memorandum by Mr Schennach, rapporteur
The basis for the Parliamentary Assembly’s monitoring
procedure is Resolution
on the setting up of an Assembly committee on the honouring
of obligations and commitments by member States of the Council of
Europe (Monitoring Committee) (modified by Resolution 1431 (2005)
). This resolution defines the mandate of the Monitoring
Committee, and entrusts it with the task of ensuring “the fulfilment
of the obligations assumed by member States under the terms of the
Statute of the Council of Europe (ETS No. 1), the European Convention
on Human Rights (ETS No. 5, ‘the Convention’) and all other Council
of Europe conventions to which they are parties” as well as ensuring
the “honouring of commitments entered into by the authorities of member
States upon their accession to the Council of Europe”.
In accordance with Resolution
, as amended, the Monitoring Committee is obliged to
report to the Assembly, on a yearly basis, on the general progress
of the monitoring procedures. In line with established practice,
the committee entrusted me, as its Chairperson, with the task of
being the rapporteur on the committee’s activities.
3. The progress in the monitoring procedure for the 10 countries
that are subject to a monitoring procedure of the Assembly and the
four countries that are engaged in a post-monitoring dialogue will
be discussed in the second section of this report. Following customary
practice I have limited myself to the findings in the relevant texts
adopted by the Assembly as well as the reports, statements and other
public documents prepared by the co-rapporteurs for the respective
countries. In addition, where appropriate, I have made reference
to the reports of the ad hoc committees for the observation of the
elections in the countries concerned.
In Resolution 1953
on the progress of the its monitoring procedure, the
Assembly resolved to pursue a more general reflection on ways to
enhance the efficiency and impact of the Assembly’s monitoring procedure
with regard to all Council of Europe member States. The discussions
on the functioning of the monitoring procedure and the ways to enhance
its efficiency and impact formed a major component of the work of
the committee in the reporting period. A special ad hoc Sub-Committee
on the Functioning of the Parliamentary Monitoring Procedure, chaired
by Mr Pedro Agramunt, was set up to facilitate these discussions and
to make concrete proposals for the improvement of the monitoring
5. The report of the ad hoc sub-committee was adopted by the
Monitoring Committee on 26 June 2014. The conclusions and contribution
to the draft resolution on the progress of the Assembly’s monitoring procedure
are an integral part of this report. I will discuss, and where necessary
elaborate on the conclusions of the committee with regard to the
ways to improve the efficiency and impact of the monitoring procedure
in the third section of this progress report and I will make a number
of proposals to ensure their practical implementation.
6. When discussing the proposals to enhance the effectiveness
and impact of the monitoring procedure, the Monitoring Committee
decided that it would subject the 33 countries that are not subject
to a monitoring procedure sensu stricto,
or engaged in a post-monitoring dialogue, to a periodic review with
regard to their honouring of the membership obligations to the Council
of Europe. In this report, I will outline a mechanism on how to
structure the periodic reporting on these countries. Pending the
new reporting mechanism, the committee decided not to include in
this report a review of the situation in all 33 countries that are
not subject to a monitoring procedure sensu
stricto, or engaged in a post-monitoring dialogue. A
chart of ratifications and signatures of the main Council of Europe
conventions with a monitoring mechanism is appended to this report.
of the committee’s activities
2.1 General remarks
under the monitoring procedure and an additional four countriesNote
engaged in a post-monitoring dialogue. During the reporting period,
one full report, on the Republic of Moldova, was prepared and debated
by the Assembly. In addition, a report on the functioning of democratic
institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina was debated by the Assembly.
Two reports and draft resolutions, on Albania (Doc. 13586
) and on Georgia (Doc.
), have been adopted by the committee and are due to
be debated during the autumn part-session of the Assembly. A preliminary
draft report on the honouring of obligations and commitments of
Montenegro was adopted in September 2014 and sent to the Montenegrin
authorities for their comments.
8. The developments in Ukraine since November 2013 have been
followed closely by, and were an important part of the work of,
the committee. Two reports on the functioning of democratic institutions
were adopted in debates under urgent procedure during the January
and April 2014 part-sessions and the two co-rapporteurs, in addition
to their frequent fact-finding visits, participated in a visit of
the Presidential Committee to Ukraine (Kyiv, Donetsk and Lviv) from
22 to 24 March 2014.
On 7 April 2014, the Monitoring Committee was seized, in line
with the Rules of Procedure of the Assembly, for report on two motions
challenging the ratified credentials of the Russian delegation on substantive
grounds. The report was debated by the Assembly on 10 April 2014
and Resolution 1990 (2014)
10. During the reporting period, the respective co-rapporteurs
carried out fact-finding missions to Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan
(two visits), Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Georgia, Monaco,
Montenegro, Serbia, “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”,
Turkey and Ukraine (four visits). In addition, the respective co-rapporteurs
participated in the pre-electoral and election observation missions
in Azerbaijan, Georgia, “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”,
Turkey and Ukraine.
11. The co-rapporteurs produced information notes on Montenegro
and Serbia, which were declassified by the committee, and declarations/statements
with regard to developments in Azerbaijan (two declarations), Georgia
(three statements), Monaco, Montenegro, the Russian Federation,
Turkey and Ukraine (three declarations). The committee adopted declarations
on “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, Turkey and Ukraine.
12. With regard to the request to open a monitoring procedure
in respect of France, the committee appointed two co-rapporteurs
in December 2013. A first fact-finding visit to Paris is scheduled
to take place on 10 and 11 September 2014.
13. On 13 December 2013, the committee held an exchange of views
with Mr Štefan Füle, European Commissioner on European Union Enlargement
and Neighbourhood Policy, on the European Union enlargement and
its neighbourhood policy. Also on 13 December 2014, the committee
held an exchange of views with Mr Thomas Hammarberg, European Union
Special Advisor on Constitutional and Legal Reform and Human Rights
in Georgia on his report “Georgia in transition”. Furthermore, on
27 February 2014, in Malta, the committee held an exchange of views
with Mr Thorbjørn Jagland, Secretary General of the Council of Europe, on
his report on Democracy, Human Rights and the Rule of Law in Europe.
