Logo Assembly Logo Hemicycle

25 January 2023 afternoon

2023 - First part-session Print sitting

Sitting video(s) 1 / 1

Opening of the sitting No. 6

Debate: Recent tensions between Pristina and Belgrade


Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly


Dear friends, thank you for being here. Welcome to the afternoon meeting.


The first item of business this afternoon is a current affairs debate on "Recent tensions between Pristina and Belgrade".

Speaking time is limited to 3 minutes for all members except the first speaker chosen by the Bureau, who is allowed 7 minutes.


In the debate, I call first Mr John HOWELL. You have 7 minutes, Mister HOWELL.


United Kingdom, EC/DA


Thank you, Madam President. It's good to see you in the Chair.

I asked for this debate, because I think it is important that the Council of Europe keep an eye on and keep abreast of the tensions that there are in Europe.

Nobody who has looked at Serbia and Kosovo over recent months can believe that there are no tensions. There are tensions. We need, very much, to be ahead of the game.

We saw –with the case of Russia and Ukraine– that we were not ahead of the game. We did not call for the expulsion of Russia after the invasion of Crimea.

One of the things that we will need to look at I am sure, in this debate, is Putin's role in Kosovo and in Serbia.

The reason we will need to look at that is to see whether the tensions that are arising in Serbia and Kosovo are due to a plan of his to take away from Ukraine alone the tensions, and to spread the tensions a little bit wider. If that is the case, we need to be aware of that, and we we need to take action.

There was, in 2013, an agreement signed by Serbia that said that Kosovo should be able to pursue any arrangements that it likes –whether that is the EU– or more importantly, that whether it is a membership of the Council of Europe.

Of course, history does not allow us to to look with favour on that.

My own government, and indeed myself, have been very supportive of the Kosovo position in this Chamber, firstly, to have seats here and to participate in our debates, and I hope to obtain a full membership. The UK is firm that the Council must allow Kosovo's application to progress and that suitability will be judged based on the evidence it provides and the way in which we assess that.

Kosovo should make every effort to continue to meet Council of Europe principles, including by aligning its legislation further with the provisions within the Istanbul Convention and implementing the constitutional court decision on monastery land, and passing a new civil code consistent with its own constitution's references to marriage.

I understand that the decision to look at Kosovo's membership of this Council has been deferred again as a result of some countries' activities. That has been because it has been linked to the dialogue that is taking place with the EU, for membership of the EU. I think we need to move away from that dialogue as much as possible. We need to show that the Council of Europe is separate from the EU and has its own values and its own principles against which it can be judged.

We welcome the application as a sign of Kosovo's commitment to human rights and to those European values. The UK encourages others to support the application and takes the view that this should not be held hostage to progress in the EU-led Serbia-Kosovo dialogue. That is a very important point to to make.

A little while ago, maybe just a few a few weeks, there was a BBC report prepared on the uproar that occurred in Serbia over the Wagner Group mercenaries recruiting for Russia. It was said that the Serbian president had opposed the Wagner attempts to recruit. This was a pivotal moment for him in deciding whether Serbia faced West or whether it faced continually East and took into account Russia.

Now, if it does continue to take into account with Russia, and if it does continue to have a a view against Kosovo becoming a member, it has to explain why it has taken its actions that it has at the UN General Assembly.

During the voting on 11 UN General Assembly resolutions in support of Ukraine's integrity and sovereignty, and against the Russian occupation of Crimea, Serbia voted against 10 of these resolutions along with Russia and didn't participate in one of them.

During the voting of the resolution of the Council of Europe on the cessation of membership of the Russian Federation to the Council, none of the seven Serbian representatives participated in that vote.

I think that is a sad indictment of the position that has taken place in Serbia.

Tensions in Serbia and Kosovo have risen over the last few months in northern Kosovo, initially linked to a Kosovan demand for ethnic Serbs to carry Kosovo IDs and use Kosovo license plates.

Tensions spiked in November and December following the orchestrated departure of Serbs from Kosovo institutions and the imposition of roadblocks. I'm glad that that tension has been diffused. It serves nobody's intention at all that these tensions continue. In the long running, the EU facilitated talks between Serbia and Kosovo aimed at normalising relations. I'm afraid that those are in a period of prolonged stasis.

No real progress has been made following interim agreements in Brussels. Prospects have been complicated by frequent changes of government.

It's not a very good situation. We need to make sure that we are aware of this. We need to make sure that we have a view on this for the future.

Thank you.


Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much, Mister HOWELL.

I call next Ms Ria OOMEN-RUIJTEN on behalf of the Group of the European People's Party.


Netherlands, EPP/CD, Spokesperson for the group


Dear Chairwoman, and also Mister HOWELL,

I welcomed your question to held this debate. And as Group of the European People's Party we very much like to have this debate.

Of course, we are holding this debate today because we are all deeply concerned about the turmoil and threats between Belgrade and Pristina, which instead of coming closer together, both sides –and you mentioned it– manage to create conflicts again and again, thereby undermine the peace and stability in the region.

Dear Colleagues,

This conflict puts considerable pressure on every positive development where people living in the region, after so many years of war, also have the right to live under peaceful and prosperous conditions.

We all know here the genesis of the conflict. We also know all the attempts made in the past to resolve divisions. We are aware of a recent Franco/German proposal making the conflicts manageable, normalising the relationship between the two and building as planned before in the Brussels Agreement of 2013 a sustainable living together. Instead of welcoming the positive agenda, there is –and there was in the last month, as Mr HOWELL mentioned– more pressure often caused by a rhetoric that fuels problems instead of solving or reducing them.

Let us add to this the tension the Russian war in Ukraine, which gives an extra fire for destabilisation of the region, and that is want Russia wants.

Today we can only call on parties to get to work, to come to real negotiations, because a new conflict in the heart of Europe must be resolved. Prosperity and the well-being of citizens in this region is at stake. Sustainable solutions are needed end it has to come from politicians who really take responsibility for the people they represent

Already 10 years ago an agreement was reached. It has to be implemented.

For my group that means that Belgrade has to look into a new reality for the independence of Kosovo, but also Pristina has to come up with the so needed protection of the Serbian community.

This will be a process for both of give-and-take, but, for sure, the citizens will benefit from it. That is what our aim is.

Thank you very much.


Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much. 

Now I call the next speaker, Ms Liliana TANGUY on behalf of Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.

Ms Liliana TANGUY

France, ALDE, Spokesperson for the group


Thank you, Madam President.

Dear Colleagues,

The ALDE Group, on behalf of which I am speaking today, would like to express its deep concern about the current situation in Kosovo and would also like to congratulate the two delegations from Serbia and Kosovo for their presence here today.

The divorce between Serbia and its former autonomous province, which was declared independent in 2008, has been a complex and painful process, marked by the war that initiated it, the wounds inflicted on both sides, the persistent resentments and the resulting sterility of mutual relations for too long.

Although the guns have long since fallen silent, a real peace has never been established. Serbs and Kosovars always seem to live, think and act as if the conflict could start again at any moment, as if they were constantly preparing for it. The peoples and states of the Balkans as a whole have never ceased to fear that this inferno could reignite.

It is true that Belgrade and Pristina have resumed a dialogue since the beginning of the decade 2010. The Brussels Agreements concluded in 2013 were an important step towards the normalisation of relations between the two countries. However, we note with regret that their implementation has not produced the expected results. Little progress has been made in the last 10 years. Worse still, tensions between the two countries have risen sharply in recent months, and in recent weeks in particular tensions that take on a particular dimension in the context of the aggression perpetrated against Ukraine, tensions whose seriousness we have no right to underestimate.

Without hastily raising the spectre of a new war, we cannot afford to ignore the risk. The threat exists. It is our duty to curb it urgently, if possible permanently.

We deplore the escalation that began this summer following the decision of the government in Pristina to ban Serbian license plates in northern Kosovo. The crisis thus opened has still not found a solution. For months now, feverish outbursts and appeasements obtained in extremis have followed one another while KFOR has struggled to fulfil its missions.

The divide between the two communities is growing with each incident. The country's Serbs feel threatened, and it is clear that violence against them is increasing. They no longer hesitate to resort to barricades and roadblocks. The massive resignations of their representatives in the Kosovar institutions and administration have effectively paralysed the normalisation processes that have begun. In this respect, the vacancy of municipal powers is particularly damaging.

However, despite the serious difficulties in the region, the dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo has not broken down: it is tense and conflictual, but it exists.

Our group calls on these two countries to pursue it at all costs, under the aegis of the EU, to assume their responsibilities and to show political courage. Our group supports all initiatives aimed at maintaining peace and restoring stability in this fragile part of the Western Balkans. The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe approves the new normalisation plan finalised under the aegis of the European Union and the United States and in the elaboration of which France took a consequent part.

Thank you very much.


Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much.

Our next speaker is Mr George KATROUGALOS on behalf of the Group of the Unified European Left.


Greece, UEL, Spokesperson for the group


Thank you very much, Madam Chair.

The Balkans used to be called the Powder Keg of Europe. Unfortunately, they have still explosive potential. It is not limited to the Balkans.

Again, unfortunately, the status of minorities throughout Europe is becoming a factor of destabilisation to an extent that reminds the situation before the second World War.

However, in the case of Kosovo, there is some light. It seems, after the recent declaration by the President of Serbia that re-examines their proposals for normalisation, maybe the two parties could reach a viable compromise, because it's obvious that the only solution possible is through dialogue, respect of the other, and compromise –as Greece and North Macedonia have shown in the case of Prespa Agreement.

The so-called Franco-German plan, which provides that Serbia would not oppose the participation of Kosovo in international organisation in exchange for some form, if not of self-determination, at least of self-expression of the Serbian minority, I think could be one of the possible ways of compromise. Not, of course, the only one.

Both parties should fully respect the framework Convention of the Council of Europe for the protection of minorities. Serbia is already part of it. Kosovo authorities should fully endorse and respect its provisions.

Finally, a word about the responsibility of us, of Europe.

It is persuasive to use the ticket of Europe saying to the parties: if you do not respect the national legality, if you're not trying to have good terms of neighbourhood, then you are not going to have a European perspective. If we use this argument, we must keep our part of the promise. This is not the case now. In the western Balkans. North Macedonia has done whatever they could, and they are frustrated that Brussels have not responded likewise.

Therefore, in order to keep the peace in a very problematic area, the Kosovan authorities and Serbia should demonstrate self-restraint, but also we in Europe must take our part of our responsibility.

Thank you.


Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much.

I call next Mr Piero FASSINO on behalf of the Socialists, Democrats and Greens Group.


Italy, SOC, Spokesperson for the group


Thank you, Madam President.

The conflict between Kosovo and Serbia is a conflict that concerns not only the two countries, the two peoples, but, let us be clear, the entire region and it weakens the stability of the Western Balkans.

We must not forget that, in the Balkans, there are already other crisis points: Montenegro has been experiencing a very serious institutional political crisis for two years; in Northern Macedonia, there is a very intense internal political debate; and Bosnia is still living in an institutional framework which is constantly exposed to the risk of dissolution.

So the conflict, as we know, between Serbia and Kosovo arose in the context of the 1998-1999 crisis, the suppression of Kosovo's autonomy by Mr Milošević, the intervention of NATO, the defeat of the Rambouillet Accords and the unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo, supported above all by the United States.

Today, we are in a situation in which Kosovo is recognized by 110 countries in the world, 22 countries in the European Union, but Serbia has never accepted Kosovo's independence and continues to claim that the region of Kosovo and Metohija belongs to Serbia, and that has caused a stalemate in the situation.

There have been several attempts at mediation: Vienna in 2006; the Brussels Agreement in 2013; the European Union, which appointed Mr Lajčák as mediator; and in recent weeks, a Franco-German plan with the support of Italy and the United States has been proposed to the parties.

We must recognize that the solution is very difficult because there are a number of complicated points of conflict, one of them being the presence of international institutions. Kosovo wants to be a full member of all international institutions such as the Council of Europe, whereas Serbia refuses, because that would be a de facto recognition of Kosovo's independence and statehood.

The other very complex issue is the status of the Serbian minority living in the north of Kosovo, around Mitrovica. Belgrade is asking for autonomy for this minority and Kosovo is refusing.

I think we need to work on how we can promote dialogue. Dialogue is the only solution and we must encourage the parties to seek the necessary compromise and solutions that would allow conflict to be avoided and normal relations to be established between the two entities.

The Council of Europe must work in this direction. Serbia is our member and Kosovo has observer status here: we must work and encourage dialogue and good relations between the Serbian Parliament and the Legislative Assembly of Kosovo.

Thank you.


Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much. 

I call next Mr Christian PETRY from Germany.

You have 3 minutes.

Mr Christian PETRY

Germany, SOC


Yes, Madam President,


The relationship between Kosovo and Serbia must be placed on a new sustainable footing. Both countries are of particular importance for peaceful development in this region and thus also of particular importance for Europe. We Social Democrats in Germany support Kosovo's application for membership in the Council of Europe. Mr John HOWELL just mentioned it: the Council of Europe is not the EU. Of course, we should attach the utmost importance to that. This membership of Kosovo in the Council of Europe is also and above all in the Serbian interest, because the rights of the Serbian minority, for example, will be upgraded and can be better protected.

We also support Kosovo's efforts to become a member of the European Union. This will be a long road, and we know that. A prerequisite for normalisation as a whole is, of course, the normalisation of relations between Serbia and Kosovo. We are already watching very critically the development of Serbia under the government of Mr Aleksandar Vučić in the direction of an autocracy. Serbia is of particular importance in this regard for stability for the entire region. Therefore, we oppose any efforts to destabilise this region. Serbia must side with the Europeans in the face of Russia's war of aggression. We expect full support for EU sanctions in the future.

We also recommend that Kosovo adopt the initiative of French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to strengthen an EU-led normalisation dialogue and implement the steps accordingly.

We need normalisation. We need an immediate declaration by both sides to renounce violence. We need a lasting and stable agreement between the two states, because that, ladies and gentlemen, is the only way to achieve lasting peace and thus security and prosperity for the people in the region.

Dear colleagues in the parliaments of Kosovo and Serbia, I appeal to you urgently. Please take up this cause. Join hands and bring your two countries into a good future. That is the appeal that can go out from here today.

Thank you very much.

Good luck.


Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much.

Our next speaker is Mr Lulzim BASHA from Albania.

You have the floor.

Mr Lulzim BASHA

Albania, EPP/CD


Thank you, Madam Speaker.

I would also like to thank our honourable colleague Mr John HOWELL for fielding this debate.

Only four weeks away from the 15th anniversary of the independence of Kosovo, the youngest state in our old continent, as a representative of Albania, I would like to use this opportunity to express our gratitude for all the efforts made by the European Union and the member States and the United States, as well as their strong commitment towards reaching an agreement between Kosovo and Serbia.

Dear Colleagues,

Independent Kosovo is an irreversible reality at the heart of Europe. The sooner this reality is embraced by all, including Serbia, the better it will be. First and foremost, for Kosovan citizens, both Kosovan-Serbs and Albanians. The better it will be for the future of our whole region, allowing us to concentrate our efforts and our vision to securing a better life for our youth in our own countries.

Unfortunately, as the last events show, even today, some still think that nationalist rhetoric will help them hold eternal power. Others find it difficult to separate from a bloody past. However, these dilemmas cannot hold the future of the region hostage. They should not hold Serbia's European future hostage.

If representatives of Serbia here today are concerned about the rights of the Kosovan-Serb minority, then let us join efforts together and welcome Kosovo as a member of the Council of Europe, allowing the blanket protection of human rights and minority rights that this honourable institution offers to all its members.

I also have a call for the European Union member States that have not yet recognised Kosovo. Fifteen years after its independence and one year after Russia's aggression in Ukraine, it is time to put peace and stability –our peace and stability, the peace and stability of Europe– first. Kosovo is a sui generis case, and it would be a grave mistake for any country to draw parallels with other situations. What is happening in Ukraine today is a bell that tolls for each and every one of us to look beyond the interests of today, a Western Balkans in NATO, a Western Balkans in the European Union means a stronger, safer and more prosperous Europe.

Let me finish, Madam Speaker, by wishing President Zelenskyy a happy birthday on this day and wishing strength and good luck to him, thanking him for his leadership. Slava Ukraini.


Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much.

I call next Mr Oleksii GONCHARENKO from Ukraine.


Ukraine, EC/DA


Thank you very much.

I think now we're discussing an extremely important topic because if you really want security in Europe, if we really want not to have problems of aggression, we really want to move forward to be stronger, we need to fill all the gaps. We should not have any blank spots on the map of Europe, and Kosovo definitely – as an independent state – should become a member of Council of Europe, should become a member in future of the European Union, I'm absolutely sure about this.

And the history of my country, of Ukraine, shows that when you are trying to make some buffers between one country or another, one civilisation and another, you just never will achieve this goal, because it's impossible. The only strength is in unity, and the whole of Europe should be united. In the Council of Europe the whole Europe should be united, moving ahead.

And that is what we should do.

First of all, I want to address, dear colleagues, those countries which still have not recognised independence of Kosovo to do this. Ukraine, my country, is one of them. I sponsored the bill to the Ukrainian Parliament to recognise the independence of Kosovo. And I'm sure that will happen. And I'm sure that will happen quite soon, because that is the reality and we need to name the things how they are. This is an independent state. It already happened. And it is in the interest of everybody in this continent just to accept the reality and to move ahead.

And I want to address Serbs now and Serbia and to say that it is in the best interest of Serbia to do this, just to forget about these phantom pains, trying to have some revenge or things like this, that is just leading them to be pariah, leading them to be one of the poorest countries on the continent, and they should stop this.

Just look at the history: Germany after the First World War being full of revanchism, they received the catastrophe of the Second World War. After the Second World War Germany accepted reality, accepted peace in Europe and became prosperous, wonderful country, with Germans happy in other states and Germans happy inside Germany itself.

Serbia should be absolutely the same way. To build normal country, to go inside Europe, to become member of European Union. Not to try to take back something which they think they lost. Even if they think they lost it, they lost it forever. And now it's time just to accept this and to move ahead. And not to give possibility to countries like Russia, like Russian bear or some other tiger or anybody else, to use these divides inside Europe trying to make chaos, trying to make bloodshed, trying to make problems to the free world.

So, let us move ahead, let us say that Kosovo is Europe, that we are taking them into the Council of Europe, and Serbia also moving in the same direction, not giving any tyrants possibility to divide us.

Thank you.


Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much.

Our next speaker is Ms Klotilda BUSHKA, from Albania.

Ms Klotilda BUSHKA

Albania, SOC


Thank you, Madam Speaker.

Dear colleagues,

Coming from the Western Balkans, I believe that it is a legitimate argument to say that Albania is among the most interested countries in peace, stability and prosperity in the region. That's among the most concerned about the increased tensions, especially between Serbia and Kosovo.

We have proven that by encouraging more sustainable regional cooperation and making use of all the possible means at our disposal, we bring all the countries of the Western Balkans closer together, and with better economic, social and political co-operation.

On the other side, I'd like to invite all the colleagues here to look at the recent events based on a simple equation.

Why does Kosovo ever want to fuel tensions, when by an admirable example it is showing how in favour it is towards EU foreign and security policy?

How, in the strongest way possible, it is condemning the Russian aggression against Ukraine and joining swiftly the sanctions imposed by the democratic world on Russia?

How constructive Kosovo has been in its aim to normalise the relation with Serbia by adopting measures in conformity with Brussels agreement and by showing willingness to compromise, including on IDs, vehicles registration plates, and postponement of elections, while the other party is doing the opposite, to jeopardise the progress achieved.

And colleagues, allow me to remind here that it is a paradox to argue and judge a sovereign country. To ask for so little, just basic things so their citizens are not frustrated and stopped at the borders as if they came from the Moon, and not from the centre of our continent.

I thank the Assembly for taking up this matter to show the concerns about the tensions between Serbia and Kosovo. But I'd like to invite the Council of Europe to pursue a harmonised approach when it comes to promoting democracy and human rights.

We cannot show concern about tensions there on one side, and keep in the drawer for more than eight months a simple request presented by Kosovo to this house.

Are Kosovo's people qualified to deserve the services of this organisation or not?

Can we please give them an answer?

This is the main concern. Because the longer Kosovo is held at the door and not permitted to enter our democratic structure, the greater will be the opportunities that third actors of so-called Wagner group types to jeopardise the stability of our region.

We should not shy away from our responsibilities by just showing to our citizens in Europe that we care about dialogue by organising this debate, which is very good. But we don't have to hide from the same citizens that Kosovo has been waiting for eight months for an answer by the Council of Europe, willing to embrace and promote the values we fight for every day.

To conclude, I encourage the Committee of Ministers to bring to the Assembly the request of Kosovo for membership, so that we can start our work and do our job with no more delay.

Thank you very much.


Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much.

I call next Ms Dubravka FILIPOVSKI from Serbia.


Serbia, EPP/CD


Ten years after the signing of the Brussels Agreement, the position of Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija is increasingly getting difficult because the safety and survival of Serbs are threatened by ethnically motivated attacks in Pristina, of which there were a total of 228 in the past two years alone. This means that attacks on Serbs, their property, monasteries and churches are an almost daily occurrence and consequence of constant media targeting and systematic criminalisation of Serbs by representatives of so-called Kosovo.

In particular, I would like to draw attention to the attacks on three Serbian boys at Christmas (Stefan, Milos and Stefan), as well as the attack on a 15-year-old Lazar three days ago by Albanians in Suvi Do just because he is a Serb, and two days later another Serb was wounded. I would also like to mention the frequent arrests of Serbian policemen, because of which Serbs left the institutions in Kosovo and Metohija in organised protests for 19 days in the north of the province in December last year.

Another proof that the authorities in Pristina continue to generate crises and legal violence is Pristina’s decision to expropriate Serbian land in the municipality of Leposavic on 16 January this year.

On 18 January, the police forces of so-called Kosovo again began to implement a punitive policy against Serbs at crossings, due to licence plates, thus breaking the agreement reached on 23 November last year in Brussels.

Despite everything, Belgrade will continue to preserve peace and stability as before, and Pristina bears all the responsibility for the newly developed situation in the province. Belgrade has fulfilled all its commitments from the Brussels Agreement, while Pristina has been refusing to start the process of establishing the Community of Serbian Municipalities for 10 years, which is a key issue for Belgrade. Despite the serious problems on the ground, Belgrade remains committed to constructive dialogue and compromise as the only means to create the conditions for permanent stability in Kosovo and Metohija and the Western Balkans.

And the truth is that 83 countries recognise the independence of so-called Kosovo, not 110.

Thank you. 


Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much.

Our next speaker is Ms Saranda BOGUJEVCI, Assembly of Kosovo.


Assembly of Kosovo*


Thank you, Madam President.

