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jeudi 24 juin 2021 après-midi

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Ouverture de la séance n° 22

Débat : Rapport d'activité du Bureau et de la Commission permanente (suite)

M. Kimmo KILJUNEN

Finlande, SOC, Président de l'Assemblée

16:05:58

Ladies and gentlemen, I suppose that we are in a situation that the last session for the Assembly meetings this week will start now.

It's starting a little bit late, but step by step people are coming to the Assembly hall, so the sitting is declared open.

Now I have a point of order.

I understood Mr Andrii LOPUSHANSKYI wants to make a point of order.

Please, you have the floor.

Mr Andrii LOPUSHANSKYI, is he online?

Yes, please, the floor is yours.

 

M. Andrii LOPUSHANSKYI

Ukraine, ADLE

16:06:48

Good afternoon.

For the record, I would like to mention that during the vote of the draft resolution on the situation of Crimean Tatars, my intention was to vote for and that my vote could no be registered.

Thank you.

 

M. Kimmo KILJUNEN

Finlande, SOC, Président de l'Assemblée

16:07:14

Thank you very much, Mister LOPUSHANSKYI.

We put your note into the minutes. So it's noted.

Thank you very much. Okay.

Now we move to the Progress Report of the Bureau.

This Bureau sat just now in the afternoon and has proposed several references to the Committees. They are set out in the Progress Report (Doc. 15318 Addendum 4), as you have it. These references must be submitted for ratification by the Assembly, so I will ask: Are there any objections to these references?

I don't see any objections.

The references are approved.

Now we move to the real item, the real first item of this afternoon sitting, “Combating Afrophobia in Europe”. Very, very up-to-date theme to discuss clearly, for very many reasons and we will analyse that during during the debate.

The item will be presented by Mr Momodou Malcolm JALLOW on behalf of the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination. At the end of the debate — after his presentation we'll have a debate —, and before the rapporteur’s reply, we will hear a statement from Ms E. Tendayi ACHIUME, United Nations Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.

So that's how we'll run this session.

Now I call Mr JALLOW, the rapporteur.

You have 10 minutes in total, of which 7 minutes now and 3 minutes later, for your reply.

Please.

 

Débat : Lutte contre l'afrophobie en Europe

M. Momodou Malcolm JALLOW

Suède, GUE, Rapporteur

16:09:08

Thank you very much.

Dear colleagues,

Today is a historic day as we are about to debate, and hopefully, adopt the Council of Europe's first report and resolution paying particular attention to people of African descent in our 70 years of history and existence.

When I was elected to the Swedish parliament for the first time, I took my daughter with me to the opening ceremony dressed in my traditional African attire as it is permitted by the rules of the parliament to have traditional or national outfit on that particular occasion.

As I and my daughter, together with other members of my parliament and their loved ones, followed protocol and slowly went in an orderly fashion towards the parliamentary chambers, I and my daughter were referred to the side of the chamber where the general public were seated. Whilst the rest of my colleagues were referred to the parliamentary chambers accordingly. This was done even though I had a parliamentary badge with my name and picture on it and it says "member of parliament".

They could not reconcile the fact that a black man can also be a member of parliament in Sweden. The notion of incompatibility between being black and European, or between being black and Swede.

And, of course, when I posted a picture of me in parliament in an African traditional attire, it caused a lot of trouble. I became a target of hate, racism and death threats aimed at myself and my family members, not because of my political ideology or any political opinion that I had but for the mere reason that I am a black man and I decided to wear something that expressed my identity as a person of African descent in parliament.

Why is this relevant? Because it is a reality that is shared by so many people, and if it can happen to me as a member of parliament, you can imagine what ordinary people of African descent go through. I got an email from somebody saying "if I had a gun, I would shoot you and kill you, so you do not have to be in this country".  

But I am not going to make this about myself only.

What we are talking about today is the situation of an estimated 15 million people of African descent in Europe, at least. By the way, let me underline the term “estimated”, official figures are lacking in most European countries, where, probably with the best intentions, the authorities avoid referring to people of African decent or ethnic origin in the census. They pretend that skin colour makes no difference. Sadly, that only serves to perpetuate racism rather than address it.

The reality, if we look at the everyday life of black European and residents of African descent, is that there is a big problem. Too often, the intersections between ethnicity, gender, religion and migration background are markers of exclusion and disenfranchisement. If you are a woman, a black woman or a black Muslim woman, then you face multiple discriminations.

In my report, I endeavoured to highlight the nature of Afrophobia, or anti-Black racism, that is pervasive in Europe and increasingly so.

However, the lack of political will to acknowledge, speak out against and address the documented and lived experiences of people of African descent has been one of the most significant barriers in achieving equality for people of African descent in Europe.

There is a profound lack of acknowledgment of Afrophobia and the racism that we face, its dimensions and its historical correlations in political and public debate.

Colleagues,

The cases and patterns of human rights violations affecting people of African descent are not given adequate consideration and attention, even when they are reliably attested.

Issues raised by human rights defenders with respect to racism and racial discrimination against people of African descent are often deflected or ignored.

In general, there is little recognition of the vulnerability of people of African descent and often violations of their human rights are not publicly condemned. Some believe that anti-Black racism only exists in the United States.

Indeed, it is from the United States that, one year ago, a wake-up call resounded and reached Europe. The violent death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis shook us all to the core. It was not the first case of deadly police violence, and sadly it will not be the last.

But the scale and intensity of the protests triggered by that death was unprecedented. Europeans of all backgrounds, especially the younger generations, felt that they needed to act. They joined the movement and the protest. That was not a moment, it is a movement. A real movement that expressed frustration, pain, trauma and solidarity, and that called for change. A movement that was, and still is, deeply and permanently committed to the values of justice and human rights. As political leaders we cannot ignore this call this time around. We must act. For many of them, many of these young people, this was an eye-opener and a window of opportunity.

We have all witnessed the disproportionate impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on people of African descent and other minorities. The text that we are discussing today highlights concepts that most of us know, but still need to be acknowledged officially, in our Assembly texts and in national legislation alike — to start with, that there is a strong link between anti-Black racism and colonial history.

Afrophobia refers to anti-Black racism and it correlates to historically repressive structures of colonialism and the transatlantic slave trade. It is vital to recognise these concepts as, in order to fully address racist discrimination and violence, we must look at their deeper causes, wherever they originate. Fuelled by historical abuses and negative stereotyping, Afrophobia leads to the exclusion and dehumanisation of people of African descent, with a severe, tangible impact.

People of African descent and black people experience systematic discrimination in almost all areas of public life, including access to employment, education, and healthcare. Black people are disproportionately represented in European criminal justice systems. They are often subject to discriminatory policing. They are overwhelmingly the victims of sometimes fatal police violence.

No, that does not only happen in the United States. It happens here in Europe too. There is a George Floyd in every city in Europe. And just like him, we cannot breathe.

And for these injustices and inequality, we have not yet received proper accountability or redress. We are also regularly subjected to racist stereotypes and caricatures, which serve to supposedly justify the systematic discrimination we have faced. The situation in Europe is part of a wider picture that is highly concerning, with brutal police violence and enslavement.

Lastly, we have seen enslavement. We have seen physical and sexual abuse of black people in Libya, thousands of African migrants drowning in the Mediterranean and still we do not act.

History will judge us not only by the eloquence of our words, but by the power of our actions. We have a chance today to show with action that we are actually committed to fight against Afrophobia and all forms of racism. I hope I will get the support in making sure that this report would be a historic report and this moment would also be a historic moment.

Thank you.

M. Kimmo KILJUNEN

Finlande, SOC, Président de l'Assemblée

16:17:17

Thank you very much, Mister JALLOW for your very important statement.

I fully agree, It's a historical moment. It's a very important item for everyone of us to share and discuss.

I have already noted that Ms E. Tendayi ACHIUME, the United Nations rapporteur on these issues will address us after this debate, so that's important.

I have heard a critic during this session, altogether, that the speakers' list has been too long too many times.

Those who have been listed already before hand and have prepared their statements and couldn't address, now I'm pleased to say to you that I try to conduct the meeting so that all those 15 people on the speakers' list could have an opportunity to speak. If you keep it three minutes, we can do that easily.

Now we start the debate. First, obviously on behalf of the political groups.

Ms Petra STIENEN for the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe. She has the first statement.

Please, the floor is yours.

Mme Petra STIENEN

Pays-Bas, ADLE, Porte-parole du groupe

16:18:28

Hello everybody in the Plenary.

I am here from the Hague. I would like to congratulate Mr Momodou Malcolm JALLOW on behalf of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe group for this very important and historic report.  

Let me take you to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Let's look at one of the most famous paintings from the seventeenth century. It is a painting of the civic guard by somebody called Bartholomeus van der Helst. This painting is now part of the "colonial past" tour in the museum and part of the current exhibition on slavery. We see a painting full of white men who stare confidently at the painter. We know the names and professions of all of these men. In the middle of the painting, we can see a young boy. He is Black and he is carrying a red cloak. He looks away from the painter. We do not know his name. He is clearly positioned in this painting as a status symbol, as if he is only an object to look at, but not a human being to be taken into account or even to be named.

I would like to reiterate the quote Mr Momodou Malcolm JALLOW himself just spoke as well from his report:

"The ideas that were used to justify enslavement, the transatlantic slave trade and the practice of slavery seemed to linger in today's collective consciousness in Europe and beyond. Afrophobia is fuelled by historical abuses and enduring negative stereotyping which have led to the dehumanisation of people of African descent, and as a consequence, to their exclusion."

I am sure that in many museums, we can find similar references to the colonial past as in the Rijksmuseum. A better understanding of that past and its impact can change our attitudes towards people of African descent and bring about real change.

Now Mr Momodou Malcolm JALLOW has shared with us on numerous occasions, just as he did right now, his own experiences with racism, online hate and abuse. I am really sorry for this. I think we all are.

Of course, not all of Europe is racist. Of course, many people are allies in this fight against racism, also within our own organisation.

But at times I wonder how long people of colour and of African descent have to continue to do this emotional, taxing labour of sharing their experiences to convince others about the painful consequences of being on the receiving end of racism.

So, this report is a mirror to all of us.

Mr Momodou Malcolm JALLOW has managed, with this report, to show that Afrophobia and anti-Black racism is present at many levels in our member States; but I am also happy to see that he has found many examples of efforts in politics, civil society and cultural sectors to tackle these forms of racism.

On concluding, we see this report as a call to all of us parliamentarians to play an active role in combating racism in all its forms.

I have a question for Mr Momodou Malcolm JALLOW: what does he think would be a good follow-up to this report?

How can we play an active role perhaps in a new chapter of European political parties for a non-racist society?

Thank you Mr Momodou Malcolm JALLOW. Indeed I am so proud to be your friend and to stand next to you in this battle against racism.

Thank you.

M. Kimmo KILJUNEN

Finlande, SOC, Président de l'Assemblée

16:21:51

Thanks, Ms Petra STIENEN.

Mr Momodou Malcolm JALLOW will obviously respond later to you.

You will have the time at the end of the debate to respond to those questions, thanks very much.

The next one is Mr Tural GANJALIYEV on behalf of the European Conservatives Group.