14. In the framework of the committee’s ongoing work in relation
to the consequences of the war between Georgia and Russia, the Chair
of the Committee and the co-rapporteurs for Russia and Georgia met,
on 6 November 2014, with representatives of the Office of the Prosecutor
of the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
15. On 29 January 2014, the committee organised a public hearing
on the misuse of administrative resources in the electoral process
with the participation of the European Commission for Democracy
through Law (Venice Commission) and the Election Observation Department
of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the
Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE/ODIHR).
16. In addition to the committee meetings, the ad hoc Sub-Committee
on the Functioning of the Parliamentary Monitoring Procedure met
four times and presented its report to the committee on 26 June
2014. Following the adoption of its report, the ad hoc sub-committee
2.2 Overview of monitoring
in the reporting period with regard to countries under a monitoring procedure
17. The rapporteurs visited Albania on 2 and 3 June 2014,
with a view to discussing their preliminary draft report on the
honouring of obligations and commitments by Albania that was adopted
by the committee on 27 February 2014 and sent to the Albanian authorities
for their comments. The report and draft resolution were unanimously
adopted by the committee on 24 June 2014 and are scheduled to be
debated in plenary during the autumn 2014 part-session of the Assembly.
18. Recently, after a long delay resulting from the political
crisis in the country following the 2009 parliamentary elections,
Albania has made marked progress in honouring its obligations and
commitments to the Council of Europe, but a number of areas of concern
remain. Regrettably the political climate continues to be tense
and polarised as it was during the 2013 parliamentary elections.
Consensus on important reforms is often lacking and the opposition
has occasionally boycotted the work of the parliament on important
reforms such as the administrative territorial reform.
19. Despite numerous reforms, the independence and impartiality
of the judiciary and justice system is not sufficiently ensured
in Albania. The justice system continues to suffer from political
pressure and interference and is undermined by endemic corruption
in the judiciary. Further and far-reaching reforms are necessary, including
of the Supreme Court and High Council of Justice. In this respect,
the committee has welcomed the close co-operation with the Venice
Commission that was established by the authorities with regard to
the reform of the judiciary and justice system.
20. The persistent and endemic corruption at all levels of Albanian
society undermines the county’s democratic and socio-economic development
and is an issue of major concern. Despite a recent increase in prosecutions,
most indicators show that corruption has been increasing, rather
than diminishing, over recent years, which underscores the need
for urgent and far-reaching reforms. Efficiently and effectively
combating the endemic corruption in the judiciary will be crucial
for overall success in this area.
21. The authorities have started an administrative territorial
reform with a view to strengthening local self-government as a key
mechanism to further democratic consolidation of the country. While
timely, there is some concern that the planned reform seems, at
this moment, to be mostly focused on the administrative division
of the country and less on the functional aspects of local self-government
and especially the manner in which local authorities would obtain
the necessary resources to implement the services that the law,
and citizens, are expecting from them. As a result, this reform
is controversial. Regrettably, the work of the special parliamentary ad
hoc committee that was set up to guide this reform was boycotted
by the opposition
22. The co-rapporteurs visited Armenia from 16 to 18
June 2014. This was the first fact-finding visit after the cycle
of presidential and parliamentary elections in 2012 and 2013. Following
his re-election, President Sargsyan re-appointed Prime Minister
Tigran Sargsyan and his government with very little changes in its composition.
However, on 3 April 2014, Prime Minister Sargsyan resigned, ostensibly
for personal reasons. On 13 April 2014, President Sargsyan appointed
parliamentary Speaker Hovik Abrahamyan as Prime Minister and Davit
Harutyunyan – who until then was the Chair of the Armenian delegation
to our Assembly – was appointed Head of the Prime Minister’s Cabinet
and Minister for the Co-ordination of the Cabinet of Ministers.
Several important changes took place in the government which seem
to suggest that President Sargsyan wished to install a new government
team in order to revive the faltering reform programme and to counter
the low level of public trust in the government.
23. Armenia and the European Union originally announced that they
would initial an Association Agreement, including a Deep and Comprehensive
Free Trade Agreement, during the Vilnius Summit. However, on 3 September
2012, in an unexpected U-turn when visiting Moscow, President Sargsyan
announced that Armenia would join the Customs Union of the Commonwealth
of Independent States (CIS) as a precursor to a Eurasian Economic
Union. President Sargsyan pointedly admitted that this decision
was based on Armenia’s national security interests and the need
to maintain good relations with Moscow for that purpose. The decision
to join the Customs Union is controversial among a large segment
of Armenian society, which fears a possible deterioration of political
freedoms and human rights as a result of Armenia joining the Customs
In June 2013, President Sargsyan established a Specialised
Commission on Constitutional Reform with the aim of “improving constitutional
mechanisms to ensure fundamental human rights and freedoms, guaranteeing
full balance of power and raising the efficiency of public administration”.
This commission presented its concept paper for constitutional reform
in June 2014. In order to ensure that the discussions on the future
political system in Armenia did not get entangled in speculations
about his own political future, President Sargsyan announced, in
May 2014, that he would neither seek the post of Prime Minister
nor a third term as President even if this were possible.Note
25. Final amendments to the Law on Alternative Service were adopted
in October 2013. As a result, Armenia has successfully honoured
its accession commitment of implementing a proper system of alternative
military service that is in line with Council of Europe standards.
Following the adoption of the Law on Alternative Service, all persons
that were either convicted or prosecuted for refusing military service
were given the possibility to opt for alternative military service,
with any detention being subtracted from their period of service.
