It has been a pleasure to listen to such an illuminating debate. I am particularly grateful for the recognition that has been given to the work of the Monitoring Committee. The rapporteurs do a very difficult and, sometimes, very dangerous job, and, in my experience, they do it diligently in an endeavour to be fair and factual. Of course, it is inevitable that, when you are in the game of criticising people, people will take some exception to what has been said. The recognition of their work, and, by implication, the work of the secretariat behind them, which I will return to, is also welcome.
I am grateful for the reports’ acceptance by all the groups’ spokespeople, including Ms Rósa Björk BRYNJÓLFSDÓTTIR, who was the subject of one of the reports. It is comforting to know that, in the main, those endeavours are regarded as impartial, which is what we seek to be. As I said at the start of the debate, all the remarks are drawn from the work of the rapporteurs; they are not assessments made off the top of my head or the secretariat’s head, but matters that have been looked at.
Two speakers, Mr Jordi XUCLÀ and Mr Giorgi KANDELAKI emphasised the positives. Inevitably, when we discuss such reports, individual members will take exception to comments made about their individual countries – I accept that; it goes with the territory. People tend to overlook the enormous number of positive comments in the reports about the individual countries under review. Mr Jordi XUCLÀ and Mr Giorgi KANDELAKI did us all a favour by highlighting the fact that there is much to be pleased, if not proud, about. We know that some countries have a long way to go, but they can also take comfort from the fact that their progress has been properly recognised – or we have tried to properly recognise it.
Mr Alfred HEER mentioned the differences between our respective countries – long may they exist. It would be a sad world, which neither Lord Simon RUSSELL nor I would want to live in, if we were all the same. We have different cultures, and we have to respect them and try to understand them, not impose our individual views – the “We must all do it this way” attitude – on sovereign countries.
That said, Mr Alfred HEER went on to make the important point that we are dealing with freedoms and human rights. In those areas, there is much less room for manoeuvre in terms of individual cultures. It is this Organisation that has to seek to make common cause where the rights of individuals are concerned. So, yes, recognise our differences and enjoy our differences, but let us be united in our attitude to human rights.
I understand the inevitable criticisms levelled at the report about Turkey, about which we had a debate earlier this afternoon. I am conscious of the fact that no amendments have been tabled in respect of the issue raised by Mr Akif Çağatay KILIÇ. I find that slightly surprising in view of the vehemence with which he raised it, but I will bypass that. By the way, I am grateful to both Ms Rósa Björk BRYNJÓLFSDÓTTIR and Ms Thorhildur Sunna ÆVARSDÓTTIR for their broad acceptance of the report relating specifically to Iceland.
Ms Klotilda BUSHKA from Albania said that these reports are prepared to assist, and she is absolutely right. If our rapporteurs go in and trample over the territory of other people, their cultures and their feelings, and are then just maliciously critical – which happily they are not – that would be doing no service whatever to the Assembly. Our job surely is to help countries to move forward and become individually better places, and there is not one country that does not fall into that category.
I pay tribute to the secretariat. The Monitoring Committee is one of the largest committees. I would argue, because I am privileged to chair it, that it is also one of the most important. However, its secretariat is small and hugely overworked. The dedication that the civil servants put into the work that we are then enabled to do must be recognised. I am sure that I speak not just for the Monitoring Committee, but for every committee that is served by loyal, hard-working, very decent people, and I hope that this Assembly recognises the value to us all in the work of the secretariat.
Finally I come to Lord Simon RUSSELL’s words. In closing, he said that words and actions have consequences; they most certainly do. Thank you.