembly welcomes the reforms of the law enforcement sector would be a huge overstatement, not only because so many politicians are in jail but because there are reports of abuse, torture, witnesses dying, and so on. We do not want to give false encouragement to something that is wrong.

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

Mr JAPARIDZE (Georgia) – Unfortunately, I should now like again to contradict my distinguished Georgian colleague from the opposition. This looks like a squabble between two parts of the Georgian delegation. The new Georgian government is doing its best. We are reforming our corrupted legal system, and we are improving matters, but it takes time. This is not personally against the opposition.

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

Mr SCHENNACH (Austria) – The committee is in favour.

THE PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      I understand that Ms Magradze wishes to withdraw Amendment 13.

      We come now to Amendment 14, and I call Ms Magradze to support the amendment.

Ms MAGRADZE (Georgia) – In the committee’s eyes, the government has introduced and implemented important reforms in providing plurality and transparency in the appointment processes of the public broadcaster.

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

Mr KANDELAKI (Georgia) – Last year, this Assembly expressed concern in one of its resolutions over what was taking place within the public broadcaster. There are credible reports by Georgian NGOs that an intelligence officer has been placed on the public broadcaster’s premises and is influencing its editorial policies on a daily basis. I asked the prime minister in parliament whether that was true, and he responded that he was not going to answer the question because I did not have a right to ask it. This amendment should be rejected because it is simply not true.

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

Mr SCHENNACH (Austria) – The committee is against.

THE PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      Amendment 14 is rejected.

      Amendments 15, 16 and 17 have been withdrawn.

      We come now to Amendment 18. I call Ms Magradze to support the amendment.

Ms MAGRADZE (Georgia) – According to the United Nations Human Rights Committee general observation, the Georgian Government is committed to implementing its international commitments, including to ensuring the rule of law and accountability for past human rights abuses.

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

      I call Mr Kandelaki.

      Mr KANDELAKI (Georgia) – The amendment from my colleagues states that no one is above the law, but we have heard these words from many authoritarian regimes cracking down on their opponents. We should not encourage this authoritarian regime in the making.

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

      Mr SCHENNACH (Austria) – The committee is against.

THE PRESIDENT* – The vote is open

      Amendment 18 is rejected.

      We come now to Amendment 4. I call Mr Cilevičs to support the amendment on behalf of the monitoring committee.

Mr CILEVIČS (Latvia) – The amendment reflects developments after the committee approved the report in June. The beginning of the prosecution of former President Saakashvili should be mentioned, but we have deliberately chosen neutral language. Once again, we call on our Georgian friends to act in full accordance with our principles.

THE PRESIDENT* – We now come to Sub-Amendment 1. I call Mr Chikovani to support the sub-amendment.

Mr CHIKOVANI (Georgia) – The sub-amendment would ensure the neutral language that Mr Cilevičs wants by referring to due process not only for former President Saakashvili, but for all government officials who could face, or are facing, prosecution. It suggests that all cases should be treated the same.

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

Mr CILEVIČS (Latvia) – Of course, neutral language is good, but the sub-amendment would completely water down the amendment. We chose exactly the words we wanted. The amendment is about the prosecution of the former president; it was not meant as a general statement. We have made such a statement before.

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

      The vote is open

      The sub-amendment is rejected.

      Does anyone wish to speak against Amendment 4? I call Mr Chikovani.

Mr CHIKOVANI (Georgia) – I realise that my words will mean little. I agree with Mr Cilevičs that the rapporteurs said what they wanted to say, but unfortunately the report has been watered down and many things they did not want to say are now in there. As for the amendment, it would have been better to generalise the statement by applying it to everyone.

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

Mr SCHENNACH (Austria) – The committee is in favour.

THE PRESIDENT* – The vote is open

      I understand that the committee now wishes to propose Oral Amendment 1. Is that the case?

      Mr CILEVIČS (Latvia) – Yes, the oral amendment is part of the compromise reached on Amendment 17 and reflects a new development that should be mentioned. It states that these trials are being monitored. That is a fact – not a judgment – and a serious point that we have overlooked.

      THE PRESIDENT* – The oral amendment is as follows:

      After paragraph 10.5 insert a new paragraph 10.6 stating: “The Assembly takes note that these trials are monitored by international as well as civil society organisations.”

      The President may accept an oral amendment or sub-amendment on the grounds of promoting clarity, accuracy or conciliation and if there is not opposition from 10 or more members to its being debated.

      In my opinion, the oral amendment meets the criteria of rule 34.6. Is there any opposition to the amendment being debated?

      I do not believe that that is the case – [Interruption.] Members need to stand straight away.

Mr BINLEY (United Kingdom) –You say we have to stand straightaway, but we have only just been given the text of the oral amendment. This is a complicated matter and people need a little time to think about it. They took that time and then reacted. I think you should accept that more than 10 people rose to their feet.

THE PRESIDENT – Of course, there were more people standing at the end. That was why I waited. More than 10 people are opposed to the oral amendment. I agree that colleagues need time – I read out the oral amendment in French and some colleagues had to wait for the translation. Enough colleagues therefore object so we will not examine the compromise oral amendment.

Mr CHIKOVANI (Georgia) – On a point of order, Madam President. You have not asked whether anyone wishes to challenge the amendment as it is.

THE PRESIDENT – If sufficient Members – 10 – are opposed to the oral sub-amendment, I cannot put it to a vote. That is why we could not vote. Those are our rules of procedure, which I have to apply.

(The speaker continued in French.)

I call Mr Cilevičs to support Amendment 3 on behalf of the Monitoring Committee.

Mr CILEVIČS (Latvia) – Again, this amendment reflects the new effects that occurred after adoption. Our Assembly did not monitor the municipal elections, but we rely on a variety of sources, including the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe and others, to evaluate such elections generally.

THE PRESIDENT* – I call Mr Chikovani to support the sub-amendment.

Mr CHIKOVANI (Georgia) – Once again, this is a matter of clarity. We suggest deleting the word “persistent”, as it cannot be persistent if it is one case connected to one election. It is not only about opposition members; some members of the ruling party have had to switch. A due process is ongoing, as are investigations. It is not only the opposition; everybody was pressured or pushed to change sides or take a different decision.

THE PRESIDENT* – Does anybody wish to speak against the amendment?

Mr CILEVIČS (Latvia) – Unfortunately, these allegations are persistent. All the information we heard was exactly about the opposition candidates. I am against the sub-amendment.

THE PRESIDENT* – What is the view of the Committee?

Mr SCHENNACH (Austria) – Unanimously in favour.

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

The vote is open.

The sub-amendment is adopted.

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

What is the opinion of the Committee?

Mr SCHENNACH (Austria) – Unanimously in favour.

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

The vote is open.

I understand that Ms Magradze wishes to withdraw Amendment 19.

      I call Mr Kandelaki to support Amendment 34.

Mr KANDELAKI (Georgia) – The democratic backsliding has unfortunately been accompanied by a dramatic increase in violent crimes against various minorities. Unfortunately, many international bodies are reporting a lack of any meaningful investigation of those crimes, which are not only violent crimes. For example, a pig’s head was nailed to the door of a madrassa. When it was discovered that the person who did it was the chairman of the local Georgian Dream youth organisation, he was let off with just a small fine. The amendment reflects the reality.

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

      I call Mr Chikovani.

Mr CHIKOVANI (Georgia) – I hate to turn this into a debate on Georgian internal politics, but that seems to be the mood. Whatever the rapporters have identified is already in the report. It is self-explanatory. I urge you not to pursue speculations on the issue. Georgia has been tolerant towards its ethnically different and religious minorities. Yes, Georgia has some difficulties. It has adopted a new anti-discrimination law, and it is trying its best. This amendment would put something in the resolution which is not true. That is all.

THE PRESIDENT* – What is the opinion of the Committee?

Mr SCHENNACH (Austria) – In favour.

THE PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      I call Mr Dişli to support Amendment 2.

Mr DIŞLI (Turkey) – This amendment is self-explanatory. Demands have come from the Muslim community for the construction of new mosques, and we ask the Georgian authorities to accept those demands.

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

      I call Mr Cilevičs.

      Mr CILEVIČS (Latvia) – I have great sympathy with the proposal, but for two reasons, I cannot agree with the wording. First, the paragraph is not about the rights of religious minorities but about intolerance and discrimination. Secondly, certain conditions must be established by law and regulations for how such demands are considered and met, so this may be too radical. We will probably deal with this issue in future, as we have dealt with it before. I fully recognise the importance of the issue, but I must speak against it.

THE PRESIDENT* – What is the opinion of the Committee?

Mr SCHENNACH (Austria) – Against.

THE PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      Amendment 2 is rejected.

      I call Ms Magradze to support Amendment 20.

Ms MAGRADZE (Georgia) – Crimes on grounds of ethnic, religious or sexual identity may happen in Georgia, as in every country in this Organisation, but all cases in Georgia have been investigated or are under investigation.

THE PRESIDENT* – I call Mr Cilevičs to support the sub-amendment on behalf of the Monitoring Committee.

Mr CILEVIČS (Latvia) – We cannot agree with the first sentence of the amendment, because we are not at all satisfied with the investigation and prosecution of these crimes. However, the second sentence is factually correct, and this is an important development, so the essence of our sub-amendment is to add only the second sentence of the amendment and delete the word “also”.

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

      What is the opinion of Ms Magradze?

Ms MAGRADZE (Georgia) – In favour.

THE PRESIDENT* – The Committee is obviously in favour.

      I shall now put the sub-amendment to the vote.

      The vote is open.

      The sub-amendment is adopted.

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

      I shall now put the amendment, as amended, to the vote.

      The vote is open.

      I call Mr Dişli to support Amendment 1.

Mr DİŞLİ (Turkey) – The population has always been referred to as Meskhetian Turks or Ahiskan Turks in previous Assembly documents and other international organisation texts.

THE PRESIDENT* – Thank you. Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment? I call Mr Cilevičs.

      Mr CILEVIČS (Latvia) – Madam President, this is a sensitive issue, because there is no agreement within Meskhetian communities. Some call themselves Meskhetian Turks, others do not. This is why since 2010 in this Assembly we have tried consistently to use a neutral term. The Meskhetian population were a deported Meskhetian population, so I suggest sticking to this tradition and not supporting this amendment.

THE PRESIDENT* – Thank you. What is the committee’s view?

Mr SCHENNACH (Austria) – It is against.

THE PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      Amendment 1 is rejected.

      I call Ms Magradze to support Amendment 21.

Ms MAGRADZE (Georgia) – Those Meskhetians who applied for citizenship of Georgia for the present were granted it.

      THE PRESIDENT* – Thank you. Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment? Mr Cilevičs.

      Mr CILEVIČS (Latvia) – This is not corroborated by facts. We are in permanent contact with Meskhetian NGOs and we have heard a lot of complaints about the implementation of the granting of citizenship process, so we are not convinced by this argument and we do not consider that it is valid to the extent that it should be included in the Assembly resolution. I am therefore against it.

      THE PRESIDENT* – Thank you. What is the committee’s stand?

      Mr SCHENNACH (Austria) – Against.

THE PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      Amendment 21 is rejected.

      We come to Amendment 22, with a sub-amendment. I give the floor to Madam Magradze to support Amendment 22.

Ms MAGRADZE (Georgia) – The creation was adopted by the Government of Georgia on 12 September 2014.

THE PRESIDENT* – There is a sub-amendment, tabled by the committee. I give the floor to Mr Cilevičs to support the sub-amendment.

Mr CILEVIČS (Latvia) – This is a very important development, but since the document is quite fresh we have had no chance to look at it. Of course we should mention this in our report, but we do not withdraw our recommendation to have a strategy.

THE PRESIDENT* – Does anyone wish to speak against the sub-amendment. That is not the case. What is the opinion of the drafter of the original amendment? The committee, of course, is in favour, by definition. We now vote on the sub-amendment.

      The vote is open on the sub-amendment.

      The sub-amendment is adopted.

      Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment, as amended?

      That is not the case.

      What is the opinion of the committee?

Mr SCHENNACH (Austria) – In favour.

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

      The vote is open.

      Amendment 23 has been withdrawn.

      We now come to Amendment 29, and call Madame Pourbaix-Lundin to support it.

Ms POURBAIX-LUNDIN (Sweden) – I think this last paragraph should be consistent with the resolution. As so many new amendments have been voted in, it is very proper to have this amendment. It does not say that you should not take note of the progress in Georgia, but that progress has been overshadowed by the prosecution of almost the entire leadership of the former government party, and so on. If we put this in, it will reflect what has been done to this resolution at this late hour.

THE PRESIDENT* – Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment? Mr Jensen.

Mr JENSEN (Denmark) – As the Assembly has probably read it all, it will know that we touch very considerably on this whole topic in paragraph 4 in the updated version of our report. We are quite frank, from our perspective, about that, and voiced quite a strong opinion about this against the government. We have also said that this is a very sensitive issue and that we should, of course, be very balanced in our approach. On the one hand, we do not support selective justice, but on the other hand we do not want anyone just to go free because of a former job. We therefore believe that we should vote against this, because we have a very balanced approach towards it in our report.

      THE PRESIDENT* – What is the committee’s opinion?

      Mr SCHENNACH (Austria) – It is in favour.

      THE PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      We shall now vote on the draft resolution as a whole, as contained in Document 13588 and as amended.

      The vote is open.

2. Current affairs debate

      THE PRESIDENT* – The next item of business this afternoon is a current affairs debate on the crisis in Ukraine.

      I remind you that at our session on Monday we agreed that the current affairs debate would run for one and a half to three hours and that the speaking time would be limited to three minutes.

      Mr Schennach will open the debate as the first speaker appointed by the Bureau. He will be given a speaking time of 10 minutes. His statement will be followed by speakers on behalf of political groups, and then we will hear from the Human Rights Commissioner, Mr Nils Muiznieks.        Thank you very much for participating in our debate.

      The list of speakers was closed at 12 p.m. Before I call you, Mr Schennach, I will perhaps allow you to have a few seconds’ respite, because you worked so hard as the Monitoring Committee chair just a while ago.

Mr SCHENNACH (Austria)* – Distinguished colleagues, since the beginning of this year the Council of Europe has been forced to deal with one of its biggest challenges. The Parliamentary Assembly has dealt with this issue on many occasions, including in our Monitoring Committee and the sub-committee. Mailis Reps and Marietta de Pourbaix-Lundin, our two rapporteurs, have spent a total of almost three months in Ukraine.