26. The co-rapporteurs visited the country from 20 to
24 January 2014 and from 19 to 21 May 2014. In addition, they participated ex officio in the ad hoc committee
of the Assembly to observe the presidential election that took place
on 9 October 2013.
27. The presidential election took place in Azerbaijan on 9 October
2013 and was observed by an ad hoc committee of the Assembly. Regrettably
it was not possible to agree on a joint statement within the International Election
Observation Mission (IEOM), as is customary. Instead the ad hoc
committee of the Assembly issued a joint statement with the European
Parliament delegation, and the Election Observation Mission of the
OSCE/ODIHR and the Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE issued a separate
28. The presidential election was the first since the constitutional
amendments that removed the two-term limit for the president and
therewith allowed incumbent President Aliyev to stand for a third
consecutive term. In the view of the ad hoc committee of the Parliamentary
Assembly of the Council of Europe, the elections on polling day
were conducted in a free and transparent manner, but improvements
to the electoral framework in the run-up to the elections, were
still desirable, as the electoral process was still far from perfect.
This presidential election was won by incumbent President Aliyev
with 84% of the votes.
29. Several personalities and institutions, including the Council
of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights and the co-rapporteurs,
expressed their concern about the deteriorating respect for fundamental
human rights, such as freedom of expression, freedom of association
and freedom of assembly, as well as an increase in possibly politically
motivated prosecutions of journalists and civil society and opposition
activists, since the last presidential election.
30. The number of alleged politically motivated prosecutions is
a point of contention and is being investigated by, inter alia, the co-rapporteurs.
Increasingly, civil society activists and journalists are prosecuted, allegedly
for high treason and spying for Armenia, which carry very long prison
sentences. This has had a chilling effect on the non-governmental
organisation (NGO) and media community. On 22 May 2014, in its judgement
in the case of IlgarMammadov v. Azerbaijan, the European
Court of Human Rights (“the Court”) considered that the charges
against him were not substantiated by the prosecution and that there
was therefore no reasonable suspicion justifying his arrest and
pre-trail detention. Moreover, the Court considered that the courts
had failed to verify the soundness of the claims of the prosecution.
Importantly, the Court found a violation under Article 18, clearly
indicating that other reasons than those allowed by the European
Convention on Human Rights (ETS No. 5) had played a role in the
prosecution and conviction of Mr Mammadov.
2.2.4 Bosnia and Herzegovina
The co-rapporteurs visited the country from 7 to
9 July 2014. On 2 October 2013, the Assembly adopted Recommendation 2025 (2013)
on the functioning of democratic institutions in Bosnia
In this recommendation, the Assembly expressed its regret
that no credible efforts had been made by the Bosnian authorities
to prepare the comprehensive package of constitutional amendments
needed to implement the Sejdić and Finci
of the European Court of Human Rights that held that the constitutional
framework for elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina was discriminatory
and violates the European Convention on Human Rights. In the view
of the Assembly, “the execution of the Sejdić
judgment is a first step in the comprehensive
constitutional reform that is needed in order to move away from
the institutional straitjacket created by the Dayton Constitution,
towards a modern, euro-compatible and functional democracy in which
every citizen, regardless of his or her ethnic affiliation, enjoys
the same rights and freedoms”.Note
33. The Assembly expressed it serious concern about growing disrespect
for the rule of law in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with State institutions
being attacked by high-level officials and political parties and
their leadership ignoring, and often violating, legal and constitutional
requirements. In the view of the Assembly, the current situation
hampers much-needed reforms in key areas such as democratic institutions,
the rule of law and human rights. In that context, the Assembly
regretted that since 2006 only very limited progress had been achieved
in the implementation of outstanding accession commitments of the
country to the Council of Europe, which, if continued, could affect
the relations between the Assembly and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
34. The rapporteurs visited Georgia from 13 to 16 January
2014 and participated ex officio in
the pre-electoral mission (24-25 September 2013) and election observation
mission of the ad hoc committee of the Assembly to observe the presidential
election in Georgia, on 27 October 2013. On 24 June 2014, the committee
adopted a report and draft resolution on the functioning of democratic
institutions in Georgia, which is scheduled to be debated in plenary
during the 4th part-session of the Assembly in 2014.
On 27 October 2013, the presidential election took place in
Georgia, observed by an ad hoc committee of the Assembly in the
framework of the International Election Observation Mission. In
the view of the IEOM, this election was “efficiently administered,
transparent and took place in an amicable and constructive environment”.
In addition, it concluded that “[f]undamental freedoms of expression,
movement and assembly were respected, and candidates were able to
campaign without restriction”.Note
This election was
won with 61% of the vote by Giorgi Margvelashvili of the Georgian
Dream coalition, former Speaker Davit Bagradze of the United National
Movement came in second. Mr Margvelashvili was inaugurated on 17 November
2014. The local elections that were held in July 2014 heralded the
final phase of the democratic transfer of power in the country.
During these elections, for the first time, all mayors and chiefs
of city executives (gamgebeli
were directly elected. The Georgian Dream coalition consolidated
its control over the country by winning all mayor and gamgebeli
races and by obtaining
a majority in practically every city council in the country.
36. The independence of the judiciary and administration of justice
in Georgia have been an issue of concern for the Assembly in previous
years. In that respect, the adoption of a comprehensive reform package
for the judiciary and justice system that aimed to ensure genuine
independence of the judiciary and a truly adversarial justice system
is already showing some positive results and is to be welcomed.
However, there are continuing vulnerabilities and deficiencies in
the justice system that need to be addressed and further reforms
of the judiciary, particularly of the prosecution service, are still
37. Following the 2012 parliamentary elections, more than 20 000
complaints were filed with the prosecution service against former
government officials for alleged criminal conduct during their tenure
in office. Following this, the authorities opened a number of criminal
investigations and initiated several prosecutions against former
government officials. These prosecutions were decried as politically
motivated and revanchist justice by the former ruling party, the
United National Movement. The Assembly has stressed that, while
there can be no impunity for ordinary crimes, the government has
to ensure that the investigations and court proceedings are conducted
transparently and impartially and fully respect the principles of
a fair trial as enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights.
