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15 March 2022 morning

2022 - Extraordinary session Print sitting

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Opening of the sitting No. 3

Debate under urgent procedure: Consequences of the Russian Federation's aggression against Ukraine

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


The sitting is open.

Please take your seats.

Here in the hemicycle, may I remember members that it is a requirement for everyone here to wear a mask, but this may be removed when taking the floor.

I remind members taking part remotely that they should take part in proceedings from a quiet location, and should not speak from cars, trains, or other modes of transport in order to ensure good communication.

We now move to the Debate under urgent procedure on Consequences of the Russian Federation's aggression against Ukraine, as you find in Doc. 15477. It will be presented by Ms Ingjerd SCHOU on behalf of the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy.

The debate will continue this afternoon with the setting starting at 3:00 p.m.

I will introduce this morning the list of speakers at about 1:00 p.m.

If correct, we will have a record number of speakers. There are 167 members on the speakers list, plus five speakers on behalf of the political groups.

I would like to ask for your solidarity and your discipline so that we can allow as many people as possible. That means that 3 minutes will be 3 minutes in the debate for everyone, as a matter of solidarity.

Now, I first call Ms Ingjerd SCHOU.

I already thank you for the great work that you are doing Ms Ingjerd SCHOU. Our compliments. It will be a long day for you as well.

You now have 7 minutes to present the Report, and then we'll have a further 3 minutes to reply to the end of the debate. If you then need some minutes more, of course, they will be available for you.

You have the floor, Ms Ingjerd SCHOU.

Ms Ingjerd SCHOU

Norway, EPP/CD, Rapporteur


Thank you, Mister President and fellow parliamentarians.

Firstly, allow me to address our Ukrainian colleagues.

I speak for everyone here today when I say that our hearts bleed for you and your people. You are the victims of this war of aggression of which the leadership of the Russian Federation bears the full responsibility. They should and will be held accountable.

President, today we will discuss the consequences of the Russian aggression against Ukraine.

Our list of speakers bear witness of this being a historic and extraordinary situation calling for extraordinary measures. Never before have so many wanted to participate in a debate, never before have one of our member States launched a full-fledged invasion to another, never before have we had to debate asking the Committee of Ministers to exclude a member State.

Since 2009, when I joined PACE, we have faced challenges. We have debated, we have agreed and disagreed, and as an assembly we have overcome crises, we have come out stronger. Working with the Committee of Ministers and the Secretary General we have a become a more united Council of Europe. It is therefore devastating discussing depriving more than 140 million Europeans their access to our organisation: our Court of Human Rights.

This Russian aggression has been ongoing since 2014. Since the 24 February, however, it has become all out war. A war resulting in thousands of civilian casualties, including hundreds of deaths. It has displaced millions of people inside and outside Ukraine. It has caused utter devastation. We must stand by the Ukrainian people upholding the rights to live in an independent and sovereign state the territorial integrity of which is respected. We must do everything in our power for immediate cessation of the hostilities and to contribute to tackling the humanitarian crisis.

It is necessary to scale up the response to meet humanitarian needs. The establishment of safe humanitarian corridors out of Ukraine and access to humanitarian agencies is needed. The efforts by Council of Europe member States neighbouring Ukraine should be commended. Irrespective of their geographical proximity with Ukraine, all member States should play a role in welcoming Ukrainians and providing assistance.

The Council of Europe should be on the front line in helping Ukraine. A number of initiatives are described in the report: please support them.

President, in 1989 Mikhail Gorbachev spoke to this Assembly about the his idea of how our common European home. It was a time of growing optimism and rapprochement. Three decades later, pessimism and animosity are on the rise. The Council of Europe is condemning this war of aggression which has re-instated fear in Europe.

PACE is uniting today in condemning this war of aggression, which is a clear violation of the charter of the United Nation, the Council of Europe Statute, and the Russian Federation's obligations and commitments as a member of the Organisation. Through its action, the Russian Federation is turning its back on our common European home.

On 25 February, the Committee of Ministers decided to suspend the representation rights of the Russian Federation in the Council of Europe.

On 10 March, it decided to ask the Assembly's opinion on the potential further use of Article 8. We must respond, Mister President, with a clear opinion. I hope it will be unanimous. A united PACE and a united Council of Europe is a stronger Council of Europe.

Since 2014, I have repeatedly condemned the Russian annexation of Crimea and directs actions in eastern Ukraine. At the same time, I have underlined the role of the Council of Europe as an arena for pan-European dialogue as well as the importance of the access of the people of Russia to our European Court of Human Rights. This is why I have argued argued that we must keep the Russian people in the European fold and voted in favour of recognising the credentials of the Russian delegation.

But this war is a point of no return. A point of no return. In the common European home there is no place for an aggressor and, President, the draft opinion includes several recommendations but, most importantly, it includes a proposal to request the Russian Federation to withdraw from the Council of Europe. In the Political Committee we have discussed the draft opinion in detail. We have worked through numerous amendments. What I present today is a text with a strong message to the Committee of Ministers, it is a text that I hope all 46 participating delegations can support and stand behind. When we stand united we are a stronger Council of Europe.

Irrespective of the decision which the Committee or Minister will take in relation to further use of Article 8, the Council of Europe should continue to reach out to the Russian people, many of whom who do not support this war and do not have access to independent and objective information about it.

We should be imaginative and find ways to offer a platform to all those Russians who share the Council of Europe's values.

President, the leadership of the Russian Federation is clearly in violation of their statutory obligations. They have shown no desire to remain part of European based on shared values and principles, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.

This we cannot accept.

Thank you, Mister President.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Madam Rapporteur.

As this is an extraordinary session, I will now give the floor, before listening to the five representatives of the political groups, to the Chair of the Parliamentary Delegation of Ukraine to Ms Mariia MEZENTSEVA.

Ms Mariia MEZENTSEVA, you have the floor.


Ukraine, EPP/CD


Thank you, dear President.

Dear colleagues, today I will be speaking not as a politician, but as a human being, representing the whole nation of Ukraine, not just the Ukrainian Parliament, which has been under attack.

Finally, after eight years and 20 days of war, we send a very firm message to soon-to-be a former member State of this highly respected Organisation, which is focusing on human rights, to the Russian Federation. There is no place for such a brutal state to be here among us.

Dear colleagues, we have made a very long way to be present here with you, not only us, but also the children of our members of the delegation.

Once we think the Resolution is passed with very strong arguments, with a very ambitious debate being held in the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy, where are we coming back? Can we say we're coming back home?

For many of us the answer is no. We'll definitely come back home to our homeland, to Ukraine, where the Ukrainian Parliament continues to work and pass all the necessary laws for security and defence. Where the President remains in his office together with the members of government. When the brave people of Ukraine, at every level, whether they are serving in the army or they are healing people in the hospitals, or they are trying to evacuate those who can't access food and water for weeks already. This is good that this moment is stipulated in our Resolution.

We call on the member States, which you, colleagues, represent, to continue a sufficient support that you manage to deliver in terms of humanitarian aid.

Nevertheless, we're not an organisation for security and defence. I highly thank on the name of Ukraine for the military assistance your member States have given to us. It is a matter of the safety of skies, which NATO member States haven't taken a decision upon yet.

We're facing not only a genocide of a European nation on the continent, but also ecocide, because the 15 reactors of the power plants in Ukraine can turn our daily life on Planet Earth into hell.

Dear colleagues, for many, these papers on our tables are only words. Please understand, our presence here, the votes we will be casting, is a huge support for Ukrainians. We highly appreciate your personal trips you have conducted, not being afraid of travelling to Ukraine.

Your governments, your parliaments, are continuing to support us on the ground. The millions of refugees, that's already more than 2.5 million people, which you are hosting. We highly thank you for that as well. Many more millions of IDP's who me and my colleagues have turned to, will continue to work on a daily basis for the protection of human rights.

I call on the Russian Federation's authorities who are now kidnapping mayors of Ukrainian cities, civil activists, the representatives of local authorities, to stop doing that. This is a point of no return. We have to understand that the blitz krieg which was supposed to happen, as Putin thought, in two days' time, will not happen.

This fight for the freedom of the whole of Europe will continue until the very end.

This is just a question to you, dear colleagues. Which side of history are you taking here?

I'm sure the Assembly will show the right side.

Please colleagues, we cast our vote at the very end of this historical session with the very long lasting debate. We Ukrainians, some might not see it at the moment because now they are in basements with no internet or phone connection. I want us to go outside and to take the Russian flag down. There is no place for this brutality at the sub-continent of Europe, in the Council of Europe.

Thank you, dear President.

Glory to Ukraine! Slava Ukraini!

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much, Ms Mariia MEZENTSEVA.

Now we will call in the debate the five speakers on behalf of the political groups.

And first in the debate I call Mr Frank SCHWABE from Germany on behalf of the Socialists, Democrats and Greens Group.

Frank, you have the floor.


Germany, SOC, Spokesperson for the group


Dear President, dear Mariia, thank you rapporteur.

It's not easy for sure to speak after such a speech about the really heartbreaking situations Ukrainians have to face in a situation of human disaster we cannot really describe, but we have to do what we can do here. And the Committee of Ministers was represented there, asked us for an opinion not giving us, let's say, a kind of clear guidance. It's quite open what you ask us, and it's up to us to give a very crystal clear answer.

What is our opinion to the situation now and the opinion in the report now already and we will see it with a vast majority in the evening is to expel the Russian Federation from this organisation as soon as possible, it means immediately. You are those ones who care for the procedures, but the request here will be this day: do it immediately.

We had a lot of discussions in my Socialists, Democrats and Greens Group and there was no one, not even one voice, who had another opinion. There was no one who thought we should stand and we should stay with the suspension. Everyone sais we have to go, very clear, to exclude Russia from this organisation.

It's a horrific situation Ukrainians have to face and we have really to do everything, and we can do it today with an amendment, to make sure that we take those one responsible to commit war crimes in this moment.

Maybe we have instruments already internationally, maybe we need additional instruments. I think we will come back to this question in April. This is not a war from Russians against Ukrainians. It is not. It is a war between democracy, what we stand for, and dictatorship, where the worldwide representative is Putin.

I already saw, and I think all of you saw the brave woman yesterday in Russia who went to the TV and risked what she can risk in this situation for her personal situation, her personal life, but this makes us sure that there are Russians who don't believe in dictatorship, who want to stand for democracy as well. But they have somebody who we have to call till now the representative of the country, and since he is the president of the the country we cannot allow them to be here.

So let's be very clear. The message today will be to expel Russia from this organisation. Let's stand with Ukraine, let's stop Putin's war, and let's make very clear for what this organisation stands for.

Thank you.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much, Mr Frank SCHWABE.

Now I call to the debate Mr Aleksander POCIEJ from Poland.

He speaks on behalf of the Group of the European People's Party.

You have the floor.

Mr Aleksander POCIEJ

Poland, EPP/CD, Spokesperson for the group


Thank you, Mr President.

Dear colleagues,

The date of 24 February will go down in history as a major turning point. On behalf of the Group of the European People's Party, I would like to pay tribute to the innocent victims and salute the courage of the Ukrainian people who are defending their country, their freedom and their identity. Faced with the violence of the Russian army that is bombing cities and killing hundreds of innocent civilians, including women and children, we cannot remain impassive.

Today, what is happening in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Mariupol, is Grozny and Aleppo in Europe.

As parliamentarians in this Assembly, it is our responsibility to react to this tragedy. So what can we do?

First, we can congratulate ourselves on the unity of Europeans and all of us here in this organisation. In the past, many of us have shown a certain naivety towards Moscow; many have remained blind and deaf to the warnings of the eastern countries in the face of the war in Georgia, the invasion of Crimea, in Donbass, the aggression against the Republic of Moldova and the occupation of Transnistria.

Today, European countries are united in denouncing the crimes of Putin and his Belarusian accomplice. We must give our help and support to the Ukrainian people; we must welcome the refugees, deliver humanitarian aid, do everything we can for Ukraine.

Because this war is not a localised conflict: it is a real ideological war, a war of extermination against Ukraine, its people, its identity; a war of tyranny against democracy, of force against law.

Putin's Russia has no longer a place in the Council of Europe, but at the same time we must help Russian civil society in the face of the authorities' repression and the regime's propaganda. One day, I sincerely believe, Russia will be a democratic state and will find its place among us, but it must stop this aggression.

And, to finish my speech, let me quote in English the lyrics of a song by Sting.

Mr Aleksander POCIEJ

Poland, EPP/CD, Spokesperson for the group


And just to finish, I'd like to quit in English with the Sting song "Russians".

First, I must make a confession. When I was very young, I was also very naive. Because I really believed in those words.

"We share the same biology, regardless of ideology

Believe me when I say to you

I hope the Russians love their children too."

But today, when I see in the Russian TV people saying that they should hang Ukrainians because they are defending their country, I have the doubts if the Russians love any children.

Thank you.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much Mr Aleksander POCIEJ.

Now I give the floor to Ms Olena KHOMENKO, from Ukraine.

She speaks on behalf of the European Conservatives Group and Democratic Alliance.

Ms Olena KHOMENKO, you have the floor.


Ukraine, EC/DA, Spokesperson for the group


Mr President,

Dear members of the Assembly,

It is high time for the Council of Europe to come out of the box and apply a courageous decision to exclude Russia from the club of like-minded countries.

When we say Council, we mean a consultative format where decisions are taken in dialogue and mutual respect. This is not the approach Russia takes – it prefers to act brutally, unilaterally, completely disregarding the established order of mutual coexistence.

Russia laughs over slow and cautious actions of European countries. It counts on your fear. Fear to stand up against aggression and to counter your actions bravely.

Russia exploits your faint-heartedness. A bloodthirsty predator generates its appetite for ever more victims and spreads death around you.

It is not about counselling, it is about arrogant behaviour based on impunity.

How dare we are talking about the impeachment when Russia showers civilians with internationally prohibited types of bombs, threatens European civilisation with almost extinction, while hinting on a possibility to use chemical and biological weapons, blowing up nuclear sites to cause an ecological disaster with mortal consequences, using tactical nuclear bombs to punish disobedient Ukraine and exterminate the new generations of Europe.

Europe must act accordingly. It is not enough to say we condemned. We need to show that we are resolute to act. That Europe is not a sleeping mammal, but a brave dignified protector of the highest value, a human life, who is ready to act and punish the aggressor.

Excluding Russia from the Council of Europe is already an overdue decision. It is the least thing we could do. It is not an adequate response to the cold-blooded killing of hundreds of innocent children, ruined lives and wounded souls. But at least it is something that the responsible and mature democracies should do.

It will not prevent Russia from further atrocities. This is not enough. We have to be prepared for further horrors. But this decision will enable you to say to the world that you are a fearless and important fighter for human life and dignity. This is what the Council of Europe is designed for. Do not apply ostrich tactics to hide your head in the sand. Be brave to face the threat and to respond.

While I appreciate it is not in the mandate of the Council of Europe, many of you are members of parliament from NATO countries, and I would like you to reflect on the following: this is not just another war on your TV screen. This is not a Hollywood movie where the good guys always prevail over bad guys. This is real. Real people are dying. Real maternity hospitals are being attacked. Real housing units are being shelled with 500 kg bombs and worse.

My colleagues here present, and those defending my home town are real human beings, we are real. I am real.

