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.
Irakli Kobakhidze, a member of the Georgian Parliament, has been elected as Vice President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).
The voting was held as part of the Winter Session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in Strasbourg today. The Delegation of the Parliament of Georgia, headed by Irakli Kobakhidze, participates in the session.
19 candidates have been elected as Vice Presidents of PACE.
Twenty Vice-Presidents are elected annually at the beginning of an ordinary session and remain in office until the opening of the next session.
As a reminder, Georgia took over the chairmanship of Council of Europe’s (CoE) Committee of Ministers for a six-month term starting November 27.
Georgian Foreign Minister Davit Zalkaliani will deliver a speech at the Winter Session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in Strasbourg today.
On January 28, President of Georgia Salome Zurabishvili will address Assembly members as well. 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.
“Armenia is today unequivocally a democratic country with absolute freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, and our government is continuing to enhance respect for human rights,” said Nikol Pashinyan, Prime Minister of Armenia, addressing the Assembly today.
“We have managed to root out systemic corruption and to create real prerequisites for everyone’s equality before the law,” the Prime Minister added, evoking “vast political changes” in the country since “the non-violent, velvet, people’s revolution” about a year ago.
However, Mr Pashinyan underlined, “our democracy needs to be reinforced with economic and institutional safeguards. The development of democratic institutions, the existence of an independent judiciary, and the creation and strengthening of anti-corruption institutions are all key areas in which we need the support of the Council of Europe.”
“This is important not only for consolidating the outcomes of our political revolution, but also succeeding in our recently-launched economic revolution, aimed at encouraging the economic activity of our citizens, creating real opportunities for them, making Armenia even more attractive for investments and tourism,” the Prime Minister said.
Mr Pashinyan also said that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict remained a serious challenge for the whole region and that Armenia’s government was committed to the principle of only peaceful settlement of the issue. “I am convinced that mere dialogue between the leaders is not enough for settling the issue. It is very important to launch a dialogue between societies, as well, so that we prepare our respective societies for peace and not for war,” he concluded.
The star of Zurab Zhvania, former Prime Minister of Georgia has been opened outside the building of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in Strasbourg. Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze, being with a working visit in Strasbourg, unveiled the star.
The star of Zhvania has the politician’s one of the most popular phrases on it that the late PM said during the PACE sitting 20 years ago.
“I’m Georgian, and therefore I am European.” These are the words of late Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania while speaking in front of the Council of Europe in 1999. During the speech, he expressed Georgia’s EU aspirations and outlined the country’s foreign policy agenda for the next decade.
Family members of the late Prime Minister attended the star’s opening.
“Finding a solution to the current political and institutional crisis would require close co-operation with all member States and both statutory bodies – the Parliamentary Assembly and the Committee of Ministers. It is time to start consolidating the different views into one,” said Timo Soini, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland and Chairman of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, addressing the Assembly today.
“If we want results, this will require constructiveness from all parties. All member States need to fulfil all their obligations. Payment of membership fees is also an obligation, for all member States,” he added.
Mr Soini believes that a common response would strengthen the Organisation as it would not be a response by one part only, but a response from the whole Organisation. “That would make the response strong, effective and legitimate,” he said, recalling that the aim was to have a constructive outcome at the Helsinki Ministerial meeting.
The Chairman of the Committee of Ministers also evoked a number of events organised in the framework of the Finnish Presidency with regards to its priorities, namely the strengthening of the system of human rights and the rule of law, equality and women's rights, and inclusion, with a focus on young people and the prevention of radicalisation.
A 5-member delegation of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), led by Emanuelis Zingeris (Lithuania, EPP/CD), will travel to Georgia from 28 to 31 October to observe the conduct of the second round of the parliamentary elections alongside observers from the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, the European Parliament and the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).
The delegation will meet leaders of political parties, the Chairperson of the Central Election Commission, as well as representatives of civil society and the media, before observing the ballot on 30 October.
A joint press conference is scheduled on Monday 31 October (place and time to be confirmed).
List of delegation members
Emanuelis Zingeris (Lithuania, EPP/CD), Chairperson of the delegation
Alfred Heer (Switzerland, ALDE)
Mark Pritchard (United Kingdom, EC)
Co-rapporteurs of the PACE Monitoring Committee:
Boriss Cilevičs (Latvia, SOC)
Kerstin Lundgren (Sweden, ALDE)
Meeting with Election Observation Mission of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE)Thursday, 15 September 2016 11:35
Prime Minister of Georgia Giorgi Kvirikashvili held a meeting with the representatives of the Election Observation Mission of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). The parties discussed electoral environment in the country as well as the ongoing political processes.