This is especially important in the context of politically sensitive
cases such as those against former government members.
38. The many reports, several of them verified, of pressure on
local officials belonging to the opposition to resign or switch
sides, as well as pressure on opposition candidates in the recent
local elections to withdraw their candidatures, is a point of serious
concern and it hampers the democratic consolidation of the country.
All these reports need to be fully investigated and the perpetrators
brought to justice. A clear and unambiguous signal needs to be given
to their supporters by the leadership of the ruling coalition that
pressure on opposition activists and supporters will not be tolerated.
39. On 27 June 2014, Georgia signed an Association Agreement,
including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA)
with the European Union.
2.2.6 Republic of Moldova
No visits by the rapporteurs on the Republic of Moldova
took place during the reporting period. On 2 October 2013, the Assembly
adopted Resolution 1955
on the honouring of obligations and commitments by the
Republic of Moldova.
41. Constitutional amendments to avoid a political deadlock over
the election of the President of the Republic, leading to repeated
parliamentary elections, are still needed as are further reforms
of the electoral legislation and election process. The current potential
for conflict and political instability due to shortcomings in the
constitution and electoral legislation remains of concern.
42. Further reforms are still necessary to ensure the full separation
of powers and to de-politicise judicial institutions. Far-reaching
reforms are needed to combat widespread corruption, especially in
the judiciary, police, and health and education services, which
remains of serious concern.
43. On 27 June 2014, the Republic of Moldova signed an Association
Agreement, including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement
(DCFTA) with the European Union.
44. The co-rapporteurs visited Montenegro from 14 to
16 April 2014. A preliminary draft report on the honouring of obligations
and commitments by Montenegro was prepared by the rapporteurs and
sent to the Montenegrin authorities after adoption in the committee
on 3 September 2014.
45. Corruption continues to be a point of concern in Montenegro.
While welcoming the progress made to meet Council of Europe standards
in this respect, the co-rapporteurs for Montenegro called on the
Montenegrin authorities to ensure that their declared willingness
to fight corruption would lead to concrete results. In this context,
the consensual appointment of an independent and de-politicised
Supreme State Prosecutor by the Montenegrin Parliament is crucial.
46. The media environment in Montenegro remains highly polarised
and the repeated attacks against journalists and media outlets are
of concern. The establishment of a special commission to investigate assassinations
of, and threats against, journalists was welcomed by the two co-rapporteurs.
2.2.8 Russian Federation
47. No monitoring visits to the Russian Federation took
place during the reporting period. A request of the co-rapporteurs
to make a fact-finding visit in July 2014 was refused by the Russian
48. Respect for the fundamental rights of freedom of expression
and freedom of assembly continue to be of concern. On 25 February
2014, the co-rapporteurs for Russia issued a statement expressing
their deep concern at the disproportionate prison sentences given
to the Bolotnaya Square demonstrators. They noted that the procedural
shortcomings during the trial, as well as the long pre-trial detention,
raised justified suspicions of politically motivated justice.
Russia’s actions towards its immediate neighbours have been
a source of great concern to the Assembly. In Resolution 1974 (2014)
on the functioning of democratic institutions in Ukraine,
the Assembly reminded the Russian Federation of its accession commitment
to the Council of Europe “to denounce as wrong the concept of two
different categories of foreign countries, whereby some are treated
as a zone of special influence called ‘the near abroad’ and refrain
from promoting the geographical doctrine of zones of special interests”.
In Resolution 1988
“Recent developments in Ukraine: threats to the functioning
of democratic institutions”, the Assembly strongly condemned the
Russian military aggression against Ukraine and the subsequent annexation
of the Crimea by the Russian Federation in clear violation of international
law, including the United Nations Charter, the OSCE Helsinki Act
and the Statute and basic principles of the Council of Europe.
Following the annexation of the Crimea by the Russian Federation,
the already ratified credentials of the Russian delegation to the
Assembly were challenged on substantive grounds by a large number
of members of the Assembly. In Resolution 1990 (2014)
on the reconsideration of the previously ratified credentials
of the Russian delegation, the Assembly again considered that Russia’s
actions in Ukraine violated international law, including its obligations
and commitments to the Council of Europe and in this respect regretted
that Russia rejected international mechanisms available to it to
peacefully resolve its conflict with Ukraine. In the view of the
Assembly, with its violation of the sovereignty and territorial
integrity of Ukraine, Russia had created a threat to stability and
peace in Europe. The Assembly therefore decided to suspend, until
January 2015, the voting rights of the Russian delegation in the
Assembly as well as its right to be represented on the Bureau of
the Assembly, the Presidential Committee and the Standing Committee
and its right to participate in election observation missions. However,
underscoring its belief in the privileged position of political
dialogue, the Assembly decided not to annul the credentials of the
52. On 26 June 2014, the Monitoring Committee established an ad
hoc Sub-Committee on Russia’s Neighbourhood Policy, also with a
view to fostering an open and frank dialogue with the Russian delegation
on this issue which is of great concern to the Assembly.
In Resolution 1996
on refusing impunity for the killers of Sergei Magnitsky,
based on a report by the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights,
prepared by one of the two co-rapporteurs, the Assembly urged the
Russian Federation to fully investigate the circumstances and background
of Russian tax lawyer Sergei Magnitsky’s death, and the possible
criminal responsibility of all officials involved. It recommended
that Council of Europe member States, as a last resort, consider
adopting “targeted sanctions” against the individuals involved in
the death of Mr Magnitsky – such as visa bans and the freezing of
accounts – if the competent authorities in Russia failed to respond
adequately to its demands within a reasonable period of time.
