AS (2016) CR 07



(First part)


Seventh sitting

Thursday 28 January 2016 at 10.00 a.m.

In this report:

1.       Speeches in English are reported in full.

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

3.       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 10.10 a.m.)

      The PRESIDENT – The sitting is open.

1. Debate under urgent procedure: Recent attacks against women in European cities – the need for a comprehensive response

      The PRESIDENT – The first item of business this morning is the debate on the report entitled “Recent attacks against women in European cities – the need for a comprehensive response”, Document 13961) presented by Mr Jonas Gunnarsson on behalf of the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination.

      I remind you that in order to finish by 12 noon, we shall interrupt the list of speakers at about 11.35 a.m. to allow time for the reply and votes.

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

      Mr GUNNARSSON (Sweden) – Thank you, Mr President. Congratulations on your election. I thank the secretariat for its impressive commitment and professionalism. Preparing such a report at very short notice, as is necessary for urgent debates, is a big job. I thank the committee for its support and for our constructive discussions.

      On Monday, the Assembly voted to hold an urgent debate on the attacks against women in Cologne and other cities on new year’s eve. It is a great responsibility to be the rapporteur on such a topic. I will call on the relevant authorities and bodies to investigate what happened; express our concerns about the media’s late reporting of the attacks; condemn all forms of violence against women, wherever they occur and whoever the perpetrator is; and say that violence against women is not a cultural issue.

      It is difficult to draw conclusions about what happened on new year’s eve in several cities in Europe. I welcome the German authorities’ call for zero impunity, and I urge them to conduct investigations to shed light on what happened, but we do not need to know the results of those investigations to respond to the violence. This urgent debate shows that we are not indifferent to what happened in Cologne and other cities, or to violence against women.

      Let me say a few words about the media’s role. The German and international media reported on the Cologne attacks only after several days. Did they want to hide the truth? If so, why? Violence against women is a crime, and it should not be hidden from the general public. Late, biased reporting diminishes the public’s trust in the media, and we must criticise actions that undermine that trust. As I state in the report, honest crime reporting is important, irrespective of the perpetrator. It is the media’s responsibly to report the facts objectively without stigmatising a part of the population. We should therefore investigate the reasons behind the media’s delay in reporting.

      What happened on the night of 31 December was violence against women – the most pervasive and widespread human rights violation. The problem did not start last year with the arrival of refugees in Europe. It occurs everywhere, and no country is immune to it. Violence against women mostly occurs behind closed doors, but sexual harassment in the street is unfortunately common in our countries. According to Fundamental Rights Agency data, in Europe one woman in three is a victim of violence.

      According to witness accounts, the majority of the perpetrators of the Cologne attacks are of foreign origin, which triggered debates about migration policy and integration, and about why violence is more common in some cultures than others. I regret that the attacks have been used by populist movements to portray immigrants as criminals and dangerous to women. Violence against women, including sexual violence and harassment, is not a cultural problem. It is caused by medieval, patriarchal mindsets among some men in all countries – including in Europe. The Istanbul Convention sets out standards for action to prevent and combat violence against women and domestic violence. Article 42 States that “culture, custom, religion, tradition or so-called ‘honour’ shall not be regarded as justification” for violence. We should reiterate our firm commitment to preventing and combating all forms of violence against women and reflect on the roots of violence.

      Let me stress that violence against women is rooted in a profound inequality between women and men, and for that reason we will not bring it to an end unless we change mindsets and invest massively in promoting gender equality. The participation of men in this regard, together with actions to prevent and combat violence against women, is important, and I urge all men in this Assembly, and elsewhere – including those in engaging in campaigns such as the HeForShe campaign – to show their support.

      Dear colleagues, in reaction to these attacks, the Assembly should call once again for the ratification and full implementation of the Istanbul Convention. It should also ask Council of Europe member States to step up their efforts for the prevention of violence against women, to ensure the protection of the right to physical integrity, and the right not to be harassed in public spaces and the private sphere, to end impunity for violence against women and encourage women to report violence to the police, and to allocate sufficient financial resources to organisations that provide assistance to victims of violence. I also recommend that a follow-up report on women in public spaces, and on putting an end to sexual violence and street harassment, should be drawn up and discussed by the Assembly.

      The draft resolution also addresses the role of the media, and calls for a dialogue about its responsibility to ensure timely and objective reporting on events. As parliamentarians, we can play an important role in condemning all forms of violence against women, as well as sexism and hate speech, both here today and when we are back in our national parliaments. We have the opportunity to demonstrate that the Assembly is not indifferent to female victims of violence, not only on that tragic night of 31 December, but every day in Europe. Let us show our support and take action in our national parliaments to create better protection for women, and I hope that the Assembly will support the proposed draft resolution. Thank you.

      The PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Gunnarsson. You have five minutes remaining. In the debate I call Ms Kavvadia, on behalf of the Group of the Unified European Left.

      Ms KAVVADIA (Greece)* – We would like to express our satisfaction with the report, which of course we support. There is no doubt that the events in Cologne were very serious, and it is also clear that we do not have a clear picture of those events. That is why we must allow German prosecuting authorities and law enforcement officers to do their job without prejudice, and without politically tinging those events in any way, and that should set the tone for our political discussions.

      Of course the perpetrators must be prosecuted and punished – there can be no tolerance of these types of horrific events and behaviour, but we must bear in mind that there is no indication that this event was somehow linked to the increased flow of refugees from Syria, or that refugees from Syria were exclusively responsible for it. This event has been used by a number of different political forces in Europe to promote an extreme – we could even say racist – approach to the entire issue, against those immigrants and refugees.

      Over the past couple of days, this issue has been discussed, and we must consider it closely and not only from an ideological point of view. It is unacceptable to accuse refugees and immigrants – that is not constructive and it goes no way towards resolving the problem. It also serves an agenda that has nothing to do with human rights, or with the protection of women and sexual minorities. Our aim and task is to protect those groups, so we must approach this issue from the proper point of view. We are not speaking about a cultural battle between a secular State and a religious one, or between Christianity and Islam. We want to fight sexual harassment and any sort of approach that might lead to that type of horrific behaviour.

      Once again, we must be careful not to arrive at simplistic solutions or approach this in a fashion that might lead us in the wrong direction. We must also be careful to take into consideration the sensitivities and concerns that exist on the part of Islamic communities throughout Europe. We want to promote gender equality and make that a core value of our societies. It is extremely important for us to invite all member States of the Council of Europe to sign the Istanbul Convention on gender equality, and to fight domestic violence as well as all types of gender-related violence.

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

      Mr FISCHER (Germany)* – I am happy that we are having this discussion today because it is important that we say things clearly. First, human rights are indivisible and they apply across the board to women and to men. Secondly, violent attacks against human beings are unacceptable, not just abroad but also at home. Interestingly, a woman just spoke to me and noted that there are many women on the list of speakers, and not so many men. We are discussing attacks against women, so perhaps it would have been good if more men were on the list of speakers.

      It is important that these events are explained. They did not take place only in Germany, but also in Sweden. As the rapporteur rightly said, this problem exists in many of our countries, and it is important to ask who the perpetrators are. We must be clear about that; it must be explained and we must understand exactly what happened. At the moment those events are not clear and are rather hazy, and first we must also have a presumption of innocence.

      The rapporteur said that these events have been taken up by the media, and we should consider the extreme versions that have been given of them. People say that nothing happened and it was not very important, but there is a question about why three days later there was a huge outcry in the media and the issue was taken up. Some of the reproaches that have been made are true – there were massive sexual attacks, and people asked why it took so long for the media to get involved and report it. I think that the Council of Europe must deal with those questions, because support for human rights is one of the slogans of the Council of Europe.

      We know that a lot of people are on the road to democracy and are interested in it, and we must state that people must not be attacked and there must also be freedom of the press. Something has gone wrong in some of our member States. I cannot say what the outcome of this will be, but the questions are there and they are part of our task. We must ensure that those questions are properly elucidated, and that is why when discussing this report, such matters are on our agenda. It is important to send out the message that we will keep on the tail of this issue and we will not let it go.

      The PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Fischer. I call Ms De Sutter to speak on behalf of the Socialist Group.

      Ms DE SUTTER (Belgium) – On the subject of sexual violence, and on behalf of my group and the women’s working group of my group, I can use only one word: never. Never can violence against women be accepted. Never can a victim of sexual violence be blamed. It is not a cultural or a religious thing. It should not be abused in ideological or political discussions about migration. It is not a matter of left or right; it is a moral issue, not a political one. No cultural relativism can justify violence against women either. No matter whether you are a man or a woman, white or black, a migrant or not, religious or not, highly educated or not, poor or rich, never can you harm the physical integrity of someone else. Everyone – women and men – chooses what they do with their own body. Never is the key word.

      Sexual violence is always, everywhere, unacceptable, no matter who commits the crime or how it is committed, be it physically, verbally or psychologically. That seems evident, but it is not. We can never take women’s rights for granted. We have to repeat that over and over again. We are talking not just about what happened in Cologne recently, or what has happened at the Oktoberfests in Munich, in Tahrir Square in Cairo in 2011 or on so many other occasions when there have been big crowds in other cities; we cannot take these rights for granted at home either. Let us not forget that 90% of violence against women and sexual harassment still happens at home, where nobody else can see it. Mr Gunnarsson’s report reminds us of the World Health Organization figures, which state that, worldwide, one third of women who have been in a relationship report that they have experienced some form of physical and/or sexual violence by their intimate partner.

      Therefore, dear colleagues, I call upon you to stand up for women who are blamed as victims of sexual violence. I call on you to stand up and react when you see, hear or experience any kind of sexual violence. We are not exaggerating. We do not want to hear that we should not wear short skirts, that we should not go out when it is dark or that we should keep an arm’s distance from others. We want to hear that women and men condemn every possible sexual assault, and that they will react if it ever happens to them. Let me repeat that all member States of the Council of Europe should ratify the Istanbul Convention now. It is the only way to attack sexual violence seriously, without generalising and stigmatising specific religious or cultural groups. Nothing can justify sexual violence – neither religion nor culture can do so. Men are not sexual predators. Women are not prey animals. Mankind has evolved since Darwin; we no longer just follow our drive to reproduce. Men and women are equal. I repeat that this is not a political issue; it is a moral issue.