Dear colleagues,

I would like to start by thanking Mr John HOWELL for bringing this topic to the Council of Europe. It is an important one in an important discussion.

I would like to start with saying that Kosovo is a democratic country and is committed to rule of law, human rights, freedom of media, and especially respect and freedom of minorities. And actually, we call them communities –  this is how they are in Kosovo – like Albanian, Serbs, Turkish, Bosnian, Roma, Egyptian, Ashkali, Gorani, Montenegran, Croatians and all of our citizens without distinction. They need a state where there is rule of law, there are jobs, and social welfare. These are our priorities as a country.

Kosovo rose 17 places in the index on the fight against corruption and the first in the region for improvement of rule of law. Euro-Atlantic Integration is the unequivocal goal of Kosovo and its people.

When Ukraine was faced with an unprovoked war of aggression by the Russian Federation, Kosovo immediately lined up alongside Western democratic countries against this aggression and imposed sanctions on Russia, standing in solidarity with the freedom-loving people of Ukraine.

However, Kosovo as a state is facing illegal action of criminal structures in the northern part, which are being encouraged, and unfortunately, directed by President Vučić. Serbia, our northern neighbour, never distanced itself from Milošević's genocide crimes against the Kosovo Albanians and other minorities during the 1998–99 war and continues to co-ordinate foreign policy with the Russian Federation and be armed by Russia.

Serbia not only did not punish and impose sanctions on Russia but it is very disturbing and worrying to see members of the Wagner Group in the middle of Europe, which have appeared in the north of Kosovo entering through Serbia.

It is obvious that Serbia is constantly looking for pretexts to destabilise the north of Kosovo. They are doing this because they are trying to remove themselves from a political dialogue with Kosovo for full normalisation of relations through the final international and legally binding agreement with mutual recognition. Respecting the law and fighting organised crimes cannot and should have no alternative. And it is not addressed on the basis of ethnicity but on the basis of one's actions. Therefore, the actions of the Kosovo authorities to implement the law through the fight against illegality, smuggling and organised crimes cannot be hindered by the use of pretexts as a political action and goal, as Serbia did in the last few months of the last year.

The effort has been undermined by Belgrade by encouraging the criminal structures to exert pressure and threats against the Kosovo Serb citizens who had registered cars with their Kosovo licence plates. When this pretext failed they looked for other pretexts by leaving the institutions and resigning. And when the local elections were also postponed, they placed barricades on the national roads and leading to the border points. We are committed and constructive in the dialogue. We want agreement and normalisation between the two countries as two independent countries on the basis of reciprocity as a principle of international law.

Only in this way, can we have complete normalisation and good neighbourly relations and continue the integration process in the European Union.

Thank you.


Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

We are out of time, so we go on.

I call next Mr Ahmet BÜYÜKGÜMÜŞ from Türkiye.


Türkiye, NR


Dear Chairperson,

Dear Colleagues,

First of all, I thank the rapporteur for his quick work, and it's a great opportunity to address this important issue here in our Assembly. We are closely following the recent developments in Kosovo.

The situation in the north of Kosovo has continued to deteriorate due to several reasons since last summer.

First, we have witnessed an escalation about the entry/exit forms in July, then the license plates in October, and finally the detention of a former police officer and the placement of barricades in December 2022.

We were deeply concerned by the violent attacks against Kosovan Police, press corps, and to the EULEX Kosovo patrol.

For about 20 days, the freedom of movement of the people of Kosovo was restricted due to the barricades that were constructed in the north of the country.

Since preserving peace and stability in the region is of ultimately important, I welcome the de-escalation efforts of the EU and the US, which resulted in the removal of barricades and the restoration of the freedom of movement before the end of 2022.

I firmly believe that diplomacy is the only way to resolve the existing problems between these two neighbour countries. Fortunately, this crisis is averted. However, the parties should make a genuine attempt towards reaching the end goal of the process, especially bearing in mind the current geopolitical situation considering the war in Ukraine.

We assume that both sides will adopt a more constructive approach in the coming period. We hope that the new EU-US joint initiative will lead to positive developments.

One last point, Türkiye firmly supports the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue Process and all constructive initiatives that aim the normalisation of relations between Serbia and Kosovo. I suggest that also Council of Europe and the member States should uphold this dialogue process in order to preserve the peace in the region.

Thank you.


Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

Our next speaker is Mr Domagoj HAJDUKOVIĆ, from Croatia.


Croatia, SOC


Thank you, Madam Chair. Excellent pronunciation of my name.

Esteemed colleagues,

It was mentioned here in the debate by the Greek colleague, that South-Eastern Europe or the Balkans has been a powder keg – or called the powder keg – of Europe.

I would put it a bit differently. The south-east of Europe has been an exporter of instability, and unfortunately still is.

We in Croatia, me personally, and all of us, should be concerned with the recent developments, the tensions rising, the messages we have been hearing in the public space.

Needless to say, stability and instability, and hopefully not armed conflict, will have effects not only on Serbia and Kosovo, but on the region and on the continent as a whole.

If you need to see what are the real repercussions of an armed conflict, one doesn't unfortunately have to look very far from our continent. Precisely what is happening in Ukraine should be rather evidence of why armed conflict should be avoided at all costs, and that dialogue and peace have no alternative.

In the recent days, however, we have seen promising signals for Belgrade. However, judging by past experience allows me to be sceptical.

If the best I can be is cautiously optimistic – and I hope that the responsibility will not be juggled from one side to the other, but that both sides will recognise that the responsibility to upkeep the peace is on the both of them. In all objectivity that I can muster, I must say that the responsibility is weighing heavily on the Belgrade side in this case.

In any case, escalation is in nobody's interest. It will hurt, as I said, both Kosovo, Serbia, the region, the continent, and if we continue on the road of destabilisation, we will be, as in the in the words of the famous song, we will be on the road to nowhere.

What is the remedy for this instability and the exporter of the instability? European integration in my view.

Council of Europe, European Union. Membership in those institutions is a guarantee of peace, stability and protection of human rights and rights of minorities. Therefore, I urge colleagues to support Kosovo's bid to join the Council of Europe.

I call on the Council of Ministers to refer this decision to our Assembly so we can proceed with accepting Kosovo into our ranks. I think that all will gain, not only Kosovo and Kosovan citizens, but all will gain building our organisation by having an additional member.

I think Kosovo is ready, and we should be ready for them.


Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much.

Our next speaker is Ms Biljana PANTIĆ PILJA from Serbia.


Serbia, EPP/CD


Thank you,

First of all, the title of this topic is the "Recent tension between Pristine and Belgrade", not between Kosovo and Serbia.

Second, Mr FASSINO, you said no to intervention, not no to intervention, but no to aggression.

Third, Republic of Serbia strongly opposed the initiative of Pristina for membership of the so-called Kosovo to the Council of Europe.

Ladies and gentlemen,

As the Head of the Serbian Delegation, I am very glad that we speak today about the situation of Kosovo and Metohija. The main goal of the Parliamentary Assembly is protection of human rights and, unfortunately, we are faced with grossest human rights violation of the minorities in Kosovo and Metohija, especially of Serb minority.

Here some facts:

Two Serbian boys from the enclave Strpce were shot on Christmas Eve by Kosovo Security Forces. Why? Well, just because they are Serbs.

A young Serbian man was brutally attacked and beaten up on Christmas day.

The Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church, which has been based on Kosovo and Metohija since the 13th century, for the first time in history was prevented from entering Kosovo and Metohija and visiting Christians on Christmas.

Two days ago, another boy was beaten up and one man was shot by Rosu forces.

Do you have all this in mind when you speak about the tensions? Serbs did not go to the barricades because they are angry, but because they are powerless and they do not know what to do any more. Unfortunately, either EULEX or any of you, who deeply cares for the protection of human rights, did not raise your voice about these events. Here a double standard, again!

Serbia is committed to the continuation of the dialogue, but Pristina has to apply all signed agreements. In the first place to form the community of Serbian municipalities and to prevent all ethnically motivated attacks. Or maybe, you support the final oppression and banishment of all Serbs from Kosovo and Metohija?

Finally, I will repeat what you all often say: respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty is a requirement for peace.

Does this apply for Serbia as well?

Long live Serbia [In Serbian]


Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much.

Now our next speaker is Ms Arta BILALLI ZENDELI from North Macedonia.


North Macedonia, SOC


Thank you, Madam Chair,

The Republic of North Macedonia is deeply concerned and following with big concern the recent developments in Kosovo.

This concern - besides our specific relations and connections with the people of Kosovo - comes also for three other reasons.

Both countries are our neighbours; we are already part of NATO and alliance and security and stability of the region is one of our priorities; and we are actually presiding with the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

North Macedonia strongly supports the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia, with the intermediation of the European Union and the United States, up to a comprehensive agreement between parties.

The status quo position must not remain, because it does not help the region, but it helps the third forces that are interested in and focused on the Western Balkan region.

We encourage the parties - Kosovo and Serbia - to come to a mutual recognised agreement by continuing the dialogue as the only solution and tool for a stable and safe region.

There is no alternative besides mutual recognition and integration in the European Union.

A quite specific momentum that must be mentioned is that those tensions are taking place in a very specific time, at a time when a French-German proposal as an EU proposal is given as a solution for the problem that would bring peace - sustainable peace - for the parties, as well as for the region.

The Western Balkans needs peace, sustainable peace, stability, security, integration.

The Serbian authorities must return to dialogue for the normalisation of relations, with mutual recognition at its centre, and resolve all issues peacefully.

Sovereignty and independence of an independent Kosovo are internationally recognised; and no one can undo that. This is reality.

This is being respected from the democratic world and Kosovo is standing with democracy and democracies at a time in which war has returned to Europe.

Dear members, dear colleagues,

The pictures from recent history, like the massacre of Račak, like the massacre of Meja, and so on, and so on, that took place in Kosovo, do not allow us to stay neutral in these tensions.

That's why only dialogue and integration can be a tool for problem-solving.

The Council of Europe can lead this process by accepting Kosovo as a full member of the Council of Europe as soon as possible.

Thank you.


Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much.

I call next Mr Davor Ivo STIER, from Croatia.

Mr Davor Ivo STIER

Croatia, EPP/CD


Thank you, Chair.

Dear colleagues,

This is an important issue in itself, but it's even more important given the geopolitical situation we are in now, in Europe.

Mr Putin would love to have now a new conflict in the Western Balkans.

But I do believe that our colleagues from both Serbia and Kosovo want exactly the contrary: peace and stability.

Now, what is the solution?

I do believe that the solution is a European one.

A European solution is about opening doors.

So yes to open the door for Kosovo to become a member of the Council of Europe and other organisations including the United Nations.

But also to open the door fully for Serbia to become a member of the European Union.

Both Kosovo and Serbia – as well as other countries in the Western Balkans – are surrounded by the European Union and by NATO.

I do believe that the place of Serbia and Kosovo is with the West and in the West. Of course, it is up to the authorities in Belgrade to make the geopolitical choice to align with the West, to continue with all the reforms that are required to become a member of the European Union. And it's up to the authorities in Pristina to do as well, all the necessary reforms to become first a candidate, and then to become a member of the European Union.

But when the question is placed – and our Italian colleague explained very well where are the two positions – one wanting to have again Serbia and Kosovo in unity, the others wanting to have two independent nations. Well, the European solution means – and I certainly look forward to that solution – to have Serbia and Kosovo together again, but this time as two member states of a united Europe, as two member states of the European Union.

Thank you.


Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

Our next speaker is Mr Besnik TAHIRI from Assembly of Kosovo.

Mr Besnik TAHIRI

Assembly of Kosovo*


Thank you very much, Madam speaker, ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to begin my speech by saying that the Republic of Kosovo stands firmly and is fully committed to the values and principles of the Council of Europe.

We have incorporated – although we are not a member – all the human rights chapter of the Council of Europe within our constitution and our legislation.

And we are waiting to be the 47th member so that our citizens are eligible to reach to the Human Rights Court in Strasbourg.

As a country, in the last 10 years we have been strongly committed to dialogue, we have been frank and sincere, although we had a really serious and terrible war.

The government of Kosovo, including the opposition parties – and I'm from the opposition parties – they fully support the dialogue process, they fully support normalisation and reaching a final agreement which is a legally binding document that will enable Kosovo and Serbia to reach European Union.

As for the subject that we are discussing today, I would like to say a few things.

In chronology:

The government of Kosovo took a legal decision to abandon, to stop illegal number plates that are Kosovan number plates that were issued in Serbia. The actions behind were well-planned from Serbian regime: barricades, attack against Kosovo police, attack again NATO peacekeeping missions, Latvians was attacked. And then also attack against EULEX.

What we wanted is to restore rule of law in that part of Kosovo.

Dear colleagues, I'm asking a very simple question to all of you. Why do we need tensions? Why do we need tensions only 40 kilometres from the capital of Kosovo? We know very well because we had really a terrible war.

Thanks to Kosovo Liberation Army and the efforts of NATO we are free, and we will forever be thankful to European Union and to all those supported.

We knew what is to be minority. We are not fearing from Serbs of Kosovo, but we will never allow Serbian regime through Russian influence, through Wagner troops, to hit our country.

We belong to Europe, we are Europeans, and we will forever stand with you.

God bless this institution.


Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much.

Dear colleagues, let's close the speakers list with a woman.

I call as the last speaker, Ms Elvira KOVÁCS from Serbia.

Ms Elvira KOVÁCS

Serbia, EPP/CD


Distinguished Chair, dear colleagues,

Since 2011 the European Union has facilitated a process of dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina. On 19 April 2013 the Brussels Agreement was signed.

Fully understanding that the EU accession process and normalisation of relations should run parallel and support one another, the Republic of Serbia will remain entirely committed to the continuation of the normalisation process and its dialogue with Pristina.

The latest report of the Serbian government's Office for Kosovo and Metohija emphasises the importance of the historical reconciliation of the Serbian and Albanian people, pointing out that in a long-term scope, without "deep normalisation“, institutional-political consolidation will not be achieved either.

But, agreement requires constructivism and compromise – from both sides – a willingness to compromise is essential. Hence, we can find a stronghold for comprehensive normalisation of relations and reconciliation, in two keywords: dialogue and compromise.

The rejection of dialogue and compromise further complicates international political relations and the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina. It is impossible to come up with a solution if weakness is seen in the dialogue, if the attitude that choosing a compromise means choosing life is rejected.

And life implies deviations and concessions.

The opposite of compromise is not honesty, idealism, determination, but fanaticism and downfall. So, the one who rejects compromise and dialogue “can only count to one”.

Belgrade has fostered a constructive approach in dialogue with Pristina trying to reach a compromise solution, while the other side does not want to reach an agreement. Dialogue has reached its turning point: either the Community of Serbian Municipalities will be formed, or it will sink into irrelevance. We are witnessing the culmination of the long-term crisis of the dialogue; the dialogue has essentially not progressed, due to Pristina's lack of action.

The fact is, that so far, the authorities in Pristina have not faced sanctions, no punishment from the international community for such behaviour. Belgrade expects pressure to be exerted on Pristina to start implementing what was agreed, and above all, the obligation to form the Community of Serbian Municipalities.

Therefore, Serbia's position is unchanged and clear: any attempt to resolve the Kosovo issue is possible only through the established mechanism of dialogue. Everything that has been signed so far has to be implemented, including the UN Security Council Resolution 1244, the Brussels Agreement, and the Washington Agreement.

The most important thing is to ensure the rights and complete security of the Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija.

Thank you.


Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much.

Dear colleagues, I must now 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 typewritten texts can be submitted, electronically if possible, no later than 4 hours after the list of speakers is interrupted.

I remind you that at the end of the current affairs debate the Assembly is not asked to decide upon a text, but the matter may be referred by the Bureau to the responsible committee for a report.

Thank you very much.


Serbia, NR


Undelivered speech, Rules of Procedure Art. 31.2

Thank you Mr. President,

Distinguished Delegates,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Recent tensions between Belgrade and Priština come as a direct consequence of unilateral actions of Priština’s secessionist authorities. Their decisions, political or administrative, continue to endanger the ethnic Serb population on the territory of Kosovo and Metohija.

I have said it before and I will say it again in the chambers of this Council: the Serbs of Kosovo and Metohija have become one of the most endangered ethnic groups in Europe. The data that testifies to an ambiance of mistreatment and abuse of the Serb community has become even worse since I last had an opportunity to address the Council. Instances of violence against, and abuse of Serbs, now amount to a total of 164 recorded incidents in 2022. And only in the first 15 days of 2023, 10 additional attacks were recorded—one of which involved a shooting in which lethal consequences were very narrowly avoided.

The 11-year-old Stefan Stojanovic and his 21-year old cousin Miloš were shot at on Christmas Eve while bringing home yule logs for the upcoming Christmas celebration. When young people and minors are targeted in such a manner on high holidays without prior knowledge of, or contact with, the attacker, the motivation for such an attack only points to one thing: ethnic hatred. But displays of ethnic hatred aren’t just allowed to continue unabated. More often than not, they are instigated, orchestrated, and projected from the very top of the government in Pristina.

To this end, despite numerous international records, court decisions, and publicly available data that speaks to the contrary, Prisitna’s provisional authorities continue to label the Serbs—and by extension the Republic of Serbia—as perpetrators of genocide and sources of all societal problems. Defamation campaigns have become commonplace, and in the latest such campaign backed by Pristina, they openly call for a boycott of Serbian products. In an advert that has since its release become viral in the Balkan region, each pack of Serbian-made biscuits and candy is also packed with bullets, causing shock and disgust of the customer. By constantly portraying people and goods of Serbian origin as the centrepiece of all evil, the provisional authorities keep sending a clear and widely heard message: Serbs do not belong here.

In spite of all the mistreatment and abuse that speaks volumes of Priština’s human rights record, their authorities continue their pursuit of membership in this Council. Furthermore, by committing a unilateral act of secession in 2008, the authorities in Priština blatantly violated Serbia’s democratic constitution and the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244. As violators of territorial integrity of sovereign states, they should not be embraced by organizations devoted to the protection of these principles. We thus call upon the Parliamentary Assembly to remain firm in rejecting the attempts of the Provisional Authorities in Priština to become part of the Council of Europe.

Thank you for your attention.

Ms Etilda GJONAJ

Albania, SOC


Undelivered speech, Rules of Procedure Art. 31.2

In respect of this organization that I appreciate as the temple of the protection and enhancing of the human rights and main pillar of the rule of law and democracy I want to emphasise two important points:

What has happened and recent escalation of tensions in the north of Kosova is a concern for us and for all partners such as the European countries and US that have done and they are doing their efforts to achieve the dialogue between Serbia and Kosova including even the German – French agreement.

Some stubborn facts are there in favor of Kosova, first because it has been showed the political will for dialogue by Kosova and second we have to understand that the tensions are not the result of popular surge of anger among Serbs but are artificially fabricated.

But is crucial to emphasise and I believe that the nationalist rhetoric and threats of military solutions escalate the tensions and would just jeopardize a very fatigue reconsilation process which has been there for more than one decade. Dialogue is the only way to peace, stability and progress on the Europeanisation of our region - which is our strategic objective.

Second, PACE should encourage the Committee of Minister to abide to its rules of procedures and forward the request of Kosova for membership. It has been more than 8 months that Kosova request its still pending with no reason, and we should lose no more time.

As an MP coming from Albania I present here my plea to you colleagues to encourage Committee of Ministers to move forward with this application. Kosova is the only remaining democratic country outside the council of Europe and it deserves membership which would be beneficial not only for its citizens but also for the entire region and stopping the Russian influence.

The European perspective for Kosova is a priority and the only path for a country that has has been vocally supporting all our efforts to sanction and condemn in the strongest way possible, the Russian aggression against Ukraine. No European integration could be happened without a positive opinion by PACE for membership.

I am confident that PACE contribution through the membership decision will be an added value towards the progress in the normalization process between Kosova and Serbia.


Serbia, SOC


Undelivered speech, Rules of Procedure Art. 31.2)

Ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you for the opportunity to discuss this problem, which is extremely important for Serbia, in such an important institution and thank you for the opportunity to allow everyone to hear the truth about the events in Kosovo and Metohija.

Over the past month, there have been several armed attacks on Serbs by Albanians in Kosovo. On Orthodox Christmas Eve, two boys, Stefan (11) and Miloš (21), were shot from a moving vehicle driven by a member of the Kosovo Armed Forces. Kurti stated that the citizens of Kosovo had been attacked. It is very important to emphasize that these were Serbian boys who were shot with guns just because they were Serbian. These were not citizens of Kosovo, these were children.

Only a day later, a Serbian young man was beaten while returning from the Christmas liturgy. And just a few days ago, another young man was beaten and one man was shot.

Taking all of the above into account, it is very difficult to talk about respect for human rights in Kosovo, where Serbs are being shot at every now and then like in the Wild West. Pursuing a policy that propagates religious and national intolerance, Kurti would like to enter this high institution, the home of democracy and the rule of law. Serbs are targets in Kosovo just because they are Serbs, all their human rights have been revoked and their basic human right - the right to life - is under threat.

That is why I am asking for your understanding, I ask you to understand that my country is in a very sensitive situation, while these days everyone is trying to find a compromise solution through negotiations between Belgrade and Priština. To accept Priština into this high institution while Europe, and even my country, sees nothing but violence against Serbs, their property, and churches in Kosovo and Metohija, is a reward for the non-European behaviour of the authorities in Priština. This would also prejudice the negotiation process and its outcome. This would also mean the degradation of the international law, especially now when the regime in the Kremlin is doing the same to a sovereign state of Ukraine.


Albania, SOC


Undelivered speech, Rules of Procedure Art. 31.2

I was wondering today that was the right moment to discuss about a decision that this respectful assembly has to take: to say yes to the request of Kosovo to be part of council of Europe , yes to 2 million of citizens to move forward our common value that we fight for . Unfortunately, attention to Kosovo returned precisely when, not far away, in Ukraine, another conflict related to Russian aggression is taking place.

Kosovo and the Balkans in general need constant attention in order to move forward and not be seen only as powder igniters in Europe.

Even the recent events in the north of Kosovo, incited from outside, clearly show that dark nationalist forces that have not been separated from the politics of Milosevic want to keep the entire region under constant tension.

In addition to nationalism, we all know that the peace and law enforcement that the institutions in Kosovo are trying to establish are not wanted by those politicians who want to turn the border with Kosovo into a refuge for those under European sanctions.

Northern Kosovo gangs paid, supported, instigated, and created by war criminals do not like the determination with which the institutions in Kosovo are facing to establish the rule of law.

The barricades placed in the north of Kosovo by some Serbian groups are another example of how the shadows of the past still want to take hostage the future of Kosovo and its population.