The co-rapporteurs visited Serbia from 25 to 27 November
2013 and presented an information noteNote
declassified by the committee on 30 January 2014.
55. During the reporting period, Serbia continued to make good
progress in honouring its obligations and commitments to the Council
of Europe. The European Commission agreed to open accession negotiations
in 2014, on the understanding that visible and sustainable progress
in normalisations with Kosovo continued.
56. Key reforms with a view to strengthening the independence
of the judiciary and reintegrating the 600 judges who were unlawfully
dismissed in 2009 continued. While welcoming these reforms, the
co-rapporteurs for Serbia noted that amendments to Serbia’s Constitution
were necessary to address the lack of real independence in the judiciary.
There are no indications that the adoption of such amendments is
foreseen in the foreseeable future.
57. The fight against corruption remained a main priority for
the Serbian authorities. A key role in the anti-corruption strategy
is given to the Anti-Corruption Agency, which is an independent
agency directly accountable to the National Assembly. However, the
modalities for the functioning of this agency are not clear and
its lack of power to impose sanctions undermines the effectiveness
of its work. In a welcome development, a law on whistle-blowers
is being prepared by the authorities. Despite positive developments,
serious obstacles to the fight against corruption remain in place
and State institutions need to be strengthened, and their transparency
increased. This is also true for the media environment, where lack
of transparency of media ownership remains a point of concern.
The monitoring of Ukraine’s honouring of obligations
and commitments to the Council of Europe during the reporting period
was dominated by the Euromaidan protests followed by the illegal
annexation of the Crimea and the separatist insurgency in eastern
Ukraine. In the reporting period, the co-rapporteurs visited Ukraine
from 18 to 20 December 2013, 17 to 21 February 2014, 22 to 24 March
2014 (jointly with the Presidential Committee) and from 8 to 11
July 2014. In addition, they participated, ex
, in the pre-electoral delegation of the ad hoc
committee of the Assembly for the extraordinary presidential election
on 25 May 2014. On 30 January 2014, the Assembly adopted in a debate
under urgent procedure, requested by the Monitoring Committee, Resolution 1974 (2014)
on the functioning of democratic institutions in Ukraine.
On 9 April 2014, the Assembly adopted, also in a debate under urgent
procedure requested by the Monitoring Committee, Resolution 1988 (2014)
“Recent developments in Ukraine: threats to the functioning
of democratic Institutions”.
59. A political crisis ensued in Ukraine when, on 21 November
2013, the Ukrainian authorities under former President Yanukovich,
decided to suspend the procedure for the signing of an Association
Agreement, including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement
with the European Union. The authorities claimed that political
pressure by the Russian Federation, including the threat of sanctions
had been the main reason for this decision.
60. This surprise decision led to mass protest on Independence
Square in Kyiv, most commonly refer to as Maidan by the local population.
Attempts by the authorities to break up the protests with the use
of disproportionate force only galvanised the protests and turned
them into a general protest against the governing style of the ruling
majority, including the lack of democratic decision making and endemic
corruption under the country’s leadership. Regrettably, calls by
national and international actors, including the Assembly, on the
Ukrainian authorities to refrain from any action that could further
escalate the situation and not to attempt to break up the protests
by force, were not heeded by the authorities. Their increasingly
hard-handed approach caused an unprecedented escalation of violence,
culminating in the dramatic events on Maidan in Kyiv from 18 to
20 February 2014 that lead to the death of over a hundred protesters
and 17 police officers. As a result of the increasing violence and
brutality in the week of 18 to 20 February, including the use of
snipers against protesters, large numbers of key personalities and
financial interests withdrew their support from the then President
Yanukovich. As a result, on 21 February 2014, the foreign ministers
of Poland, Germany and France, on behalf of the European Union,
managed to broker an agreement between the President and opposition parties.
This agreement foresaw the re-enactment of the 2004 constitutional
amendments followed by constitutional reform, the formation of a
national unity government and an early presidential election. Recognising
that most of his supporters had abandoned and effectively disowned
him, President Yanukovich fled to Russia immediately after the signature
of the agreement. An independent advisory panel was established
by the Council of Europe to assist an impartial investigation into
the violence on both sides that occurred during the Euromaidan protests.
61. A large part of the 21 February agreement continued to be
implemented by the Verkhovna Rada, which, in line with constitutional
provisions, appointed parliamentary Speaker Turchinov as acting
President of Ukraine. An early presidential election was called
for 25 May 2014.
62. The early presidential election on 25 May 2014 was observed
by an ad hoc committee of the Assembly in the framework of an International
Election Observation Mission that also consisted of the OSCE/ODIHR,
the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly and the Parliamentary Assembly of
the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The two co-rapporteurs
were ex officio members of
this ad hoc committee. The election was won, in the first round,
by Petro Poroshenko with 54.7% of the votes cast. In the view of
the IEOM, the early presidential election was a genuinely democratic
election, largely in line with international standards and respecting fundamental
rights and freedoms, despite the problematic security situation
in the east of the country.
63. Regrettably, the political developments in Ukraine were overshadowed
by the armed intervention and subsequent annexation of the Crimea
by the Russian Federation and the armed insurgency in the Donetsk
and Luhansk regions in the east of Ukraine. The annexation of the
Crimea by the Russian Federation, as well as its interference in
the east of Ukraine, has been condemned by the Assembly, which has
repeatedly expressed its strong support for the territorial integrity
and unity of Ukraine.
64. On 27 June 2014, Ukraine signed an Association Agreement,
including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement with the
2.3 Countries engaged
in a post-monitoring procedure
65. The rapporteur visited Bulgaria on 12 and 13 February
2014. No reports or information documents were adopted during the
66. On 23 July 2014, following a crisis involving two of the main
banks in the country and after a poor result for his party in the
European elections in May 2014, the Prime Minister of Bulgaria,
Mr Plamen Oresharski, resigned. On 6 August 2014, President Plevnelliev
called for early parliamentary elections on 5 October 2014 and appointed
a caretaker Cabinet led by Mr Georgi Bliznashki.