M. Tural GANJALIYEV

Azerbaïdjan, CE/AD, Porte-parole du groupe

16:22:08

Mister President,

Dear colleagues,

First of all, I would like to thank the rapporteur for his work and for drawing our attention to this problematic issue.

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. This idea, which is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, was at the heart of the reconstruction of Europe after the Second World War and serves as the basis of the international human rights system.

Racism and discrimination against people of African descent is pervasive across Europe and in many aspects of life, including work, education, the police and the criminal justice system. To ensure the inclusion of every European citizen, regardless of their racial background, it is essential to recognise and tackle Afrophobia as a unique form of racism that affects people of African descent and Black Europeans.

An estimated 15 million people of African descent live in Europe, making it one of the largest marginalised communities in Europe. People of African descent are a diverse group, while part of the Black population is migrant; others have been present in Europe for several generations with a long history of citizenship.

Discrimination and stigma that are based on physical characteristics or visibility, regardless of nationality or immigration status, are commonplace. People of African descent have been abused for centuries. However, there is widespread denial of this issue.

Discrimination in the workplace is widespread. Unfortunately, barriers are sometimes erected all the time to prevent these people from obtaining jobs that match their abilities and experience. People of African descent are also more vulnerable to police brutality, racial profiling, violence and racist abuse compared to the general population in many countries.

Dear colleagues, in order to combat racism, we must combine our efforts to push for stronger legislation, while reforming our education systems to make them more inclusive and more open. We must also put forward a stronger political will to ensure equal access to education, employment, housing and health care.

Thank you for your attention.

M. Kimmo KILJUNEN

Finlande, SOC, Président de l'Assemblée

16:25:11

Thank you very much, Mister Tural GANJALIYEV.

The next one is Mr Tiny KOX on behalf of the Group of the Unified European Left.

Please.

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Porte-parole du groupe

16:25:25

Thank you very much, Mister President.

On behalf of the group of Unified European Left, I congratulate this Assembly to have this debate today on this resolution on Afrophobia and anti-Black racism. My group wholeheartedly endorses the resolution and salutes rapporteur and my good friend Mr Momodou Malcolm JALLOW for the excellent work done by him and the staff of the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination under difficult Covid-19 conditions.

Mister President, in case this Assembly adopts Mr JALLOW's brave and outspoken resolution, which was already endorsed by Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination, it will be history in the making, as it will be the first resolution ever adopted by this Assembly on anti-Black racism. I urge my colleagues if that would be needed to participate in this history-making and only today but also in the follow-up of this resolution, which calls for national parliaments to implement the proposals made by Mr Momodou Malcolm JALLOW and Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination and to ensure to implement them effectively in their societies. I am looking forward to the rest of debate in which also other colleagues of my group will, of course, participate.

Mister President, once again a big step for this Assembly and a big thanks to our rapporteur and the Committee that as from now we can refer, as an Assembly, to our position regarding Afrophobia, as well as our proposals to remedy this evil, which is hurting millions of Europeans of African descent and endangers the future of so many young children and puts blame and shame to our societies.

Mister President, while we are debating here this subject, the rest of Europe is debating soccer, as the European Championship is on its way. Sunday, I and millions of other Dutch men and women will watch proudly the achievements of our Dutch team. We will be extra proud watching our team's captain Georginio Wijnaldum, who has announced today that he will wear, in Budapest, his One Love captaincy, showing support for the struggle against all kinds of racism including anti-Black racism. His decision to do so has been endorsed by the whole Dutch team, which is a beautiful mixture of all colours, characters and creativity. Many Dutch players are of African descent, to name some Denzil Dumfries, Nathan Aké, Memphis Depay, Patrick van Aanholt, Ryan Gravenberch and, of course, Georginio Wijnaldum, the captain also. With this One Love captaincy, our Dutch team captain brings together great soccer and great support to the ongoing struggle against racism, including anti-Black racism. At the same time, our team captain has said today, loud and clear, that it should not only be players and fans, who support the struggle against racism but that it should also be the big companies who own the clubs and UEFA itself. I hope that that act of solidarity that will be shown on Sunday in Budapest will inspire us as politicians as well.

Once again, thank you very much. Mister Rapporteur. Meanwhile, if you allow me, as Sweden is now out I think, allow us to beat the Germans in the final.

Thank you very much. 

M. Kimmo KILJUNEN

Finlande, SOC, Président de l'Assemblée

16:28:56

Thank you very much, Tiny.

After your presentation I would like to wish you great success for the Netherlands team in the European championship and particularly after Finland was disqualified.

Now we move to Mr Fourat BEN CHIKHA on behalf of the Socialists, Democrats and Greens Group.

M. Fourat BEN CHIKHA

Belgique, SOC, Porte-parole du groupe

16:29:27

Dear colleagues,

I would first like to thank the rapporteur Mr Momodou Malcolm JALLOW on his excellent work on this report.

This is an historic moment and is the first time since the existence of this institution that a written resolution has been created which addresses black people and people of African descent. Now more than ever I hope everyone is tuning in and gives this report and debate the attention it deserves.

Colonialism still plays a vital role today in perpetrating and enforcing prejudice and stereotypes about Black people and people of African descent.

Current day racism and Afrophobia are the legacy of our colonial history. For generations the exact same views and stereotypes have been passed on and made sure that the Europeans still believe that they are superior. Therefore, they are entitled to treat Black people as less.

The European continent is built on the backs of Black people. They have contributed to European development, but its contribution is not adequately acknowledged.

The economic exploitation that dates back to colonialism is linked with the racist attitudes and a present that continues to accept devastating economic inequality between Black people and white people. Structural racism is so endemic in every aspect of our society that it is often nearly invisible, but numbers speak volumes.

According to the Fundamental Rights Agency 25% of people of African descent in Europe have been stopped by the police before. 45% believe it was racially motivated overall. 40% have felt a detriment against the skin colour as often the most commonly identified ground for discrimination. Your skin colour affected your access to housing, employment but also to healthcare.

Racism and Afrophobia is sustained in our society, because it still serves a purpose. It serves a purpose of maintaining the status quo of white supremacy and Eurocentrism. For this reason it is used as a tool by many politicians.

With this report I hope we don't just recognise the pain that has been passed down from generation to generation but also recognise the incredible resilience, strength and determination of Black people and people of African descent.

I conclude, this report is without any doubt historical and I want to thank Mr Momodou Malcolm JALLOW again for his excellent work. It's a true honour to work together with such a driven person.

Thank you very much.

M. Kimmo KILJUNEN

Finlande, SOC, Président de l'Assemblée

16:32:12

Thank you very much.

Now we go to the real speakers' list.

The next one is Ms Béatrice FRESKO-ROLFO, from Monaco.

Please, the floor is yours.

Mme Béatrice FRESKO-ROLFO

Monaco, ADLE

16:32:23

Thank you, Mister Vice-President,

Dear colleagues,

I wanted to thank the rapporteur, Mr Momodou Malcolm JALLOW, for giving us the opportunity to express ourselves on this humanly important subject.

Afrophobia means discriminatory practice for employment or even for access to housing. Afrophobia means racial profiling, stigmatising speech, hate speech and violence. Afrophobia is social and economic inequalities; they are also structural barriers in education and health care. Afrophobia is about human rights defenders harassed, censored and victims of violent repression. Afrophobia is also — as you described it so well during our discussions in Committee — micro-aggressions, those little remarks or reactions that arise everywhere, every day, which seem insignificant to their author but which reveal hurtful attitudes and discriminatory prejudices that weigh heavily in the lives of those to whom they are addressed. But isn't our world coloured and made magnificent, precisely, by these colours?

Mr Rapporteur, dear colleagues,

We find our richness in diversity; we find our wisdom in our differences. We are born with a colour, we embrace a religion or not, we are drawn to a sexual identity. One thing in common: we belong to humanity. Two objectives: equal rights for all and zero tolerance for hate speech. Our modern societies want to be inclusive but, despite great efforts, they still encounter difficulties in achieving this appropriate proportion of multicultural and colourful representation.

I place my trust in our youth. Young people grow up and live with the acceptance of difference. They were touched, like many of us, by the Black Lives Matter movement and I analyse their emotion as a sign of good development in our societies. Young people are ready and also want to mobilise so that their friends, yes, their friends, whatever their colour, their origin, their gender identity, their religion, can have the same rights with a capital R.

Mister Rapporteur, in dealing with Afrophobia, your report deals with the rejection of the other, of the one that we do not know.

I thank you and fully support your report.

M. Kimmo KILJUNEN

Finlande, SOC, Président de l'Assemblée

16:34:43

Thank you, Béatrice.

The next one is Mr Frank SCHWABE from Germany.

M. Frank SCHWABE

Allemagne, SOC

16:34:53

President, thank you.

In Germany, during the European football championships, there's been a widely watched film called Black Eagles. It's about German Black football players who play in the Bundesliga. Many of them also play for the national team.

This film is without commentary. It shows pictures from the past. If you watch this film and see the pictures, you come to realise what Afrophobia means, what racism against Black people means.

This is a particularly severe and perfidious form of racism. Racism is bad enough; but Afrophobia is a particularly severe and discriminatory form of racism.

When you see Black footballers play in a stadium and ape noises are coming from around the stands – this is Gerald Asamoah, he was a member of the German national team, and he also played for FC Schalke 04, one of the best teams in Europe, said the speaker. He was extremely popular in Germany every summer, he was extremely popular with the fans. But a few weeks after his success he was insulted by a group of racists outside the stadium.

We have a duty to do what we can to try to help the very many people of African descent in Europe; what can we do? Gerald Asamoah was asked what could be done about racism. He said you have to be proactive. You have to speak out, you have to write books. 

I would like to thank Mr Momodou Malcolm JALLOW for having presented this report today. I think it gives us an excellent springboard to deal with this issue.

I think you might have heard of local fairs where they're selling racist ice-cream; where the vendors are selling chocolate ice-cream with racist symbols on it. They protest; they say we didn't mean it as racism. We never even thought of that. But I always try to talk to them: why should we use racist stereotypes on our food for example if we know that it hurts and damages some people?

In the security authorities, racial profiling for example should be outlawed. We have to identify cases where it is used.

We need to have a debate. We have to identify the role played by colonialism which is seen as the root of much of the Afrophobia against Black people.

We also need to show greater sensitivity in education and training. We have to have workshops designed to promote tolerance.

We very much support today's report. We hope it will be adopted with considerable support in the house.

Many thanks once again Mr Momodou Malcolm JALLOW for this extremely important and interesting report.

 

M. Kimmo KILJUNEN

Finlande, SOC, Président de l'Assemblée

16:38:23

Thanks very much, Frank.

We are moving from Sweden, back to Mr Momodou Malcolm JALLOW's home country, Sweden, to Mr Thomas HAMMARBERG.

The floor is yours.

M. Thomas HAMMARBERG

Suède, SOC

16:38:41

Thank you very much.

The point is already made. This is a historical moment and this is the basis for a new approach from the Council of Europe as well. Mr Momodou Malcolm JALLOW's report here will be a starting point for further actions to prevent this kind of Afrophobia that we have in our countries. The form of the discrimination is different. It is direct sometimes, indirect sometimes, institutional sometimes.

