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27 April 2022 afternoon

2022 - Second part-session Print sitting

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Opening of the sitting No. 14

Debate (continued): Consequences of the Russian Federation's continued aggression against Ukraine: role and response of the Council of Europe

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

15:33:29

The sitting is opened.

The first item on the agenda this afternoon is the continuation of the debate on “Consequences of the Russian Federation’s Continued Aggression Against Ukraine: Role and Response of the Council of Europe” (Doc. 15506) presented by Mr Frank SCHWABE of the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy. In order to finish by 5:45 p.m., I will interrupt the list of speakers at about 5:05 p.m. to allow time for the replies and the vote.

Next in the debate I call Mr Dimitrios KAIRIDIS, from Greece. Dimitrios, you have the floor.

Mr Dimitrios KAIRIDIS

Greece, EPP/CD

15:34:12

Thank you Mr President,

I read the report. It's an excellent report, and I agree with all the recommendations.

But I have a point to make. No matter how good a report is, and this is a very good report, it cannot fully describe the enormity of what we are faced with.

It's not only what is happening in Ukraine, an attack on our core values, as it has been described. It is an attack on our most basic assumptions, on our mental universe, on our imagination. The unimaginable became possible.

Our history has been conceived, and we often call it the period after 1945, as the post-war. Post-war. After the war.

Mr Putin has destroyed that assumption.

We are no longer in post-war. We are in war. The period before February 24 might be called pre-war. This is the fundamental change that has happened recently.

But the most important lesson is not what Mr Putin has taught us. It is what the great Ukrainian people have taught us. Because Ukrainians are not only victims. Obviously they are victims, this is self-evident. But they are something more important than victims. They are heroes. They are heroes because they resisted. They are heroes because they fought back against aggression, against the forces of evil.

They have taught us all, in Europe, a valuable lesson to get us out of the sometimes state of complacency. Behind our democracy, behind our freedoms, behind our rights, institutions, rule of law, everything that the autocrats mistakenly understand as things of weakness, lays a fighting spirit. The spirit of resistance. The spirit to defend our freedom.

In that, we are together with the Ukrainians and we will help the Ukrainians. Because their fight is our fight.

But make no mistake, the problem is not only Russia. It's more general, more broad. There are others who are trying to hide behind the turmoil in Ukraine to continue their violation of the rules and principles of our Council of Europe.

So make no mistake those autocrats, in Turkey and elsewhere. This is no time for aggression. This is no time for revision. We stand united in Europe against the forces of evil everywhere.

Thank you.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

15:37:34

Thank you very much, Dimitrios.

Next on our list is Mr Geraint DAVIES, from the UK.

You have the floor, Sir.

Mr Geraint DAVIES

United Kingdom, SOC

15:37:41

Mister President,

Our mission in the Council of Europe is to defend and promote democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. What we've seen with this brutal, irresponsible, criminal and barbaric invasion of Ukraine is a smashing of those values and rights in Ukraine. Our duty now is to inspire the defence and promotion of those values in the Ukraine.

Now, we all know that we haven't got resources here either to provide humanitarian aid or indeed military aid. All we can do is inspire our members to take action, and that's what we should do. We all support sanctions. Sanctions, indeed, will reduce the size of the Russian economy by 8.5% in 2022 according to the IMF. Yet, sanctions take time, and sanctions don't stop tanks.

The reality is that the reason that Ukraine hasn't fallen or been overwhelmed is because of the bravery of the Ukrainian soldiers, the leadership of Zelenskyy, but also the military support giving the Ukrainians the tools to do their job, to defend themselves and their families. Otherwise, we wouldn't have prevented defeat.

We also know, from 2014, that Russia has increased its food output by 15%, cereal output by 26%, and has basically become self-sufficient. We know that in Beijing in February and at the Olympics they agreed a massive deal with China for 10 billion cubic meters of gas per year from 2025. That compares with 1.25 billion a year at the moment. India and Indonesia are buying that gas. In other words, they're selling more gas and oil, they're producing their own food, they are getting consumer goods and technology from China, so they can play the long game.

We know that. We saw them invading Georgia, saw them invading Crimea, taking over control of Belarus, Ukraine. Finland will be next. It is imperative that we do everything in this report, but also give the support to the Ukrainian people to do what needs to be done.

We've heard a lot of threats obviously from Putin. He said: "Oh, you have sanctions, you stop SWIFT or you introduce sanctions on me personally. These will be irreversible acts of war". Nothing else happened. The truth is nobody is proposing an existential threat to Russia. No-one is suggesting we should attack Russia.

What we're saying is that we should free Ukraine to resume its legitimate status as a democracy with human rights. That is our duty. That's what we should encourage so that 5 million people who have left can return. We can invest in reconstruction. We can provide sanctuary in the meantime. We can deliver justice. Ultimately, we've got to do what needs to be done to get rid of Mr Putin and his barbaric army out of the Ukraine and defend and promote democracy and the rule of law.

That is our duty. Let's get on with it.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

15:40:45

Thank you very much, Mr Geraint DAVIES.

Next on the speaker system, Mr Jacek PROTASIEWICZ, from Poland.  I hope I pronounced your first name correctly. You have the floor, Mister Jacek PROTASIEWICZ.

He should be here online, but he is not online with us. Mister PROTASIEWICZ, we cannot hear you. Please, could you again ask for a floor so that we can. Can you put your microphone on? Try again. We will come back to Mr Jacek PROTASIEWICZ in a moment.

We now first go to Ms Olena KHOMENKO, from Ukraine. Olena, you have the floor.

Ms Olena KHOMENKO

Ukraine, EC/DA

15:42:00

Dear President, Madam Secretary General, sirs and madams,

With reference to the text itself, and following yesterday's debate on the draft of the resolution, I feel obliged to point out the following: the Ukrainian society understands perfectly well the limits of the nature of documents like resolutions which are being adopted at the Council of Europe. Upon its adoption, there will be a lot of comments in the Ukrainian audience that this leads to nothing in terms of bringing the abuser to regret its action and stop them. It is particularly true given the exclusion of Russia from the Council of Europe, which happened at the last Council of Europe session. Yet even recognising these limits, the Ukrainian society closely follows the wording of the text of the Council of Europe resolution on the Russian aggression in Ukraine. It does pay attention to this because the text reflects the political atmosphere and attitudes of different Council of Europe member states towards the Russian barbaric warfare.

What we shall find in this new resolution? Similar vague words of a general nature like "confirms, in the strongest terms, its condemnation" or "unwavering support for the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders" or "a strong call for unity in supporting Ukraine" or "exerting maximum pressure on the Russian Federation to cease its aggression". Is that strong call for unity enough? What is that maximum pressure which may force Russia to admit all its wrongdoings and retreat from Ukraine? That again remains very vague and unclear.

If we call in the resolution for the international community to take decisive action to defend the democratic world order in response to the attacks undertaken against it, the Russian Federation and Belarus, there should, of course, be actions not just words.

If we define Russian aggression against Ukraine as an act of unprecedented gravity, we must respond unprecedentedly in turn. If we recognise that unleashing a war of aggression by a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council poses a challenge to global governance undermining the multilateral system aimed at maintaining peace and security, we must reflect on it more straightforwardly. Time for nice and sweet diplomacy rewards has gone by now.

Since 24 February, instead, to my deepest regret, we have fallen into habitable patterns of recommendations which could be hardly implemented, given most of them would require the goodwill of Russia, which is not in place.

This is a good wishlist but no more. With all my respect to the work being done on the report by the rapporteur Mr Frank SCHWABE, I cannot hide my frustration that the Committee failed yesterday to be more precise in terms of what assistance will be given to Ukraine. It was afraid to include words of military assistance, which was asked by our UK colleagues. What are you afraid of? To reflect the processes which are happening on a wide scale now? Is the recent co-ordination meeting of 40 defence ministers at the Ramstein Air Base not convincing evidence for this?

Thank you. I am sorry.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

15:46:03

Thank you, Olena.

No problem, I'm a bit more flexible with those who come from Ukraine today.

Next on my list is Mr Antón GÓMEZ-REINO, from Spain. But I do not see him here.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

15:46:23

The next speaker is Ms Lucie MONCION from Canada. Online

You have the floor.

Ms Lucie MONCION

Canada

15:46:37

Thank you, Mr President.

Fellow parliamentarians,

We cannot stress enough the importance of protecting and preserving the heritage and cultural legacy of Ukraine from the destruction and damage inflicted by the Russian invasion.

We have all witnessed the devastating effects of this invasion. We have seen the millions of displaced persons and refugees, the atrocities committed against civilians and the near total destruction of many towns and villages.

To this list, we must add the current threat to Ukraine's cultural heritage: according to UNESCO, more than 100 heritage buildings and monuments have been damaged or destroyed since the beginning of the invasion.

In wartime, cultural property – such as historical monuments, works of art and scientific collections – is protected under the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict. This Convention, which has been ratified by Russia and Ukraine, requires member states involved in a conflict to act to safeguard their own cultural property, including keeping it away from military operations if possible. It also prohibits deliberate attacks on cultural property.

Why should we work together to preserve Ukraine's cultural heritage from destruction? Because, as Audrey Azoulay, Director General of UNESCO, pointed out at the outset of the conflict, this cultural heritage bears witness to Ukraine's past and will also play a role in restoring peace and social cohesion after the conflict.

The destruction of monuments and heritage buildings, which appeared deliberate to some witnesses of the attacks, may also contribute to the weakening of Ukrainian identity and demoralisation of the population. For these reasons, the international community must support the safeguarding of Ukraine's cultural heritage in every way possible.

I would like to highlight the tireless efforts of thousands of Ukrainians who felt the urgency to put in place measures to protect their cultural heritage. These people have moved thousands of works of art and cultural property to safety from bombing, burning and looting. They also protected hundreds of monuments and heritage buildings that could not be moved with sandbags and other materials.

Ukrainians are supported in their efforts to save heritage by thousands of volunteers from many countries. Through the Saving Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Online project, more than 1 300 volunteers – including librarians, archivists, and researchers – have so far relocated the content of more than 3 500 museum and library websites in Ukraine to prevent their destruction.

In conclusion, I encourage my fellow parliamentarians to include the safeguarding of Ukraine's cultural heritage as one of the components of support for Ukraine in the context of Russia's invasion.

Thank you for your attention.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

15:49:50

Thank you, dear Ms MONCION.

The next speaker is Ms André GATTOLIN, from France, on the line.

Mr André GATTOLIN

France, ALDE

15:50:05

It is with great emotion and rage that I address you.

I am thinking in particular of our colleagues from the Ukrainian delegation, some of whom may be present. Others have joined the civilian and military forces to defend their country.

For seven years, we ignored their cries of alarm about what was going to happen, and today we are discovering the dark reality of a horrible war, the dirtiest war we have seen on this continent since the Second World War. I therefore want to reaffirm both my solidarity with them and the sense of action that we must take.

So, of course, it seems difficult in this Assembly – admittedly democratic but very polite – to talk about reinforced sanctions and especially military aid to Ukraine. This is why, together with many parliamentarians from the Supreme Rada of Ukraine, with European parliamentarians, in particular our Lithuanian friends and around Andrius Kubilius, we created a few weeks ago "United for Ukraine". We are now more than 200 parliamentarians, from 30 countries, mainly European but not only, to fight for several very specific reasons:

1. to ensure reinforced sanctions against the Russian Federation;

2. to develop and improve humanitarian aid to the populations inside and outside Ukraine;

3. to ensure that arms, and real, useful arms, can be provided to Ukrainian troops to resist this unsustainable aggression.

And then also to foresee the future, that is to say to do everything to inform the elements, the war crimes which are committed, the crimes of aggression which are committed in order, tomorrow, to ask the person responsible for this aggression to go before justice.

Finally, we are thinking about the future: we must prepare for the reconstruction, the assistance to the reconstruction of this beautiful country that is Ukraine. We must also think about the fastest possible integration of Ukraine into the European Union, no doubt in an exceptional form.

Last word: I would like to point out that a little more than 3 weeks ago, in Paris, in the meeting of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, we, under the leadership of our dear friend Mrs. Thórhildur Sunna ÆVARSDÓTTIR, on the situation of political prisoners in Russia, heard several people, including Vladimir Kara-Mourza. Vladimir, three days after his return to Russia, was arrested for a trivial fact and has now been convicted, attacked in any case, charged with propaganda against the war or disinformation. He faces 15 years in prison. So, after two attempts to poison him with Novitchok, he is someone who trusts the Council of Europe and who today finds himself under the yoke of a totalitarian and totally unjust power.

I therefore ask you, dear colleagues, to mobilize in favor of Vladimir Kara-Murza.

Thank you for your support.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

15:53:30

Thank you dear Mr André GATTOLIN.

Now we have again Mr Jacek PROTASIEWICZ, online.

You have the floor sir.

Mr Jacek PROTASIEWICZ

Poland, EPP/CD

15:53:44

Thank you, Mr President, not only for giving me the floor, but also for your excellent pronunciation of Polish names, which I assume, I am aware, are not easy at all.

Dear colleagues, allow me to start my intervention with referring to the principal document that our organisation is based on, to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

In its preamble, representatives of states, including high officials from the Russian Federation, which signed the Convention, declared and reaffirmed their profound belief in fundamental freedoms, which are the foundations of justice and peace in the world.

Invading Ukraine, Russia has violated our a basic principles written down in the Convention, as well as in other fundamental documents such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly, of which the Russian Federation is still one of the key members.

By ignoring their commitments, Russian leaders have clearly demonstrated their lack of respect for international law. Their threat of possibly using nuclear weapons are visible proof that the only arguments they understand are arguments of force, unfortunately.

That is why excluding the Russian Federation from the Council of Europe was the right decision. However, that cannot be the only consequence of illegal and unjustified war against Ukraine launched by the Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Terrifying atrocities committed by Russian soldiers must not be just condemned, but most importantly, severely punished. Also, every decision maker who participated in the decision of the invasion, as well as army commanders being in charge of Russian army operations in Ukraine, must be brought to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, as were those responsible, personally and politically, for crimes committed during the Balkan Wars in the 1990s.

I am aware that all who has innocent Ukrainian blood on their hands would be held accountable for the unlawful decisions and war crimes only if the war is ended and justice prevails. That may happen only if Ukraine is not defeated. That's why sanctions on Russia are necessary, and that is why Ukraine must be supported by the international democratic community in all means, including heavy weapons provided to Ukrainian soldiers.

It is necessary to emphasise the fact that they are fighting not only for their homeland's independence and territorial integrity, but also for our common values, for our freedom, and for our, as well as our children's, rights to live in a peaceful and safe world.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

15:57:15

Sorry, sir, you have now run out time. We have to be collegial to everybody.

Thank you very much for being with us online.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

15:57:26

The next speaker is Ms Marina CAROBBIO GUSCETTI from Switzerland.

Miss Marina, you have the floor.

Ms Marina CAROBBIO GUSCETTI

Switzerland, SOC

15:57:34

Thank you, Miste President,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would also like to thank the rapporteur Mr Frank SCHWABE for his work and also for finding a balance and, above all, for once again emphasising that Russian aggression is an attack on our fundamental values, our Council of Europe values. It is an unacceptable attack human rights, democracy and international law.

As well as it obviously reiterates the strong condemnation of Russian aggression, reiterating the need to continue to put pressure on Russia to end the war of aggression and expressing once again our solidarity with the Ukrainian people.

The report also calls for the protection of people on the run, for measures to prevent human trafficking, and to protect the most vulnerable people and children.

Here then that among the serious violations of human rights we also find sexual violence and rape. Rape is a war crime. It is a weapon. It is a tool used as a weapon to target the Ukrainian population, the civilian population, to target women.

The testimonies of rape in Ukraine are numerous. An early report by the non-governmental organisation Human Rights Watch documents sexual violence. There is a proposed amendment that we will discuss later in item 11 5 that calls for a paragraph to ensure that refugees and victims of war crimes have access to adequate health services, including pregnancy termination for rape victims.

This is an important amendment, one that I urge you to support. Rape as a war crime is also a subject of in-depth study in other reports of this Council. It is important, however, to include also this aspect in this report, in the one we are discussing now, and to say how we, as the Council of Europe, want to respond to these crimes.

Specifically, in addition to considering rape as a war crime and as such to follow it in the host countries, measures to support women victims of violence, access to adequate and necessary health services, and the termination of pregnancy for victims of rape must be guaranteed.

Measures must be carried out by the member countries of the Council of Europe working obviously with the associations active on the territory in defense of women who fight against sexual violence.

Thank you also for considering this aspect.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

16:00:20

Thank you, Madam.

The next speaker on our list is Mr Viorel-Riceard BADEA, from Romania.

You have the floor.

Mr Viorel-Riceard BADEA

Romania, EPP/CD

16:00:33

Thank you, Chairman.

First of all I would like to extend my compliments to Mr Frank SCHWABE for his excellent report.

We have already been seeing for two months, when the war of aggression launched by the Russian Federation against Ukraine began, completely ignoring and flagrantly violating, the international law and its obligations.

Two months in which the humanitarian, economic and security consequences are being felt in Europe and throughout the world. Two months in which the member States of the Council of Europe have shown full solidarity of action in support of Ukraine and have acted firmly and united in the spirit of the values and principles that unite us.

We have shown in this time solidarity, not loneliness. We have been in solidarity, not loneliness. Through an exemplary mobilisation of the two statutory entities, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Committee of Ministers, our Council of Europe has given a firm and united response in the face of this provocation unprecedented in the history of the organisation.

The Assembly has endowed during the recent extraordinary session, by the unanimous vote of the members of the Assembly, i.e. the representatives of the different political groups of the Assembly, the notice, the opinion number 300 by which the reason why Russia can no longer be a member of the Council of Europe has been demonstrated.

The Committee of Ministers decided on the basis of this notice to exclude the Russian Federation from membership. Russia has chosen the path of war and violent action against civilians, against the neighboring country which has an indisputable right morally and legally to defend its borders, values and national identity.

It is said that there is only one truth and a lot of mystification, launched by the very ones who try to hide the truth and create distorted images. These attempts only increase the solidarity between the countries of the whole world, which in turn demand, together, to stop these horrors, to stop this war. The actions of solidarity with the Ukrainian people take different forms both in bilateral and multilateral relations. We feel a mobilisation to unite these actions.

Romania has decided in these days together with other countries the reopening of the embassy in Kyiv. At the highest level, but also in the Parliament, there are frequent meetings for the co‑ordination of measures supporting Ukraine and security measures.

In the vicinity of the Russian Federation there are other states, such as the Republic of Moldova and Georgia, which feel the direct threat against their efforts for democratic strengthening and feel the endangerment of national security.

We must below continue these efforts and continue to stand in solidarity to support peace, stability, prosperity, in the spirit of co‑operation on the basis of law and our common ideals.

Thank you.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

16:03:51

Thank you very much, Mister BADEA.

Next on our list of speakers is Mr Norbert KLEINWÄCHTER, from Germany.

You have the floor.

Mr Norbert KLEINWÄCHTER

Germany, EC/DA

16:04:00

Thank you, Mr President,

Ladies and gentlemen,

The first news I remember as a child was the news of the fall of the Berlin Wall. That was the news of reunification, that was the news of peace, that was the news; the Cold War is over.

Now I'm 36 and I honestly couldn't have imagined that this Cold War would get hot again, but this is the situation we are in and we can be in, and I realize that with great horror.

My prayers, at the time of this horrific war of aggression, are with the many Ukrainian families who are affected by it, but also with the Russian parents whose sons are being senselessly burned up in this war under the greatest propaganda.

