AS (2016) CR 04



(First part)


Fourth sitting

Tuesday 26 January 2016 at 3.30 p.m.

In this report:

1.       Speeches in English are reported in full.

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

3.       The text of the amendments is available at the document centre and on the Assembly’s website. Only oral amendments or oral sub-amendments are reproduced in the report of debates

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

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

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

(Mr Agramunt, President of the Assembly, took the Chair at 3.40 p.m.)

      The PRESIDENT – The sitting is open.

1. Election of judges to the European Court of Human Rights

The PRESIDENT – The ballot to elect a judge to the European Court of Human Rights in respect of Cyprus is now open again.

      The polls will close at 5 p.m. Those who have not yet voted may still do so by going to the area behind the President’s Chair.

      For the election of judges, the names of Ms Françoise Hetto-Gaasch and Mr Filippo Lombardi have been drawn as tellers. They should go to the back of the President’s Chair at 5 p.m.

      I hope to announce the results of the elections before the end of the sitting this afternoon.

2. Communication from the Secretary General of the Council of Europe

The PRESIDENT – We now come to the Communication from Mr Thorbjørn Jagland, Secretary General of the Council of Europe.

      Dear Secretary General, we would like to wish you a very warm welcome in this Chamber, and I would like to thank you warmly for your congratulations upon my election yesterday. Our Assembly and I, in my capacity as its President, are looking for synergies with all Council of Europe bodies in addressing the challenges Europe is facing. Therefore, your vision, ideas and proposals are very important for us.

      In my inaugural speech yesterday, I mentioned four of the major challenges that lie before us. The first is counteracting international terrorism, promoting tolerance and saying no to hate. The second is addressing the refugee crisis, integrating refugees into our societies, and reducing radicalisation and nationalistic rhetoric in politics. The third is the crisis in Ukraine, the problem of frozen conflicts in Europe, and our relations with the Russian Federation, a member State of our Organisation. The fourth is the rise of populist and nationalistic rhetoric and the erosion of democratic principles and human rights.

      On all those fronts, you have provisionally laid down several proposals for Council of Europe action. The Assembly is of course willing to makes its contribution, too. The action plan for the fight against violent extremism and radicalisation leading to terrorism approved by the Committee of Ministers and the proposed action plan for building inclusive societies offer plenty of opportunities for synergies, which we look forward to exploring. The Assembly is also interested to learn more about your initiative to launch a mission to Crimea to assess the human rights and rule of law situation in the peninsula and then to prepare a report containing recommendations in several key areas within the Council of Europe mandate. There is room for interaction with the Assembly on that.

      I now give the Secretary General the floor.

      Mr JAGLAND (Secretary General of the Council of Europe) – Mr President, I take this opportunity to congratulate you once again. I am sure that we will have good co-operation and co-ordination. I also want to thank Anne Brasseur for some extraordinarily good co-operation during her tenure. I am glad to see that she is now the ambassador of the No Hate Speech campaign. She is the right person and will do her job in an elegant, firm and nice way. We need such people working on combating terrorism, which is one of our most important endeavours, and we can start by combating hate speech.

      Dear friends, I want to use this speech to talk about the European Convention on Human Rights, not only because it is our best guidance in the many crises facing Europe, but because it is under threat. We all agree that the Convention has boosted freedom, democracy and the rule of law in each of our countries. Many of these often silent successes have been compiled in the excellent recent report by Mr Pierre-Yves Le Borgn’ on the Convention’s impact. I encourage you all to read it. The Convention is our compass. It creates a clear, legal guide for so many of the dilemmas we face. What, for example, are the basic standards that newcomers to our societies should respect? What are the standards that we expect them to uphold? Many people are asking those questions, particularly following the awful events in Cologne. It is important to say that we still do not know exactly what happened at Cologne central station on new year’s eve or who exactly was responsible, and we should avoid sweeping generalisations that pander to the far right. I welcome the Assembly’s decision to hold a current affairs debate on the matter. There are legitimate questions to be asked about how we reconcile different cultures and mind-sets in modern and diverse European societies. We must be clear that there is one set of values that everyone must respect – not necessarily embrace, but respect. They are right there in black and white in the Convention. They form one set of liberties that all in Europe must enjoy – no ifs, no buts, no cultural relativism. In the context of violence against women, the rights have been translated into the Istanbul Convention, which outlaws all types of gender-based violence. By the way, it would send a reassuring signal if Germany ratified the convention, having signed it nearly five years ago.

      The European Convention on Human Rights also guides us on counter-terrorism. How can we empower our security services to stop attacks without eroding civil liberties? When does freedom of expression become incitement to violence? The issues are extremely sensitive, but the lines have been drawn in the cases of the European Court of Human Rights. Our Convention is a shared vocabulary and a basis for co-operation, even in allegations of fraud. Let us take, for example, the controversy surrounding legislative changes in Poland, which some fear will undermine the effectiveness of the constitutional court. I urged the Polish Government to ask for an opinion from our Venice Commission, which it has done. I have also established a dialogue with the Government and people in my private office have been in contact with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The European Commission has launched a formal review into whether the constitutional law violates the rule of law, which has prompted a row between Warsaw and Brussels. I welcome the fact that both sides are keen to defuse any tensions. Both recognise that our Venice Commission is a world authority in such matters and are keen to hear its views. The commission will provide a factual legal analysis based on common standards on which everyone should be able to agree. The situation reminds us that law can so often resolve differences and move us forward in a way that politics cannot. By the way, the full name of the Venice Commission is the European Commission for Democracy through Law, which actually defines our mandate.

      Despite all that, despite our knowing how important the Convention is in upholding the rule of law in all our countries, despite our knowing that corruption comes from the lack of separation of power, of independent courts and of freedom of the media, and despite our many reforms to improve our Convention system over recent years, the system faces a growing political threat. There have always been those who challenge the authority of international institutions, but these forces have slipped into the mainstream and are gaining traction, which should worry us all. When we join the dots, the danger to our Convention system begins to feel very real. In the United Kingdom for instance, there is an ongoing debate about the European Court of Human Rights’ judgment on prisoner voting, but I appreciate the United Kingdom Government’s entering into enhanced dialogue with us to find a way forward. I understand that some judgments take time to implement, but many are watching the United Kingdom, a founding father, and I am concerned by the argument, which I hear more and more, that a parliament’s previous rejection of a change in the law must automatically be the final word.

      In the Russian Federation, according to a new law, if the authorities believe that there is a conflict between Russia’s constitution and a judgment of the international court, they will be able to request an opinion from the constitutional court to determine compatibility. That raises the possibility of the constitutional court declaring that a judgment from our own Court, the European Court of Human Rights, cannot be applied in Russia. It remains to be seen what will happen if and when such a conflict arises. It will be up to the constitutional court to ensure respect for the Convention if it is called upon to act on the new provisions. However, it would be far better if that uncertainty had not arisen at all and if there were not the discussion in the United Kingdom about the primacy of the European Court of Human Rights.

      In Switzerland there are now enough signatures on a petition to trigger a referendum on the role of international treaties versus national laws. In Norway, the Parliament has recently adopted a resolution that says that international conventions have to be adapted to the so-called “new realities”, referring to the refugee crisis, as though treaties such as the Geneva Convention on refugees and the European Convention on Human Rights were written for “sunny days”. However, they were designed precisely to protect individual rights in difficult times such as these. It is very worrying that such discussions have started in these times.

      On top of that, we see a number of instances of the State deliberately flouting its obligations. The one I would like to highlight is the ongoing detention of the well-known intellectual and activist Ilgar Mammadov in Azerbaijan. He has been in prison for two years. There are strong indications that he has faced threats and ill treatment there. He is not the only person in Europe to be locked up when they should not be, but he remains behind bars despite the fact that the European Court, the highest legal authority on the continent, relying on the rarely used Article 18 of the Convention, concluded that the court and prosecution had abused their power to engage proceedings against him. In other words, politically motivated evidence was used against him.

      In the few other cases where the Strasbourg Court concluded that there had been a violation of Article 18, the applicants were rapidly released, acquitted or their conviction was annulled. In this case nothing has been done for one and a half years, since the Court handed down its judgment. The authorities have resisted repeated calls from me, the Assembly and the human rights committee to free Ilgar Mammadov. In such a situation, I am entitled to take extraordinary measures, according to Article 52 of the Convention, which I am invoking for the first time since I became Secretary General in order to send a special mission directly into the country to pursue his release.

      What is this about? It is about the credibility of the whole Convention system. We cannot have people in prison on the continent of Europe whom our highest Court has said are there on false grounds. That must be the bottom line. If that is not the bottom line, there is no bottom line.

      Taken together, those various developments cause real concern. The Convention system, for which all 47 member States share responsibility, hinges on Article 46, which says that the contracting parties shall undertake to abide by the rulings of the Court. It does not say “should”; it says “shall”. When individual States ignore their obligations or when there are attempts to pick and choose which rules should be followed and which not, it pulls at the very fabric of the Convention. If that begins to unravel, it will be very difficult to stop.

      Having experienced, particularly in Europe, the worst excesses of unrestrained State power, our nations have agreed to accept those shared legal constraints because it makes all of us strong and safer overall. That logic still stands. So my message today is a call for urgency and leadership. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe needs no lectures on asserting itself. I am grateful for the strong and principled positions you regularly take but today I speak to you as individual parliamentarians, too. I ask you to go home and be louder than ever in defending Europe’s human rights architecture.

      I have taken the same message to the Committee of Ministers. For my part, I will continue leading the Council of Europe down the reform path, take action in member States and assist member States so that there can be no doubt about the difference we make and the relevance we have.

      In Ukraine, we will continue to work with Kiev on renewing the country’s constitution and on the decentralisation of power. In this crisis, many are thinking, rightly, about the ceasefire and the Minsk Agreement. The difficulties are many but one thing is clear: the parties can succeed in finding common ground only if it is built on the standards of the European Convention – the joint common standards signed up to by the Russian Federation and Ukraine.

      Another thing is clear: all people living in Ukraine and the Russian Federation are under the protection of the Convention. The Council of Europe has an obligation to do whatever is possible in that respect, regardless of disagreements that exist, including on the status of Crimea. Our position on Crimea’s territorial status has been made clear by the Committee of Ministers and this Assembly. However, that must not prevent us from monitoring how the basic articles in the Convention are being upheld, or not, in Crimea. No delegation from any national organisation has visited Crimea for more than a year. However, I have managed to reach an agreement in order to send a human rights mission to the peninsula. I have appointed Gérard Stoudmann, an experienced Swiss diplomat, to head our mission. I can confirm that he is in Crimea right now; he arrived yesterday and is staying there for several days.

      That should not be seen as a recognition of the de facto authorities there. Rather it is a recognition of the fact that we, as guardians of individual liberty, have a special responsibility to seek to protect the freedoms of the 2.5 million people living in Crimea. Once the mission reports back to me, I will take its finding to the Committee of Ministers. At that stage we can decide what more must be done to uphold those people’s basic human rights. It is an obligation I feel we have.

      On the refugee crisis, in this complex situation, we have a simple job: standing up for the basic rights that must be enjoyed by any person on European soil. This Assembly has been exemplary, as has the commissioner. Now I have appointed a special representative, Mr Tomáš Boček, who will focus on developments on the ground, looking at new legislation and intervening when necessary, offering assistance based on our standards and the case history of the Court. Tomáš and I will say more about this role later – actually, right after my hour here.

      On the fight against violent extremism, last year we negotiated our groundbreaking treaty on foreign terrorist fighters. This year, we will take action on a range of new initiatives, including on better targeting terrorists acting alone, outside traditional cell structures, and on preventing radicalisation in prisons. We will launch a brand new set of competences for Europe’s schools, to help young people to learn to live together successfully as democratic citizens in diverse societies.

      Judicial independence will remain front and centre in our work. It is a priority for me, as it always has been, and it will feature once again in my annual report, which will look again at the democratic foundations of European stability, and our democratic security. Weaknesses in the judiciary persist across the continent, undermining trust in State institutions and thereby threatening our stability, so in the spring we will adopt a pan-European action plan to boost the independence and impartiality of Europe’s courts.

      Over the coming year, I want us to assert ourselves even more strongly as a champion of media freedom, because without independent courts and independent media, what do we get? We get corruption; the misuse of power; instability and even conflicts; and more. If you have not seen our platform for the safety of journalists, take a look. There is no other tool like it. It is an online platform that allows journalists to sound the alarm, and that publishes responses direct from governments.

      The State with the most alerts is Turkey, where the situation as regards freedom of expression is deteriorating. I have always condemned terrorists who seek to hurt Turkey. Last week, a bomb went off in a school in the south-east of the country, hurting five children who were collecting their report cards. Dear friends, no State should have to endure such cowardly attacks, but it is in every State’s interests to respond to terrorism in ways that uphold our values and the rule of law, because that is what differentiates us from the terrorists. It is in every State’s interests to make space for dissent and difference, because that is the life blood of healthy democracy. We have now secured agreement from the government that there will be a review of the most problematic laws and practices, as the Minister for Foreign Affairs confirmed to me in a meeting this morning – our good old friend, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu. I hope that the authorities will work with us in a way that shows the world that human rights in Turkey are not in permanent reverse.

      Dear friends, for all our troubles, we still have the most sophisticated system of international co-operation anywhere on the planet. We have established the rule of law at the European level, through the remit of the European Convention. On a personal note, the standards in the Convention and the case law of the Court are my boss; I have no other. My actions will not be swayed by political arguments. I will continue to look at the substance of a law or a practice, regardless of the country in which it appears. My basic principle is that all are equal before the law.

      Someone once said to Winston Churchill, “I have enemies.” Churchill said, “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something.” Sometimes you need to be unpopular to safeguard a popular goal – in this case, the European Convention. My message today is that all of us have to stand up for something, and should practise at home what we are talking about here. That is extremely important, because, as I say, I feel that the whole logic of the European Convention is under threat in many places, where people are starting to say, “We are the boss at home; our parliament has the final word.” If that develops, it is the end of the European Convention on Human Rights, which says that every country “shall” undertake to implement the judgments of the Court. If we start to discuss that, it is the end of the day for what we have in Europe, which no other continent in the world has. Dear friends, let us stand up for something. Thank you very much.

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

      The PRESIDENT – Thank you, Secretary General Jagland. Members of the Assembly have questions to put to you. I remind them that questions must be limited to 30 seconds. Colleagues should ask questions and not make speeches. Mr Omtzigt from the Group of the European People’s Party is not here, so I give the floor to Mr Nicoletti from the Socialist Group.

      Mr NICOLETTI (Italy) – Thank you, Secretary General, for your presentation. You described clearly the current situation and the challenges for human rights and democracy in Europe. Do you think that the extraordinary challenges in Europe need an extraordinary response by the Council of Europe? If so, what do you think about the possibility of organising a summit of Heads of State and Governments, as you proposed in the programme for your second mandate, and as the Standing Committee of our Assembly proposed in Sofia? Thank you.

      Mr JAGLAND – It is up to you. I appreciate your initiative. I believe that it is time to think about this; it is 10 years since we had the summit in Warsaw, and all international organisations need to come together at a Head-of-State level from time to time. In difficult times such as these, we should think about the need to convene the contracting parties again, so that they can reconfirm their commitment to the European Convention and take new initiatives. As for when is the right time to do that, let us see, but at some point, we need to put that on the table. That is my clear view.

      The PRESIDENT – Thank you. Next I call Ms Zelienková from the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.

      Ms ZELIENKOVÁ (Czech Republic) – As you know, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe rapporteurs from various committees have been following very closely the situation in Ukraine, and the progress of reforms to restore territorial integrity. In our task, we have benefited from excellent co-operation with the Council of Europe Office in Kiev and your special representative for Ukraine. We have been informed that you have appointed Mr Stoudmann as head of a mission to assess human rights in Crimea. How do you intend to ensure that we have good co-operation with Mr Stoudmann, and can get feedback from his mission? Thank you.

      Mr JAGLAND – Thank you for your kind words. We will continue our work in and for Ukraine. As I said, we have an obligation to look after human rights in Crimea. Mr Stoudmann’s report will be given to me, and then I will discuss it with the Committee of Ministers. How we take it forward after that will of course be up to the Committee of Ministers, but my intention is to use it to discuss how we can further benefit the people living on the peninsula. Of course, it will also be important for the Parliamentary Assembly and your work in this respect.

      The PRESIDENT – Thank you. The next speaker is Mr Wold, who will speak on behalf of the European Conservatives Group.

      Mr WOLD (Norway) – Thank you, Madam President. Dear Secretary General, Poland now has a new government and the party for Law and Justice has an absolute majority in the parliament. Yesterday, the Assembly turned down the request for an urgent debate regarding Poland – the right decision, in my opinion. For the past 25 years, Poland has been developing democratic standards and the rule of law, and the country now has a proper dialogue with both the Venice Commission and the Council of Europe. I ask the Secretary General kindly to inform the Assembly about the dialogue, co-operation and contact between the Council of Europe and the Polish authorities at the moment.