We are all witnesses of how ordinary Serbian and Albanian citizens in Mitrovica want to live in peace together, and join together in the European family. But unfortunately, criminal groups from abroad, encouraged by the events in Ukraine, want to rekindle the fires of the past to destabilize Kosovo and the entire region

Dialogue is the only path to peace, stability and progress in the Europeanization of our region – which is our strategic objective.

Achieving a legally binding agreement, which enables mutual recognition between the two countries, Kosovo's membership in the UN and the EU, as well as the fair treatment of minorities, in accordance with the Constitution of Kosovo, should be at the center of Kosovo's and Serbia's efforts as well as the international factor.

Despite the efforts of criminal groups to create insinuations of peace, the government of Kosovo and the institutions there are making every effort to establish the rule of law in the north of the country.

Anyone who thinks they can benefit or take heart from Russian aggression on Ukraine is gravely mistaken.It is an old policy that dates back to the early 90s where our region was bled, bringing only destruction and endless suffering to the population.

Therefore, the recent developments in Kosovo and the tensions created by external incitement make Kosovo's membership in the Council of Europe even more urgent.Any hesitation leaving Kosovo out would only create empty spaces, where criminal groups and paid from abroad would try to keep the entire region in constant tension. Economic and political cooperation, the free movement of people and goods are the right way to see the future.The past events that happened in the region should be a lesson learned not to repeat the mistakes of the past.

The Balkans is at the heart of Europe, and therefore should be seen as an integral part of it and not as an appendage.

History has shown that any hesitation has brought negative consequences, even more so when in these moments dark forces are waiting to create and keep conflicts alive in the Balkans.It is time to look to the future together, and not to return to exclusionary and incendiary politics.


Serbia, SOC


Undelivered speech, Rules of Procedure Art. 31.2

The Dialogue on Kosovo and Metohija was relocated in 2010 from the United Nations that according to the UN SC Resolution 1244 had the primary obligation and responsibility to establish and preserve peace and stability and ensure normalisation of relations. The Resolution entrusted this assignment with the UN peacekeeping forces (UNMIK and KFOR). The Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue was thus relocated to the European Union, Brussels, in September 2010. It was believed to be more efficient in finding the best solution.

The Agreement on principles governing normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina, also known as the Brussels Agreement, is the first political and legal agreement between Belgrade and Pristina. The harmonized text of the Agreement was signed in Brussels on 19 April 2013, as a result of a six-month Dialogue. It was signed by representatives of Belgrade and Pristina, with the facilitation of the European Union as a guarantor of its implementation.

The Brussels Agreement consists of 15 points, six of which refer to the establishment of the Community of Serbian Municipalities, which 10 years later has still not been implemented by Pristina as an obligation it has taken up. Over the previous period of time Belgrade has been fulfilling its obligations by making some serious compromises in order to reach a peaceful solution. The Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija started participating in the work of the judiciary, police and other bodies of Pristina’s provisional institutions, whereas the Pristina side is still not abiding by the Brussels Agreement and openly emphasises that it will not allow the establishment of the Community of Serbian Municipalities.

What is of great concern for us as a state is that there are no reactions of the Dialogue facilitators to this position of Pristina. There are also no reactions of the international community and the facilitators from Brussels in cases of flagrant violation of basic human rights of the Serbian people and to Pristina’s use of force and aggressive behaviour.

Today, we would again like to draw the attention of the international community to numerous attacks against Serbs, their property, medieval Serbian Orthodox monasteries and churches in Kosovo and Metohija, which are unfortunately happening on daily basis. Over the past few weeks there have been several cases of beating and wounding Serbian children and young men, the latest of which happened only two days ago. It is clear that Pristina is the one that with its actions disables the implementation of the Brussels Agreement and thus threatens peace and stability not only of the Serbian people in KiM, but also the safety of the entire region.


Assembly of Kosovo*


Undelivered speech, Rules of Procedure Art. 31.2

Mr. President,

Dear Colleagues,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As you are aware, the EU-facilitated dialogue between Kosova and Serbia aims to reach a comprehensive, legally binding normalization agreement, so that both countries can progress on their respective European paths, create new opportunities and improve the lives of their citizens.

An agreement between Kosovo and Serbia is also beneficial for the overall security, stability and prosperity of the entire region.

The dialogue between Kosova and Serbia has been characterized by interruptions and delays from time to time, as a result of tensions, ambiguities and opposing positions between the two countries.

The dialogue process has developed with great contradictions and polarization of the political scene.

We, the representatives of the Multi-Ethnic Group in the Assembly of Kosovo (Turks, Bosniaks, roma, Ashkali, Egjiptian MP`s) , have supported the dialogue from the beginning - certainly hoping for a possible agreement with the aim of the general normalization of political and social life in Kosova and owing to the further improvement of the interests of the minority communities in Kosova.

Seen from the perspective of non-majority communities, an impression has been created that only Albanians and Serbs live in Kosova.

No it`s not troe.. We are also in Kosova…

You should note that Kosova is a multi-ethnic state where several other minority communities also live.

I would like to emphasize that members of the other national minor communities in Kosovo, such as: Turks, Bosnian, Roma, Ashkalias, Egyptians and others, all issues related to the promotion and protecting of our rights and interests, solutions we seek in the Kosovo’s Institutions, while our rights are guaranteed by the Constitution and the laws of Kosovo. All our concerns we address while debating in the parliament, government and other state mechanisms.

The postponement of this process has created not only political barriers but also social insecurity and, in any case, economic impossibility and difficulty in other fronts of life in Kosova.

Surely, by supporting and hoping for a forthcoming Agreement, we expect that this process will be concluded as soon as possible and that both countries will be committed to reach a comprehensive agreement with mutual recognition and towards the European integration process as the only way that guarantees peace, stability and well-being for the citizens of Kosova and Serbia.

Thank You for your attention!

Joint Debate: The Istanbul Convention: progress and challenges/The role and responsibility of men and boys in stopping gender-based violence against women and girls/Finding solutions for marital captivity

Mr Ionuț-Marian STROE

Romania, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Good evening once again.

We now come to the joint debate on three reports from the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination.

The first is titled The Istanbul Convention: Progress and Challenges, Document 15673, presented by Ms Zita GURMAI.

The second is titled The Role and Responsibility of Men and Boys in Stopping Gender-Based Violence against Women and Girls, Document 15678, presented by Ms Petra STIENEN.

And the final one is titled Finding Solutions for Marital Captivity, Document 15679, presented by Ms Margreet De BOER.

In order to finish this item by 8:00 p.m. we must interrupt the list of speakers at 7:45 p.m. to allow time for the replies, and of course, for the votes.

I call Ms Zita GURMAI, the rapporteur, to present the first report.

You have 7 minutes now, and 3 minutes at the end, to reply to the debate.



Hungary, SOC, Rapporteur


Dear President,

Dear Colleagues,

First of all, let me congratulate the new EGA President, Ms Mariia MEZENTSEVA. I am very thankful that Ukraine ratified the Istanbul Convention and welcome the dedication of our Ukrainian friends to the values we all share and I can assure them our continuous support in the fight against the Russian aggression.

Let me continue by expressing what a privilege it is to be the rapporteur of this very important report because I am convinced that, besides the Human Rights Charter, this is the most important tool in the last 11 years which could save women's lives; an achievement which the Council of Europe rightfully can be proud of.

I was amazed that the women of this Assembly, at 1:00 p.m. and with both Secretary Generals being there, let me quote what she said, what the UN has been saying. This is really a golden standard, so we should really clap hands, dear friends, because I think this is a great achievement.

And of course, as I told you, this is really a tool, with the clear aim to help women everywhere, to provide safety for everyone, even to those who could not ask for help until its creation. To quote the rightfully famous Ukrainian writer Lesya Ukrainka’s Forest Song:

"Brother, you

Know the price of women’s sacrifices,

But I will tell you: of all womankind

Far-famed Iphigenia did not make

The greatest and the hardest sacrifice.

So many harder sacrifices, though

Unfamed, are made by women who leave not

Even a name to them!"

The United Nations estimates that 736 million women in the world have suffered physical or sexual intimate partner violence, non-partner sexual violence, or both (not including sexual harassment), at least once in their lifetime, which represents 30% - I repeat again - 30% of women aged 15 and above.

There are many figures I could quote, all of which I am sure are much lower than the real number of women and girls suffering from violence. We heard yesterday about the under-reporting of conflict-related sexual violence, but this occurrence is also true for other forms of violence against women and domestic violence, due to family secrecy, fear and lack of adequate spaces and shelters.

According to first findings, gender-based violence increased during the Covid-19 pandemic due to successive lockdowns which trapped victims in closed spaces with their aggressors and at the same time complicated women’s and girls’ access to protection and assistance, in a “shadow pandemic”.

Gender-based violence is present in all member states of the Council of Europe. It is a consequence of persistent inequalities between individuals and groups at all levels.

Of course, men and boys –and I'm super proud to sit next to my great friend, who did an excellent job, and I'm very happy to be the trio of this amazing three very, very tough reports – the risk of violence is multiplied by social and intersectional factors such as disability, ethnic origin and sexual orientation. We had so many public hearings, I think we learned a lot from them.

The realisation that women and girls in all their diversity are disproportionately affected by gender-based violence led to the focus given to them in the Istanbul Convention.

The Convention has been in force since 1 August 2014, and now counts 37 ratifications, and 8 signatures not yet followed by ratification. Which is a more than honourable score, but a score which must be improved.

Dear colleagues,

While preparing this very rich report, the more I spoke to experts, national authorities and civil society, the more I realised the value of the Istanbul Convention for everyone in society, from individual women to governments, from NGOs and of course, parliamentarians like us.

Other international organisations, including the United Nations and the European Union, also recognise the comprehensive framework for protection against gender-based violence the Convention provides us. As often happens, I have heard the most praise for the Convention from people outside of our organisation. It was also mentioned today by the Secretary General.

The in-depth studies in advance of ratification, the assessment of implementation by states parties, and the valuable analyses of emerging tendencies, such as for instance online violence and issues with custody, carried out by the independent monitoring body, the GREVIO, are a reference and a guide for improving policies and practice at all levels.

In brief, the Convention on the Protection and Prevention of Violence against Women and Domestic Violence has been the best international framework for protecting women from gender-based violence and preventing domestic violence since its inception.

Having both ears to the ground throughout Europe, the Istanbul Convention is able to adapt to the new phenomenon and new ways in which women are attacked, and to new violations of women’s rights, that are, of course, human rights.

In over a decade since its opening for signature, the Convention has considerably influenced changes in national laws, has given greater visibility to the ever more urgent need to address gender-based violence, and brought changes in policies throughout Europe.

The Convention also concerns us as parliamentarians, even more than other international treaties, as it provides in its Article 70 for our active engagement in its promotion and implementation, as politicians and law-makers.

However, dear colleagues, despite all these achievements, alarmingly high levels of violence and tragic femicides persist, harming and killing women and girls in all their diversity, especially in the context of intimate partner violence.

This is why I have called on the member states not yet having ratified the Istanbul Convention, and also on the European Union, to ratify without delay. I have also made a pretty strong call, which I repeat here today, for Türkiye, the country that gave a name to the Convention, and was among the first ratifications, to please come back to the Convention.

States parties to the convention must step up their implementation of the provisions, using the evaluation reports by the Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, GREVIO, as a guide.

Now I will thank you. I can tell you I could talk for hours because I have been experiencing since 2019 a lot of cases, but I'm sure that all of you that are going to make a contribution, will help us to make it happen.

Thank you very much.

Mr Ionuț-Marian STROE

Romania, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Ms Zita GURMAI. You had only one minute and a half supplementary.

I now call Ms Petra STIENEN the rapporteur, to present the second report. You have 7 minutes now, 3 minutes, of course, at the end to reply to the debate.

Thank you.


Netherlands, ALDE, Rapporteur


Thank you, thank you, Mr President, thank you, dear colleagues, thank you, colleagues from the Secretariat and great to have Ms Mariia MEZENTSEVA here as well.

Dear colleagues, let me start with two quotes that guided me during the writing of this report.

First, the famous quote of the Canadian author Margaret Atwood, who said: "Men are afraid that women laugh at them, women are afraid that men want to kill them."

This quote is rather pessimistic but, I think, realistic as well, when we listen to the story of Ms Zita GURMAI about the Istanbul Convention and gender based violence.

We need to look at the pyramid of violence to understand why this quote is realistic. I've heard men say "can I not make a joke anymore?" But these locker room jokes are at the basis of the pyramid of violence. When you climb the pyramid you will see stalking, gaslighting, sexual assault, rape and even femicide. This is a phenomenon we really have to talk about. The killing of women because they are women.

The costs for our societies of this violence against women cannot be underestimated. They are enormous; look at the overloaded social services, the losing of school days, working days, the police system, the judicial system. The EIGE has calculated 366 billion euros per year are the societal cost in the European Union. I think we should have better more up to date data for Council of Europe states, one of the recommendations of this report.

So we are not talking about a soft issue here. Gender-based violence against women and girls is a global phenomenon of gross human rights violations, exactly in the places where they should feel safe from this violence; at school, in the office, in a club, in the streets at the sports fields.

But there are reasons for optimism. A lot of reasons for optimism.

Let me share another quote that captures the spirit of my intention behind this. It is from the American author Bell Hooks who said in her book, The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity and Love. She wrote the following about understanding patriarchy:

"To end male pain, to respond effectively to male crisis we have to name the problem. We have to both acknowledge that the problem is patriarchy and work to end patriarchy… If men are to reclaim the essential goodness of male being, if they are to regain the space of open-heartedness, and emotional expressiveness that is the foundation of well-being, we must envision alternatives to patriarchal masculinity. We must all change."

And my dear colleagues I do see hopeful positive developments in past years – times are changing.

More men in demonstrations, more men engage in the fight against gender based violence, groups of discussions, more men willing to embrace a mindful masculinity and take political responsibilities.

At times, I see a tiredness expressed by men in the media about discussions on gender based violence, who feel they can't be normal men any longer. Well, they should write their own report.

But it is clear that more needs to be done, and that the role of men and boys is crucial. This is one of the calls in the Istanbul Convention in Article 12.4, that says: "All members of society, especially men and boys, should be encouraged to contribute actively to preventing violence".

Let me be clear. Of course, not all men are perpetrators but most perpetrators of gender based violence are men. They hold a responsibility to make the situation change. Men can be agents of change by speaking out against harmful practices, acting as role models and challenging sexism. And this is true for all the men present today and your male colleagues in your committees, political groups and your parliaments and political parties back home. Please ask them to be silent bystanders when they see sexism.

I think we need to discuss harmful versus mindful masculinity. I believe we have to allow men to step out of this manbox. 

You know what a manbox is? Just imagine an empty square and write in your thoughts what makes a man a real man. Many of you will say: needs to be tough, cool, strong. And when I ask you to write some words outside of this square, the manbox; what is not manly? Many of you will think of too emotional, a mommy's boy, soft. We should stop this. We should not put people into the prison of patriarchy and we should allow men to be stepping out of this manbox.

How can we do this? Of course it's education. But we always talk about education in this room.

But I think we also need to look at our roles as parents and as caregivers. How do we raise our girls? How do we raise our boys? Can we allow them to step outside of this man box?

I would like to recall the expert meeting we had with Ivan Jablonka, the French author of Des hommes justes, or rather in English, how to be a good guy. This is the question, ladies and gentlemen, my dear colleagues. How can you help the man around you to be a good guy?

It's really remarkable, even Jablonka said this, that men are at the forefront of every single revolution, except the feminist one. Why is that?

And sorry, Mr President, but there's something wrong with the printer in the Dutch delegation because all my pages are stuck, so allow me for a few more seconds.

Of course, men and boys are not an homogeneous group. We have men, masculinities are multiple, and I think we also are aware that some men have more privileges than others depending on which class you're from, race, religion, and what have you. But I think men everywhere in the world, we should allow them to also take care responsibility at home. This is not only a woman's job.

Now about my report and the next steps.

I believe my report can contribute in raising awareness among all of you, that men and boys have a part to play.

I have tried to be very inclusive, and I would like to thank all my male colleagues here in this room and elsewhere, who were willing to talk to me, heads of the committees, heads of political groups, and for sharing also their awkwardness with this topic, not wanting to take away women's voices. Well, I'm very glad that you spoke to me.

I also would like to thank the Spanish delegation for helping me out when I visited Spain. Because ladies and gentlemen, dear colleagues, the Spanish example is amazing. The political will in Spain to involve men in fighting gender-based violence, to fight against the machismo that is really inside of the country due to traditions, to culture.

Everybody who thinks that a Catholic country cannot change, look at Spain.

Now, to conclude, I think there are a few things in the Istanbul Convention that can help us. Article 16, for sure. We have to work with perpetrators and we have to work towards prevention. We really should help men to become better men, indeed, to embrace mindful masculinity.

I think, to conclude, that feminism and the fight for gender equality are beneficial for society as a whole.

The men who are engaged in the fight against gender-based violence do not take space away from women. There's a space for everyone in this fight, and the participation can be a positive contribution to the general objective of keeping more women and girls safe from violence, and for people of all genders to enjoy the right to be who they are outside of this prison of patriarchy.

Thank you, Mr President.

Mr Ionuț-Marian STROE

Romania, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Ms Petra STIENEN.

Now, I call Ms Margreet De BOER, the rapporteur, to present the third report.

You have 7 minutes now and 3 minutes at the end to reply to the debate.

Ms Margreet De BOER

Netherlands, SOC, Rapporteur


Thank you, Mr President. And also, congratulations to my colleagues Ms Zita GURMAI and Ms Petra STIENEN for their excellent reports.

Dear colleagues,

Marital captivity, a human rights violation experienced by tens of thousands of people in Europe alone every year.

The people are unaware of it, and it is often ignored in public policymaking.

Today we have an opportunity to turn that situation around. But first, what is marital captivity?

Forced marriage, we know –I'm sure all of you know– is forcing someone into a marriage they do not want.

Marital captivity is quite similar. It is forcing someone to stay in a marriage that they no longer want to be in, and sometimes they never wanted to be in that marriage, and then it's the following-up of the forced marriage. But often, they entered the marriage willingly, but get trapped in there afterwards.

This can happen because the other partner refuses to co-operate with a divorce, and it is coupled with grave breaches of human rights.

Often, refusing to divorce is not an isolated event, but part of a whole system of abuse and coercion.

The trapped spouse might be a victim of economic coercion by the partner or family, or faces threats or psychological coercion. They may also face physical violence, including sometimes, so-called honour-based violence.

All these are forms of gender-based violence, and they violate either the Istanbul Convention or the European Convention on Human Rights, or both.

As legislators, as politicians, we must act to prevent such situations from arising, and find solutions for tackling them when they do so.

To do this, we must understand the different legal and practical circumstances in which marital captivity can arise.

Sometimes there are legal obstacles to get a divorce because the law of the country does not accept a no-fault divorce, or because the divorce is not recognised in the country where people originally married.

In other cases, a person is not legally married. Either they never held a ceremony recognised by law, or they did marry legally and later got a civil divorce, but they are in a religious marriage which cannot be ended, or cannot be ended without the co-operation of the other partner.

Even when it's legally possible to get a divorce, people can still be trapped in a marital situation. It might be because their family or community –religious or not religious– does not accept a divorce, and they face exclusion or physical violence if they leave their spouse, or even much later, when they begin a new relationship.

I want to be clear about religion and marital captivity. I described in my report how some interpretations of religious law or texts can make it easy for one partner, often the husband, to refuse a religious divorce. But today, I want to underline that to find solutions for these situations, we need to understand that religion plays a major role in many people's lives. It can be important for trapped spouses also.

So to find solutions we have to work with religious communities and not against them.

I also want to point out that a lot of excellent work is already being done within religious communities to deal with marital captivity. Especially by feminist Jewish Orthodox and feminist Muslim organisations.

Finally, regardless of religion, social stigma, financial issues, emotional pressure, fear or dependency can all be impediments to divorce.

Now about solutions. On the legal side, we need to find ways to use civil law provisions to oblige both partners to co-operate with the civil divorce.

Civil divorce must also be easily accessible, and no-fault civil divorce in particular.

We must also make it easy to use criminal law provisions on psychological and physical coercion in intimate relationships to address cases of marital captivity. We need to make all of these remedies accessible.

Many measures designed to implement the Istanbul Convention, both within and outside the legal structure, can help women who are trapped in a marriage and are at risk of violence.

We must work much harder to ensure that isolated women have access to the information they need, and we must ensure that all women – including migrant women – are fully aware of their rights.

We must work with communities and with men and boys to change mindsets.

So, dear colleagues, there would be a lot more to say, but I'd like to end by thanking the NGO Fund for Freedom, who first put this issue on the agenda in The Netherlands and in Europe, as well as many organisations and interlocutors who have contributed to this report and who are already working hard to make marital captivity a thing of the past.

I'd like to thank you for your attention, and I'm very much looking forward to your questions and feedback.

Thank you.

Mr Ionuț-Marian STROE

Romania, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Madam Margreet De BOER.

Now we will go on with the interventions of the speakers on behalf of the political groups.

The first speaker is Ms Lesia VASYLENKO from Ukraine, who will speak on behalf of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.


Ukraine, ALDE, Spokesperson for the group


Thank you, Mister President.

"Doesn't your husband beat you? Stop sulking. Wipe away your tears. And this is just like home."

"Doesn't your husband beat you?" This is a question that paramedic Yulia Paievska, better known as Taira, was asked by her female medical care when she was brought in after yet another round of violent interrogations in a Russian prisoner of war detention centre.

"I mean, doesn't your husband beat you?"

So light-heartedly asked in such an earnest surprise. As if it were the norm, except there are no "as if"s in societies like Russia, where the culture of machismo is nurtured and male dominance is glorified, where the support of a patriarchal order is cultivated by the church, in preschool, and seeps through in every aspect of private and public life.

The result: poverty of the majority of the population, populism on the rise, authoritarian rule, and aggressive war and support for terrorist groups and movements such as the Wagner Group, also increasing domestic violence, and the general deterioration of society.

I could go on, of course, with this list of downsides that stem from gender inequality, but the picture is more or less clear, right?

I will continue with another example, which, quite frankly, I find shocking: 74% of Russians support the war in Ukraine.

This comes from a survey which I trust, but the shocker is not the statistics. My friend who co‑ordinated the surveying shared that most of the respondents were women. The logical question that I had to ask was of course "how and why". The answer came from an in-depth interview from one of these women.

She said, "My husband beat me for years, and boasted about this to all of his friends, and now I want him to go off on this war and prove how much of a man he really is".

For me these two cases are absolutely mind-blowing in the worst possible way. My brain just refuses to register this information, as probably most of you have trouble with as well.

