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12 October 2023 afternoon

2023 - Fourth part-session Print sitting

Sitting video(s) 1 / 1

Opening of the sitting num 23

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


The sitting is open.

I invite you, dear colleagues, to check that you are seated in the chair assigned to you, in order to facilitate the organisation of the debates.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Until now there is still some room left, but they will arrive in a few minutes.

The first point of business is the address that we are going to hear from the European Commissioner for Justice, Mr Didier REYNDERS. After his address, Mr REYNDERS will take questions from the floor.

Dear Mister Commissioner, dear Didier,

It is my real pleasure and honour to welcome you here as the European Commissioner for Justice in our hemicycle. There are people that think that this is the European Parliament, but today this is the hemiscycle of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, and you are most welcome.

Mister Commissioner, your address today is particularly timely, a few months after the historic 4th Summit of Heads of States and Government in Reykjavík, in which also the European Union was represented on the highest possible level and where we achieved an ever bigger, ever stronger co-operation between the Council of Europe and the European Union.

We called together that we have to strengthen this co-operation in the interest of 700 million plus citizens of Europe.

The European Union is the main institutional partner of the Council of Europe in political, legal, and financial terms. Its accession to the European Convention on Human Rights was also a clear commitment taken at the Summit by President Ursula von der Leyen and President Charles Michel.

You, Mister Commissioner, already addressed this Assembly back in January 2021, when presenting the first report, on the most important report on the rule of law in Europe.

You mentioned, inter alia, that a regular dialogue between member states on the status of the rule of law in Europe should take place.

We are, therefore, very happy, Mister Commissioner, dear Didier, to have you here with us. I am please to now give you the floor.

Address: Mr Didier REYNDERS, European Commissioner for Justice


European Commissioner for Justice


Thank you, Mister President, dear Mr Tiny KOX, Madam Secretary General, dear Ms Marija PEJČINOVIĆ-BURIĆ, dear members of the Parliamentary Assembly.

It is a pleasure for me to be with you today back in Strasburg for this exchange of views. I know this room. I have had other opportunities to speak in front of this hemicycle, but it is the first time that I am doing so with the Parliamentary Assembly in this place.

And I will repeat that the promotion of the rule of law is a central component of the common DNA of the Council of Europe and the European Union, and so, it is very important to have an exchange of views with you in Strasbourg about that.

Unfortunately, developments over the past years have shown that respect for the rule of law is not always a given everywhere on the European continent.

Among the European values, the rule of law fulfils a special role. It guarantees the protection of all other fundamental values, not only democracy and fundamental rights. Within the European Union, it is an essential safeguard for the effective application of EU law. And it is key to ensure the mutual trust that underpins many aspects of European integration, from a well-functioning internal market to effective judicial co-operation.

For all these reasons, the European Commission has over the past years reinforced the instruments to address challenges to the rule of law. One important instrument is the Annual Rule of Law Report and the first edition of the report was published at the beginning of my mandate as European Commissioner for Justice. It is now well established – I have had your body to present to you such a first edition and thanks again Mister President Tiny KOX of the Parliamentary Assembly for organising such a meeting, and dear President and dear Tiny, again, it is a good opportunity to do the same. And after so many editions, to come back and explain what we are doing. 


European Commissioner for Justice


We are now in the fourth edition of the report adopted last July.

Our methodology is now well-established. It is based on a wide range of sources, with the Council of Europe playing a leading role. Every year, we organise hundreds of virtual meetings in all EU member states, with national authorities, courts, independent bodies, civil society organisations, and other stakeholders.

The report follows a structure organised around four pillars covering key areas of the rule of law: judicial systems, their independence, efficiency and quality; the fight against corruption; media pluralism, and the protection of journalists, for that matter, and other institutional issues linked to the balance of power.

Since last year, the report has also included recommendations to individual member states, with a view to supporting their reform processes. This year, we note that around two-thirds of our recommendations have already been fully or partially implemented by member states. We're seeing progress across the Union, even if, and I'll come back to this, real problems remain.

We must emphasise the effects of the dialogue organised at the outset of this report on the rule of law. It clearly shows that paying attention to the situation, publishing reports, and organising follow-up procedures can have an effect on the concrete lines in the dialogue with member states who obviously wish to improve their situation.


European Commissioner for Justice


I would like to express my sincere gratitude for the excellent co-operation with the Council of Europe and its bodies in the preparation of the Report.

Our analysis quite heavily relies on two different elements: first of all, on European standards, such as the recommendations of the Committee of Ministers, but also the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights, the opinions of the Venice Commission and the recommendations by the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO).

The Council of Europe's expertise is therefore crucial for the European Union rule of law policy. Just to highlight an example, an important indicator is a country's track record in implementing the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights.

The rule of law Report features a dedicated section relating to this issue for each EU member state. Its what's new. Sometimes it's very impressive for some member states to see the number of the decision, result, a clear implementation, execution in their organisations.

Our work with the Council of Europe in promoting the rule of law is also essential in all co-operation with third countries, including those that seek to join the European Union.

For example, the alignment of views between the European Commission and the Venice Commission is an asset, an important asset, to support justice reforms.

In our recent State of the Union address, the President of the European Commission announced that we will open the rule of law reports to those accession countries, I quote, "who will get up to speed even faster".

This will allow to assess the situation of the rule of law in these countries according to the same methodology as for the EU member states and support them also in their reform efforts.

This announcement is a confirmation of the importance that the Commission attaches to the rule of law as an essential component of EU membership, and of our intention to further intensify our dialogue in the area of the rule of law with the concerned countries, including by again supporting them in their reform efforts.

This will further strengthen our fundamental first approach. We are consistently pushing for candidate countries and countries with European perspectives.

According to this approach, the overall pace of the accession process depends on progress in the areas of rule of law, justice reforms, and fundamental rights.

Against this background, our excellent co-operation with the Council of Europe will become even more important.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Our aspiration for a European continent governed by the rule of law also leads me to address Russia's ongoing war of aggression against Ukraine.

This is another area where our co-operation with the Council of Europe is crucial.

In that context, allow me to underline the pivotal role of the Council of Europe in setting up the register of damage, which the European Union has joined as a founding associate member.

The Commission is grateful to the Council of Europe for all its efforts towards the swift launch of this register. We follow its activities very closely. We took part in the first conference of participants, and we'll do so for the next one in November.

The register is the first important step towards setting up a fully-fledged compensation mechanism in the years to come. Of course, it's important now to organise the process and to appoint the different members of the board and then to continue step-by-step in implementing real compensation mechanism.

Within the European Union we have mobilised different bodies and instruments to react to the Russian aggression. Let me mention the key role played by Eurojust, the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation. Eurojust is supporting investigations and prosecutions by national authorities and the International Criminal Court into international crimes by storing, analysing, and preserving evidence in its new Core International Crimes Evidence Database (CICED).

In addition, Eurojust International Centre for the Prosecution of the Crime of Aggression against Ukraine (IPCA) is a first step towards ensuring accountability for the crime of aggression against Ukraine. Eurojust, the International Criminal Court, and IPCA are co-operating closely on this matter.

The International Criminal Court remains the key actor in international criminal justice. We are in regular contact with this court to assess how we can best support it.

Together with the Council of Europe we are committed to ensuring justice for Ukraine, and beyond that, to further strengthening the effective functioning of the criminal justice system in Ukraine, in line with European standards.

It is the reason why since the beginning of the new, I will say, Russian aggression in February last year, we are in close contact with the Prosecutor General of Ukraine to try to see how it's possible to help the prosecutor's office in collecting evidence of war crimes and to go to prosecutions and trials, also before the tribunals in Ukraine.

I would also like to highlight that the European Union has adopted 11 packages of sanctions against Russia as a reaction to the aggression of Ukraine.

In the framework of these sanctions, which have been implemented in close co-ordination with our international partners, the European Union member states have immobilised more than 200 billion euros of sovereign assets of the Russian Federation and have frozen more than 28 billion euros of private assets of sanctioned Russian oligarchs and entities.

As regards the sovereign assets, we are exploring options on how to possibly support the reconstruction of Ukraine with part of the extraordinary revenues generated by the management of these sovereign assets currently immobilised in the European Union. This reflection is ongoing in the EU, but also in partnership with the different like-minded partners, I mean, in the G7 and maybe with some others.

We try to see also if it is possible to move from the freezing of assets of oligarchs to the seizing, to a real confiscation, when there is a link with a criminal offence. So far at the moment, we are in discussion with the European Parliament of the Council to adopt a new proposal for a directive explaining that just the attempt to circumvene the sanctions is a criminal offence. If it's the case, it's possible to go to a tribunal and to organise a confiscation. If we are reaching such a goal, it would be possible not only to organise a configuration, but maybe to provide some amount of money to Ukraine for the beginning of the process about compensations or reconstruction.

It is very important to see if we are looking to those evolutions. I will also like to underline that the EU has adopted a package of sanctions. We tried to organise a very good collaboration on that with all the partners, because without the collaboration with partners it is very difficult to reach the goal. We try to fix the same rules about sovereign assets or private assets that are frozen with the different partners that I've mentioned.

Before I conclude, I would like to also turn briefly to the process towards the EU accession to the European Convention on Human Rights.

The provisional agreement reached on this topic tackles almost all the problems that had to be addressed to make this accession possible.

We must, however, still find a way to deal with the last outstanding point: the issue of human rights protection in the common foreign and security policy. Discussions are ongoing on this matter in the Council. You know any solution would require unanimity, so we are trying to convince member state by member state to agree on a solution. I ask, of course, all the partners in the Council of Europe to try to think about sometimes innovative or creative solutions to also find such unanimity on all sides in the Council.

Two pending cases in front of the European Court of Justice are expected to bring more clarity on the extent of the contradiction of alleged human rights violations in this area.

You can be reassured that the EU accession to the Convention remains a priority, but is still also an obligation, due to the Treaty of Lisbon. It's very clear. You can count on my personal commitment in this regard. 

It will be a very important signal for both organisations. I am confident that we are progressing in the right direction, so we need to add the final touch to be sure that we will have the 46 plus one final agreement on this. Be assured that I and the entire Commission want to solve the last issue as soon as possible.

I thank you for such an opportunity to explain to you what we are doing in different ways. I just want to add one last comment.

Mister President,

With the rule of law Report that I have presented to you, what we have tried to do is to engage a real dialogue with all the member states. I want to say that we have, I said, good results with all the member states, who are open for such a dialogue and with a real willingness to improve the situation.

We'll continue to do that with the debates in the European institutions, the Parliament and the Council, but also at a national level, and you are all the national parliaments, and also with different stakeholders in all the different member states. 

That's very clear. Dialogue comes first. It's our priority to have dialogue with the member states, and with real success in this way, because the Report's goal is to instil a real culture of the rule of law in the entire European Union, and maybe, also in the future, with some candidate countries.

If it's not the case, if it's impossible to reach such an improvement due to dialogue, I want to say in conclusion that we have other the tools at our disposal. You know that at the level, the other tools for the Commission are going in two ways, in fact.

You can either go to the Court of Justice of the European Union, and we have had very important decisions there concerning the rule of law, and certainly the independence of the judiciary or go to the Council, with the Article 7 procedure, which we started some years ago with about two member states, with one initiative from the Commission, another from a European Parliament. Or we use a very interesting tool: budgetary pressure. We make a link between payment of some funds and the full respect for the rule of law.

I will just say that as a former finance minister in my own country, I know that the reading of the recommendations in a report is very impressive for many governments. The risk of not receiving a lot of funding is maybe more impressive.

There again we have seen some improvements with real negotiations, with some member states having maybe more difficulties in making progress in some reforms. I just wanted to add that.

I thank you again for your attention, for such an opportunity to explain what we are doing.

I know that we have many other fields for co-operation between the Council of Europe and the European Commission. 

I will be pleased to answer your questions now and to receive your observations or comments.

Thank you very much.


Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you so much, Mister Commissioner, dear Didier, for your most interesting speech elaborating on the main issues that we have to deal with in both organisations.

Now we are first going to listen to speakers of five political groups and the first one will be Ms Petra BAYR from Austria and Petra speaks on behalf of the Socialists, Democrats and Greens Group.

You have 30 seconds, Petra.

Ms Petra BAYR

Austria, SOC, Spokesperson for the group


Thank you, Tiny.

Mister Commissioner, on the 28 September, the Court of Cassation rejected the appeal of Osman Kavala. The conviction is now final, which means aggravated life sentence. The Turkish jurisdiction continues to ignore the sentences of the European Court of Human Rights. I wonder what will be the reaction of the European Union and how will you also, my second question, react on the concerns we have for the human rights situation in Poland and Hungary.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Mister Commissioner?


European Commissioner for Justice


No, first of all I want to thank you for your question and certainly the fact that you mentioned such a very important case in Türkiye.

I want to say that first of all it's a question about the reaction inside of the Council of Europe itself, because you spoke about the final decision in Türkiye, the Concession, and the possibility not to go the European Court of Human Rights and maybe to have such a kind of process.

I know that there are also some possibilities to work with the Parliament Assembly and then the Committee of Ministers and maybe we'll action on the ground to see if it's possible to do that. I remember that I have had to do that in the past, when I was sharing the Committee of Minister, in another period of time, in another case.

So, that's the first element. I'm sure that it's very important and I will say that if it's possible to conclude the accession of the EU to the Convention, we will be maybe a frontrunner to ask to push pressure in such a case because we want to be sure that there is a correct implementation of all the decisions and certainly the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights, but also the pressure coming from the parliament.

I want to add that, you know, that is due to the same concerns, that for the moment the accession negotiations are frozen with the European Union. Since the attempt of coup in Türkiye we had to stop the discussions, because it was impossible to continue in the kind of situation in the country that you have mentioned.

And so in the Report that we published on the enlargement process of the time we have seen remarks on this in different countries.

I'm sure that we need to work together in specific cases, like the case of Kavala, because we have the same goal at the end. It's a full respect for individual rights and fundamental rights. And so I will be very pleased to read the Report that you will maybe adopt in this plenary Assembly, and, after that, to see how it is possible to take some initiatives and so on our side, not only to leave that in the hands of the Council of Europe.

You add the situation in Poland and Hungary. I said that there we are using different tools and for the moment that the level of the European Union, I will say that the budgetary pressure that we have now, due to maybe the pandemic, you know, that's after the pandemic that we have organised a recovery and resilience plan, but also that we have the new conditionality regulation, and due to that, it's possible to block some funding without a real implementation of reforms.

And we have seen that for the first time, I will say, there are real negotiations now with the two governments about reforms. Till now, without a final decision. So we didn't do anything due to that, but of course if there is some progress, we will move and this is the reason why I said to the President that it's very important to organise not only a general monitoring, but very concrete assessment with very concrete recommendations and to verify that the recommendations are implemented. If it's the case, there is progress, if not we continue to block the funding of different policies.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mister Minister.

The next question comes from Mr Pablo HISPÁN from Spain. Pablo speaks on behalf of the Group of the European People's Party.

The floor is yours, Pablo.


Spain, EPP/CD, Spokesperson for the group


Thank you, President. 

Yes, welcome, Commissioner. 

Precisely today, the day of Spain's national holiday, the Venice Commission is one of the institutions of the system of the Council of Europe. Its instructions to guarantee the independence of the judiciary are clear. One of them is that a governmental body of judges is elected by a majority by the judges themselves. Many countries refuse to adapt their legislation, and in fact, consider reducing parliamentary majorities to elect them. It has come to the case, such as in Spain, where the Constitutional Court itself in a recent judgment held that almost all of the members can be elected by one of the two chambers of parliament.

What initiative will the European Union take to guarantee EU countries' compliance with the resolutions of the Venice Commission in this field?

What are you saying to those countries that are not only non-compliant but which have politicised the constitutional court, which acts as a third parliamentary chamber, which comes to accept control over the government's organ of the judges by a governmental majority? 

Thank you.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


"Thank you, Pablo" [spoken in Spanish].

Mister Commissioner.


European Commissioner for Justice


Thank you, Mr Chairman.

I'd just like to say, first of all, that with regard to the Venice Commission to which you refer, as I said in my introductory remarks, we very often refer to the Venice Commission in the report on the rule of law as well as in our contacts with candidate countries or other countries concerned by Venice Commission recommendations.

It is very important for us that in all forms, national parliaments and therefore governments await the recommendations of the Venice Commission before adopting texts or amendments to texts and, when presenting texts or amendments, obviously take the recommendations into account. In other words, implement them or, failing that, explain the reasons why they cannot be implemented - and possibly request a second opinion on this basis from the Venice Commission.

That's an important first point.

Second point: if you're referring to the composition of the Superior Councils of Justice or the Councils of the Judiciary, for example, if we're asking to follow the recommendations of the Venice Commission, it's also on the basis of a decision by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, moreover, which referred to the fact that these Councils must be made up of a majority of judges elected by their peers. This is a rule.

If, in a member state - to answer your question about the Commission's reaction, we note a step backwards, a regression, it's the principle of non-regression that we apply: if a member state regresses on this subject, of course, we act; and we act in particular by appealing to the Court of Justice if necessary or through other methods. That's what we've seen in one member state or another, where a reform leads to a step backwards.

If, on the other hand, the situation has existed for a long time and we are asking for an improvement, we make a recommendation. And to take a random example, in the 2022 report on Spain, we indicated that as a priority, the High Council of Justice should be renewed. Firstly, it should be renewed since it has not been renewed since 2018, and secondly, the reform project should be started immediately to correspond to this objective of the Council's composition, with a majority of its members made up of judges elected by their peers.

The reaction varies, of course. If it's a step back, we can go as far as referring the matter to the Court of Justice; if it's a non-improvement, we work with recommendations. I was in Madrid just a few days ago, and I had the opportunity to make this point again.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much, Commissioner.