While you all watch, from the comfort of your safe houses, those horrific images and shake your heads in disapproval, we can smell those images, taste them in our mouths. While we all now enjoy the safety of Strasbourg, have a glass of wine, or enjoy the beauty of the city, my home town Kyiv, with 1500 years of history, is being destroyed.

Yes, it is the place where my colleagues and I will return tomorrow, willingly and knowingly, because that is where we belong. That is our land that is being invaded.

We understand your concerns about a no-fly zone, but do you understand our concerns too? Three weeks ago we could never have imagined to be in this situation. We were 100% sure it would never happen, as you are now 100% sure that it will not happen to you.

Last but not least, in about one month we convene for the April part-session. The way things are going now, and on the ground in Ukraine, it is not excluded that in April one of us, maybe more, will no longer be with you. The place could be empty next session. I hope you will keep this in mind when we are begging you for your urgent support.

Thank you, dear colleagues.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Ms Olena KHOMENKO.

I allowed you to use the bit more speaking time as everybody will understand.

From now, the speaking time will be exactly limited to 3 minutes to get everybody a fair chance to participate.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


The next speaker in our debate is Mr Jacques MAIRE from France, on behalf of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.

You have the floor, Mr MAIRE.

Mr Jacques MAIRE

France, ALDE, Spokesperson for the group


Thank you, Mister Chairman. Thank you, Mr Tiny KOX.

Thanks to these dear Ukrainian colleagues, thanks to Ms. Mariia MEZENTSEVA, thanks to Ms. Olena KHOMENKO for their testimonies, because we are going through a real tragedy today.

A tragedy, first of all, for you, Ukrainians, who since 2014 have been suffering from a war, a war led by Russia, which the Georgians, Moldovans, Chechens and Syrians experienced before you; a tragedy, secondly, for the Russians, on whom Putin is closing the coffin lid of the Cold War; a tragedy for Europe, whose thirty-year work of reconciliation has just been shattered; and then a tragedy for democracy.

We were all united in responding to this aggressor on 25 February by deciding on its suspension. Today, the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) solemnly demands the exclusion of Russia from the Council of Europe as soon as possible. We do so with a heavy heart because, in fact, Russian citizens will lose the protection of the European Court of Human Rights. We are not fogetting them; a democratic Russia will join the Council of Europe in due course, because the Russian people are not doomed to dictatorship.

The Ukrainians are fighting this battle against dictatorship with an incredible mobilisation. When a whole people fights for its existence, history shows that it wins in the end.

Our governments are helping you, as you said, with money, with weapons, with sanctions against the nomenklatura, and they are keeping the line open for negotiations. Our families in Europe are also mobilising to give and to welcome our Ukrainian neighbours.

The Council of Europe is playing its full part in this struggle. We ask that the Secretary General, representatives of our Assembly, and of the Committee of Ministers to mobilise, together, all our means: this is the meaning of the amendment that we will propose shortly.

For example, an appeal must be lodged against Russia, before the Court, for what it has done. The leaders of the Council of Europe must go to Ukraine to testify at the political level, as Ms Mariia MEZENTSEVA has just said. We must be able to record, on the spot, the violations of human rights, so that justice can be done. We must also contribute to ensuring that this wave of refugees can be managed without discrimination while respecting our rights and values. We must also accelerate and complete the ongoing work of our rapporteurs on Russia, during this interim period, on key issues such as political prisoners and the legality of President Putin's mandate. We must also ensure that the appeals pending before the Court of Justice can be completed as a matter of priority, and that the next six months can also be used to the fullest extent so that all of this is useful to the Ukrainians.

For all these reasons, ALDE will vote for the opinion submitted to us today and will vote for it, aware that it is obviously a message for the Ukrainians. It is a message for all our friends who are on the front line on the border with Russia. It is also a message for all Europeans who have spent an enormous amount of political will over 40 years to create this area of law and democracy, which is our most cherished shared element.

I thank you all.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Jacques.

The last speaker on behalf of the political groups is Mr George KATROUGALOS from Greece. He speaks on behalf of the  Group of the Unified European Left (UEL).

I can announce to the Assembly that George KATROUGALOS has been elected as the new leader of the UEL Group this week.


You have the floor, George.


Greece, UEL, Spokesperson for the group


Dear Chair,

Our organisation has been the first international organisation to react to the Russian invasion, as it has reacted to the Greek dictatorship in 1968. We should thank Mr Tiny KOX not just for his recent leadership, but also for being the father of the joint procedure who gave a new role to our organisation and allowed us to set this unequivocal method against the war. Not just out of pacifistic reasons, but exactly because the Russian invasion was against international law, was against the fundamental values of our organisation, and it was based on a historical revisionism which is very destabilising for the whole of Europe.

We managed to sideline our differences in order to send this message. Of course, when we are going to discuss in April why Europe failed to prevent the war, why we have failed to create a new architecture of security in our common European home, our answers could be different, and this is the essence of democracy.

Now the moment is not for that. Now the moment is to call for de-escalation, for more humanitarian aid to Ukraine, to ensure humanitarian corridors. The Greek consul in Mariupol', a city with 120 000 Greek-origin citizens, is still trapped there among many other people who would like to find a way out of the hill there.

We have supported the report by Ms Ingjerd SCHOU. I would like to thank her for that although we would like to have some issues more explicitly drawn there, above all the support for the peace movement throughout Europe and especially in Russia, such as the efforts of demonstrations which have resulted in the imprisonment of many Russians, individual cases of heroism like the young worker in the broadcast that interrupted the program in order to send a message against the war. This is necessary for sending the message for de-escalation and against the war, but also the message that we are not against the Russian people, but exactly the Russian illegal invasion.

With that I should end.

Our message should be clear: targeted sanctions and diplomacy can end the war, not prohibitions of performances of Tchaikovsky, as has happened in my country, Greece. Tchaikovsky has not invaded Ukraine.

Unequivocally, in a unified way, we should all say "stop the war, protect the peace" and for the next day avoid a new Cold War that would divide our common European home again.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you, George.

Referring to what you said about the members of the international organisations who are now in Mariupol in very dire conditions, this was brought also to my attention by others and I will see what we from our Assembly could do to put emphasis on their position.

Now I call in the debate the first speaker of the list of speakers, and it's Mr Max LUCKS from Germany.

You have the floor, Mr LUCKS.


Germany, SOC


Thank you very much, Mister President.

Dear Colleagues,

It is an honor for me, as a new member in this Assembly, to be able to speak also after brave colleagues from Ukraine, because what we have heard shows yes, they are defending your country. They are also defending democracy and the rule of law for all people in Europe. We have to be grateful to them for that.

We all feel this is a historic meeting today, and historic is also what the Europeans show in this time also away from the political meeting rooms. When I look at my hometown in Bochum, in the west of Germany, I see warehouses overflowing with donations and kind, people volunteering to quickly organise shelters for refugees. We don't only find this solidarity in my country; we find it especially in Poland, in Slovakia, in Romania, in Moldova, in all their home towns.

The goal of the Council of Europe was to build the common house of Europe, as Mikhail Gorbachev once put it. Russian leadership, with its murderous war of aggression in Ukraine, also aims at the destruction of this entire common house. Yet, Ukrainians are not letting this happen without a fight. At the European level, too, Putin's war on human rights is leading to the exact opposite, namely to a decisive stand by Europeans for humanity and for justice, because Europeans know, I believe quite well, that humanity is stronger than any great power fantasy, that humanity is stronger than any horrific plan from the Kremlin can be.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

My generation grew up in Germany under the illusion that war could never again become a reality, at least in Europe, and since 24 February 2022, that has changed.

Putin is trampling on international law and many say he is drawing the beginning of a new era. I think we should not let Putin determine what era we go to together. That is why it is so right that we stand resolutely by the side of the Ukrainians. That is why it must also be the case that we use this commitment of Europeans to humanity and also commit ourselves to ending the other inhumanities in Europe, whether at the external borders in Georgia.

Let us exclude Putin's system from this House, because Putin's system is not Russia. We owe the exclusion of this system also to the courageous civil society in Russia, which does not want this war just as much.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mr Max LUCKS.

Now I call in the debate Mr Alberto RIBOLLA from Italy.

Alberto, you have the floor.

Mr Alberto RIBOLLA

Italy, EC/DA


Thank you, President.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

First of all let me express my solidarity with our Ukrainian colleagues in the room who we were able to hear just now, and our Ukrainian colleagues who had to stay at home. We have your heartfelt sympathies.

In relation to our examination, for which I would like to thank the rapporteur, it is entirely acceptable and represents a detailed reconstruction of the dramatic events that have unfolded before our eyes.

We have no doubt that there is an aggressor and an aggressed, and that our solidarity goes to those who are bombed and have the troops of another country on their territory.

The invasion must stop, diplomacy must win: a political agreement must be found as soon as possible. In the meantime all the instruments that will be needed to rebuild Ukraine must be put in place. Kyiv will need our help.

Our hope also concerns the fate of the refugees fleeing the war, mainly elderly women and children, for whom my country, Italy, is opening its doors to welcome, and to whom we should offer shelter for as long as they need it. Peace will also serve to return them to their homes and to the men left behind for the needs of national defense.

We agree with the decision to suspend Russia from this forum of ours. We also believe it is important to study how to implement the provisions of Article 8 of our Statute, relating to the withdrawal of the delegation of member States that are no longer appropriate members of the Council of Europe.

However, we must also have the courage to look beyond, to the reconstruction not only of what has been destroyed but also of the connective tissue between peoples that is now so tragically torn apart. Any measure we take must therefore be temporary and contingent, linked to the situation that the Russians have brought about by unleashing their attack. We must say that the doors of all multilateral organisations such as ours will remain open to the Russian people, to Russia, but to a different Russia, which changes its attitude (and possibly also its internal political order) to give voice to the generations that do not want violence, but rather the integration of their country into the international system. A generation whose future is being compromised just like that of the young Ukrainians on the other side.

In the meantime, our Council must remain a forum for confrontation and dialogue: if not with the Russians, at least with the Belarusians who are not yet involved in the operation. We sincerely hope that they will stay out of it.

The Council of Europe was born as an expression of a peace project while the Iron Curtain was already descending on Europe, another one is coming down.

Our function is more important than ever. We must continue to believe in the ideal of a pan-European peace in which all the peoples of our continent can freely pursue their own fulfilment and in which every individual can freely seek his or her own happiness.

Thank you.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mr Alberto RIBOLLA.

The next speaker is Ms Nicole DURANTON from France.

Nicole, you have the floor.


France, ALDE


Thank you, Mister President.

Dear colleagues,

First of all, I would like to express my total support for the Ukrainian people, for the victims of the war, and for our Ukrainian colleagues, who have often warned us during the sessions, but in vain: we have not listened to them. It remains for us now to be more than equal to this situation which destabilises the whole of Europe.

After the suspension of the Russian Federation's rights of representation on 25 February, the Committee of Ministers asked the Parliamentary Assembly to give an opinion on whether the Russian Federation should be invited to withdraw from the Organisation.

The Russian authorities seem to be trying to catch us off guard, since the Kremlin spokesman himself has mentioned withdrawal from the Council of Europe, while the Russian Foreign Ministry has issued a press release libellous for the Council of Europe. We cannot tolerate the intolerable. The Russian Federation itself will therefore assume the consequences of its actions, but it has not yet given official notification of this withdrawal.

Yesterday, we discussed with the representative of the Chair of the Committee of Ministers and with the Secretary General the consequences of a possible withdrawal: consequences for the Russian people, for Russian civil society, which will no longer be able to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights; consequences for the people living on the territory occupied by the Russian Federation.

Of course, these consequences should not be underestimated. The difficult path we are now on was not chosen by us: it was the President of the Russian Federation. He is the one who has gradually disconnected the Russian Federation from the values of the Council of Europe. He is the one who has massed Russian troops for a planned invasion of Ukraine. It is the armies of the Russian Federation that attack civilians, that bomb hospitals, that violate human rights.

So yes, today we cannot leave it at that. The Russian Federation cannot remain a member of the Council of Europe as it is. Vladimir Putin has flouted the values of our institution: we cannot allow ourselves to be trampled.

I hope that our Ukrainian friends will be able to return to their country quickly, that the negotiations underway will lead to a ceasefire and that the refugees will be able to return safely to their country.

I thank you for your support.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Ms Nicole DURANTON.

Now I call to the debate Ms Marta GRANDE from Italy.

Marta, you have the floor.


Italy, NR


Good morning, everyone. I hope you can hear me.

Can you hear me, President?

Can you hear me?


Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Loud and clear, Marta.


Italy, NR


Good morning to all colleagues,

Thank you, President for the floor.

I would like to intervene, linking a little to what would have been my speech yesterday.

Unfortunately, the political situation we are facing is absolutely disarming and upsetting for everyone, especially for our Institution, which is founded on the principles of the rule of law, democracy, and individual freedoms.

It is important, precisely for this reason, that the Council of Europe has taken a decision immediately, the first institution, perhaps, to have taken such an important decision in a short period of time.

However, the question that I would like to put to the House, and therefore also leave to my colleagues and in discussion to the rest of the delegations, is this: In my opinion, we should also start thinking about what the repercussions of Russia's membership of the Council of Europe might be, with regard to its accession to the ECHR.

The rights that we defend, we are continuing to defend. They have, unfortunately, violated some of the fundamental principles of our Institution, but this must not happen on our part. This is to say what? To say that I believe it is fundamental to continue to highlight the very serious violations that have been going on for more than two weeks now, but at the same time to try to protect as many citizens as possible through the binding procedure of the ECHR.

I believe that this is fundamental. I want to leave it to the Assembly as an open thought that can certainly be explored and discussed during this day of reflection.

Thank you.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much, Ms Marta GRANDE.

Now I call in the debate Ms Heike ENGELHARDT from Germany.

Heike, you have the floor.


Germany, SOC


Thank you, Mister President.

Dear Colleagues,

I will continue now in German.

I would also like to extend a special welcome to our Ukrainian colleagues who briefed us yesterday and today on the situation in Ukraine. They let us participate directly and immediately in the terrible events. Therefore, I would like to start by expressing my solidarity and sympathy with Ukraine and its people.

What is happening at the moment is terrible. The images of war will remain in our memories forever. Anyone who has been at Berlin's main train station in the past two weeks will also be familiar with another image. The image of Ukrainian refugees, mostly women and children. Many of these women on the run have children with them, or are pregnant.

It quickly becomes clear that the health care of these refugees is inadequate and insufficient.

Refugees arrive in the countries of refuge without health care or support, and this is particularly problematic for pregnant women. Women on the run cannot do without medical care and often have to take measures themselves to protect their unborn children.

We in Germany, I promise you as a member of the Health Committee in the German Bundestag, we in Germany will do everything we can to ensure that you receive the best possible treatment. I am convinced that the other countries will do the same.

Of course, health care is not only inadequate for refugees; health care on the ground in Ukraine is also a cause for concern. We have heard it several times already today, a maternity clinic was attacked in Mariupol. In fact, there was an attack on pregnant women and on doctors and nurses who work selflessly for the health of Ukrainian women.

The image of a pregnant woman and her unborn child who perished in the process is going around the world. A place where civilians should feel safe, where pregnant women should not worry about themselves and their unborn children, became a victim of Russian aggression. Millions of Ukrainians, and pregnant women in particular, cannot currently access their basic right to receive medical care.