      Mr JAGLAND – As I said, the Polish Government has asked for an opinion from the Venice Commission, and we are in the process of establishing contact points between the Minister of Foreign Affairs and my private office. As I see it, the Polish Government is interested in drawing on other expertise, and I hope that it will do so in media and public broadcasting. The process is very much under way. When we see such difficulties, we should first try to find out about them rather than have strong statements before we know the substance of the matter. That is the working method of the Council of Europe; it gives us a lot of credibility. Member States such as Poland rely on those working methods. By the way, the Venice Commission’s conclusions are now obvious to a large extent – 100%, I think. The European Union will have to look at the matter, as will the Polish Government. We constitute the common basis for what can be done. Having a body such as the Venice Commission – a non-political body looking only at standards and case law of the courts – becomes reassuring for the two parties. Let us continue to work in that way. We cannot solve problems with only strong statements.

      The PRESIDENT – Thank you. The next speaker is Mr Villumsen, who will speak on behalf of the Group of the Unified European Left.

      Mr VILLUMSEN (Denmark) – Thank you, Madam President. Mr Secretary General, I draw your attention to the decision by the European Court of Human Rights concerning the right to access to medical assistance for wounded in the resumed civil war in Turkey. That decision has so far been ignored by the Turkish authorities. Right now, 23 wounded civilians are trapped in the city of Cizre. Civilians have previously died due to lack of medical assistance. What will you do to assure us that the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights concerning the right to access to medical treatment and help will be implemented by the Turkish authorities?

      Mr JAGLAND – I also have that information, and will do whatever I can to implement the judgment of the Court. I take note of the fact that the Convention has not been derogated by Turkey, so it is in full effect in its whole territory.

      Mr LE BORGN’ (France)* – I would like to put a question to you on the increasing number of migrant children among the refugees who have to cross the Balkans in appalling winter conditions. Can you confirm that a large number of them are undertaking that dangerous crossing? What is the Council of Europe doing at the moment to ensure that children’s rights are complied with as set out in international conventions?

      Mr JAGLAND – Yes, I confirm that this is true: a large number of children are coming to member States. I will issue guidelines to member States in the near future on how to handle this. I am well aware of the problem. The Convention and the standards apply to everybody, and children in particular.

      Mr R. HUSEYNOV (Azerbaijan) – When appointing a rapporteur in the Assembly on any problem, we state that we have no conflict of interests on the matter – something that corresponds to your activities much more, due to your position as Secretary General. Observation indicates that you do not at all approach all member States with the same standards. For instance, you have not once raised your voice to restrain Armenia, which has periodically violated the requirements of the Council of Europe Statute, and the protest of whose citizens – being under constant harassment – has not ceased. Nevertheless, you have demonstrated strong activity towards some other countries. Dear Secretary General, how can we trust your sincerity?

      Mr JAGLAND – What you said about Armenia and my action there is simply not true. The Council of Europe has worked actively in Armenia to remedy many of the shortcomings there. Armenia has now adopted a new constitution based on the opinion of the Venice Commission and will continue with reforms. You can be sure that we will be assertive and firm over advice in that reform process, and we are raising all human rights issues in Armenia. As I said, I look to the substance, the standards and the case law of the Court. When it comes to your country, I have said clearly that one case must be at the top of my agenda – if not, I cannot be Secretary General. If a person is in prison whom the highest Court says should not be there and I do not do everything I can to get him out of prison, I should not be at the helm of the Council of Europe; that is very clear. I apply the same standards to all member States, regardless of whether they are newcomers, those that were taken in 20 years ago or the old members of the Council of Europe. They are equal before the law.

      Ms GERASHCHENKO (Ukraine)* – My question regards the return of Crimea to the control of Ukraine. In the meantime, we need protection of human rights in that territory and believe that the Council of Europe, and the Parliamentary Assembly in particular, need to be more dynamic on that. What role can be played by the Council of Europe to make sure that there is respect for fundamental human rights in Crimea, and integrity of the sovereignty of Ukraine?

      Mr JAGLAND – A mission sent by me and led by Gérard Stoudmann, the Swiss diplomat, is in Crimea right now. It arrived yesterday and its mandate is to ensure that all the basic articles of the Convention are being upheld. It will report back to me and it will then be possible for us to discuss a more long-term approach to protecting the rights of those on the peninsula. The situation is extremely difficult, because we cannot do anything to undermine the basic principle decided by the Committee of Ministers and this Assembly relating to the territorial integrity of Ukraine and the illegal annexation of Crimea. Having said that, we have a clear obligation to work on behalf of the people living there. They should not be excluded from the protection of the European Convention on Human Rights.

      The PRESIDENT – Ms Taktakishvili is not here, so the next speaker is Ms Christoffersen.

      Ms CHRISTOFFERSEN (Norway) – What is your opinion, Secretary General, of the proposal, which will be discussed by the Assembly tomorrow, for the external processing of asylum applications through hotspots set up outside Europe? Is that a good idea? Could it be a means to limit the market for migrant smugglers and to avoid more tragedies in the Mediterranean?

      Mr JAGLAND – That is not in my mandate; it comes under the mandate of the human rights order of the Geneva Convention and its commissioner. Many people have been trying to think of legal routes for those who want to come to Europe. I do not know whether this is a means for them to do so, but it would be better for those seeking refugee status to have legal routes, rather than what is happening at the moment. They are victims of all kinds of criminal activities, and that poses a great threat to our societies. It is a really complicated issue. I am not an expert and I do not have a mandate in the field, but we have very close contacts with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva. One of my new special representative’s tasks will be to liaise with the commissioner on all kinds of matters.

      Mr CORLĂTEAN (Romania) – I was part of a delegation from the Romanian Parliament that visited a fellow member State, Norway, to examine the dramatic situation of the mixed Romanian-Norwegian Bodnariu family. The parents have five children, all of whom have dual nationality. The family have been subjected to clearly disproportionate and abusive measures by Barnevernet, the Norwegian child protection authority. The children have been taken from the parents based on concerns about their so-called radical Christian attitude. There have been tens of thousands of similar cases involving children being taken by Barnevernet in the past few years. Our Organisation should look at the issue as a matter of urgency and possibly view it as systemic problem in the light of the European Convention on Human Rights.

      Mr JAGLAND – I am not aware of that case, but I am aware that there is a problem between Norway and other member States. The problem is that there are different traditions and different legislation in this field. The protection of children is at a high level in Norway. Other countries do not have a lower standard of legislation when it comes to the protection of children, but they do have different traditions. Those approaches may collide and I am aware of quite a few cases in that respect, but I cannot comment on the particular case in Romania right now.

      Mr NEGUTA (Republic of Moldova)* – Thank you, Secretary General, for the ongoing monitoring of the situation in Moldova. In October, you advised this Chamber that it was necessary to reform the judiciary and the Prosecutor’s Office and to combat corruption in Moldova. It is now the end of January, but there have been no changes whatsoever. The oligarchs have formed a new government and the people are clamouring for early elections. They want to be able to elect the next president by direct suffrage, but the oligarchs are refusing to introduce any such changes. What can be done, given the circumstances?

      Mr JAGLAND – I can tell you what we cannot do, which is vote in the parliament. Decisions have to be made by the parliament. We have given advice time and again on the need to reform the judiciary and the prosecution, and on the separation of power – that is the only way forward – in order to combat corruption. Everything is in the hands of power, meaning, ultimately, the Moldovan Parliament. I reassure you that we will continue to work on the issue and to highlight the need for those basic reforms in order to combat the worst disease in Moldova and, unfortunately, in some other member States, namely corruption. Not only is it a problem for the States in question; it is also a security problem for Europe, because it always creates instability and sometimes conflicts and wars.

      Mr GOPP (Liechtenstein)* – Saudi Arabia continues to conduct mass executions. Last year alone, more than 150 people were executed, and just a few weeks ago 47 people were executed in a single day. The kingdom is not, of course, a member of the Council of Europe, but many of our member States enjoy very close links, both economic and political, with that country. Have you, Secretary General, been in contact with our member States with a view to encouraging them to put pressure on countries such as Saudi Arabia?

      Mr JAGLAND – Actually, all the member States are totally against the death penalty. When the latest executions took place in Saudi Arabia, I issued a strong statement. The Council of Europe is also a prominent member of the global movement to abolish the death penalty, and some of our member States are the most prominent leaders of that movement. We are doing whatever we can and we will continue to do so in the future. Slowly, the death penalty is going away, so the global movement against it is gaining ground and I am very happy with that.

      Mr ÇAKIRÖZER (Turkey) – Mr Secretary General, thank you for your interest in the freedom of the press in Turkey. What do you think of the imprisonment of two prominent Turkish journalists, Can Dündar and Erdem Gül, for the news they published? What action are you planning to take on that? You said that you met the Turkish Foreign Minister – did you discuss with him this matter and the other ways that pressure is put on the press in Turkey?

      Mr JAGLAND – I raised this issue with Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu this morning. One year ago, we established a joint working group with experts from both sides. Its mandate is to enhance the implementation of the Court’s judgment on freedom of expression and to avoid new applications being made to the Court. The group met on 17 December. I had requested an urgent meeting because of the treatment of the two journalists you mentioned. We discussed the matter and agreed that the group should speed up its work. This morning, Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu confirmed that the work with regard to legislation in Turkey and the practices of the courts and prosecutors will go on.

During the winter there will be two important events. We are gathering judges and prosecutors to discuss the standards in the Convention, the perception of what freedom of expression is according to European standards, and the case load of the Court. The issue is not only the legislation but the practices and mentality of those who handle the laws, which is why the interaction between us and Turkey is extremely important. I hope that that work will bring fruitful results.

(Mr Agramunt, President of the Assembly, took the Chair in place of Ms Schou.)

Mr ROCHEBLOINE (France)* – Secretary General, in the context of the current crisis that Europe is undergoing, does the Council of Europe intend to carry out an assessment of the international conventions drafted under its auspices, such as the 1963 Convention on the Reduction of Cases of Multiple Nationality and the 1954 convention that suggested a harmonisation of nationality rules?

Mr JAGLAND – Yes. Those are still important principles for us and we are, of course, looking at any new initiatives with regard to relevant legislation. We will continue to work with all member States on that.

Ms PASHAYEVA (Azerbaijan) – Mr Secretary General, Armenia has not liberated Azerbaijani lands, so 1 million Azerbaijani refugees and internally displaced persons are not able to return to their homes. The Assembly is discussing the problems of the refugees from Syria and Iraq who have to move to Europe. Should Europe and the Council of Europe fight actively against anything that makes people refugees? What action should be taken?

Mr JAGLAND – Are you referring to the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh?

Ms PASHAYEVA (Azerbaijan) – Yes.

      Mr JAGLAND – I have said many times in this Assembly that the mandate for finding a solution to the conflict is in the hands of the Minsk Group. Nevertheless, I agree that a solution must be found urgently, and one that is based on the obligations that both nations – Azerbaijan and Armenia – have signed up to under the Convention. Human rights issues have to be at the forefront if one wants to find a solution to the conflict.

More broadly, the only way to solve the refugee crisis we are now witnessing is to stop the conflicts. We must stop the wars because they are what produce all the refugees and internally displaced persons. I would welcome any initiative to find a solution to the conflict you mentioned, and you can be sure that I will act speedily if the Council of Europe is asked to do something to help to find a solution.

      The PRESIDENT – We must now conclude the questions to Mr Jagland. On behalf of the Assembly, I thank him most warmly for his statement and for the answers he has given to questions.

      This is a reminder that the vote is in progress to elect judges to the European Court of Human Rights and the Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe. The ballot will close at 5 p.m. – in less than half an hour. Those who have not yet voted may do so by going to the area behind the President’s Chair.

3. Request for partner for democracy status with the Parliamentary Assembly submitted by the Parliament of Jordan

      The PRESIDENT – The first debate is on the report titled “Request for Partner for Democracy status with the Parliamentary Assembly submitted by the Parliament of Jordan”, Document 13936, presented by Ms Josette Durrieu on behalf of the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy, with two opinions presented by Mr Jordi Xuclá on behalf of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, Document 13955 and Mr Valeriu Ghiletchi on behalf of the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination, Document 13954. After the debate, Mr Atef Tarawneh, Speaker of the House of Representatives of Jordan, will address the Assembly. I remind members that there is a speaking limit of three minutes.

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

      Ms DURRIEU (France)* – I welcome our Jordanian friends who are with us today: Mustafa Al Hamarneh, a Member of Parliament with whom we have worked so hard recently, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. I hope that their presence will be fruitful on both sides.

We have discussed Jordan quite a lot, both in the Chamber and in committee. It is not a large country. It is in the Middle East, and covers less than 100 000 sq. km, 80% of which is desert. It has a population of 8 million, with 1 million Palestinians and more than 650 000 Syrians. Importantly, it is a crossroads country – a reference country in the region – and is highly symbolic. Now, Jordan has asked to be a Partner for Democracy and His Majesty the King, who received a delegation of the Council of Europe representing the Sub-Committee on the Middle East and the Arab World at which we explained the Organisation to him, officially submitted that application.

      We need to take into consideration the symbolic importance of the message we are receiving. Jordan is not a European country and it is interested in co-operating with us – there is a will to share our common values, and Jordan has committed itself to that, as Palestine, Morocco and Kyrgyzstan have previously. I welcome those countries and their parliamentarians, who now work regularly with us. These are not European countries and the criteria are not the same as for fully fledged members of the Council, but there are requirements. Jordan is a monarchy, but it is a progressive monarchy and I consider the King to be an enlightened and courageous monarch. I have met him on two occasions and the leaders of other countries are not always so enlightened.

      The Middle East is an area of military confrontation. The country is essentially at war and one of the pillars of foreign policy for such countries is security. Nevertheless, the King insisted on stating to us that the instability of the region is not an excuse for not reforming, which is an important message. Yes, there are reforms to be implemented and some that already have been implemented. That must be done with full respect for the identity of the Jordanian people but there is a will to modernise, to democratise and to make progress.

      The reforms need to be continued and it is important that the moratorium on capital punishment is re-established. The King is prepared to move in the direction of abolishing capital punishment. The rights of women are also very important, and 54% of the population is female. Read Article 6 of the constitution: of course, the word “gender” or “sex” needs to be added and that is a gap that needs to be filled quickly. The overall debate on fundamental freedoms needs to be advanced, and I can tell the delegation that your people are calling for that. They are clamouring for it. The society is politically maturing and freedom of expression and of association need to be guaranteed, as do fair justice and an independent judiciary. All those issues are very important. There is a need to abolish torture and combat corruption. It is all enumerated in our text, but we perceive a strong will to reform politically. It is quite surprising; it is courageous and perhaps even dangerous in some senses.

      We will see how all of this comes out in the wash, because elections are to be held on the basis of this will to reform. There is also a decentralisation movement. Jordan has gone quite far with this and there will be elections in 2016 and in 2017. I have taken note of the strong political will to reform, and that will need to be freed up. Territories also need to be liberated.

      We must also take into consideration the fact that the King said to the delegation, “We need to forge a Jordanian nation.” I thank Jordan for the trust it is putting in the Council of Europe and I thank the Assembly in advance for the support that I hope it will extend to Jordan, on the assumption that it will become a Partner for Democracy. The country deserves this. Given the difficulties that Jordan is confronted with and that we are confronted with, the promised land is always on the other side of the desert, but we need to believe in it and to cross the desert nevertheless.

      I call on the Parliamentary Assembly to exhibit a lot of understanding and patience. This is a process of evolution and with determination Jordan and high requirements on our side, we can get to the other side of that desert.

      The PRESIDENT* – Thank you, Ms Durrieu, You have six minutes remaining.

      I call Mr Xuclà, Rapporteur of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, to present his committee’s opinion. You have three minutes.

      Mr XUCLÀ (Spain)* – Let me start by welcoming the Jordanian authorities. I have excellent memories of my visits to your country, which is warm and hospitable but is also a country that, politically speaking, has every interest in co-operating with parliamentarians from other parts of the region, given your importance strategically. As members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, we have a responsibility to try to address within the framework of this Partnership for Democracy those issues in which we feel that co-operation is required to enable you to reach the democratic standards required for co-operation with the Council of Europe.

      Once again, I congratulate Ms Durrieu on her excellent hard work, her diplomatic skills and her powers of persuasion. She has demonstrated her ability to address complicated issues with our partners.

      A series of amendments have been tabled on those issues that are of greatest concern to us. Jordan abandoned the moratorium on the death penalty in 2014 and in 2015 15 executions were carried out. We want to express our concern about certain violations of human rights and we fear that they might increase in the future. I am talking about torture and administrative detention. I draw your attention to the fact that 40% of people currently in prison in Jordan have been imprisoned as administrative detainees. That is an important figure and we believe that it should be reduced. The deadlines for trial and the number of detainees should also be reduced. Ms Durrieu also mentioned the question of corruption, as well as well-known cases of violations of the right to assembly. We feel that those are the conditions that must be met if we are to continue to build a constructive relationship between the Council of Europe and Jordan.

