AS (2014) CR 34
2014 ORDINARY SESSION
Thursday 2 October 2014 at 10 a.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 10.05 a.m.)
THE PRESIDENT* – The sitting is open.
In view of the time available and the number of speakers on the lists, I propose that the speaking time in all debates today be limited to three minutes. Is that agreed?
It is agreed to.
1. Debate under urgent procedure: Threats against humanity posed by the terrorist group known as “IS”: violence against Christians and other religious or ethnic communities
THE PRESIDENT* – The first item of business this morning is the debate on the report entitled, “Threats against humanity posed by the terrorist group known as “IS”: violence against Christians and other religious or ethnic communities”, Document 13618, presented by Ms Bakoyannis on behalf of the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy.
I remind you that in order to finish by noon, we shall interrupt the list of speakers at about 11.45 a.m. to allow time for the reply and votes.
I call Ms Bakoyannis, rapporteur of the committee. You have 13 minutes in total, which you may divide between presentation of the report and reply to the debate.
Ms BAKOYANNIS (Greece) – Dear colleagues, few people in Europe urged caution over the exaggerated optimism the Arab Spring generated, but even the most pessimistic among us could hardly have foreseen the current situation. In Iraq, we have witnessed sectarian conflict between Shias, Sunnis, Christians and other ethnic groups, which has resulted in much suffering, and since 2003, half the population has left the country. However, with the advance of the terrorist group “Islamic State”, the tragedy has taken on unprecedented proportions: 1.8 million people have been displaced in 2014; when “IS” captured Iraq’s Christian capital of Qaraqosh, a quarter of all Iraqi Christians – 100 000 people – fled; 130 000 Yazidis, out of a population of just 600 000, are already refugees, and thousands have been brutally assassinated by “IS”. The situation in Syria is unprecedented: 140 000 people have died, 2.5 million have fled the country and 6.4 million have been internally displaced.
I am honoured that the Assembly has asked me to report on the plight of Christians and other communities in the region. At our first meeting in Athens, we heard remarkable contributions and ideas about how to face this situation. It is important to consider the western stance in recent years. We were content with the superficial calm the region’s authoritarian regimes guaranteed. No plan B existed for the eventuality of violence – or, indeed, of any change – and we completely ignored the forces at play in these societies and the effect of western, particularly the United States’ military interventions and policy mistakes.
We failed to comprehend the new Islamic fundamentalist forces: the rise of “IS”, for example, caught Europe and the west in general totally unprepared. We failed to deal with the situation in Syria, including the opposing views of the United States of America and Russia vis-à-vis the Assad regime and a situation on the ground of paralysis and incomprehension. Likewise, the United States, in a phase of self-flagellation for past mistakes in Iraq, Iran and elsewhere, spent a long time before taking action. Finally, the Ukraine crisis has shifted the west’s attention elsewhere and has made an understanding with Russia on this and other matters more difficult.
The tragedy in the Middle East is testimony to the overall failure of both Europe and the Muslim States. In view of that, patchy actions and policies will not do. One deals with one's own great political errors only by opting for great initiatives. Allow me to propose some ideas, as reflected in the report. I will mention only what I consider strategic guidelines; additional ideas can be found in the report.
First, Muslim societies’ top priority right now should not be importing western systems undigested but rediscovering the great Islamic heritage of their own – the heritage of compassion and benevolence so prominent in the Quran and, above all, the tradition of peaceful coexistence with Christians, Jews and believers of all faiths. That is the tradition which helped the patriarchates of Jerusalem, Antioch and Alexandria to survive to this day.
Secondly, in that light, we must ask all Muslim States to introduce constitutional guarantees protecting the rights I have mentioned as components of their own civilisation.
Thirdly, we must encourage an alliance of all States in the region, one with a considerable joint military force to deal with, and above all prevent, crises such as the one we are now facing. If our support is needed, it should be granted. For example, today the city of Kobane is being bombarded, and in a matter of hours we may be facing a tragedy in that city, because “IS” forces are very near.
Fourthly, with the help of all friendly States in the region, we must discover and dismantle rapidly two particularly dangerous channels for extremism: sources of funds and human recruitment resources, either in those regions or in the west.
Fifthly, we must urgently fund a wide-scale humanitarian mechanism to deal with the unprecedented humanitarian crisis we are now facing. Nothing diffuses tension and historical suspicion so much as a helping hand in one’s most tragic hour. We saw that after the earthquakes in Greece and Turkey, when the two nations rushed to help each other.
Sixthly and finally, we need a United Nations-supervised, globally organised and well-funded programme of reconstruction for the affected.
I have made some recommendations of a strategic character in this speech, and we present the rest in an analytical fashion in the report. I look forward to the debate, and I thank all the colleagues who have taken an active part in the preparation of this report, particularly Lord Anderson and the staff of the Secretariat, for their invaluable help.
THE PRESIDENT – I thank the rapporteur. You have seven minutes to answer the general debate.
(The speaker continued in French.)
We will now start the general debate. I call Mr Xuclà on behalf of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.
Mr XUCLÀ (Spain)* – I congratulate Ms Bakoyannis on her excellent report, which has launched this urgent debate. Some people analyse the current situation with “IS” – it is referred to as “the Islamic State”, because it gives context to those who are fighting who do not have their own State – as the beginning of a Third World War. I do not agree with that analysis, although this is a lasting threat that may affect our countries and societies.
We are facing an increase in radical international Islamic terrorism. It is based partly, but only partly, in the Islamic world, and it has managed to exploit the failings, loopholes and vacuums in some countries in which there are pockets of vast oil resources that are not properly controlled by the State. Given the speed with which “IS” has grown within six months to a year, we are in a situation that undoubtedly we could never have expected. The proper response is a military alliance, but in the medium term, we must consider the conditions that have caused hundreds of our compatriots to be recruited and allowed the “IS” cause to exert such attraction that they go to the countries affected, creating this great crisis.
Undoubtedly, new technologies have played a part that they have not played in any other war. These technologies have been turned into a new tool to spread ideas. We must also bear in mind that the rebel groups control significant parts of territory and at the moment have power over oil, not just for domestic use but for exploitation by sale. “IS” is selling the crude oil on the international market and profiting from the revenue. It has managed to secure the co-operation of certain countries, and therefore to succeed thanks to the collusion of those surrounding countries, which seem to show little moral sense.
We are facing a clear humanitarian crisis, and our response must be equal to the circumstances. At the moment, I cannot see any such response, either from the United Nations or from the other bodies within Europe.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. I call Mr Loukaides on behalf of the Group of the Unified European Left.
Mr LOUKAIDES (Cyprus) – In April 2009, the then American Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, declared before Congress, “Let’s remember here: the people we are fighting today, we funded 20 years ago…It was President Reagan, in partnership with the Congress, led by Democrats, who said…‘Let’s go recruit these Mujahideen…Let’s get some to come from Saudi Arabia and other places, importing their Wahhabi brand of Islam, so that we can go beat the Soviet Union.’” Despite this confession, and despite the September 11 attack, the United States pursued the same tactics. Together with the European Union, it continued in previous years to support by various means extremist fundamentalist rebels in Syria to overthrow the Assad regime. Other countries in the region, among them Turkey, also played a leading role in supporting these forces.
As a result, today, humanity is following with indignation the horrific crimes committed by the so-called “Islamic State” organisation. It is indeed our obligation to support the people in Iraq and Syria and to stand for their fundamental rights, but we, the Unified Left, are sure that there are far better means than dangerous foreign military intervention.
If we really want to support the citizens in the Middle East, all actions by the international community should be in line with international law and the United Nations charter. Furthermore, the struggle against extremism and terrorism should be waged by following an overall strategy that will eliminate the roots of this phenomenon, which was, and indeed continues to be, fed by extreme poverty, injustice, inequalities and the on-going humiliation of national and personal human dignity.
Instead, leaders of western countries do not seem to take into account the destructive results of their recent military intervention in Libya, which has been drowned in blood; in Iraq, which faces the danger of being partitioned into three parts; or in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where the fundamentalists are gaining more popular support among the local population.
The inescapable truth behind the continuous actions of the United States of America and its NATO allies is that we are in the midst of the enforcement of plans for the wider geostrategic restructuring of the entire Middle East region, always within the framework of the international competition for energy. In this context, the fundamentalists are used at times as allies and at other times as opponents.
In conclusion, we have to underline that it is a serious mistake for anyone to remain indifferent to the horrific crimes being committed by the fundamentalists. However, it is at least equally wrong for certain circles and forces to express their sensitivity in a selective way and to pretend to be surprised when confronted with the results and consequences of their very own actions. It is even worse when these forces are still insisting on promoting their selfish interests, regardless of the legality of their actions and regardless of the fact that the results of these actions are almost always opposite to those publicly declared.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. The next speaker on behalf of the Socialist Group is Lord Tomlinson.
Lord TOMLINSON (United Kingdom) – Thank you, Madam President. It is a privilege to be able to speak on behalf of the Socialist Group on this. I begin by congratulating the rapporteur on a good report, but say to her that it could have been an excellent report. The thing that in my opinion seriously detracts from the possibility of excellence is the change to the title of the report.
Originally in the report we talked about the threat against humanity, and that is something that everyone in this room can subscribe to. To change it so that it now reads, “Threats against humanity”, but also “violence against Christians, other religious or ethnic communities”, is out of balance; it makes some groups appear to be more important than others. We should not be differentiating between who is at threat from “IS”.
The rapporteur actually has it right in the report but wrong in the title. In paragraph 13 she says, “The Assembly urges the international community to … encourage the upholding of fair and equitable status for all citizens irrespective of their religious or ethnic origin”. That, I believe, is an absolutely clear statement. The title as it now reads belies that statement. We are saying that some people, Christians, are more important than others; we are saying that humanity is subject to threat but it is the Christians who are subject to violence. That is something that I, as an agnostic, cannot accept. It does not stand up to examination. We, as a Parliamentary Assembly committed to the principles that we all uphold, say that it is the right of everyone as a member of the human race not to be subject to the crimes that “IS” is perpetrating against the whole of society in the Middle East, not against elected parts of it. The report should be about violence against humanity.
It is too late to change the title, but when we are speaking about the outrage that is taking place in the Middle East, I urge us, as members of the Assembly, to concern ourselves equally with all members of the human race, not just with those who have a particular nomenclature to their religion or ethnicity.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. I now ask Mr Agramunt to take the floor on behalf of the EPP.
Mr AGRAMUNT (Spain)* – Thank you very much, Madam President.
Distinguished colleagues, the brutal killings by the jihadi fighters of the self-proclaimed Islamic State simply want one thing: genocide. The future of the Kurdish people and of the Christian community in Iraq and Syria is very uncertain, and we are all horrified by the killings committed by the jihadi fighters. In recent weeks, they have mercilessly beheaded those they have found in their path, including innocent westerners, who are abducted by these fanatics, who try to blackmail Europeans and citizens of the United States to continue with their campaign of destruction, religious cleansing and genocide in the region.
The images are terrifying to anyone who sees them; they show the horror of these terrorists. This week, I had a meeting with the Kurdish representative in Syria. He told me how the terrorists are beheading children and raping their mothers, subsequently to kill them together with the fathers. The situation is terrible in all areas that this self-proclaimed “Islamic State” controls. We cannot allow the jihadi fighters to continue to sow panic and terror among the minorities in the region. We must defend these minorities, and the international community as well, and we must react to these accumulated atrocities, because the threat is not just there; the terrorists of the “Islamic State” have threatened us on our own territory. Some 3 000 westerners who have been educated in the same values as all of us here are currently among the ranks of the “Islamic State” and are prepared to come to our countries and cities to continue to sow terror. The barbarity that these terrorists are capable of leaves us all speechless.
Without doubt, Ukraine must not and cannot be the scene of a clash, as it has been this last year. Russia must understand that the real threat to it is from the Islamic State and not from its European neighbours; hence, I hereby support the idea that the West should be prepared to combat the “Islamic State”. Five Arabic countries – Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain – have given their support to the military action, the same countries that have allegedly been funding jihadi fighters who have fought against Bashar al-Assad for 13 years now.
The international community would do well now to adopt the doctrine of humanitarian intervention. In this way, the attacks are justified, from my point of view. As we have seen in Syria and Iraq, the civilian populations are threatened and are being murdered by terrorists who jeopardise, at the same time, our peace and international security.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you.
The last speaker on behalf of the groups is Mr Bob Walter, speaking on behalf of the European Democrat Group.
Mr WALTER (United Kingdom) – When the British Parliament discussed the invasion of Iraq in 2003, I opposed that military move because I thought the case was spurious and that the real enemy was al-Qaeda, and they were in the hills of Afghanistan. That, of course, was followed by the stupidity of the dismantling of the Iraqi armed forces, which created a power vacuum, a new but weaker Iraqi army, and sectarian militias. In 2013, I opposed the moves to arm the opposition groups in Syria, because I believed that it would create a vacuum and an even greater disaster.