We have raised many important issues of this Ukraine war yesterday and today in the Council of Europe meeting. Let's not forget the health care of the refugees and the people on the ground, especially pregnant women, in this discussion.

Let us now resolutely and collectively confront the aggressor. Those who so blatantly disregard human rights and international law have no place in our circle. The solution can only be that we must exclude Russia from the Council of Europe, as difficult as it is for us.

Thank you very much,

Slava Ukraini.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Ms Heike ENGELHARDT.

Now I call in the debate Ms Catia POLIDORI from Italy.

Catia, you have the floor.

She is not any longer on our list, so now I call in the debate Mr Josip JURATOVIC from Germany.

We also do not have Mr Josip JURATOVIC with us now.

I give the floor to Mr Pieter OMTZIGT from the Netherlands.

Pieter, you have the floor.


Netherlands, EPP/CD


Thank you.

When this organisation was founded, in 1949, in the original meeting Churchill held a speech and started: "Throughout our long history we have triumphed over the perils of religious wars, of dynastic wars. After 30 years of conflict I'm confident that we have now reached the end of nationalist wars. After all our victories and all our suffering, are we now to founder in ultimate chaos, in ideological wars triggered by barbarous lawless oligarchies?"

These words are more true today than we could have imagined.

This organisation was founded on the principle of human rights for everyone. The basic human right is that there is no war. No war in which you get yourself involved in. There is a full-scale war of aggression with bombardments of entire cities by the Russians.

It also means that we have to look at ourselves. Diplomacy has failed. We sent the wrong signals to Russia.

After the occupation of Crimea and of the Donbas, and our colleagues of Ukraine, Georgia, but also of the Baltic republics have warned us repeatedly for that. We lifted the sanctions in 2018, and the reinstatement of Russia was the result.

That was a wrong decision.

We now have to draw a very clear line. If we keep Russia as a member, even as a member without voting rights, we will insult each and every citizen of the Ukraine. For they are under constant bombardment.

We cannot allow Russia to remain within this organisation which is built on the rule of law. It has to start to obey international law.

It's very sad, but if expulsion doesn't happen quickly, we lose credibility, we lose all credibility for the human rights in every other nation of this organisation.

Yes, there should be channels of diplomacy. Maybe at the OSCE. And I hope the channels of diplomacy are a little bit more silent so they can do their work. But they shouldn't be here proclaiming that they are a member of the international organisation of democratic societies, because under Putin, Russia is not.

Thank you.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Pieter.

Now I call in the debate Ms Yuliia OVCHYNNYKOVA from Ukraine.

Yuliia, you have the floor.


Ukraine, ALDE


Dear ladies and gentlemen,

How are you? Are you okay? Are you safe? Simple formal questions, right? But for millions of Ukrainians this simple question became the most important routine – in the morning, in the families, in the friends' messages, in the neighbours' call. You are really lucky if you hear "yes, I'm okay."

I haven't heard this word from my godmother, who is in Mariupol' now. So, personally, I experienced this twice, as a double internally displaced person: first in Donetsk in 2014 and now.

Today is a new day of the war in Europe in the 21st century, a medieval barbarian war, a new day of death and destruction of Ukraine. Heinous breach of human rights, indiscriminate attacks on the civilians in civilian infrastructure, purposeful attack and occupation of the nuclear power plants in Enerhodar and Chernobyl, kidnapping mayors of Ukrainian cities, manipulating and attacking all the green corridors, murdering people in Mariupol', etc.

This list of great war crimes to be continued. So the war is already in Europe and Europe is already in this world, financially, socially, politically. And the whole world is united in support of our country. It's incredible and fantastic solidarity. All countries standing with us. Thank you, European peoples. Thank you people in governments all over the globe.

So, the goal why we are here in the Council of Europe, that the idea of peace is based upon just and international cooperation is vital for the preservation of human society and civilisation. We failed the peace.

Genocide and ecocide called denazification and demilitarisation is again being committed in Europe by one of the member of United Nation and Council of Europe, but we still have a chance to revive the core mission of PACE – to protect peace and fight for human rights, right now, right here, for Ukraine and for Ukrainian peoples.

Russia must be banned and expelled from all the international communities and organisations. Russia don't have any moral right to belong to our family until they pay for their crime: legally, financially, morally.

Unfortunately, thousands of deaths, millions of broken lives and lost homes, hundreds of destroy a city in our country, in the heart of Europe cannot be forgiven, just cannot. For now, to tell the truth it's too early to talk about consequences of the war aggression of Russia, because first we need to win. Ukraine needs no-fly zone, weapons, airplanes to end this war and this terrible humanitarian catastrophe.

Give us please this and we win within one week. Then we, the global democratic coalition of Europe, global community, will re-establish peace and a new security order. We pay a very high price for our freedom.

Slava Ukrayini!

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much, Ms Yuliia OVCHYNNYKOVA.

Now I call in the debate Mr Ahmet YILDIZ from Turkey.

Mr Ahmet YILDIZ, you have the floor.


Turkey, NR


Thank you, Mr President.

Without repeating the previous speakers, indeed we are united on what we are doing here.

Let me begin by congratulating and appreciating the resilience and bravery of the Ukrainian people in defending their country.

Now they deserve our united solidarity. Russia, which violated and breached all international rules, and made a big harm to the international order, it deserves a united response from us.

Dear colleagues, since 2014, right after the illegal annexation of Crimea and occupation of parts of other Ukrainian territories, my country and some other countries, the international community as a whole, tried all good offices, always to solve this issue in the context of the territorial integrity of Ukraine. But Russia failed all initiatives.

Now, Ukrainian people resisting this occupation, this all/out war with unfounded arguments, reflecting a strange mindset.

Now we must help the Ukrainian people in addressing the consequences of this war waged on them unjustly. The first display, of course, is migration and refugees, and bombing of the cities, indiscriminate bombing of urban areas.

My country, Italy and others have a lot of experience from the past years of immigration from the South. We can share this experience with the neighbouring countries, Poland, Romania, on how to address it. Turkish missions in Ukraine, the embassy and consulate missions will continue their work. They evacuated so many. They will stay there until the last moment.

This war, right during the last years of the pandemic was, I think, preplanned.

The justification by Russians of NATO, security... These are all unfounded. Our response should be clear and united – on humanitarian corridors and on helping the refugees without any discrimination. Unfortunately, we see some. We should be united on our values and our response.

Thank you.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you Mr Ahmet YILDIZ.

Now I call on the debate Mr Piero FASSINO from Italy.

You have the floor.


Italy, SOC


Hello, thank you, can you hear me, yes?

Thank you, President.

I apologize if I'm going online. Today our Parliament is voting on the Ukraine aid decree, so I have to be here to vote. I will also go online to vote on our resolution.

I believe that the decision we are making is an absolutely necessary and inevitable decision. There is no justification for what Putin has done. Russia has received no threat from Ukraine, Europe, the United States, or NATO.

Russia is tearing up all the agreements that provide for the respect of the territorial integrity of states, their independence, and their sovereignty. It is absolutely absurd to want to restore the theory of limited sovereignty, a sphere of influence that subordinates the sovereignty of Russia's neighboring states to Russia's interests.

Finally, there is, above all, the fact that this war is violating every human right, every civil right, in an aggression that has no justification whatsoever. That's why I think that the decision to exclude Russia from our Organisation and to ask it to withdraw is absolutely inevitable and necessary.

It is inevitable and necessary. I, like everyone else, will of course vote for this decision this evening, but it does not mean that we do not also see a series of issues and problems that remain open. The problem of the protection of Russian citizens before the Court of Justice remains open, the risk of isolation of the democratic opposition remains open, that opposition that in recent days, in recent weeks, has given rise to so many demonstrations against the war, making it clear that Putin has not even succeeded in consolidating internal consensus as he proposed. There remains a problem of representativeness of our Organisation, which is the organisation that brings together the 47 countries of the European continent and which can act and is effective insofar as it has universal representation.

We will take the decision this evening. I repeat, this decision is inevitable and necessary, because our credibility is at stake and the fundamental values of our Organisation are at stake. We should identify what can be the tools to ensure in some way the protection of Russian citizens before the Court of Justice, and above all, how to keep open channels of relationship with Russian civil society and opposition forces.

Thank you, President.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much, Mr Piero FASSINO.

Now I call to the debate Mr Joseph O'REILLY from Ireland.

Mr Joseph O'REILLY, you have the floor.

Mr Joseph O'REILLY

Ireland, EPP/CD


Thank you, President.

Our Council of Europe founded in 1949 was born out of the ashes, barbarity, and nihilism of World War II.

It was designed to protect human rights, democracy, and the rule of law. I'm proud that Ireland was one of the first ten signatory countries.

Russia has lost the moral, the legal, and the political right to be here. Bombing of residential areas, hospitals, and grossly maternity hospitals, mass civilian casualties, hunger, destitution, and displacement say it all. More than 2.5 million refugees.

I'm proud that my country welcomes Ukrainian people unconditionally. Upon arrival on Irish soil they have the same rights and privileges as any Irish citizen. We're proud of that.

The testimonies of our Ukrainian colleagues are heart-rending, and they challenge us. We cannot be ambiguous or equivocal.

The Committee of Ministers have correctly invoked Article 8, suspending Russian membership. Under the joint procedure, they are now seeking our opinion.

Today we are giving the Council of Ministers an unambiguous, an unequivocal message: Russia by their actions have expelled themselves. We want the Council of Ministers to give that practical expression and expel Russian.

141 member States of the United Nations have done the same. They've condemned the acts of aggression by Russia. The EU and other important international bodies have joined with the United States, the UK, and countries around the world in a set of important sanctions. I'm proud, of course, that my country is part of that, too.

Let's not make one error here. Let's not condemn the Russian people, the ordinary Russian citizens whom we are proud to have in our own countries, whom we are proud to have across Europe, and who live under duress, and live in this oppressive regime, under this oppressive regime. We stand in solidarity with those Russians who engaged in anti-war protests, with that woman who came on our television screens last night. Ordinary Russian citizens are prisoners, too.

The real victims at the moment are Ukrainian people. We stand by Ukrainian people to the end.

Russia have expelled themselves. Let's give that legal expression immediately.

Thank you.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


thank you, Joe.

Now I call in the debate Mr Andrej HUNKO from Germany.

Andrej, you have the floor.

Mr Andrej HUNKO

Germany, UEL


Thank you very much, Mister President,

It was in this Assembly in June 1989 that Michael Gorbachev formulated the perspective of a common European home, long before the fall of the Berlin Wall and the upheaval in Eastern Europe.

24 February is not only a black day for Ukrainians, of course, for the people there in particular. It is also a black day for this perspective, for the perspective of a common European home. We are standing on the edge of a new Iron Curtain across Europe.This war and the Russian leadership and Putin bear the sole responsibility for that.

I am one of the few Members of Parliament who voted against the sanctioning of Russian MPs in April 2014. There were various reasons for that, including that it was a sanctioning that made no sense.

Yes, we did have a process after that for a long time and developed a joint mechanism under the leadership and also at the suggestion of Mr Tiny KOX. I want to say very clearly I will not vote against this resolution this time, but I will vote for it because this war cannot be justified. I want to say that very clearly here, because we have a mechanism that really does work.

I would also like to address here Russian civil society, the people who are bravely protesting at the moment, taking to the streets, risking being arrested, the young colleague from state television yesterday who also risked her life to some extent, her job, and so on, with a sign saying "No to War, don't believe the lies." I think it's important that we also send a signal to the people in Russia who don't want this war. This is different from 2014. In 2014, there was a patriotic wave in Russia. Right now, there is deep uncertainty and not too much support for this war. I think it's important that we also reach out to the Russian antiwar movement, of course all peace movements, but especially the Russian one, and say very clearly: go ahead; we'll support you as much as we can.

I have also introduced with Ms Laura CASTELl a written declaration here that wants to send exactly that signal. I ask many to support that as well.

Thank you very much for your attention.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


The next speaker is Mr Stéphane BERGERON from Canada.

Mister BERGERON, you have the floor.

Mr Stéphane BERGERON



Good morning, Mister President.

Dear colleagues,

In recent weeks, we have watched with outrage as Russian military forces have perpetrated senseless violence against the Ukrainian people. Credible reports suggest that weapons whose use is condemned, including cluster bombs, have been used not only against military targets in Ukraine, but also against civilian settlements and even residential areas.

Allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity are growing and worry us. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of Ukrainians are literally risking their lives every day to flee the combat zones and find refuge in neighbouring countries, while hundreds of peaceful demonstrators are arrested daily in Russia, while the repression of any form of opposition to the authoritarian regime of Vladimir Putin is intensifying.

All of this undermines our fundamental values and our faith in humanity and in the mechanisms we collectively put in place after World War II to prevent our world from having to deal with the horrors of war again.

We are saddened, outraged, concerned and angry at the loss of life and destruction resulting from the Russian offensive, but also admiring and inspired by the courage and resilience that the Ukrainian people have shown since the invasion began.

In Canada and Quebec, where the largest Ukrainian diaspora lives after Russia, these feelings are felt with particular intensity. Perhaps it would have been necessary to exert more pressure on Russia beforehand, notably through sanctions, as suggested by Alexei Navalny or Bill Browder, in order to try to prevent such a tragedy. It is hard to say what could have dissuaded President Putin from carrying out his bellicose intentions.

Therefore, we had no choice but to react to this totally unjustified aggression. I would therefore like to welcome the Council of Europe's swift reaction and decision to suspend Russia's rights of representation, as its actions clearly violated Article 3 of the Statute of the Council of Europe. More than 70 years ago, in an address to this Assembly, Winston Churchill said that "a sense of courage and unity must inspire us". So far, I have been encouraged by the unity shown by the vast majority of the member countries of the Council of Europe, and even more so by the courage shown by some of them, who have the most to lose from the battery of sanctions deployed so far, especially since we still need to go further to force Russia to finally put an end to this totally unjustified aggression.

No one dares to pretend that the outcome is imminent because, as another illustrious parliamentarian, Georges Clemenceau, said, "It is easier to make war than peace". It will therefore require ever greater unity and courage, but the admirable example of the heroic resistance of the Ukrainian people must continue to inspire us.

Thank you for your attention, Slava Ukraini!

Ms Nicole TRISSE

France, ALDE, President of the Assembly


Thank you, sir.

I'll now turn the floor over to Mr John HOWELL.


United Kingdom, EC/DA


Thank you, Madam President.

I'd like to start by giving my warmest congratulations to the rapporteur and to the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy. I've attended meetings of the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy and I've been struck by one thing and one thing above all, and that is how this issue has united us across political parties. It is difficult to get a cigarette paper between members of the socialist group and my own group, and that is how it should be. I think this is a good and hard and definitive conclusion to the report and I would say that that my motivation behind all of this has been driven to ensure that Russia is finally expelled from this Council.

Personally I cannot wait for the flag to be taken down outside this building – the Russian flag to be taken down. We have been warning in my group for some time that the Russian Federation has been trouble for us all. And so it has proved.

We have tried to build bridges, and those unfortunately have not worked, as Russia is self-interested and it is so more than any other countries.

My feelings towards Ukraine are very strong. I wear this ribbon with great pride and what I see around the world in all of this is the largest packet of sanctions that we have ever put on a country. And I think that one of the things that I would draw particular attention to is the level of international support that we have tried to help to gather for this act to bring Russia to account.