      The PRESIDENT – Thank you, Ms De Sutter. I call Ms Reps to speak on behalf of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.

      Ms REPS (Estonia) – On behalf of my group, I first wish to thank the rapporteur and the Secretariat of the committee for producing a good overview in such a short time. These debates are always interesting, because we see how a very sensitive issue in a committee turns into a very good debate. I shall follow the line of the previous speakers in saying that there is no excuse whatsoever; in no circumstances can we accept this violence against children, adolescents – young ladies and gentlemen – women, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community, or minorities. Unfortunately, sexual violence has been used as a tool in many conflicts and even for political purposes to undermine certain opponents. It is not acceptable and it is clearly against our international conventions here.

      No religious, cultural, ethnic or other difference can excuse certain behaviour – it cannot excuse the violence. Honest reporting is important in that regard. We are dealing with a sensitive and thin line as to where honest reporting becomes hate speech and where honest reporting can be turned around so that it generally blames certain cultural, religious or ethnic communities. Clearly, as we all agree, not all asylum seekers are terrorists; they are not all running around on the streets of our Europe trying to harass somebody. That is, however, what we are discussing and we need to protect them, too, because violence inside these communities and inside the refugee camps and asylum seeker centres is, unfortunately, more common than we would like. Children are disappearing from those centres, with some being sold on the streets, because there are no documents. Those are also the issues we are tackling in this institution and we need to discuss them, too.

      I am very concerned about another approach we can see: the idea that if we are viewing immigrants as a threat, we need to put them in a jail. We have a General Rapporteur on Ending Immigration Detention of Children Campaign; this issue is worrying and that approach should not be being taken. In conclusion, I thank the rapporteur again. We need to keep discussing the report and this issue. We need to fight against the violence, while protecting minority communities.

      The PRESIDENT – Thank you, Ms Reps. I call Sir Roger Gale to speak on behalf of the European Conservatives Group.

      Sir Roger GALE (United Kingdom) – My group instigated this debate, because we believed that an attempt was being made to brush under the carpet crimes that had to be examined and reported properly. I am grateful to Mr Gunnarsson for the speed and efficiency with which he has prepared this report on our behalf. I am also particularly grateful to Axel Fischer for underscoring the fact that this is not just a German problem or a migrant problem; it is a problem of a revolting crime, which also takes place in Sweden and in Britain, and cannot be tolerated, no matter which group of people it is perpetrated by, no matter where in the European Union and the wider Europe.

      My concern this morning, as the former chairman of the Sub-Committee on Media and Information Society of this Assembly and as a journalist, and as one who has sought and fought to protect the rights and the freedoms of journalists throughout the Council of Europe territories, is that it is clear to me that editorial control and editorial suppression has been exercised, and that journalists have been prevented from properly and honestly reporting matters of very grave concern. That, too, is intolerable. I wish to draw particular attention to paragraph 5 of Mr Gunnarsson’s resolution, which states “The media also hold an important responsibility to report objectively and truthfully on facts, without stigmatising a part of the population. They should not, in order to ensure political correctness, hide the truth from the general public. Partial, late or biased reporting on crimes can feed conspiracy theories, fuel hatred against a part of the population and contribute to mistrust in the authorities and the media.” That could not be more true. We have to be open and honest, and we have to recognise when there are problems. My colleague David Davies has taken a particular interest in the practice that I understand is known as tahurrush gamea, and he has identified that it was four days before the British Broadcasting Corporation reported on the terrible events of new year’s eve. That is a disgrace. As Mr Fischer said, this is not an issue that can or will be allowed by this Assembly to go away. We shall pursue it relentlessly, because if we are to succeed in the work that we are here to do, we have to be open and honest, and we have to demand that openness and honesty of those who control our media.

      The PRESIDENT – Thank you, Sir Roger. The rapporteur will reply at the end of the debate, but does Mr Gunnarsson wish to respond at this stage?

      That is not the case. In the debate, I call Ms Hoffman.

      Ms HOFFMAN (Hungary)* – Thank you, President. I thank my fellow members for putting this important issue on the agenda. I also thank the rapporteur, Mr Gunnarsson, for his work. The matter is attracting extraordinary attention around the world today. The events in Cologne and elsewhere shocked us and led to angry reactions and even attacks. Hungary of course condemns all forms of violence. We are representatives of national parliaments and are therefore duty bound to engage in an honest and responsible debate on an issue that should not be seen in isolation. We fear that such issues may crop up again in future. Since the problem was revealed, it has become clear that it was more serious than any other episode of violence against women in Europe, and we must respond with all the necessary measures.

      I mentioned having an honest and responsible debate, but those who refuse to engage in such a debate are facilitating radical, simple responses and are playing into the hands of the perpetrators. That is why it is necessary to make it clear that the events in Cologne go beyond the issue of violence against women. In our opinion, which reflects that of many politicians and is supported by the facts – we know that more than 700 acts of violence happened in Cologne – the events are a consequence of mass migration and represent a new dimension of criminality in Europe. We have experienced this type of organised violence before, but only in times of war.

      We must carefully consider the following issues: mass violence; efficient and lawful measures to counter the problem; the role and responsibility of the press; and, most importantly, migration and integration. It is a sine qua non that we consider the long-term issues around the differences between cultures. We must make it absolutely clear that migrants should adapt to and accept European values. The public must be informed promptly and honestly on all those issues. We will return to the matter after the necessary inquiries have been conducted and when we have full knowledge of the facts rather than just the information provided by the press.

      Mr SCHWABE (Germany)* – Men and women sharing equal rights is enshrined in virtually all the conventions, constitutions and laws of our nation States, including Germany. That is what it says on paper at least. The concept has been implemented in some areas, but not everywhere. Our countries may have legal equal rights, but daily sexism can exist in the media, in advertising, in sexist jokes and on the streets, as we have heard. Much of it is played down, but women suffer from it over and over again in Council of Europe member States, no matter what the ethnic makeup or religion. People attacking women, which has happened in German cities, needs to be banned across the Council of Europe, and we hope to see a change. In a way, this debate is out of date. Some men have previously not been concerned about protecting women, but they need to wake up. If, however, the matter is used for manipulation and to exacerbate racism, we must decisively combat that.

      In Germany, the matter is being considered intensely. It has been said that some have tried to turn a blind eye to it, but that is not the case. I have no answer to this, but the scale of what has happened in Cologne and elsewhere is really concerning. I have seen it before only in Egypt or India, for example, but there are no quick answers as to how we can stamp it out. However critical we are, we must consider that there were not enough police in Germany on new year’s eve. In the end, many women were not reporting what had happened. There was a delay in the media reaction, but not because people were trying to sweep the matter under the carpet. We have been working on it intensively. The Landtag of North Rhine-Westphalia and the police have reported on what happened, and the Government made a decision yesterday. There have been raids and suspects have been arrested. We must put more resources into public safety. Our police need to be well trained in human rights. There needs to be zero tolerance of attacks on women. Many of these things are overdue. The Istanbul Convention must be implemented as soon as possible in all countries of the Council of Europe as only 19 countries have ratified it. If all that happens, something good will have come from the events.

      Ms HETTO-GAASCH (Luxembourg)* – I congratulate Mr Gunnarsson on his excellent report. Violence must never be played down or promoted. The violent attacks on women that occurred in cities in Germany, Austria and Sweden have left us perplexed and shocked. They have generated great uneasiness in our societies, and there are several questions to answer. The attacks happened at the same time, but how could that have been planned? What messages were sent in these circles? Who was the instigator? How do these aggressors view women? Are they familiar with the idea of equality between women and men? Did virility and patriarchy lead them to attack these women? What was the motivation? Was it aggression or frustration, or did they simply want to create fear and terror? We must discover what prompted them to act in this way.

      What can we do? First, we must look at the media’s role. The coverage of such events must be as honest, frank and full as possible, so that there is no room for speculation. Secondly, all the perpetrators should be prosecuted and held responsible for their acts. Thirdly, we must also use education and prevention.

      All the people involved, including teachers and the police, must be properly trained on the correct procedures and behaviour to adopt. We need to know what the law is, such as that on freedom of expression, freedom of religion and equality between women and men. All the people who come to our countries, who want to live there or who already live there must comply with our laws, norms and habits. It is not acceptable if people do not. If they do not, they should no longer remain. To have peaceful and respectful co-habitation, from the beginning, we must have common rules for living in the country, which must be 100% respected. Let us make them better known and altogether defend our common values.

      Ms KALMARI (Finland) – The issue that we are debating today is important and extremely topical. Recent interviews with migrants, social workers and psychologists who care for traumatised new arrivals across Germany suggest that the current mass migration has been accompanied by a surge of violence against women. We have witnessed an increase in the number of forced marriages, sex trafficking and domestic abuse. Women have experienced violence from fellow refugees, human traffickers, male family members and even European police officers. There are unfortunately no reliable statistics on these cases. The increased number of attacks against women in European cities is, however, a fact that the media should not be quiet about any more.

      As Ms Reps said, it is important that we understand that differently coloured skin or a different religion do not make men dangerous or rapists. But we cannot close our eyes to the violations of human rights. Condemning sexual harassment is not racism. I believe that respecting common rules will improve the acceptance of refugees.

      We must analyse what is behind the attacks against women in cities. Why are they organised? Is it possible that the crimes are committed to gain the opportunity to stay on in the country through prosecution? Is it possible that the crimes are committed to disturb social peace and stability?

      We must make it clear that all forms of violence against women are criminal acts all over Europe. I firmly believe that education is one of the most effective and empowering preventive measures. By providing education for women and children in particular, we can offer them the tools to defend themselves against violence and empower them to become strong and independent individuals. But it is equally important that we try to change the attitude of young people and men.

      We should not lower the standard of women’s rights; in many countries they are already at a good level. In my home country, every asylum seeker staying in a refugee centre must sign a declaration stating that he or she will comply with Finnish legislation and respect basic values. A criminal asylum seeker who does not accept those conditions may be sent back.

      Ms HEINRICH (Germany)* – I too would like to take the opportunity to thank Mr Gunnarsson for an excellent and balanced report. I also thank him for pointing out that we still require a lot more information to find out exactly what happened and to assess the situation.