Dear colleagues, many of you have mentioned sanctions and the supply of weapons. And at this point, I would like to deliberately give my speech to these people who are strongly committed to peace; who say that perhaps supplying weapons is not the right solution; who are perhaps a bit afraid of supplying weapons. Who is afraid of this war, which is still in Ukraine at the moment, actually escalating and expanding.

Colleagues, I think that actually, before we put something like that in the report, that we are supplying arms, that sanctions should be right, we are actually putting peace first.

We are 318 MPs and 318 substitutes. These are basically 636 politically high-profile politicians — people who are here. 636 potential channels of conversation. If 635 channels fail and just one would be successful; then we would have done much more for peace, which we actually stand for, than if we are here ranting against Russia — deservedly so — but in the end, demanding things that have to be decided at the national level, that each country has to decide for itself. And as much as we are reluctant to have these talks, I would urge you to seek them anyway; because if we have some success there, that will do a lot more good than any tank.

The reason I say that these things have to be decided at the national level is that we have different political and legal, but also economic conditions. It is easy to demand to somehow make a gas and oil embargo — but what would that mean for Germany, for example? We actually still have supply contracts, we would then give Russia 140 billion, there are minimum purchase volumes until 2030. Do we really want that, or do we just overturn the rule of law and say: yes, well, that's a civil law contract, it no longer applies in war? Do we really want to argue that? In terms of arms deliveries, of course, we have the problem — then you become a party to the war. Then there is also the following situation; what if a borrowed, donated tank gets hit — are we then at war?

Dear friends, I just want to say; let's not stand here for weapons and let's not stand here for sanctions. Let's stand here for dialogue and let's stand here for peace. I appeal to everybody to stand for that.

Thank you very much.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

16:07:09

Thank you very much, Mister Norbert KLEINWÄCHTER.

Next on my list of speakers is Ms Anne-Mari VIROLAINEN, from Finland.

Are you with us?

That is not the case.

 

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

16:07:25

The next speaker on my list is Mr Damien COTTIER, from Switzerland.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

16:07:32

Sorry, sorry, I made a mistake, Damien.

Ms Anne-Mari VIROLAINEN is online.

Sorry, Anne-Mari, you have the floor.

Ms Anne-Mari VIROLAINEN

Finland, EPP/CD

16:07:43

Thank you, Mr President.

Dear colleagues,

First of all, I want to express my utmost respect to Ukraine in the fight for freedom, not only for yourself but for all of us. I pay homage to every fallen Ukrainian who has resisted Russia's completely unjustified attack on a sovereign country.

The Russian Federation has committed systematic and massive war crimes. Russia has carried out murders and forced disappearances, deportations, imprisonments, torture, rape and mass desecration of corpses.

Dear colleagues, the Russian Federation's ongoing aggression against Ukraine is genocide. It is nothing else but a crime against humanity. In the face of this brutal attack on peace and security, international law and the most basic values of the Council of Europe, I most strongly advocate us, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, that we make a powerful international call for supporting Ukraine in order to cease Russian aggression. PACE shall call on countries around the world to increase their military assistance and humanitarian aid to Ukraine; call on countries to immediately strengthen the sanctions against the Russian Federation by adding energy imports to the list; call on national parliaments and international organisations to recognise these crimes against the Ukrainian people as genocide.

And last but not least, we shall support investigations of Russian crimes, prosecution of the perpetrators and establish an international court for this purpose.

Mr President, the Council of Europe and its member states' response to the challenges invoked by Russia leaves a mark on European history and on our future. The Council of Europe can display a strong unified fron. We are on the front line to support Ukraine.

Slava Ukraini.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

16:10:01

Thank you very much, Ms Anne-Mari VIROLAINEN.

The next speaker is Mr Damien COTTIER from Switzerland.

You have the floor.

Mr Damien COTTIER

Switzerland, ALDE

16:10:09

Thank you, Mr President.

In our extraordinary session, we spoke about this brutal attack on international law and on the post-war legal order, and we must, unfortunately, continue to deal with it. We are all the more sorry that this violence was caused by a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, a state that is basically supposed to be one of the guarantors of peace at the international level, and the opposite is happening.

Since then, we have seen not only the beginning of a horrible conflict but also horrible crimes being committed on the ground, probably war crimes, atrocities in any case that are clearly prohibited by international humanitarian law and also by the European Convention on Human Rights, which, let's remember, is fully applicable on the whole territory of Ukraine and is still fully applicable, until next September 16, on the whole territory of the Russian Federation.

When Henry Dunant took the initiative, with the support of the Swiss government at the time, to invite states to Geneva in 1864 to establish what was the first Geneva Convention — and Russia was one of the governments present at this international conference — the idea was to bring a little humanity back to the heart of war, to the heart of conflicts. What we are seeing now, unfortunately, is the opposite happening on the ground, and we must condemn it with the strongest possible words.

This obliges us because we are responsible for it; we are the guarantors, in this institution, of the European Convention on Human Rights, and all our countries — we are all national parliamentarians — have signed the Geneva Conventions. They have been signed by all the states on this planet and therefore have universal value. These Geneva Conventions oblige each state, not only to respect the rules of international humanitarian law, but also to ensure that international humanitarian law is respected. We, therefore, have not only a moral but also a legal obligation to act. One can only be concerned by the current drifts and also by the extremely worrying statements of the last few hours.

I would like to thank the rapporteur for this debate and I am delighted that tomorrow we will also have another debate on the legal consequences of these atrocities. The two reports complement each other. Overall, I support them.

There are requests for intervention from the various countries: I would simply stress that they must do so within the framework of their legal obligations. For example, I come from Switzerland, a permanently neutral state: the right to neutrality is defined by the rules of the Hague Convention and imposes a number of obligations — and also a number of restrictions. For example, it is forbidden for a country like mine to export arms; on the other hand, Switzerland exports another type of aid, it takes in a large number of refugees. It also exports a lot of humanitarian aid and the Swiss population has mobilised to donate more than 100 million Swiss francs — which is the equivalent of 100 million euros — in a few days and the Swiss government has doubled the amount.

Finally, a word to say that the internal situation in the Russian Federation is very worrying, in particular, the imprisonment of Mr Kara-Mourza; we spoke about it yesterday in the Committee on Legal Affairs, I made a statement today on behalf of the Committee to ask for his immediate release because it is absolutely unacceptable.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

16:13:29

Thank you, Damien.

Next on my list is Mr Antonio GUTIÉRREZ LIMONES from Spain.

Antonio, you have the floor.

Mr Antonio GUTIÉRREZ LIMONES

Spain, SOC

16:13:37

Thank you very much, President.

Dear colleagues,

Today it is 85 years since the Gernika shelling, painted by Picasso. President Zelensky had a discussion with the Parliament of Spain, and he talked about Gernika. He said that it was comparable to what was happening in Ukrainian cities.

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Mr Frank SCHWABE on his report, which calls on this house to take decisive action.

I would also like to thank our President, Mr Tiny KOX. Thank you for putting in place all the instruments that the Council of Europe has at its disposal in order to stop Putin's terrible aggression against the Ukrainian people.

Our duty as representatives of the citizens is to do what we have to do. We need to do that as representatives of our peoples, notwithstanding personal consequences, obstacles, dangers and pressures. This is the very basis of human morality.

Once again we know the enemy. We know them by name. We know them by surname. We're up against the delusions of one individual.

But I want us to also be aware of something else once and for all. Namely, the real danger that Putin represents. Not only the risk that is present on our borders, but that he has been deploying destabilisation plans in Europe for over a decade. These are organised methodical actions. Considerable resources have been poured into these efforts to put an end to the plan of a united Europe.

We have now woken up to Ukraine's cry of drama and terror. But in actual fight, we've been on the receiving end of direct attacks on our democratic institutions from Moscow, without any united reaction from all of us. Putin has implemented disinformation camapigns against electoral campaigns in Europe. All of this is in order to support parties that are against the international democratic order.

We have an obligation to call out the numerous cases of Russian interference. This includes the pro-Brexit campaign, presidential elections in France and Germany, and also the illegal referendum in Catalonia, just to name a few. The support to anti-European, far-right and pro-independence formations which are actually seeking to overthrow our democratic states.

It is in situations like these where our house has sometimes fallen short. We've given support to positions promoted by Putin rather than defending the interests of the democratic states under attack.

As a member of the Spanish Parliament I have suffered first hand this lack of essential unity amongst us in the face of, for instance, the Catalan pro-independence process which violated the Spanish democratic constitution, and behind which, one could discern Putin's destabilisation interests.

It has taken the sound of war drums for us all to wake up and to become aware of the risks posed by Putin's intentions. Let's not wait longer. Let's use all our instruments to support Ukraine, to support its people. Let us dismantle all the disinformation campaigns which our enemy has set in motion in order to change the direction of travel of our model of coexistence.

We can be complicit by action, or by omission as we have on some occasions.

Please let's not allow populist discourse to do Putin's dirty work.

 

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

16:16:48

Thank you very much, Antonio. [in Spanish]

Now I call in the debate from Norway Ms Linda Hofstad HELLELAND.

You have the floor, madam.

Ms Linda Hofstad HELLELAND

Norway, EPP/CD

16:16:57

Mr President, dear colleagues,

This war affects us all. All Europeans. But the effect on Ukrainian women, men and children, especially those who fall victim to sexual violence and rape, is unimaginable.

Ukrainians are victims of such crimes. They are traumatised and scarred for life. Rape results in unwanted pregnancies. All countries that receive and host refugees from Ukraine must provide consulting and care. Safe abortions must be provided to those in need.

I am afraid that the situation will get worse before it gets better. Millions of Ukrainians are in need of our help and assistance. In Ukraine and in our member states. They need help now. Civil societies and NGOs must contribute in the care of victims. They can provide consulting and therapy alongside healthcare professionals.

The police in all member states play a crucial role. They must be especially attentive to these vulnerable groups. They must secure evidence. They must ensure that vulnerable groups don't fall victim to crime and exploitation in their host countries.

The international community must do what we can do to ensure that there is no impunity for war crimes. Killing of civilians, rape, and sexual violence must be investigated, documented and prosecuted. The perpetrators must be punished.

President, in March we established the network "Women at PACE". And I ask you all, especially the men here in the Assembly, to take our statement back to your countries. Demand that your governments do everything in their power to prevent and combat violence against women and children. Demand that the use of sexual violence and rape as a weapon of war is investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice. Demand that women and girls who became pregnant after being assaulted are given psychological support and health care.

I would also like to point out that my political group, the Group of the European People's Party, has taken the initiative to fund the women's group and I would like to stress that one of our first initiatives will be dedicated to women survivors of war and how we, as parliamentarians, can help them.

Thank you.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

16:20:06

Thank you, dear Linda, and thank you for referring to our informal network "[email protected]".

Now I call in the debate Mr Alexander CHRISTIANSSON from Sweden.

Alexander, you have the floor.

Mr Alexander CHRISTIANSSON

Sweden, EC/DA

16:20:21

Thank you Mr President.

In this brief statement, I wish to focus specifically on a number of long-term, more mental impacts, first and foremost among the literally shell-shocked population of Ukraine.

For example, thousands of babies have been born in underground shelters, lacking nourishment and kept awake by artillery shells exploding above them, with the ground shaking below them, and crying and horrified people crouching around them.

Will they - and countless other Ukrainian citizens in similar heart-rending situations over the last two months, presumably with more to come – will they ever be able to regain their mental stability and calm? One thing is certain though, it will take a very long time and require enormous effort.

And how will Ukrainians, after peace returns, regard their Russian neighbours, since the two countries will always remain geographical neighbours? This holds even as Ukrainians know, that it was not ordinary Russians who orchestrated the invasion, but rather Mr Putin himself and his small clique of advisers!

There is another mental impact that should be mentioned, namely the apprehension now prevailing in all the countries that neighbour, or are near, Russia.

In these countries the earlier climate of relative trust in – and readiness to cooperate with – Russia is gone. In its place has come a climate of fear, that these countries themselves may be next in line to be invaded. So I am now glad that we have come together like never before, in order to jointly preserve and defend our precious national freedoms and independence.

To mention an example, my own country Sweden – as well as neighbouring Finland – we are just now debating whether we should join NATO. Elsewhere in Europe defence budgets are being rapidly expanded to meet the new perceived threat.

Finally, Mr President, the discontent with this war is slowly but surely moving into Russia itself. The Russian people are gradually realising how brutal and catastrophic the unprovoked attack on Ukraine really is, and I hope and trust that someday they will hold its leadership accountable for it.

With this being said, I am really glad that we are standing together for Ukraine at this time.

Thank you, Mr President. 

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

16:22:56

The next speaker is Ms Nicole DURANTON from France.

You have the floor.

Ms Nicole DURANTON

France, ALDE

16:23:03

Thank you, Mr President.

Dear colleagues,

I would like to thank our colleague Mr Frank SCHWABE for his excellent and comprehensive report, and I would like to start by paying tribute to our Ukrainian colleagues and friends whose commitment to the Council of Europe is remarkable. In a particularly difficult context for their country, we owe them for this commitment.

At this stage of the debate, much has already been said. I will therefore concentrate on a few points.

Like many others, I am pleased that we have collectively shown unity in our response to the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation. The vote of our Assembly was clear, as was the reaction of the Committee of Ministers. This was necessary and should guide us for the future, including to encourage us to direct the various bodies of the Council of Europe when they do not intervene in a sufficiently reactive manner.

Our colleague Mr Frank SCHWABE called for thinking outside the box when necessary: this was indeed the case in these exceptional circumstances. I would like to point out some points of satisfaction in this respect. I am thinking of the action of the Council of Europe Development Bank, which intervened very quickly, as well as the action taken to support the services of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine in order to document and gather evidence of violations of international humanitarian law.

Let's ask ourselves: has the Council continued to live up to this? Unfortunately, I don't think so.

Thank you, Mr President: you led a delegation of group heads of our Assembly to Ukraine and that was essential. However, our Secretary General and our Commissioner for Human Rights have not yet been there, and I do not feel the explanations we have been given are very convincing. Similarly, I asked our Secretary General about the reopening of the bffice in Kyiv and I must admit that I was disappointed by her overly administrative response.

It is urgent. I think that our Assembly must play a driving force role in the long term, so that the whole of the Council of Europe fully assumes its duty.

Thank you very much.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

16:25:20

Thank you, Ms Nicole DURANTON.

The next speaker on our list is Ms Klotilda BUSHKA from Albania. Klotilda, you have the floor.

Ms Klotilda BUSHKA

Albania, SOC

16:25:29

Thank you, Mr President, dear colleagues.

Let me first congratulate Mr Frank SCHWABE for this excellent report. I think the report is well inclusive of all the issues and I have just a call for all of us here and for our parliaments that we do what we have been called to do based on this recommendation and draft resolution that we will vote later on.

I want to stop on three questions. 

The first question is related to the leadership that is requested from the member states of the Council of Europe to organise a Fourth Summit of Heads of States and Governments of the Council of Europe member states to re-affirm the values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law and elaborate a new vision for the organisation in the context of the European monetary architecture. I would say that my country stands for this and I can confirm here the will of the Albanian parliament and, of course, of the Albanian government to stand with the Council of Europe in fulfilling this, as we have stood inside with NATO and the Security Council of the United Nations in order to help Ukraine escape from that horrible war that is happening nowadays.

The other one is related to the financial stability of the Council of Europe. Once again, allow me to tell you that Albania, like many other countries that are members in the Council of Europe, will do what is possible for it and even more in order to invest that the activity of the Council of Europe specifically in the cases related to helping Ukraine and its people be realised in a very short term.

The third issue which is important is the situation of women in Ukraine. They are the most at risk of the population in the situation there. I need to call on all of the mechanisms in the Council of Europe that take care of women's rights. Please, can we do something more, not just a declarations and statements? Missions are being created to investigate and to make fact-finding missions, but I think other mechanisms in the Council of Europe can do more, not only to help victims rehabilitate. We need to do something more in order that the sexual violation, the rapes that we are hearing about every day, are stopped. This is something that I think we can do every day, not only when we have the Plenary Session at this very honoured fora.

That is why I call on all the women parliamentarians here. I would be very happy to congratulate, even the EPP women that started their own group of [email protected], that to unite together with all women, as in [email protected], and really start some side events and push all the international mechanisms on that regard. To do something every day, not only when we have meetings and Plenary Sessions.

Thank you very much and Slava Ukraini.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

16:28:48

Thank you, Ms Klotilda BUSHKA.

And now I welcome in the debate our good colleague Mr Serhii SOBOLIEV.

You are with us here Serhii. Good to see you.

Mr Serhii SOBOLIEV

Ukraine, EPP/CD

16:28:57

Thank you, Mr President.

I just arrived a few hours ago from Ukraine to Strasbourg and it is impossible to understand. This situation where it is another air blowing in the trees. It is another sun. It is not so red from the blood of our children and our women. It is not so black from the attack of Russian missiles. As well, for example, for me, it is impossible to understand how it is to be under the rocket and bomb attacks in Mariupol every 10 minutes – every 10 minutes.

It is impossible to understand how Russian soldiers, after the sexual violence, when they denazify and demilitarise Ukrainian women and children – it is Putin's terminology – discussing with their wives and mothers, "what do you want me to bring from Butcha or from Hostomel? To Moscow, to Saint Petersburg" "Do you want this dress or do you want these shoes?". When they are discussing with their children, "my dear son, you are six years old. I want to give you a teddy bear from a killed Ukrainian boy". It is impossible to understand this in a real mentality.

I think it is very important to understand how we are living now in Ukraine. When I was woken up at 6.00 am and my native city, Zaporizhzhia, half of this region is occupied by Russians. By two rockets at the X, just in the middle of this city. When I came to Odesa – the biggest breach that united two parts of Odesa – where it is a real way of life. Where hundreds and hundreds of cars with wheat and corn are going to Europe. It was dismissed by rationalisation. It is also denazification and demilitarisation.

When I came to the capital of Moldova and spent seven hours at the airport together with other hundreds and hundreds of people who are waiting for different flights, and we were listening for the new provocation of Putin in the part of Moldova Transnistria, and we are thinking, "What will it be? Maybe they will attack the capital of Moldova?".

I think we need to discuss this in such a manner, when, we as an organisation that is not NATO, it is not a European country, but it is the main organisation that protects human rights. We need to organise the process against Putin and his regime in order to stop this forever. Because we will have Mariupol not in Mariupol, but in Paris and in other cities. I think is very serious and we must understand this all.

Thank you.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

16:32:32

Thank you, Serhii. And take care, stay safe and sound.

Now, online we will hear the intervention of Mr Francesco SORBARA from Canada.

Francesco, you have the floor.

Mr Francesco SORBARA

Canada

16:32:53

Good afternoon to everyone who are our friends and allies in Europe.

Here, in the nation's capital, where we are currently sitting, I do want to state that we are home to one of the largest diasporas of Ukrainian people outside the Ukraine. We stand steadfast with the Ukrainian people and for the full sovereignty and democracy of Ukraine.

Honourable colleagues,

We are all rightly seized with the horrifying images and stories emerging from Ukrainian communities that have been liberated from Russian occupation, and with ensuring that possible war crimes are investigated.

As a clear sign of that brutality, we have witnessed in a matter of weeks the worst displacement crisis in Europe since the Second World War.

As this war continues, and as the toll on Ukraine’s people continues to mount, we are also becoming concerned with its broader ramifications.

One is the war’s potential to exacerbate global food insecurity.

The vulnerabilities within Ukraine are already apparent. And there are heightened risks of food insecurity for the millions of people who have been displaced internally through Russia’s unprovoked aggression.