But this report is not just about the big picture of the situation in Ukraine. The opinion on it is more focused on providing what we can do to help the Council of Ministers to come to a decision about expelling Russia.

And I believe that we have done that very well. I hope that this will be the first stage in a much better relationship between PACE and the Council of Ministers. I think we have worked well together and are continuing to work well together, and I hope that that will continue for the future.

I hope it will too help those countries who are at the moment unsure and I hope that it will bring them to the table to vote for this motion.

Ms Nicole TRISSE

France, ALDE, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

I now give the floor to Ms Filiz POLAT, who is online, for Germany.

Ms Filiz POLAT

Germany, SOC


Dear Madam President,

Dear Colleagues,

It is important to send a strong and united signal from this Parliamentary Assembly with this resolution, and not only to isolate Russia internationally, but also to defend our human rights.

Our German Foreign Minister Ms Annalena BAERBOCK rightly emphasised at the 49th Human Rights Conference, and I quote, "Human rights are fundamental to our existence. When they are denied, our existence is threatened."

Yes, we are impressed by the courage and resilience of Ukrainians, which is not the least reason for the unity of Europe and the international community.

The unity, the solidarity with which Europe and the vast majority of the international community are reacting to Putin's war are encouraging. They are encouraging people in Russia, too, to take to the streets and protest against the war of aggression.

Respect and thanks to all states and especially to many families, private initiatives that are now quickly and unbureaucratically helping to take in people from Ukraine and give them shelter, make aid packages to help.

Countries like Poland, Moldova, Romania, the Czech Republic, Slovakia are doing a lot, which is admirable. It must not stop at praise. Europe as a whole must show solidarity and remain in solidarity. It is encouraging that the European Union has activated the Temporary Protection Directive for the first time and has acted more united than ever before on a refugee issue.

All people from Ukraine must have access to health services, to the labor market. Children must be educated as long as the nightmare continues; in your new home, or perhaps temporarily, where they can find protection.

It is important to emphasise again here in this framework that this applies to all people, regardless of nationality and regardless of their status. I am the one who is also responsible in Germany for the Roma and Sinti minority. For the Roma minority from Ukraine, too, this must apply without restriction throughout Europe.

In this sense, I would also like to declare myself and for our delegation in solidarity with the Ukrainian delegation, wish you much strength.

Slava Ukraina!

Ms Nicole TRISSE

France, ALDE, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Madam.

I now give the floor to Ms Theodora BAKOYANNIS, from Greece, who is on the line.


Greece, EPP/CD


Thank you, Chair.

Dear colleagues,

Today is an historic moment for our organisation. A moment of action but also of reflection.

Putin's aggression against Ukraine's territorial integrity, against its democracy and its people, and 150 000 thousand Greeks in Mariupol, has no excuse, no ground for justification.

It is an act that contradicts international law, contradicts international order. An act that takes Europe back 70 years.

Our message is clear: there can be no place for a member State that does not respect our values, doesn't uphold human rights and freedom.

There can be no place for a state who chooses war over peace.

The draft opinion prepared by Ms Ingjerd SCHOU and the Secretariat team was supported with unity at the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy yesterday.

I want to thank her for carrying out such a difficult task.

We stand united today in this extraordinary session in solidarity with Ukraine, sending a clear message: Europe is stronger and determined to stand tough and tall against any violation of our order, our values, our peaceful way of life.

This can be a moment of reflection as well. Russia's aggression should awaken us all. Revisionism, expansionism, desire to redraw borders, and to rule under an iron fist: such ideas haven't perished. They live in the ambitions of some, and now actively undermine peace.

The Council of Europe bears the legitimacy and gravity of an organisation that safeguards democracy and human rights for the prosperity and well-being of the people we represent.

In times like these, we need to reaffirm our conviction and trust in our values. We need to remain vigilant and set an example for all Europe and all the world. Freedom is not a luxury or an ideology that can perish easily. Democracy and freedom are a choice, one to be championed erga omnes.

Thank you.

Ms Nicole TRISSE

France, ALDE, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Madam.

I now call on Mr André GATTOLIN, online, for France.


France, ALDE


Thank you, Madam President.

Dear Colleagues,

Our honourable colleague, Mr Piero FASSINO, said it with perfect words, with the restraint and intelligence that characterise him: we are facing a decision that is now unavoidable. Not to vote today for the exclusion or a notice of exclusion of the Russian Federation would be tantamount to giving a blank cheque to the leaders of the Kremlin for the abolition of all the rules governing our organisation; it would be a blank chequek for an unjust, dirty, disgusting war, a systematically unconventional war in which we bomb maternity wards, hospitals, civilian populations, in which cluster bombs are used. It would also be giving a blank cheque to possible future attacks on other members of our organisation.

Not to do so would not only be an admission of weakness: it would also be a total loss of meaning for our organisation; it would be a sign of resignation, a license to kill given to the leaders of the Russian Federation today.

Three years ago, by reintegrating the Russian Federation into the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, we offered it a chance to re-establish itself under the law and the international rules. The country did not take this into account. Today, I am thinking, of course, of all the Russian democratic opposition; I am thinking even more deeply and strongly of our Ukrainian colleagues.

I would also like to appeal to our colleagues from Turkey: we sometimes have differences, but today this country must realise that it is increasingly surrounded by the allies of the Russian Federation. We must therefore act together, unanimously, to protect ourselves, to protect the Ukrainian people, its leaders and its representatives. Above all, we must act to protect ourselves by excluding the Russian Federation from the Council of Europe.

I thank you for this.

Ms Nicole TRISSE

France, ALDE, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much.

I now give the floor to Ms Larysa BILOZIR, from Ukraine.


Ukraine, ALDE


Thank you.

Madam President,

Dear colleagues,

Today war is in our common European house. The aggressor has come to our home to ruin, to injure and kill our children and women.

It's not only an attack on Ukraine, it's an attack on Europe's security system, and Ukraine is paying by the life of our nation.

All of us, nine women from the Ukrainian delegation, came to PACE from Ukraine, that turned into a sea of human misery, but also a sea of dignity and struggle.

It took me more than two days to get here with my children. They are in the hemicycle today with us. Please meet Ana-Maria and Lysa. They lost their home, everything that they had. Their beloved pets, books, things. They don't go to school. They suffer severe panic attacks. All they have is the Ukrainian armed forces and me to protect them. But like all Ukrainians, also state and local authorities, we parliamentarians are also under threat to be eliminated, kidnapped, and killed.

I am happy that my children can spend one more day here in peaceful Strasbourg. But tomorrow, we will return to Ukraine, where Russians turned our lives into nightmares, where we are hiding in bomb shelters, metros, where air alarm sirens almost each hour in each town.

There are no safe places any more in Ukraine. Each city is under threat. Russia fired almost 1 000 cruise and ballistic missiles in Ukraine during these 20 days.

The Russian enemy came to our home trying to delete us from the Earth and map, to delete my 40 million nation with gas, vacuum, thermobaric, phosphorus bombs and missiles forbidden by the Geneva Convention.

If we don't stop Putin, I'm sure there will be more biological, chemical and nuclear weapons.

Today we have killed children, destroyed hospitals, bombed maternity hospitals, people buried in mass graves.

Can you imagine? In Mariupol, they are buried in mass graves.

Authorities say the number of victims in Mariupol is approaching 20 000 people.

Here in PACE it was a constant line of policy of appeasement of the aggressor under the pretext of dialogue. There are many ifs that not everyone among European politicians would like to hear. But if such unprecedented fashion as today had been imposed in 2014, if Russia had not been welcome back in 2019 into the Assembly, there would probably be no strong aggressor today that all of these eight years that they were invited here to dialogue, but they were preparing for war.

We have to give today a clear message to the world. Russia is our aggressor. It cannot be a member of PACE any more.

We need a stronger and united Europe to take strong decisions and to take this responsibility.

Thank you.

Ms Nicole TRISSE

France, ALDE, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Madam.

I now give the floor to Mr Roberto RAMPI from Italy.

Mr Roberto RAMPI

Italy, SOC


Madam President,

It is not easy to speak today, in this courtroom to speak after the words we have heard, to speak and to be equal to these little girls who are here behind us, and to think if this is the world we have created, to quote a great European artist.

If it is a world in which girls and boys are still dying, a few kilometers from us, under the bombs, as we thought it would never happen again. When this institution was born, in this city, which is a martyr city, is a city that has been under the bombs, a few kilometers from here there was a border. It is the border where, twice, the nations of the world have killed each other.

Then, when this institution was born, in this city, we really believed that that border no longer had a reason to exist. I crossed it this Sunday, this border. You don't even notice it anymore, except because the cell phone signal changes.

Will we be up to this? Today we are taking note of a dramatic fact. There is a resolution that contains a failure. It also contains words of hope and commitments, commitments to help.

I witness how in my country, in these hours, many people I know are moving, organising aid, taking their cars, their buses, their campers, their vacations, to go to Poland, Ukraine to help these people.

This is the piece of humanity that we have to represent, we have to think and we have to understand if we are able to create a Council of Europe that can unite these peoples, in this way, that can definitively say "No", not only to war, but to what war creates, that is to dictatorships and dictators.

A few months ago in this Assembly we approved a resolution on the right to knowledge which said something important: that we must give people the tools to choose who leads them, to choose well who leads them.

We must banish nationalism from all European communities and build something new together. Here, today starts a path. The war in Ukraine must end tomorrow and every day is one more victim. After this war we should try to build something new on the awareness of this experience.

I spent some years in Sarajevo after having helped those people during the war, because Italy was generous in that case, as it has been generous today on Ukraine. We did not learn that lesson.

Someone mentioned Mikhail Gorbachev. We in those years, to whom my personal tribute goes to this great extraordinary figure, we did not live up to his message. Colleagues, and I will end here, let us try to live up to the historical moment we are going through and do it for these two little girls who are here beside me.

Ms Nicole TRISSE

France, ALDE, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much.

I now give the floor to Mr Davor Ivo STIER from Croatia.

Mr Davor Ivo STIER

Croatia, EPP/CD


Thank you, Madam Chair.

Dear colleagues, this war of aggression against Ukraine launched by the Russian Federation it's a defining moment for all of us. It's a defining moment for Europe and for the Council of Europe because, let's make no mistake about it, this war of aggression against Ukraine is also an aggression against the principles upon which this Council of Europe was founded as an organisation, as part of the architecture of peace after World War II that tried to replace the logics of confrontation with the logic of cooperation, of defence of human rights, of defence of democracy.

And this is under aggression today, because what we are seeing from Mr Putin for quite a long time now is that he wants to go back to the logic of confrontation, of confronting spheres of influence, he wants to create a Russian world, its own sphere of influence. We saw that in Transnistria and Moldova, we saw that in 2008 in Georgia, we saw that in 2014 in Ukraine, and now with a total war against Ukraine.

And there is a big danger because that could be also imitated. Just look at the countries at the Committee of Ministers that didn't vote for the activation of Article 8. Look at that list. Coming from Croatia.. unfortunately we experienced war also in the 1990s. We know what is the attempt of creating a sphere of influence.

And that's why I also take this opportunity to say: we need to stand for the independence, the territorial integrity, and the sovereignty of Montenegro, of Kosovo, of Northern Macedonia, of Bosnia and Herzegovina. All of the countries in the Western Balkans should be thinking of acceding to the European Union and the doors of the EU should be open for them. No one should be thinking along the lines of creating a sphere of influence.

And at this defining moment, dear colleagues, there is no more room for non-alignments. This is a moment where we should act without hesitation, we should send a very clear message to the Committee of Ministers that in the name of the victims of the city of Mariupol' we need to expel the Russian Federation from the Council of Europe and we need to do it now.

Thank you.

Ms Nicole TRISSE

France, ALDE, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

The floor is now given to Mr Jacques LE NAY from France.

Mr Jacques LE NAY

France, ALDE


Madam President,

Dear colleagues,

The work of our Assembly has been marked, since 2014, by the actions of the Russian Federation. Our Assembly has regularly noted its failures to meet the obligations undertaken when it joined our organisation in 1996.

The annexation of Crimea by force marked a real turning point, which resulted in the suspension of the rights of Russian parliamentarians in our Assembly. Despite our efforts to resume dialogue, we must admit that Russia has not been able to grasp the hand we extended to it in 2019. The intransigence of the Russian authorities in the case of Alexei Navalny illustrates the failure of this dialogue.

Similarly, we can only note the hardening of positions regarding important judgments of the European Court of Human Rights. The refusal to implement certain judgments is not limited to the government alone. In 2016, it was the Russian Constitutional Court that refused to apply a judgment of the Court, thus challenging the hierarchy of norms.

Following the aggression against Ukraine, Russia's continued membership in our organisation can no longer be tolerated. I regret this, but we must draw all the consequences of this aggression. The credibility of the Council of Europe is at stake, our credibility is at stake. Why be a party to a convention if, in fact, you refuse to apply it and if you fundamentally contest its values?

Dear colleagues, we have been fooled once. Let us not be fooled a second time! Today, Russia poses us a challenge unprecedented since the end of the Second World War. Never before have the values defended by our organisation been attacked so directly. In the face of this, we must certainly keep our composure, because it is not a question of starting a Third World War. But we must not let this war go on without reacting, and I am convinced that international sanctions will eventually bear fruit.

In the meantime, we must show our solidarity with the Ukrainian people who are undergoing an attack of a violence that we are no longer used to seeing on European soil. More than 2 100 people are said to have died in Mariupol, illustrating the return of barbarity to Europe.

The Council of Europe cannot accept this from one of its members. Putin's Russia has no place in our Assembly.

Ms Nicole TRISSE

France, ALDE, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

I now give the floor to Ms Emine Nur GÜNAY from Turkey.

Ms Emine Nur GÜNAY

Turkey, NR


Thank you, Chair.

Dear colleagues, we are all deeply shocked and saddened by the Russian military invasion of Ukraine and I condemn this invasion which is a grave violation of international law and the UN Charter.

This armed attacked is not just an attack on Ukraine. It is also an offence on every country's right to decide its own future. It poses a serious threat to international peace and security. We, member states, must take action to halt this war in order to save innocent people from suffering.

Russia's war on Ukraine represents an immediate threat to Ukraine and its citizens. Hundreds of civilians have been killed, and millions of Ukrainian people are forced to leave their homes and flee.

This war also affects the Russian people as sanctions of the international community lead to Russia's complete isolation. The war in the heart of Europe also threatens the foundation of international law and security. We must continue to support the sovereignty, political unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders including Crimea and Donbas.

We must continue to provide for the basic needs of Ukrainian people until they can return to their normal lives.

In conclusion, I would like to underline that a ceasefire is urgently needed to prevent further losses and destruction.

We continue to be deeply concerned about the deteriorating security situation and the increasing humanitarian challenges in the region. Turkey has expressed its clear stance against any revision of Ukrainian territorial integrity and independence. Once again, Turkey's political stance and diplomatic efforts are always in the service of finding peace and stability in a region that suffers from wars and resulting humanitarian crises. We would like to find a resolution as soon as possible to prevent further humanitarian suffering.

I hope the negotiations between the two countries will pave the way for peace. In that respect, Turkey's non-stop diplomatic efforts in the war in Ukraine are continuing.

Thank you.

