Volodymyr Zelenskyy: ‘Never yet in history was united Europe as strong as it is today’

Published in Politics
Thursday, 13 October 2022 14:43

STRASBOURG. “Today, we see the historically important results of dialogue in Europe, between Europeans. We see actions that have made Europe unprecedentedly stronger. Never yet in history was united Europe as strong as it is today. So, focus on everything that is needed to prevent the Russian terrorists from destroying our lives. This is the power of dialogue,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said to Assembly members this morning in his address to the PACE Autumn plenary session.

Together, he added, “we are isolating Russia. Together we are punishing it for the terror and making it feel the price of the war it has unleashed. Thanks to our dialogue we have very important programmes of support for Ukraine. Defence programmes, financial support, programmes to support Ukrainians, the ones who had to flee their homeland to save themselves from hostilities…”

This dialogue must continue, Mr Zelenskyy stressed, “to make Russia responsible as the aggressor state, and every Russian murderer and butcher for all the crimes of this war, for every manifestation of their terror. When legal mechanisms are created, when they start working, this will become one of the most powerful guarantees for long-term peace.” Europe can play “a historic role in creating a special tribunal for Russia's aggression against Ukraine. Let's do it. It will be the best way to protect the principles of international law,” he said.

Thanking the Ukrainian President for his intervention before the Assembly, PACE President Tiny Kox said: “the applause you just received shows how much we appreciate your courage, your determination, but also your wise words and the wisdom that you shared with us on how to bring this war to an end as soon as possible and to restore justice, national sovereignty, and the territorial integrity of your country.”

“We all consider Russia's unilateral aggression as an attack against the multilateral cooperation that is meant to protect all our citizens in Europe. That is why we try to do whatever is in our mandate to support your country and your citizens in these most challenging and dangerous times”, Mr Kox added.

Edi Rama: ‘the faith of Albania and its European destiny is our anchor to the future’

Published in Politics
Thursday, 13 October 2022 11:51

“The faith of Albania and its European destiny is our anchor to the future. No matter what storms or fogs Europe encounters, Albanians cannot but imagine sharing the journey, even if it turns out to be a tumultuous one,” Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said today, addressing the Parliamentary Assembly.

Referring to Assembly Resolution 1782, Mr Rama asked PACE for a follow-up report regarding the investigation of allegations of inhuman treatment of people and illicit trafficking in human organs in Kosovo.

Ireland’s Europe minister calls for Council of Europe summit in Reykjavik

Published in Politics
Thursday, 13 October 2022 11:46

STRASBOURG. Ireland’s Minister of State for European Affairs, Thomas Byrne, has given his backing to a fourth summit of Council of Europe Heads of State and Government to take place in Reykjavik as part of Iceland’s forthcoming presidency of the organisation’s Committee of Ministers.

Addressing the Parliamentary Assembly in Strasbourg, Minister Byrne urged parliamentarians from across Europe to call on their governments to do the same.

“Let Reykjavik be the place to reaffirm Europeans’ rights and renew our democracies, and let this be the time,” he said.

Minister Byrne said the substance of the summit should reflect the recent recommendations of the High-Level Reflection Group – chaired by former Irish President Mary Robinson – and a forthcoming report from the Parliamentary Assembly on the future of the Council of Europe.

He also underlined the vital importance of the European Court of Human Rights and the importance of states implementing the Court’s judgments, however challenging they may seem.

“A Court ruling is not only a human right infringed. It is societal progress delayed,” underlined Minister Byrne.

Member of the Ukrainian delegation to PACE, addressed the press: "Creation of a new initiative group to impose sanctions against persons and organizations guilty of war crimes and genocide against the Ukr

Published in Politics
Wednesday, 12 October 2022 14:09

On October 12 at the Council of Europe, Oleksiy GONCHARENKO, a member of the Ukrainian delegation to PACE, addressed the press on the following issue: "Creation of a new initiative group to impose sanctions against persons and organizations guilty of war crimes and genocide against the Ukrainian people"

On 24 February 2022, Russia started a full-scale, unprovoked and unjustified military invasion of Ukraine. The purpose of this Russian aggression is to seize the territory of the sovereign, democratic and European state of Ukraine. In Ukraine, Russia is organising genocide and committing war crimes against the Ukrainian civilian population.

The military aggression against Ukraine is the result of the collective actions by the political, military and civilian classes of Russia, often supported by powerful business owners. 

Many of those responsible for initiating, supporting and committing the aggressive military action in Ukraine own property and bank accounts within the territory of the Council of Europe. Even after the outbreak of the large-scale hostilities, a number of persons who had been under Ukrainian sanctions but had not been under European sanctions, could move freely throughout the territory of the Council of Europe.  

We, representatives of Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Great Britain, Members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, found a group to identity and ultimately impose sanctions on individuals and entities involved in the Russian military aggression against Ukraine and who are located on the territory of the Council of Europe and the United States of America.

The Council of Europe and the European Union impose sanctions based on their own information, the United States and the United Kingdom on the basis of their own again, and Ukraine on the basis of theirs as well. This leads to desynchronization of actions and sanctions.