In Sweden, we have problems here, in Sweden, as well, of course. We have the report that shows that many of the problems here are related to open hate crimes in the streets in the country. We know that there is discrimination against Black people when it comes to employment, and often they are not called for any examination when they have good merits and apply for jobs.

I think the time has now really come to get also at the hidden discrimination which is going on where people do not really recognise openly that they are discriminating, but there is a discrimination there. Therefore, I think the next step must be to analyse what more could be done in order to ensure that this kind of discrimination no longer appears in our societies. This means that the media will have to take more responsibility than they have done so far.

In many of our countries there is a special ombudsman to watch that the media does respect the basic human rights issues, and I think they have a role here. Another aspect, another group of people who have responsibilities here, of course, are all those in the school world. There, there is a need to secure that in the school, in the education. It is made clear that any tendency of Afrophobia will not be tolerated.

Another group, of course, are the police and the police forces. They have a very important role when it comes to ensuring that this kind of discrimination will not continue in the future.

Of course, we politicians, we have to show a good example of this. We have to raise it in our own bodies and secure that this sad type of discrimination will no longer be tolerated in our countries. I congratulate Mr Momodou Malcolm JALLOW for this important report, which makes it possible also for the Council of Europe to play a leading role when it comes to this in the future.

Thank you.

M. Kimmo KILJUNEN

Finlande, SOC, Président de l'Assemblée

16:41:52

Thank you very much, Mister Thomas HAMMARBERG.

The next one, we will hear the voice from Hungary, Mr Zsolt CSENGER-ZALÁN.

The floor is yours.

M. Zsolt CSENGER-ZALÁN

Hongrie, PPE/DC

16:42:01

Thank you for the floor Mr Chairman,

Dear colleagues,

First of all, I congratulate Mr Momodou Malcolm JALLOW for his excellent report.

I would like to point out that the government of Hungary rejects all forms of racism. Its foreign policy is based on mutual respect.

The Hungarian government is committed to deepening co-operation with African countries based on mutual respect and benefits.

We are looking forward to the next European Union-African Union Summit that will provide excellent opportunities to define the priorities of co-operation with our African partners for years ahead.

Hungary has been working on revitalising its political and economic relations with the countries of sub-Saharan Africa since 2015. We have reopened three embassies in the region, as well as an office in Uganda. Hungary is now represented, all together, in seven countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

The Hungarian government signed agreements with several African partners on economic co-operation and political dialogue. Several mutual high-level visits took place in recent years, before the pandemic. With the aim of continuing this process in a constructive and systematic manner, the Hungarian government adopted a decree on Hungary's Africa strategy in April 2019.

We will continue with our trading programmes, development, co-operation, educational programmes and co-operation with the third countries in Africa and key areas.

Hungary has been participating in Africa peace support operations in the past years in order to contribute to stability in the continent.

We also emphasised the role of education and training in sustainable job creation. The Hungaricum Scholarship Programme is a higher education grant programme, launched by the Hungarian government in 2013. In this framework, the Hungarian government offers scholarships to its partners on the basis of bilateral agreements. In the academic year 2021, more than 2,000 African students from 15 countries registered to study at one of our higher education institutions with this scholarship programme. The number of partners and the scholarships offered are growing year by year.

Thank you very much for your kind attention.

M. Kimmo KILJUNEN

Finlande, SOC, Président de l'Assemblée

16:45:10

Thank you very much.

Now we move to Switzerland, to Mr Pierre-Alain FRIDEZ, or is it "Monsieur"?

M. Pierre-Alain FRIDEZ

Suisse, SOC

16:45:18

Thank you, Mister Vice-President.

This report is particularly important — essential, I would say — and its observation is clear and without appeal.

We are certainly a little too inclined to believe that this has happened, that living well together has become the rule overall. Our society would testify on a daily basis to the values to which it claims — respect, tolerance, fraternity — and yet, sometimes, the awakening can be very brutal.

This important and essential report, I repeat, is a cold reminder of where we really are; a good booster shot, after all.

The last US presidential campaign brought to the fore the most outrageous and unbearable, vomit-inducing, anti-Black racism: the unbearable live death of Georges Floyd, the arrogance and the equally unbearable language of the white supremacists addicted to weapons. And, closer to home, the words, the allusions, the often heavy jokes, the annoyances, when they are not assaults, the way people look at people of colour.

The report is relevant, reasoned and solid. Many thanks to its author, our rapporteur.

Latent racism continues, without making too much noise, to weave its odious and deadly web. History, the colonial past, the double-barreled racial theories of white supremacy have permeated the reptilian brains of many Europeans. It's so easy to find a suitable scapegoat to pass on your frustrations, hatreds and fears. Fear: the word is said and allows to push a little further, as the rapporteur has done, the analysis of the etymology of the word Afrophobia. "Phobia" means fear and we find this word as a suffix at the end of a whole series of words that we will qualify as sordid: Afrophobia, xenophobia, homophobia, Islamophobia. It is cited in the report.

The fear of the other, if we summarise, has taken on a connotation of hostility, aversion, detestation, stigmatisation, hatred, when it is not violence, with, in the end, the rejection of the other. This rejection, this detestation of the other, leads to all of these excesses, all the exclusions, all the extremisms. Anti-Black racism contravenes the values which are the basis of the great principles of our Organisation, our Assembly, and this racism must be combated by law and education.

Excesses must be sanctioned on the basis of clear legislation which pursues unacceptable abuses and, above all, through education, in particular of our children, information and the unlimited promotion of multiculturalism and living well together. We must tirelessly contribute to the construction of a more fraternal and tolerant world, a just world respectful of every human being whoever they are. And it has to start today.

M. Kimmo KILJUNEN

Finlande, SOC, Président de l'Assemblée

16:48:22

Thank you, Mister Pierre-Alain FRIDEZ.

Next, from the United Kingdom, Sir Tony LLOYD, please.

Sir Tony LLOYD

Royaume-Uni, SOC

16:48:32

Many congratulations to our rapporteur Mr Momodou Malcolm JALLOW, on what is an excellent report.

But I do want to echo something he made very clear, that his call is not simply for support, it is for action, and we need action. We need action in countries like my own, where yesterday, we saw a prison officer convicted of manslaughter when he kicked to death and tasered to a reasonable degree a man called Dalian Atkinson, a former professional footballer, who played at the highest levels of football in the United Kingdom's Premiership League. 

Now, for someone so high-profile to die in the way he did is shameful to me, shameful to my country, but frankly shameful to the cultural inheritance we have that led up to that. We had some events recently, when England played Croatia, in the first game of the European Championship. When the England team took the knee in supporting the Black Lives Matters movement, there was some booing in the crowd. Fortunately, that was drowned out by the overwhelming majority. But nevertheless, we have racism in British society, Afrophobia in British society.

We must deal with it because we know that a young black male, in particular, is more likely to end up in our criminal justice system, is more likely to find himself at the end of stop and search for no very good reason. To be prosecuted for things that would not lead to a charge against members of my own family, to say. That cannot be right.

We know that health is worse for those from black backgrounds. We found it during the recent Covid-19 crisis, people's health is worse from the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) community generally, but from the black community in particular. So huge challenges. Actually, young black men are more likely to die in violence than others and we have got to challenge that as something that is unacceptable in our society.

So I do want to thank Mr Momodou Malcolm JALLOW for his report because it is a call to action. It is a call to action. It is a call to our consciences. We have got to change attitude towards people of African descent and change attitudes to Africa. It still is not right that in this world of ours, it is a lot more likely that people will die of malaria or Ebola fever because the world does not treat them seriously, in comparison, to say, with the way rightly we dealt with Covid-19. 

These are wake-up calls, but I think one wake-up call I would want is to repeat the words of Nelson Mandela who said "no one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate. If they can learn to hate they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite."

Let's take that as a signal that education, changing attitudes, changing cultures is possible, and it is something we must do.

Thank you Mr Momodou Malcolm JALLOW.

M. Kimmo KILJUNEN

Finlande, SOC, Président de l'Assemblée

16:51:46

Thanks, Sir Tony LLOYD.

Next one, Mr George KATROUGALOS from Greece, please.

M. George KATROUGALOS

Grèce, GUE

16:51:54

I would like, above all, to thank Mr Momodou Malcolm JALLOW, my friend and comrade, Momodou, for this report.

It has been already said that it is a historical report. The first of its kind. but this says a lot, not just about our prejudices, but about how we avoid to look directly at the eye of the problems. Because, of course, Afrophobia is the racism par excellence. It is colour that is the first thing that triggers racism, because nobody can hide the colour of their skin.

However, the colour of the skin is not the only thing that cannot be hidden. Poverty cannot be hidden either. The Black people's problem is that, exactly as we have all of us overlapping identities, most Black people are facing overlapping exclusions. All of them are re-inforcing each other, intertwined, in a vicious cycle. Imagine racism based on colour, plus Islamophobia toward the Black people who have this religion, plus xenophobia toward those who are refugees.

Of course, he's very right, the rapporteur, to associate this type of racism with colonialism, but we must bear in mind there is a legacy of colonialism, to neocolonialism, where the direct political domination has been replaced by an indirect economic one.

In the suburbs of Paris and another big capitals, the descendants of people from Africa do not have any kind of lesser juridical status, but ask them if they feel fully integrated in society.

My comrade, Mr Tiny KOX, and also Mr Frank SCHWABE, have used examples from sport. I don't have to speak excessively. I would like to speak on another positive example coming from Greece. We have a famous NBA player of Nigerian origin, Giannis Antetokounmpo. He managed to survive exclusions and managed to succeed based on his own forces, but also because he was not excluded by the school system in Greece, which allows even children of irregular immigrants to have access to it.

My final point is that there are just overlapping inequalities. Decades of struggle have given us a weapon: human rights, whose action and indivisibility could connect as seeds against exclusion, but also as weapons to promote a better treatment.

Again, many many thanks to Momodou.

M. Kimmo KILJUNEN

Finlande, SOC, Président de l'Assemblée

16:55:16

Thanks very much.

The next one is Ms Kate OSAMOR from the United Kingdom.

Please.

Mme Kate OSAMOR

Royaume-Uni, SOC

16:55:26

I would like to congratulate the rapporteur Mr Momodou Malcolm JALLOW on this important to report. May I start by saying, over the last 50 years little has been done to tackle structural racism affecting Black communities in the United Kingdom, concerning employment, education, health, housing, stop and search, and public life. The efforts to tackle racial inequality remain rhetoric-based on quick wins, which are contradicted by austerity measures, which hit ethnic minority women the hardest.

Since the murder of George Floyd, the UK is witnessing the ever-increasing importing of a Trump-style culture war. The Conservatives are trying to close down any discussion on structural inequality. At the end of a House of Commons debate to mark Black History Month, the Equalities Minister said, "any school which teaches these elements of critical race theory or which promotes partisan political views, such as defunding the police without offering a balanced treatment of opposing views is breaking the law."

The Prime Minister commissioned a report on race and ethnic disparities, which heavily downplayed issues of racism in society. We saw this week, the House of Commons Education Select Committee report into white working-class boys claim the discourse around white privilege can be divisive. May I add that no child should be left behind.