Ukraine’s infrastructure and agricultural land have been damaged, its ports have been blocked, and harvesting and planting operations may be disrupted.

There are also warning signs of global ripple effects.

Food prices, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the FAO, had already reached an all-time high internationally before the war due to market conditions and high prices for inputs.

The Food Price Index, which the FAO has maintained since 1990, reached a new record in February, only to be surpassed again in March.

Russia and Ukraine are important producers of sunflower seeds, barley and wheat, and fertilisers.

And energy prices have also spiked.

Even in a scenario where the war ends soon, the World Food Programme, the WFP, estimates that there would be an additional 33 million people facing acute hunger in the 81 countries where the WFP operates. If the war continues beyond April 2022, their estimate rises to 47 million people.

Here, I would underline that 276 million people around the world were already facing acute hunger before the war.

While there are many other projections and analyses that could inform our debate, the potential consequences for lower income states that are heavily dependent on food imports are obvious to all.

The fundamental connections between hunger, conflict and instability were drawn when the World Food Programme was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

In response, colleagues, steps can be taken, a few of which include: diversifying food supplies, supporting vulnerable groups, and strengthening market transparency and supply chains.

The Canadian government and parliamentarians, along with our allies, are seized with determining how we can mitigate the impact that Russia’s war of aggression is having on food security.

Today, and in the difficult weeks to come, I look forward to hearing your thoughts about how we can become more resilient against these shocks together.

Dear colleagues, our delegation hopes to be with you soon in person, as we are now officially allowed to travel.

I wish everyone a wonderful day.

Thank you. God bless Ukraine and the Ukrainian people.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

16:36:06

Thank you very much, Francesco.

And indeed, we hope to see you here in person in our next session.

Now I call on the debate Mr Domagoj HAJDUKOVIĆ from Croatia.

You have the floor, sir.

Mr Domagoj HAJDUKOVIĆ

Croatia, SOC

16:36:18

Thank you, Chair.

Dear colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, this what is happening in Ukraine as we speak is an outrage. And even this word is an understatement, but I don't have a better word for it in English if I am to remain polite. The scale of loss of life, humanitarian situation, massacres we have seen in Ukraine, it is just outrageous. And I'm being polite because no other word springs to mind that can describe how I feel at the moment when I see those pictures and see these reports.

The repercussions of the Russian aggression in Ukraine will be felt of course in Ukraine, in its neighbourhood, on our continent, worldwide, and even by this bilateral organisation.

We have thrown the Russian Federation out of our Assembly and it was a good move, we should draw the red lines and red lines can't be crossed. We must send the clear message. But this is not nearly enough.

Do you honestly believe that the regime that values human life as they have shown us in Bucha, Irpin' or Kramatorsk will be moved by being thrown out of this organisation? No, they will not. Therefore, we must take further steps. They must face the repercussions of their actions. The perpetrators of the massacres and the war crimes must be punished. The outrage to civil society, not only in Russia, but also in Belarus, must be maintained. And we must explore the ways to communicate with the civil society, with freedom fighters, and democratic forces in those countries, because not all of its citizens support its actions. We should lend them support in fighting for what is right.

Furthermore a clear European perspective for Ukraine must be given. I think that the candidacy status for Ukraine would be a kind of symbolic gesture, really a support, a clear message that we see Ukraine in a European family in the near future. Of course this is only just the beginning of European way, there is still a way to go, but this would be a clear message.

Let us not forget Georgia in this respect, that faced similar circumstances in 2008. We must extend the support to them as well. And to Moldova. Let's not forget Moldova, which could be next.

And finally let me finish in Ukrainian: міро україні, свобода україні, слава україні.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

16:39:09

Thank you, Mister HAJDUKOVIĆ.

Now I call in debate Mr Dmytro NATALUKHA from Ukraine.

You have the floor, Dmytro.

Mr Dmytro NATALUKHA

Ukraine, EC/DA

16:39:25

Thank you very much, dear Mr Chairman.

Dear colleagues,

Thank you to the rapporteur for producing this this report. I would say it's a decent defensive paper.

As you might know, it's almost impossible to win any fight with simply some defensive tools. What I would love to do is to make this report and the draft resolution more offensive. To make it viable in order to counter the Russian aggression in this common war of ours. I say common because Ukraine is fighting not only for its territory or citizens that Russia is trying to subdue since 2014. Ukrainians are dying, literally every day, for the Western values of freedom and independence, for the European tradition of democracy and diversity, for an open society built on rules, agreements and friendship, and not on coercion, lies and fear.

We are fighting for all that is dear to Europe, to this continent, to Ukraine, and for all that Putin's Russia hates so much.

Putin's Russia is a product of unpunished evil, and we need to set a precedent to punish it properly. As much as this report says that the aggression is an unprecedented act of gravity, we should then provide an unprecedented response. Unprecedented, because who knows who might be next. We've heard about Moldova. We have seen what is happening in Transnistria today.

I don't think anyone would dare to call us crazy anymore, or traumatised, like they used to call us, the Baltics, the Poles, and other countries before the Russian aggression. We are not traumatised, we're realists. The reality is that Moldova, who is not a member of NATO, might easily be the next one tomorrow.

So we need to provide a precedent for punishment. We need to make another Blitzkrieg in terms of the response. We all have seen what happens when the Blitzkrieg fails. Putin got into very very serious trouble in Ukraine, and started the war of attrition.

We don't want our Blitzkrieg, in terms of response, to fail. We don't need any war of attrition in terms of the sanctions, believe me. Ukraine is the country who is the most interested in ending this war as fast as possible and without dragging any other country into it. But we need to be decisive. This collective action needs to be very firm, very urgent, unconditional. We need to provide military assistance. We need to impose all the possible sanctions. And finally, we have to demonstrate bravery.

A lot of words have been said here in terms of bravery of the Ukrainian people. Let's demonstrate bravery of the European people here. Let us produce some document that we will all be proud of when we talk to our grandchildren in decades. Let us produce some document that our grandchildren will be referring to as an act of pure bravery. Let us not leave after our generation the debt of bravery.

Thank you.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

16:43:04

Thank you, Dmytro.

The next speaker in our list is Ms Khatia DEKANOIDZE from Georgia.

Khatia, you have the floor.

Ms Khatia DEKANOIDZE

Georgia, EPP/CD

16:43:16

Thank you, Mr President.

Well, first of all I want to thank Mr Frank SCHWABE for the report and very essential and important issues highlighted in there.

Yes, it must be the primary goal to act according to civilised standards as Europe, as international organisations. And indeed we have a great role and responsibility to respond to Russian aggression in Ukraine: killings, rape, bombing, and the Russian Federation desire to exterminate Ukrainians.

We have a pronounced task to make Putin accountable as well as every Russian who committed war crimes, genocide, in Bucha, Irpin', Mariupol' and some other Ukrainian cities.

The Ukrainian public defender made a statement just recently, and I watched the statement, that about 500 000 Ukrainians had been kidnapped from occupied territories. About a hundred thousand kids have been forcefully taken to Russia. For many of us who have seen Russian occupation, and you know I'm from Georgia also, and 25% of Georgian territory is occupied, it's not easy to stay with cold mind. And I totally understand Serhii and my colleagues when they are so emotional. Yes, I've seen that. I've seen that in 2008.

But sitting here in agora let it be dedicated to supporting investigation and creating effective tools to punish every Russian soldier, every Russian soldier who committed crimes, every Russian general, and make accountable and punish Putin himself.

We have to work and fight fiercely to achieve justice for Ukrainians. Individuals from Russia can be prosecuted in national courts for war crimes. The basis of the principles on universal jurisdiction: in certain countries, for instance, individuals can also be found guilty of the international crime of aggression.

And here, what we can do here? Sanctions. First sanctions. Sanctions must be increased. The civilised world must sanction all the banks. Some are still operating in Russia, I have to remind you. And every single person who continues to support the Russian financial market, who continues to keep ties with Russian oligarchs, and let me remind you that the I represent beautiful amazing Georgia, and the shadow oligarchies under Georgian and the Georgian oligarchy many of whom still have ties with Russian oligarchs.

Arm Ukraine. It is very much important. Work with our parliament to give more weapon to Ukraine because they have desire to defend their country.

And dear colleagues, let me remind you that we had been warning the world in 2008 that there would be a great risk for Europe.

And finally, support the EU integration of Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova. People of these countries had chosen the path to Europe. Let us be the part of your family. It is our family, too.

Slava Ukraini!

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

16:46:39

Thank you, Khatia.

The next speaker on our list is Ms Fiona O'LOUGHLIN, from Ireland.

Fiona, you have the floor.

Ms Fiona O'LOUGHLIN

Ireland, ALDE

16:46:46

Thank you very much.

There is no doubt that the world changed on the 24th of February. This Assembly acted quickly and correctly in terms of making the unanimous decision that Russia should not be a member of the Council of Europe, in terms of them having broken every rule in the book about human rights, democracy, and the rule of law.

My own country has shown great leadership.

My colleagues, Senator Timmy Dooley, and Member of the European Parliament, Billy Kelleher, have both visited the Ukraine on two occasions. And indeed, our Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney, I think was the first minister for Foreign Affairs to visit.

Our Taoiseach, Micheál Martin, led the way in ensuring that Ukrainians fleeing the war of aggression could come to our country without visas and be given as many supports as possible.

We have listened here, during the week, to the female members of PACE from the Ukraine, who have been such strong ambassadors in terms of giving us living testimony to the terrors that the Ukrainian people are facing. I really applaud them for their courage and their conviction, and their incredible strength that they have shown both here, and in telling the world about what's happening in Ukraine.

A few short weeks ago, we celebrated in my country the 106th anniversary of our state. The spirit of the founders of our country is also central to that sense of solidarity which Irish people feel toward towards others, like the Ukrainians, who are trying to secure their freedoms and to face down the forces of imperialism.

The inhumane war of the Putin regime against Ukraine represents an attempt to assert the right of a powerful country to dominate its neighbours, and to crush very basic democratic and human rights.

It is, of course, part of an ongoing attempt to roll back the great advances achieved in the last number of years, and to undermine cooperation between free democracies, which is the hallmark of what the Council of Europe stands for.

Ireland stands with Ukraine and its determination to not just survive this brutal onslaught, but also to be prosperous, successful, and secure, as part of the European community of nations.

When you look at the arguments being used by Russia today, it should scare any country in the world which has struggled to achieve independence. According to Russia, large and powerful countries should have a right to directly control any area close to them. That is absolutely shocking.

Ukraine's struggle is our struggle. That's why we will continue to host people fleeing the conflict and we will continue to absolutely support the freely elected President Zelensky, and government.

We will never accept the idea that Russia has the right to control any part of Ukraine. There can be no more frozen conflict where brute force imposes...

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

16:50:34

Sorry that I had to interrupt you but it is a matter of solidarity with the others.

Next on our list would be Mr Givi MIKANADZE from Georgia but I do not see him in his place so we go to Mr Jerome MAYHEW.

He is here. You are here, then you get the floor, sir.

Mr Givi MIKANADZE

Georgia, SOC

16:50:56

Dear Mister President,

Since the very first day of Russia’s military aggression in Ukraine, Georgia has been providing its firm support to Ukraine, and the Ukrainian people expressed through political support and humanitarian aid. We are again condemning Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified military aggression against Ukraine.

From a political point of view, Georgia was a co-sponsor of the UN Security Council Resolution and was among 141 countries that adopted the UN Resolution reaffirming Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity. Additionally, Georgia was one of 38 signatory countries that applied to the International Criminal Court in The Hague to investigate war crimes committed in Ukraine during Russia’s unlawful invasion. Georgia supported the suspension of the membership and later expulsion of the Russian Federation from the membership of the Council of Europe. Georgia supported the PACE Opinion on the consequences of the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine.

Georgia is a leader among 191 countries per capita in the provision of humanitarian aid to Ukraine. By 1 April 2022, Georgia has provided Ukraine with 400 tonnes of humanitarian aid, and this process is continued.

By 31 March 2022, Georgia has received more than 30 000 refugees from Ukraine, who, on a basis of the decision of the government, are provided with free accommodation, meals, and all necessary assistance, including healthcare.

Russian aggression in Ukraine is substantially altering global security and the South Caucasus is no exception. In parallel with Russia’s unlawful invasion of Ukraine, the intensification of the process of annexation of the occupied territories of Georgia and the continuation of provocations on the ground by Russia is even more worrisome and seriously complicates the situation in these occupied regions.

Therefore, I welcome that this crucial general policy debate on the consequences of the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine is at the centre of the spring Plenary Session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, as well as an urgent debate on ensuring accountability for serious violations of international humanitarian law.

Georgia, as a member of a civilised world and a friend of Ukraine, suffered from Russia’s unjustified military aggression in 2008, whose 20% of territories are still occupied by Russia with Russian troops illegally present, understands better than others all consequences of Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, which undermines European security architecture and the rules-based international order. Therefore, I call the Assembly to reaffirm unwavering support for the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders, as well as express our full support and solidarity with the Ukrainian people.

Thank you for your attention.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

16:53:49

Thank you, Mr Givi MIKANADZE.

And now we go to Mr Jerome MAYHEW from the United Kingdom.

Jerome, you have the floor.

Mr Jerome MAYHEW

United Kingdom, EC/DA

16:53:57

Mr President,

The extraordinary act of aggression by Russia took me personally profoundly by surprise.

I had assumed that an imperial land grab in Europe was confined to our history books. I had assumed that in the modern information age a nation could not be led into such an evil act. I had assumed that the people would not stand for it. But I was wrong. It has happened. And Russians, in their millions, are choosing to believe the lies of their president. There is a choice here. In large part the truth is available to the people of Russia via the internet and yet propaganda is winning.

This is a profoundly disturbing truth. When the institutions of democracy are corrupted the truth on its own is not enough. If we learned anything from Mr Putin, it should be this: that our democratic institutions are vitally important, that this institution is vitally important.

The checks and balances to executive power and independent judiciary, defending the rule of law, independent journalism, free elections, allowing for the peaceful transfer of power: these checks and balances, sometimes messy, often inconvenient – they are all that stands between us and him.

Let's take this lesson back home. Let's make Putin's legacy the renaissance of our own democracies. He will hate it.

As for the report, I support it as far as it goes, but regret that it does not have the courage of its convictions, the courage of our convictions, and set out in black and white the need for military support to be provided to Ukraine. The time for calls for peace is not when an invader is occupying large parts of its neighbour.

First we should do all we can to help the Ukrainians to repulse Russia, then is the time for a just peace.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

16:56:06

Thank you very much, Mr Jerome MAYHEW.

Now Ms Inka HOPSU from Finland is joining us online.

Inka, you have the floor.

Ms Inka HOPSU

Finland, SOC

16:56:18

Thank you, Mister Chair.

Thank you to Mr Frank SCHWABE for his excellent report.

The consequences of war are endless: human suffering, destruction, environmental catastrophes, and death. Preventing future wars was the reason for founding this organisation more than 70 years ago. Yet here we are. The effects of Russia’s war in Ukraine are unfolding before our very eyes. Ukraine urgently needs humanitarian assistance and aid as well as support in resolving war crimes. However, the consequences of this unnecessary and unfounded war are not limited to Ukraine or even to Europe. It will be felt all over the globe, creating new security risks as people are beginning to suffer from soaring food prices.

Russia’s war in Ukraine presents never-before-seen consequences for global agriculture and food security. The war is disrupting markets for final agricultural products and affects the availability and prices of bread and cooking oil, which are primary sources of calories for millions of people. Fertiliser shortages and soaring costs prevent wealthier and low- and middle-income countries from increasing their own food production to compensate for losses in food imports.

We have not yet seen the peak of this developing food crisis, but its political consequences have already been felt in countries such as Pakistan, Peru and Egypt. As the situation unfolds, we might see famine and increasing unrest in the Middle East and parts of Africa, even in Europe.

What can we do? We must stop this war. Let me be very clear: this means that we must stop financing Putin’s war. Since the start of the war, the EU has spent nearly €30 billion on Russian fossil fuel imports. A huge sum that indirectly pays for the killing of thousands of innocent civilians and the destruction of a whole country. This is completely unsustainable and unacceptable.

Energy is a climate change and security issue. Yet, the threat of climate change has not led to rapid action on energy transition. Russia’s war on Ukraine has exposed the dangers of single-source energy reliance. The Finnish Government recently introduced an €850 million crisis package to phase out the use of fossil fuels and achieve energy self-sufficiency. To speed up this process further, we can all reduce energy consumption by changing our own behaviour. This will not be enough, but it is certainly one step to stop funding the aggressor and saving the planet.

Thank you. 

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

16:59:27

Thank you, Inka.

Now we are going to listen to the contribution of Mr Dara CALLEARY from Ireland.

Dara, you have the floor.

Mr Dara CALLEARY

Ireland, ALDE

16:59:38

Thank you, Mr President.

As an Irish person, it is in our DNA to understand what it's like to be threatened by a larger, more militarily powerful neighbour, and to stand up to that threat. And that is why we stand as a people in more ways than one, with the people of Ukraine in their current situation.

I want to commend Mr Frank SCHWABE and the Secretariat – because behind every good rapporteur is an excellent secretariat – from the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy on his report. The accompanying report to the resolutions in front of us is quite detailed and quite worth reading. And it contains a number of major issues, many of those issues to be considered, Mr President, but I want to look at some of them in particular.

Part 6 lays out the responsibilities of this institution and this organisation as we move forward. On 15 March we left here with a very definitive decision to expel Russia. For the first time a member state was expelled. What will we leave here with this week? Yes, we have a very solid report and very ambitious report, but like many other colleagues I am frustrated at the lack of understanding of the need for action on the ground by this institution and its constituent parts in Ukraine. By opening the office, by copying your example and visiting the country and being visible within the country. And by taking the lead on war crimes, an issue which we will look at tomorrow.

The head of state conference that has been called by many needs to be progressed and pursued, and we as the Irish delegation would encourage our governments to work with you, President, and to work with the Secretary General on that, as we take up the presidency of the Council of Ministers.

We need to re-evaluate what is the purpose of an organisation that was established to stop war but yet observes one member state invading another. It is time for reflection on why that happened, how that happened, what role did this organisation play in facilitating that to happen and what role it will play in the new architecture of Europe and of the world in the future.

The draft recommendation, in Part 5, colleagues, let's reflect on that: it contains a commitment to support and engage with human rights defenders. Let us reflect on Vladimir Kara-Murza today, who came to the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights in March in Paris and gave evidence and spoke about Russian opposition, spoke about the work of the ground in Russia, of the people that we are reaching out to: citizens of Russia who are defending Ukraine, who are defending democracy.

We need to stand with him in more ways than words, we need to highlight him and feature him as somebody that this Council of Europe and all its bodies will stand up for, because otherwise other voices of opposition will lose courage and will lose heart.

Mr President, we need to act, we need a substantial action to follow up this report as the Council of Europe. Our prime minister in Ireland, our Taoiseach, has often said that in Ireland we are militarily neutral, but we are not politically or morally neutral. And this organisation needs to be similar.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

17:02:43

Thank you, Mr Dara CALLEARY.

Now I call in the debate Mr Raimond KALJULAID, from Estonia.

Mister Raimond KALJULAID, you have the floor.

Mr Raimond KALJULAID

Estonia, SOC

17:02:53

Thank you very much, Mr Chairman.

Dear colleagues,

The Russian foreign minister, Mr Sergey Lavrov, made a statement just a few days ago where he called the war in Ukraine a proxy war between the Russian Federation and western countries and NATO.