Today, the situation is different. Al-Qaeda, al-Nusra, ISIS: this is the real axis of evil in the world. This so-called caliphate, or “Islamic State”, is an affront to Muslims worldwide. They do not act in the name of the prophet or in the name of God. I believe that all of us – Muslims, Jews, Christians, and those of no faith – must unite in the name of humanity, because we are facing a very real humanitarian crisis.
There are more than 2 million refugees, just looking at the official figures; maybe 10 million internally displaced people; probably now more than 200 000 people dead; and just in the last two weeks 250 000 people crossing the border into Turkey as refugees from this evil so-called “Islamic State”. Yazidis, Jews, Christians, Shia, Sunni: this group has no mercy, whoever you are, and no respect for human rights or international law.
We cannot negotiate – these fanatics will not negotiate – so we must all unite. We must put our differences aside. This is not a western crusade. Together – Arabs, Iranians, Europeans, Jews, Christians, Muslims and those of no faith – we must defeat this evil. We simply cannot pass by on the other side. It is not somebody else’s problem.
President, in the interests of humanity, I believe that we must all act, and act now.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you.
(The President continued in French.)
Chair, would you like to reply now or at the end of the general debate?
Ms BAKOYANNIS (Greece) – I will wait till the end, thank you.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you.
The next speaker is Lord Anderson.
Lord ANDERSON (United Kingdom) – I warmly congratulate our rapporteur and recognise her problem. This is a snapshot in time; it is a moving target. Already the ISIL forces are knocking at the doors of Kobane, on the border of Turkey. Today the Turkish Parliament is debating the possibility of its own participation and that will alter the situation vastly.
I accept what my friend Lord Tomlinson said. We have to be consistent; we must look at all minorities; for example, the Shia in Mosul, the Yazidis and others. However, we are rapidly reaching a time when the Christians will have no house – no home – in the area where Christianity was founded. In Iraq, for example, a Christian population of 1.4 million has been reduced to 150 000. For the first time in almost 2 000 years the city of Mosul has no Christian community and Christians there are being forced to convert or be beheaded or crucified. This is the reality of the murderous ISIL.
I follow my friend Bob Walter in referring to the debate in our British Parliament on Friday, which was not gung-ho but was cautious and anxious, recognising the many problems, including who benefits by a decision – which we took, overwhelmingly – to bomb ISIL in Iraq but not in Syria; the danger of mission creep; what next; and how long we will have sufficient support from the region. Our Parliament accepted overwhelmingly in its vote that the criteria for a just war had been satisfied and that the United Nations resolution and the appeal from the democratic government from Iraq were sufficient to give a legal basis in respect of Iraq.
Effectively, the arguments for participation – the “what if” arguments – yielded to the arguments about what would happen if we did not participate; that would certainly lead to a caliphate on the Mediterranean, would certainly mean the further advance of ISIL, would certainly mean a threat to our ally Turkey, and it would reduce the credibility of western forces. As has already been said, it bristles with problems.
Here is domestic policy meeting foreign policy par excellence, as we fear the return of trained jihadis. We recognise that this is a struggle for the soul of Islam. There has to be a comprehensive strategy in our own countries and abroad. However, the immediate problem is ISIL; that murderous terrorist group must be stopped.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Lord Anderson.
Ms Hovhannisyan, you have the floor.
Ms HOVHANNISYAN (Armenia) – Thank you. I congratulate the rapporteur on the report.
Dear colleagues, France calls this army of the devil by its derogative Arabic acronym, Da’ish, while the United States of America calls it ISIL and the world press call it ISIS, but the demonic organisation is, in fact, what it claims to be – an Islamic state. It is an entity with an army and it is Islamic. The rise of IS was only a matter of time and, while the world was tolerating the spread of Wahhabism throughout the world, it was a disaster waiting to happen – and it happened. Now we fear its sympathisers and members returning to Europe and threatening peace and security. Indeed, it will happen and perhaps is already happening.
The wounds of the first Genocide of the 20th century almost in the same lands exactly a hundred years ago have not healed, and now other multiple atrocities are happening in the Middle East. Shia Muslims, almost-Shia Alawis, Sunni Kurds, Christians – whom we almost never name, but prefer to collectively call "Christians", but they include Assyrians, Syriac people, again Armenians and notably the almost-Zoroastrian Yazidis – are undergoing a genocide that is being committed by the State of the barbarian caliph. The greatest danger of the unholy caliphate, however, is not that posed to us in various ways, including through territorial gains, but the extermination of the indigenous populations, which amounts to genocide and the creation of a whole new generation of blood-thirsty child killers who know nothing but bloodletting and a fanatical, uncompromising medieval brand of Islam, created by ibn-Wahhab and promoted by the current Saudi and Qatari regimes.
This new generation of illiterate killers is a virus that will be harder to beat or contain than another threat of modern times, ebola. You can fight disease that affects the body, but you cannot fight a sickness that strikes the brain; it causes permanent damage and is highly contagious.
In turn, the extermination of the indigenous groups means that the ethnic, religious and social fabric of the Middle East is being altered forever, carrying horrendous and historical consequences that we, as humanity, will leave to future generations to deal with.
Nearly 100 years ago, in 1915, the indigenous Armenians were almost identically exterminated by the nationalistic government in today’s Turkey. Now, 100 years later, religious fanatics are wiping Armenians off the face of the earth, levelling with explosives the memorial church containing the remains of the genocide victims, and exterminating Yazidis and everybody else who does not believe in Sunnah and in the absolute singularity of the God. Yet the Armenian Genocide has not been recognised by Turkey and its allies, and that ignorance metastasises in our times with the same actors in the same lands. History repeats itself, though it seems no lessons have been drawn.
Unless the major supporters of IS – Saudis, Qataris and, notably and famously, Turkey – really stop, or are forced to stop supporting the caliphate of evil, we will always face the real threat. That is, the threat of a return to a time that never was, to the dark times of absolute religious intolerance, absolute ignorance and absolute carnage.
THE PRESIDENT* – Thank you. The next speaker is Mr Rouquet.
Mr ROUQUET (France)* – Thank you, Madam President. I am pleased that we are having this urgent debate as it provides an opportunity for us to reiterate our attachment to the values on which this Organisation is based and our absolute rejection of the inhumanity of the so-called “Islamic State.” As has already been underscored, that condemnation is in no way a condemnation of Islam. This terrorist organisation is a monstrous caricature of Islam.
I also condemn the gradual but implacable eradication of Christians in the Middle East, a phenomenon that goes well beyond IS, as attested by the fate of the Copts in Egypt. People who have lived in that part of the world for centuries are now having to abandon everything simply because they are followers of a minority faith. We are faced with a form of ethnic cleansing on a regional scale that deserves our utmost condemnation. Setting aside moral condemnation, we should ponder the limits of any European action, irrespective of the European organisations involved. Humanitarian aid and assistance to refugees are essential if we are to mitigate as best we can the dramatic human consequences of the conflict. The military dimension is indispensible and a pre-condition for any real solution to the crisis, yet the report does not mention it. The military dimension is being provided by the United States, with the participation of other countries, including France. A recent analysis estimated that some three quarters of Europe’s security outlay is provided by the United States, which comes at a price, namely dependence on the United States’ foreign policy.
The attitude of certain countries is, to say the least, ambiguous. Those countries are funding international terrorism more or less discreetly. That problem is rightly highlighted in the report, and it can be corrected only by considerable pressure from the United States, if indeed the United States is in a position to exercise that pressure. We must reflect on those issues, even if, in theory, we have no responsibility for defence. If the military action upon which we have embarked bears fruit, and I hope it will, we will still have to restore confidence between communities, particularly the Sunni and Shia communities, which is no mean task. We will also have to rebuild a State and an army in Iraq, and we need to reflect on the borders that emerged from the colonial period. There is an immense task before us, and I hope we will be able to contribute.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. The next speaker is Ms Karapetyan.
Ms KARAPETYAN (Armenia) – I thank the rapporteur for raising this urgent and important issue. We all remain alarmed by the worsening situation in Syria and Iraq, and we condemn all attacks and terrorist acts that indiscriminately target civilians, including minority groups. We are deeply concerned about the fate of Armenians living in Syria who, like many Syrian citizens, are struggling to live.
In March, we expressed deep concern about the tragic event in the Syrian town of Kessab that resulted in the displacement of Kessabi Armenians, which is a stark reminder of the inhuman deportations and genocide of Armenians at the beginning of the last century. That town and 12 nearby villages were brutally attacked by al-Qaeda affiliated terrorist groups that crossed the border from the territory of neighbouring Turkey. I visited Syria to meet refugees in the churches that hosted them. People told us that extremist groups have desecrated Kessab’s Christian churches and caused significant damage to the property of the civilian population.
Just a few days ago we witnessed another barbaric act—the demolition of the Saint Martyrs Armenian church in Deir ez-Zor, eastern Syria by ISIS terrorists. The church was a sacred monument commemorating the 1915 Armenian genocide, and it housed the remains of the victims of that horrible crime. That barbarity against a holy site yet again demonstrates the savage nature of the so-called “Islamic State” terrorist group.
The draft report expressed deep concern that some 3 000 young Europeans are fighting for IS in Iraq and Syria, and it urged the member States of the Council of Europe to increase efforts to identify and dismantle recruitment channels and to prosecute those responsible, but let us talk frankly. Why have we only now become concerned about the participation of Europeans? Why did we take no action after the developments in Kessab, when terrorists came from the territory of a member State—Turkey? Why are we now calling members of IS “terrorists” when for a long time we considered them “rebels”?
I am grateful that we are finally beginning to take action, and I call upon the Assembly to join the international community’s efforts to eradicate this plague which threatens the civilised world, and to uproot its channels of sponsorship.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. The next speaker is Sir Edward Leigh.
Sir Edward LEIGH (United Kingdom) – A few years ago, I visited the villages on the Nineveh plain that are now being attacked by the Islamic State, which of course is neither Islamic nor a State but is a kind of death cult. It was very moving to hear services conducted in Aramaic, the language of Palestine 2 000 years ago. As Lord Anderson said, the Aramaic language and the Christian community in the Middle East face an unprecedented period of difficulty, persecution and attack, and it is our duty to support them.
I accept the point made by Mr Loukaides, who spoke on behalf of the Group of the Unified European Left, that ever since the Sykes-Picot Agreement of the 1920s we in the west have got nearly everything wrong in the Middle East. Like the leader of my national delegation, Bob Walter, who spoke very well this morning, I opposed the Iraq war for the reasons that he gave. The west replaced strong and, admittedly, brutal men such as Saddam Hussein—or attempted to replace people such as Assad—who, for all their appalling shortcomings, at least protected the Christian community. Lord Tomlinson has said that we should be just as concerned about the Yazidis, who face appalling persecution, and groups of Shia Muslims, but like Bob Walter and Lord Anderson, I do not think that we should be frozen with fear because of our past mistakes. That is why, when we had a debate in our parliament last Friday, most of my colleagues and I were prepared to make the difficult decision to agree to attack IS. That organisation does not listen to arguments, debates, sanctions or anything else. At times we must resort to just war, and this is a just war. We must convince our friends across Europe that this must be a joint effort, not just the United States of America, Great Britain and a few States in the region. All European nations must be prepared to stand up against genocide and, if necessary, use force to protect religious minorities that have lived in the region in peace for centuries.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. The next speaker is Mr Hancock.
Mr HANCOCK (United Kingdom) – Thank you, Madam President. Many of the speeches this morning have had the common theme that, as a community that cares, we cannot stand by. We have stood by in the past, and there are many names that easily roll off the tongue—Rwanda, Srebrenica and Cambodia, where more than 1 million people were killed by the Khmer Rouge as we stood by and did nothing. The same thing has happened in many places in Africa.
We are dealing with an idea, not something that we can bomb out of existence. Like fascism, it will not be eliminated by defeating it in a war; we must all take ongoing action to curb enthusiasm for such ideas, especially among the young people who have gone to Syria – some from my own city – some of whom have died as a result. As countries and communities, we must work together determinedly to try to eliminate easy ways in which radicalism can take place, such as social media, which brings IS instantly into people’s homes. I have talked to parents of some of the boys from my city who went to Syria. They do not believe that their sons could have been indoctrinated in the local mosques, and I know that that was not the case. If they were not indoctrinated in a mosque, where were they indoctrinated? The answer is on social media and the internet. Surely, internet providers have a role to play.
We must not only bomb the infrastructure that IS has established in Syria and Iraq but work determinedly to ensure that the ideals of IS do not persist long after the Americans take their fighter planes home, long after the Assad regime collapses and long after those who have been displaced make the journey back. Those ideas will persist unless we tackle them head on and face up to the reality that we are failing in our communities if young people are prepared to go half way around the world to fight and die for an ideal. Ideals are destroyed not by bombs but by other, better ideals.