With a backdrop of teaching Black history on school's curriculum as optional, issues surrounding racism in the UK has still not been resolved, and Black people will continue to face discrimination and disadvantage.

This Assembly has a platform that could facilitate a high-level conversation launching a race equality policy for Europe alongside experts in the field, similar to the Istanbul Convention.

In closing, there was a period in history when few Europeans doubted their innate superiority over the lesser races of the world, which aided and abetted the scramble for Africa and, ultimately, slavery. The Council of Europe is the beacon for democracy. The Parliamentary Assembly must stand ready to tackle racial inequality head-on by tackling the inheritance of structural barriers affecting Black communities due to the legacy of slavery.

I commend this report, and I wish the rapporteur any support that he needs from us in the UK and more importantly from the Socialist Group going forward. Thank you.

M. Kimmo KILJUNEN

Finlande, SOC, Président de l'Assemblée

16:59:11

Thanks, Madam Kate OSAMOR.

Now we move to the neighbouring country of the UK, Ireland.

Mr Paul GAVAN, please.

M. Paul GAVAN

Irlande, GUE

16:59:25

Good afternoon,

I want to warmly congratulate my friend and comrade Mr Momodou Malcolm JALLOW on this excellent report.

I believe it will be historic when we pass this report today and absolutely essential. It's long overdue from the Council of Europe to acknowledge the link between contemporary racism and colonial history enslavements and the transatlantic slave trade. I can't emphasise enough just how important I think the issue of education is in this regard.

When I grew up in England, before coming home to Ireland, I can tell you we never learnt anything in terms of the colonial past of Britain. I think it's still a key issue today, right across Europe, that has to be tackled.

It's essential that we recognise Afrophobia as a form of racism that targets people of African descent and black people and manifests itself through acts of direct and indirect institutional discrimination, as well as violence including hate speech. I think the most important words that have been issued here today in terms of what's happening across Europe is to recognise that it is both structural and institutionalized racism, and it does cross all aspects of our lives. I was reading reports this morning in the Irish Network Against Racism. and I'll just quote from it.

It said that their investigation showed that "Afrophobia occurs in a wide variety of social situations including on buses, in schools, takeaways, taxis, state offices, and neighbourhoods" and here's the important part "it stems from attitudes and behaviours that are learned in our society". I think it's really important that we recognize that there's a worrying rise in racist incidents here in Ireland. I'm afraid to say, there were 700 incidents recorded last year including 59, sorry 51 race assaults and a record 594 hate-speech incidents.

Now, I am glad to say that the Irish government is preparing legislation to tackle the issue of hate speech. Iit's due in our Parliament before the end of the year or so we're assured. But what we haven't done is what Momodou asks for in this report which is to really set up an action plan to tackle institutionalized and structural racism in our society.

I notice that this isn't the first time action plans have been called for in relation to Ireland. The European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance made the same call in a report two years ago. I think the crucial thing is to recognise how important this report is and to act on it.

Certainly, my party will bring this message home very clearly to Ireland, to the need for an action plan to combat racism.

I want to congratulate my colleague Momodou. As someone who is impartial now, because Ireland aren't taking part in European championships, I think Mr Tiny KOX has won my support for the Netherlands with his speech today.

Thanks indeed.

Bye bye.

M. Kimmo KILJUNEN

Finlande, SOC, Président de l'Assemblée

17:02:26

Thanks that you're all informing who you're supporting in the championships.

Let's now go to Ukraine, Mr Oleksandr MEREZHKO. Your team is still qualified there, I have understood.

But now to the substance.

 

 

M. Oleksandr MEREZHKO

Ukraine, SOC

17:02:40

Thank you.

Thank you, Mister Chairman.

Dear colleagues,

As a student many, many years ago I had a privilege to study at the Institute of International Relations in a very diverse cultural and ethnic environment. The majority of my colleague students at that Institute I had been studying with at that time were from African countries, from Asian countries and other parts of the world. Since that time, I have learned to appreciate the importance of cultural and ethnic diversity for our development.

I also remember cases of crimes committed against my fellow students from African countries motivated by racism and xenophobia. One episode has particularly stuck in my memory. A strike of foreign students caused by the murder of a foreign student in the late 80s, which was unthinkable in Soviet times. It turned out that the Soviet system, despite its rhetoric, was not immune to racism.

Dear colleagues, by communicating with people from other countries and of different national backgrounds, we learn to better understand the world we are living in and ourselves. Such an experience teaches us to be more open and to overcome stereotypes and unjustified generalisations which might exist in our societies.

Unfortunately, even nowadays we still might encounter some shameless cases of what we call Aphrophobia, which is a kind of racism and xenophobia. What could be a solution to this serious social problem? In my opinion, the answer could be cultural enlightenment. We should learn to see cultural ethnic and racial diversity as an asset, enriching our societies culturally.

Governments and universities should develop programmes encouraging and inviting more foreign exchange students from African states. There should also be a special training programme of law enforcement officers aimed at teaching them how to deal with crimes motivated by racism and xenophobia and how to prevent those crimes.

Our political systems should promote success stories of people of African descent. Let me give you just one example.

In the Ukrainian parliament, in our political faction, the Servant of the People, one of my colleagues, Zhan Beleniuk, whose father came from Rwanda, is a world and Olympic champion in Greco-Roman wrestling. He is a true pride of Ukraine. His example is an inspiration for many young people in Ukraine.

Dear colleagues, I hope that the most of such examples we have, the sooner we will be able to overcome Afrophobia in our countries.

Thank you.

M. Kimmo KILJUNEN

Finlande, SOC, Président de l'Assemblée

17:05:24

Thank you very much, Oleksandr.

The last on our speakers list is Mr Hişyar ÖZSOY from Turkey.

Please.

M. Hişyar ÖZSOY

Turquie, GUE

17:05:34

Thank you. Thank you, Mr Chair,

I also would like to congratulate Mr Momodou Malcolm JALLOW for this short, but excellent report, both in terms of content and style.

Let me first say a couple of things about the content. I found this report to be very radical. I know oftentimes people do not like the word "radical" but I use this in a very specific sense.

By radical, I mean it captures the very root causes of the problem and it addresses those very roots with specific proposals.

What do I mean by root causes?

I mean when you look at the report, when you read it in some detail, you see that there are repeated references to the institutional and structural and systemic nature of contemporary anti-Black racism. This racism is not just some, say, white people who have some bad racist ideas about about some Black people. We should not characterise the issue. What this report shows us is that anti-Black racism is deeply rooted in violent histories of colonialism and slavery, which has historically worked as key components of global capitalism, to put it very simply.

So the other point that we see in the report is that colonialism and slavery are not things that remained in the past – because most of the time people say colonialism was 200 years ago, or 100 years ago – but this report is suggesting that colonialism and slavery does shape our societies, structures our relationships and our institutions, through racial lines in the very present.

And so we have racism when it comes to labour markets, political representation, access to education, housing, health services, social services, as well as policing.

One other important issue that is raised in the report is the notion of intersectionality – which many other speakers also refer to – that we have multiple identities. Definitely there is a problem of overlapping exclusions in the case of say being a poor, black Muslim woman. You see all different forms of exclusion and discrimination that can come together in the lives of single person.

There are so many nice things, actually, that I can say about the report. But finally, I would like to express my appreciation of how the Rapporteur actually used the report to give a voice and visibility to a lot of Black institutions and persons and civil society organisations, who are working for racial justice across Europe.

I mean the very way of giving this space to those Black voices and those people is very important.

I would like to just thank you very much, Mr Momodou Malcolm JALLOW, I did not know this was the first [such] report in 20 years. So in that sense, you just both wrote and made history. I congratulate you for that.

Thank you. 

M. Kimmo KILJUNEN

Finlande, SOC, Président de l'Assemblée

17:08:56

Thank you very much indeed for the discussion.

I also thank very much Mr Momodou Malcolm JALLOW for the report itself.

This has been a very valuable discussion in very many ways. We human beings are different, but we are equal. The basic issue of humanity, obviously, is to respect each other. The most natural thing, obviously, is that we are also by colour etc. different, even in gender we are different.

Let's understand equality and non-discrimination.

Thanks very much indeed for this discussion.

We will now have the special rapporteur for the UN. In honour of this theme, I'm very pleased actually to offer our president, actually, do follow me now the discussion and inviting the UN special representative to come here.

Thank you very much for this discussion. I have been very much respecting your statements, all of you.

Thank you.

M. Rik DAEMS

Belgique, ADLE, Président de l'Assemblée

17:10:26

Good afternoon all of you.

Mister Momodou Malcolm JALLOW, I heard all these good things about you but that's not new.

Allow me now to welcome Ms E. Tendayi ACHIUME, I hope I said that name right, who is the United Nations Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.

I would really like to welcome you, Madam E. Tendayi ACHIUME.

Did I say that right?

No. Not really.

How is it?

Okay, okay. I'll just continue.

Special Rapporteur, Professor, we absolutely look forward to your intervention.

I would like to congratulate you for your outstanding contribution to academic research on the topics of structural discrimination, decolonisation, refugee protection, global migration.

Obviously, permit me to emphasise the need to raise public awareness on the issue of racism and ensure equal opportunities of economic and social participation, counteract the use of racist and xenophobic language in all areas of society including in the digital space. Obviously.

I also would like to highlight the importance of furthering the discussion on the rise in racism and xenophobia that we have been witnessing, unfortunately, during this pandemic.

I also would like to stress the importance for national policymakers, all of us in here are all national policymakers too, to take structure and intersectional discrimination into account when implementing and evaluating both pandemic response measures and recovery measures to tackle discrimination in all spheres of society, in particular in healthcare, education and employment.

Without any due delay, Professor, if I may say so, you have the floor.

Mme E. Tendayi ACHIUME

Rapporteuse spéciale sur les formes contemporaines de racisme, de discrimination raciale, de xénophobie et de l’intolérance qui y est associée

17:12:32

Thank you very much, Mister President. I would like to thank you for permitting me to join this important discussion today, and I would also like to thank you for accommodating my different time zone. 

It is really a great pleasure to welcome the report and the discussion today on combatting Afrophobia or anti-Black racism in Europe, presented by Mr Momodou Malcolm JALLOW.

I had the pleasure of meeting with Mr Jallow last year as he prepared this report. I found his expertise and commitment to fighting discrimination to be both impressive and inspiring. Mister Jallow, I commend you on a very strong report. I think it is often assumed the work of fighting against racism and advocating for equality is like any other job in terms of the personal difficulties or the personal difficulties that it presents. Nothing could be further from the truth. As Mr Jallow notes in his report, he has come under direct personal attack, facing racist and xenophobic abuse because of his commitments to fighting racial discrimination. Mister Jallow, I commend you for your fortitude. Honourable Members of Parliament, especially those of you who never have to worry about xenophobic or racist attacks that would threaten your lives, I urge you to show your commitment to equality by taking the action recommended in Mr Jallow’s report, and in the Draft Resolution under consideration today.

The report before you speaks to a truth that people of African descent experience every day across Europe. Afrophobia or anti-Black racism is real, it is a fact, and most importantly, it is a reality that demands urgent attention at all levels, including at the level of the Council of Europe. As highlighted in the report, anti-Black racism manifests in violent attacks against Black Europeans. It manifests in the prevalence of racist and xenophobic stereotypes that persist in media portrayals of people of African descent. It manifests in structural and institutional forms that mean that Black Europeans earn less, and have poorer health and educational outcomes all because of the complex forms of discrimination that confront them in European societies. In order to change this reality, urgent action is necessary specifically to address anti-Black racism.