The next question comes from Mr. Iulian BULAI, from Romania, speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.

Mr Iulian BULAI

Romania, ALDE, Spokesperson for the group


Dear Commissioner, on behalf of Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, I would like to thank you for coming to address this Assembly today.

Our question is how can the two institutions work better in order to avoid duplication and use our resources in the most efficient manner in order to help out member states to be fully in line with the rule of low, democracy, and human rights obligations?

I was also about to ask you to tell us more about the good work you're doing on Ukraine, both you and the whole European Commission as such. I've heard a lot.

I want to thank you. Congratulations for what you have done already on behalf of the EU for Ukraine.

Thank you.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mr Iulian BULAI. 

Mister Commissioner.


European Commissioner for Justice


Thank you very much, but it is a pleasure to come and to explain what we are doing.

How is it possible to avoid obligations and maybe to do more? First of all, with such a kind of example of exchange that we have, because if you do not explain what we are doing on both sides, it becomes difficult to try to avoid duplications or different kinds of contradictions in our work. And we have regular contact with all the services, of course, with all the bodies of the Council of Europe, with the Secretary General and we try to explain what we are doing. Not only in the rule of law, also in other developments - because you know that we are working a lot in the EU about the green transition – the sustainable economy – about the digital transition and now in the digital transition a lot about artificial intelligence (AI), but we know that we are working on the AI act. There are some works on the convention. It is very important to see how it is going to be compatible and do not have any duplication in the way we are working on this.

On the rule of law, the best way is to identify better the added value of different specific bodies. And I have mentioned the way we are working with the Venice Commission or with GRECO. And I am sure that is very important because we receive, every year now, a huge contribution from the two bodies, to give two examples, and of course, we do not want to organise a duplication of that. We are taking that. Like I said, when we have a justice reform in one member state or in the candidate country, we ask to follow the recommendations of the Venice Commission and to read the recommendations and not just to discuss whether... I am sure that it is possible to continue to enhance that.

But to be very concrete about Ukraine; there are two different ways where we are working on – certainly in my services and I am working on myself – is accountability, the fight against impunity. I am sure that on that we are more working with the national judicial system, with Eurojust, at the EU-level and as I said, with the International Criminal Court (ICC). Because the the golden standard is the ICC and we need to continue to work. Maybe it will be needed one day to amend the Rome Statute to give the competence to the ICC to organise a trial about the crime of aggression. Also in a situation where a member of the Security Council is involved in such a crime. So it will be very important to find a way to do that. And so on that, it is maybe more with the ICC and the national judiciary that we are working. I am not saying that there is no role for the Council of Europe but it is not a priority. We are more working with – in the Council of Europe – with the European Court of Human Rights about the interstate conflicts between Ukraine and Russia or for the treatment of many, many individual cases for violations of human rights.

And so, they are also ways to avoid duplications. If you are doing that here in the Court in Strasbourg it is not needed to do that somewhere else. But again, we are open to see if there are other opportunities to find a good collaboration between us and the Council of Europe. Also on the fight on impunity.

But about the compensation mechanism, we have started to build the register of damage with the Council of Europe. It is very important to continue to work on the next steps, also with the Council of Europe. I know that we have a huge part in the discussion about offending of the compensations, but for the mechanism it is important to work together. I said maybe first of all, for all the participants to appoint members of the board and then to organise a good functioning of the system. And so, you see that it is also possible to work on Ukraine. I want just to add on Ukraine, that my personal fear - but I am not alone I am sure - is that we have seen in the last year more and more actors in the international scene using violence to make some progress in their minds. And that is a real danger. So, we need to continue to be very strict about accountability to show all perpetrators of crimes that they have the risk of being in front of a tribunal or a court for the rest of their lives. We must be strict on this. It is maybe for tomorrow, for next week, for next month, maybe in 10 years, but we want to be sure that we are working on accountability to have real opportunities to bring perpetrators to justice. Without that, we will see more and more people and authorities being open to using violence to reach some goals.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mister Commissioner.

The next question comes from Mr Martin GRAF from Austria. Martin speaks on behalf of the European Conservatives Group and Democratic Alliance.

Martin, the floor is yours.

Mr Martin GRAF

Austria, EC/DA, Spokesperson for the group


Thank you very much, Mister President,

Dear Commissioner,

In view of the terrible terror in Israel by Palestinian Hamas and the horrible pictures of pro-Hamas demonstrations in European capitals, I note that there were no such demonstrations in Budapest and Warsaw.

Do you agree with me that obviously Hungary and Poland, in contrast to the other EU countries, are following the right migration policy and, therefore, the financial bashing of the EU against Hungary and Poland should be stopped immediately?

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


"Thank you, dear Martin" [spoken in German].

Mister Commissioner?


European Commissioner for Justice


Thank you.

I want to say that it's possible to make a link between migration and all the different topics, but here what we have seen is a very specific situation of course in the Middle East. The reaction, certainly, of the Commission, like that of many others, was very clear. We have condemned all terrorist acts against citizens of Israel, committed and organised by Hamas. It is very clear. It's a terrorist organisation recognised as such by the European Union. We have said that it is normal that there is a right to defence from Israel in the framework of a democracy and respect for the rule of law.

About the demonstrations in different countries and not only in member states, what is very important is the fight against antisemitism. That is very clear. Maybe there is some success in some members, I won't contest that, but we have reacted immediately. I've seen that it many member states where the action was so immediate to say "No, we don't want to tolerate new acts of antisemitism".

What I have seen in the last days in other member states, maybe also in the member state that you have mentioned, but if there were no demonstrations there, maybe it was not needed. I have seen in some member state already some arrests and a very clear reaction of the authorities.

We don't want to tolerate any act of antisemitism on European soil. We have put forward many actions at the level of the European Commission the last year with some success, but we have seen also the resurgence of antisemitic acts in different countries. You're right. We need to fight against that with a good collaboration with the member states.

But the link to migration is maybe more complex. It's what you have mentioned, so it's another debate. It's true that the fight against antisemitism is a real priority for us, and it must be a priority for the member states. I know this is a priority for your Assembly.

Thank you.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mister Commissioner.

The last question on behalf of the political groups comes from Ms Laura CASTEL from Spain.

Laura speaks on behalf of the Unified European Left.

Laura, the floor is yours.


Spain, UEL, Spokesperson for the group


Thank you, Chair.

Dear Commissioner, last February five rapporteurs of the United Nations — five! — released a report defining my political party as a repressed political organisation and asking Spain for explanations.

Could the rule of law report you are in charge of be the mechanism to stop persecuting democratic and peaceful political parties in the European Union?

Thank you.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Laura.

Mister Commissioner?


European Commissioner for Justice


Of course, when you look at the rule of law Report, you will see in the fourth chapter - so about the checks and balances - a lot of reference to the functioning of the political system and the relations and the balance situation between all of the institutions.

Now we have a different debate about civil society organisations and public space, civic space, but we have also some kind of element concerning the role of the lawyers, of course.

But apart from that, we haven't solved an approach about the way to use different kinds of techniques in different member states to control the situation of different citizens, or journalists or politicians.

I said the way to control - I don't know all the time what kind of authority is doing that or what kind of people are doing that - but you know, you maybe also have a report in your Assembly about that.

We have used descriptions about the use of spyware, like Pegasus or Predator.

On the side of the Commission we will try, in the near future - so it's a question of maybe weeks or months - to come out with some guidelines about how to organise national security systems and measures to see how it is possible to use different kinds of actions with proportionality and necessity.

Of course, it's normal that you are using some special techniques in the fight against terrorism or in the fight against other kind of activities, but also with the exclusive competence of the member states about national security, there are some limits.

So I'm not saying this is the case in the situation that you have described, because if I remember well, the prime minister was also concerned in your country - well, the country that you have indicated you are from - by the use of spyware against him. So I'm not sure that's it's all the time from the authority to the opposition, sometimes for many other actors in the world and all the authorities.

But you're right.

We need to take care of that, and certainly to take care of the good functioning of the democracy.

It's one of the pillars in Article 2 of the Treaty of the European Union.

We are not only very attentive to the rule of law, and fundamental rights, but also the good functioning of democracy.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mister Commissioner.

Now to make your life even a bit more complex, but also perhaps a bit extra creative, we will group four questions and then you can answer and let's see how far we come.

The first question comes from Mr Thomas HASLER from Liechtenstein.

Thomas, you have 30 seconds.

Mr Thomas HASLER

Liechtenstein, ALDE


Thank you, Mr Chairman,

thank you for the remarks, thank you very much. It was very interesting to hear also about the compliance with the judgments of the Court of Human Rights, that this is also a priority. We see that many states and some states are not willing to implement them.

How can the European Union concretely contribute to the implementation of the judgments in the member states, but also, precisely, candidate countries?

Thank you very much.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mr HASLER.

The next speaker is Mr Simon MOUTQUIN, from Belgium.



Belgium, SOC


Thank you, Mr Chairman.

Commissioner, Mr REYNDERS - dear compatriot, I'd like to say,

I'd like to talk to you today about a beautiful country: Belgium.

I know that you are attentive to the rule of law. So I wanted to talk to you about a situation we've been experiencing for two years now in Belgium, namely the crisis of the reception of migrants and the failure to respect the rule of law in Belgium: 12 000 convictions by the labor court, a condemnation this summer by the European Court of Human Rights on non-reception and, a few weeks ago, a condemnation by the Council of State against the Government for failing to meet its obligations in terms of reception.

Mr. REYNDERS, while solutions are on the Government's table - the ecologists put solutions on the table and unfortunately, your liberal family sometimes refuses them too - namely a compulsory distribution plan in the communes or a state of emergency which would make it easier to receive these people, take out of the centers those who cannot be expelled; there is a whole series of solutions and unfortunately, they are blocked at government level.

So I wanted your opinion: what is your opinion on the failure to respect the Belgian rule of law? Have you also contacted the government to ask it to respect the rule of law, to welcome all migrants as required by international obligations? It's an international obligation.

Thank you very much.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

Thirty seconds is also thirty seconds in Belgium, dear Simon.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


And now we are going to listen to Mr Vladimir VARDANYAN from Armenia.

30 seconds. The floor is yours.



Armenia, EPP/CD


Thank you, Mister Chair.

Mister REYNDERS, last week in this very hemicycle the European Parliament adopted the Resolution condemning Azerbaijan's military attack against Nagorno-Karabakh and calling for the EU and its member states to adopt targeted sanctions against Azerbaijan.

The European Parliament also called for the comprehensive review of the European relations with Azerbaijan. Partnership with a country like Azerbaijan is incompatible with the values and objectives of the European Union, including in the area of justice and the rule of law.

Mister REYNDERS, what do you think: is Azerbaijan's gas and oil enough to turn a blind eye to Azerbaijan's blatant violations of international law and obligations and its alarming human rights record?

Thank you.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Vladimir.

Next question is the last in this group and comes from Mr Rafael HUSEYNOV from Azerbaijan.

30 seconds, Rafael.


Azerbaijan, ALDE



In recent times we often witness the public burning of the holy book of Islam, the Koran, in some EU countries.

One of the disturbing aspects of public authorities' reactions to these incidents is that they justify such acts of hate with respect for freedom of expression.

These actions obviously offend the members of the large Muslim communities living in EU countries and impede their respectful co-existence within those societies.

Mr Commissioner,

I wonder if there is anything in your mandate that stops you as European Commissioner for Justice to take some urgent initiatives to counter such hate-based actions related to Islam or any other religious beliefs within the EU on legal grounds.

Thank you.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you, dear Rafael.

Mister Commissioner?


European Commissioner for Justice


Thank you.

First of all, about the execution of all the decision and justice.

So, I've said in my remarks that for the first time last year we have introduced a reference to the non-executed decision of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). It is very important on all sides to do that. So in the report, of course, we try to indicate how it's important to implement, to give a full application of all the decision of the ECHR, but you know that we are not responsible for the enforcement of the decisions. We are responsible for the enforcement of decisions of the European Court of Justice in Luxemburg. About the ECHR it's more a discussion in the Council of Europe.

And I know that at the end the Committee of Ministers may take some initiatives about that, I've told some procedures and I'm sure that you will discuss that.

In some cases, of course, it's possible to do more on all sides and to do more it will be to conclude the accession of the EU to the Convention, because if we are a member, of course, we will have the possibility to put pressure, to go more and more in such a direction to a full implementation of all the decisions of the ECHR, but we try to pay attention to that.

And certainly, because in more and more different situations we have the same kind of rulings or the same approach in Luxembourg and in Strasbourg about independence of the judiciary, but not only.


European Commissioner for Justice


As far as the decisions in Belgium are concerned, I would say that, as with any situation in any member state of the European Union, it is first and foremost up to all members of government to ensure that their government complies with court rulings. I'm not familiar with the internal deliberations, but I believe that for each member of government, it is necessary to ensure that the decisions of the courts are respected by the government as a whole. I hope this is the case, and that there is, indeed, a demand for it. I can tell you that, for my part in any case, I want all decisions to be implemented, and I repeat this regularly.

As far as national decisions are concerned, I've begun a discussion, notably as part of the presentation of the report on the rule of law to all stakeholders in Belgium. I've also done so in Germany, and I'm now continuing to do so in the various member states. I'd like to see what we do with regard to the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights also be done with regard to national decisions.

We don't have the capacity, at Commission level, to verify the implementation of all decisions by the public authorities in each member state, but I think that the judicial authorities, the bar associations, and the national parliaments have the capacity to gather information on this situation. I believe that it is our first responsibility to do this work. We do it to implement the decisions of the European Court of Justice. I think it's up to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to do the same for the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights. In every parliament and in every association where they may have a responsibility, like the bar associations for example, I think it would be useful to do the same work at the national level.

If I have one piece of advice to give you, it's to make sure that, perhaps within a national parliament, this approach is taken.


European Commissioner for Justice


About the situation in Nagorno Karabakh: in fact, of course, we have condemned the use of force by Azerbaijan. We were very clear following the growing developments in Nagorno Karabakh or in Karabakh that we have seen in the last days and weeks. It was very clear also with the address of the high representative of the European Union before the Security Council in the United Nations.

The use of force is never justified. We try to give priority to diplomacy.

So the first concern now is to go to a real dialogue if possible. You know that sometimes we have tried at the European level to organise meetings between the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan, to organise a real discussion.

We need also to be sure now that there is protection for all the displaced persons.

I know that here there will be some initiative of your Commissioner for Human Rights to go to the region. I discussed that with her today.

It's very important to do something to evaluate, very concretely, the situation on the ground in Armenia, in Azerbaijan, but certainly in Nagorno Karabakh.

And to be sure that the needs of Karabakh Armenians that remain in the territory of Azerbaijan are protected and that we are giving humanitarian assistance and security to all the displaced people, but that we are also protecting their rights to stay in security in the territory of Nagorno Karabakh or Karabakh.

So we'll continue to do that.

We said in the last meeting of the Commission that we will ask to mobilise some humanitarian fence to provide support to displaced people.

But you're right. I've said myself that the use of force is not the solution to solve a conflict.

We are very afraid of the evolution in many different places where we have seen more and more this kind of use of force by different actors. About the situation of hate speech, hate crime and the relationship between hate speech and hate crime and freedom of expression, it's possible to do a lot.

We try, to be very concrete. To give you an example, I was in Madrid over the last days to take part in the eleventh meeting of the high-level group on combating hate speech and hate crime. We have a code of conduct on hate speech to try to work on the online world with platforms, to remove hate speech from platforms. But we try to do that also in the offline world. Of course when there are some behaviours against one community or one group of people in one country, we need to take care of that.

I had many discussions with the member states about the right balance between freedom of expression and the limits of the freedom of expression when there are some elements of hate speech and hate crime.

The last initiative that I took on that is to try to extend the list of the euro crimes. You know that in the treaty we have a list of euro crimes, and we try to say that hate speech must be an EU crime. Still now, we don't have unanimity in the Council to do that.

So I know that it's a difficult situation because we have different appreciations.

You know that also in this Assembly about freedom of speech in the different member states.

Certainly we have another kind of definition of what is not only hate speech but a hate crime - but I try.

Again, we try to discuss with the member states about the right balance and about racism and xenophobia to be concrete. We have a framework decision at the EU level since 2008. We have introduced infringement proceedings to be sure of a full implementation of the decision.

Hopefully now, five member states moved to a full implementation, five orders with real progress. We continue to discuss with the last. So it's a permanent debate, it's a permanent pressure.

But you're right - we need to find the right balance between freedom of speech and hate speech.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Mister Commissioner, we started a bit late, so I will allow four more questions and then your creativity to answer them all within the limit of a few minutes. You are skilled enough, Mister Commissioner. 

The first question comes from Ms Lise CHRISTOFFERSEN from Norway.

30 seconds, Lise.


Norway, SOC


Mister Commissioner, 

You mentioned the desire for EU accession to the European Convention on Human Rights. The remaining hurdle, the lack of jurisdiction of the Luxembourg Court over all areas of EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy. Once the EU accedes to the Convention the European Court of Human Rights will have such jurisdiction.

Could you please tell us more about how the EU intends to solve this problem, and when we can expect it to be solved?

Thank you.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Madam Lise CHRISTOFFERSEN.

The next question comes from Mr Mihail POPSOI from the Republic of Moldova.

30 seconds for you, Mihail.

Mr Mihail POPSOI

Republic of Moldova, EPP/CD


Thank you, Your Excellency.

I would like to thank you and your team for supporting the reforms in the Republic of Moldova when it comes to the rule of law.

Despite the challenges of the Russian aggression against Ukraine and the attempts by the oligarchs who are fugitive from Moldovan justice to destabilise the situation in Moldova, the ruling majority remains fully committed to the rule of law reforms, to democracy and to improving the well-being of Moldovan citizens.