      In Germany, after new year’s eve, people were very taken aback by the sexual attacks in public against women in Cologne and in other cities. Any form of violence against women in public must be condemned. A State governed by the rule of law is duty-bound to investigate to ensure that there is no impunity for the perpetrators. That means that the police and the investigating authorities must be trained properly and prepared for such incidents to ensure that things happen as they should. There is a certain amount of homework still to be done.

      People have said that the media reported the incidents very late in the day, particularly the supra-regional media in Germany. The local media in Cologne in fact reported the incidents rather swiftly – the day after. That particular accusation may be apposite for the supra-regional media, but not for the local media. Many of the denunciations – I know that we are talking about hundreds and hundreds – came in very late. People reported the incidents late. Reporting can only lag behind as a consequence.

      Another point that is clear is that these attacks should not be used as an excuse to politicise the issue and to say, “Refugees are responsible for all of this”, even if in some cases we are talking about asylum applicants and migrants being involved in the incidents on that particular day. However, a general sweeping statement about refugees is completely counter-productive.

      Violence against women in the public domain is not a new phenomenon in Germany. It is true that some violent attacks are not reported. Cases of domestic violence in particular are not necessarily always reported. Men form part of that circle, of course. Mr Gunnarsson rightly talked about inequality between women and men.

      I am grateful to Ms Kavvadia for raising the issue of faith. Violence against women is not any kind of tenet of faith. Nor is it premised upon culture. Violence against women is a consequence of patriarchal structures in society and education where young boys are not taught to respect women. So young boys and young men think they have the right to harass or sexually attack women.

      The report makes certain demands on us and certain requests, which are sound. For example, we need more awareness-raising campaigns. Such campaigns also need to be made available to the migrants who have arrived in our countries. We need to ensure we work hard on that and that equality between the sexes and respect for the other sex is a basic value of ours.

      I am grateful for the points that were made about the specific role of education in this domain. That holds true not only for young girls but for young boys. We need to empower both young boys and young girls. Both need to grow up stronger. That has to do with equality. That is a way of addressing inequality in our countries and societies.

      I hope that the report will mean that our domestic legislation is reviewed in the light of these incidents to see what we need to change in order better to protect women. It is so positive that so many men have signed up to speak in the debate.

      The PRESIDENT – Thank you. I now call Ms Robinson.

      Ms ROBINSON (United Kingdom) – I thank the rapporteur, Mr Gunnarsson, for this report, which was drawn up after Sir Roger Gale requested an urgent debate following the recent attacks against women in European cities. Our debate is just one of many discourses and discussions over the past weeks that have sought to shine a spotlight on the issue of violence against women, so it is inevitable that societal attitudes towards women should be under scrutiny. Consequently, the observation in the report that this “happens everywhere and perpetrators come from a variety of backgrounds” may not be reassuring; rather, it raises the spectre of a creeping casual approach to this type of criminal activity. In this regard, the recommendation for a follow-up report on women in the public space is timely.

      The events made headlines across Europe, not only because of the overt and very public nature of the attacks, but because of their coincidence in time and their sheer scale, in terms of the number of perpetrators and victims. It seems that the shock factor of these mass attacks has been a wake-up call to police, the press and politicians, who are now looking for the reasons behind the attacks, as well as looking at their responses. Much has been made of the foreign appearance of the attackers, and this inevitably led to question about mass migration and its influence on communities. However, whatever the outcome of that debate, it should be viewed in the context of the rule of law and the expectation that it will be upheld.

      The report notes that sexual violence is under-reported for many reasons, one of which is suggested to be lack of trust in the police and judiciary. Some women reportedly asked the police for help and were told that there were not enough police officers available to help them, or were discouraged from filing complaints at all. A worrying aspect of the events is the apparent initial hesitation both of the police to record and investigate the crimes and of the press to report them. The suggestion has been made that this was because any reporting of the foreign appearance of the men would be perceived as racist and perhaps inflammatory. This erroneous viewpoint must be challenged, and I am pleased that the report does that. The press and media have a responsibility to report events in an objective way; more importantly, they should report honestly.

      The popularity of, and universal access to, social media give us easy and instant access to events and commentary. However, social media may also be used to manipulate public opinion, and be a tool for propaganda. We rely on the balance that the honest, open and unbiased reporting by mainstream media gives us.

      Finally, one line in the report stands out clearly to me: the conclusion in paragraph 51, which says: “These attacks also contribute to a climate of fear which may endanger the democratic pillars of our societies and encourage some to look for other alternatives.” Fear is the enemy of freedom. It stops people reporting crime, and makes the press reluctant to write about it. Hopefully, this report and debate may go some way to replacing the climate of fear with one of open and honest discussion.

      Ms RAWERT (Germany) – I thank the rapporteur for the report, and thank colleagues for this discussion. Now I shall speak in German.

      (The speaker continued in German.)

      Violence against women is shameful and despicable in any place at any time. The difference between a State with the rule of law and a patriarchal society is that the former has legislation for its prevention and prosecution. In other words, women can go to the police and refer these instances to them. As of 21 January, the total number of offences was 821, and 359 of them were sex offences. There was also theft of mobile phones and purses. Some 482 women were victims of these attacks; 30 individuals were apprehended, and seven are now under preliminary detention. There were two cases of rape, two instances of insertion of fingers into the vagina, and numerous instances of groping – for example, of people putting their hand under women’s T-shirts. All those incidents were perpetrated by foreigners.

      Women have to have trust in the rule of law in the State – in other words, that the State is there to support them. The reason that there have been so few prosecutions is that legislation was not in place. Sexual harassment was not perceived or defined as a crime that could be prosecuted. The time has come to move forward on this. We must underline that there have to be consequences to these kinds of crimes. Over 100 organisations throughout Europe have called for the following:

      (The speaker continued in English.)

      “We need to talk about Cologne. We, refugee and migrant communities settled in different European Union countries, from different nationalities and backgrounds, strongly condemn the recent sexual attacks against women in Germany. We would like to express our sorrow and sympathy to the victims of these terrible attacks. We condemn any violence against women, be they nationals or foreigners, perpetrated by foreigners or nationals. Perpetrators should be prosecuted and convicted. It is important now to clarify and understand what happened so that people, in particular women, feel safe again, justice can be done, and further violence prevented. We did not flee violence there to accept it here.”(T

      (The speaker continued in German.)

      Refugees and men and women throughout Europe have a lot in common. Our job, when it comes to human rights and the rule of law, is to not allow people to divide us.

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

      Ms LE DAIN (France)* – This is an important moment in time. I thank the rapporteur for his work, and I am grateful for the opportunity to discuss this subject, which is important, because it concerns individual responsibility and liability – a crucial matter when it comes to human rights. Debate – here, elsewhere and in the media – sometimes focuses on collective responsibility. Of course, that evokes sad memories in our democratic societies of singling out a community, religion or ethnicity. Those considerations may underlie this behaviour, but cannot explain it. That would be like saying that the violence in football stadiums 15 or so years ago was a collective phenomenon. Those responsible were individuals, but they had a mass effect.

      We are individuals; we are human beings. We cannot say that a man who engages in predatory behaviour cannot control his sexual urges; women cannot be satisfied with that. We are individuals here; we must assume that these are individuals, even if there was a mass effect. In Europe, collective responsibility does not exist, and it is important to say so, even when there are collective effects, because human beings are all different. People get dragged into things, but are we saying that there was some manoeuvre that led to these tragic events – tragic for every woman who was groped or attacked? We should not refer to women in general; it was individual women who were violently attacked, groped and harassed. That will have severe effects on some of them. We must not fall into making excuses for some societies, cultures, ways of being, traditions and territories.

      In the Council of Europe, we try to find words that propose change. I attach great importance to the idea of individual responsibility. I heard what a colleague said about the coverage of the incidents by Cologne’s local press, but their national and international scope was perceived only a few days later. Some people think, “Violence against women? Oh well. It is not that serious, really”. Of course it is serious. Each woman will be traumatised. I thank the Assembly and the rapporteur for having produced the report. It is sensitively worded and does not deny responsibility.

      I say “responsibility” but not “guilt”. We need to get out of that way of thinking. We are always accusing people of being responsible for this, that or the other, but we need to change individuals and the collective approach. I welcome the idea that this year we will be able to ratify the Istanbul Convention – at long last. I am just a newcomer here, but I find it strange that it has not yet been ratified. We have a form of collective responsibility here. We need to say things as they are – to pin things down with words. We are talking about facts and the individual stories of those poor women, who have been terrified. We need to look for those men and, if we can find them, they need to be prosecuted.

      I am convinced that words such as “non-discrimination” should be used in education from earliest childhood until university. Boys need to learn that girls are their equals and that they should not prey on them, because they are human beings.

      Ms QUINTANILLA (Spain)* – Dear colleagues, today, once again, we are talking about violence against women. In 1975, we had the first world conference on women’s rights, organised by the United Nations, where it was said that the biggest crime in the world that we did not talk about was violence against women. Mr Gunnarsson and the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination have once again raised this issue before the Parliamentary Assembly, by putting on the agenda the incidents of violence against and harassment of women that recently took place in various cities across Europe. Such attacks were perfectly defined in article 42 of the convention on this matter. The Parliamentary Assembly must note that convention; it is an international reference text and makes us stronger. Only 19 countries represented in this great Parliamentary Assembly have so far ratified it. The convention states precisely that violence against women is invisible – that women do not speak out when they are victims of violence. Like many other rapporteurs, Mr Gunnarsson has put that violence on our political agenda.

      Let us not say that this is a women’s problem; it is a problem for every single one of us in society, men and women. It is a question of dignity, and a flagrant violation of human rights. That is why it is so important for all of us to ratify the convention if we have not done so yet. It is a binding text that states how we can protect women, prevent these crimes and help women who have suffered such attacks.

      We are 38 years down the road from when we first started talking about violence against women, and let us persevere in that work. In this debate Mr Fischer, leader of his group, asked men to engage in the fight against gender violence and inequality. Reference has been made to the important United Nations report, and to its HeForShe campaign launched by Emma Watson to promote equality between the sexes. Men need to be by our sides, marching with us towards full equality. All sentient beings want to be free. We are not opposed to one another; we want to define ourselves as men and women but advance together to build a fairer and freer society. Most importantly, we must build a society in which violence against women has no place.