As Mr Jallow’s report highlights, and as is emphasised in the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, contemporary anti-Black racism is deeply informed by history. For Europe especially, its role in the enslavement and trade in Africans and the colonisation of the African continent, as well as its failure to fully grapple with the legacies of slavery and colonialism, have entrenched anti-Black racism in European societies. The presentation of this report and the draft resolution mark important opportunities to strengthen efforts to fight against this entrenched racism, and to build European societies that guarantee human rights for all, irrespective of skin colour. As parliamentarians, you shoulder great power and responsibility in this regard.

I want to conclude by calling attention to some of the recommendations for concrete actions of the report. I am limiting myself to only a few of these recommendations in the interests of time.

The report stresses the need of reliable disaggregated data on the basis of ethnicity to inform the elaboration and implementation of effective policies to combat racial discrimination against people of African descent. The Council of Europe and member States should allocate adequate financial, human and technical resources to improve the quality of data collection systems, while guaranteeing the protection of privacy and also in consultation with civil society in the process.

Political participation of people of African descent and Black Europeans is crucial to achieving racial equality. The report offers concrete guidance on how to facilitate this political participation. I urge you to take firm action in this regard.

A serious barrier to addressing the contemporary legacies of racial discrimination rooted in colonialism and slavery is ignorance and the lack of awareness among the public regarding the persisting racially discriminatory legacies of slavery and colonialism. In this regard, educational measures to ensure national and international consciousness of the scale, scope and contemporary legacies of racial discrimination are crucial in the elimination of systemic racism and structural discrimination against people of African descent.

Finally, I urge you to fight tirelessly for the full implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in your respective countries and also for the implementation of the National Action Plans that would move forward the steps highlighted in Mr Jallow's report.

I thank you again for permitting me to address you today.

M. Rik DAEMS

Belgique, ADLE, Président de l'Assemblée

17:17:32

Thank you very much for your contribution.

I now would like to refer to Mr Momodou Malcolm JALLOW.

If you wish to reply you have 3 minutes.

Mic.

M. Momodou Malcolm JALLOW

Suède, GUE, Rapporteur

17:17:53

Thank you, thank you, Mister President,

Let me just take this opportunity to thank all these amazing members of parliament, colleagues and comrades for your very, very important comments. I wish I had time to be able to thank you individually, but unfortunately, I do not have time but I really, really appreciate your comments on this report. You did it with such eloquence.

Let me also take this opportunity to thank and express my sincere gratitude to Mr Giorgio LODDO, sitting right next to me here, who did an amazing job in assisting me in this process, and Ms Penelope DENU, and the entire Secretariat and the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination for the immense support and inspiration. I really appreciate it. Without you, this would not have been possible.

There is a significant part of this history being made today. One of the colleagues, Ms Petra STIENEN, did ask the question, what next? I think that is a very interesting question and as I mentioned, this is a call to action. It is a call to action more than anything else. A call on national parliaments to implement the resolutions and the recommendations that we have on this report. It is important that we have national action plans, that every member State creates a national action plan where you can explicitly express how you intend to fight against this form of racism. It is important that we do that. Media has its role. We need to collect data that is disaggregated by race in order to be able to know the extent to which people are affected by racism. Without that, we will not be able to know. As it is said, if you do not count, then we do not count.

Let me also talk about the role that we have as an institution, as guardians of the values of human rights, democracy and rule of law. Values that must be translated, first and foremost, into action for equality and non-discrimination. The Council of Europe has a duty to ensure that member States recognise the existence of institutional and structural racism. They must take political action to address the consequences of this scourge which continues to affect millions of European citizens.

And on that, I want to thank the special rapporteur, Ms E. Tendayi ACHIUME, for emphasising the importance of acting and not just having this eloquent document and not doing something about it.

Finally, let me just say a few words. I started by giving examples but I wanted you to take away questions that I have for reflection. Have you ever wondered why after enslaving black people, ending enslavement of black people, reparations were paid to the enslavers and never to the enslaved people? Have you wondered why? Have you ever wondered why King Leopold of Belgium can kill 10 million black people and yet, when we call his name, he does not provoke fear but we celebrate him by having statues in the middle of Brussels? Have you ever wondered why thousands of black men, women and children can drown in the Mediterranean and yet we do not have a Twitter storm, we do not have leaders saying this has to stop, but rather those who succeed in coming through are sent back to Libya to be enslaved and we see this and we do nothing?

So the question is, why are we so indifferent to the plight of black people? Why do we not act? Now we have an opportunity, we have a chance and we have a choice. Let this be the starting point where we forever or never except the kind of scourge and racism that black people go through every single day on this continent.

Let's take the leadership role and make sure that everybody else will follow. So I thank you very much for this opportunity and I look forward to the voting because, as I said, this is a historic moment and I am very proud to be part of this institution.

Thank you.

M. Rik DAEMS

Belgique, ADLE, Président de l'Assemblée

17:21:56

Thank you, Mister Momodou Malcolm JALLOW.

Does the chairperson of the committee wish to speak?

You have 3 minutes.

Mme Petra BAYR

Autriche, SOC, Présidente de la Commission sur l'égalité et la non-discrimination

17:22:04

There are about 15 million people of African descent living in Europe.

It is the very first report in 72 years where our Assembly really has a focus on these people, one year after the murder of George Floyd. Even if the report comes very late, I am really grateful that the report comes and I am very grateful to you, that you really made it happen, and that you put this important focus onto this issue.

Racism is quite often a topic. Anti-Black racism is not so often a topic and, it was mentioned, it is a very special form of racism. It is especially cruel as there is this visible difference, a difference, which you cannot get rid of. I do not want anybody to get rid of this difference because this difference is a value, as well, and there is no need to deny descent.

 As you mentioned, I think, it is by the way, not enough to say "I am not a racist". It is important to say, "I am an anti-racist", and that you really have to get action, that you really take action and that you also show civil courage if it is necessary to do so. That was also, I think, your appeal to all of us: to get from words to actions. There are so many reasons for action. If I just look at the figures published by Oxfam last year, that about double as many people of colour died in Great Britain from Covid-19 then white people. That is incredible. That cannot be. We have the means, we have the measures, we have the possibilities. That's structural racism and we have to fight the structural racism. I could continue with dozens of examples where we faced the structural racism. Iit is so obvious that it is really a shame that we live in a society that still takes it and does not take action immediately.

I also very much agree with the thoughts about colonialism. I would not frame it as a heritage because I think we are still in a very colonialist, economic system where, at the periphery, the resources, the labour force, the workforce come quite cheap to us as consumers in the centre of the world. That is not easy to overcome because we really, I think, we have to change our economic system to change the thinking. My friend, my good friend, Ulrich Brand, wrote a very good book about it on the way the imperial way of living is still within our societies.

I hope that in the near future, we, on the one side, can much more use the no hate speech, the no hate alliance, to engage for this topic. To be honest, I am a little bit shocked. It might be because we are in the middle of the European soccer championship, or however you call it, but I am a little bit shocked that so many colleagues used the example of black sportsmen, as if black people did not have many talents, and not just being muscle men and not just being tough and tight but also having other great, great, great knowledge they can share with us. I do not think that anybody had bad intentions, but I really have to mention that.

Thank you very much, Mister Momodou Malcolm JALLOW, for this important report.

I hope by tomorrow we get from speaking to action. All the best with that.

Vote : Lutte contre l'afrophobie en Europe

M. Rik DAEMS

Belgique, ADLE, Président de l'Assemblée

17:26:04

Thank you, Madam Chair.

So now we come to the draft resolution.

Normally, Mister Momodou Malcolm JALLOW, you should get nervous now. You never know what a vote is going to do in a hemicycle.

Just teasing a little bit, but I think I'm allowed to do so.

Dear colleagues, draft resolution. The Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination has presented a draft resolution which is Document 15306 to which three amendments have been tabled.

I understand that the Chairperson of the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination wishes to propose to the Assembly that all three amendments which were unanimously approved by the Committee should be declared as agreed by the Assembly.

Is that so, Madam Petra BAYR?

I see a thumbs up, so I take it as a confirmation.

Does anyone object? if so please ask for the floor by raising your hand.

I'm doing this slowly Mr Momodou Malcolm JALLOW to make you a little bit nervous. But doesn't work I see. I don't see anyone doing that.

Okay. This means that I declare Amendments Nos. 1, 2 and 3 to the draft resolution to be agreed.

Thank you for that.

Then we will now proceed to vote on the draft resolution contained in Document 15306 as amended by the three amendments.

The vote is open.

We close the vote.

Results please.

Congratulations Mr Momodou Malcolm JALLOW, you deserve it. You worked hard for it, and it's a very nice result.

I would now, in between two reports, would like to call on my vice-President Mr Oleksandr MEREZHKO to come here to preside over the next item.

M. Rik DAEMS

Belgique, ADLE, Président de l'Assemblée

17:28:28

But, before doing so, I would like to share with you - let me stand up to do so - an important moment in the career of a person who has contributed in the shadows, as they say, to  the work of the Council of Europe effectively since - I hardly dare say it - July 17th 1979. So quite a while!

I would like to thank Madame Claire DUNCOMBE - I hope I am pronouncing your name correctly?

Dear colleagues, Madame Claire DUNCOMBE (applause) who is a sound engineer in the service of ITEM, I am told.

Dear Claire, I'd like to thank you for all your hard work throughout your career.

I would like to wish you a pleasant retirement, but I would like to all the same say that, dear colleagues, if we can be heard, it's thanks to Claire!

Well deserved!

(Applause)

Demande d’explication de vote

Mme Sena Nur ÇELİK

Turquie, NI

18:34:54

For the record, I would like to mention that during the vote on the report "Combating Afrophobia in Europe", my intention was to vote for.

Débat : Transparence et réglementation des dons de sources étrangères en faveur de partis politiques et de campagnes électorales

M. Oleksandr MEREZHKO

Ukraine, SOC, Président de l'Assemblée

17:35:03

Dear colleagues,

We're starting the last part of our June session, but before we get started I would like to give the floor to Ms Sena Nur ÇELİK.

She will be speaking online.

Please, request the floor.

Mme Sena Nur ÇELİK

Turquie, NI

17:36:01

Dear president.

I had a technical difficulty voting for the previous report, and I really would like my vote to be registered.

This is why I asked for the floor.

M. Oleksandr MEREZHKO

Ukraine, SOC, Président de l'Assemblée

17:36:17

Yeah, thank you.

It will be noted in the official record.

Thank you, thank you very much. Thank you.

Dear colleagues,

The next item of business this afternoon is the debate on the Report titled “Transparency and regulation of donations to political parties and electoral campaigns from foreign donors” (Doc. 15302) presented by Mr Konstantin KUHLE on behalf of the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy.

I call Mr KUHLE, the rapporteur. You have 10 minutes in total, of which 7 minutes is for your opening remarks and 3 minutes for your reply.

