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26 January 2023 afternoon

2023 - First part-session Print sitting

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Opening of the sitting No 8

Debate: The progress of the Assembly's monitoring procedure (January-December 2022)

Ms Ingjerd SCHOU

Norway, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


I open the meeting, and the sitting is open.

The first item of business this afternoon is the debate on the report titled The Progress of the Assembly's Monitoring Procedure (January-December 2022), Document 15682, presented Mr Piero FASSINO on behalf of the Monitoring Committee.

In order to finish by 6:00 p.m. I will interrupt the list of speakers at about 5:55 p.m. to allow time for the reply and vote on the draft resolution.

I call Mr Piero FASSINO, the rapporteur.

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

The floor is yours Mr Piero FASSINO.


Italy, SOC, Rapporteur


Thank you, Madam Chair.

You have received the Monitoring Committee's activity report for 2022.

During this year, we have monitored 11 countries that have been subject to a monitoring procedure. These are all Central and Eastern European countries. Three countries have been subject to a post-monitoring procedure - also Central and Eastern European countries - and six countries to a periodic monitoring procedure. Three of these six countries have already completed the procedure and the other three are still in the process.

In my report, you have the country-by-country analysis. I will summarise for the sake of time. It should be emphasised that everything in the report, country by country, was written on the basis of reports presented by our rapporteurs.

If we read the report as a whole, we can see that there are issues that are common to all the countries under monitoring. The main problems concerned respect for the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary, freedom of the media, the fight against corruption, the rights of minorities and respect for democratic political rules between political parties, when it comes to the responsibilities of government and opposition parties. These are issues that, in all the countries we have monitored, have proven to be the main problems.

In all the countries there has been some remarkable progress made in relation to the recommendations made by the Council of Europe and its bodies, but there are still a number of negative elements and shortcomings too: we must therefore continue to work. We especially encourage the countries that have been monitored to respect the values and rights that are the basis of the Council of Europe and to comply with the opinions of the Venice Commission, which gives very important opinions for all. We encourage all countries that have been monitored to adapt their legislation to the criteria, values and rights of the Council of Europe and the indications of the Venice Commission and, in short, to respect and apply the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights.

For three countries, there has been a post-monitoring procedure. In the case of Bulgaria, a very complicated and fragile political situation has been reported to us. In the next few weeks, Bulgaria will have its fifth round of elections in three years, in a context of political instability that concerns us. Montenegro is a country that is currently going through a very serious institutional political crisis: there are reports of conflicts between the President of the Republic and the Parliament and, within the Parliament, between the political forces. Montenegro lacks provide political stability and, in addition, the conflict has been transferred in recent months to the formation of the Supreme Court, which is also responsible for overseeing the electoral process. This means that if we do not manage to resolve this conflict over the formation of the Court, it is difficult to imagine Montenegro sailing calmly into the next elections, because it lacks the required guarantees. Finally, in Northern Macedonia, there is an acute internal political crisis that is undermining the stability of the country.

I would also like to highlight the situation in Türkiye. While it is positive that the electoral threshold for access to parliament has been lowered in the electoral law from 10% to 7%, there are several things that worry us: the fact that everything that opposes the government in power is described as "terrorist", a propensity to control the media, to influence the judiciary and to weaken its independence, the non-execution of ECHR rulings as in the Kavala case and, in addition, the procedure that has been implemented for the dissolution of the Peoples' Democratic Party, which, as you know, is the party of reference of the majority of the Kurdish population. We therefore believe that it is absolutely necessary to request and encourage Türkiye to respect the rules and criteria that are the basis of the Council of Europe.

We have also carried out the monitoring procedure on Ukraine, but obviously the war situation makes political and institutional life in that country very difficult. However, we are happy that that, even in this complicated context, Ukraine has ratified the Istanbul Convention.

Three countries have been subject to the periodic monitoring procedure: Malta, where the question of the fight against corruption, respect for the independence of the judiciary and freedom of the media also arises; and Romania, where, although there is positive progress, we point out that it is necessary to implement more determined measures to fight corruption and, at the same time, to respect the independence of the judiciary.

I will conclude.

We have not only carried out a follow-up: for each follow-up procedure, we have worked to verify that the recommendations are applied.

I would like to highlight three issues. The problem is that the political and institutional situation in many countries requires more time to conduct the follow-up. We need more stability of rapporteurs. In 2022, 11 rapporteurs resigned and we were forced to appoint new rapporteurs. This weakens our work.

Finally, I think we should thank all the rapporteurs who have worked on the different reports and invite the political groups to give priority attention to the monitoring activity and help us to make the work of our committee more stable and lasting.

Thank you, Madam President.

Ms Ingjerd SCHOU

Norway, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mr Piero FASSINO.

Now you only have a small 2 minutes left to give comments later on.

In the debate, I first call on the speakers on behalf of the political groups, the first is the Group of the Unified European Left, Mr Hişyar ÖZSOY, from Turkey.

The floor is yours.

Mr Hişyar ÖZSOY

Türkiye, UEL, Spokesperson for the group


Thank you, Madam Chair.

Dear colleagues,

Let me start by expressing my thanks to Mr Piero FASSINO for this comprehensive report on a total of 17 member states who are under either monitoring procedure or post-monitoring dialogue and periodic monitoring.

The report outlines major problems in these countries, recommends ways to address them and concludes with suggestions to improve the monitoring capacity of this Assembly.

We support these recommendations, particularly those related to gender balancing and the selection of rapporteurs.

Despite monitoring efforts of this Assembly and other organs of this very Council, however, there is clear decline in democratic standards in many member countries.

The report underlines various symptoms of authoritarian rule that plague many member states.

I do not want to use biological metaphors to address social and political issues, but a highly contagious and fatal disease is spreading across Council of Europe territories. We are well familiar with the symptoms of this disease: destruction of independent judiciaries, corruption, centralisation of power and destruction of parliamentary democracy, attacks on civil society, destruction of freedom of press, of expression and association, unfair elections, oppressing political opposition, attacks on women, LGBTI people, immigrants and other marginalised people.

In a nutshell, almost every single value and pillar on which this Council was built is under severe attack. And not from outside, like from Russia, but from inside by many member states themselves.

We should improve the monitoring capacity of the Assembly, of course. But I suspect this will not do much in addressing these issues.

The problem we have here is much bigger and graver.

The fact is that more and more member states are persistently not fulfilling their obligations, systematically refusing to comply with the terms and conditions of membership and depriving their own citizens of democratic rights.

By not implementing Court rulings, some member states –my own country Türkiye included– are setting very bad examples for others to follow. We need to urgently find ways to respond to such lack of political will and willingness among members states to comply with the terms and conditions of membership.

With its institutional capacity resources and expertise, the CPT, the Venice Commission, GRECO, the Human Rights Commissioner, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, among others, this Council can help to improve their democratic standards and human rights, but only if member states want it.

We cannot force any member state to be a democratic one, we can only remind them that by choosing to become a member of this Council they have already made a commitment, a promise. It is not too much to ask them to keep their promise by respecting and practising the values and principles of this Council.

Thank you.

Ms Ingjerd SCHOU

Norway, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mr Hişyar ÖZSOY. 

The next speaker is Mr Max LUCKS from Germany representing the Socialist Group.

The floor is yours. 


Germany, SOC, Spokesperson for the group


Thank you very much, Madam President,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of the Group of the Socialists, Democrats and Greens in this Parliamentary Assembly, I would like to express very clear solidarity with the previous speaker and his party, the opposition party HDP in Turkey.

We, the Group of Socialists, Democrats and Greens in this Parliamentary Assembly, are shocked by this ban on the HDP and consider it incompatible with the spirit of this Council of Europe and with the spirit of the European Convention on Human Rights. There must not be a ban on the HDP so close to these elections.

For this report - for which we are very grateful - we all hope that it will be the last one that has to deal so seriously with human rights violations in member States of whose membership we are so proud in this organization. After all, it is not so much the states in our society that need a strong rule of law, who need an independent judiciary, who need a consistent separation of powers - but rather it is the weak who need it. For they are the ones who are targeted first and hardest by authoritarian tendencies, and who rightly expect us, as delegates to the world's oldest human rights parliament, to protect them.

The title "Progress of the Monitoring Process" of the Assembly may sound quite abstract in the light, but it is concrete - it is concrete for the journalists who are persecuted because of good investigative work. It is concrete for journalists who are persecuted because of good investigative work. It's concrete for minorities who, like sexual minorities, are labeled abnormal by politicians, and it's concrete for ethnic minorities who too often are also deliberately not protected by the state when they encounter hate and violence. And please let me thank the rapporteur for referring in this light, for example, to the current affairs debate that we had in the Parliamentary Assembly in the last week of session in his report - this shows that we as the Council of Europe are also always ready to modernize ourselves, are also ready, for example, to be a strong advocate for the LGBTI community in all 46 member States.

Ladies and gentlemen,

we are not here to point the finger at others - we are here driven by a realization. If we do not defend human rights in all the states of this organization, then we will not defend them for anyone. And that's why we have to defend them, and this report gives hope that we will continue to look, and I thank the rapporteur very much for that.


Ms Ingjerd SCHOU

Norway, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mr Max LUCKS.

And the next speaker is Mr Vladimir VARDANYAN from Armenia and representing the Group of the European People's Party. 

The floor is yours, sir.


Armenia, EPP/CD, Spokesperson for the group


Thank you, Madam Chair.

First of all, let me express my words of gratitude to the Monitoring Committee and the rapporteur for the excellent work done. Thank you for identifying the common problems we face.; problems concerning the judiciary, corruption, elections, which unfortunately, are still a part of our lives and our part of the monitoring procedure. 

For sure, during this period, some countries have bigger and better success in comparison with others. Some countries still have some shortcomings. For some of the countries, both in the monitoring and post-monitoring procedures, as well for the countries in the periodical review, we may call this report rather "a regress report" than a progress report.

You know, I agree with previous writers who said that our organisation is about promise. We give this promise to our people. We give promise to each of other. The obligation we undertake should be respected and protected, because we don't have obligations to each other. We have obligations to our people, to our values.

For sure, I understand perfectly well that now we are facing very serious geopolitical problems. The serious violations of yesterday, now considered as minor ones, but we should not turn a blind eye to this situation. We should go ahead and have the same approach to all the violations we will face.

Unfortunately, we should say that some member States are still continuing behaviour that does not correspond to the values of this organisation. For example, a couple of days ago, one of the leaders of the country expressed that if they do not want to have a peace treaty on our conditions, our borders will be there where we like them to be. Sorry, this is not the Council of Europe rhetoric. This is not something which should be considered in the framework of the obligations before the Council of Europe.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear Colleagues,

At this very moment when in this cosy hemicycle, we are discussing the issues concerning the protection of human rights, 120 000 people who are protected under this organisation, under this Assembly and under this European Commission of Human Rights, are starving – starving – and we are waiting for any kind of response from the international community. It is quite important that this organisation should have the same standards for all the countries, for all the corners of the Council of Europe, since all the citizens protected under the European Convention should have the same guarantees of human rights and should benefit from the values of democracy.

Thank you.

Ms Ingjerd SCHOU

Norway, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you so much Mr Vladimir VARDANYAN.

And the next speaker is Mr Iulian BULAI from Romania, representing the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.

The floor is yours.

Mr Iulian BULAI

Romania, ALDE, Spokesperson for the group


Thank you so much, Madam President, Dear Chairperson, Mr FASSINO, dear representatives of the Secretariat, thank you for what you're doing in the Monitoring Committee and for all your dedicated work on this report.

I have only one reason for being reluctant in saying that I think this is the most important committee, and that is because we have to be appreciative for all the work being done in all the committees. But this committee is really important, because it is in camera and then you can have a real discussion and a sincere discussion without the pressure of going public. And I really appreciate this. And all the actors within our committee appreciate this very much.

That being said, I am very much thankful to the rapporteurs for the great reports last year for Türkiye, Hungary, and also Georgia.

That being said, there have been also great periodic review reports on several countries, including Romania, very good report. I thank the rapporteurs for that.

The Monitoring Committee is the committee where members of the Assembly can request opinions from the Venice Commission, and traditionally this is a tool used, in my experience, mostly by Central Eastern states. It is also extraordinary that, in an in camera setting, Western members of the Council of Europe are very keen on finding out more on their inner issues by demanding an opinion from the Venice Commission.

And I really, really appreciate this, because this is a real true mirror where you can see yourself, with where you stand now, and you can improve it.

And in this committee, this happens without the pressure of public exposure.

That being said, one final remark: in a better version of this committee would be to have a sort of relation with the office of the Human Rights Commissioner, as we could ask opinions from the Venice Commission in order to issue statements on the legislative pieces initiated in the national parliaments or by governments.

I think it would be excellent. Respecting the independence of the Human Rights Commissioner office also to have a type of relationship, institutional relationship, between this committee and the Human Rights Commissioner office in order to ask for pertinent opinions when there is an obvious suspicion of human rights breaches.

Is this something that we could do in the coming summit of Reykjavík? Yes, probably. There is a way to go in order to reach a point where there could be a co-ordination relationship between two entities? Yes, but here we are, it's a good committee, it can be even perfect.

Thank you.

Ms Ingjerd SCHOU

Norway, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mr Iulian BULAI.

The next speaker is Mr Asim MOLLAZADA, from Azerbaijan.

The floor is yours, representing European Conservatives Group and Democratic Alliance.


Azerbaijan, EC/DA, Spokesperson for the group


Thank you very much, Madam Chair.

I would like to express gratitude to the Chairman of the Monitoring Committee. Very important information, in some cases in very good detail.

What I would like to raise, one of the biggest problems which we are suffering in Europe now, it's in some cases lack of respect to the international legal system. Rule of law, territorial integrity of countries. Some careful attendance, any toponymic things, because what we have now?

We in Europe are now in a situation of war, aggression, occupation of territories of many countries. In these situations, I believe that the Monitoring Committee can do a lot of things on behalf of the Council of Europe.

Also, what we have now, it's starting monitoring of big countries. Because usually, new members or small countries come under scrutiny. But there is a lot of information of violations of human rights, ethnic rights, cultural and religious rights in big European countries.

Like an example, recently in the centre of Paris, two ladies were killed because they have a different colour of skin.

Attack to synagogue. 80 000 citizens of France of Jewish origin now left. Now in Israel there is a village of French citizens of Jewish origin.

I think that this type of monitoring of France trying to prevent anti-Semitism, anti-Islamism and racism, is important also for The Netherlands. Because in The Netherlands we had a lot of burning of mosques, attacks on synagogues, and we believe that monitoring procedures will open these things which are against the major European principles. The principles of human rights, democracy, and rule of law.

I hope that the Monitoring Committee will have the same scrutiny for big countries members of the European Union where the situation, especially on situations related to hatred, religious hatred, cultural hatred, we should stop it, because it's really very dangerous.

Thank you.

Ms Ingjerd SCHOU

Norway, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mister MOLLAZADA.

Then I continue on the speakers list.

I look at the seat 100. Mr Irakli CHIKOVANI from Georgia from the Socialist Group. Yes, but you are in another place.


Georgia, SOC


Thank you, Madam Vice-President.

I would like to thank Mr FASSINO for compiling the work that has been done within the Monitoring Committee.

I think the work that has been done over the year, and especially taking account that this year was the post-pandemic year, there is a lot of things that have been done and truly this is the progress. And I will be very short to underline that it is very important that my country, the country that is under the monitoring, has a great working relationship with the institutions of the Council of Europe and the Parliamentary Assembly itself.

