Council of Europe standards ‘a guiding light’ for Turkey, pledges Prime MinisterWednesday, 20 April 2016 12:55
Addressing PACE, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told parliamentarians: “Turkey is an inseparable part of Europe”. He said Turkey saw the Council of Europe as one of its main partners in bringing about future reforms, and declared that the Council’s standards – including those of the European Convention – constituted a “guiding light” for Turkey.
The Prime Minister also spoke about his country’s commitment to hosting refugees fleeing the conflicts in Syria and Iraq, pointing out Turkey was now hosting the highest number of refugees of any country in the world: “Our country is open to these people and, more importantly, our hearts are open to these people.”
The recent EU-Turkey deal was reducing the numbers crossing the Mediterranean by sea and could save lives, he pointed out, but a permanent solution would involve tackling the root causes of the conflict.
On terrorism, Mr Davutoglu made an appeal for victims of terror attacks to be treated equally: “We should not discriminate between those who lose their lives to terrorism – our reaction should be the same.” He also urged support for the Council of Europe’s new protocol on “foreign fighters”.
Giorgi Kvirikashvili to meet Thorbjørn Jagland todayWednesday, 20 April 2016 09:40
In the framework of official visit in Strasbourg the Prime Minister of Georgia Giorgi Kvirikashvili will hold the meetings today. According to the press-office of Prime Minister, Giorgi Kvirikashvili will meet the Secretary General Council of Europe, Thorbjørn Jagland. The joint press conference will be held after the meeting.
The Prime Minister of Georgia and the Georgian Delegation will attend the ceremony dedicated to the 25thanniversary of independence of Georgia.
Irakli Chikovani at PACEWednesday, 16 December 2015 15:07
International co-operation and intelligence sharing are essential if the activities of organised criminal groups related to migration are to be combated effectively, according to the PACE Migration Committee. Innovative, holistic responses should “target all potentially vulnerable aspects of these group’s business models, including money laundering, corruption of public officials and abuse of the internet”.
Adopting unanimously a report prepared by Irakli Chikovani (Georgia, ALDE), the Committee said that the aim must be to use all possible means to transform migrant smuggling, and the various offences often associated with it, “from low-risk, high-return to high-risk, low-return activities”.
The committee calls on member states to ratify and implement the various UN and Council of Europe conventions against migrant smuggling and money laundering. For its part, the European Union and its member states should fully implement the Action Plan against migrant smuggling.
Governments should also develop and effectively apply a full range of investigative and prosecutorial techniques against migrant smugglers. The competent authorities, the adopted text underlines, should be “entitled to seize, confiscate and forensically examine instrumentalities used in smuggling offences” and make more extensive use of interception of communications, in accordance with the safeguards set out in the European Convention on Human Rights. Jurisdiction for offences occurring in the course of smuggling of migrants onto national territory should be extended, “even when ostensibly committed outside it”.
In the committee’s opinion, efforts to combat migrant smuggling should also address the root causes of forced migration that drive migrants into the hands of migrant smugglers. “Adequate and effective resettlement programmes for refugees and safe and legal channels for migration should also be introduced in order to reduce recourse to migrant smugglers”, the parliamentarians stressed.
PACE Georgia monitors deeply concerned by court decision allowing change of management at Rustavi 2Friday, 06 November 2015 19:05
The co-rapporteurs of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) for the monitoring of Georgia, Boriss Cilevics (Latvia, SOC) and Kerstin Lundgren (Sweden, ALDE), have expressed their deep concern at yesterday’s Tbilisi City Court decision in the ownership dispute over the Rustavi 2 television station that allows the replacement of Rustavi 2’s current management before the appeal process has been completed.
“This decision in effect allows for a change of editorial policy at Rustavi 2, while the appeals process is on-going. This unduly impacts the pluralism of the media environment in Georgia. While we do not wish to pass judgment on the merits of the ownership dispute, we have always stressed that pluralism in Georgia’s media environment should be safeguarded,” they said.
“Moreover, this decision by the Tbilisi court seems to contradict, at least in spirit, the decision by the Constitutional Court to suspend immediate enforcement of court verdicts in civilian cases while the appeals process is going on. We are deeply concerned by the implications of this decision, and the questions that are raised about the judicial process as a result of it,” said the two co-rapporteurs, pledging to continue to follow developments in this case closely.