      The PRESIDENT – Thank you. I call Mr Ghiletchi, Rapporteur of the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination, to present his committee’s opinion. You have three minutes.

      Mr GHILETCHI (Republic of Moldava) – I am sorry that my voice is a little low today. From the bottom of my heart I congratulate our Jordanian friends in advance on this historic decision. I had the chance several years ago to be in a meeting with your King, His Majesty King Abdullah II, and was impressed with his vision of building a modern and stable Jordan.

      I thank Ms Durrieu for this good and comprehensive report and on behalf of the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination I inform the Assembly that the Committee decided to support the proposal to grant Jordan Partnership for Democracy with the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. In addition to what Ms Durrieu has already mentioned, the committee decided to tackle seven areas. I will briefly touch on four of them. The first is gender equality and, in particular, family law. We are concerned about inherence rights, so we tabled an amendment to the draft resolution to underline the importance of tackling that issue.

      The second area is violence against women. We want you to tackle two areas: marriage – the marital age is 18, but your courts make a number of exceptions – and so-called honour killings. We know it is important to keep traditions, but some traditions should be got rid of.

      The third area is discrimination on the grounds of ethnic origin. We appreciate that Jordan is open to migrants. There has been a big influx of migrants to Jordan, and you are doing your best to accommodate them, but Jordanian citizenship has been withdrawn from some migrants, leaving them stateless. That is not a good situation.

      The final area I would like to address is religious diversity. I commend you for having a positive atmosphere of tolerance in your country. Christians and Muslims coexist, but it is important to ensure that religious minorities such as the Druze and evangelical Christians have the same rights and are not discriminated against. Those important things are underlined in the draft resolution, and the committee’s two amendments, which I believe are supported, will contribute to it. This is a historic day for Jordan. I congratulate you.

      The PRESIDENT – Thank you very much. I call Mr Evans, on behalf of the European Conservatives Group.

      Mr EVANS (United Kingdom) – I congratulate the author of this excellent report. It is supportive but not uncritical, and I think it is very balanced. I have been to Jordan a few times, including recently to one of the refugee camps. I commend it for the humanitarian spirit with which it has dealt with the many people who have fled persecution. I hope the report will be approved unanimously.

      I live in a monarchy myself, and it works for us. The reform process in Jordan is ongoing, but great strides have been taken under his majesty King Abdullah, who published five discussion papers on his vision for democratic reform. He is encouraging citizens to get fully involved in the new democracy and ensuring that democracy works for all the people, to the point of discouraging parties built on tribal connections.

      The process was administered by an independent electoral commission, which conducted the previous election, for which the turnout was about 56.7%. Given that the turnout in Britain at the European elections was 35%, it is a commendable turnout. A constitutional court, introduced in 2012, interprets the constitutionality of laws and regulations. The legitimacy of parties is no longer governed by the interior ministry; instead, civil society plays a major role. The women’s quota increased to 15 seats and is going to be enhanced. Corruption is being tackled through transparency and the fast-tracking of investigations. The political blocs decide on the Prime Minister’s nomination, with parliamentary approval. In 2013, the King launched a fund for development, which, among its sustainable goals, looks to enhance democratic principles and encourage civil society to play a full role.

      There is no disputing the direction of travel or the King’s determination personally to drive the process of political and democratic participation in the country. Jordan’s involvement with the Council of Europe will greatly benefit the reform process. Its belief in the international standards of human rights makes it a beacon and a role model for other countries in that troubled region. I commend the report, and I hope that the Council of Europe supports it.

      The PRESIDENT – Thank you very much. I call Mr Loukaides, on behalf of the Group of the Unified European Left.

      Mr LOUKAIDES (Cyprus) – The Group of the Unified European Left welcomes the recommendation of Ms Durrieu and the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy formally to engage the Parliament of Jordan with our Assembly through Partner for Democracy status. It will build on the positive experience of granting Partner for Democracy status to Morocco and the Palestinian National Council. We are committed to developing and deepening co-operation with neighbouring countries with a view to improving and consolidating democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

      The situation in the Middle East is volatile. Jordan is in a precarious situation, with respect to security and the threat of terrorism, so it is important that the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe embraces it. It has officially demonstrated its wish to become better associated with the Council of Europe and the core values it represents.

      Although I am speaking on behalf of the Group of the Unified European Left, I come from Cyprus, a neighbouring country, so let me say that this positive development is even more important in the context of the important stabilising role that Jordan plays in our unstable region. It shares borders with five countries and has accommodated 2 million refugees, half of whom are Palestinians, so it is a country under strain. It is commendable, however, that, despite its fragile situation, Jordan is undertaking an ambitious reform process and has not used the political and security situation as an excuse to postpone or delay the reform process. It must be encouraged through this official partnership.

      We believe that such institutional co-operation will provide further impetus and incentives to the Jordanian authorities for reform. Closer co-operation with the core activities of the Council of Europe will better prepare the Jordanian authorities for meeting challenges and will pave the way to a more pluralistic and democratic society. There will be specific benchmarks, follow-ups and evaluations.

      However, a lot remains to be done on constitutional, judicial and electoral reform; decentralisation; consolidation of the parliament; gender issues; administrative detention; and the abolition of the death penalty. We believe that Jordan should in due course sign and ratify as many of the Council of Europe’s conventions that are open to third countries as possible. The Group of the Unified European Left looks forward to engaging with our respective partners in the Parliament of Jordan. We welcome this positive development.

      The PRESIDENT – Thank you. I call Mr Vareikis to speak on behalf of the Group of the European People’s Party.

      Mr VAREIKIS (Lithuania) – I thank the rapporteur and express my appreciation of the situation that is developing. The fact that we have new partners for democracy in the Council of Europe means that our Organisation is growing and promoting our ideas. It is very good that more and more countries that are not on the European continent are adopting our values and way of life as the background to their political being. Granting Jordan Partner for Democracy status and co-operating with it will place new responsibilities on both sides. We are responsible for taking Jordan seriously and considering all its problems. As has been said, Jordan has to respect and ratify our basic documents as soon as possible and follow our principles, but that is a question of time and I think that the situation will develop positively.

      I wish to stress that the Council of Europe, and especially the European Union, has created many policies. We created the common agricultural policy and the transportation policy, as well as good standards for medicine and so on. However, we still lack policies for intercultural co-operation. I confess that we are also lacking a policy of interreligious dialogue and intercultural understanding, so when we consider Jordan’s request to be a partner country – previously we also considered requests from Morocco and Palestine – it teaches us to understand those cultures more. Sooner or later, instead of problems with different cultures, we will have co-operation and understanding with them. I thank you once again, Madam Rapporteur, and I hope that this report will develop in the right direction.

      The PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Vareikis. The ballot for electing a judge to the European Court of Human Rights is now closed. The counting of votes will take place under the supervision of the tellers, Mr Françoise Hetto-Gaasch and Mr Filippo Lombardi. I invite them to go at once to meet behind the President’s Chair. I hope to announce the results of the election before the end of the sitting.

      We will now return to the debate. The next speaker is Mr Schennach, on behalf of the Socialist Group.

      Mr SCHENNACH (Austria)* – This fantastic report drafted by Josette Durrieu is not the first time that she has submitted something so good, and I say from the outset that I wholeheartedly endorse this report and its contents. I think that we should approve, develop and implement this partnership with Jordan. I am delighted that the Speaker of the Jordanian Parliament is here. We have developed friendship ties with Jordan over the past eight years in the Mediterranean region, and I underline what Josette Durrieu has written in her report.

      If we consider what has occurred, we see that all the efforts made by Jordan have been carried out in a very difficult context that is dominated by the war in Iraq, the crisis in Israel and Palestine, problems in Syria and the Golan Heights, and relations with Saudi Arabia. The father of the Jordanian king, and the current Jordanian king, managed to usher in stability to Jordan, which must be underlined. At the last meeting held with him, the Jordanian king came across as a modern business manager with PowerPoint presentations, and stability really has been created. There are so many refugees – 500 000 from Iraq and Palestine, and we are now talking about 800 000 to 900 000, if not 1 million, Syrian refugees. Given that situation, it is vital for us to have such a partnership, and we are delighted that Jordan has requested it. Non-governmental organisations are very welcome in Jordan, and the headquarters of Friends of the Earth Middle East is in Jordan.

       Of course, some progress needs to be made with regard to equal opportunities, equality between men and women, and voting rights, and there are also issues about free and fair elections and corruption. When I consider women from the Jordan Parliament, such as Ms Al-Fayez, I note that your country contains a strong generation of parliamentarians, both male and female, and we should do everything in our power to ensure that Jordan is supported in its request to be granted Partner for Democracy status. I hope that we will have similar partnerships in the future.

      The PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Schennach. I call Ms Lundgren to speak on behalf of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.

      Ms LUNDGREN (Sweden) – I, too, congratulate Ms Durrieu on her report. I had the chance to visit Jordan, together with Ms Durrieu, when the question of partnership status was first raised, and the sub-committee on the middle east made a good trip. I also had the chance to visit Jordan last December, and it is clear that important steps have been taken. However, there is also a tremendous challenge for the country, the people and the region.

      Refugees from every war in the region live in Jordan. Today, Jordan has a young population, and I heard many people talking about how frustrated they are with the situation – a challenge in itself. Jordan tried to build on that, and there is the will to develop a more democratic State. I heard about independent elections, constitutional changes, a new constitutional accord, electing governors and councils, and decentralisation – a learning curve was spoken about.

      Like Ms Durrieu, I wish to stress the question of equal rights, including for women. I had a discussion about article 308 of the penal code, which I know was debated in that country. I heard demands for it to be abandoned, so that women are not taken hostage by their rapists, who are forced to marry them to get impunity. That article seems tricky when we are talking about values. Like Mr Xuclà, I wish to mention torture. In the European Convention on Human Rights, torture is absolutely forbidden, and I hope that will also be the way forward for Jordan, because today it is not forbidden at all.

      Finally, on the death penalty, many people I asked said that we should say yes to Jordan’s request, but demand that it once again gets rids of the death penalty. As the report points out, the moratorium on the death penalty was abandoned, and we hope that after today’s decision, Jordan will again have a moratorium on the death penalty, that there will be hope for changes in favour of better human rights, democracy and the rule of law, and that the death penalty will be forbidden in the future. That would be welcome.

      The PRESIDENT – Thank you. Would the rapporteur like to answer at the end of the debate?

      Ms DURRIEU (France)* – Yes, at the end.

      The PRESIDENT – That is fine. You will have six minutes to respond to the debate. We now move to the list of speakers. I call Ms Duranton.


      Ms DURANTON (France)* – The excellent, well-documented report by my compatriot Josette Durrieu allows us to become perfectly acquainted with the complex situation in Jordan. Thanks to the trips undertaken to the country, when talks were held with a number of individuals, including King Abdullah, we can take the measure of the diversity of the country. Jordan is modest in size but is in the grip of structural difficulties. Its geopolitical strategic position is in a particularly unstable region, given the recurrent Israeli-Palestinian conflict and, in recent years, the convulsions of the Arab Spring and, in particular, the aftermath of the war in Syria, with the influx of refugees and the expansion of the Islamic State organisation. Jordan has taken in more than 1.2 million refugees, so we should salute its humanitarian approach, because they put an enormous burden on the country’s social structures, on the distribution of resources – first and foremost, water – and on the education and health systems. The risk of the Syrian conflict extending to Jordan – the risk of contagion – should not be underestimated and it leads to an overall climate of insecurity.

      Against that backdrop, we should salute Jordan’s determination to carry out reforms. Our rapporteur has rightly emphasised that although Jordan is not a perfect democracy and does not have a perfect rule of law, its leaders are determined to make progress and the reform process is already under way. Jordan is committed to that process, as is attested to by the root-and-branch reform of the constitution in 2011, which was carried out with the assistance of several Council of Europe bodies. Jordan has a very conservative society and largely tribal structures. In that regard, granting Partner for Democracy status to the Jordanian Parliament would support the reforming ambitions of the authorities in Amman. We would send a positive signal if we were to respond favourably to the request lodged in July 2013. We now have a better idea of the situation in the country and the progress that has been achieved, and we would be disseminating our values in Jordan if we responded favourably. We could, thus, support the reforms and the reformers, who, after all, are not so many in the complicated orient.

      Mr CORLĂŢEAN (Romania)* – First, I congratulate our distinguished rapporteur on the excellent job of work that, as usual, she has performed. I thank her for her report and I can fully go along with the proposal to grant Partner for Democracy status to Jordan. We discussed it in our committee, along with the other amendments that were tabled; in particular, we covered the rights of a family, women’s rights and the passing on of nationality. That is important and is mentioned in the report.

      I wish to raise two issues. First, it is important for our pan-European organisation to have a partner such as Jordan, which is carrying out important reform. This can be used as a model that other countries in this difficult and unstable region can draw on. It is good to look at the reforms that have been put forward and carried out, and the measures already referred to by colleagues are both ambitious and courageous. It is therefore important for Jordan to have a partner at the Council of Europe level to commend the efforts it has carried out in this field. I also wish to point out that the good news that this status is going to be granted to Jordan will be welcomed favourably by our Palestinian friends, for obvious reasons, and by our friends from Israel.

      Last but not least, I wish to say that the reforms that have been carried out, which are of extreme importance for democracy, are courageous, but they will require some form of dynamic. That needs to be found in order to ensure that they can be properly implemented. This is not going to be plain sailing; it is based on a different culture. If we look at what is happening in the Middle East and in this region, we see that we need to instigate a new dynamic to ensure that these reforms can be fully spearheaded and implemented, in order to consolidate the democratic society, to ensure that a better society is developed and to guarantee the stability of Jordanian society, which remains of paramount importance. We want, of course, to avoid triggering tensions within Jordanian society. That will be a real challenge and it will not be easy for the Jordanian authorities to rise to, but they will have the full support of the Council of Europe in their endeavours.

      Mr FOURNIER (France)* – I was very interested to read the substantial and balanced report drafted by our colleague Ms Durrieu, who is perfectly acquainted with the incredibly complex situation in Jordan. That is very much marked by a regional context that is beyond Jordan’s control but whose consequences it has to bear. They include, in particular, welcoming hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees and having to deal with incursions by armed forces on its territory. Jordan has joined the coalition created by the United States against Islamic State. For its courageous and dignified attitude, and for its humanitarian actions and its military engagement, Jordan should unquestionably be given help. It is not being given enough help, even though it is benefiting from warplanes and American missiles. It is being given some help, but our organisation should give help in its own fields of expertise.

      That having been said, the question of whether our Assembly should grant the Jordanian Parliament Partner for Democracy status is sensitive, and the answer is not self-evident, based on the report that has been drafted. It does not conceal at all the limits of the genuine reforms that have been carried out and the shortcomings that remain. Paragraph 9 of the draft resolution can be seen as a lengthy catalogue of shortcomings that Jordan must overcome, in areas such as the separation of powers, the organisation of free and fair elections, combating discrimination, improving the unenviable situation of women, reforming the justice system, banning the death penalty, and ensuring freedom of expression and association. The report highlights the good intentions of the Jordanian authorities and the determination of the King to carry out reforms. He has a central role to play in institutional and political life in the country. The report also flags up the conservative nature of society there. Although the commitment of the royal palace cannot be doubted, the success of the reforms that have been announced is contingent on their being accepted and fully implemented. The granting of Partner for Democracy status to the Jordanian Parliament will be a challenge; can our Assembly rely on the good intentions or should it be more demanding? That question should be asked. As a rapporteur, I think it is useful for us to make this choice, and we should be much more thorough when we are being asked to draw up an assessment of the progress achieved on the implementation of the commitments entered into.

      Mr CHITI (Italy)* – Thank you, President. I support the idea of extending Partner for Democracy status to Jordan. It would be recognition of the country’s progress and would be in line with the objectives set out in the document that underpins the decision. One such condition is to move towards the full implementation of reforms such as separation of powers, increased powers for regional authorities, improved power for the judiciary and a move towards parity and equal opportunities for men and women.

      As several colleagues have pointed out, it is important to stress that Jordan has succeeded admirably in coping with an emergency, welcoming tens of thousands of refugees fleeing the war in Syria and allowing NGOs into the country to provide humanitarian aid. It has also made concrete progress in securing improved human rights while other European countries – this is important – that are often richer and willing to give human rights lessons to others have simply erected barriers to immigrants and their small children, confiscating their goods, abandoning Schengen and so on.

      The challenge of granting Partner for Democracy status has several things of paramount importance. There is the need to organise free elections in full compliance with international standards and to allow representatives from the Council of Europe to observe them. That is crucial. It is one of the cornerstones of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe’s work and we cannot allow double standards. The abandonment of the moratorium on the death penalty in 2014 must also be reversed. Banning the death penalty is an important condition. Citizens must also be guaranteed the right to exercise their choice of religion. It is important that Jordan is a secular State in which people of all religions – Jewish, Muslim, Christian – and those with different philosophical points of view or no religion are able to live freely. That should underpin relations between citizens and the State and vice versa. People should be free to change their religion, and the State should treat them the same regardless of their choice. That is one of the challenges we face.