Ms Nicole TRISSE

France, ALDE, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

I now give the floor to Ms Ada MARRA, from Switzerland, who is online.


Switzerland, SOC


Thank you, Madam Vice-President.

Each and every one of us is stunned by the decision we have to make today. So many years of negotiating and fighting to keep the Russian Federation in our institution, because each and every one of us believes in dialogue, in the cardinal values that make life bearable here on earth, that it is not the brutal law of the strongest and of weapons that governs our life together.

Several eminent members of our Council and of my country, Switzerland in particular, have worked on this in recent years with the Russian Federation. We have tried to save what, in the end, proved to be unsaveable. Because values are embodied, and so are cruelty and horror. Crimes against civilians are the paroxysm of this, the bodies of innocent men and women pulled from the rubble or from hospitals, families running away under sniper fire and so much more.

First, international law has been flouted by the invasion of a sovereign state, and then even the law of war – as terrible as it sounds – has been flouted.

It is time to take an unequivocal stand on the suspension and expulsion of the Russian Federation from our institution. Our thoughts go first and foremost to the Ukrainian people, whose strength and courage we salute.

The report before us contains several parts. I would like to focus on two of them in particular: the evacuation and protection of civilians in the member countries of our Council of Europe through humanitarian corridors. These crimes against civilians on the ground trying to flee must be stopped.

Some of the people who have managed to flee are already welcomed in the member countries of our Assembly. The population of our continent has been involved from the very beginning and, for the Ukrainian women and their families who have arrived in our countries, we must ensure that they are integrated and not placed in a position of provisionality and uncertainty. Our member countries must plan a long-term strategy.

But, like any crisis, this one brings to light some dark spots. For example, although it does not seem to have been systematic, it has sometimes been noted as a sort of sorting out of good and bad refugees at the borders, a practice and rhetoric that we know in our different countries, independently of this war. There are always more precarious arrangements in precariousness. It is also a task of our institution to ensure the dignity of each person.

Secondly, each and every one of us is aware that Russians in Russia are risking their lives to oppose this war: let us not forget them. Our appeal is to the Russian Federation to immediately stop the repression of the freedom of expression of its citizens. There are mechanisms that must be reinvented to differentiate between governments and their victimised populations. We will not abandon them either.

To conclude, I would like to say that our European institutions are being shaken up by this war. They make us think about who we are, about our identity. This Assembly is not spared this reflection, especially since we wanted to be an equal force, even a counterweight to the Committee of Ministers. The latter is asking us for our opinion: we must not fail.

Aware of the efforts made to engage in dialogue that have gone unheeded, let us condemn without a shadow of a doubt the Russian aggression against Ukraine, a sovereign country, and, horrified by the attacks on civilians, we must support this report convincingly and by majority.

Ms Nicole TRISSE

France, ALDE, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Madam.

I now give the floor to Mr Pablo HISPÁN from Spain.


Spain, EPP/CD


Madam President.

Many generations of Europeans such as my own have lived with war. My father experienced the Spanish Civil War and those of his generation the Second World War. We've all witnessed wars in the Balkans and the Caucasus. Even then, we believed that by denying the existence of evil, it would disappear.

We do not live in a law- and rule-based world.

The Helsinki Final Act signed by all countries in 1975 did not put an end to the revision of borders. The fall of the Berlin Wall did not put an end to the idea of policies of blocks and the imposition of one nation's will on the free and sovereign rights of a weaker one.

What just happened in Ukraine in 2022 repeats what happened in Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968.

Putin has fractured the European order based on cooperation, diplomacy, and the peaceful settlement of conflicts. Democracy and the economic, energy, financial and commercial ties have not been sufficient to stop his expansionist yearnings.

By looking the other way, as we did in Georgia in 2008, or de facto tolerating what happened in Crimea in 2014, in other words,  appeasing Putin, we have not had peace. Aggression and war is ever more brutal. By incorporating Russia into this institution, we have not managed to guarantee human rights.

We have failed Ukraine too many times. In 1994, Ukraine rid itself of its nuclear warheads in return for Russia and the international community pledging to guarantee its borders. In 2014, Russia occupied Crimea and Donbas, and this institution was incapable of doing anything.

This is an institution that is a moral and political leader. We are political representatives. It's time to ask Ukraine for forgiveness. It's time to say to the Ukrainians that the Council of Europe will put things right. It's time to stop looking the other way. We need to say to the Ukrainians that they will have our unlimited and unrestricted support.

Today this institution faces an historic moment in its history. What is happening is what happened in the 1930s to the League of Nations, given similar events to what we are facing today.

We must ensure that the law is not an excuse for failing to meet our responsibilities. We therefore need to stand up and say we not only expel Russia, but also send a political message that Ukraine has the right to its own land and airspace it deserves our support.

It's clear to me what the Assembly must do and support.

Long live Ukraine!

Ms Nicole TRISSE

France, ALDE, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much.

I give the floor to Mr Axel SCHÄFER from Germany if he's here. He is not here.

In that case, perhaps Ms María Valentina MARTÍNEZ FERRO from Spain? You are next.

Ms María Valentina MARTÍNEZ FERRO

Spain, EPP/CD


The future of Europe and of Europeans, in other words, of all of us, is now being played out in the fields and cities of Ukraine. This heroic resistance is also in our name, in defence of our values and freedom. They are resisting today on behalf of the respect for the rule of law, the sovereignty of nations in compliance with treaties and respect for internationally-recognised borders. I pay tribute to them.

Putin wishes to disrupt the post-war international order and deliver a final blow to the project of European integration. But this is why, today more than ever, this organisation, the Council of Europe, must honour the principles on which it was established in creating a political and legal space common to the continent, supporting the values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

All of these principles are today being attacked by Putin. We must condemn resolutely and without ambiguity the Russian invasion, and expel them from this organisation as an act of justice. The acts of the Russian Federation today is a wholesale attack on the most essential human rights, which are the hallmark of this organisation.

There is no place in this house for an aggressor that invades, kills and violates. Furthermore, we must also send a clear message of support to the Ukrainian people and its authorities, that are demonstrating courage and bravery, which are an example to all.

We cannot fail Ukraine, nor can we act as if there was time to spare. As we discuss issues today, bombs are falling on hospitals, nurseries and houses and civil society is clamouring for our help.

History has also taught us that arriving late amounts to not arriving at all, when lives are at risk minutes cost lives.

We therefore should not fear the consequences while we condemn others to suffer them. It is our moral duty to allow and encourage Ukraine to defend itself with all possible means, to defend its land, sea and airspace. It is our moral duty to support them in their legitimate defence.

We are a political organisation. An organisation which represents citizens. Let us dare to recommend to the Committee of Ministers the same we would request if it were our own citizens who voted for us being affected and who were to be threatened, because they are threatened.

By expelling the Russian Federation we will be on the right side of history. We will be equal to this historic moment in history.

Let us honour the courage which the Ukrainians are demonstrating. And again, to the two children who were with us until a few minutes ago, let us give them the support they are craving so that we will not be ashamed.

Thank you.

Ms Nicole TRISSE

France, ALDE, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Madam.

I am trying to give the floor again to Mr Axel SCHÄFER, from Germany, who is online.

You have the floor.


Germany, SOC


Madam President,

Dear Colleagues,

Dear Citizens of Ukraine,

Dear People of Donetsk,

It is terrible to see war in Europe again. That is why it is imperative to exclude Russia from the Council of Europe today. At the same time, it is hopeful that such a large majority of democratic politicians here in the Parliamentary Assembly are united in this historic hour. United for peace.

I would like to say something about my partner city Donetsk, with which Bochum has been connected for over 30 years. In a project for hospitals, we provide medical aid for children suffering from leukemia, and together we have achieved that the chances of survival for the very young have increased from 5% in the past to 80% today.

That is no longer possible. That is exactly what war is. It destroys chances; it destroys hopes; it destroys lives. I was in Ukraine in 2004 during the Orange Revolution as one of many thousands of European election observers of the OSCE. I know with how much democratic, solidary and free will the people there are driven. This is exactly what I felt yesterday, when deputies from Kyiv gave a personal account of the war to our Socialist Group.

We have to speak out painful truths especially today. Putin's invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022. There is only one comparison for that in recent history. That is Hitler's invasion of Poland on 1 September 1939. Let's do everything we can now to ensure that the war against Ukraine today does not develop into a war that is spread all over the world.

We as Germans must do this because we have learned our own lessons from this terrible history, from our own history.

At the beginning of our constitution of the Basic Law it says: "We want to serve the peace of the world in a united Europe." Let us do that together.

Thank you very much.

Ms Nicole TRISSE

France, ALDE, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much.

I now give the floor to Lord Alexander DUNDEE from the United Kingdom.

Lord Alexander DUNDEE

United Kingdom, EC/DA


Madam President, I will briefly connect three points.

The convincing way in which our states have recently responded to nationalistic aggression, the transcendency of human rights over nationalistic concerns, and the prospect of greatly improved arrangements for welcoming and integrating refugees.

Within our military response, certain wise aspects are of course during the Cold War already well-practised and not in the least new, such as the avoidance of actions which would escalate fighting, in this case to prevent that between Russia and NATO states.

Yet, what is quite different is a muscular resolve to apply effective and hard-hitting sanctions even if these may produce many economic disadvantages in our own countries. There's also now much firmer and perhaps even unprecedented determination that the immature and adolescent agendas of disruptive nationalistic aggression will no longer prevail.

That reflects the Council of Europe's belief that human rights must come before nationalistic concerns in the first place. Ironically so, that 1949 Council of Europe consensus might well have been established in Europe many centuries earlier on between 1100 and 1492. This was through the enlightenment powerful Christian Norman rulers of Sicily who were nearly able to force the papacy to pursue ecumenical policies towards faith and religion. As it also was through the equally enlightened Arab and Muslim rulers of Spain and who were entirely tolerant of those belonging to the Christian and Jewish faiths.

Arguably, such consensus by 1492 would have spared Europe not only its religious wars following the Reformation but also the devastation of the 20th century arising from 19th century nationalism, including the Holocaust and ethnic cleansing, sparing us as well continuing atrocities in the name of wrongheaded nationalistic games even lingering into the 21st century and including those perpetrated by Russia and which we witness in Ukraine this month.

Our shared views are that what matters most are not nation states, but people themselves wherever they are.

In recent days and weeks, by the unreserved welcome to refugees fleeing war in Ukraine that is exactly what our countries have confirmed, and along with these other elements already mentioned it is this new collective determination and solidarity which will now ensure that Europe beomes a better place.

Ms Nicole TRISSE

France, ALDE, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much.

I now give the floor to Mr Paul GAVAN from Ireland who is online.


Ireland, UEL


Good afternoon, or good morning I should say.

First and foremost, I stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine who, facing the deadly reality of Russian aggression, are fleeing their homes seeking shelter and safety across Europe.

Our Assembly, through this motion today, will send a clear message to the Russian government that this behaviour can never be acceptable.

I welcome the fact that the Irish government, like many other European states, has lifted visa requirements for Ukrainian refugees. There should be zero restrictions on those refugees forced to leave Ukraine to come to any part of Europe.

The positive response of so many countries to the Ukrainian refugee crisis shows what is possible when countries come together in true solidarity. But this should not only be the case when the majority of refugees are white Europeans and stands in stark contrast to the fortress Europe policy adopted by the European Union towards human beings from much much of Africa and Asia.

I also support the call for paragraph 14.5 of this opinion to be more explicit in condemning acts of racism against people from different ethnic backgrounds attempting to escape this war. We should also stand in solidarity today with the growing number of protesters in Russia who oppose Putin's war. Those who, despite the repressive reaction of the Russian state, have come on to the streets to demand an end to the death and destruction. Their courageous call for peace should be a beacon for progressive forces across Europe to come on to the streets and demand an end to this war.

And whilst the eyes of the world are understandably fixed on the horrific scenes in Ukraine, let us also raise our voices for those who shelter from aerial bombardment in Yemen, in Syria, in Somalia, and in occupied Palestine.

We are facing the greatest security crisis in Europe for decades, a failure to de-escalate this crisis will lead Europe once again to the brink of wholesale conflict. and will undoubtedly deliver more death, more destruction and an even deeper humanitarian crisis.

Every war must end at some point and diplomacy must restart. Rather than allow this war to continue to escalate and for positions to harden still further, it's vital that the guns fall silent and diplomacy and negotiations be given priority. What is needed is a comprehensive, sustainable and immediate ceasefire, an end to the aerial bombardment, the withdrawal of Russian troops, and the return to the negotiating table. To return to the Budapest and Minsk agreements which accepted the legitimacy of Ukraine's independence and created the basis for constructive dialogue.

The thought of Europe sliding once again into the imperialist wars of the past is horrifying and must be actively opposed. The solution to the current escalation of military violence is not more violence: the solution is political, based on the principles of common collective security, which protects the well-being of all peoples and respect for human rights and international law.

Thank you.

Ms Nicole TRISSE

France, ALDE, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

I would now like give the floor to Mr David M. WELLS from Canada, who is online.

Mr David M. WELLS



Thank you, Mr President.

Dear colleagues,

Since the start of the invasion, almost three million people have fled Ukraine. Half of the refugees are children. There has not been a refugee crisis of this scale and speed since the Second World War.

Vladimir Putin has repeatedly denied his forces are attacking civilians. However, journalists on the ground and civilian reports have captured how Russia's military has targeted hospitals, schools and residential neighbourhoods.

Some see this as indiscriminate shelling, but colleagues, remember that Russia had professional and well trained armed forces and has had full access to Ukraine that has allowed them to deliberately target these coordinates. They have trapped civilians and left tens of thousands without food, water, electricit, and medical services.

Now we hear about kidnappings of local leaders. This is beyond reprehensible.

Russia's Invasion did not begin this past February. Colleagues, what we are seeing is only the continuation of Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014 and shortly after the encroachment into Ukraine's eastern regions. Crimea was a test by Russia, and the world's good nations failed that test. The mild response became a free pass. If the global response then was what it is today, then today may never have happened.

So we must continue to act decisively on all available fronts. Today there has been a great collective resolve shown with respect to sanctions. We have begun, and must continue, other pressure levers. I speak specifically of oil and gas. The critical role of petroleum in the Russian economy is no secret. And so the sooner major importers reduce their dependence on Russian petroleum, the sooner we choke funding to its military.

Canada has banned future Russian imports.

As a Canadian from a petroleum producing region, it's disheartening to see some of our European allies so heavily reliant on Russian energy. Canada holds the third largest petroleum reserves in the world, behind only Saudi Arabia and Russia.

I acknowledge there are significant obstacles to Canada being part of the solution to Europe's dependence on Russian energy. One of these is the unjust reputation our oil and gas industry has developed over the years in Europe.  Canada's petroleum industry is among the most responsibly produced in the world with regard to environmental standards, labour rights and safety. Higher than Saudi Arabia, higher than Venezuela, and yes, higher than Russia.

Canada's energy industry should be helping Europe wean itself off Russian petroleum, not watching from the sidelines.

As we have observed from the events unfolding in Ukraine, many of us have felt powerless, but there is more that can and must be done to reduce the supply of international funds that fuel Russian aggression. Substituting Russian imports with a reliable ally supply is one logical step we can take together.

Here, as an observer nation, Canada does not have a vote. But please know that you do have the full support of all Canadians.

Slava Ukraini!