Let us all pause for a moment and really let it sink in that the foreign minister of Russia has just announced, publicly, officially, that this is indeed a war, and it is a war not just between Russia and Ukraine, it’s a war between the West and Russia, NATO and Russia, Europe and Russia.

Now, I understand that it is the hope of millions, tens of millions of Europeans today, that this war will somehow stop and it will not spill across our borders and bring untold devastation and tragedy to our continent. I’m terribly sorry to say this so bluntly: it already has spilt over our borders. Europe does not stop at the border of the European Union. Ukraine is as much of a European country as Germany or France is. It’s just as much a part of Europe as the United Kingdom or Switzerland.

Europe is already under attack. This war is not there, it is here. When they are bombing Mariupol and Odessa, port cities, they might as well be bombing Hamburg, or Málaga, or Marseille, or Rotterdam.

To end this war we need to do three things:

We need to help Ukraine defend its territory. We have done a lot. we need to do more. We actually have to stop caring what Russia has to say about it. That's not relevant to the case any more.

Sorry for being critical. But I've heard some colleagues here stand up and say "we need to do more for Ukraine". And then I look up to how much they've contributed, and they're not like even near the top 10 countries that are contributing to the defence of Ukraine. So talk is cheap.

We need to stop sending billions of euros to Russia for energy. European countries are actually funding the slaughter of Ukrainians. This needs to stop.

And of course, we need to put a lot more money into our own military capability and defence as well.

Now, some point out that cutting Russian energy supplies would mean unbearable economic costs for some European countries. Well, that is nothing compared to what Ukrainians are going through right now.  And it’s nothing compared to what threatens all of us if we don’t stand up to Russia now.

I’m sorry my message is so stark, but we really need to understand that if this war is lost, all is lost. If this war is lost, Europe is lost.

Thank you very much.

 

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

17:05:34

Thank you very much, Mr Raimond KALJULAID.

Now I call to the debate Ms Jane STEVENSON from the United Kingdom. Jane, you have the floor.

Ms Jane STEVENSON

United Kingdom, EC/DA

17:05:44

Thank you very much, Mister President.

We have heard some very fine words this afternoon in the Chamber, but sadly, at the moment, fine words simply are not enough. While I welcome this report, I echo many voices in this Chamber: it does not go far enough.

Every day, we see more horror from Ukraine. We see evidence of mass graves, we see the targeting of civilians, and we see women raped in front of their own children. These stories cannot go unpunished. We must all do all we can to end this conflict as quickly as possible. All member States have to send all support now. Uncomfortable as it is, this does mean harsh sanctions, and it does mean sending weapons.

Before I came here, I spoke to our foreign secretary Liz Truss. She was clear that the UK will continue to stand with Ukraine and provide that military support. In this report, I am disappointed that, at this extraordinary time, we still maintain that this Committee should not make defence recommendations, because in this case, defence – bombs, weapons – this is what is saving Ukrainian lives. This is how our friends in Ukraine can defend themselves. We cannot take defence as its own island. In this extraordinary moment, we need to come together, we need to send every assistance, and that does mean weaponry. It will cost us. It will cost Europe, but the alternative is far, far worse. To do nothing will cost us infinitely more. We need to stop Putin. We need to do it now.

Slava Ukraini. Thank you.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

17:07:33

Thank you very much, Ms STEVENSON.

The next speaker on our list is Ms Marie-France LALONDE from Canada.

Marie-France, you have the floor.

Ms Marie-France LALONDE

Canada

17:07:49

[...] against Ukraine two months ago, more than 5 million refugees fled to neighboring countries. Since then, credible information has emerged that Russia has committed violations of international humanitarian and human rights law.

Most of the Ukrainians went to Europe by land, taking refuge in temporary humanitarian camps in Poland, Romania, Hungary, the Republic of Moldova, and Slovakia.

On 4 March this year, the European Union took an unprecedented step by invoking the Temporary Protection Directive. The Ukrainian refugee crisis was rapid and large-scale. The speed and scale of the response, however, has been astonishing. The citizens and governments of Europe together are applying the spirit of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, without resorting to the traditional mechanisms of refugee law that are enshrined in that instrument.

As a Canadian Member of Parliament and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, I applaud the European Union's swift and comprehensive response.

I also want to tell you that you are not alone. You will not bear the burden of the refugee crisis alone. Like the European Union, Canada has new tools to respond to this crisis. Through our Canada-Ukraine Emergency Travel Authorisation, we are offering Ukrainians the opportunity to apply for a visitor's visa to come to Canada and stay until they can safely return home. This visa is valid for three years and will allow the holder to stay in Canada as a visitor, or to apply for a student permit or an open work permit. Applicants do not have to pay the visa application fee and the biometric fee, and we process applications from Ukrainians on a priority basis.

To date, Canada has received over 140 000 applications and approved over 47 000. Over 17 000 Ukrainians have arrived here in Canada.

As a country, we stand in solidarity with Ukrainians, and we stand in solidarity with the European Union in helping to protect Ukrainians who must flee this war.

Thank you.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

17:09:59

Thank you.

May I thank you, colleagues, all for your discipline in keeping to the speaking time but nevertheless, I have now to interrupt the list of speakers.

The speeches of members on the speakers list who have been present during the debate but have not been able to speak may be given to the Table Office for publication in the Official Report. I remind colleagues that type written texts can be submitted, electronically if possible, no later than four hours after the list of speakers is interrupted.

That concludes the list of speakers.

I call Mr SCHWABE, rapporteur, to reply. You have three minutes.

 

Mr Frank SCHWABE

Germany, SOC, Rapporteur

17:10:47

Thank you very much, Mr President.

Thank you very much, dear colleagues, for this extensive and intense debate.

I would like to say, first things first, I would like to say that I'm very happy to see so many Ukrainian colleagues. We had this visit in Ukraine and the situation is still horrible but anyhow it's good to have you here and we try to do everything that we keep you on working as an organisation, we provide for all this all the best.

Second one, I want to thank the Secretariat for helping me for sure preparing the report. Thank you so much. It was a little.. it was much work.

The third thing that I want to say: please, when you are here as a rapporteur you have a kind of, I think, duty and obligation not just to think what is your own position but to act in responsibility, in a way to strengthen this organisation, to unify it and to see what could be the right way for this organisation.

And sorry, I will not speak about anybody else, but Ms Jane STEVENSON, you said there is no defence recommendations inside. May I quote it again, what is inside? And I know it's too much for some, but they go this way, so I asked everybody to go this way. It's inside: "The Assembly calls on Council of Europe member states to consider increasing the assistance to Ukraine in its efforts to strengthen the protection of its territory, including its airspace." So, at the end, somebody has to explain me how this is possible without heavy weapons.

To be very honest, for sure we could mention it several times somewhere else, but at the end I try to keep the balance we found in March and it brings us to a unanimous decision here. If you ask me personally, as a member of the German government, I am going for more, and, as you know, Germany is going now after some discussions on the right way. But here I would like really to keep this balance, to keep the unified organisation to, at the end, show a clear signal and give a clear signal to the Committee of Ministers.

And the first one I would like to say, I would like to summarise first, yes, we have to do everything to support Ukraine, we will have the report of Mr Aleksander POCIEJ tomorrow, very important things inside. I would like to refer to this in addition.

The second one, we really have to define this Council of Europe as an area of values, we have to find answers to the Russian civil society and the Belarusian civil society and opposition: how we can include them here. And Ms Laima Liucija ANDRIKIENĖ will make an oral amendment to this and I will accept it.

The third one is: we ask for a fourth summit and we want to be an active part in this.

And the fourth one is: whatever we do in this organisation it is important that if we want to act, if we want to do something, we need a good financial basis. We should not forget this.

But at the very end it's a debate about a member country in the heart of our organisation and we have to do everything to support Ukraine and to prevent that other countries come into the same situation of Russian aggression.

Thank you very much for this intense debate and I hope we could be quite unified again on this report.

Thank you.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

17:14:28

Thank you very much, Mr Rapporteur.

Does the Vice President of the Committee wish to speak? Mr Kimmo KILJUNEN, you have three minutes. 

Mr Kimmo KILJUNEN

Finland, SOC, Vice-Chairperson of the Committee on Political Affaires and Democracy

17:14:39

Mr President, thank you very much for also allowing me to say a few words on behalf of the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy.

Last month, as you very well know, we organised an extraordinary Parliamentary Assembly meeting here due to the events that happened in Europe on 24 February. 

The Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy prepared the Assembly Opinion on the question of the Russian Federation's exclusion from the Council of Europe due to that aggression. And that was, as you very well remember, adopted unanimously. The Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy was also then called to deliver this additional report on Russian aggression. And that is exactly that report we are now handling and it is as important as the previous one.

I am also very pleased to listen to the debate. It was very good, intensive and useful. I was also particularly pleased to hear the Ukrainians – so many of them here – expressing their views and telling us the severe problems of their country, which we share and we also express our solidarity.

Of course, there have been some debates also and maybe certain issues with different views including defence and military matters, but it is very important to recognise that the draft resolution was able to be adopted unanimously by the Committee. And in a similar way, the draft recommendation also received very wide support. So I hope at the end here we can show our strength also in a way that we can adopt it as unanimously as possible.

Mr Frank SCHWABE, thanks very much for your report, and to the Secretary in the same way. Thanks for this.

Mr Bogdan KLICH

Poland, EPP/CD

20:22:29

(Undelivered speech, Rules of Procedure Art. 31.2)

 

Ukrainian cities are being turned into rubble. Homes, hospitals, schools, theaters, train stations full of exiles, shopping malls are shot down with bombs and rockets, filled with cluster munitions, phosphorus or thermobaric charges. Murderers in Russian uniform shoot civilians.

We faced a genocide that Europe had not seen since the days of Srebrenica. Ukrainians give their lives to defend our freedom and democracy. Ukraine pays the highest possible price for its aspirations to become democratic countries with freedom and human rights.

Today we are not witnessing a Ukrainian-Russian war, but a deadly struggle between democracy and dictatorship. It is a fight between good and evil; Manichean light with darkness.

If Ukraine collapses, the fascist regime in Moscow has more goals set. There is a rule; wherever a Russian soldier has set foot, this land belongs to the Ruthenian world.

The defense of Ukrainians, which inspires admiration, requires effective help from us. We must do everything we can to break the hecatomb; not only for humanitarian reasons, although they seem to be the most important today. It is a game to preserve democracy, freedom, sovereignty and integrity. Not only in Ukraine.

Therefore, we must not look away. Historical challenges require historical decisions.

Ms Mònica BONELL

Andorra, ALDE

20:22:38

Speech not pronounced (Rules of Procedure, Art. 31.2), only available in French

Mr Paulo PISCO

Portugal, SOC

20:22:48

(Undelivered speech, Rules of Procedure Art. 31.2)

 

Mr President,

Honourable Parliamentarians,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like first of all to congratulate our colleague Frank Schwabe for the very clear and assertive report on the consequences of the aggression against Ukraine.

This unhuman and unacceptable war started by the Russian Federation with the invasion of Ukraine is not yet over, and we don’t know when it will have an end. But we know that the world will not remain the same and it could not remain the same. The international justice, this time, need to have all the means and conditions to act fast and efficiently to judge all those that must be judged, including the president Putin. Which world, which moral and which ethic values will we be letting to the future generations if the savage crimes that now are being committed by the Russian army’s will stay in impunity?

No country can be a member of international organizations when acts against their won principles and values, as it is now the case of the Russian Federation, although not new, which scandalously violates the borders of another sovereign country, and all the levels of the international law.

It’s immoral that the Russian Federation, that abuses since ever of its power of veto to protect atrocities stays member of the Security Council as if they did anything. Fortunately, they already are away of some international organizations, but their rights need to bee suspended from all multilateral organizations.

Today is Ukraine, tomorrow, the victim could be any other country.

The United Nations can not be a victim of this war, only because the Security Council members refuse to make reforms. The Council of Europe should defend a reform on the composition and functioning of the Security Council of the United Nations that goes in the sense to effectively contribute to the promotion of peace and cooperation among peoples, and to prevent the world to assist again helpless to the massacre of civilians and to the devastation of a country.

We also appeal for the full support to the United Nations in order to be the central mediator to achieve peace and to have all conditions to support the investigation of all categories of war crimes which have been committed by the army’s of Russian Federation.

No one can stay indifferent or to find excuses to tolerate the crimes and the violation of the international law. Either the people and nations are respected in their integrity and sovereignty, or we all be accomplices and, at the same time, victims of the barbarism.

Thank you

Ms Yuliya LOVOCHKINA

Ukraine, SOC

20:23:03

(Undelivered speech, Rules of Procedure Art. 31.2)

 

The Russian war on Ukraine is the biggest armed clash in Europe after World War II and it has a number of consequences on local, regional and global level.

The unbearable ordeal Ukrainian people are going through is primarily taking its tragic toll on people’s lives. Men, women and most tragically children are killed and suffering in this terrifying war affair. Many humanitarian corridors are blocked, and people are on the edge of survival. Over 5 million of my fellow citizens — mainly women, children and elderly have been forced to become refugees in the EU nations. More than 7 million are IDPs. Many Ukrainian cities lie in ruins, and many more have been severely damaged. Ukrainians living under temporary occupation are abused and terrified, members of the local government, including many of my fellow friends, civil society figures, and media people are subjected to kidnapping, torture and killings. Especially, I would like to emphasize on drastic consequences this war has for women and children population of Ukraine.

Apart from that, every war has an economic component. Ukrainian economy is experiencing havoc already. According to some estimates, Ukraine may loose up to 50% of its GDP by the end of the year due to physical destruction of infrastructure, manufacturing facilities, blockade of sea ports and disruption of agricultural activities. This war has a global spillover effect. Ukraine is one of the world’s principal producers of grain and sunflower oil. Some countries are nearly totally dependent on grain exports from Ukraine. If the disruption of food supply chains from Ukraine continues, it will result in rising food prices as well as food shortages. That will eventually lead to political upheaval in some of these nations, making the global order even more unstable and volatile.

After February 24, this world has become a much more dangerous place both regionally and globally. The war has already transcended regional boundaries politically and economically. There is the danger of a military spillover. Ukraine—and the whole world for that matter—has the fundamental right to enjoy peaceful life and all national governments and International organizations, including ours must rally behind Ukraine to achieve a noble goal of peace.

I call upon all my colleagues and its national authorities to continue to provide Ukraine assistance in human rights, humanitarian, legal and political dimensions. Especially, I call upon PACE members to use their diplomatic and political weight to provide humanitarian corridors. There is no time to wait.

And last but not least, it is obvious that the review of global and regional orders is to come in the nearest future. In this respect, I welcome the idea of holding a Summit on the Future of the CoE.

And I thank Mr Shwabe for the comprehensive report.

Sir Edward LEIGH

United Kingdom, EC/DA

20:23:17

(Undelivered speech, Rules of Procedure Art. 31.2)

 

Today I have the great honour of having been officially sanctioned by the Russian government for opposing Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified attack against Ukraine.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has accused me and 286 other British MPs of the “groundless whipping-up of Russophobic hysteria” aimed at “demonizing” Russia.

Nothing could be further from the truth. At all times we have sought dialogue with Russia and encouraged Western governments to try and understand the Russian perspective in order to interact more effectively with Russia.

Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, however, has proved that all our efforts to promote greater understanding between Russia, Europe, and the West have failed.

I fully support Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s comprehensive package of help for the Ukrainian people, their government, and their military. President Zelensky’s unprecedented address to the House of Commons was welcomed with a standing ovation and it was a great honour to be in the chamber that day.

At the same time, our quarrel is not with Russia but with her government. We must continue to love and savour the works of Tolstoy and Tchaikovsky while condemning the actions of the current inhabitants of the Kremlin.

I have greatly enjoyed my visits to Russia, a country I am now banned from entering. I look forward to returning again when the Russian people enjoy a more wise and peaceful leadership.

Until then, all the free peoples of Europe must stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine in their struggle.

 

Ms Krista BAUMANE

Latvia, ALDE

20:23:31

(Undelivered speech, Rules of Procedure Art. 31.2)

 

Mr president, dear colleagues

We have heard from our Ukrainian friends in this chamber about the shocking atrocities, war crimes and genocide committed by the Russian Federation. I am deeply moved and impressed by the courage and determination of the people of Ukraine in defending their country and indeed the freedom of Europe against the brutal agressor.

We have also heard in this organisation, in past two months since Russia started the war, words of caution and hesitation, phrases like“it is not possible”, “this is not within our mandate”, “we can’t be provocative”, “today is not the right time”, “we are neither humanitarian, nor a security organisation”. I understand that we are a rules-based organisation and this is where our legitimacy derives from, but may I remind you that there is a war raging on in the middle of Europe and we – as politicians, as Europeans, members of PACE – must address it with appropriate response. The rule book was ripped apart on February 24 and we need to rewrite it and propose a response.

Russia is breaking international law and rules in every step and lying at every opportunity. This presents a serious challenge for all who seek to play by the rules. We simply cannot do that any more, it is not enough. In war time it is acceptable to bend the rules and stretch the mandate in striving for peace. We need to seek for possibilities instead of providing excuses. We need to take new, innovative, courageus initiatives starting from reforms at our own organisation to serious changes in the outdated and ineffective UN Security Council. Crisis always provide opportunity for change.

Dear colleagues, let us be brave and decisive, not weak and cautious. Let us not fight over words in resolutions while Ukrainians are fighting for their life. Let us stay united in our solidarity with Ukraine. That is the least we can do.

Ms Boriana ÅBERG

Sweden, EPP/CD

20:23:43

(Undelivered speech, Rules of Procedure Art. 31.2)

 

Mr President, dear colleagues,

Today is the 63rd day of Russia’s war in Ukraine. For 63 days the brave Ukrainian people have fought against the aggressor. The war pictures are no longer the headlining news around Europe, but the war is still very much ongoing and continues to result in casualties and indescribable atrocities.

Civilian casualties - children, elderly, women and men are being hit by the Russian missiles intentionally targeting apartment houses, schools, playgrounds, hospitals and churches. They aim to kill. They want to eradicate the Ukrainian people.

The Russian occupiers are perpetrating horrific war crimes - they rape women in front of their children, and they rape children after having murdered their parents. Yesterday, at the meeting with PACE women, one of our Ukrainian colleagues told us of a 9-year old child being group raped by eleven Russian soldiers! This is incomprehensible barbarism and cruelty!

All of these murderers, rapists, and looters must be held accountable for their actions! From Putin to the last soldier, all must be punished for the atrocities. I welcome the set up of an International Criminal Tribunal to investigate and prosecute Russia’s crime of aggression.

But in order to punish the war criminals, Ukraine must win the war.

The Ukrainians are not only fighting for their sovereignty and freedom. They are fighting for our freedom too.

Ukraine needs and deserves our support and assistance – humanitarian, economic and military. Slava Ukraïni!

Ms Etilda GJONAJ

Albania, SOC

20:23:55

(Undelivered speech, Rules of Procedure Art. 31.2)

 

Esteemed colleagues,

Without doubt the aggression to Ukraine is one of the worst security crises for Europe since the end of World War II. Peace has not to be taken for granted and as this war continues we have to remain diligent and united in support of Ukraine and our values of democracy, rule of law and human rights. The humanitarian situation is worsening and in this perspective CoE and EU have to join efforts to address effectively this human tragedy.

Since the beginning of the conflict Albania has made clear its stance that the Russian invasion of Ukraine is an assault on the UN Charter of Human Rights and world peace. The resolution of Albania and United States as co-pen holders in the UN Security Council to mobilize the world against aggression and in support of Ukraine surpassed Russia’s veto by convening an Emergency Special Session of UN General Assembly and found resounding endorsement by being voted by an overwhelmingly and historic number of 141 countries.