      I thank the rapporteur for her hard work, thanks to which the process to Partners for Democracy status can be successful.

      Mr JAKAVONIS (Lithuania)* – Thank you, President. My statement will be brief because I have often been to Jordan and I am interested in the political process that is under way. I agree with the report and the draft resolution, which correctly set out the political situation in Jordan and indicate that it has met the conditions of Partner for Democracy status. I agree that Jordan must continue to introduce reforms, protect human rights, ensure full equality of all citizens and consolidate democratic institutions.

      Lithuania has good bilateral relations with Jordan. We have had diplomatic relations for more than 20 years, and economic trade between the two countries is growing. Lithuania believes that Jordan can do a lot to solve the refugee problem in the region. I am convinced that Jordan becoming a Partner for Democracy with the Council of Europe will be beneficial for both the State and our Assembly and will consolidate democracy in Jordan.

      Mr STROE (Romania) – I congratulate Ms Durrieu on her good work and the Parliament of Jordan on its availability, support and intentions. Democracy and the rule of law are instrumental in the full respect of human rights, which are the cornerstone of our modern societies. Jordan is taking serious steps towards promoting fundamental Council of Europe values and those efforts, made by a country situated in a complicated region, should be supported. We appreciate Jordan for how it has successfully implemented democratic reforms and maintained its stability during and after the so-called Arab Spring. It has reached an advanced status among the Arab States in that regard, proving its capacity to respond to people’s requests for democracy and reform.

      We also value the strategy and vision of His Majesty King Abdullah II, a strong promoter of stability and security in the Middle East. I salute his initiative to consolidate the political parties of Jordan based on ideological political platforms. Jordan is an element of moderation and good balance in a tumultuous region, and I support it becoming a partner for democracy in the Middle East. I hope that its courage and long-term vision will be an example to parliamentarians of other countries in this important region. The representatives of the Parliament of Jordan are fully aware of the meaning of the partnership for democracy, and I welcome and commend their desire to meet the challenges and responsibilities of the status.

      Mr İHSANOĞLU (Turkey) – Since this is the first time that I have taken the floor, I congratulate you on your election and on your wonderful way of conducting our affairs. I commend the thorough work of the rapporteur and the wonderful report that she has submitted to the Assembly. There is an emerging consensus around accepting the Jordanian proposal and I support it.

      I have worked in the Middle East for many decades and have observed how Jordan has developed a modern society despite all its difficulties. If we look at a map of the eastern part of the Arab world today, we see that Jordan is an exception. It has political stability, a multi-party system and elections, and the reforms initiated by His Majesty King Abdullah II must be supported. We have to help Jordan build a multi-party democracy with free elections and peaceful changes of power. The observations made in the Council of Europe about the supremacy of law, human rights and the observation of universal values must be kept intact, which is why I hope that Jordan will become the third parliament of the southern Mediterranean basin to secure Partner for Democracy status.

      If we encourage Jordan to develop a high standard of democracy, we will help others to emulate the Jordanian example. Jordan is the only constitutional monarchy in the area. A constitutional monarchy with democracy and a proper parliament is a good example for everyone in the area to emulate. With the fanaticism and radicalism we are facing in the area, if the democratic experience in Jordan fails, that will be another reason for extremism.

      We need to help and support Jordan in its initiative to have proper democracy under the rule of law, where freedoms and human rights are observed and there is no retreat from the universal values, the European values, that we stand for here.

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

      Ms QUINTANILLA (Spain)* – I congratulate Ms Durrieu on her work. I have read her report closely and it is truly magnificent because it paints a picture of the social and political situation in the country. Through these discussions about Jordan, Morocco and all these other countries, we are advancing human rights, democracy, peace and respect for human dignity. I congratulate her on making it possible for Jordan to become a Partner for Democracy. That is important for the Middle East. Equally, it is important for Europe as a whole.

      I congratulate the President of the Jordanian Parliament and other officials from the country on their work. It is in their power to make progress with human rights and democracy in Jordan and particularly to advance the cause of equality for women. Yours is a country of 8 million inhabitants and a large proportion are women. His Majesty the King has been behind efforts to ensure that women have more freedom. They are able to travel, to apply for a driving licence and they are entitled to education.

      If you are to have a genuine democracy, the first thing you have to do is amend Article 6 of the Jordanian constitution. You need to talk about equality and the outlawing of discrimination on the basis of sex and gender. You need to clamp down on so-called honour crimes and to ensure that you change the laws that allow forced marriages. You need to have a genuine democracy that is based on the access of women to the world of politics as well as the world of employment – only 12% of women are in the labour market. As long as that is the case, there will never be genuine parity in the Jordanian Parliament.

      That is why we welcome you to be part of this, the Parliamentary Assembly of human rights and freedom. I want you to draw inspiration from this process, to make progress and to ensure that you advance when it comes to enacting legislation on equality between men and women. You need a law on equality, which has been recommended by the King of Jordan, but you also have to work at the level of civil society. Everyone should work together to build democracy and support the values of human rights in an area as important as the Middle East, including other countries such as Morocco.

      Mr SALLES (France)* – I thank the rapporteur for her precise and detailed work, which shows the extent to which Jordan is prepared to commit itself to Partner for Democracy status. Given that we will be debating the combating of terrorism, I am pleased that we are examining today this report on Jordan, one of our major allies in the region. Having worked a lot with Jordan through the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean, I know that it really has a will to progress in democratisation. It also wants to be involved in a dialogue that will bring Israel and Jordan closer together.

      Jordan has undertaken courageous reform in political and structural terms. Of course much remains to be done – that has been stated – but there is an obvious will on the part of the King and there is internal stability in the country, despite the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood. Those are positive signs that we must not ignore.

      The society is quite conservative. There is still the tribal model and that is a problem for justice. Nevertheless, Jordan has the will to reform and modernise. In the region, many Arab monarchies are characterised by denial of the rights of women. The Hashemite kingdom marks itself out as an exception through its will to improve the situation of women, often under the impetus of its Queens. With the adoption of a new electoral law, there will no doubt be an increase in the number of women elected to the parliament. The country has showed its will to combat extremism and Daesh, despite the presence on its territory of many jihadist sympathisers, and the fact that 1 500 Jordanians are counted among the foreign combatants in Iraq.

      The normalisation of relations with Israel is also an issue in the region. Jordan has made a courageous move, given that 50% of its population is Palestinian in origin. Let us not forget also that Jordan has welcomed to its territory more than 600 000 Syrian refugees, as well as Palestinian refugees. Despite economic difficulties and the paucity of water, Jordan has shown its solidarity and that is exemplary.

      The status of Partner for Democracy must be given to Jordan. Co-operation with our Assembly will make it possible to support the King in his work to modernise the country. We have seen that in the case of Morocco. Parliamentary dialogue between Europe and the Mediterranean is yielding results. Today more than ever before, with the terrorist threat becoming such a huge problem, this kind of partnership is of great importance.

      Dear Jordanian colleagues, I strongly support your candidacy. This commits you to our values. We will evaluate carefully, justly but with no complacency or deference, your progress and your partnership, as we have for Morocco. I am convinced that the sharing of experience will be beneficial not only for your parliament but for this Assembly, in which a bit of Jordanian-style pragmatism and moderation could be most appropriate and welcome.

      Mr YATIM (Morocco, Partner for Democracy)* – Allow me to congratulate Ms Durrieu on the high quality of her report. Equally, allow me to salute the Jordanian Parliament, which in making this request undertook to consolidate its democratic institutions, the rule of law and respect for human rights. Like Morocco, Jordan is a constitutional monarchy and as you are aware both monarchies do not have any oil wealth. However, they are rich countries because of the far-sightedness of their rulers, who decided to bank on other forms of wealth. The monarchs have decided to base themselves on international standards, notably the benchmarks of the Council of Europe. The Jordanian Parliament wishes to benefit to the maximum from that partnership. I believe that that will also be beneficial to Morocco. I turn to my brothers in Jordan to say we are prepared to share our modest experience with you.

      We have a stable and mutually beneficial relationship with the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, as Anne Brasseur declared during her recent visit to Morocco in her capacity as President of the Parliamentary Assembly. We have had a number of activities, study days and programmes, at a variety of levels, for co-operation between Morocco and Council of Europe institutions, which have all come together to make it possible for us to institute a very rewarding dialogue, and to benefit from the expertise of the Assembly and other Council of Europe bodies, such as the Venice Commission. Our 2013-2015 co-operation programme was evaluated as being extremely positive, and we have adopted a programme for the years to come, on the basis of which we will launch new co-operation programmes.

      The Assembly is well aware of the scope for partnership. We have to establish this understanding in different contexts and with different societies, as well as in the Arab Muslim context. Countries such as Jordan have to focus on programmes based on well-defined priorities, in order to face up to real challenges. We must face up to the issues that are fuelling fundamentalism and extremism, because so many in our societies dream of reform. I congratulate the rapporteur and my Jordanian colleagues. Thank you.

      Mr MADISON (Estonia) – It is a very big thing for the Jordanian Parliament to show that it is really interested in integrating with the European mindset. I was last in Jordan in September, visiting a refugee camp in the south, only 20 km from the Syrian border. The work that Jordanians are doing for refugees is amazing. They are hosting about 1.5 million Syrians, about 630 000 of whom are registered refugees. They are hosting places in camps for 120 000 people – real refugees, women and children. That is one part of democracy. It is a huge step forward.

      On the question of where Jordan is going, it is true that it has many steps forward to take, but we can see that in Europe, and within the Council of Europe, there are a lot of countries that still have problems with democracy. We in Europe still have a lot of problems, as does Jordan. We have to help it, if it is interested. We have to give a powerful, strong signal that it is on the right path. Geopolitically, Jordan has great significance in the Middle East peace process, which has been ongoing for many decades. In problems with Iran, Iraq and Israel, Jordan has always been one of the countries on the West’s side. There is only one thing to do here: support the Jordanian Parliament, and show it that it is on the right path, and that we will come together. Thank you.

      Mr SABELLA (Palestine, Partner for Democracy) – Jordan is a key country in the region because it has long experience of, and relevance in, the balance in the Middle East. It is also known for its governmental structure, which aims at serving its citizens and responding to their needs. Jordan has borne many of the costs arising from wars in the region, the first of which was the Arab-Israeli war in 1948, and has had influxes of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian, Iraqi and Syrian refugees, not forgetting the refugees who came to Jordan following the first Gulf War in 1991.

      Jordan has tied its existence and, I would say, its raison d’être to the Palestinian cause, and it has struggled with the Palestinians in the effort to end Israeli occupation. Jordan wants and works for peace, but a just and lasting peace that gives justice to the Palestinian people. Jordan also plays a major role in taking care of the holy places in Jerusalem, both Christian and Muslim. It is a big support to us Palestinians as we struggle to end Israeli occupation and establish our own State.

      In addition to having these accomplishments, Jordan remains a model of stability. It is attempting to move forward towards democracy, human rights and the rule of law – values that the Council of Europe champions. Allow me, on behalf of the delegation of Palestine to the Parliamentary Assembly, to welcome wholeheartedly Jordan and its parliament as a partner for democracy in the Council of Europe. Thank you, Ms Durrieu, for an excellent report, and for having championed from the beginning Jordan’s becoming a partner for democracy in this esteemed and distinguished Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. Thank you very much.

      Mr OREN (Observer from Israel) – Thank you, Madam President. Israel is happy to express its support for Jordan’s request for Partner for Democracy status in the Parliamentary Assembly. In October 1994, I had the honour of attending the ceremony in which Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Jordan’s King Hussein, in the presence of US President Bill Clinton, signed an historic treaty of peace. Prior to that date, Israel and Jordan had fought two tragic wars. Since that treaty, though, Israel and Jordan have enjoyed more than 21 years of peace. Yes, we have had our differences, especially over the diplomatic process with the Palestinians, yet more frequently we have co-operated on that process, often seeing eye to eye.

      We have also co-operated extensively in the fields of energy, commerce, tourism, humanitarian aid, and water. Our security interests frequently dovetail. I have visited Jordan several times and have encountered an increasingly open society whose commitment to democratic principles such as freedom of speech is remarkable, given Jordan’s traditional and tribal legacy. No less extraordinary is the dedication of His Majesty King Abdullah II to democratic reform.

      Jordan, we must remember, is in a state of war with Islamic extremism, and is grappling with brutal civil wars on two of its borders and with the massive influx of refugees from both those conflicts. For more than two decades, the Israeli-Jordanian peace has served as an example of not what the Middle East is, but what it might be. Similarly, political reforms in Jordan hold out hope for future democratisation throughout the entire region. For these crucial reasons, as a representative of Israel’s democratic parliament, the Knesset, I am happy to convey Israel’s enthusiastic endorsement of Jordan’s request for Partner for Democracy status. Thank you.

      The PRESIDENT – Thank you. Unfortunately, I must now interrupt the list of speakers, or we will not stay on schedule. Speeches of members who are on the speakers list and who were present during the debate but were not able to speak may be given to the Table Office in typescript for publication in the official report. I call Ms Durrieu, rapporteur, to reply. You have six minutes.

      Ms DURRIEU (France)* – Thank you, Madam President. First, I say to the speaker of the parliament, Mr Atef Tarawneh, that this is a moment of special privilege. The speakers have almost all supported the idea, which is exceptional. It is moving for all of us in the Chamber today. In particular, I thank our colleague Mr Ary, who is more than a co-worker; he is also very much a stakeholder in the report. I thank the entire Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy. It is important that these in-house thanks not be forgotten.

      I will not respond in detail to all the statements made, but I shall try to summarise the general tenor of the debate. Two words keep coming back: “challenge” and “stake”. Yes, there is something at stake and, yes, it is a challenge that your country remain a pillar of stability in the region. Everything that we can do along those lines is positive. We know that you have been confronted with many challenges and won many of the bets that you have made. You have welcomed refugees from almost all countries in the area; thanks to that, you have some experience of what it means to act in solidarity. We thank you for that and are certainly on your side when it comes to the combat of Daesh.

      Many have talked about the determination, courage and dignity of your nation and its leaders. People have said that you are on the right path. You are an exemplar in the region and must remain so; that may be a key to solving the complicated situation there. Bernard Fournier mentioned the gaps in what you have done so far, which also need to be stressed. Much is left to be done. The moratorium on capital punishment, family rights, rights of women, abolition of torture – those important issues are at stake, and the role of the king is crucial in that regard. He is not immortal, so things need to be in place in order that his succession continues along the same path. From what he has done to open up and modernise society and organise the elections this and next year, it is clear that he really wants to create a society in evolution – that has taken on board a democratisation process. He wants to turn Jordan into a country where the nation affirms itself, and is doing that in a way that is perhaps in contradiction to the role of the king. I thank those who said that, with caution and determination, the right dynamics can be in place to ensure stability. Yes, it is a challenge but the commitment of Jordan is clear. You are taking on a responsibility in becoming a Partner for Democracy; we are also taking on a responsibility but we are putting trust in you, your people, your king and your country.

      Once again, I say that the start of this partnership for democracy is a special moment – for you, but also for us. You no doubt heard the word “dialogue” frequently. In the exchanges among us, we can mutually enrich and support one another. The world has become a dangerous place with so many threats to our dreams and to opportunity, but a special moment such as this can be positive. Some people welcomed you before we have even voted, but I hope that you have understood that you are genuinely welcome in this Assembly.

      The PRESIDENT – Thank you, Ms Durrieu. Does the chairperson of the committee wish to speak?

      Mr Mogens JENSEN (Denmark) – Thank you, Madam President. Two years ago, when we started the process, I was in fact appointed to report on Jordan. I wanted to do so because, since I was a child, I have had Jordanian pen-friends whom I still visit today there, so I followed all the developments going on. I am sure that I could not have done a better job than Ms Durrieu has done; she was also of course at the front of the visit that prepared for all this. I thank her for her work with this comprehensive report, and I can hear how it has been taken positively by the whole Assembly. The committee is united behind the report too and the wish to have strong, heartfelt and warm co-operation with the Jordanian Parliament. I look forward now to the voting, so that we can finalise this happy moment for all of us.

      The PRESIDENT – The Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy has presented a draft resolution to which six amendments have been tabled.

      They will be taken in the order in which they appear in the Compendium and the Organisation of Debates.

      I remind you that speeches on amendments are limited to 30 seconds.

      I understand that the Chairperson of the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy wishes to propose to the Assembly that Amendments 5, 6 and 1, to the draft resolution, which were unanimously approved by the committee, should be declared as agreed by the Assembly under Rule 34.11.

      Is that so, Mr Jensen?

      Mr Mogens JENSEN (Denmark) – Yes.