      This is an historic moment in which it is important for us to sign and ratify the Istanbul Convention. Let us continue on the march towards equality and a world without violence. Let us also adopt and take ownership of the United Nations HeForShe campaign.

      Ms MIKKO (Estonia) – Today's debate is of extraordinary importance. On a small scale, our discussion came about from the mass harassment of women on new year's eve near Cologne cathedral, but on a large scale we are talking about violence against women all over the world. The debate is about the so-called cultural differences of the refugees and, more broadly, young men’s frustration in getting a job, a home and putting bread on the table. It is about why women are targeted, and both understanding and condemnation. To what extent do we have to listen to the voice of the heart or follow the voice of reason so far as the refugee crisis is concerned? An answer to that dilemma has resounded in this very Chamber of the Council of Europe. As Secretary General Jagland rightly said, in a country that abides by the rule of law, no one has the right to be above the law. Despite the differences between cultures and religions, we have to respect a fellow human being – to respect human rights.

      Gender equality is nothing less than a human right. If so, why do we have difficulties with the ratification of the Istanbul Convention? The Council of Europe has 47 member States, so why does that extremely important document for women have only 39 signatures? Even fewer States – at the moment only 19 – have ratified the Istanbul Convention to end violence against women. Do we really reaffirm with our deeds that women’s rights are human rights if we delay the implementation of that important convention?

      We have to be honest and frank in the context of the Cologne incident, which is only the tip of the iceberg because it has gradually emerged that there were more incidents of harassment of women in public places last year across Europe. The criticism of the media in our report is justified, and the police have kept quiet about those incidents. It is extremely important that no institution sweep things under the carpet or embellish facts. No matter how uncomfortable the facts may be, we have to talk about them. Only an honest analysis will allow us to overcome the disease. Just as there is no sense in treating cancer with aspirin, there is no sense in curing flu with chemotherapy.

      Last but not least, according to ancient Greek mythology Europe is a woman. Men with different cultural backgrounds and religions have to understand that Europe is not a whore. Europe is a woman who needs to be respected by everyone.

      Mr FRÉCON (France)* – The recent attacks against women, particularly those on new year’s eve, quite rightly shocked the whole of Europe. Verbal, physical and even sexual aggression was committed in several countries throughout Europe, including Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, Austria, Finland, France and probably elsewhere. The scale of those attacks is unparalleled, particularly in Germany, where 1 076 complaints were lodged, 384 of which were for sexual offences in Cologne and Düsseldorf. Such attacks are not acceptable in Europe or elsewhere. We must do everything we can to ensure that that never happens again.

      The safety of women is a fundamental right enshrined in the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, which is also known as the Istanbul Convention. Zero tolerance must be the order of the day. The police and the courts must make sure that exemplary punishment is handed down to those who are guilty of these crimes. There are no excuses, especially not the origin of those who have committed the crimes. It is not important where they come from – they are criminals and delinquents.

      Yet we need to avoid generalisations. Families who are fleeing wars in Syria, Eritrea and Afghanistan should not have to pay the price for the acts of a minority of men. We must not let ourselves be seized by fear and the idea of vengeance. Highly publicised cases in the media have sometimes led to exaggerated debates that have gone overboard and conjured up sceptres that play into the hands of populist forces.

      Violence against women in Europe is an age-old phenomenon. It happens across all classes in all societies. In France – the country I know best – on average, 35 complaints of rape are filed every day, and yet only 10% of rapes are actually reported. We must not forget that the family can be just as dangerous for women as the streets and public spaces. Our citizens need to hear that. We should not turn a blind eye to unpalatable realities – which, indeed, is the subject of this debate – in European countries.

      Finally, like Ms Mikko, I call on every country in the Council of Europe to ratify the Istanbul Convention and anchor in their legislation the criminalisation of unwanted sexual contact. It cannot go unpunished. As members of parliament, we must take action in all our countries.

      Ms KATRIVANOU (Greece) – We are here because we are deeply concerned about incidents of sexual harassment in Germany. The unprecedented combination of gender-based and racist violence puts at risk our peaceful co-existence with immigrants and refugees in Europe. We are here not only to express our concerns, but to explore different perspectives, which is why I firmly believe that there should be a regular report on the subject, not a debate rushed through under the urgent procedure.

      The investigations have not been completed, so we do not have all the information. We are not here to rush after the opinion of those who elect us, even though they are upset, and reasonably so; we are here to think about Europe. While the German authorities investigate the events and get justice for the victims, we should not forget that, during the same period, there have been 75 declared attacks against immigrants in Germany and 15 arson attempts at reception centres for immigrants and refugees.

      In our attempts to address violence and sexism against women, we must also address hate crime against immigrants so that we do not reinforce racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia. We must think about how we can address the issue as a whole, because this could be a slippery slope for human rights.

      I have read that the German Government is considering introducing a Bill to simplify deportation procedures for foreign nationals who have committed offences; to confiscate valuables; to make asylum seekers wear physical symbols denoting their status; and to ban refugees and immigrants from bars and swimming pools. Those alarming policies will lead to discrimination and, in the long term, they will excuse racism. We must keep that in mind.

      Policies that jeopardise the human rights of a whole community do not have much to do with the protection of women or addressing sexism. On the contrary, whereas such policies may seem to address the issue in the short term, in the long term they will cause disproportionate damage.

      In order to address sexism in a legal sense, all Assembly members should ratify the Istanbul Convention. We must also support the reception and integration of immigrants, in order to address racism, hate crimes and fascist violence against them. One thing is clear: we cannot fight to protect one part of the community against another, because human rights come as a package. The community of Europe must not break apart. We must take responsibility for the way in which we talk about the issue and our policies.

      Mr GOPP (Liechtenstein)* – This is an important report of high quality. It is so clear that it cannot be misunderstood. However, although it mentions conventions and laws, are they enough? Of course, a legal framework is very important, but we need to shed light on the issue and adapt education so that equality is recognised. Sometimes, regulations and laws are not enough. Equality between women and men has not yet been achieved and there will be further cases of discrimination.

      The situation has changed as a result of flows of refugees. We must establish dialogue with those who are coming to our shores. That is how both sides will gain an understanding of each other. We also have to live together and take special measures in education. Children have to be educated about equality from a very young age. We have to ensure that people are entitled to control over their own lives, but also that our values are properly conveyed. To have proper integration we have to give as well as take.

Nevertheless, there are challenges, as have been seen in previous generations. The police and social workers must be better trained so that they can prevent problems before they arise, because when events such as the recent attacks occur, we find that they are beyond what the police can do about them. We need to investigate the attacks properly and encourage both sides to explain the situation. We must do everything possible to learn from events of this kind. We have to pay attention to what is and is not fitting in society. As members of parliament, we must condemn any form of violence. We are talking about fundamental violations of human rights. Only through dialogue, explanation and education will we be able to bring about equality between women and men, which is essential, and avoid violence against women. We must make sure that that happens, so let us act.

      The PRESIDENT – Thank you. I now call Mr Wood.

      Mr WOOD (United Kingdom) – It should go without saying that violence against women, or against any other group, is wrong. It is always wrong, regardless of the background, nationality, faith, origin or gender of the offenders or, of course, the victims. As the rapporteur so rightly said, this is not a cultural issue. We know that the attackers were not representative of any faith or community.

Victims of attacks always deserve our protection, regardless of the perpetrator. Part of that protection must mean recognising such crimes and reporting them as the media would report other crimes of a similar nature. When there is a perception that serious crimes are not reported because of sensitivity about the offenders, it fuels the conspiracy theories of those who seek to divide our communities rather than strengthen them. That is why we rely on our media to report honestly, openly and without fear or favour, even when the facts are not necessarily what we want to hear. Failing to recognise crimes is a betrayal not only of the victims but of the overwhelming majority of our immigrant and faith communities, who are every bit as sickened by such crimes as everyone else.

In Britain, we have seen the tragic consequences of self-censorship preventing crimes from being reported for fear of being seen as racist. Although people were acting with the very best of motives, political correctness of that kind prevented a co-ordinated campaign of child sexual exploitation from being properly reported and meant that social services failed to act as early as they should have done to tackle the gangs behind the exploitation. We cannot afford such mistakes to be repeated anywhere.

Let this Assembly act as a beacon around the world for our shared values of tolerance and respect for all. Let the message be sent loudly, clearly and unambiguously: sexual violence is a crime, plain and simple, regardless of the offender and whoever the victim. Let nobody be in any doubt that whenever or wherever women are attacked, this Assembly will always stand firmly on their side.

      (Ms Gambaro, Vice-President of the Assembly, took the Chair in place of Mr Németh)

      Ms OHLSSON (Sweden) – My country, Sweden, has a particular focus on gender equality, for which the women’s movement has fought very hard. We will keep on fighting, even when the debate about gender equality and male violence is over. We know that being male is the common denominator among those who commit sexual assaults. There are good reasons for working with men who come to Sweden from countries that do not have an official gender equality ideal, as we do in Sweden, to enable them to discuss attitudes towards women based on their experiences, but such efforts are needed for all men, not just refugees. Discussing social norms of masculinity is a form of violence prevention that is greatly needed in all parts of our society in order to stop men’s violence towards women, whether it is sexual violence or other forms. All men should participate and engage in ending men’s violence towards women and start discussing it with other men. One good thing is that media reporting in Sweden has led to people starting to discuss gender equality. We hope that the debate will become more nuanced.

The fact of women being sexually assaulted by men is not news for me, for us in the Assembly, or for most women. International comparisons show that Sweden has strong legislation. It has come far and is improving day by day. Nevertheless, we see in popular culture and the media a parallel culture in which women are degraded and men are supposed to be macho. We should talk about how men put themselves at risk and make every effort to prevent violence, because it is not useful that we often talk only about how women are at risk. All businesses and organisations that run public events such as festivals and football matches must receive training on how to handle sexualised violence.

Sexual harassment and sexualised violence are crimes. They are problems for democracy that should be taken equally seriously each and every day. I hope that the attacks that we are discussing and the debate around them will lead to every European country implementing the Istanbul Convention, because it is absolutely necessary. I thank Mr Gunnarsson for his excellent report.