67. The rapporteur visited Monaco on 5 and 6 June 2014.
No reports or information notes were published on Monaco during
the reporting period.
68. In November 2013, Monaco ratified the Cybercrime Convention.
In a statement following his visit, the rapporteur also welcomed
the ongoing reform of the Criminal and Criminal Procedure Codes
and the preparations for a new law on the functioning of the National
Council, which is expected to be adopted in 2015.
69. The non-ratification of Protocols 1 and 12 of the European
Convention on Human Rights, as well as of the European Social Charter
(ETS Nos. 35 and 163), remain of concern. However the rapporteur
noted and welcomed the willingness of the Monegasque authorities
to continue the dialogue with the Assembly about these commitments
with a view to finding a solution that would ensure both the consideration
of the specificities of the Principality of Monaco and the values
of the Council of Europe.
2.3.3 “The former Yugoslav
Republic of Macedonia”
The rapporteur visited MacedoniaNote
on 2 and 3
December 2013 and participated in the pre-electoral mission and
election observation missions for the presidential and parliamentary
elections that took place on 13 and 27 April and 27 April 2014 respectively.
71. The ongoing lustration process in Macedonia is controversial,
contentious, and politicised. The law on lustration has been challenged
in the Constitutional Court and a case against the lustration process
has been filed with the European Court of Human Rights by the former
President of the Constitutional Court.
72. In its 2013 progress report, the European Commission recommended
the start of accession negotiations between Macedonia and the European
Union for the fifth time. However, due to lack of progress regarding
the name issue, no such decision was taken by the European Council.
73. The extreme politicisation of public life, both along ethnic
lines and political affiliation, is a point of serious concern.
The relations between the ruling majority and the opposition remain
very difficult and undermine the decision-making process.
74. The politicised and polarised environment also undermines
public trust in the judiciary as the perception of selective justice
is high. This is compounded by the high level of corruption in the
country, including among the judiciary.
75. The media environment also remains an issue of concern. There
are repeated allegations of pressure on journalists and the media
legislation that is under preparation is seen by some stakeholders
as attempting to curb the freedom of the media.
76. On 5 March 2014, the parliament was dissolved on the initiative
of the Democratic Union for Integration, the junior party in the
ruling coalition, following disagreements with the main party in
the ruling coalition, VMRO-DPMNE, over its choice of candidate in
the presidential election. Following the dissolution of the parliament,
it was agreed to organise parliamentary elections at the same time
as the second round for the presidential election, on 27 April 2014.
The first round of the presidential election took place on 13 April
77. These elections were observed by a delegation of the Assembly
in the framework of an International Election Observation Mission
with the OSCE/ODIHR and the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly. The IEOM concluded
that the elections were organised efficiently, with freedom of assembly
and association respected during the campaign period. However, the
campaign and media environment were biased in favour of the ruling party,
and allegations of pressure on voters, some of them credible, were
persistent throughout the campaign period.
78. On 16 May 2014, the Monitoring Committee issued a statement
in which it expressed its concern about the decision of the main
opposition party, the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia, not
to accept their mandates in the newly elected parliament and not
to recognise the legitimacy of the presidential election. It also deplored
the decision of the Democratic Union for Integration to boycott
the presidential election. At the same time, the committee called
on the authorities to promptly remedy the shortcomings in the election
process, as noted by the IEOM, and to investigate transparently
and impartially the credible allegations of intimidation and pressure
on voters, as well as of vote buying.
79. The rapporteur visited Turkey from 26 to 28 May 2014.
The committee issued a declaration with regard to developments in
the country on 29 January 2014. The rapporteur issued statements
on 21 March and 30 May 2014.
80. The independence of the judiciary is a point of concern in
Turkey, especially after the strong reaction of the ruling party
against allegations of high-level corruption in the Turkish Government.
In its declaration, the committee called on the Turkish authorities
to guarantee judicial independence and impartiality and expressed its
expectation that constitutional reform, clarifying the separation
and balance of powers in the country, would soon be adopted. Similarly,
in her declaration, the rapporteur for Turkey called for greater
social and political stability in the country.
81. On 10 August 2014, a presidential election took place in Turkey,
which was observed by a delegation of the Parliamentary Assembly
in the framework of an International Election Observation Mission
with the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly and OSCE/ODIHR. The observers
concluded that, while candidates were able to campaign freely, the
playing field was skewed in favour of the candidate of the ruling
2.4 Requests to open
a monitoring procedure
82. On 26 June 2013, 21 members of the Assembly tabled
a motion for a resolution requesting the opening of a monitoring
procedure in respect of France, claiming serious setbacks in the
field of human rights and the rule of law in relation to police
action against protesters against the Taubira Law, as well as in
relation to the compulsory teaching of gender theory as from the
age of six.
83. In line with the Rules of Procedure of the Assembly, the committee
appointed two co-rapporteurs in December 2013 to prepare a written
opinion on this subject. A first fact-finding visit of the rapporteurs
to Paris is scheduled to take place on 10 and 11 September 2014.
of the efficiency and impact of the Assembly’s monitoring procedure
on the progress of the Assembly’s monitoring procedure
the Assembly resolved to pursue a reflection on ways to enhance
the effectiveness and impact of the Assembly’s monitoring procedure.
It is important to highlight that the initiative of a reflection
on ways to improve the monitoring procedure originated in the committee
itself, in particular from my predecessors Mr Dick Marty and Mr Andres Herkel.