Ms Nicole TRISSE

France, ALDE, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mr President.

I now give the floor, still online, to Mr Damien COTTIER from Switzerland.


Switzerland, ALDE


Thank you, Madam President.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

7 May 1992 was a day of light: Russia applied to join the Council of Europe. Four years later, our Assembly adopted an opinion recommending Russia's membership. It did so on the basis of a report by a member, Ernst Mühlemann, representing Switzerland, which recalled the progress made and the commitments undertaken. The opinion stated that Russia, and I quote, "intends to settle international and internal disputes by peaceful means (an obligation incumbent on all Council of Europe member states), resolutely rejecting any threat to use force against its neighbours". It could not be clearer.

Thirty years later, our Assembly must unfortunately note, in a new opinion, that these promises have been shattered, literally. The Russian government has stopped wanting to respect the commitments it made; it has stopped abiding by the values and principles on which the Council of Europe is based and can therefore no longer be a member. This is a bitter pill for all of us to swallow, especially for the Swiss delegation, which had committed itself to reintegrating the Russian delegation into this Assembly in recent years, on the basis of renewed commitments.

We are living in a dramatic time for Ukraine and its people, we are living in a dark time for Europe and for Russia. So yes, our Assembly must call on the Russian government to stop its aggression and withdraw from Ukraine immediately and unconditionally. It must call for an end to the serious violations of international humanitarian law, such as the bombing of hospitals, maternity wards, civilian facilities, or starving the population. It must call on the Russian government to restore the freedoms of its own citizens, which are severely restricted by new laws. And finally it must show its solidarity with the Ukrainian people.

Looking back to 1992, I hope that we can nevertheless look forward to tomorrow, however difficult it may be, to see beyond this desolation. If Russia is leaving the Council of Europe today because its government is keeping it away, let us be sure that it will return one day, because Europe is its home and its history. As the rapporteur said, whom I thank, let us continue to reach out to the Russian people.

Madam President, Geneva, the birthplace of the conventions that bear its name, has this beautiful motto: Post Tenebras Lux - after the darkness comes the light. May it soon return to the whole of our continent.

Ms Nicole TRISSE

France, ALDE, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

I now give the floor to Mr Hristo IVANOV from Bulgaria.

Mr Hristo IVANOV

Bulgaria, NR


Dear chair, dear colleagues.

I think that today the decision we're discussing, we all understand that is a definitive decision, a decision which is going to define this organisation not just among many other international organisations that exist, but as a unique community based on values. A decision that is going to define Europe not as just a geographical notion, but as a community that is based on the hope for just peace based on human dignity, on freedom and on rule of law.

So today we're discussing sending a signal to the Committee of Ministers what to do next.

And it is very important for us to be clear.

I'm happy, not just in my personal capacity but also as a leader of the Bulgarian delegation, to say that we are going to and I'm going to vote for the proposed resolution to expel Russia from this organisation as soon as possible. Based on the fact that the Bulgarian Parliament adopted the declaration which condemns, in the strongest possible terms, the Russian aggression, criminal aggression, against Ukraine.

We owe this decision, first and foremost, to our fellow Europeans, the Ukrainian citizens, that are subjected to horrific crimes and intolerable war against them. And we should understand that our best hope for peace is for Ukrainians and Ukraine to endure.

If Ukraine is subdued by force, we will be living in a world in which we are going to ask ourselves who is next, and the list is obvious. And we need to understand, and we need to send a very clear signal not just to the ministers but also to our governments and national parliaments, that supporting Ukraine is supporting our hopes for freedom and international model based on law and rules.

This war is not simply a war against Ukraine, it's a war against our way of life based on freedom, based on expectations of human dignity, and guarantees thereof. And that's why we need to be united, we need to be very clear from now on.

And this crime is not simply a crime against Ukrainians, or against the international community, it is also a crime against Russians. And we expelling the Putin's regime, sending a clear message that we are not going to tolerate new Stalinist despotism and that we are not going to tolerate lies and propaganda and brainwashing, we need to send also a message that we are together with those Russians that are opposing what Putin is doing.

This is very important to be stressed. And this organisation will need to develop a new set of instruments to help those Russians and to be present with them so that they are not alone.

Thank you.

Ms Nicole TRISSE

France, ALDE, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

I now give the floor to Ms Linda Hofstad HELLELAND from Norway.

Ms Linda Hofstad HELLELAND

Norway, EPP/CD


Thank you chair and dear colleagues.

I thank you for this extremely important text in front of us. Thanks to the rapporteur Ms Ingjerd SCHOU for her huge effort in making this historical moment for this Assembly.

It was not in horrifying circumstances like this that I imagined my first speech to this Assembly. In circumstances when one member of our organisation has invaded another. It is quite an unimaginable situation.

My heart goes out to all Ukrainians who are victims of the ongoing aggression. And to our Ukrainian colleagues.

The images we receive from Ukraine are terrifying. The war resulting in thousands of civilian casualties, including hundreds of deaths. It has displaced millions of people, inside and outside Ukraine. It has caused terrible devastation. This should end immediately.

We should all support the decision on requesting Russia to withdraw from the Council of Europe. At the same time we should bear in mind thousands of Russians that are protesting against the war, and have no access to free media, independent and objective information about what is going on.

These individuals with their courage are also heroes in our time. Every day we hear about Russians risking their lives in their fight against propaganda and misinformation in their own country. I know from my own experience what it takes to stand up against manipulation by Russia.

When I was fighting for human rights in the biggest scandal in international sport and against the state organised doping regime in Russia, as the vice-president of the world's anti-doping agency. my family and I were threatened by Russia. We really need to support the courageous individuals that put their lives in danger to tell the truth. They are our allies.

The Council of Europe really needs to support and find ways to reach out to these courageous members of the Russian people. These are extraordinary times for which we need to deliver extraordinary measures. The Council of Europe does not have in its mandate to deal with military issues, so I hope we say no to a no-fly zone.

I sincerely hope this text can be supported by all 46 members.


Ms Nicole TRISSE

France, ALDE, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Madam.

Is Mr Oleksandr MEREZHKO available online? No.

In that case, we will move on to the next person on the list: Ms Derya TÜRK-NACHBAUR from Germany.


Germany, SOC


Dear Madam President,

My Dear Colleagues,

As I speak, as we debate here, Russian tanks are rolling through Ukraine.

As I speak, civilians are being shot at.

As I speak, millions of people are losing their homes, their parents, their neighbors, their faith in a life of freedom.

As I speak, people are losing their lives.

People are fleeing bombardment and annihilation at the hands of the aggressor Vladimir Putin, who is overwhelming Ukraine with his brutal war of aggression.

One member State of this Organisation is invading the other. What a dark hour for Europe, for our values to which all member States have voluntarily committed themselves, but above all a disaster for the people living in Ukraine.

By invading Ukraine, Putin is destroying the peaceful legacy of the revolution in Eastern Europe that had so distinguished our continent after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War.

Yes, we should have been warned by Putin's bellicose actions with Chechnya, Georgia and in Syria; with the aggressive invasion of Ukraine; with the mass imprisonment of opposition figures in Russian camps; with the banning of the Memorial organisation and the Sakharov Center; with the harsh crackdown on the LGBTIQ community; with the suppression of a free press.

In Moscow, Putin is now blatantly showing his true colors. However, we will not back down. We will let Putin's policy of decomposition, aimed at playing the states of Europe off against each other, come to nothing.

This cynical strategy will not work. We will stand together as Europe in solidarity, or perish together with our ideals. We stand here today in solidarity with the brave Ukrainians and with our colleagues from the Ukrainian delegation. We admire their courage, their strength to resist, their confidence. I am personally ashamed that we did not take their warning seriously before.

As the Council of Europe, we are all now called upon to act consistently. We are the organisation of human rights. We are the organisation for freedom and democracy. We are the organisation that watches over humanity.

When over 44 million citizens and nationals of a member State are confronted with war crimes, we must act as quickly as possible. Suspension is followed by this exclusion. This exclusion is not meant to hit the democratic forces in Russia; our door is always open to them.

This exclusion today is our declaration of our unity and determination in strengthening democracy and our values.

I would like us to make this commitment today in unity.

Slava Ukraini!

Ms Nicole TRISSE

France, ALDE, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

I now give the floor to Mr Viorel-Riceard BADEA from Romania.

Mr Viorel-Riceard BADEA

Romania, EPP/CD


Dear Colleagues,

I will start by telling you a Russian proverb that we in Romania know very well, which goes like this "We will fight for peace until no stone is left upon stone". Now you can understand very well what Mr Minister Sergei Viktorovich LAVROV said, that this is not an attack on Ukraine, but it is, I know, something to restore the freedom of the Russians.

Here is what can I tell you. Practically, the Russian Federation, through military aggression against Ukraine, has clearly renounced the obligations and commitments it has made since joining the Council of Europe. It practically went out on its own.

Unfortunately, we are talking about a country for which respect for democratic values, state territorial integrity and good neighbourly relations represent only words without content: facts demonstrated in 2014 through the aggression and illegal annexation of Crimea and further through the formation of the so-called Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk, and now at this time, with the of reconfirmation in the heaviest terms, through military aggression against Ukraine.

We do not speak of a "special military operation" just as we did not speak of a special military operation when the Nazis entered the Soviet Union. It was not a special military operation.

The Nazis did not enter to "debolshevise" the Soviet Union, but to commit crimes.

Even now we cannot have two measures in what we say. We all are not mindless people. We understand exactly what is happening in that part. A large number of the Russian citizens, as well as you know it too, are arrested because they wanted to say an opinion, because they wanted to practically defend the freedom of their Ukrainian brothers, because because they are brothers.

On the other hand, the images we see every day in Ukraine are terrifying, with a strong emotional impact, pictures of life that have generated even in Romania an exemplary mobilisation on the part of the authorities and especially of ordinary people, who have understood very well how important it is to be in solidarity with your fellow human beings fleeing war.

We still need solidarity for everyone, but more than ever we need to stop this bloody and absurd war that in any case will not increase the influence of the Russian Federation, as the crazy Kremlin leader hopes, but on the contrary will push it into deeper isolation at the international level.

We must do everything and more to restore peace in Ukraine and in Europe and the world.

Thank you.

Ms Nicole TRISSE

France, ALDE, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

I now give the floor to Mr Konstantin KUHLE, from Germany, who is online.

Mr Konstantin KUHLE

Germany, ALDE


Thank you, Ms President.

Dear colleagues, the attacks of the Russian Federation against Ukraine have been escalating since 24 February of this year.

This war of aggression has brutally shattered the European peace order.

I would like to express my sympathy and solidarity with the Ukrainian people. I welcome the rapporteur's proposals, and I would like to emphasise that the European state launching a war of aggression against another European state cannot be a member of the Council of Europe.

Many of my colleagues have already contributed important arguments to the debate, which is why I would therefore like to confine myself to some brief comments.

Many of us today verbally condemn Russia's war of aggression. Many European governments have decided on sanctions against the Russian Federation and against Belarus. Many states are supplying equipment and weapons to Ukraine, and yet the courageous resistance of the Ukrainian people must fill us with shame. Because so many of us have not taken the warnings of our Ukrainian friends seriously enough for many years.

Today we should be clear, the security concerns and the goal of self-determination in states like Ukraine, but also in Estonia and Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova and other European nations, are no less important than the security concerns and the goal of self-determination in states like Germany, France and the United Kingdom.

We should take each other seriously when concerns and warnings are raised.

Dear colleagues, the Russian war of aggression does not come out of nowhere. The aggression has been prepared for years, also through a massive campaign to influence liberal democracies in Europe. Cyberattacks, disinformation, state-controlled propaganda machines and the covered financing of extremist parties: Russia has been using these and many other methods to undermine our open societies and liberal democracies for years. Anyone who wants to stop the Russian government's authoritarian aggression must also fight the hybrid warfare from the Kremlin.

Dear colleagues, we do not know how long the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine will continue. Liberal democracies are now responsible for supporting Ukraine, especially when it comes to helping displaced people and refugees. But we also have a responsibility to strengthen and use multilateral forums such as the Council of Europe.

We have to make sure that the crimes of the Russian war of aggression will be properly discussed in this hemicycle. That is the least we owe to the victims of the war.

Thank you.

Ms Nicole TRISSE

France, ALDE, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much.

I now give the floor, online, to Mr Koloman BRENNER from Hungary.

Mr Koloman BRENNER

Hungary, NR


Dear Madam President,

In this difficult hour I would like to express first of all our full solidarity with the people in Ukraine.

This solidarity of the Hungarian citizens can be felt on a daily basis, also due to the fact that large amounts of aid are being collected and passed on to Ukraine, or that the people who have fled Ukraine are being supported with all means. As the rapporteur also mentioned, as a neighbouring country of Ukraine, my home country Hungary is really very open and has already taken in more than 150 000 people who have fled Ukraine.

Secondly, I would like to emphasise that, of course, precisely because of the 1956 Hungarian Uprising, we know very well what it is like to fight against Russian tanks. I would also like to emphasise that I personally experienced what it was like after the political changes in 1989/1990. On the southern border of Hungary, where the war of the member states of the former Yugoslavia took place, just in front of our borders, like this conflict here. Like this war of aggression by Putin and Russia.

Furthermore, I would like to emphasise that it was really foreseeable for many years. Self-critically, we have to add that we, the members of the Parliamentary Assembly, also did not always listen quite awake when President Putin said that the biggest mistake in history was that the former Soviet Union disintegrated. My homeland Hungary was also personally threatened when at the beginning of February Mr Viktor Orbán, the Hungarian minister, was personally in Moscow, unfortunately. Putin said that the political relations in Europe have to be renegotiated based on the state in 1997.

That means that this aggression against Ukraine is really an aggression against the bourgeois democracies, against the order that we fought for together in 1989/1990 in Europe.

That is why I fully support the resolution.

Thank you very much for your attention.

Ms Nicole TRISSE

France, ALDE, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

I now give the floor to Ms Marina BERLINGHIERI for Italy.


Italy, SOC




This is a very sad and difficult moment in our history. The model of society that we have dreamed of and built together is under discussion. We have to demonstrate with choices and behaviors on which side we stand.

We are on the side of the Ukrainian people who have been attacked without ifs and buts, committed to restore peace and to welcome people fleeing from war. We have no doubts: in this moment the minimum conditions for the Russian Federation to continue to be part of the Council of Europe are lacking, and there are issues on which we must reflect in order to build and preserve our future.

We have to ask ourselves how the Council of Europe can help to defend and restore peace, to respect human rights and the rule of law in a situation like this. We must work to ensure that there are common policies among states for the reception of all people fleeing from war-torn countries such as Ukraine to a future without certainty. We must also ask ourselves how the Council of Europe will be able to help Russian citizens who are bravely opposing the war and the authoritarian regime of Putin.

We cannot give up the idea that one day Russia will become a member of the Council of Europe and that it can do so because it practices the values at the basis of our institution. We know that difficulties undermine the dreams and ideals of each and every one of us. We must know that only if we unite around the values that hold us together here and now can we overcome the difficulties we are facing.

Thank you.

Ms Nicole TRISSE

France, ALDE, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

I don't know if Mr Ionuț-Marian STROE from Romania is available online? Yes?

You have the floor.

Mr Ionuț-Marian STROE

Romania, EPP/CD


Thank you Madam Chair.