I entirely endorse the comments of Lord Tomlinson, who said that we are talking about people – not colours of skin, ethnic backgrounds or religions – who are paying a high price for the evil actions of a renegade band who have no right whatsoever to add the word “Islam” to their name.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Hancock. I call Mr Ghiletchi.
Mr GHILETCHI (Republic of Moldova) – I would like to thank the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy and Ms Bakoyannis for initiating this urgent debate. It is important that we debate this issue in the Assembly.
The 21st century is the age of all possibilities, in which information travels around the word in milliseconds, humans can be anywhere on the globe within hours, 900 million people still go to bed hungry every night and millions of children do not have access to clean water or basic education. It is deeply unfortunate that in this day and age, we still have to witness violence, cruelty and religious hatred rather than focusing all our efforts on providing opportunities for a good life for all.
Local conflicts that remain unresolved often lead to regional disputes, and if those disputes are not settled, they may turn into wars. Wars mean injustice, violence and the loss of many lives. Besides the classic elements of rebellion and uprising, a distinctive characteristic of the rise of IS, as with so many other conflicts in the Middle East, is a particular hatred towards Christians. Looking back over history, it almost seems as though someone purposefully incites conflicts in that area of the world periodically to keep the religious war going. As soon as things quieten down a little, another flame seems to erupt and more people are killed in so-called holy wars. However, it would be unwise for us to believe in conspiracy theories rather than realising that such conflict results from the multitude of human interactions between people from different backgrounds, cultures and religions. Human interactions are the most complex structure in the universe. It seems as though physicists have discovered almost all the details of the functioning of the cosmos, but we still understand so little about the behaviour of humanity.
Charles de Secondat said during the 1700s: “Religious wars are not caused by the fact that there is more than one religion, but by the spirit of intolerance...the spread of which can only be regarded as the total eclipse of human reason.” Intolerance is the key driver of the war on Christians on behalf of IS. The only way to overcome that intolerance is through justice, based on human dignity and fundamental rights. Nations around the world, and especially nations from the Middle East, must come to the realisation that a peaceful and happy world can only be achieved when people, whatever their views, live harmoniously together.
Let us promote and participate in fights and battles, not in the physical realm but in the world of ideas. In the material world, let us focus on bringing peace to every corner of the world. As Mr Reagan said, “Peace is more than just the absence of war. True peace is justice, true peace is freedom.” True peace dictates the recognition of fundamental freedom, including religious freedom and freedom of conscience.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you Mr Ghiletchi. I call Mr Selvi
Mr SELVİ (Turkey) – The ongoing violent conflict in Syria, together with the misguided policies of the former government in Baghdad, has created a large, politically marginalised group of people. That proved to be a perfect environment for ISIL to exploit, and provided fertile ground in which it could flourish. Turkey regards ISIL as a terrorist group and a serious strategic threat to the security and stability of the region and beyond.
A comprehensive strategy based on political, military and humanitarian dimensions is required to address the current crisis. In the political dimension, it is crucial to empower moderate elements politically by reintegrating them into the political system with a view to preventing the exploitation of their grievances by terrorist organisations, most importantly ISIL, which poses a strategic threat to our region and beyond. We welcome the establishment of the new Iraqi Government, which will pave the way for the reintegration of the alienated segments of society. The legitimate demands of Kurds and Sunnis must be met within a mutually agreed timeline.
On the military dimension, a security-based approach that ignores the political and humanitarian dimensions will prove to be unsuccessful. ISIL has made use of weaponry that it captured from the Syrian opposition and that was made available to it by the Syrian regime, as well as weaponry that it seized from the Iraqi army. Therefore, the ongoing transfers of military and humanitarian assistance to the region should be carefully conducted. When allies and partners transfer military equipment to the region, they must identify the end users carefully, because we do not want weapons to end up in the wrong hands.
The humanitarian dimension is the last, but probably the most urgent, aspect of our broader strategy against ISIL. From day one, Turkey has extended assistance and given refuge to the displaced minorities who have sought shelter in our country, including vulnerable minorities such as the Yazidis. Without any exemptions being made on the grounds of ethnicity or religion, the number of Iraqis and Syrians in Turkey has almost reached 1.5 million, and 250 000 crossed the border in the last two weeks. Turkey has also set up camps for more than 35 000 internally displaced persons in northern Iraq.
Turkey's border security and control measures focus on two main areas: preventing foreign fighters from entering Turkey from source countries, and preventing them from entering or leaving Syria. So far, more than 6 000 people have been added to the no-entry list since the crisis erupted, and more than 1 000 people have been deported.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Selvi. I call Ms Leskaj.
Ms LESKAJ (Albania) – I welcome the holding of this urgent and important debate. The threat posed by ISIS affects everyone, and we must counter it with concrete actions. We strongly condemn the killings and human rights violations perpetrated by “IS” and other terrorist groups.
Albania is a model of how people of different religions can live, respect each other and prosper. Pope Francis chose Albania for his first visit to a European country because Muslims and Christians live there in harmony and mutual trust. Our experience shows that peaceful and fruitful co-existence between persons and communities of different religions is not only desirable, but possible and realistic. Albania has been at the forefront of international efforts to stop the flow of fighters to “IS”, with concrete legislative acts and administrative and security measures.
I want to emphasise the situation of women. They are suffering in three ways – as women, as mothers and as human beings. They cannot make decisions for themselves; others decide on their behalf. For example, I heard a woman make an international appeal to her husband to bring home her eight-year-old son. Women have human rights, and it is our obligation to protect them.
We must take into account the fact that the majority of the people leaving their countries to join “IS” are those who are the poorest. We need to act through the force of the rule of law, but also by caring more about social inclusion, education, intercultural dialogue and good traditions.
THE PRESIDENT* – Thank you, Ms Leskaj. I call Mr Bockel, whom I congratulate on his re-election last Sunday.
Mr BOCKEL (France)* – Many speakers have expressed their total horror about what is happening to such huge populations, and we recognise that action is required. From the start, this has not just been about the Christians and other minorities in the region. I remember the discussion in the committee a few months ago, when we noted that the threat is changing week by week and month by month. Violence against Christians and other minorities has gone on for centuries, but people have become more and more aware of the situation and have mobilised their forces. It began gradually, but has become progressively stronger and stronger. Today, the threat is both global and total, as everyone understands. The threat is global because we live in an age that is witnessing the end of the nation State.
Neighbouring Arab States are very much threatened by the so-called “Islamic State”, as is the whole of the Arab world. Sunni-Shiite antagonism, which was submerged for many centuries, has re-emerged, but we hope that respect and comprehension between those two communities will improve in future centuries. Many Arab countries have held ambiguous positions, but that is perhaps coming to an end as they now have to take a stance. Let us hope that that will last.
In Europe, our fellow citizens are beginning to understand the threat, and are therefore starting to mobilise. The western international coalition is necessary. Even the Christian Churches are speaking out in its favour. The coalition is a commitment, because it is not enough to act from outside. We all know that victory over “Islamic State” must emerge from within the Arab or Muslim world. During the Arab Spring and its aftermath, there was new awareness and alarm about what was happening. Profound cultural and political change is required, but if that can happen, we will be able to get through this horror and emerge into a new world.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Bockel. I call Mr Triantafyllos.
Mr TRIANTAFYLLOS (Greece)* – I thank Ms Bakoyannis for and congratulate her on her presentation. In Greece, we are very familiar with the threat of terrorism, to which we have been exposed for a long time. “He always wanted to help people in need, and he sacrificed his life. He lost his life.” That was said of a Father who was beheaded by the Islamists. In just the last two weeks, over 100 000 people have been displaced. Thousands of people are in danger. The Islamists are on the verge of taking a large city. They have occupied many villages. There are huge numbers of internally displaced persons and refugees.
It is already too late to help many of those people, but we must do something to stop this movement. Let us be very careful not to turn this into a religious war. Most Islamists are not extremists or terrorists, just as most Christians are not fascists or racists. The crucial problem is hatred, which we have already discussed in relation to our report on xenophobia and racism. Hatred results in deaths. Hawks on the extreme right are thinking in terms of a new war, but we should stop them.
If we are to deal with the situation, we must remain entrenched in our system of democratic values. We cannot impose our democratic model on others: we fail each time we try to do so, because democracy is an institution that takes time to grow and evolve, and one that requires propitious circumstances. We must prevent such extremists from pursuing their folly. For democracy to take root and flourish in that part of the world, we must first do away with the hatred of minorities and of the most destitute and impoverished. It is important to support people who want to create democracy for themselves, with a system that is fair to all.
THE PRESIDENT* – Thank you, Mr Triantafyllos. I call Ms Karamanli.
Ms KARAMANLI (France)* – Our discussion is on the draft resolution, presented by our colleague Theodora Bakoyannis, about the violence perpetrated by an extremist group against religious, cultural and national communities. She deserves our support, and I thank her for holding this very necessary debate.
The physical violence and military terror by one group against a community, which is exerting complete control over individuals and causing some of them to disappear, must not only be condemned, but fought against. It is the duty of the international community, the States that respect democracy and freedoms, and advocates of universal humanist values to mobilise to defend those who are persecuted and targeted by terror. This so-called "IS" criminal organisation in fact tramples underfoot the very principles of religion that it distorts. On the other hand, the numerous communities who are victims of this violence include groups of all religions – Christians, Muslims – or those who cannot yet claim a common religious identity, but who are united by their language, culture or customs, as is the case with the Kurds. It just takes one of these minorities to be a victim to justify a duty of protection on the part of the international community.
It is true that religion can be a heightened factor of oppression, vengeance and systematic destruction. It is not religious differences, which are often complex, that should a priori justify our initiatives, but oppression and destruction of women and men who are members – or not – of communities of belief.
The "IS" organisation must also be fought because it is prepared to divide through religion, which it destroys while acting in its name. It brings together fanatical warlords who want to take control of all those who do not think or believe as they do, and who exploit for their own benefit the wealth of States riven by conflicts and population displacement. Our fight must consist in responding progressively, proportionately and reasonably in the face of the unbearable. Faced with the madness of an armed group, we must bring to bear effective protection of the victim populations, and act in a concerted way to prevent it from killing according to its avowed goals.
Hence, we must also solve progressively and on the basis of consensus the conflicts and overall threats in the region. We must ask for coherence from all States in the region: do not stoke hatred; do not fund and encourage criminal and terrorist organisations. Each one must manage the emergence of fanaticism: this wish to murder “others” – those who do not believe or live like the terrorists do.
Our Assembly must take into account all these points to be more effective and just.
THE PRESIDENT* – Thank you. I call Mr Gür.
Mr GÜR (Turkey) – Ms Bakoyannis, thank you very much for your report and your good words for Kobane, the home of my people.
Kobane is an enclave in the north-east of the Aleppo Governate with a population of approximately 500 000, including IDPs. It has been under Kurdish control since 2012, when it was liberated from Syrian Government forces. It now has a self-governing administration that declared autonomy in January 2014. Kobane is surrounded by "IS"-controlled territory. In recent attacks, thousands of "IS" fighters from Jerablus, Talabiat and Raqa attempted to seize the enclave. Heavy clashes continue between the YPG and "IS" fighters on the front lines. "IS" has closed to within one kilometre of Kobane, which is confronted with a take-over by "IS" fighters.
The YPG is at a military disadvantage compared with "IS", which has advanced and sophisticated weaponry, including US-manufactured artillery and tanks. Kobane is completely isolated from other Kurdish regions because of the "IS" siege. The only remaining escape route is via the Turkish border north of Kobane.
In the face of this threat from "IS", Kobane’s population has collectively mobilised to protect their homes. The YPG has issued several calls to arms and has vowed to defend the region to the end, by all means. They have received reinforcements from all parts of Kurdistan, where fighters and volunteers have joined in the battle for Kobane. Many civilians have reportedly fled to Turkey, while the Kurdish people protection units are fighting back against the "IS" attacks on many fronts. As a result, "IS" sees all Armenians, Assyrians, Turkomans and other peoples, including Kurds, in Kobane as potential enemies and legitimate targets. This has given rise to serious threats of massacres, rape, forced displacement and ethnic cleansing.
The international response to the "IS" threat in Iraq and Syria cannot be addressed selectively, since action in Iraq directly impacts on the situation on the ground in Syria. The situation in Iraq has resulted in "IS" reinforcing its military campaign in Syria, the northern region of which it can operate freely in.
Action against "IS" in Kobane is urgently required. There are increasing indications of imminent war crimes and acts of genocide. The international community must ensure the implementation of all the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions to deal with this barbaric organisation. I say to the whole international community that "IS" must be stopped; otherwise, they will be knocking on your door.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. I call Mr Khader.
Mr KHADER (Palestine, Partner for Democracy) – I congratulate Ms Bakoyannis on her report and her early attention to the dangers inherent in the phenomenon we are dealing with. From our perspective, as a people who are part of the Arab world, "IS" – or "Da'ish", as we usually call it in Arabic – is an immediate danger not only to minorities but to the cohesion and unity of our societies. The question is: how can we effectively fight this danger and eradicate this ugly phenomenon?