Albania and 37 other countries have referred the situation in Ukraine to the International Criminal Court where Russia must be investigated for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Ukraine, showing once again our commitment to advocate for accountability, not accept and do everything in our power to stop illegal aggression.

We have joined EU and Western sanctions on Russia over the invasion of Ukraine. Albania also joined the EU and UK in closing its airspace to all aircraft registered in Russia, excluding only cases when flights need to take place for emergency, humanitarian or medical purposes.

The Albanian Parliament has approved the Resolution "On the support of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and the protection of the principles of International Law and European Security”, which condemns the Russian military aggression in Ukraine and the grave violation by the Russian Federation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, as an act violating the international order.

We are working to provide military and hospital assistance to Ukraine within our means and are ready and welcoming to receive Ukrainian refugees.

We embrace the opinion and action taken by the Council of Europe and its numerous bodies and institutions to condemn the Russian aggression and support Ukraine and Ukrainians.

Together, we have to find a way also to support the many anti-war protesters in Russia. As this tragic war continues to unfold we have to stay vigilant also to the infringement of human rights within Russia and not forget that many Russians share our common values and face increased danger and even harsher repression with time.

Synergy and alignment of resources, capacities and infrastructure between all member states of intergovernmental bodies like CoE and EU are crucial at this time.

Mr Harald WEYEL

Germany, EC/DA

20:24:07

Speech not pronounced (Rules of Procedure, Art. 31.2), only available in German

Ms Maryna BARDINA

Ukraine, ALDE

20:24:22

(Undelivered speech, Rules of Procedure Art. 31.2)

 

Dear colleagues, first of all, I congratulate us on discussing this without russia's presence in the hall. We have discussed many other violations of fundamental human rights and freedoms by russia with the participation of a country that ignored all the relevant resolutions. Today that is finally no more.

In early April, during the Presidential Committee's visit to Ukraine, a rhetorical question has come up: "I don't know if we could have prevented this phase of the war in Ukraine." I want to answer that we could. We could prevent the killing of civilians, 217 children, torture and sexual violence, forced deportations, and the obliteration of our cities. We could stop Nord Stream 2 at the very beginning, refusing the gas blackmail of Europe. Ukraine could already be in the EU and NATO without paying such a high price.

Instead, even the militaries who are citizens of various countries are dying in Ukraine: Great Britain, Georgia, Poland, France, Ireland, and others, as well as journalists and doctors. We could prevent this by responding to russia's atrocities in 2014 when the war began, by not just acting but fighting for our values.

Russia is fighting for nothing but the genocide of Ukrainians. Looks like we simply get in their way with our history, culture, and language. I thank those parliaments that have recognized the genocide in Ukraine and call on others to call a spade a spade.

I was born in independent Ukraine, where human life has the highest priority, political decisions are made quickly, and my iPhone has my e-passport, driver's license, and covid certificate. And how do we call medievally barbaric Russia, whose soldiers can only amaze their relatives with a stolen toilet?

I couldn't contact my colleague for a month, and yesterday I received a message: 'I am alive physically, but not mentally'. She has miraculously escaped Mariupol wounded, hiding in basements for two months. I know we can stop these horrors if we unite against tyranny.

Thank you to the rapporteur for this work. It is critical to support our people who were forced to leave the country during the war, even as there are traffic jams coming back to Ukraine. In doing so I am for every effort to facilitate rapid rollouts of funding and lessening of bureaucracy that may be standing in the way of helping people when they need it most.

Thank you.

Ms Ekaterina ZAHARIEVA

Bulgaria, EPP/CD

20:24:40

(Undelivered speech, Rules of Procedure Art. 31.2)

 

Dear colleagues,

It has been two months since Russia invaded Ukraine. And we all should commend the courage and resolve of the Ukrainian army and citizens to resist and push back the army of the aggressor from their homeland.

In November 2016, Putin spoke at an awards ceremony for geography students and asked a 9-year-old boy where Russia’s borders end. When the student answered, “At the Bering Strait, near the U.S.,” the Russian president laughed and corrected him: “Russia’s borders do not end anywhere.”

Now we see that this is not really a joke - this guy shows limitless ambition for power. He wants at least to take control of the entire former Soviet space.

The world is already facing terrible consequences of Putin’s aggression.

Putin’s army killed thousands of people.

According to the Mayor of Mariupol over 10 000 people have died because of the siege of the city.

We read reports of executions of prisoners of war, intentional attacks on civilians, destruction of civilian property, enforced disappearances, sexual torture.

Approximately two thirds of all Ukrainian children have been displaced from their homes.

More than 5 million Ukrainians have fled their country.

And Putin and his army must be held accountable for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The war in Ukraine has raised the prices of food and fuel, which undermines food security in a lot of countries, already weakened by the pandemic. Ukraine is a key producer of corn, wheat, and the largest exporter of sunflowers.

According to the FAO, 26 countries rely on Ukraine and Russia for at least 50 percent of their wheat imports. These include countries in Africa’s Sahel region, where 16 million people in urban areas are at risk of food insecurity.

Wheat exports from Ukraine are now impossible because Russia is blocking all sea routes.

Today, Gazprom stopped supplying gas to Bulgaria, thus unilaterally violating its agreement. Russia has shown that, it is using energy supplies for political purposes and blackmails us.

Putin want us to stay away from Ukraine. He hoped Western unity will crack. But we’re going to prove him wrong. The EU is not silent. NATO is not silent. UN is not silent. The Council of Europe is not silent.

Since the beginning of the full-fledged invasion by the Russian Federation, more than 25 countries are sending weapons and military equipment to Ukraine.

My party GERB - member of the EPP, filed a proposal in the Bulgarian Parliament to force our government to provide military aid.

Putin has complete disregard for international laws and human rights and will only be stopped by maximum economic and political pressure.

Our unity with the brave Ukrainian people is sending a very clear message to Putin: He will never win this war.

 

Ms Sultan KAYHAN

Sweden, SOC

20:24:54

(Undelivered speech, Rules of Procedure Art. 31.2)

 

Growing up, my generation were promised a society where peace had prevailed. The world was destined to adopt our great values of freedom and equality and evolve towards becoming societies with democracy and welfare. Globalisation would protect us. We would only read about war in history books and in great literature by writers like Tolstoy.

It was very beautiful. And it was also very naive.

Now the Ukrainian people face a brutal invasion. The naivety has come with the highest price. It costs human lives. Suffering. A country bombed to the ground. A backlash for our values. Women are raped to death and their tongues ripped off so their offenders won’t have to hear them speak or beg for mercy.

Take a few seconds to take that in. Then raise your voices and never stop speaking up. Because it is still as true as when Albert Einstein said that the world is a dangerous place, not only because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.

War has always been and always will be brutal. It will dehumanize in order to carry out evil. It will divide our societies in order to conquer. It will leave traumas that never heals.

In the discussions about Russia’s war against and invasion of Ukraine, many are now talking about a new world order. We are all repelled by the brutality of this war. But how can the Russian aggression be a surprise?

There is a threat against the prospect of peace in Europe as long as there are authoritarian countries with delusions of grandeur and ability and motivation to implement those ideas. Countries who don’t share our values. This cannot be considered news.

As a Social democrat, I love the word solidarity. But more often than not, the act of solidarity seems to come when it is already too late to stop a brutal action. We need to do much better.

It is our responsibility to protect our people and our values. We must be strong and brave enough to both be pragmatic and optimistic.

Many speakers before me have condemned Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and the need of solidarity. I agree in that. We need to discuss how to stop the war and rebuilding Ukraine. But we also need to discuss how to prevent this from ever happening again.

Because war is best fought not on the battlefield, but pre-emptively.

 

Ms Martine WONNER

France, ALDE

20:25:44

Speech not pronounced (Rules of Procedure, Art. 31.2), only available in French

Vote: Consequences of the Russian Federation's continued aggression against Ukraine: role and response of the Council of Europe

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

17:16:40

Thank you, Mister Kimmo.

This leads to the conclusion that we have to now close the debate.

 

Dear colleagues,

The Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy has presented a draft resolution, you'll find it in Document 15506, to which 29 amendments and three sub-amendments have been tabled.

We also expect an oral amendment to the draft resolution.

The Committee also presented a draft recommendation, you'll find in Document 15506, to which 13 amendments and one sub-mendment have been tabled.

We also expect an oral amendment to the draft recommendation.

We will now start with the consideration of the draft resolution, and then we will consider the draft recommendation.

I understand that the Chairperson of the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy, the vice-Chairperson of the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy, wishes to propose to the Assembly that Amendments No. 4, 7, 9, 21, 30, 10, 11, 39, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, 18 and 35, to the draft resolution, and Amendments No. 40, 24, 42, 19 and 20, to the draft recommendation, which were unanimously approved by the Committee, should be declared as agreed by the Assembly.

Is that so, Mister Kiljunen?

Mr Kimmo KILJUNEN

Finland, SOC, Vice-Chairperson of the Committee on Political Affaires and Democracy

17:18:19

Exactly so as you presented it.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

17:18:21

Thank you very much.

Does anybody object?

I do not see so.

If there is no objection, I declare that the Amendments I mentioned to the draft resolution and the draft recommendation have been agreed.

I also understand that the Chairperson of the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy wishes to propose to the Assembly that  Amendments No. 27, 28, 31, 32, and 16, to the draft resolution, and Amendment 38 to the draft recommendation, which were rejected by the Committee with a two-thirds majority, be declared as rejected.

Is that so, Mr Kimmo KILJUNEN?

Mr Kimmo KILJUNEN

Finland, SOC, Vice-Chairperson of the Committee on Political Affaires and Democracy

17:19:02

It is not actually "Chair", it is "Vice Chair", which is agreeing that is exactly so.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

17:19:08

Thank you very much, Mister Vice-Chair.

Is there any objection to the proposal?

I do not see any. As nobody objects, I declare that the amendments that I mentioned to the resolution and the draft recommendation are rejected. 

We now will consider the remaining amendments individually, starting with the resolution and then we will come to the recommendation. 

The amendments will be taken in the order in which they appear in the compendium. I remind you that speeches on amendments are strictly limited to 1 minute.

I first call Mr Emanuelis ZINGERIS to support amendment 4. You have 1 minute, Emanuelis.

Mr Emanuelis ZINGERIS

Lithuania, EPP/CD

17:19:57

Yes, sir.

Thank you very much, Mr Frank SCHWABE.

Thank you for being conclusive.

That is the amendment...

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

17:20:09

Sorry, I am making a mistake because this amendment has been unanimously adopted, so we already have dealt with that.

So, wait a second that I see where I have to go now.

Page 8.

Mr Emanuelis ZINGERIS

Lithuania, EPP/CD

17:20:39

I would only like to thank Mr Frank SCHWABE.

Thank you very much for being inclusive during the debates in our Committee.

Thank you, Mr Frank SCHWABE.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

17:20:57

Sorry, my administration was not good enough.

I understand that Mr Emanuelis ZINGERIS wishes to withdraw amendments 5 and 6 in favour of a compromise oral amendment, which will be debated later in the proceedings. Is that so, Mr Emanuelis ZINGERIS?

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

17:21:20

Thank you very much. Does anybody else wishes to move that amendment? I do not see any.

Amendment 5 is withdrawn.

Six.

I now call Mr Emanuelis ZINGERIS to support amendment number 7, and now you have 1 minute, Emauelis.

No, sorry, sorry, sorry.

Mr Emanuelis ZINGERIS

Lithuania, EPP/CD

17:21:48

Mister Chairman, if we will say how I should...

Of course, I would like to express my thankfulness to the Committee who adopted 20 of my 24 amendments, but now I should proceed and say...

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

17:22:08

Mr Emanuelis ZINGERIS, sorry again, but please I have to interrupt you. I have to organise the administration because otherwise, we are talking about amendments that have already been adopted.

Sorry for the mistake. It is my fault but we have to check, so please wait a second.

I now call on Lord Simon RUSSELL to support Amendment 25 and you have one minute. I am sorry Mr Emanuelis ZINGERIS for our administration. Be happy because we were talking about amendments which were already adopted. 

Lord Simon RUSSELL.

Lord Simon RUSSELL

United Kingdom, EC/DA

17:23:12

Thank you, Mister President.

Just to be sure. You are absolutely sure you've got the right person?

This amendment very simply reminds us why the Council of Europe exists and that it is our duty amongst the other mentioned to defend the democratic world. And all this amendment does is it makes specific that the United Kingdom and all countries of the Council of Europe, including the others mentioned, have a particular responsibility for Europe's security. So it is in a sense reinforcing the role of the Council of Europe as being a key part of the architecture of defending European democracy and values.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

17:23:53

Thank you very much, Lord Simon RUSSELL.

I call Mr Frank SCHWABE to support sub-Amendment 1 to Amendment 25, on behalf of the Committee.

Mr Frank SCHWABE

Germany, SOC, Rapporteur

17:24:02

So I would agree with this amendment, and the Committee as well.

When we accept sub-Amendment 1 in Amendment 25, replace the word "after" with the following word: "delete".

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

17:24:19

Thank you, Mr SCHWABE.

What is the opinion of the mover of the main amendment?

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

17:24:27

Thank you very much.

The Committee is obviously in favour of the sub-Amendment. Now we shall put the sub-Amendment to the vote.

The vote in the hemicycle and via remote voting is now open.

The vote is closed.

Can I ask for the results to be displayed.

The sub-Amendment is adopted.

Now we come to the main Amendment as amended. Amendment 25.

Does anybody wish to speak against the Amendment as amended. Don't see.

The opinion of the Committee? In favour.

 

Mr Kimmo KILJUNEN

Finland, SOC, Vice-Chairperson of the Committee on Political Affaires and Democracy

17:25:38

The Committee is in favour.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

17:25:40

Thank you very much.

I shall now put the Amendment as amended to the vote.

The vote in the hemicycle and remote voting is now open.

The vote is closed.

May the results be displayed.

The amendment is adopted.

Now I call Mr Emanuelis ZINGERIS, sure, to support Amendment 8.

I will not interrupt you now.

You have one minute, Mr Emanuelis ZINGERIS.

Amendment 8. You have to switch on your microphone.

Mr Emanuelis ZINGERIS

Lithuania, EPP/CD

17:26:50

Yes.

"Adding to the peace and security" after that, insert the following words "rule-based international order". Thank you, Mr Chairman for making me fit today.

Thank you.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

17:27:09

Thank you very much, Mr Emanuelis ZINGERIS.

Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment?

I do not see anybody.

What is the opinion of the Committee?

Mr Kimmo KILJUNEN

Finland, SOC, Vice-Chairperson of the Committee on Political Affaires and Democracy

17:27:22

The Committee is in favour.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

17:27:25

And now I shall put the amendment to the vote.

The vote in hemicycle and via remote voting is open.

The vote is closed.

Can I ask for the results to be displayed?

The amendment is carried.

I now call Lord Simon RUSSELL to support Amendment 26.

You have one minute.

Lord Simon RUSSELL

United Kingdom, EC/DA

17:28:14

Thank you, Mr President.

Those of us who have been listening to this debate will have heard a series of speeches by our Ukrainian colleagues, who arguably are the people in this room who have the most skin in the game, in some cases, dead skin not live skin.

Just imagine that it was your country that was being invaded, that it was your people who are being killed every day.

This is the beginning of a series of amendments that are trying to make explicit – what I hope we really mean in this report – is that rather than appearing united and being implicit and using gentle words that we are very clear that what is going on is unacceptable and that in order to stop it happening, we will do exactly what our Ukrainian colleagues of asked us, which we will supply civil-military assistance and we will apply sanctions to strangle the Russian economy. I beg to move.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

17:29:15

Thank you very much.

Does anybody wish to speak against the Amendment?

The rapporteur, you have the floor.

Mr Frank SCHWABE

Germany, SOC, Rapporteur

17:29:23

Thank you very much, Mr President.

This is what we spoke about. If you want, I can quote it out again: "The Assembly calls on Council of Europe member states to consider increasing the assistance to Ukraine in its efforts to strengthen the protection of its territory, including airspace".

This is more than military assistance I would say. So I think we should really keep to this compromise we had.

I would like to keep everybody on board. I fully understand that the Ukrainians everywhere want to include more, but I ask you really at the end to take a decision, that we can keep this balance. Because of this, I'm against this amendment.

 

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

17:30:06

What is the opinion of the Committee?

Mr Kimmo KILJUNEN

Finland, SOC, Vice-Chairperson of the Committee on Political Affaires and Democracy

17:30:08

The Committee is against.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

17:30:11

The Committee is against.

I shall now put the Amendment to the vote.

The vote in the hemicycle and via remote voting is now open.

The vote is closed.

May I see the results to be displayed.

The Amendment is not carried.

I now call Lord Simon RUSSELL to support Amendment 29.

One minute again.

Lord Simon RUSSELL

United Kingdom, EC/DA

17:31:04

Thank you very much.

This is a slightly different amendment and this is to try and ensure that the equipment that is being used by the Ukrainians in their defence, which is being damaged, we can actually help the Ukraine by the countries adjoining it being able to help them repair this equipment as quickly as possible in order to enable them to go back to the Ukrainian military defences in order to resist the Russian aggression.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

17:31:35

Thank you very much.

Does anybody wish to speak against the amendment?

The rapporteur.

Mr Frank SCHWABE

Germany, SOC, Rapporteur

17:31:40

In comparison to some other amendments, I am not really against it but I just think this is too much detail. This is something for a defence organisation or whatever. We can discuss it in this report. It does not really make any sense. So I ask you to vote against this amendment.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

17:31:57

The opinion of the Committee?

Mr Kimmo KILJUNEN

Finland, SOC, Vice-Chairperson of the Committee on Political Affaires and Democracy

17:31:59

The Committee was against.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

17:32:02

The Committee was against.

I now shall put the Amendment to the vote.

The vote in the hemicycle and via remote voting is now open.

The vote is closed.

Can we see the results?

The amendment is rejected.

I now call Ms Margreet De BOER to support Amendment 23.

You have one minute.

Ms Margreet De BOER

Netherlands, SOC

17:32:58

Thank you, chair. This amendment is about guaranteeing access to care for refugees and war victims, including victims of rape, to adequate care. And also, can I also mention that I accept the sub-amendment?

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

17:33:17

Thank you very much, Ms Margreet De BOER.

I call Mr Frank SCHWABE to support sub-Amendment 1 to Amendment 23 on behalf of the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy.

Mr Frank SCHWABE

Germany, SOC, Rapporteur

17:33:27

In general, I'm for sure in favour. It's very important.

The sub-Amendment is just about the question of which kind of persons we mean. Because refugees are usually just persons out of the country. But for sure, we have internally displaced persons. So the proposal was to take the the wording "displaced persons", including those who are out of the country and who are in the country.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

17:33:52

Thank you very much.

And the mover of the main Amendment already said that she would accept this. The Committee is in favour of the sub-Amendment, I understand, Mr Kimmo KILJUNEN?

Mr Kimmo KILJUNEN

Finland, SOC, Vice-Chairperson of the Committee on Political Affaires and Democracy

17:34:01

It's exactly that.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

17:34:02

Thank you very much.

I now shall put the sub-amendment to the vote.

The vote in the hemicycle and remotely is now open.

The vote is closed.

Can we see the results?

The sub-amendment is carried.

Now we come to the main amendment as amended.

Does anybody wish to speak against the amendment as amended?

That is not the case.

The opinion of the Committee is clear, in favour.

I shall now put the amendment to the vote.

The vote is open.

The vote is closed.