Also, I would like to underline and thank the professionalism and the dedication of the rapporteurs and thank them for their efforts, and, of course, the representatives of the Secretariat.

There are many things that in my country we are still working on, but the progress is obvious. And they also would like to welcome that the co-operation and the relationship that we have with the monitoring procedure has been exemplary and, in this regard, Georgia will continue its work to make sure that we comply with all of the obligations assumed by my country, and we'll move to the next stage sooner rather than later.

Thank you.

Ms Ingjerd SCHOU

Norway, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mr Irakli CHIKOVANI.

The next speaker is from Armenia, and it's Mr Hayk MAMIJANYAN, representing the Group of the European People's Party.

The floor is yours.


Armenia, EPP/CD


Thank you, Madam Chair.

Dear colleagues,

I can see the looks on your faces. Armenians are going to speak about Azerbaijani aggression, POWs, Nagorno-Karabakh, conflict. And the Azerbaijani delegation will burden you with a flow of fake information.

But let me explain to you why we are obliged to speak up about the humanitarian catastrophe caused by the Azerbaijani blockade of the Lachin corridor and other above mentioned topics.

Please consider my words not as a political speech, but as food for thought.

For instance, some of us today after the session will visit one of the restaurants here in Strasbourg. I'm asking you, while choosing your dinner, please keep in mind that 120 000 people in Nagorno-Karabakh have nothing to choose from but plain pasta or buckwheat. No vegetables, no fruit, nothing.

When you, honourable colleagues, reach your cosy and warm hotel rooms to hide from the cold wind and watch some news, please remember that 120 000 Armenians have no gas and electricity for six to eight hours a day.

For those of you who have children, please imagine. What would you do if someone in the world would hinder their education, if it was so cold in the classrooms that schools had to shut down for almost a month. If any of you has a headache after a long day, please, while swallowing a painkiller, remember that 120 000 Armenians in Artsakh are running out of meds.

When Mr Samad SEYIDOV tells that self-proclaimed activists are exercising their magnificent right of freedom of speech –though the sentence freedom of speech in Azerbaijan is an oxymoron– please remember that Azerbaijan is 104th in the environmental performance index by Yale University. And I don't recall any mass ecological protests in Azerbaijan. Though, a few moments ago we witnessed an Azerbaijani representative questioning French democracy.

Could you imagine that after 9 November 1989, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, in Europe there would be a place where families and relatives are forcefully divided.

In the 21st century, children are not able to meet their parents for more than one and a half months.

But make no mistakes. We can't wait 30 years. The Lachin corridor has to be unlocked now.

As the Lemkin Institute for Genocide Prevention stated a few weeks ago, the world must act immediately to prevent a second Armenian genocide.

Thank you, and I call you to support the amendments presented by the Armenian delegation.

Ms Ingjerd SCHOU

Norway, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mr Hayk MAMIJANYAN

And then we continue to Mr Zoltán BÓNA, Hungary, and European Conservatives Group and Democratic Alliance.

The floor is yours.

Mr Zoltán BÓNA

Hungary, EC/DA


Dear colleagues, dear rapporteurs,

Hungary is a strongly committed member state of the Council of Europe and it supports the work carried out by the Monitoring Committee. We strongly oppose to mix Hungary's obligations under EU law and Council of Europe membership. EU-level issues are outside the competence of the Council of Europe. Due to the sui generis nature of the EU legal order, compliance with obligations under the treaties shall only be examined within the framework of EU-level mechanisms. These questions should not be converted into Council of Europe-level issues. Questions related to the distribution of EU funds, economic co-operation of the Member States, and recovery of the EU’s economy do not belong to the competence of the Council of Europe.

What are the institutional guarantees that monitoring procedures will remain politically neutral? In order to make the work of the Monitoring Committee more responsive and effective, how can the monitoring procedures better take into account ongoing and planned domestic developments and reforms. All reports should be factual, objective, based on reliable sources. For example, in the last report on honouring the obligations and commitments by Hungary, there were a number of references to individual cases and they are discussed in surprising detail.

If in an administrative procedure the authority complied with provisions of the law, if the judicial review by an independent court in a fair process was ensured, then the outcome of the procedure cannot be addressed in the framework of membership obligations to the Council of Europe.

We believe that issues which had been satisfactorily concluded years ago have no added value in the assessment of the situation currently prevailing in a monitored country, but rather reflect a biased attitude within the report. If the aim of the monitoring procedure is to avoid the changes in rapporteurship during the 2-year periodic review, would not the extension of the duration of the monitoring procedure to 3 or more years be counterproductive?

Last but not least, a number of reports refer to the same sources and to the findings of these as well. This way, through this system of circular references, one single statement – formulated by an NGO or by the Venice Commission – has a double or triple effect, while the opposing opinions do not have such an impact, which questions the objectivity of a report.

Thank you very much for your attention.

Ms Ingjerd SCHOU

Norway, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mr Zoltán BÓNA.

The next speaker is Mr Archil TALAKVADZE from Georgia and the Socialists, Democrats and Greens Group.

Yes, the floor is yours.


Georgia, SOC


Madam Chair, ladies and gentlemen, dear colleagues,

We would like to give a high credit to the committee for the diligent work completed and I would like to thank Mr Piero FASSINO for the comprehensive presentation.

First, we would like to appreciate the strong wording in the resolution in support of Georgia's territorial integrity. The fruitful co-operation with the Council of Europe gives us further motivation to consolidate our democracy and continue work on reforms. And it is helpful that the resolution highlights the importance of wider and constructive participation in the engagement of the political parties in the process of the implementation of reforms.

Despite the occupation of Georgia's territories by the Russian Federation, Georgia has proved that we are able to deliver reforms and consolidate our democracy further, to strengthen rule of law and protect human rights in the country.

The work completed by us in recent years includes ensured and greater guarantees for the protection of human rights through constitutional amendments, new labour law and successful penitentiary reform with a double-fold decrease of the prison population, new legislation on child's rights and juvenile justice, new legislation enforced on disability rights and new regulations on environmental protection and biodiversity.

Georgia has a stronger parliament now. Georgia has a more pluralistic parliament now with stronger instruments for oversight and stronger mechanisms to hold government accountable. We enforce laws to support greater participation of women in politics. Georgia has pluralistic and independent media in operation. The several packages of reforms in the judiciary implemented by us gave a clear result. We observed that applications against Georgia in the European Court of Human Rights decreased by 60%. The competitive environment in the courts was restored. The balance in the decisions between the parties in dispute is also there and these promising results ensure that reforms for the judiciary system must continue.

And finally, we are grateful that there are 12 recommendations by the European Union, which gives a clear avenue for Georgia's democratic path. This was Georgia's story in short. It is evidently a better Georgia now than it was 10 years ago. And we are grateful for the excellent co-operation with the Council of Europe, and we assure you that commitments will be fulfilled.

Thank you so much.

Ms Ingjerd SCHOU

Norway, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you so much, Mister TALAKVADZE.

We now continue with Ms Mariia MEZENTSEVA from Ukraine and and the Group of the European People's Party, and then Mr Damien COTTIER after that.



Ukraine, EPP/CD


Thank you, dear Madam SCHOU.

Dear president, colleagues, this report is extremely important even though there are not many colleagues remaining in the hall and we understand that monitoring some of the Members States during the international armed conflict is also challenging, even though the rapporteurs, the delegates from Sweden, Switzerland and Iceland, did make contacts with the Ukrainian delegation – I can reconfirm that, even though I would like to point out that the latest contacts could have been more extended to various political parties.

And I would like to inform the rapporteur and also the Extended Committee on Monitoring Procedures that, for instance, the parts which are missing and, again, you can't fill in all the laws that the Ukrainian Parliament is passing, because we do around 30 laws per week, and the documents have to be prepared beforehand.

So, I would like to update you that one of the important items, the law on media, which was in line with all obligations, was amended and voted by all the parties of Ukrainian Parliament, supported by those who had questioned this law, in close cooperation with Council of Europe authorities.

Also, the very important topic: fighting corruption. Colleagues, I would like to point out that we're the only country who has initiated and passed in the parliament the law on fighting oligarchs, those people who can influence the media, who can influence elections, who have enormous power over the economy and who directly impose in the political spectrum.

And indeed, we are expecting the feedback of the Venice Commission, looking forward to that.

But if we are fighting corruption – we joke in Ukraine – we have to choose whether we are smart or beautiful. We can be both of course, but then please support that in this endeavour, in fighting corruption.

Of course I cannot not mention the High Commission on Ethics, which was duly involved in the Supreme Council of Justice, and all that was done during the missile attacks and enormous strikes of Russian rockets on various regions of Ukraine.

Of course we have had the candidates for the High Commission on judges, and of course we can say that those who have not met the criteria will never be appointed. That is not all on our side, but I see that I'm running out of time and we remain at a disposal for the visit that hasn't been done in person, but I would like to reconfirm and enlarge and extend our invitations.

Thank you so much.

Ms Ingjerd SCHOU

Norway, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Ms Mariia MEZENTSEVA.

Then I continue with Mr Damien COTTIER, from Switzerland, and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.


Switzerland, ALDE


Thank you, Madam Chair.

Thank you to the Chairman of the Committee for the overview he has given.

I am speaking on Montenegro. I am co-rapporteur with Mr Nicos TORNARITIS from Cyprus, who is not here, and I must say that we are somewhat concerned - and the President mentioned this - because the current situation in Montenegro is one of institutional deadlock, insofar as there is no longer a majority for the Government, the President of the Republic is refusing to appoint a new Prime Minister, and Parliament wants to impose the appointment of a new government and has passed a law to provide itself with the means to do so; we are not sure of the constitutionality of this law. The Constitutional Court is no longer functional because several judges have withdrawn, and the Parliament has not been able to elect new judges because it requires an absolute majority, which cannot be found.

When we visited Montenegro last summer, and in the discussions we had with the delegation and the Montenegrin authorities in the past, we were regularly told that there was optimism that this procedure would be concluded and that new judges could be elected. Each time we are disappointed that the Parliament does not succeed. There is no qualified majority, and each time there are explanations that this or that element of the procedure should be changed or taken up again.

This is particularly worrying because the Constitutional Court no longer has a quorum, so it can no longer take decisions. It is the highest court of appeal in electoral matters, and the elections must be held - the presidential elections: the date has now been set for mid-March and they will be held. It is politically probable that if the authorities agree on this, there will be early parliamentary elections at some point; for this too, a functional Constitutional Court is needed.

So we have a situation of stalemate, a complete blockage where each institution prevents the other from resolving the situation.

The President of the Republic has asked the Venice Commission for an opinion on the constitutionality of the law on presidential powers that was recently - at the end of December - passed by the Parliament. It is interesting because the Venice Commission, in my opinion quite rightly, before talking about this issue, insists a lot on the necessity of good faith co-operation between the organs of the State. This is really what we would like to call on the Montenegrin authorities, for the institutions, the Parliament, the President of the Republic, to co-operate in order to find a solution to this blockage: to get out of it, so as to avoid a situation of increased tension which would not be in the interest of the country or of the commitments it has made here in this Assembly and, on the whole, of its integration into the European area.

We therefore call quite firmly and strongly on the Montenegrin authorities to enter into a constructive dialogue between the authorities in order to find political solutions.

Ms Ingjerd SCHOU

Norway, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mr Damien COTTIER.

Then we continue with Mr José María SÁNCHEZ GARCÍA, from Spain, and the European Conservatives Group and Democratic Alliance.

The floor is yours.


Spain, EC/DA


Thank you very much, Madam President.

If I may, I would like to refer to Poland and Hungary, both of which are subject to the review by the Assembly. The report is fairly detailed in fact when it comes to the Polish case.

In the case of Poland, we know that there have been two rulings by the Constitutional Court of Poland. They state that Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights is not compatible with the Polish Constitution. That is the interpretation of the court.

In addition to that, the report says that Poland should of course enforce rulings handed down.

This is all very relevant from a legal point of view. It's a whole question of what prevails. The law of the Council of Europe, the Convention, the European Convention on Human Rights is what should prevail? It has its rulings, and in addition to that, of course, we have the Constitution of Poland. What about its status?

It's a whole debate about primacy. Primacy about European law vis-a-vis the constitutional standards of our member States. It's a whole debate. What is it that prevails?

Now, I don't think the Council of Europe is the place that can settle this particular dispute, because the Council of Europe was not set up in order to determine the legitimacy of national constitutional standards. It's not its mission. It was set up along with the European Convention on Human Rights in order to allow the Court to find reparation for individual violations. Violations of all the rights enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights. It's not there to address or to judge the constitutionality of appropriate nature of constitutional provisions.

So, I think it's a little bit of a legal fantasy that we are engaging in here. I'm referring once again to that particular ruling by the Constitutional Court of Poland.

A second point that I'd like to make is about the composition. It's not really apparently marked by independence. What can we say about a constitutional body, an oversight body such as Le Conseil d'Etat in France. What can we say about that? About its composition and about its independence? It's not really independent.

There are other cases, other examples.

Spain, for instance. We have a constitutional court which is becoming more and more dependent politically speaking. I'm not going to go into the details of what has been happening with the Constitutional Court in Spain in these recent months, but it's basically left to a situation where it's completely dependent on the Government of Spain.

And then finally, a final point. The National Council of the Judiciary in Poland, once again, and I'm coming back to the Polish case. What about the Spanish one? The Italian one? The magistrature body. Surely they are all dependent on political parties as well. They are elected on that basis. There is a system in place.

I just want us to put that into perspective.

A final comment on Hungary.

I thought we would all agree that we would be democrats. Now, if Hungary needs to be subject to monitoring because of education, because of religious freedom, because of ideological freedom and because of the establishment and what the mainstream has to say, because that's not in line with what they think. Maybe it's not something we particularly like, but I think we have a traditional view of life in Hungary, which is not of course accepted by a number of political parties in Europe, or indeed by many European political parties that are acting against that state.

Thank you.

Ms Ingjerd SCHOU

Norway, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you, sir. I ask you to respect the speaking time because you are taking time from your colleagues.

The next speaker is Mr Ahmet YILDIZ from Türkiye.


Türkiye, NR


Thank you, Madam Chair.

Of course, I have a very complete experience of the monitoring process as Chairperson of the Turkish delegation.

First of all, I thank the rapporteurs and Chair of the Committee, but I have some suggestions here.

I defend Türkiye in the Turkish monitoring process, of course, but I am not a member of the monitoring committee just because I am not registered in a political group. So, I do not have any idea how others are doing, how to compare the Turkish process with other countries monitored. So, I think it is unfair and I will question it in my report on the Committee on Rules of Procedure, Immunities and Institutional Affairs to improve my report on how to improve participation in the activities of the Assembly.

Secondly, of course, a smooth monitoring process requires some prerequisites from both sides – from the monitored country, from the Assembly members, especially from monitors, but also from the authorities in the Committee of Ministers – especially when the pending issues continue in the courts, in the European Court of Human Rights. Also concerning the relationship with some organisations. And it requires some minimum consistency in the Committee of Ministers.

The worst sickness here is discrimination. Discrimination even among the verdicts of the European Court of Human Rights. When I started here in this position, I always asked this question to the Secretary General of the Council, the President of the Assembly and others, "Why is there this discrimination? Why do we not talk about some of the verdicts that have not been implemented for 10–15 years? We just pick some of them selectively". Everybody says, "You are right".  All must be mentioned, but everybody just mentions one. So, it creates some bad conclusions in the public. We should leave this.