Secretary General, the Committee of Ministers recently called on all Russian troops to leave the territory of Ukraine and at its meeting in Vienna the chairmanship-in-office of the Committee of Ministers did so too, as did the President of our Parliamentary Assembly. We have an Assembly mission as well.

All these bodies are seeking to defend, safeguard and restore the values that underpin the Council of Europe. We are talking here about the sovereignty of a member state and about an Organisation that operates on the basis of values. We do not have an army. We have to work on the basis of our shared values, which bind us all; so we simply cannot have aggression and land grabs between member States of the Council of Europe.

I want to take you back to the beginning and refresh your memories, because all of this started with the Ukrainian people crying out against unbearable corruption. There was loss of trust in the political class and serious failures on the part of the judiciary, who were unable to defend the political system, which had been captured by oligarchs. There was nothing to suggest to ordinary people that things were changing for the better and that their lives were improving. That is why the people spoke out – and they did it by going down on to the Maidan to demonstrate. Essentially, they were challenging an entire system.

The people on the Maidan were clamouring for reform and reform is still needed, although there has been a change at the top in the government. The country still needs reform, but it also needs stability, on the economic and security fronts as well as on the political front. The reforms that are so badly needed by Ukraine today are precisely those reforms that people were calling for back in the day on the Maidan: they were calling for the rule of law, for devolution, for decentralisation in a vast country, and for human rights to be upheld. They were also speaking out in favour of minority rights.

Ladies and gentlemen, we find ourselves today in a situation in which many thousands of Ukrainians have lost their lives. There is bloodletting in the country and a foreign nation has interfered aggressively in the affairs of Ukraine. This is a situation that we, as the Council of Europe, cannot countenance. We simply cannot tolerate a neighbouring country destabilising another land and undermining its sovereignty. Sending troops into a foreign country is wholly unacceptable.

Of course, there are internal factors that are possibly conducive to such intervention, such as the lack of functioning state institutions, corruption and the interests of the oligarchs. Therefore we need – this is something that the Committee of Ministers absolutely has to recognise – a durable, permanent cease-fire. We need to see the unconditional and complete withdrawal of foreign troops. At the same time, we also need dialogue and negotiations within the country, between political parties, and within civil society and regions, as well as between minorities. On a parallel track, we also need dialogue between Ukraine and its neighbour, Russia.

Furthermore we need to investigate all war crimes that have been perpetrated so far, without exception, and the perpetrators must be held to account.

We must also require the immediate restoration of sovereignty and of control of the borders of one of our member States. We therefore call for free access and freedom of movement for all observers, be they from the Council of Europe or the OSCE.

On behalf of the Monitoring Committee, I have reviewed the laws that were passed in Kiev in September and I have forwarded them to the Venice Commission. In a speech in April, I said that we must deal with the issues of self-government and decentralised structures, which we must view as part of the key to solving this problem. In Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Spain and Austria, for example, we have central governments, but power can be shared between the centre and the regions, and a state can function as a whole.

These are all demands that we as the Council of Europe are entitled to insist on, because we, ladies and gentlemen, are the only player in this conflict that does not have any geostrategic interests. We are quite different from the European Union or NATO. We are seeking to restore the values of the rule of law, democracy and human rights among our fellow member states.

However, let us not forget that winter is approaching and the humanitarian disaster in the east is a cause for alarm. Prices are skyrocketing and people do not have enough power – electricity – and they do not have enough money to pay for heating. In addition, food prices have increased dramatically. So we are on the verge of a real catastrophe.

Russia has to understand that the Council of Europe is a partner; but we are also a stakeholder. Russia has lost the trust of member States in the international community. It has an opportunity now to restore trust by withdrawing its troops and restoring sovereignty, and by upholding the values of the Council of Europe.

We do not want to see a re-run of the Cold War in Europe. I believe that this is the guiding principle behind all the activities that we have mounted so far. That is why we are duty-bound, as the Council of Europe, to continue to attempt to rise to one of the greatest challenges that we have had to face in our societies. Restoring the sovereignty of a member State is at stake.

      THE PRESIDENT* – Thank you for that very good introduction, Mr Schennach. We will now proceed to the debate. The next speaker is Ms L'ovochkina, on behalf of the European Democrat Group.

      Ms L'OVOCHKINA (Ukraine) – An internal conflict, the intervention of the Russian Federation, the annexation of Crimea, and the consequences of an undeclared war. Thousands of dead and wounded, and thousands of hostages and refugees. A dramatic decrease in GDP, a huge budget deficit and an economic crisis, as well as deterioration of social standards, high unemployment and ruined infrastructure. That is the current situation in Ukraine. It is tragic and getting worse.

      I want to draw the Assembly’s attention to the many challenges that we face, but due to the lack of time I will raise just two important issues. I was elected to represent the constituency of Crimea, so I no longer have a constituency. Against the background of tragedy in Donetsk and Luhansk, the annexation of Crimea became a second-rank issue. The President of Ukraine and the government have not gone beyond declaring that Crimea is Ukrainian territory. There is no effective national policy to protect the interests of Ukrainian citizens in Crimea. There is no effective national strategy to return the territory to Ukrainian possession. You all know about the suffering of Crimean Tatars, but there are many other Ukrainian citizens who are also suffering in that territory and who need our protection. We are in the process of organising an extraordinary parliamentary election, but Crimea will not participate. Amendments to election law were tabled to allow Ukrainian citizens in Crimea to vote on the land of continental Ukraine, but those amendments were not adopted, which means that Crimea will not be represented in a new parliament—elections to the State duma have now taken place in Crimea. What message do we send to Ukrainian citizens in Crimea? What message do we send to the world and Mr Putin?

Secondly, elections provide certainty in a crisis. It is crucial for elections to be conducted properly, in line with European standards and without any use of administrative power. The next parliament must be legitimate in the eyes of Ukrainian people throughout the territory of Ukraine. The result of the election—both the parliament and the new government—must be recognised by the whole world, including Russia, so that negotiations may take place. As Crimea is not voting at all, the elections in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions represent a difficult situation. If those two regions are not properly represented in the new parliament, the crisis will escalate. Furthermore, I am concerned about the election process itself. There are armed hooligans on the streets of every city in Ukraine. They beat up candidates and damage their cars, and the authorities do nothing to protect candidates or to bring the guilty to justice.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. The next speaker is Ms Reps, on behalf of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.

Ms REPS (Estonia) – Thank you, Madam President. It is clear that there are three levels of crisis in Ukraine today. There is a crisis due to the actions between one country and another. I believe there is now no one in this Assembly who doubts that there are Russian troops on Ukrainian territory. It is also clear that the damage inside Ukraine would not have been so great if Russian heavy weaponry had been used.

There is also a crisis due to a conflict that needs a peaceful solution. For further reforms to happen in Ukraine, it is vital that this Assembly supports all possible peaceful solutions to put Ukraine together again. What does that mean? It means restoring public order and restoring trust in the authorities by clearly reforming the prosecutorial and judicial systems. Having a strong internal system that people trust, and to which they can refer, means that propaganda and the misuse of power, including by the Russian Federation, would not be so effective.

Thirdly, and most importantly, there is a crisis in the development of Ukraine. What can we do before the election? Next week there is a pre-electoral mission. What do we need to consider? How can we support and advise Ukraine so that people can participate in all areas of the country? We do not want to witness the encouragement of hate speech. We encourage the investigation of all human rights violations in Ukraine, which is the most important topic for discussion today. A number of reliable human rights organisations are visiting our Assembly this week, and we should listen to them and talk to them. There are serious concerns about human rights violations by the separatists and the Russian troops, but we are also concerned that there are no effective investigations of violations by Ukrainian troops. It is vital that we work with both sides so that propaganda, the information war and all other forms of hate speech do not overshadow the parliamentary elections and so that Ukraine can have an effective parliament that represents the people of Ukraine and can go further with judicial reform, constitutional reform, reform of the Prosecutor’s Office, economic reform, and so on.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. The next speaker is Mr Hunko, on behalf of the Group of the Unified European Left.

Mr HUNKO (Germany)* – Thank you, Madam President. We debated Ukraine in June, when President Poroshenko was with us. There was then an interim cease-fire, and I asked that the cease-fire should become permanent. The cease-fire was extended by three days, but, unfortunately, battle resumed once again at the beginning of June and eastern Ukraine had a terrible summer. In the meantime, following the Minsk agreement, there has been a come-and-go cease-fire. Everything has been done to try to ensure that the cease-fire lasts and has a peaceful outcome. But, as Ms Reps has just said, terrible mass graves have been discovered over the past few days in the areas where fighting took place. Those mass graves have been confirmed by the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe in an area controlled by the Ukrainian army or the so-called “volunteer battalions.” The OSCE had no forensic surgeons or coroners to verify the situation. That information is important, so perhaps Mr Muznieks will elucidate on that subject.

Mr Schennach painted the broad picture and told us about the events in the Maidan and recalled other key events. There is still a lack of clarity on who fired the shots during the demonstrations in February 2014. It is also not clear what happened on 2 May in Odessa, when a house was burned down, killing the people inside. Mr Jagland said that he will look into that, which is important as the trials are about to start.

It is also unclear what happened with the MH17 passenger plane at the end of July, and nobody knows exactly how it was shot down or why it crashed. It is a mistake to lump together all the problems in Ukraine and blame them all on Russia and Putin, because there are many internal problems in Ukraine as well.

      THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Hunko. I call Mr Franken to speak on behalf of the Group of the European People’s Party.

      Mr FRANKEN (Netherlands) – Our world – our global world – is changing every day, in the fields of politics, economics, the environment, culture and the human dimension. Since our plenary meeting during the last week of June, many things have happened. We have seen an escalation of the conflict in Ukraine and a worsening of the situation in the Middle East. Most recently, we have seen action against Islamic State by a coalition of the willing.

Today we are discussing the situation in Ukraine. The crisis there is troublesome for all of us. About 5 million people in the region are affected. More than 8 000 people have been wounded, and there have been about 3 000 casualties. The OSCE has taken a leading position in a regional arrangement under the guidance of the Swiss chairmanship, which has involved various activities ranging from monitoring and fact-finding on the ground to political dialogue at different levels. Let us hope that those actions will be successful. The cease-fire arrangement is an important step.

We have also been confronted with the tragedy of the downing over Ukrainian territory of a commercial airliner, Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17, which caused the death of all 298 people on board, including 196 Dutch citizens, who lost their lives while they were on the way to their families, their homes, their holiday destinations, or their business or international obligations.

I want to quote part of the speech made by the Dutch Prime Minister last week during the 69th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. He said: “This tragedy had an enormous impact on our country. So many men, women and children. Entire families ripped from neighbourhoods, empty desks in offices and schools, teammates gone forever...Some of the victims still haven't been identified, and this must be done as soon as possible...The cause of the MH17 disaster must be brought to light and those responsible must be brought to justice. Unhindered access to the crash site is therefore essential.”

In this Assembly, I repeat our Prime Minister’s call to anyone with influence on the situation on the ground: allow us to bring the victims' remains home without further delay, and so enable the researchers to round off their jobs. Thereafter, the world community can conclude who was responsible for the downing of flight MH17 and justice can be done – as it has to be done. As members of the Parliamentary Assembly, let us co-operate to achieve that goal, because it is our duty to work steadily on a stable and peaceful world order.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Franken. I call Lord Anderson to speak on behalf of the Socialist Group.

Lord ANDERSON (United Kingdom) – There is a serious danger of another frozen conflict arising on our continent to add to the many others that already exist. Is it too late? What can we do to prevent the conflict from solidifying? There is a serious danger of a humanitarian crisis developing over the winter because of the impending food and energy shortages in the Ukrainian region. Is it too late for our communities to mobilise and prevent that from happening? On the political front, President Putin’s position does not augur well for the prospect of compromise. He has, by his aggressive nationalism, gained great popularity in his own country. In spite of all our reservations, we must support the democratically elected president in Ukraine. We must use all the instruments at the disposal of the Assembly and the Council of Europe to bolster human rights in the region.

That said, we must surely recognise that Russia has legitimate interests in the area, and reasonable people must seek to find a solution that recognises those interests. However, that prompts us to ask whether Russia is seriously interested in a solution, or whether it wants to maintain insecurity in order further to destabilise the region. What are Russia’s legitimate interests? First, Russia and Ukraine clearly have a shared history and culture. Ukraine must surely recognise the cultural interests of the Russian speakers in its territory, and much has been done in that direction. Secondly, there is a strong case for devolution and decentralisation, but the absurd proposition made by Mr Lavrov in March that each of the devolved areas should be able to conduct its own foreign policy and pursue its own economic model is a recipe for further Crimeas. Finally, Russia has legitimate security interests. In 1990, the Americans promised Mr Gorbachev that there would be no further expansion of NATO to the east. If we are serious about that, NATO should provide a guarantee that it has no intention of offering full membership to Ukraine.

If there is no response, Russia may prefer to foment instability. We must intensify sanctions. Yes, we will pay a price, but Russia will pay a bigger price. Europe must remain united. The Cold War will not return, but I detect a new realism in respect of Russia, because of its domestic policies and its adventures abroad. Let us prevent the development of another sphere of interest and another frozen conflict, but let us also use all our instruments to see whether we can find a reasonable solution to the problem.

      THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Lord Anderson. We have a special procedure for this important debate, so I now call Mr Nils Muižnieks, the commissioner.

      Mr MUIŽNIEKS (Commissioner for Human Rights) – A necessary precondition for the respect of human rights in Ukraine is a halt to fighting in the east. While the conflict is ongoing, the reign of terror, as the United Nations has put it, in the rebel-occupied territories continues unabated. At the same time, increasingly worrying reports are emerging of human rights violations perpetrated by the Ukrainian security forces, especially the many volunteer battalions. In the context of any strengthened cease-fire, it is essential to avoid giving impunity to any perpetrators of human rights violations.

      During the debate in June, I raised the subject of internally displaced persons and refugees in Ukraine, and their situation remains of deep concern today. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the number of internally displaced persons as of 30 September was 368 000 in Ukraine, including 350 000 in the east and 18 000 from Crimea. They remain in a vulnerable situation, and the reception accorded to them differs widely depending on the region in which they have settled. I remain gravely concerned about the onset of the heating season, as a number of other speakers have noted, because many people are living in unheated summer shelters. The Ukrainian authorities urgently require international assistance, which should be conditional on close co-operation with the UNHCR and implementation of its recommendations for dealing with the crisis.