In this context, I would like to kindly ask you to elaborate on the synchronisation of the evaluation mechanism between candidate countries and new member states. I, for one, find it very sensible. We in Moldova actually want to be held to the highest possible standard so that we can better improve the quality of the reforms for our citizens.

Thank you.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mister Mihail POPSOI.

The next question comes from Ms Arusyak JULHAKYAN from Armenia. Arusyak, the floor is yours. 

I do not see you. We go to the fourth question coming from Mr Pieter OMTZIGT from the Netherlands.

Pieter, 30 seconds.


Netherlands, EPP/CD


Thank you.

Thank you, Mister Commissioner, for telling us that you will finish the accession of the European Union to the European Convention Human Rights.

Can you enlighten us about what the last obstacle is and when that will be taken out of the way, since the elections for the European Parliament and thus the end of the Commission are not too far away?

Thank you.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mister Pieter OMTZIGT.

The last question comes from Mr Oleksii GONCHARENKO from Ukraine.

Oleksii, you have 30 seconds.


Ukraine, EC/DA


My questions are next.

First of all, I would like to hear from the respected Commissioner on his position on an international tribunal, and how you can help and what should be done in order to finally do it.

Secondly, it is about the seizing of Russian assets, of Russian tycoons and crooks. It is not European taxpayers who should pay for the rebuilding of Ukraine but Russian oligarchs and those around Putin who are responsible for this awful war.

Thank you very much.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much.

I did not even need the clock to keep Oleksii within 30 seconds. Thank you very much. We are improving.

Mister Commissioner, the last minutes are there for you.


European Commissioner for Justice


Thank you very much, Mister President.

First of all, maybe about Moldova because I did not speak about Moldova before, so we will take that as the first question. Moldova has made good progress on justice reforms, I will say. And so, I have had many contacts with the Moldovan authorities and certainly also in Chișinău I was there to discuss with the president and the members of government, and I have said that it's very fine to see such an important evolution, and you know that the next steps will be to work on the vetting of judges and prosecutors in line with the European standards, but also to continue to work on the creation of the anti-corruption court and so, align the European standard. The real problem that we have, of course, I fully understand that it is needed to go fast in the reform process in Moldova, but we need to be sure that there is a full alignment of the European standard. So again, as I have said, it is important to stick to the recommendations of the Venice Commission. So, we try all the time to be balanced but we are sure that there is very good progress in Moldova and we continue to support that progress in the different reforms. But again, with a real attention to the alignment on the European standards. 

About the accession, I have said the remaining problem is in the Basket 4. We have an agreement on quite all of the group 46+1 and it is in the Common Foreign and Security Policy that there is a real issue. And to be more concrete, the Commission is fully committed to solving such an issue but as I have said, we need to reach unanimity in the Council. And so, if I may, what is very important to look at is the progress that is possible to make. For the moment, you know that there is an exception in the Treaty on the European Union about the competence of the European Court of Justice concerning the Foreign and Security Policy in relation to such a kind of situation dedicated to human rights. And there, I set myself some rulings that we are waiting for from the Court of Justice, but it is not the most important element that will maybe be a part of the possible interpretation. Now, the most important element is to see what is the possible progress in comparison to the actual situation. So I know that the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the European Union is trying to make some effort to reach unanimity in the Council. So, it is difficult to say when it will be possible to reach an agreement, because that depends on the willingness of all the member states to agree on something and you know that at times it is difficult for one or two to make progress on this. But the commitment is very clear. It is an obligation of the Lisbon Treaty and we will take all the possible initiatives to solve that. But it is clearly the situation in the Foreign and Security Policy that is being discussed now, and we are trying to find the best ways to solve such a last remaining point.

About the relationship between the Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights; I am quite sure that we have good solutions for all the remaining problems that we had with the opinion of the ECG in the past.

About the situation in Ukraine, again, we are working on both, and certainly myself, I try to work on, as I said, the fight against impunity, and so the way to organise investigation prosecutions and trials concerning all the war crimes, crimes against humanity or maybe, if it is needed, crimes of genocide. But for that, we have all the necessary tools. The prosecutors and the judges and the courts and the tribunals as well as the ICC.

About the crime of aggression, I want to say that the best solution will be to amend the Rome Statute and to give the competence to the ICC. That is the golden star solution. If that is not possible, we need to find an approach with the support, if possible, for the majority of the members of the General Assembly of the UN. And to do that, now you know, there are many discussions about the so-called "third way" between maybe the international and the hybrid tribunal. We will see, but a real dedicated tribunal for the crime of aggression. But I want to insist on the fact that we are not waiting for the moment. We have instruments to collect evidence on the crime of aggression, we have elements to prepare the files about the prosecution due to the International Centre for the Prosecution of the Crime of Aggression against Ukraine. It is a joint investigation team in Eurojust. And with that, we have a first layer, so we are not just waiting for a solution. While I am hoping in the next months, we will find a way to have a large report for one of the other solutions.

About the assets of oligarchs, I want to insist on the fact that it is not because there is a clear and brutal violation of the rule of law and rule-based order by Russia that we do not have to pay attention to the rule of law in our reaction. And so, about the assets, what we try to do is to have full respect for the rule of law, and individual rights, and you know that we need to give a clear motivation for all the freezings of assets of oligarchs and entities, and if not, we run the risk of litigation and we have had some success but also we have lost some cash before the Court of Justice in Luxembourg. And so, it is very important to stick to that. It is an administrative decision to freeze with real motivation. If you want to move to the confiscation, I have said, we need to link it with the criminal offence and now I have proposed a directive to the Council and the Parliament to say that not only with money laundering or corruption we can organise the confiscation, but also with just, if I may, the attempt to circumvent the sanctions. We will have the opportunity to say it is a criminal offense and we are going to justice and we want to go to the confiscation. But to my mind, the most important element is to remember, for the moment, we have a guarantee, because we have immobilised more than €200 billion of the reserve in the Central Bank of Russia. So it is a real guarantee for the future. And the second remark, if I may; it is the first time that we are discussing all those things during the war. To discuss the way to organise the reconstruction and the compensation for damage. And it is fine that we are doing that, and with the Register of damage and with all the kinds of elements, but is the first time that we are doing that during the war. Normally, it is a discussion after the war if there is a capitulation or it is a discussion in the negotiation for a peace process. So we will continue to work on it and be sure of the clear commitment of the Commission to continue to make progress, and when it is needed and when it is possible with real support from the Council of Europe. 

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much, Mister Commissioner.

This brings us to the end of this most interesting exchange of views on substantive questions for both organizations.

Thank you very much, dear Didier, for being here with us. And I wish you well.

The next item on the agenda is a joint debate under the urgent procedure on two Reports from the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy. The first is titled “The role of the Council of Europe in preventing conflicts, restoring credibility of international institutions and promoting global peace” (Doc. 15821) presented by Mr Serhii SOBOLIEV on behalf of... and Ms Lesia VASYLENKO, with an opinion presented by Mr Claude KERN (Doc. 15824) on behalf of the Monitoring Committee. The second is titled “Ensuring a just peace in Ukraine and lasting security in Europe” (Doc. 15842) presented by Mr Iulian BULAI.

In order to finish by about 5:25 p.m., I will interrupt the list of speakers at about 5:00 p.m. to allow time for the replies and vote.

I call Mr SOBOLIEV, to present the first Report. You have 7 minutes now, and 3 minutes at the end of the debate.

Serhii, the floor is yours.

Joint debate: The role of the Council of Europe in preventing conflicts, restoring credibility of international institutions and promoting global peace / Ensuring a just peace in Ukraine and lasting security in Europe


Ukraine, EPP/CD, Rapporteur


President, dear colleagues,

I want to present the Report that was not prepared by me. It was prepared by my colleague, Ms Lesia VASYLENKO, but unfortunately her father passed away on Monday, and so she didn't have the possibility to Present this report.

Her father was a prominent specialist in international and constitutional law. He was a prominent ambassador of Ukraine. He was a representative of the United Nations criminal court. We can find a lot of his excellent ideas in this report as well.

We are living in horrible times when even in the agenda of our session for this week, we find three - three urgent debates that are connected with war.

I never remembered from all of my time working in the Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe, that we needed to have such urgent debates.

It means that we had to do everything in order to prevent the war.

We can compare this to different things and understand that each war and the price of war is higher than all of the efforts that we can use in order to prevent the war.

In this case, this Report is not about an exact country, or exact names of the countries, or exact names of the wars.

This Report is about the war and how to do everything in order to stop the war, but it's even more important to prevent the war.

All wars have their own face, but they are all the same.

If we compare the events of this last year and of last week, there is no difference.

If we can see Israel's city of Ashkelon or the Ukrainian city of Bucha, where thousands of people were killed, there is no difference between the small village kibbutzes in Israel Kfar Aza, and a small village in the Kharkiv region in Ukraine, Hroza.

In one case, 40 bodies of children were found killed. In another case, one-fourth of the entire population of the small village of Hroza was killed by one Russian missile.

So in this Report, we can't find all of the answers, but a very important thing that we need to do in order to prevent the war.

It's not only our obligation.

While our organisation is very important in different spheres of preventing war, we can do this only if we will have an excellent co-operation with the United Nations, with Parliamentary Assemblies of the ESC, NATO, with WTO, because we need a complex of different methods in order to prevent the war. It's economical, political, diplomatic, and other methods that can together provide a possibility to stop the war or to prevent the war.

Now it's very popular to discuss that we need peace at any measure, at any price.

I think that peace starts, if it's a war of aggression, from the liberation of all territories and withdrawal of occupation troops from occupied territories.

In other cases we will have the example that we had in the previous hundred years, when one prominent leader announced that he would bring peace to his country in 1938. World War Two started one year after that.

Another case: when we signed an agreement, and within eight years, the Russian Federation tried to do everything in order to continue a more horrible war that we had in 2014.

So, it's very important to understand that prevention of war is the main item that we have to work on as an organisation.

It's very important to understand what the main items of this Report are.

Of course, each dictator had to know that he will be punished for his order to start a war of aggression. Each dictator. It is possible in the case when not only common soldiers will be responsible and punished for war crimes, but the first leaders - including political leaders, including military leaders - will be punished for their orders to start a war.

Besides this, it's very important to have another case. The country that starts a war has to pay everything to the victims of their aggression.

This Report, I think, is only the beginning of the big work that we have to do in the reforming of our organisation - and not only our organisation.

When I give you the case of the small village of Hroza, the next day the permanent representative of the Russian Federation in the United Nations announced that yes, it was their rocket that killed 59 - now it's 59 - people in the small village of Hroza, because they want to kill all male Nazis.

Imagine this, that it's a representative of the country that has a rule of veto in the United Nations.

Thank you.

Ms Ingjerd SCHOU

Norway, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you so much, Mister Serhii SOBOLIEV.

I call Mr Piero FASSINO to present the opinion of the Monitoring Committee.

The floor is yours.

You have 3 minutes.


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


Mr Claude KERN, who is draftsman of the Monitoring Committee's opinion, has asked me to present the Committee's opinion in his absence.

The Monitoring Committee congratulates Ms Lesia VASYLENKO on her work and the report she is submitting to us today.

The report outlines the policy needed to ensure that early warning systems and confidence-building measures are fully utilised and improved, to ensure compliance, accountability and conflict prevention in the future.

Early warning mechanisms have produced the necessary warnings and drawn the attention of Assembly members and the general public. However, this has not been translated into decisions by the Assembly or the Council of Europe. In our view, this is where improvements need to be made. It is important to determine when concerns should be translated into alerts, and when they are, how they can be translated into follow-up measures to effectively reduce tensions.

If alerts are to be translated into concrete, effective measures, it seems to us that we need to broaden the range of measures available to our Organisation to encourage states to follow the path of temperance. When the rules on which our Organisation is founded are not respected, we must have the means to persuade them, otherwise we must resign ourselves to issuing only paper threats.

The complementary joint procedure enables the statutory bodies of the Council of Europe to act together in the event of a flagrant violation by a member state of its statutory obligations. This procedure is naturally to be reserved for the most serious violations. The improvement of  compliance with states' obligations must be able to employ other, less severe measures

In Recommendation 2252 (2023) "Implementation of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights", the Assembly recommends to the Committee of Ministers "a clear set of tools to assist co-operation and increase pressure on states, in order to encourage them to act promptly to implement the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights. This toolbox should include a range of different measures and techniques that could be deployed, as appropriate, in different situations depending on the seriousness and complexity of the problem, as well as the type of obstacles that might exist to rapid and effective implementation. Such a toolbox should be an evolving document to include new techniques and best practices as experience evolves. A creative approach should be applied in terms of the tools and bodies that could support these efforts".

The Monitoring Committee believes that such a toolbox should also be used to encourage member states to comply with obligations other than the Court's judgments alone. The Assembly should initiate a process of reflection with a view to acquiring such a toolbox when the obligations whose fulfilment is to be encouraged fall within its own remit.

In conclusion, the opinion proposes to reinforce Ms Lesia VASYLENKO's proposals by considering new means of ensuring compliance with states' obligations, and by improving the visibility of existing early warning mechanisms.

Thank you for your support.

Ms Ingjerd SCHOU

Norway, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mister Mr Piero FASSINO.

I now call Mr Iulian BULAI, the rapporteur, to present the second report.

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

The floor is yours.

Mr Iulian BULAI

Romania, ALDE, Rapporteur


Dear colleagues,

It has been 20 months that a full-scale war has been going on in the heart of Europe. We were brought to discuss the situation in Ukraine every time we met, every session, in every Standing Committee. We should do so until Ukraine win the war.

This report takes into account the conclusions of the Conference of Presidents of Parliament held a few days ago in Dublin.

I've also consulted the Ukrainian delegation when writing this report, and I thank them for their contribution.

Finally, I've taken on board the elements provided by Mr Yevgeniy Zakharov, finalist of the Václav Havel Human Rights Prize. I was deeply impressed by my meeting with this courageous man, who is a fine example of dignity, dedication, and courage.

This is perhaps the most documented war in our history. I am confident that all these documents, all the evidence collected, all the reports produced will constitute the basis for a system of justice and accountability.

In this report we reiterate our firm stance in confirming the territorial integrity of Ukraine and the non-recognition of attempted temporary annexations.

Indeed, colleagues, it is right to speak about attempted and temporary characters of these acts.

In this urgent report, we went further in discovering the atrocities of the world and the crimes committed: more death, more torture, more abductions of children and residents, more sexual violence, more destruction, more pollution of land and water.

We continue to call on our member states to their to do their utmost to make the Registry of Damage operational and to appoint experts for its board.

Let us start the war both when being here and being in touch with the ambassadors, but also when going home, pushing the governments to be quicker on these appointments and decisions.

We continue to call for the establishment of a comprehensive compensation mechanism. Again, we state the need for a special international tribunal to investigate the crimes of aggression. War crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide have to be investigated and those responsible must be brought to justice.

We must also continue to stand firm with our Ukrainian friends who rightly say "without a victory there can be no peace", because the aggressor will do it again and will attempt to go further in destroying lives, environment, property, infrastructure, and finally our European stability and democracy.

Let's be firm, let's stand together, and let's continue to support Ukraine, deliver help including military, financial, and technical. Our primary goal in do so is to achieve a comprehensive, just, and lasting peace. This is a precondition for a durable security in Europe.

The way in which the international community responds to the Russian Federation's war of aggression against Ukraine will set the course of European history and affect our democracies and the system of global governance in the years to come.

For all of you to know, most of the elements that have been included in this report on the urgent procedure debate are a reiteration of most of the decisions taken by this Assembly. There are two elements that are new and should be given a separate time to be developed.

Firstly after the meeting with Ukrainian human rights activist Mr Zakharov, I was shocked to hear about the practice of infiltration groups within the occupied territories. In this report, we call upon the Russian Federation authorities to stop this cruel and inhumane practice of infiltration procedures with infiltration groups in these two occupied territories in South Ukraine.

Then, this Assembly decided a couple of months ago to create a registry of damage. In Ukraine the human rights defenders in the past 20 months have gathered already a lot of evidence on the destruction, on the breaches of human rights, and on their atrocities of the war.

We call upon all the actors to help in transferring this evidence as quickly as possible to the newly founded institution in The Hague.

I thank the excellent collaboration with the Secretariat of the Political Affairs Committee and especially to Ms Sonia SIRTORI.

I invite you to approve the report and to adopt this resolution.

Thank you.


Ms Ingjerd SCHOU

Norway, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you so much, Mister BULAI.

Then we continue and go to the debate. And the first on my list is on behalf of the The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe and it's Ms Sabina ĆUDIĆ from Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The floor is yours.

Ms Sabina ĆUDIĆ

Bosnia and Herzegovina, ALDE, Spokesperson for the group


Sometimes we use a rather dangerous saying that "the road to hell is paved with good intentions". Naturally then one begins to wonder what the road to heaven is paid with.

I dare propose a different definition, where I believe that the road to hell is paved with excuses. I'm proud to speak today on behalf of the European liberals, because in this report, and both in our practice and in this report, when it comes to Ukraine, we are not looking for excuses for inaction but we are looking for ways ahead, and we are looking for ways to produce peace in Ukraine.

The Council of Europe is, I dare say, one of the world's greatest peace projects and it needs to continue being a peace project.

One of its historic roles is being played out today in our attitude in finding a path to peace for Ukraine. That path to peace is also a European path to peace, because there can be no peace in Europe without peace in Ukraine. Without victory of Ukraine in this world, there can be no peace.