In the end, I thank the rapporteurs again, but this is my last speech in the Assembly, in the part session, so I should touch on one issue. I attend the meetings of the European Committee on Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) and I try to incorporate it in the works of the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy. To my knowledge, the burning of the Holy Koran under the control of the authorities – the police force of one country – is a very Islamophobic hate action to be condemned here. It is not freedom of speech. I waited till now thinking that somebody would touch on it, they did not so I had to do it.

Thank you.

Ms Ingjerd SCHOU

Norway, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mister YILDIZ.

The next speaker is Mr John HOWELL from the United Kingdom and the European Conservatives Group and Democratic Alliance.


United Kingdom, EC/DA


Thank you very much.

I would like to thank Mr Piero FASSINO for this report.

I would say that, wouldn't I? I am one of his rapporteurs, so I have a self-interest in doing that, but I think his report is a good report. But you know, whether it is Mr FASSINO or the previous chairs of this committee, there is one thing that I have never been invited to, and I think it is because it has never occurred, and that is a discussion on what being a rapporteur is all about.

I think it's absolutely important that we have that sort of discussion. Because how you approach being a rapporteur is very important to getting the job done. And I'm a very deliverables-oriented person, so I would like to understand that better.

Countries are very different, so what I'm not requiring is a standard template that applies to all rapporteurs and they just have to follow that template. And in particular, while we're on this subject, let me pay tribute to the Secretariat, who provide tremendous help to all us rapporteurs when we go to the countries concerned.

But to go back to the countries and their being very different, one of the crucial things about being a rapporteur, I have found, is that it is much better to negotiate and to have dialogue than to stand up and scream and shout at the country that you are observing.

It is much better to approach this with the sort of quiet diplomacy that can get things done and can get answers to the questions that you are trying to find out.

And I do think that that is crucial for everyone to take on board.

I pay tribute too to Mister YILDIZ, who has run the Turkish delegation very effectively and helped us as rapporteurs in Türkiye throughout the process. We are sensitive there, that Türkiye is coming up to political elections and we are sensitive to those political elections.

One of the things that we need to address is when we are separate totally from the Committee of Ministers and when we can work with them.

There are occasions when being a rapporteur means that we overlap with what the Committee of Ministers is doing, and we must have an ability to have conversations with them, to be able to take forward the determination that we all show in fulfilling our role.

Ms Ingjerd SCHOU

Norway, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mr John HOWELL.

In this debate the last speaker is Mr Armen GEVORGYAN, from Armenia and the European Conservatives Group and Democratic Alliance.

The floor is yours.


Armenia, EC/DA


Thank you, Madam Chairman.

The Government of Azerbaijan as well as its representatives in this Assembly want us to forget about the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

They don't want you to use the name of this unrecognised state. They don't want you to speak about the human toll of the of its aggression during the 44 day war in 2020.

Moreover, Azerbaijan has, since May 2021, occupied sovereign territories of Armenia, launched a new three-day intensive hostilities last September in southern Armenia.

Since then, they have refused to withdraw from our land and even built fortifications.

Today we are witnessing a grave humanitarian crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh. The Azerbaijani government has imposed a 46 day –and counting– siege on Nagorno-Karabakh, depriving its people of their right to live in dignity, freedom of movement, import of food supplies, medicine, and other essential goods.

This is not just a human rights issue, but the manifestation of a state policy of ethnic cleansing by Azerbaijan.

I believe Europe must stay focused on Nagorno-Karabakh.

In that context, it's quite strange that the decision to dispatch a PACE monitoring mission for fact-finding purposes in the region is not being implemented.

What is this? Indifference, or expression of dysfunctionality of our organisation?

The Democracy Index by The Economist defines Azerbaijan as an authoritarian state. It has been ruled by the same family for more than 40 years, and over the past 30 years has started a free war against the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh, killing thousands of people, destroying the culture and religious heritage of the Armenian people.

Today, it terrorises Armenians through the siege of the Lachin corridor.

Given the authoritarian and terrorist nature of Azerbaijan, is it possible to imagine Nagorno-Karabakh as part of it?

Azerbaijan has for years manipulated the public opinion in our organisation. Something they are now unable to do in the European Parliament, in the United Nations Security Council, or OSCE.

We have to reflect on why this is the case.

I also want to invite this Assembly's attention to the fact that Azerbaijan, since late 2022, has began a process of abolishing the self-governing status of the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic. This is a clear violation of the European Charter of Local Self-Government that has to be prevented.

Madam Chairman, it is also time for this Assembly to very seriously consider the non-recognition of credentials of those delegations whose governments are engaged in transborder use of force or other serious and systematic violations or human rights, be that in their own territory or abroad.

Thank you.

Ms Ingjerd SCHOU

Norway, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you so much.

That concludes the list of speakers.

The speeches of members on the speakers list... they are not here, so there's no more to be tabled, I think.

And I would like to call Mr FASSINO – you are both Chair for the Committee and also rapporteur – to reply to debate.

And you have of course 3 minutes.


Italy, SOC, Rapporteur


Thank you, Madam President.

First of all, I would like to thank all the colleagues who have spoken and expressed their appreciation for the activity of the Commission and for all the activity of our rapporteurs and our secretariat.

I agree with many of the things that have been said, so I will not repeat them. I just want to make a few remarks.

First point: I absolutely agree with my colleague Mr Hişyar ÖZSOY. We are today in a phase in which democracies are endangered by autocratic tendencies. There is a tendency in several European and not only European countries to control the media, the independence of the judiciary, the rights of minorities. Therefore, I think it is absolutely necessary to reject this autocratic tendency and to fight for the affirmation of democratic principles. This is the essential way to defend freedom and citizens' rights.

Second point: the Venice Commission is an essential instrument. We work with the Venice Commission almost every day. I stress the need for the countries that are subject to the monitoring procedure to respect the indications and opinions that the Venice Commission offers us.

Third point: what my colleague Mr Zoltán BÓNA said. There is no reference in the report on Hungary to the problems of the relationship between Hungary and the European Union. We are not substituting the activity and functions of the European Union. The questions we have asked in the monitoring procedure of Hungary concern the respect of the principles, values and criteria which are established at the basis of the Council of Europe. Every country that is a member of the Council of Europe, including Hungary, is obliged to respect and fulfil the criteria, values, and principles that govern the life of our Assembly.

For this reason, I would like to say to Mr José María SÁNCHEZ GARCÍA, who pointed out that in several countries there is a tendency of politics to invade the activity of the judiciary or to control the media, that respecting the criteria, values, and opinions of our Assembly and of the Council of Europe is the way to respect the autonomy and independence of this institution, and not the opposite.

Finally, I would like to say to Mr José María Sánchez García that the right of Poland, of Hungary, of each country to adopt the laws it wants is not in question. A country cannot claim to give itself the laws it wants and, at the same time, be a member of the Council of Europe if these laws are in contradiction with the criteria, values, and rules of the Council of Europe. That is the question. We just have to choose. Poland has to choose if it wants to be a member of our Assembly: a member of our Council, of our Assembly, has to respect the rules that concern us. Does it want to make other choices? It is free to do so, but it cannot claim to be a member of the Council of Europe. We must be clear on this issue.

Finally, I fully agree with what Mr John HOWELL said. I think that the monitoring activity is not a justice activity. We are not a court. We exercise the monitoring procedure to verify the democratic standards in the countries of our institution and to make sure that the countries respect the values, the rights and the criteria of our institution. We want to accompany these countries.

The recommendations that we approve, the opinions of the Venice Commission are instruments that should encourage member countries to adopt laws, rules and attitudes that are consistent with the democratic standards of our Assembly. I agree with what Mr. John HOWELL said and I will conclude. Our rapporteurs must be, above all, men and women of dialogue in order to have a positive attitude with the countries that are subject to the monitoring procedure and, together, to work towards common goals.

Thank you, Madam President.

Vote: The progress of the Assembly's monitoring procedure (January-December 2022)

Ms Ingjerd SCHOU

Norway, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mr Piero FASSINO.

The debate is closed.

The Committee on Monitoring has presented a draft resolution on Document 15682 to which 2 amendments and 1 sub-amendment have been tabled. 

Amendments will be taken in the order in which they appear in the Compendium. I remind you that speeches on amendments are limited to 30 seconds.

I understand that the Chairperson of the Committee on Monitoring wishes to propose to the Assembly that amendments 1 and 2 to the draft resolution, which were unanimously approved by the Committee, should be declared as agreed by the Assembly. However, 2 will be taken separately as it has a sub-amendment.

Therefore amendment 1 to the draft resolution, which was unanimously approved by the Committee, should be declared as agreed to the Assembly?

Is that so, Chairperson?

Yes, that is so.

Does anyone object?



Italy, SOC, Chairperson of Committee on the Honouring of Obligations and Commitments by Member States of the Council of Europe (Monitoring Committee)


Oui. [Yes]

Ms Ingjerd SCHOU

Norway, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Does anyone object?

No, I see nobody.

There is no objection.

I declare that Amendment 1 to the draft resolution have been agreed.

And I call Mr Armen RUSTAMYAN to support Amendment 2. You have 30 seconds.

Another one wants to? He is not in the plenary.

333? You have the floor. Please, introduce yourself.


Armenia, EPP/CD


Thank you, Madam Chair.

This Amendment has also passed unanimously after being sub-amended by the rapporteur.

It reflects the interim measure by the court on the latching corridor.

Thank you.

Ms Ingjerd SCHOU

Norway, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mister RUBINYAN.

I call Mr FASSINO on behalf of the Monitoring Committee to support the sub-Amendment.

You have 30 seconds.

Another one wants to support? Mister SEYIDOV?


Azerbaijan, EC/DA


I am against the amendment.

Ms Ingjerd SCHOU

Norway, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


You are against the amendment? You are against, then yeah, but I called Mr FASSINO on behalf of the Monitoring Committee to support the Amendment.


Italy, SOC, Chairperson of Committee on the Honouring of Obligations and Commitments by Member States of the Council of Europe (Monitoring Committee)


My oral sub-amendment would be to remove the words "unblocking of" and after this correction the text would be "the implementation of its decision of 21 December 2022 regarding the Lachin corridor".

Ms Ingjerd SCHOU

Norway, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you. And then I also have to call Mr Samad SEYIDOV to speak against the Amendment.


Azerbaijan, EC/DA


Madam President,

Actually, it's a little bit –I think– misunderstood.

Mr Ruben RUBINYAN, actually, Mr Armen RUSTAMYAN presented this amendment, and of course I was against, because this amendment absolutely changed the decision and the interim decision of the European Court of Human Rights, because they are writing about the so-called unblocking. In the decision you can see "alleged", the word "alleged". That's why I was against.

In this case, my President of the Committee, Mr Piero FASSINO, said that he is going to present a sub-amendment. He already said that. The sub-amendment is acceptable. That's why I am completely against amendments presented by Mr Armen RUSTAMYAN, and I'm in favour of the sub-amendment which was presented by the President of the Monitoring Committee.

Ms Ingjerd SCHOU

Norway, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


 We understand your message, but I have to ask what is Mr Ruben RUBINYAN's opinion on the sub-Amendment?

Ms Ingjerd SCHOU

Norway, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


You are for in favour of the sub-Amendment, yes. And the Committee is obviously in favour.

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

The vote is open.

The vote is closed.

I call for the result to be displayed.

And the sub-Amendment is agreed to.


Now we come to the main Amendment 2, as amended.

Does anyone wish to speak against the Amendment?

No, I see no-one.

The Committee is obviously in favour. Yes, it is.

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

The vote is open.

The vote is closed.

I call for the result to be displayed.

Amendment 2 as amended is agreed to.


We will now proceed to vote on the draft resolution contained in Doc. 15682. 

The vote is open.

The vote is closed.

I call for the result to be displayed.

The draft resolution in Doc. 15682 is adopted.


A few minutes and then we continue with the next item.

Debate: The honouring of obligations and commitments by the Republic of Moldova


United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly


Ladies and gentlemen,

Let us start the next debate, please. Can you move either into your seats or out of the building?

The next item of business this afternoon is the debate on the report titled The honouring of obligations and commitments by the Republic of Moldova. It is Document 15680 presented by Mr Pierre-Alain FRIDEZ and Ms Inese LĪBIŅA-EGNERE on behalf of the Committee on the Honouring of Obligations and Commitments by Member States of the Council of Europe (Monitoring Committee).

[Point of order - Off mic]

Go on.


Azerbaijan, EC/DA


Thank you, Mr President.

Just for the record, I would like to inform you that in the previous item I accidentally voted in the favour of the sub-Amendment, but for the record I would like to be taking the records as against the sub-Amendment.

Thank you.


United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly


Thank you. You have put your position quite clearly on the record, obviously the vote cannot be retaken, but members have heard your views.

Thank you.

I believe Mr Pierre-Alain FRIDEZ is going to be the sole rapporteur who is explaining things.

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

The floor is yours.

Mr Pierre-Alain FRIDEZ

Switzerland, SOC, Co-Rapporteur


Thank you, Mr. Vice President.

Dear colleagues,

First of all, I would like to apologize for the absence of Ms. Inese LĪBIŅA-EGNERE from Latvia, co-reporter, who has just been appointed Minister of Justice in her country and therefore had to leave our Assembly. I would like to thank her for the excellent work she has done during the last two years under the mandate given to us.

This report reflects developments in Moldova since the last report debated by the Parliamentary Assembly in October 2019. At that time, Ms. Sandu was Prime Minister and Mr. Dodon President of the Republic: they joined forces in a coalition that aimed to de-oligarchize the country.

Since then, the country has undergone major changes and Moldova's political landscape has changed dramatically. Sandu won the presidential elections in November 2020, but her party did not have a parliamentary majority. This triggered a political and constitutional crisis which eventually led to early elections. In July 2021, Ms Sandu's party won a clear parliamentary majority. For the first time, Parliament had a stable, single-party majority. Since then, there have been significant developments in the functioning of democratic institutions: there has been made significant progress in gender equality, with women holding key government positions, and the Istanbul Convention has been ratified.

We conducted two country visits in October 2021 and June 2022. The report highlights judicial reform and the fight against corruption as priority reform areas for the current authorities. The adoption of constitutional amendments to depoliticize the judiciary is a significant step forward. These amendments were adopted by political consensus, which is positive.

A first package of amendments relating to the judiciary was adopted rapidly in August 2021, before the constitutional amendments were adopted. The Venice Commission issued several critical opinions at that time and made several recommendations, most of which were subsequently incorporated into the revised legislation.

One of the latest developments concerns the adoption of amendments to the law on the prosecution service, following the recommendations of the Venice Commission. These concerns, for example, the composition of the evaluation commission and the criteria for evaluating the public prosecutor. As will be remembered, the revision of the criteria for the selection and evaluation of the public prosecutor was a much debated issue. For the record, at the time, in the fall of 2021, former Attorney General Mr. Stoianoglo was suspended, arrested and kept under house arrest. He filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights.

In an effort to cleanse the system of these corrupt elements, the authorities established an external evaluation mechanism to test the integrity of judges and prosecutors and to ensure that those who fail the test are removed from the system. A pre-vetting commission was established in March 2022. This commission is responsible for selecting members of the High Council of Magistrates and the High Council of Public Prosecutors and other specialized bodies and ensuring that they meet integrity criteria.