Giorgi Kvirikashvili reasserted the readiness of the Government of Georgia to ensure holding of elections in democratic, free and transparent environment and provide maximum support to the effective activities of the monitoring missions.
"Very important election is ahead of us. The role of the Observation Mission is great in this process. For the purpose of evaluation pre-election environment and elections, Government of Georgia has invited number of international organizations, including: OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, NATO Parliamentary Assembly, European Parliament, Arab League, African Union, International Republic Institute, National Democratic Institute, etc," - Giorgi Kvirikashvili noted.
During the meeting it was noted that within the frames of international observation mission,around 400 observers will monitor the Parliamentary Elections of October 8.
PACE pre-election mission is headed by Emanuelis Zingeris (Lithuania, EPP/CD), Maryvonne Blondin (France, SOC), Jordi Xuclà (Spain, ALDE), IngebjørgGodskesen (Norway, EC) , Andrej Hunko (Germany, UEL), BorissCilevics (Latvia, SOC), co-rapporteur for the monitoring of Georgia, Kerstin Lundgren (Sweden, ALDE), co-rapporteur for the monitoring of Georgia.
PACE also plans to designate a 32-member delegation to Georgia on the election day to observe the voting process.
Meeting at the Administration of the Government of Georgia was attended by Minister of Justice of Georgia Tea Tsulukiani, Vice Speaker of the Parliament Manana Kobakhidze and deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Gigi Gigiadze.
A seven-member, cross-party delegation of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), led by Emanuelis Zingeris (Lithuania, EPP/CD), will carry out a pre-electoral mission to Georgia on 13-14 September 2016, to assess the election campaign and political climate prior to the parliamentary elections on 8 October.
In Tbilisi, the delegation is due to meet the Speaker of Parliament, the Prime Minister, the Internal Affairs Minister and the Chair of the Central Election Commission, as well as the head of the National Communications Commission.
The delegation will also meet leaders and representatives of parties running in the election, as well as representatives of the media, NGOs and the diplomatic community.
A full 32-member delegation from the Assembly will return to the country to observe the election itself.
The pre-electoral delegation will issue a statement at the end of the visit.
Members of the delegation:
Emanuelis Zingeris (Lithuania, EPP/CD), head of the delegation
Maryvonne Blondin (France, SOC)
Jordi Xuclà (Spain, ALDE)
Ingebjørg Godskesen (Norway, EC)
Andrej Hunko (Germany, UEL)
Boriss Cilevičs (Latvia, SOC), co-rapporteur for the monitoring of Georgia
Kerstin Lundgren (Sweden, ALDE), co-rapporteur for the monitoring of Georgia
“I condemn the attempted coup in Turkey and deplore the loss of life in the events of the weekend. It is now very important to identify facts and bring to justice those responsible,” said Pedro Agramunt, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), in a statement today.
“At the same time, to protect democratic institutions, it is equally important that the relevant legal procedures are carried out in accordance with the rule of law and human rights standards that Turkey has subscribed to as a member of the Council of Europe, in particular the European Convention on Human Rights and the case-law of the Strasbourg Court. In this context, the swift dismissal and arrest of thousands of judges, prosecutors, police officers and senior civil servants raises questions,” said the President.
“I am also worried about the announced discussion on the re-establishment of the death penalty. This would go against the country’s international commitments – as a member state of the Council of Europe, Turkey has signed and ratified Protocol No. 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, and its Protocol No. 13 banning the death penalty in all circumstances,” said Mr Agramunt.
“The Council of Europe stands ready to support the Turkish authorities, on the basis of the principles of democracy, human rights and the rule of law,” he concluded.
“The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation have many things in common,” said PACE President Pedro Agramunt, addressing PABSEC at its plenary session in Moscow today. He underlined that they shared the same geography – as all member states of PABSEC were also members of the Council of Europe – and pursued similar objectives, namely promoting international co-operation to foster stability, prosperity and peace.
“This implies that we have to respond to common challenges too, in particular the refugee crisis and combating international terrorism, he added, explaining the Assembly’s work and activities on the refugee and migration problematic as well as the #NoHateNoFear initiative recently launched by PACE, with a view to “to mobilise politicians, important actors in society and ordinary citizens against terrorism, and the hate and fear that terrorists seek to create”.
In conclusion, Mr Agramunt called for strengthened international co-operation and “more synergies and complementarity to effectively tackle these challenges”.