“Football should be played with dirty boots not dirty money" - Anne Brasseur

Published in World
Monday, 07 December 2015 12:06

Anne Brasseur, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), commenting on the most recent wave of arrests of FIFA officials said:

“Football is a game that should be played with dirty boots not dirty money. I urge all of those with less than clear consciences to come forward and bring an end to this corruption. This is for the sake of those in the smallest village clubs to the largest national teams. Pelé called it ‘the most beautiful game’, many FIFA officials and others have turned it into the ‘the most corrupt sport’. Let us now start to play a clean game.”

Rapporteurs Question arrests of leading Journalists in Turkey

Published in World
Monday, 30 November 2015 14:54

Ingebjorg Godskesen (Norway, EC) and Nataša Vuckovic (Serbia, SOC), co-rapporteurs for PACE’s post-monitoring dialogue with Turkey, have questioned the arrests of two prominent journalists, Can Dündar, Editor-in-Chief of the Cumhuriyet newspaper, and Erdem Gül, its Ankara correspondent, as well as the eight-year sentence facing Bülent Kenes, Editor-in-Chief of Today’s Zaman, for "insulting the President".

"These are yet more additional, regressive moves which will have a chilling effect on journalists, in a context already marked by continuous and worrying restrictions on freedom of the media,” they said.

“In a democracy, journalists should be able to report in an environment free from intimidation or prosecution. We urge the Turkish authorities to guarantee freedom of the press, which is a cornerstone of democracy.”

“We also call on them to align Turkish law with Council of Europe standards and to ensure that the law is applied in line with the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights."

Combat Terrorism, not Migrants - Anne Brasseur

Published in World
Monday, 30 November 2015 12:33

PACE President Anne Brasseur opened a meeting of the Standing Committee in Sofia by calling for a minute of silence to pay tribute to the numerous victims of the "barbaric" terrorist attacks against France and Russia earlier this month. 

"2015 should be a year of celebration with the 65th anniversary of the European Convention on Human Rights as well as the 40th anniversary of the Helsinki Act. Sadly, there is little room for celebration as terrorism threatens and attacks the very roots of democracies and the fundamental values that the Council of Europe stands for," the President said.

"We must unite to defend democracy. To do so, we must overcome political divisions to focus on the root causes of extremism and radicalisation. We must denounce hatred, discrimination and intolerance, and reaffirm the values of ‘living together’," she added. 

Anne Brasseur called on national parliaments to ratify the additional Protocol to the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism, a "powerful instrument in our common response to all would-be terrorists", and invited parliamentarians to get involved in the Council of Europe 'No Hate Campaign'.

"Migration is not a threat to our democracies, but intolerance and hatred undoubtedly are. Our common objective must be to combat terrorism, not to combat migrants, refugees and asylum seekers."

"Our common objective must be to combat terrorism, not to combat migrants" - Anne Brasseur

Published in World
Friday, 27 November 2015 17:19

PACE President Anne Brasseur today opened a meeting of the Standing Committee in Sofia by calling for a minute of silence to pay tribute to the numerous victims of the "barbaric" terrorist attacks against France and Russia earlier this month. 

"2015 should be a year of celebration with the 65th anniversary of the European Convention on Human Rights as well as the 40th anniversary of the Helsinki Act. Sadly, there is little room for celebration as terrorism threatens and attacks the very roots of democracies and the fundamental values that the Council of Europe stands for," the President said.
"We must unite to defend democracy. To do so, we must overcome political divisions to focus on the root causes of extremism and radicalisation. We must denounce hatred, discrimination and intolerance, and reaffirm the values of ‘living together’," she added. 
Anne Brasseur called on national parliaments to ratify the additional Protocol to the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism, a "powerful instrument in our common response to all would-be terrorists", and invited parliamentarians to get involved in the Council of Europe 'No Hate Campaign'.

"Migration is not a threat to our democracies, but intolerance and hatred undoubtedly are. Our common objective must be to combat terrorism, not to combat migrants, refugees and asylum seekers." 

PACE rapporteurs express dismay at death sentence in Belarus

Published in World
Wednesday, 25 November 2015 13:19

Two rapporteurs of the Parliamentary Assembly of the council of Europe (PACE) have expressed their dismay at a death sentence handed down in Belarus last week, and urged the authorities not to carry it out. 

“Capital punishment runs counter to the values of the Council of Europe and has no place in our continent,” said Andrea Rigoni (Italy, ALDE), PACE’s rapporteur on the situation in Belarus, and Marietta Karamanli (France, SOC), general rapporteur on abolition of the death penalty.