There have also been developments in the fight against corruption, with the appointment of a new chief anti-corruption prosecutor and the amendment of legislation.

We recalled GRECO's recommendations, including for the Parliament to adopt a code of conduct. The authorities have also launched investigations to combat political corruption: this includes the case of former President Dodon, who is currently under judicial supervision, charged with illicit enrichment, passive corruption, illegal party financing, and treason; as well as four former communist deputies and Ms Marina Tauber, a Shor Party deputy, who was arrested this summer and is now under house arrest.

The report also looks at the situation in the autonomous region of Gagauzia and the relations between Chisinau and Comrat, which have been difficult in recent months. This is not unrelated to the general regional context.

In this report, it was not possible to ignore the general context shared by all our countries but it has a particular impact in a state like Moldova, which is experiencing economic difficulties and a very low GDP. The pandemic has had a negative impact on public institutions that have had to face serious health constraints with limited means.

Secondly, the country has been facing an energy crisis for the past two years: Moldova is heavily dependent on Russian gas, the price of which has tripled since July 2021, prompting the authorities to declare a state of emergency to deal with the financial consequences for Moldovan households and to diversify energy sources. Today, the country is facing high inflation, more than 30 per cent, triggering protests in front of the parliament.

The outbreak of the war in Ukraine has not helped: the country has been faced with a massive influx of refugees from Ukraine. More than 700 000 refugees have entered the country and about 100 000 are still in the country. The Special Representative of the Secretary General for Migration and Refugees, Ms Kayacik, recalled in a report that Moldova is the neighboring country that has received the largest number of refugees from Ukraine in relation to its population, estimated at about 2.3 to 2.5 million.

Recently, a series of hostile and provocative statements by Russian officials and de facto authorities in Transnistria, Russia's illegal annexation of Ukrainian regions, and the partial mobilization of Russians that also affects Moldovan citizens with dual citizenship have added to the concerns.

The application for EU membership and, more recently, Moldova's participation in the European Political Community Summit in Prague are in this regard a response to these security threats and a clear signal to promote a European agenda and the willingness of the Moldovan authorities to join a major international alliance. As NATO membership is not on the agenda, the European Union is a first step, as Article 42.7 of the Lisbon Treaty provides for a mutual aid commitment in case of aggression.

In conclusion, the reforms undertaken are moving in the right direction and should be supported. The challenge is to build strong, independent and sustainable institutions, free from political interference and with sufficient financial and human resources, which has sometimes proved difficult. We recognize that many reforms are underway and that the current authorities may face difficulties, but it is their responsibility, despite their clear and stable parliamentary majority, to ensure an inclusive process, which includes the participation of the opposition and civil society, and to ensure continued respect for the rule of law.

We would like to stress once again the excellent, open and fruitful co-operation of the Moldovan authorities, including the parliamentary delegation, with the Council of Europe and in particular the Venice Commission. It is very positive that the authorities seek and use the expertise of the Venice Commission. This leads to significant cooperation with the Council of Europe.

To conclude, I would like to sincerely thank Mrs. Sylvie AFFHOLDER for her essential support during our work.

Thank you.


United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly


In order to finish by 7:00 p.m. I will interrupt the list of speakers at about 6:55 p.m. to allow time for the reply and the vote.

We now move to the speakers on behalf of the political groups and the first is Mr Fabian FUNKE. Is he here? Yes.

Mr Fabian FUNKE

Germany, SOC, Spokesperson for the group


Dear Mister President,

Dear Colleagues,

First of all, I would like to express my gratitude and the gratitude of my entire group to the rapporteurs for this monitoring report, my colleagues Mr Pierre-Alain FRIDEZ and Ms Inese LĪBIŅA-EGNERE.

We all know, of course, that the Republic of Moldova also has to cope with this great challenge of democracy in a difficult situation right now. On the one hand, there is the economic crisis also caused by the Russian war of aggression and at the same time the reception of very many refugees by Ukraine with simultaneous attempts of destabilisation by Russia and unresolved issues concerning the Transnistrian region.

Nevertheless, Moldova has decided to stand in solidarity with Ukraine, to stand in solidarity with the position of Europe. All the more, I would like to emphasise, Moldova is an integral part of our European family. It is right that the European Commission has given Moldova a European perspective with candidate status. Now it is up to us to support this challenging path together.

The current government is serious about the rule of law and backs it up with actions: the removal of corrupt politicians and political officials from high state offices, the ratification of the Istanbul Convention, a comprehensive reform of the prosecution and judiciary, the strengthening of anti-corruption agencies. However, this report also paints a picture of dangers and challenges for the future. How should the democratic state deal with political parties and individuals who seek to damage seriously democracy and the rule of law? How can reforms be implemented as quickly as possible while still allowing democratic participation?

Moldova's challenge is to build the rule of law while defending the rights of all those who would prefer to weaken it directly. Whether the current government will succeed in doing so remains to be seen. At some point, the current ruling party will not emerge as the winner of an election, as is quite common in democracies. Its policies will also be challenged at some point by new people, new presidents, new prime ministers. When that moment comes, the current reforms will have to prove their worth, all the more so if political power is to be exercised again or then by individuals who do not act solely with a democratic will and on the premise of the rule of law and democracy.

In Germany we speak of the ideal of defensible democracy, that is, democratic institutions and a democratic society that together are stronger than any individual who does not act in good will, who does not act according to the rule of law and the principles of democracy, and who tries to weaken it.

Let us together critically accompany the Republic of Moldova on this path to a defensible democracy and support it in its democratic efforts with all our strength.

Thank you very much.


United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly


Now, the next speaker is Ms Zanda KALNIŅA-LUKAŠEVICA.


Latvia, EPP/CD, Spokesperson for the group


Mr Chairman,

Dear Colleagues,

Let me start by thanking the Monitoring Committee and the two co-rapporteurs, Mr Pierre-Alain FRIDEZ, and the previous head of the Latvian delegation, Ms Inese LĪBIŅA-EGNERE, for their excellent report.

It is a particular pleasure to read in the draft resolution that since the summer of 2021 the authorities of Moldova have embarked on a far-reaching programme of reform, notably in the judiciary and the fight against corruption to tackle the roots of state capture, and thereby, restore integrity and public trust in state institutions.

Dear colleagues, today I would like to specially emphasise the highly supportive response of Moldova in accepting Ukrainian refugees. It is an example of humanity, solidarity and democratic values.

We live in times when these values are challenged and only together we can defend them.

I realise the extent of pressure Moldova is facing from Russia's aggressive foreign policy. In the light of that, even more we commend Moldova's resilience towards Russia's manipulative actions and ability, at the same time, to achieve progress on the reform implementation.

Moldova's efforts in the reform process have been acknowledged by this report as well as by receiving the EU candidate country status. It is important to ensure the irreversibility and sustainability of the reforms. The current progress will define Moldova's destiny in the future.

We are delighted to note that the EU support to Moldova has clearly reduced the impact of Russia's war in Ukraine on Moldova, as well as improved its resilience to the aggressive Russian foreign policy and energy manipulation.

It is essential for all of us to become independent of Russian energy sources as soon as possible, ending Russia's energy blackmail.

It is important to strengthen our mutual support and solidarity as a basis for a rules based and values based international order.

Dear Moldovan friends, you can count on our support. Countries with valuable and relevant reform experience and accumulated expertise will continue to share it in order to help you to facilitate implementation of the reforms.

Before I conclude, once again, let me thank both rapporteurs for preparing this excellent report.

Thank you.


United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly


Thank you, indeed.

And the next speaker on behalf of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe group is Ms Diana STOICA.


Romania, ALDE, Spokesperson for the group


Thank you, Chair.

On behalf of Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, my political group, I welcome Ms Inese LĪBIŅA-EGNERE and Mr Pierre-Alain FRIDEZ's excellent report and congratulate Moldova for the good resolution that they received.

By now, we have all learned that Moldova is a small country with a big European heart, a parliamentary democracy that has embarked on a courageous reform despite the odds being stacked against them with a series of crises.

The illegal Russian invasion and war waged against Ukraine is having a serious effect on the neighbouring Republic of Moldova. In a real spirit of solidarity and upholding European values, Moldova is actively supporting those fleeing Ukraine hosting an important number of refugees per capita. This represents a major logistical challenge for the Moldovan government and our support from the EU and from the member States is necessary.

The war also destabilised the energy market and with it Moldova's energy security. That combined with record inflation and the draft made the situation even more difficult for Moldova. Despite these challenges, the Moldovan government is strongly committed to delivering on its clear reform goals, notably as regards to its judiary reform, public administration reform and the modernisation of the economy to benefit the people of Moldova.

As the rapporteur stated on the justice reform, the country took decisive steps, including constitutional reforms, to improve the functioning of the judiciary.

Moldova has also made significant progress in the freedom of the media, passing a special law to combat fake news and propaganda.

In regards to the political criteria, Moldova has a solid foundation in place to reach the stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect and the protection of minorities.

The parliamentarian nature of the democracy has also been confirmed by recent competitive elections at parliamentary and presidential levels, as the PACE delegation observers, such as myself, were able to witness.

We continue to support the Republic of Moldova on its path towards European integration. Moldova is a European state committed to respecting and promoting the values on which the European Union is founded. We know that Chișinău's road ahead on the path to European integration is not an easy one, and completing these stages will lead to the consolidation of the rule of law into a modern prosperous society based on European modern values. We will be there for them.

Thank you.


United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much.

On behalf of the European Conservatives Group and Democratic Alliance I call Mr Oleksii GONCHARENKO.


Ukraine, EC/DA, Spokesperson for the group


Thank you.

First of all, on behalf of Ukraine and Ukrainians, I want to say thank you to Moldova: Mulţumesc.

For all support Ukraine received and Ukrainians during this war of aggression that Russia started against us.

Almost half a million Ukrainian externally displaced people came through Moldova and many of them stayed in the most difficult times. Especially people from my native city of Odessa: we will never forget it and that is very important for us.

Also, we see how Moldova is moving now actively to the free world and we are absolutely happy with this.

But who is unhappy? It's Russia. That country which tries to influence Moldova too.

Russia is attacking Moldova, paying Moldovan politicians, pro-Russian politicians, making some rallies inside the country, making a house, and taking in propaganda, weaponizing energy, blackmailing with energy.

Certainly for Russia it was one of the aims to take Odesa, to cut Ukraine from the Black Sea, and then to attack Moldova. To connect with already occupied by Russia Transnistria. That was their aim. They failed because of the Ukrainian army, but they try to destabilise Moldova right now.

But I am sure Moldovan people will never let this happen. And together, now is the decision that Ukraine and Moldova are candidates to the European Union together, together we will move ahead, together we will become members of the European Union.

I believe in NATO in the future. As a real part of free world.

That is very important, and that is also a lesson to other countries.

Unfortunately, there is one more country which we love with all our heart like Moldova: it's Georgia. A country which we love, but a country whose government hasn't been able to take a side in this war after almost one year unfortunately.  

I can tell you: Ukraine 30 times addressed them with "please, give us... no, not give, sell us weaponry." No answer. Even after in 2008 Ukraine was helping Georgia when Russia take Georgia, when we are saying to them "Let's join our peaceful initiatives" no answer, no answer.

And now they're thinking about even opening new direct lines with the Russian Federation, not like the whole free world making sanctions against Russian Federation, but the Georgian government is going another way. And we see the results.

Today Georgia has not received the status of candidate to the European Union. That is very worrying for me. Because we love Georgia, we believe that the future of Georgian people is in Europe, like Moldovan people, like Ukraine being part of the free world. [sentence in foreign language]

Viva Moldova.

Slava Ukraini.


United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mr Oleksii GONCHARENKO.

Lastly, for the Group of the Unified European Left, Ms Laura CASTEL.


Spain, UEL, Spokesperson for the group


Thank you, President.

First of all, let me thank the co-rapporteurs for their excellent work.

Dear colleagues, as is stressed in the report, Moldova is a country that faced serious challenges since the last monitoring report. Mainly three.

The first is the refugee crisis. More than 700 000 refugees from Ukraine crossed the country, and around 90 000 remained in it.

The second one is the energetic crisis, with one of the highest energy prices in Europe.

The third is the economic consequences of the war.

But under our point of view, the monitoring report is too enthusiastic and positive towards the government's achievements.

There's still a lot to be done to fulfil all the commitments. The democratic institutions are still not functioning properly. Corruption is still a big issue and its fight in state institutions remains a big challenge.

There is a lack of progress in judicial reform, including the prosecutor's office. The way how the former persecutor general was removed raises serious concerns.

Moldovan society, indeed, doesn't trust these reforms.

Many Venice Commission recommendations are not taken into consideration.

The new electoral code was adopted with no proper debate and with no consensus.

There are reasonable questions concerning media freedom. Six television channels were banned recently by a decision of the state of emergency commission.

This is a clear step back in freedom of speech and pluralism in Moldovan media.

The Commission for Exceptional Situations shouldn't be used to reduce the fundamental rights and liberties and to substitute the parliament or the government.

The growing influence and rights of the secret services are also concerning. Their powers are planned to be expanded under a draft law.

This information of the security service can, by itself, update the sanctions list against Moldovan citizens.

We do believe, colleagues, that the monitoring process of Moldova must go on.

It's what I exposed, that we believe that it's of the utmost importance to follow up closely the future local elections, the state of the rule of law, and democratic freedoms.

Thank you very much.


United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

And that brings to an end the speakers from political groups.

We move on to the main part of the speaker's list, and I start with Mr Christophe LACROIX.

You have the floor.

Mr Christophe LACROIX

Belgium, SOC


Thank you, Mister President.

Mister President,

My Dear Colleagues,

I would first like to thank the rapporteurs and especially Mr Pierre-Alain FRIDEZ and welcome the progress made by the Republic of Moldova. I would still like to add some nuances to the chorus of praise that I have heard, because I will be speaking here as general rapporteur on LGBTI people.

I would like to remind you that our Assembly is very clear on gender issues and calls on its member States to, and I quote: "develop rapid, transparent and accessible procedures based on self-determination". The UN Independent Expert on these matters has also recommended that legal gender recognition be based on self-determination, that it be a simple administrative procedure and that it not require applicants to meet unreasonable conditions, including a medical certificate.

Currently, however, the only such procedure available in Moldova is "pathologised", i.e. it requires a medical certificate and court approval. Indeed, legal gender recognition is only possible on the basis of a diagnosis of transsexualism issued after a thorough psychiatric examination. Surgery is not required, but after obtaining the diagnosis, applicants need a court decision.

Moreover, the current law governing legal gender recognition is a law on civil status documents, which contains a single provision that implicitly refers to transsexual persons and their right to legal recognition of their preferred gender, male or female only. The current procedure in Moldova is, therefore, contrary to international human rights standards and is an obstacle to a prompt, transparent and accessible mechanism for legal gender recognition for transgender persons.

The Government of the Republic of Moldova should, therefore, begin by drafting a law that would allow for rapid, transparent and accessible legal gender recognition for transgender people, based on self-determination and consistent with the revision of the WHO ICD-11, which went into effect in January 2022, that depathologises trans identities in all areas of life.

Combating discrimination against LGBTI people is at the heart of the mission of the Council of Europe and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. I would like us to pay particular attention to this even though I understand and I know that the progress of the Republic of Moldova in many areas, as explained by the rapporteur and as written by the two rapporteurs, is important, and they are, of course, to be congratulated for that.

