Rik Daems, re-elected President, invites members to see PACE as vehicle for upholding shared values
Strasbourg, 25.01.2021 – Rik Daems, re-elected today for a second one-year term as President of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE), thanked members for their confidence and welcomed the holding of PACE’s first hybrid plenary session.
In his re-investiture speech, he stressed that while PACE’s savoir faire had brought many positive results throughout 2020 – be it the establishment of red lines not to be crossed during the Covid-19 pandemic, new standards in the field of artificial intelligence or the “trialogue” with the Committee of Ministers – the faire savoir was impossible as members could not meet under normal conditions. “Meeting in person is essential to interconnect, to convince and be convinced and to take on board all perspectives,” he added.
Rik Daems called on members not to ask “what the Council of Europe can do for us”, but “to look at what we can do to uphold the values and therefore contribute to the activities and mission of the Council of Europe.”
“Why are we here? Because we care about fundamental rights and freedoms, democracy and the rule of law,” he stressed, inviting all members “to see PACE as a vehicle for upholding the values we share. Common values are more important than our interests.”
“We, members of this Assembly, care about the fact that people are equal. Being equal is not being the same, this is why we are united in diversity. We care about human rights to be enjoyed by all citizens in all our 47 member States.”
“We care that people are free to enjoy and able to pursue their happiness. We care about the fact that no one should be above the law. This is what the rule of law is all about. Because we think, we care, we need to help people to decide. All members should be on board, this is what democracy is about,” he concluded.
PRESIDENT SERDAR BERDIMUHAMEDOV MET WITH DEPUTY CHAIRMAN OF THE CABINET OF MINISTERS, MINISTER OF PRESIDENTIAL AFFAIRS OF THE UAE
On November 21, 2022, President of Turkmenistan Serdar Berdimuhamedov, as part of an official visit to the United Arab Emirates, met with Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers, Minister of Presidential Affairs of the United Arab Emirates Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
The head of Turkmenistan expressed his heartfelt gratitude for the warm welcome and conveyed greetings from the Chairman of the Halk Maslakhaty of the Milli Gengesh Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov.
During the meeting, the importance of intensifying trade and economic ties was emphasized, issues of interaction in a number of promising areas were discussed, including in the fuel and energy sector, as well as in such areas as the oil refining, gas chemical industry and transport.
Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan confirmed the readiness of the UAE business community to expand a productive partnership with Turkmenistan, which is successfully implementing a far-sighted economic strategy.
The parties also noted the importance of building partnerships in the transport sector, in particular, in the field of maritime, rail and air traffic. In this context, the head of Turkmenistan stressed the relevance of establishing contacts with the International Port of Abu Dhabi in order to join the International Seaport of Turkmenbashi to the system of seaports of the world.
The interlocutors spoke for the importance of giving a new impetus to the activities of the Joint Committee on Cooperation between Turkmenistan and the United Arab Emirates, as well as for the expediency of holding regular meetings between representatives of the business circles of the two countries.
A proposal was also made to create a joint bank and open its representative office in both countries. President Serdar Berdimuhamedov supported this proposal, noting that Turkmenistan would create all opportunities for this.
Saying goodbye, President of Turkmenistan Serdar Berdimuhamedov and Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers, Minister of Presidential Affairs of the United Arab Emirates Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan expressed confidence that the mutual desire to increase dialogue would be effectively implemented in practice for the benefit of the peoples of both countries.
THE GEORGIAN PARLIAMENTARY DELEGATION TO NATO PA HOLDS BILATERAL MEETINGS IN MADRID
The Parliamentary Delegation, headed by the Chair of the Defense and Security Committee, Irakli Beraia held the bilateral meetings within the NATO PA sessions.
According to the administration of the Parliament of Georgia, Georgian MPs met with the representatives of Sweden, Finland, Turkey and Estonia and dwelt on the regional security and security challenges of Georgia, the Russian war against Ukraine, the Russian occupation and its consequences, as well as the conventional and hybrid threats that Georgia encounters.
Georgian MPs underlined the necessity of Georgia’s NATO integration and the acceleration of this decision emphasizing the necessity to further enhance the countering the security and hybrid threats for the national defense of Georgia.
According to I. Beraia, providing the drastically aggravated security milieu, the partners well realize the importance of Georgia’s membership, which makes Georgia optimistic.
“The NATO allies can make a brave decision in case of their political will and it is a good signal for us that Georgia’s NATO membership can be accelerated, which is the ultimate goal we look forward since the value-based choice of the Georgian citizens is to become a NATO member. We dwelt on the value of Georgia for NATO against the background of the increased threats in the region. We stressed that Georgia has not only the will but the capacity and experience to contribute to NATO security. When our partners aspire to diversify the energy resources and enhance the connection between the East and West, it increases the role of Georgia as a NATO member state. The partners strongly support the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our country and pledged to further support us in all the formats and at all international platforms and in international organizations”, - I. Beraia stated.
The parties touched upon bilateral relations, Parliamentary cooperation and exchange visits.
The Georgian Delegation is composed of the First Deputy Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, Giorgi Khelashvili and the Deputy Chairs of the Defense Committee, Vladimir Chachibaia and Teona Akubardia.
Georgian President visits France
Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili is visiting France to attend high-ranking meetings in Strasbourg and Paris.
The president will participate in the World Forum for Democracy 2022 and the Paris Peace Forum.
According to the President’s press office, Zourabichvili will meet with Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Marija Pejčinović Burić, and PACE President Tiny Kox.
On the sidelines of the World Forum for Democracy, Zurabishvili will also meet the Prime Minister of Iceland, Katrín Jakobsdóttir.