However, in 2017, instead of ratifying the Istanbul Convention, Russia actually legalised domestic violence. The result, in 2018, is that 60% of the women in Russia who were killed were killed at the hands of their partners, that is 14 000 killed women in total.

Sad as it may be, these examples are a mere taster of the reality of societies that denied the importance of gender equality.

Let us have no doubt: ratifying the Istanbul Convention really does make a difference, but ratifying alone is not enough. To prevent cases from this intervention seeping into daily life, norms of the Convention must become daily practice and shape the values our children, girls and boys both, taught in school and brought up with at home.

I end by thanking all three rapporteurs, Zita, Petra, Margareet. You provided this Assembly not just with profound insights into gender equality, but also with clear guidelines for all of us, men and women both, to take away.

I wish us all a fruitful discussion.

Thank you.

Mr Ionuț-Marian STROE

Romania, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

Our next speaker is Ms Nickie AIKEN, from the United Kingdom, who will speak on behalf of European Conservatives Group and Democratic Alliance.


Ms Nickie AIKEN

United Kingdom, EC/DA, Spokesperson for the group


I welcome all reports tabled and this debate today.

Equality between men and women is recognised as a principle in international law articulated by the United Nations from the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights onwards.

Yet over 70 years later, in too many ways, women are still not equal to men and are facing the same problems of generations gone. Nowhere is this clearer than the domestic violence and the threat of sexual violence that women and girls still face.

In the United Kingdom, I think tremendous progress has been made such as the marital rape being legislated against with the Sexual Offences Act of 2003.

But legislating to criminalise gender-based violence is not enough. We need societal attitudinal change. That is why I fully support the Istanbul Convention, as it obliges signatories to encourage members of society – especially men and boys – to contribute actively in preventing all forms of violence against women and girls.

I'm proud to see the United Kingdom has ratified the Convention last year.

Nevertheless, we must never rest and we must continue to act to protect women and girls in every way. As the Istanbul Convention states, we need to educate and inform boys and girls of all ages, ethnicities, nationalities, that violence against the female sex will never be tolerated.

We cannot just continue to advise our daughters on how to act to avoid tension. This will never dissuade men to act badly. Instead, we must equally focus on efforts to ensure that our sons, brothers, fathers and all males respect women and understand the importance of treating everyone with respect and dignity. Men and boys are crucial partners in safeguarding women's rights.

Gender-based violence is rooted in gender inequality. We can clearly see the correlation between women's rights in a country, and its levels of violence and domestic abuse.

Women around the world should be empowered to live their lives without concern about the basic freedoms. Wearing what they choose – including whether they cover their heads, or not. And I take this opportunity to salute the brave Iranian women, and their men, for standing up against the tyranny of their own government.

Living a life of freedom also includes choosing who you marry. Forced marriage is a human rights violation, and we must stamp it out where it exists.

I can conclude by urging all nations in the Council of Europe to send a clear message to the whole world that women's and girls rights are human rights, and must be protected.

Mr Ionuț-Marian STROE

Romania, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

I now call Ms Anne STAMBACH-TERRENOIR from France, who will speak on behalf of the Group of the Unified European Left.

Please, you have the floor.


France, UEL, Spokesperson for the group


Thank you, Mr. President.

First of all, I would like to congratulate the rapporteurs for their fascinating and remarkable work.

We are in 2023, but guaranteeing women's rights and ensuring their safety is still not a given. According to the WHO, in 2021, more than one woman in three was a victim of physical or sexual violence, most often by her intimate partner. In my country, France, at least 106 women died last year at the hands of their partner or ex-partner. Our task remains immense.

The report by Mrs Petra STIENEN reminds us of the need and the possibility to deconstruct gender stereotypes, which are at the origin of the spiral of violence. The report of Mrs Margreet De BOER proposes ways to fight against situations of marital captivity, which are an attack on the independence and self-determination of people.

Finally, behind the three texts, there is a common thread: the importance of the Istanbul Convention, whose follow-up is presented in the report of Mrs Zita GURMAI.

This is a historic convention that has succeeded in making the fight against violence against women a central issue and in establishing it as an emergency and a matter of human rights. It is up to each of us, parliamentarians of this Assembly, to promote it with strength and pride, because the report of Mrs Zita GURMAI shows it well: wherever it is applied, the Istanbul Convention inspires positive legislative developments.

It is a precious treaty, because women's rights are never taken for granted: they are even the first victims of all democratic setbacks.

At a time when we see the rise of the extreme right and, with it, political leaders who challenge gender equality and roll back the right to voluntary termination of pregnancy, the Istanbul Convention is an important point of support and must remain our compass.

Civil society and women's rights defenders have made it their slogan in the streets of Poland and Turkey, for example, as highlighted in the report.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is heartbreaking to see that the country that gave its name to the convention, instead of bearing it as a historic honour, has decided to withdraw its signature. Like the rapporteur, we urgently call on Turkey to reverse this fatal decision.

Every crisis brings regressions for women's safety: the confinement periods related to the covid-19 pandemic and their social and economic impacts have resulted in women being more exposed to violent partners, while limiting their access to support services. Rising inequality, humanitarian crisis and displacement situations, and now the war in Ukraine, like all ongoing armed conflicts, lead to physical and sexual violence against women.

As we stated yesterday, if we want to protect women in times of war, it is essential that the Istanbul Convention be fully implemented in times of peace.

This is why our Assembly must unanimously vote for the ratification of the Convention by all member States, as requested by the rapporteurs, and for the establishment of a solid follow-up of the application of its provisions.

In particular, we support the proposal for an annual exchange on the progress of ratification and implementation of the Convention.

We suggest that this follow-up be systematically presented to the Parliamentary Assembly by the Secretary General, in her capacity as depositary of the European conventions.

Thank you.

Mr Ionuț-Marian STROE

Romania, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Madam.

Now I call Mr Frank SCHWABE from Germany on behalf of the Socialist Group.



Germany, SOC, Spokesperson for the group


Thank you very much, Mister President.

On behalf of the Socialists, Democrats and Greens Group, I would like to thank the three rapporteurs, Ms Zita GURMAI, Ms Petra STIENEN, and Ms Margreet De BOER for their very excellent, important reports.

I would like to quote from Ms Petra STIENEN's report: "the Assembly recognises the responsibility of men and boys in preventing and stopping gender-based violence against women and girls and urges them to be proactive in this regard."

This is why I speak in the name of my group, to show that a debate about gender-based violence is not a debate just for women. There is a common responsibility and especially a responsibility for men. In this sense, HeForShe is the excellent campaign from UN Women.

Ms Petra STIENEN interviewed me in preparation for this report and we thought about why it is so rare that men and boys deal with these questions. In fact, probably also because there is a lack of sensitivity to the importance of the topic but possibly also because they are unsure and insecure about how to deal with the topic. It is not always about obvious violence –physical violence or even rape– or obvious insults, it is also about inappropriate behaviour and inappropriate remarks, e.g. in the field of remarks about the female body or inappropriate jokes showing inappropriate videos and pictures.

I think there is a male insecurity about openly addressing the issue of gender-based violence, because men put themselves in an insecure position. Because they may not be sure about their own role, their own behaviour, a learned way of communicating with and about women. Men and boys, I want to call for overcoming this fear because this is necessary. Women can do a lot, almost everything, but they need the support of men and boys in this debate.

That is what we can do personally but we can do something politically as well. I find it incredible, incredible, that nine of the member States have not signed the Istanbul Convention: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, and Türkiye. Türkiye even withdrew from the Convention named after one of the most beautiful cities in the world. On top of that, some governments have staged an absurd campaign against all the values of this Council of Europe.

It would be a good opportunity, even a very good one, to use the preparations for the Reykjavik Summit to correct one's position and ratify and implement the Istanbul Convention.

I would like to thank the rapporteurs, and I would like to think even Mr Even ERIKSEN. He is a new one who is a general rapporteur for violence against women, a man in this Assembly. I would like to congratulate him and all of us for electing him. I think is a very good example for all of us.

Thank you very much.

Mr Ionuț-Marian STROE

Romania, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mister SCHWABE.

Now I call Ms Elvira KOVÁCS from Serbia on behalf of the Group of the European People's Party.

Ms Elvira KOVÁCS

Serbia, EPP/CD, Spokesperson for the group


Distinguished Chair, dear colleagues, dear rapporteurs,

On behalf of the Group of the European People's Party I would like to congratulate Ms Zita GURMAI, Ms Petra STIENEN, and Ms Margreet De BOER on their tremendous work and fight you are doing all the time.

It is unfortunately a sad fact that in every country in the world women experience sexual, physical, and emotional violence.

On the one hand, domestic violence is a widespread form of violence. On the other hand, freedom from violence is a basic and universal human right.

Violence against women is a huge problem. The effects of it are lasting and difficult to overcome.

It is a human rights violation, which inevitably leads to other violations and therefore makes equal opportunities for women and men impossible to achieve.

Domestic violence is a form of gender-based violence, discrimination and denial of equal opportunities: its victims might not have the chance of reconstructing themselves, of finding a job, another partner, another home. Some of them will not have the chance to survive.

Therefore, it is essential to fight for these women’s right to have a second chance.

The Istanbul Convention provides a comprehensive framework to prevent violence against women, to protect the victims, as well as to prosecute the perpetrators.

All of our countries have a responsibility to prevent, stop and sanction violence against women.

Domestic violence should never be perceived as a domain of invisible, private suffering of women; it is a big social problem.

It applies to other instruments. However, for the Istanbul Convention to have a real impact on the lives of millions of women, it is not enough to have it on paper.

Changes in domestic laws in line with the Convention are also important, as well as their implementation.

Domestic violence should also consider violence above only physical harm – causing feelings of fear with a threat, forcing to sexual act, imposing limitation of the freedom of movement or communications with third parties, verbal assaults, as any other impertinent, reckless, or malicious behaviour.

It is extremely useful to have telephone helplines with trained staff for individuals looking for advice after being subjected to violence or seeking information.

On the other hand, it is of great importance to train police officers and members of the judiciary in the identification of violence against women and domestic violence, as well as to guarantee a sufficient number of places, with adequate funding, in facilities for the reception of persons having fled such violence, and to offer care appropriate to their situation.

Overall, every country should provide adequate assistance for the victims.

They need physical and psychological support programmes, accommodation, and financial independence.

Last but not least, particular attention should be paid to the gender perspective by taking into account the specific situation and needs of women (and girls) in order to ensure equal opportunities and protection of their dignity.

Thank you.

Mr Ionuț-Marian STROE

Romania, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Ms Elvira KOVÁCS.

And now we will continue the debate with the individual interventions.

I remind you that you have 3 minutes for each intervention.

So the first speaker now is Mr Pedro CEGONHO from Portugal.



Portugal, SOC


Thank you, Mister Chairman, for the floor,

First, I want to congratulate our rapporteur for the herculean work with this report. I would like to focus on Ms Zita GURMAI's report.

The Istanbul Convention is a human rights treaty. Accordingly, violence against women is understood as a violation of human rights and a form of discrimination against women. Every woman has the right to live a life free from violence.

Portugal was the first EU country to ratify the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. Our engagement with the creation of this Convention goes back to 2008.

The Istanbul Convention was born out of a widespread consensus around its importance. This original consensus is now being shattered. As such, it is even more crucial to strengthen the Convention, namely by linking it with other instruments from the Council of Europe such as the Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, the Gender Equality Strategy, and the Council of Ministers Recommendation on Preventing and Combating Sexism.

Therefore, I would like to underline in the conclusions presented these issues:

1 - The Istanbul Convention opened avenues for the monitoring of public policies by an external entity (GREVIO).

2 - All member states of the Council of Europe should ratify and implement the Convention to reduce gender-based violence in Europe.

3 - The Assembly and national parliaments must step up their efforts to promote the Istanbul Convention and to firmly oppose its detractors.

This Convention is Europe’s most comprehensive legal framework to protect all women and girls from violence. It recognises the right of women to be protected from violence.

Understanding the continuum of male violence against women and girls, online and offline, including sexual exploitation, will foster better integrated policies with positive spillover effects on prevention.

Thank you, Mister President.

Thank you, Madam rapporteur.

Mr Ionuț-Marian STROE

Romania, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

We'll go on.

The next speaker is Ms Natalia DAVIDOVICI from the Republic of Moldova, please.


Republic of Moldova, EPP/CD


Thank you, Mister President.

Dear Colleagues,

As you probably already know, in terms of women's representation and power, Moldova can be an example. Some 40% of our members of parliament are women. Partly thanks to this, in October 2021 the Moldovan parliament ratified the Istanbul Convention, and in May 2022 it entered into force.

One year after its ratification we can already speak about the first results.

A number of amendments have already been made to adjust domestic legislation to the requirements of the Convention. For example, one of these amendments allows supplying electronic monitoring to domestic aggressors immediately after the issues of a protection order.

Statistics show that this measure has reduced the recurrence rate. While in 2020, every second aggressor committed repeated crimes, in 2021, since its implementation, the rate has dropped by 31%.

According to other provisions, urgent legal assistance to victims of domestic abuse and sexual crimes is free, guaranteed, and provided around the clock.

Last year, out of 1 320 cases of state-guaranteed legal aid, 85% where victims of domestic abuse.

Liability for family violence has been tough, while adding new aggravating circumstances like premeditated actions against minors or pregnant women, and exploitation of the victims' helpless state.

Now it is up to the court, but we plan to make it mandatory that all offenders convicted for domestic assault be required to undergo a correction programme for aggressive behaviour.

The Ministry of Interior is creating a Center for Family Justice, which will ensure co‑operation under one roof of specialists, from the police, justice, and health care and social protection agencies, following the model of similar centres in Europe and the U.S.

Also, a draft methodology for the work of operative investigation teams in cases of sexual violence was developed.

The Ministry also created an interdepartmental mechanism to analyse cases that resulted in serious injury or death of the victims.

We still have a lot of work ahead in order to bring the Moldovan legal framework in line with the provisions of the Istanbul Convention to overcome stereotypes and to change mentality, in order to create a society in which violence against women is absolutely unacceptable, a society in which every woman and every girl feels safe.

Thank you.

Mr Ionuț-Marian STROE

Romania, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

The next speaker is Ms Sona GHAZARYAN from Armenia.

You have the floor.


Armenia, ALDE


Chair, dear colleagues,

I was waiting for the speakers list and I am truly impressed and happy to see such a distinguished one. So many men. Men stepped up and perhaps some will get out of their comfort zone and will speak on the specific subject that is the fight against violence.

Also, there is ample evidence showing that women are more vulnerable to gender-based violence than men but I believe the fight against the phenomenon should be owned by all of us, regardless of gender.

What happens usually, and unfortunately, is that it is always women that come together, we speak, and we agree with each other on the subject and this is not very productive in my opinion. We need more men at the table.

As clearly mentioned in the UN Beijing+20 campaign, we need to engage men and boys in gender equality and women's empowerment talks.  A violence-free society is to benefit all. Men need to be engaged as gender advocates, picking out as active agents and stakeholders who can transform social norms, behaviours and gender stereotypes that usually perpetuate discrimination and inequality.

It is very impressive to see how different states all over the world put efforts into engaging local leaders and authorities to fight against violence regardless of their gender. The concept of positive masculinity is what male resource centres should focus on and educate their communities about.

Today, in this room I am privileged to share the efforts I pursue at the national level. Firstly, as a member of parliament, I work on improving the legal environment and improving the law on domestic violence. With my colleagues, I drafted the amendments on the law on domestic violence; we surely engaged male members of parliament in this process as well.

Moreover, the Armenian government created the Council of Women's Affairs, led by the Deputy Prime Minister, members of the government, members of civil society organisations and parliament to have multi-stakeholder discussions. It makes me pleased to see that many men in the discussion accepted their responsibility and duty to also be the front runners on the subject.

Ms Petra STIENEN, I agree with your conclusion that gender-based violence is a threat to democracy. This is another reason why everyone, regardless of gender, should be partners and allies to fight against it.

Thank you very much.

Mr Ionuț-Marian STROE

Romania, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you too.

I give the floor to Ms Konul NURULLAYEVA from Azerbaijan.

You have the floor.


Azerbaijan, EC/DA


Dear Honourable President and Esteemed Members of the Council of Europe,

I would like to start by thanking Ms Zita GURMAI, Ms Petra STIENEN, and Ms Margreet De BOER for providing such a substantial and comprehensive report on this crucial subject.

The entire community must work together to bring an end to violence in our communities.

It is essential that men and boys be active participants in this process.

For instance, the Republic of Azerbaijan regularly calls for the implementation of measures to avoid domestic abuse and protect women's rights. The Azerbaijani government has also passed a law on state guarantees of equal rights for women and men in 2006, and ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which set the legal foundation for gender equality.

I am confident that men who are civic leaders or who make decisions for a better purpose may present a constructive role model culture based on positive examples of masculinity.

They can take action to address the attitudes and actions that justify violence on a national scale.

Young guys may be influenced to follow the path in the future by such role modelling.

Moreover, campaigns to increase public awareness of gender inequality and gender-based violence, as well as policies to address these issues, may also contribute to highlighting the significance of the issue.

Initially, in order to solve this matter, national level equal treatment rules must be implemented.

For example it will be considered for member States to accept marital captivity in the form of forced marriage.

Following this, member States can be urged to expand their jurisdiction to release women from marital captivity brought on by their ex-partner's resistance, who lives abroad.

For instance the issue of marital captivity needs to be brought up in reports and resolutions, as well as through increased public awareness.

Concurrently, authorities can begin finding partners who prevent their wives from getting a divorce and make it feasible to bring legal action against husbands who persistently refuse to comply.

I strongly believe that marital captivity must be recognised as a distinct type of violence against women if these appeals are to be employed in the future.

Thank you for your attention,

Mr Ionuț-Marian STROE

Romania, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

And our next speaker is Ms Luz MARTINEZ SEIJO from Spain.


Spain, SOC


Thank you very much indeed, President.

I would like to start by paying tribute to all the work that is being put in to this report, which is highly relevant as well as necessary because quite obviously the fight against gender-based violence cannot be successful if only 50% of society are involved in that fight. And it would be impossible to build an equal, just and violence-free society without the involvement of men. 

Gender-based relationships are built on a model of the domination of men and the submission of women and if we try to understand, analyse or eradicate gender-based violence outside of this framework, that would be a mistake. And to do so without men would be a waste of time. 

Spain has suffered male violence over the last 20 years: about 1 200 women have been killed, and that is why we have a comprehensive law on protection against gender-based violence, which came into force 18 years ago. And in 2017, listening to a call from various organisations, we made violence against women into a state, political and social agreement, which was promoted by Socialists to prevent and eradicate gender-based violence. 

We also need to look at the role of men and young men and look at their masculinity. Most men are not violent towards women but all of those who are are men, and that is why it is vital that we establish models and guidelines that young people can see themselves in and become involved in the fight against gender-based violence and make sure they do so day in and day out. 

We have educational laws which are now becoming embedded and the idea there is to prevent gender-based violence as well as abuses which stem from sexism. It is important that we have co-education and that equality be learned at all levels, preventing gender-based violence and respect for emotional and sexual diversity. 

Seven out of 10 teenagers between the ages of 13 and 17 consume pornography. The danger is not so much that they look at pornography but rather that their sexuality, which is in the process of being formed at this age, will normalise aggressive and violent forms of behaviour. And that is why we have a need for co-education, for respect between equals and also to include these issues in relationships and sexual education in the family as well as in schools. It is important that we push back against gender-based violence as well as male chauvinist behaviour. 

Mr Ionuț-Marian STROE

Romania, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much.

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

Ms Emine Nur GÜNAY

Türkiye, NR


Thank you, Chair.

Dear President,

Dear Colleagues,

I would like to thank the rapporteurs for their hard work and dedication to women’s issues. Ms Zita GURMAI has visited Türkiye on the context of her report on the Istanbul Convention.

Our secretariat and relevant authorities worked with Ms GURMAI in close cooperation for a smooth visit, and she has met with many government officials as well as civil society organisations of her choosing.

I myself participated in the working lunch with Ms GURMAI in the Turkish parliament, and I believe it was a fruitful exercise for us as well as for Ms GURMAI.

Although Ms GURMAI states in her report that authorities and civil society are on opposing sides of the discussion on this issue in Türkiye, the goal is the same for all actors: effectively protecting women and girls from all kinds of violence.

I personally support the Istanbul Convention.

However, Türkiye's decision to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention does not mean that our efforts in preventing violence against women or the achievements made in women's rights have all gone to waste.

One of the most useful tools in Türkiye's fight against violence against women is an application called KADES. It is an emergency response app prepared by the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

The app aims to prevent violence against women and to help women quickly reach the Police Emergency Call Center with a single button. The closest police team is dispatched to the scene where the call for help is made to intervene in the incident.

By the end of 2022, as many women as the population of Ireland had downloaded the app to their mobile phones.

It means more than 5 million women.

With this app, more than 562 000 violence cases has been avoided by the security forces.

Furthermore, the Law 6284 on Protecting the Family and Preventing Violence Against Women is a comprehensive legal tool in the fight against domestic and gender-based violence that incorporates relevant elements of the Istanbul Convention.

This law was amended last May for enhanced protection of women and stricter punishment of gender-based crimes. Sentences were lengthened for crimes committed against women. Stalking has been codified into law for the first time as a separate crime against women. Perpetrators' formal attitudes and behaviour aimed at influencing the court at the hearing cannot be taken into account as grounds for discretionary reduction according to the amendment.

These tools are being supported by the efforts of the judiciary and law enforcement, and prevention efforts in educating and transforming people continues. As Turkish female members of PACE, we closely monitor the practices of the relevant actors in this area and will continue to do so.

Thank you for your attention.

Mr Ionuț-Marian STROE

Romania, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

Also, I invite members to limit their intervention to 3 minutes.

Now we will continue with the Ms Esther PEÑA from Spain.

Thank you.

Ms Esther PEÑA

Spain, SOC


Thank you very much, President. 

Congratulations and thanks for these three reports that focus on an issue of democracy as well as many proposals for today and tomorrow to prevent gender-based violence, which after all, is not a meteorological phenomenon. 

Women who will live with those who ill-treat them in 10 years' time may not yet have met them, so if we invest in policies to foster equality and prevent gender-based violence, it means that we are in time to prevent these encounters with their abusers. And that is why we need to facilitate equality policies and ensure that we protect women against gender-based violence, but also to ensure men have way more egalitarian attitudes. The vessel we need to navigate in to reach that goal is called gender equality policies.

And we have to push back against politicians or policies which are breaking with the consensus and fermenting a breeding ground for the proliferation of the kind of discourse which calls into question equality and the capacity of women to be free and autonomous. We have not to give things for granted, and that there is no turning back. The rapporteurs have were clear: we have to keep up the fight together.