Can we see the results?

The amendment as amended is carried.

I have received an oral amendment from Mr Frank SCHWABE, on behalf of the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy, which reads as follows:

In the draft resolution, after Paragraph 11.10, insert the following paragraph: "To take active measures to help Ukraine to deliver already stocked grain and other agricultural production from Ukrainian ports blocked and destroyed by the Russian Armed Forces, by see ways, to its final destination, in order to ensure food security for all regions of the world and to avoid a food price crisis in the world."

The President may accept an oral amendment on the grounds of promoting clarity, accuracy, or conciliation, and if there is no opposition from ten or more members to be debated.

In my opinion, the oral amendment does meet the criteria.

Is there any opposition? Any opposition that the amendment be debated, the oral amendment?

That is not the case.

Therefore, I call Mr Frank SCHWABE to support his oral Amendment 1.

You have one minute.

Mr Frank SCHWABE

Germany, SOC, Rapporteur

17:36:53

I would really like to express that I am very thankful for a lot of very good amendments that make the text better. One was mentioned today already. It was about preventing Russia to get weapons from outside and I think we did not discuss it because we accepted it in the Committee meeting already and this is another one but it was not at the right place – five and six were in the description – but now it is in the recommendation. I think that is the right place and I ask you to support it.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

17:37:30

Thank you very much.

Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment? Not the case.

The Committee's opinion?

Mr Kimmo KILJUNEN

Finland, SOC, Vice-Chairperson of the Committee on Political Affaires and Democracy

17:37:44

The Committee is in favour.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

17:37:46

Thank you very much, Mr KILJUNEN.

I shall put the oral amendment to the vote.

The vote is open.

The vote is closed.

Can we see the results?

The oral amendment is adopted unanimously.

We now come to Amendment 33 and with a sub-amendment to it.

If this amendment is agreed to, Amendment 3 falls.

I now call Mr Oleksii GONCHARENKO to support Amendment 33.

You have 1 minute, sir.

I do not see you, Oleksii. Is there someone else?

Oh, there he is.

 

Mr Oleksii GONCHARENKO

Ukraine, EC/DA

17:39:11

Amendment 33.

It is important to raise the question of Belarus because you know that the territory of Belarus was used by the Russian Federation to attack Ukraine and also we can say absolutely clearly – and you know that I raised the issue of Belarus here in this Assembly many times – that Belarus now is really occupied by Putin. So it is very important for us to make Lukashenko's regime accountable for what was done by this regime. It is very important for us, by the way, to come back to our idea; we voted two times about the creation of a special ad hoc committee on Belarus, and still nothing has been done in this area. It was a decision that we made and now we see that they are really needed because Russia is using Belarus as a "place d’armes"  for its aggression.

Thank you.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

17:40:14

Thank you Mr Oleksii GONCHARENKO.

I call Mr Frank SCHWABE to support sub-Amendment 1 to Amendment 33 on behalf of the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy.

Mr Frank SCHWABE

Germany, SOC, Rapporteur

17:40:23

Mr President, this is another very helpful amendment because it's right to take the Belarusian authoritarian authorities into, take them responsible for what they are doing.

But we should describe it in the right way.

Because of this, we should replace the words "creating conditions leading to the Russian war against Ukraine and allowing", with the following words: "breeding conditions" no, "creating conditions for allowing".

Thank you.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

17:40:58

Thank you very much, Mr Rapporteur. Does anybody wish to speak against the sub-Amendment?

Not the case.

What is the opinion of the mover of the main Amendment, Mr Oleksii GONCHARENKO?

Mr Oleksii GONCHARENKO

Ukraine, EC/DA

17:41:12

I agree with the position of the rapporteur. Thank you. 

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

17:41:15

Thank you very much.

The Committee is obviously in favour.

I now shall put the amendment to the vote.

The vote is open.

The vote is closed.

Can we see the results?

The sub-amendment is carried.

We now come to the main amendment as amended.

Does anybody wish to speak against the amendment as amended?

Not the case.

The opinion of the Committee?

The Committee is in favour.

I shall put the amendment as amended to the vote.

The vote is open.

The vote is closed.

Can we see the results?

The amendment is carried.

That means Amendment 3 falls.

 

We now will proceed to vote on the draft resolution contained in Doc. 15506 as amended.

The vote in the hemicycle and via remote voting is now open.

The vote is closed.

Can I see the results to be displayed?

The draft resolution has been adopted.

In addition to the Resolution the Assembly has just considered, the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy has presented a draft recommendation that you find in Doc. 15506, to which 13 amendments and one sub-amendment have been tabled. We are also expecting an oral amendment.

The amendments to the recommendation will be taken in the order in which they appear on the compendium.

Speeches on amendments are limited to one minute.

I call Lord Simon RUSSELL to support Amendment 35.

Lord Simon RUSSELL

United Kingdom, EC/DA

17:44:27

Thank you, Mister President.

The rapporteur a few minutes ago mentioned the need for the report to be balanced. I think the situation on the ground in Ukraine is not balanced: Russia versus Ukraine is not a balanced equation. We have an opportunity in this report to try and redress the balance in Ukraine's favour and that is very simply what this amendment is about. It has to be explicit about our support that we will do anything we can that Ukraine needs that we are able to do and to show explicitly that we are willing to do it.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

17:45:11

Does anybody wish to speak against the amendment? The rapporteur?

Mr Frank SCHWABE

Germany, SOC, Rapporteur

17:45:17

This is again as the same discussion. I would like to keep the balance with the wording and as I expressed before, I ask you to be against this amendment.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

17:45:29

The opinion of the Committee?

Mr Kimmo KILJUNEN

Finland, SOC, Vice-Chairperson of the Committee on Political Affaires and Democracy

17:45:31

The Committee is against.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

17:45:33

The Committee is against. 

I now shall put the amendment to the vote.

The vote is open.

The vote is closed.

Can we see the results?

The amendment is rejected.

I call Lord Simon RUSSELL to support Amendment 36.

Lord Simon RUSSELL

United Kingdom, EC/DA

17:46:21

Around the world you will have seen the president of the Ukraine addressing a variety of parliaments by video. All around the world. President Zelenskyy is the person who is delivering the expressed wishes of the Ukrainian authorities. He is the embodiment of the Ukrainian nation in its time of need and time of crisis. I think at the very least out of good manners we should actually mention him explicitly in this report and acknowledge his leadership.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

17:46:56

Thank you very much.

Does anybody wish to speak against the amendment? The rapporteur.

Mr Frank SCHWABE

Germany, SOC, Rapporteur

17:47:01

I welcome very much what president Zelenskyy is doing. I think all of us. But the correct wording is Ukrainian authorities, because there are more than just the president. Because of this, I ask you to vote against this amendment.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

17:47:17

The opinion of the Committee?

Mr Kimmo KILJUNEN

Finland, SOC, Vice-Chairperson of the Committee on Political Affaires and Democracy

17:47:19

The Committee is against.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

17:47:21

The Committee is against.

I now shall put the amendment to the vote.

The vote is open.

The vote is closed.

Can we see the results?

The amendment is rejected.

We now come to vote on Amendment 41 and sub-Amendment 1.

I first call Ms Petra BAYR to support Amendment 41.

Ms Petra BAYR

Austria, SOC

17:48:17

Yes, sexual violence and rape are means of war, they are war crimes under the Rome Statute.

And you need different ways how to produce evidence. It will not help to use satellites, it will not help to count graves, you really have to provide the survivors of sexual violence and their caregivers with know-how and with tools. Tools are equipment.

How, for instance, how to save DNA or questionnaires to fill directly after a rape. As long as you really clearly remember details. And also kits for emergency units and hospitals to save evidence of rape. So it makes me, to be honest, very very unhappy if we delete the specific tools, because the tools will be the ones who really produce the evidence.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

17:49:04

Thank you, Ms Petra BAYR.

I call Mr Frank SCHWABE to sub-Amendment 1 to Amendment 41 on behalf of the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy. Mr SCHWABE.

Mr Frank SCHWABE

Germany, SOC, Rapporteur

17:49:15

I think nobody is against specific tools but in the end, it was a proposal and to find a kind of compromise. In the Committee, in the end, we accepted this so I would like to ask you to vote in favour.

Mr Kimmo KILJUNEN

Finland, SOC, Vice-Chairperson of the Committee on Political Affaires and Democracy

17:49:32

The Committee is in favour.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

17:49:34

The Committee was in favour.

I now shall put the sub-amendment to the vote.

Sorry, the main amendment mover's opinion?

Ms Petra BAYR

Austria, SOC

17:49:46

I personally am very unhappy to remove two tools, because the tools are really the means that will help us to produce evidence for sexual violence and rape, and they will need that for any case and any court. So, please, think about it.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

17:50:03

Doe that mean that you speak against the sub-amendment? OK.

The committee is obviously in favour of the sub-amendment.

I shall now put the sub-amendment to the vote.

And the vote is open.

The vote is closed. Can we see the results?

The sub-amendment is carried.

Now we come to the main amendment as amended.

Does anybody wish to speak against the amendment as amended? Not the case.

Opinion of the Committee?

Mr Kimmo KILJUNEN

Finland, SOC, Vice-Chairperson of the Committee on Political Affaires and Democracy

17:51:14

In favour.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

17:51:16

The Committee is in favour.

I shall now put the amendment as amended to the vote.

The vote is open.

The vote is closed.

Can we see the results?

The amendment as amended is carried.

I now call Lord Simon RUSSELL to support Amendment 37.

Lord Simon RUSSELL

United Kingdom, EC/DA

17:52:10

As members in the hemicycle will now be aware, I do bear a remarkable resemblance to an old vinyl record. In this case, one with a rather large scratch in it. So what I will be saying might remind you of some of my previous comments.

This is again a suggestion that we should be absolutely explicit and clear in what we mean when we are saying we support Ukraine.

I also think that putting something like this in, gives the report real balance, instead of just fine words.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

17:52:47

Thank you very much.

Does anybody wish to speak against the amendment? The rapporteur?

Mr Frank SCHWABE

Germany, SOC, Rapporteur

17:52:53

While mostly before I was just against to keep the balance and the compromised wording, here I'm really really against it.

I fully understand for what President Zelensky is asking for. But if we really agree on this, this would mean taking all possible steps to supply Ukraine with the essential military equipment requested by President Zelensky. That means whatever kind of weapon he would ask for, we would agree to do so.

I think, sorry to say this, this is not possible. So I ask you to vote against this amendment.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

17:53:28

Thank you very much.

Opinion of the Committee?

Mr Kimmo KILJUNEN

Finland, SOC, Vice-Chairperson of the Committee on Political Affaires and Democracy

17:53:31

The Committee was clearly against.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

17:53:35

The Committee was against.

I shall put the amendment to the vote.

The vote is open.

The vote is closed.

Can we see the results?

The amendment is rejected.

I now call Ms Mariia MEZENTSEVA to support amendment 22.

Ms Mariia MEZENTSEVA

Ukraine, EPP/CD

17:54:29

As the co-author of the amendment I would like to support it and remind the colleagues how we did it last time. We did it mutually, with the Committee of Ministers, who asked our opinion, relying on which Russia was expelled. Now we passed them the ball and we asked them to create a position of a Special representative on the consequences of this war in Ukraine. As many of you rightly said, the consequences will roll, in food security, in security in general, in migration policies, and every point we are taking into account in this house.

I would like to ask you to support this amendment and create this position in the Council of Ministers.

Thank you, dear President.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

17:55:23

Does anybody wish to speak against the amendment?

I do not see any.

What is the opinion of the Committee?

Mr Kimmo KILJUNEN

Finland, SOC, Vice-Chairperson of the Committee on Political Affaires and Democracy

17:55:34

The Committee is in favour.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

17:55:37

I shall now put the amendment to the vote.

The vote is open.

The vote is closed.

Can we see the results?

The amendment is adopted.

I understand that Ms Laima Liucija ANDRIKIENĖ wishes to withdraw Amendment 2 in favour of an oral amendment.

Does anybody else wish to move it? I don't see so.

I have received an oral amendment from Ms Laima Liucija ANDRIKIENĖ which reads as follows.

“In the draft recommendation, after paragraph 5.1, insert the following paragraph:

“representatives of Belarusian democratic forces and civil society are engaged in the work of the Council of Europe bodies in line with the Committee of Ministers' decision to enhance the Organisation’s relations with the Belarusian civil society and the opposition in exile.””

The President may accept an oral amendment on the grounds of promoting clarity, accuracy or conciliation and if there is not opposition from 10 or more members to it being debated. In my opinion the oral amendment meets the criteria. Is there any opposition to the amendment being debated?

That is not the case.

And therefore I call Ms Laima Liucija ANDRIKIENĖ to support oral Amendment 1.

Ms Laima Liucija ANDRIKIENĖ

Lithuania, EPP/CD

17:57:38

Thank you, Mr President.

I support this amendment and the aim is to enhance to strengthen the Council of Europe's relations with the Belarusian civil society and the opposition is in exile.

Thank you.

Please support it.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

17:58:02

Thank you.

Does anybody wish to speak against the oral amendment?

Not the case.

Opinion of the Committee?

Mr Kimmo KILJUNEN

Finland, SOC, Vice-Chairperson of the Committee on Political Affaires and Democracy

17:58:14

The Committee did not take the position.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly

17:58:17

The Committee did not take a position.

I shall now put the oral amendment to the vote.

The vote is open.

The vote is closed.

Can we see the results?

The oral amendment is adopted.

I understand that Ms Laima Liucija ANDRIKIENĖ wishes to withdraw Amendment 1.

Does anybody else wish to move it?

That is not the case, so Amendment 1 is withdrawn.

Dear colleagues, we will now proceed to vote on the draft recommendation contained in Doc. 15506 as amended.

I remind us all that two-thirds majority is required.

The vote is open.

The vote is closed.

May I ask for the results to be displayed?

The Recommendation is adopted with, by far, a two-thirds majority.

May I congratulate the Assembly, the rapporteur, for the disciplined way in which we took this debate, and for the clear decision the Assembly has taken.

We will in a minute continue our agenda.

 

Debate: How to put confiscated criminal assets to good use?

Ms Nicole TRISSE

France, ALDE, President of the Assembly

18:04:22

The next item of business this morning is the presentation of and debate on the report by Mr André VALLINI, on behalf of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, entitled "How to make good use of confiscated criminal assets". (Doc. 15500).

We will finish the debate on this text, including the vote, at about 7:00 p.m. We shall interrupt the list of speakers at about 6:50 p.m. in order to hear the reply from the Committee and to take the necessary votes.

You have 7 minutes to present your report and 3 minutes to reply to the speakers at the end of the general debate.

Mr André VALLINI, you have the floor.

[...]

Excuse me. if we could have a little more silence, please?

Those who wish to leave the room, please do so. It will be more pleasant for the rapporteur and for the listeners.

Thank you very much.

Mr André VALLINI

France, SOC, Rapporteur

18:05:25

Thank you, Madam President.

Dear colleagues,

This report is the third in a series of three reports aimed at weakening organized crime and grand corruption. Our colleagues Mr Mart van de VEN and Mr Thórhildur Sunna ÆVARSDÓTTIR have proposed to facilitate the confiscation of illicit assets, firstly by reversing the burden of proof as to the illicit nature of suspected assets, and secondly by strengthening the financial intelligence units responsible for tracing these funds in each country. Today, with this third report, I propose to focus on the proper use of the seized illicit assets.

The question is: how can we ensure that the money from crime and corruption can be used to repair the damage done by crime and corruption?

Following the recent sanctions against Russian oligarchs, our subject has unfortunately become more topical: could not the villas and apartments of the oligarchs that have been "frozen" all over Europe be used to accommodate Ukrainian refugees fleeing the war of aggression unleashed by Russia? And once these assets have been confiscated for good and sold, couldn't we consider using them to pay off part of the Russian debt to Ukraine and thus finance the reconstruction of the country? I am making a proposal along these lines in the draft resolution you have before you.

The general message sent by my report is in fact to hit the criminals and the corrupt where it hurts them the most: in their wallets. But it is also, and above all, the way to make the rule of law triumph in a way that is visible to society. In particular to communities stricken by crime and corruption, whether it is a big city neighbourhood or a country village.

During my fact-finding mission to Rome, I was able to study some very interesting projects: for example, former mafia villas have become places for young people in distress, young drug addicts, or premises for sports and social associations, libraries or even a stadium, which benefit the populations of the neighbourhoods where the mafia bosses used to live.

In short, the "Italian model" of social reuse of confiscated assets has really convinced me. In the draft resolution, I have summarised the arguments for using the illicit assets seized from criminals in this way, as well as the good practices in this field, many of which are drawn from the Italian experience.

I want to stress one point: the need to have a central institution in charge of administering at the national level the assets seized in a country, to manage them from the beginning until their allocation, pending their confiscation and allocation - or final sale. Such an institution must have the technical expertise to optimise the use of the property in question and must report regularly to the government and parliament, as is the case in Italy.

I am pleased to see that other European countries such as Spain, the United Kingdom, Ireland and my own country, France, have also started to encourage the social reuse of confiscated illicit assets. I propose that we invite all our governments to do the same by approving the resolution I am presenting to you.

I remain at your disposal to answer your questions and to participate in the discussion that will follow.

Madam President, I have concluded.

Thank you for your time.

Ms Nicole TRISSE

France, ALDE, President of the Assembly

18:09:15

You still have time.

Very well, thank you Mister Rapporteur.

We will move on to the general discussion. I remind you that the time limit for each speaker is 3 minutes.

We start with Ms. Petra BAYR for the Socialist Group.

You have the floor.

Ms Petra BAYR

Austria, SOC, Spokesperson for the group

18:09:38

Thank you very much, Madam Chair,

Organised crime accounted for about 800 billion in turnover in 2017. This includes human trafficking, drug trafficking, illegal trade in art objects, forced prostitution, money laundering, extortion, white-collar crime, online crime. In addition to this organised crime, there is corruption.

Corruption as an abuse of economic, political and cultural power is diametrically opposed to the realisation of human rights, because it simply undermines the rule of law. There are different figures on this. Transparency International, for example, estimates that international corruption cost 990 billion euros worldwide in 2020, the International Monetary Fund even assumes 1.5 quadrillion, which means that corruption and organised crime together account for more than 15% of gross global product in relation.

It's not just financial damage that organised crime and corruption does to society. It simply destroys lives, and at the same time it's also the state's duty to compensate those people who have suffered damage as a result, to help them. It's the state here that has lost a great deal of money through corruption, through organised crime, even through tax evasion or even through other illegal activities that have damaged the state.

I'm a big fan of the principle of let crime pay. I believe that the way the report proposes –and I don't think there's anything to add to the report– it's important to really allocate the use of the profits to the general public, i.e. to spend the profits of crime on the general public. On the one hand this can also strengthen trust in the state and show that ultimately the rule of law is stronger than crime and also defeats it. It also shows the red card to those political forces that want to undermine the authority of the state in all the different ways. I think it's also an important sign for victims of crime, terrorism, and corruption that there is solidarity, that there is something like a social context. That's why I think there are very diverse effects from the approach that the rapporteur is taking.

Thank you very much for this. I wish you much success in the realisation of such projects.

Ms Nicole TRISSE

France, ALDE, President of the Assembly

18:12:29

Thank you, Madam BAYR.

I now give the floor to Madam Marie-Christine DALLOZ for the Group of the European People's Party.

You have the floor.

Ms Marie-Christine DALLOZ

France, EPP/CD, Spokesperson for the group

18:12:53

Thank you, Madam President.