The co-rapporteurs intend to present an information note on their last visit to Georgia, which took place from 12 to 14 October 2015, at the next meeting of PACE’s Monitoring Committee, which will take place in Paris on 9 December 2015.
PACE President on situation of Human Rights in Europe
After almost two years at the head of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the President, Anne Brasseur, has given a mixed assessment of progress in human rights throughout Europe in her opening address at the autumn session in Strasbourg.
Among the positive developments, she mentioned the great mobilisation against violent extremism and terrorism following the Charlie Hebdo attack, in particular, including the launch of the No Hate Parliamentary Alliance, for which she was particularly honoured to have obtained the Pope’s support, the declaration of a European Day for Victims of Hate Crime and the entry into force of the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.
However, she stressed that “the challenges that our values are facing are enormous,” and made an urgent call for the Assembly to stay united in responding to them.
In this context, she regretted the fact that “in some member states, human rights defenders and civil society activists face a whole range of problems. Restrictive laws, complex and inappropriate administrative procedures, pressure, intimidation and reprisals… all too often, human rights defenders and NGOs are forced to operate in extremely difficult conditions, or even illegally and in secret. This is unacceptable in a democratic society and in Council of Europe member states.”
Pointing out that last-year’s winner of the Vaclav Havel Prize, Mr Anar Mammadli, is still in detention in Azerbaijan, the PACE President said that “over the past two years, the human rights situation in Azerbaijan has deteriorated significantly. The people targeted, the type of charges, the length of the sentences and the blatant irregularities in the conduct of the trials all cast doubt on the authorities’ willingness to respect the fundamental values of the Council of Europe.
“The recent convictions of Leyla Yunus, Arif Yunus and Khadija Ismailova are deeply troubling. It is high time Azerbaijan changed its attitude to human rights and engaged in a root-and-branch effort to tackle systemic problems in terms of the functioning of the justice system and respect for media freedom and freedom of association and assembly,” she added.
“With Azerbaijan due to hold parliamentary elections in just over one month’s time, this is all the more important”, she said and confirmed the decision of the PACE Bureau to send an election observation delegation to Baku on 1 November 2015. Speaking purely for herself, she nevertheless said that unless the long- and short-term ODIHR observers were present, it would be very difficult, if not impossible, for the ad hoc committee to make a thorough and comprehensive assessment as to whether the election was consistent with Council of Europe standards and with Azerbaijan’s commitments to the organisation.
PACE President reacts to the Refugee tragedy in Austria
“I am deeply shocked by the refugee tragedy in Austria – this horror must stop!” said Anne Brasseur, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). “It is appalling and intolerable to see that refugees and asylum seekers who have managed to escape war and conflict have lost their lives, in such inhumane conditions, due to the criminal activities of traffickers. I am appalled and ashamed.”
She added: “Instead of closing borders and building ‘fences’, we must step up efforts to provide shelter and support to all those who require international protection. This is our shared duty and an international responsibility.”
“Everyone must participate and it is our role as parliamentarians to go into the field, meet the people, show solidarity, raise awareness, and suggest solutions. I call on all members of the Assembly, and in particular, the Chairpersons of national delegations, to take the lead and show by example.”
The Meeting of the Speaker with PACE President (Video)
David Usupashvili met with Anne Brasseur. The parties spoke about events in Georgia and in the region, Russian occupation of Georgian territory and situation in Ukraine.
The Speaker thanked Mrs. Brasseur for adoption of the supportive resolution for Ukraine and noted that Georgia will always support the resolution. The parties also considered the Constitutional, electoral, judicial and municipal reforms and agreed to enhance relations between Georgia and CoE.
The meeting was attended by T. Japaridze, L. Berdzenishvili, I. Chikovani and T. Bokuchava. After the meeting, the parties made the joint statements.
“This visit is one more expression of enhancement of Georgia-CoE relations. We agreed to work in this direction. Sometimes, when we have the problem with quorum in the Parliament, it is due to the fact that 10-12 MPs are occupied in PACE, striving not only for Georgia but for Europe. This is the platform, where Georgian politicians participate in construction of Europe, solution of European issues”, - the Speaker stated.