Ms KRONLID (Sweden) – I, too, thank Mr Gunnarsson for his excellent report. The events of new year’s eve in Cologne – the large-scale and serious sexual harassment of women – left none of us unmoved. Similar events took place in my country, Sweden, during a major youth festival in Stockholm last summer. In both these cases – especially in Sweden – what happened was initially concealed from the public, which is absolutely unacceptable.

Sexual harassment is nothing new in Europe – it has occurred throughout history – but it should be a source of pride for us in the Council of Europe area that, by and large, we now have legislation that prohibits it and share a common basic conviction about the equal value and rights of men and women. What is new is the phenomenon of a large number of men surrounding and attacking a large number of women, to the extent that the police have difficulty controlling the situation. In Cologne, around 90 women were attacked. What is also new is the reluctance to bring these events to light, for whatever reason. Our debate on how to face such serious events is therefore very timely.

It is important that those responsible for such crimes are brought to justice, without any consideration being given to their origin. To prevent the problem from spreading further and ultimately becoming unmanageable, we must also be able to draw attention to the fact that there are differences in how women and men are viewed in the member States of the Council of Europe and in some of the countries that many of the migrants have left to seek asylum in Europe. This will not apply to everybody, of course, but if somebody comes from a culture with a patriarchal structure – for example, one where a woman’s clothing is seen as a sexual invitation unless it covers everything from neck to toe – we must be prepared to defend our values. It goes without saying that that must be done without stigmatising or spreading hate to any group. In fact, we should take the opposite approach: we want to include new members in our society and the values on which it relies. A person’s old values do not automatically disappear just because they settle in Sweden, for example. That is why we must work actively to preserve our basic European right of equality, as protected in our Convention on Human Rights. Our Assembly must at all times defend women’s right to safety, security, dignity and integrity. On that, there can be no compromise.

      Ms LOUHELAINEN (Finland) – We are talking about an important issue: the harassment of women. The rapidly increasing number of asylum seekers in Finland has caused a sense of insecurity, especially as a result of cultural differences. The rights of women in Europe and Finland are very different from their rights in many of those people’s countries of origin. Unfortunately, some of the asylum seekers do not share our values.

      In Finland, individual protection and the physical and psychological integrity of the person are basic rights that we are not used to having questioned. We are used to taking them for granted and we want also to protect those values for the future, to go to school, to work, to do our hobbies or to the grocery store without fear. A feeling of insecurity has surged among Finns as sexual harassment and even rape have increased, unfortunately through acts that are also committed by asylum seekers. We have heard of similar cases from all over Europe and that cannot and shall not be accepted.

      As a result of the situation in Finland, children are afraid to go to school, young people are banned from going out in the evenings and the elderly are scared to go to the grocery store, even in broad daylight. That has led to debate among the citizens of Finland about the need for independent street patrols to ensure the safety of the original population. The media plays an important role in how such issues are reported and in what can be said about them in public. We all know of various side-effects connected to immigration and asylum seekers, but such views are too often silenced. The racist card is quickly raised when such issues are discussed critically. However, we must be able to address the problems comprehensively, using their own names and without fanaticism. Unfortunately, being critical is often labelled as hate speech.

      I could not agree more with what the rapporteur points out in paragraph 5 of the draft resolution about the media’s responsibility to report the facts objectively and truthfully. The Council of Europe must protect and speak in support of the majority, too, and should underline the rights of women and children in Europe. The Council of Europe must also highlight the responsibility of the media in this difficult situation.

      Ms GAFAROVA (Azerbaijan) – I thank Sir Roger Gale for instigating the debate and my colleague, Mr Gunnarsson, for his wonderful report, which is timely and necessary.

      As the Assembly’s General Rapporteur on Violence against Women, I can only firmly condemn the mass sexual assaults perpetrated on 31 December not only in Germany but in Austria, Finland and Switzerland. The Assembly has continuously condemned any form of violence against women, supporting from an early stage what would become the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, the so-called Istanbul Convention. The Assembly has also played an active role in promoting the convention through its parliamentary network, Women Free from Violence.

      The Istanbul Convention is the most advanced international treaty on preventing and combating violence against women, as it recognises violence against women as a violation of human rights and places the victim at the centre of all national policies. I urge my colleagues to go back to their countries and raise awareness about violence against women and about the convention. Such violations of women’s rights can neither be tolerated nor remain unpunished. All women should be protected from violence. Perpetrators must be brought to justice, as there should be zero tolerance of violence against women.

      Mr KIRAL (Ukraine) – I, too, thank Sir Roger Gale and the European Conservatives Group for launching this important debate. The report says: “The Istanbul Convention offers a comprehensive approach…based on the “4 Ps”: prevention, protection and support of victims, prosecution of perpetrators and integrated policies.” None of those Ps has been applied in this case, and lessons must be learned.

      We can talk about media conspiracies, but reporting quality has a direct link to the solid facts and information the media can access, which should have been provided by the authorities and law enforcement agencies. The authorities did not perform well, perhaps due to inexperience or a fear of damaging nationwide refugee policies or because they were striving to secure peace and order by any means. Those good intentions led to adverse outcomes.

      Although there are references to poor police performance throughout the report, it is not clearly mentioned in the resolution. Law enforcement agencies should improve their operational procedures and prepare new instructions for timely and immediate responses as well as prevention on the eve of such large public events. Mobile camera surveillance points can be installed and accompanied by police patrols where cameras are not available. There are simple measures that can fully utilise the technological advancements to enable prevention.

      I could not agree more with my colleague Axel Fischer. Today, a month after the events, we still do not have a clear picture of what happened and who or what is behind it. Is our system working properly? Let us get these people down to work, if not for the good pay then to defend and protect the foundation of Europe, the equal rights of men and women. It is probably in the police and the judiciary where real men are required right now, not in this Chamber. We need men who will act swiftly to find the necessary arguments and evidence to bring the suspects to trial and prosecution. If suspects are let off, that will continue to spur speculation and abuse among far right radical political groups, the enemies of our democratic way of living.

      In Germany, we are witnessing attacks and pressure on the leadership, which is striving to find solutions to the worst ever refugee crisis and where migration is undermining its critical role in tackling this and other pressured issues worldwide, including the preservation of sanctions on Russia, which is of vital and total importance to us Ukrainians. Everyone here has mentioned the Istanbul Convention, but I draw attention to the poor performance in ratifying international conventions, using the example of the Convention on the counterfeiting of medical products and similar crimes involving threats to public health. I participated in a conference on that. We need to do something, and should perhaps create a special task force to promote ensuring that conventions are ratified as soon as possible.

      Mr HOWELL (United Kingdom) – I refer the Assembly to Recommendation 2075, entitled “Media responsibility and ethics in a changing media environment”. The short report says that the Committee of Ministers agrees with the Assembly that we need to strengthen programmes “aimed at raising self-regulatory ethical standards among journalists and the media”. Although our programmes are aimed at countries such as those of south-east Europe, action may need to be taken closer to home, including in Germany, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

      For a number of years I worked as a presenter for the BBC World Service Television, so I make these remarks in the context of specific experience and expertise. Like Sir Roger Gale, I direct my comments at the media; I will not talk about the issues of women, migrants or migration. I agree with the rapporteur’s statement that the media are responsible for reporting facts objectively and truthfully. I agree that they should not take political correctness into account, but they also have a duty to report in a timely fashion.

      We all condemn violence against women. Unfortunately, the timeliness of the reporting of these events left much to be desired. The report focuses on the situation in Germany, but the problem is not a German one. True, other news media rely on what is reported locally, but international news agencies have an important role to play in ensuring that a truthful picture is presented in a timely manner. Beyond that, it is for individual broadcasters to make decisions about the reporting of stories, however unpalatable their contents are. They are to blame for not having done so in this case.

      This Assembly should conduct an investigation into why media outlets delayed reporting the truth about the dreadful attacks on women to the public. To ask for an investigation into only the attacks themselves rather misses the point. Not to conduct such an investigation would undermine the fine words we have stated about the media across Europe on many occasions and the Council of Europe’s various reports on the issue. Most importantly, it would diminish the seriousness of the attacks on those poor, unfortunate women.

      The PRESIDENT* – Thank you. That concludes the list of speakers, so we return to the committee. The rapporteur has four minutes.

      Mr GUNNARSSON (Sweden) – Let me start with the comments from the groups. Mr Fischer and others said that there should have been more men in this debate. I mentioned the UN’s HeForShe campaign, which is supported by Emma Watson. I urge all men in this Chamber to join it and other campaigns to support the fight against violence against women. As Ms Kavvadia said, we have been discussing violence against women for 38 years, and we are just realising that men also need to be part of the discussion.

      I am amazed by the huge level of support in this Chamber. I want to highlight some points and some comments that I oppose. Ms Hoffmann from Hungary said that we need to consider the huge number of migrants entering Europe, particularly after these events. We need to repeat over and over again that gender inequality and violence against women are not new issues. Violence against women is almost a European tradition. One in three women in this continent have suffered from violence or harassment, so this is not a new problem that somebody else brought here. As Ms Le Dain said, everyone has the right to a fair trial, and every case must be tried on its own merits. We cannot judge a whole group on the basis of what one of its members does. We have to consider the behaviour of each and every individual.

      Many members mentioned the report’s comments about the media, which play a crucial role in democracies. As legislators, we should be careful not to encroach on the free media and try to regulate them. We need to engage with the media and ask them to discuss media ethics, the way that they report stories and their important role in the democracies across Europe. I am committed to the principle of media self-regulation, but we should have discussions about those issues.

      Ms Katrivanou from Greece and the Group of the Unified European Left said that we must not use what happened in Cologne as a pretext for removing human rights from certain groups of people. That slippery slope leads somewhere that we do not want to end up. I completely agree. We need to keep this discussion alive. As I said, we need to produce another report in a while on matters such as women’s safety in the public space. This discussion is immensely important if we are to maintain the human rights we hold so dearly in this Assembly.

      The PRESIDENT* – Thank you. Does the chair of the committee wish to reply? You have two minutes.

      Ms CENTEMERO (Italy) – I thank the rapporteur, Mr Gunnarsson, and all members of the committee for their work. Violence against women is one of the most pervasive human rights violations. The Parliamentary Assembly strongly condemns all forms of violence against women. The terrible attacks against women in Cologne and several other European cities shocked the public. They shed a light on some important issues that Europe has to address immediately, including violence against women and human rights. Nobody expected such violence to take place in a city centre in the heart of our continent. We must not downplay those events. We have to be correctly informed by the media and other institutions. I am glad that the Assembly decided to grant a debate under urgent procedure to discuss these events, and I am grateful that it asked the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination to prepare the ground for our debate.