Dear colleagues, we are meeting under extraordinary circumstances, a meeting that I wish with all my heart would not be necessary.

But unfortunately, the Russian Federation's horrifying, unacceptable actions leave us with no choice. We are appalled by this unprovoked war of aggression. And let us state things very clearly: we are witnessing a country murdering civilians of another member state, destroying its infrastructure, annexing parts of its territory.

This is entirely against the principles that this organisation holds close to its core: democracy, rule of law and human rights. I would like to state my full support for this report and I urge you all to vote in favour of it, as we all must show a united front and send a clear message to the Russian Federation: this will not be tolerated now in Europe.

At the same time, I am exceptionally proud of the response of all European countries to this humanitarian crisis. We have all stepped up and we are continuing to handle this situation responsibly. And I will offer the example of my country, Romania, that has now welcomed over 500 000 refugees since the beginning of this war. Under the leadership of our president, Klaus Iohannis, our response was swift and well-coordinated.

I am proud of how my country stands together in helping the Ukrainian people, both the civil society and government, and our efforts have been recognised at the European level too, as we are now hosting the EU hub for humanitarian assistance.

Dear colleagues, in this terrible crisis I encourage you to see a silver lining that is often overlooked: we have witnessed incredible acts of courage, compassion and empathy from the civil society all over Europe. I believe we are now more united than ever in our common fight for peace, democracy and human rights. Until a month ago, these values were almost a given, now, they are at the forefront of every European's attention and we are all determined to take every necessary action to protect them.

Thank you very much.

Ms Nicole TRISSE

France, ALDE, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

I now give the floor to Sir Christopher CHOPE from the United Kingdom.

Sir Christopher CHOPE

United Kingdom, EC/DA


Madam President,

Expelling Russia is long overdue.

The Committee of Ministers must put this right on Thursday, and I'm very grateful to them for giving us this opportunity to express our views.

I first became a member of PACE in 2005, and ever since have witnessed the process of continuous appeasement towards Putin. I say mea culpa to our Ukrainian friends for not having been able to prevent this process. This is not just a war against Ukraine. Ukraine is the mere proxy. This is Putin's war against NATO, against the European Union, the Council of Europe, and indeed the whole civilised world.

We at the Council of Europe have been traitors to our own principles, we have allowed a dictator's sham elections to be described as democracy, we have allowed defilers of liberty to describe themselves as defenders of human rights, and we have allowed a mass murderer to masquerade as the defender of the rule of law.

It is therefore all the more inexcusable that we have not even been able to agree this morning at the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy on Amendment 3, which calls on the Council of Europe Member States to "provide all possible assistance to the citizens of Ukraine in the defence of their country". Who could be against Amendment 3? It is a call for collective self-defence. In international law, an illegal act of aggression activates the right to collective self-defence. Which means helping a country under attack. And that means helping Ukraine.

Why are colleagues in denial about this? Engaging instead in hand-wringing and words of condemnation as a weak substitute for the action called for in that amendment. So, can I ask us to, this evening, vote for Amendment 3 and thereby show solidarity with our very brave colleagues from Ukraine.

And can I also urge colleagues not to allow themselves to be blackmailed any longer by Putin. Because Putin blackmailed us earlier on into not expelling Russia on the basis that if we expelled Russia we'd be short of some cash in this building. How ridiculous was it to allow ourselves to be blackmailed then? Now we are being blackmailed into not supporting a no-fly zone, although we know that a no-fly zone is fundamental to establishing liberty and freedom for our Ukrainian colleagues. And we mustn't allow ourselves, finally, to be subject to nuclear blackmail.

How can we possibly make that commensurate with freedom?

Ms Nicole TRISSE

France, ALDE, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

I now give the floor to Ms Yevheniia KRAVCHUK for Ukraine.

Ms Yevheniia KRAVCHUK

Ukraine, ALDE


Thank you, madam chair.

Dear colleagues, you know every Ukrainian remembers the first call he or she got on the morning of 24 February. Mine was from my mother. She called me and said "I heard planes over the house and I think the war has started". And 10 minutes later I looked at my window in Kyiv apartment and I saw a bomb explosion. Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, was bombed.

It's been 20 days since then, 20 days of unprecedented courage of Ukrainian people fighting, 20 days of political leadership of President Zelenskyy, government, parliamentarians, local councils, 20 days of unity in Europe and the whole civilised world putting sanctions to Russia, giving aid to Ukraine, both military and humanitarian.

But do you think it is enough to end this war?

Well, when you be speaking here, I will be getting messages from my phone: Ukraine is on air alert again. What does it mean? It means that my 8-year-old daughter is in the basement right now, it means that my husband is fighting near Kyiv not to let Russians into the capital of Ukraine. Today in PACE we need to send a very very strong signal that the Russian Federation cannot be part of this organisation the Council of Europe anymore. Because it became country terrorists. Only terrorists are targeting civilians, bombing peaceful cities. 2,357 – do you know what is this number? It's the number of confirmed killed people in just one city of Mariupol', in the Donetsk region.

Mariupol' hasn't he had a proper green corridor yet. Even food and water is not allowed to be brought to the city yet. And we're speaking a lot about green corridors, but just think why do we need these green corridors? Because bombs and missiles are flying from the skies to kill our people. That's why I'm addressing you, not only as PACE members, but as members of national parliaments. Because you can influence your governments and help us to defend our air and put more air defence systems, to end this slaughter. Because I don't have any other words for this.

Every day, on my phone, I receive the most horrible statistics ever. It's the number of killed children every day in Ukraine. I want to ask you: are these children, Ukrainian children, different than those who live in Berlin, in Paris, in Istanbul, in any other countries, in any other cities?

No, I don't think so. But they are dying every day. Tomorrow you'll be travelling home with your planes, with your trains, please think that at the very same moment Ukrainians are fighting for European values, Ukrainians are staying in bomb shelters without electricity, without food, without water. So, let's be strong, let's be united, and let's be brave to end this, and then you will definitely see us in the April session.


Slava Ukraini! Heroyam slava!

Ms Nicole TRISSE

France, ALDE, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

I now give the floor, online, to Mr Armen GEVORGYAN from Armenia.


Armenia, NR


Dear Colleagues,

Following the debate these days I cannot but ask myself where has our organisation been when a member State, Azerbaijan, unleashed a war against the Artsakh Republic, Nagorno-Karabakh, and let her occupy the sovereign territories of another member State, Armenia.

Let everyone be reminded that in September 2020, Azerbaijan started a war to deprive the Armenian people of their right to live on their own historical lands. Turkish combat drones were used to kill thousands of people, to destroy hospitals, schools, and residential houses. Just imagine the disappointment of those ordinary Europeans in Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia when they fail to see any sanctions imposed by the Council of Europe.

Do my fellow colleagues in the Council of Europe know about the humanitarian catastrophe in Nagorno-Karabakh unfolding these days?

For more than a week, the population there has been deprived of the natural gas supply and electricity. Residential areas are under constant shelling. Moreover, the Azerbaijani government has been using loudspeakers to demand native residents leave their homes or face real consequences. All these are evidences of ethnic cleansing and a deep violation of the most basic norms of international law.

But will our organisation be able to prevent a new tragedy in Nagorno-Karabakh? These doubts arise from the fact that prior resolutions adopted in this Chamber have de facto legitimised the results of the war unleashed by Azerbaijan, by having artificially laid blame on both sides of the conflict.

As a representative of Armenia, I understand perfectly clearly the tragedy of any war. I am indeed calling for peace in Ukraine as soon as possible.

As much as it is painful for us, Armenians, to follow the continuing disaster in Ukraine, it is equally unacceptable for us to take note of the selective approaches on display by the international organisations. The importance of safeguarding peace and fundamental human rights cannot be any different for big and small states. There are no good or bad wars. I really hope that for us, the suffering of the Armenian, Ukrainian, and other children in Europe, does not have any geopolitical origin. We have to reflect why there are so often wars being unleashed in Europe.

Therefore, not to lose our historical mission, we should reflect as to why following the fall of the Soviet Union we have not been able to build a more conflict-free, united, and inclusive European family of nations.

Thank you for your attention.

Ms Nicole TRISSE

France, ALDE, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

I now give the floor to Ms Edite ESTRELA from Portugal.


Portugal, SOC


Dear colleagues,

On the 24 February the world changed. It became more dangerous and unpredictable. Whatever happens, even if there is a miracle, the Russian invasion of Ukraine will always be a painful milestone for democratic societies. Nothing will be like before.

Today, my first thoughts went to Ukrainian women and children, refugees or not, who suffered the pain of many losses.

I also thought of Russian victims of Putin's atrocities. Russians are not Putin. I was born in a dictatorship; I know what the people governed by a dictator suffer.

One can now know when a war starts, but no one can predict when and how it will end. Remembering history helps to understand how far we have come to get here. History does not repeat itself, but it has affinities. Anyone who revisits the 1930s, will recognise in the present some signs that led to the tragedy of the past.

Putin changed the laws that limited him in time and in the ambition of absolute power. He has already proved that democracy is not part of his vocabulary, that rule of law is just a concept for others to apply, that human rights are only those decreed by him, and that Russia's borders will be wherever he wants.

Putin's design is to restore the empire lost with the dismantling of the Soviet Union and interfere with the way of life of Western societies, and if possible, destroying democracy as he has tried through funding the far-right parties in Europe and the interfering in the electoral processes in democratic countries.

Putin has many means to achieve his ends: nuclear and cyber weapons.

Ukraine is a member of the Council of Europe. The Council of Europe is the guardian of human rights. Human rights that Putin does not respect in Russia. With this war he is brutally violating in Ukraine.

This war is not just with Ukraine. This war is with democrats and human rights defenders. This war is with us.

Thank you.

Ms Nicole TRISSE

France, ALDE, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

I now give the floor to Mr Jacek PROTASIEWICZ from Poland. Is he not here?

In that case, Ms Laura CASTEL from Spain please.


Spain, UEL


Thank you, Madam Chair.

First of all, let me show my deep solidarity with all the Ukrainian people and especially with the Ukrainian delegation colleagues present here.

There us no doubt that the invasion of Ukraine is clearly in breach of our statute, in breach of the Charter of the United Nations, and in breach of the international law.

It is a serious threat to peace and security throughout Europe and with devastating effects on the civilian population provoking the worst humanitarian and refugee crisis in the 21st century. It is also a conflict between democracy and authoritarianism. A neo-imperialistic attitude that denies Ukrainians the right to exist as an independent state.

We condemn the military invasion and express our support and solidarity with the Ukrainian people, but also it's time to show our solidarity with those Russian citizens opposed to the war, exposing themselves to the repression of Putin's regime. We should express explicit commitment to the peaceful resolution of the conflict, and call on the parties to establish an immediate lasting and verifiable ceasefire which would allow all diplomatic channels and agreements to be reached leading to the withdrawal of the Russian troops and their opening of humanitarian corridors.

We should call on the member states to comply with international commitments to asylum and subsidiary protection. In that sense, we welcome the activation of the Temporary Protection Directive in the European Union, but we also regret double standards we have seen in Europe regarding the reception of refugees and the hypocrisy about how the rest of the wars around the world are treated.

Finally, we reiterate our support for democratic right to self-determination. State borders are modifiable, of course. But never, never, through military aggression or coercion, but through democratic political processes. A solution to the conflict and the restoration of Ukraine's borders will not be achieved only militarily, but through a withdrawal of Russian intervention troops and a return to negotiation tools and diplomacy.

In conclusion, we demand international law, protection of the Ukrainian people, an immediate ceasefire, de-escalation, diplomatic solutions, and making peace as the ultimate objective in our decisions.

Thank you very much.

Ms Nicole TRISSE

France, ALDE, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

Is Ms Patricia MERCADO from Mexico online? No?

In that case, we will move on to Ms Margreet De BOER for the Netherlands.

You have the floor.

Ms Margreet De BOER

Netherlands, SOC


Today, we have the longest list of speakers ever in this Parliamentary Assembly.

It shows that we are united in condemning the aggression of Russia and want to express our solidarity with our colleagues from Ukraine, and with the Ukrainian people, whether they are still in the country or seeking refuge elsewhere.

What should I add to all these voices?

When I see the images from Ukraine, of bombed apartment buildings and hospitals, of desperate people starving to death and looking for safety, I tend to fall silent. When I hear our Ukrainian colleagues sharing their very own experiences and fears, I tend to fall silent. When I think of the enormous size of this war, its aggressive nature, the cruelty of the war crimes and the threat that it might get worse, for Ukraine and for the world, I tend to fall silent.

But we cannot stay silent.

I admire those who, despite the war, can find the strength to make music. In shelters where they have to hide from bombings, in half destroyed apartments which they have to leave, on the streets.

As parliamentarians, we do not make music. We speak out, debate, and adopt resolutions. We call on the Council of Ministers, and on our own governments, to take action.

I fully agree with the opinion we will vote on today. A country that aggressively invades another country, bombs its cities, kills its citizens, and deliberately violates all that is at the very heart of the European Convention of Human Rights, simply cannot be a member of the Council of Europe.

It is also clear that Putin and the others responsible for this war will have to be held accountable for the war crimes that are committed.

As Parliamentary Assembly we also have to call upon our member states to do everything we can to support the people in Ukraine, and the people fleeing from Ukraine. And not only those with Ukrainian citizenship. We have to address the humanitarian consequences of the war, and we have to do so in line with the values of the Council of Europe.

And although talking about sanctions is not part of our mandate, I want to stress that we should do all we can do to stop financing Putin’s war. And this means that we should not compensate the rising costs of energy by subsidising fossil fuels, as my country is about to do.

Dear colleagues, we have to speak out, and we do, with more speakers than ever. But let speaking out not prevent us from falling silent when we see the images, hear the stories, and think of the unthinkable.

Thank you.



Ms Nicole TRISSE

France, ALDE, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

Lord Richard KEEN is not online at the moment, so we'll go to Mr Emanuelis ZINGERIS for Lithuania.

Mr Emanuelis ZINGERIS

Lithuania, EPP/CD


Dear Ms Yevheniia KRAVCHUK,

You will be with us together after a few months during the next session. We will organise our civilisation to fight the evil who are trying to undermine the basic idea of freedom, and of the right to exist.

I just try, I just tried to say to you a few words from my mother. She's turning, on the 29 March, one hundred years old. She spent four years in a Nazi concentration camp, arrested by the Gestapo. She's Jewish. She was eighteen years old.

Two days agao she brought to me her remembrance of when she was in camp, in the Stutthof camp, she was inmate 28420. She looked to the sky every day expecting British and American planes to bomb this terrible concentration camp. She told me today, she told me: Don't leave them be alone like we were alone in the camps. Don't leave them alone waiting for her help.

From our side, I would like to stress like probably one of the few Holocaust survival families, let's stop Mr Putin from speaking in the name of Holocaust survivors and to speak about denazification of Ukraine. This is a crime, undermining the Holocaust.

Among soldiers that liberated the camps were Russians and Ukrainians. A huge number of Ukrainian and Georgian soldiers.

He cannot monopolise the idea of the Second World War and winning the war. Among them were all nationalities who fought the Nazi regime. 

Mr Zelenskyy is also from a Holocaust surviving family. Let's support survivor of the Holocaust Mr Zelenskyy instead of looking to the claims by Mr Putin of this false denazification. Let's start a "de-KGB-sation" of Russia.