This report stipulates and clearly outlines the road that we need to take and the responsibility we need to take in identifying the war crimes that are taking place as we speak in Ukraine that are being committed, crimes against humanity, potentially genocide, and ask of us to give unconditional support to the establishment, completely justifiably to the special international tribunal starting with the crimes of aggression, and of course, all other established crimes.

At the same time, it's asking us to provide a comprehensive mechanism of compensation, because this is one of the most documented wars in human history. We need to make sure that these documents are properly used, because it is during the war time that the evidence needs to be collected.

On a personal note, as you said, Madam President, I come from Bosnia and Herzegovina, and I come from a country whose victims did not fully find justice.

However, a little justice that we did find, mostly came from the international mechanisms of justice, namely the international criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia that established, for example, historically for the first time in human history that rape was used as a weapon of war, it was treated as a war crime and that we again had genocide on European soil despite our post-Second-World-War chance of never again.

Therefore, let's avoid the mistakes. Let's, for the first time on European soil in this century, avoid the mistakes we made in the past. Let's make sure that we don't pave another road to hell with excuses for inaction, but make sure that we stand behind our words and fully support the findings of this report and fully and unanimously support that we need to ensure Ukrainian victory, not just for Ukraine, but for entire Europe.

Thank you.

Ms Ingjerd SCHOU

Norway, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Madam Sabina ĆUDIĆ.

I call Mr Oleksii GONCHARENKO from Ukraine, on behalf of European Conservatives Group. 

The floor is yours.


Ukraine, EC/DA, Spokesperson for the group


Thank you very much.

What is the topic of our debate? Let me quote, "The role of the Council of Europe in preventing conflicts, restoring credibility of international institutions, and promoting global peace and ensuring a just peace in Ukraine and lasting security in Europe." Do we really believe that we can achieve it just by talking and adopting resolutions?

We have tried to do this for decades here. For decades we were just speaking with Russia, thinking that this was a dialogue which would prevent conflict.

What did the Russians decide about us? That we were weak fools, that they could attack and kill us.

What would have really prevented the conflict is if for these decades we had buillt tanks, missiles and drones.

Our key values are democracy, rule of law and human rights.

We want democracy; let us build tanks.

We want rule of law; let us build drones.

We want human rights; let us build missiles.

Tanks, missiles and drones. This is the answer.

If we really want security, if we really want peace, do you really think that Russia, Iran, Hamas, or China care about global climate change? Do we really believe that they are interested in the rights of minorities? Hamas, Russia, Iran, North Korea? Do we really believe that they are interested in the freedom of speech? No.

We have the word here "international tribunal".

Let us be frank. Who will create a tribunal? The International Criminal Court issued a warrant on Mr Vladimir Putin, and thank you very much for doing this. Mr Putin issued a warrant for these judges of the International Criminal Court. And who will be in Court? Who will be in the tribunal? Putin!

All these honest judges.

It depends only on three things: on tanks, missiles and drones. Allow us to do this. Let us build tanks, missiles and drones. Leave it to Ukraine. We know what to do with this. With Ukrainian courage, we will secure peace in Europe. We will protect people in Europe. We don't have any other option.

We will continue to speak, to talk. If we do not build the hard power, if inside our velvet glove there is not an iron fist, sooner or later, somebody will come to us and kill us, and that will be finita la commedia.

I address you: tanks, missiles and drones. Let us be strong. Let's protect peace in our region in Europe and for the whole free world.

I believe in the free world. I'm sure we will win.

Ms Ingjerd SCHOU

Norway, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mister GONCHARENKO.

The next speaker is on behalf of the United European Left and it's Mr George LOUCAIDES from Cyprus.


Cyprus, UEL, Spokesperson for the group


Thank you, Madam President.

Dear colleagues,

Notwithstanding the fact that the Reykjavík summit reaffirmed the central role the Council of Europe has, which we firmly believe in, as guardian of the protection system of human rights in Europe, the organisation remains at the same time part of a multilateral system and world order that bears inherent weaknesses and flaws.

As long as the pursuit of selfish state interests, profit of the privileged few and the imposition of global and regional hegemony come before and at the expense of peace, humanism and social welfare, as long as the logic of double standards prevails in the conduct of international affairs where defiance of international law and violations of relevant United Nations resolutions in many cases are tolerated, then world peace, conflicts and the credibility of international organisations cannot be safeguarded. In fact, we believe the situation will continue worsening.

Therefore, to resist further backsliding, first and above all, we should abide by the same rules and principles and react in the same decisive and persistent manner to all cases of violation of international law and human rights, no matter who the perpetrator is.

We must remain firmly attached to the principles and respect of the independency, sovereignty and territorial integrity of states and not allow the law of the mighty to prevail. Nor must we pursue neocolonial policies beyond our European borders. Peace, stability and prosperity in Europe cannot be achieved if we do not respect all of the above.

European countries must continue to co-operate with one another, as well as with the broad range of international organisations. Multilateral diplomacy and collaboration are essential to address regional challenges. Diplomacy and negotiations should be prioritised to prevent the escalation of disputes. International mediation and conflict resolution mechanisms should play a significant role in this process. The Council of Europe should develop early warning mechanisms which can work on the whole European continent, as well as develop initiatives for a nuclear-free Europe.

As regards the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, further to what has been done until now, the Council of Europe should urgently stimulate initiatives in which a new security architecture is developed that is sustainable for a just peace in Ukraine and lasting security in Europe in the next decades.

Thank you.

Ms Ingjerd SCHOU

Norway, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mister LOUCAIDES.

The next speaker on behalf of the Socialist Group is Mr Paulo PISCO from Portugal.

The floor is yours.

Mr Paulo PISCO

Portugal, SOC, Spokesperson for the group


Dear collegues,

The war against Ukraine can not last for eternity. At some point, it must finish, and we should effectively start paving the way for peace and stability in our continent. That vital task requires the same energy and creativity that we have put in to create the United Nations, European Union and the Council of Europe, to ensure lasting peace, security, democracy, and prosperity.

This report reminds us that, in spite of the dangerous turbulence in several parts of the world, the support to Ukraine must remain a priority of our political, diplomatic, financial, and humanitarian efforts.

To reach those objectives, we should not accommodate to the idea that this war could still last some years. Some years is a long time. Because of all geopolitical changes, this could be dramatic and destroy all efforts already made until now. On other hand, we must not face any other possibility than a clear victory of Ukraine, in a context of recuperation of all the illegally occupied territories, to guarantee a future with peace, security, and respect for the values inscribed in the United Nations Charter.

Of course, there are some other previous conditions. Those responsible for the war crimes in Russia and Belarus, including the possibility of the crime of genocide, must be judged and condemned. It's imperative. Otherwise, if its perpetrators remain in impunity, all dictators will feel confident to invade their neighbours.

There will not be a lasting peace and security without the due reparations, namely with an effective and comprehensive compensation mechanism for human and material damages, under the framework of the already decided register of damage.

Dear colleagues,

I also believe that for a lasting peace, all Ukrainian children deported or forcefully displaced to Russia or to temporarily occupied territories must return to their families. There still are thousands of children whose whereabouts are unknown and who are being submitted to an unacceptable process of Russification. In spite of the arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court against Vladimir Putin and Maria Lvova Belova, the Russian Federation is still deporting and displacing children forcibly.

In line with the relevant report approved last April on this subject and the recent positions of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, all possible pressure must be put on Russia to stop deporting children and allow all those who have been stolen to return to their families.

To finish, let me stress that this report also gives an important step for an historical reparation, recognising the Great Famine (the Holodomor) as an act of genocide intended to destroy the Ukrainian nation, identity, language, and culture, honouring, though, its victims.

Thank you.

Ms Ingjerd SCHOU

Norway, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mr PISCO.

And the next speaker on behalf of the Group of the European People's Party Ms Zanda KALNIŅA-LUKAŠEVICA.

The floor is yours. 


Latvia, EPP/CD, Spokesperson for the group


Thank you, Madam Chair, dear colleagues,

First let me thank both rapporteurs, Ms Lesia VASYLENKO and Mr Iulian BULAI for their excellent work. Both Reports contain many significant recommendations that will guide us. We all have agreed in the Reykjavík Declaration that there cannot be peace without accountability. It is crucial.

Dear colleagues, on 11 September, took place the meeting of the Ministers of Justice in the framework of the Council of Europe. During this meeting, the Riga Principles were adopted with an aim to achieve comprehensive accountability for the Russian Federation's aggression against Ukraine and provide redress to all victims of war including through the focused and efficient functioning of the register of damage caused by the aggression.

We have taken the first steps to hold Russia accountable, but the main road is still ahead of us. We have to move forward with the establishment of a comprehensive compensation mechanism. A compensation fund is to be created by confiscating and otherwise using the Russian Federation's assets.

And secondly, we have to finally set up a special international tribunal to investigate and prosecute the political and military leadership of the Russian Federation for the crime of aggression against Ukraine.

Equally, in the nearest future, it is crucial to achieve the immediate and unconditional release of victims of enforced disappearance, as underlined in the Report. I would like to underline also our full support for all recommendations inviting national parliaments to have an active role as pointed out in paragraph 18.1 of the Report prepared by Ms Lesia VASYLENKO.

With this Report, the Assembly also will recognise the great famine, the Holodomor, as an act of genocide. It is an important decision, an important milestone, and national parliaments are invited to do so as well.

Ladies and gentlemen, we stand here at a moment when history is being written. There is no middle way. We have to stand strong till the victory of justice, the victory of Ukraine. Russia has crossed all the possible lines of international rules and norms and Russia continuously launches brutal invasions of its neighbouring countries. Unfortunately, in previous decades, the reaction from the international community to the Kremlin's disrespect towards independent countries and the rules-based international system was way too soft. If we are not able to solve and prevent such unacceptable violations of the United Nations Charter, if we cannot deter full-scale military invasions, we will come face to face with more and more similar aggressions.

The destiny of Ukraine will determine the destiny of the European continent and the rules-based international order globally.

Ladies and gentlemen, to conclude, we are obliged to do what we can to defend ourselves and be prepared for any possible scenario. We have to assure all the time that we will not back off, that we will stand by on the just side. Our support has been vital and we politicians are responsible for explaining to our people why support to Ukraine is so important and to ensure that the relevant budgetary resources and legislative decisions are approved.

Thank you, colleagues, and we support the Report and we thank the rapporteurs.

Thank you.

Ms Ingjerd SCHOU

Norway, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Madam KALNIŅA-LUKAŠEVICA from Latvia.

And then we continue the speakers list.

And the first is Ms Christiana EROTOKRITOU from Cyprus and the Socialist Group.

The floor is yours.


Cyprus, SOC


Thank you, Madam Chair.

First of all, let me thank Ms Lesia VASYLENKO, Mr Claude KERN, and Mr Iulian BULAI fro an excellent report.

Dear Colleagues,

Ever since its establishment three quarters of a century ago, the Council of Europe has been proclaiming a key role in preventing conflict and war and in promoting unity and peace. This strategic aim is based on the inherent belief that conditions of peace and security in Europe and beyond, may be achieved through the advancement of common democratic principles and values, respect for the rule of law, and protection of political liberties and fundamental human rights. The organisation uses a series of tools and practices developed through the decades aimed at averting crises and managing common challenges, which have produced a series of successes but also some failures.

Existing cases of conflict in Europe and the wider region and primarily Russia’s aggression against Ukraine rightfully have incited strong reactions by the Council of Europe as an organisation. However, such reactions may only serve as deterrents to future incidents if they entail severe enough and applicable consequences. For this reason, the multifaceted tools used by the Council and its main entities today, including the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, should to be reassessed in order to strengthen the organisation’s essential role as the guardian of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.

In recognising the need for a new impetus, as was done during the Reykjavík Summit, member states should demonstrate their commitment to the convention system and show the political commitment necessary to adopt action plans that include both early-warning systems against the various forms of democratic backsliding, as well as effective mechanisms to ensure compliance and demand accountability for violations of international law and the failure to respect and implement decisions, recommendations, and rulings.

The Council of Europe should stop regarding the honouring of obligations and commitments by all member states, at all times, as a vision statement but rather as an irrefutable requisite pledge. Furthermore, the non-execution of the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights should no longer be anticipated and widely accepted as an unfortunate situation with no recourse. As we have mentioned numerous times before, strengthening the enforcement of the Court’s judgments should finally have pragmatic implications.

It is vital to recover the credibility of the Council of Europe, on all levels, especially in the eyes of our citizens. Only then will the Council of Europe, as an international organisation be able to engage in conflict prevention and de-escalation and promote democratic security and peace in real and applicable terms.

Thank you.

Ms Ingjerd SCHOU

Norway, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you so much, Madam Christiana EROTOKRITOU.

The next speaker is on behalf of the Group of the European People's Party is Ms Yelyzaveta YASKO from Ukraine.

The floor is yours.

Ms Yelyzaveta YASKO

Ukraine, EPP/CD


Dear colleagues,

We definitely entered the times when simply there is no place for a normal vacation. There is simply no opportunity to sleep in peace. It is absolutely true as Mr Serhii SOBOLIEV believes that he does not remember any single plenary week in the Council of Europe when there were three debates connected to the current war. Wars in different places.

Unfortunately, well, it feels like the West went on vacation some years ago in 2008, in August, when Russia invaded Georgia. Now we know, that finally, some came back from the vacation and woke up. What do we see? We realise that we do not have tools. We realised that we can feel sorry but what else can we do? We, as the international community, we, as international organisations, it seems that we can talk in theory, but where is the practice?

I am very happy that we are having these conversations here, and I know this organisation is much more productive than many others. This is the first organisation that has made progress, and this is the reason why we believe in this organisation. I want you to ask, to think, about some of the debates that we were having here, that people are joining the radical movements on the far-right ideologies. Why do they do that? Because they feel unheard. Why did we do it the way that they feel unheard and became radicals? Why do we say, "Oh, actually, yes, there is a crime but what else can we do?" I am sorry, we are politicians. Maybe you would say it is too philosophical and idealistic but we are in politics to create with the creativity these solutions.

 I urge you, when we are talking about the real tools we already made, in theory: the possibility of the international tribunal, the possibility of the register of damage, of frozen assets, let us make sure that it is working in the time that we need.

Let us make sure that the sanctions and those who avoid sanctions, we have real monitoring tools, and that we should do the follow-ups and check with each other every time we are here. We should have the analytical group also working on how to prevent future wars, future conflicts if you want.

I am sure we are capable but for that, we need to be creative and have empathy for humanity and for the world.

Ms Ingjerd SCHOU

Norway, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Madam Yelyzaveta YASKO

We continue to the European Conservatives Group with Mr Samad SEYIDOV from Azerbaijan.

The floor is yours.


Azerbaijan, EC/DA


Thank you very much, Madam President.

The title of this report as we can see is "Restoring credibility of the international institutions". It means that the credibility has fallen, and we should do our best in order to restore it. But why has that happened?

I think the major reason is that we're talking a lot about peace, but we took very few real steps in the direction of justice. How can it be possible to create peace without justice? That is impossible. Peace without justice will be very vulnerable, not sustainable, not forever.

I am from Azerbaijan, we actually had this experience. For 30 years my country had been occupied. We within the international organisations, we asked international organisations "but, please take into account that justice should be restored". International organisations said "No, that's impossible. You should accept that. You should live in the situation of unjust approach to your country."

When we said that would be impossible, that would create chaos, they said, "No, peace is to prevail". Okay, but in this case, two things had happened.

The first, the title of this report. The credibility of international organisations has fallen. The second, occupants have decided that they can do everything. They started to occupy more. They tied try to create more obstacles, more headaches. When we restored our territorial integrity, something unbelievable happened. International organisations who are irresponsible for saying, "Okay, at last justice has come to this region", they said "why you do it?".

We said, "Okay, we're ready to communicate. We are ready to think about the future together with our Armenian colleagues and friends." What had happened instead of that, again, we can see in the region attempts to create separatism and terrorism. Moreover, international organisations started to support this movement, which created the current situation.

Now I want to express my gratitude to the rapporteur for his very special words that territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country is the priority for all countries, and it should be like that. This is the only way for peace and justice.

Thank you very much.

Ms Ingjerd SCHOU

Norway, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mister Samad SEYIDOV.

We continue with Ms Arusyak JULHAKYAN from Armenia and from the Group of the European People's Party.

The floor is yours.


Armenia, EPP/CD


Thank you, Madam Chair, dear colleagues,

the Council of Europe is considered to be a beacon of democracy, human rights and the rule of law. Its core mission is to uphold these values among its member states and by doing so, it is supposed to contribute significantly to the prevention of conflicts. But can we state today that the Council of Europe is successful in this mission? The state of turmoil, the lack of peace, and the wars themselves unleashed in the Council of Europe area since at least 2022 and even before, prove the opposite.

I think there is a crisis in the Council of Europe, because we have forgotten the initial purpose of coming together. So what should the Council of Europe do to prevent the conflicts? The answer is simple: the Council of Europe should promote – if necessary – push the democratisation processes in its member states, because it is a well-known fact that democratic states do not tend to initiate conflicts. If the member states refuse to comply with the democratic rules, the Council of Europe should sanction them, and reconsider their membership.

Colleagues, let me however reformulate the question. What should the Council of Europe not do to prevent conflicts? First, the Council of Europe should not compromise with authoritarian regimes, with dictators. The dictators do not understand the language of compromise. The Council of Europe should sanction the dictators in a timely manner. Do not wait until it is too late.

Second, the Council of Europe should not be neutral and balanced. The most common sentence I have heard in this Assembly is the following: we must be neutral and balanced. No, dear colleagues, we must not. This is a political organisation, and we must have a clear political stance on any case of flagrant violation of rules by the member states. We have been long neutral and balanced with some of our member states until it was too late. We have been neutral and balanced with the case of Nagorno-Karabakh until it was already is too late. And we cannot be neutral and balanced in the case of Armenia or other member countries, and one day in the future, state that it is too late.