We, the founders of this initiative, aim to synchronize and coordinate all these lists of sanctions.
We start with a list of 1940 individuals who are involved in the Russian aggression against Ukraine and against whom the Government of Ukraine has already imposed sanctions, but neither the Member States of the Council of Europe, nor the EU, nor the United Kingdom, nor the United States of America took any action against yet.

We are urging the European Commission, His Majesty’s Government of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, the Government of the United States and all the Governments of the Council of Europe Member States to impose sanctions against all 1940 individuals already on the Ukrainian sanctions list.

 

PACE calls for new impetus to the EU enlargement process to the Western Balkans

Published in Politics
Wednesday, 12 October 2022 00:04

STRASBOURG. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) called on the European Union to give new impetus to the enlargement process to the Western Balkans, “rewarding progress in compliance with criteria” and fostering a climate of trust. “It is imperative not to lose focus of the Western Balkans, even if the need to support the European aspirations of other countries, such as Ukraine, Georgia and the Republic of Moldova, has emerged in the meantime,” the parliamentarians stressed.

The resolution adopted today in Strasbourg in plenary session, based on the report by George Papandreou (Greece, SOC), said that since the 2003 Thessaloniki Summit between the Western Balkans and the EU, the failure to adequately reward progress “had sapped political momentum and public enthusiasm”, and that the European vision had lost its shine, giving way to ethno-nationalism.

PACE called on the authorities of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Kosovo* “to address without delay the outstanding challenges”, and in particular to improve the political culture in order to ensure collaboration between political institutions and forces; strengthen the efficiency and independence of the judiciary; improve the functioning of the public administration; step up the fight against corruption; refrain from inflammatory discourse, including on ethnic grounds; protect the rights of national minorities and the freedom of the media; and promote reconciliation.

Finally, the Assembly considers that the Council of Europe, drawing on its expertise, should “redouble its efforts” to help the Western Balkan countries meet the EU enlargement criteria and, together with the EU, play a greater role in promoting effective regional co-operation, the normalisation of relations and the solution of bilateral disputes.

*Throughout this text, all reference to Kosovo, whether to the territory, institutions or population shall be understood in full compliance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 and without prejudice to the status of Kosovo.

Ireland’s President Higgins: we need a longer-term vision of the Council of Europe’s role in a post-conflict Europe

Published in World
Tuesday, 11 October 2022 23:31

STRASBOURG. Ireland’s President Michael D. Higgins has called for a longer-term vision of the Council of Europe’s role in a post-conflict Europe, and how that might fit within the wider multilateral architecture, in order to effectively uphold human rights, the rule of law and democracy whilst ensuring there is no immunity for human rights violations.

Speaking to the Parliamentary Assembly in the context of Ireland’s Presidency of the Committee of Ministers, President Higgins stressed that we should revert to the Council of Europe’s fundamental strengths in rebuilding peace, notably the European Convention on Human Rights.

“It must be re-invoked, extended, bolstered, re-asserted, resourced and become part of the discourse of the European street,” said President Higgins, calling for Council of Europe and UN associations to be created in member states.

President Higgins underlined that we must focus on the indivisibility of human rights and commit to a wider definition of comprehensive security on the continent, as a European step towards a universal human rights-based approach to security – including food security.

Any review of the Convention framework must incorporate additional basic rights, said the President, such as the right to a clean environment and the right to be free from hunger.

It is in our interest that the national interests of the country, which are related to the occupied territories, are reflected as much as possible in all documents of the Council of Europe

Published in Politics
Tuesday, 11 October 2022 14:45

STRASBOURG. It is in our interest that the national interests of the country, which are related to the occupied territories, are reflected as much as possible in all documents of the Council of Europe, - Chairman of the "Georgian Dream" party, Irakli Kobakhidze said in connection with the opening of the autumn session of Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg.

According to him, in addition to participation in the autumn session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, bilateral meetings with Georgian partners from different countries are planned.  

"Such formats are very important to deepen relations with partners in both bilateral and multilateral formats, and this format shall be used maximally for this purpose. It is in our interest that the national interests of our country related to the occupied territories and the situation there are reflected as much as possible in all documents of the Council of Europe. Naturally, the situation is complicated in the region and at this time it is most important that our national interests should be emphasized maximally to our partners", Irakli Kobakhidze said. 

Remind you that the autumn session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe is holding in Strasbourg from 10 to 14 October.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is due to address the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe by videoconference on Thursday.

There will also be addresses by the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, and the President of the Swiss Confederation, Ignazio Cassis, as well as the Prime Minister of Albania, Edi Rama.

Thomas Byrne, Ireland’s European Affairs Minister, will present the Communication from the Committee of Ministers in the framework of the Irish Presidency of the Council of Europe.