      The PRESIDENT – Does anyone object?

      That is not the case.

      Amendments 5, 6 and 1 are adopted.

      We come now to Amendment 2, which is, in the draft resolution, paragraph 9.7, replace the words "in particular, revise the 1954 Crime Prevention Act to prevent any misuse of administrative detention" with the following words:

"take a step towards the abolition of the practice of administrative detention."

I call Mr Xuclà to support Amendment 2 on behalf the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights,. You have 30 seconds.

      Mr XUCLÀ (Spain)* – Thank you very much indeed, Madam President. Once again, our concern is to try to look at the administrative detention system, which is a hangover from colonial days, not only in Jordan but in other countries of the Middle East as well under the 1954 Act. We want the country to take a step towards the abolition of the practice of administrative detention, but we have reached an agreement, which is reflected in the sub-amendment that the committee adopted. I am moving this amendment, as it is the basis for a possible future sub-amendment.

      The PRESIDENT – I have been informed that the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy wishes to propose an oral sub-amendment, as follows:

      In Amendment 2, replace the words “prevent any misuse of administrative detention” to end with the words:

      “and take a step towards the abolition of the practice of administrative detention”.Th

      The final text would read:

“implement justice reform with a view to ensuring the independence and impartiality of the judiciary and, in particular, revise the 1954 Crime Prevention Act and take a step towards the abolition of the practice of administrative detention”.

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

      However, do 10 or more members object to the oral sub-amendment being debated?

      That is not the case.

      I therefore call Ms Durrieu to support the oral sub-amendment.

      Ms DURRIEU (France)* – The opinion of the committee was in favour. The amendment, as you have just read it out, was supported.

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

      That is not the case.

      What is the opinion of Mr Xuclà, who moved the amendment?

      Mr XUCLÀ (Spain)* – In favour.

      The PRESIDENT – The Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy is obviously in favour.

      The vote is open.

      The sub-amendment is adopted.

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

      That is not the case.

What is the opinion of the committee on the amendment, as amended?

      Ms DURRIEU (France)* – In favour.

      The PRESIDENT – I shall now put Amendment 2, as amended, to the vote.

      The vote is open.

      Amendment 2, as amended, is adopted.

      We now come to Amendment 3, which is, in the draft resolution, at the beginning of paragraph 9.9, insert the following words:

to"intensify its efforts to reduce the number of persons placed in pre-trial detention, and".

      I call Mr Xuclà to support Amendment 3 on behalf the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights. You have 30 seconds.

      Mr XUCLÀ (Spain)* – Paragraph 9.9 calls for an improvement in “conditions of detention, in line with the United Nations prison-related norms and standards”, and the amendment seeks a reduction in the number of people placed in pre-trial detention. We want the Jordanian authorities to take steps to reduce the time spent by detainees in administrative detention.

      The PRESIDENT – I have been informed that the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy wishes to propose an oral sub-amendment, as follows:

      In Amendment 3, replace the words “intensify its efforts to reduce the number of persons placed in pre-trial detention” with the words:

      “reduce the practice of pre-trial detention”.In

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

      However, do 10 or more members object to the oral sub-amendment being debated?

      That is not the case. I therefore call Ms Durrieu to support the oral sub-amendment.

      Ms DURRIEU (France)* – The committee is in favour.

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

      What is the opinion of Mr Xuclà, who moved the amendment?

      Mr XUCLÀ (Spain) – I am in favour.

      The PRESIDENT – The committee is obviously in favour.

      I will now put the oral sub-amendment to the vote.

      The vote is open.

      The sub-amendment is adopted.

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

      What is the opinion of the committee on the amendment, as amended?

      Mr Mogens JENSEN (Denmark) – The committee is in favour.

      The PRESIDENT – I shall now put Amendment 3, as amended, to the vote.

      The vote is open.

Amendment 3, as amended, is adopted.

I have received an oral amendment from Ms Durrieu, on behalf of the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy, which reads as follows:

Replace paragraph 9.10 with the following words:

“Prohibit torture and inhuman and degrading treatment of persons deprived of their liberty; combat impunity for perpetrators of torture and ill-treatment; and apply sanctions in accordance with international standards”.

If Oral Amendment 1 is agreed, Amendment 4 falls.

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

In my opinion the oral amendment meets the criteria of Rule 33.6. Is there any opposition to the amendment being debated? That is not the case.

I therefore call Ms Durrieu to support Oral Amendment 1. You have 30 seconds.

Ms DURRIEU (France)* – I support the oral amendment.

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

The committee is obviously in favour.

I shall now put the oral amendment to the vote.

The vote is open.

Oral Amendment 1 is adopted.

      Amendment 4 therefore falls.

      We will now proceed to vote on the draft resolution contained in Document 13936, as amended.

      The vote is open.

      The draft resolution in Document 13936, as amended, is adopted, with 114 votes for, 0 against and 1 abstention.

      (Mr Agramunt, President of the Assembly, took the Chair in place of Ms Guzenina.)

      The PRESIDENT – We will soon hear a statement by Mr Atef Tarawneh, Speaker of the House of Representatives of Jordan. Dear Speaker, it is a great honour for me to welcome you to the Chamber of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. Your visit to the Council of Europe takes on a special significance as our Assembly has just decided to grant the status of Partner for Democracy to the Parliament of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. We congratulate and welcome you and your colleagues, not only as our guests of honour but as our partners. Welcome to this house of democracy, human rights and the rule of law, which from now on is also your home.

      Dear Speaker and colleagues from the Parliament of Jordan, I congratulate the people of Jordan, the authorities of your country and, first and foremost, His Majesty King Abdullah II, on their genuine desire and commitment to embark on a process of fundamental reforms. That is especially crucial given the complex regional situation. We have learned from our recent history that dismantling State institutions without acting quickly and effectively to set up new political, administrative and security structures is a high-risk operation. The threat posed by the Islamic State, the bloody war in Syria, the breakdown of States such as Iraq, Libya and Yemen – all show us how important it is to maintain political stability.

The approach of foreign countries to reform deserves our appreciation and requires support. Jordan has already been co-operating with the Council of Europe in a number of fields, and from today we can put that co-operation at a new political level. Your country’s parliamentarians will be able to benefit even more from the support and expertise of our Assembly to pursue their efforts to modernise and stabilise political institutions and continue firmly on the path of democratic transformation. At the same time, partnership is a two-way street and we are looking forward to learning from your experience. Jordan is making huge efforts to provide for refugees. Such efforts deserve our appreciation and support. Clearly, your country cannot be left alone to cope with a huge problem, and well as its root causes. We must find solutions together. We are looking forward to fruitful collaboration.

      I give you the floor, Mr Speaker.

      Mr TARAWNEH (Speaker of the House of Representatives of Jordan)* – In the name of God, the most merciful and compassionate, Mr President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, dear colleagues, may the peace and blessing of God be upon you all. I convey to you all the best greetings of His Majesty King Abdullah II and express his apologies for being unable to attend the Assembly because of other obligations.

I thank you wholeheartedly for granting Jordan the status of Partner for Democracy. Such a partnership is a source of pride for us and we shall try our best to strengthen it. Because we appreciate the role of democracy in achieving development in Europe, and because the European model is the most advanced for securing people’s participation in decision making through direct, free and fair elections, we in Jordan are making every genuine effort and have every determination to build a true democratic system that can move gradually forward so that we can reach our national objectives. We want to reach the best model through continuing the democratic transformation that was initiated in the early 1990s. We have tried to build on the momentum created by our reform and modernisation programmes, despite the changing conditions and their nefarious repercussions for our kingdom.

Thanks to the determination and strong will of our king, we were able to turn the challenges of the Arab Spring into opportunities. We tapped into the atmosphere of public freedom that was initiated by His Majesty and have started to implement reform projects. We have amended a third of our constitution and are working on a package of reforming legislation relating to the economy, which is vital. We are trying to reform the election law, focusing on securing open and proportional representation. We are trying to broaden representation and to secure free elections, which are managed by an independent body that works to international standards. We try to protect the electoral process from breaches and from those who would try to tamper with the electors’ will. We shall be relying on your support. We have adopted new laws to regulate decentralisation and the work of municipalities and parties. Those laws will undoubtedly have a positive impact on our consensus-building work and be important to securing our priorities.

Although we are seeking to implement such all-encompassing programmes of reform, we live under difficult circumstances because of the war we have to fight against terrorism. Security has to be a priority so that we can ensure our national protection. We also have to give the necessary help to millions of refugees.

Indeed, the number of refugees living in the kingdom has reached 1.3 million, despite the difficult situation we face and despite the fluctuation in foreign aid, which does not live up to the challenges we face economically. Poverty and the unemployment burden mean that we face difficulties in securing healthcare, education and water supplies for 9 million people, of whom only 6 million are Jordanian.

      Jordan has been the result of its fate, whereby it has to bear the burden of the crisis affecting our neighbouring countries. The Syrian crisis is entering its sixth year and has brought terrorist activities in its trail. Daesh – IS – is trying to expand its authority and domination of large swathes of territory and we therefore need to build unity. Iraq needs such an approach and the region as a whole should work to avert this sectarian conflict so that it does not turn into religious conflict, which would affect the social fabric of our societies and represent a threat to the whole region that would strengthen terrorist activities.

      At the forefront of past events is the historical injustice being borne by the Palestinian people in the face of the Israeli occupation. Indeed, Israel is still adamant in rejecting the resolutions of individual legitimacy. It is wasting opportunities for a peace that is fair and just and would lead to the establishment of a free Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its capital, with the right to return for refugees. We consider that a supreme Jordanian interest. In addition, Israel is violating Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem. Such behaviour infuriates young people and provokes them into further violence. Indeed, such a situation was seized on by the forces of darkness and of terrorism who are killing young children, old people and women. They are luring young minds into these devious ways, claiming to represent Islam – but Islam is innocent. Indeed, moderate Muslim scholars have declared a fatwa, or an opinion, whereby they consider these terrorist groups to be rogue elements.

      We need to warn against that threat. In his wisdom, His Majesty has already warned the whole world against this scourge. We need to grant assistance to the relevant countries to secure the region. I reiterate that Jordan is at the forefront of the international efforts aiming to combat terrorism. These terrorists are rogue elements, as they are depicted by His Majesty the King. They are distorting the true image of Islam and its lofty and tolerant message, which based on the acceptance of the other and the opening of dialogue, as well as peace and security.

      Ladies and gentlemen, Jordan faces huge and immense dangers. The challenges are putting pressure on the State’s nerve because of the need to be prepared to face the facts. At the same time, Jordan needs to face up to its internal challenges, namely to reform and to face the needs of the future generations for democracy and a life with dignity. That is why we are sitting here with you, reiterating our openness to having this partnership with Europe bear fruit and to benefiting from your experience. What we are seeking is in our common interests. We must do away with the evils that threaten us all, represented by these terrorist groups. We hope that our co-operation will have a positive impact and we thank you all, wishing you prosperity and good co-operation. May the blessing of God be upon you all.

The PRESIDENT – Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.

4. Election of judges to the European Court of Human Rights (Results of the election)

      The PRESIDENT – I must interrupt the debate to announce the results of the election of a judge to the European Court of Human Rights in respect of Cyprus.

      Number voting: 182

      Blank or spoiled ballot papers: 4

      Votes cast: 178

      Absolute majority: 90

      The votes cast were as follows:

      Ms Elena Efrem: 19

      Mr Costakis Paraskeva: 34

      Mr Georgios A. Serghides: 125

      Accordingly, Mr Serghides, having obtained an absolute majority of votes cast, is elected a judge of the European Court of Human Rights for a term of office of nine years, which shall commence no later than three months after his election.

      (Mr Rouquet, Vice-President of the Assembly, took the Chair in the place of Mr Agramunt.)

5. Debate: introduction of sanctions against parliamentarians

      The PRESIDENT* – The next item on the agenda is the presentation and debate on the report entitled “Introduction of sanctions against parliamentarians”, Document 13944, presented by Ms Maury Pasquier on behalf of the Rules of Procedure, Immunities and Institutional Affairs Committee.

      Mr Díaz Tejera is no longer a member of the Assembly, so I call Ms Maury Pasquier, who will present the report prepared by Mr Díaz Tejera. You have 13 minutes in total, which you may divide between presentation of the report and reply to the debate.

      Ms MAURY PASQUIER (Switzerland)* – This report is of great importance to members of the Assembly. The Parliamentary Assembly was the first European-wide interparliamentary forum to comprise representatives of all the continent’s nations. More than any other parliamentary institution, it embodies the unprecedented development of parliamentary diplomacy and exemplifies its positive role in preventing conflict, facilitating dialogue and fostering mediation. Parliamentarians do not enjoy any specific status or protection in international law. They have individual responsibilities stemming from the actions of their State and make decisions in exercising their functions, but they may be subject to ad hominem sanctions from third States and international organisations.

      Before presenting the report’s conclusions, I want to praise the work of our colleague, Mr Díaz Tejera, who was an active member of the Committee on Rules of Procedure, Immunities and Institutional Affairs. He is no longer a member of the Assembly, so he is unfortunately not able to present his work himself. The report seeks to clarify the status of parliamentarians and respond to the issue of ad hominem sanctions, which they are subject to in the form of restrictive measures. The committee sought to determine whether legal limits are placed on the work of parliamentarians, especially in their relations with third States. It also endeavoured to determine whether there is a core of rights that national parliamentarians may avail themselves of in their relations with third States, which should be promoted to increase international protection of parliamentarians.

      Parliamentarians’ diplomatic activity is today threatened by blacklists, which sometimes do not have an appropriate legal basis, established by international organisations or States. Sanctions against parliamentarians may hamper the activities of Parliamentary Assembly members and the actions that national parliaments pursue outside their national borders. The measures that we designate “sanctions” differ in nature. They include, for example, visa bans, or bans on the entry into national territory, and the threat of criminal or administrative prosecution. They can be real or potential, but they are all detrimental to parliamentary missions and the role of parliamentarians in promoting dialogue and seeking the peaceful settlement of conflicts.

      All Assembly members are beneficiaries of the privileges in the General Agreement on Privileges and Immunities of the Council of Europe. By signing the general agreement, member States of the Council of Europe commit to guaranteeing free movement in their territory for Assembly members carrying out a mission on behalf of the Assembly. In addition to national immunity, Assembly members enjoy European immunity against judicial prosecution, arrest or detention in the territory of all Council of Europe member States.

      One of the report’s objectives is to sound the alarm about the failure of certain member States to comply with the provisions in the agreement. We cannot allow Assembly members on official missions to be refused visas or threatened with criminal or administrative prosecution stemming from national legislation. Members’ freedom of movement is the corollary of their freedom of expression. No State can shirk the obligations imposed on it by international law and the treaties it has entered into by invoking provisions in its domestic law, including its own constitution.

      The draft recommendation calls on the Committee of Ministers to demand that member States abide by the commitments that they entered into by signing the Statute of the Council of Europe and the General Agreement on Privileges and Immunities of the Council of Europe. It calls on them fully to guarantee Parliamentary Assembly members’ immunity and free movement in their territories. The privileges that States pledged to grant members of the Parliamentary Assembly are a robust guarantee that upholds dialogue among delegations in the Assembly.

      The European Union sanctions against parliamentarians are prominent in this report. Indeed, they brought it about in the first place. The Russian Federation’s illegal annexation of Crimea and its intervention that triggered a military conflict in east Ukraine generated a climate of mutual distrust and re-launched security considerations in the European Union against a background of what might be called a sanctions war. That situation highlights the existence a new form of individual responsibility or liability, stemming from the system of international responsibility traditionally reserved for States.

      The notion that a citizen committed to the objectives of the State shares the State’s responsibility for achieving those objectives illustrates the evolution of the system of international responsibility and liability. The evolution of legal concepts is a natural, logical process. The Council of Europe – the custodian of the principles of the rule of law – is duty-bound to ensure that any new measure carried out in respect of an individual, especially one elected by the people, complies with the fundamental guarantees, which include the principle of legal certainty. Pursuant to the principle of the rule of law, States must guarantee that any prohibition or restriction of natural persons meets the demands of legal certainty and is accompanied by appropriate procedural and jurisdictional safeguards.

      Parliamentarians carrying out specific roles and missions should have additional safeguards to alleviate the detrimental effects of restrictions on their movement when they are discharging their missions. A paragraph of the draft resolution is devoted to that issue. The report addresses the issue of the status of parliamentarians in international law, especially when their activities and missions take them beyond their national borders. The institutionalisation of the activities of national parliamentarians is not appropriately reflected in international law. Doubtless, that is an avenue for future reflection, especially by the Committee of Legal Advisers on Public International Law.

      We should promote at the international level a specific status or protection for parliamentarians, and recognise the specificity of parliamentary action in an international context and protect those who exercise it. National parliamentarians should be able to avail themselves of a stable, standardised and recognised legal framework for rights and privileges. To protect parliamentarians acting outside their country of origin, we should develop and promote a body of rules applicable to parliamentarians going abroad in the exercise of their mandate.