Speaking about Armenia, dear colleagues, on 5 October a five-sided meeting was planned in Granada between the leaders of the European Union, France, Germany, Armenia and Azerbaijan. A statement was supposed to be adopted and signed by the five leaders and which Armenia and Azerbaijan should have recognised mutually each other's territorial integrity, sovereignty and inviolability of borders. Agreed on the limitation of borders based on the Almaty Declaration and opening of regional connectivity links based on full respect of countries' sovereignty and jurisdiction as well as on the principles of equality and reciprocity. The leader of Azerbaijan refused at the very last moment to take part in the meeting.

Furthermore, yesterday President Ilham Aliyev blamed the Armenian Prime Minister Pashinyan for flying six hours to Granada for a strange meeting with the Western mediation. Aliyev declared that if Armenia refuses to take part in Russia-mediated negotiations, Azerbaijan will think carefully before taking part in the West-mediated meetings.

I think that today, as the Council of Europe, we should ask the question to our colleagues from Azerbaijan, what is wrong with the Western platform?

Thank you.

Ms Ingjerd SCHOU

Norway, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Madam JULHAKYAN.

We continue with Mr László TOROCZKAI from Hungary.

The floor is yours.


Hungary, NR


Thank you, Madam President.

This report has a very good title. The title suggests that the Council of Europe is finally doing what it was created to do in 1949, to promote peace among nations and democratic security. Despite its title, unfortunately, this report does not get to the heart of the matter.

The Council of Europe was founded after the Second World War in order to prevent a third world war. Now we are getting closer and closer to a third world war and you are doing nothing. You are not talking about peace. You are not talking about solutions. Even in this chamber, you regularly talk about the need for sending more weapons to Ukraine.

The solution is a new global treaty! The Council of Europe and the international institutions should work on this.

Instead of all sorts of pointless organisations and institutions, this treaty should be signed by those who make the real decisions. This is what the Council of Europe should be pushing for. These are the Group of Seven, including the EU, the BRICS, The African Union, Gulf Cooperation Council.

The most important part of this new global treaty is to end colonialism, which brings profits to global corporations but causes suffering and death to the people, and to end mass immigration, which is a source of new conflicts. Spheres of interest must be established, boundaries must be drawn and respected.

World peace is based on mutual respect. No culture or civilisation should force its values on another culture, because this usually leads to violence. 

Globalisation, with its many negative effects, has also had the positive effect of cutting distances. We need to create a global economic co-operation where everyone trades with what they are best able to do on a national level. This global treaty must also stop mass immigration, which only makes human smugglers rich, increases crime rates and causes more and more conflicts.

The real refugees should always be relocated to the nearest safe country of the war zone, and assisted by international co-operation until they can return to their homelands. Of course, if there is no war when there is peace, there are no refugees.

These are the most important foundations for world peace. The Council of Europe should not be focused on the interests of the arms industry and other global corporations, but on promoting global peace.

Thank you very much.


Ms Ingjerd SCHOU

Norway, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mister László TOROCZKAI.

The next speaker is Mr Saša MAGAZINOVIĆ from Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Socialist Group.

The floor is yours.


Bosnia and Herzegovina, SOC


Madam Chair,

Dear colleagues,

The first sentence of the draft resolution states, "The price of every war will always, be many times higher han that of its prevention." I completely agree, but I want to add to have capacities to stop and prevent war, you must have credibility. Credibility, when we talk about the Council of Europe, but also about the international community as a whole, is being built over the years, but can be lost very quickly and easily.

If a teacher tolerates the bad behaviour of one student, what will happen to the other children? First, they will be dissatisfied. Soon, they will also start to misbehave. This is the situation in which we find ourselves and where double standards are a daily occurrence. Bad students are tolerated, good ones are taken for granted. In the end, the problem will become so big that it will completely destroy the credibility of the international community, and therefore the Council of Europe.

The security and stability of the Western Balkans is threatened. Expectation of a new war is normalised, incidents of increasing proportions are becoming more frequent and are disrupting the sense of security. International bodies use diplomatic rhetoric that does not produce results.

I have a question. Is it time to add to the new article of the European Convention on Human Rights "the human right to live free from the fear of the new war?"

One of the pillars of democratic security is the efficient functioning of democratic institutions. If we talk about prevention, should we also talk about how we react if the decisions of democratic institutions are not implemented, for example, decisions of the European Court of Human Rights?

European and international institutions are late to prevent existing conflicts and wars. We are now talking about revising existing prevention tools. The Western Balkans is a place where new, improved prevention tools should be implemented. The diplomatic language so far is ineffective, the messages of concern are frustrating because they are followed by nothing.

If we want to be facilitators of peace and advocates of human rights in democratic security, we must be honest, brave, and aware.

This is what I invite us all to do.

Thank you.

Ms Ingjerd SCHOU

Norway, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mister MAGAZINOVIĆ.

The next speaker is Ms Yuliia OVCHYNNYKOVA from the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe and from Ukraine.

The floor is yours.


Ukraine, ALDE


Thank you, Madam President.

Dear rapporteurs, dear colleagues, this debate is one of the most important we had in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

It's about ensuring a comprehensive, just, and lasting peace and security in Ukraine and in Europe, it's about how to restore respect for the rule of law and what step we should take on the way to a new world political architecture.

This resolution perfectly accumulates all the key actions that must be taken and supported widely.

PACE provide again its leadership, geopolitical rule as one day we said no to the membership of Russian Federation in the Council of Europe.

We did not tolerate gross and brutal violations of the rule of law, human rights, and our shared European values. The United Nations still does, and is still losing its credibility, being paralysed and damaged as a mechanism for insuring peace and security.

Dear colleagues, our life will never be the same. When we are discussing peace, security, and international order, we shouldn't make abstractions. We should access reality. A few days ago the Russian Federation once again, as everyday, disregarded the principle of promoting global peace by carrying out the largest missile attack on the Kharkiv region. With one blow, the rocket killed 59 people, for the moment. We live in this reality. Every day.

Every day we need weapons in order to live.

First, since the existential nature of the Russian aggression, they will not stop. Their goal has always been to exterminate Ukrainians. They have been doing this for centuries. The Holodomor was one of those special measures against Ukrainian people. It's the war for freedom and democracy against an Orwellian 1984 reincarnation in the 21st century named "racism".

Second, we already have a peace formula from President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. If we are looking for a plan to ensure just and lasting peace, the Ten-Point Peace Plan is the only way to restore and guarantee security in Europe.

Finally, the Assembly should encourage the Council of Europe members states to bolster their support and to prove wrong the recurring voices spread by the Kremlin of war fatigue among Ukraine's partners.

Ukraine needs stronger support. Peace should come with victory, with the victory of Ukraine. This is the only one scenario to make war the anti-Europe and reinforce the highest value of human life and freedom.

Slava Ukraini!

Thank you very much.

Ms Ingjerd SCHOU

Norway, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Madam Yuliia OVCHYNNYKOVA.

The next speaker is Mr Armen GEVORGYAN from Armenia and the European Conservatives Group and Democratic Alliance.

The floor is yours.


Armenia, EC/DA


Dear colleagues,

I will reflect on two observations pertaining to the future of the Council of Europe and this Assembly keeping in mind the situation in the post-Soviet space.

First, today, the Council of Europe presents our people with a rather dangerous choice to make between a genuine democracy and authoritarianism. Such a strange choice exists due to the fact that our organisation, is loyal to the coexistence of political regimes, like in Türkiye and Azerbaijan, under our common umbrella. Therefore, I am asking you to be alert that our organisation does not transform from being a champion of democratic governance and human rights into a greenhouse for authoritarian regimes.

Second, the past 30 years of experiments resulted in an unfortunate transformation of democracy and human rights from genuine values into a mechanism for promoting geopolitical interests. This has created not only competition between so-called liberal values and conservative traditions but also created a practice of promoting democracy by non-democratic means. Double standards, power, politics, oil and gas have emerged as the dominant factors in international relations, instead of democratic culture, human rights and the rule of law.

As a result of the above-mentioned, in my opinion, the Council of Europe has, unfortunately, been failing its core mission for decades. Namely, the strengthening of the democratic stability and security in the post-Soviet area. We still are witnessing continuous conflicts and new wars. We have recorded the ethnic cleansings in Nagorno-Karabakh by Azerbaijan and that crime has yet to be prosecuted and condemned. We have to recognise that some members themselves have not yet fully adopted the traditions and rules of democracy but with their accession to our organisation, democracy in general began backsliding in Europe.

Dear colleagues, let me be clear any Council of Europe member state has the full right to determine their own national interests and pursue those interests but only in accordance with the founding documents of the Council. Only this approach will help to prevent wars and conflicts, prevent crimes against humanity or serve as a reference point for democratic peace and prosperity. I strongly believe that this organisation will have the potential to continue pursuing its mission of upholding democracy, supporting democratic transitions and the rule of law in its member states if we avoid selective approaches in defending values and human rights.

I conclude by observing that the further unpunished membership of Azerbaijan and Türkiye in the Council of Europe will only meet the ideological demise of this organisation.

Thank you.

Ms Ingjerd SCHOU

Norway, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mister Armen GEVORGYANORGYAN.

We continue. I call for Mr Mihail POPSOI from the Republic of Moldova and the Group of the European People's Party.

The floor is yours.

Mr Mihail POPSOI

Republic of Moldova, EPP/CD


Thank you.

Dear colleagues,

I would like to start by thanking the rapporteurs for the solid work that they have done. I would like to say that it is very good that we currently have reached the point of soul searching and having this collective wisdom to ponder upon these important topics.

Of course, we failed to do that in 2019, we failed to do that in 2015, and we all failed to do that collectively in 2008 and before. The imperial ambition of Putin's Russia was evident to everyone who had eyes to see and ears to listen. It is good that we have come to this point where now there are no longer any excuses, where now it is clear to everyone the predicament that we have been facing in the region for decades. I must admit that we in Moldova, have also lost a significant amount of time and only now, came to the collective wisdom to identify Putin's Russia as the main national security threat to our country in the national security strategy that is currently discussed in Moldova.

It is, of course, regretful that my predecessors in the Republic of Moldova did not have what it took to realise the threat that Putin's Russia posed to Moldova's national security by subsidising separatism and Transnistria and by supporting fugitive oligarchs from Moldovan justice to undermine the legitimate government in Moldova and the legitimate craving of our people to return to the great family of European nations.

Nonetheless, we are doing it now. Despite our modest resources, we are building resilience in our state institutions, and we are making sure that Moldova can provide its fair share in supporting Ukraine. Sometimes, all be it well meaningly, we are carried away in saying that we will support Ukraine for as long as it takes. I would suggest that we would need to support Ukraine till the moment of victory, because only the victory of Ukraine can provide this credibility to the international institutions that we are now talking about. It can ensure real sustainable peace in our region. Only the Ukrainian victory can ensure those goals that we all share.

I urge you to provide support to Ukraine and democracy and the rule of law, not for as long as it takes but until the moment of Ukrainian victory.

Thank you.

Ms Ingjerd SCHOU

Norway, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mr POPSOI.

The next speaker is Ms Etilda GJONAJ from Albania and the Group of Socialists, Democrats and Greens.

The floor is yours. She is not here.

Well, then we continue to the observation position and Mr David WELLS from Canada. The floor is yours, sir.

Mr David WELLS



Thank you, Chair.

Dear colleagues, the report were debating today allows us to reflect on what this organisation has achieved in almost 75 years of existence.

It allows us to consider new ways the Council of Europe can be strengthened. With respect to the latter, rapporteur Ms Lesia VASYLENKO's report contains some very innovative proposals, but there's one in particular that I would like to focus on today, the proposal that the Council of Europe promote "the duty to prevent aggression" as a legal obligation.

The report only briefly explains how this would work in practice, but it appears to be recommending a legal obligation in some context for member states to provide military assistance to other member states facing imminent, unprovoked attack.

The report argues that collective defence and security should not be limited to NATO members, and quite understandably it uses Ukraine as a case in point.

I quote, "both prior to 2014 and 2022, a number of foreign intelligence services were aware of the Russian Federation's plans of aggression. Had Ukraine been provided with more significant military assistance before the full-scale invasion began, it could have served as a potent deterrent against Russia's aggressive intentions".

I agree with this report's conclusion that the global security architecture needs reform, and I share the frustration it expresses regarding the failures of the United Nations Security Council.

At the same time, I'm not fully certain I understand the implications in terms of member states' obligations of what is being proposed here.

At first glance, it would seem to be quite a significant departure from this Organisation's mandate, but it's one I would welcome. The Council of Europe does a very good job in doing things that happen after the act, chasing the violators, so perhaps there are measures we could consider for before the violations occur.

It's a high bar and would take considerable work, but significant advancements usually have these hurdles.

While Canada is only an observer state at the Council of Europe, I nonetheless look forward to hearing more from the rapporteur Ms VASYLENKO about the specific obligations for the duty to prevent aggression may create.

Thank you, colleagues.

Ms Ingjerd SCHOU

Norway, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mister David WELLS.

Then the next speaker is Ms Mariia MEZENTSEVA from Ukraine and the Group of the European People's Party.

The floor is yours.

You're taking it from another position, I see, but you're here.


Ukraine, EPP/CD


Yes, I'm here.

Thank you, dear Chairwoman. Thank you, Ingjerd.

Good afternoon, dear colleagues.

I think it's extremely important to mention one of the historical moments of these two important resolutions. Today, for this fact, I am wearing a dress from the 1930s of the last century, which was made and embroidered by my great-grandmother who survived two waves of great famine, of great starvation during the Stalin regime in Ukraine in the 20th century.

She raised three children, one of whom is currently my grandmother, and that's how I appeared in this world.

During the stories that I've been hearing from her about the lack of food, about natural disasters, about forcible deportations, about the rape of children, about tortures of civilians, I never thought that in the 21st century, in our homeland, and not only in Ukraine but in other countries of the world, we would experience that.

Nor did I want to promote such resolutions, but we have to, because justice and long-lasting peace cannot exist without responsibility.

That's why we're seeing terrorist attacks, unfortunate terrorist attacks in Israel by Hamas. Please, believe me, colleagues, and I highly appreciate with all my heart on behalf of Ukrainians that you emphasised yesterday the signature of Hamas in Israel was the same as the signature of terrorists from Russia in Bucha, in Irpin, in Izyum, in Kupiansk, and other small cities and towns and bigger settlements in Ukraine.

This is a signature of genocidal nature of aggression, which has to find an answer today.

That's why both of the papers are calling for an international tribunal to be established, for the resources to be found for the register of damage, for the elimination of the veto power of Russia in the Security Council. This is illegitimate, and thank you friends, we're finally talking about it in the document, in a very particular article.

The deportation of children of Ukraine to Russia and Belarus, which is an illegal act with genocidal nature, actually consists of genocide, also has to stop.

Most importantly, the missing civilians, we don't even know how many of them exist since 2014. My family is also very personally concerned with this topic, as many other Ukrainian families. We introduced a suggestion to pass the list from the Russian Federation to us via any UN member state to immediately return all civilians deported from Ukraine illegally from 2014.

I thank you all for this important work. To both our amazing rapporteurs, you are making history today.

Thank you very much.

Slava Ukraini!

Ms Ingjerd SCHOU

Norway, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Ms Mariia MEZENTSEVA.

And then we continue with Mr Rafael HUSEYNOV from Azerbaijan and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.

The floor is yours.


Azerbaijan, ALDE


Thank you, Chair. 

Dear colleagues,

Everyone cares that there are no conflicts between peoples and countries, and if there are, they should be ended or urgent measures should be taken to end them as soon as possible. Everyone wishes the reputation of international organisations, the main task of which is to establish democratic values more strongly, protect human rights, and strive to achieve peace and stability to grow and that its words be valid and steps effective. Because the more the power and credibility of international institutions increase, the more benefits they can bring in resolving conflicts. Confidence in the jury always appears as an important factor.

I am well familiar with the 74-year history of the Council of Europe. I am aware of the benefit that our organisation has given to the construction of a new, morally healthier, more democratic Europe and the world over the first half-century of its activity. If the Council of Europe as well as many international organisations in both Europe and the world had been as active in the last 30 years as in the 1950s–1980s, I suppose there would have been no need for such a report today, also there would have been no need to seek for ways to restore lost or damaged credibility.

I am in the Council of Europe for the 23rd year being a living witness to how the crisis was created according to my closest observations.

It is still almost a dream to reach the goals set in this Report without making the changes. In this case, calls for conflict prevention will not transform into concrete actions thus causing new despair, and eventually more or less confidence in the organisation will be lost.

In my opinion, the powers of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe should be expanded via introducing fundamental changes to the Charter. Furthermore mechanisms for its serious influence and, if necessary, pressure on member countries should be invented. Like what the Security Council is to the UN, the Committee of Ministers should have the same weight and powers to the Parliamentary Assembly. If the manifestations of double standards, partisanship, and management are noticeable if the related appeals are made, it should be regularly investigated in the Assembly, and the question of dismissing those who commit such actions from the organisation should be raised without delay. If these and similar measures had been implemented consistently, then this Report would have been a real impact. And in that regard, I would have wholeheartedly supported every line and clause of this text. For now, all this is still a long way off.

Ms Ingjerd SCHOU

Norway, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mr HUSEYNOV.

And now the last speaker in this debate is Ms Saranda BOGUJEVCI from other delegations from the Assembly of Kosovo.

The floor is yours.

She is not here? No. Then it will be Ms Zeynep YILDIZ from Türkiye. The floor is yours. There she is, yeah.

Ms Zeynep YILDIZ

Türkiye, NR


Thank you, Madam Chair.

