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'PACE is not a battlefield', says PACE President calling for conflict prevention and settlement through law

“Our Assembly is not a battlefield to confront national agendas. On the contrary, it is a place where bridges between peoples and governments are built and where parliamentarians from all over Europe defend the common good – the fundamental values of human rights, democracy and the rule of law as concrete means to prevent conflicts and uphold peace on the continent,” PACE President Michele Nicoletti said in his opening speech of the PACE spring session in Strasbourg.

“The founding fathers of the Council of Europe made a truly visionary decision to create our Organisation as an international multilateral mechanism to prevent wars on the European continent and to allow the peoples of Europe to live together and co-operate in peace. They found the courage to put aside disagreements and differences (…) and lay the foundations for a Common European Home where the protection of rights of individuals according to a common uniform standard would be put at the center and where pluralism and political freedom would serve as safeguards against totalitarianism and the upsurge of populism,” he recalled.

“Our Assembly should also give its contribution reflecting on how, in the present situation, conflicts within the states and among the states can be prevented and settled, being faithful to our ideal of peace through law,” Michele Nicoletti said.

He urged MPs to uphold the rule of law, by means that respect international law and within the framework of multilateral mechanisms that were created to maintain peace and security and stressed that the primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security was lying with the UN Security Council.

“We cannot accept the idea that hard power is the only tool to solve problems. Facing an increasing number of critical situations, we have the responsibility to invent new peaceful solutions. Citizens, NGOs, governments all over Europe are watching us. They expect from our Assembly not only words of condemnation of violence, nor a resignation to the Realpolitik, but words of wisdom and hope,” the PACE President concluded.

Referring to yesterday’s publication of the report by the independent external investigation body to look into allegations of corruption, the PACE President recalled the decisions taken by the Bureau as a follow up.

“Corruption is not only an illegal and unethical use of money or one's power. It has to be considered a potentially mortal disease,” he said referring to cases of journalists investigating corruption and more particularly to Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana. He stressed that although Ms Caruana’s sons knew that the Assembly does not have superpowers to solve the mystery of their mother's death and although they were aware of PACE’s imperfections since PACE also has been accused of corruption “they asked for our support; for our solidarity with the victims - not with the perpetrators; for our commitment to use all instruments at our disposal to help them. I believe that if we want to restore the confidence of new generations in democratic institutions, we owe them this commitment. This is the only way for a civic and democratic society to praise and honour those who are hungry and thirsty for justice,” the PACE President concluded.