M. Konstantin KUHLE

Allemagne, ADLE, Rapporteur

17:37:06

Thank you, Chair. I hope everyone can hear me.

Dear colleagues,

Hello from Berlin and thanks to everyone who is involved and engaged with this debate this time.

It is my pleasure to present to you today the report regarding transparency and regulation of donations to political parties and electoral campaigns from foreign donors.

When I tabled a motion for a resolution together with many colleagues from different national delegations and political groups referring to the present topic in January 2019, several media reports on irregularities in the funding of political parties in different Council of Europe member States had arisen. Just a few weeks and months after we tabled the motion for a resolution, additional reports about other cases of illicit or inappropriate foreign funding emerged. I just want to give you some examples.

From the financial relationship between a bank related to the Russian state and the French Front National party in 2014 to an attempt to finance the Italian party La Lega per Salvini Premier by a Russian state-linked company in 2019; from investigations into a possible foreign influence on the Brexit campaign in the United Kingdom in 2016 to irregularities regarding foreign donations to the political party AfD in Germany concerning the federal election of 2017 – each of these cases has undermined the trust of citizens in the integrity of democratic decision-making processes. But citizens’ confidence in the integrity and independence of the democratic decision-making process is of crucial importance to ensure acceptance and resilience of democracy.

Bearing this in mind, I would like to share with you some key aspects of the present report and of the draft resolution and recommendations.

First:

The regulation of party and campaign funding is, in fact, a matter of national legislation. The existing national legislation reflects different historical, social and cultural characteristics of the respective States. When the Council of Europe and this Assembly express themselves on the issue of party and campaign funding, they are not doing so in order to replace national legislation. They are doing so in order to assess national legislation according to common standards. These standards include democracy, but also, for example, the fight against corruption and the goal of co-operation between civil societies.

Second:

Democratic decision making is not exclusively influenced by developments at the national level. Especially phenomena like migration and digitisation contribute to the fact that the public discussion before the vote, before an election, before a referendum depends on factors that arise outside of the area in which the election takes place. If the Council of Europe, and this Assembly, sets common standards for party and campaign funding, it protects democratic processes across Europe.

Third:

In the past, Council of Europe institutions have adopted sensible rules and standards. The cornerstone document remains Recommendation Rec (2003) 4 on “Common Rules Against Corruption in the Funding of Political Parties and Electoral Campaigns”. I want to quote Article 7, which states that “States should specifically limit, prohibit or otherwise regulate donations from foreign donors”. This report, we are talking about today, contains specific suggestions on how to improve the enforcement of this common standard. Moreover, if we talk about the work that has already been done by Council of Europe institutions, the work of the Venice Commission and of GRECO, also constitute important contributions to the implementation of common standards.

Fourth:

The existing regulation, but also the diversity of different regulations that we have in Council of Europe member States, allows particular member States to use the instrument of party funding in order to influence the democratic decision-making in other states in a targeted manner. These attempts to interfere in a country’s democratic decision making through financial contributions are increasingly combined with other means of interference such as disinformation and cyberattacks. This development should be condemned by the Assembly, and this is what I am proposing to do today in this resolution of the report.

Fifth:

The Assembly should explicitly describe the legal loopholes which are or can be exploited or deliberately circumvented, for instance in-kind instead of in-cash donations, donations via cryptocurrencies or contributions to foundations, associations, charities, religious organisations and other non-profit or non-governmental organisations with the aim to covertly benefiting a political party or electoral campaign.

Sixth:

Regulations or common standards governing the funding of political parties and electoral campaigns should not impede the work of NGOs and political foundations, as these organisations are important actors of civil society. Co-operation and dialogue between citizens and political organisations of different Council of Europe member States help to increase mutual understanding and serve to maintain a constant dialogue. Regulating financial contributions to political parties and electoral campaigns from foreign sources should not discourage such co-operation.

Dear colleagues,

I want to thank everyone who contributed to the present report, particularly the members of the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy. We have had a number of discussions regarding this topic. I want to the various journalists and scientists whose work was an important source for the report. I also want to thank the experts we conducted hearings with during the last two years and a half from the Committee. Finally I also want to thank the office of the Committee and Secretariat, which has always supported me in preparing the report.

I am looking forward to your remarks. I am kindly asking you to send a signal and to make a clear statement in favour of the integrity of the democratic processes and the Council of Europe member States.

Thank you all for your attention.

M. Oleksandr MEREZHKO

Ukraine, SOC, Président de l'Assemblée

17:43:55

Thank you, Mister KUHLE.

Now we are proceeding to the list of speakers on behalf of political groups. In the debate I call first Mr Michael Aastrup JENSEN. He will be followed by Mr Dmytro NATALUKHA.

Please, Mister JENSEN.

M. Michael Aastrup JENSEN

Danemark, ADLE, Porte-parole du groupe

17:44:17

Thank you so much, Chairperson.

First of all, allow me to use this opportunity to congratulate our colleague Mr Konstantin KUHLE on a very very excellent report but also a very timely report because one of the cornerstones of being in a European democracy with this organisation advocates for is transparency. Also to make sure that when we have a democratic election, it is a true outcome that it has been as democratic as possible.

When you have foreign actors trying to interfere in both elections and in referendums, you are not quite sure that you had the most democratic outcome of that election and referendum. When you can put that question mark on a democratic election, you can now also start to lose trust in the democratic cornerstones which should actually never be the subject of mistrust.

Therefore, it's very important that the Council of Europe advocate and promote that we could put a stop to all this foreign involvement in elections. One could ask oneself, why do foreign actors want to interfere in these elections and referendums? Let's take Russia, for example. Let's be frank here. We all know that a country like Russia has a geopolitical mission that is very important to them, and that is to make sure that the European democratic organisations like, for example, the European Union, are not a success, that it actually would be a counterbalance to the Eurasian Union that the Russian government actively promotes.

Therefore, they use this kind of tactics. We should never never allow that. We should do whatever we can to put a stop to that. There are other foreign actors that use the same instruments that Russia is doing. Therefore it is very important that, even though we are, on one hand, acknowledge that campaigns cost money, we should never accept that other than people in their own country choose what kind of campaigns they want to be actively involved in with foreign money as well.

I actually would like, again, to just put my full support behind the recommendation. I hope that the entire organisation too, as well.

Thank you so much.

M. Oleksandr MEREZHKO

Ukraine, SOC, Président de l'Assemblée

17:46:57

Thank you. Now the floor goes to Mr Dmytro NATALUKHA from Ukraine, and he will be followed by Mr Ólafur Þór GUNNARSSON.

Mister Dmytro, please.

He will be speaking on line.

M. Dmytro NATALUKHA

Ukraine, CE/AD, Porte-parole du groupe

17:47:35

Hello.

I'm afraid I have some troubles with my camera. If you would allow me to to speak without it.

I beg your pardon. Okay, thank you very much [Loses conection].

M. Oleksandr MEREZHKO

Ukraine, SOC, Président de l'Assemblée

17:48:15

It seems that there is a technical problem with the connection.

We are going to the next speaker on our list. I give the floor to Mr Constantinos EFSTATHIOU from Cyprus.

Please.

Oh sorry, yes, excuse me.

Mr Ólafur Þór GUNNARSSON first, and after him there will be Mr Constantinos EFSTATHIOU. Sorry.

Please.

M. Ólafur Þór GUNNARSSON

Islande, GUE, Porte-parole du groupe

17:48:55

Thank you, Mister President,

Dear colleagues,

Today's debate focuses on nothing less than the future of the democratic process itself.

As far back as I can remember, there have been discussions about outside influence on elections in most countries. In Iceland we had this discussion as well. We have had major reforms on how we finance political parties and this has been done through change of laws, as well as with agreements between the political parties through consensus. Private funding is allowed by domestic companies and individuals, but with strict limits that are enforced within the country. All contributions above a certain amount are a matter of public record.

In Iceland all foreign donations are prohibited and faceless propaganda is not allowed. That means that one cannot buy ads or distribute literature unless the source of funding is revealed. This is also true of social media and as this is an agreement between all the political parties, the chances of someone stepping over the boundaries are lessened.

Speaking of social media, this will probably continue to be a major issue of debate. That is, how to monitor their use in political campaigns. Unless there is consensus within a country as to what is allowed and what is not, this will be difficult.

One of the challenges that we face is also the financing of NGOs by foreign contributions, as these may not fall into the definition of a political party. Our societies have to be vigilant in order to make sure that NGOs, private companies, religious groups or other entities cannot interfere with the democratic process through donations from abroad.

We must also clarify the fine line that separates the co-operation of political parties and sister organisations between countries from direct funding. The former is to be encouraged, but at the same time, the latter must be averted.

Coming from a big country with a very small population, Icelandic politicians and their parties realise how vulnerable we could be to outside meddling in our affairs. Buying influence in Iceland may be small change for a large foreign corporation, or a foreign power by that matter.

This does not take away our obligations in the international arena, nor does the fact that we insist on not being interfered with, free us from the adherence to international law and treaties. Transparency has to guide our actions in this field.

We must remain committed to the democratic process, we must adhere to common principles and we call upon this institution to be vigilant in the defence of the rights of all peoples, be they small or large, to choose their own governments and leaders, based on their own values, without outside interference.

I strongly support the rapporteurs recommendations.

M. Oleksandr MEREZHKO

Ukraine, SOC, Président de l'Assemblée

17:52:06

Thank you very much.

Now we'll try again to connect to Mr Dmytro NATALUKHA.

If we fail our next speaker will be Mr Constantinos EFSTATHIOU.

Please, go ahead.

M. Dmytro NATALUKHA

Ukraine, CE/AD, Porte-parole du groupe

17:52:21

Thank you very much, Mister Chairman, I hope I fail not.

Thank you again to Mr Rapporteur. It's a tremendously important report that he has prepared.

Ladies and gentlemen, free access to funding is a key condition for a stable and competitive democracy process.

Milton Friedman mentioned about 60 years ago that financial inflows and donations can be positive for establishing pluralism and maintenance of democratic principles. But now we are facing another challenge, which makes donations for political parties a source of vulnerability and political corruption.

An uncontrolled and deregulated sphere of political donations can create a so-called inner circle of political and business elites. Such encapsulation of political life can lead to a merge of government and business, which often means basically space for inefficient policy, corruption and the rule of insiders.

Some groups can achieve a greater access to policy processes due to the generosity in terms of political donations. It will create a privilege both for some parties and business groups.

Past experience shows us the neo-patrimonial and clientelist regimes and with authoritarianism and oligarchy. This is why we should rebound our national systems to defend democracy and transparency.

Another serious challenge is donations provided by foreign actors. Today we can see how a big state-owned company in one country or a transnational charitable foundation can finance political parties, different officials, media, NGO's, even whole spiritual confessions or buy lobby services in order to promote it's so-called investment, advocacy, cultural or capacity enlightenment projects.

I use the term so-called because the real purpose is of course a political one. This issue is not just of policy but also for our security.

Europe used to be a benchmark for democracy. I'm sure it still is. Now, between money and democracy, we cannot choose money.

We are asking to consolidate our efforts to combat political corruption and create a transparent system of political donations. For example, all legislation in Ukraine already shows efforts to separate big business from political life. The bill proposed by the President Zelensky set clear terms for the political competition of the biggest entrepreneurs. This includes the prohibition of splitting ownership of mass media in the use of lobbying purposes, the amount of political donations presence in political office.