Dear President, dear colleagues, there is, unfortunately, an apparent need to ensure peace, stability, and security in Europe.

Although we have come to the idea that we have achieved these goals over time, unfortunately the challenges we have recently encountered reminded us again and again that we should make the shared principles sustainable, and we should work harder than ever to prevent the emergence of things hindering them.

The Council of Europe has always declared its will and determination to contribute to democratic security and to consolidate peace and stability in the European continent, both in its founding documents and with the decisions taken at its bodies.

However, given the problems we are currently facing, it is possible for the Council to take more effective actions.

On this basis, I would like to thank the rapporteur for her Report and also share some points that need to be considered by our Assembly.

First of all, the dialogue among us should be frank, open, and not based on presumptions or the views expressed elsewhere. We must remember that the main feature that distinguishes this Assembly from the other international organisations is the unique institutional background, the dialogue medium offered, and a good chance to cover a wider geography than the European Union.

Although, the solidarity among the European Union member states is understandable to a certain point, it should not be overlooked that the most powerful uniqueness of this institution offers a more comprehensive medium which is expected to create consensus rather than dictate any kind of agendas of the member states.

Secondly, to avoid double standards is a key factor for preserving the existence principle of this Assembly, to have a smooth dialogue which may bring much more concrete results.

All Council of Europe member states should be treated equally and the process of joint procedure should not be instrumentalised.

Finally, we know what the real consensus and a concrete result means.

We know that a fair, transparent, and constructive dialogue is possible, there is a good example right next to us: Turkish Government’s success in the case of the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine.

While supporting Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, Türkiye maintained a peace-oriented dialogue with both sides, which has led to concrete achievements such as the prisoner swap and the Black Sea Grain Initiative.

As the rapporteur points out in this Report, a new mechanism could be helpful. To this end, we should also focus on our existing mechanisms and our practice of working in this body and try to establish lessons learned for our future work.

Such an approach will give us the possibility to review our current method of work.

Thank you very much.

Ms Ingjerd SCHOU

Norway, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Madam Zeynep YILDIZ.

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

I call Mr Serhii SOBOLIEV to reply to the debate.

You have 3 minutes. 


Ukraine, EPP/CD, Rapporteur


Thank you very much, Madam Chairman.

The best war is a war that did not happen. Everybody understands that, but it is very important to understand how and what we can do to make sure that war does not happen.

I think that some replies that I want to give our colleagues are very important in this case.

First of all, a strong army. It is very important to have a strong army, but it must not be a one-way process. Somebody proposed disarmament. It must be a process by everybody if it is disarmament, because in the case of Ukraine 30 years ago with the withdrawal of all nuclear potential, it became the third nuclear state in the world. What do we have now?

Second, peace without justice is nothing. I want to add one more thing. Peace and justice are nothing without responsibility and responsibility not only for the territory but for the people who are living on this territory.

Third, it is very important to understand that to announce some sanctions, it is nothing if we are not controlling these sanctions. In this case, our organisation also has efforts to announce sanctions, but it cannot be only sanctions from the Council of Europe. It must be the same sanctions of the United Nations and other organisations. In these cases, they are working on one more thing that is very important to have not only to win the war but a real war.

It is very important to win the propaganda war. The information or disinformation war. Today, on one of the channels that are subsidised by the French state, I myself watched the report on how the Wagner Group, such poor men from the Wagner group, got support, physical support, official support, because of the crimes they did. I cannot even imagine how millions of people who are watching this channel all over the world, or Ukrainians, Ukrainian women, are watching now on this channel the representatives of Wagner group who are so poor they need this support. Maybe this evening we will see how the representatives of other terrorist organisations will be on this TV channel, and we we will discuss what support they need.

I think it is very important if we make some efforts, if we have in this case, sanctions. These sanctions have to work. It is possible only if we will do everything in the reforming of our organisation, in our propositions and propositions of our parliaments to the reforming of all other organisations. In this case, we will be even one centimetre closer to peace than to war.

Thank you.

Ms Ingjerd SCHOU

Norway, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mister SOBOLIEV.

And I call Mr Iulian BULAI, the rapporteur to the second Report, to reply to the debate.

And you have also 3 minutes, but Mr Serhii SOBOLIEV used 4 minutes, so I believe we are flexible but try to stick to 3 minutes.

Mr Iulian BULAI

Romania, ALDE, Rapporteur


Thank you for this generosity, Madam Chair.

I would like to first thank Mr Mihail POPSOI for having had the courage to put in a historical perspective all the chronology of aggression from Russia's side to the European democracies in the past 30 years, not to mention the other questions.

Now, I would like to respond to the very fine observation of Ms Sabina ĆUDIĆ, saying that the way to hell is paved with good intentions and those could be excuses.

Dear Sabina, you are new here, but just to know, four years ago, no later than that, half of this Assembly just found excuses for keeping Russia. An excuse after Russia aggressed Transnistria, another excuse after Russia occupied a part of Georgia, another excuse and with limited sanctions after Russia occupied and annexed Crimea, an excuse four years ago because we would need Russian money in order to have a functioning institution here because we have a need for dialogue, for collaboration, for openness, for a courageous ambiguity of saying no to a behaviour that is repeating again, again and again. And we are here because we were not courageous enough and because we found excuses for not acting enough.

And now I look to Mr Oleksii GONCHARENKO because he had some interesting points, but not enough.

We will never know how many wars this institution has prevented to happen. Because democracies are never allowing wars to happen, and this institution has been building up democracies in Europe, has been strengthening democracies.

Yes, we have failed, but we have failed not because of this institution, we have fails despite of this institution because of a lack of democracy in a certain country.

If Russia would have been fully democratic now, we would not have had this war.

So I now call upon the great keyword that is on the lips of everyone: accountability.

Let us make functional the Registry of Damage, let us also work for the compensation mechanism, let us all fight to the very end to have the tribunal in place and to help Ukraine to win this war regardless of what it takes.

Thank you.

Ms Ingjerd SCHOU

Norway, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mister BULAI.

And does the Vice-Chair of the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy, Mr Emanuelis ZINGERIS, wish to speak?

You have also 3 minutes.

Mr Emanuelis ZINGERIS

Lithuania, EPP/CD, Second Vice-Chairperson of the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy


Thank you, Madam Chairwoman, Ms Ingjerd SCHOU. remember our first resolution here after 24 February. We were battling here about the first phrase, and now it looks like an anecdote. Our first phrase in the first resolution was "to have all support or to have only humanitarian support" to Ukraine. If you remember the debate? Finally, the debate ended "with the full support". It was the first resolution after 24 February. How big was the way we went from this first debate to the true reality when Mr Iulian BULAI mentioned eight years of our debates after Crimea was taken over? We tried in this Assembly to collect and cement the political will to tell that Russia is coming with the war, and Belarus is an ally of Russia, who is trying to dismantle civil society in Belarus and to help Russia.

Many resolutions failed here. I just counted: Mr Iulian BULAI, 7 resolutions, and 30 votes in favour and 75 against. We are here not to take any revenge for that but we are coming back to say how good the resolutions are today.

Mr Iulian BULAI, and of course, Ms Lesia VASYLENKO, and especially our old comrade Serhii SOBOLIEV, presented today the second one. We are having here a general feeling, Madam Speaker, that democracies are lone. The whole democratic world is now encircled not only by fatigue but also maneuvering by China,  Russia, and Iran.

I am sorry. I am Jewish, but I do not think that this Iranian Hamas and Hezbollah attempt in Israel was not circulating to Moscow. I would like to say in an extremely unpolite way that I have no paranoia about that. I think the intelligence of those countries is circulating and synchronising their move, for that reason, for which reason to push Ukraine to the second line. That is the reason, to block Ukraine from being on the first page. These organisations will not be giving the right to Ukraine slowly to be pushed to the second priority line. We are responsible. Mister Iulian BULAI, both reports are serving the goal of not pushing out Ukraine and having the mechanism, the mechanism of a special international tribunal, which is now late, and will be working in absentia. It will be not the Nuremberg tribunal. Well, we will be not winning the war, taking over and liberating Russia from Putin's regime. It will not be the case in absentia. The court should start to work.  Ms Mariia MEZENTSEVA presented a very simple amendment, adopted by everyone, at least to have a core group. That's a big deal.

[He was interrupted by the Chair.]

Thank you. In the end, I would like to say one small remark. I just visited Kharkiv and the elderly lady in the bombed house on the eighth floor and people bringing water, while the lady sitting from 24 February on this bombed house on the eighth floor. We will all try not to give the possibility for all of Ukraine to be annihilated, bombed, and repeat what was started to be done during the Holodomor. We will be behind Ukraine and the victory.

Thank you, Madam Chair.

Ms Rosangela Amairany PEÑA ESCALANTE



(Undelivered speech, Rules of Procedure Art. 31.2)

With your permission, Mr. President

The Council of Europe is a fundamental part of world bodies because it not only gives light to the protection of human rights and guarantees their exercise, but also because it promotes democracy and ensures the rule of law.

For Mexico, the possibility of being an observer member is undoubtedly an incentive because it not only allows us to interact in a series of commissions but also to sign various agreements of great interest to both parties.

As a tangible experience we have the opportunity to participate in the Intercultural Cities Programme since 2010 and more recently with the mandate of the Council of Ministers in the working group on intercultural integration. These mechanisms are fundamental to protect the human rights of migrants as well as national minorities.

We are taking the local experience to the national level. In Mexico, we are about to approve in Congress a new General Population Law that will allow us to outline and structure public policies related to human mobility and interculturality. This would not have been possible without the support of the Council of Europe through the aforementioned programmes and the trust placed in our experience by Gabriella Battaini, Irena Guidikova and Ivana D'Alessandro.

This concrete experience is a vivid example of what it means to promote world peace because it is with tangible actions in our diverse societies that, through dialogue and mutual respect, we can strengthen that peace that today more than ever we require. There are many latent threats in the world and ever closer to our doorsteps. We must therefore be more committed to restoring the credibility of international institutions, for example the UN, which today more than ever needs to be bolder in the search for the conditions that will ensure world peace. There are two latent conflicts in the world which, had the appropriate measures been taken, could have been avoided.


Ms Sally-Ann HART

United Kingdom, EC/DA


(Undelivered speech, Rules of Procedure Art. 31.2)

The Council of Europe is an institution inherently dedicated to the protection of human rights, upholding the rule of law and the preservation of democracy. The Council of Europe endeavours to address tensions and conflicts that may arise and is an effective forum for international cooperation.

Despite the conflicts we see across Europe, including in Ukraine and Azerbaijan, I believe that the Council of Europe has indeed prevented more conflict on our continent than might otherwise be the case. Discussing and collaborating with other countries on shared values fosters peace and is important for European stability.

However, whilst strict and entrenched guidelines on democracy, human rights and rule of law are the cornerstones for the Council of Europe’s credibility as an institution, it must be flexible and agile when responding to developments that may threaten shared principles. With a rise in international conflicts in the last 15 years, swift reaction to conflicts across Europe is necessary in creating effective conflict resolution and preventing conflicts beginning in the first place.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is an example where the Council of Europe has taken robust action. The Council excluded Russia in March 2022 as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and in September Russia ceased to be a High Contracting Party to the European Convention on Human Rights. In Reykjavik this year, the Council of Europe created the Register of Damage caused by the Aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine – an important step towards an international compensation mechanism.

The Council of Europe and her institutions must keep pace with a changing world and needs to reform and modernise to reflect modern day issues, like illegal migration or bullying states, so that they remain credible and effective mechanisms which can uphold the rule of law, democracy and human rights. This resolution moves with the times and is to be welcomed.

The European Convention on Human Rights, the Council of Europe’s most famous achievement does so much more good than harm, and the European Court of Human Rights is a respected body. However, the Court must not overstep its remit; we have seen the Court stray more often into political decisions and encroach on countries’ own domestic policy making.

The European Court of Human Rights is not a political authority but arguably has become one. Political issues should not be questions of law for judges. Judges should not have the right to decide what is necessary in a democratic country.

There must be a separation of powers between the executive, the legislative and the judiciary. The judges of the European Court must not undermine democracy- it is for Parliaments to make law, not the judges of the European Court.

A real hard look at what reform is needed will ensure the enduring credibility of this institution.


Azerbaijan, EC/DA


(Undelivered speech, Rules of Procedure Art. 31.2)


One of the main directions of The Council of Europe’s work has been preventing hostilities in Europe, contributing to democratic security, which becomes significantly important in the risky security environment.

Looking at what is happening in the world, we have to admit that The Council of Europe today has nothing to be proud of.

The fact that conflicts within member states are not being resolved shows that the COE needs a major transformation. Also, in the face of those conflicts, we see the inability of the coe to use its authority, since resolutions are being adopted, but not implemented in practice.

The COE is known for its commitment to human rights, which helps ensure that individuals’ rights are respected, reducing the potential for conflicts based on human rights abuses. But as a representative of Azerbaijan I want to remind you Resolution 1416 in which PACE reiterate that “considerable parts of the territory of Azerbaijan are occupied by Armenia, underlines its concerns about widespread ethnic hostilities, ethnic cleansing of Azerbaijanis.

It is a document adopted for peaceful resolution of the former conflict over Karabakh.

Did we hear any calls from Coe to Armenia to implement this resolution? Unfortunately not.

And even today after liberation of its territories, landmines planted by Armenia continue to claim Azerbaijani lives. The number of mine casualties is more than 300 since the end of the 44-day war. But we have not heard a single call to force Armenia to provide minefield maps.

The Council of Europe is supposed to assist in conflict resolution, to provide a platform for dialogue and cooperation among member states. Today Azerbaijan is taking measures for reintegration of Armenian residents of Karabakh within Constitution of Azerbaijan and relevant legislation, and our country remains the most interested party in building peace in the region. Instead of welcoming these initiatives, we hear accusations, groundless threats and blackmail against Azerbaijan.

Such a one-sided position cannot be taken seriously in light of decades of inexcusable indifference of this organization to Armenia’s gross violations of its obligations. Perhaps the reason of this is encouraging hate speeches, disinformation, perhaps because the reports are frequently prepared on the basis of unreliable sources.

What kind of credibility can we talk?

we want to see the Council of Europe as a strong organization with political authority and the ability to influence and change the situation in Europe for the better.

Ms Boglárka ILLÉS

Hungary, EC/DA


(Undelivered speech, Rules of Procedure Art. 31.2)

Honorable Chair!

Dear Rapporteur!

Dear Colleagues!

All of us were shocked on Saturday by the betrayal attack, intangible aggression what happened in Israel.

I was born not only after the world wars, but after the change of regime in central Europe.

So I, and I can truly say, my whole generation would not been thought we have to experience breaking out a war in Europe, in our neighbourhood or in one of the most military equipped state in the world.

We can state: here we stand at the gate of a new ages of wars.

We support the sovereignty of attacked states, also Israel and Ukraine.

We strongly condemn military aggression against attacked states, also Israel and Ukraine.

And we absolutely support their fight for the right to self-defence.

But we, as members of Council of Europe, as members of that community, which aims at peace, common respect and democracy, have to support all initiations of starting meaningful negotiations, because peace cannot be achieved without peace talks and without peace talks the humanitarian situation might be worsen even more.

We can be sure of one thing: human lives, children and families are being taken every single day until the peace talks begin.

I think our common duty is to actively negotiate to prevent escalation.

But I would like to draw your attention to a very dangerous sentence in the text which says ,,without an effective system of global governance based on international law, there cannot be international peace and security."

Without "global governance?"

And who will direct or control this "global governance"?

Who will go for people's vote or who will be elected?

When most people hear global governance, scary conspiracy theories come to mind.

The idea itself is a mockery of democracy.

As Europe is in Warsaw, Budapest, Rome or Paris, not in the Brussel Bubble, democracy based on the will of people and common respect among states can build peace and security not any "global governance".

Please, promote this fundamental values as in the past, so in the future.

Because we have to save the core of democracy in the institution of democracy.

Thank You for Your attention!


Ukraine, EC/DA


(Undelivered speech, Rules of Procedure Art. 31.2)

Thank you, Ms. President!

Esteemed colleagues!

The full-scale war of aggression started by the Russian Federation against Ukraine is a massive violation of international law and a tragedy of human suffering.

One of such tragedies is unlawful deportation of Ukrainians to the Russian Federation that did not start in February 2022. Prior to this, such deportations took place, including the deportation of children from orphanages and children with disabilities from specialized institutions in the temporarily occupied territories in Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

Since then, the process has only intensified. As a result, tens of thousands Ukrainian children were forcibly transferred to Russian territory.

It is impossible to have an exact number of missing children due to the temporary occupation of Ukraine’s territories.

But as of now only three hundred eighty-six of them returned home.

The Ukrainian authorities are working day and night to document and investigate the forcible transfer to find and reunite them with their families and home. But efforts are hampered by the extremely difficult, hostile action from Russia.

Abduction of Ukrainian children is nothing less than a war crime and a horrifying element of genocide.

We must not let these atrocities pass unchallenged. Our duty is to ensure the children’s safe return. Russia must immediately stop deportation of Ukrainian children, immediately notify the names and locations of already deported children, and to provide the opportunity for their return to Ukraine.

We, the member States, must mobilize our resources and our every possible tool to seek justice, bring Ukrainian children home and restore peace.

Let us stand together to put an end to this crime and that the perpetrators at all levels are brought to justice and peace is restored in Ukraine.

Thank you.

Vote: The role of the Council of Europe in preventing conflicts, restoring credibility of international institutions and promoting global peace / Ensuring a just peace in Ukraine and lasting security in Europe

Ms Ingjerd SCHOU

Norway, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mister ZINGERIS. The debate is closed.

We will now start the consideration of the first Report.

The Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy has presented a draft Resolution [Doc. 15821] to which 5 Amendments have been tabled and 2 sub-Amendments, and a draft Recommendation [Doc. 15821], to which 1 Amendment has been tabled. We will start with consideration of the draft Resolution and then move onto consideration of the draft Recommendation. 

I understand that the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy wishes to propose to the Assembly that Amendments 1, 4, and 5 to the draft Resolution (Doc. 15821), which were unanimously approved by the Committee, should be declared as agreed by the Assembly.

Is that so, Mister Emanuelis ZINGERIS?

Mr Emanuelis ZINGERIS

Lithuania, EPP/CD, Second Vice-Chairperson of the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy


That's the case, absolutely.

People were absolutely unanimous in supporting the Amendments.

Ms Ingjerd SCHOU

Norway, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mister ZINGERIS.

Does anyone object?

As there is no objection, I declare that Amendments 1, 4, and 5 to the draft Resolution have been agreed. 


I call Mr Oleksii GONCHARENKO to support Amendment 3.

You have 30 seconds.


Ukraine, EC/DA


We are speaking about an important Amendment which should help us to stop very bad practice of trying of regimes of Putin and Lukashenko to go out of sanctions to restart businesses as usual.

We see that some countries are sending their ambassadors there, we see how some ministers are coming to Moscow with official visits, we saw how the Hungarian ambassador was accepted in Minsk by self-proclaimed Lukashenko, who is not president. So what ambassador could come there?

So we need to stop this practice as soon as possible. This Amendment is about this.

Thank you.

Ms Ingjerd SCHOU

Norway, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


I have been informed that Mr SOBOLIEV, on behalf of the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy, wishes to propose an oral sub-amendment to Amendment 3. This would remove the second sentence to Amendment 3.

In my opinion, the oral sub-amendment is in order under our rules. However, do ten or more members object to the oral sub-amendment being debated?

Mister SOBOLIEV, do you want to have the floor to explain?


Ukraine, EPP/CD, Rapporteur


It's correct.

I proposed to remove the second sentence and it was supported unanimously.


Ms Ingjerd SCHOU

Norway, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Does anyone object?


Fewer than ten. Zero in fact.

Does anyone wish to speak against the oral sub-Amendment?

No, that's not the case.

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




Ukraine, EC/DA


Yeah, I support the oral sub-Amendment.

The main important issue is in statement number one, so we're saying the most important: that the Assembly strongly advises member states to refrain from initiating official interactions with the governments of both the Russian Federation and Belarus, particularly in the realm of the diplomatic appointments.

It's OK.

Ms Ingjerd SCHOU

Norway, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mister GONCHARENKO. You support it, that was my understanding. Yes.

The Committee unanimously agreed to the oral sub-Amendment.

I will now put the oral sub-Amendment to the vote.

The vote is open.


The vote is closed.

I call for the results to be displayed.

The oral sub-Amendment is agreed to.

Thank you.


We will now consider the main Amendment [as sub-amended].


Does anyone wish to speak against the Amendment [as sub-amended]?

No, that is not the case.

What is the opinion of the Committee on the Amendment?

Mr Emanuelis ZINGERIS

Lithuania, EPP/CD, Second Vice-Chairperson of the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy


In favour.

Ms Ingjerd SCHOU

Norway, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


In favour.

Thank you.

I shall now put your Amendment 3 to the vote.

The vote is open.


The vote is closed.

I call for the result to be displayed.

Amendment 3 is agreed to.


I now call Mr FASSINO.. no? We have already dealt with that. That's right.

And now we are on Amendment 2, sub-Amendment, I think.

Then I call Mr FASSINO, on behalf of the Monitoring Committee to support Amendment 2.

You have 30 seconds.


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


Yes. We consider that supplementation is necessary to ensure that all countries naturally engage in behavior that is fully compliant with international law and are bound to perform all their obligations under the conventions to which they have acceded.

Ms Ingjerd SCHOU

Norway, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mr FASSINO.

I call Mr George PAPANDREOU to support the sub-Amendment and you have 30 seconds.


Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic


Yes, I believe that this correct. The member states should be supporting the accession to the treaties, the international treaties, and this should be an important part of this Recommendation.

Thank you.

Ms Ingjerd SCHOU

Norway, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mister PAPANDREOU.

Does anyone else wish to speak against the sub-Amendment?

That's not the case.

What is the opinion of the mover of the main Amendment, Mr FASSINO?

You are in favour.


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

And the vote is open.


The vote is closed.

And I call for the results to be displayed.

The sub-Amendment is agreed to.

Thank you.


We will now consider the main Amendment.

Does anyone wish to speak against the main Amendment?

No, that's not the case.

What is the opinion of the Committee on the Amendment, Mister ZINGERIS?

Mr Emanuelis ZINGERIS

Lithuania, EPP/CD, Second Vice-Chairperson of the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy


Yes, in favour.

Ms Ingjerd SCHOU

Norway, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


In favour. Thank you.

I shall now put Amendment 2 to the vote.

And the vote is open.

And the vote is closed.

And I call for the result to be displayed.

And Amendment 2 is agreed.

Thank you.

We will now proceed to vote on the draft Resolution contained in Document 15821. A simple majority is required and the vote is now open.

And the vote is closed.

I call for the result to be displayed.

And the draft Resolution in Document 15821 is adopted.

Thank you. We will now consider the draft Recommendation contained in Document 15821 to which one amendment has been tabled.

And I call Ms Olena KHOMENKO to support Amendment 6 and you have 30 seconds. She is not here? Here, there you are. 


Ukraine, EC/DA


I am here, Madam Chair.

But I am sorry, I am not sure I have the right file with the Amendments, so could you just...

Ms Ingjerd SCHOU

Norway, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


If you want me to read it for you.

I look here if you have the present text for this Amendment. You must have it correct so. You try.

I read it to you because in the draft Recommendation at the end of paragraph 4 add the following words – I think you have it there – and I say it "and in particular should address the issues of improving the United Nations governing bodies' decision-making process, enhancing accountability for crimes in accordance with international law and enforcing the duty to make reparations for internationally wrongful acts".


Ukraine, EC/DA


Yes, Madam Chair, this Amendment is about revision of the decision-making process in the international organisations which are entitled to keep peace and maintain peace and prevent wars and we see that they are not effective. Russia has its better power and we need to revise the decision-making process. Thank you. 

Ms Ingjerd SCHOU

Norway, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

Does anyone wish to speak against the Amendment? That is not the case.

What is the opinion of the Committee?

Mr Emanuelis ZINGERIS

Lithuania, EPP/CD, Second Vice-Chairperson of the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy


 Yes, by a large majority adopted. In favour.

Ms Ingjerd SCHOU

Norway, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


In favour with a large majority?

I shall now put the Amendment to the vote.

And the vote is open.

And the vote is closed.

I call for the result to be displayed.

Amendment 6 is agreed to. Thank you.

And we will now proceed to vote on the draft Recommendation contained in Document 15821. A two-third majority is required and the vote is now open.

And the vote is closed.

I ask for the result to be displayed.

And the draft Recommendation document 15821 is adopted, thank you.

We will now come to the consideration of the second Report. The Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy has presented a draft Resolution in Document 15842 to which four Amendments have been tabled.

I understand that the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy wishes to propose to the Assembly that Amendments 4, 2, 3 and 1 to the draft Resolution in document 15842 will be unanimously approved by the Committee. Should be declared as agreed to by the Assembly.

Is that Mr Emanuelis ZINGERIS?

Mr Emanuelis ZINGERIS

Lithuania, EPP/CD, Second Vice-Chairperson of the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy


 Yes, Madam Speaker, it is a fact. Thank you. 

Ms Ingjerd SCHOU

Norway, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

Does anyone object?

That is not the case.

As there is no objection I declare that Amendments 4, 2, 3 and 1 to the draft Resolution have been agreed.

I understand – I am looking for Ms Mariia MEZENTSEVA. Where are you sitting? You are there. I understand that Ms Mariia MEZENTSEVA wishes to move an oral sub-Amendment.

I remind the Assembly of Rule 34.7 which enables the President to accept an oral amendment only if it promotes clarity, accuracy or conciliation. 

In my opinion, the oral Amendment meets the criteria of Rule 34.7 and therefore can be debated.

In paragraph 18.5 it is possible. Well, we come back to you but do you want to have the floor, Ms Mariia MEZENTSEVA?


Ukraine, EPP/CD


Yes, dear President, yes dear Ingjerd.

Colleagues, it's very very simple.

According to the three committees which were held recently on possible dialogue with possible oppositions from Russia, Belarus, etc., we are saying and referring to the previous resolution for "keeping the channels of dialogue". We take out the word "co-operation", because we first do the dialogue and then we promote further steps of the co-operation.

We think it's very logical.

The oral Amendment was supported by the Committee.

Please, support it. It's extremely important for our nation and future endeavours with possible opposition.

Thank you.

Ms Ingjerd SCHOU

Norway, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Madam MEZENTSEVA.

Then I have to ask you if there is anyone in the plenary here that objects to this Amendment.

That's not the case.

Than I have to ask: does anyone wish to speak against the Amendment?

That's not the case.

What is the opinion of the Committee, Mister ZINGERIS?

Mr Emanuelis ZINGERIS

Lithuania, EPP/CD, Second Vice-Chairperson of the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy


Madam Speaker, it was unanimously in favour, thank you.

Ms Ingjerd SCHOU

Norway, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly


Unanimously in favour.

So that is clear.

I shall now put the Amendment to the vote.

And the vote is open.

And the vote is closed.

I call for the result to be displayed.

Amendment 4 is agreed to, thank you.

We will now proceed to vote on the draft Resolution contained in Document 15842. A simple majority is required.

And the vote is open.

And the vote is closed.

I call for the result to be displayed.

And the draft Resolution in Document 15842 is adopted. And thanks to all of you in the plenary.

Debate under urgent procedure: Humanitarian situation in Nagorno-Karabakh

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


The next item on the agenda is the debate on the report titled "Humanitarian situation in Nagorno-Karabakh" (Doc. 15840) presented by Mr Domagoj HAJDUKOVIĆ on behalf of the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons.

In order to finish by 7:10 p.m., I will interrupt the list of speakers at about 6:25 p.m. to allow time for reply and vote.

I call Mr Domagoj HAJDUKOVIĆ, rapporteur. You have 7 minutes now and 3 minutes for your reply at the end of the debate.


Croatia, SOC, Rapporteur


Thank you, Mister President, dear colleagues,

At the beginning, allow me to express my utmost sadness and regret at all the human tragedies that have unraveled during the 30-year long conflict in the region.

Being a displaced person myself at a certain point in my life, I assure you I can empathise with anyone on both sides faced with such fate. The series of human tragedies in this part of the world has just gotten a new episode; an exodus of the Armenian population from Nagorno-Karabakh. Our Assembly cannot be silent in the face of such a development.

The Report before you, dear colleagues, this afternoon deals with this humanitarian issue. Before going to the content of the resolution, recommendation, and indeed, Report, allow me a few words about the terminology used. The complexities of the region are maybe most notably reflected in the names and toponyms of the area: Karabakh or Nagorno-Karabakh.

I understand the importance and emotional appeal attached to those, while Armenians in the region tied their ethnic identity to the name--

[He is interrupted by Mr Tiny KOX].

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


One second, could I have order in the hall? Mr rapporteur, please continue.


Croatia, SOC, Rapporteur


Thank you.

While Armenians in the region tie their ethnic identity to the name Nagorno-Karabakh, the Azerbaijani call a broader region than Karabakh. I wish to clarify one thing: why I used and chose to have a report with this name.

So first, the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights referred to this suggestion for an urgent debate then the Presidential Committee referred it to the Bureau, then the Bureau referred it to the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons under the name humanitarian situation in Nagorno-Karabakh.

This is the mandate I got. The name under which I got this mandate, and I felt obliged to follow it. Nevertheless, in the explanatory memorandum, I chose to use both names: Karabakh/Nagorno-Karabakh and other toponyms, reflecting as Azerbaijani's territorial sovereignty over the region and the rights of the Armenians living in this territory.

That being said, Karabakh/Nagorno-Karabakh is a part of Azerbaijan. The territorial integrity of Azerbaijan is not challenged by any of the colleagues here as far as I know.

Nevertheless, the sovereignty of a territory also entails responsibilities for actions taken on it and the protection of people living in it. It was sad to see the mass exodus of the Armenian population fueled by mistrust and fear accumulated over 30 years of conflict and 10 months of humanitarian crisis. The latter we debated, I believe, in the last sitting of our Chamber.

If we wish to achieve lasting peace and stability in the region, a dialogue and peaceful resolution are without an alternative. As mentioned above, with the sovereignty of a territory came responsibility as well.  Azerbaijan must undertake unequivocal, genuine and immediate action, demonstrating its willingness to ensure the safe return and protection of rights of the Armenian population wishing to return.

Armenians from this area are Azerbaijani citizens, and as such, should enjoy protection and the rights as should any citizens of Azerbaijan. I believe it is in the interest of Azerbaijan as well as the Armenian population of the region, and the region as a whole, if we talk about the Caucuses region, that this is settled as soon as possible with a peaceful outcome.

This will require a dedicated, sincere and productive attitude and approach on all sides, but especially Azerbaijan because we are debating the situation on Azerbaijani territory today. I do understand that this will be a long and hard process, but at least we can hope that this Report will be a first step on that way.

Finally, allow me to note on the data I used in the preparation of the Report. The long-standing inability of international organisations to have access to the region, including our organisation, has made it hard to corroborate certain pieces of information since both sides most usually give conflicting claims.

I have been very careful to include only data that can be confirmed by independent international sources. Hopefully, after, the UN and other international institutions will be able to have full access to the region and monitor the situation including our rapporteurs and representatives of this institution, we will have more comprehensive data on our hands.

We have just debated, dear colleagues, the restoration of the credibility of international institutions and our role in this credibility. The credibility of our institutions must be reinforced with readiness to stand up for any human rights violations, with readiness not to be silent in the face of mass exodus, and with the readiness to actively uphold our values and indeed humanity.

Therefore, I call you to support this Report. Thank you.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much, Mister rapporteur, dear Mister HAJDUKOVIĆ.

You will have the possibility to respond at the end of the debate.

First in the debate I now call on behalf of the speakers of the political groups Sir Christopher CHOPE from the UK.

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

You have 3 minutes.

Sir Christopher CHOPE

United Kingdom, EC/DA, Spokesperson for the group


Mister President, this is a really important debate. And displaced people always leads to a tragic situation and we are talking here about 100 000 being displaced in Nagorno-Karabakh and just in the last week 150 000 people or more have been displaced in Gaza. And we know that over the last two or three years perhaps 300 000 people have been forced to leave the Russian Federation and have gone to Armenia.

And the fact that this is happening all over the world doesn't make it any more acceptable.

And I speak in this debate as a member of a political group, which is proud to have both Armenians and Azeris among its members.

Indeed one time, as you will know, Mister President, when I was the chairman of that group, we had both the Armenian and Azeri delegation leaders in our group, and we were all reminded of the rich and complex political history of the South Caucuses in the well attended joint meeting of all three committees involved this morning.

But let's not forget that behind all this is the Russian Federation. Because as puppet master in this conflict, the so-called Minsk process enabled Russia to divide and rule and prevent a peaceful outcome for far too long.

And then in November 2020 Russia agreed to provide 1 960 troops as peacekeepers and yet that counted for nothing when on 19 September they stood aside to allow the Azeris to enter into that territory.

Is it any wonder, therefore, that we have got a crisis like this when the Russian sympathisers in this Assembly continue to create division and to cause division and take advantage of that?

Can I just say that looking at two of the paragraphs of this Report, paragraphs 13 and 14, which are commonsensical, but Amendments 28 and 29 were put forward in order to ensure that those common sense propositions apply to both the Azeris and the Armenians. Surely that makes sense. And I find it disappointing that in too many places this draft Resolution doesn't refer just to the current humanitarian situation, but allows itself to become contentious, divisive, and at times provocative using a language which refers to the background of the current situation in a divisive manner.

And unsurprisingly that has led to retaliatory amendments being tabled, and I don't know how many of those will be debated on later.

But I think that what this shows, is that this Assembly should be uniting together and supporting both Armenia and Azerbaijan in resolving this conflict and it should remind itself as that a lot of this has been facilitated and the conflict has been continued as a result of the manipulation by the Russian Federation.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Chris.

Next in the debate I call Mr Paul GAVAN from Ireland. Paul speaks on behalf of the Group of the Unified European Left.


Ireland, UEL, Spokesperson for the group


On behalf of the United European Left I want to congratulate the rapporteur and call for full support for this Report.

On the 16 June last I spoke in this chamber when reporting on ensuring safe and free access to the Lachin corridor and I said at that time that I had to come to the conclusion that the aim of the Azerbaijan regime was to drive the people of Nagorno-Karabakh out of the region. And it gives me no pleasure to say that subsequent events have proven that to be the case.

This is a very good Report. It's clear and it's a strong condemnation of Azerbaijan for its wholly unwarranted military attacks on the besieged Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The rapporteur correctly highlights the preceding 10-month blockade of the Lachin corridor, the only route connecting the people of Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia, which brought incredible hardships to the people of the region.

It was telling that the Azerbaijani regime consistently denied that any such blockade ever took place, whilst at the same time denying this organisation, including myself, access to the corridor and of course they denied every other human rights organisation access as well.

Assurances from the Azerbaijan delegates that their government had nothing to do with the sudden decision of over a hundred thousand men, women, and children to suddenly leave their ancestral homeland and assurances that the Armenian population would have their human rights respected under this regime, have to be put in context.

This is a regime that consistently tells these people that there's no such place as Nagorno-Karabakh, this is a regime that has been condemned by numerous human rights bodies for how it treats its own population.

