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President agrees to take part in a hearing on his recent visit to Syria

PACE President Pedro Agramunt, in view of the request of a significant number of members, has agreed to participate in a hearing on his recent visit to Syria. The hearing will be held on 25 April at 1 p.m. in the Debating Chamber.

Before formally opening the session, the President acknowledged that his visit to Syria, in his capacity as a Spanish Senator, was a mistake and apologised to PACE members.

The functioning of democratic institutions in Turkey will take centre-stage at the plenary session. Other highlights on the agenda include debates on the situation of human rights in the North Caucasus, on increased income inequalities and on protecting refugee women against gender-based violence.

The Assembly will also hold urgent debates on ‘Alarming developments in Hungary: New NGO law restricting civil society and closure of international university’ and on the ‘Draft Council of Europe Convention on Offences relating to Cultural Property', as well as a current affairs debate on ‘European values under threat: addressing rising xenophobia, antisemitism and Islamophobia in Europe'.

The President of the Hellenic Republic, Prokopis Pavlopoulos, and His Majesty the King of Spain will be addressing the Assembly.

The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muiznieks, will present his annual activity report 2016. Thorbjørn Jagland, Secretary General of the Council of Europe, will answer questions from parliamentarians, and Ioannis Kasoulides, the Cypriot Foreign Minister, will be speaking in the context of the Cypriot Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers.

Other highlights of the session will be the debates on ‘25 years of the CPT, achievements and improvements needed', ‘Abusive use of the Interpol system: the need for more stringent legal safeguards' and ‘The protection of the rights of parents and children belonging to religious minorities'.