We have recently seen the formation of an international coalition for this purpose, but I tell you sincerely that we in the region have many doubts about the coalition’s credibility. We know that many of the regional powers that are pillars of this coalition were until recently – perhaps until now – giving limitless financial, military and logistic support to this terrorist organisation. Air strikes and military action in general is surely necessary, on the condition that it is based on respect for international law and the sovereignty of the countries concerned.
In spite of the military assault against it, that this organisation is still capable of launching a major offensive against the Kurdish region, almost taking over the city of Kobane, shows that military action is not sufficient and may be totally ineffective in the absence of a political perspective that offers a cure for the root causes that give rise to this hideous phenomenon.
Two of these root causes are the most important. The first is the lack of democracy in the countries concerned, which demonstrates the need for a clear strategy to help the peoples of the region to follow the path of democracy, while respecting their right to self-determination and their sovereignty. The second is the continued instability brewing in the region due to the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli and Arab-Israeli conflict. It is about time that the international community took action to end the Israeli occupation and open the path towards the implementation of the two-State solution – the only basis for durable peace in the region. This will enable the peoples of the region to live in peace and freedom, and to solve their problems and express their aspirations through the mechanisms of self-determination and democracy, rather than extremism and terrorism.
(Mr Flego, Vice-President of the Assembly, took the Chair in place of Ms Brasseur.)
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. I call Mr Omtzigt.
Mr OMTZIGT (Netherlands) – I thank Ms Bakoyannis for producing a good report on a sad subject. If you are ISIS, what do you do with adulterers? You stone them. You crucify Christians. With the Yazidis, you kill the men, enslave the women and drive the people up a mountain. You indiscriminately shell the Kurds who are defending them and you behead anyone if you feel that they are different from you. That is no less than attempted genocide. If both Ms Karapetyan and Mr Gür, who are from totally different backgrounds, say that, that says something. It also says something that a large number of scholars of genocide studies wrote to the United Nations Security Council saying that ISIS is committing and trying to commit genocide on a number of religious groups, including Christians, the Yazidis, Shias and anyone else, and there is a positive obligation on the world community to prevent that from happening. That is why we had the convention on the prevention of genocide. We should not be silent. I do not see my Bosnian colleagues here, but the verdict on Bosnia made clear that countries have to do everything in their power to prevent genocide.
I am in favour of military action, but I want to use my remaining one and a half minutes to talk about an aspect that is not mentioned very often: the genocide is being committed by citizens from the Netherlands, Germany, the United Kingdom, France and Denmark. They are fighting in their hundreds in Syria and Iraq. They feel that they are fighting in the name of Islam, but luckily, Islamic people know that it is not in their name. It is a serious problem for our countries. We should prevent our citizens from travelling to fight in Syria and Iraq, and we should wonder what went wrong in our societies for these young men and women to leave to commit these atrocities. I propose that we consider that at our next meeting, but the world cannot wait. We have waited more than two months since the United Kingdom and the United States of America said that it was genocide. We have to take action and we have to be careful, as my Palestinian colleague, Mr Khader, rightly pointed out, about who our friends are. Our friends in the Middle East are not Nobel prize winners for human rights. Let us stop the atrocities and, for once, be united. Sometimes we find relatively few problems with human rights, but here we have the biggest one of them all.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. I call Mr Saltouros.
Mr SALTOUROS (Greece)* – I, too, congratulate Ms Bakoyannis on her political acumen. Her presentation of this issue was very much to the point. Here we are in the second decade of the 21st century, and the international community is confronted with a phenomenon of extremist violence and horror, which brings the whole concept of human rights to its knees. This terrorist aggression by the so-called “Islamic State” is horrible, but there is also Boko Haram, which is acting in a similar manner. Our reaction is one of horror and rejection, and that reaction has already been expressed by the United Nations. Apart from that, we need to confront the phenomenon.
We perhaps need to start by trying to understand the root causes of this phenomenon. The Middle East has experienced many wars, and its citizens have suffered a lot. Generally speaking, the western world has not really reacted and has largely refused to participate in the conflict. When it has participated, it has not always done so with the appropriate political finesse. The people in the region need our assistance and our support. Europe has to protect itself and ensure its own survival. There must be an absolute rejection of any fundamentalist views. I am not just thinking of Islamic fundamentalism; any fundamentalism must be rejected. We must protect human rights and reject any expression of neo-Nazism or racial or religious hatred, and that message must be proclaimed loud and clear within Europe and elsewhere. No one has the right to put into question our social achievements with democracy, human rights and the rule of law, as well as with international solidarity. A lot of Iraq and Syria is now threatened by an internal aggressor that simply kills. It has become stronger in recent years, which makes it much more difficult for us to react.
(Ms Brasseur, President of the Assembly, took the Chair in place of Mr Flego.)
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. I now call Mr Tzavaras.
Mr TZAVARAS (Greece)* – I consider the most shocking thing about this jihadi movement to be the lack of application with which we are responding to it. We have had quite enough time to understand what these attacks against Christians and other minority communities and groups are all about. People are being threatened and attacked by IS. These are threats against humanity, and the attacks are shameful to everyone who is trying to create a democratic and tolerant society. These terrorist groups will never support anything that shares those values, as we heard in the speech of Ms Bakoyannis.
We need to decide on our stance on these terrorists. They believe in a different god; their god is manifested, culturally and in terms of values, in a different way. They want to exterminate certain groups in society. That is how they feel about people with a different religion or people who come from another place. It is absolutely unthinkable and an affront to what we regard as humanism and humanity when attacks like these take place. They are attacks on our most dearly held values and our identity, and our humanity requires us to respond.
We need to understand the meaning behind all this and what is really happening in terms of human values. It is important for us to understand that the members of this terrorist group, which they call “IS”, are absolutists. They believe in their truth, and their truth alone. They refuse to accept and reject any kind of plurality. There is an obvious psychopathic hatred of any group or individual that is different. They cannot stand anyone who believes in anything else or stands for anything else. As I see it, the human race, based on the values that we have been talking about, must respond globally. We really need a grand alliance that will counter-attack their attacks and their terrorism in order to stop what is going on in Iraq and Syria.
THE PRESIDENT* – Thank you very much. I call Ms Zohrabyan.
Ms ZOHRABYAN (Armenia)* – Even in one’s most horrible dreams one could not imagine such barbarity being possible in the 21st century. The extremist jihadist group, the so-called Islamic State, is in the process of committing a real genocide in the north of Iraq. The houses of Kurds and Yazidis are being destroyed. Yazidis are being shot or beheaded or having their throats slit if they do not want to convert. The slogan of the extremists is “Islam or Death”. We have heard of hundreds of cases where children are buried alive before their mothers or the mothers are raped and then murdered in front of their own children. Thousands of Yazidis, especially women and children, after having been dishonoured, were sold as slaves. There have been several cases where women who had been dishonoured by members of the terrorist Islamic State group returned to their refugee camps on the mountain of Sinjar and asked their compatriots to kill them, and when their compatriots refused, they would commit suicide by jumping off cliffs. Thousands of Yazidi refugees are dying of thirst and hunger. All of this is horrible, and yet it is occurring today as we speak, with all of civilised humanity bearing witness. What kind of monster must one be to bury children alive? What kind of a monster must one be to behead in public an American journalist who is simply doing his job?
A week ago, on 21 September, Armenia’s day of independence, the extremists of “Islamic State” mined and then blew up St Martyrs church in Deir ez-Zor, which is consecrated in Syria to the memory of the Armenian genocide. As an Armenian, it is doubly painful for me to speak about this, since 100 years ago more than 1 500 000 of my compatriots were displaced and submitted to genocide in Ottoman Turkey. One hundred years ago, Ottoman monsters buried children and pregnant women alive. They murdered, destroyed and looted in the same way that we are seeing today.
We must not allow history to repeat itself. For that, it is necessary that we go beyond empty declarations. We must adopt concrete measures to punish Islamic terrorists and the countries that support them by continuing to send them arms and money. We must do everything that is possible and necessary to stop this inhuman genocide and to assist refugees who are dying of hunger. One hundred years ago the genocide of the Armenian people took place, and I know very well what can result from silence and inaction on the part of the international community.
THE PRESIDENT* – Thank you. I call Mr Jenssen from Norway.
Mr JENSSEN (Norway) – “IS” has shocked the world with its rapid advance and its public executions and other barbaric acts towards civilians – men, women and children. Minority groups and religious groups that are considered “wrong believers” are routinely persecuted and executed. Five hundred Yazidis have been found in a mass grave. Christians who did not manage to escape were killed in their homes. Shia mosques are blown up in the air. In Iraq, more than 1 800 000 people have fled over a few months. The use of social media to spread images of horrific abuse has caused great fear. The United Nations Security Council has pointed out that the comprehensive and systematic persecution of minorities may, of course, constitute crimes against humanity.
“IS” is not only a threat to Iraq and Syria; it is a threat to the wider region and to the rest of the world. There is an urgent need to confront this threat. The fight against “IS” must be pursued along several lines. In addition to military support and humanitarian contributions, we must work to stop the flow of foreign fighters to Iraq and Syria and prevent the financing of “IS”. “IS” is supported by a number of local groups and tribal leaders in the areas it occupies, and it makes money from selling oil from those occupied areas. Of course, no sensible government or corporation should help “IS” by buying cheap oil to save a few euros or dollars. It is difficult to obtain an exact overview of the size of “IS”, but it is estimated to be about 20 000. Of these, up to 5 000 are foreign nationals, many of them from European countries, including Norway. This helps to create a direct and extreme threat to our own countries, as well. In Norway, our government has set out an action plan to meet these challenges with both legal and security measures.Th
The humanitarian situation in Iraq is serious. The displaced have left everything behind and need shelter, food and other relief quickly. Their needs will be greater now that winter is approaching. Norway will remain one of the main humanitarian contributors in Iraq and in Syria. We should all encourage our governments to do their utmost also to help on the humanitarian front.
Through this debate and adoption of the resolution here today, we strengthen and repeat an important message that has already been sent from the international community: that Europe and the world stand together with the people of Iraq and the people of Syria.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. I call Sir Roger Gale.
Sir Roger GALE (United Kingdom) – It has been said this morning that “IS” is neither Islamist nor a State, and that is correct. Bob Walter described it as the real axis of evil. It is an organisation of medieval brutality. It is the embodiment of murderous intent sheltering behind a faith of which it is an absolute travesty. Men, women and children are being raped and killed, and hostages beheaded, in a celebration not of religion but of death. This is indeed a viral humanitarian crisis that left unchecked will ultimately affect the whole world.
We, particularly in the west, have made too many mistakes in the Middle East, but we cannot resile from the responsibility for a mess that may well be of our own making. To do nothing – to seek the path of appeasement – is simply not an option. That is why the British House of Commons voted, with a heavy heart, to join American, European, other overseas and Middle Eastern allies in authorising further military action in Iraq. But that will not, as Mike Hancock said, destroy a cult that is every bit as fanatical, and every bit as dangerous, as fascism. In seeking to obliterate command and control centres in Iraq – and I fear that the operation will almost certainly have to be extended to Syria – we also have to unite to win the hearts and the minds and the argument. That is going to take a long time and a lot of effort, as well as blood and treasure, but it is an ideological and a psychological war that the world cannot afford to lose.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. I call Mr Sabella from Palestine, Partner for Democracy.
Mr SABELLA (Palestine, Partner for Democracy) – Root causes should be sought for the developments that have taken place in the southern Mediterranean and that result today in the dislocation and persecution of millions of people of various ethnicities and religious and national groups. It is laudable that Ms Bakoyannis has focused in her timely and important report on the communities that are particularly affected by the “IS” terrorist group. The devastation that these communities have experienced speaks of a component part of Islamic and Arab history that has enriched Muslim civilisation and that today, unfortunately, like other symbols of Muslim civilisation, is coming under the chilling darkness and attacks introduced by the “IS” terrorist group. The failure of Arab regimes and, unfortunately, their European and other allies, to pay enough attention since independence to the pressing human needs of quality education, job creation, health provision and other social, economic, political and cultural basics is one of these root causes.
Unfortunately, without human dignity, hope or the prospect of a better future, some people, particularly young people, will become attracted to extremist positions. The problem is not Islam – nobody need defend one of the world’s great religions – but the social, economic, political and so-called strategic conditions and alliances that nurture extremist groups such as “IS”, to the great cost of the State and society, the good of its citizens and the prospects of a future in which acceptance of “the other”, their way of life and their symbols, is essential to a multicultural, pluralist and democratic society.
The report highlights the plight of religious and other communities facing the onslaught from terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria and reminds us that we need to focus our efforts on treating the root causes of this conflict. As darkness envelops Iraq, Syria and other parts of the Middle East, we must remain aware of our obligations to go on, in spite of all costs; to reconstruct the affected communities; and to protect their rich heritage, both spiritual and material, in order that all, irrespective of background, can be part of the rehabilitation and reconstruction of their societies. Thank you, Ms Bakoyannis, for your report and for bringing this matter to the urgent attention of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. Ms Pashayeva, you have the floor.