In the second week of September, I conducted a mission to Kiev, Moscow and Crimea, and I want briefly to report my primary conclusions, particularly on Crimea. Those conclusions will be detailed in a subsequent report. My visit should not be interpreted as any sort of recognition of the decision-makers in the region or any altered status of Crimea; those are beyond my mandate. The human rights issues that I examined were reports of article 2 and 3 violations and the state of investigations, the situation of Crimean Tatars and the Ukrainian minority, and the situation with regard to media freedom. My biggest concern is the situation of the Crimean Tatars, a population with a tragic history. There is an urgent need to strengthen their sense of security, which has been shattered by a series of raids by masked armed security personnel on religious institutions, schools, Tatar-owned businesses and homes and – after my visit – the Mejlis, the Tatar assembly. The ostensible goal was to search for weapons or so-called extremist literature. The Crimean Tatars have no history of violence or extremism, and the raids are completely disproportionate and should be stopped.

      In relation to ethnic Ukrainians, I met the head of the Kiev patriarchate, the Orthodox Church, who claimed that, since March, six out of 15 churches have been seized by rival, Moscow-oriented Orthodox activists. The Kiev Orthodox want to resolve such differences peacefully and the decision-makers in the region have promised to engage in dialogue on that issue.

      On media freedoms, several outlets have been shut down. Some critical journalists have moved to the mainland after receiving threats, having their homes searched and being harassed. I met journalists who had received warnings or had their equipment confiscated, which raises very serious concerns. The head of the Crimean Centre for Investigative Journalism claimed to have been arbitrarily detained and ill-treated by the so-called self-defence forces.

Such forces have been implicated in serious human rights abuses, including several abductions. I raised five cases with the decision-makers in the region – two killings, and three alleged disappearances – and I was promised follow-up information.

In addition to doing a report, one planned follow-up to the mission is to work with the Russian and Ukrainian ombudsmen to address the humanitarian issues in the region. A number of people are in pre-trial detention or prison in Crimea who may wish to finish their period of detention on the mainland. Our goal is to work with the two ombudsmen to verify such cases, and to promote co-operation between the Russian and Ukrainian penitentiary services.

I intend to return to Ukraine in December to work with the United Nations to help the Ukrainian authorities plan human rights-oriented reforms more systematically. We hope that the Ukrainians will adopt a national human rights action plan. The international community should help the Ukrainian authorities not only to address the many urgent needs through prompt assistance, but to plan for the long term through giving aid under strict conditions. The international community should also insist on the active involvement of civil society when holding the Ukrainian authorities to account in relation to aid.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Muižnieks. As you said, you have been to Ukraine and several places to do a report for us. I also thank you and the Secretariat for giving us updates from time to time.

We will now start the debate. I call Mr Popescu.

Mr POPESCU (Ukraine)* – During the past year, there has not been one part-session in which we have not discussed the crisis in Ukraine. Sadly, the situation has just got worse from part-session to part-session. This time last year, we talked about the process by which Ukraine should fulfil its obligations to the Council of Europe. In January, we mourned the first fatalities in Kiev and discussed how to reconcile political opponents. In April, we debated the annexation of Crimea and how Ukraine could re-establish control over its own territory. In June, we talked about the need for a cease-fire and for Russian troops to move away from the Ukrainian border.

Over the summer, there were fully fledged conflict operations in Donbass, involving the use of heavy weaponry, tanks, artillery and rocket launchers. There were thousands of casualties among both soldiers and civilians. The Malaysian airliner was shot down. Tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of people were displaced and became refugees. Today, Ukraine clearly needs peace and all kinds of assistance from the international community. Winter is setting in, but many people are living without a roof over their head. In many towns and cities, people do not have light, water or communications. The authorities no longer have control of many areas of Ukraine, so people do not receive their pensions or social welfare payments. The social infrastructure has been destroyed, and there are food shortages. More than 11 000 buildings have been destroyed in Donbass, which will cost at least 11 billion hryvnia to restore. More than 300 000 people have become refugees or internally displaced persons. People have been left without jobs. Clearly, the situation will be terrible if the conflict escalates further.

We know that the forthcoming parliamentary elections may provide a solution. However, they will not take place as they should in Crimea or Sevastopol. It has been estimated that in the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, elections will be properly conducted in only 13 of the 32 constituencies. Unless we can bring people from the different regions together in parliament to exchange their views there will be no possibility of progress.

      We need a full cease-fire. Otherwise the situation will slip further out of control. There will be further escalation and more damage, with hundreds of thousands more people killed or injured, and huge numbers of IDPs. All of that will affect neighbouring countries, because of the floods of refugees. There will be no end it. The only comparison is with the Balkan crisis, but it would be a thousand times worse than that. We must call for solidarity with Ukraine and its people. We need a cease-fire, and a sustainable peace. That means that the legislation adopted by its parliament must be in line with international standards.

I thank all of you. May peace be with us all, and may God help us in that peace. This will be my last statement to the Parliamentary Assembly. I will not be in the Chamber to vote during the next part-session, because that would not be appropriate during an election.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Popescu. I want to take this opportunity to thank you very much, on behalf of us all, for all the work that you have contributed to the Parliamentary Assembly.

      I call Mr Spautz.

Mr SPAUTZ (Luxembourg)* – The conflict between the Ukrainian army and the pro-Russian separatists is now becoming much worse. One country is engaging in a land grab. Thanks to democratisation and positive financial developments in the other country – it wants to become a member of the European Union – it has once again exploited the gap between the east and the west. We can now see the consequences of the Russian takeover of Crimea.

From the developments over the summer, we can see that although we were trying to de-escalate the situation, our hopes have unfortunately been dashed. The situation has become even worse, because we are seeing the beginning of a new Cold War. At the moment, both sides are making terrible threats. Russia will implement measures to retaliate against the sanctions that have been imposed against it. We must not forget that, because the consequences of those measures may make the situation worse.

Following the start of the civil war, thousands of people have lost their lives or have fled. People are having to live and work in terrible conditions, with no access to water or food. Although food aid is being sent in by both sides, such aid is often stopped at the border and supplies are not getting through, because of suspicions that weapons may be hidden in the food. People are fleeing because they are terrified.

The region should be a symbol of significant co-operation and a bridge between east and west. Instead, however, it is descending into chaos. Ukraine has become an area of conflict between two States with different economic systems, and that has affected the civilian population. The situation has become so terrible that we must support the civilian population with food aid and medical supplies. We cannot allow supplies to be stopped at the border and kept there without being distributed. Whether that is being done by separatist groups or by the Ukrainian army, we must not allow them to threaten the lives of innocent people.

      THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. I call Ms Vėsaitė

Ms VĖSAITĖ (Lithuania) – I agree with Mr Popescu that in this Assembly several months ago, we spoke about the situation in Ukraine and expressed hope for solving the crisis peacefully. We all know that the situation in Ukraine has become even more tragic. Thousands of people have been killed and hundreds of thousands have become refugees. If, several months ago, some of us were cautious about calling Russia an aggressor, now there is no doubt about their role in the crisis – except on the part of Russia, who keep on saying that they stand aside from the war in Ukraine and feel discriminated against because of the economic sanctions or because their credentials in the Assembly were limited.

We welcome the recent Minsk protocol and believe that it might be the first step towards the cease-fire, but let us be cautious: does it solve the problem, or might it become the precondition for another “frozen conflict”? In fact, while Ukrainian authorities have complied with the provisions of the protocol, the separatists continue to violate the truce.

We are of course for dialogue and a cease-fire, but it is clear that no lasting peace can be achieved unless Russia plays a committed, constructive role in the process. In this regard it is also evident that Russia denies the obvious and serious breach of previous commitments – including the occupation of the Crimea – as well as doing little fully to comply with the obligations under the Minsk arrangements. This implies that Russia continues to defy the international law that lays down the basis of global peace.

Lithuania strongly condemns and protests against the Russian invasion of the constituent parts of the Ukrainian territory and its military support for the separatists in east Ukraine. We regret that the European Union has not done enough quickly enough to prevent the many deaths of Ukrainian citizens, for the European Union could bring real change to the situation. As long as we hesitate, Russia tries to stretch the limits further. Each and every new concession encourages them to go on – and you never know which country may be next after Ukraine.

International society must unite in calling on Russia to change its course. Relevant pressure in all its forms – from political calls to economic sanctions, from the European Union and the whole of international society – would contribute to the effectiveness of the efforts to solve the crisis.

Lithuania welcomes the recent positive step of Ukraine coming closer to Europe: the ratification of the European Union Association Agreement. We also understand the importance of transparent and democratic parliamentary elections in Ukraine. Lithuania urges European countries to pay attention to the elections and send their representatives as observers.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. I call Mr Ghiletchi.

Mr GHILETCHI (Republic of Moldova) – The end of the USSR marked one of the greatest political changes of the 20th century, but the spectre of Sovietism, paraphrasing Marx, is still haunting Europe, especially eastern Europe. Russia replaced the USSR, and that explains the crusade that was launched against those former Soviet countries that decided to exorcise the spectre of Sovietism. Unfortunately, nobody can predict when this process will finally come to an end. So far, the transition has been marked by an extremely difficult and painful process. Experts who have worked on post-Soviet territorial conflicts know that the party most interested in resolving the conflict is the main mediator. Moldova, Georgia and Azerbaijan know this very well. Unfortunately, the result of such mediation is a shaky situation of no war, no peace.

In spite of the ceasefire in south-east Ukraine, declared on 5 September, the experience of other post-Soviet “frozen conflicts” points in a different direction from peace and territorial integrity. The new territorial entities that emerged from the ruins of the old Soviet Union are not strong enough or legitimate enough to get international recognition, but not weak enough to be controlled by the home government.

In cases such as Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Nagorno-Karabakh, local administrations that had been created during the Soviet era became the germ of a separate state. In Transnistria, work collectives and the regional leadership of the old Communist Party of the Soviet Union played a similar role. In all these cases, Russian support for the secessionists was critical. The use of so-called "volunteers" or "green men" sent across the border, military weapons and the dispatch of administrative personnel to staff local offices were defining features of these brief wars. Sadly, the experience of war cemented a local narrative of liberation and sacrifice. School children in Transnistria are today taught history in ways very different from their counterparts in other parts of Moldova. The fact that the Kiev Government used heavy weapons, as Mr Popescu stated, will be used by separatists to teach their children a new history.

It seems that Ukraine has fallen into the trap that Moldova, Georgia, and Azerbaijan stumbled into in the early 1990s. The Kiev Government chose to use force against a secessionist threat, but it had no capacity to overcome it on the battlefield. International organisations have few means to influence the separatists, apart from targeting their largest supporter, Russia. What we see in the other conflict zones is a seemingly endless series of talks, conferences, negotiations and summits. None of them has moved any closer to the goal of fully reintegrating the separatist region with the recognised state. Even if everyone agreed, including Russia, that a truly just outcome would be territorial integrity for Moldova, the more time that passes, the harder it is to change the status quo of the Transnistrian region.

Experience tells us that cease-fires and promises of "special status" have traditionally been the starting-point for the creation of a de facto unrecognised region. Hope is the key to unlocking this conflict. Only when all people in the former Soviet countries grasp this hope will belief exist in a better future for them and their children. Only then will we be able to exorcise the spectre of Sovietism and overcome these seemingly endless conflicts.

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

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. I call Mr Leigh.

Mr LEIGH (United Kingdom) – People may not like what I am going to say, but it is meant in a spirit of dialogue and promoting peace in the region. First, on the issue of dialogue, the truth is that the Council of Europe is not an executive parliament: we cannot impose sanctions; we cannot unleash guided missiles. We are an inter-parliamentary union, the main point of which is to talk to each other.

I do not in any way condone what Russia is doing and has done, or any of its actions, but the fact is that if they go on not being present in this Assembly, their voice is missing. If they are present, we may not persuade them of anything, but one thing is certain: if they are not present, it is that much harder. You have to ask yourself whether this would be a better debate if there were some Russian speakers putting their point of view. You may not agree with it, but they do have a point of view.

The second point I want to make concerns peace. It is easy to go on denouncing Russia, but the truth is that this is a very complex problem that goes back many, many years. We must accept that we in the west, particularly NATO and the European Union, have to a large extent caused this problem by seeking to take the frontiers of the west within a few hundred miles of Moscow.

This is not just a question of Mr Putin: every Russian leader has made it absolutely clear that they are not prepared to tolerate Ukraine being a member of NATO, and you can understand their concerns, particularly regarding Crimea and the Black Sea ports. Also, the European Union has consistently sought to push its boundaries eastwards, against Russian intentions. The historical situation in Ukraine, as we know, is very complex.

Many who articulate simplistic solutions about Russia invading Ukraine have not made any attempt to look at Ukrainian history or the orthodox-unionate divide or the traditional division between western and eastern Ukraine. Western Ukraine was a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and was then a part of Poland. The Poles were forcefully ejected with the Jews. Many aspects of the problem are extraordinarily complex, not least the fact that many ethnic Russians in the east of Ukraine want to be part of Russia. Although we can go on attacking Russia, we have to be realistic. We have to realise that they have legitimate interests in this area. The only solution must be that Ukraine cannot become part of NATO. Any move to the European Union must be balanced with free trade agreements with Russia, and there must be a federal structure. That is the only solution and the only way in which we can preserve peace in the future.

      THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. I now call Mr Jensen.

      Mr JENSEN (Denmark) – I must admit that I am a bit surprised that some of my colleagues are standing in an Assembly that should be a beacon of freedom and democracy and a beacon for countries to decide what they want for themselves and saying that we should listen to and agree with Putin and that countries should not decide whether they want to become members of NATO or be integrated into Europe, because of the larger good. What kind of Organisation have we become? Are we now an Organisation that, because we want to preserve the status quo and have trade with Russia, cannot say anything when it steps on smaller countries again and again? Of course not. We should still be the beacon of hope, freedom and democracy.

We therefore have to say frankly to Russia that if it wants to be a member of this Organisation, it is obliged to play by the rules. It is not playing by the rules if you take one part of one of our member countries and integrate it into your own. It is not playing by the rules if you invade other member countries with military force. Should we just say, “Let’s talk about it”? Of course not. We should stand united in demanding that the Russian delegation and the Russian Government take responsibility, but we are not doing that. We are still talking.

I have been to all the Assembly sessions where we have talked about Ukraine, and nothing concrete has come out besides reports, reports, reports. We are seeing an ever worsening situation on the ground in Ukraine. Russia is gaining more territory in eastern Ukraine and the Crimea is now, apparently, lost for ever. It is so sad. By not demanding concrete action—by not demanding that Russia withdraw its troops immediately, or else be expelled from this Organisation—we are writing our own death certificate. If we are not demanding action, why are we even here? I like being in Strasbourg – it is a very nice city – but if nothing comes out of this Assembly, there is no reason to be here. Please colleagues, let us act now and still be the beacon of hope, because the people of Ukraine are demanding and hoping for that from us.

      THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. I call Mr Di Stefano.

      Mr DI STEFANO (Italy)* – The Council of Europe is, after all, a body that is tasked with safeguarding human rights and maintaining stability across its 47 member States. We have 820 million citizens, and all that is at risk. We need to look at what our citizens want. Dialogue, mediation and peace would be at the top of their list, otherwise there is no point to our existence. The Council of Europe should resist any temptation to divide the world into two blocs. That idea is coming to colour a lot of the political debate.

We also need to look at what has happened between Russia and Ukraine in this conflict. There is fault on the European side and on the Ukrainian side. Yanukovych was standing for the Russian-speaking minority, and there was then Putin’s occupation, which we firmly reject. There was also the Odessa case, which has not been clarified, and the aeroplane. We have not yet got to the bottom of that. Regardless of all that, we need to concern ourselves with the victims, who are usually civilians. Europe and Russia are losing civilians. Tension and war undermine stability, ramp up anxiety and undermine the raison d’être of the Council of Europe.

We should look at whether it is just Europe that is concerned. What about Russia, China and India? What about our logic here? What about global stability? That is why we need to look at the transatlantic trade and investment partnership in European parliaments. That agreement will only benefit the United States and will undermine the singularity of Europe, which we have always sought to defend. Europe needs to be bold enough to enter into dialogue with Putin and all the different stakeholders. That is absolutely crucial, otherwise this body, which is the home of democracy, will no longer have any point.

We have to enter into dialogue with Russia. It may be possible for NGOs to move into areas that are in the line of fire. We need to have a Russian delegation in the Chamber, because, as our British colleague was saying, we cannot do anything unless we have that dialogue with Russia. If we move from a state of crisis to one of stability, which is what we wish to see, we will have to try to dismantle this wall of non-communication between us and resume dialogue in this Chamber and between European parliaments. I hope that the Council of Europe will be able to act as a mediator in that.

      THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. I call Ms Finckh-Krämer.

      Ms FINCKH-KRÄMER (Germany)* – I would like to bring our discussion back to the situation of those who did not want the conflict and who have not actively pursued it—in other words, the situation of those in Ukraine who have had to leave their houses in Donetsk and become refugees elsewhere in Ukraine or Russia. I have heard that more people have gone from eastern Ukraine to Russia than have gone to western Ukraine. As has been said, the situation has become catastrophic for those obliged to stay in Donetsk, perhaps because they cannot afford to leave. Sometimes they have no electricity and are living in damaged buildings. Sometimes they do not have any drinking water, but they still have to stay in that area. It is the responsibility of us all to help those people.

Secondly, could this be a situation where Ukraine and the Russians get together to help the refugees, whether they are in the east or west of Ukraine? As was mentioned by the OSCE, the situation of the people in Crimea gave rise to discussions between the Ukrainian and Russian delegates within the OSCE – not in a major assembly but just in a small meeting where they were invited to discuss things among one another. I suggest that the Council of Europe could offer such an invitation to the Ukrainian and Russian delegates of the Council of Europe, not in an Assembly week or a week when others are present, but in a week when the Ukrainian and Russian representatives can talk together about the problems of the refugees and not talk about governmental policies. During détente in the Cold War, it was very important to try hard to discuss issues affecting human beings and not those where governments were squaring up to one another or camping out on their own positions and defending them internationally.

      THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. I call Mr Sobolev.

      Mr SOBOLEV (Ukraine) – We need to answer honestly the main question of what is happening in Ukraine. The answer is that it is the intervention of the Russian Federation against a sovereign State. Dear colleague from Great Britain, I cannot imagine if somebody announced to you what language you had to speak in Great Britain, or what the federative or unique State of Great Britain must be. That is a choice of your people. Therefore it must be a choice of the Ukrainian people, not a choice of Putin or somebody else, as to whether we are a member of NATO or a member of the European Union.

      Can you imagine what the Ukrainian people are thinking now that they know the French Government is preparing to sell Mistral, its biggest ship that carries hundreds of military helicopters, to the Russian Federation – to the Black Sea? What would you think if we again operated the enterprise in Ukraine that sold Satana for the Russian Federation in order to bring about rockets with nuclear power bearing the names of London, Paris, Strasbourg or Brussels? France wants to sell to Russia a ship with the name of Sevastopol – a city of Ukraine.

      We must answer another question: does Moscow negotiate directly with Ukraine or with another country about the sovereignty of the European continent? For us, the main answer is that we now have thousands and thousands of people who were killed by Russian troops. Yes, we have buried people whom we now cannot recognise because for three days Russian troops killed and killed and killed, to the last weapon, thousands of our heroes, and all their bodies are burnt. That happened on our territory, not in the territory of Russia. We cannot recognise our civilians who were killed by Russian troops and are now still in the territory of Ukraine despite the agreements in Minsk and other agreements.

      We closed our eyes when the territories of Moldova – Pridnestrovie – and Transnistria, and of Georgia, were occupied by Russia, and so I say in this building that next will be Crimea, and you will again shut your mouths. I think that this January will bring the answer. We must stop this aggression, or the aggression will be in Europe. Stop this aggression, please!

      THE PRESIDENT – Thank you Mr Sobolev. I call Mr Rouquet.

      Mr ROUQUET (France)* – This current affairs debate on the Ukrainian crisis demonstrates that although the media spotlight may have moved on to other tragic conflicts, our Assembly has not forgotten the tragedy being played out in the heart of Europe. Since our last part-session there have been developments both positive and negative. Diplomatic efforts have been intensified. Efforts have been made to put an end to this conflict. This is something that affects our values and that calls into question the balance that has prevailed in our continent since the 1990s.

      France is very much involved, alongside Germany, in efforts to find a peaceful solution to the crisis. The so-called Normandy format discussions involving France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine have made it possible for us to keep in contact with interested parties. The ceasefire declared on 5 September is fragile, but thus far it is, generally speaking, respected. However, it is only a first step towards a political settlement, and we must keep a close eye on the way in which events on the ground develop. A political solution to the crisis must take into account the diversity that exists within Ukraine without, however, calling into question the country’s territorial integrity. This will not be easy. We have information from Crimea about the treatment currently being handed down to Ukrainian-speaking minorities and to Tatars there. We also know about the intransigence of certain pro-Russian separatists in the east. These things are particularly worrisome.

      In the east, the situation is also alarming in humanitarian terms. Yesterday morning in the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons, we heard from Russian and Ukrainian organisations working on refugee issues with refugees and internally displaced persons. Their testimony was poignant, and it reminded us of the fact that the Ukrainian crisis is not just geopolitical but, more than anything else, a human tragedy. Autumn is now setting in. Thousands of people, many of them children, are in camps, often without drinking water or electricity. These are the citizens of Ukraine, and whether or not they are Tatars, and whether they speak Ukrainian or Russian, they need help. On that point, I regret that the European Union is not doing more and not doing it better. Given that situation, surely we have to ask questions about the conditions in which the parliamentary elections will be held. How can the thousands of refugees and IDPs exercise their right to vote? Will Ukrainian citizens living in Sevastopol be able to vote outside Crimea? The pre-electoral delegation that will go there from Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe will have to look carefully at this very difficult issue.

      I conclude by welcoming the recent initiative taken by members of our Assembly once again to enter into dialogue with our Russian colleagues. Such dialogue is indispensable if we wish to make progress on the issue of Ukraine.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Rouquet. I call Mr Zingeris.

Mr ZINGERIS (Lithuania) – Today we have another discussion on the so-called crisis in Ukraine, but that is not the right word. It is hard for me to call it a crisis, because what we have there is clearly a war inflicted upon Ukraine from outside, caused by an external military power. We must not avoid naming the real cause of this terrible situation: it is an attempt by the Russian Federation to challenge the existing and accepted rules and international treaties.

      Russia does this by rejecting the values that we created during the post-war years, and by violating international agreements and its own commitments, including those made to this Organisation, the Council of Europe. For many decades, Europe relied on the set of rules defined in the Helsinki Final Act, including the fundamental principle that borders in Europe will never, ever be changed by force. Russia not only ignores those rules – it is actively trying to change them. It does not want to accept that its neighbours make their own decisions about their geopolitical future. It is relevant to remind members of the commitment that Russia made when acceding to this Organisation: “to denounce as wrong the concept of two different categories of foreign countries, whereby some are treated as a zone of special influence called ‘the near abroad’ and refrain from promoting the geographical doctrine of zones of special interests”.

      Unfortunately, now more than before, we see that Russia considers its security to be dependent on other countries’ insecurities. With that mindset, Russia gets anxious if the area of freedom, prosperity and European values increases. It perceives it as an existential challenge to its autocratic regime.

      It is clear that Russia seeks to discredit the European Union neighbourhood policy, especially its eastern neighbourhood policy, and its association process. That was the real cause of the situation in Ukraine. If the Ukrainian Government decides not to join the European Union, Russia will withdraw its troops from eastern Ukraine. This is Russia’s main goal. Only a year ago, we believed that Ukraine, if its path to European association and the reforms it had undertaken could continue smoothly, would eventually become a better neighbour to us all and a more prosperous and democratic country for its own people. Now it faces a brutal force – not only direct military force, but tactics that involve energy, financial lobbying and information warfare – aimed at dismembering it or turning it into an unstable puppet regime, making a European future inconceivable.

I have beside me Mustafa Dzhemiliev, the leader of the Tatar community in Crimea. I encourage colleagues to sign the written declaration to help his people, whose situation in Crimea is now very difficult.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Zingeris. I call Mr Hancock.

      Mr HANCOCK (United Kingdom) – I am slightly surprised by the early call. Nevertheless, it is welcome.

      One of the saddest things a politician can witness, wherever they come from, is a country falling apart, a people fighting each other and a government bombing and shelling its own people. I note the lack of humanity shown on both sides to the people most affected. The right of those citizens to live normal, active, enjoyable lives is being totally disregarded by all sides. We have seen 300 000 people leave their homes, knowing that when they return, if they ever do, there is a good chance they will find their homes completely devastated, the local infrastructure shot and no one caring to put back together their broken country. Ukraine is just such a country.

      There is a deathly silence in the Chamber today. We mainly blame the Russians, but it would have been far better had there been Russian speakers in this debate prepared to justify – if they could – their position. It is a big mistake to ignore what people say in this Chamber; we should be willing to listen and negotiate. I am with those who have said that the Council of Europe is trying to bring the sides together. If we do nothing else, that is what we should do. Our first and only consideration should be to bring prosperity to the people of Ukraine and ensure they can live in peace in a thriving country.

      Those of us who have been privileged to visit Ukraine will know that it is a wonderful country with a wonderful population who need to flourish. It is despicable that the European Union, in particular, which did much to manufacture the crisis in the first place, has largely ignored the humanitarian crisis. It is not putting in place the resources necessary to help the collapsed economy in Ukraine. It blames Russia, but is offering little help to the people on the ground. It is no help to the suffering people of Ukraine living in appalling conditions to say, “We know who to blame”. I am sure they know where the blame lies; they do not need us to tell them. They need us to give them the hope that people have talked about.

      We must do more to bring people together and say what we want to see happen there. Who are we to say that people in Ukraine should not have the right to opt out? We had that recently in the United Kingdom. The people of Scotland were given the opportunity to decide for themselves. Thankfully, they chose to stay within the United Kingdom, but if the decision had gone the other way, we would have accepted the will of the people. It is the same in many regions of Europe and it is something we will be confronted with more and more often, so we need to find a remedy. What we cannot do is simply ignore some of the players.

      THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Hancock. Mr Bies is not here, so I call Mr Kox.

      Mr KOX (Netherlands) – Despite the misery in Ukraine, the good news is that there is the beginning of a truce. I congratulate the OSCE and its chief representative, Heidi Tagliavini, for being so creative, constructive and patient in brokering this much-needed truce to end a brutal civil war. This is the role that international organisations should play – preventing or ending violence and promoting talks. I also thank those in the Council of Europe who have been working silently these past months – the Secretary General and his special representative in Kiev, the President of the Assembly, the Human Rights Commissioner, the Venice Commission and others.

We should now investigate what has happened in Ukraine over the past year and establish what the political and humanitarian consequences of the crisis and civil war have been. I fully support our decision to report on these vital issues. We need to come up with ideas on how Ukraine and its citizens can overcome this terrible event. It will not bring back those who died in Maidan square, Odessa or eastern Ukraine; the 300 people who died when flight MH17 was destroyed; or the people recently found in mass graves there; we can only remember them as victims of a war that should never have been. Nevertheless, we have to know what happened and what the consequences are before we can help to find a sustainable solution to overcome the crisis.

We also need to investigate the role of outside powers. The Russian Federation brutally violated international law by annexing Crimea and supporting the rebellion in eastern Ukraine; the United States irresponsibly supported the rebellion in western Ukraine and the Ukrainian army in its violent attack on rebels and citizens in Donetsk and Luhansk; and the Russian Federation and the European Union fought irresponsibly to get Ukraine into their respective economic spheres of influence. International actors helped to broker agreements between the conflicting parties in Kiev, and later in Geneva, only to see them ignored the very next day. It does not serve a serious purpose not to stick to negotiated agreements. Our message to Russia, the United States and the European Union should be: do not create or increase conflict in Europe, but try to prevent or end it.

I join colleagues who appealed for broad support to maintain and strengthen the truce and to assist those in Ukraine desperately longing for peace after all this brutal and unnecessary violence, and I join those in Europe who do not want a new Cold War. One hundred years after the beginning of the First World War, we cannot allow this to happen again. We must remember why the Council of Europe was founded and the important obligations upon us. In the end, we all will be held accountable.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Kox. I call Ms Christoffersen.

Ms CHRISTOFFERSEN (Norway) – Mr President, dear colleagues, our pan-European Organisation was founded to prevent new wars on our continent, but for the second time in only a few years, we have seen one member country attack and annex part of another member country. Did we not learn our lesson 70 years ago? Did we not learn that dialogue and peaceful means should replace warfare and human suffering? Russia’s annexation of Crimea and military actions inside Ukraine make a mockery of those who gave their lives for our freedom during the Second World War, among them millions of Russians.

      Our Russian colleagues explained that aggressive neighbourhood policy as Russia’s need for security as they watched NATO and the European Union steadily approaching their borders. If we imagine the opposite – if the Warsaw Pact had started to move westwards after the fall of the Berlin wall – we might understand that feeling, but the Cold War should be history; at least, that is what we were all hoping.