According to Amnesty International, freedom of expression, assembly and association remains severely restricted as authorities carry out arbitrary arrests, politically motivated prosecutions, and crush peaceful protests.

According to the Human Rights Watch the regime implements systemic torture and ill treatment of prisoners.

Colleagues, if this is how Aliyev treats his own people, what do you think he is likely to do with the Armenian population?

And I want to put on record my disgust at the brazen cynicism of the representatives of this regime in this chamber. This is extreme right-wing politics in action. The very kind that Mr Samad SEYIDOV warned us about earlier this week.

Armenians have been living in the region for thousands of years. The very first Armenian church in recorded history is the Amaras Monastery in Nagorno-Karabakh, which goes back to the fourth century.

This is their home. And now we've witnessed 100 000 human beings being forced to leave this home.

We need to call this out for what it is: ethnic cleansing.

Dear colleagues, we have to do more than this.

All week people have been speaking to me to ask me when this Assembly will take meaningful action against the Azerbaijani regime. Apparently, even the ethnic cleansing of 100 000 people may bring no consequences.

The Group of the Unified European Left finds this entirely unacceptable.

To conclude, if Europe continues to turn a blind eye to the horrific actions against the Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh, if member states in the Committee of Ministers continue to choose silence and inaction, they are giving a green light for copycat actions throughout Europe.

If this Assembly is to retain credibility, we must finally hold the Aliyev regime to account.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much, Paul.

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

The floor is yours.


Germany, SOC, Spokesperson for the group


Dear President, dear colleagues,

This Assembly is giving today a very clear message.

No country - no country - should cross red lines in this organisation.

Azerbaijan is not just one centimetre before this red line; Azerbaijan is just standing on the red line. One step more, one step more, and one step more towards the core territory of Armenia would mean that Azerbaijan crossed this red line.

This Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe is fed up - this is my impression - with the behaviour of some member countries.

We will not take it anymore. We will use our instruments - all existing instruments.

This is a message from this debate and from the whole week.

And for sure, due to international law - and nobody here, maybe just a few - say this is not right. Nagorno Karabakh, Karabakh, however you call it, is a part of Azerbaijan.

Maybe we didn't make it clear enough towards Armenia as well and Azerbaijan that we expect really to reach a result through negotiation.

But, an act of war is never acceptable for this organisation.

If you call it ethnic cleansing or whatever, this way of closing or not closing the Lachin corridor, to give people the impression that they have no future with the war attack, makes people leave their home and the territory where they lived.

So, we have expectations of this, of Azerbaijan, to really give the population the possibility to have connection to their own houses, to their own properties, to secure the cultural heritage, the religious buildings and symbols in the region.

But, what we are doing and what we are expecting and what we are proposing today is very clear.

We ask the Committee of Ministers and the Secretary-General; we urge them to do more and to use all the possibilities they have.

We are prepared to challenge the credentials of the Azeri delegation as soon as possible - not for everything, but for the question - and this is their responsibility - to give us access to the region.

Mr Paul GAVAN, who spoke before, could not go to where he wanted to go. The core rapporteurs could not go and visit political prisoners in June, as I understand it.

So, we are prepared to challenge the credentials as soon as possible.

We are prepared to use the most important thing we can to start a joint complementary procedure.

At the very end it's very clear: either the country agrees and acts in line with our organisation, or the country has to leave this organisation.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much, dear Frank.

Now, we are going to listen to Ms Boriana ÅBERG from Sweden and she speaks on behalf of Group of the European People's Party. The floor is yours.

Ms Boriana ÅBERG

Sweden, EPP/CD, Spokesperson for the group


Mr President, dear colleagues,

Imagine that you and your family are forced to flee your country in a rush, barely managing to pack a few belongings into a plastic bag before leaving your home behind.

Because you hear the echoes of artillery and see the drones with deadly loads.

Because you fear, because you recall the haunting memories of soldiers taking lives and torturing innocent civilians during the autumn of 2020.

Consider the agony of hunger, the desperation of not having essential medicines for your elderly parents, and the ongoing challenge of feeding your children, all because the only road connecting you to the outside world has been blocked for ten months.

The Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh don't need to imagine; this tragedy is their reality.

What did they do to deserve such a fate? Their 'sin' dates back to 1921 when Stalin's Bolsheviks played games with the people and borders of the Caucasus.

In the aftermath of the Soviet Union's collapse, a lot of miscalculations were made about Nagorno-Karabakh, which led to two bloody wars, in which human rights violations and atrocities were committed by both warring sides.

However, it's crucial to note that during the three past decades, Nagorno-Karabakh has consistently moved towards pluralistic democracy, with free elections, an independent judiciary system and an ombudsman function.

A democracy in strong contrast to Azerbaijan, which has been under the control of the president's family Aliev since 1993.

The report we are debating today expresses hope about a future for the Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians in their ancestral homeland.

But how realistic is this hope? Has Azerbaijan demonstrated a commitment to fulfilling its international obligations, statements, or decisions of the International Court of Justice?

Can a member state force an ethnic minority to starve under blockade and still remain a member of the Council of Europe?

Can a member state deny basic rights like freedom of movement to its citizens and still remain a member of the Council of Europe?

Can a member state engage in ethnic cleansing and still continue to be a member of the Council of Europe?

And what is required to initiate a complementary joint procedure between the Parliamentary Assembly and the Committee of Ministers?

If Azerbaijan fails to secure the rights of Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians to return to their homes and live in peace, it will be a failure for our Assembly too.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much, Boriana.

The last speaker on behalf of the political groups shall be Mr Iulian BULAI from Romania on behalf Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe in Europe. Iulian.

Mr Iulian BULAI

Romania, ALDE, Spokesperson for the group


Thank you, Mister President.

Dear all, we are facing a severe humanitarian crisis. We do not have time to lose, we must address this crisis urgently and now.

Dear ambassador of Azerbaijan, Mister Fakhraddin ISMAYILOV, on behalf of ALDE, I ask you to deliver the following message to your government.

The ALDE group will support actions to deliver these messages to the Azerbaijani government. Any hostilities including rhetoric must be stopped. Any border violation would be unacceptable for a member state of the Council of Europe.

All Council of Europe missions should be on ground and receive full co-operation at all levels. The issue of mass exodus must be urgently addressed and we need a clear roadmap on how it will be dealt with.

All the Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians should receive full guarantees of return to Nagorno-Karabakh.

If all this is not to be echoed, we are willing to use all the tools available to us in order to trigger concrete repercussions.

We all stand, and ALDE stands, for full co-operation with the Committee of Ministers in order to achieve all these elements that have been mentioned.

Thank you.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much dear Iulian.

That concludes the speakers on behalf of the political groups.


Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


The next speaker is Mr Pierre-Alain FRIDEZ, from Switzerland.

Pierre-Alain, you have the floor.

Mr Pierre-Alain FRIDEZ

Switzerland, SOC


During the January session, I was the first speaker in the current affairs debate on the Lachin corridor. The blockade was only a few weeks old, yet things were already clear.

At the time, the Azeri delegation spoke of "fake news", the few acknowledged difficulties being attributed to environmental activists protesting pollution problems in Nagorno-Karabakh. In short: move along, there was nothing to see. The Armenians' regular allegations of difficulties in supplying food, heating oil and medicine to the Armenian population were allegedly lies.

To find out for sure, the Migration Committee appointed our colleague Mr Paul GAVAN to lead a fact-finding mission to the region: without success, as the Azeri authorities backed down and refused to create the conditions for such a visit.

In fact, for a very long time, access to this region has been impossible for any outside observer, with the exception of occasional missions by the UNHCR, an organization which is essential for providing help and assistance in all circumstances, but whose obligation to act with reserve is well known, so as not to risk compromising their access to sensitive areas.

Time passed, and the situation of the local population continued to deteriorate.

And suddenly, last month, just as the Azerbaijani authorities seemed finally open to the beginnings of dialogue with the de facto authorities of Nagorno-Karabakh: the use of force.

I can't help feeling that all this bears an unfortunate resemblance to a well-orchestrated plan of ethnic cleansing. A drama in several acts.

First: a blockade that starves and psychologically destabilises the trapped Armenians for nine months.

Second act: a sudden armed attack with major resources and the passivity of the Russian interposition forces, which inevitably led to a wave of terror among the population, who had been living in hell for months.

Third act: the miracle. The miracle of the Lachin corridor, the miraculous end of the blockade after nine months, but only in the direction of the exit, allowing the terrorised Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh to flee en masse to Armenia, abandoning all their possessions and their past in a hurry.

We've been talking about this subject at every opportunity for months, and all we've received from our Azeri colleagues is cold, constant denial.

This morning in the Committee, some described their attitude as "cynicism" and "arrogance".

The urgent priority today is the fate of the tens of thousands of people uprooted from their homes, who have become refugees. I salute the UNHCR's commitment alongside the Armenian authorities.

The Azeri delegation claims today to want to adopt a constructive attitude. I hope so, but in the past we have too often been disappointed.

I welcome the addition, on the initiative of most of the Assembly's party leaders, to the Resolution and recommendation we are about to vote on, of the means to sanction, where appropriate, in a graduated manner, Azerbaijan's pursuit of an attitude contrary to the values of the Council of Europe.

Thank you for supporting the excellent Report presented by Mr. Domagoj HAJDUKOVIĆ.


Ukraine, EC/DA, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

I am calling the next speaker, Mr Ruben RUBINYAN, Armenia, who represents the Group of the European People's Party.


Armenia, EPP/CD


Thank you, dear colleagues,

I want to first thank the rapporteur for the job he did. It was a challenging job. He did a good job.

Regarding the situation: back in 2001 when Azerbaijan became a member of this organisation it undertook an obligation to solve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict peacefully, not to use force.

In 2020, it waged war against Nagorno-Karabakh.

Our Azerbaijani colleagues confess this openly; that they decided to use force, and they are proud of it. That's a breach of their statutory obligations.

Fast forward three years. Last month they attacked Nagorno-Karabakh again.

Again they called this an anti-terrorist operation - and we all know that they consider all Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh terrorists. And again, they're saying it proudly that they decided to use force - again, a breach of their statutory obligations.

This all - I mean the latest attacks - happened after nine months of blockade.

The intent of this blockade was always obvious. First to starve these people; to make them freeze; then, to attack and open the corridor in one direction.

A couple of months ago, the president of Azerbaijan even said it publicly; that the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh have either to accept the Azerbaijani governance or they may leave, the corridor is open. That is exactly what happened.

But the most cynical and disheartening part of this is the open trolling by our Azerbaijani colleagues, including in this hemicycle.

You remember for nine months, they were saying: what blockade? There's no blockade. The road is open.

The rapporteur would visit Armenia, go to the place where the Lachin corridor starts, he would see that the corridor is completely blocked - they would say no, no, it's open. Then they would amass forces next to Nagorno-Karabakh on the line of contact. Everyone would see that. Everyone would say Azerbaijan is preparing for an attack. They would say no, no, we have no intention to attack. They did attack.

Dear colleagues,

Some of you who were present today at the joint hearing of some committees may have heard that one of our Azerbaijani colleagues here called Armenia "Western Azerbaijan".

This is an illustration of what Azerbaijan has become. It has become a danger, a threat to international security architecture, to international law.

Azerbaijan must be stopped.

I am glad that after years of us talking, many of you have understood that Azerbaijan has aggressive intentions, had aggressive intentions towards Nagorno-Karabakh, and you all saw how it ended.

Now we have to send a clear signal to Azerbaijan. A clear signal, clear actions are needed to show Azerbaijan that they cannot continue their aggressive policies.

Thank you.


Ukraine, EC/DA, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

And now I call Mr Bertrand BOUYX France, who represents the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe. You have the floor.

Mr Bertrand BOUYX

France, ALDE


Thank you, Madam President.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

For months, we have been warning about the cutting off of the Lachin corridor, the route linking the territory to Armenia and providing access and supplies to Nagorno-Karabakh. Today, there are no Armenians left in Nagorno-Karabakh: 120,000 displaced persons fleeing the takeover of the territory by Azerbaijani troops; an ethnic cleansing. These people have lost their homes, their history, everything that made up their lives. 120,000 uprooted people from Nagorno-Karabakh make up 120,000 refugees in Armenia.

So, yes, family solidarity is in full swing here, but these people need to be welcomed, housed, fed and cared for. This should not be Armenia's problem alone: it's the problem of us all, and first and foremost that of Azerbaijan. We cannot want a territory without its inhabitants.

Today, the most urgent need is humanitarian: we know this. My country has made all the necessary humanitarian aid available to Armenia. During her visit to Armenia on October 3, Ms Catherine Colonna, Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs, announced that France had tripled its humanitarian aid to Armenia and the people of Nagorno-Karabakh, to 12.5 million euros since the beginning of the year - with an additional 7 million euros. This is in addition to the efforts of French civil society and local authorities.

Emergency medical aid was also handed over to the Armenian authorities on 29 September, in particular to care for refugees and victims of the explosion of a fuel depot in Nagorno-Karabakh on the evening of 25 September. Other countries must also mobilise to ensure that the large-scale displacement of a population on our continent does not take place in the silence of the international community.

The humanitarian issue does not, however, exhaust the political one. We must reiterate, in every possible way, our support for Armenia's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and our extreme vigilance in ensuring that these are respected.

We need to work with the Armenian authorities to find concrete ways of strengthening our support in all areas, because let's not forget that our continent is first and foremost a community of minds, a community that shares respect for human rights, democratic principles and fundamental freedoms, particularly freedom of expression. This freedom must be guaranteed to the people of Azerbaijan and Armenia alike, wherever they may live.

I therefore call on the countries of our continent to make a strong commitment to resolving this conflict, which has already gone on far too long. This requires direct discussions between governments, which we must facilitate.

Thank you very much.


Ukraine, EC/DA, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mr Bertrand BOUYX.

And now I call to take the floor Mr Samad SEYIDOV, Azerbaijan, European Conservatives Group and Democratic Alliance.


Azerbaijan, EC/DA


Madam President, thank you very much.

I quite clearly understand how difficult it is for the rapporteur to prepare this Report under this unbelievable pressure which we can see. Unfortunately, this is exactly what we have discussed in the previous topic.

Thirty years ago, ladies and gentlemen, one million Azerbaijanis became a subject of ethnic cleansing and 20% of my territory had been occupied. They had only two choices, these poor people: to run away to become refugees or IDPs, or to die. Those who decided to leave became refugees and are still living in the refugee camps, because it is very difficult to return because of the millions of mines in the Karabakh region. But those who decided to stay were brutally killed as in Khojali where overnight, more than 700 kids, women, and older people were murdered. Yes, with this pain, with these problems, with this tragedy we came to the Council of Europe, and we undertook the obligation to find the peaceful resolution of this conflict. But not alone – together with Armenia and for 20 years we asked Armenia, we asked this Assembly, to find a peaceful resolution to this conflict.

What did they do? They occupied more. They said, "No, we're never ready to return these territories" and maybe, my dear colleagues, you have heard any regrets about the one million refugees, which they created. Maybe you have heard any regrets about killing hundreds of kids, women and older people. No, never.

And 100, unfortunately, Armenians from Karabakh left the Karabakh. And as a leader of the Azerbaijani delegation, I say we do regret that they left but they were poisoned – poisoned for 30 years by this propaganda – that we are not able to live together. Yes, we can. We can and that is why we are here.

But the approach that we can see from you, accusation of so-called ethnic cleansing. When we gave everything. We opened our doors. We created registration files. We invited Armenians back and this is not my words, these are the words of the Commissioner of the United Nations. We have been inviting institutions from the Council of Europe in Azerbaijan. We are doing our best to restore justice, human rights and democracy. And we are under fire. Under fire! And again under fire, because of the backsliding of democracy here in this Assembly.

Please return to your values. Please understand that Azerbaijan has done a great job in restoring territorial integrity, which you are dreaming of in Moldova, in Ukraine, in Georgia and I am proud of that.


Ukraine, EC/DA, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mr SEYIDOV.

Now I call Mr Max LUCKS to take the floor.


Germany, SOC


Thank you, Madam President,

Ladies and gentlemen,

What we have just heard was a speech that forgot a few things, and therefore it is perhaps important to mention again that, for example, in 1216 the first Armenian monastery was founded in Nagorno-Karabakh, and Mr. Samad SEYIDOV was stating that Armenian life, Armenian culture, which existed for centuries in Nagorno-Karabakh, has been wiped out within four weeks.

Nagorno-Karabakh is now deserted. Armenian life is extinguished there.

Armenian life is extinguished there because Azerbaijan has decided to expel the people, starve them, cut them off from medical care, and their dictator Mr Ilham Aliyev has long announced this expulsion, famously calling Armenians "rats" or "barbarians."

This is a disgrace to the Council of Europe. This was a breach by Azerbaijan of everything that this House stands for and for which the European Convention on Human Rights exists, ladies and gentlemen.

Was anyone really surprised by this atrocity? I think we should have known before.

Now it is too late for words of warning. If the EU does not impose sanctions on Azerbaijan now, the message is clear: a dictator did not fear any consequences after forcibly expelling more than 100,000 Armenians.

Now action must follow, now effective sanctions must follow. If we do not cancel our gas contracts now, Azerbaijan will be encouraged to commit further acts of war. Mr Ilham Aliyev is playing a game with human lives, and that must be stopped. There must not and will not be any pipeline, any direct connection between Azerbaijan and Nakhchivan through Armenian territory.

If this House does not want to lose its credibility, we must do everything in our power now to protect the state of Armenia and Armenians, through humanitarian assistance and concrete political sanctions.

Never again genocide, never again ethnic cleansing, never again expulsion.

I am very grateful to the rapporteur for finding clear words for that.

Thank you.