Thank you.


United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly


Thank you, sir.

Now I turn to Mr Mihail POPSOI.

Mr Mihail POPSOI

Republic of Moldova, EPP/CD


Mister Chair, honourable colleagues.

I would like to begin by thanking the rapporteurs for their excellent work, for their show of professionalism and fairness in evaluating the recent successes that Moldova has achieved.

Despite the enormous suffering caused by the barbaric Russian aggression against Ukraine, but more importantly, thanks to the endless courage, determination and sacrifice of the Ukrainian people, and in light of the generous support of the international community, Moldova is able to carry on.

And not only is Moldova carrying on and providing support to the largest number of refugees per capita, being a small country with a big heart, but the country is also able to implement substantive reforms. First and foremost, in the justice sector and combating corruption. There are already the first achievements of the vetting of the judiciary. Yes, there is robust sabotage from within and outside the system, there is an attempt by pro-Russian forces and Russian intelligence, attempts to destabilise Moldova but Moldova will carry forward. And not only is Moldova succeeding in these cornerstone fundamental reforms, but Moldova is also succeeding across the board.

In recent years, Moldova has improved by 40 positions in the international ranking of freedom of the media by Reporters Without Borders. Moldova is the leader in the world in reducing the gender gap, having one of the most active representations of women in politics. Moldova is making significant improvements in combating corruption. And this year, or rather the past year, Moldova has achieved the candidacy status to join the European Union. And the government and the Parliament and the presidency and the entire society will be working diligently to hopefully start negotiations this year and turn the page on the suffering and the sorrow that the Soviet and the post-Soviet era entails.

Moldovans, just like Ukrainians, just like Georgians, want to be part of the free world. This year, we also will be proudly hosting the European Political Community. The Republic of Moldovan President Sandu will be hosting the heads of state and government of Europe. At the same time, I would like to thank again you, honourable colleagues, and the rapporteurs for this report, which is one of the best – if not the best – in almost 30 years of history. And we look forward, perhaps, in the upcoming years to graduate the monitoring and go to the post-monitoring phase.

Thank you.


United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

And now I give the floor to Mr Gusty GRAAS.

Mr Gusty GRAAS

Luxembourg, ALDE


Thank you, Mister President.

Dear Colleagues,

I have had the opportunity on several occasions to visit the Republic of Moldova and to devote a little bit of my time to its history. We only need to go back a decade to be able to say that the country has gone through a turbulent period, both politically and socially.

A scandal involving several banks in 2014 and the instability in which the country has long been immersed led to a distrust of politicians and state institutions. Further crises arose between 2020 and 2021, when the parliament was dissolved and early elections had to be held. The Moldovan population, on the other hand, demands the establishment of functional, transparent state institutions that are in line with the European values we all cherish.


Dear Colleagues,

Such a radical and ambitious change of course cannot be achieved overnight. This report summarises the efforts that have already been made. Not the least of these are a new electoral code, a constitutional revision aimed at depoliticising the judiciary, reforms and steps taken on corruption and crime.

Of course, we should not delude ourselves. Despite all these efforts, interference by protest movements and corruption are still present. But we should be pleased with the progress made and support the Republic of Moldova in its development towards a transparent democracy and a rule of law worthy of the title.

The same applies to human rights, where positive trends can also be observed. I am thinking here of the progress made in the area of gender equality, with the ratification of the Istanbul Convention in 2022. Here, too, it is a matter of continuing these efforts, a momentum that must also be maintained with regard to interference in journalistic work and the press. Excessive state influence on the population through the media must be avoided at all costs.

Since the beginning of the Russian war in Ukraine, I would like to emphasise the remarkable efforts of the Republic of Moldova to provide aid to war refugees. This aid shows a clear rapprochement and willingness to align with European values of peace, democracy and solidarity.

In general, Luxembourg, my country, recognises the work that has been done so far, and in June 2022, our Parliament invited the Government through a motion to express its support for the European aspirations of the Republic of Moldova. Therefore, we welcome the decision of the European Union on 23 June 2022 to grant the Republic of Moldova the status of candidate to the European Union, which will undoubtedly benefit not only the Republic of Moldova but also our community.

The Moldovan people must not feel discouraged in any way. Their motivation must persist in order to work for an open, democratic state based on fair and human values.

Many thanks again to the rapporteurs, Ms Inese LĪBIŅA-EGNERE and Mr Pierre-Alain FRIDEZ.

Thank you.


United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

Now I give the floor to Mr Asim MOLLAZADA. Is he still here?

Yes. There you are, sir.


Azerbaijan, EC/DA


Thank you, Mister Chairman.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The people of Moldova express to the world what they want, electing a young dynamic president who chooses a path of reforms, changing Moldova according to European standards and intensifies the accession process.

Immediately, Moldova faces a lot of problems, problems related to energy, problems related to very sophisticated technology using oligarchs for destabilisation situation in Moldova, stopping reforms, not allowing the provision of anti-corruption measures. This situation Moldova in a very difficult situation because of the war in Ukraine, the flow of refugees. I definitely believe that Moldova needs support.

One of the forms of support is possible European sanctions and European criminal investigation regarding oligarchs, who are freely in Europe. Just the same situation happened in Azerbaijan when Russia said that Ruben Vardanyan is a tricky guy who provides the money laundering in Europe, laundering of dirty money from Russian oligarchs and bureaucrats. He came to Karabakh with the goal to start a war again, This oligarch situation we also face at a time in Ukraine when Medvedchuk was a puppet who tried to stop Ukrainian development towards Europe.

Now a lot of people here are talking about the Lachin corridor but Ruben Vardanyan, the Russian crook oligarch is passing this corridor every month and coming to Europe, There is information about his involvement in the corruption scandal in the European Parliament. There's a lot of dirty money working against countries that would like to be free and Moldova needs support.

I talked about the energy problems in this country. Azerbaijan now provides gas to Moldova because we are allies, and we are members of the GUAM Organization. Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova united in our struggle to be free and signed in New York the treaty on a free economic zone amongst GUAM countries. We will support our allies. Moldova and I ask our European colleagues to help Moldova. Moldova deserves freedom.


United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

And now Mr Ion GROZA.


Republic of Moldova, EPP/CD


Thank you, Mister President.

Dear Colleagues,

In November 2020 Maia Sandu became the first female president of the Republic of Moldova elected on a clear pro-European agenda.

In July 2021 in the wake of a political and constitutional crisis, the President's Action and Solidarity Party, won the majority in a snap parliamentary election.

For the first time in its history, the Republic of Moldova is governed by a stable parliamentary majority held by a single party, focused on integration in the European Union.

A series of actions and reforms were swiftly launched by the newly elected authorities to clear the system of its corrupt elements and put an end to the state capture. Russia's aggression against Ukraine on 24 February raised considerable challenges.

This conflict has led to an energy crisis and the vanishment of the Covid-19 pandemic, but has erected economic co-operation with neighbouring Ukraine and led to high inflation rates, around 30%, that directly affect the population of the Republic of Moldova.

At the same time, the war caused a new refugee crisis. You can firmly say that the Republic of Moldova successfully managed the refugee crisis when its citizens opened the doors of their homes to host Ukrainian families who fled and are still fleeing the war.

Following the outbreak of the war, the Moldovan authorities applied on 3 March 2022, together with Ukraine and Georgia, to the European Union.

In this context, a national commission for European integration was created. It adopted an action plan for meeting the conditions linked to Moldova's state as a European Union candidate country.

The regional context, with measurable pressure generated by the Russian Federation on energy matters, and the consequences of the war have placed the Republic of Moldova in a very difficult situation that the authorities are trying to manage with calm and resilience.

In this context we welcome the close and fruitful co-operation of the Council of Europe, in particular with the Assembly and the Monitoring Committee, as well as the Venice Commission, with the Moldovan authorities.

The current authorities of the Republic of Moldova are firmly determined to make every effort to succeed in promoting and implementing the reforms to make possible the irreversible accession and integration in the European Union. Only in the great family of Europe do we see our future and security.

Thank you.


United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly


Thank you, the next speaker will have to be the last speaker.

And I call Ms Zeynep YILDIZ from Türkiye.

Ms Zeynep YILDIZ

Türkiye, NR


Thank you.

Dear President,

Dear Colleagues,

Türkiye does not have a common border with the Republic of Moldova. Yet, we always consider Moldova as our neighbour and support its territorial integrity and sovereignty.

We also support Moldova’s commitment to European integration and welcome the granting of the European Union candidate country status of Moldova.

As stated in the report, Moldova carries out a reform process to restore the independence of the judiciary, trust in the state institutions, and fight against corruption. We commend the country’s efforts to consolidate its institutions and reform process.

Nevertheless, I believe it would benefit Moldova to cooperate more with European institutions in the ongoing reform process. Although the European Union accession negotiations will contribute to this process, cooperation with the Council of Europe institutions should be maintained in order for the reforms to be implemented on the basis of the Council of Europe standards.

All in all, Moldova’s deeper integration with European institutions will help to improve welfare and well-being of the Moldovan people, including our kinsmen Gagauzians.

The Gagauz people constitute a special bridge between Türkiye and Moldova. We always want to see a prosperous Gagauzia in a strong Moldova. We would like the Gagauz people to preserve their cultural identity and territorial autonomy, while they are fully integrated within Moldova. And this can only be achieved through an inclusive approach by Moldovan authorities.

With regard to the Romanian language learning, an issue addressed in the report in relation to the reforms in the field of democracy, I would like to inform you that Türkiye always encourages Gagauz people to learn Romanian and Gagauz Turkish. There are projects, such as building of an educational complex, undertaken by the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency in Comrat in line with this understanding.

In conclusion, I wish the upcoming elections this year for the office of Bashkan of Gagauzia will bring the best results for building trust and strengthening the relations between Chisinau and Comrat.

Thank you.


United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Madam YILDIZ.

I must now, unfortunately, 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 now call Mr Pierre-Alain FRIDEZ.

You have 3 minutes. [In French]

Mr Pierre-Alain FRIDEZ

Switzerland, SOC, Co-Rapporteur


Thank you, Mister Vice-President.

I would like to thank all the speakers in this debate. I would just like to remind you of a few things and make some answers.

Our former colleague from France, Ms Josette DURRIEU, had in fact spoken of the Republic of Moldova as a country between two worlds, a country that she described in her book as struck by great instability, by recurrent political changes and always this difficulty in knowing whether it was going to turn to the West or rather to Russia. It has now made clear choices and, faced with the difficulties that this country is experiencing, with a certain poverty, with challenges, with difficulties, this country really deserves our solidarity and international aid, just for example in relation to the effort made towards migrants.

Yes, Ms CASTEL, the follow-up must continue. It is important, but we must really take into account where we come from. When I first heard about this country, there was actually a national sport in this country. It was, for the MPs, the change of parliamentary group. Out of a hundred, 30 would change in one or two years, and often there were stories of corruption.

Enormous challenges have been taken up by the new government, but not everything has been achieved. There is still corruption, there is still internal resistance, but there is a real will to improve things, and Mr Gusty GRAAS explained it well.

There is a great responsibility for the "majority" party and, thanks to the Venice Commission, thanks to the co-rapporteurs, thanks to all the support that we can give them, the idea is really to enable them to build a strong state while respecting all the essential rules of the rule of law.

Yes, it's true. Television channels were closed. We were in a period of war, a state of emergency. The country is still very fragile. It has no army. It is rather poorly placed geographically with Transnistria where there are 2 000 or 3 000 Russian soldiers. In fact, there were Russian channels broadcasting "fake news" to the partly Russian-speaking population of Moldova, as indeed we may have heard here or there. This measure is harmful but, on the other hand, was there any other choice?

I would like to conclude by explaining to Mr Christophe LACROIX that the topic he mentioned concerning LGBTI was not discussed during our various visits. It is a subject that I commit myself to discuss with the Moldovan authorities during a future visit.

To conclude, once again, thank you for your various interventions. The Republic of Moldova and the Moldovan people are very endearing people. It is a pleasure and an honour for me to accompany this country and this people in their evolution towards more democracy and, ideally, a rapprochement with Europe.

I thank you for your support.


United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mister FRIDEZ.

Does the Vice-Chairperson of the Committee wish to speak?

If so, you have 3 minutes.


Azerbaijan, EC/DA, First Vice-Chairperson of the Committee on the Honouring of Obligations and Commitments by Member States of the Council of Europe (Monitoring Committee)


Thank you very much, Mister President.

I would like to thank and congratulate our rapporteurs Mr Pierre-Alain FRIDEZ and Ms Inese LĪBIŅA-EGNERE for the report submitted today.

Our Committee has been following the latest developments in the country with great attention. The rapporteurs have witnessed the dramatic contemporary development while preparing this monitoring report.

The outbreak of the war in neighbouring Ukraine has had dramatic effects on the country, therefore, this report is not an ordinary report.

I would like to thank the rapporteurs for taking into account the impact of the war on Moldova, including the massive arrival of refugees, the energy crisis, the geopolitical pressure, and hybrid war against Moldova, and their consequences on the functioning of democratic institutions.

The report makes an accurate description of the consequences of the war and the commitments of the authorities to continue the reforms despite the difficult circumstances.

I would also like to extend my gratitude to the Moldovan people for their generous hospitality when they accepted nearly 100 000 refugees.

In 2020 and 2021, the Moldovan people have expressed a clear choice in favour of the European integration.

The report described the reforms launching in areas which are the key for the rule of law and democracy, and at the same time it illustrates the challenges still faced by the country.

As the Vice-President of the Monitoring Committee I would like to commend the excellent cooperation of our rapporteurs and the authorities and the active role of the Moldovan delegation in our Committee.

Today, the report which is submitted to you is a result of the committed work of our rapporteurs.

Despite the dramatic changes of circumstances, the rapporteurs have elaborated a comprehensive report and proposed a detailed draft resolution unanimously approved by the Monitoring Committee.

Dear colleagues, I would like to thank again our rapporteurs, but also our Moldovan colleagues, both from the majority and from the opposition, for their constructive attitudes to the Committee.

The Council of Europe is based on co-operation and we appreciate the value, the important support of the Council of Europe to the democratic developments of the country.

I invite you to support this draft resolution.

By doing so you will express the support of the Assembly to the Republic of Moldova to strengthen in democratic and human rights oriented reforms.

Thank you very much for your attention.

Ms Elena-Simona SPĂTARU

Romania, ALDE


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


Georgia, EPP/CD


(Undelivered speech, Rules of Procedure Art. 31.2)

Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova have shared a common past for a long time. Our three countries have together endured decades of Soviet oppression and occupation. We walked together on a difficult path to freedom and independence. But since then, we have seen the violent face of Russia seeking to curb our national sovereignties and territorial integrities.

Despite these challenges, our three nations have found a common future in European integration. The 2021 Petra Declaration was supposed to bring together Georgia, Ukraine, and Moldova on their path towards Europe. But in less than a year, Moldova and Ukraine had received the EU membership candidacy status, while Georgia was left behind.

This wasn’t the fault of the European Union, which had supported Georgia's democratic development for years and has continuously invested in our future. Nor was it the fault of the people of Georgia, whose unwavering commitment to a European future remains the strong will of 80% of the population. No, instead, it was entirely the political responsibility of an irresponsible government that folded as soon as Russia invaded our brotherly Ukraine.