      The implications of the attacks on new year’s eve are manifold. We should question how the media covered the facts, the reaction of police forces and the misuse of those serious events by some politicians.

      We need to reflect on human rights that are for all – those in the minority and in the majority, – and all women must be safe and protected. Investigations are under way, but one thing that we already know for sure is that the victims of these events were women. Hundreds of women reported harassment, theft, and sexual or other forms of violence by men. Irrespective of how and why the attacks on new year’s eve took place, they were first and foremost a case of collective violence against women. Dear colleagues, please give your full support to this resolution. Today we have the opportunity to turn this dramatic event into an opportunity for progress.

      The PRESIDENT* – Thank you. The debate is closed.

      The Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination has presented a draft resolution, to which seven amendments have been tabled. Two of those amendments apply only to the French version of the resolution.

      I understand that the chair of the committee wishes to propose to the Assembly that Amendments 2,4,5,6,7 and 1, which were unanimously adopted by the committee, should be declared as agreed by the Assembly. Is that so, Ms Centemero?

      Ms CENTEMERO (Italy) – That is so.

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

      Amendments 2,4,5,6,7 and 1 are adopted.

      We will now consider Amendment 3. This amendment applies only to the French version and there will be no changes to the English text.

      I call Ms Le Dain to support Amendment 3. You have 30 seconds.

      Ms LE DAIN (France)* – This is a slight change because the translation into French is slightly different from the original English, and we would prefer it to read that this violence should not be “instrumentalisée à d’autre fins”.

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

      What is the opinion of the committee?

      Ms CENTEMERO (Italy) – The committee accepted the amendment.

      The PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.

      Amendment 3 is adopted.

      We will now proceed to a vote on the whole of the draft resolution in Document 13961, as amended.

      The vote is open.

      The draft resolution in Document 13961, as amended, is adopted, with 115 votes for, 1 against and 1 abstention.

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

2. Address by Ms Lorella Stefanelli and Mr Nicola Renzi,

Captains Regent of San Marino

      The PRESIDENT – We now have the honour of hearing a statement by Their Excellencies, Ms Lorella Stefanelli and Mr Nicola Renzi, Captains Regent of the Republic of San Marino.

      Your Excellencies, it is a great pleasure and honour to welcome you to our Chamber. Ms Stefanelli, it is always a special pleasure and a source of pride to welcome a member of our Assembly in their capacity as Head of State. It has been 14 years since the Captains Regent have addressed our Assembly, and we look forward to listening to your views on the challenges faced by small States in Europe. You can no doubt share with us your extensive experience in the importance of having friendly relations with our neighbours. In that context, I would also be interested to hear your views on the question of defending cultural specificities and identity. I thank you once again for being with us today. Your Excellencies, you have the Floor.


      Ms STEFANELLI (Captain Regent of San Marino)* – Mr President, Secretary General, honoured members of parliament, excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, the Regency would like, first, to congratulate the newly elected President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and wish him every success in his job. The Regency is particularly pleased and honoured to pay an official visit to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe today – it is the oldest of the European parliamentary institutions and it is a great honour to be able to take the Floor in the Chamber. Indeed, almost the whole of Europe is in attendance here, with its representatives, and its cultural and linguistic expressions, bearing witness to the lively diversity of our continent. It is our desire to pay tribute to this important European institution, of which we have been a part for more than 27 years, and to reaffirm our full support for, and the active participation of the Republic of San Marino in, the decision-making processes, which are part of the constant effort towards democratisation in European States.

      The thousands of years of democratic tradition of our Republic, with its roots in Roman history and civilisation, which stretches back to the time of local communities that were autonomous and which is embodied in the institution which we represent still today, allows us to be numbered among the European family of nations. That family is based on the principles of the rule of law and the defence of human rights and fundamental freedoms. We are determined to make an effective and passionate contribution to this consensus. The Regency would like to reiterate the great value of the European Court of Human Rights, which represents the strongest bastion of the defence of human rights and fundamental freedoms. The Court in tandem with the European Convention on Human Rights makes up a system of protection of rights and fundamental freedoms that is without equal in other continents in its effectiveness and moral strength. It therefore goes without saying that San Marino recognises the overarching nature of the Convention, meaning that all our laws and case law, which is tantamount to law, must be in compliance with the Convention, because otherwise they would become unconstitutional.

      On this occasion, we would also like to confirm the great value of all the other bodies of the Council of Europe, whose representatives regularly visit our Republic, and whose recommendations and suggestions provide a valuable input towards improving and updating our regulations. Among those institutions, I particularly wish to mention the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) and its President Marin Mrčela, who was the official Republic orator on 1 October last, when we were sworn in as Heads of State. In his speech, he highlighted the enormous strides made by our Republic on stamping out corruption more and more effectively. That recognition carries a lot of weight, and we feel it is a further incentive to pursue our efforts and to maintain our vigilance at all times.

      It is also a great honour to be here today at the first part-session of 2016, at a time when our State is depositing the instrument of ratification of the Istanbul Convention. In depositing this instrument, San Marino is bearing witness to its clear determination to say that violence against women is an odious, uncivilised attack on the person and a deep wound on the whole of humanity, and it must be opposed with the full force of the law, without any qualms. The recent deplorable episodes in Cologne show that we must keep up our guard at all times in the face of this social scourge, and that there should be no sweeping under the carpet of such acts, even when they occur in States where, predominantly, the political classes are champions of the multicultural society.

      Dear esteemed members of parliament, human rights are put to a great test at this time. Our democratic societies therefore have to face major and compelling challenges: we need to reject war as a way of resolving conflicts between States in favour of dialogue; we need to cope with mass migration phenomena; and we need to respond with adequate policies to the danger of a declining faith in our democratic institutions, which derives from the fact that national and supra-national governments do not seem to be fully able to provide immediate and effective answers to the drama of new and old types of poverty and unemployment, especially youth unemployment. The economic crisis can lead on to a crisis in democracy. The current situation, which directly or indirectly affects the whole of the old continent, is characterised by upheavals and crises that are happening all the time and which deserve carefully considered political responses, because otherwise they could undermine the values of our societies, which we thought were unassailable.

It is still worth reiterating that given the challenges Europe has been facing in this century, within these walls, which represent the home of pan-European democracy, the Regency still feels very strong ties, arising because of our shared roots and the fact that the ongoing dialogue about democracy in this House feeds into constant reflection and consensus. Given our concern about the escalation of attacks on our freedom, it is vital to fight against extremism and radicalisation, which may lead to terrorism. That is the biggest priority for this organisation at the moment, because these phenomena are diametrically opposed to the fundamental values on which European societies are based: human rights, democracy and the rule of law. Any advanced democracy can see how religion is now invoked as a pretext to fight absurd battles and to achieve aims that are purely political in nature. Terrorist attacks, which recently undermined the rules under which we live together, feed an unparalleled hatred between people, and they are nothing but an insult to any form of spirituality or humanity and have no justification in whatever religion, ideology or philosophy.

      In remembering the barbarous attacks that affected societies in Paris, Tunis and, recently, in Pakistan, our thoughts go out once again to the families of the many innocent victims and to the States which were the victims of such cruelty. We are facing a chilling scenario which cries out for the Council of Europe now to lead the drive to develop measures that will help us to form a collective conscience and reclaim the values of the rule of law and respect for the human person. There is a strong warning that the Regency would like to issue, even here in Strasbourg. Faced with an emergency that is without precedent and which does not allow any State, however small or big, to escape, we need a collective, concerted project to use all the resources at our disposal: the strength of the rule of law, education and general culture. Those are the only legitimate weapons that can be used by countries that subscribe to the values of the Council of Europe. These are our defence against extremism and radicalisation. We are also convinced that only through promoting and pursuing a true culture of peace and respect for others can we defeat the toxic ethos of death and violence based on hatred and intolerance between peoples. Respect for others must be based on full awareness of who we are and what our values, traditions and cultures are.

      In Brussels, in May 2015, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe unanimously adopted an action plan on “extremism and radicalisation leading to terrorism”, bringing to fruition the work done by the Parliamentary Assembly and the Secretary General. The decision adopted following the Paris attacks in 2015 led to specific proposals, such as further developing the annual meetings of the Council of Europe Exchange on the religious dimension of intercultural dialogue. This is all part of the fight against terrorism. Since 2008, the meetings have provided an excellent opportunity to discuss and compare questions linked to religious faith in Europe. In Sarajevo, a symbolic place for inter-religious and inter-ethnic dialogue and venue of the exchange’s recent eighth meeting, we discussed among other things Recommendation 2080 (2015) on “Freedom of religion and living together in a democratic society”. It is just one example of how the Assembly is very much engaged in defending dialogue and supporting a sustainable and long-term peace.

      We should highlight the historic speech that His Holiness Pope Francis gave in this very Chamber on 25 November 2014. The Holy Father spoke of a Europe of dialogue such that shared opinions and thoughts would serve peoples who are united in harmony. On many occasions, the Assembly has firmly opposed the violence of terrorism on the basis of human rights and democratic values, and there is no doubt that the Council of Europe will continue to face up to the present situation and all its implications. The problem of terrorism is far from being resolved. We also cannot be sure that democratic forces will overcome, but they are duty bound none the less to combat radicalisation and hate, which feed violent extremism. It is necessary to strengthen our commitment and to find more effective initiatives to raise awareness of racism, hatred and intolerance. Our republic has not hesitated to support the No Hate Speech campaign, created in the Council of Europe last year, and its alliance of members of parliaments from all member States of the Council of Europe. It is necessary to set about creating an inclusive society that provides plenty of room for inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue.

      Mr RENZI (Captain Regent of San Marino)* – The Holy Father’s reference to the people who are arriving on our continent should motivate our thinking about the complexity of migration and humanitarian considerations. The migrant situation shows the unbreakable links between our continent and the circumstances of our neighbours, particularly those from North Africa and the East. Europe today finds itself having to manage the difficulties of uncontrolled migration and a mass exodus that are the result of confrontations that are themselves the outcome of inequities and mindless armed conflicts involving self-proclaimed terrorist States.