“Irrespective of the gravity of the crimes committed by the offender, and while expressing all our sympathy to the families of the victims, we expect this sentence not to be carried out should it be confirmed on appeal,” they said. Ivan Kulesh was sentenced to death by the Hrodna Regional Court on 20 November.
“We particularly regret this death sentence because it interrupts a relatively positive trend in relations between Belarus and European organisations, marked by the liberation of all political prisoners in Belarus, the absence of violence during and after the presidential elections – which were observed by the Parliamentary Assembly for the first time since 2001 at the invitation of the Belarusian parliament – and the temporary suspension of sanctions by the European Union,” they said.
“We strongly urge the Belarusian leadership to introduce a moratorium on capital punishment, as a step towards its full abolition. This decision, which could be taken at any time either by the President, the parliament, or the Constitutional Court, would represent progress in terms of human rights protection but would also show that the authorities are willing to strengthen relations with European organisations.”

PACE rapporteur’s visit to Ukraine focuses on people captured during the conflict

Published in World
Tuesday, 24 November 2015 16:32

Nellija Kleinberga (Latvia, ALDE), rapporteur for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), will conduct a fact-finding visit to Kyiv and Severodonetsk from 24 to 26 November, in the context of the preparation of her report on “The humanitarian concerns with regard to captured people during the conflict in Ukraine”.

In Kyiv, the rapporteur is due to meet the Minister of the Interior, the Deputy Minister of Defence and members of the Ukrainian delegation to PACE. Meetings are also scheduled with the Ombudsperson, the head of the Inter-agency Centre for Assistance in the Release of Captives and the Search for Missing Persons, former captured persons, and representatives of international organisations and NGOs.

In Severodonetsk, Ms Kleinberga will meet representatives of local authorities and NGOs, the Prosecutor General, former captured persons, and she will visit former places of detention.

Anne Brasseur reacts to the Paris attacks

Published in World
Monday, 16 November 2015 10:30

The President of PACE Anne Brasseur expressed deep sorrow due to Paris attacks:

"I am deeply shocked and utterly appalled by the barbaric terrorist attacks perpetrated last night in Paris. On behalf of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, I extend my deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims as well as to the people of France," said Anne Brasseur, President of the Assembly.

"Like the President of the Republic François Hollande, I am convinced that our values remain our best defence against this cruelty and barbarism. It is our duty to overcome all political and ideological divisions in order that we stand together against the scourge of terrorism."

PACE rapporteur to meet President Poroshenko in Kyiv

Published in World
Wednesday, 11 November 2015 10:00

Krystýna Zelienkovà (Czech Republic, ALDE), rapporteur for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on the political consequences of the crisis in Ukraine, is to hold talks with President Poroshenko in Kyiv tomorrow, 11 November 2015.

This is the latest in a series of visits to the country for the rapporteur. In September, she visited Kyiv, L’viv and Odessa, and in February she visited Sloviansk, Kramatorsk and Severodonetsk in the eastern part of the country. She also recently participated in the mission to observe Ukraine’s local elections.
Last week, the rapporteur briefed PACE’s Political Affairs Committee on the current situation in the country, and earlier made a presentation to the European Parliament’s delegations dealing with the EU’s relations with Russia and Ukraine. She is also due to participate in a hearing in Brussels on 7 December on the geopolitical consequences of the crisis in Ukraine.
Ms Zelienkovà is due to present her report in the first half of next year.

Committee calls on Armenia to withdraw from Nagorno-Karabakh as part of the Minsk process

Published in World
Monday, 09 November 2015 13:09

In a draft resolution approved today, the Political Affairs Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has called for “the withdrawal of Armenian armed forces and other irregular armed forces from Nagorno-Karabakh and the other occupied territories of Azerbaijan, and the establishment of full sovereignty of Azerbaijan in these territories", in the framework of the OSCE Minsk process.

The committee also called for "the convening of a plenary meeting of the Minsk Group to establish an interim status for Nagorno-Karabakh guaranteeing security and internal self-governance, with an agreed corridor linking Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh, and other confidence-building measures, including an access corridor to Nakhchivan".

Strongly condemning the deliberate targeting of civilian settlements close to the line of contact, the committee said it regretted that the Nagorno-Karabakh problem has been side-lined by other major international crises. "Further procrastination only complicates the settlement of this 'un-frozen' conflict which has claimed over a hundred human lives since the beginning of 2014, and which may escalate into a real war between two Council of Europe member States", it added.

Recalling that both Armenia and Azerbaijan committed themselves, when joining the Council of Europe in 2001, to use only peaceful means for settling their conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, the committee urged both governments to refrain from using armed force.

The committee also called for the establishment by the OSCE of an international peacekeeping force to maintain security within Nagorno-Karabakh and the other occupied territories and to ensure the safe return and resettlement of displaced persons, as well as the creation of a mechanism to investigate ceasefire violations.

The draft resolution, based on a report by Robert Walter (United Kingdom, EC), is due to be debated by the Assembly at its January 2016 session.

PACE Georgia monitors deeply concerned by court decision allowing change of management at Rustavi 2

Published in Politics
Friday, 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.

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