      Russia is a member of this Council and should really see itself as part of Europe. We can never accept a feeling of uncertainty as an excuse for warfare. We can never accept the killing of 295 innocent air passengers – adults as well as small children. Whoever was responsible, Putin could have said in the aftermath of that tragedy, “This has really gone too far. Let’s stop.” But he did not, and he would not.

      Understandably, Russia’s actions have caused fear in the whole region. Some fear that Russia’s goal is to take full control over the Black Sea. The Crimea is under Russian control, and Russian forces are more and more involved in the eastern parts of Ukraine. Russian involvement in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, as well as in Transnistria in Moldova, raises the question of who is next: Odessa? Then what?

      In this situation, the Council of Europe should work to restore balance in the region and find ways of interacting that will restore peace for the future. The question is whether the Council of Europe is powerful enough. I really hope so, because the facts and figures clearly show our mutual dependence across all borders: 50% of Russia’s exports go to the European Union, and 80% of its capital imports come from it. At the same time, Russia is not willing to accept that neighbouring countries such as Ukraine and Moldova can do the same and enter into trade agreements both eastwards and westwards. That does not make sense if the aim is democracy, human rights and living together. Unfortunately, it makes sense if the aim is oppression and control.

      THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. I call Ms Frenkel, an Observer from Israel.

      She is not here, so I call Ms Gerashchenko.

      She is not here, so I call Ms Spadoni.

      Ms SPADONI (Italy)* – I had prepared a statement concentrating on the sanctions that have been slapped on Russia because of Ukraine, but then, after listening to my colleagues in this debate, I wondered whether I would be saying the right thing. Instead, I would like to send out a message. I wonder what the advantage is of considering questions of economy and trade if we are weighing them against human rights. We are now faced with the problem of sanctions against a State that has violated human rights. China is also trampling on human rights, but the European Union has decided to prioritise its commercial agreements with China.

      We constantly find ourselves facing this kind of problem, having to weigh one interest against another. We are discussing the draft resolution, rights and the Council of Europe’s encouragement of various countries, but we know full well that if there were a deadlock in our agreements with States that violate human rights, we would certainly achieve our objectives. However, in order to do that, we must be brave. We must have courage, and today, Europe looks at things slightly differently.

      We should be absolutely amazed that young people in particular, looking at Europe, see it simply as a collection of States united by economy alone. That is not a Europe of solidarity or a Europe of peoples; it is a Europe of profits. As long as we have that kind of Europe, Europe will not exist. It will just be a Europe of profits.

      THE PRESIDENT* – Thank you. I call Ms Pourbaix-Lundin.

      Ms POURBAIX-LUNDIN (Sweden) – The crisis in Ukraine is due to Russia. Last summer, Russia started to pressure and threaten Ukraine and other Eastern Partnership countries. There were blockades of chocolate, wine and so on. In November, former President Yanukovych made a U-turn and decided not to sign the European Union association agreement. Immediately, people went out to Maidan Square to protest that as well as corruption. On 20 February this year, 100 protestors were killed by snipers of the former President Yanukovych. They were on the roof killing people. I was there. I saw them carry dead and wounded people out of Maidan Square.

      Two days later, on 22 February, Yanukovych fled Ukraine for Russia. By Putin’s request, the Russian Duma authorised the use of Russian military forces throughout Ukraine. Russia organised an illegal referendum in Crimea that was followed by its illegal annexation, breaking all international agreements. Now there is a war in eastern Ukraine involving pro-Russian terrorists supplied with weapons by Russia, and we also know that there are Russian soldiers on the ground in Ukraine doing their best to destabilise things. President Poroshenko was elected on 25 May this year in the first round, and he immediately came out with a peace plan. Yes, there should be a cease-fire by now, but there is not. I read in a news flash that 10 civilians were killed today in Donetsk.

      Many people have discussed internally displaced persons, so I will not. However, I will say that the crisis in Ukraine started because Russia did not and still does not respect the fact that Ukraine is a sovereign State with the full right of self-determination and the right to join whatever international organisation it chooses. I saw a Ukrainian magazine today whose headline read “Ukraine will survive”. I think Ukraine deserves more than that.

      This is my last speech in this Assembly. Dear colleagues, I remind you that in January 2015, Russian credentials are to be challenged again. The one condition when we challenged them in April this year was that Russia should return Crimea to Ukraine. Please remember this in January.

      (Ms Brasseur, President of the Assembly, took the Chair in place of Mr Frécon.)

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Ms Pourbaix-Lundin. We have already thanked you for all the work you did as rapporteur; now we thank you for speaking so often in this Chamber. Good luck in the future.

      I call Mr Selvi.

      Mr SELVI (Turkey) – Since the last part-session, the crisis in Ukraine has been reshaped by new developments. I stress first that we welcome the Minsk cease-fire agreement of 5 September and the signing of a memorandum regulating the cease-fire provisions on 19 September in Minsk. It is important to respect the cease-fire and comply with the provisions of the agreement, which can serve as a window of opportunity for reaching a lasting political solution to the crisis.

      We also welcome the simultaneous ratification of the European Union -Ukraine association agreement on 16 September. We strongly support the reform process in Ukraine and Ukraine’s choice to develop its relationships with European institutions at the pace and depth that it prefers.

      We expect the parliamentary elections, to be held on 26 October in Ukraine, to help to create a long-serving, inclusive government that paves the way for lasting peace and internal stability by means of a sustainable reform process.

      However, despite these positive developments, the indigenous Crimean Tatar people have continued to feel a growing pressure in their own homeland since the illegitimate and illegal annexation of the peninsula. The entry bans to Crimea imposed on the Crimean Tatar leadership and the recent raid by Russian security forces against the Crimean Tatar Mejlis building in Simferopol on 16 September are a clear manifestation of this pressure.

      Respecting the rights and freedoms of the Tatar community and allowing the Crimean Tatar Mejlis to function freely is essential for the preservation of peace and stability on the peninsula. We will continue to follow the situation of the Crimean Tatar Turks closely. The international community, too, should work to secure their rights and welfare.

      Within the context of this concerning pressure over the Crimean Tatars, I would like to emphasise that peace and stability in Crimea is highly linked to respecting the rights and freedoms of the Tatar community and allowing the Crimean Tatar Mejlis to function freely. Therefore, the isolation of the Crimean Tatars from Ukraine as well as the rest of the world should be rejected and efforts to maintain contact with Crimean Tatars should be made.

      Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you very much. Now I give the floor to Mr Xuclà.

Mr XUCLÀ (Spain)* – Thank you very much indeed, Madam President.

Distinguished colleagues, very soon we are going to be commemorating the anniversary of the Vilnius Summit, which was supposed to enshrine the Eastern Partnership of the European Union, but no agreement was reached at that summit. I think that things would have turned out very differently if a different decision had been taken and if another individual had been in charge of that decision on the Eastern Partnership. A year ago, mistakes were quite clearly made on the part of the European Union as well as within Ukrainian politics. That is why we saw problems. Then we had Maidan Square and more than 100 deaths. Then we had the events of 21 and 22 February.

      We have now moved on. We are in a different phase, because war has broken out. We essentially had no day on which war broke out and there will be no day on which war definitively ends. We have wars that are denied and contested but that nevertheless are a reality. That is why the international community has to face up to this reality. It is not so much a frozen conflict, because frozen conflicts are generally characterised by a territory that has been lost by a State of origin to a State that provides protection, whereas in the present case we are talking about annexation: the annexation of Crimea by Russia. This quite clearly has consequences at a political level and for international relations, as well as a knock-on effect on the decisions that we take here in this Parliamentary Assembly.

      Having said all that, dear colleagues, it is important that we look to the future and take a number of factors into account. First, we all know full well that 70% of Ukraine’s economy depends on Russia. That being the case, we cannot simply stand by; rather, we have to offer an alternative, and the European Union has offered Ukraine an economic agreement. However, it will not enter into force until 2016. This is a huge disappointment, and a missed opportunity on the part of the European Union. Something is going to move into that vacuum and someone is going to take the lead in economic terms.

      We must also bear in mind all the figures on internally displaced persons that we have been given by the Human Rights Commissioner. We have about 500 000 to 800 000 displaced persons in eastern Ukraine towards Russia. We have to try to come up with a kind of Marshall Plan to help Ukraine out of this crisis. This is something on which we all want to lend a hand in helping to rebuild the country, and we should be pushing for that.

      Thank you very much.

      THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. Now Ms Bokuchava has the floor.

Ms BOKUCHAVA (Georgia) – Thank you. Since the so-called cease-fire, there have been more than 50 attacks by Russian forces. In fact, the biggest attack on the Luhansk airport happened just a couple of days ago.

      Thousands are dead, thousands have been wounded, and up to 300 000 people have been displaced. How many more lives does Putin have to take? How many more children have to be displaced from their homes? How many more people have to be tortured? It is my firm belief that Putin’s answer to that is, “As many as it takes” – as many as it takes for him to assert control over Ukraine, to dismember Ukraine and, in fact, to have his coveted Soviet Union revived, because, as we all know, he believes that it was the biggest catastrophe and disaster of the last century that the Soviet Union no longer exists.

      In 2008, as all of you know, Georgia was invaded by Putin, and there were some sceptics as to who was to blame. Today, Ukraine is being invaded. I believe that unless Putin is stopped, Moldova, Poland or the Baltics might be next. Sure, some colleagues might scoff at this as unrealistic, but I assure you that there were a lot of colleagues in 2008 who could not even imagine that Ukraine would be next, although we actually warned about it. We warned in particular that Crimea might be next.        In fact, now Putin is attempting to dismember Ukraine altogether.

      There is a lot of talk about dialogue at this Assembly, and I could not agree with you more. As someone who has seen bullets flying into my home, I assure you that I would never argue for bullets in exchange for words. But if we are to engage in words with Russia while it engages with us with bullets, how far are we to go? If it wants to be part of this Assembly, it must play by the rules of this Assembly. We cannot be expected to go along with its rules, but it must be expected to go along with ours. We must be firm and we must be unequivocal.

      I must also express my regret that my government is not here with me today to speak in this unanimous language that we must all speak in condemning Russia’s actions and in supporting Ukraine.

      Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT – Now I give the floor to Mr Sasi.

Mr SASI (Finland) – Thank you Madam President.

      I express my great sympathy to the Ukrainian people in this situation. The Second World War should have taught us, “No more war. Make peace, not war”. We created common organisations such as the Council of Europe and the European Union to sit at the same table and solve problems peacefully. We wanted to create the free movement of people in Europe, and that, to a great extent, has been established. We do not want any barriers.

      The status quo of borders was recognised in the Helsinki Act in 1975, and that, of course, should be respected. However, we have conflicts of force today. We have seen that in South Ossetia, Abkhazia, Transnistria and, of course, in the seizure of Crimea. It is clear that there were Russian troops in Crimea who took over. There was a so-called referendum, but if you compare the Scottish referendum on independence with the referendum in Crimea, you see a huge difference. It was not a real referendum in Crimea. Unfortunately, today Russian troops are still In Donetsk and Luhansk.

      I appreciate the decision by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, requiring Russia to withdraw the troops from Ukraine. They want a peaceful settlement, which is a key point. The Committee of Ministers also wants reforms in Ukraine, to guarantee human rights and ensure that there is a peaceful environment in the country.

The peace plan and the memorandum are a step forward. However, I must say that it has not been implemented to a great degree. Ukrainian forces have been shelled 800 times lately. In fact, there is movement of troops and it will be interesting to see what will happen with Mariupol.

State borders have not been taken back by Ukrainian troops and OSCE people. A key question – at least, for me – is what we decide in January if certain border stations are not given back to Ukraine and international observers. There must be a real Ukrainian border, and that is the main condition for the Russians to come back to this Council.

Of course, it is important that local elections take place as soon as possible.

I have great sympathy for Ms L'Ovochkina, who spoke about her constituency in Crimea. The fact is that there are not parliamentary elections in all parts of the Ukraine. That is a shame. I hope something can be done after the elections, allowing these people to have representation in the Ukrainian Parliament as well.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you.

I do not see Mrs Zelienková in the Chamber.

I ask Ms Anttila to take the floor.

Ms ANTTILA (Finland) – Thank you, President, ladies and gentlemen.

The seeds of the Ukrainian crisis were sown much earlier, before the events in Maidan Square. The plan to start the negotiations between the European Union and Ukraine, to prepare the agreement, was one starting point. Russia wanted to have an observer seat on the negotiation table, because there was a similar agreement between Russia and Ukraine. The European Union Commission did not accept this Russian proposal. We do not know if the negotiation results would have been better if the Russians’ proposal had been accepted.

The agreement between the European Union and Ukraine partly caused the problems that we have been facing during the past months. Something went seriously wrong, because this agreement divided Ukrainian people and minority rights were forgotten, especially in the eastern parts of the country.

Ukraine is a sovereign State and has full rights to defend its people’s rights. Russia made mistakes in conquering Crimea. It is against international law. We have clearly condemned it. The fighting and war in the eastern parts of Ukraine have caused immense loss of human lives; homes have been destroyed; and there is great human suffering. This is unacceptable.

Now is the time to seek only diplomatic solutions, otherwise we will not be able to find a peaceful solution. The OSCE is doing valuable work supporting the negotiations, and that must be continued. Finding a solution through diplomatic means must be supported in all possible ways. I also hope that the forthcoming elections will be held according to European principles and that they are free and peaceful.

Thank you for your attention.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you very much, Ms Anttila.

Mr Shevchenko, you have the floor.

Mr SHEVCHENKO (Ukraine) – Thank you, President.

I should like to call members’ attention to the fact that aggression certainly is exerted by Russia against Ukraine. The reason for this aggression is that Russia does not want to see reforms – first and foremost, political reforms – carried out in Ukraine, along with reforms in our laws, and so on. Russia is afraid that if Ukraine succeeds in these reforms it might affect the behaviour of the people of Russia, because in Russia, as we know, they have a dictatorship that intends to create a Russian peace – a Pax Russica – in the former space of the Soviet Union, with orthodoxy and autocracy. That is what that aggression is all about. They want to drag the Ukrainians into this Pax Russica, so in these circumstances there is no reason for them to want to deal with political minorities and consider them as a reason for this aggression.

As we see in Crimea, they have closed down all Ukrainian language schools. The same thing is happening in the Donets basin – Donetsk, and so on. Anyone who wears Ukrainian national costume is hunted down by the separatists and the Russian military. In other words, they have an open policy of Ukrainophobia, both in the east of Ukraine and in Crimea.