Ms PASHAYEVA (Azerbaijan) – Dear colleagues, I congratulate Ms Bakoyannis on her important report. The ongoing crisis in Syria and the emergence of terrorist groups, particularly the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Levant, pose a serious threat to the security of the region and beyond. Violence does not recognise borders. The peoples of the region, be they Yazidis, Turkmens, Kurds, Muslims or Christians, and regardless of their religion, faith or ethnicity, are being subjected to violence. All are victims of the same scourge and should be recognised in the report.
We should concentrate our efforts on the humanitarian aspects of the crisis. So far, the regional countries have had to shoulder the burden. Turkey is hosting 1.5 million people, most of them women and children, while almost 250 000 people have crossed the border in the past two weeks. This Assembly should commend Turkey’s efforts and call on all member States to shoulder their responsibilities and share the burden of dealing with this tragic humanitarian crisis.
At the request of the 1 million Turkmen living in Iraq and Syria and their representatives, I want to bring to colleagues’ attention the thoughts and voice of this people: hundreds have been killed by ISIS; many have been taken hostage; and thousands have been forced to leave their homes by the occupation by ISIS and the awful situation in the region. We need to listen to and support everyone suffering from the ISIS tyranny, regardless of their ethnicity or religion, and render more humanitarian assistance to those who have lost their homes and work places and become refugees. In combatting ISIS and other terrorist groups in the region, countries of departure should also be preventing foreign fighters from travelling to conflict zones. It is unfair to leave this burden to Turkey only.
Islam is a religion of peace and never tolerates violence. We should pay attention to the rise of Islamophobic tendencies among European societies in the face of the threat from ISIS and remember that these tendencies will only provide fertile ground for terrorism to further flourish.
THE PRESIDENT* – Thank you. I now give the floor to Mr Ameur from Morocco, Partner for Democracy.
Mr AMEUR (Morocco, Partner for Democracy)* – I congratulate Ms Bakoyannis on her report, particularly its conclusions. “Islamic State”, above and beyond its regional ambitions, poses an unprecedented threat to peace and stability worldwide, and therefore the answer can only be a global one. The world must combat a totalitarian system considered by many to be one of the most attractive yet deadly organisations currently operating. It has experienced worrying growth in 2013-14 – its territorial conquests and influence among jihadi circles worldwide attests to that – but its conquests in Iraq and Syria are only the first stage in a process that seeks to establish a transnational religious State.
The report firmly condemns all the acts perpetrated by this organisation, particularly the attacks on religious and other ethnic communities. “Islamic State”, in its totalitarian quest, makes no distinction between religious or ethnic communities. All who stand in the way of its hegemony are targets, including Sunni Muslims; mankind as a whole is threatened by “IS”, or Da’ish, and the military offensive by the international community needs the unconditional support of all countries and democrats throughout the world.
In parallel, we need to promote a political approach to defuse existing conflicts, because they are the breeding grounds of extremism and intolerance. We are united against this threat, but we must not forget the shortcomings in our previous efforts at tackling conflicts in the region. There remain questions to answer. How do we explain the exponential growth of Da’ish? How do we explain the fact that thousands of foreigners have joined its ranks? The dangerous sectarian policies of the former Iraqi President isolated and excluded minorities, while the shortcomings in the international community’s handling of the Syrian crisis possibly gave rise to Da’ish. What about the international community’s approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?
The fight against this new brand of terrorism will be a long one. A military approach is essential, but in the long term, its efforts will remain limited in the absence of political perspectives.
THE PRESIDENT* – Sorry, but I would like to give the floor to your colleague from Morocco. I call Mr Bensaid to take the floor.
Mr BENSAID (Morocco, Partner for Democracy)* – Dear colleagues, we must respond to the threat from Da’ish, al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups creating instability in the Middle East, but we cannot do that only through war. Obviously, security means are necessary, but in many areas of conflict, including Afghanistan and Iraq, peaceful solutions must also be found. It is no longer enough to react with force. Terrorism is being fed by religious fanaticism resulting from stigmatisation, ignorance, marginalisation and hatred for others. Those are the root causes when people turn to terrorism. The machinery of hatred is being instilled in the hearts of our children.
The first victim of terrorism is, of course, humanity as a whole, with no ethnic or religious distinction. Hatred kills. Hatred is not interested in race or colour. What is happening in Syria today must be dealt with as a whole. The Christians, the Yazidis, the Kurds, the Shi’ites – so many are victims of this terrorist propaganda. An international campaign is needed to free all the people of the region from the scourge of terrorism. We must also save people from the extremist religious ideologies which are the root cause of the problem there. Let us liberate people from poverty, hopelessness and stigmatisation. As General de Gaulle said, the end of hope is the beginning of death.
THE PRESIDENT* – Thank you. That brings us to the end of the list of speakers. I call the rapporteur. You have seven minutes left, but we are waiting for the chairperson of the Committee of Ministers, so perhaps you will not use the whole seven minutes.
Ms BAKOYANNIS (Greece) – I thank all my colleagues who have taken part in this important debate, which has shown that the vast majority of Members of this Assembly share the same ideas and values on which this Council was built.
I will first respond to Lord Tomlinson about the title of the report. It began a year ago, when this Organisation was the first to realise that there was a terrorist group in the region acting against Christians, as it was doing at the time. You will remember, dear colleagues, that at that time bishops had been abducted and Christians killed, and the Coptic churches had been set on fire. That is how the report started. Then the situation developed and deteriorated, and then the whole world understood that we are facing a major terrorist attack, not only on Christians but on everybody in the region. That is why we changed the title to include humanity as well as Christians and other ethnic groups. We should not be ashamed to mention the word “Christians”. Christianity began in that region, and it has the most ancient churches.
What messages have we heard today? The first is that this is a just war, as our British colleagues mentioned. It is a just war against terrorism. It is not a war against Islam. Under the Ottoman Empire, we Greeks lived together with the Muslim world. We lost our freedom, and it was a bad time for Greece, but we gained a great respect for Islam and the Muslim religion. We know probably better than anybody else that the Prophet Mohammed himself guaranteed the security of St Catherine’s church and monastery on the Sinai peninsula.
All our religions have had fundamentalist ideas and fanatics. I do not believe anybody is proud of the Crusades or the Inquisition. On the other side has been this kind of interpretation of the Quran, but it has always been in the minority, as it should be. We must now fight it, and there is no other way if we want to protect the region through a military solution. But will we win? My answer is no, we will not, unless we fight the ideas behind this fundamentalism and terrorism; unless we give those people the pride in their religion to which they have a right and solve the problems that form the root causes, as Mr Sabella rightly said, of the situation in the region; unless we face reality and try to understand why our youngsters are leaving to go fight at the other end of the world.
This is the first report. Today a whole city is under attack. Tonight we might hear awful news on our televisions. The message from this Council must be strong and, if possible, we must take it to all our respective Parliaments: this Council will never accept the logic of fanaticism and hatred, and we will fight it in every way we can.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. Mr Hancock, would you like to speak on behalf of the Committee?
Mr HANCOCK (United Kingdom) – My first duty is to thank the rapporteur on behalf of the Assembly and the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy for her hard work, the speed at which she has put together the report and the consensus that she has built across the Assembly in this debate. She was right to remind us that all of us here have a responsibility when we leave to go back to our respective Parliaments and say the same things there that we are saying here: we want the humanitarian crisis befalling that part of the world to be taken seriously and supported positively.
But we must also take back the message that many people have discussed today. This is an idea, and you cannot easily combat that. It needs a concerted effort on the part of all our Parliaments and all our communities, wherever they may be. We must work very hard to combat the idea that has come out of the desert and that these people believe is right. We in the United Kingdom recall 130 years ago, when the Mahdi led an Arab army out of the Sudan and fought the British in that area. The banners that his troops carried into battle are very similar, if not identical, to the ones that “IS” portrays on television screens today. The idea did not die, even though the Mahdists were beaten in battle. We must find a solution to that problem. Unless we do, we will be back here time and time again, and “IS” will move across north Africa and deep into Africa if we are not careful.
THE PRESIDENT – The Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy has presented a draft resolution, to which four amendments have been tabled. The Committee has also presented a draft recommendation, to which one amendment has been tabled.
I understand that the vice-chairperson of the Committee wishes to propose to the Assembly, under Rule 33.11, that amendments 1,5 and 3 to the draft resolution, which were unanimously approved by the Committee, should be declared as agreed by the Assembly.
Is that so, Mr Hancock?
Mr HANCOCK (United Kingdom) – Yes.
THE PRESIDENT – Does anyone object?
As there is no objection, I declare that Amendments 1,5 and 3 to the draft recommendation have been agreed.
Amendments 1, 5 and 3 are adopted.
We will now consider the other amendments, in the order in which they come in the text1. I remind you that for each amendment your time is limited to 30 seconds.
We come to Amendment 4. I call on Mr Selvi to speak in support.
Mr SELVİ (Turkey) – Thank you, Madame President. In this amendment, the terrorist organisation is referred to as “IS”, but it would be better to use the same term usually used by international institutions, so we believe that “IS” should be changed to “ISIL”. Some of our colleagues during this debate used “ISIL” too, and it is what this terrorist group wants from us: to call it “ISIL”. It has also been used in some United Nations resolutions that have been unanimously adopted and that are referred to in this report.
THE PRESIDENT* – Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment?
Ms BAKOYANNIS (Greece) – Madame President, I looked into this. Mr Selvi is right: there have been two United Nations Security Council resolutions, but the United Nations has now changed on this and the internationally accepted name is “IS”. I would like to stay with that because it is the way everyone speaks about and recognises this terrorist organisation.
THE PRESIDENT* – What is the opinion of the committee?
Mr HANCOCK (United Kingdom) – No.
THE PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.
Amendment 4 is rejected.
Amendment 1 was adopted unanimously.
Now we come to an oral amendment from Ms Bakoyannis on behalf of the Political Affairs Committee, which is as follows: “After paragraph 4, insert the following paragraph: ‘Alarmed by reports of the continued advance by IS forces on the Kurdish town of Kobane on the Syrian-Turkish border, the Assembly urges the international community to respond immediately to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe and protect the civilian population”.
I consider that this oral amendment meets the criteria.
Does anyone wish to speak against the oral amendment?
That is not the case. I therefore give the floor to Ms Bakoyannis, on behalf of the committee, to support this oral amendment.
Ms BAKOYANNIS (Greece) – As I have said, this is an urgent matter. We had to send the international community a message, if possible at noon today, that it has to react very quickly, because unfortunately all the news that we have from our Kurdish friends is that the city is ready to fall. That is why this oral amendment was added to the report. We just got the news this morning.
THE PRESIDENT* – Does anyone wish to speak against this oral amendment?
That is not the case.
Obviously the committee is in favour.
I shall now put the oral amendment to the vote.
The vote is open
The oral amendment is adopted.
Amendment 5 was adopted unanimously, as was Amendment 3.
We will now vote on the draft resolution in Document 13618, as amended.
The vote is open.
The draft resolution in Document 13618, as amended, is adopted, with 103 votes for, 0 against and 2 abstentions.
We will now move on to consider the amendment to the draft recommendation contained in Document 13618, and then there is an oral sub-amendment.
I give the floor to Mr Selvi in support of Amendment 2.
Mr SELVİ (Turkey) – We think that we had better remove the word “refugee” because it might place burdens on the countries mentioned in the recommendation and the report.
THE PRESIDENT* – There has also been the following oral sub-amendment, which I will read: “In Amendment 2, replace the word ‘refugee’ by the word ‘in place’”. In other words, Amendment 2 would take out the word “existing” – “en place” – but keep the word “refugee”.
Is that the case, Ms Bakoyannis? Yes.
Does anyone wish to speak against this oral sub-amendment?
That is not the case.
I give the floor to Ms Bakoyannis to support the oral sub-amendment on behalf of the committee.
Ms BAKOYANNIS (Greece) – We said that the word “refugee” should stay, because they are refugees and they may have the right to refugee status. This is very important for the camps. We did not put “existing” camps because unfortunately there might be new ones, so we speak about any possible camps today and tomorrow.
THE PRESIDENT* – Thank you very much. Does anyone wish to speak against this oral sub-amendment?
That is not the case.
The committee is obviously in favour.
I will now put the oral sub-amendment to the vote.
The vote is open.
The oral sub-amendment is adopted.
We will now consider the main amendment.
Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment, as amended?
That is not the case.
The committee is in favour.
I shall now put the amendment, as amended, to the vote.
The vote is open.
We now move on to the draft recommendation in Document 13618, as amended.
I remind you that it requires a two thirds majority.
The vote is open.