In the Castilla y León region where I come from, we have a right wing government in coalition with the extreme right-wing. We are suffering a lot. They have wound up the subsidies for gender-based violence and cut back on equality policies and has also shut down emergency refuges for victims of gender-based violence, and are currently trying to implement an anti-abortion protocol to coerce women who decide to end their pregnancies, and thus hinder their exercise of that right by spreading the message that women who want to abort have mental health issues. Spanish society has been able to deter them, but the road that lies ahead is long and often windy.

We need a kind of society which respects women, and we have to work together and it is vital that we work together here as well, colleagues. We have to raise awareness and I am very grateful that in your report, you share the words of our prime minister when he said that we have to wake up to the importance of male-chauvinist violence and there is no point in just saying that I am not male chauvinist, rather we have to break the silence and we have to learn not to be male chauvinists and we have to join women in their fight. 

So we aspire to a Europe that is free of gender-based violence and that is a democratic obligation. Gender-based violence is not a problem of women, it is a problem to do with the quality of our democracy and the state of the rule of law.

Mr Ionuț-Marian STROE

Romania, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

Here we have a man.

I call Mr Fazil MUSTAFA from Azerbaijan to take the floor.



Azerbaijan, ALDE


Dear Colleagues,

The problem of violence against women and girls has deep historical roots.

All over the world in the news we often encounter publications about violence against women and girls, early marriage about children who become mothers at an early age.

In ethics, society as a whole, it should be recognised as a global human rights issue.

I think that in order to stop this flow of action we need to unite.

It is high time for the Parliamentary Assembly to address the role and responsibility of men and boys in stopping gender-based violence and make concrete proposals to encourage them to join this fight.

There can be a sense of change in multiple ways. They can speak up, be role models, and challenge sexism. They can work on preventing and combating harmful masculinities. In this way men must understand that they are a part of the solution, as violence is part of the problem. They have a responsibility to act, to prevent, and combat gender-based violence against women and girls.

Men can be positive role models, act as agents of change, and use their influence among peers. They can speak out against harmful practices and challenge sexism.

Gender equality education lays the foundation of a society free from violence.

All genders, including men, in all their diversities can and should be allies and partners in the fight for gender equality and against gender-based violence.

The Parliamentary Assembly recognises the responsibility of men and boys in preventing and stopping gender-based violence against women and girls, and urges them to be proactive in this regard.

Leading the resolution as an example, we note that a Parliament awareness-raising initiative was launched to prevent and combat sexism, harassment and violence against women in parliaments.

Working on gender equality education from a young age and through school, this should be a priority.

Education is one of the keys to long-lasting change and lays the foundation of a society free from violence.

Thank you.

Mr Ionuț-Marian STROE

Romania, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

I now call Mr John HOWELL from the United Kingdom.


United Kingdom, EC/DA


Let me offer my congratulations to the rapporteurs for their excellent publications.

But I stand here ashamed of my own country. I'm ashamed of the UK.

Many of you will have seen over the last few days the stories that have been running about the police force. You will have seen today perhaps that the head of the Met Police in the UK has said that two or three police officers every week will appear in court to answer charges.

It is quite right that they should, but it is absolutely terrible that I have to stand here and represent a country where the police have such lack of culture that they can go ahead with that.

It's not just the police force. It's not just the police force, because there are other examples in the fire service. There are other examples in the Royal Navy. There are examples in the army as well.

I support the Istanbul Convention, and I support it wholeheartedly. Before I come on to say what I've done for the Istanbul Convention, let me say that there are two things that I would mention that I think that this Council should take seriously.

Firstly –and I have made this comment before– we should appoint a champion of the Istanbul Convention to be able to go out and to persuade those countries that have not ratified it to ratify it.

Secondly, as the rapporteur for the Monitoring Committee for Türkiye, let me say that we always raise the situation of the Istanbul Convention when we are on a visit to Türkiye to be able to get them to change their minds.

I spent a lot of my time persuading the UK government to ratify the Istanbul Convention. I'm very pleased that they have done so. I look forward to receiving a delegation from this Council later in a couple of months time to be able to take that forward.

Fundamentally, I agree with what Mr Frank SCHWABE said: that men have to play a part in this. We have to play a part to educate, to be able to persuade people to treat women with respect and dignity so that we can all live a safer and happier life. If we can do that, and we can do that speedily, then I will be very happy.

Mr Ionuț-Marian STROE

Romania, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

I invite now Ms Petra BAYR, from Austria, to take the floor.

Ms Petra BAYR

Austria, SOC


Thank you very much, Mister Chair.

Violence has many faces. It can be systematic, economic, psychological, emotional, physical, sexual or any combination you could consider.

I want to thank the three rapporteurs. You shared the figures with us. The alarming figures. Ms Margreet De BOER, Ms Petra STIENEN, Ms Zita GURMAI, thank you very much for this work, for this really great work. I know how emotional it can be to work on violence, especially after my report yesterday on conflict-related violence.

Violence, gender-based violence, causes stigmatisation and marginalisation. Violence leaves scars on bodies, on souls, and on minds.

We know that it's a global phenomenon. It's not a European one. It's everywhere in this world. The damage is not a quantity in reality.

What I would suggest is that PACE call on the World Health Organization to declare gender-based violence as a global pandemic, because it is a pandemic. It hurts women, millions. Billions of women are hurt by these different forms of violence.

We know that in the case the WHO declares something a pandemic, a global emergency, then governments are forced to act, are forced to react at last. They have to act and create a legal environment that makes it possible to prosecute perpetrators. They must act to provide enough money for the support for victims, for those NGOs and those initiatives that counsel and support victims. They must force access to sexual and reproductive health and rights services, which many are fought for as well. They have at least, at latest, act on the unbelievable imbalance of power between genders. I think that's one of the root causes of violence against women. Naturally, they should ratify the Istanbul Convention.

We saw that when a global emergency is called, is declared, that governments are able to act and are able to act quickly and effectively, or at least most of them.

I think that we really need this urgent action to be taken. We need a world that comes without gender-typed stereotypes, without misogyny, without patriarchal structures, and without the ignorance.

I'm convinced, I'm deeply convinced that the world without violence is a better place to live for everybody, men and women alike.

Thank you.

Mr Ionuț-Marian STROE

Romania, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

Our next speaker is Ms Dubravka FILIPOVSKI from Serbia.


Serbia, EPP/CD


Our colleague Ms Zita GURMAI's report - of course with Ms Margreet De BOER and Ms Petra STIENEN - is very important because violence against women has increased worldwide during Covid-19, but also as a result of many conflicts in which women are the primary victims.

Violence against women is also the main obstacle to gender equality.

The Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence, has provided a legal framework for the protection of women against all forms of violence.

It's very important that, thanks to GREVIO (Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence) measuring instruments, the effect of the application of this convention can be monitored.

They showed that none of the countries that have ratified and implemented the Istanbul Convention have managed to fully meet the requirements of the Convention, but each country has made progress - often significant progress - in preventing violence against women.

The experience of my country, Serbia, which was among the first eight countries to ratify the Istanbul Convention, shows that it is the best tool for the most effective reduction of domestic violence and violence against women, thereby creating better conditions for life and having respect for the culture of human rights.

Serbia amended its criminal legislation, adopted special laws on domestic violence, and introduced emergency measures to ban access to the victim.

Based on the implementation of the Council of Europe's Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence, the key question for me is how to motivate other countries to ratify this Convention.

In conclusion, our commitment and concrete action in this area are essential, but additional efforts are needed from all of us in preventing violence against women and children.

Thank you.

Mr Ionuț-Marian STROE

Romania, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

I now invite to take the floor Lord Leslie GRIFFITHS from the United Kingdom.


United Kingdom, SOC


Dear Chair and to all those who've spoken thus far,

The leader of my political group, Mr Frank SCHWABE, sitting quietly there, has listed the countries that have not yet ratified the Istanbul Convention.

A year ago he would have added the United Kingdom to that list. The leader of our British delegation, another man, both have stepped outside the man box for the purposes of this debate. Mr John HOWELL has been a champion of getting the United Kingdom government to ratify the Istanbul Convention, which all those years ago they already put their signature to.

We have been taking that amount of time to put into British law the various requirements of the Istanbul Convention. I need to report that there is one outstanding piece of that Convention that we have yet to put into British law before we can show a 100% legal commitment to the Istanbul Convention.

The one aspect of the Istanbul Convention that has not yet passed into British law is pointed to in this report, where it refers to deliberate misrepresentations around the ultimate objectives of the Istanbul Convention. The suggestion is at 9.3 in the report that there's the suggestion that women victims of intimate partner violence might be dependent upon the residency status of their aggressors. We should take into account, says the report, that we should not allow anyone to draw that conclusion from the Istanbul Convention. That in fact women and those who suffer violence must be taken on their own account in terms of their own conditions and according to their own needs, that justice may reign without this associative way of including them and making them subservient to their social status.

We do look forward to doing something about that. The British government has been persuaded to have a year-long consultation, a pilot project which is currently going on. The hope is that we gain empirical evidence from that inquiry, that pilot scheme, that will allow us soon to incorporate an appropriate principle endorsing the hope of the Istanbul Convention at this point.

If last year Mr SCHWABE had had to add Britain to the list of those who have not yet ratified the Istanbul Convention, I'm hoping that this time next year we'll be able to say it's all now legal in Britain. Now let's see that it's all implemented in Britain, too.

Mr Ionuț-Marian STROE

Romania, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Lord.

Now I call Ms Laura CASTEL from Spain.


Spain, UEL


Thank you, Chair.

Dear colleagues.

Sexual violence is the most prevalent form of male violence. It is necessary to understand it as a social and political phenomenon.

Member States should promote a sexual violence approach with protocols, circuits, and care services in intervention with two main goals to prevent and eradicate the structural causes, promote a social and cultural transformation, and replace the culture of rape with the culture of consent, which involves carrying out interventions with aggressors.

The second goal should be to repair the damage. Among the prevention actions member States should approve actions in all areas. For example, in the community area as leisure; transport area: neighbourhood networks, shops, etc.; educational area, such as educational centres, universities, and leisure; labor area, cultural area, sports, political life, digital, media, etc.

Among leisure actions it could be proposed to put purple dots or pay attention to the design of public spaces or to the connection with public transport, safe itineraries, training security agents, training taxi drivers and hotel sector, etc. In conclusion, focus on the factors that cause or naturalise or justify sexual violence; eradicate myths, generate a new culture of consent and promote anti-sexist and egalitarian masculinity.

Within the repair policies, it could be proposed a free confidential and 24-hour telephone line with psychologists specialised in sexual violence to offer emotional support and initial legal advice, and connect this phone to comprehensive care and recovery service for women in situations of gender-based violence with capacity to arrange visits and follow up the cases.

Another action could be creating the crisis intervention service, centralised and 24-hour when a crisis appears, activated with a free telephone line and a psychologist with the capacity to travel for rapid emotional support, psychological first aid, and help the women make her first decisions.

Finally, the legislative action. It is necessary to establish the definition of sexual violence in different areas: partner, family, work, social, or community, educational, digital, public sphere, institutional. It is necessary to take into account intersectionality, including administrative situation, social class, addictions or deprivation of liberty.

It is also necessary to recognise other invisible forms of violence such as obstetric, digital, VICAR [Violent crimes in aid of racketeering] violence and the concept of due diligence of the public authorities to adopt measures and put the concept of sexual consent at the centre.

Thank you very much, and thanks to all the three amazing rapporteurs for the terrific work.

Thank you.

Mr Ionuț-Marian STROE

Romania, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

I now invite Mr François CALVET to take the floor.

Mr François CALVET

France, EPP/CD


Mr. President,

Dear colleagues,

I would like to thank the rapporteurs for these three reports which allow us to debate the situation of violence against women and the implementation of the Istanbul Convention. The Council of Europe is and must remain at the forefront of this issue.

Indeed, the are still far too many cases of violence against women. A study conducted by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights indicates that in the EU, slightly more than one woman in five has suffered physical or sexual violence from a former or current partner.

According to the same study, 43% of women have been victims of psychological abuse or domineering behavior in a romantic relationship.

In France, a study by the High Council for Equality presented last week unfortunately showed that a quarter of men under the age of 35 believe that they sometimes have to be violent to be respected. This shows how much work remains to be done. Faced with this sad fact, educating our young people about equality between women and men seems to me to be essential to lay the foundations for a society without violence.

Beyond education, we must also implement a global policy to fight violence against women, as has been done in Spain, as noted in the report by our colleague Petra STIENEN. Awareness and training campaigns for men are well organized, but they also need to be accompanied by a tightening of the penal law and support for victims.

Today, the Istanbul Convention initiated by the Council of Europe is recognized as a particularly useful tool in the fight against violence against women.

It provides an essential framework for national legislation and many penal codes have been adapted to be in line with this Convention. I encourage all Member States of our Organization to sign and ratify this Convention and I welcome the statement made yesterday in our Chamber by the German Minister of Foreign Affairs. I also hope that the European Union, as such, will accede to this convention.

Beyond this phase, it is of course important that the States respect their commitments. In this respect, I would like to stress the essential role of GREVIO, whose recommendations must be followed up. Regular evaluation of national legislation is also necessary to ensure its effectiveness.

I will therefore vote in favor of the three draft resolutions before us today.

Mr Ionuț-Marian STROE

Romania, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

I now invite Mr Jean-Pierre GRIN from Switzerland.

Mr Jean-Pierre GRIN

Switzerland, ALDE


Thank you, Mister President.

Dear Colleagues,

Congratulations to the authors of the three reports on all forms of violence against women.

I would like to speak about the report "Finding solutions to marital captivity".

The excellent report by our colleague Ms Margreet De BOER describes all the possible forms of marital captivity, ranging from forced marriage to the refusal of a divorce, including religion and lack of financial means.

Forced marriage is the union of two persons, at least one of whom has not given her free and full consent to the marriage; the union of two persons, one of whom is not 18 years old, also constitutes an early and forced marriage in the eyes of our Parliamentary Assembly.

In order to effectively address the problem of marital captivity, it is essential to identify all possible situations.

A partner who refuses to release his or her spouse from the bonds of marriage is a form of captivity and a means of control over the spouse.

The trapped spouse does not have the option of entering into a new relationship for a new marriage. For this situation, negotiation is the most likely solution.

Forced or arranged marriage is a different situation. This form of marriage must be firmly opposed. It is almost always the girl who has to comply with the will of her family.

This form of forced marriage is, on the one hand, an attack on the moral integrity of the girl and very often deprives her of secondary education and access to cultural knowledge.

The pressure to conform to religious norms, traditions or customs is an important factor in locking women into harmful marital situations. On this point, it is necessary to change the mentalities within the religious communities or others, to overcome this form of marital captivity. It must be made clear that religion, tradition or custom can never be used as an excuse to force women into this captivity.

Another form of marital captivity, more hidden, is financial. By depriving his spouse of financial means and controlling all her expenses, the wife is a captive of her husband. To avoid this form of captivity, paid work must be encouraged for women who, by earning a salary, can free themselves financially.

As we can see, marital captivity in its various forms can affect anyone and in any country.

Because of the great diversity of the forms of this captivity, it is necessary to find different solutions which go from the prohibition of forced marriages to the persuasion for the refusal of divorce, and to the change of mentalities in certain religious or other communities.

As for the financial autonomy of the wife, it is the sharing of tasks as well as a good training allowing her, through a well-paid job, to reach this autonomy.

For all these forms of captivity, it is essential that all the prevention and support measures provided for by the Istanbul Convention be made available to women. We must also encourage the member States of the Council of Europe to carry out active awareness-raising actions on these different problems.

Thank you for your attention.

Mr Ionuț-Marian STROE

Romania, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

I now invite Ms Sevinj FATALIYEVA to take the floor.



Azerbaijan, EC/DA


Thank you Mr Chairman, ladies and gentlemen.

First of all, let me congratulate the three lady rapporteurs for the important issues they are raising in their reports.

Ladies and gentlemen, I think that gender-based violence is a well-known issue in all our countries that is primarily committed by men as well as by community members and people who tolerate harmful masculine behaviours. The entire community must work together to put an end to violence in our neighbourhoods and it is important that men and boys are active participants and change agents.

On the same scale, fighting against systemic forms of violence, as well as individual acts of violence is essential, since violence does not happen in a vacuum but rather in a society that supports and encourages it.

Men's gender-based violence against women and girls is largely a result of women's subordinate status in society, as a result of cultural and traditional norms, and it is intended to or has the unintended consequence of maintaining male power and control over women.

There is also lots of proof that gender inequality, along with the economic hardship and dependency it causes, feeds gender-based violence and abuse.

Our purpose is to create a more gender-equitable society with healthy gender roles for women and men, in order to fulfil its economic, social and development goals. Strategies must engage men and significantly alter men's attitudes and behaviours, which are frequently discouraged by the negative use of masculinity, in order to be effective.

Men must also empower women. I think that there is no better support for women than the support of a man. Women and children frequently experience gender-based violence as well as other types of violence such as harassment and damaging traditional practices, but there have been a lot of conscious initiatives to deal with this issue.

The majority of these initiatives rely on women to act as change agents. It is not only women who have to fight for gender equality. Changes are being made and gender and transformative programmes now seriously consider the contribution of men and boys to eradicating patriarchal norms, gender inequity and gender-based violence. Numerous programmes have been created all over the world to encourage men to take an active role in raising their children well. We have to confess that women made a long and complicated way to speak loudly about their rights, about equality, and women all over the world have long taken the lead in campaigns to reduce violence. And today, more and more males are now joining the women's movement.

There is a clear understanding that men as fathers, as friends, as decision makers, as community and opinion leaders, can play a critical role in speaking out against violence against women and making sure that the issue receives the attention it deserves.

Men can be important, beneficial role models for boys and young men by exhibiting healthy masculinity. To include men in the endeavour to end violence against women helps in breaking gender stereotypes, increasing understanding of the abilities of women, their ambitions their rights, thus eliminating gender-based violence.

Thank you.

Mr Ionuț-Marian STROE

Romania, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

I now invite Ms Saranda BOGUJEVCI, from the Assembly of Kosovo, to take the floor.


Assembly of Kosovo*


Thank you, Dear Chair.

I would like to start by congratulating and thanking Ms Zita GURMAI, Ms Petra STIENEN and Ms Margreet De BOER for the fantastic reports and really important ones.

I think this week we've had some really important topics that have been discussed. I do hope that more attention will be kept throughout these topics, because it is a problem that is global, and it's a very big problem, and we have to find ways to find a solution.

Now, sort of in this circumstance; I come from the governing party, the ministry of justice has taken concrete steps in tackling domestic violence and violence against women. I have to say that we feel proud that we have ratified the Istanbul Convention even though we are not a member of the Council of Europe yet.

We are changing our legislation in accordance with the Istanbul Convention. So all of these specific steps have been taken.

But what I realised as a legislator when we are working on these these laws and when we're looking at mechanisms put into place, you find that a lot of the times there are good laws, and there is this willingness and, of course, there's more encouragement for other countries to ratify the Istanbul Convention.

But when it comes to implementation, what are we doing? What mechanisms are we putting into place to make it work? We have many discussions throughout these changes that we are making.

The problem that I have found is, unfortunately a lot of the times, is in relation to our mentality. It's in relation to how we've been raised, what's the role of boys and girls to start with, in their own families –let alone in society. And then, how that affects society and how it affects the ways that we are raised in our societies.

I think we need to look at this more closely in how we address it. I really think it's important to have better understandings ourselves, and then how we portray that within our families, but then further on in society, and how we have these conversations. What is the norm?

When we have these discussions, even in the most, if we say, open-minded environments, there's always this aspect of "yes, but you know, you women have enough rights", and you know but you have this and you have that. There's no clear understanding what it means to be equal and to be treated equally.

I think we have to really seriously think about how we have these conversations, to start with families and in our societies, to make that change and to change that norm. I think then we will be able to eliminate this aspect of violence against women specifically.

Thank you.

Mr Ionuț-Marian STROE

Romania, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

And our next speaker is Mr László TOROCZKAI from Hungary.


Hungary, NR


Thank you, Mister President.

I would like to make it clear that I strongly condemn any kind of violence against women and girls. I myself have three daughters and that alone could be reason enough.

Yet, I have several problems with this report. I'm talking about the second part of this report. I'm talking about the role and responsibility of men and boys in stopping gender-based violence against women and girls.

So, what is my problem? For example, the report does not examine how relationships could be made more harmonic, how the institution of the family could be stronger.

But still, the biggest problem with this report is that it does not say a single word about migration.

However, in the context of violence against women and girls we must talk about mass immigration. In fact, in many African or South Asian cultures, women have a very different social status than in Europe. Gender equality does not exist in these cultures. As these cultures arrive in Europe in mass, they have a profound impact on the global situation. And if a man from a non-European patriarchal culture starts a relationship with an emancipated European women, after the first romantic months, there will almost certainly be conflict.

Obviously mass migration is the main reason why, for example, in Sweden the number of attacks and rapes against women has increased significantly over the last 30 years.

As long as this report does not address reality and does not seek solutions to the conflicts caused by mass migration, this report is absolutely meaningless.

Thank you very much.

Mr Ionuț-Marian STROE

Romania, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

I invite now Ms Edite ESTRELA, from Portugal, to take the floor.


Portugal, SOC


Thank you, Mister President.

Dear Colleagues,

First of all, I would like to congratulate the three rapporteurs, Ms Zita GURMAI, Ms Petra STIENEN and Ms Margreet De BOER, for the quality of the reports and to thank them for their commitment to the fight against violence against women. Thank you very much.

I would like to stress what I have said several times: the Istanbul Convention is the most comprehensive international instrument to prevent and combat violence against women.

Perhaps that is why the Convention is often attacked. Perhaps that is why some member States of the Council of Europe do not want to adopt it. Maybe that is why Türkiye has left the Istanbul Convention.

I am proud that my country, Portugal, was the first country to ratify the Istanbul Convention. In Portugal, the prevention and the fight against domestic violence are a priority. In my country, domestic violence is a public crime. This means that everyone can and should report situations of violence: family members, neighbours, friends, not only the victim.

Watching this Assembly and seeing informed, independent and politically active women, I felt like issuing a challenge, asking those who have ever experienced any form of violence for being women to raise their hands. I'm sure there would be many hands raised.

In fact, how many of us women politicians have not been victims of psychological violence, sexual harassment or even physical violence?

How many of us, during electoral campaigns or in the exercise of the functions for which we were elected, have not been humiliated, threatened, defamed, directly or via the media, by opponents?

I have been in politics for a long time. That is why I am talking about this. I agree with UN Secretary General António Guterres, former Prime Minister of Portugal, when he says that "violence against women is a moral affront to all women and girls and to all of us, a mark of shame on all societies, and a major obstacle to inclusive, equitable and sustainable development.