85. The reflection on the enhancement of the efficiency and impact
of the monitoring procedure with regard to all Council of Europe
member States has been a major component of the work of the Committee
over the reporting period. A special ad hoc sub-committee was set
up by the committee for this purpose and tasked with formulating
concrete proposals in this respect. This sub-committee was constituted
on the basis of a precise formula that would allow for a balanced
and representative composition, including between countries under
a monitoring procedure sensu stricto,
countries engaged in a post-monitoring dialogue, countries that
had been under a monitoring procedure sensu
stricto and countries that have never been under a monitoring
procedure sensu stricto.
86. The sub-committee presented its findings and conclusions to
the committee on 26 June 2014, which adopted its conclusions and
endorsed the report. The findings and conclusions are an integral
part of this progress report. The report of the ad hoc sub-committee,
as endorsed by the committee, is in Appendix 1.
87. The committee unanimously agreed that the monitoring procedure
of the Assembly has played, and continuous to play, an important
and positive role in the transformation processes in many countries
which joined the Organisation during and after the 1990s. The monitoring
process, and the work of the Monitoring Committee, is one off the
core activities of the Assembly that needs to be maintain and reinforced.
88. The 10 countries that are currently under the monitoring procedure
for obligations and commitments sensu
stricto should therefore remain under this specific monitoring
as long as the commitments they agreed upon when acceding to the
Council of Europe have not been entirely fulfilled. At the same
time, it was agreed that there can be no dividing lines and that
also the 33 countries that are not under a monitoring procedure sensu stricto should be periodically
reviewed by the Monitoring Committee with regard to the honouring
of membership obligations to the Council of Europe. I was tasked
by the committee with proposing a reporting mechanism for such a
periodical review, which I will do in the section below.
89. With regard to the post-monitoring dialogue, it was agreed
that this dialogue should have a clearly defined timeline. If the
issues delegated to a post-monitoring dialogue were, in the view
of the Assembly, not resolved within such a time frame, the country
in question should automatically return to a monitoring procedure sensu stricto. The report of the
ad hoc sub-committee, as approved by the committee, made a number
of concrete proposals in this respect. I was also tasked with clarifying
some aspects of this procedure, especially with regard to transitional
provisions and the possible return of a country to the monitoring
procedure sensu stricto.
90. The possibility for involvement in the work of the committee
of the countries engaged in the partnership for democracy was raised.
However, the modalities for such involvement are not clear and would
need further reflection by the committee. I propose to come back
to this subject in the context of the 2015 progress report of the
monitoring procedure. In this context, it is also important to highlight
the close relationship and complementarity between the work of the
committee and the election observation missions of the Assembly. Close
co-operation between the committee and the observation missions
exists and has been strengthened by the systematic ex officio participation of our
rapporteurs in the ad hoc committees that observe the elections as
well as in the pre-electoral missions. The input of our rapporteurs
in these observations missions and the contextual reference they
provide are a valuable addition to the election observation exercise.
Therefore, the possibility of developing a more structural and integrated
relationship between the Monitoring Committee and the election observation
missions of the Assembly needs to be investigated. This would also
provide the election observation delegations with a stronger institutional
and less ad hoc basis for their work and reporting. I will formulate
concrete proposals in this respect in the next progress report on
the monitoring procedure.
3.1 Reporting on the
33 countries that are neither under the monitoring procedure sensu
stricto nor engaged in a post-monitoring dialogue
91. As already mentioned, on 26 June 2014, the Monitoring
Committee approved the report of the ad hoc Sub-Committee on the
Functioning of the Parliamentary Monitoring Procedure. In this report,
it was agreed, inter alia,
to subject the 33 countries that are not under the monitoring procedure sensu stricto or engaged in a post-monitoring
dialogue, to a periodic review of their honouring of membership
obligations to the Council of Europe. Furthermore, it was agreed
that such reviews would be on a country-by-country basis, complemented, if
need be, by issue-based monitoring. It was agreed that, on the basis
of these principles, a proposal for the reporting on these 33 countries,
taking into account the Assembly’s financial and human resource
constraints, would be included in the 2014 progress report on the
Reporting on the countries that are subject to the monitoring
procedure or engaged in a post-monitoring dialogue is defined by
the nature of the procedure and the accession commitments made,Note
and will therefore not
substantially change. However, it was agreed that the committee,
for its internal use, would establish a set of guidelines to be
used when considering the opening or the closing of a monitoring
procedure. These guidelines should be presented for discussion in
the committee by December 2014.
For the periodic review of the 33 countries, it is proposed
that for the countries selected (see proposal for the selection
process below), a concise preliminary report divided into sections
be compiled for each country. The first section would be an outline
of any major political developments since the last review by the Monitoring
respect to the functioning of democratic institutions, the rule
of law and respect for human rights. The second part would be an
assessment of the findings of the different convention-based and
institutional monitoring bodies of the Council of Europe published
during the reference period.
94. As they will be ultimately part of the progress report, the
preliminary reports will be drafted by the Chair or one of the vice-chairpersons,
95. The preliminary report would be discussed by the committee
and sent to the national delegation of the country in question with
a request for comments by the authorities on its findings. On the
basis of these comments, a draft report would be produced that would
be the subject of an exchange of views in the committee in the presence
of a representative of the majority and opposition of the country
in question. The final report, adopted after this exchange of views,
would be included in the progress report of the Monitoring Committee
for the year in which it was adopted.
96. When, in these reports, a country is found to be globally
honouring its membership obligations to the Council of Europe, no
further action should be necessary until the next reporting cycle.
However, if on the contrary, the committee considers that certain
developments are of serious concern, it can decide on one of the
two following actions.
97. Should the committee conclude that some of the developments
in a given country constitute a serious risk to the proper functioning
of democratic institutions, it can table a motion for a resolution,
in line with paragraph 7 of its terms of reference, on the functioning
of the democratic institutions in that country.
98. If, in the view of the committee, a country is found to be
structurally failing to honour its obligations as a member State
of the Council of Europe, the committee can propose the opening
of a monitoring procedure on the basis of paragraphs 3 and 5 of
the terms of reference of the committee.