But here, I stand to applaud the commitment taken by the leadership of Moldova to stand with Ukraine as it faces an incredibly violent invasion, despite incredible challenges that the world has witnessed. And of course, I commend Moldova for its exemplary devotion to democratic processes and reforms, a devotion that has resulted in the country receiving the EU membership candidacy.

At its leadership are two women, President Maia Sandu and Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilița. They have placed Moldova on the world map, have met challenges with no uncertainty, and have been strongly committed to democracy. They stand on the right side of history.

This is the right time to remember that our three countries have been joined together on this path since the creation of the Eastern Partnership in 2009. I cannot remain quiet as one of the original initiators, whose vision helped shape the Partnership at the time, is in prison right now. Mikheil Saakashvili, the third President of Georgia, is still in detention. As we speak, his health continues to deteriorate. Experts agree that if he isn’t transferred abroad quickly, he will die in prison.

I will use this tribune today and ask my colleagues and every member state to react and to support the Georgian people’s European future by helping save the life of President Saakashvili.

Moldova is on a path to one day become a member of the European Union. For this, it needs to continue receiving the support of European institutions to implement those reforms that will make it a full-fledged member of the European family. In this, Moldova is an example that my country should follow. The occupation of part of its territory and threats from the Kremlin have not slowed down its European integration path.

This Assembly must continue to support Moldova, its national sovereignty, its territorial integrity, and its European future.

Vote: The honouring of obligations and commitments by the Republic of Moldova


United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much.

The Committee on Monitoring has presented a draft resolution. This can be found in Document 15680, to which no amendments have been tabled.

So we will now proceed directly to the vote on the draft resolution for which a simple majority is required.

The vote is now open.

The vote is now closed.

I call for the results to be displayed.

The draft resolution in Document 15680 is approved.

Thank you very much.


Georgia, EPP/CD


Just for the technical reason.

So my vote today for Resolution 2482, Legal and human rights aspects of the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine, wasn't considered. So I want to fix my position, that I was in favour to vote for this resolution.

Thank you.


United Kingdom, EC/DA, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much. Thank you for putting your position on the record.

Obviously the vote cannot be retaken, but members have heard your view.

Thank you very much.

Current affairs debate: Addressing the humanitarian consequences of the blockade of the Latchin corridor

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Dear colleagues,

The final item of business this afternoon is a current affairs debate on Addressing the humanitarian consequences of the blockade of the Lachin corridor.

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

In the debate, I first call Mr Pierre-Alain FRIDEZ. Pierre-Alain, vous avez 7 minutes. (You have 7 minutes in French).

Mr Pierre-Alain FRIDEZ

Switzerland, SOC


Thank you, Mister President.

The Lachin corridor is a strip of territory about 5 km wide that connects 65 km of the Armenian border with the territory called Nagorno-Karabakh or Artsakh by Armenia and Karabakh by Azerbaijan. This is a strategic location that was the subject of special arrangements during the negotiations that followed the fighting in 2020. The tripartite agreement of 9 November 2020 set out in its Article 6 the obligation of Azerbaijan, which had control of this place, to, and I quote: "guarantee the security of persons and vehicles moving in both directions.

A blockade of this territory began on 12 December last year when Azerbaijani nationals blocked the only road connecting this territory inhabited by some 120 000 Armenians to Armenia, a vital road for this population. The blockade is located in an area that is under the responsibility of the Russian peacekeeping mission. In preparing this intervention, in addition to explanatory letters from both sides, I have relied on the text of a decision of the European Court of Human Rights, which on 21 December 2022, decided on provisional measures requesting the Government of Azerbaijan to take all measures at their disposal to ensure free passage through the Lachin corridor for people with serious health problems requiring medical treatment in Armenia or for people stranded on the road without shelter or means of subsistence.

The issue at the origin of this situation, according to the letter addressed to me by Mr Samad SEYIDOV, is based on the formal request in early December by the Government of Azerbaijan to stop the exploitation of mines in Nagorno-Karabakh, which is considered to be illegal and which would cause damage to the environment. This request of the Azerbaijani Government would have remained without follow-up and this would have caused, according to the words of the letter of Mr Samad SEYIDOV, a legitimate indignation of environmentalist Azerbaijani citizens who, since 12 December 2022, spontaneously started according to him a peaceful demonstration to prevent the use of this road for abusive purposes. In the term "abuse", the Azeri delegation also includes the sending of ammunition and mines to Karabakh by the Armenians, and the Azeri side denies all accusations of any total blockage of the road. In addition to the medical vehicles, there are 40-50 vehicles that pass through the road daily in both directions, carrying food and other necessities. Basic humanitarian needs would thus be met.

The situation would be profoundly different according to the information provided by the Armenian camp, which considers that there is a real blockade organised by pseudo-demonstrators using this mining issue as a pretext. According to them, everything was orchestrated by the Baku authorities. According to their version, the Azerbaijani government has blocked the daily import of several hundred tons of essential goods, including basic necessities, food, medicines such as insulin, fuel, products regularly imported into Karabakh from Armenia. The situation is said to be serious and the humanitarian crisis is worsening day by day.

The action of the social services and access to health care is hampered by the lack of resources, with the most vulnerable, young and old, being put at risk and human suffering becoming more widespread. The shortage of food and other goods would become more and more perceptible, with the appearance of ration coupons. In addition, during these cold winter months, there are temporary cuts in gas and electricity, seriously aggravating the situation of the populations concerned. Thousands of children are deprived of their right to education, their schools being closed because they have no heating. More than 1 000 people are reportedly blocked along this road, unable to return home. In addition, hundreds of children have been separated from their families. There are reports of disruptions in access to telecommunications and the internet. At times, the population of Nagorno-Karabakh would be cut off from all communication with the outside world.

According to the Armenians, the corridor is still closed today; only a few ICRC vehicles could transport a limited number of very sick patients to Armenia. For the Armenians, this is a clear violation of the tripartite agreement of 9 November 2020, which was supposed to ensure full freedom of movement of citizens, vehicles and goods between Armenia and Karabakh through the Lachin corridor. The responsibility for the implementation of this agreement would normally rest with the Russian peacekeepers, who would have remained completely passive in the face of this situation.

So, two versions, as always, diametrically opposed: we are used to it. There seems to have been, and probably still is, a blockade of the Lachin corridor. In addition to the clear position of the European Court of Human Rights of 21 December last, which I have already mentioned, there have been many international interventions. The blockade was discussed at the United Nations Security Council on 20 December 2022, with clear statements from the representatives of France, the United Kingdom, China, Russia, Ireland, India, Brazil, and Norway. The message from these different countries was unanimous: the re-opening of the corridor to avoid an escalation and create a humanitarian crisis is essential.

We should also note, among many others, the 16 December statement by the spokesperson for the U.S. State Department, who expressed concern about the closure of the corridor, which could have serious humanitarian consequences, and called on Azerbaijan to restore free movement in the Lachin corridor.

Finally, on 19 January, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the violation of human rights in Nagorno-Karabakh, calling for the lifting of the blockade, the establishment of a UN and OSCE humanitarian investigation and denouncing the inaction of Russian peacekeeping forces. The entire international community has mobilised on this issue, with a unanimous position.

The goal today, the hope that we can formulate, is an immediate normalisation of the situation with effective measures to restore the possibilities of movement in the Lachin corridor and solve as soon as possible the problems of supply of food, medicine, energy means and thus avoid a humanitarian drama.

The ball is in the court of the Azerbaijani authorities. There are two possibilities for these authorities. Either, without delay, they provide proof of the falsity of the allegations made, not only with words but on the basis of an independent international observation on the spot, in the next few days, according to modalities to be discussed –the ideal would be to authorise access to the corridor to the co-rapporteurs of the two countries in dispute– or, another possibility, proceeding without delay to the lifting of the existing blockade. It would be very problematic to find out in some time that this situation has led to a humanitarian drama. The Azerbaijani authorities would then have to answer for it.

Thank you for your attention.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mr Alain FRIDEZ,

And now in the debate I first call the five speakers on behalf of the political groups.

The first speaker is Ms Boriana ÅBERG from Sweden on behalf of The European People's Party Group.

Boriana, you have the floor. Three minutes.

Ms Boriana ÅBERG

Sweden, EPP/CD, Spokesperson for the group


Thank you, Mr President.

Dear colleagues,

It is with great sadness that we once again are debating about the humanitarian crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Yet again, the debate is at the bottom of the agenda and very few of the members of the Assembly are present.

The suffering of 120 000 people of Nagorno-Karabakh deserve greater attention. But before anything else, they deserve that their fundamental human rights are respected.

It's not a question of territorial integrity. It's not a question about Armenia or about Azerbaijan. It's a question of human rights.

Since the Lachin corridor, the only road that links Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia was blocked by so called environmentalists on 12 December, a humanitarian crisis has struck its residence.

There is a shortage of food, and a Russian stump-based system has since been introduced.

Medicine, including for children and persons with long-term medical conditions, a largely unavailable.

Furthermore, during the blockade, the gas supplies were disrupted in two occasions. In that also lies the problem of electricity supply after Azerbaijan damaged the only high-voltage power line which supplies Nagorno-Karabakh. The line is not restored yet, as the Azerbaijani forces did not allow reparation teams.

People in Nagorno-Karabakh are freezing and starving in the darkness. This darkness also covers informational darkness, since one internet cable was cut by so called activists on 12 January.

Recently, the US Secretary of State, Blinken, spoke with Azerbaijan's President, Aliyev, to urge an immediate reopening of the Lachin corridor.

Prior to that, the European Parliament approved a resolution in which it urged Azerbaijan to release Armenian prisoners of war, to withdraw its troops from Armenia's sovereign territory, and to open the Lachin corridor.

The Secretary General of the Council of Europe, the Commissioner of Human Rights, and the rapporteurs of Azerbaijan and Armenia also made statements about the blockade.

Evidently, there is significant international pressure, further straightened by the fact that the European Court of Human Rights indicated interim measures to Azerbaijan on this subject.

Unfortunately, Azerbaijan has decided to ignore these pleas. Hence, I want to ask what actions need to be taken in order for Azerbaijan to fulfil its commitments as a member of the Council of Europe?

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much, Boriana.

Thank you very much. I have to be a bit strict, so I can get to give the floor to as many speakers as possible.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


The next speaker is Mr Bertrand BOUYX from France, speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.

Mister BOUYX.

Mr Bertrand BOUYX

France, ALDE, Spokesperson for the group


Thank you, Mister President.

Dear Colleagues,

This topical debate is essential. Indeed, the Lachin corridor is a lifeline for the population of Nagorno-Karabakh. This route linking the territory to Armenia allows access and supplies to Nagorno-Karabakh.

In accordance with the trilateral declaration of 9 November 2020, the Republic of Azerbaijan is committed to ensuring the safe movement of people, vehicles and goods along the Lachin corridor in both directions.

Following a French initiative, the European Political Community, which met for the first time in Prague last 6 October in the presence of the Prime Minister of Armenia and the President of Azerbaijan, has made progress, in particular, the deployment of a European Union observation mission.

The Council of Europe, built on the foundation of human rights and fundamental freedoms, must be able to participate in these observation missions. Indeed, I believe that it is absolutely necessary for us to see for ourselves the state of affairs on the ground. In any case, on the one hand, the obstacles placed in the way of traffic on the corridor have serious humanitarian consequences for the local population. I do not need to describe here the effects of the lack of food, medicine or heating fuel. On the other hand, the Corridor cannot be used to encourage the non-return of the Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh due to the fact that life has become impossible in this enclave.

Any development on the ground can only result from a political dialogue between the two parties. My country, France, as a member of the Minsk Group, remains fully committed to supporting the negotiations underway following the meetings in Brussels, Prague, and Washington. As for us, the European countries, and especially the member countries of the European Union, we must hold both ends of this rope.

Maintaining co-operation with Azerbaijan is certainly important, but any agreement, however necessary it may be for both parties, must not make us forget that our continent is first and foremost a community of minds, a community that shares respect for human rights, democratic principles, fundamental freedoms, and especially freedom of expression. This freedom must be guaranteed to the people of Azerbaijan, but also to the people of Armenia, regardless of where they live.

I, therefore, call on the countries of our continent to make a strong commitment to resolving this conflict, which is somewhat forgotten, but which has already lasted too long.

Thank you for your support.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Bertrand. [In French]

Now we are going to listen to Ms Jill MORTIMER from the United Kingdom. She speaks on behalf of the European Conservatives.

Madam Jill MORTIMER, you have the floor.


United Kingdom, EC/DA, Spokesperson for the group


I'm deeply saddened to hear that hundreds of people have died in and around Nagorno-Karabakh in recent months, and that the situation there is degrading further.

I understand that the origins of the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia in this region can be traced back almost a century, rekindled by the fall of the Soviet Union and boiling over into two terrible wars in the last 30 years. But what have these wars achieved? They've not yielded anything like a permanent settlement or a positive relationship between the countries. Even the prisoners of war are unreturned.

If these countries want to live at peace with each other as good neighbours, they must find a way to talk to each other with honesty and in good faith.

I call upon the governments of Azerbaijan and Armenia to engage with the efforts of the OSCE to secure peace and stability.

What we have now is a slow march into a humanitarian disaster that we must avert.

Regardless of their motives, the protesters blocking the Lachin corridor are only helping to worsen the growing crisis. I urge all parties to the trilateral statement of the 9 November 2020 to reaffirm that the Republic of Azerbaijan shall guarantee safe movement of people, vehicles, and cargo in both directions along the Lachin corridor.

This is the key to keep the situation with the freight within the framework of the rules-based international order. As opposed to slipping back into further chaos and conflict.

Any movement in that direction must be stopped.

It is unthinkable that this region will enter into a further period of violent conflict. And what will happen to those who will pay the price if this happens.

I urge Armenia and Azerbaijan to save their people from further future catastrophe.

For people to live as neighbours tomorrow, they must act as friends now.

I am in no doubt that rights and wrongs have been committed and suffered by both sides, but the only way to protect the innocents who will suffer the terrible and inevitable harms of conflict is by reconciliation and a willingness to move forward, drawing a line and creating a positive narrative.

The first step is the reopening of the Lachin corridor.

However, let me be clear, reconciliation is a two-way street, and the corridor must be used for good intention only.

The legitimate movement of people, goods, and the humanitarian aid are not used as a cover for the movement of contraband, military, or arms. Nothing can be gained from more agitation. Further violence begets further hatred, deep resentment, and a bleak future for both countries.

Let the opening of the Lachin corridor be a new beginning, a new chapter in sincere and honest negotiations to suture these wounds. Let us seize the opportunity to build a future where Armenians and Azeris can live peacefully as neighbours.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much, Ms Jill MORTIMER.

Now we are going to listen to Mr George KATROUGALOS from Greece and he speaks on behalf of the Group of the Unified European Left. George.


Greece, UEL, Spokesperson for the group


Thank you very much, Mister Chairman.

When we were discussing the situation in Kosovo, I mentioned the old saying that the Balkans have been the powdered keg of Europe. The Caucasus risks being another area that could be explosive in the years to come for similar reasons: the existence of minorities and disputed territories. We are not discussing here, of course, the geopolitical aspects of the conflict, just the humanitarian ones. We must have in mind that in all situations, respect for international legality and what has been already agreed upon are fundamental.