      In conclusion, it is clear that good governance in international parliamentary activities is necessary to bolster the legitimacy and effectiveness of parliamentary diplomacy. In that regard we should recall that the privileges and immunities granted by parliamentarians are as set forth in the additional protocol to the General Agreement on Privileges and Immunities of the Council of Europe, which is granted to representatives of member States not for their personal benefit, but to safeguard the independent exercise of their functions in connection with the Council of Europe.

      The PRESIDENT* – Thank you, Ms Maury Pasquier. I see Arcadio in the room. He is here with us and has been listening carefully to the presentation of his report – this is very much his report, and once again I greet him in the Chamber. Madam Rapporteur, you still have three and a half minutes to respond.

      In the debate I call first Mr Kox on behalf of the Group of the Unified European Left.

      Mr KOX (Netherlands) – I compliment our former rapporteur, Arcadio Díaz Tejera, on his excellent report, resolution and draft recommendation, and I am sure that he listened carefully and with great interest and agreement to the new chair of the Rules Committee, who presented the report in an excellent way.

      This debate is timely because it deals with the problem of sanctions against parliamentarians. That means sanctions against us, and sanctions that are increasingly being taken. In recent years we have seen the deterioration of the spirit of co-operation in Europe, and especially after the illegal annexation of Crimea by Russia, and the violent conflict in Ukraine, we have seen that co-operation is out and confrontation is in. That has a very bad effect on our ability to do our international work. Ever more, colleagues are placed on formal or secret blacklists. Some members cannot enter Russia any more, such as our former colleague, Robert Walter, and the same goes for several of my colleagues from the Dutch Parliament, and members of the European Parliament.

      Former Russian colleagues are also on a sanction list and are not allowed in many of our capital cities. Those sanctions do not relate only to Russia, because Georgia did not allow our colleagues to participate in this Assembly’s official missions, and Azerbaijan refused entrance to you, Mr President, to observe its elections. The work of my colleague, Andrej Hunko, in Ukraine is hindered time and again, and recently he was threatened that if he entered Ukraine again he could face years in prison. That is not what we should do with politicians and parliamentarians; we should give them the chance to do their work. I remember our Palestinian colleagues, whose work here is often hindered by Israel. All that does not work, and until now this Assembly has made it clear that we do not accept such things. We want to be able to do our work, whatever nations and member States think.

      I understand that some member States would love not to see some of our colleagues here, but it is not up to them to decide – it is up to us to decide. Therefore, Arcadio’s report is timely and appropriate. It helps and protects us all, because we could all find ourselves in a situation where we are not allowed to do our work because a country or government does not like us. Member States cannot pick and choose when deciding who is going to enter and who will be refused.

      Before I end my remarks, I inform the Assembly that two colleagues, Mr Ariev and Ms Taktakishvili, have tabled no fewer than 90 amendments, most of which are completely against the spirit and words of the rapporteur’s report. The Rules Committee said that we cannot accept almost all the amendments, but we must be careful. I ask my colleagues from Georgia and Ukraine to give the matter a second thought. We should not ruin this report; we should salute the rapporteur for this report. It is important that we do not accept the amendments, but we should adopt the resolution and the draft recommendation.

      The PRESIDENT* – Thank you. I now call Mr Ariev, on behalf of the Group of the European People’s Party.

      Mr ARIEV (Ukraine) – Dear colleagues, the rapporteur had a difficult issue to develop, and there are different views about the nature and aims of this report. Some might even call it a “self-loving memorandum” for parliamentarians. We can try to defend the rights of parliamentarians effectively after the numerous human rights reports and resolutions successfully adopted here, but the main task of any future resolution must be to support and facilitate the work of our Assembly, its members, and other inter-parliamentary forums. We should also provide parliamentarians who are performing the missions of respective national parliaments with the relevant guarantees.

      However, we should not forget that we are just representing our voters in institutions that produce laws; we are not Olympic gods who can do whatever we want according to our own guidance. Those who represent the people and make legislation must first follow rules and respect the rule of law in other States. That is the main precondition for a successful parliamentary democracy.

      What do sanctions and restrictions mean? They are limitations imposed when immunity defends people from legal prosecution in circumstances when non-parliamentarians could be charged. Those are exceptional measures, but sometimes it is impossible to avoid their application. We should respect the sovereign rights of our States, otherwise such violations and the misuse of immunity will seriously harm parliamentary diplomacy and the democratic dialogue that we all strive for. What should the reaction be to an MP who calls for an armed coup d’état in another State, as one European MP did last month when speaking about the Government of Ukraine? Do we say that that is freedom of expression? Yes we do. Then tomorrow we should stop and fight against hate speech.

      Every State has the sovereign right to defend itself, and we should not decline that right to security. The fight against terrorism and its sponsors is the obligation of any government, and I think I am right in saying that the words “security” and “combating terrorism” are the most used in our electoral campaigns. We must be consistent. Yes, we should be protected when exercising our duties as parliamentarians, but we should also be responsible for our actions and calls. In that regard, the draft resolution and recommendation must be improved. We are especially concerned by paragraph 5, which in our view introduces the principle of total impunity for parliamentarians. Sometimes it seems that immunity and impunity are mixed up here, so I call on the Assembly to support the amendment that was presented and voted on in the committee.

      We should also fix in the resolution a provision to stress that measures adopted by the Assembly against individual delegations or members, under its Rules of Procedure, are called on as a kind of prevention mechanism against serious violations of the basic principles established by the Statute of the Council of Europe, and against persistent failure to honour obligations and commitments by Council of Europe member States. We should strongly respect freedom of movement and expression, but we do not have to disrespect a State’s territorial integrity and security. If voting for this resolution allows us do what we want, we should always keep our voters in mind. They also want to do that, but they cannot.

      The PRESIDENT* – Thank you. I now call Ms Vučković, on behalf of the Socialist Group.

      Ms VUČKOVIĆ (Serbia) – I congratulate Mr Díaz Tejera, the rapporteur on this report, which unfortunately he has not had the opportunity to present to us today. The report is important for the Parliamentary Assembly, but it goes much further than our own interest. It responds to the growing number of different restrictions, sanctions and travel bans, as well as criminal and administrative sanctions imposed on parliamentarians. An effort has been made to establish whether any statutory limits can be imposed on parliamentarians, particularly in their relations with third States, and on whether there is a small core of specific rights that national parliamentarians can invoke against third countries.

      At one point, the report presents all recent cases of sanctions against parliamentarians, and reiterates the need to question our national governments and parliaments. Are sanctions against parliamentarians consistent with the nature of parliamentarians?

      In today’s world of multilateralism, where there is a growing role for international parliamentary institutions, and where parliamentary diplomacy plays the complementary or controlling role, parliamentarians should have the guarantees that their missions can be safe, and that their rights to freedom of expression and of movement will be fully respected. We all remember the case of Mr Strässer, which was not mentioned in the report, probably as a result of a mistake. We also note the exchange of sanctions between the European Union and Russia – a war of sanctions where a significant number of parliamentarians have been affected. Does this provide for a better framework for dialogue? It certainly does not.

      The rapporteur has proposed enlarging the immunity and guarantees for parliamentarians, and certainly further work on a national and international level would be helpful in order to enable parliamentarians to exercise their duties in the international arena. Unfortunately, in today’s atmosphere of building new walls, re-imposing borders and rising extremism in many countries, we may expect that such guarantees will be increasingly needed. The report and the draft resolution therefore provide us with opportunities to define the legal framework for our important work in promoting human rights, democracy, the rule of law and the peaceful resolution of conflicts.

      The PRESIDENT* – Thank you, Ms Vučković. The next speaker is Ms Beck, who will speak on behalf of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.

      Ms BECK (Germany)* – I thank the rapporteur for the wonderful work that has been done. Of course, the report makes it clear that dialogue and diplomacy are the most important implements for politicians – for members of parliament – but when they move against each other there has to be a possibility to say “no” in a very clear fashion. Parliamentarians ought not to move against each other simply because of political differences, because they find each other unpalatable or because they do not like each other. We must not forget that it was not possible for the rapporteur to travel to the Southern Caucasus because no access to the area was given – that is unacceptable for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, because it undermines its authority. We are talking about missions given out to members of this Assembly.

      Secondly, on sanctions in general, we must consider what we should do with members of parliament who violate international law. The annexation of Crimea is a clear breach of international law. Members of parliament have a personal individual responsibility to accept that fact and it ought to be reflected in how they behave; here we might be dealing with an instance of individually targeted sanctions. We must not forget, however, that the individuals against whom sanctions have been levied can go to the United Nations, to the Council of Europe, to the OSCE and can participate in all activities with our colleagues. In the Bundestag, we have very close ties with the members of the Russian Duma; that exchange still exists. We are talking about the protection of missions, but what we do not want to protect are situations when the sovereignty of States is violated. That is not our intention in any way, shape or form. When individuals travel to these particular annexed or illegally occupied areas, this is an instance of a violation of national law and it ought to be dealt with within the framework of national legislation.

      The PRESIDENT* – Thank you, Ms Beck. The next speaker will be Sir Roger Gale, who will speak on behalf of the European Conservatives Group.

      Sir Roger GALE (United Kingdom) – The little document I am holding is a Council of Europe passport. It gives me the right, in the course of my duty, to travel to any of the 47 member States and to do the job that I have been elected to do and sent here to do. The briefing note prepared for the Rules Committee makes that very clear. It states “Under the statute of the Council of Europe and the General Agreement on Privileges and Immunities of the Council of Europe and the protocol thereto, to which all members are parties, Council of Europe member States have undertaken to recognise and guarantee the freedom of movement and immunity of Assembly members, and to protect them against any legal proceedings or detention.” It could not be clearer.

Unfortunately, the author of this document, which was prepared for the Rules Committee, also says that, to date, only two Council of Europe member States, Azerbaijan and Georgia, have infringed their commitment under the General Agreement on Privileges and Immunities. The author seems to have forgotten the case of Nadia Savchenko, who ought to be here with us today but instead is languishing in a Muscovite prison. That is unacceptable and this Assembly has to remember that.

      Members of this Assembly do not have a God-given right to blunder into the sovereign affairs of any other country and, out of respect and courtesy, nor should we do so. But we do have a right to work as international election observers and as rapporteurs of committees, particularly the Monitoring Committee, when seeking to establish fact on behalf of this Assembly. That right must not be impeded, nor must it be abused. We are going to deal with amendments put forward by some our Ukrainian colleagues. Mr Kox is wrong to say – I know this because I was there – that the Rules Committee dismissed most of these amendments. Some of them go too far, but some improve the report. We therefore should not throw the baby out with the bathwater; we need to listen carefully to the amendments and make sure that they are given the respect and attention that they deserve. I suggest that we carry the ones that the Rules Committee has endorsed and recommended.

      On behalf of the European Conservatives Group, I wish to say that we are particularly attracted by paragraphs 17.1 and 17.2 of the draft recommendation, which refer to the role not of the Council of Europe, but of the Inter-Parliamentary Union and the United Nations. It does seem to us that the time has come on this, given international circumstances, and although it will be no protection against rogue States and terrorism, there should be a clear protocol that protects Members of Parliament who are going about their lawful business, so that we can do the job we are elected to do.

      The PRESIDENT* – Thank you, Sir Roger. Does the rapporteur wish to respond now? That is not the case. I shall therefore call Mr Pozzo di Borgo.

      Mr POZZO di BORGO (France)* – I pay tribute to this thorough and relevant report produced by our colleague Mr Díaz Tejera, who has done some thorough legal groundwork on this issue. I share a good number of his analyses, and I will certainly vote in favour of the draft resolution and the draft recommendation. For some time now we have been confronted by a worrying phenomenon: the assaults being made on parliamentary diplomacy, and, more broadly, the parliamentary system, through the adoption of sanctions targeting representatives of the people. These sanctions take various forms, such as drawing up a blacklist or restricting entrance into the territory of some countries. I recall the treatment meted out to the president of the French delegation by Azerbaijan and the detention of parliamentarians in some cases. These things occur in a tense geopolitical context, where there are frozen conflicts and open crises.

I expressed my own hostility to the principle of applying sanctions to parliamentarians and our colleague’s report just confirms my initial conviction. Looking beyond legal aspects, the question is evidently political. Parliamentarians should not be collateral victims of inter-State conflicts, nor should they suffer reprisals motivated by foreign policy or domestic considerations. That is one of the principles that concerned us. We are talking about a violation of democratic standards. Democratically elected parliamentarians should be able to express themselves and move freely. Foreign policy is a sovereign responsibility of States for the most part. Executive parliamentarians do not necessarily agree with the policies of their Governments or countries – even more so if they are in opposition – so why should they suffer the consequences when carrying out their work? Constitutions such as France’s prohibit parliamentarians from acting under instruction, and sanctions are valid as a result of the separation of powers. As a French parliamentarian, I can move freely in all French overseas territories and departments, and I believe that if I am not violating any laws, I have the right to travel freely in all countries without necessarily needing authorisation.

      The guarantees that have been referred to might well call into question the rights of parliamentarians, but setting the principles aside for a moment, sanctioning parliamentarians is counter-productive from an operational point of view. Parliamentary diplomacy seeks to supplement traditional diplomacy, not obstruct it. We are talking about a channel of negotiation that can be very useful at times, such as when dialogue between governments has been broken off. Inflicting sanctions on our Russian colleagues, for example, does not facilitate dialogue that could contribute to finding a solution to the situation in Ukraine, although it should be noted that Russia has also ostracised French parliamentarians such as Bruno Le Roux. Sanctions can be counter-productive.

      In conclusion, we need to reflect on the proposal for an international parliamentarian status while stressing the limits of an exclusively legal approach. Parliamentarians should be able to travel freely.

      Ms FINCKH-KRAMER (Germany)* – Parliamentarians can play an important role in the constructive resolution of conflicts, so I welcome the draft resolution because it seeks to ensure that travel bans or entry bans are not applied to parliamentarians. Such bans should be imposed transparently and only in rare cases. The ban on travel into Russia for parliamentarians who come from member States of the Council of Europe would not facilitate a resolution of the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Such sanctions should not exist. Dialogue between Russian and Ukrainian parliamentarians is the best way forward and the best forum for that would be our Assembly.

      Parliamentarians should be able to exercise their rights freely in other member States. They should be able travel, but they must also act responsibly. Parliamentarians travelling to other countries should always respect the basic principles and values of the Council of Europe and avoid any action that could be viewed as inciting conflict or violence or that could be misunderstood. Parliamentarians claim specific rights, which go hand in hand with certain responsibilities. We must call on our own governments to give our colleagues immunity and freedom to travel regardless of whether they share political viewpoints.

      I support the draft resolution in its present form and will be voting against all the amendments.

      Ms IONOVA (Ukraine) – Ukraine calls upon all members of the Council of Europe to respect the status of members of the Parliamentary Assembly. We deplore the fact that some countries, such as the Russian Federation, persistently violate that status despite the Assembly’s decisions, as in the case of Nadia Savchenko, a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. I remind the Assembly that Crimea was annexed and Donbass is occupied with the support of Russian weapons and the regular Russian army.

      The status of a member of a national parliament does not provide privileges and international immunities similar to those that exist for members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. Do not mix up immunity and impunity. I am surprised that the draft resolution suggests that any MP can visit a foreign country, even if she or he represents a real threat to national interests. In the country to which the draft resolution relates, and to my personal regret, there is no right to free movement for all citizens of Europe. Unfortunately, some MPs, and also members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, made too many illegal visits to Donbass. During such visits they are demonstrating support for terrorists, which is harmful for humanitarian issues such as hostage release and international aid. My colleague Iryna Gerashchenko, who is a member of a Minsk humanitarian group, and I have personally witnessed such things several times. I remind the Assembly that Mr Hunko has the right as a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to visit Ukraine, but he refused. Any speculation about our status as parliamentarians leads to the loss of mutual respect; possible human losses and the escalation of conflicts; closes possibilities for parliamentary democracy; and damages the image of our respected institution.

      Mr STOILOV (Bulgaria) – The resolution under discussion is a tool in the development of international dialogue and parliamentary diplomacy. I share the view that every international forum with the participation of parliamentarians has an important role to play. We are the vehicles not only of government policy, but of citizens’ preferences. I support the opinion that sanctions against parliamentarians are extreme and should be imposed only on sound grounds and when warranted.

      International and internal conflicts have been increasing in recent years, which is reflected in the atmosphere and work of the Council of Europe and other organisations. Economic and political sanctions and counter-sanctions on countries and politicians have been enforced by other countries and regional organisations. The outcome of their use – the positive and negative effects – needs to be assessed objectively. Furthermore, analysis of their impact on affected countries and of the political capacity of our Assembly should be made when sanctions are being initially considered.

      The Council of Europe is the institution that should represent Europe to the fullest extent. Our Assembly is the political forum that expresses the democratic dimension of the Organisation to the greatest extent. Within it, the representatives of nations, countries and parties should be able to present their views and seek solutions to controversies and conflicts. I urge you to use the available monitoring procedures carefully, without any prejudice, to achieve feasible results.