The draft recommendation in Document 13618, as amended, is adopted, with 109 votes for, 0 against and 1 abstention.
Thank you to the rapporteur, and thank you ladies and gentlemen.
2. Communication by Mr Elmar Mammadyarov, Chairperson of the Committee of Ministers
THE PRESIDENT* – Our agenda now requires the communication by Mr Elmar Mammadyarov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan and Chairperson of the Committee of Ministers.
(The President continued in English).
Minister, I would first like to apologise for the delay – we are eight minutes late – but we had a very important debate, and of course we had to vote on the resolution and recommendation. I welcome you once more to this Chamber. Despite the summer recess, you have had a very busy programme, unfortunately due to the circumstances and given the very difficult political situation.
Allow me to mention an event you hosted as chair: the Council of Europe exchange on the religious dimension of intercultural dialogue. I am personally very interested in this subject, as I was the rapporteur. I was glad that the Assembly was represented in that debate by our colleague, Mr Rafael Huseynov, and I thank him.
Today, Minister, we are looking forward to hearing your statement on the implementation of the activities of the chairmanship. I am sure that our members will have a lot of questions to put to you in this context. At the same time, we are also looking forward to hearing your views, as Minister of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan, on the current developments in your country, especially regarding respect for fundamental rights and freedoms that Azerbaijan has committed itself to respecting in joining the Organisation.
The recent wave of arrests of civil society activists, all of them long-standing partners of the Council of Europe, is a source of grave concern. As you know, I had the opportunity to discuss this matter with your authorities at the highest political level last week in Baku, during my working visit. I also had the opportunity to discuss it with you an hour ago in my office.
During my stay in Baku, I also visited some human rights and political activists in detention. I have to say that I would have wanted to see them in a different setting and I really hope that this will be possible soon.
My discussions in Baku have brought me to the conclusion that there are serious deficiencies in Azerbaijan regarding the implementation of Council of Europe standards, including in the field of independence of the judiciary, freedom of association, freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. These need to be urgently addressed. As you know, the Council of Europe is putting at your disposal its expertise and action plan 2014-16, and that is a means to step up cooperation.
Azerbaijan’s chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers is a great responsibility, but it is also an opportunity for a member State to demonstrate in concrete terms its commitment to the values and standards of this Organisation. The chairmanship is not over yet. There is a chance to move forward with much-needed reforms. Therefore I hope concrete steps will soon be taken on that front. Thank you very much.
I invite Mr Mammadyarov to address the Assembly. I give you the floor, Minister – [Interruption.]
I ask people in the gallery who have joined us for this meeting – I welcome them – not to make any statements, because that is not within our rules. Thank you very much for understanding.
Mr Elmar MAMMADYAROV (Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan and Chairperson of the Committee of Ministers) – President, distinguished members of the Parliamentary Assembly, ladies and gentlemen, it is a great pleasure and honour for me once again to address this distinguished Assembly in my capacity as Chairman of the Committee of Ministers. I will not focus particularly on all the achievements of the Committee of Ministers since the last session of the Assembly in June, about which you can read the details in the activity report provided. Instead, I will focus on the most significant developments linked, on the one hand, to the current crisis unfolding in Europe and, on the other hand, to the priority areas of our chairmanship.
Summer 2014 will go down as a particularly dark time for our continent. Last July, like many political leaders throughout the world, I could not but express, on behalf of the Committee of Ministers, my profound indignation over the crashing of the Malaysia Airlines plane in eastern Ukraine. Like you, Ms President, I made a point of reiterating the strong call to all the parties involved for an independent inquiry to quickly establish the exact circumstances of this disaster. The independent experts have produced their initial conclusions and I hope that they will be able to progress in their work and fully elucidate this tragedy. To continue their investigations, they should be provided immediately with safe and unrestricted access to the crash site.
As demonstrated by your current affairs debate yesterday, the situation in Ukraine remains at the heart of the current concerns of all Council of Europe bodies. For their part, the Ministers’ Deputies have continued to discuss the conflict in Ukraine at each of their meetings. In this connection, they held an extraordinary meeting at the beginning of September, at which the Secretary General reported on his visits to Ukraine and the Russian Federation at the end of the summer. More recently, the Deputies also held an exchange of views with the Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr Muižnieks, after his visit to Crimea.
In the light of those exchanges, the Committee of Ministers recently adopted a set of important decisions on the situation in Ukraine. Those decisions are intended firstly to reiterate a number of fundamental principles of international law, in particular the peaceful settlement of disputes and the necessity of respecting States’ territorial integrity. They also aim to foster the emergence of a peaceful and sustainable solution to the conflict. In this respect, the Deputies welcomed the Protocol signed in Minsk on 5 September 2014 and called on all parties to respect and scrupulously apply the 12 principles laid down in it.
The Committee of Ministers also sought to provide political support for the efforts made to resolve the crisis: it gave a clear brief to the Secretary General to continue to assist the Ukrainian authorities in carrying out their reforms, and notably in preparing the parliamentary elections to take place on 26 October. The holding of free and fair elections, in line with international standards throughout the territory of Ukraine, will be an important step in consolidating the democratic progress made by that country and in resolving the conflict. I am pleased to see that your Assembly has decided to send an observer mission and make its own contribution to the smooth running of the elections.
In the humanitarian field, the Committee of Ministers encouraged the Secretary General to examine how the Council of Europe can address, in co-ordination with other international organisations, the humanitarian needs and the human rights consequences of the military operations in Ukraine. In particular, it underlined that the people living in Crimea, including the Tatars, must fully enjoy the protection afforded to them by the European Convention on Human Rights.
The Committee of Ministers will continue to closely monitor developments in Ukraine.
In a few weeks’ time, on 13 November to be precise, we will hand over the chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers to Belgium, but in the meantime we will continue to implement our priorities. In this respect, the adoption of the Convention on the Manipulation of Sports Competitions by the Committee of Ministers last July is a source of great satisfaction for the Azerbaijani chairmanship.
This Convention is very much in keeping with the Council of Europe’s long-standing commitment to sports and sports ethics. It is also a contribution to the fight against corruption, which is one of Azerbaijan’s main priorities. I am particularly pleased that, at the 13th Council of Europe Conference of Ministers responsible for Sport held in Macolin, Switzerland on 18 September, no fewer than 15 member States, including my own country, signed the Convention. I hope that the Convention, which is open to both member and non-member States, will quickly secure the number of ratifications required for to come into force. We would wish this could take place before the 2015 European Games in Baku, which have served as one of the reasons for our consistent support for the adoption of this important legal framework. The selection of Baku as one of the cities to host the UEFA Euro 2020 matches will definitely encourage us to continue the promotion of this convention well beyond our chairmanship tenure.
Under this particular chairmanship priority, a conference on international standards and national experiences in the fight against corruption was organised in Baku on 30 June to 1 July 2014, together with GRECO and the International Anti-Corruption Academy. Three dedicated plenary sessions allowed for a profound exchange of views on a variety of issues, such as: the implementation of anti-corruption legislation and its role in increasing the efficiency of the judicial-legal system; fighting corruption through education; preventive measures against corruption; economic development and the fight against corruption; international co-operation between specialised anti-corruption agencies; and the protection of participants in the criminal process during the investigation of corruption. Participants in the plenary sessions had a chance to learn about the success stories and challenges of individual countries. Co-operation with the International Anti-Corruption Academy proved efficient, and the conference is a good example of interaction between the Council of Europe and IACA in the fight against corruption. The IACA’s decision to hold its third assembly in Baku next month is, to some extent, the logical outcome of the successful chairmanship of that conference.
Another important event organised by Azerbaijan within its chairmanship agenda was the international conference on “Public service delivery in the context of human rights and good governance” last week in Baku. That was the first time the topic was addressed by the Council of Europe. The event acquainted participants with successful models, including the Azerbaijani State Agency for Public Service and Social Innovations, which was hailed by Secretary General Jagland during his visit to Azerbaijan in April as a unique model that would benefit many European countries. One important message that came out of those discussions was the Azerbaijani proposal to establish an international association of public service delivery agencies as a platform to exchange best practices. We hope that proposal will be duly followed up.
Under the chairmanship priority on the consolidation of culturally diverse societies based on mutual respect and understanding, the first Council of Europe platform exchange on culture and digitisation, entitled “Creating an enabling environment for digital culture and for empowering citizens,” was held in Baku in early July 2014 as part of the follow-up to the 10th Conference of European Ministers of Culture held in Moscow in April 2013. Discussions had a special focus on: the impact of digitisation on culture; the transition from the pre-digital era to the digital era; the needs of the cultural sector and its actors with regard to access to and the creation and dissemination of cultural content; the empowerment of citizens; and the creation of an enabling environment for digital culture. The meeting highlighted the potential role of the Council of Europe as an appropriate forum for drafting common standards and mechanisms that could further strengthen co-operation in the field. Within that context, relevant policy guidelines will soon be developed.
The next important event under that chairmanship priority was the 2014 Council of Europe exchange on the religious dimension of intercultural dialogue, which was held in Baku in September. The Parliamentary Assembly contributed to the event by highlighting the Assembly’s role in strengthening intercultural and interreligious dialogue. The theme of the exchange, “Intercultural dialogue: interaction between culture and religion,” led to a rich and lively debate. Participants highlighted the role of religious and non-religious convictions in combating discrimination and intolerance. Important references were made to preserving and protecting cultural and religious heritage as an integral element of people’s identity and an essential resource for peaceful co-existence. The latest exchange in Baku once again testified to the importance of the platform as a valuable forum and gave rise to proposals for future exchanges. The Committee of Ministers will examine the conclusions of the 2014 exchange in the weeks ahead.
Another major event started in Baku today—the fourth Baku Humanitarian Forum. The forum is an annual gathering of famous representatives of the world’s political, scientific and cultural elite, including famous statesmen, Nobel Prize winners in various fields of science and leaders of international organisations. Among other things, this year’s forum will discuss topical themes such as the philosophy of multiculturalism, the political and legal aspects of concepts of national identity, and cultural diversity and multiculturalism as a policy of the tolerant co-existence of different cultural practices. Although the event was not included on the list of Azerbaijani chairmanship events, it contributes to our chairmanship priority on the consolidation of culturally diverse societies.
During my June statement I informed you of my government’s intention to host a high-level event in Baku—the United Nations Alliance of Civilisations VII Global Forum—in 2016. Since your last part-session, considerable progress has been made in that direction. Just a few days ago, the Alliance of Civilisations made a formal decision on the matter in the margins of the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Moreover, in order to promote understanding, dialogue and reconciliation among different cultures through concrete projects, an action plan on joint activities was signed by the Government of Azerbaijan and the Alliance of Civilisations during the Alliance’s session in Bali. The implementation of the action plan will be my government’s humble contribution to the practical approaches to global critical challenges.
Under our chairmanship priority on social cohesion, we organised a conference in Baku on 10 and 11 September to review the Council of Europe’s social cohesion strategy and action plan. The conference provided an excellent opportunity to take stock of the progress achieved since the adoption of those important instruments in 2010. It also served as a platform for addressing important themes such as social cohesion and the European social model in times of economic crisis, diversity in European societies and the current and future challenges for more inclusive societies. As I told the distinguished Assembly in June, my government has expressed its intention to host in Baku the next Council of Europe Conference of Ministers with responsibility for social cohesion. I hope the Committee of Ministers will soon make a positive formal decision on that suggestion.
Under the next chairmanship priority, Azerbaijan sets great store by education and protecting young people. The Council of Europe campaign to stop sexual violence against children, launched in 2010, has enjoyed considerable success. It is widely appreciated and provides an effective tool for combating one of the worst violations of children’s rights. As a result, last July the Ministers’ Deputies decided to extend the ONE in FIVE campaign for one year until the end of 2015. Besides protecting the physical and psychological well-being of children, more efforts must be made to increase the involvement of young people in decision making. I am therefore pleased that the next World Forum for Democracy, which will be staged here in Strasbourg on 3 to 5 November, will consider ways of engaging young people in rethinking the democratic arenas of today, including via new technologies. The title of this year’s forum is “From participation to influence: can youth revitalise democracy?” Azerbaijan will host the United Nations Global Forum on youth policies at the end of October in Baku with the institutional support of the Council of Europe.
Developing the Council of Europe’s policy on neighbouring regions remains on the agenda of the Committee of Ministers, and it is another strong focus of our chairmanship. Thanks to our favourable location at the crossroads of the continents and our historical relations with the countries of the European continent’s immediate neighbourhood, Azerbaijan is well placed to organise the high-level conference on the neighbourhood policy to be held in Baku on 7 to 8 November 2014. The conference is designed to serve as a useful platform for taking stock of the achievements that have so far been made in our Organisation’s quest to promote dialogue, co-operation and deeper engagement with several countries of the neighbouring regions by strengthening political dialogue and exchanging views on how better to shape the future course of the policy. I hope that your Assembly will be able to participate in and contribute to this major event marking our chairmanship. In that context, I welcome the fact that the Committee of Ministers recently granted Tunisia’s request to be invited to join the European Centre for Global Interdependence and Solidarity, better known as the North-South Centre. Co-operation between the Council of Europe and neighbouring countries, be they on the southern shore of the Mediterranean or in central Asia, is constantly strengthening. Your Assembly, which pioneered partner for democracy status, will certainly view those developments with a keen sense of satisfaction.