PACE is an important European institution, actively facilitating Georgia to hold the democratic reforms and creation of institutional environ. “Let me remind you that in line with CoE recommendations, we have implemented the most important reforms in judicial sphere, municipal sphere, in political system, legislation on political parties, electoral system and many other spheres. Let me also remind you that the Venice Commission, well-known in Georgia, acts under the aegis of this organization and many other instruments, with which CoE supports Georgia”. “For me, as for the PACE President, it is important to visit the countries first of all to have the personal contacts; also to better understand the country, people, politicians and civil society, to meet media. So, I thank you for the interest, expressed in my visit”, - Mrs. Brasseur stated.
The Parliamentary Delegation of Georgia plays an important role at PACE sessions. “You shall be proud of your delegation, which is very active, particularly at Committee sittings, playing an important role. The Georgian delegation, in terms of attendance, is the 4th country amongst 47 countries. I think, it is important for MPs, to have contacts with their counterparts but it is also important to better understand Georgia. It helps us in development of democracy, rule of law and human rights protection. All democratic forces shall stand beside the civil society and religious leaders to fight against hatred and intolerance as it undermines democratic system and is a real threat – it is the message from CoE” – A. Brasseur stated.
Geo-political situation and Ukraine vents touched particularly the region and Georgia. “We shall find the joint solution. Violence can never be the solution, it is hard but we shall proceed. On our turn, by means of the Parliamentary delegation, we shall find the way out. After termination of suffrage to Russian delegation, they decided not to work with us. They still are the members. We want to talk with them and I hope we will find the way to continue this dialogue but one of the main principles CoE is based on, I will reiterate it here, in Georgia, is territorial integrity. No one has right to violate this principle and it concerns Abkhazia and South Ossetia as well”. She also spoke about Constitutional, electoral Code and judicial reforms. “Some steps have been made but it is important that there is no impunity, is it a civil society or a politician – all breaches shall be punished. Jurisdiction shall be transparent and the system – reliable”. Solution of the problems in the country is possible with bilateral dialogue and mutual respect. “I hope you will find the solution for your problems to continue protection of your citizens”.
The visit started on May 6 and will be accomplished on May 9. A. Brasseur will meet the legislative and executive, as well as judicial authorities.
"Territorial Integrity is our main Principle" - Anne BrasseurThursday, 07 May 2015 12:28
„We have to continue parliamentary diplomatic practices. When Russian Federation’s delegation’s right to vote was suspended at the parliamentary assembly, they decided to stop working with us. We did not quit their rights, they are our members and we want to continue cooperation with them, but territorial integrity is one of our main principles and it is impossible to ignore this. Nobody has right to change the principle with force. This subject is related to Abkhazia and South Ossetia”, - said the President of Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe, Anne Brasseur during the press conference held after the meeting with Georgian Parliaments Speaker David Usupashvili.
President of PACE makes official visit to GeorgiaWednesday, 06 May 2015 11:37
Anne Brasseur, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), will make an official visit to Georgia on 7-8 May 2015.
In Tbilisi, she is due to meet the President of Georgia, the Prime Minister, the Speaker of Parliament and the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Ms Brasseur will also have meetings with representatives of different political groups.
In addition, talks are scheduled with the Georgian delegation to PACE, the Chairperson of the Supreme Court, the Public Defender, and with representatives of civil society and the diplomatic and international community.
Ms Brasseur will also visit an internally displaced persons’ settlement in Tserovani and the administrative boundary line at Khurvaleti.
She will also give a lecture to students at the Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University.
David Usupashvili, Speaker of the Georgian Parliament, and PACE President Anne Brasseur, will make a press statement at the Parliament on Thursday 7 May at 11 am.
PACE President welcomes Admission by former Romanian PresidentMonday, 27 April 2015 13:48
“In a recent interview in Der Spiegel, former Romanian President Ion Iliescu has admitted that he knew about a ‘CIA facility’ in Romania, though he denies knowing what went on inside it,” said Anne Brasseur, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).
“Back in 2006 and 2007, the Assembly’s rapporteur on CIA renditions and secret detentions Dick Marty accused Romania, alongside Poland, of having hosted secret detention facilities used for the torture of suspects in the so-called war on terror.
The Marty reports set in motion a process which Senator Marty called the ‘dynamic of truth’, resulting in more whistleblowers coming forward and leading to findings of violations of the European Convention of Human Rights by the Strasbourg Court, including recent rulings against Poland relating to a ‘black site’ identified by Senator Marty in 2007.
In view of Mr Iliescu’s admission, it is now up to the Romanian prosecutorial authorities to conduct a serious investigation into the facts, and to hold to account the perpetrators of any crimes committed in this context.”