      The Republic of San Marino does not want to be an idle bystander in the face of a humanitarian tragedy that is increasing exponentially and difficult to contain. With the force of its law and pursuant to all the norms, San Marino intends to condemn and act as a mediator. We have adopted acts and declarations from our national parliament that call for a co-ordinated response that does not ignore the countries on the front line of the issue of refugees and migrants escaping a desperate situation. We are proud to remember our friendliness in the Second World War when our State, despite its small size, was able to offer asylum for 100 000 people fleeing neighbouring countries, including the Jews who sought refuge there.

      San Marino has accepted the invitation to make a voluntary contribution to the Council of Europe fund for refugees and migrants, and we have also set up various initiatives. We are also happy to announce that we have fully ratified the Istanbul Convention and have adopted all the measures necessary to combat the terrible phenomenon of violence against women. The campaign against this social scourge, including domestic violence, was launched in Madrid on 29 November 2006 under the San Marino presidency of the Committee of Ministers. It represents a commitment by member States to increased awareness at a national level. The campaign gave a further boost to the commitment to protect and promote human rights and fundamental freedoms.

      The convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence opened for signature in Istanbul on 11 May 2011 and entered into force on 1 August 2014. It was created to fill a legal void and to harmonise legal measures across Europe to overcome the legacy of discrimination that undermines the success of a culture that offers equality for all. The significance and value of the Istanbul Convention to San Marino is clear, so we are happy to confirm officially today, within its natural home, the most recent ratification of the text of the convention, which happened this very month. We are now personally involved in the battle for civilised behaviour, which should be without boundaries. We also adopted measures to improve the defence of the rights of children and desire to provide a legal order, within which will be the full panoply of the most effective instruments for such a vulnerable category of people.

      Our country was one of the first to sign the convention of the Council of Europe for the protection of babies and children against exploitation and sexual abuse, an international text that is aimed at combating one of the most perverse phenomena of our society, which we must continue to fight to be able to extirpate this inhuman violation of human rights. We are convinced that the protection of children should be one of prime concerns of governments, social institutions and families. There should be a global mobilisation to deal with these violations, which undermine the development of human beings. We need to defend children and protect their identity and integrity. During the current migration, there have been clear violations of their rights. More than 20 children have died in the Aegean Sea, to quote just the most recent example.

      We should also mention the importance and value of culture. As John Paul II said, culture makes humans more human. Educational establishments are important and deserve particular attention. They inform future generations about the culture, in the highest sense of the word, of democracy and respect, and about the institutions and political life of the country. School should be a special place to raise awareness and share knowledge of traditions, institutions and democracy in respect of human dignity, and to bring about a civilian force for providing true education in goodness and beauty.

      The Regency congratulates you, Mr President, on your recent election. I wish you all the best in the exercise of your functions. The regency is particularly happy to have the opportunity today to give our best wishes to this parliamentary institution. You are carrying out your duties on behalf of 800 million citizens in 47 member Countries. We join in mourning all the victims of the Holocaust and all the victims of the massacre of Srebrenica, one of the darkest pages of our history in the last 20 years. We must never forget what happened and we must defend peace for peoples and nations.

      We pay tribute to Anne Brasseur, who was the President of the Parliamentary Assembly until a few days ago. All best wishes for 2016. After a year of indifference and crisis, we hope that this will truly be a year of hope and solidarity.

      The PRESIDENT – Thank you very much, Your Excellencies, for your most interesting address.

      Members of the Assembly have questions to put to you. I remind them that questions must be limited to 30 seconds and no more. Colleagues should be asking questions and not making speeches.

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

      Mr ALLAVENA (Monaco)* – As a representative of the only other tiny country in this Assembly, I welcome this double presentation, which was full of wisdom. What can small countries such as ours in this Assembly do to inculcate in our own countries the good practices of others, or perhaps you think we have a different part to play? What can we do about the more serious problems that face us? Are there ways in which we can hold our weight, or punch above our weight, in negotiations?

      Ms STEFANELLI* – Thank you for your question, which provides me with an opportunity to say again how the values of small States in Assemblies such as this and in the Council of Europe mean that they are strengthened. In democratic institutions, we must ensure that the number of citizens is not the main feature; the main feature should be participation and the values and implementation of human rights in all our States. The role of small States should be welcomed and enhanced, particularly because they do not have major economic interests to defend. As a result, they can be free to act as mediators with regard to the situations around them, so we think it is important to belong to the major European family of the Council of Europe. We feel that it is strengthened by that.

      Mr RENZI* – I thank you for your question, because it is at the heart of the interests of those of us who come from small countries that are of strategic importance. The approach of San Marino is to have an ever closer rapprochement with Europe. There have been various stages. The first stage was cultural and social awareness of what this choice would mean. Then there was a period of maturity. Then there were negotiations, with a certain determination to find those goals that would be in the interests of both sides. Therefore, we do not look at this particular phase with any fear of slipping backwards. We know that, in various aspects, our role as small States is recognised for its fundamental contribution to Europe. There is also an openness on our side perhaps to give up some of our own peculiar characteristics to be able to join in something that would be of interest and value to both sides and an openness to supranational interests.

      The PRESIDENT – Thank you. The next question is from Ms Bonet, on behalf of the Socialist Group.

      Ms BONET* (Andorra) – I welcome you to the Assembly. I have more or less the same question but I will pose it differently. San Marino and Monaco are establishing this special status with the Council of Europe. There are countries that are not members but involve themselves in the Assembly to be more effective on issues such as immigration. They offer, in their idiosyncratic situation as small countries, a different view or approach to solving these issues.

      Mr RENZI* – As you say, this question is rather similar to the first. We small countries play a fundamental role at this stage. The Republic of San Marino has, in the past few years, faced two crises, which are linked: the international economic crisis, of course, which had important knock-on effects for us; and a more structural crisis, to do with the decision to change the main assets on which the economy of the republic was based. That was a brave and important decision to take. With regard to our efforts to ensure greater integration, if other countries find themselves in the same position, we hope that we can share our experience regarding our courageous decision. We are fully aware of our counterparts. We are on a small scale, but we have our own special characteristics, and we are sure that our negotiations will have a very positive outcome.

      Ms STEFANELLI* – I would like to answer the second part of your question, about the role of small States in human and humanitarian tragedies. What can small States do? We can do a lot – perhaps not a great deal in terms of hosting refugees and providing them with a haven, but a lot to raise our citizens’ awareness of these issues and of the need to be welcoming. We can provide solidarity and support, particularly of an economic nature. We are only 60 sq km, of course, and we do not have much space or any reception centres, but there are a lot of humanitarian organisations on our territory, and of course they are trying to help as many refugees as they can, as fully as they can. Our Regency aims to make a targeted appeal to our population, so that they respond generously, and show human solidarity. We hope that families can take in some of these people, and we hope to provide some State support for those who say that they can take refugees – particularly children fleeing war zones – into their homes.

      On the role of small States, two years ago, the small States, including the Republic of San Marino, finding themselves in agreement on many points, set up an initiative. We agreed to present a recommendation to the Parliamentary Assembly on the need to face up to the global problem of immigration, which the few States that are on the frontline, including small States such as Greece, Cyprus and Malta, cannot deal with alone. Small States can easily play an active role in raising awareness of this great tragedy of mass migration – a phenomenon of the last year or two.

      The PRESIDENT – Thank you. The next question is from Ms Brasseur, on behalf of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.

      Ms BRASSEUR (Luxembourg)* – Thank you. Your ancient land – the land of freedom, as you called it – has welcomed many people. In Europe, fundamental freedoms are at risk. What can we do to fight together against the deterioration in our fundamental and human rights? I have just been appointed ambassador for the No Hate Speech campaign. I have listened carefully to what you have said, and take it that both of you will be able to sign up to the campaign. Thank you.

       Ms STEFANELLI* – Of course, the Council of Europe’s activities are extremely important for us. We have been part of the campaign against hatred, and there is an important role for us in making our citizens aware of it. We are an ancient country of liberty, and our liberties are fundamental rights. If events pose any risk to the fundamental rights that we have had for thousands of years, we will work together effectively through dialogue and public awareness – they are the key to everything – to resolve issues, using frameworks such as the No Hate Speech campaign. In our charter of rights, we underline the importance of dialogue, opposing war, and dealing with the issues that are critical to our times; we can do this through the Council, by taking action in our republic, and through the international community. There ought to be inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue. We must repudiate war above all; that ought to be at the core of our dialogue.

      The PRESIDENT – The next question is from Mark Pritchard, on behalf of the European Conservatives Group.

      Mr PRITCHARD (United Kingdom) – Whether we are talking of San Marino, Andorra, Monaco, Luxembourg or even the United Kingdom, there is a huge difference between legal tax avoidance and illegal tax evasion. What more do you think that all Council members can do in their respective countries to increase transparency in banking, while ensuring that large companies and very wealthy individuals pay the tax that they should pay, so that we can run our countries?

      Mr RENZI* – Thank you for your question, because it allows us to remind colleagues of the great steps our republic has taken on this issue, which is of course very delicate; since 2008 and 2009, it has been at the forefront of our considerations. We have adopted a clear approach of transparency – of being open to all international bodies, in complete accordance with international laws and standards. I am sure that you can recall various past situations. This issue involves fighting corruption, setting up support structures, and avoiding complicated structures. There are costs for the countries that take this route, but that should not deter leaders and populations from adopting this important approach. We have to be able to succeed in embodying these aims. We have to further examine the issue in future, too.

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

      Mr KOX (Netherlands) – I recall that, after the Council of Europe summit in 2005 in Warsaw, negotiations started between the Council of Europe and the European Union. We still have to thank you, because it was the San Marino presidency that was finally able to arrange a memorandum of understanding between the two organisations. Almost 10 years later, how do the Captains Regent evaluate the development of the co-operation between the European Union and the Council of Europe? Would the San Marino Government support the organisation of a fourth summit of Council of Europe Heads of State and Government, as proposed by the Standing Committee in Sofia last year?

      Ms STEFANELLI* – It is an invitation that we accept with great excitement and enthusiasm. The Government of San Marino supports the idea of a fourth summit and would very much like to undertake its organisation. Why not? The question emphasises some of the responses that we have given about small States and the roles that they can play. Our activities over the last couple of years have served some important causes.