Therefore, we absolutely support the report and call on parliaments of other countries to harmonise our systems and create an efficient monitoring instrument to fight against transnationalised political corruption.

I strongly, strongly, support this report.

Thank you very much.

M. Oleksandr MEREZHKO

Ukraine, SOC, Président de l'Assemblée

17:55:10

Thank you.

Now the floor goes to Mr Constantinos EFSTATHIOU from Cyprus.

Please.

M. Constantinos EFSTATHIOU

Chypre, SOC, Porte-parole du groupe

17:55:21

Thank you, Mister Chairperson.

Dear colleagues, I would like to thank Mr Konstantin KUHLE for his report.

The rapporteur rightly stresses the primordial role of political parties in democratic societies and the crucial importance of the democratic decision-making process that further strengthens the acceptance in the resilience of democracy and its institutions.

Any outside interference to any national decision making process, especially when servicing the external political agendas or those of private companies, foundations, so-called charities or NGO's linked to foreign governments, is paradoxical and has astute but serious consequences.

Citizens' confidence in the integrity and independence of political parties is crucial. Foreign interests increasingly interfering in Western democracies, as the rapporteur stressed out in his report, have negative implications on the integrity of democratic processes through manipulating public opinion, exacerbating divisive issues within societies and undermining citizens' trust in democratic institutions and processes. Foreign donations and election funding prove especially dangerous when they spread to empower fringe advocacy groups to fund extremism, to foster dangerous propaganda.

What is the aim of the donors when funding elections abroad? Personally I have no answer to that.

We parliamentarians must be vigilant should we wish to protect the legitimacy of our political systems in order to regain citizens' confidence and ensure their participation in the public sphere.

There must be a presumption that any political donation coming from abroad is out of manipulative nature. We have to stress that any single penny of it is a wound to democracy's body.

We all agree that we need to adhere to the growing demands of stricter measures, common measures, aimed at ensuring public accountability and full transparency. We must mandate higher standards of conduct and management for our political parties and promote independent regulatory mechanisms focused on vetting systematic financial monitoring and transparent campaigning practices in both national or international levels.

Thank you very much.

M. Oleksandr MEREZHKO

Ukraine, SOC, Président de l'Assemblée

17:58:18

Thank you very much.

Now I call on Mr Zsolt CSENGER-ZALÁN from Hungary, please.

M. Zsolt CSENGER-ZALÁN

Hongrie, PPE/DC

17:58:28

Thank you for the floor, Mister Chairman,

National and European political parties fulfil a unique and irrefutable role in our democracies. The representation of citizens is a crucial mission and elected representatives have to comply with the ambitious task entrusted to them by the voters. The appreciate funding of political parties is of utmost importance, as the necessary background in this regard is the prerequisite for the adequate democratic representation of European citizens.

Nevertheless, taking into account the special and the delicate nature of the task assigned to these entities, only a secure and accountable financing can be acceptable for them. Given that this information and attempts of foreign interference are an ever-growing threat in Europe in recent years, foreign donation and financial support have to be handled with caution.

In this regard, national and European political parties have to be clearly separated. Concerning the former, only the member States have the competence and responsibility to create the necessary legal environment that protects national parties from any undesirable interference.

In this respect, Hungary serves as a good example. The law on the functioning and the management of the parties defines that these organisations cannot accept any financial contribution from foreign organisations or nationals. On the European level, the European Commission's European Democracy Action Plan proposed the re-evaluation of the regulation on the statue and founding of European political parties and European political foundations.

The revision of the regulation is acceptable given that its only aim is the better functioning and the enhancement of the representative activity of the concerned tasks. No institutionalisation can be acceptable. It is also crucial to emphasise that every new or revised conditions for financing should be secured with accountability and respecting the principle of proportionality, as well as the division of competences avoiding any impact on the EU budget.

All of us can agree that the protection of our democracies from any foreign influence is of utmost importance. Therefore, we should find a common way to fight any attempts that would try dismantling this delicate system by representing the division of powers.

Thank you very much.

M. Oleksandr MEREZHKO

Ukraine, SOC, Président de l'Assemblée

18:01:55

Thank you very much.

Now I call Mr Mehmet Mehdi EKER from Turkey.

Please.

M. Mehmet Mehdi EKER

Turquie, NI

18:02:05

Thank you, Mister President.

Dear colleagues,

Regulations regarding the financing of political parties and in particular donations from foreign donors differ from country to country in Europe. In other words, we have a heterogeneous European model due to various political and historical backgrounds as well as different political traditions in members States.

In brief, these regulations and their differences were born out of necessity in many member States.

We can say that interference through donations is not a new phenomenon. This method was highly used in the past, especially during the Cold War period. However, current circumstances and especially increasing digitalisation expose all member States to new common challenges which require diligence for legislators to make the necessary modifications on the rules.

As stated in the report, there is growing concern with regard to the integrity of democratic decision making in member States because of undue interferences through financial contributions by foreign states or state-linked entities. Moreover, such attempts are increasingly combined with other means of interference such disinformation and cyberattacks.

In this respect, deficiencies or loopholes in our existing regulations enable opportunity for third parties to be able to exploit or circumvent the rules. We must bear in mind that these deficiencies also constitute a high risk for corruption as well as undermining the integrity of democratic institutions.

Therefore it's essential for member States to tackle this challenge and address the deficiencies of existing regulations and of their enforcement. However, measures to be taken should be proportionate and adequately precise.

Member States should take necessary precautions in order to avoid depravation of necessary funding of political parties or electoral campaigns in case of a change on such regulations.

On the other hand, differences in member States and the complexity of the issue do not allow us to adopt an analogous approach. In the end, it is up to member States to decide how they limit, prohibit or regulate donations from foreign sources while respecting the ECHR as well as democratic norms and principles.

Thank you very much.

M. Oleksandr MEREZHKO

Ukraine, SOC, Président de l'Assemblée

18:05:30

Thank you.

I give the floor to Mr Gusty GRAAS from Luxembourg.

M. Gusty GRAAS

Luxembourg, ADLE

18:05:41

Mister President,

Dear colleagues,

At the level of a representative democracy, political parties are the basis of state functioning and, in this context, the spokesperson for the popular will expressed by universal suffrage. To this end, it is crucial that the parties are able to organise themselves independently and that they have at their disposal all the means available in order to be able to compete fairly.

In an effort to maintain not only transparency about party funding, but also to promote equality, there is a need to regularly carry out effective controls and, where necessary, adapt related laws.

In order to minimise foreign influence in the decision-making process, it is essential that a political party be required to keep accounts covering all income and expenditure, as well as to indicate its financial situation. Each year, a report should be validated by a Court of Auditors for verification.

The funding of parties through a dubious foreign channel must be avoided at all costs. Consequently, the state of each country must grant the parties an endowment intended to cover part of the costs of electoral and operating campaigns. This allocation should be subject to established conditions, such as, for example, the presentation of a complete electoral list in the elections, the attainment of a minimum threshold of seats or at least a minimum percentage of votes cast.

In addition to the “regular” endowment allocated to each party or political grouping, the latter should also be allocated an annual endowment from the state budget.

Dear colleagues,

Let me add a word about donations from foreign sources. I believe that this practice should be strictly limited to natural persons only. Donations from a legal person as well as from associations or groups without legal personality should be prohibited. The same should apply to anonymous donations. In this context, I refer particularly to point 5.2 of our draft recommendation inviting GRECO to analyse, above all, the specific area of foreign funding of political parties.

It goes without saying that in order to meet the objectives of the Council of Europe, the establishment of very strict rules guaranteeing fairness to political parties contributing to the expression of universal suffrage must be the norm for all member states of our Assembly.

Unfortunately, too many examples are known to us where foreign forces have attempted to influence the conduct of elections. It is all the more reprehensible if political parties playing the moralist in their country do not hesitate to accept dubious foreign donations, see for example Alternative for Germany (AfD) in Germany, the Lega Nord in Italy, or the National Rally in France.

Finally, I would like to thank our colleague Mr Konstantin KUHLE for his excellent report. The draft resolution also finds my assent.

Thank you for your attention.

M. Oleksandr MEREZHKO

Ukraine, SOC, Président de l'Assemblée

18:09:09

Thank you.

I now call Mr John HOWELL from the United Kingdom.

We will be speaking online.

M. John HOWELL

Royaume-Uni, CE/AD

18:09:20

Thank you, Mister President.

I would like to start by congratulating the rapporteur for having introduced a very important subject. I would agree with Mr Michael Aastrup JENSEN that transparency in the funding of politics and of political parties is essential if we are going to ensure that democracy can function and that it can function without interference.

That sounds very simple, it sounds very obvious but I'm afraid that it's not obvious or very simple but it is very essential. This needs to include both donations that are made in cash and also denote donations that are made in kind. What we need to do in looking at these is to make sure that the thresholds that we set for assessing the amount of the value of these donations is set at quite a low level.

Now best practice for this exists in many countries. But the Council of Europe needs not just to follow the best practice and to ensure that it sets it, it must also look after itself. It must be seen to be above the fray and above the chance for interference in what is, in the Council of Europe, an important democratic process.

We have taken these steps to record our own interests, but we also need to bring in some tighter regulations about NGOs to make sure that they, too, are above suspicion. As this report goes out of its way to show, that must be donations or contributions that go both ways. It must include donations to NGOs and donations from NGOs.

Now, in the UK we have regulations that cover this situation and particularly a situation where a donation is given by a proxy donor, that is it where it is given on behalf of somebody else. I think that is a very important point to bear in mind. Above all, though, what this system needs, if we are to make sure that it works, is a full-time and proper monitor to be able to regulate it. I would certainly urge the council to look at the regulation of this whole sector and to make sure that such a regulator is put in place.

Thank you.

M. Oleksandr MEREZHKO

Ukraine, SOC, Président de l'Assemblée

18:12:18

Thank you.

Now I call Ms Laura CASTEL from Spain.

Mme Laura CASTEL

Espagne, NI

18:12:29

Thank you, Mister President.

First of all, let me congratulate Mr Konstantin KUHLE for his excellent report. Indeed, the improper or illicit interference through financial contributions by foreign states is really worrisome because it shows the ugly face of corruption and jeopardises the values of democracy. 

Political decision-making is increasingly exposed to international influence and it is of paramount importance. Further important is, as the resolution says, among other things, to establish an independent audit of authority that delivers sanctions for those who violate the rules. I do totally agree and on that I will stress my speech.

For instance, in my country, the composition and actions taken by the Court of Auditors do not guarantee full independence, since there are former members of the government's composing it and I do not think that it helps its appearance of neutrality. Let me put you an illustrative example. During the last months, the target of this Court has been to ruin the Catalan pro-independence movement with millions of euros in bails for organising a referendum. People who have been struck with ergonomic threats over the right to liberty, even before a sentence has been issued. These bails have also led to the confiscation of bank accounts, to the confiscation of salaries, the confiscation of family houses and the confiscation of retirements.

