Strasbourg, 24.01.2022 - Tiny Kox (Netherlands, UEL) has been elected President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). Taking over from Rik Daems (Belgium, ALDE), he is PACE’s 34th President since 1949 and the third Dutch to hold this office.
He obtained an absolute majority in the first round of voting with 164 votes to 80 for the other candidate, Mariia Mezentseva (Ukraine, EPP/CD). Under the Assembly’s Rules of Procedure, the President serves for a one-year term of office, which may be renewed once.
In his opening speech the newly-elected President urged the Assembly to realise the agenda it set out last year in its resolution on the strategic priorities for the Council of Europe. “This organisation must remain the pillar of democratic security, the guarantor of human rights and rule of law, as well as a platform for effective multilateralism in Europe, and to preserve and reaffirm our own identity as an independent forum for comprehensive and inclusive political dialogue and co-operation,” he said.
“Human rights, with the implementation of the Convention in all member States, must remain our top priority. To achieve this, in-depth dialogue in and with all member States and member parliaments is absolutely needed. Because only then we can uphold the authority of the European Court of Human Rights. Accession of the European Union to the Convention has also been declared by our Assembly as a strategic priority, as well as stronger emphasis on the protection of social and economic rights, and the signature and ratification of the European Social Charter. Among other priorities he stressed the importance of ratification and effective implementation of the Istanbul Convention, support for including the right to a safe, healthy and sustainable environment in the legal framework of fundamental rights, the need for democratic governance of artificial intelligence, and fighting corruption, money laundering, terrorism and violent extremism, “which all destabilise our societies”.
He recalled that “to realise our agenda, we need synergy between our activities and those of the Committee of Ministers, the Secretary-General of the Council of Europe and our Human Rights Commissioner. Alone we tend to be rather weak, whereas together we could show the strength one might expect from Europe’s oldest and broadest treaty-based organisation, which involves citizens from Reykjavik to Vladivostok, and from the North Pole to the Mediterranean Sea. It is a unique and most precious format.”
“It is our common obligation to help to achieve greater unity between our member states for the purpose of safeguarding and realising the ideals and principles which are our common heritage and facilitating our economic and social progress,” he stressed.
“We live in risky times. Tensions are on the rise and respect for the rule of law, human rights and democratic values is waning. Instead of greater unity, created since the fall of the Berlin Wall, we see the real and present danger of new dividing lines in Europe, at the cost of the security of our citizens. Especially now, Europe is in dire need of a meeting point, an Agora for effective governmental and inter-parliamentary diplomacy.
I am convinced that our Parliamentary Assembly should and could be today’s Agora of Europe, to discuss the fundamental affairs of Europe and its 47 member States, aimed at the benefit of our 830 million citizens. Let’s make sure that we don’t disappoint them,” Tiny Kox concluded.
The Minister of Internal Affairs met with the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (Video)
The Minister of Internal Affairs, Vakhtang Gomelauri held a meeting with the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Rik Daems, who pays visit to Georgia.
Strasbourg, 23.07.2021 – Rik Daems, the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), is to make a working visit to Georgia on 27 and 28 July 2021.
In Tbilisi he is due to meet the Speaker of Parliament and Prime Minister, as well as the Foreign, Justice and Internal Affairs Ministers. Meetings are also planned with the chairs of the Human Rights and Civil Integration Committee and the Permanent Parliamentary Gender Equality Council, and with members of the Georgian parliamentary delegation to PACE.
The Assembly brings together 324 members from the national parliaments of the 47 member states. President: Rik Daems (Belgium, ALDE) - Secretary General of the Assembly: Despina Chatzivassiliou-Tsovilis. Political groups: SOC (Socialists, Democrats and Greens Group); EPP/CD (Group of the European People's Party); EC/DA (European Conservatives Group & Democratic Alliance); ALDE (Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe); UEL (Group of the Unified European Left).
Strasbourg, 04.02.2021 - The German Federal Government’s Special Representative for the German Presidency of the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers, State Minister Michael Roth, the President of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly, Rik Daems, and the Secretary General of the 47-nation Council of Europe, Marija Pejčinović Burić, have today made the following statement concerning the sentencing of Aleksey Navalnyy:
“We deeply regret the recent decision of a Moscow court to sentence Aleksey Navalnyy to a prison term. This decision is based on a criminal conviction which the European Court of Human Rights, in its Navalnyye v. Russia judgment of 17 October 2017, found to have been arbitrary and manifestly unreasonable and, as a consequence, in violation of Articles 6 and 7 of the European Convention on Human Rights, to which Russia is a party. We call upon the Russian authorities to abide by their international obligations under the Convention.
