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Reaffirming the role of the Assembly as a pan-European forum for inter-parliamentary dialogue and co-operation

The Bureau of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) today adopted the following declaration:

“The Bureau reaffirms the Assembly’s role as a pan-European forum for political dialogue among democratically elected members of parliament from the Organisation’s 47 member states. As a statutory organ of the Council of Europe, the Assembly promotes co-operation among parliamentarians to achieve the goals of the Organisation to unite democracies, around common values and on the basis of their common heritage.

Today, when Europe is facing numerous political challenges, both within and around its borders, and the Council of Europe witnesses a growing lack of cohesion and mutual trust among its member States, the Assembly has an indispensable role to play in overcoming and preventing new divisions in Europe through bridge-building and parliamentary diplomacy.

Dialogue and co-operation among parliamentarians, which are the very essence of parliamentary diplomacy, make a positive contribution to easing inter-state tensions, building confidence and finding feasible solutions to complex problems, namely those in the field of human rights, parliamentary democracy and the rule of law.

In this respect, the Bureau highlights the Assembly’s contribution inter alia to counteracting terrorism and radical extremism, combating intolerance, hate and discrimination, protecting rights of national minorities, fostering social cohesion, as well as promoting inter-cultural dialogue. These numerous global challenges require a concerted and effective response by all the Council of Europe’s 47 member States.

Against such a background, the fact that, for two consecutive years, parliamentarians from one of the Organisation’s member States, the Russian Federation, have not participated in the Assembly’s work limits the capacity of the Assembly to represent the rich plurality of views from across Europe. It also prevents the Assembly from contributing to shaping a unifying agenda for our Continent and the Council of Europe in order to preserve our common heritage, values and legal standards.

The Assembly has to rebuild trust among parliamentarians from all 47 member States and reaffirm its role as a pan-European forum for inter-parliamentary cooperation, on a basis of mutual respect. In order to do so, it should find ways to keep open the communication channels with the Russian parliament and explore all possibilities for dialogue offered by parliamentary diplomacy. Our common interests in protecting human rights, democracy and the rule of law, both at national and international level, are stronger than the issues that divide us. We must shoulder our responsibilities to address – in a frank, open and committed manner – the difficult points and disagreements that exist among us in order to work together to resolve them and to continue building a Europe without dividing lines.”