Anne Brasseur (Luxembourg, ALDE) has been re-elected President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) for a new mandate of one year. “2014 was definitely not a good year for the fundamental principles which we defend in Europe. We have seen terror and violence emerge in many European countries,” she said in her opening speech.
“The acts of terrorism in Paris were an assault on our fundamental values. We can only applaud the huge surge in solidarity across Europe after the barbaric crimes committed in France. Now it is time to turn that wave of solidarity into a long-term movement against hatred,” she stressed.
She denounced “the re-emergence of extremist movements of all kinds which regard as a threat that diversity which constitutes the inestimable richness of our societies. They pose a huge threat to our shared values.”
The PACE President also deplored that “in some Council of Europe member states, civil society was subjected to an unprecedented assault. Intellectuals, human rights defenders and journalists acknowledged internationally for their commitment to liberty are in prison.”
"The Ukrainian people continue to suffer. More than 5,000 people have died since the beginning of the conflict, including in the recent tragedies near Volnovakha, in Donetsk and Mariupol. We mourn the victims. Over one million persons have fled their homes because of the fighting. This catastrophe reminds us, a century after the start of the First World War, of the danger of geopolitics prevailing over the values of democracy, rule of law and even human life. Europe needs Russia as a reliable partner and a responsible power, but Russia has to respect its international obligations for there to be peace, security and stability in Europe," she said, calling for respect of the Minsk Agreement as an imperative first step towards peace and reconciliation.
Referring to the exchange of prisoners of war and hostages as one of the elements of the agreement, she once again called for the release of Nadiya Savchenko, who has been confirmed today as a member of the Parliamentary Assembly. "I hope that her situation will be resolved swiftly and she will be able to join us in this hemicycle very soon," the PACE President underlined.
"The rule of law and respect for human rights must guide the steps we take. Those responsible for human rights violations must be brought to justice, no matter which side they are on and regardless of whether the events occurred during the conflict in the East of the country, in the course of the Maidan-related events or during the May tragedy in Odessa," she concluded.