Here we also have the particularity that the facts are also disputed. The Azeri side denies that is obligated. It is not meaningful to discuss if we do not have an agreement to the facts. Here I think that we can easily agree to the fact that the blockade exists. The possibility of some vehicles of the Red Cross carrying some patients in a life-threatening situation does not mean that the corridor is open. The proof of that is that all sides that have a possibility to have a direct, let's say, understanding of the situation, like the United States or France, have already condemned this blockade.

Our rapporteur has reminded us of this harsh criticism of the American foreign minister who cannot be accused of being one-sided or that he wants to promote the national ideas of one or the other side. We have again, as previous speakers have said, also allegations that other aspects that guarantee a normal life to the citizens of Nagorno-Karabakh, like the provision of gas and electricity, are now blocked.

My proposal is to endorse what the European Parliament has already endorsed. First of all, to condemn the blockade. It is self-evident. Then, to ask all parties, especially now Azerbaijan –because it is the party who seems not to implement the trilateral statement of the 9 November 2020– to fully respect it.

Also, to ask both parties not just to demonstrate restraint but also to respect international legality fully. What has been agreed until now, for instance, the statement of the MINSK group co-chairs of the 15 November and also this organisation can be a forum of reconciliation and not just a confrontation between the two countries involved.

Thank you.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mr George KATROUGALOS.

Now, the last speaker on behalf of the political groups is Mr Constantinos EFSTATHIOU, from Cyprus, and he speaks on behalf of Socialists, Democrats and Greens Group.

Mr Constantinos EFSTATHIOU

Cyprus, SOC, Spokesperson for the group


Thank you, Mister Chairman.

There are cases in which we must be clear, when humanitarian issues are involved we have to be rigid.

That is why we call on the Azerbaijani authorities to ensure freedom and security of movement along the Lachin corridor in accordance with the trilateral statement of 9 November 2020. Restrictions to freedom of movement in this strip of land are causing significant distress to the local population and has the potential to create a humanitarian crisis. Access and supplies to Nagorno-Karabakh must be unconditionally restored and Azerbaijan must honour the trilateral agreement and guarantee the safety of people, vehicles and goods moving along the corridor.

This is the sole road connecting Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh. As a result of the blockade, thousands of people are stranded and unable to reach their homes, including children.

This alarming situation threatens to derail the fragile peace process and may well lead to the resumption of violence. This could have disastrous consequences, impacting not only the people of Armenia and Azerbaijan, but the wider South Caucasus region and beyond.

As member States of the Council of Europe and in accordance with our values and principles, we call upon the Azerbaijan authorities to immediately open the corridor and desist from any action that could fuel further tensions in an already volatile situation.

I have personally visited Azerbaijan twice and I have never been to Armenia. I can assure you that Azerbaijani people are gentle, polite, and tolerant. This is why I am so frustrated with the situation in Lachin and the deliberate acts which seek to victimise «amachous». Amachous is a Greek word for people who do not carry arms and cannot defend themselves. It is the mother who cares for her children, the family man who cares for his parents or the child that needs protection, food, and shelter, just because they are Armenians or Christians. After all, we all deserve a better future in Europe and in the whole wide world, notwithstanding our ethnicity, nationality, language, or religion. Leaving people starving, freezing, without medicine, electricity, water supply nor dignity actually amounts to an act of genocide.

One of the elements defining genocide is deliberately inflicting harsh conditions of life calculated to bring about the physical destruction of a group.

Dear Colleagues,

We are at the tipping point of the genocide. Let us not victimize people in order to gain in political terms or for reasons of national interest. Every single person in this world deserves to live in dignity and in full respect of their human rights.

This message must be clear.

Stop the Lachin blockade.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mr Constantinos EFSTATHIOU.

Next on the debate I call Mr Kimmo KILJUNEN, from Finland.


Finland, SOC


Mr President, I would like to start by saying pity, pity, pity.

Session after session, we finally, during the final days, we have the discussion about the desperate conflict between two nations –Azeris, Armenians– who have lived centuries close to each other, that there is a war, tensions and problems. That is very pity.

Now, we do have the discussion about the potential major blockade of Lachin corridor and total blockade of the Nagorno-Karabakh as a whole.

Obviously, if that is fully implemented –the blockade– it's a major humanitarian crisis, even catastrophe, which we will witness. So this is a very very worrying situation.

Unfortunately, we hear contesting parties interpreting the situation totally differently. You will soon hear those interpretations and differences.

We hear that the Lachin corridor is closed and no transport –including maybe a few ambulances– but no transport whatsoever.

Nagorno-Karabakh is isolated also, otherwise the gas lines have been cut, the power lines have been also cut, etc.

Major problems. 120 000 people living in these types of conditions and isolation. That argument is there.

The other side is saying there's actually only control that there will be no military traffic from Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh. Otherwise no problems, there are supposed to be no problems.

If they are problems, the problems are not Azeris'. That is the argumentation Azeri officials, or even civil society people. Problems are Russians. Russian mafia, etc, etc. Even eco-activists have made a blockade there.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr President, there's a total confusion. We have a confusion. My hope, my request is, let's have there an impartial international observation mission which observes the situation and verifies it. Me, with Ms Boriana ÅBERG, we are ready. We are rapporteurs to Armenia. We are ready.

I know also rapporteurs to Azerbaijan are ready. We are ready to go in the region and assess the situation and tell you as much as we can know, what are the real situation and facts.

In fact, I really ask that both parties would agree about that one.

Thank you very much, Mr Chair.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Kimmo.

Now we are going to listen to Mr Ruben RUBINYAN from Armenia.

Ruben, you have the floor.


Armenia, EPP/CD


Thank you, Mister President.

First I want to thank all of the speakers who spoke before me for speaking the truth.

That's very important.

The people in Nagorno-Karabakh may be freezing right now because of the blockade, but your words will certainly warm their hearts, because they will know they are not alone, even though Azerbaijan wants them to think they are alone and that nobody cares.

But you show that people do care.

Dear colleagues,

I know conflicts tend to be complicated, but sometimes they are quite simple.

We have a situation when Azerbaijan, the president of Azerbaijan, on 9 November 2020 has signed under a paper which says the Lachin corridor should be under the control of peacekeepers and the Republic of Azerbaijan guarantees the flow of cargo, people, vehicles from Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh and the other way around through the Lachin Corridor.

Now we don't have this situation.

This is already the 46th day when this road is blocked, and furthermore there is no gas and there's no electricity because Azerbaijan has cut them off.

Of course, as some of the speakers mentioned, Azerbaijan will deny this and our Azerbaijani colleagues will start to bring arguments saying that first there is no blockade and second, they will start justifying the blockade –which according to them is not there– by the so-called eco-activists.

And there is only one way to check this, dear friends.

Let's suppose that there's some evil Armenian conspiracy, a worldwide conspiracy, which has somehow managed to lie to everyone and to convince the Americans, the Russians, the French, the Iranians, the UK, the OECE, the Council of Europe, the ECHR that there is a blockade which actually doesn't exist.

Okay, this means that Azerbaijan must agree that, in this case, this organisation PACE should send a fact-finding mission to the Lachin corridor immediately, because that would be the only way for our Azerbaijani colleagues to prove that we are making false accusations. And when I say "we are making" I mean me and my Armenian colleagues and all the other colleagues which are not Armenian and who spoke today.

If our Azerbaijan colleagues do not agree to this, this means that they do actually have genocidal intent, their intention is to rid Nagorno-Karabakh of its Armenian population. And this means that this organisation should act accordingly and should take measures to prevent this.

Thank you.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mr Ruben RUBINYAN.

Now we are going to listen to Mr Zeki Hakan SIDALI from Türkiye. Zeki.

Mr Zeki Hakan SIDALI

Türkiye, ALDE


Thank you, Chair.

Let me start by stating that the priority for all of us is that peace and stability should prevail in the South Caucuses.

As of 2020, we see that a new year of peace and dialogue has emerged. In the last two months, there is a new tension rising in the region. Here, we have to deal with the issue from all points of view. Looking through a single and prejudiced angle, having double standards leads us to false judgments and unfair results.

Today, we are discussing the claims regarding the Lachin corridor. However, as Azerbaijani parliamentarians have repeatedly stated that this is not the case and that there is no problem with access to food in the region. There is, however, a very serious perception management problem. We should be very careful against any perception which might lead to a violation of previous agreements. There is no benefit to any member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) to reverse the peace environment and normalisation steps taken in the region. So who does benefit from such behaviour? We must ask ourselves this question.

Unfortunately, there are many confrontations, even war around us. Here, we should be talking about peace, not escalation. We must act on facts, not perceptions. The founding values of the Council of Europe tell us to act accordingly. Our real contribution should be to encourage two delegations to sit together and find viable solutions to their bilateral issues.

During my five years in PACE, I witnessed that the Azerbaijani delegation has taken necessary and bold steps, committed to the values of the Council of Europe. They realise that unnecessary confrontation only brings suffering and regression to the region and humanity. We should not disappoint this attitude. Whatever approach we choose with our words today, we will live it tomorrow. Either tension on one side or dialogue on the other. We must set an example for the whole world, especially for our own Parliament. If we cannot achieve this in PACE, where freedom of speech and conscience of democracy prevails instead of political oppression, none of us can succeed anywhere.

As Jalāl al-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī said, "Don't look at someone to find faults. If you look to find, you will. Learn the ingenuity of covering others' faults, then you will be complete and pure." These words are not for two delegations, they are also for all of us.

Thank you.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Zeki.

Now I call on the debate Mr Kamal JAFAROV, from Azerbaijan.


Azerbaijan, EC/DA


Thank you very much, Mister President.

Dear Colleagues,

If there is any blockade, it's definitely an artificial information blockade conceived by those powers who wanted to divert attention from the war in Ukraine.

An advisor to the Ukrainian president, Mykhailo Podolyak, gave a public interview to the Moldovan public television. In his interview, he said that the issues regarding the Lachin corridor are being artificially inflated with incorrect data on the size of the local population in Khankendi with one specific intent, to distract attention from the war in Ukraine.

My Colleagues,

If there is a crisis, it's definitely a political one, which was initiated with the Ruben Vardanyan plan. Ruben Vardanyan is a Russian criminal oligarch. In 2019, the European Parliament demanded an investigation into Ruben Vardanyan's activities while he was the head of Troika Dialog investment bank, which later was acquired by the Sberbank of the Russian Federation.

Ruben Vardanyan was sent from Moscow with an open and clear agenda. His first mission is to damage the peace process, to damage the established contacts with local Armenians. His second mission, my dear Armenian colleagues, is to remove Pashinyan from power and to become the next prime minister of Armenia.

That's another reason of this information manipulation: for the rivalry between Pashinyan and Ruben Vardanyan.

My dear colleagues, if there is a humanitarian concern, it's definitely the concern of the 282 victims of land mines planted by Armenia. Armenians abusing the Lachin corridor planted mines that were made by Armenia in 2021.

The number of cars passing through the Lachin corridor in the last two months is three times more than members of this Parliamentary Assembly. It is more than 1 000 cars, including peacekeeping, the International Red Cross, even including civil Armenian cars. The number of  cars passing through the Zangazur corridor is zero, which Armenia also promised to open in the trilateral agreement.

My message is to the local Armenians in Khankendi: oust Ruben Vardanyan. Yourself for yourself.

Our message to Pashinyan: don't believe false promises made by France. The whole world has already seen how France kept this promise for Ukrainians.

Thank you very much.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Kamal.

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

Domagoj, you have the floor.

I do not see him with us.

So next we call in the debate Mr Vladimir VARDANYAN from Armenia.


Armenia, EPP/CD


Thank you, Mister Chair.

Now it is even more clear.

Thank you, Mister JAFAROV.

You actually said a very important thing, you said that Nagorno-Karabakh is under siege.

And I would like to title my speech with the one Greek word from the Bible: "Exodus, Exodus, Exodus".

What you are demanding it's exodus of all the Armenian population.

This is your aim.

Look, first, nobody of you speaking here are trying to say that there is no blockade. Actually, where.. said something to prove that it's open. Let's understand what's going on there.

If it is environmentalist, what is their demand? If we would like to regulate something, what is the demand of the government? If the problem is in personalities, who is the problem?

No. You may find a lot of different reasons, but the aim is the following. I absolutely agree with those who said that it is a clear genocidal intent – in accordance with article 2 paragraph C of the Genocide Convention – to destroy fully or in part a group. That's the aim, let's be very fair with each other. And let's try, at least once, to say it clearly to the public.

Yes, our intent is to destroy Armenians.

Unfortunately, I should state it clearly, Lachin corridor is blocked. Otherwise why ICRC is responsible for transferring persons from and into Nagorno-Karabakh?

Lachin corridor is closed and people are starving and freezing. Lachin corridor is closed and 120 000 Armenians are next door to the genocide.

And if you are against all of this, let's agree. I, on behalf of each and every Armenian can state it, can state that we agree to admit any diplomatic, high rank, lower rank mission in Armenia in Lachin corridor.

Let's show to the world what is going on there.

This is the demand of humanity, this is the demand of the values of the Council of Europe.

Otherwise you are just proving that you are organising a genocide of intent.

Thank you.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much.

Next speaker in the debate is Ms Sena Nur ÇELİK from Türkiye.

Sena, you have the floor.

Ms Sena Nur ÇELİK

Türkiye, NR


Dear president, dear colleagues,

We are all aware of the importance of ensuring freedom and security of movement along the Lachin Corridor for humanitarian reasons, especially the transfer of medical aid, food and essential goods.

The Azerbaijani authorities reject the allegations of the blockade of the corridor, referring to the daily use of the corridor by tens of vehicles of the peacekeeping contingent and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). 

The Azerbaijani authorities and our Azerbaijani colleagues here also declared that Azerbaijan facilitates the humanitarian needs of all Armenian residents living in the region.

It's important to emphasise that Azerbaijan is concerned about the illegal exploitation of mineral deposits in its territories, and the resulting environmental consequences, as well as the abuse of the Lachin corridor for military purposes by Armenia, which constitutes violations of the trilateral statement.

We should urge both parties to uphold the trilateral statement and work towards the common goal of finding a peaceful resolution.

It's important to emphasise that the activities of the Russian peacekeeping contingent should not undermine the sovereignty of Azerbaijan.

In the broader context, the recent developments have demonstrated once again the importance of addressing the root causes of the conflict and concluding a peace agreement to achieve sustainable peace between two countries.

It's been over two years since the end of the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War. Azerbaijan liberated its lands from Armenian occupation and secured its territorial integrity and sovereignty.

The war is over, but peace is yet to be finalised.

Armenia has the chance to win peace; it can achieve normalisation with both Azerbaijan and Türkiye by concluding a comprehensive peace treaty.

As you know, there is an important ongoing normalisation process between Türkiye and Armenia.

The international community should strongly support and exhilarate this historic opportunity of peace and full normalisation in the South Caucasus.

Third parties efforts should take into full account sensitivities of both parties.

Third parties efforts should also be mutually enforcing and complementary.

In conclusion, I would like to remind us all that the peace and stability in Nagorno-Karabakh is crucial not only for the people living there, but also for the stability and security of the entire region.

Thank you.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Sena.

Now we are going to listen to Mr Mihail POPSOI from the Republic of Moldova.

Mr Mihail POPSOI

Republic of Moldova, EPP/CD


Thank you, Chairman.

Mister President,

Dear Colleagues,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I'd like to also take a moment and address the sensitive situation around the Lachin corridor in Azerbijan.