Violence against women should shame us and inspire us to act with courage so that no more women die because they are born women.

Dear Colleagues,

Never forget: women and girls have the fundamental right to live free of violence.

We are all called to this fight against gender violence. A fight that must be waged every day of the year. Together and united, women and men, let us win the fight against violence.

Thank you for your attention.

Mr Ionuț-Marian STROE

Romania, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

And now, the next speaker is Mr Bertrand BOUYX, from France.

Mr Bertrand BOUYX

France, ALDE


Thank you, Mr President.

Dear colleagues,

In my country, France, a woman dies every three days at the hands of her partner or former partner and domestic violence is on the rise. I am sure it is the same in most of the countries we represent in this Assembly. And these murders are only the tip of the iceberg.

Violence against women takes many forms, from intimate partner violence to female genital mutilation to the growing phenomenon of cyber violence. Whatever form it takes, wherever it occurs, violence has one main cause: gender inequality. It has serious repercussions for the victims and places a heavy burden on societies.

Yet, at least in the last five years, the world has become more mobilised. Thus, the President of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron, for a more egalitarian society, has just made this January 25 a national day against sexism. I invite today all the members of the Council of Europe to join us on this day.

The fight against this violence has allowed real progress to be made. The Council of Europe is unanimously recognised as being in the vanguard of this fight with its flagship tool, the Istanbul Convention.

This convention has three major assets:

- It deals with violence against women in all its dimensions and thus seeks to criminalise a wide range of offences.

- Although it is a regional instrument, the Istanbul Convention is open to all countries from the outset; it has a universal vocation.

- Finally, it has a binding dimension, since it requires adjustments to the domestic laws of states.

It is for these reasons that we can only encourage the member countries of our organisation that have not yet ratified or even signed the convention to do so: our credibility on this essential issue depends on it.

As I said in my introductory comments, France is still a long way from being able to eliminate this scourge. However, I would like to conclude with a small victory won last week. Indeed, our National Assembly unanimously adopted a Senate bill creating universal emergency assistance for victims of domestic violence. Today the rule is that the violent spouse must be removed. However, this approach is not adapted to emergency situations that require immediate protection. Financial dependence is currently a major obstacle that dissuades victims from leaving the marital home. This unanimously passed assistance may allow for better protection before it is too late.

Our session - and this debate - will, I hope, allow us to reflect on what works in our different countries in order to make it more widespread.

I thank you all.

Mr Ionuț-Marian STROE

Romania, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

Our next speaker is Mr Christophe LACROIX, from Belgium.

Mr Christophe LACROIX

Belgium, SOC


Thank you very much, Mister President, for giving me the opportunity to speak.

The Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, also known as the Istanbul Convention, has been in existence for almost 12 years and is, unfortunately, very often called into question by various States, even though they are members of the Council of Europe and the Parliamentary Assembly.

I am, therefore, very grateful to my colleagues, Ms Zita GURMAI, Ms Petra STIENEN and Ms Margreet De BOER, for putting this issue into perspective in their excellent reports, from different but complementary angles.

Because yes, it is a worrying situation, because this Convention is the first, and so far the main, legally-binding instrument offering a global framework to fight against violence against women and domestic violence.

I think that indeed, after hearing my Hungarian colleague who spat his hatred on foreigners by stigmatising them, especially immigrants, refugees, as those who commit violence against women, I would like to remind him that he should open his perspectives and his look at the world and realise that patriarchy is an essentially Western and historically Western invention; and that throughout the world, there are much more inclusive societies where women play a much more important role than in our countries even today, in the 21st century.

My country, Belgium, has always taken an ambitious position for gender equality and the rights of women and girls on the international scene, but also in its national policy, at the federal, regional and community levels.

We must continue to work, because the figures are overwhelming:

Amnesty International tells us that globally, the number of girls and women who experienced sexual or physical violence by an intimate partner in 2020 was 243 million, or 1 in 3 women. Of these, minors represent almost 50%.

We will not talk about obstetrical gynecological violence, " revenge porn " or cyber stalking.

There are no less than 24 feminicides in my country, Belgium.

Dear colleagues,

As you will have understood, I insist very strongly that this issue remains one of the fundamental priorities of our Council.

It is a daily job; it is a work of all our forces. We must constantly pursue this fight, we must remain vigilant with regard to certain speeches made in this Assembly. We must –I agree with my French colleague who spoke before me– ensure that all the member States of the Council of Europe ratify this Istanbul Convention.

Thank you for your attention.


San Marino, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

Next on the list is Ms Eva DECROIX, from the Czech Republic.

The floor is yours.


Czech Republic, EC/DA


Thank you very much, Mister Chair.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Maybe more ladies today, and especially ladies our rapporteurs. Thank you very much for your excellent report.

I'm a Czech, so I'm one of the country's representatives who has appeared today, one of the countries who still had not ratified the Istanbul Convention. It's important for me to address you in my speech and to explain where we are.

First of all, please, it's very crucial for me to explain here and to really underline that the issue of legal regulation of domestic violence and prevention is high priority for the Czech government.

Me personally, I'm a member of the working group, that in co-operation with the Minister of Justice and Office of Government, is preparing legislation to increase the legal standard of domestic violence. It's huge, complex, and very important legislation. I even dare to say that a we are setting the legal standard, even higher than what the Istanbul Convention obliges us.

Furthermore, it's not only about domestic violence. We are working also on the definition of rape. We are working and opening the discussion about change in the criminal code, because we are still over, and we are not the only country in the European Union. Not all the issues, not all the cases of the sexual violence are reported to the police.

This is very important, because no woman should fear to announce and to notify what happened. Prevention is very important in our politics.

Of course, I'm aware that all of this is only the beginning of the effort. The effort was launched, and the Istanbul Convention is also a symbol. I understand your appeal that the Czech Republic should ratify the Convention.

The work was already launched during the past mandate. After, it was stopped. I think partly because of the misinformation which was in the public space, and society was not open to have this discussion. It's a pity.

Today I'm very happy that I hear and I know that the discussion is launched again. Our commissioner for human rights is launching this discussion. I know the documents are being made ready.

I will be very happy if you personally, or in general the Council of Europe may be part of this discussion, trying to explain a lot of these misunderstandings which were mentioned even by you, why sometimes it's so difficult to explain that it's only about prevention.

I personally as a woman, as a lawyer, as family lawyer, or even as a member of this Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination, I merely assure you that it's our priority and that gender-based violence is foremost in the Czech Republic.


San Marino, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you. And now Mr Yuriy KAMELCHUK from Ukraine.

He is not here. So Mr Even ERIKSEN from Norway.


Norway, SOC


Mr President.

Think about it: If you cannot feel safe in your own home, where can you feel safe?

The fact is that each and every day thousands of women and girls are exposed to gender-based violence,

and often domestic violence.

The European Council has been a driving force of protecting human rights.

The Istanbul Convention is a major contributor to the fight against gender-based violence, and thereby preventing violations of human rights.

Therefore, I wholeheartedly stand behind our Assembly, urging the member States that have not yet ratified the Istanbul Convention to do so.

In this regard, I would like to emphasise that the convention shall apply in times of both peace and war.

There is war in Europe, and women and girls are particularly vulnerable.

In yesterday’s debate we heard stories of how women and girls were subject to rape and sexual violence both in Ukraine and in other armed conflicts.

Furthermore, we know that there is potential for increased gender-based violence after a war has ended.

Mr President,

One of the most under-communicated obligations that derives from the Convention, is the responsibility that each and one of us has to prevent and stop gender-based violence: Article 12.4

I agree with the rapporteurs, that boys and men have a particular responsibility to prevent and stop violence against women that occurs just because they are women.

Dear colleagues,

The one keyword to change this situation, and to achieve a more equal everyday life without violence against women, is education.

No one is born a beater. No one is born with bad behaviour towards women.

Yesterday was the International Day of Education. It celebrates the role of education for peace and development. It is about setting good examples for future generations, changing mindsets, behaviours and social norms.

We need to invest in education on gender equality from the youngest age, so that my son and other sons can be provided with better tools in order to prevent and stop gender-based violence.

They need better tools than previous generations have had.

This resolution may increase our chances to achieve this goal.

Finally, I would like to thank the three fantastic rapporteurs for a job well done.

Thank you for giving me the floor, Mr President.


San Marino, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

Now Ms Isabel MEIRELLES from Portugal.

Is she not in the Chamber? Yeah, okay. Thank you. 


Portugal, EPP/CD


Mister Chair,

The last Portuguese Presidency that was held by the European Union was held in 2021 celebrated at a high-level conference on the 10th anniversary of the Istanbul Convention.

This pan-European treaty to prevent and combat violence against women and girls is an ongoing project with advances but also with setbacks, such as the recent abandonment of Türkiye by Erdogan that all of us regret.

Portugal, as was said, was the first member of the European Union to sign the Istanbul Convention, which entered into force in 2014 even before the EU itself had signed.

In Portugal, the crime of domestic violence is described in the Penal Code, assuming the nature of a public crime.

This means that the criminal procedure is not dependent on a complaint by the victim. A complaint or knowledge of the crime is enough for the Public Ministry to promote the process.

Still, this treaty needs to be effectively implemented.

Portugal has done a lot in recent years. It is a fact, and that is something that cannot be denied and deserves to be recognised and praised.

However, the Portuguese legal system needs to do better adapting the Convention.

This is because the essential line of the Convention has to do with prevention and repression, that is, the emphasis is placed not only on the laws, but on the co‑ordinated action of all social policies.

That involves emphasising the "empowerment" of women. Nowadays the great challenge of the Convention is to be able to be effectively in force in all the 46 member States of the Council of Europe and in others that want to adhere to it.

Congratulations to the three rapporteurs. Thank you very much for the lovely work.

Thank you.


San Marino, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much.

Mr Bernard FOURNIER from France. The floor is yours.


France, EPP/CD


Mister President,

Dear Colleagues,

I would like to start by thanking our three colleagues for their reports, which underline how much the fight against violence against women remains a topical issue.

The Istanbul Convention is a major step forward to the credit of the Council of Europe. It has made it possible to influence many national legislations with the aim of protecting women more against the violence of which they could be victims. I believe that this should be recalled at the Reykjavik Summit to highlight the value of the Council of Europe conventions.

Concrete progress on the ground would not have been possible without the support of national parliaments, which adopt measures in line with the convention.

It is indeed up to us, parliamentarians, to ensure that our legislation is in line with the Istanbul Convention and that the GREVIO recommendations are implemented: educational policies in schools, training provided, especially to law enforcement officers, and measures to help victims must be developed.

Despite its obvious interest, the Istanbul Convention has been denounced by Türkiye. I deeply regret this and am particularly concerned for Turkish women, at a time when their rights are particularly threatened. I also regret the misrepresentation of this convention by some transnational organisations that are trying to undermine women's rights in order to maintain a patriarchal society.

In particular, the Istanbul Convention is criticised for using the word "gender", implying that it is in fact aimed at promoting a certain gender ideology. However, the word "gender" must be understood as a social conception that aims to maintain women under the domination of men and to legitimise violence.

Of course, the Convention addresses the case of LGBTI+ women but only with the aim of providing them with the protection they are legitimately entitled to in the face of violence. The same goes for women seeking asylum in Europe who may be victims of mafia groups.

We are living in a period that poses new challenges for the protection of women from violence. The Covid-19 epidemic and its successive confinements have fostered isolation and violent tendencies in some. Numerous cases of domestic violence have been reported during this period.

We must, therefore, remain vigilant and continue to promote the Istanbul Convention within our respective states. In this regard, I welcome the courageous decision of Ukraine, which ratified the Convention at a particularly difficult time in its history. It is an extremely strong symbol that has a real driving force, as we saw yesterday in the speech by the German Foreign Minister.

Thank you very much.


San Marino, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

And now Ms Lesia ZABURANNA from Ukraine. The floor is yours.


Ukraine, ALDE


Dear President, dear colleagues.

First of all, I would like to say thank you very much to the rapporteurs for the excellent work in this sphere.

For a long time, we have discussed in the Assembly the need of tackling gender-based violence, and even completed some steps to support our citizens who became victims or to prevent citizens from becoming them.

In 2021, the Covid-19 pandemic dashed our hopes of changing the situation with the ever-growing number of cases of gender-based violence, both physical and psychological.

In 2022, the situation has been driven to another level with the unprovoked invasion by the Russian Federation of Ukraine nearly breaking a global record of cruelty and creating significant risks for the population of Ukraine in many dimensions, including gender-based violence.

Since the beginning of it, the context in which we fight gender-based violence has changed and the number of victims of gender-based violence has grown but even during the war, Ukraine demonstrated its commitment to combating gender-based violence by ratifying the Istanbul Convention.

Dear colleagues, for almost a year we have trembled with horror when reading about newly discovered crimes of Russian soldiers in Ukraine: raped women and girls and shot men and boys; the scale of this brutality is unspeakable, while the support to commit these crimes that Russian soldiers get from their families speaks volumes.

Violence does not occur in a vacuum but rather in a society that overlooks and encourages it. Therefore, in Ukraine, we make all-out efforts at national and international level to bring to justice those who committed war crimes in Ukraine and their political and military leaders; the establishment of a special tribunal will be the most effective mechanism for it also.

And today, we need your support to ensure accountability in the name of the victims of Russian aggression against Ukraine: the 12-year-old girl raped by 10 Russian soldiers in the Luhansk region, the 13-year-old boy shot by a Russian soldier in the Kyiv region, and thousands of others.

We can only change the current status quo and end violence by uniting all our efforts in the search for justice and prevention.

Only in this way, can we ensure that the values of our organisation are respected.

Thank you.


San Marino, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much.

Now Ms Béatrice FRESKO-ROLFO from Monaco.


Monaco, ALDE


Thank you, Mr President.

First of all, I would like to thank the Bureau for proposing this major debate on a Wednesday, at a key moment in the Assembly's activity, for a vote of the parliamentarians. The subjects it deals with concern fundamental human rights.

The three women in charge of this report, Ms Zita GURMAI, Ms Petra STIENEN and Ms Margreet De BOER, have done an exceptional job in proposing effective resolutions that will advance mentalities, legislation and actions in favour of women, young women and girls.

I can only note that the proposed solutions still seem so obvious, and yet, we are still debating issues that should have been solved long ago.

Today, we are talking specifically about disparity. Women are still the main victims of violence; they suffer throughout their lives from social, economic and often legal inequalities. The question is how we can accept that half of the population can be under the threat of having their most basic rights violated, those rights of being able to live free from violence, to be able to decide on their family status and to be able to flourish in a society with the same rights as men.

The empowerment of women and their financial security remain crucial points in all the reports presented to us this afternoon and will most often result from legal changes, which are therefore essential.

All our rapporteurs have spoken about, quoted and praised the Istanbul Convention which remains, I remind you, a major text of the commission's work but above all a primordial text for our societies.

So yes, men do have a role to play and this is the purpose of the HeForShe ("him for her") campaign initiated by UN Women in 2014, which aims to encourage men and boys to participate in the fight for gender equality and women's rights.

So my fellow men, I urge you to be proactive on all of these topics.

Moreover, as a member of the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination and former general rapporteur on violence against women, I am very pleased that a man, our Norwegian colleague Mr Even ERIKSEN, has taken up the challenge and brought his vision to this cause. He offers a clear and strong signal on the need for men to get involved on behalf of their mothers, wives, sisters and daughters. Moreover, at only 27 years old, he shows that young men are very interested in this issue and want to actively participate in societal changes in our modern world.

Finally, I would like to conclude my speech with a quote from Gandhi, the great defender of civil rights and peace: "To call women 'the weaker sex' is a defamation; it is man's injustice to woman. If nonviolence is the law of humanity, the future belongs to women."

Thank you.


San Marino, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much.

Now Mr Mika NIIKKO from Finland. Maybe he is not... He is, okay.

The floor is yours.


Finland, EC/DA


Thank you, Mister Chairman,

Marital captivity is an important issue to address. As it says in the report, the awareness remains too low. It is good that we are talking about this today.

It is estimated that in Europe there are tens of thousands of women who fear for their lives if they try to leave their husband. They might face danger, lose their children, be isolated, or get deported.

Marital captivity is often linked to religions and culture.

If the marriage is religious, legal rights do not always apply. This has been seen in many different religions, but the situation is especially concerning in Muslim marriages.

Even if the woman gets a civil divorce in Europe, in some cases she is still bound to her husband religiously, with no legal way out. Or her home country doesn’t acknowledge the divorce.

We have also seen cases of so-called honour-based violence, for example in Sweden and in the UK. We can’t allow this kind of culture to take room in Europe any more.

We, here, in the Council of Europe need to take action and end this development before it spreads any wider.

We as lawmakers need to do everything in our power to make sure our laws are up-to-date, and that our countries are able to protect everyone - especially women and children.

Thank you.


San Marino, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

And now the floor goes to Mr Pavlo BAKUNETS from Ukraine.



Ukraine, NR


Dear Mr President, dear members of the Assembly,

First of all, I thank all of you, rapporteurs, for the three reports. Thank you. I would like once more to introduce information that the Ukrainian parliament ratified this convention last year. We did it on our way to be in Europe, to integrate into the European Union.

This Convention applies both in peacetime and in time of war, according to Article 2 of the Convention, and today the Convention faces one of the biggest challenges on the European continent.

This is the test of a brutal war of Russian aggression against Ukraine. That is why we want to make every effort to ensure the rights and safety of women, the safety of children in Ukraine, in Europe.

And today, the biggest threat to women and children in Ukraine is Russian missiles targeting hospitals, targeting civilian homes.

According to official information, unfortunately, more than 1 700 women and girls have been killed by Russian occupiers. And unfortunately, this number will continue to grow. Just as a reminder, the recent cynical attack at the residential building in Dnipro.

That is why, therefore, the best guarantee of the safety of women, of children in Europe, in Ukraine today, is military aid, is financial support to Ukraine.

This means the immediate supply of modern tanks like we know today's information, supply of air defence systems and other artillery.

And we believe in our soldiers and we believe in our common victory. We should also create a special international tribunal to punish Russian political and military leaders for their crimes against women, girls and children in Ukraine.

We believe in the brave Ukrainian soldiers. We believe in brave Ukrainian men and women. We believe in our common victory, the victory of Ukraine, the victory of Europe. Slava Ukraini.


San Marino, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

Next on the list is Ms Sibel ARSLAN from Switzerland.

The floor is yours.


Switzerland, SOC


Thank you very much, Mister Chairman,

I would also like to express my sincere thanks to the rapporteurs for this tireless work and for this good report.

The Istanbul Convention on the Protection and Prevention of Violence against Women and Domestic Violence is the best international legal framework for protecting women from gender-based violence and preventing domestic violence. We have heard that over and over again now as well.

Even though we see progress, violence and tragic murders of women have, unfortunately, increased massively. That's why it's important that national legislations be regularly reviewed and appropriate legislative changes be proposed. It is also important today to call confidently on those countries that are member States to sign this convention and on those that have withdrawn from this agreement or convention to rejoin and fully support it.

Gender-based violence is a form of human rights violation, and this human rights violation, unfortunately, occurs in all member States of the Council of Europe. It does not stop at the border of one country. That is why we are currently discussing a new law on sexual offences in Switzerland. In this law, which was actually drafted by men years ago, certain changes are to be made. On the one hand, women should be actively involved in this change in the law. On the other hand, it should also be about a consent solution in sexual criminal law. In other words, a "yes means yes" solution is proposed. That is to say, women will no longer have to explain why they did not put up enough of a fight if they did not want sexual abuse or sexual acts. They don't have to show bruises to say they were raped. It's just also important that national legislation to combat gender-based violence be accompanied by policies.

We must not forget that the risk of violence is also multiplied by social and intersectional factors such as physical limitations, ethic origin, and sexual orientation. We in Europe can often only be so successful as women because other women who are exploited may also have to work for us or help us. We must not forget that either in our work as women. Moreover, it is also important that we also talk about femicides and not about family dramas. Therefore, I would also like to thank the gentlemen who, as feminists, have supported this whole convention and the Istanbul Convention today. With them, I think we are strong.

Thank you very much, and thank you again for this report.


San Marino, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

Next is Ms Parvin KARIMZADA from Azerbaijan.


Azerbaijan, EC/DA


Thank you, Mr Chair.

Dear Madam Rapporteurs,

Thank you for your very good reports.

Combating gender-based violence has been on the national and international agendas of many countries for decades.

One way to combat violence is to get rid of deep-rooted gender stereotypes.

We can prevent gender-based violence and protect the rights of all people if we make a concerted effort to transform unacceptable social norms.

To do this we must act from different angles.

First, to truly end violence and discrimination against women, men and boys must not only be seen as a part of the problem, but rather they must be considered an integral part of the solution to this problem.

We are all human, and this is what we should understand.

The struggle for women's rights against discrimination and violence is above all a struggle for humanity.

Moreover, it's essential to ensure that both girls and boys receive a comprehensive upbringing and education that teaches them not only the basics of science, but also respect, independence and harmony.

Violence against women is not only a serious violation of human rights, but also a global epidemic that destroys the lives of millions of women and girls and hinders progress towards comprehensive security for all.

Millions of women in the world fear for their safety. It doesn't only affect their personal security, but also prevents them from participating in society or using their skills and knowledge to the fullest.

As in many countries, Azerbaijan has adopted laws against gender-based violence, and has implemented a national policy and preventive measures. In this process, along with official bodies, non-governmental organisations and individuals are also actively involved.

I would like to give a few examples from our history. Back in the 19th century, Azerbaijani writers and educators, more specifically male writers, wrote about gender equality and gender violence. Those male writers highlighted the importance of education as a tool to protect gender and equality.

In 1901, a male, an Azerbaijani philanthropist, opened the first school for girls in the Muslim world in the east.

In 1980, Azerbaijan went down in history as the first Muslim country to give women the right to vote.

The modern Azerbaijani Constitution ensures the quality of all regardless of gender. Equality in everything.

At the end, I believe that we all need to recognise our role in ending gender-based violence in our families and in our communities.

Ending violence against women is everyone's responsibility. Every person, men and boys, women and girls, have a responsibility to prevent gender-based violence.

Thank you.


San Marino, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

Now up is Mr Andreas Sjalg UNNELAND from Norway.

Mr Andreas Sjalg UNNELAND

Norway, UEL


Thank you, Mister President,

A life free of violence is a human right. Therefore we have a responsibility to act when half of the population is at greater risk of violence and sexual abuse.

Estimates published by the World Health Organization indicate that globally about 1 in 3 women have been subject to violence.

As the rapporteur said at the beginning of this debate: this convention saves lives.

The Istanbul Convention remains the best international framework for protecting women from gender-based violence and sexual abuse, and to prevent domestic violence.