First of all, I would like to congratulate the rapporteur, Mr André VALLINI, for his report, which attests to a serious and well-documented work. I thank him for it.

Organised crime and corruption divert huge amounts of money from legal channels. Current events in Ukraine have reminded us of the excessiveness of this phenomenon. The fortunes accumulated in a dubious manner by Russian oligarchs were estimated by Forbes magazine at 290 billion dollars at the beginning of March.

The impact of such a practice is not only financial. The repercussions are also economic, social, security, judicial and even political. In some regions, mafia groups are the primary providers of jobs and housing. The police, the justice system and political leaders can no longer maintain their independence. Dirty money infiltrates all strata of society, destroys the existing social bond, and ends up being a real threat to democracy.

It makes sense, here at the Council of Europe, to address this subject, because it also deals with the future of democracy.

Fighting against this hydra requires, first of all, drying up the source of the system. The mere seizure of assets is not only insufficient but can even be dangerous. Indeed, confiscating dirty money often has the consequence of destabilising the social organisation of a neighbourhood, or even a region. The mafia used to provide work, income and housing. All of this is called into question. The risk of rejection by the population is real.

If we want to overcome this shock of legality, to arouse the support of the citizens, we must give back to the confiscated assets a social utility and repair the democratic social contract destroyed by the criminal practices. In order to put an end to the attraction of organised crime, the state must undertake educational actions that make an impression. Paying back the money seized from the general budget is not the solution. It is better to compensate the victims directly, because this approach shows the restorative will of the society more clearly. All initiatives that prove that honesty pays should be encouraged.

Reversing the logic is also an excellent way to permanently undermine the criminal economy, which would not approve of the money generated by drug trafficking being used for drug rehabilitation programs, just as it might object to the use of money from pimping to help the rehabilitation of prostitutes. It is this type of targeted action that will be the most effective.

The Group of the European People's Party will, of course, vote in favor of the proposed resolution and recommendation.

Thank you.

Ms Nicole TRISSE

France, ALDE, President of the Assembly

18:16:08

Thank you, Madam DALLOZ.

I now call Mr Oleksii GONCHARENKO for the European Conservatives and Democratic Alliance Group.

You have the floor, sir.

Mr Oleksii GONCHARENKO

Ukraine, EC/DA, Spokesperson for the group

18:16:16

Thank you very much. 

Madam President, 

I want to inform you that Putin answered to our Assembly, just maybe an hour or two hours ago, he mentioned the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. This modern Hitler answered to what we are doing here now. I just want to inform you that he said that the Parliamentary Assembly was organised at the beginning of 1990s – so, as always, history is not his strong point – to influence on post-Soviet countries. He said that we do not make sense any more. The Parliamentary Assembly does not make sense because he does not want any of our advice. And he said that the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe should work on increasing the salaries of people in Europe and in the United States. I do not know why in the United States but he is a mad person and he showed it again speaking about our Assembly.

But first of all, I just want to congratulate ourselves. We did something, finally, that he should notice. Not just he can go and not notice what we are doing. No. He should notice this. I think that is important, that we are now on the right track. I congratulate you.

And I want to tell you that these reports are extremely important, not only for the whole continent but for Ukraine especially. Because how will we rebuild our country? Our country is almost completely destroyed. Houses, roads, bridges, airports, infrastructure, hospitals, schools, maternity houses – everything is destroyed by Russian weapons. It will cost hundreds and billions of euros to reconstruct all of this. Who will pay for this?

And here is the answer. All these frozen assets of the entourage of Putin, of those close to Putin – and I gave an amendment, I hope it will be supported today – not just Russian oligarchs because there are no Russian oligarchs, they are Putin's wallets. All of them are nobody. Just imagine there are extremely severe sanctions against all these Abramovich, Deripaska and other names. Number one in Forbes in the world. And where is their reaction? They are absolutely silent because they are nobody. They just Putin's wallets. So we need to say this money, which is frozen – it is hundreds and billions of euros – this is Putin's money himself. And now it is frozen and it should go to rebuild our country, to rebuild Ukraine, which was destroyed by this criminal, this killer Putin.

And that is very important that it is mentioned in this report, I think that we will strengthen it during the amendments and I want to thank the rapporteur for this and we need to do this because we do not have any other way to have justice in this question.

And one last thing, when we are speaking about Russians, it is not only Russian oligarchs, it is also Russian propagandists. I saw Soloyvev's villa on Lake Como, one of their propagandists who is now asking Russia to attack London and New York with nuclear weapons. So such people like Soloyvev should lose everything they have and everything they have should go to Ukrainian refugees and to our state.

Thank you.

Ms Nicole TRISSE

France, ALDE, President of the Assembly

18:19:48

Thank you, sir.

I now give the floor to Ms Alexandra LOUIS for the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, if she is on the line.

It is your turn.

Just a moment while she reconnects.

We will take the next ones and come back to you.

Mr George KATROUGALOS has the floor for the Group of the Unified European Left.

You have the floor, sir.

Mr George KATROUGALOS

Greece, UEL, Spokesperson for the group

18:21:09

Thank you, Madam President.

This is a very original and innovative report and I would like to congratulate the rapporteur.

You know that throughout our legal systems, usually, confiscated criminal assets go either to the national budget or sometimes to the budget of justice. The idea of the social reuse that is adopted by the report it's very much innovative and educational, because first it contributes to our new legitimation of the judicial system, its visibility, second it is very useful to undermine the influence of the organised crime to local societies.

The example the report gives: the villa of a mafioso which was the centre of its power to be transformed into a centre for social use for the local community.

But it has some other great ideas that I would like to mention. It's a very good idea the appeal to make foreign bribery a criminal offence in the legal system where it is not already, but especially the idea that any fines related to the international bribery to be socially reused as it is the case also with confiscated criminal assets.

We have here a Greek originality, you know that the Novartis Scandal was universal. The American authorities have fined the Novartis here, the Greek branch of Novartis, by 235 million dollars and we in Greece have done nothing. The Greek authorities have never fined the Greek Novartis, nor the case has reached the courts. Quite on the contrary, the government is now accusing some investigative journalists who made possible the coverage of the scandal.

Finally, I find very interesting the ideas of the report on property of Russian oligarchs.

First, the conclusion of the rapporteur that this is money stolen by the Russian people is very, very right, and then also his proposals that this money could be used for re-building Ukraine as a kind of compensation to the Ukrainian state. Therefore, I think that it is a very good and original report and my group is going to support it.

Many thanks, Mister rapporteur.

Ms Nicole TRISSE

France, ALDE, President of the Assembly

18:24:09

Thank you, sir.

I'll give the floor to Ms Alexandra LOUIS for the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe if she is connected.

No, there is a problem.

We will continue.

Is Mr Aleksander POCIEJ here to continue with the list of speakers? Neither?

Mr Tural GANJALIYEV, for Azerbaijan: is he online?

It is your turn, sir.

Mr Tural GANJALIYEV

Azerbaijan, EC/DA

18:24:51

Thank you, Madam President.

Dear Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Organised crime is one of the greatest threats to the security of any country and region in the world. Europe is no exception. According to Europol, more than 5 000 organised crime groups are currently under investigation in Europe.

In order to understand the magnitude of the problem, we need to understand that organised crime is motivated by profit and that its illegal activities generate a large amount of profit for the criminal group involved. It is estimated that organised crime in the European Union currently generates approximately 110 billion euros per year. This means that approximately 110 billion euros per year are stolen from the public.

Mr Tural GANJALIYEV

Azerbaijan, EC/DA

18:25:41

Dear Colleagues,

No matter how the illegal assets are acquired, if it is identified then those who own them should be questioned and the assets should be confiscated. Then the question arises of how to put confiscated criminal assets to good use.

This is the important question.

I strongly believe that the confiscated assets should be reused and redistributed to those who have suffered because of the accumulation of these assets by criminal ways.

At the end of my speech, dear colleagues, I would like to invite my Armenian colleagues to be more constructive and not misuse the platform provided for them to make unjustified claims against my country. As we have seen in previous sessions and debates, we have to focus more on reconciliation, on confidence-building measures between other nations and between other countries, not vice versa.

Thank you for your attention.

Ms Nicole TRISSE

France, ALDE, President of the Assembly

18:26:41

Thank you, sir.

I now give the floor to Mr Dara CALLEARY, from Ireland.

Mr Dara CALLEARY

Ireland, ALDE

18:26:48

Thank you, Madam President.

Madam President, in 1996 the Irish journalist Veronica Guerin was murdered by representatives of drug organisations whose work she was highlighting. This was a major shock to our republic and it is in her wake and as a major tribute to her that the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) was established.

The mission of CAB is to deny and deprive people of the proceeds of criminal conduct. It is a multi-agency body made up of police, of civil servants, THE department of social protection, department of health, and many departments.

Brave, civil, and public servants who put their lives on the line to defend communities, to defend our nation, and to make criminals pay.

In 2020, CAB returned 4.2 million euro to the Irish Exchequer. It froze 935 bank accounts. It also return money to other governments. Money that had been laundered in Ireland, that should have been spent and used in their communities.

This year we have established the Community Safety Innovation Fund in Ireland, which will use two million to start this year for communities to equip their local communities with community-led responses, to assist them in the battle against crime, whether that be local crime, drug crime or international crime.

And this is the first time that communities will have money to spend working with police, working with law enforcement, locally, are equipping their community in a bespoke package. Funders from the proceeds of crime.

Madam President, two weeks ago, CAB working with authorities not just in Ireland, but in the United States, in Europe, and in the Middle East arranged for seizure orders on one of the biggest drug gangs in Europe that operated initially out of Ireland. It had a major international response. I was lead from Dublin and pioneered in Dublin. It has now pushed one of the biggest drug gangs in the world for the first time on the back foot because the powers that they have.

We will never know the damage that that group have done to communities, to families, to futures, but they will now pay for it. They will pay for it with every single cent that they have acquired. Because of the commitment of our officials in CAB, because of the powers that they have in legislation. And now, communities that they damaged, through community safety innovation, will be able to spend money in their communities and rebuild their communities from the damage that was done.

I welcome the report. I commend the rapporteur and the Chairman. And I welcome the fact that we can now apply the principles of CAB, the principles of seize, tax and recover, and we should, to Russian oligarchs, to people who have lived off the misery of others, lived well, to people who financed governments from that well-living. We must all be honest about that discussion, too.

Thank you, Madam President.

Ms Nicole TRISSE

France, ALDE, President of the Assembly

18:29:59

Thank you, sir.

We're going to try once again with Ms Alexandra LOUIS, who, it seems, is now connected. She is the spokesperson for the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.

Madam LOUIS? No.

Well, we will continue with Ms Arusyak JULHAKYAN from Armenia.

Ms Arusyak JULHAKYAN

Armenia, NR

18:30:20

Thank you, Ms Chair.

Dear colleagues,

One of the tools for combating corruption and organised crime is the confiscation of illicit profits and other criminal assets.

But, why is it important to fight corruption and kleptocracy?

It's crucial, as in my belief, corruption is a national security threat. It undermines democracy, hollows out the rule of law, having an impact on law enforcement bodies and the judicial systems, affects the state's effectiveness, affects the economic environment creating and strengthening a shadow economy, deteriorates the investment climate in the country, and ultimately, it can bring to the loss of national sovereignty.

Corruption also fuels the rise of authoritarian leaders who seek to exploit social divisions, who use public office for personal gains while undermining democracy worldwide.

Corrupt leaders cling to power through patronage networks and exploit rule of law jurisdictions to conceal and protect their stolen assets. These leaders are also accustomed to using strategic corruption as a tool of foreign policy.

In my point of view, transparency of assets would enable the world to combat kleptocracy, breaking the pathway still obscure.

After the Armenian peaceful revolution of 2018, among other reforms in the field of combating corruption, the Armenian government also addressed the mentioned issue.

Starting from 2020, the companies operating in Armenia have an obligation to submit a declaration about real owners and beneficiaries. An open register was created for real owners and beneficiaries of legal persons which makes them transparent for the public.

As regards the confiscation of the illicit assets, in 2020, the Armenian Parliament adopted a law on confiscation of property of illicit origin which envisages non-conviction based confiscation. It may help to not only recover the stolen assets within Armenia and beyond, but also apply the regulations regarding the cases of organised crime, money laundering, drug trafficking, etc.

During the development adoption of this law, the experience of some of the countries of the Council of Europe in the sphere was considered.

Based on this law, a special division in the office of the prosecutor general was created. Now we can already see the regulations in action. The first cases involving illicit assets of former high ranking officials have been already sent to the Armenian courts, and we are now expecting the first results of the confiscation process.

This means that it's time to think how and for what we are going to use the confiscated illicit assets.

From this perspective, the resolution and the respective recommendation on how to put confiscated criminal assets to good use, will be extremely important and useful for us.

To conclude, dear colleagues, let me state that it is important to understand how we can join our efforts to combat organised crime, including money laundering, which will in its turn help us strengthen and protect the democratic institutions.

We know that democratic systems are very frequently targeted using laundered money itself, so it is important to understand what can be done by democracies to protect themselves and each other.

Thank you.

Ms Nicole TRISSE

France, ALDE, President of the Assembly

18:33:54

Thank you very much, Madam.

I now give the floor to Ms Hajnalka JUHÁSZ for Hungary.

Ms Hajnalka JUHÁSZ

Hungary, EPP/CD

18:34:03

Thank you, Madam Chair.

The topic is highly important. Thank you for the rapporteur.

One of the main drivers of criminal activity is the acquisition of profit. It also provides criminals with further resources to continue their illicit activities, in particular within the context of organised criminality, where a substantial economic background is essential for the functioning of the criminal network. Ensuring that criminals would not profit off illicit activities is therefore a key issue for the prevention of criminality. It takes away the main motivation for the undertaking of such activities. It is thus fundamental for the disruption of functioning of criminal groups.

The impact of confiscating illegal assets on the fight against organised crime and corruption is further enhanced by making good use of confiscated financial assets.

However, the use of this method should always be cautiously prepared and based on a careful investigation.

Such initiatives send an excellent message about fighting crime and repairing the social damage criminal acts cause. Using confiscated assets to help reconstruct and renew parts of our societies most impacted by criminal activities is also a creative and, at the same time, effective way of remedying the social harm caused by crimes.

In this regard, I would like to highlight the important work accomplished by the Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism. I would also like to stress the importance of the Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds from Crime and of the Council of Europe Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds from Crime and on the Financing of Terrorism.

Thank you for the attention.

Ms Nicole TRISSE

France, ALDE, President of the Assembly

18:36:05

Thank you very much, Madam.

I now give the floor to Mr Dmytro NATALUKHA, for Ukraine.

Mr Dmytro NATALUKHA

Ukraine, EC/DA

18:36:13

Hello. Thank you very much.

I would like to thank you for this report and for the very good job that the author did in terms of it. Speaking from the perspective of Ukraine for us, actually, the use of the confiscated assets is really a topical issue. Especially if you think about Mezhyhirya. Mezhyhirya was a residence of one of the most corrupted presidents in our history, Viktor Yanukovych, who fled to Russia and is in Russia right now. Basically, it is a territory of 140 hectares, an area that is now used – it has been confiscated from Yanukovych – and is now being used as a beautiful park. The mansion hosts internally displaced people, veterans of war, children and other people who are undergoing rehabilitation.

For this reason, the issue of assets that have been obtained illegally for us is very important. However, I would like to focus on issues that were rightly related to the use of property rights of confiscated property of the citizens of the Russian Federation. As you know Russia is waging an unprecedented war. I do not need to tell you more about it. Ukraine has already suffered I think at least $500 000 billion, maybe even more than a trillion, and it is going to increase, unfortunately. Today the property of the famous Russian oligarchs worth billions of dollars has been seized all over the world. That includes fancy yachts, mansions and so on and so forth. As noted in the report, the main principle of social reuse is to direct the confiscated assets to the public good. Moreover, to compensate for the harm suffered. However, I would say that the author of course, rightly assumes that the funds of the Russian oligarchs were stolen to some extent from the ordinary citizens but does that make them a priority group in this case? No. The corruption system in Russia did not emerge yesterday. I would even dare to say that it began not even under Putin but just after Russia obtained the status of an independent state, and we know that the whole system of Russia is permeated with corruption. Moreover, such a state of affairs, allow me to say, is supported by the majority of the Russian citizens, as we see by the polls and including those war crimes that the Russian armies carrying out in Ukraine today.

In simple terms, if a mafia boss imposes rent on small criminals and then buys a killer with that money, this dirty money must be given to the victim of such killer and not returned to small criminals or small bandits. For this reason, to understand that part of the wealth of the Russian elites was also a compensation for the aggressive actions of their state. The Rotenberg, Timchenko, Prigojine and many others received contracts from the state of Russia as compensation for sanctions related to the illegal annexation of Crimea.

For this reason, I definitely support this report and asked everybody to endorse it.

Thank you.

Ms Nicole TRISSE

France, ALDE, President of the Assembly

18:39:35

Thank you, sir.

I now give the floor to Ms Fiona O'LOUGHLIN from Ireland.

Ms Fiona O'LOUGHLIN

Ireland, ALDE

18:39:43

Thank you, Madam President.

My colleague has outlined about the Criminal Assets Bureau that we have in Ireland, which has been very successful since it was started in 1996.

There's no doubt that organised criminals are motivated by financial gain and that criminal entrepreneurs can generate vast profits. Essentially, these people are enriching themselves at society's expense. Particularly when it comes to the area of drugs. And the work of the Bureau is critical in terms of targeting those assets which derived from criminal conduct.

When the Criminal Assets Bureau was set up in 1996, it was pretty much, you could say, a lightbulb moment that came from the horrific murder of a crime journalist, Veronica Guerin, and a detective, Garda Jerry McCabe, and sometimes we all have that seminal moment when we say enough is enough, we need to be able to put everything in place to try to target this type of horrific behaviour.

When this new law enforcement agency in Ireland was set up I think one of the key advantages was that it was a multifunctional agency, so it could work right across every department within government, and therefore had a very high success rate. And to the extent that, right around Europe and right around the world, many of our colleagues and many of our Departments of Justice have actually come over to learn about how it is pushed in place.

Of course this Bureau pursues not only the gangsters that are involved in crime and in armed robberies, but also white collar criminals. And and that's also very important. And it is in a way, I suppose, a type of restorative justice or a type of reparative justice. While we always need to try to ensure that the criminals pay the price in terms of trying to support those that are suffering most, I think that's what's key to what the rapporteur is talking about here.

My colleague deputy clearly spoke about the Community Safety Innovation Fund, which, again, is hugely important in relation to continuing on the work.

I just want to say that I think the report is absolutely excellent and we can all learn from the examples in Spain, Italy, Scotland, and the UK. And I think I want to really commend the rapporteur in terms of the table that has been put in place in relation to what every country within our union is doing. And there are very good examples for all of us because, while it's important to say what we feel or to give our country's perspective, it's also important to learn from what other countries are doing. And I think there's a really great value in this document.

Thank you very much.

Ms Nicole TRISSE

France, ALDE, President of the Assembly

18:43:08

Thank you, Madam.

I now give the floor to Mr Vladimir VARDANYAN, from Armenia.

Mr Vladimir VARDANYAN

Armenia, EPP/CD

18:43:13

Dear colleagues,

Every lawyer is familiar with the Roman law maxima ex injuria jus non oritur, which implies that illegal acts do not create law. The report under consideration may be called the same way. We are discussing here new implications of an ancient legal principle which is still an essential pillar guaranteeing the rule of law and democracy.