      There is no rationale for selectively imposing sanctions on particular people as a result of legal decisions by national parliaments. Such sanctions, if justified, should be imposed on institutions, not people. Personal sanctions can be justified only if they are imposed for gross personal transgressions. Therefore, immunity for parliamentarians on an international level is a useful and acceptable measure.

      Particularly within the Council of Europe, potential sanctions should be comprehensive. I am generally against sanctions on delegations from countries that are full members of the Committee of Ministers and the European Court of Human Rights. We should always discuss the problem of sanctions on parliamentarians in the context of genuine representation and the political capacity of our institutions.

      Finally, I want to express my concern that most of the amendments change the sense of the draft resolution.

      Ms TAKTAKISHVILI (Georgia) – This is an important draft resolution and an important report. I regret that the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights and the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy were not able to state their positions even within the framework of an opinion. Their input to the draft resolution would have clarified many issues.

      We support parliamentary diplomacy and there must be scope for such a dialogue, but unfortunately we have not seen Russian Federation representatives and parliamentarians demonstrate any willingness to do so. They are not present in the Assembly. They have refused to provide credentials, even though the Assembly provided them with the opportunity to do so.

      We have talked with civil society organisations and democratic opposition representatives in Russia. They have repeated that the individual bans on the entry by Russian politicians into European and other western countries are the most effective sanctions. They truly work. If they are maintained, there will be progress not only on the Ukraine conflict but on other human rights violations, including the occupation of Georgian regions.

      We should not mix up these things. The amendments are not aimed at contradicting the General Agreement on Privileges and Immunities. Assembly members must have full rights to visit any member State within the scope of their parliamentary work, whether that is to do with election observation or preparing reports. That is important and we should do our utmost to achieve that goal, but we must not legitimise the indefensible. It is indefensible to occupy and annexe parts of a member State, to force millions of innocent citizens from their houses and to restrict their freedom of movement. When Members of Parliament have personally voted to deprive millions of European citizens their freedom of movement, can we advocate that they should have freedom of movement without any restrictions? Of course not.

      We are not advocating banning any movement of Russian or other Members of Parliament. We are only asking for a reaction to grave violations of international law, where Members of Parliament have demonstrated a personal commitment to such violations. I urge you to support the amendments that were passed in the Committee and the amendments that seek to clarify issues, in order to avoid sending a signal to our Russian colleagues that it is acceptable to behave in the way they have behaved.

      Ms GERASHCHENKO (Ukraine)* – Sanctions do not involve the repression of anyone or non-compliance with the principles of the institution. We thank all our European partners for supporting Ukraine, particularly on sanctions against the Russian Federation, which started the hostilities in Donbass and stole Crimea. Today the international community bears witness to the non-compliance with the Minsk Agreements by Russia and pro-Russian terrorists.

      The cease-fire is being violated each day. Today, the terrorists are holding more than 130 Ukrainians, 10 of whom are in Russian prisons. They include our colleague Nadia Savchenko. Russia has not withdrawn its weapons from Donbass. The Minsk Agreements are not being complied with by Russia and the terrorists. None the less, those agreements are in force. The extension of sanctions against the Russian Federation demonstrates that they are directly related to the implementation of those agreements. The Minsk Agreements have made a Blitzkrieg and major war in Donbass impossible. Sanctions are always the fault of the aggressors. Politicians, public figures and parliamentarians, like all other citizens, have to shoulder political responsibility for their activities if they violate the norms of international law.

      The Deputies of the Council of the Russian Federation voted for the deployment of the country’s troops on Ukrainian territory and approved the occupation and annexation of Crimea. Russian parliamentarians have not implemented any of the points in the Parliamentary Assembly resolutions. They have demonstrated their ill will for dialogue and their lack of respect for rules and for the basic norms of the activities of our Assembly. If we allow them to go on in that way, we will forsake the principles of the Assembly and the Council of Europe.

      Mr GONCHARENKO (Ukraine) – I underline that Ukraine supports all activities and measures to maintain and facilitate the work of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, our members and all European parliamentarians. We also stand for providing parliamentarians, when they are on missions from their national parliaments, with the relevant guarantees.

      From my own sad experience, I know that those guarantees are important. A year ago, one of the leaders of the Russian opposition, Boris Nemtsov, was killed 100 metres from the Kremlin. I went to Moscow to say goodbye to Boris, whom I knew personally, but in Moscow I was arrested for nothing. I was beaten by Russian police. I spent half a day in the Moscow police department. Only after a statement by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe – I thank Anne Brasseur for her quick action – and international media coverage was I released.

      The question is, would this draft resolution have helped me in Moscow? No. Who can use the resolution, however? I will answer that. Today in Ukraine we face the problem that, sometimes, unfortunately, Members of the European Parliament and even members of our distinguished Assembly visit the occupied territory of Crimea and Donbass without the permission of the Ukrainian National Government. That is a clear violation of the legislation of our country. Can the status as a parliamentarian be a justification for the violation of national legislation? No. I am sure it cannot be.

      Therefore, I ask all colleagues to support the draft resolution only if our amendments are adopted; the amendments have been prepared not only by Ukrainian delegates but by members of other delegations. I ask all of you, dear colleagues, not to let yourself be used for Russian propaganda. Unfortunately, several members of our Assembly were used in that way when they violated the national legislation of our country and went to Crimea.

      The PRESIDENT* – Thank you. The next speaker is Mr Neguta, but I do not see him. In that case, I call Mr Nissinen.

      Mr NISSINEN (Sweden) – The report before us today, presented by Mr Díaz Tejera on behalf of the Rules Committee, takes us on a highly rewarding excursion into the finer points of international law as regards sanctions and counter-sanctions. The report also makes a powerful case in favour of “parliamentary diplomacy” as a complement to State-to-State, government-to-government type, more traditional diplomacy. This Assembly has rightly pushed to give parliamentary diplomacy its due place in international relations, in order to help preserve peace and security. This week-long session, to which hundreds of parliamentarians from all over Europe have come to debate matters of joint concern, is a sterling example of parliamentary diplomacy at its best. However – this is a matter of implicit regret, and even for words of caution relating to Mr Díaz Tejera’s report – parliamentary diplomacy is highly sensitive to sanctions and counter-measures such as blacklisting and the placing of travel restrictions on individual parliamentarians. For example, when I read the reports for this session, I noticed that several rapporteurs had complained of not being permitted to visit the member State that was the subject of their inquiry, much to the detriment of their reporting.

      I therefore fully concur with the report’s call for better legal protection of, and indeed a special international status for, parliamentarians who are carrying out international duties. That protection seems all the more called for in view of what the report has to say about the current moralistic tendency in international relations to hold individual citizens of a country, and especially politicians, personally accountable for actions taken by that country. What better place to pursue the thinking so laudably started by our Rules Committee and our esteemed rapporteur than within the Council of Europe itself? Once we have a European convention on this subject, it can be broadened to a global level by the United Nations. Only then, to my mind, can parliamentary diplomacy have its full impact. Thank you, Mr President.

      The PRESIDENT* – Thank you. Mr Kandelaki is not here, so I call Mr Sobolev.      

      Mr SOBOLEV (Ukraine) – I thank Mr Díaz Tejera for an excellent opportunity to discuss what is meant by “privileges”, “immunity”, and “violation of the law”. The main point we have to cover in the report is how to separate violations of international law from the need to protect missions of the Council of Europe and other organisations that aim to discover violations of law in occupied territories or other countries.

      I cannot imagine a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe coming to Strasbourg and holding meetings in the street in which they stressed that this was German territory. Under international law and the law of France, they would be arrested. The same things must apply to all, and we should separate Council of Europe missions from personal political ideas. Mr Kox and Mr Hunko referred to members doing their own work, but it is not their work; it is the work of the mission. If someone is working for the Monitoring Committee, observing elections, it cannot be his own work; it is the work of the whole Council of Europe.

      We need to support amendments that divide out matters relating to financial business. A year ago, a member of the European Parliament from the Czech Republic decided to take $350 million in cash out from Switzerland. Is that also a political matter? No. We have to separate criminal cases, violations of law, and violations of our own resolutions. Crimea is occupied territory, but you can go to Crimea; the Ukrainian Government, Parliament and President have supported all those going to Crimea, as well as the mission of the Council of Europe mentioned today. When that is done through official structures and the Minister for Foreign Affairs, we support that, as does everybody, but not when somebody goes into Crimea and declares that it is Russian territory. Please read the resolutions of the Council of Europe. Do you want a new war in Europe? That is not the way to solve the problem. We must separate financial matters and violations of the law from protecting the right of international organisations and their representatives to find out these violations, so support Amendments 4, 5, 6 and 7; it is very important. Thank you.

      The PRESIDENT* – Thank you. I call Mr Villumsen.

      Mr VILLUMSEN (Denmark) – First, allow me to congratulate the rapporteur on an excellent report, and the new chair of the committee, Ms Maury Pasquier, on a good presentation and her wise words. It is very important that we have this debate, and that we in this Assembly take care of the rights of parliamentarians, so that they can do their work. We are not diplomats; we are not representatives of States. We are parliamentarians elected to do a job, which we need to be able to do in security and without facing prosecution. It is important that we in this Assembly shoulder this obligation and call on the Council of Europe to take this seriously. It is important that we are able to work, so that we can promote the values of our Assembly, human rights and peace, and can seek peaceful solutions. Take the example of our colleague Andrej Hunko, who has been charged by the Ukrainian authorities for his commitment to investigating the human rights situation in eastern Ukraine and Donbass.

      We should not accept blacklists, because blacklists create black holes in which we are not able to get a clear picture – black holes where Council of Europe values cannot be promoted. Blacklists occur especially in areas of conflict – areas where Council of Europe values are so important and should be promoted, whether that is Crimea, Donbass, Russia, Azerbaijan, Palestine, or the European Union. It is very important that we oppose blacklists and stress the right of parliamentarians to do their work, because who should care about the rights of parliamentarians to do what they are elected to do, if not us? I therefore call on colleagues to respect and support this good report, and urge them to vote against an amendment that undermines the report’s intentions and the core values of parliamentarians who have to do their job. Thank you.

      The PRESIDENT* – Thank you, Mr Villumsen. I call Mr Hunko.

      Mr HUNKO (Germany)* – Thank you. First, I congratulate Mr Díaz Tejera on his excellent report, and Ms Maury Pasquier, who is continuing this work. The report is very clear. A new tendency has arisen in the past couple of years. Increasingly, parliamentarians are, for different reasons, put on blacklists. There have been threats of prosecution, too. There is the European Union blacklisting of members of the Russian Duma, and actions on the Russian side as well. We have been dealing with this issue for the past six months. Mr Wellmann could not go to Moscow – or rather, he went there but had to turn back. This situation also arose in Azerbaijan at the end of October and beginning of November, at the elections; individuals were thrown out of the country.

      With increasing parliamentary democracy and the various interparliamentary groups, and particularly in view of the various conflicts throughout the world, these instances have become all the more frequent. It is not a good thing. Many parliamentarians have already spoken against sanctions and blacklists. Along with others, I was an observer at the municipal elections in Ukraine. First, I was not permitted; then I was permitted; then I was not permitted. In the end, the order came through that it would not be possible for a member of the German Bundestag to go there as an observer; then it was possible; then it was not possible again; then there were security issues on top of that. Unfortunately, it was not possible to go in the end – very regrettable indeed. There are numerous cases similar to mine.

      Ms Beck asked about what were legitimate and illegitimate sanctions. I am not against differentiating in that fashion, but it is so highly charged politically that it is extremely difficult to do. To a certain extent, the amendments deflate the points in the report that focus on this issue. Thank you.

      The PRESIDENT* – Thank you, Mr Hunko. That concludes the list of speakers, so I call Ms Maury Pasquier, representative of the committee. You have four minutes.

      Ms MAURY PASQUIER (Switzerland)* – Thank you very much, Mr President. Colleagues, I recall what is said at the beginning of the report about the Parliamentary Assembly, the fact that we have highlighted the positive role of parliamentary diplomacy, the prevention of conflicts, facilitating dialogue, and of course mediation. I hope that that is still the will that prevails in this Chamber.

      The report does not cause any confusion between immunity, which is necessary for us to act as parliamentarians, and impunity. We are not saying that members of parliament are saints; nor are they not to be held responsible for their actions just because of their immunity. We should not confuse criminal acts with acts that have to do with freedom of expression, in other words. That said, several members spoke about the quality of the research carried out to serve as a premise for the report – rightly so. I am sure that, in reading the report, you have noticed the distinction between different types of mission undertaken by members of parliament. We have to think about the liability of members of parliament when they travel in the exercise of their functions and, of course, about distance – the fact that we need to step back and look at things from some distance and record the fact that violations regarding the right to travel are not new. They do not date back just to the invasion of Crimea by Russia; they have been happening for some years, and our colleague said so quite rightly. Unfortunately, we have had those violations of the right to freedom of movement of members of parliament. We want to fight those violations, which is precisely why the issue is on the agenda today.

      I shall respond to Sir Roger. Having read the report, you will have noticed that the case of Nadia Savchenko is mentioned. It is not just in the report text but in paragraph 14 of our draft resolution. Careful scrutiny of the text will also show you that we are not talking about endangering any country because of its difficult circumstances – because of things happening right now. On the contrary, our purpose is to guarantee the protection of members of parliament and their rights, and to safeguard the countries concerned at the same time. Paragraphs 9 and 15 of the draft resolution mention our setting up a policy that will respect the rule of law but also guarantee transparency, legal certainty and good governance. That is what we need to protect all the interests in the balance.

      We will not come to an end of our discussions about rights and obligations for members of parliament just because of the adoption of the resolution and recommendation. In fact, the text issues an invitation, saying, “Please continue this debate. Look at chapter 6 of the report – it is a call to go further”. I also remind you of the question on the code of good conduct for members of the Parliamentary Assembly: can we complete it? We would be well advised to carry on with this process in order to respond to any situations that might arise in future.

      I will stop pretty much where I started. Our mission here is to foster dialogue, to have serene exchanges and to respect the work of the rapporteur and committee. Having assessed the situation, you will then be called on to decide on the matter. Different amendments will be put to the vote and you will say yea or nay to them. It will be up to you whether you want to facilitate dialogue, have a calm debate and a high-quality exchange on these matters.

      The PRESIDENT* – Thank you very much, Ms Maury Pasquier. The general debate is closed. The Committee on Rules of Procedure, Immunities and Institutional Affairs has submitted a draft resolution to which 15 amendments have been tabled, and a draft recommendation to which two amendments have been tabled.

      We shall start with the draft resolution. I understand that the Committee on Rules of Procedure, Immunities and Institutional Affairs wishes to propose to the Assembly that Amendments 3, 9 and 12 to the draft resolution, which were unanimously approved by the committee, should be declared as agreed by the Assembly under Rule 33.11.

      Is that so, Ms Maury Pasquier?

      Ms MAURY PASQUIER (Switzerland)* Yes.

      The PRESIDENT* – As there is no objection, I declare that Amendments 3, 9 and 12 to the draft resolution have been formally adopted.

      We now come to our discussion of the other amendments, which will be taken in the order in which they appear in the document containing them. I remind you that the speaking time for each statement on amendments is limited to 30 seconds.

      We come to Amendment 15. I call Ms Taktakishvili to support the amendment.

      Ms TAKTAKISHVILI (Georgia) – We are concerned by the current political context – the conflict between Russia and Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea – but we have highlighted the fact that it was preceded by the war between Russia and Georgia, which resulted in the occupation of Georgian territories.

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

      That is not the case.

      What is the opinion of the committee?

      Ms MAURY PASQUIER (Switzerland)* – In favour.

      The PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      Amendment 15 is adopted.

      We come to Amendment 17. I call Ms Taktakishvili to support the amendment.

      Ms TAKTAKISHVILI (Georgia) – To facilitate the process, I would like to withdraw Amendment 17 and focus on future amendments.

      The PRESIDENT* – We come to Amendment 14. I call Ms Taktakishvili to support the amendment.

      Ms TAKTAKISHVILI (Georgia) – When we are talking about sanctions, we also have to mention that sanctions were applied to the Russian Federation by the Parliamentary Assembly for the grave violation of international law, including that concerning territorial integrity and sovereignty of member States.

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

I call Mr Kox.

      Mr KOX (Netherlands) – This report deals with us – with parliamentarians. It does not make much sense that we insert paragraphs that deal with important issues such as what happened between Georgia and Russia and in Crimea. We should not put them in the report because it is not in favour of or against Russia; the report is in favour of us all. The amendment does not help us to describe the rules that we should follow, so it would be better not to have it here.

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

      Ms MAURY PASQUIER (Switzerland)* – There was a majority in favour of the amendment in the committee.

      The PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      Amendment 14 is adopted.