In practical terms, it is proposed to discuss the preliminary
reports and hold the exchanges of views with representatives of
the parliamentary delegations concerned at each committee meeting
These meetings should be extended by
half a day for that purpose. The discussions should be organised
on the basis of groups of three countries. Each meeting would discuss
three preliminary reports and hold three exchanges of views.
100. The exchange of views on the draft reports with the representatives
concerned will take place two meetings after the meeting in which
the preliminary report was adopted. This will allow the authorities
three months to submit their comments on the preliminary draft report,
similar to countries under a monitoring procedure sensu stricto. With this schedule,
the committee could, after an initial phase, properly review 12 countries
each year, allowing it to review all current 33 countries that are
not under a monitoring procedure sensu
stricto or engaged in a post-monitoring dialogue within
three years. After the initial year, the procedure should be evaluated,
also taking into account financial and human resource constraints,
to see if this schedule needs to be adjusted.
101. In view of the opposition expressed in the committee to the
geographical grouping of countries, it is proposed that for the
periodical review the countries be grouped by three in (English)
alphabetical order. Thus Andorra, Austria and Belgium will be the
first countries to be reviewed, followed by Croatia, Cyprus and
the Czech Republic.
102. The report of the ad hoc sub-committee states that issue-based
monitoring can complement country-by-country monitoring for the
33 countries that are not under a monitoring procedure sensu stricto or engaged in a post-monitoring
dialogue. As mentioned in the report of the ad hoc sub-committee,
many of the other Assembly committees produce regular reports that
constitute issue-based monitoring on many of the subjects that the
Monitoring Committee is concerned with. It is important that our
committee avoids duplicating their work, with the risk of contradictions,
especially in the context of the current constraints on our resources. However,
the Monitoring Committee could provide a wider country-specific
context that highlights the interrelations with other subjects.
This is one of the key strengths of the Monitoring Committee in
its reporting on the countries under the monitoring procedure sensu stricto. In order to foster
this synergy between the Monitoring Committee and the specialised
committees of the Assembly, it is proposed to organise, on an annual
basis, an exchange of views between the Monitoring Committee and
the chairpersons of the relevant specialised committees of the Assembly.
Possible joint action could be agreed upon, if considered opportune, during
these exchanges of views.
103. The above reporting procedure would allow us to implement
the conclusions of the Sub-Committee on the Functioning of the Parliamentary
Monitoring Procedure, as agreed upon by the committee at its meeting on
26 June 2014, with due consideration to the constraints on the financial
and human resources of the committee.
104. As mentioned above, the committee proposes to set
a clearly defined time frame with regard to the post-monitoring
dialogue. However, from the discussions in the committee it was
clear that there was a need for a clarification of the procedure
for the post-monitoring dialogue as proposed by the committee.
When a monitoring procedure in respect of a given country
is closed, the Assembly can decide to open a post-monitoring dialogue
with that country on a select and well-defined number of issues
that still require specific action by the authorities. When a post-monitoring
dialogue is opened, it is proposed that two rapporteursNote
appointed by the Monitoring Committee on the same basis as the rapporteurs
for a monitoring procedure sensu stricto
The rapporteurs for the post-monitoring procedure will have up to
three years to produce their first report on the post-monitoring
dialogue. If, at that time, not all subjects have been satisfactorily
addressed by the authorities of the country in question, the rapporteurs
will outline the remaining items together with a concrete proposal,
developed in dialogue with the authorities, on how these questions should
be remedied. If, by the next report, which again needs to be published
within three years after adoption of the first report, these issues
have not been solved satisfactorily, and the Assembly decides on
that basis not to close the post-monitoring dialogue, then the country
will automatically return to the monitoring procedure sensu stricto
. It should be clear
that this is always based on a decision of the Assembly in the framework
of a draft resolution proposed by the Monitoring Committee that
contains a decision not to close a post-monitoring dialogue. Also,
the Assembly can decide to close the post-monitoring procedure even
if some, in the view of the Assembly, minor issues have not been
106. For the four countries currently engaged in a post-monitoring
dialogue, transitional provisions are necessary with regard to the
limited time frame, as well as the appointment of extra rapporteurs,
which I have been tasked to draft by the committee.
107. With regard to the limited time frame of two reports, the
next report after the adoption of these changes will count as the
first report in the two-report cycle for those countries already
engaged in a post-monitoring dialogue.
108. As far as the appointment of two rapporteurs for the four
countries currently engaged in a post-monitoring dialogue is concerned,
the second rapporteur will be appointed during the second part-session
of the Assembly in 2016, or when the term of the current rapporteur
expires, or when a report on the post-monitoring dialogue for that
country has been debated in the Assembly, whichever of these events
3.3 Miscellaneous provisions
109. With the addition of the new comprehensive periodic
review of the – currently 33 – countries that are not under the
monitoring procedure sensu stricto or
engaged in a post-monitoring dialogue, the Assembly will have a
comprehensive overview of the state of honouring of membership obligations
in all member States of the Council of Europe, and would therefore
be in a position to consider prompt action in the event that concerns arise
in this context. This would allow us to address a vulnerability
that exists in the current application procedure for the opening
of a monitoring procedure. Theoretically, 20 members, for narrow
political reasons not related to the honouring of membership obligations,
can request the opening of a monitoring procedure for a given country.
Currently, the Assembly has no possibility to dismiss any frivolous
or politicised request, and the Monitoring Committee is obliged
to start a full-scale investigation by two rapporteurs. It is therefore proposed
that the committee, on a proposal from the Chair, with an absolute
majority of all of its members, and subject to confirmation by the
Bureau, can decide not to take any further action on an application
to initiate a monitoring procedure made under paragraph 3.iii of
the terms of reference of the Monitoring Committee. It should be
clear that this is not applicable for requests originating under
paragraphs 3.i, 3.ii and 3.iv of the terms of reference of the committee.