The massive, and partly violent, arrests of protesters and journalists at the recent demonstrations all over Russia are also alarming. We refer to the statement of the Council of Europe’s Human Rights Commissioner in this regard. Freedom of assembly, freedom of expression, the right to liberty and security and the right to a fair trial are fundamental rights guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights. These rights must be strictly respected.
We call on the Russian authorities to fully investigate all reported abusive actions against peaceful protesters and journalists, and to bring those responsible to justice, in order to live up to Russia’s obligations as a member state of the Council of Europe.”
The Directorate of Communications of the Council of Europe
“I am glad that I was approved as the Vice-President of PACE with the second term”, - the Majority Leader, member of the Parliamentary delegation to PACE, Irakli Kobakhidze stated.
His first meeting on this position was held with the PACE President, Rik Daems.
The parties dwelt on the cooperation between the Parliament of Georgia and the PACE and touched upon the developments in Georgia and the priorities of Georgian authorities.
“It was an important bilateral meeting with the PACE President. We discussed our cooperation prospects between our Delegation and the PACE”, - I. Kobakhidze noted.
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.
Rik Daems (Belgium, ALDE) has been elected President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).
Succeeding Liliane Maury Pasquier (Switzerland, SOC), he becomes PACE’s 33rd President and the third Belgian representative since 1949 after the Assembly’s founding father, Paul-Henri Spaak (1949-1951), and Fernand Dehousse (1956-9). Only one candidate was in the running.
In his opening speech the newly-elected President urged the Assembly to focus on values rather than national interests. “Interests divide, but values unite," he said. “We are sent by our national parliaments, but I doubt we are sent here only to support our national interests. We all signed the European Convention on Human Rights and we are here to defend human rights, the rule of law and democracy,” he underlined. “We may be a Council of Europe, but we are also a Council of Europeans. Being equal doesn’t mean we are all the same, but to cherish and uphold the same values. This is what ‘unity in diversity’ means, this is what the Council of Europe is all about.”
The President said the connection between human rights and the environment would also be a priority for him - he called for a new protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights on climate change. He will be asking the Committee of Ministers to follow a previous PACE recommendation and start work on this soon. Another priority will be gender equality and the Istanbul Convention.
Finally, the new President announced that he would work hard to encourage the three branches of the Council of Europe – the Assembly, the Committee of Ministers and the Secretary General - to work together in the form of a “trialogue”, with the aim of strengthening the impact of the organisation’s work. “It takes two to tango - but it takes three to dance!"
“We need politics by results, we need to make an impact on the daily lives of our 830 million citizens,” he concluded, announcing that he would like to visit all 47 member States to make PACE’s work better known in national parliaments. "I'll be a full-time President!" he told the members.
Adopting its final agenda at the opening of the 2020 Winter Session, the Assembly decided to hold an urgent debate on the theme “International obligations concerning the repatriation of children from war zones”, as well as a current affairs debate on “Recent developments in Libya and in the Middle East: what consequences for Europe?”. The Session opened this morning with the election of Rik Daems (Belgium, ALDE) as the new PACE President.
The Presidents of Georgia and the Republic of Moldova, as well as the Georgian Foreign Minister and President of the Committee of Ministers and the newly-elected Secretary General of the Council of Europe, will address PACE and answer questions.
Debates on the agenda include a complementary joint procedure between the Committee of Ministers and the Assembly in response to a serious violation by a member State of its statutory obligations, the functioning of democratic institutions in Poland, and reported cases of political prisoners in Azerbaijan.
Parliamentarians will also discuss threats to media freedom and journalists’ security, a report on “Democracy hacked? How to respond?” and the protection of freedom of religion in the workplace.
The Assembly will hold two joint debates – one on migrant trafficking and missing refugee and migrant children, and another on organ transplant tourism and trafficking in human tissues and cells.
A report on minimum standards for electoral systems and a report on the observation of elections in Belarus are also on the agenda.