I am astonished that some right-wing politicians, who are now in the parliaments of their countries, and even in the European Parliament, have supported Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. They remind me of the hero of a story by Leonid Andreyev, “The Abyss”, in which a young man is attacked by hooligans who start to rape his girlfriend, so he joins them and starts to rape her alongside them. That is what seems to be happening with these right-wing politicians supporting Putin’s aggression. I think they are making a grave mistake, because, in the end, the Russian chauvinists and the right-wing neo-Nazis in European countries will unite and there will be a union of neo-Nazi states of Europe and Asia. That is what will happen.

Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you.

Ms Cimbro, from Italy, is not in the Chamber, so I call Mr Ariev.

Mr ARIEV (Ukraine) – Thank you, President.

Distinguished colleagues, six years ago, in September 2008, we held an urgent debate about Russian aggression against Georgia. We and the Georgians had to try to prove here that Moscow is dangerous, that Putin would not stop and that Ukraine is his next target. Russia did not get an answer equivalent to that aggression, and last spring we got to discuss the annexation of Crimea. Many honourable members have chosen to adopt a soft version of the Assembly’s reaction to those sad events in the peninsula, and today we discuss Russian terrorists’ occupation of some eastern Ukrainian districts.

Please, will members who are still sure that the so-called dialogue with the Russian delegation here is effective raise a hand? Do you still think that you can turn a hyena into a vegetarian?

I want to inform you that the cease-fire is only on paper. Ukrainian army positions have been shelled more than 1 000 times since the Minsk agreement was signed. On territory controlled by Russian terrorists the USSR has been restored, with repressions, persecutions, fear, looting, food removals, and so on, plus medieval tortures for hostages and particularly cruel executions.

I want to show you one photo taken today of a schoolboy who died after the shelling of a school in the centre of Donetsk city. Three pupils and one teacher died. This is the result of Russian terrorism in Donetsk.

We see that peace agreements are not implemented by the Russian terrorists’ side. Ukrainians strengthen the lines of defence every day, but we expect new aggressive moves from Russia. Moscow has moved Iskander-M heavy rocket systems to the Ukrainian border which can be equipped with tactical nuclear rockets. Does that look like de-escalation?

      The United States of America, Canada, Australia, Japan, the European Union and NATO have recognised Russian military aggression against Ukraine. What is the Assembly waiting for? Do we want to find that lessons learned from the Second World War are not in practice? Yesterday we condemned neo-Nazi movements, but the greatest neo-Nazi movement has risen in Russia, and we cannot ignore it any longer. No one in Europe can feel safe following the events of last spring. The Budapest memorandum guaranteeing the territorial integrity of Ukraine has been broken. NATO members can say that they are under the umbrella of Article 5, but does Putin think so when the world did not react strongly enough to the invasion of Ukraine and to his open support of terrorism?

We need common efforts to stop Russia, including military co-operation, or we will see new military actions against Russia’s neighbours—Kazakhstan, Latvia, Estonia or Lithuania, take your pick.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. The next speaker is Ms Nachtmannová.

Ms NACHTMANNOVÁ (Slovak Republic) – I wish to make you acquainted with the Slovak Parliament’s declaration on the situation in Ukraine, which was adopted in September. I will not read the entire declaration due to lack of time.

The Slovak Parliament supports all the efforts of the international community to achieve a peaceful resolution to the conflict in south-eastern Ukraine. Another cold war in Europe is in no one’s interest. The Slovak Parliament therefore calls on all the parties involved in the conflict to respect the Minsk agreement on cease-fire and not to cause by their unconsidered behaviour the resumption of the fighting, killing and suffering of civilians.

We are convinced that, in order to achieve a sustainable, peaceful resolution to the conflict, it is necessary to find a bilaterally acceptable compromise between the Government of Ukraine and the representatives of insurgents from the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The Slovak Parliament calls on the parties to enable the citizens of Ukraine to make an independent decision by holding undisturbed, free and democratic elections across the whole territory of Ukraine as a priority expression of such a compromise. There is still time to find agreements that will help to achieve a peaceful resolution to the crisis in south-eastern Ukraine.

From the beginning, the Slovak Parliament has supported a diplomatic solution to the current situation in Ukraine through an agreement between Ukraine, the Russian Federation, the European Union and the United States of America that respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. Slovakia has always supported, and will always support, the European orientation of Ukraine, and Slovakia is ready to provide Ukraine with assistance and expertise. The citizens of Ukraine, as the only sovereign element of the country, can and must freely and independently decide on their homeland’s foreign policy.

I stress that my country insists on maintaining a consistent position on Kosovo and Crimea. Slovakia does not support a unilateral declaration of independence by any country that is not in accordance with international law.

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

Mr LOUKAIDES (Cyprus) – Thank you, Madam President. Today’s debate takes place at a time of two negative developments. The first was the decision of the United States and the European Union to increase economic sanctions against Russia when an attempt is under way to implement the fragile cease-fire agreed in early September. How can the chance for peace prevail when the policies being pursued are escalating into an economic war? The swift ratification of the European Union-Ukraine association agreement without any real prior dialogue with Ukrainian society, which remains deeply divided on the issue, remains at the fore as elections are imminent. Once again, interests have prevailed. Geopolitical rivalries are evolving alongside the militarisation of the whole of eastern Europe, which is a dangerous development with unpredictable consequences. Recent NATO decisions have been perceived as cries of war against Russia, which of course is not leaving them unanswered.

The rapporteurs underlined in the information note following their fact-finding visit to Ukraine in July that there remain serious deficiencies, delays and lack of consultation with Ukrainian society on constitutional reform. A critical issue is the country’s decentralisation process, which would contribute greatly to the de-escalation of tension in the region and to the unity of the country and its people. Granting a special status of autonomy to the regions of eastern Ukraine is a step in the right direction, although many issues remain to be clarified.

It is regrettable that the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe appeals for a new electoral system with multiple regions, which would ensure the representation of citizens from all parts of the country, has so far been rejected. We welcome that the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has declared its opposition to the prospective banning of the Communist party of Ukraine, which would be a flagrant violation of democratic principles. The people themselves will decide on the role of each party in political life. We note that anti-communism is often accompanied by an increase in neo-Nazi activity and the participation of extreme right-wing forces in government. We are obliged to address more carefully the dangers arising from tolerating or supporting such forces in Ukraine. We fear the probability that, sooner or later, implicated parties will realise that, once again, their support for right-wing extremist elements to serve geopolitical interests will ultimately come back like a boomerang.

THE PRESIDENT* – Thank you. The next speaker is Mr Agramunt.

Mr AGRAMUNT (Spain)* – Thank you, Madam President. This is the Assembly’s third debate on Ukraine and, regrettably, deaths have continued. There have now been more than 3 500 deaths, which include the 298 victims of the Malaysia Airlines disaster in July. This week I talked to my friend from the Group of the European People’s Party, Yulia Tymoshenko. Fortunately, she is now free from prison and has recovered from her experience. We discussed the most important points about the situation in Ukraine. Almost a month ago, following the declared cease-fire between the separatists and the Ukrainian Government, we all hoped that things would change, but the two sides have continued to draw apart as the weeks have passed.

Today, hard attacks are continuing on the airport in Donetsk, which may be about to fall into the hands of the rebels despite the will of the Ukrainian Government to stabilise the situation through the convening of parliamentary elections on 26 October. The situation has barely improved. With each day that passes there are more fatalities, more injured and more families that have to escape and cannot meet the basic needs of food, water and gas. Such families do not have anything from which to live. More hopes and dreams are dashed each day. Almost 300,000 people have had to leave their homes in eastern Ukraine. They are now being held in refugee camps and do not know how they will face the harsh winter. Some 40 000 people have decided to return to their homes around Luhansk. They are risking their lives, but they are tired of the difficulties that they face. Some 1 500 children have had to be evacuated.

Ukraine needs all our solidarity and support. A solution must be achieved through dialogue between President Poroshenko and President Putin. One or two telephone calls are not enough; there must be a diplomatic solution. To achieve lasting peace, the Russian President must show willingness to withdraw his forces, and the Ukrainian President must show willingness to stop supporting certain sides. Russia must understand that its threats will not be heard and that it cannot keep its soldiers on Ukrainian soil. Europe will lend its full support to negotiations, and we in the Council of Europe should all help with that. A cease-fire does not mean peace, so we must do our level best to achieve genuine peace in Ukraine.

      THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Agramunt. I call Mr Moreno Palanques.

Mr MORENO PALANQUES (Spain) – Two weeks ago, the European Parliament and the Parliament of Ukraine signed an association agreement, which will come into force in 2016, to strengthen political and other relations between Europe and Ukraine. On the same day, the Parliament of Ukraine adopted laws conferring a “special status” on the eastern regions of the country, acknowledging the potential for local elections in Donetsk and Luhansk, confirming the status of the Russian language and helping those regions to establish economic links with the border regions of Russia.

We must support President Poroshenko in his search for peace, we must strengthen the rule of law and we must ensure that Ukraine maintains its territorial integrity. In this crisis, we must support the restoration of international law – that is to say, the territorial integrity of Ukraine – and maintain solidarity with our European partners, particularly the Baltic countries, Poland and Hungary, which may feel threatened by Russia. Poland’s support is important as Ukraine tries to move closer to the European Union. For that reason, Spain supported the signing of the association agreement as soon as possible. Last but not least, we must consider whether we want Russia to be a strategic partner. If it is to be a strategic partner, Russia must respect international law, particularly when it comes to the territorial integrity of Ukraine. At the same time, we find a way to allow Ukraine to engage in free trade with both the European Union and Russia, which may be the first step towards closer co-operation in the future.

To achieve all that, the current situation must change radically. Today, in the most serious recent incident of civilian fatalities, at least nine people died in shooting on buses in the east of Ukraine. More than 3 000 people have died in Donetsk and Luhansk since April. There must be an end to this. We must try to re-establish international law and achieve security for all the surrounding states. We must secure their support to stop the confrontation, because that is the only way to resolve the situation for their good and for the good of all.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Moreno Palanques. Mr Badea is not here, so I call Mr Eßl.

Mr EßL (Austria)* – For more than six months, we have heard almost every day about unfortunate and dramatic events in eastern Europe. Those events concern us all, not only because Ukraine is the biggest country whose borders lie exclusively in Europe, but because the civilian population in Ukraine is being affected. The role of the Council of Europe is to do what it can to restore peace.

We cannot have Russia using military force and weapons to pursue geopolitical interests. We cannot allow it to flout democracy and deny the rights of minorities. We need a democratic solution in Ukraine, not a military one. In view of the independent reports of the death toll, perhaps we are talking about a full-blown war. The Council of Europe, the OSCE and the European Union must bring pressure to bear on Russia through diplomatic channels. We will see in time whether economic sanctions are the best tool. We are seeing a backlash against sanctions, which makes our economies fragile.

We have heard about NATO expressing an interest in Ukraine, but I think that that sends the wrong message. We need peace with Russia and peace with Ukraine, rather than a peace that runs counter to the interests of either country. We need to inculcate in each country a sense of respect for the other. The rights of minorities, territorial borders and the sovereignty of States must be respected. Surely, Russia must understand and accept that we are talking about international law. The Council of Europe should call on Russia to withdraw from Ukraine. Under the auspices of the OSCE, some important points have been negotiated, such as the cease-fire that has been overseen by the OSCE. That is a cause for hope, but day-to-day events make it clear that peace is not just around the corner. We in the Council of Europe stand up for peace and international law. We must call for and participate in dialogue.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Eßl. I call Mr Vecherko.

Mr VECHERKO (Ukraine)* – Our country faces a political, economic and energy crisis. In the east, west and centre of Ukraine, everyone is demanding answers about security, about supplies, about whether their children will be safe and about whether people will have a reliable supply of electricity and heat for their homes. I represent the east of Ukraine in the Ukrainian Parliament, as well as being a member of the Parliamentary Assembly. We have seen terrible devaluation of the hryvnia. We do not have enough coal or natural gas. A cold winter is coming, and with it a humanitarian catastrophe.

Constructive dialogue between Ukraine, Russia and a united Europe is the only way to rectify the situation, and all the member States of the Council of Europe must help us to find a balanced approach to settle our differences. The negotiations should not be limited to summits, because we will only achieve results through meetings between deputies of the Ukrainian and Russian Parliaments, delegates from the parliaments of Council of Europe member States, the Speakers of the parliaments and representatives of other governing bodies. That must all be done as soon as possible – today, if possible – because only thus can we achieve peace. Peace must come first. We must stop the killing of innocent people. We must make the best use of the cease-fire to settle our differences with the Russian Federation for the sake of the stability of the people of Ukraine.

      Let me say a few words about the elections. If up to 10 million people cannot participate in them, they are not real elections. For that reason, a group of us deputies have decided not to stand. We live in the east of Ukraine, and the people there would not be free to vote for us.

      Not only are refugees pouring into the central and western parts of Ukraine, but about 600 000 are in the Rostov and Voronezh areas of Russia. They are all Ukrainian citizens, and we must not forget them. Only through negotiation can we achieve peace.

      This is my last opportunity to speak in the Chamber. Since 2006, I have tried to foster European integration. I have been a member of the committee on the European integration of Ukraine. I will continue to use all my connections and power to establish peace so that people can live in peace not only in Ukraine, but in the whole of Europe.

      THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Vecherko. On behalf of us all, I want to thank you for your commitment. I wish you all the best and good luck.

      I call Mr Csenger-Zalán.

      Mr CSENGER-ZALÁN (Hungary) – I welcome the cease-fire agreed a few weeks ago. Although there are conflicts between the armed forces in the critical Ukrainian territories from time to time, at least the first important step has been taken towards a peace process. I am sure that resolving the conflict is only possible through constant negotiation.

      Hungary is interested in the development of peaceful methods for settling disputes. The crisis is hitting Hungary hard not only because we are a next-door neighbour of Ukraine, but because we depend on Russian energy supplies. Hungarian companies, farmers and the whole agricultural industry are suffering from losses caused by the sanctions. Unfortunately, those losses are not covered by compensation funds because those funds were used up almost immediately. Although we are not fully convinced of the effectiveness of the sanctions, Hungary will certainly maintain them in the future, as it has in the past.

      There will be a significant step towards democracy when the next parliamentary elections are held on 26 October. As a result, not only the president but the representatives will gain fresh legitimacy. In the current difficult and complicated situation, such unquestioned legitimacy is vital not only for Ukraine, but for the entire democratic community. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and OSCE observation missions will support that process.