When we in this Assembly know how important this convention is, I can’t stop wondering about why all countries have not ratified this convention. There is no good excuse. It should stand as an inspiration to the other countries that Ukraine signed and ratified while being in an existential war.

Our task in this Assembly is to point out that countries should take steps to prevent abuse and violence against women. You can’t just say that women's rights are important. If you acknowledge that women's rights are human rights, the Istanbul Convention should be a no-brainer.

So why is it taking so long?

Armenia signed in 2018 – five years ago, and still not ratified.

Azerbaijan has not signed at all, the only member State in this Assembly not to do so.

Bulgaria signed in 2016 – seven years ago, and still not ratified.

Czech Republic also signed in 2016 – seven years ago, and still not ratified.

Hungary signed 2014 – nine years ago, and still not ratified.

Latvia signed in 2016 – seven years ago, and still not ratified.

Lithuania signed in 2013 – 10 years ago, and still not ratified.

Slovak Republic signed in 2011 – 12 years ago, and still not ratified.

I strongly urge all members from these countries to show that you take this seriously and work towards your countries ratifying this convention.

Mister President,

It has been pointed out, and it is a shame to see that Türkiye was one of the first countries to ratify this convention, and ten years later, it was the first and only member State to leave the convention.

I want to express solidarity with all women in Türkiye who are fighting for their rights.

I encourage Türkiye to once again become a part of the Istanbul Convention.

Thank you again to the rapporteurs for your important and excellent work.


San Marino, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

Now it's Ms Minerva HERNÁNDEZ RAMOS from Mexico.

The floor is yours.




Good day from Mexico, good day Europe.

My interest in participating in this debate is because I am originally from Tlaxcala, a Mexican state that carries the infamous burden for being known for the cases of violence against women.

Shamefully, in one way or another, there will always be men from Tlaxcala involved in cases of women trafficking rings, as reported by The Guardian, The Independent, and The Washington Post.

The number of cases about economic violence or the limitations to control the incomes of Tlaxcalan women, or of paying them less for the same work, in such a way that their economic survival is affected, are higher in Tlaxcala than in the average of all of Mexico.

In the report prepared by Ms Petra STIENEN, I read that one in three - 33% - in Europe is a survivor of gender violence. In Tlaxcala, Mexico, it is almost double that number; it is almost seven out of 10, 68.6%.

That is why today I want to raise my voice to join the Assembly in its absolute and energetic rejection of gender violence and also to agree with you that men have the responsibility to become valuable agents of change for this situation, and in the importance that we must give to the promotion of mindful masculinities, that allow for the building of respectful relationships.

As a Mexican senator I recognise my country has omitted the adoption if the Istanbul Convention, which is why at the end of 2019 in the Senate of the Republic, we urged the president of Mexico to carry out its adoption and ratification. Since this is the most advanced international legal instrument for the prevention and combat of violence against women and domestic violence.

I promise that we will continue to insist on the importance of this for my country, adopting the necessary measures and strategies contained within said agreement.

I fully agree that as women, we must involve men in the fight against gender violence.

We must show them the degree of responsibility they have in their hands when relating to women and girls.

But also - and this seems fundamental to me - in the way of relating to other men and boys within the paradigm of mindful masculinity - aware of the existence of harmful practices and reflective of the importance of showing the example of respect and inclusion.

A few years ago, at the beginning of my political career, we the women asked for equal spaces.

We said that decisions could not be made without listening to the voices, and without the participation of others in society as well - men, children, the entire population.

Thank you.


San Marino, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much.

Now it's Ms Hannah BARDELL from the United Kingdom.

The floor is yours. 


United Kingdom, NR


Thank you very much, Mister Chair.

It is a huge privilege and pleasure to speak in this debate. I want to congratulate the rapporteurs on three excellent and crucial reports, because according to the UN more than one in five women and girls was killed every hour by a family member in 2021. That is an utterly horrific statistic.

As many other speakers have said, we must be inclusive and intersectional in our approac,h because as a cis white queer woman, I have been targeted, I have experienced sexual and gender-based violence since I was a little girl. I hold a huge amount of privilege. As a member of parliament for nearly eight years now, I have seen in my constituency work –as I am sure many of us have– some of the most terrifying and deeply upsetting cases.

As one of my UK colleagues said earlier, the UK has a huge issue with gender-based violence, with misogyny, both online and offline. In the last five years we have lost two parliamentarians, one woman, who was Jo Cox, who was killed in cold blood on the steps of her constituency, and also Sir David Amess.

Now as the report on the responsibility of men and boys highlights, there is a huge responsibility and an impact. If we can solve the issues around gender-based violence, we can stop toxic masculinity, which also feeds into the huge levels of male suicide that we see in the UK and across the world. When we see members trying to divide out the role of men or suggest that immigrants or asylum seekers are at the root of this problem, we are absolutely turning in on ourselves. We are sending the wrong message. We want to lift each other up across the world to have the best possible standards. The UK needs to look at itself as well. 

There has been a lot of negativity, rightly, in the press about police officers in the UK. In Police Scotland, we have a campaign called "Don't Be That Guy", which is about toxic masculinity and about not being a bystander. It has had a very powerful and important impact on men in our society. But we cannot get away from the murders of Sarah Everard and the horrific incident of one of our officers in the Met Police recently, who has been raping and murdering women.

I have seen in my own constituency some of the women who have lost their lives to male violence. I want to pay tribute to Aimee Cannon and her mother Wendy, whom I have sat with and I have cried with, understanding and listening to her experience. I have seen women who have come as immigrants or asylum seekers to Scotland who have been abused by their partners and who need our support. This legislation is crucial across all of our nations.

Let's work together to make it happen.


San Marino, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much.

And now Mr Robert TROY from Ireland.

Mr Robert TROY

Ireland, ALDE


Thank you.

Dear colleagues,

Can I start by adding my voice of thanks and gratitude to the rapporteurs for the work that they have done.

If you'll forgive me for signalling out one in particular, my Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe colleague Ms Petra STIENEN, who I know from my time as serving on the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination with her from 2016 to 2020, has been an extremely strong voice on this important issue.

The eradication of gender-based violence is a key priority of our time. This was acknowledged by the report on the Fourth Summit adopted by this Assembly last night, and by the High-Level Reflection Group report chaired by Ms Mary ROBINSON.

The Istanbul Convention remains the best international framework for protecting women from gender-based violence. Our country ratified it on International Women's Day in 2019.

And while much positive work has been done, much more needs to be done.

Last year, my government published the zero tolerance Third National Strategy to Combat Domestic, Sexual, and Gender-based Violence.

This strategy was co-designed with organisations working on the front line, helping victims of domestic, sexual, gender-based violence, and included extensive engagement on the issues that should be addressed.

The goal of the Third National Strategy is clear: zero tolerance in Irish society for any form of domestic, sexual, and gender-based violence.

It is an ambitious five-year programme of reform, to achieve a society which does not accept domestic, sexual, or gender-based violence, or the attitudes that underpin it.

The 360 Million Strategy is built on the four Istanbul pillars: protection, prevention, prosecution, and policy coordination. The strategy, specifically in relation to the role and responsibility of men and boys in stopping gender-based violence against women and girls, includes commitments such as raising public awareness of domestic, sexual, and gender-based violence in all its forms and across all groups in society, and working to challenge existing misconceptions and established beliefs in relation to domestic, sexual, and gender-based violence.

Inclusivity will be an essential feature of the campaign, with messaging focused on encouraging men and boys to contribute to actively preventing all forms of violence and delivering age-appropriate interventions for boys to address and challenge male violence.

Men have a responsibility to be role models, and we can be the agents of change that is needed.


San Marino, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

Now the floors goes to Ms Arta BILALLI ZENDELI from North Macedonia.


North Macedonia, SOC


Thank you, Mister Chair.

We all agree that violence is not a way for problem solving.

It is quite bad when this starts within the family and then increases in other human and wider aspects of society.

North Macedonia has ratified the Istanbul Convention in 2014, but knowing that it is not enough only to ratify the International Convention we continue to work in our domestic legislation.

Thus in 2021, we adopted a specific law on combating domestic violence, violence against women, and gender-based violence.

In December last year, we adopted changes in the criminal code. During the process of amendment proposals MPs, women MPs, from different political parties had many discussions with civil society in order to get their suggestions and amend the proposed changes from the Ministry of Justice.

I would like to highlight here that in this issue, in this topic, women parliamentarians in North Macedonia overcame the political differences and we proposed amendments in line with the Istanbul Convention all together regardless of our political background. They were accepted by the Ministry of Justice and voted in the parliament.

Earlier I mentioned the law combating the domestic violence, violence against women, and gender-based violence. In this law we also put some solutions that are deriving from the Istanbul Conventions in order to protect the victims. But statistics show that victims in most cases are women –wives, daughters, mothers, intimate partners, etc. On the other hand, a very bad data point is that there are even some cases that are reported to the police, proceeded to the public persecution, and then decided in the court. And analysis from organisation for security and cooperation in Europe shows that in North Macedonia only 2% of cases are reported, which means then the dark number is and is remaining very very high.

Violence must not be tolerated, if the state cannot stop or prevent it, the least that must be done is to punish the perpetrators.

In particular, increasing the competences of state organs for the perpetrator and undertaking the helping measures for the victims are an essential part of this law.

We also accepted a few new terms or notions like "economical violence persecution" as well as "sexual harassment through internet".

It would be better if we call for its stop, but if we don't do it because we are not sure that it will work, at least we can call for ratification of the Istanbul Convention from the states that didn't do it yet, as well as the incorporation of its provisions in the domestic legal system.

Full support for your work, full support for your reports, and many thanks to you, colleagues.


San Marino, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much.

The floor goes to Ms Berglind Ósk GUÐMUNDSDÓTTIR from Iceland.


Iceland, EC/DA


Thank you, Mister President.

No country is immune to gender-based violence.

We all are facing these challenges. Even though great strides have been taken these past few years, naming especially the Istanbul Convention and gender equality strategies, there is a backslide in women's rights.

It was apparent during the debate yesterday about conflict-related sexual violence that even though steps have been taken to eradicate violence against women and girls, there is definite pushback.

A woman's rights over her own body have been debated in many European countries in the past few years. Regrettably, some have even enforced stricter laws on the matter: limiting a woman's rights over her own body, her own life.

Also, there are new challenges appearing as the number of digitalised sexual violence cases are on the rise, in line with greater access to new technology. Girls are especially vulnerable to this new type of sexual violence. We must ensure human rights are protected with the increased use of technology. There is a real need for progress.

During Iceland's presidency of the Council of Europe, Iceland is committed to protecting the human rights of women and girls around the world, emphasising the role of men and boys in fighting gender discrimination.

Completely eliminating gender-based violence seems like a distant dream.

The majority of speakers in this debate are female, which is understandable, but also a little bit disappointing, considering that we are discussing a report on the important role that men play in eradicating sexual violence against women.

The report concludes that pop culture can have a significant effect on this issue, but I urge all you males in this Assembly to take action yourselves, as some of you already have.

Men also need real-life leaders for gender equality.

Let's be better allies and work on these issues together.

The Istanbul Convention is not just fancy words on a piece of paper.

It underlines that all women should be protected from violence and that it is our human right not to be subjected to violence based on our gender.

All member States should ratify the treaty without hesitation.

I am a woman. I am a politician. I am a mother. I demand women's human rights be protected. I demand action against gender-based sexual violence in all member States.

Thank you.


San Marino, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

Next on the list is Ms Marica MONTEMAGGI from the Republic of San Marino.

The floor is yours.


San Marino, SOC


Thank you president,

And thank you to the three colleagues who brought these reports, because the right of every woman to live in safety, in full freedom, free from all forms of violence is not only the right of every woman, but a human right which countries should protect. And so it becomes important to continue to urge those countries that have not yet joined to sign, ratify in their parliaments the Istanbul Convention.

We start with the understanding that if we want to win the battle against violence against women, we have to work together, men and women. And I think with great balance and sensitivity my colleague Petra STIENEN explained why it is necessary to have a report that emphasized how men and boys, our sons, are crucial to get to that goal together.

The Republic of San Marino is a small state, 35,000 people in 61 square kilometers. Think, then, of a country where everyone knows each other and where it can be complex and frustrating for a woman to overcome the walls of fear, prejudices and stereotypes.

San Marino ratified the Istanbul Convention in 2016. Much has been done, much more can still be done. So these reports are a guide and a source of inspiration to ensure that more and more targeted policies, I am thinking of gender equality education, training in educational institutions, the most appropriate legal and juridical measures, as well as training even the police and professionals and promoting the engagement of the whole civil society. A new social and cultural fabric can be created.

We need to instill confidence but we also need to give concrete tools to parliaments and women to get out of situations that they no longer tolerate for themselves, for their children, in which they feel imprisoned.

So the assertion of freedom, equal living conditions, as well as working conditions cannot be a battle waged by women alone and every effort must be implemented without delay.

And I will return to my parliament therefore tomorrow with new tools because of these resolutions that I hope and trust and am sure will be adopted.

Harassment, physical violence, psychological violence, femicide, unequal treatment at work, cultural and social discrimination. How much longer, I wonder, will women around the world have to bear the burden of these violations? As lawmakers, as institutions, but also as parents, brothers, sisters, we have a profound responsibility.

It is painful, tremendously painful, to read in the newspapers and hear the news of women around the world losing their lives just because they want to be themselves.

This information also may make us fear a regression of those rights already won. But I don't want to stop having faith in politics, in our institutions and in civil society, which must and will stand by the institutions.

And so, in order for that plan of action to be brought forward, to be realized to get to our goal, right to life and right to freedom, I will vote wholeheartedly for these resolutions.


San Marino, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much.

Now, Ms Hilkka KEMPPI, from Finland.

Ms Hilkka KEMPPI

Finland, ALDE


Mister President,

The Istanbul Convention is the most far-reaching international convention for preventing and combating violence against women. Yet, some governments have withdrawn their signatures. The many false narratives surrounding the Convention cost lives and cause a lot of human suffering. States should strengthen and renew their commitment to ending violence against women.

Finland was among the first to sign the Istanbul Convention in 2015. The ratification made it clear that political pressure makes "impossible" reforms possible. For example, funding for shelters changed with the Convention. Before, Finland's shelters were strictly child protection units funded by municipalities and the Finnish Slot Machine Association. When buying shelter services from NGOs, funds were taken from the municipality’s child protection budget. As a result, some municipalities were hesitant to use the funds for childless women in need of shelter.

This changed with a legal amendment that made shelters more accessible. Now, all women – young, old, with or without kids– can use shelters free of charge. We should continue this work. Shelters save lives. The Istanbul Convention saves lives.

Finnish rape legislation was also recently reformed thanks to the Istanbul Convention. Now it is in line with the Convention, criminalising rape on the grounds of lack of consent. This is a huge step to ensure justice for rape victims. Definitions of rape based on the use or threat of force, as opposed to lack of consent, are not in line with human rights standards. The next step is to promote a culture of consent. This requires, of course, comprehensive sex education.

Criminalising rape based on consent should also be a European matter. The Commission has recently proposed a directive to end violence against women, which has been subject to a lively debate. I am concerned by rumours that some states are considering removing the criminalisation of rape from the directive.

My position is clear, I believe that criminalising rape is one of the main objectives of the directive. It is in line with the Istanbul Convention as well. We should not create double standards within Europe.

Thank you.


San Marino, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much.

And now, Mr Jeremy CORBYN, from the United Kingdom.

Mr Jeremy CORBYN

United Kingdom, SOC


...and it's a pleasure to take part in this debate.

I think the quality of discussion about these three excellent reports really is a credit to this Assembly.

I think the speech we've just heard from Ms Minerva HERNÁNDEZ RAMOS, from Mexico, shows the value of having observer delegations here who can take part in our debates.

The essential part of this is of course about the Istanbul Convention. The Istanbul Convention was signed some years ago. It's been ratified by the majority of countries, but surely we need to send a very strong message out from here today. Those countries that have not yet signed or ratified the Convention, must do so as a matter of urgency. Türkiye above all, must return to the fold, because it's after all named after the wonderful city of Istanbul.

But we should also recognise there are some very important parts of the Convention. One is that women who have made their homes in different countries and migrated to them, suffer domestic violence; marriage breakup follows as a result of it, and in some countries and in some cases, they're in danger of losing their resident status and as a result become virtual prisoners in a terrible situation where they're subject to violence and the difficulty of knowing where they're going to go in the future and possibly losing contact with their own children.

Therefore, we need total protection for all women in this. That means also looking at immigration laws in each country and making sure that there is no-fault divorce available for women in all countries that are signed up to the Convention, and indeed support the principles of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Today we should also send a message out to women around the world, and men who are supporting those women around the world, who are campaigning for their rights.

We all have histories in our own countries. We have the suffragettes and many others who campaigned for the right of women to vote.

Sadly, for some women around the world, that is not the case. It's not the case in Saudi Arabia that women enjoy full rights. It's absolutely not the case in Iran either.

So a strong message from this Assembly today in support of those women campaigning for those rights is something that to me is very, very important.

The last point I want to make is this. Male violence doesn't come from nowhere. We should, in addition, be looking at the way we bring up our children, looking at the way we bring up our boys, what values they're taught, and what place they feel they have in society. Because I'm constantly shocked by the degree of isolation of many young men in Britain, and indeed in other countries across Europe, where the highest rates of suicide exist amongst young men.

So looking at all these issues, lets also look seriously at issues of boys' education, men's education, and their place in our society to end the scourge of violence against women.


San Marino, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

Now the floor goes to Mr José María SÁNCHEZ GARCÍA from Spain.


Spain, EC/DA


Thank you very much, Mister President.

The Istanbul Convention came into force in 2014, already over eight years ago.

It's a convention on violence against women and against domestic violence as well.

The first draft debate, of course, concerned violence against women. We've seen quite clearly that it continues to grow, and it is truly alarming what is happening across the world right now.

It also outlines that in 2021 this type of violence continues to affect for the most part women, with data showing percentages of over 79%.

It highlights that the Convention does not threaten the nuclear family or family values and also emphasises that the Convention does not impose a certain way of life or lifestyles.

However, accepting the quantitative 79% figure mentioned as violence againt women, I wish to point out that in the first place, special national legislation on combating gender violence has been shown to be extremely ineffective, because it has not succeeded in reducing the number of cases of violence against women.

This is the case in Spain, where the Organic Law 1/2004, 10 years before the Istanbul Convention went into effect, has yet to show any positive result with regards to its intended purposes.

Secondly, despite this failure, there is an effort made in legislations in Spain and in numerous different countries to establish a legal procedure that discriminates men and women before the courts and administrative authorities. All this should make one reflect on such legislative policies. Their source can be found in a radical feminist ideology, called "gender ideology", which is outdated and opposed to a traditional understanding of life, which is what it claims to fight against, what it now tells us in this report on the Istanbul Convention, which doesn't stem from gender ideology, but what actually is a debatable effect of that ideology.

Furthermore, I wish to emphasise that in Spain there has been a recent law on the reform of the criminal code that merged two types of sexual abuses and sexual assaults resulting in the backfiring against the legislator's aim and leading to the release of sex offenders, and in the future, lighter sentences for sex offenders. All of this caused, again, by this staunchly radical feminist ideology, clumsily implemented.

Lastly, it is entirely unacceptable in the third point of the debate that religious weddings through the Catholic Church be cited as an obstacle for women or the reason behind women's captivity. This goes against religious freedom and Western legal tradition. It's truly, I say, unacceptable for our group and for those who think as we do.

That's all. Thank you very much.


San Marino, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

Now the floor goes to Ms Derya TÜRK-NACHBAUR.


Germany, SOC


Mister President,

Dear Colleagues,

The year 2023 is not yet a month old, but already many, many femicides are severe. Women are murdered because they are women. Women experience violence because they are women. It is regrettable that even in our ranks there are still member States that, by not ratifying the Istanbul Convention, have not yet boldly underlined the following: Women's rights are human rights.

Dear Ms Zita GURMAI, dear Ms Margreet De BOER, dear Ms Petra STIENEN, thank you very much for these reports, which show us all once again very clearly, we have it in black and white, what dimension this gender-specific violence has. Some 30% of all women worldwide have already been victims of physical and sexual violence. Every third woman. Take a look around the room, count the number of victims and try to imagine it. The bitter reality is that when living conditions become frosty, it is women who have to dress especially warmly.

Not only has the pandemic further exacerbated domestic violence, but the rising cost of living, growing poverty, high energy prices are all factors that unsettle people and exacerbate domestic violence. There can be no talk at all of relaxation within one's own four walls. There will be no relief until we vigorously promote the implementation of the Istanbul Convention in our countries of origin. The German government is doing just that. As of 23 February the Istanbul Convention will also be fully effective in Germany. Women's shelters will be much better equipped economically. Help for affected women will be low-threshold and accessible everywhere.

With regard to Europe, I fully support my German government in criticising Türkiye's withdrawal from the Convention as a fatal signal. It is painful to see that the country that was the first to join the Istanbul Convention is the first to make this commitment to protect women. My solidarity, the solidarity of all of us, is with the Turkish women and girls who are facing violence. We encourage the courageous women's associations and parties to do everything they can to rejoin the Istanbul Convention. All staunch democrats stand with you in this.

Also our EU as a whole should finally ratify the Istanbul Convention. Unfortunately, this has not happened yet. It would be an important step and a clear signal to countries like Latvia, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, and Bulgaria, which only need to provide the necessary framework for the protection of women. I am counting on the tandem of Germany and France in this regard. Last Sunday in Paris, the two countries not only celebrated their friendship in a big way, but also agreed to work together on it.

That gives me confidence.

We have a lot to do. Let's tackle it together.

Thank you.


San Marino, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

Now Mr Caspar Van den BERG from Netherlands.

Mr Bob van PAREREN

Netherlands, EC/DA


 Chairman, he is not present but he will send in his paper.


San Marino, UEL, President of the Assembly



Thank you very much.

So now the floor goes to Ms Feleknas UCA from Türkiye.

Ms Feleknas UCA

Türkiye, UEL


Thank you very much, Mister Chairman,

I congratulate all three rapporteurs for producing these important reports.

Thank you for your valuable research and hard work.

As we all know, there is gender-based violence all over the world. Every day the dose of violence increases. Where does domestic violence come from? What a bad situation when you look at the reports of the dimensions.

There, unfortunately, we see as stated in the report, the United Nations estimates that there are 736 million women in the world who are subjected to sexual or physical violence.

Data like this, the prevention of gender-based violence like the Istanbul Convention protects women, girls and boys. It shows the importance of contracts that protect against domestic violence. Withdrawal from the treaty, respectively, non-signatory states should be encouraged to sign as soon as possible to protect women and children from violence. With the effective implementation of additional laws to protect women, deterrent penalties should be enforced by men.