From my point of view, I would like to say that we were here three months ago voting for the challenge of the Russian Federation. We got 45 votes, 87 against. Now we have a few amendments. Amendments mean support to Ukraine. Support to Ukraine should be done during our amendments. We should support Ms Ingjerd SCHOU's report, and we should vote everyone together.

Maximum support for Ukrainians. Maximum support to ensure Ms Yevheniia KRAVCHUK, and Maria and Lisa will be together after two months.

Last point. Mr Petr TOLSTOI just announced on his Kremlin site "we will bring order now in every place where we want it". Mr Petr TOLSTOI, you were with us playing a democrat. We will not let you bring order in every place where you want.

Thank you.

Ms Nicole TRISSE

France, ALDE, President of the Assembly


Thank you Mr Emanuelis ZINGERIS.

The floor is given to Ms Alexandra LOUIS from France.

Ms Alexandra LOUIS

France, ALDE


Thank you, Madam President.

The skies over Europe have darkened, reminding us with dread that we are not immune to the return of the tyrannies and power grabs that have so fatally marked the history of our continent.

The aggression of Vladimir Putin's Russia on the Ukrainian people is an ignominy, and it began in 2014 with the annexation of Crimea. We suspended and then reintegrated Russia, all for this. On 2 March, the rights of representation of the Russian Federation were suspended again.

In these dark days when women, men and children have no cruel choice but to flee or fight for their lives, what role should our institution have when one of its members violates the values that unite our nations?

Our decision must be clear: the Russian Federation must be excluded from the Council of Europe because it has voluntarily placed itself in contradiction with the human rights that are the foundation of our institution. The credibility of our organisation is at stake, because if our response is not equal to the tragedy, then what will be our legitimacy tomorrow to act and who will oppose those who flout our values and sow terror?

Obviously, this unavoidable decision is a heartbreaker because the European Court of Human Rights represents, for the Russian people, and particularly for those who fight for democracy and justice, a beacon in the night. We must not cut the link with Russian civil society, because it is with them that we must build the future.

Beyond the question of the expulsion, we must activate all the levers available to our institution and, if necessary, create new ones to try to bring back peace and justice, to protect civilians and refugees and to fight against disinformation, because war is also played out in this area.

More than ever, the Council of Europe must act strategically to ensure the most comprehensive protection of the rights of everyone on our continent. It is also essential that the abuses and crimes committed cease, but also that they be punished. That is why the establishment of a commission of inquiry and a special court is indispensable; it could prosecute those responsible for the aggression against Ukraine.

Today, fortunately, unity emerging in this Assembly and I see this as a note of hope for the Ukrainian and European people. But peace and democracy are an ongoing commitment. Let us not be naive either, for this balance is very fragile.

I will end with a quote: "He who says or writes that the end justifies the means, and he who says and writes that greatness is judged by strength, is absolutely responsible for the hideous heaps of crimes that disfigure contemporary Europe". This quote from Albert Camus is cruelly topical today. In the face of this tragedy, let us not be those who accept that force is law.

I thank you for this.

Ms Nicole TRISSE

France, ALDE, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

I now give the floor, online, to Ms Serap YAŞAR for Turkey.

Ms Serap YAŞAR

Turkey, NR


Madam President,

Dear colleagues,

I would like to thank the Council of Europe and this Assembly for holding this special session and for acting in a timely manner against the military operation of the Russian Federation against Ukraine, as well as Ms Ingjerd SCHOU for this comprehensive report.

As a member of the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons and rapporteur on missing migrant and refugee children in Europe, I would like to draw your attention to the children affected by this conflict. According to the latest figures, more than two and a half million people, including many children, have left the country due to the Russian military offensive. In addition, many children and babies have lost their parents in the conflict in Ukraine.

Today, we know very well that the fate of unaccompanied migrant children is one of the most urgent problems of the migrant crisis. The situation of children is really deplorable. With the Resolution 2324 (2020), we have seen that hundreds of thousands of migrant children are missing. This report was approved at the winter plenary session in 2020, with the votes of all of you.

I do not wish it, but today this conflict may cause many more disappearances. They need us to live and to save them from the hands of gangs and human traffickers. We must give them the protection they deserve: it is our duty and their right.

I would like to see a separate chapter opened on this issue in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and that special attention be given to it.

Thank you very much.

Ms Nicole TRISSE

France, ALDE, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

I now give the floor to Sir Tony LLOYD for the United Kingdom.

Sir Tony LLOYD

United Kingdom, SOC


Thank you, Mr President.

Let me begin by thanking our rapporteur for what is both an excellent document but one that's been improved during the course of its time through our Assembly's deliberations.

It's now a very powerful political statement that does two mutually reinforced things. It gives a very clear signal to the Council of Ministers that we expect the expulsion of Russia from the Council of Europe. It also says to our colleagues on the Council of Ministers that they must do that quickly, there is no delay needed in this. But, importantly, it says to our Ukrainian friends and colleagues here in this hemicycle but in Ukraine that we stand with them.

Now, words of solidarity aren't enough, but that expulsion of Russia is a signal of our intent to commit ourselves to the basic human rights values that this Council of Europe operates on.

I will say in my own country, not here, that I will also support that because we admire so much the defence that the Ukrainians have put up against the Russian aggression, that their right of self-defence and that we, my country, should be one of those that supports militarily that campaign of self-defence, but that's not for this hemicycle.

What is for this hemicycle is to condemn Mr Putin, because this isn't a war of the Russian people, it's a war of the government of the Russian Federation, it is Mr Putin and those immediately around him. Those making war in Ukraine as well are those in command positions who will, in the long run, have to face the potential for criminal action, because of course these actions of aggression are criminal under conventional international law. That message is got to go out from us as well.

But I also just want to touch on, if I may, this question of humanitarian corridors. It is honestly beyond belief that a Russia, which learned its lessons in making war in Syria with the destruction of cities like Aleppo, should apply those same techniques to Mariupol' where we've seen the death of innocent people, men, women and children, without pause or without a cause. And where Mr Putin are those humanitarian corridors that you've promised to negotiate? Why are we not seeing people able to move?

This issue unites us here in this chamber: let us give one very strong and simple message to the world, that across Europe we stand in condemnation of Mr Putin and his war of aggression, we stand in absolute solidarity with our friends and comrades in the Ukraine. That message, if we can achieve unanimity today in terms of the important part of the resolution, the message to the Council of Ministers, will give a loud signal across Europe.

Ms Nicole TRISSE

France, ALDE, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

I now give the floor to Ms Laima Liucija ANDRIKIENĖ from Lithuania. Is she not here?

So Mr Arkadiusz MULARCZYK from Poland.

Mr Arkadiusz MULARCZYK

Poland, EC/DA


Dear colleagues,

Dear President,

In the beginning I would like to inform you that the Polish Prime-Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, Deputy Prime Minister Jarosław Kaczyński, Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala and the Prime Minister of Slovenia Janez Janša, today they are going to Kyiv. They will meet with President Zelenskyy. This is a strong message that our countries are together with Ukraine, together with the Ukrainian people. This is our support and our strong message to the world.

Dear colleagues, in my second words I would like to remind you, I would like to refer to the prophetic words spoken by the President of Poland Lech Kaczyński in 2008, after the outbreak of the war in South Ossetia in Georgia. These words sounded like this: "Today Georgia, tomorrow Ukraine, the day after tomorrow the Baltic States, and then, maybe, it's time for my country, for Poland."

Unfortunately, President Lech Kaczyński was right. Putin had to take the next step after 2014 to make everyone here believe that the dictator Putin is now seeking to destroy Ukraine as a democratic state and to destroy the Ukrainian nation.

He also strives to create a Russian Europe without the rule of law, without free and democratic elections, without civil liberties. An unprecedented and unjustified act of Russian aggression against Ukraine has revaluated once and for all the sense of international security.

Everyone sitting here has found out that the language of diplomacy, concessions, letting go of Russia, does not bring results. The Council of Europe has also found out about this.

The Russian aggressive policy has been worrying us for many many years. The respect for human rights in Russia has raised, and raises, serious doubts. Waiting for the sanctions imposed on Russia following violations of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and the constant attempt to return Russia to the group of member states of the Council of Europe, have revealed the weakness of our organisation and undermined its credibility.

Let us not allow such a mistake a second time. Russia has received a large credit of trust from the Council of Europe and has wasted it, which is why we must now set clear and firm boundaries.

Without internal changes, without a change in foreign policy, without abandonment of attempts to change the order in Europe by force, without respect for human rights, there is no return to the democratic state of the Council of Europe.

Today we should all together urge: we stand with Ukraine.

Thank you.

Ms Nicole TRISSE

France, ALDE, President of the Assembly


Thank you, sir.

Is Lord Leslie GRIFFITHS from the United Kingdom with us?

Please, it's your turn.


United Kingdom, SOC


Dear Colleagues,

It's a pleasure, well perhaps pleasure is the wrong word, but an honour to follow the speaker from Poland in order to be able to thank Poland for the generous and gracious way it has received so many of those fleeing from Ukraine at this critical time.

Dear colleagues, I am a writer. Words are my métier, but I find I have no vocabulary rich enough to describe my horror at the catastrophe happening right now in Ukraine, nor the feelings I have for the people of Ukraine, and perhaps especially for its representatives with us here today. Mariia, Olena, Yuliia, Larysa, Yevheniia have brought tears to my eyes with their words, and Larysa's children, Ana-Maria and Lysa, by their presence with us today. Nor do my powers of description allow me adequately to deal with the plight of the Russian people, trapped in their ignorance, or the barbaric gruesome nature of their leaders, Dante's Inferno, although written so long ago was written just for such a moment.

As this is not hand‑wringing, it's heartbreaking. The facts of the case have been well‑rehearsed. I don't need to repeat them now, but I do need to affirm my solidarity with the Ukrainian delegation with us here today who tomorrow will be in Ukraine, heading back to their bunkers and their shadow lives, and with the people of Ukraine, in their hour of need. I affirm that I, and I'm sure others from our delegation, are going to work hard to persuade our own government to continue to be generous in offering support to Ukrainians in their own country and to learn to be more generous in their treatment of Ukrainians seeking refuge in mine.

God bless Ukraine.

Ms Nicole TRISSE

France, ALDE, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

I now give the floor to Mr Theodoros ROUSOPOULOS for Greece.


Greece, EPP/CD


Dear colleagues,

The last diplomat who remains in Mariupol is the Greek Consul George Androulakis. He is trapped there. Mariupol and the places around are places where Greeks are living for the last 3 000 years. At least 150 000 Greeks are living there. The first 12 people who were killed in the place were Greeks.

But it's not only about my compatriots. It is about fundamental freedoms.

We're discussing the report of my colleague Ms Ingjerd SCHOU whom I congratulate for her work.

What does the report say? That the Russian Federation has lost the right to be a member of this Council, of the Council of Europe, since by invading Ukraine it has violated all principles of the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Dear colleagues, as a Chairperson of the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons, I want to assure you that we will do what is needed for those people who have left Ukraine not willingly.

On the other side, let me point out a point of hypocrisy. I will not name in this session the countries that did not vote for Russian suspension, but I will do it in the next session, because I accept from these countries to vote differently next week.

Three countries didn't vote for the Russian suspension, and one did not even enter in the room – just to have it in our minds. Because it is totally different here to talk about human rights and then going in a room, in the Committee of Ministers, and voting differently.

I will end my short speech by saying that revisions of the borders, like war, in our days, is not acceptable.

Dear colleagues, the German philosopher Hegel said that history is not the soil of happiness. You cannot find happiness in this soil. But today we are in the place to take a decision which will put us on the right side of history.

Ms Nicole TRISSE

France, ALDE, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much.

I now give the floor to Mr Iulian BULAI for Romania.

Mr Iulian BULAI

Romania, ALDE


Dear colleagues,

Dear friends from Ukraine,

Dear rapporteur,

I think that the conclusions of the report are pretty obvious and straightforward.

In the past 30 years, starting with the attack on Moldova and occupation of Transnistria, the Russian Federation has several times broken each and every norm of international law.

Almost 3 million Ukrainians have been forced, up to now, to leave their homes and flee abroad, while several other millions are internally displaced, and hundreds of thousands are captive in destroyed cities without basic utilities under continued Russian attack.

This is not only the biggest humanitarian crisis in Europe this century. It is beginning to compete with one year of battles in World War II.

Our countries should join hands in doing everything possible to host and support all Ukrainians now in refuge and then to help construct Ukraine so that, in the end, people are able to go back to their homes and rebuild their lives and country. We have the tools. We should also have the will to do it.

The current situation should not be tolerated by the international community. No state should be allowed to wipe out another country nor to menace an entire continent with a second Hiroshima.

If what is happening now in Ukraine doesn't constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity, I honestly don't know what would do.

With all respect for the independence of justice, I find it indisputable that Vladimir Putin and his generals should be brought before the International Criminal Court for these crimes, and Ukraine should be supported in its claims before the International Court of Justice.

Dear colleagues, we are far past the moment of pleading with Russia to follow the rules of international order. Under the current circumstances, Putin and the Kremlin have no place in the Council of Europe. Russia should come back only after its leaders learn the basic norms of co‑existence.

Slava Ukraini!

Thank you.

Ms Nicole TRISSE

France, ALDE, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

We conclude this morning's session with Ms Ekaterina DIMITRUSHEVA from Bulgaria.


Bulgaria, NR


Dear Madam President,

Dear colleagues,

This is my first time participating in PACE in person. I am probably one of the youngest delegates today.

For our generation, war in Europe used to be impossible to imagine 3 weeks ago.

First and foremost, I would like to express my deep solidarity and respect to Ukraine, its government, its citizens and all of the people suffering from the war, no matter their location. Slava Ukraini!

What we have gathered to discuss today is not merely the consequences of the Russian aggression in Ukraine, but also the identity of the Council of Europe, its message, and its heritage to the future generations.

We regret that, as a result of the Russian withdrawal from the Council of Europe, millions of people on Russian territory may no longer be able to seek protection of their rights under the ECHR. However, we observe a flagrant disregard of human rights by the Russian Federation, one that has been indeed systematic.

How much longer should the Council of Europe tolerate this? Isn‘t this tolerance a threat to our identity, especially since it brings absolutely no progress towards human rights protection on the planet?

Unfortunately, the gravity of the situation is asking for the measures proposed in the opinion. This is one of our last resorts for preserving the Council of Europe as an organisation standing firmly for human rights protection, democracy, and rule of law.

One thing is sure: the best way forward is the path of unity, efficiency, and action. Fast.

Therefore, I support the proposed opinion, including, but not only in paragraph 16, namely that the Council of Europe will continue its support and engagement with human rights protection in Russia.

Today, not tomorrow, is the right time for the Council of Europe to show its main mission and purpose: peace. There is nothing without peace: no economy, no culture, no tourism, no education, no healthcare, no future. Just death. Let’s fight for life! This is the main human right. We are called to protect it today, not tomorrow.

Thank you for your attention.


Ms Nicole TRISSE

France, ALDE, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

I will now interrupt this morning's session. The next meeting will be held this afternoon at 3:00 p.m.

The meeting is adjourned.

Enjoy your lunch, and see you this afternoon.

The sitting is closed at 1:05 p.m.

Next sitting at 3:00 p.m.