      One serious achievement in Hungary, thanks to the new electoral law, is that national minorities are now represented in the parliament in Budapest. Unfortunately, the opposite is occurring in Ukraine. Up until now, the Hungarian minority in Ukraine had the opportunity directly to elect a representative, but that has now been virtually eliminated because the relevant district was split between neighbouring areas. However, we expect the next modification to Ukrainian electoral law and a fair designation of electoral districts to enable minority representatives to be directly elected to the Ukrainian Parliament in future. We hope for a peaceful stabilisation of Ukraine after the election and for a complete establishment of democracy there as soon as possible.

      THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Csenger-Zalán. As I cannot see Mr Chikovani in the Chamber, I call Mr Petrenco.

      Mr PETRENCO (Republic of Moldova)* – We have discussed the situation in Ukraine for several part-sessions in a row. A year ago, there was a very emotional and angry discussion about the need to change course. All our resolutions mention the need for a referendum, but they have all been thrust aside, and the citizens of Ukraine have basically been denied the right to decide their own fate.

      In January, we warned that right-wingers had raised the banner of the former fascist Bandera in Maidan Square. Nobody believed us, but once Kiev had officially refused to sign the European Union’s accession agreement, all that such people were doing in Maidan Square was pouring oil on the flames. That led to a coup, and the rise to power of a new “Euro-brown” regime led by politicians who started by slapping down the Communist opposition, pulling down monuments and banning all Russian-language television channels. We adopted a one-sided resolution, and would not even discuss the federalisation of Ukraine. Instead of having a proper debate, we agreed a resolution to support those who were pointing and firing weapons at their own people.

      We can see what is happening in Luhansk and other towns. I think that I was the first person from the Parliamentary Assembly to visit Luhansk after the cease-fire, and I told those in charge: “You are fighting not terrorists, but the people of your own nation. You cannot call millions of citizens terrorists. Who shelled the hospitals and schools in the Donetsk region, and wiped out whole areas off the map? Who destroyed School No. 57, and who shot at a minibus in Donetsk? Did such people blow themselves up? No, they are civilians, not terrorists. There is no justification for these war crimes.”

      I call on the Council of Europe to hold out its hand to the people of Donbass. They are having to live without light, heat, food, basic necessities, pay packets and pensions. It is a humanitarian catastrophe, and we should focus on that, not on constitutional reforms and the upcoming elections to the Ukrainian Parliament. Europe should find the Ukrainian authorities guilty of war crimes in the Donbass area. Everybody who gave a criminal order to shoot at their own population should be punished. We need a new rapporteur on Ukraine, and we must not repeat our previous mistakes.

      THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Petrenco. I call Ms Johnsen.

      Ms JOHNSEN (Norway) – This debate shows that the Council of Europe is deeply concerned about developments in Ukraine. During the autumn, the Russian military has become more and more deeply involved in regular fighting against the Ukrainian military. From training volunteers and supporters of a Russian invasion, Russia is now taking a more active and leading role in the conflict. That can only be seen as a Russian wish to escalate the conflict, but the Ukrainian Government has chosen a diplomatic path, rather than a full-scale war.

      The west has reacted to Russian aggression with economic sanctions. Norway fully supports the sanctions agreed by the European Union on 12 September. This is a response against Russia and its breach of international law.

      Norway has supported sanctions since the start of the Russian invasion. Our Foreign Minister visited Maidan Square on 1 September and has promised humanitarian help. It is estimated that more than 200 000 people are in need of humanitarian assistance.

      The humanitarian situation in Ukraine is steadily worsening. People are fleeing from fighting, especially in the Donbass region and Donetsk. Many people are cut off from help because aid organisations do not have access. Civilians live in terror of being killed or injured. At the same time, human rights are being breached. Kidnapping, torture and illegal imprisonment are taking place.

      The Ukraine Government has worked out an action plan for humanitarian help in collaboration with the United Nations. The need for water, medicine and shelter is great. Many internally displaced refugees live in empty school buildings. It will take a long time to build up infrastructure and construct houses. The cost of providing help is estimated to be $33 million, and the figure is expected to increase. International help is needed to protect civilians, and to co-ordinate aid.

      Norway will contribute €1 million, and the means will be given to provide education and protect civilians. A lot of children in conflict areas receive no education, and they also need psychological help. UNICEF works on education in areas of crisis and conflict, and will administer the means to do so from Norway.

      The Council of Europe must follow developments in Ukraine closely. We must not be silent. We must continue to impose sanctions on Russia, which has breached international law. The international community must give aid and help people in need, and help to find a peaceful solution. We must ensure that those who died at Maidan Square did not die in vain.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. I call Mr Fronc.

Mr FRONC (Slovak Republic) – Historia magistra vitae est: history is life’s teacher.

Before the outbreak of the First World War, people did not believe the war would begin. History teaches us to be careful and perceptive. Before the outbreak of the Second World War, politicians retreated from violence. The pitiful example is the Munich agreement. History teaches us that retreating from violence causes greater evil.

      The conflict taking place at the border of the European Union – in Ukraine – directly affects us all. I am convinced that it is our duty to provide humanitarian and economic assistance. That is the way to express solidarity with the suffering inhabitants of Ukraine.

      The population in Ukraine is divided, and the causes are not only economic but historical. Western Ukraine was for centuries part of Europe, and eastern Ukraine was part the Russian empire. The consequence is one nation and one language, but two historical and cultural traditions. The problem is that these differences are abused by Russia's imperial interests.

      We all call for dialogue, but dialogue needs at least two partners, and sometimes one partner has to be forced to take part. The sanctions against the Russian Federation are necessary, and the position of the European Union countries and other countries is clear. It is not an expression of hostility, but simply a demonstration that respect for international law and justice is required not only of small countries, but large and powerful countries.

      THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. I call Ms Guţu.

      Ms GUŢU (Republic of Moldova)* – Here we are discussing the crisis in Ukraine for the fourth time in this Assembly. We have organised hearings, visited Ukraine and adopted resolutions. I want to consider the causes and effects of what we have come to call the crisis in Ukraine. We are seeing a humanitarian crisis in eastern Ukraine, and serious human rights violations there and in Crimea. A “frozen conflict” is emerging in Crimea. It needs to be said the Parliamentary Assembly voted in favour of stripping the Russian delegation of its voting rights as a result of Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Given these conditions, is it reasonable to talk about the cause of the crisis in Ukraine? I think so. The principal cause of the conflict – it is not me who is saying this, but human rights experts – has been the desire of the Ukrainians to define for themselves the direction of Ukrainian foreign policy, and the first demonstrations were a reaction to President Yanukovych’s decision not to sign the European Union Association Agreement. The Maidan demonstrations were then triggered by the reprisals on the part of troops against peaceful demonstrators.

      During yesterday’s Bureau meeting, voices were raised, talking about the dialogue with Russia, but this Assembly should feel no guilt at having stripped the Russian delegation of its voting rights. Other members of the Assembly today have made incredible statements, saying that Russia has a legitimate interest in Ukraine. We are not talking about the Soviet Union. Is it normal that a State violates the sovereignty and territorial integrity of another State?

      The real cause of annexation is separatism. Separatism is a delicate subject. International law provides for the right to self-determination of peoples, but should we today be talking about the dismantling of sovereign territories – independent nation States that emerged over centuries? The question is a rhetorical one, but it should be food for scientific, political and geopolitical thought.

      In my own country, there are also separatist trends. Mr Petrenco mentioned that he has been involved in training young people who are then sent to Ukraine to fight so-called neo-Nazism. The term, as such, does not exist in legislation in a number of countries. Russia amended its own resolution and resorted to a euphemism for violation of sovereignty and territorial integrity. I have tabled a motion with a view to preventing and combating separatism, and I hope that during Friday’s Bureau meeting, a decision will be taken to approve a report on separatism, particularly of the post-Soviet persuasion.

THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. I call Mr Omtzigt.

Mr OMTZIGT (Netherlands) – As has been said, this is not the first time we have discussed Ukraine, and it is the first thing on our minds when we look at how the European Convention on Human Rights is functioning. We often talk about individual cases, which are important for the people concerned but are small when considered on a European scale. Here, we are talking about a full-scale war, and the Georgians here today rightly reminded us that this is the second time this has happened. This could mark the breakdown of our ECHR system, and I therefore think that we should be extremely aware of that and make it an extreme priority to ensure that the mechanisms devised here work.

      I find it a pity that if we have a discussion with Mr Jagland and Mr Muiznieks, they leave after a little while. When we talk about dialogue, lots of politicians mean, “I talk and you listen”, but a dialogue is also, “You talk and I listen.” That also counts for a lot of the people who are not here. I can see more empty chairs than occupied ones.

I commend the Committee of Ministers for being extremely clear that Russian troops are present on Ukrainian territory. Usually, the Committee of Ministers is not that clear. It is the clearest violation of the Convention and our usual mechanisms that one can think of. We should take note of that and do something to ensure that it ends.

It is a pity that there is no statement of the Assembly to vote on. If there was a statement, there are two important things that I would want to see in it. The first thing is that the European Court of Human Rights should hear interstate cases with great speed. The interstate cases between Georgia and Russia are still at the Court, and I would like immediate hearings on the present interstate cases between Ukraine and Russia. That is where decisions should be taken on legality—not here. Secondly, on the downing of the MH817 flight, it is a pity—it is very difficult—that there are still 50 or 60 bodies that have not yet been identified. The wreckage is still in the field. It is probably the single deadliest attack in Europe over the past 20 years. It may not have been intentional, but there is extremely little co-operation in finding those who are guilty of killing almost 300 innocent passengers. Those people should be held responsible and, if not, we can start work on individual cases.

I finish with a question to the President. Will you ask the Secretary General and the Commissioner for Human Rights to be present the next time we have a debate with them?

      THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. I call Mr Symonenko.

      Mr SYMONENKO (Ukraine)* – I would like to offer a few important thoughts. The war in Ukraine is fratricide. Ukrainians are killing Ukrainians, and we are all witnesses to a situation where women, old people and children are dying. Secondly, I have heard so many expressions of condolence, but you cannot bring people back to life with condolences. Our job as responsible politicians, who could have predicted what would happen and could have prevented war from breaking out, is to produce the right policy. I call your attention to a few points. I consider attempts to explain the war as being caused by external factors to be ridiculous. Until we start looking in Ukraine for the factors that led to the war, we will go further and further up the wrong path. It is all to do with the destruction of the territorial integrity of Ukraine.

We must understand that the main question is about whether the war was avoidable. I think we can answer that question in the affirmative—yes, it could have been avoided. In Ukraine, my politician colleagues and I, using the principles of European democracy and referendums, wanted the country to decide whether we joined the European Union or the Russian customs union. Under Ukrainian law, we collected 3.5 million signatures asking for a referendum, and the corrupt oligarch regime of Yanukovych prevented that referendum from taking place. He got together with the oligarchs and they refused to allow the people of Ukraine to show their will.

We need to understand the reason for the conflict between the east of the country and the Kiev authorities. After Maidan, the authorities were on the side of European integration. In the east of the country, they were for the customs union. I personally requested that colleagues tell the European community that Ukraine needed a referendum, otherwise there would be bloodshed. They then started to bring up the ideas of demanding Russian as an official language, the decentralisation of power and local referendums. The Kiev authorities refused all those requests and sent the tanks to pacify those who wanted such things. That showed the relationship between the region and the Kiev authorities.

Why was it different in Scotland? It was different because the Scots were allowed to show their point of view through a referendum. They were able to show how the country felt. That is what the people of Ukraine wanted and that is what they were not allowed. We have been talking about our concern and alarm at the rise of neo-fascism and neo-Nazism. As I see it, Europe should demand that the Ukrainian Government gets rid of the neo-fascists who are part of it. They are being armed and given their uniforms by those who support the ideas of fascism and Nazism. If that is allowed to continue, it will be the end for Ukraine. We should demand that the Kiev authorities fulfil the commitments that they made with the Europeans when they signed the agreements in Geneva, including the 18 February agreement.

      THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. The last speaker on the list is Mr Dzhemiliev.

      Mr DZHEMILIEV (Ukraine)* – In the few minutes at my disposal, I would like to inform you about the situation in the Crimea, which is occupied by Russian forces, and in particular the situation of the Crimean Tatars, who are the indigenous people of the region. In 1944, the Tatars were deported en masse and suffered genocide. They were allowed back only at the beginning of the 1990s, after decades of fighting peacefully for their rights. In other words, that happened after Ukraine achieved independence. We are now in the most difficult and dangerous situation. We always actively spoke out against the separatist movement in the Crimea supported by Russia, and we are still clearly stating that the Russian occupation is illegal. The Russian authorities, from the first days of their occupation, tried to get the Crimean Tatars to support their illegal and criminal actions. For instance, Mr Putin had personal negotiations with me, but when he did not get our support, he went back to his traditional repressive methods, as Mr Symonenko said a few moments ago. Repression of the Crimean Tatars has got worse and worse, particularly over the past few weeks.

The highest body of the Crimean Tatars, the Mejlis, called on Tatars to boycott the so-called “election” for the so-called “local authorities” in September. The very next day, the Mejlis was attacked, and they took all our computers and all our technology. In the same building was a charitable organisation and the offices of the Tatar newspaper. Throughout the Crimea, Tatars were arrested without any reason and there was a whole wave of searches of Tatars’ homes, offices, libraries and mosques. There have been more than 40 such searches in the last week alone. They claim to be seeking weapons and forbidden religious and political literature. They have banned something like 2 600 different publications. If more than three people gather together, that is seen as an illegal meeting and a huge fine is levied. There is censorship on all forms of information. The occupying forces either prevent people who live in Crimea from leaving or prevent other people from coming in. They are marauding. During their occupation, more than 15 people have disappeared without trace. One of them was found dead on the road. Over the past week, three more of our young Tatars have disappeared.

      On 27 February, people wearing uniforms, the so-called self-defence force, with their so-called prime minister, a former criminal, pushed into a car Islam Dzhepparov and Islam Dzhevdet, and they were taken we know not where. Another young man called Asanov was kidnapped just a few days ago. At the same time, the so-called president claims that nobody knows anything about these disappearances. These people are openly talking about the fight against Ukraine being brought to Ukrainian territory. They say that first and foremost the so-called fifth column in Crimea will be destroyed – in other words, the Tatars who do not recognise the legality of their annexation of Crimea. The so-called prime minister of Crimea has said openly in the press that they are going to boot out of Crimea everybody who does not recognise the legality of Ukraine’s unification of Russia, which means that there will be another deportation of all the Crimean Tatars.