The Azerbijani government has been appealing for over a year to prevent the illegal activity in the territories where the Russian peacekeeping contingent is temporarily deployed. We have our own painful experience with the Russian military presence. The Kremlin refuses to be part of the solution, but rather chooses to be part of the problem aiming to maintain the frozen conflicts instead of facilitating a lasting peaceful settlement.

Clearly, Azerbijan has legitimate objections and concerns when it comes to preventing the potential abuse of the Lachin corridor, which is intended for humanitarian purposes.

On the other hand, the Armenian side has also raised concerns about the closure of the Lachin corridor and the creation of a humanitarian crisis in the region. They have claimed that the road is being closed and that it is affecting the provision of necessary goods to the services to the local residents.

It is important to know that both sides have valid concerns, and it is important to find a solution that respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and at the same time ensures the provision of necessary goods and services to the local residents.

The trilateral agreement signed by the parties should be taken into consideration while finding a peaceful solution.

In conclusion, I hope that the Parliamentary Assembly could help in finding or facilitating a peaceful resolution to the situation.

We hope that the Assembly will take into consideration the valid concerns of both sides and will work towards finding a solution that respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and at the same time ensures the provisions of necessary goods and services to the local residents.

We hope that all parties involved will come to the negotiating table and work towards finding a peaceful resolution.

Thank you.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mihail.

Now we are going to listen to Mr Rafael HUSEYNOV from Azerbaijan. Rafael.


Azerbaijan, ALDE


Thank you, Mister President.

Dear Colleagues,

In November 2020, Azerbaijan solved the most complicated problem in its contemporary history. The lands of Azerbaijan occupied for almost 30 years by Armenia –through the aid of its patronising forces– were liberated.

The opposite side which was populist on the battlefield against Azerbaijan is now trying to create a fast impression in the world community through various speculative tricks.

One of such methods of political speculation is the hype created around the save the problem called Lachin corridor.

There is a well-known proverb in Azerbaijan: a lie has legs, but it could not walk. The Armenian propaganda machine claims that the Lachin corridor is closed. This is not true information, but a clear attempt to deceive the world community. The president of Azerbaijan officially announced this a few days ago at the International Economic Forum in Davos.

The head of state stated that in order to confuse the international community, Armenia is engaged in manipulations related to the developments taking place on Lachin road, claiming that the road is closed based on false information.

Nevertheless, this road is open for the passage of civilians and civilian goods, and the free movement of humanitarian goods is ensured through the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Such comings and goings happen every day in the Lachin corridor.

Therefore, it's completely unacceptable to make accusations against Azerbaijan based on the false words of Armenia about the alleged closure of the corridor or saying some unclean purposes.

We firmly reject all this.

On the other hand, Armenia has been keeping Nakhchivan, an integral part of Azerbaijan in a state of complete blockade for 30 years. Azerbaijan has repeatedly raised the issue of opening the Zangezur corridor by Armenia. Nonetheless, Armenia does not do this.

You blockade the region of Azerbaijan to not open the Zangezur corridor, and demand that Azerbaijan turn the already opened Lachin corridor into a criminal corridor.

One more important question. Literally in January this year, on the eve of our part-session, at a panel meeting of the Davos Forum, President Ilham Aliyev unequivocally stated that Armenia is not responding to Azerbaijan's call to sign a peace agreement based on the fundamental principles of international law.

Armenia is not willing to accept the offer of trilateral co-operation with Azerbaijan and Georgia.

Azerbaijan invites the three Caucasian countries to unite the efforts in the areas of energy, transport, security, stability, and delimitation of borders. Georgia gladly agrees to this. Armenia says no. Well, in what language and in what style are we to speak with such an unconstructive party?

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much, Mister Rafael HUSEYNOV.

Now we are going to listen to Ms Nigar ARPADARAI from Azerbaijan. Nigar.



Azerbaijan, EC/DA


Thank you, Mister President.

I really hear and listen to all the speeches. I feel so sorry that some members of this distinguished Assembly forget about the basic principles of international law.

Dear colleagues,

The Lachin road and Karabakh is a sovereign territory of Azerbaijan. I would like to remind you of this. I will speak about the road and about the story that the Armenian side is trying to portray here. But before that I would like to remind you of something, which this Assembly forgets all the time. It is that 30 years ago, a piece of territory of Azerbaijan was occupied by Armenia, and ethnically cleansed by Armenia in an attempt of the annexation of this part of Azerbaijan. They have put it into their constitution. Their Declaration of Independence shows that Karabakh is a part of Armenia. Can you imagine? Moreover, it has been confirmed by their constitutional court. One member State of this organisation occupied the territory of another member State and tries to legitimise that. This is exactly what you should all be worried about.

Dear Colleagues,

About the Lachin road. There is no humanitarian catastrophe in Karabakh, and there is no risk of it happening in the future for a simple reason: it is open. Every day we have trucks going back and forth through the corridor. Azerbaijan is providing all access to food, medicine, pharma, to civilians and all this. The media drama about a fake blockade is staged by a new separatist leader and notorious money launderer from Russia, a person who has no connections to Karabakh, who just came from nowhere, who has been put under sanctions led by Ukraine, who is a person subject to various investigations: Ruben Vardanyan. The reason why he had forces behind him do it is to maintain a lawless piece of land where arms are smuggled, shady business goes on and resources are being barbarically exploited and stolen for personal gain.

The residents of Karabakh are hostages to this ideology. The sooner this lawlessness stops and Karabakh integrates into Azerbaijani legal space, the better it is for everyone and all sides. This will contribute to stability and peace in the region and will limit the ability of external forces to meddle in the affairs of both Azerbaijan and Armenia. It will, in essence, make both countries stronger. This is what I call "both countries stronger". I am calling the Armenian side to sit with Azerbaijan and finally start thinking about a peace deal. 

Dear Colleagues,

The international community failed 20 years ago long negotiations before war broke out in 2020. This time, it seems due to the lack of vision and proper information. There is a risk of a repeated mistake again. I would like to remind everybody that Karabakh is Azerbaijan and always will be by international law and by law and reality.

Thank you. The sooner everyone gets it, the better it is.

Thank you. 

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much.

Three minutes for everybody.

Now we are going to listen to Mr Hayk MAMIJANYAN from Armenia.


Armenia, EPP/CD


Thank you, Mister President.

I don't think that 3 minutes is a possible period of time to answer all that false information provided by the representatives of Azerbaijan. But, dear colleagues, you all see the situation. The world, all the international organisations, many states tell that there is a blockade, there is a humanitarian catastrophe, and there are few people in this chamber who try to state that it's not like, that, well, it's really fine.

It's really hard to provide facts, as Azerbaijan has refused to provide the possibility of the missions, any missions. I don't know if it's a fact or not, but during this debate I have read four or five posts on different groups on social media from the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh. They were about the discussion. Parents were asking "is there anyone who has baby food that I can borrow for my kids?". This is a quite good fact for me.

You can think and say anything you want regarding the ammunition and some ridiculous things about that, but what's the meaning of blocking and stopping the gas pipeline, the electricity, the internet?

You do think that there is a possibility to provide ammunition –it's absurd, but anyway– by gas pipeline or by internet cables? No. The only reason that Azerbaijan is conducting this blockade is to make grounds for ethnic cleansing. I know why it is happening: the only explanation for that is Karabakh is only a territory for you, but it's homeland for us. People in Nagorno-Karabakh do have shortages of food, medicine, electricity, gas, but there are a few things that they definitely have. They do have honour, they do have a right to live on their soil, in their homeland, and they definitely have a right for self-determination.

Please, remember, I have said that very many times, and I will continue until you understand that Artsakh will never be part of Azerbaijan.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much.

And now the last speaker in the debate will be Mr Antón GÓMEZ-REINO from Spain. You have the floor.


Spain, UEL


Thank you very much President.

In a geopolitical climate which is in turmoil, we are seeing this at the regional as well as the global level.

The international community - particularly this organisation has to guarantee human rights and cannot allow the kind of instability and tension that we are witnessing in the Caucuses because it affects regional stability as well as international legality, and above all has an adverse effect on human rights with the people of Nagorno-Karabakh.

But, we are where we are - a multilateral organisation there to promote dialogue and human rights, as well as security in Europe. They are in crisis, and this situation means that we are blocked in terms of what we can do.

Would it therefore not be easier to avoid the violation of human rights of people in Lachin and Nagorno-Karabakh if we had multilateral organisations that were stronger, rather than having a situation in which the strongest takes advantage of the situation to violate international law as well as bilateral agreement to generate new status quos.

Clearly not.

And this applies in the Caucuses and Nagorno-Karabakh as well as in other regional ongoing conflicts.

That is why as a general consideration the Council of Europe, when we talk about human rights, we shouldn't be talking systematically about sending arms. It's not productive; it's not relevant.

And then there is the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), which is there to provide a framework for security and peace which is completely deadlocked because of the situation in Russia. It's gong around in circles.

I want to talk about, in closing, another country which is an observer country - Israel.

Because in the West Bank, the Israeli army attacked a refugee camp and killed nine Palestinians including an old woman - so let me conclude by saying, how long are we going to allow Israel - an observer country in the Council of Europe - to execute civilians in Palestine?

Thank you.


Armenia, EC/DA


(Undelivered speech, Rules of Procedure Art. 31.2)

Mr. President,

I want to make some statements of facts, which are important to know regarding the situation around Nagorno Karabakh.

Without regard to the political and historic causes of the conflict, around 120.000 people are under siege for 46 days, and counting. They are made subject to starvation and survival in extreme conditions. This is happening only because they are Armenians and want to live in their homeland in freedom and dignity.

So-called "eco-activists", that had blocked the "road of life" through Lachin Corridor, are specially trained 'special agents' and funded by the Azerbaijani authorities. In 30 years, no protests or any meaningful public action was held inside Azerbaijan by any "eco-activists" - against the corrupt and unfair exploitation of Azerbaijan's gas and oil resources.

The state policy of Azerbaijan against Nagorno Karabakh today is a manifest crime against humanity, which shall be condemned and punished without delay, within the frameworks of international law, by international organisations and governments.

The political regime in Azerbaijan cannot be considered as a trustworthy partner with whom one can negotiate, since there is simply no guarantee that any agreement will hold.

Condemning state policy of ethnic cleansing will not mean that any Government is "taking sides". Allowing the crime to be carried out is equally illegal under international law. Failing to condemn this state policy paves a way for Azerbaijani aggression - which aspires to bring a "final solution" to Armenian presence in the region.

With the impunity for policy of Azerbaijan, supported by Turkey, Armenians cannot count on any mechanisms of international guarantees to ensure Azerbaijan's compliance with any potential "peace treaty". Thereby, this shall not be artificially pushed.

I see a clear position in some circles to push Armenia and facilitate a quick "peace deal", on Azerbaijani terms, and through this shift the geopolitical landscape in the South Caucasus. It's mind-blowing that Europe is sleepwalking to another Munich Pact with another aggressor... These fears are confirmed by the open and publicly made territorial claims of the President of Azerbaijan to the Republic of Armenia, which, in the strangest way, no one in the world is willing to see.

Without duly considering the interests of all peoples in the region, without recognising the unique historical and civlisational role of each of these nations in our region, such "quick peace deal" will not ensure a long-term peace and stability in our region.

And finally, to conclude: The political concept of 'Responsibility to Protect' and the legal doctrine of remedial secession must apply to Nagorno Karabakh in full. If not here, then where? If not now - when?



Türkiye, NR


(Undelivered speech, Rules of Procedure Art. 31.2)

Dear Chairperson, Dear Colleagues,

We decided to discuss Latchin corridor but I believe that we have to discuss it with its historical context. Azerbaijan liberated its lands and secured its territorial integrity and sovereignty after 30 years of occupation. However, although the war is over, the peace is yet to be finalized.

As recent developments have shown once again, concluding a peace agreement between Azerbaijan and Armenia has a vital importance. In this regard, peace process should be accelerated. We should support the parties to sign a peace treaty without any delay.

Regarding the use of Latchin corridor, we know that Azerbaijanian authorities are concerned about both illegal exploitation of mineral deposits in their territories and abuse of the road for military provocations.

We must pay attention to environmental issues while trying to calm down the tensions. These lands belong to Azerbaijanian people. All types of the problems must be solved by two parties. Third parties like us or international organizations like our assembly must contribute the process fairly, positively, and constructively. International society must not give permission to be colonized this land by third country. The key of it a fair peace agreement.

We should call for the termination of any illegal activity in the area. Trilateral Statement should be respected by all parties. This is essential for ease of tensions.

Dear Colleagues,

I believe that bilateral issues should be addressed through dialogue between the member states concerned. We should encourage them to come together and find acceptable solutions in live with our shared values and principles.

I sincerely hope that peace talks can resume soon and peace and stability in the entire region can be established. I wish peace and prosperity for both Karabakh and Eastern Zangezur and all places where conflicts happen on all around the World.

Thank you.


Sweden, EC/DA


(Undelivered speech, Rules of Procedure Art. 31.2)

Mr President,

I am very happy to see this Assembly take up the issue of the sit-down and ongoing blockade of the so-called Lachin Corridor, which provides the only, and I stress the only, road connection between the region of Nagorno-Karabach and Armenia.

The reason for the allegedly civilian and spontaneous demonstration in question, which has by now lasted well over a month, is the supposed damage caused to the local environment through the recent armed conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

The tragic consequences of the blockade are acutely felt by the more than 120,000 mainly ethnic Armenians who live in the region of Nagorno-Karabach.

I personally deeply regret this dramatic situation, and very much hope - like so many other speakers have in this debate - that the blockade can be lifted as very soon as possible through renewed dialogue between the two countries - and why not also within the framework of our Council of Europe and this Assembly?

The closure of the road is creating a grave humanitarian situation which worsens from day to day, and which could lead to severe health consequences and even loss of life due to the delay in timely hospital care.

The blockade also undermines the international confidence placed in the fragile ceasefire reached between the two countries , and could even derail the peace process now under way between them.

In conclusion, Mr President, I plead with the Azerbaijani government to take rapid and energetic action, so that the road can again open for the passage of persons, vehicles and cargo moving in both directions, also including the Russian peacekeeping forces whose role is to oversee the ceasefire.

Thank you, Mr President.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much, Anton.

That concludes the list of speakers.

Mr Samad SEYIDOV has a point of order. A point of order is a point of order.


Azerbaijan, EC/DA


It is a point of order.

Now I can see how biased approach to...

[KOX: sorry, that is not a point of order]

No, I'm going to say a point of order. If during this so important discussion you are not able to present the speech for the leader of Azerbaijani education this is exactly biased approach..

[The speaker is cut off by Mr Tiny KOX]


Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


I will tell you that next time I will not tolerate that you abuse the rules.

A point of order is about the order of the meeting.

If you have something that is not correct, you should not abuse it for speaking times.

I have to complement you all - you have all observed speaking time.

That's very difficult in such a heated debate, so please do not abuse the rules with points of order which are not points of order.

I mean this very seriously Mr Samad SEYIDOV, because you are an experienced member of this Assembly. We don't act in that way.

This concludes the list of speakers.

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

Many suggestions were made during the debate - the Bureau will decide upon that.

The Assembly will hold its next public sitting tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. with the agenda which was approved on Monday morning.

The sitting is adjourned.

I wish you a pleasant evening.

The sitting is closed at 8.05 p.m.