ADDRESS OF THE SPEAKER, SHALVA PAPUASHVILI TO THE PACE PRESIDENT, TINY KOX
The Speaker of the Parliament of Georgia, Shalva Papuashvili, wrote a letter to the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Martinus Tiny Kox, stating that the inclusion of Mikheil Saakashvili in the amendment to the Resolution changes the essence and spirit of the Resolution and undermines the fundamental values of PACE and the credibility of the organisation in upholding human rights, democracy and the rule of law across Europe. "News Day Georgia" offers this statement in full:
To the PACE President, Tiny Kox
A long-standing partnership of the Parliament of Georgia with the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe allows me to address you with regards to Resolution 2463 (2022): “Further escalation in the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine, debated under the urgent procedure of the fourth part of the ordinary session. Despite our full solidarity to Ukraine in the face of the Russian aggression, approval of the following amendment has prevented the members of the Georgian Delegation from supporting the Resolution: “the Assembly calls on the Russian authority for the immediate release of Vladimir Kara-Murza. The Assembly also calls for a review of cases of other political prisoners opposed to Putin in the Russian Federation and other countries, and for their release (including Mikheil Saakashvili – a Ukrainian citizen and former President of Georgia)”.
We believe that the inclusion of Mikheil Saakashvili in this amendment (a) changes the essence and spirit of the Resolution, and (b) undermines the fundamental values of PACE and the credibility of organization in upholding human rights, democracy and rules of law across Europe. The European Court of Human Rights issued over 100 judgements during Mr. Saakashvili’s rule, including 13 cases on Article 2 (right to life), 34 cases on Article 3 (prohibition of torture), 15 cases on Article 5 (right to liberty and security), and 44 cases on Article 6 (right to a fair trial). Moreover, the Court underlined in its Alexander Girgvliani murder case (Enukidze and Girgvliani v. Georgia) that Mr. Saakashvili hindered an effective investigation and appropriate punishment.
The Report on Human Rights Development in Georgia in 2004-2012 made by Mr. Thomas Hammamberg, former Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights and the EU Special Adviser on Constitutional and Legal Reform and Human Rights in Georgia in 2013 is a testament to systemic violations of the Convention-related rights during Saakashvili’s presidency. It identifies an alarming situation in areas of judiciary, penitentiary, law enforcement, rights of minorities, rights to take part in public affairs, freedom of expression, assembly and association, and social justice. Mr. Saakashvili has been convicted in Georgia in two criminal cases (the one on the above-mentioned Girgvliani case and the other on organizing an attack against opposition MP Valeri Gelashvili).
Three other criminal cases are pending (on the exceeding and abusing of official powers during the breaking up of anti-government protests on November 7, 2007, and the subsequence seizure of Imedi TV, an independent television broadcaster; on embezzlement of funds from the State Protection Service for personal use; and on illegal crossing of the Georgian state border). The ECHR refused to accept Mr. Saakashvili’s case regarding his treatment by Georgia’s penitentiary system. ECHR has found there were no “special circumstances” in the application relating to respect for human rights, which would have required the body to continue the examination of the case.
The decision of the European Court has once again confirmed that the rights and interests of Mikheil Saakashvili were fully protected in the penitentiary system per the standards of the ECHR. Georgia has both a clear track record of protecting human rights, democracy and rule of law since 2012 and closely cooperating with the ECHR in implementing its judgements. Georgian cases to the ECHR dropped 5,5 times in 2013-2021 compared to Mr. Saakashvili’s rule in 2004-2012, owing to the progress in credibility, independence and professionalism of the Georgian courts.
This progress has been duly reflected in the Resolution 2438 “The honoring of obligations and commitments by Georgia” adopted by the Assembly during the second part of the 2022 ordinary session. Having this in mind, we believe there is no evidence of political motivations in the charges against Mr. Saakashvili other than politically-driven speculations. Therefore, the adoption of language as in amendment 4 represents an unsubstantiated challenge for the Georgian legal system, invites unjustified suspicion against our country in international fora and undermines Georgia’s reform progress in human rights and the rule of law since 2012.
More importantly, the unfounded provisions on Mr. Saakshvili jeopardize the credibility of PACE within the wider Georgian public and erode our efforts to solidify support for the ambitious reform agenda aligned with recommendations of the relevant PACE resolutions.
We remain hopeful that PACE members will in future be guided only by the best interests of the organization and its fundamental values. We stand ready to provide detailed insight on any issue of your interest about Georgia. Please, accept, Mr. President, the assurances of my highest consideration and esteem.
The Chairman of the Parliament of Georgia
Russia’s so-called referendums in Ukrainian regions ‘null and void’, says PACE
STRASBOURG. PACE has strongly condemned the attempted annexation of Ukrainian regions by Russia, describing the so-called referendums in these regions as “an affront to international law” and “null and void, with no legal or political effects”.
The Assembly was debating a report by Emanuelis Zingeris (Lithuania, EPP/CD) on further escalation in Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, following a video address by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
In a resolution, adopted unanimously, the parliamentarians called for a “comprehensive system” to hold the Russian Federation and its leadership accountable for its aggression and violations of human rights and humanitarian law – including speeding up the establishment of a special ad hoc tribunal to prosecute the crime of aggression against Ukraine.
The Assembly also called on Council of Europe member states to declare the current Russian regime as “a terrorist one”. It said the unleashing of a war of aggression by a permanent member of the UN Security Council “posed a challenge to global governance” and noted increasing support for reform of the Security Council.
Russia’s increased threats of nuclear warfare were incompatible with the responsibilities of a nuclear power holding a permanent seat on the Council, the parliamentarians said, as well as being “abhorrent and reckless”.
These issues should feature highly on the agenda of any future Fourth Summit of the Council of Europe, the Assembly added.