The Organization’s Secretary General Marija Pejčinović Burić will hold the usual question time with PACE members.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to address PACE’s Autumn plenary session

Published in Politics
Tuesday, 11 October 2022 14:37

STRASBOURG. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is due to address the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) by videoconference (on Thursday at 10am CET) during its Autumn plenary session in Strasbourg from 10 to 14 October 2022. Immediately after, at 11 am CET) the Assembly will hold an urgent debate on "Political consequences of the Russian Federation's aggression against Ukraine". 

During the PACE plenary session there will also be addresses by the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, and the President of the Swiss Confederation, Ignazio Cassis, as well as the Prime Minister of Albania, Edi Rama.

The 2022 Václav Havel Human Rights Prize, which honours outstanding human rights defenders, will be awarded in a special ceremony, with the overall winner to be selected from among three shortlisted candidates.

The Assembly will also hold current affairs debates on "Military hostilities between Azerbaijan and Armenia, including strikes against settlements and civilian infrastructures" and on  "Threatened bans of Pride events in Council of Europe member States".

In addition, debates are foreseen on a European perspective for the Western Balkans, countering Islamophobia or anti-Muslim racism, vaccine discrimination, and the impact of Brexit on human rights on the island of Ireland. The Assembly is also due to discuss the honouring of obligations and commitments by Türkiye, Hungary and Romania.

Thomas Byrne, Ireland’s European Affairs Minister, will present the Communication from the Committee of Ministers in the framework of the Irish Presidency of the Council of Europe. The Organisation’s Secretary General Marija Pejčinović Burić will hold the usual question time with PACE members.

The Assembly is also due to debate reports on the misuse of the Schengen Information system by States as a politically-motivated sanction, discrimination against women in sport, safe third countries for asylum seekers, illegal measures of migration management in the context of pushbacks on land and sea, and revisiting labour rights.

2022 Václav Havel Prize awarded to imprisoned Russian opposition leader Vladimir Kara-Murza

Published in Politics
Monday, 10 October 2022 22:58

Strasbourg. The tenth Václav Havel Human Rights Prize – which honours outstanding civil society action in defence of human rights – has been awarded to imprisoned Russian opposition leader Vladimir Kara-Murza.

The 60,000-euro prize was presented at a special ceremony on the opening day of the autumn plenary session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in Strasbourg.

Vladimir Kara-Murza is a Russian politician, writer and historian. He is one of the opposition leaders in the Russian Federation, a consistent critic of the Russian government, and co-founder of the Russian Anti-War Committee established to oppose Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine. Mr Kara-Murza, who has faced two attempts to poison him, was arrested and jailed in April 2022 and has been charged with treason, as well as other charges, which could keep him behind bars for many years.

Accepting the award on his behalf, Mr Kara-Murza’s wife Evgenia said she “couldn’t be prouder” of her husband. She read out a statement by him in which he dedicated his win to the thousands of Russians who had voiced their opposition to the war in Ukraine, and pledged that “a peaceful, democratic and Putin-free Russia” would one day return to the Council of Europe.

Presenting the award, PACE President Tiny Kox, who chaired the selection panel, said: “Despite the risks, Vladimir Kara-Murza had the courage to return to his country to continue his fight, even while having the possibility to stay safe. […] It takes incredible courage in today’s Russia to stand against the power in place. Today, Mr Kara-Murza is showing this courage, from his prison cell.”

The two other shortlisted nominees were the Rainbow Coalition/Invalid Campaign for LGBTQIA+ rights, a coalition of human rights organisations, LGBTQIA+ rights groups and other civic movements in Hungary, and the Ukraine 5 AM Coalition, a group of Ukrainian human rights organisations whose aim is to uncover, document, collect and preserve evidence, while raising awareness of alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the ongoing war. Both were awarded diplomas.

The Václav Havel Human Rights Prize is awarded each year by PACE, in partnership with the Václav Havel Library and the Charta 77 Foundation, “to honour outstanding civil society action in defence of human rights in Europe and beyond”. It consists of a sum of 60,000 euros, a trophy and a diploma.

Since its creation, the Prize has been awarded in turn to Belarusian opposition leader Maria Kalesnikava (2021), Saudi women’s rights activist Loujain Alhathloul (2020), jointly to Ilham Tohti and the Youth Initiative for Human Rights (2019), Oyub Titiev (2018), Murat Arslan (2017), Nadia Murad (2016), Ludmilla Alexeeva (2015), Anar Mammadli (2014) and Ales Bialiatski (2013).

Georgian delegation to the PACE discuss implementing EC's recommendations at PACE session

Published in Politics
Monday, 10 October 2022 22:47

STRASBOURG. “We will have bilateral discussions under the framework of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). We will talk about how far we have come in implementing the EC’s 12 recommendations,” ruling party MP Irakli Chikovani told the Georgian Public Broadcaster in Strasbourg.

I. Chikovani notes that the Georgian delegation will have several speakers at the Parliamentary Assembly this week.

“We will hold bilateral meetings with colleagues, including those from the Socialist Group, to coordinate our mutual interests. We will also discuss the country’s present state and our progress in implementing the EC’s recommendations. During the week, members of the Georgian delegation will address the Assembly,” Irakli Chikovani stated.

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