For its part, the Committee of Ministers is currently considering arrangements for a reinforced partnership with a number of countries covered by the neighbourhood policy for the period 2015 to 2017. Your Assembly will be kept informed of the outcome of this work, which, if all goes well, should be completed by the end of the year. As we stated at the beginning of our chairmanship, Azerbaijan has always been supportive of strengthening synergy and partnership between the United Nations and regional organisations. In that context, we would like to emphasise the importance and relevance of the traditional resolution on co-operation between the United Nations and the Council of Europe, which we expect to be adopted by consensus by the United Nations General Assembly. Azerbaijan will have the privilege of conducting the negotiations on the draft resolution this year as the current chairman of the Committee of Ministers. When it comes to the OSCE, co-operation between the two organisations in the fight against terrorism and trafficking in human beings will be on the agenda of the next meeting of the co-ordination group, which will be held in Vienna on 31 October.
Ladies and gentlemen, in a few moments I will be happy to reply to your questions. First, because I am addressing you as chairman of the Committee of Ministers for the last time, I would like to say that I am honoured to have been so closely involved in our Organisation’s work. The Council of Europe has a mission to help all our countries along the path of democracy and human rights. I am convinced that to accomplish that task, it is vital that your Assembly and our committee continue to work in close co-operation and collaboration. I thank you for the support you have provided throughout our chairmanship.
I would also like to thank the Secretary General for his commitment and availability. The Secretary General, who was elected by a substantial majority of the Assembly in June, was recently sworn in by the Committee of Ministers, and we have taken note of his strategic vision for his second mandate as to how to increase the relevance and efficiency of the Council of Europe. I am convinced that he will succeed in carrying out the numerous and difficult tasks that will be entrusted to him over the next five years. Last but not least, I assure you that we will continue, after the completion of the term of our chairmanship next month, to render our support to Belgium and Bosnia and Herzegovina in the implementation of the shared priorities that the three countries have subscribed to.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Mammadyarov. You will now be asked questions by members of the political groups. I call Mr Saar on behalf of the Socialist Group.
Mr SAAR (Estonia) – In response to Ms Pakosta’s question during your last session in June, you referred to the adoption of the guide to the human rights of Internet users as one of the achievements of the Committee of Ministers in safeguarding human rights online. The Socialist Group agrees that the guide is a useful document because it explains in simple language the human rights of Internet users, including freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and privacy. I would like to ask two follow-up questions. First, what has the Committee of Ministers done, and what should it do, to implement the guide? Secondly, is Azerbaijan ready to engage further with the Council of Europe in implementing the guide?
Mr MAMMADYAROV – First and foremost, member States should implement the guide according to their domestic policy. Speaking as the Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan – wearing my other hat, so to speak, for a moment – I can tell you that the Internet has been widely introduced in Azerbaijan, and more than 70% of the population are active Internet users. The Internet is not subject to prohibition; it is very open. There is no prohibition by law or any other regulations with regard to internet users, and there is no internet abuse.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. I call Mr Agramunt on behalf of the Group of the European People’s Party.
Mr AGRAMUNT (Spain)* – During your chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers, events that warrant attention have occurred in some areas of the frozen conflicts. Inter alia, the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh seems to have worsened this year. On 21 July, a violation of the cease-fire claimed the lives of more than 20 people. What happened in Nagorno-Karabakh? Do you think that there could be a deployment of Russian troops in the region?
Mr MAMMADYAROV – My understanding is that I have to respond to that question in my capacity as Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan, because it concerns the so-called “frozen conflict” or, as we call it, protracted conflict. It is not only a problem for Azerbaijan; a similar disease runs through other member States of the Council of Europe. In particular, as my report recognises, one of the biggest areas of consultation and discussion in the Committee of Ministers has been the Ukraine crisis, and we have delivered a few decisions in that regard.
The Armenian-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict began more than 20 years ago, and ended with a fragile cease-fire in 1994. Some 20% of the internationally recognised borders of Azerbaijan ended up under the occupation of Armenian troops, and those territories were totally ethnically cleansed of the Azerbaijani population. The Minsk Group was established in the OSCE, and in 1997 the United States, Russia and France were approved as co-chair countries to deal with the settlement. Frankly speaking, I cannot say that we have made any progress. It is very unfortunate that the territories are still under occupation and those who have been internally displaced cannot return to the place of their origin. The situation is a huge risk and challenge to the security of the region, and it is one of the most harmful elements for the stable development of the region. We are working with the co-chairs to try to move step by step to bring more predictability into the region.
We believe that one of the most important elements is that Armenian troops should go back to their barracks and get out of the occupied territories of Azerbaijan. The presence of the military, as indicated by the clashes that you mentioned on 21 July, is always a danger. Besides that, philosophically thinking, as we do here in the Council of Europe, I believe that the best overall solution – this is a win-win for everyone – is to work towards sustainable development. I believe that sustainable development does not count the occupied territories. Thinking about the principles that we happily introduced in the Helsinki Final Act, I think that the use of force for the acquisition of territories is absolutely unacceptable.
The last point is that we must not let people be tempted to use force to change internationally recognised borders because that would take us back to the dark years of the last century. Azerbaijan therefore stands ready to complete the talks as soon as possible, so that the poor people who have been displaced can return to their place of origin.
THE PRESIDENT – I call Lady Eccles on behalf of the European Democrat Group.
Lady ECCLES (United Kingdom) – How will the Committee of Ministers ensure that the Russian Federation understands it is unacceptable illegally to annex part of another sovereign country, and is the Committee of Ministers ready to examine the position in the Council of Europe of the Russian Federation if it continues to ignore its commitments?
Mr MAMMADYAROV – From the beginning of the crisis in Ukraine, the Committee of Ministers has been very clear in all its decisions about the need to respect international law strictly and to abide by the principles that underpin the Statute of the Council of Europe. That is fundamental for security and peace in Europe, and the Committee of Ministers counts, as does the Assembly, on the firm commitment of all member States to act in line with these principles. The Committee of Ministers will continue to follow the situation in Ukraine very closely, and it will determine its position in the light of the attitude of the parties involved. I cannot prejudge the outcome of its collegial deliberations.
To change hats and speak on behalf of my country, I can tell you that even before the crisis in Ukraine there has been a precedent for that in the Council of Europe. As I have just said with regard to the Azerbaijani territories occupied by Armenia – with all the notorious ethnic cleansing – if the Council of Europe responds in timely fashion, the situation we face will probably be different.
THE PRESIDENT – I call Ms Guţu on behalf of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.
Ms GUŢU (Republic of Moldova) – What progress has been achieved under the Azerbaijani chairmanship in resolving “frozen conflicts”, and what can the Council of Europe do to make sure that the military conflict in Ukraine – in the east and in relation to the annexation – does not become yet another such conflict?
Mr MAMMADYAROV – I am grateful for that question, because it is a real privilege to hear, from the first few speakers, that one of the Assembly’s greatest concerns relates to the resolution of this crisis or conflict. Without repeating what I said a few moments ago, I recognise that our consolidated reaction must be to prevent people from being tempted to change internationally recognised borders by the use of force. That is one of the major principles we accept, and to which we have already committed ourselves by enshrining it in the United Nations Charter, the Helsinki Final Act and other major international agreements. That principle is clearly the one that corresponds to all the risks involved.
I understand your point in relation to the Moldovan case. The same could be said by those from Georgia or Ukraine, and by members of the delegation from my country. I believe that we need to consolidate our efforts to settle such conflicts on the basis of international norms and principles. We should take the same united view, at least in approaching a settlement.
THE PRESIDENT – I call Mr Kox on behalf of the Group of the Unified European Left.
Mr KOX (Netherlands) – In June, your president accepted my proposal to hold a round-table between representatives of your government and those critical of your country’s record on human rights and fundamental freedoms. Since then, however, there has been a wave of arrests and harassment of human rights activists. When will your president deliver on his promise to hold a round-table with those whom you are now so unjustly putting behind bars? When will we see that promises made by the President of Azerbaijan really mean something?
Mr MAMMADYAROV – First and foremost, it was not our intention to delay, but very unfortunately, there was the summer vacation. Yesterday, this matter was followed up in discussions with the Secretary General. Those discussions included your proposal for a round-table and the creation of a joint group, and we agreed to it. Unfortunately, there will now be two public holidays in Baku next week for Gurban Bayram, but I hope that next week the delegation, which has already identified members of the group from the Council of Europe and Azerbaijan, will immediately set it up and define its procedures and agenda. Through phone conversations and over the Internet, they will be able to decide the group’s direction. It is a done deal; the delay was only because of the August vacation. I agreed to it with the Secretary General yesterday, and we will resolve the matter next week.
Mr BOCKEL (France)* – On 16 April, the Committee of Ministers approved the action plan for your country for 2014 to 2016, with 21 projects organised around nine priorities. How does Azerbaijan intend to implement the plan, and what resources have been earmarked for it? What are the specific goals that you will pursue during the two-year period? We have very high standards on democracy, human rights and the rule of law, and we have to enforce them by ending the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Mr MAMMADYAROV – The action plan for 2014 to 2016 has been signed, and part of it is already being implemented. We now need to continue to work on the agreed language within the action plan for the next two years. I think that everyone involved in the preparation and implementation of the action plan is in a good mood and recognises that we can now move forward.
Thank you for your last remark. I agree that whenever we talk about human rights and democracy, the focus of the Parliamentary Assembly should always be on respect for the rights of internally displaced people in Azerbaijan. They have been deprived of the fundamental right to live in their place of origin, and no one has any excuse for closing their eyes to that. It is very important for the Parliamentary Assembly to hold a consistent position on such a matter.
Mr DI STEFANO (Italy) – We want to encourage the organisations and forces of international co-operation involved in arranging humanitarian support and the cease-fire to take the initiative and to act more effectively. Do you not think that the Council of Europe should play an active role as a mediator between the European Union and Russia in facilitating discussions on the measures that have proved counter-productive for the European Union and, above all, on other actions to take in view of the forthcoming winter?
Mr MAMMADYAROV – As I have said, the Ukrainian crisis was discussed at length in almost all the meetings that took place, and our ambassador informed me that direct contact had been made with regard to the Russian case, which is connected.
There are different opinions within the Committee of Ministers, depending on the delegation in question. This became clear during the vote by which we adopted the decisions. However, let me explain my country’s position. I believe in dialogue. I am from the old-fashioned, classical school of diplomacy. If we want to make progress and deal with the crisis, the first and most important thing we need to do is to build up a dialogue, and then, diplomacy will work better. Yes, to some extent there should be pressure and leverage because that is an essential part of diplomacy; but the military option must be excluded, because if there is a rifle on the wall, one day, it can be fired. Building on any chance of co-operation, discussion and dialogue will be a very important element.
THE PRESIDENT – Mr Dişli and Mr Flynn are not here, so I call Mr Schwabe.
Mr SCHWABE (Germany)* – I have three questions. Mr Rzayev, from Azerbaijan, has warned that the decisions of the Council of Europe have to be implemented. What about Azerbaijan and the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights on Ilga Mammadov: when will that be implemented? Secondly, Anar Mammadli received the Human Rights Prize. How do you want to pay tribute to that? Thirdly, is it a coincidence that a lot of the human rights defenders who have spoken to us in Strasbourg are now sitting in prison in Azerbaijan?
Mr MAMMADYAROV – The awarding of the Václav Havel Prize to our citizen Anar Mammadli was a decision of the Committee. What else can I say? If the Committee decide to give him a prize, they are right, and we have to follow this decision.
On Ilga Mammadov, we appealed to the ECHR regarding that decision and we will proceed within the legal procedures every time, in every case, accordingly. Azerbaijan made a commitment to implement the ECHR’s decisions, and as soon as the Chamber has made its decision, we will proceed with it.
Mr BIEDROŃ (Poland) – Freedom of association is one of the Council of Europe’s core values, and I cannot imagine that its leader would violate this value. Why are tax inspections, rate investigations and other legal actions taken only against independent human rights NGOs in Azerbaijan? Unlike independent NGOs, certain State-supported NGOs and foundations are not subject to any control or restriction; in fact, they enjoy complete impunity. An example is the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, which has never published a single annual report on the use of its property, as demanded by domestic law.
Mr MAMMADYAROV – I believe that freedom of association is clearly recognised by our constitution and is provided by the appropriate authorities without any restrictions, but in the particular parts of the city where it will not from time to time violate freedom of movement within the city.
