In her opening speech of the PACE summer session in Strasbourg today, PACE President Anne Brasseur called for more solidarity and responsibility when it comes to sharing the burden of refugees.
“We need to understand that what Europe is facing is not so much a challenge as a phenomenon. The distinction is important because a challenge is something one seeks to overcome and bring to an end. What we face today is a phenomenon, and while it may get easier or more difficult, it will not go away,” the PACE President said. She urged all PACE members, when they return to their national parliaments, to organise a debate on migration, as she had already asked in a letter to Speakers of Parliament.
Anne Brasseur criticised the human rights situation in Azerbaijan where, as she put it, “critical voices are being silenced and political activists put in jail”. Commenting on the first European Games held in Baku, she wondered whether “this situation is compatible with the ideals of the Olympic Charter, as well as with the values and standards that the Council of Europe defends,” and expressed her hope that the debate on the functioning of democratic institutions in Azerbaijan would contribute to improving the situation.
Referring to the crisis in Ukraine, Anne Brasseur said that the human rights situation was alarming: “In areas affected by the conflict, serious human rights abuses are reported; impunity for human rights violations persists; the safety of journalists has yet to be achieved; violations of international humanitarian law continue on all sides.”
“Despite the cease-fire agreement, hostilities are expanding in the east of Ukraine, the death toll is rising, and the number of IDPs is increasing,” she added.
The PACE President also expressed concern about the extremely worrying situation in Crimea where many cases of arrests, ill-treatment, torture and intimidation against political opponents continue to be reported.
“Of course, we understand the complexity of the challenge. We know all too well that Russia’s role in this crisis is crucial for stopping the war and finding a sustainable solution. Therefore, as a follow-up to our January decision, we are going to examine the issue of the credentials of the Russian delegation to the Assembly on Wednesday,” she said.