But what is amazing in all of this, is that this Court of Auditors has within its functions to inspect and check the economic and financial activity of political parties. While it seems this function does not apply with the Spanish People's Party, the political party with more members involved in corruption cases in Europe. More than 800 members of this party are involved in corruption cases associated to the party and the Court of Auditors has been unable to do its function. In fact, this party has been condemned as a criminal organisation by the Supreme Court and the amount estimated as a consequence of its corruption is worth €122 billion. It is a huge amount. That is why I really celebrate the report and any resolutions that guarantee independence of the composition and in the sentences issued by the courts.

I finish now, and I welcome this resolution particularly at paragraph 11.10 because we, as parliamentarians, should condemn all attempts to interfere illicitly in democratic decision-making processes, either from outside our countries or inside.

Dear colleagues, the misuse of the institutions is a path of corruption. So thank you, dear colleagues, thank you, Mister President, and thank you, Mister KUHLE.

M. Oleksandr MEREZHKO

Ukraine, SOC, Président de l'Assemblée

18:16:03

Thank you very much.

Now I call Mr Kamal JAFAROV from Azerbaijan.

M. Kamal JAFAROV

Azerbaïdjan, NI

18:16:16

Thank you very much, Mister President.

Transparency of political party financing and integrity of politicians are one of the most important conditions for public confidence in effective functioning of the democracy. 

The GRECO's third round evaluation, which is based on the Committee of Ministers' recommendation on transparency of political party financing, played a pivotal role in this field. GRECO in its findings demonstrated that member States still have much to do to bring their legislation in line with the recommendations of the Council of Europe. For example, GRECO, in its 2017 report on France, showed that there are still some concerns regarding the supervision of party financing in France. This means that even established democracies have their weakness beside strength. Therefore, we should try to avoid criticising the usual suspects here and focus on learning the best practices from each other.

Secondly, these recommendations are, naturally and surely, the responsibilities of the individual governments but not only the governments. Transparency and integrity start from us and the political parties we represent.

Third point: Some NGOs receive foreign funds for political purposes or, to put it another way, some foreign donors give grants to NGOs, which are politically motivated. The report rightfully mentions that this is the abuse of interested power for private gain, this is corruption, and this is the direct, financial interference in a country's decision-making process. Therefore, transparency rules should exist and apply for both NGOs and foreign donors.

Finally, I would like to give some short information about the developments in our political system. As you might know, I am one of the newly-elected members of parliament in 2020 and Ms Sahiba GAFAROVA who was the Chairwoman of the Immigration Committee and the general rapporteur for violence against women, among other positions in this Assembly, elected as the president of the Azerbaijani parliament. For the first time in the Azerbaijani history the vice-speaker and also vice-chairperson of the committees were elected from the opposition parties. Following that, another major important development was that a special unit was established in the president's office to enhance the co-operation between legislative and executive of powers. Based on that, a multi-stakeholder dialogue was established between the political parties, and some new political parties were registered. Our political system has entered an upgraded level of professionalism.

I would like, in the end, to state that I fully support the report. I will give my vote in favour of this report.

Thank you very much. Thank you.

M. Oleksandr MEREZHKO

Ukraine, SOC, Président de l'Assemblée

18:19:29

Thank you.

Now the floor goes to Mr Sergey KISLYAK from the Russian Federation.

Please.

We cannot hear you, please switch on the microphone.

We still cannot hear you.

Maybe you should try to connect again please.

M. Sergey KISLYAK

Fédération de Russie, NI

18:20:16

President, First of all, I should like to say that the subject matter of the report is extremely important. One that my country is keenly interested in, seeing as we are fighting to resist attempts at foreign interference in the political workings of our country particularly when it comes to the foreign funding of electoral campaigns.

What is more, our legislation is fairly advanced in this regard, and it is something that we continue to upgrade. Many of the proposals that are made in the report have actually already been incorporated into our national legislation. 

In parallel, Mr Konstantin KUHLE's report is, to my mind, a two-pronged approach to a very important issue. Now let's look at the way he views NGOs in the report. He says, on the one hand, that it is important to satisfy oneself that they are not funding election campaigns in other countries. On the other hand, the report states that NGOs contribute to the maintenance of civil structures and, therefore, must receive adequate funding. I think that that sows confusion. I think that we should be clearer about what we want. In actual fact, the report really should cater for national traditions because they, of course, play their part in shaping politics across the continent. It is absolutely impossible to have a one-size-fits-all solution in the face of such diversity. We need to avoid any interference. 

I think though, that some of these arguments in the report are, at times, absurd, particularly when it comes to my country. When it is stated that we have interfered in other countries. Now, some of these arguments are wholly indefensible and, indeed, there is no proof to substantiate these claims. It is all just hearsay, rumours, you know, apparently, British banks, have allegedly received such funding and this really is extremely worrying. 

What is more, there are programmes in other countries which prove, that indeed, there has been interference from other countries. Now, in my country, for example, there is an American law which actually stipulates that there would be a legal requirement for interference in Russia to the tune to 20 million per year, so this is NGOs that are mandated to do that. 

The same holds true for the rapporteur's own country and in the Committee. When we were scrutinised in the report, I asked a number of questions but the rapporteur simply chose to ignore them and my queries. There was no proper consideration of my concerns in the Committee. I do not really think that is the right approach to drawing up this kind of report, not if you wanted to receive the backing of members. Indeed, there was no support whatsoever for our proposals. Quite the contrary, this is just anti-Russian propaganda. 

M. Oleksandr MEREZHKO

Ukraine, SOC, Président de l'Assemblée

18:24:14

Thank you very much. It seems like we have exhausted the list of speakers.

Since that concludes the list of speakers, I call Mr Konstantin KUHLE, the rapporteur, to reply.

Mister KUHLE, you have 3 minutes.

Please.

M. Konstantin KUHLE

Allemagne, ADLE, Rapporteur

18:24:41

Chair, and thanks to all the colleagues that have contributed with many helpful remarks with the debate about this report.

Can I just point out some aspects that have been mentioned during the debate?

First of all, I want to elaborate on the difference between an NGO and a political party or a political campaign. This Assembly has, for the last time in January, made it very clear that the Council of Europe is in favour of international co-operation and that international co-operation also includes the international co-operation between civil societies, so there must be an exchange between non-governmental organisations.

However, when a non-governmental organisation enters into a political race, it becomes the third party that in fact endorses a political actor, a political party, before an election and must then be subject to party regulation, which is why there has to be a clear difference between an NGO, on the one hand, and a political party on the other hand.

When it comes to this situation in the Russian Federation, I want to once more thank Mr Sergey KISLYAK for his remark and point out that I even mentioned his remarks in footnote 26 on page 11 of the report. I think he makes it very clear that differences do exist between different countries and we did consider his remarks when drafting the report.

I want to thank my friend Mr Michael Aastrup JENSEN for mentioning the geopolitical perspective of this report. In fact, and many other colleagues have also mentioned this financial co-operation between political parties, financial relations between one state and a political party and other state, are not new. This has existed for many years – however, what is new is the deliberate circumvention and the degree of deliberate circumvention that we are observing all over Europe in many member States, and the combination of such attacks with disinformation and cyberattacks.

So what we should do is truly condemn this development and at the same time ask for a review of the regulation and ask for a strengthening of the implementation.

Now, as a third remark, I would like to elaborate on the phenomenon of so-called "third-party actions", which is when a donation is made to a charity or an NGO that is linked to a political party. Why is that done? It is usually done because the regulation is less strict and we should really tighten the regulation when it comes to so-called third-party actions.

And let me add as a last remark, if we were designing new rules from scratch, I think a full ban of foreign financing would be feasible but there is already so much difference in regulation in member States that the core principle of the debate and of the report should really be the implementation of the existing rules, and transparency when it comes to different rules.

I am looking forward to contributing to more transparency with the adoption of this report.

Thank you very much.

Vote : Transparence et réglementation des dons de sources étrangères en faveur de partis politiques et de campagnes électorales

M. Oleksandr MEREZHKO

Ukraine, SOC, Président de l'Assemblée

18:28:12

Thank you very much.

Dear colleagues,

The debate is closed.

The Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy has presented a draft resolution and a draft recommendation Doc. 15302, to which no amendments have been tabled.

We will now proceed to vote on the draft resolution contained in Doc. 15302.

The vote is open.

 

The vote is closed.

I call for the result to be displayed.

The draft resolution in Doc. 15302 is adopted.

 

We will now proceed to vote on the draft recommendation contained in Doc. 15302.

The vote is open.

 

The vote is closed.

I call for the result to be displayed.

The draft recommendation in Doc. 15302 is adopted.

 

Congratulations.

We have now come to the end of our business. Sorry. Yes.

M. Rik DAEMS

Belgique, ADLE, Président de l'Assemblée

18:30:26

Thank you, Mister Vice-President, Mister MEREZHKO.

It is a habit that then I return briefly to the Assembly to close the sitting.

I would wish to thank all of you still present, including obviously the Vice-President for doing a fine job and also for all the people who are still with us, massively as usual, Secretary General.

Anyway, we just concluded, I think, a quite successful week. To be quite honest we had a lot of high-level people addressing the Assembly, and I would just like to refer to the event that we organised around the Istanbul Convention on Wednesday, where we did have some interesting speakers. And on top of that, a very large participation of our own Assembly.

Unfortunately we could not cater to all the colleagues to take the floor. We got it about 25, although we had more than 60 who wanted to intervene.

I just would like to inform you that we had a Bureau in which they announced that we might have in the September session a follow-up to a certain extent. Because this was not a celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Istanbul Convention as such, it was on the contrary, or accompanying, if you wish, stocktaking and basically getting the message out that we have to step up our action.

This is why our general rapporteur, Ms Zita GURMAI, at the end took some conclusions and took some lessons from the event. And I will request her to draft some next steps in order for this not to have been like an event, as any other one. No, it was a call for action. So this is something that we will without any doubt come back to in the coming weeks and months, because it is an ongoing work that we cannot stop with. On the contrary, we have to step up our action.

I would like to thank, to conclude, the whole technical team. They did a marvellous job. I'm looking to my left, to the gentleman who's always with the headphones. So thanks to you and the whole team, the interpreters, all the personnel. Specifically also the people behind me, who always bring me my coffee for me to keep my caffeine level high enough to manage this sitting.

I'd like to thank all the colleagues who were participating, specifically my Vice-President. I mean, I'm really thankful to all of you for taking so many times the work of managing the Assembly. So, each and every one of you, be it from the staff, be it as members, many great thanks.

And I would of course wish to conclude by thanking our Secretary General, Ms Despina CHATZIVASSILIOU-TSOVILIS, who has a tough job of making sure that all of this goes well.

But I would like to conclude with a common knowledge: managing this kind of a plenary session and all the rest it's a bit like a piece of theatre, in the sense that the public is out there and you see the play on the stage. I can assure you that, at some points, there's a little bit going wrong on the stage, but the trick is that the public doesn't notice it. And so I think that this has been a great job of all of us.

So Despina, again to you and all your fantastic staff, many thanks. Many thanks to all the members still present, but also to all the members who participated. Thanks to all the people who were so kind to join us to deliver important messages.

And I would say we will see each other again in September, in the plenum.

Voilà!

Thank you very much. Go safe home. And see you soon.

La séance est levée à 18h35