      The Council of Europe and the European Union are a reality not only for the European continent but much broader in world economics and humanitarian activity. One major institution complements the other, and they are important for economic development. The co-operation agreement has served all very well, and anybody who refutes that argument can be proved false.

      The PRESIDENT – The next question is from Mr Vareikis.

      Mr VAREIKIS (Lithuania) – Everybody asks what small countries can do for international organisations to solve problems that big countries cannot solve. My question is the opposite. What are your expectations of what the bigger countries can do to help you feel a respected and fully fledged member of international society?

      Mr RENZI* – That question gives us the honour to state what we can offer within a larger community. Our sovereignty is guarded on a daily basis; that is an important battle. Numerous events show again and again the role of small States in large forums such as this.

      Our history shows the role that we have played in immigration and taking in refugees, which tells us about the importance of small countries. Emigration is important too. Part of our population had to leave San Marino after the war in search of new opportunities, and for that reason many of our citizens no longer reside within our territory. We have hosted large waves of immigrants during the major world conflagrations because of our neutrality in those conflicts. Many people have sought refuge in San Marino. There is a museum dedicated to immigration in San Marino that records our experience of major movements of population, and tells us all something about the importance of those events in the history of both San Marino and the world. The role that we have played with regard to those movements of peoples must be alive in historical memory. It is not only something of the past, but very much the reality today. Our contribution is valuable; there is no question about that.

      The PRESIDENT – The next question is from Mr Ghiletchi, but I do not see him so I call Mr Gopp.

      Mr GOPP (Liechtenstein)* – You said that San Marino finds itself in a process of transformation because of its financial status. Does that have any effect on the budget? What measures are you taking? You talked about your integration into Europe. Are you interested in the European Economic Area?

      Mr RENZI* – I tried to explain this before, but the question provides me with an opportunity to reiterate it. Our brave and firm decision – we do not want to go back on it – has had considerable impact on the State budget. It is not a concern but an observation: the choice must remain irreversible and we must remain resolute. We need to explain to our population of 33 000 what the choice involves, what its down side will be, and what possible new developments for our economy might lead on from it.

      Perhaps I can respond to the previous question too. We want an audience, because we are convinced that internationalisation pursuant to the rules of transparency might open up new possibilities, give a boost to our economy and attract foreign investors. That is important for our country and we will, of course, follow the rules of transparency when dealing with international and supranational organisations.

We are clear that this is a choice that may involve considerable sacrifices for our population. None the less, we stand by it resolutely. We want to emerge from the two crises, one of which was a structural crisis, while the other was a specific momentary crisis. We are changing the strategic assets of our country, although that will not provide an immediate response to the global crisis. Our country was helped by the supranational organisations of individual States, which may be able to offer further assistance.

      The economic area is part of the ongoing negotiations. There have been various phases and, in recent years, close links with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) have given us an opportunity to consider possible means of integration with other States. We are looking further into those possibilities. Further steps have been taken and we have to bring up to speed our – how shall I put it? – special, privileged position with regard to the proposals made by EFTA and other European bodies.

      The PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Renzi. That brings to an end the questions to their Excellencies. On behalf of the Assembly, I thank them most warmly for their address and for the answers given to questions.

3. Next public business

      The PRESIDENT – The Assembly will hold its next public sitting this afternoon at 3.30 p.m. with the agenda which was approved on Monday morning.

      The sitting is adjourned.

      (The sitting was closed at 1.05 p.m.)


1. Recent attacks against women in European cities – the need for a comprehensive response

Presentation by Mr Gunnarsson of the report of the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination, Document 13961

Speakers: Ms Kavvadia, Mr Fischer, Ms Sutter, Ms Reps, Sir Roger Gale, Ms Hoffmann, Mr Schwabe, Ms Hetto-Gaasch, Ms Kalmari, Ms Heinrich, Ms Robinson, Ms Rawert, Ms Le Dain, Ms Quintanilla, Ms Mikko, Mr Frécon, Ms Katrivanou, Mr Gopp, Mr Wood, Ms Ohlsson, Ms Kronlid, Ms Louhelainen, Ms Gafarova, Mr Kiral, Mr Howell.

Replies: Mr Gunnarsson, Ms Centemero

Amendments 2,4,5,6,7,1 and 3 adopted

Draft resolution in Document 13961, as amended, adopted

2. Address by Their Excellencies Ms Lorella Stefanelli and Mr Nicola Renzi, Captains Regent of San Marino

Questions: Mr Allavena, Ms Bonet, Ms Brasseur, Mr Pritchard, Mr Kox, Mr Vareikis, Mr Gopp

3. Next public business

Appendix I

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



Brigitte ALLAIN/Anne-Yvonne Le Dain

Jean-Charles ALLAVENA

Werner AMON*

Luise AMTSBERG/Mechthild Rawert

Lord Donald ANDERSON


Sirkka-Liisa ANTTILA*


Iwona ARENT*

Khadija ARIB*

Volodymyr ARIEV

Anna ASCANI/Tamara Blazina




Gérard BAPT/Pascale Crozon


José Manuel BARREIRO*


Guto BEBB*

Marieluise BECK*

Ondřej BENEŠIK/Jana Fischerová



Sali BERISHA/Oerd Bylykbashi

Włodzimierz BERNACKI/Jarosław Obremski

Anna Maria BERNINI/ Claudio Fazzone

Maria Teresa BERTUZZI*




Oleksandr BILOVOL/Serhii Kiral

Ľuboš BLAHA/Darina Gabániová


Maryvonne BLONDIN/Catherine Quéré

Tilde BORK*

Mladen BOSIĆ



Margareta BUDNER*





Vannino CHITI*






Zsolt CSENGER-ZALÁN/Jenő Manninger

Katalin CSÖBÖR*

Geraint DAVIES*






Sergio DIVINA*

Aleksandra DJUROVIĆ




Daphné DUMERY/Andries Gryffroy

Alexander [The Earl of] DUNDEE*


Josette DURRIEU/Jean-Claude Frécon



Lady Diana ECCLES/Mary Robinson


Franz Leonhard EẞL*




Cătălin Daniel FENECHIU*

Doris FIALA/Elisabeth Schneider-Schneiter

Daniela FILIPIOVÁ/Ivana Dobešová




Béatrice FRESKO-ROLFO/Christian Barilaro

Pierre-Alain FRIDEZ/Manuel Tornare

Martin FRONC


Sir Roger GALE



Iryna GERASHCHENKO/Sergiy Vlasenko

Tina GHASEMI/Boriana Åberg


Francesco Maria GIRO

Pavol GOGA

Carlos Alberto GONÇALVES

Oleksii GONCHARENKO/Vladyslav Golub

Rainer GOPP

Alina Ștefania GORGHIU*




Gergely GULYÁS*

Emine Nur GÜNAY






Andrzej HALICKI*

Alfred HEER/Roland Rino Büchel



Martin HENRIKSEN/Rasmus Nordqvist




Johannes HÜBNER*

Andrej HUNKO*


Ekmeleddin Mehmet İHSANOĞLU


Denis JACQUAT/André Schneider

Gediminas JAKAVONIS/Dalia Kuodytė


Tedo JAPARIDZE/Guguli Magradze


Michael Aastrup JENSEN*

Mogens JENSEN*


Florina-Ruxandra JIPA/Viorel Riceard Badea


Aleksandar JOVIČIĆ*






Nina KASIMATI/Evangelos Venizelos






Bogdan KLICH*


Haluk KOÇ/Metin Lütfi Baydar

Željko KOMŠIĆ/Saša Magazinović

Unnur Brá KONRÁÐSDÓTTIR/Brynjar Níelsson

Ksenija KORENJAK KRAMAR/Anže Logar



Rom KOSTŘICA/Gabriela Pecková


Tiny KOX

Borjana KRIŠTO*



Eerik-Niiles KROSS*


Ertuğrul KÜRKÇÜ



Pierre-Yves LE BORGN'

Jean-Yves LE DÉAUT


Valentina LESKAJ


Inese LĪBIŅA-EGNERE/Boriss Cilevičs




François LONCLE*



Philippe MAHOUX/Petra De Sutter


Thierry MARIANI*

Soňa MARKOVÁ/Pavel Holík



Alberto MARTINS*

Meritxell MATEU


Michael McNAMARA*

Sir Alan MEALE/Virendra Sharma



Ana Catarina MENDES*


Jean-Claude MIGNON*

Marianne MIKKO


Arkadiusz MULARCZYK*

Thomas MÜLLER/Jean-Pierre Grin



Marian NEACȘU*



Miroslav NENUTIL


Aleksandar NIKOLOSKI




Judith OEHRI




Joseph O'REILLY/Rónán Mullen

Kate OSAMOR/Liam Byrne





Florin Costin PÂSLARU*

Jaana PELKONEN/Anne Louhelainen

Agnieszka POMASKA*

Cezar Florin PREDA



Gabino PUCHE




Christina REES*

Mailis REPS




Helena ROSETA*



Vincenzo SANTANGELO/Maria Edera Spadoni


Nadiia SAVCHENKO/Boryslav Bereza




Ingjerd SCHOU




Predrag SEKULIĆ*

Aleksandar SENIĆ


Samad SEYIDOV/Vusal Huseynov





Arturas SKARDŽIUS/Egidijus Vareikis

Jan ŠKOBERNE/Matjaž Hanžek



Lorella STEFANELLI/Gerardo Giovagnoli



Ionuț-Marian STROE





Goran TUPONJA/Snežana Jonica

İbrahim Mustafa TURHAN/Burhanettin Uysal

Konstantinos TZAVARAS/Georgios Mavrotas

Leyla Şahin USTA


Snorre Serigstad VALEN/Tore Hagebakken


Imre VEJKEY/ Rózsa Hoffmann




Vladimir VORONIN*

Viktor VOVK*



Karl-Georg WELLMANN*

Katrin WERNER*

Jacek WILK

Andrzej WOJTYŁA*

Morten WOLD/Ingebjørg Godskesen

Bas van 't WOUT*

Gisela WURM*



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

Sílvia Eloïsa BONET

Azadeh Rojhan GUSTAFSSON


Representatives of the Turkish Cypriot Community (In accordance to Resolution 1376 (2004) of the Parliamentary Assembly)





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