      We hope that the world community and the Council of Europe will do everything possible and necessary to stop these crimes and to free the territory of Crimea from this illegal occupation.

      THE PRESIDENT – Thank you very much.

      That concludes the list of speakers. I thank all those who participated in this very important debate. I particularly thank Mr Schennach, who introduced the report. As Chair of the Monitoring Committee, he also had to be actively present during the debate.

      We are not going to vote on a text, but we have had a lengthy exchange of views. The Bureau may later take a decision to propose to send this question to a committee for a report. I give you that information and thank you once more.

3. Next public business

      THE PRESIDENT* – The Assembly will hold its next public sitting tomorrow at 10 a.m. with the agenda which was approved.

      The sitting is closed.

      (The sitting closed at 7.20 p.m.)

CONTENTS

1. The functioning of democratic institutions in Georgia (resumed debate)

Amendments 5, 6, 28, 24, 25, 30, 26 (as amended), 31, 27, 32, 4, 3 (as amended), 34, 20 (as amended), 22 (as amended) and 29 adopted.

Draft resolution contained in Document 13588, as amended, adopted.

2. Current affairs debate

Speakers: Mr Schennach (Austria), Ms L’Ovochkina (Ukraine), Ms Reps (Estonia), Mr Hunko (Germany), Mr Franken (Netherlands), Lord Anderson (United Kingdom), Mr Muižnieks (Commissioner for Human Rights), Mr Popescu (Ukraine), Mr Spautz (Luxembourg), Ms Vėsaitė (Lithuania), Mr Ghiletchi (Republic of Moldova), Mr Leigh (United Kingdom), Mr Jensen (Denmark), Mr Di Stefano (Italy), Ms Finckh-Krämer (Germany), Mr Sobolev (Ukraine), Mr Rouquet (France), Mr Zingeris (Lithuania), Mr Hancock (United Kingdom), Mr Kox (Netherlands), Ms Christoffersen (Norway), Ms Spadoni (Italy), Ms Pourbaix-Lundin (Sweden), Mr Selvi (Turkey), Mr Xuclà (Spain), Ms Bokuchava (Georgia), Mr Sasi (Finland), Ms Anttila (Finland), Mr Shevchenko (Ukraine), Mr Ariev (Ukraine), Ms Nachtmannová (Slovak Republic), Mr Loukaides (Cyprus), Mr Agramunt (Spain), Mr Moreno Palanques (Spain), Mr Eßl (Austria), Mr Vecherko (Ukraine), Mr Csenger-Zalán (Hungary), Mr Petrenco (Republic of Moldova), Ms Johnsen (Norway), Mr Fronc (Slovak Republic), Ms Guţu (Republic of Moldova), Mr Omtzigt (Netherlands), Mr Symonenko (Ukraine), Mr Dzhemiliev (Ukraine).

3.        Next public business

Appendix I

Representatives or Substitutes who signed the Attendance Register in accordance with Rule 11.2 of the Rules of Procedure. The names of Substitutes who replaced absent Representatives are printed in small letters. The names of those who were absent or apologised for absence are followed by an asterisk

AGRAMUNT Pedro

ALEKSANDROV Alexey Ivanovich*

ALLAIN Brigitte*

ALLAVENA Jean-Charles

AMON Werner*

AMTSBERG Luise*

ANDERSEN Liv Holm*

ANDERSON Donald

ANDREOLI Paride/Giovagnoli Gerardo

ARIB Khadija*

ARIEV Volodymyr

BACQUELAINE Daniel*

BAĞIŞ Egemen*

BAKOYANNIS Theodora*

BAKRADZE David*

BALLA Taulant*

BAPT Gérard/Le Borgn' Pierre-Yves

BARCIA DUEDRA Gerard / Bonet Perot Sílvia Eloïsa

BARNETT Doris*/Schäfer Axel

BARREIRO José Manuel*

BAYKAL Deniz

BECK Marieluise*

BENEŠIK Ondřej*

BENEYTO José María*

BERDZENISHVILI Levan/Magradze Guguli

BERGAMINI Deborah*

BERISHA Sali/Bylykbashi Oerd

BERNINI Anna Maria/Fazzone Claudio

BERTUZZI Maria Teresa*

BIEDROŃ Robert

BİLGEHAN Gülsün

BINLEY Brian

BLAHA Ľuboš/Gabániová Darina

BLANCHART Philippe*

BLANCO Delia/Quintanilla Carmen

BOCKEL Jean-Marie*

BOCQUET Eric*

BORZOVA Olga*

BOSIĆ Mladen/Dervoz Ismeta

BRAGA António*

BRASSEUR Anne/Spautz Marc

BRATTI Alessandro*

BÜCHEL Gerold/Gopp Rainer

BUGNON André/Recordon Luc

BURYKINA Natalia*

CATALFO Nunzia*

CEDERBRATT Mikael*

CENTEMERO Elena*

CHIKOVANI Irakli

CHITI Vannino*

CHIUARIU Tudor-Alexandru/Badea Viorel Riceard

CHOPE Christopher

CHRISTOFFERSEN Lise

CHUKOLOV Desislav*

ČIGĀNE Lolita*

CILEVIČS Boriss

CIOCH Henryk

CLAPPISON James*

CONDE Agustín

CORREIA Telmo*

CORSINI Paolo

COSTA NEVES Carlos

COSTANTINO Celeste*

CROSIO Jonny*

CRUCHTEN Yves

CSENGER-ZALÁN Zsolt

CSÖBÖR Katalin

DAMYANOVA Milena*

DEBONO GRECH Joseph*

DECKER Armand*

DENEMEÇ Reha

DESEYN Roel*

DI STEFANO Manlio

DÍAZ TEJERA Arcadio

DIJK Peter

DİŞLİ Şaban

DJUROVIĆ Aleksandra

DRAGASAKIS Ioannis*

DRĂGHICI Damian

DROBINSKI-WEIß Elvira*

DUMERY Daphné*

DUNDEE Alexander

DURRIEU Josette*

DZURINDA Mikuláš*

ECCLES Diana/Leigh Edward

ERKAL KARA Tülin

EßL Franz Leonhard

FABRITIUS Bernd*

FENECH ADAMI Joseph*

FENECHIU Cătălin Daniel

FETISOV Vyacheslav*

FIALA Doris/Schneider-Schneiter Elisabeth

FILIPIOVÁ Daniela*

FINCKH-KRÄMER Ute

FISCHER Axel E.*

FLEGO Gvozden Srećko

FOURNIER Bernard*

FRANKEN Hans

FRÉCON Jean-Claude*

FRESKO-ROLFO Béatrice*

FRONC Martin

GALE Roger*

GAMBARO Adele

GARÐARSSON Karl

GERASIMOVA Nadezda*

GHILETCHI Valeriu

GIRO Francesco Maria

GOGA Pavol*

GÓRCZYŃSKI Jarosław*

GORGHIU Alina Ştefania*

GORYACHEVA Svetlana*

GOZI Sandro/ Cimbro Eleonora

GRAAF Fred/Omtzigt Pieter

GROOTE Patrick*

GROSS Andreas

GROZDANOVA Dzhema*

GÜLPINAR Mehmet Kasim

GULYÁS Gergely*

GÜR Nazmi

GUTIÉRREZ Antonio/Xuclà Jordi

GUŢU Ana

GUZENINA Maria/Pelkonen Jaana

GYÖNGYÖSI Márton*

HÄGG Carina*

HAJIYEV Sabir

HALICKI Andrzej*

HAMID Hamid*

HANCOCK Mike

HANSON Margus

HEER Alfred/Pfister Gerhard

HENNRICH Michael*

HENRIKSEN Martin*

HETTO-GAASCH Françoise

HOFMAN Adam*

HOOD Jim*

HOVHANNISYAN Arpine*

HÜBINGER Anette*

HÜBNER Johannes*

HUNKO Andrej

HUSEYNLI Ali*

HUSEYNOV Rafael*

IORDACHE Florin*

IWIŃSKI Tadeusz*

JACQUAT Denis*

JAKAVONIS Gediminas

JANDROKOVIĆ Gordan

JANTUAN Stella

JAPARIDZE Tedo

JENSEN Michael Aastrup

JENSSEN Frank J.

JÓNASSON Ögmundur

JOVIČIĆ Aleksandar/Pantić Pilja Biljana

JURATOVIC Josip*

KAIKKONEN Antti/Anttila Sirkka-Liisa

KAMIŃSKI Mariusz*

KARADJOVA Deniza*

KARAMANLI Marietta

KARLSSON Ulrika*

KATIČ Andreja*

KAŹMIERCZAK Jan*

KIVALOV Serhii*

KLICH Bogdan*

KLYUEV Serhiy/Pylypenko Volodymyr

KOÇ Haluk

KOLMAN Igor

KONRÁÐSDÓTTIR Unnur Brá*

KORENJAK KRAMAR Ksenija

KORODI Attila/Kelemen Attila Béla-Ladislau

KORUN Alev*

KOSTŘICA Rom/Pecková Gabriela

KOUNTOURA Elena

KOVÁCS Elvira

KOX Tiny

KRIŠTO Borjana*

KRYVITSKY Dmitry*

KYRIAKIDOU Athina

LE DÉAUT Jean-Yves*

LEBEDEV Igor*

LÉONARD Christophe/Crozon Pascale

LESKAJ Valentina

LEYDEN Terry

LĪBIŅA-EGNERE Inese*

LONCLE François / Philippe Bies

LOUKAIDES George

L'OVOCHKINA Yuliya

LUND Jacob

MACH Trine Pertou*

MAGAZINOVIĆ Saša*

MAHOUX Philippe

MARIANI Thierry

MARKOVÁ Soňa/ Holík Pavel

MARKOVIĆ Milica*

MATEU PI Meritxell

MATTILA Pirkko*

MATUŠIĆ Frano

MAURY PASQUIER Liliane

McNAMARA Michael

MEALE Alan*

MEHMETI DEVAJA Ermira*

MELNIKOV Ivan*

MENDES BOTA José

MENDONÇA Ana Catarina*

MESTERHÁZY Attila*

MIGNON Jean-Claude

MIßFELDER Philipp*

MITCHELL Olivia

MORENO PALANQUES Rubén

MOROZOV Igor*

MOTA AMARAL João Bosco

MULARCZYK Arkadiusz*

MULIĆ Melita

MYRYMSKYI Lev*

NACHBAR Philippe*

NACHTMANNOVÁ Oľga

NAGHDALYAN Hermine*

NEACŞU Marian/Florea Daniel

NÉMETH Zsolt*

NICHOLSON Emma/Gillan Cheryl

NICOLETTI Michele

NIKOLAEVA Elena*

NIKOLOSKI Aleksandar

NYKIEL Mirosława*

OBRADOVIĆ Marija

OBRADOVIĆ Žarko

OEHRI Judith*

OHLSSON Carina*

O'REILLY Joseph

OROBETS Lesia/Mustafa Dzhemiliev

OSBORNE Sandra/Crausby David

PALACIOS José Ignacio*

PALIHOVICI Liliana*

PASHAYEVA Ganira*

PIPILI Foteini*

POPESCU Ivan

POURBAIX-LUNDIN Marietta

PREDA Cezar Florin

PRESCOTT John*

PUCHE Gabino

PUSHKOV Alexey*

REPS Mailis

RICHTROVÁ Eva

RIGONI Andrea*

ROCHEBLOINE François/Reiss Frédéric

ROSEIRA Maria de Belém*

ROUQUET René

RYABIKIN Pavlo/Iryna Gerashchenko

RZAYEV Rovshan

SAAR Indrek

SANTANGELO Vincenzo/ Spadoni Maria Edera

SASI Kimmo

SCHEMBRI Deborah*

SCHENNACH Stefan

SCHOU Ingjerd/Johnsen Kristin Ørmen

SCHWABE Frank

SCHWALLER Urs

SEARA Laura

SEDÓ Salvador

ŠEHOVIĆ Damir

SEKULIĆ Predrag*

SELVİ Ömer

SENIĆ Aleksandar

ŠEPIĆ Senad*

SEYIDOV Samad*

SHERIDAN Jim

SHEVCHENKO Oleksandr

SIEBERT Bernd*

ŠIRCELJ Andre*

SKARDŽIUS Arturas

SLUTSKY Leonid*

SOBOLEV Serhiy

STEFANELLI Lorella

STOILOV Yanaki*

STRENZ Karin*

STROE Ionuţ-Marian*

SUDARENKOV Valeriy*

SYDOW Björn*

SYMONENKO Petro

TAKTAKISHVILI Chiora/Bokuchava Tinatin

TIMCHENKO Vyacheslav*

TOMLINSON John E.

TRIANTAFYLLOS Konstantinos*

TUDOSE Mihai*

TÜRKEŞ Ahmet Kutalmiş*

TÜRKEŞ Tuğrul

TZAVARAS Konstantinos*

UMAKHANOV Ilyas*

VÁHALOVÁ Dana

VALAVANI Olga-Nantia/Saltouros Dimitrios

VALEN Snorre Serigstad/Hagebakken Tore

VASILI Petrit*

VECHERKO Volodymyr

VEJKEY Imre

VERHEIJEN Mark/ Faber-Van De Klashorst Marjolein

VĖSAITĖ Birutė

VIROLAINEN Anne-Mari

VORONIN Vladimir/Petrenco Grigore

VRIES Klaas

VUČKOVIĆ Nataša*

VUKSANOVIĆ Draginja*

WACH Piotr

WALTER Robert*

WATKINSON Angela

WELLMANN Karl-Georg/Benning Sybille

WERNER Katrin*

WOLD Morten*

WURM Gisela

ZECH Tobias*

ZELIENKOVÁ Kristýna

ZIMMERMANN Marie-Jo

ZINGERIS Emanuelis

ZIUGANOV Guennady*

ZOHRABYAN Naira*

ZOURABIAN Levon*Top of Form

Vacant Seat, Cyprus*

Vacant Seat, ''The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia''*

Vacant Seat, United Kingdom*

ALSO PRESENT

Representatives and Substitutes not authorised to vote

Maria GIANNAKAKI

Rozsa HOFFMANN

Spyridon TALIADOUROS

Observers

Eloy CANTU SEGOVIA

Rina FRENKEL

Partners for democracy

Mohammed AMEUR

Mohammed Mehdi BENSAID

Nezha EL OUAFI

Omar HEJIRA

Mohamed YATIM


1 The amendments are available at the document counter or on the Assembly’s website. Only oral amendments or oral sub-amendments are reproduced in the report of debates.