We have more than 3 000 NGOs that are actively involved in the country’s everyday activities, and only a small minority are not as transparent as they should be. Whenever we introduce new laws and ask for transparency, that will reach every NGO that is active in Azerbaijan. So by all means, there will be full transparency regarding the activity of NGOs in Azerbaijan; there are no untouchables. So, one by one, we will deal with every one.
Ms JOHNSEN (Norway) – We are concerned about the arrest and imprisonment of NGO representatives. To what extent do you tolerate people who criticise your regime?
Mr MAMMADYAROV – I believe that the level of tolerance is very high. If you ask the assistants to provide you with information from our opposition newspapers, you will see that they criticise Foreign Minister Mammadyarov, including my personal life. That is probably the best answer to your question. Those who do some homework will recognise the frankly nasty attacks that are made on people’s personal lives, including mine, and with regard to my role as Foreign Minister. I can say that such tolerance is pretty high.
As I have said, there are no untouchable NGOs; there should be full transparency regarding the activities of every one. This is not an invention of Azerbaijan. I lived in the United States for 12 years, and I can tell you that there, if a foreign agent is working with a local actor – an NGO or anyone else – it should be registered by the Minister of Justice and there should be full transparency. The amount of funding they receive and the fields in which they will be active should be published on the Internet. So the transparency that we are looking for will be there.
Mr MARIANI (France)* – The fourth Caspian Sea summit, which has just ended, set out the main principles for co-operation to guarantee the Caspian Sea’s status. What decisions have been taken at this historic summit to defend this sea, which is so threatened by pollution?
Mr MAMMADYAROV – You are absolutely right, and we believe that the summit was a success story. One of the most important elements, which we agreed – it was signed by five littoral presidents – is that the sovereign zone of the Caspian Sea, and the fishery zone, will be 25 nautical miles. There has been a major discussion during the past 20 years about how to define the figures, but now there will be a 15-mile sovereign zone plus a 10-mile fishery zone. That creates a great opportunity to promote the legal convention on the status of the Caspian Sea.
As you rightly say, there is a problem regarding the environment issue, which we have addressed in various ways. There is a moratorium on sturgeon fishing, and in respect of the fishery itself. We signed a few agreements, including on establishing a centre for the environment. There is also the question of technology for dealing with catastrophic events. The Minister of Emergency Situations has signed an agreement, and there will be co-operation.
We agreed that the summit will take place every two years, and the next host will be Kazakhstan. The five presidents instructed foreign ministries and special representatives for the Caspian area to try to finalise as much of the preparation for the legal status of the Caspian sea convention as possible.
Mr OMTZIGT (Netherlands) – Amnesty International says that you have more than 20 prisoners of conscience. Mr Muiznieks has told the Committee of Ministers that every interlocutor of the Council of Europe on human rights in Azerbaijan is now behind bars. That also happened to the three people I invited here last June: Emin Hüseynov, Rasul Jafarov and Intigam Aliyev. Do you consider there to be political prisoners in Azerbaijan at the moment, as our Commissioner for Human Rights has said?
Mr MAMMADYAROV – I thank you for that question, because it answers itself. The Council of Europe does not have a definition for political prisoners. When the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe creates criteria to define political prisoners, I can respond to your question, otherwise it is very hypothetical. Sorry.
Mr LE BORGN' (France)* – Minister, in recent months we have unfortunately seen a number of tragedies of poverty and migration off the Maltese, Italian and, in particular, Spanish coasts. What debate has taken places within the Committee of Ministers on these tragedies? What could the Council of Europe be doing to defend its values in responding to them?
Mr MAMMADYAROV – Yes, you are right, that issue was considered by the Committee of Ministers. The situation of migrants arriving in Europe is deeply worrying, as you correctly indicate. We cannot close our eyes to this humanitarian tragedy. According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, more than 2 500 people have drowned or gone missing this year in attempting to cross the Mediterranean and reach Europe. Rescue at sea is not a competency of the Council of Europe, but it is crucial that human rights obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights are met when refugees arrive in Europe. Special efforts are needed on rescue at sea and to combat the criminal gangs that are trafficking human beings. In a statement on the latest incident, in which more than 500 refugees were killed after their boat was rammed by traffickers, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights called for the perpetrators to be punished. Europe has to share the responsibility for refugees and asylum seekers fairly. Those seeking international protection must have access to fair and efficient processing of their claims.
Mr SASI (Finland) – Your neighbouring country, Iran, does not respect human rights and has a lot of political prisoners. There is a large minority of Azeris in Iran. Are there Azeris who are political prisoners in Iran? Do you discuss their status with the Iranian Government and do you try to get them released, if they exist?
Mr MAMMADYAROV – I will respond to this question as the Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan, because we did not discuss the Iranian case within the Committee of Ministers. I can tell you that, yes, there is a big minority of Azeris who live in Iran. It is probably much larger than the number we have in independent Azerbaijan. We have a consul general in the Iranian city of Tabriz who also deals with the authorities in Tehran. From time to time, we look at the issues that need to be properly addressed, including human rights, as you said. We always do that through contact and connection with the authorities in Tehran, because we recognise that these Azerbaijanis are citizens of an independent country. As I said in response to a previous question, it is difficult for me to talk about political prisoners. Without criteria, it is difficult to assess the number of political prisoners and it is difficult to deal with the issue. First, there needs to be a proper definition and criteria.
Mr McNAMARA (Ireland) – Do you think that Azerbaijan’s chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers has enhanced or detracted from the credibility of this Organisation, given that in the course of that chairmanship you have arrested many of your most vocal opponents, including Rasul Jafarov, Intigam Aliyev and Leyla Yunus and her husband? The Commissioner for Human Rights has said that most of his interlocutors are now in prison. Do you think that you have added to the credibility of this Organisation and do you intend to address those issues?
Mr MAMMADYAROV – No, I do not think so. We have discussed this previously in Baku and here. I know your position and you know my position. I can repeat my position and you can repeat yours. You can keep your position and I can keep mine. Let us respect each other’s positions.
Mr FRANKEN (Netherlands) – Today, at the invitation of the Azerbaijan Government, the fourth Baku International Humanitarian Forum has begun. It discusses and promotes human rights. How can that be in line with the recent detention of some well-known human rights defenders in that country?
Mr MAMMADYAROV – The forum has the direct intention of promoting human rights. That is why it was created. It is clear for everyone that through calling different conferences and different forums in different contexts and with different dialogues, we are promoting human rights, not only in Azerbaijan, but around the world, including in the Netherlands. I believe that a delegation from the Netherlands is attending the forum.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. That brings to an end the questions on the speakers list to Mr Mammadyarov. On behalf of the Assembly, I thank you most warmly for your communication and for the answers you have given to questions.
3. Next public business
THE PRESIDENT – The Assembly will hold its next public sitting this afternoon at 3.30 p.m. with the agenda which was approved on Monday morning. We took the decision this morning to limit the speaking time to three minutes.
The sitting is closed.
(The sitting was closed at 1.10 p.m.)
1. Debate under urgent procedure: Threats against humanity posed by the terrorist group known as “IS”: violence against Christians and other religious or ethnic communities
Presentation of report, Document 13618, by Ms Bakoyannis on behalf of the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy
Speakers: Mr Xuclà (Spain), Mr Loukaides (Cyprus), Lord Tomlinson (United Kingdom), Mr Agramunt (Spain), Mr Walter (United Kingdom), Lord Anderson (United Kingdom), Ms Hovhannisyan (Armenia), Mr Rouquet (France), Ms Karapetyan (Armenia), Sir Edward Leigh (United Kingdom), Mr Hancock (United Kingdom), Mr Ghiletchi (Republic of Moldova), Mr Selvi (Turkey), Ms Leskaj (Albania), Mr Bockel (France), Mr Triantafyllos (Greece), Ms Karamanli (France), Mr Gür (Turkey), Mr Khader (Palestine), Mr Omtzigt (Netherlands), Mr Saltouros (Greece), Mr Tzavaras (Greece), Ms Zohrabyan (Armenia), Mr Jenssen (Norway), Sir Roger Gale (United Kingdom), Mr Sabella (Palestine), Ms Pashayeva (Azerbaijan), Mr Ameur (Morocco), Mr Bensaid (Morocco).
Amendments 1, 5 and 3 adopted.
Oral amendment adopted.
Draft resolution in Document 13618, as amended, adopted.
Amendment 2, as amended, adopted.
Draft recommendation in Document 13618, as amended, adopted.
2. Communication by Mr Elmar Mammadyarov, Chairperson of the Committee of Ministers
Questions: Mr Saar (Estonia), Mr Agramunt (Spain), Lady Eccles (United Kingdom), Ms Guţu (Republic of Moldova), Mr Kox (Netherlands), Mr Bockel (France), Mr Di Stefano (Italy), Mr Schwabe (Germany), Mr Biedroń (Poland), Ms Johnsen (Norway), Mr Mariani (France), Mr Omtzigt (Netherlands), Mr Le Borgn’ (France), Mr Sasi (Finland), Mr McNamara (Ireland), Mr Franken (Netherlands)
3. Next public business
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
AMTSBERG Luise/Schmidt Frithjof*
ANDERSEN Liv Holm*
ANDREOLI Paride/Lazzari Luca
BACQUELAINE Daniel/Saïdi Fatiha*
BALLA Taulant/Shalsi Eduard
BAPT Gérard/Le Borgn' Pierre-Yves
BARCIA DUEDRA Gerard/ Bonet Perot Sílvia Eloïsa
BARREIRO José Manuel*
BENEYTO José María*
BERNINI Anna Maria/Fazzone Claudio
BERTUZZI Maria Teresa*
BLAHA Ľuboš/Gabániová Darina
BOJANIĆ Mladen/Jonica Snežana
BOSIĆ Mladen/Dervoz Ismeta
BRASSEUR Anne/Oberweis Marcel
BÜCHEL Gerold/GOPP Rainer
CLAPPISON James/Leigh Edward
COSTA NEVES Carlos
CSÖBÖR Katalin/Bartos Mónika
DEBONO GRECH Joseph
DI STEFANO Manlio
DÍAZ TEJERA Arcadio*
DROBINSKI-WEIß Elvira/Rawert Mechthild
ERKAL KARA Tülin
EßL Franz Leonhard*
FENECH ADAMI Joseph*
FENECHIU Cătălin Daniel
FIALA Doris/Schneider-Schneiter Elisabeth
FISCHER Axel E.*
FLEGO Gvozden Srećko
GIRO Francesco Maria*
GORGHIU Alina Ştefania*
GRAAF Fred/Omtzigt Pieter
GÜLPINAR Mehmet Kasim
GUTIÉRREZ Antonio/Xuclà Jordi
GUZENINA Maria/Pelkonen Jaana
HEER Alfred/Pfister Gerhard
HUSEYNLI Ali/Gafarova Sahiba
JENSEN Michael Aastrup*
JENSSEN Frank J.
JOVIČIĆ Aleksandar Pantić Pilja Biljana
KAIKKONEN Antti/Anttila Sirkka-Liisa
KONRÁÐSDÓTTIR Unnur Brá/Níelsson Brynjar
KORENJAK KRAMAR Ksenija
KORODI Attila/Kelemen Attila Béla-Ladislau
KOSTŘICA Rom/Pecková Gabriela
LE DÉAUT Jean-Yves*
LÉONARD Christophe/Crozon Pascale
MACH Trine Pertou*
MARKOVÁ Soňa/Holík Pavel
MATEU PI Meritxell
MATTILA Pirkko/Raatikainen Mika
MAURY PASQUIER Liliane
MEALE Alan/Flynn Paul
MEHMETI DEVAJA Ermira*
MENDES BOTA José*
MENDONÇA Ana Catarina*
MORENO PALANQUES Rubén
MOTA AMARAL João Bosco
NAGHDALYAN Hermine/Karapetyan Naira
NEACŞU Marian/Florea Daniel
OROBETS Lesia *
PALACIOS José Ignacio*
PREDA Cezar Florin*
ROCHEBLOINE François/Schneider André
ROSEIRA Maria de Belém*
SANTANGELO Vincenzo/Spadoni Maria Edera
SCHOU Ingjerd/Johnsen Kristin Ørmen
TOMLINSON John E.
TÜRKEŞ Ahmet Kutalmiş
VALAVANI Olga-Nantia/Saltouros Dimitrios
VALEN Snorre Serigstad/Hagebakken Tore
VERHEIJEN Mark/Faber-Van De Klashorst Marjolein
VUKSANOVIĆ Draginja/Šehović Damir
WATKINSON Angela/Gillan Cheryl
Vacant Seat, Cyprus*
Vacant Seat, ''The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia''*
Vacant Seat, United Kingdom*
Representatives and Substitutes not authorised to vote
Eloy CANTU SEGOVIA
Partners for democracy
Mohammed Mehdi BENSAID
Nezha EL OUAFI
Representatives of the Turkish Cypriot Community (In accordance to Resolution 1376 (2004) of the Parliamentary Assembly)
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.