Violence is prevented by ending the system of violence. Preventing violence against women and gender-based violence sincerely will move countries forward and will raise the level.

Of course, it is the common responsibility of all of us to protect women's achievements. However, the Council of Europe and its member States must take a greater responsibility to create more agenda on this issue and protect the convention.

Türkiye, which was one of the first countries to agree to the Istanbul Convention, has now withdrawn from the treaty. Of course, we criticise Türkiye for withdrawing. Since it withdrew, violence against women in Türkiye has also increased. On behalf of all women in Türkiye, we call on Türkiye to return to the Istanbul Convention treaty. The openness of member States to dialogue with non-governmental organisations, the proposals of PACE, and international women's institutions should be taken into account, and this problem should be solved with a civil society approach.

Attacks on women's institutions, gender inequalities and policies that promote violence towards anyone or any country have nothing to gain. The only point at which all of society will unite is to protect the right to life. For this reason, it is important to ensure that laws to combat violence against women and end femicide are effectively implemented.

I call for the implementation of the Istanbul Convention and all the achievements of women.

We will continue our struggle for a just and equal world as always.

Thank you.


San Marino, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much.

And now the floor goes to another Mexican observer, Ms Gabriela BENAVIDES COBOS.




Thank you very much, Mr President.

It is an honour to be present once again at this session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in 2023, representing my country, Mexico, which is a permanent observer in this Assembly.

I take this opportunity to congratulate all rapporteurs, and more specifically, Ms Zita GURMAI, for the presentation of this draft, which among other points, urges various parliaments to ratify the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence, known as the Istanbul Convention.

I am pleased to see that we have had more than 30 speakers this afternoon, all analysing the serious issue of violence against women. Most of these speakers are women, but it is great to see men taking part too.

It is of the utmost importance to recognise and sign this Convention since it includes the obligations of states to establish protection and support services to respond to violence against women, and also obliges authorities to provide education on gender equality, sexuality and healthy relationships. Unfortunately, this serious issue is still a problem in my country, and one that we must all work together on.

As my colleague Ms Minerva HERNÁNDEZ RAMOS has already mentioned, in the Senate of the Mexican Republic we have unanimously agreed, in spite of our different political parties or ideologies, to urge our President to sign the Convention because, as has rightly been pointed out, it is the international document that offers the greatest guarantee of protection for women; we hope that this will happen soon.

In Mexico, we have achieved gender parity in our federal and state chambers, where we have a 50-50 balance of men and women. This was because we all understand that public parity policy of parity needed to be applied across the board, at municipal, state and federal level.

Today it is urgent that we all do likewise to combat gender-based violence.

We should remember that the Covid-19 lockdowns exacerbated domestic violence. Because of this, it is vital that we endorse the public policies of all assemblies, at all levels, to prevent gender-based violence and impose penalties on its perpetrators.

If we all work together, we can make it happen.

Thank you.


San Marino, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much.

And now, Ms Selin SAYEK BÖKE, from Türkiye.


Türkiye, SOC


Thank you very much.

I take this floor not just as a parliamentarian, not just as a member of our Assembly. but as a Turkish woman. And I dedicate this short speech to the millions of women in Türkiye who have been staunch fighters for their rights and the Istanbul Convention.

On 20 March 2021, we woke up to a unilateral and sudden undebated presidential decision attempting to withdraw Türkiye from the Istanbul Convention. The very Convention the Turkish Parliament had approved unanimously – unanimously, everybody had voted yes – 11 years ago. The very Convention that was born out of the centuries-long struggle of women for their very own rights. It was not granted by the grace of men. It was not granted by the grace of any political power. It was not imposed. It was hard won by the fight of women and men who were dedicated to human rights.

I detailed these already very well-known facts, not because you do not know them, but because they show the stark contrast between where we started from and where we stand. And they show us where we should go. And they show us what the Istanbul Convention is truly about. It is without any doubt the gold standard for protecting women from gender-based violence. But it is much more than that and the Turkish case is actually proof of this. It was adopted in 2011, it was annulled in 2021, and it will be re-ratified in May 2023, when we are elected into power after the elections.

Now let me detail this a bit. The Istanbul Convention is a beacon of democracy. Why? Because it was unanimously adopted in the Turkish Parliament. Its annulment was done sneakily in the dark hours of the night. So its reinstatement will be the celebration of reinstating democracy.

The Istanbul Convention is the beacon of rule of law. Why? Because it guarantees the rights of women legally with the powerful will of the millions of women's political struggles of many, many years. Its annulment was done illegally with a single signature and its reinstatement will be directly related to rule of law. 

The Istanbul Convention is the beacon of human rights. Why? Because it seeks to prevent, protect and prosecute violence and design necessary policies so as to protect the very basic rights of millions of women - our right to live, our right to life, and its annulment was an ignorance of human rights. Its reinstatement will be moving back to a human rights-based order in Türkiye.

So, we, the Republican People's Party CHP will re-ratify the Istanbul Convention within 24 hours of our government. We will give life to the Istanbul Convention because the Istanbul Convention saves lives because, we believe in equality, because we aim to build true democracy, and we will do so very soon.


San Marino, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much.

I am sorry but I must now 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 the type written texts can be submitted, electronically if possible, no later than four hours after the list of speakers is interrupted.

I call now Ms Margreet De BOER as a rapporteur to reply to the chamber.

You have 3 minutes.

The floor is yours.

Ms Margreet De BOER

Netherlands, SOC, Rapporteur


Thank you.

I was supposing it would be the same order but nevertheless. I want to thank all those present for the nice words for us rapporteurs and for the nice words on the reports, for the support for the report.

Also, I take away the floor from Petra to thank the men who spoke for stepping out the books of masculinity.

I now will respond to some of the remarks that were made on my report on marital captivity.

I agree with Ms Anne STAMBACH-TERRENOIR from the Group of the Unified European Left that it is about self-determination. It is about the right to form your life, to do with your life what you want to do and not what your husband wants you to do.

I also agree with Mr Bertrand BOUYX who said that it is important to have economic support, so you'll be able to leave a violent relationship. I also underline that in my report.

I think Ms Konul NURULLAYEVA –I hope I pronounce it well– and Mr Jean-Pierre GRIN, who extendedly spoke about marital captivity. In response to Mr GRIN, I would say that he spoke about marital captivity, forced marriage, and early marriage, and made some distinctions in it, also in the way to solve it. I want to point out that the coercion to stay in a marriage is a form of violence, even when you entered the marriage willingly.

It is not something completely different. It's in the same spectrum. I also disagree with him that for marital captivity the main solution would be negotiation.

I want to point out that the Istanbul Convention in article 48 prohibits when violence is the case to impose mandatory mediation. I think we have to see marital captivity worth for what it is, and it is a form of violence.

In answer to Mr Mika NIIKKO, I would say I agree that marital captivity is linked to culture and is often linked to religion, and religious rules are a problem. I strongly disagree with him that it's linked to culture and religion from outside Europe.

When it comes to rules, religious rules, I only have to mention the Catholic Church which still says that "What God united, men cannot separate". Even in the Catholic Church, you're not allowed to remarry after you divorced.

When it comes to social pressure, I can refer to for example the Bible belt in the Netherlands, where Protestant communities and you are expelled from the community if you dare to leave your husband. So, it's not a culture from abroad.

One last remark, if you allow me.

I think when we respond to the issue of marital captivity and also some domestic violence, it's important not only to look at criminal law but also at family law, because family law can really limit the possibilities for women to step out of a violent relationship.

Thank you all, and I expect your support.


San Marino, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Madam Margreet De BOER.

I call now Ms Petra STIENEN to reply.

You have 3 minutes.


Netherlands, ALDE, Rapporteur


Thank you, Chair.

When I was four years old, my father asked me to get the newspaper. We were sitting in the kitchen. I said, "No". You know, a four-year-old, and he said "Yes, you have to do it!" I asked why he said, "Because I am the man, I am the boss." And I said, "That's not a reason".

I think this is when my feminism started. This is why I stand here, because I think there is no reason in the world, be it culture, be it religion, be it anything, social class, that one human being can be dominant over the other and this is what we discussed today. How is it possible that people beat up their intimate partners and their family members? As you said, even though nobody is born a beater, it is happening every single day in places where people should feel safe. Yes, I wish family cultures would protect women, girls, boys and men from this terror behind the front door but let us not be naïve. Families do not protect people from this kind of violence. Rules, laws, persecution, prevention, good education will protect people.

I would like to thank everybody in this room for their contribution. I would like to thank the wisdom in the room and also some of the resistance because that makes my feminist ideology and my feminist thrive, the fire only bigger. Thank you for that.

I think there are so many questions that have been raised, but I want to say one thing. I am looking at my dear friend Ms Petra BAYR. I know we disagree on something, that violence against the front door is not a pandemic. Violence against the front door or violence against women and girls has a perpetrator, and very often a perpetrator has a male face. We need men and boys to deal with it. It is a human rights violation. I really believe that today our male colleagues, and I thank you, and Mr Frank SCHWABE, I thank you very much for keeping your promise. You showed something that I would like to share with you as my final words. I think we need empathetic, inclusive leadership.

Before I will have my final words I would like to thank Elodie Fisher. It's amazing to work with you; it has been such a joy. What would we be without the people from the Secretariat? Then I will close with the words of Jacinda Arden, who has shown us what inclusive, empathetic leadership means. I wish for all genders in this room and everybody outside to take into her words. She says, "One of the criticisms I faced over the years is that I am not aggressive enough or assertive enough or maybe somehow because I am empathetic, I am weak. I totally rebel against that. I refuse to believe that you cannot be both compassionate and strong, and I wish that for all genders".

Thank you.


San Marino, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much.

Ms Zita GURMAI, you are the last rapporteur.

You have 3 minutes to reply, please.


Hungary, SOC, Rapporteur


Thank you very much.

Of course, knowing that Jacinda Ardern has been the Vice-President of the party, and I thought that if you are not taking over, you cannot win. She took over, and they won, and her second term. So of course, an engaged feminist like her and some other feminist prime ministers. I think we know how to achieve goals.

But let me wait. Let me just stop one minute, because my British friend spoke about Jo Cox. I would say that was one of the horror in our life. A young British socialist was killed. I'm very thankful for Belgium, because they named a street after her. So I would say we know her, but how many women who die we don't know?

So that's why I would say I would wish to all to stand up for one minute for all women who we've lost for years because of this crime.

Second, political will and a good resolution. Within one year, out of 37 now we have 40% women in this room.

By the way, two-thirds of the room has been women who have been speaking. But I would like to say chapeau for all the men who understood the importance that we need 100%, not 50%, to get this fight.

Of course, I am very thankful for all those governments who ratified, and that with a proper implementation. Because it's absolutely crucial. We still have countries who ratified and still need to deal with implementation.

I think we need to mention the great job of the civil society and non-governmental organisations who really helped us the last long years, to make the best golden rule as we say.

Some of you said that the Istanbul Convention does make a real difference.

Of course, I'm very thankful for our Mexican colleagues, because I would say you had 50/50, but I was very upset to hear that you have double; 60% women. We really need to fight commonly. I would say we can revoke, we can only recommend this very important tool.

This is true when I have been in Turkey. I got lovely support from the government.

But of course, as my friend Ms Selin SAYEK BÖKE said, we really need to make sure that Turkey is back because we need to save women's lives. The last one year we had more women die because you left the Convention.

So that's why I strongly believe that we really need to work on with the colleagues here, parliamentarians who can help to make it happen.

Just the last sentence. Gender-based violence starts and ends with equality. I would say now we are in a power game.

So my dear male colleagues, are you ready to get the 50% and to give the 50% for women? Because that really means that this Parliament could even get 50% a safe space for women.

Thank you very much and I'm thrilled.

Thank you very much, it wouldn't have been possible without the fantastic Secretariat. Thank you very much for your patience.


San Marino, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much.

Does the Chairperson of the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination wish to speak?

In the affirmative case, you get three minutes.


Ukraine, EPP/CD, Chairperson of the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination


Yes, I think I must, dear President!


I'd like to cheer you up with small stories as some inspiration from Ukraine.

First of all, I want to congratulate all three amazing rapporteurs on their tremendous work and of course the Secretariat.

This brings a new era of gender equality and women's rights - our golden rights - which are human rights of course.

Who would ever think that a man would be the first, the leaders of this movement - like one person who is celebrating his birthday today, and this is President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

11 years ago, Ukraine became a co-author country of one of the most fundamental documents ever in human rights, which is the Istanbul Convention.

Human rights defenders, women, men, boys and girls - every person who was a victim back in the days and currently is, every day during this aggression of Russia in Ukraine, has been waiting for this document.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has taken a leading role. During war time and full-scale aggression, the Ukrainian Parliament ratified the Istanbul Convention.

I would like to ask those member States who didn't - what excuses do you have?

The next thing I would like to mention is, of course, the post-Soviet traumas and philosophical approaches to violence.

I was born in the year the Berlin Wall came down, so I don't remember much of the experience.

But we hear the stories and the very, very basic motto was 'if he beats you, he loves you'.

Well if he beats you - he's in jail today.

And this is not only about 'him'.

I have received, and I receive on a daily basis, text messages, also from men, who love their women but they can't leave them, even though they beat them.

During the war time a very sophisticated text also emphasises these stories, which our committee also went through on sexual violence during war time.

As we speak right now, colleagues, there are so many missing persons who can't speak, who are deprived of this right to speak about their stories.

We do hope that those police officers, prosecutors who will be trained under this beautiful instrument, investigated and described in the resolutions, will promote the instruments to record and to prosecute the perpetrators, to whom many of you have addressed your speeches.

Therefore, colleagues, I would like to congratulate us all and to take these documents as the leading ones for our future world of human rights.

Some men are calling them feminist. I want them to become more of those.

Thank you so much - and I have a last bit of good news for you: no amendments were tabled, so we can proceed to the vote I think.



Malta, SOC


Undelivered speech, Rules of Procedure Art. 31.2

Violence against women is not solely a woman’s burden to carry; It is society’s. But often society and, crucially, us as legislators, have been too slow to act. And unfortunately, sometimes it is too late. And there is no way to turn back the clock for the women who have lost their life to domestic, or to gender-based violence.

But that should certainly, underline the urgency with which we should be acting.

And the political and legislative commitment, to fight inequality and prevent violence against women and girls, does not stop with the ratification and implementation of the Istanbul Convention;

Where the Convention speaks about taking ‘the necessary legislative or other measures’, as it does in many of its articles, we need to ensure that states remain committed to re-evaluate their legislation, to re-evaluate the effectiveness of their institutions and policies, to ensure that such measures are indeed working towards the objectives of the Convention, and not simply remain a box-ticking exercise. And so I welcome the resolution and recommendations being made in the report on the Istanbul Convention.

Last year in Malta, we made femicide, a distinct, criminal offence; an important step which recognises that ‘gender-based violence against women’ is a reality, that we must call out, condemn and punish. But we also recognise that it is not enough, and we must continue to do more to strengthen preventative mechanisms.

For decades, we have spoken about the need to keep empowering women – and we must continue to do so. But I’m afraid, sometimes, we’ve been sending the wrong message, when it comes to intimate partner violence perpetration, especially. We cannot risk oversimplifying this issue. We must continue to understand what the levels of contributing factors are, to becoming a perpetrator, or becoming a victim. And this understanding must be reflected, systematically and holistically, in our strategies and awareness-raising campaigns.

And the Dublin Declaration on the Prevention of Domestic, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence is certainly another very important step in the right direction.

We need to give the same momentum to campaigns which educate men about their responsibility and their role in achieving gender equality. Less victim-blaming, and more accountability.

And so I welcome the report on the role of men and boys in stopping gender-based violence; because men, and here I must specifically call on men in positions of power, must be our allies in this fight to break the cycle of violence.

We need to keep speaking about the importance of financial autonomy; of providing victims with immediate shelter and ensuring victims of violence get help on time, help that is sensitive to their situation, and a support system to help them regain the independence that they deserve.

Women are tired, we are angry. We have had enough. And states must recognise how crucial it is to prioritise the aims of the Istanbul convention, and the Dublin Declaration. We cannot waste any more time – we cannot lose any more lives.

I would also have liked to see more men participate in this debate – but I thank the men who have. Men should be championing this cause alongside us women. For as long as they don’t own these struggles, as long as they feel like this burden is not theirs to carry, then I’m afraid the obstacles we are discussing in these reports will continue to accumulate.

Finally, I have to conclude by expressing my gratitude to the rapporteurs: Zita, Petra and Margaret; you certainly inspire, and stand out to me, because of your resilience and constant commitment to the cause, so thank you.

Mr Mogens JENSEN

Denmark, SOC


Undelivered speech, Rules of Procedure Art. 31.2

Mr. President, dear colleages,

First of all, let me congratulate Ms Gurmai, Ms Stienen and Ms De Boer on the 3 reports, which individually and together provide a very solid basis for the Council of Europe's work to strengthen women's rights and stop gender-based violence.

There is no doubt that the Istanbul Convention, remains the best international framework for protecting women from gender-based violence and preventing domestic violence.

In its lifetime so far, the convention has considerably influenced changes in national laws, and has given greater visibility to the urgent need to address violence against women and domestic violence.

But despite this progress, alarmingly high levels of violence and, harming and killing of women and girls is still going on.

And unfortunately, we also see globally and here in Europe that there are serious steps backwards in terms of women's rights and opportunities.

A development that this assembly has the strongest obligation to oppose.

We must intervene nationally in the countries where development is backstepping and we must to a much greater extent manage to get men and boys involved in taking responsibility in these issues if we are to succeed in creating new, necessary progress.

We have to remember ourselves that ensuring women's equal rights and the right to decide over their own bodies is not just a question of respecting human rights. It is also a fundamental prerequisite for combating poverty and inequality in the world, because we can only do this, when women – the other half of the world's population – also have equal opportunities to take up education and jobs and thus contribute to growth and development.

Today the Assembly shall send a strong message to those member States not yet having ratified the Istanbul Convention and the European Union to do so. And call on States Parties to the convention to step up their implementation of its different provisions.

And finally we must also secure that violence against women and domestic violence will be a priority in the Action Plan of the 4th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe in Reykjavik in May this year.

Thank you very much.


Finland, SOC


Undelivered speech, Rules of Procedure Art. 31.2

Mr. President, dear colleagues

We should be proud of the Istanbul Convention, but it does not mean that we should be content with the current situation. There certainly is room for improvement.

Since ratifying the Convention, Finland has transferred the funding of shelters to the responsibility of the state.

The places in shelters have been increased and continue to be increased.

We have also established a support center for victims of sexual violence and have opened a helpline for victims of domestic violence, and so on.

We also try to identify in time victims of violence who are most likely to be victims of violence again in the future and to break the cycle of intimate partner violence.

The Convention has been a strong tool for taking issues forward.

The political pressure has made ”impossible” reforms possible.

I think it is useful and strategical to notice that preventing gender related violence is very profitable from the point of view of the national economy.

In Finland the direct additional costs of physical domestic violence experienced by women to health care are 150 million euros per year. And that is not all.

Violence causes both human suffering for the person experiencing it and for their family and close circle. Experiencing violence is physically, psychologically and socially traumatizing.

Speaking about the costs of violence does not indicate that we would underestimate the great human suffering caused by violence to the victims.

It shows that we must invest In order to prevent and stop violence.

Domestic violence is often a hidden crime, which does not come to light because victims may feel guilty and ashamed of what happened.

Intimate and sexual violence is reported less than it happens - few, according to a Finnish study, only a third, seek help for the situation.

Prevention of gender related violence is crucial for the wellbeing of women and men, and for the future of our societies. In order to prevent and stop violence, we must develop preventive and corrective actions for the perpetrators.

Now is the moment to work hard to increase the number of states that ratify the Convention and fulfil its obligations.

Thank you!

Mr Kriton-Ilias ARSENIS

Greece, UEL


(Undelivered speech, Rules of Procedure Art. 31.2)

Please, allow me to make a comment on the Mandatory Joint Custody - Family Law Review in Greece. Let me remind you what you may already know very well from the third General Report of the GREVIO committee, covering the year 2021, in the field of Child custody, visitation and domestic violence. Although Greece is not mentioned in the pages of this report, although 2021 was the year that the amendment of the family law regarding forced co-custody was passed, I am afraid that the situation is common in my own country. Now it is even expected to get worse with yet another revision of family law by the New Democracy government which aims to introduce "parental alienation" into family law as a criminal offence, despite the express objections, reservations and recommendations that have been expressed both by CEDAW as well as by GREVIO (p. 46 “The use of “parental alienation” as a means of minimizing evidence of domestic violence in civil proceedings”), which have even led to a revision of the relevant legislation in a number of states. The fact that the legislative work remains hidden and there is no information on the progress of the discussions, causes even more anxiety about its final legislative proposal.

It is extremely crucial that it be reviewed in the direction of CEDAW and GREVIO recommendations, to protect the best interest of the child and also of women from murderous gender-based violence, since in too many cases of femicide in my country it has been used as a reason that motivated the perpetrator - in 2021, when the law was passed, we had 31 recorded femicides. This law locks abused women with their abusers, and this experience has been conveyed many times by lawyers and feminist and women's organizations, because they do not dare to leave and share custody as the legislator has not taken into account what is happening in these cases, in which case it will not give joint custody but no restriction on communication is provided.

Vote: The Istanbul Convention: progress and challenges/The role and responsibility of men and boys in stopping gender-based violence against women and girls/Finding solutions for marital captivity


San Marino, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you. 

Thank you, Ms Mariia MEZENTSEVA.

The debate is closed. 

We will now proceed to vote on the draft resolution “on The Istanbul Convention: progress and challenges” contained in Document 15673. A simple majority is required.

The vote is now open.

The vote is closed.

I call for the result to be displayed.

The draft resolution is adopted.

We will now proceed to vote on the draft recommendation on “The Istanbul Convention: progress and challenges” contained in Document 15673. A two-thirds majority is required.

The vote is now open.

The vote is closed.

I call for the result to be displayed.

The draft recommendation is adopted.

We will now proceed to vote on the draft resolution on “The role and responsibility of men and boys in stopping gender-based violence against women and girls” contained in Document 15678. A simple majority is required.

The vote is now open.

The vote is closed.

I call for the result to be displayed.

The draft resolution is adopted.

We will now proceed to vote on the draft resolution on “Finding solutions for marital captivity” contained in Document 15679. A simple majority is required.

The vote is now open.

The vote is closed.

I call for the result to be displayed.

The draft resolution is adopted.

The Assembly will hold its next public sitting tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. with the agenda which was approved on Monday morning.

The sitting is adjourned.

The sitting is closed at 8.10 p.m.