Here, I absolutely agree with the rapporteur, that the illegal assets should be returned to their real owners. Hence, a state shouldn't be the one and only beneficiary of the confiscated illicit assets. Illicitly gained public assets and property should be duly returned to the public. States should be rather a medium for returning public assets to society when to be their end user. For sure, the state should be an end user in the cases when the confiscated assets were stolen from the state as a result of corruption crime committed by a state official and other associated persons.

Here, for sure, I should emphasise that the whole process of confiscation from the very beginning up to its end, should be done in full compliance with the principles of the rule of law, democratic standards, as well as as with the full respect to human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Unfortunately, corruption is still the main source of stealing public benefits from the society. In reality, it is the root of all public evils we face. Corruption transmutes democratic institutions, catalysing democratic backsliding, creating laundromats, disturbing electoral processes, uprising the organised crime, usurping power, and so on.

The fight against corruption should be transparent. From that perspective, social reuse of illicit financial assets, and especially property, would be the most visible result of such fight. Implementing the social reusing of illegal assets may stimulate civil society institutions, media, and ordinary citizens, to be more active in identifying such cases, as well as to make them accessible to public.

Addressing all the issue of combating corruption is worth saying that our organisation should not be just a spectator of this process. We should be rather the pioneer of this fight.

Before shaming and blaming the others, we should not forget that the Council of Europe, and especially our Assembly, should be a success story of fighting corruption all across Europe. We shouldn't also forget that our organisation, in the recent past, also faced unprecedented corruption scandals involving high-ranking officials in different countries.

Many of us who engaged in these processes and scandals where duly punished, but some of them still continue to benefit from their illicit activities. I strongly believe that our Assembly must have zero tolerance towards any, even the smallest, case of corruption within our organisation prevented in a very initial phase. Corrupted persons who by their illicit activities have undermined the very existence of our Assembly should say farewell to our organisation once and for all.

Thank you.

Ms Nicole TRISSE

France, ALDE, President of the Assembly

18:46:35

Thank you, Sir.

I now give the floor to Ms Minerva HERNÁNDEZ RAMOS, from Mexico.

Ms Minerva HERNÁNDEZ RAMOS

Mexico

18:46:42

If you allow me, Madam Chair. 

First of all, a message of solidarity. The war which is being undertaken by Russia on Ukraine is reprehensible. I embrace warmly the people of Ukraine and its brave President, who have been violated in their human rights and its rule of law. In Mexico, we are praying that Ukrainians will go back onto the path towards a brilliant future. Our democratic responsibility now is to act in favour of democracy and peace globally.

I begin with my remarks. One of the most deterrent messages that governments can send in the fight against crime and corruption is very simple: crime does not pay.

However, it seems clear that if criminal activities were not profitable, they simply would not occur. This apparent contradiction is nothing more than two different moments on a timeline. In the short term, it seems that criminal activity is indeed profitable. Citizens of our countries see that those who commit crimes have material goods such as vehicles, luxury items, jewellery or real estate to which ordinary people could not have access through effort and legal work. In some cases, not even add up everything they have earned in the course of an entire life. 

In the long term, state institutions in charge of prosecution and administration of justice, go slowly, case by case, reducing the rates of criminal impunity through sentences that deprive those who committed crimes of their freedom for many years.

However, society remains dissatisfied with these results, because if legally acquired assets remain, it is useless to know that the criminals are behind bars, while their families or their frontman, or people suspected to have participated in the same crimes, continue to enjoy the same assets. 

In some cases, it is even known that criminals are serving their time in prison and when they leave prison, the assets built up illegally will be at their disposal. 

As parliamentarians in Mexico, we take note of the best practices proposed here so that we can adjust, as far as possible, our own legal framework with the intention of improving it. It is important to consider the social use to which assets recovered from crime should involve civil society in the decision-making process and not leave it to unilateral determination by the government. 

Likewise, the fact that authorities periodically reported to parliament on the exercising of this power and its consequences seems to be particularly relevant given that in Mexico in 2019 we adopted new legislation on the matter. In the interval, only one annual report has been delivered in 2019–2020.

Finally, it is to be commended, I think, that the resolution considers making continuous reviews in updating legislation and administrative practices related to asset recovery in order to counteract any strategy used by criminals. In my country, we agreed in 2019 that a thorough review of the legal framework would be carried out by 2020 and now there is no longer a health emergency due to Covid-19, it is something that we should come back to. Mexico published in its official journal, the ratification of the convention concerning the recovery of endowed goods. I praise the draft recommendations proposed today. We hope that we Mexican parliamentarians can do the same in the very near future. 

Thank you very much.

Ms Nicole TRISSE

France, ALDE, President of the Assembly

18:50:17

Thank you, Madam.

I now give the floor to Ms Jorida TABAKU, from Albania, if she is here. Madam TABAKU? No.

In that case I give the floor to Mr Rafael HUSEYNOV, from Azerbaijan.

Mr Rafael HUSEYNOV

Azerbaijan, ALDE

18:50:35

Thank you, Madam President.

Dear colleagues,

Every wealth of historical value and moral weight belongs to the people.

İt's an unwritten law. No matter how much time passes, sooner or later the possession of people will return to its owner. Therefore, if the theft, usurpation, smuggling and illegal circulation of such wealth is a crime from a legal point of view, then it is also a conspiracy against a people, country and history from a moral point of view. If it is a positive deed to get rid of such wealth from criminals as a result of legal research, then it is doubly noble to take immediate steps to use it as the wealth of the people and the country. Using the example of Azerbaijan, I would like to talk about the further successful fate of some of these saved wealth. Namely such a fate is most desirable for such wealth. The confiscation of such assets that have fallen into criminal whirlpool is most common case in the customs network.

Until 2006, historical and material artefacts, usually confiscated, were directed to various museums, cultural centres, exhibitions and research institutes. Although this practice continues today in Azerbaijan, after the foundation of the Customs History Museum in Baku in March 2006, majority of these resources have been concentrated at this address.

Today there are over 200 big and small museums in Azerbaijan. Usually each museum has its own direction. However, the Museum of the History of Azerbaijani Customs is distinct from all of them.

However, the Customs Museum lists items belonging to various areas. Each of the over 600 exhibits is unique. Here are bench paintings, sculptures and objects of arts and crafts representing the art of Azerbaijan, Western Europe and the East, as well as coins of Ancient Rome, Byzantium, the reign of the Safavids, as well as copies of the Koran and the Bible of the 19th century.

The number of such rare pieces of cultural heritage is so great that several albums associated with them have been published.

Of course, each museum object has its own history and biography. However, each of the exhibits of this museum has a history of involvement in criminal trafficking and salvation. Enjoying such gems of art with an adventurous fate, you also think that if these beauties had not been torn out of the jaws of criminals, then they would not have been standing in front of us now. And, perhaps, no one would have seen them, except for a couple of people who had secretly obtained them. But now they still belong to everyone.

The famous classic said: "Beauty will save the world." Nevertheless, beauty itself needs always to be saved!

Thank you for your attention.

Ms Nicole TRISSE

France, ALDE, President of the Assembly

18:53:42

Thank you, Sir.

I now give the floor to Mr Éctor Jaime RAMÍREZ BARBA, who is on the line and who is in Mexico.

Mr Éctor Jaime RAMÍREZ BARBA

Mexico

18:53:54

Madam President, many thanks.

Let me congratulate Mr André VALLINI and the Committee for the quality of this report, which once again brings to light an issue that deserves analysis, concerning the impact of confiscation of illicit assets and corruption.

This needs to be done for the good of society, earmarking the fruit of these, to have these confiscations and repair the harm that is done by criminals to a given population.

In Mexico, in the last decades, criminal organisations have become financially stronger and more capable in their ability to corrupt authorities. That is why their illicit activities, mainly including people and drug trafficking, and extortion, have grown to reach other countries, including the European Union.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, in its report entitled Synthethic drugs and new psychoactive substances in Latin America and the Caribbean in 2021, has shown that Mexican cartel networks have expanded their presence in Europe taking advantage of the rise in methamphetamine, fentanyl, and synthetic drugs, as a result of the increase in demand during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Large amounts of methamphetamine have been seized in Spain and in Slovakia, and these are believed to have originated in Mexico.

It should be noted that President López Obrador has decided to stop fighting organised crime. He is betting on the omission of authorities in the fight against drugs and other types of illegal activities such as human and arms trafficking, with an institutional policy called by himself the "hugs and not bullets" policy.

The Mexican President said in June 2020, "I order that this operation be stopped, and that this alleged criminal", the son of Chapo Guzmán, "be released".

After that, he warmly welcomed the mother of that person.

According to the 2021 report of the International Narcotics Control Board, Mexican cartels operate some 25 billion dollars a year just for operations within the country. Likewise, the international report on the drug control strategy, published in 2022, warns about the limited capacity of Mexico to prosecute money laundering crimes.

There are only nine convictions for money laundering in 2018, 19 in 2019, and only three in 2020.

People need to have the stolen goods transferred (back) to them. In the last four years of this government, only about 106 million dollars have been seized. According to the government, only 11 million have been given out in form of social aid and assistance to infrastructure.

As a legislator, I commit to making the Mexican government and congress aware of the example of good practices in this report by Spain, Italy, United Kingdom, and France.

Many thanks for your attention.

Ms Nicole TRISSE

France, ALDE, President of the Assembly

18:56:49

Thank you very much.

I conclude the list of speakers with Ms Yevheniia KRAVCHUK, from Ukraine.

Ms Yevheniia KRAVCHUK

Ukraine, ALDE

18:56:59

Thank you, dear colleagues, for the ability to deliver my message.

Madam President,

Honourable rapporteur,

Colleagues,

When we speak about these dirty criminal assets — especially those owned by Russian oligarchs — and their good use, we need to understand the following thing. The assets of oligarchs and those that are associated with the Kremlin are essentially assets used by Putin and his surrounding. The entire Russian economy is based on the use of economic assets that normally belong to individuals and legal entities, but they serve basically as financial pockets of the Russian regime. So they cannot be disassociated from the regime, while they are the source for funding the aggressive war against Ukraine.

So I call the rapporteur and PACE, in general, to investigate in further reports what kind of action could be made with regard to blocking and confiscating such assets and eventually their use for reparations and compensations to Ukraine and the Ukrainian people. The Ukrainian government currently estimates the damage to the national economy at least 600 billion dollars. In particular, only to restore the infrastructure of the whole city of Mariupol, will be needed 10 billion dollars.

As of late April, almost two thousand residential buildings were destroyed in the city of Charkiw. More than 205 hospitals, 586 schools, 319 kindergardens, and hundreds of other important infrastructure facilities have been destroyed or damaged over all the territory of Ukraine.

Besides of the money, particular houses and apartments could be used for receptions of Ukrainians who fled the war. It would be fair to attract more assets of Russian oligarchs to cover these losses and expenses, not just taxpayers from the European countries.

Thank you so much.

Ms Nicole TRISSE

France, ALDE, President of the Assembly

18:59:12

Thank you.

The list of speakers is now exhausted.

I call for the reply of the Committee.

Mister Rapporteur, you have 3 minutes to respond to the speakers.

Mr André VALLINI

France, SOC, Rapporteur

18:59:26

Thank you, Madam President.

First of all, I would like to share what many speakers have said about the pedagogy of the social reuse of confiscated criminal assets. Crime does not pay, this has been said several times. We must show that not only does crime not pay but that, thanks to the social reuse of criminal money, we can restore people's confidence in democracy and in the rule of law.

Secondly, Ms Marie-Christine DALLOZ spoke about the shock of legality. She was quite right. It made me remember what was explained to me in Italy, namely that we must be very vigilant about companies. We are talking about villas, boats, yachts, luxury cars and apartments, but there are also companies that operate in a totally "clandestine" way. We see all too often that when a company returns to legality after the mafia boss has been imprisoned, this company is in trouble, if you'll pardon the expression, because it has to pay taxes and social contributions. It is up to the State to ensure that this shock of legality does not disappear, which creates unemployment and which risks, this has happened in particular in the region of Rome, making the population angry at the State, which has put an end to the mafia operations of this company, because people find themselves unemployed when they had work with the mafia.

Finally, the third point. I am of course pleased with the reception of my Ukrainian colleagues to my proposals on the confiscation, of course, but also on the reuse of the criminal assets of the Russian oligarchs for the benefit of the Ukrainian people, for the benefit of Ukrainian refugees and for the benefit of the reconstruction of Ukraine.

I thank you for this.

Ms Nicole TRISSE

France, ALDE, President of the Assembly

19:01:12

Mister Chairman, Mr COTTIER?

Mr Damien COTTIER

Switzerland, ALDE, Chairperson of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights

19:01:16

Thank you, Madam President.

On behalf of the Commission, I would like to remind you that the excellent report from our colleague, Senator André VALLINI, is part of a series of previous reports that our Commission has presented with the common objective of fighting organised crime and grand corruption, by attacking it where it hurts, namely in the wallet.

The first report in this series was the one by Senator Mart van de Ven, our former colleague, who recalled the Irish model and proposed the confiscation of criminal assets without a criminal conviction, in other words, the reversal of the burden of proof. Several member countries subsequently introduced legislative measures inspired by these recommendations.

Then there was the report from our colleague here, Ms Thórhildur Sunna ÆVARSDÓTTIR, who submitted concrete proposals to strengthen financial intelligence units, to increase the capacity of authorities to detect and freeze illicit assets in a timely manner.

According to the World Bank Report, as has been said, the annual profits, if I may say so, of organised crime and of grand corruption, amount to more than 2 000 billion dollars, a good part of which is in the European continent. This is enough to solve many social problems on our continent.

It is this last question that is addressed by the report from Senator André VALLINI. What good use can we make of the assets that are confiscated? As you have seen, this report, and this has been said by several speakers, is also inspired by good practices that exist in several countries that have been mentioned, including Italy, where the senator visited. Sometimes, in our political activities, we are told by the population that there is not enough concrete impact of the measures we take. Yet, in the example that was given, that was taken by several people of the mafioso's villa that is reused for the community, there is really something very concrete and extremely visible.

There is also an aspect that has been less mentioned today, which is the restitution of assets at the international level. I come from a country, Switzerland, which has also developed good practices in this field. There is also the possibility, in collaboration between the two states, the one that returns the money and the one that takes it back, to allocate these amounts to the community. There are examples that have been developed, in particular through World Bank mechanisms, which are also interesting aspects.

Then this report has been enriched, as has been said and emphasised by many, with the question of the treatment of assets confiscated from Russian citizens and companies in connection with the conflict in Ukraine. Here, Mr VALLINI has proposed elements that are immediate, that are really in the news and that are important in the situation we are experiencing.

I am delighted that this report has been well received and that the examples cited go as far as Mexico, where our colleague said earlier that he would try to spread these good ideas.

The report has the full support of our committee.

Thank you, Madam President.

Vote: How to put confiscated criminal assets to good use?

Ms Nicole TRISSE

France, ALDE, President of the Assembly

19:04:20

Thank you.

This concludes the general discussion.

The Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights has presented :

- a draft resolution, to which four amendments and one sub-amendment have been tabled ;

- and a draft recommendation, to which no amendments have been tabled.

I have been informed by the Chairperson of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights that Amendments Nos. 3 and 4 to the draft resolution were adopted unanimously by the Committee.

Is this the case, Mister Chairman?

That is correct.

 

Is there any objection to our considering them as adopted by the Assembly? If there is any objection, please make yourselves known, those present by raising their hands, those participating at a distance by asking for the floor.

There are no objections.

Amendments Nos. 3 and 4 to the draft resolution are therefore declared to have been finally adopted.

 

We start with the draft resolution.

Amendment No. 1 is the subject of a sub-amendment by the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights.

I call Mr Oleksii GONCHARENKO to support Amendment No. 1.

Mr GONCHARENKO, you have 1 minute.

Mr Oleksii GONCHARENKO

Ukraine, EC/DA

19:05:29

Thank you very much, Madam President.

This amendment is about changing the wording for a more precise and more juridical one. Because speaking about Russian oligarchs: who is an oligarch? What does it mean? Where is the definition? And I also already said that the Russian oligarchs do not exist in reality. These all are just pockets, wallets of Putin. Bigger and smaller, or very big, but nothing more.

So first, my proposition was to change it "Russian citizens and oligarchs", to add citizens. But the proposition of the rapporteur to say just "citizens", which is absolutely logical. I think this is important because we're speaking about oligarchs who are wallets of Putin, about people who work for the state, like they say, but in reality, they are absolutely corrupted and just also work for Putin. About propagandists and others who are guilty in what had happened.

Thank you.

Ms Nicole TRISSE

France, ALDE, President of the Assembly

19:06:33

Right. We come to sub-amendment No. 1.

I call Mr Damien COTTIER to support it on behalf of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights.

Mr Damien COTTIER

Switzerland, ALDE, Chairperson of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights

19:06:42

Thank you, Madam President.

As Mr GONCHARENKO said, in fact, he added "citizens", so it was "citizens and oligarchs".

Since oligarchs are usually citizens and in Amendment No. 3, we added "companies". In fact, we can delete the term "and oligarchs". There is still "citizens" and "companies", and this covers all cases.

The author of the amendment had said in committee, and I think he has just said it here, that he also agrees with this sub-amendment.

Ms Nicole TRISSE

France, ALDE, President of the Assembly

19:07:08

Alright, so we're assuming the author agrees.

Does anyone wish to speak against the subamendment? No.

The committee is in favor of this sub-amendment. The author is in favor also.

We will proceed to vote on the sub-amendment.

 

Sub-amendment No. 1 was adopted unanimously.

We shall proceed to vote on Amendment No. 1 as sub-amended.

Before we do that, we'll first see if anyone is against Amendment No. 1 as sub-amended. No?

The opinion of the committee?

Mr Damien COTTIER

Switzerland, ALDE, Chairperson of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights

19:08:26

It is favourable.

Ms Nicole TRISSE

France, ALDE, President of the Assembly

19:08:28

Very well.

We shall proceed to vote on Amendment No. 1 as sub-amended.

Amendment No. 1 as sub-amended was adopted unanimously.

 

Amendment No. 3 had already been adopted unanimously, as had Amendment No. 4.

 

We move on to Amendment No. 2.

I call Mr Oleksii Goncharenko to support Amendment No. 2.

Mr Oleksii GONCHARENKO

Ukraine, EC/DA

19:09:22

This amendment is extremely important. I do ask all of you to support it because it's saying that "this money, these assets were stolen from the Russian people and should be returned to them". But sir, and what about paying for what is done by Putin? By the Russian army?

Again, the Russian people, how to give it back to them? Through Putin? Or we have other ways to do it? We have only Russian public service which is absolutely controlled by a dictator, Putin. I really ask you, that is extremely important because it's a question. Really, who will pay for all this rebuilding? Taxpayers of the United States, France, Germany, or other countries? All those who did it. All those who committed it.

I ask you to support the amendment which is saying the frozen assets should go in the first place to rebuild Ukraine and to compensate the victims of awful atrocities that had happened. And I ask you to support it.

That's very important for us.

Thank you.

Ms Nicole TRISSE

France, ALDE, President of the Assembly

19:10:29

Thank you.

Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment?

Mister Rapporteur?

Mr André VALLINI

France, SOC, Rapporteur

19:10:38

Yes, Madam President.

In fact, we have the same objective as Mr Oleksii GONCHARENKO, but we formulate it in another way that seems to us to be legally simpler and clearer. Therefore, I am against this amendment.

Ms Nicole TRISSE

France, ALDE, President of the Assembly

19:10:55

What is the opinion of the Committee?

Mr Damien COTTIER

Switzerland, ALDE, Chairperson of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights

19:10:58

It is opposed to this Amendment, Madam President.