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

      Ms TAKTAKISHVILI (Georgia) – The wording of the paragraph, which states that individual sanctions are “leading to an excessively moralistic trend in international law”, is not clear enough. We would like to replace it with a statement that restrictive measures against parliamentarians should be used as a last resort.

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

      I call Mr Pozzo di Borgo.

      Mr POZZO DI BORGO (France)* – If we adopt the amendment, we will not be able to go to Azerbaijan, Russia or any other country with problems. I do not know why Ms Taktakishvili has tabled the amendment. The Council of Europe would be stymied – we would not be able to travel anywhere.

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

      Ms MAURY PASQUIER (Switzerland)* – The committee discussed an oral sub-amendment and, at the end of the day, it rejected Amendment 7.

      The PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      Amendment 7 is rejected.

      We come to Amendment 4. I call Mr Ariev to support the amendment.

      Mr ARIEV (Ukraine) – I do not wish to press this amendment, but urge you to support Amendment 6, tabled by Ms Taktakishvili, because it is crucial for the report. If Amendment 6 is not adopted, I urge you to vote against the report as a whole.

      The PRESIDENT* – We come to Amendment 6. I call Ms Taktakishvili to support the amendment.

      Ms TAKTAKISHVILI (Georgia) – Not all blacklists of parliamentarians are bad. We might need blacklists in cases involving the clear violation of international law. At the same time, the amendment seeks to ensure that “all restrictive measures are subject to compliance with international law, principles of good governance and the respect of law.” If we adopt the amendment, the paragraph will be balanced and not lead to speculation.

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

      Mr KOX (Netherlands) – Here we come to the heart of the matter. The paragraph has been precisely drafted by the rapporteur, and the Rules Committee has discussed it. If we rewrite it in the way proposed by Ms Taktakishvili, we would not be working in a serious way. Mr Díaz Tejera has drafted the paragraph excellently and we should leave it as it is.

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

      Ms MAURY PASQUIER (Switzerland)* – A majority of the committee support the amendment.

      The PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      Amendment 6 is adopted.

      We come to Amendment 5. I call Mr Ariev to support the amendment.

      Mr ARIEV (Ukraine) – I want to add the following words: “The Assembly does not favour impunity for parliamentarians and reaffirms the principle of the equal application of the law to all people.” This is what we all stand for. The rule of law and equality for all is the bedrock of our activities.

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

      I call Mr Stoilov.

      Mr STOILOV (Bulgaria) – There is a misunderstanding in the proposal. The resolution talks about immunity, not impunity. It is a judicial argument. Reasonable immunity does not contradict equal application of the law.

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

      Ms MAURY PASQUIER (Switzerland)* – The committee is against.

      The PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      Amendment 5 is rejected.

      We come to Amendment 16. I call Ms Taktakishvili to support the amendment.

      Ms TAKTAKISHVILI (Georgia) – I do not wish to press the amendment.

      The PRESIDENT* – We come to Amendment 8 and an oral sub-amendment. I call Ms Taktakishvili to support Amendment 8, which is, in the draft resolution, paragraph 9.4, after “observations”, insert the following words:

      “, in conformity with national legislation,”.Ms

      Ms TAKTAKISHVILI (Georgia) – The amendment seeks to ensure that the rules defining the entry procedures should be prescribed in conformity with national legislation.

      The PRESIDENT* – I have been informed that the Committee on Rules of Procedure, Immunities and Institutional Affairs wishes to propose an oral sub-amendment, as follows:

      Replace the words “national legislation” with “international law”.

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

      However, do 10 or more members object to the oral sub-amendment being debated?

      That is not the case.

      Does a member of the committee wish to support the oral sub-amendment? That is not the case.

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

      What is the opinion of Ms Taktakishvili, who moved the amendment?

      Ms TAKTAKISHVILI (Georgia) – I am fine with this.

      The PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      The oral sub-amendment is adopted.

      We will now consider the main amendment, as amended.

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

      What is the opinion of the committee on the amendment, as amended?

      Ms MAURY PASQUIER (Switzerland)* – The committee is against.

      The PRESIDENT* – I shall now put Amendment 8, as amended, to the vote.

      The vote is open.

      Amendment 8, as amended, is rejected.

      We come to Amendment 10. I call Ms Taktakishvili to support the amendment.

      Ms TAKTAKISHVILI (Georgia) – I do not wish to press Amendment 10, but I wish to defend Amendment 11.

      The PRESIDENT* – We come to Amendment 11. I call Ms Taktakishvili to support the amendment.

      Ms TAKTAKISHVILI (Georgia) – The original text is not clear about whether the general agreement on privileges should be applied to members of parliament when they are travelling under the scope of the activities of the Parliamentary Assembly or in general. I want to delete the last part of the paragraph, but not the entire paragraph, because I support the protocol and the freedom of movement of our colleagues when they are working on reports or observation missions. That is very important.

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

      Mr KOX (Netherlands) – This is also rather crucial, because the paragraph states that member States have obligations under “the Statute of the Council of Europe…and the General Agreement on Privileges and Immunities of the Council of Europe and the Protocol thereto”. That is our law, but Ms Taktakishvili wants to amend the agreement that has bound us for decades. She says that the amendment provides clarification, but we should oppose it.

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

      Ms MAURY PASQUIER (Switzerland)* – The committee is against.

      The PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      Amendment 11 is rejected.

       We come to Amendment 13. I call Ms Taktakishvili to support the amendment.

      Ms TAKTAKISHVILI (Georgia) – The text refers not to members of the Parliamentary Assembly but to members of other national parliaments. In that regard, when we speak about freedom of movement, we have to refer to visits made by members of a parliament that are mandated by that parliament. Immunity should not apply on private visits.

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

      Mr KOX (Netherlands) – Again, Mr Díaz Tejera did an excellent job of formulating the required sentences very precisely. Thank you very much, Ms Taktakishvili, for wanting to clarify everything for us, but the paragraph is clear as it is. We should keep it as the rapporteur drafted it and as the committee agreed.

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

      Ms MAURY PASQUIER (Switzerland)* – The committee is against the amendment.

      The PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      Amendment 13 is rejected.

      We will now proceed to vote on the whole of the draft resolution contained in Document 13944, as amended. A simple majority is required.

      The vote is open.

      The draft resolution in Document 13944, as amended, is adopted, with 68 votes for, 6 against and 9 abstentions.

      The committee has presented a draft recommendation to which two amendments have been tabled. They will be called in the order in which they appear in the Compendium. I remind delegates that the speaking time is limited to 30 seconds.

We come to Amendment 1. I call Mr Ariev to support the amendment.

Mr ARIEV (Ukraine) – The amendment would clarify the status of the Council of Europe. It is about the recommendation applying only when members are performing their duties as members of the Parliamentary Assembly. If the draft recommendation refers to the Statute of the Council of Europe, it should also specify that it is about members’ duties only.

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

Mr KOX (Netherlands) – Reference is made in the draft recommendation to the Statute of the Council of Europe, and to the General Agreement on Privileges and Immunities of the Council of Europe and the related protocol. Those are the rules that bind us. We should not amend them on a Tuesday afternoon. That is not wise, and I am sure that Mr Ariev will agree with me later. I propose that we reject the amendment.

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

Ms MAURY PASQUIER (Switzerland)* – The committee is against the amendment.

The PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

Amendment 1 is rejected.

      We come to Amendment 2. I call Mr Ariev to support the amendment.

      Mr ARIEV (Ukraine) – I do not wish to press the amendment, as I see no sense in voting for it. However, I want to stress that the previous amendment showed the situation with visits in accordance with the duty of Assembly members. It happened with Mr Hunko and he was allowed to go to Ukraine, and if not, we would have had sanctions against Ukraine. You know the truth.

      The PRESIDENT* – Does anybody wish to revive Amendment 2? That is not the case.

      We will now proceed to a vote on the whole of the draft recommendation contained in Document 13944. A two-thirds majority is required.

      The vote is open.

      The draft recommendation in Document 13944 is adopted, with 54 votes for, 29 against and 6 abstentions.

      I extend my congratulations to the rapporteur and to our good friend Arcadia.

6. Next public business

      The PRESIDENT* – The next public sitting will take place tomorrow at 10 a.m. with the agenda that was approved on Monday morning at the start of the part-session.

      The sitting is closed.

      (The sitting was closed at 7.55 p.m.)


1. Election of judges to the European Court of Human Rights

2. Communication from the Secretary General of the Council of Europe

Questions: Mr Nicoletti, Ms Zelienkovà, Mr Wold, Mr Villumsen, Mr Le Borgn’, Mr R. Huseynov, Ms Gerashchenko, Ms Christoffersen, Mr Corlăţean, Mr Neguta, Mr Gopp, Mr Çakirözer, Mr Rochebloine, Ms Pashayeva

3. Request for partner for democracy status with the Parliamentary Assembly submitted by the Parliament of Jordan

Presentation by Ms Durrieu of the report of the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy, Document 13936

Presentation by Mr Xuclà of the opinion of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, Document 13955

Presentation by Mr Ghiletchi of the opinion of the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination, Document 13953

Speakers: Mr Evans, Mr Loukaides, Mr Vareikis, Mr Schennach, Ms Lundgren, Ms Duranton, Mr Corlăţean, Mr Fournier, Mr Chiti, Mr Jakavonis, Mr Stroe, Mr Ihsanoğlu, Ms Quantilla, Mr Salles, Mr Yatim, Mr Madison, Mr Sabella, Mr Oren.

Replies: Ms Durrieu, Mr Mogens Jensen

Amendments 5,6,1, 2 and 3, as amended, and Oral Amendment 1 adopted

Draft resolution in Document 13936, as amended, adopted

4. Election of judges to the European Court of Human Rights (results of the election)

5. Introduction of sanctions against parliamentarians

Presentation by Ms Maury Pasquier of the report of the Committee on Rules of Procedure, Immunities and Institutional Affairs, Document 13944

Speakers: Mr Kox, Mr Ariev, Ms Vučković, Ms Beck, Sir Roger Gale, Mr Pozzo di Borgo, Ms Finckh-Krämer, Ms Ionova, Mr Stoilov, Ms Taktakishvili, Ms Gerashchenko, Mr Goncharenko, Mr Nissinen, Mr Sobolev, Mr Villumsen, Mr Hunko

Amendments 3, 9, 12, 15, 14, 6 adopted

Draft resolution in Document 13944, as amended, adopted

Draft recommendation in Document 13944 adopted

6. Next public business

Appendix I

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



Brigitte ALLAIN

Jean-Charles ALLAVENA*

Werner AMON/Eduard Köck


Lord Donald ANDERSON


Sirkka-Liisa ANTTILA



Khadija ARIB/Marit Maij

Volodymyr ARIEV

Anna ASCANI/Tamara Blazina



David BAKRADZE/Chiora Taktakishvili

Gérard BAPT*


José Manuel BARREIRO*


Guto BEBB*

Marieluise BECK

Ondřej BENEŠIK/Jana Fischerová




Włodzimierz BERNACKI

Anna Maria BERNINI*

Maria Teresa BERTUZZI*




Oleksandr BILOVOL*

Ľuboš BLAHA*


Maryvonne BLONDIN*

Tilde BORK/Christina Egelund

Mladen BOSIĆ*


Piet De BRUYN*

Margareta BUDNER*





Vannino CHITI




David CRAUSBY/Lord George Foulkes

Yves CRUCHTEN/Martine Mergen

Zsolt CSENGER-ZALÁN/Attila Tilki

Katalin CSÖBÖR

Geraint DAVIES*






Sergio DIVINA/Giuseppe Galati

Aleksandra DJUROVIĆ





Alexander [The Earl of] DUNDEE*



Mustafa DZHEMILIEV/Mariia Ionova


Lady Diana ECCLES*


Franz Leonhard EẞL*




Cătălin Daniel FENECHIU

Doris FIALA/Elisabeth Schneider-Schneiter






Pierre-Alain FRIDEZ

Martin FRONC*


Sir Roger GALE






Francesco Maria GIRO

Pavol GOGA*

Carlos Alberto GONÇALVES


Rainer GOPP

Alina Ștefania GORGHIU*


François GROSDIDIER/Yves Pozzo Di Borgo


Gergely GULYÁS/István Hollik

Emine Nur GÜNAY*





Sabir HAJIYEV/Sevinj Fataliyeva

Andrzej HALICKI/Tomasz Cimoszewicz

Alfred HEER/Jean-Pierre Grin

Gabriela HEINRICH*






Johannes HÜBNER/Barbara Rosenkranz

Andrej HUNKO


Ekmeleddin Mehmet İHSANOĞLU





Tedo JAPARIDZE/Guguli Magradze

Andrzej JAWORSKI/Jacek Osuch

Michael Aastrup JENSEN*



Florina-Ruxandra JIPA/Viorel Riceard Badea

Ögmundur JÓNASSON*

Aleksandar JOVIČIĆ/Dejan Kovačević




Marietta KARAMANLI/Pascale Crozon


Nina KASIMATI/Evangelos Venizelos






Bogdan KLICH/Aleksander Pociej


Haluk KOÇ/Metin Lütfi Baydar

Željko KOMŠIĆ*





Rom KOSTŘICA/Gabriela Pecková


Tiny KOX

Borjana KRIŠTO*


Julia KRONLID/Johan Nissinen

Eerik-Niiles KROSS/Jaak Madison


Ertuğrul KÜRKÇÜ*



Pierre-Yves LE BORGN’

Jean-Yves LE DÉAUT/Jean-Claude Frécon


Valentina LESKAJ*






François LONCLE*



Philippe MAHOUX



Soňa MARKOVÁ/Pavel Holík



Alberto MARTINS*

Meritxell MATEU


Michael McNAMARA*

Sir Alan MEALE/Virendra Sharma



Ana Catarina MENDES*


Jean-Claude MIGNON/Rudy Salles

Marianne MIKKO*


Arkadiusz MULARCZYK*




Marian NEACȘU/Titus Corlăţean



Miroslav NENUTIL


Aleksandar NIKOLOSKI




Judith OEHRI




Joseph O’REILLY/ Rónán Mullen






Florin Costin PÂSLARU*


Agnieszka POMASKA/Killion Munyama

Cezar Florin PREDA

John PRESCOTT/Phil Wilson


Gabino PUCHE




Christina REES*

Mailis REPS*

Andrea RIGONI*



Helena ROSETA*



Vincenzo SANTANGELO/Maria Edera Spadoni


Nadiia SAVCHENKO/Boryslav Bereza

Deborah SCHEMBRI/Joseph Sammut



Ingjerd SCHOU

Koos SCHOUWENAAR/Pieter Omtzigt



Predrag SEKULIĆ*

Aleksandar SENIĆ

Senad ŠEPIĆ*






Arturas SKARDŽIUS/Dalia Kuodytė

Jan ŠKOBERNE/Anže Logar



Lorella STEFANELLI/Gerardo Giovagnoli



Ionuț-Marian STROE






İbrahim Mustafa TURHAN*

Konstantinos TZAVARAS*

Leyla Şahin USTA


Snorre Serigstad VALEN/Kristin Ørmen Johnsen

Petrit VASILI*



Birutė VĖSAITĖ/Egidijus Vareikis


Vladimir VORONIN*

Viktor VOVK



Karl-Georg WELLMANN*

Katrin WERNER/Annette Groth

Jacek WILK


Morten WOLD

Bas van ‘t WOUT*

Gisela WURM*


Leonid YEMETS*

Tobias ZECH*


Marie-Jo ZIMMERMANN/Marie-Christine Dalloz

Emanuelis ZINGERIS



Vacant Seat, Croatia*

Vacant Seat, Croatia*

Vacant Seat, Croatia*

Vacant Seat, Croatia*

Vacant Seat, Cyprus*

Vacant Seat, Spain/Pedro Azpiazu

Vacant Seat, Spain/José María Chiquillo

Vacant Seat, Spain*

Vacant Seat, Spain*

Vacant Seat, Spain*

Vacant Seat, Spain*

Vacant Seat, Republic of Moldova/Valentina Buliga


Representatives and Substitutes not authorised to vote






Michael OREN


Partners for democracy




Mohammed AMEUR

Hassan ARIF


El Mokhtar GHAMBOU


Mohamed YATIM

Appendix II

Representatives or Substitutes who took part in the ballot for the election of the judge to the European Court of Human Rights in respect of Cyprus


Brigitte ALLAIN

David BAKRADZE/Chiora Taktakishvili

Tilde BORK/Christina Egelund




Rainer GOPP







Marietta KARAMANLI/Pascale Crozon


Julia KRONLID/Johan Nissinen

Jean-Yves LE DÉAUT/Jean-Claude Frécon


François LONCLE/Catherine Quéré


Kate OSAMOR/ Liam Byrne




Ingjerd SCHOU





Katrin WERNER/Annette Groth


Marie-Jo ZIMMERMANN/Marie-Christine Dalloz

Vacant Seat, Spain/Pedro Azpiazu

Vacant Seat, Spain/José María Chiquillo