AS (2011) CR 30
2011 ORDINARY SESSION
Tuesday 4 October 2011 at 10 a.m.
In this report:
1. Speeches in English are reported in full.
2. Speeches in other languages are summarised.
3. Speeches in German and Italian are reproduced in full in a separate document.
4. Corrections should be handed in at Room 1059A not later than 24 hours after the report has been circulated.
The contents page for this sitting is given at the end of the verbatim report.
Mr Çavuþoðlu, President of the Assembly, took the Chair at 10.05 a.m.
THE PRESIDENT – The sitting is open.
1. Request for Partner for Democracy status with the Parliamentary Assembly submitted by the Palestinian National Council
THE PRESIDENT – We now come to the debate on a report from the Political Affairs Committee on the request for Partner for Democracy status with the Parliamentary Assembly submitted by the Palestinian National Council, Document 12711, presented by Mr Kox, rapporteur for the committee, with opinions presented by Mr Pourgourides on behalf of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights. Document 12738, and by Mrs Hägg on behalf of the Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men, Document 12736.
I would also like to remind members of the Assembly that a signing ceremony for Partner for Democracy status for the Palestinian National Council will take place in the foyer of the Hemicycle at 1.00 p.m.
To allow sufficient time for replies to the debate, and voting, we will have to interrupt the list of speakers at about 12.20 p.m.
I call Mr Kox, rapporteur. You have 13 minutes in total.
Mr KOX (Netherlands) – Thank you very much, Mr President, Mr Speaker of the Palestinian National Council, Mr Secretary-General of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Mr Minister, Mr Ambassador, dear colleagues from Palestine and other dear colleagues.
Today, I present a draft resolution regarding the request of the Palestinian National Council to become a Partner for Democracy with this Assembly. It was unanimously adopted by the Political Affairs Committee on 6 September in Caserta, Italy.
The draft resolution that I present proposes to grant Partner for Democracy status to the Palestinian Parliament, because the PNC’s request meets both in form and in substance the requirements laid down in Rule 60 of our Assembly’s Rules of Procedure. If the Assembly accepts this proposal, the Palestinian Parliament will become the second parliament after the Parliament of Morocco to which we have granted this new status.
In his letter to the Assembly in which the speaker of the Palestinian National Council makes his request for partnership, it is stipulated that the Palestinian Parliament is committed to the same values as those of the Council of Europe. These are pluralist and gender parity-based democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights and fundamental values.
In the same letter, the Palestinian Parliament commits itself to maintain the de facto moratorium on the death penalty; to make full use in its institutional and legislative work of the experience of our Assembly and of the Venice Commission; to make favourable conditions in holding free, fair and transparent elections in compliance with relevant international standards; to encourage equal participation of women and men in public life and politics; to encourage the competent authorities of the Palestinian National Authority to accede to the relevant Council of Europe conventions and partial agreements; and, finally, to inform this Assembly regularly on the state of progress made in the implementation of the principles of the Council of Europe.
With these commitments the Palestinian request meets the formal conditions set out in our Rules of Procedure. The Assembly had already decided, on 4 October 2010, that the Palestinian National Council would be an appropriate partner; nevertheless I welcome the announcement of both President Abbas and Speaker al-Za’noon that the structure of the PNC will be modernised and democratised in the near future.
During my fact-finding mission to Palestine, accompanied by João Ary of the Secretariat, to whom I owe a lot of gratitude, I had the opportunity to meet all relevant players, and I thank my Palestinian counterpart for that. I met Speaker al-Za’noon of the PNC and all factions in the Palestinian Legislative Council, as well as President Abbas, Prime Minister Fayyad and other members of the Cabinet, one of whom was the Minister now here with us.
I was also able to ask the main trade unions, women’s organisations, human rights organisations and others for their opinion on the partnership, and they all advised me to propose that the Assembly grant this new status to their parliament. Many were convinced that the commitments of the Palestinian Parliament, supported by the Palestinian Government, will give people in the Palestinian territories new opportunities to develop further a democratic society based on the rule of law, with respect for human rights and fundamental values. In that context, the request meets not only the formal requirements, but the aspirations of the Palestinian people, and that I think is the most important thing.
During my fact-finding mission, and afterwards in several meetings with the Palestinian delegation here, it was said time and again that the Palestinians’ aspirations are much hindered by the enormous problems of foreign occupation and internal division. Solving those is a prerequisite of a sustainable future for any Palestinian state and its citizens. I therefore hope that the negotiations between the Israeli Government and the Palestinian National Authority will soon resume, and that the reconciliation agreement between all political factions in Palestine will be implemented as soon as possible.
The granting of a partnership is the beginning of a new relationship which has to be developed in the forthcoming months and years, so the resolution mentions a number of specific issues of key importance in strengthening democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. The formation of a new government and the organisation of parliamentary and presidential elections within the year are crucial, but other important issues need to be considered such as guaranteeing media pluralism and freedom, and freedom of religion and belief, and guaranteeing freedom of association and peaceful assembly, the rejection of the use of terrorism, the fight against corruption, and the strengthening of local and regional democracy, as well as the abolition of the death penalty. All those issues have been properly discussed with our Palestinian colleagues and are mentioned in the draft resolution.
Although the request is the sovereign right of the Palestinian Parliament, I was happy to be able to inform the delegation from the Knesset to the Assembly about the matter in a very constructive way. I was pleased that in Caserta, after the Political Affairs Committee adopted my draft resolution and explanatory memorandum, the representative from the Knesset made a positive evaluation of the proposed resolution. I hope that the participation of the delegation from the Palestinian National Council as a Partner for Democracy in the work of the Assembly will promote co-operation between the parliamentary delegations from Palestine and from Israel in the Assembly. Of course, I hope that we soon see an end to the Israeli occupation and the emergence of two viable democratic states with secure borders – Israel and Palestine – living side by side in peace and prosperity.
Only 11 days ago, President Abbas applied in New York for full UN membership for the state of Palestine. That is now in the hands of the Security Council and thereafter in the hands of the General Assembly. President Abbas’s request was said to be historic and to be the beginning of the Palestinian spring. On Thursday, President Abbas will come to our Assembly and explain why his government has made that UN request. He will react, too, on the new relationship between our Assembly and his parliament, which we might also describe as an historic event. That new partnership also fits in with the Arab Spring, in which new democracies are emerging.
Recently, we have applauded the democratic developments in Africa and the Middle East. Later today, we will debate Mr Gardetto’s report on the matter. By opening the possibility of a Partnership for Democracy between those emerging democracies and our Assembly we have indeed put our money where our mouth is. In one year, since the beginning of the Arab Spring, we have been able as an Assembly to receive, investigate and grant that new status to two parliaments in the Assembly if the Assembly approves the draft resolution. By doing so, I am convinced that we will pave the way for other European and international organisations to develop new relations with those emerging democracies, after a period in which for far too long Europe and the international community too often supported authoritarian governments in North Africa and the Middle East. We now have a chance to show that we are really on the side of democracy in our neighbourhood.
In conclusion, a Partnership for Democracy is a mutual agreement. It grants rights and obligations to both partners. The Parliamentary Assembly must assume that we make it possible for our new Palestinian colleagues and the Palestinian Parliament as such to take full advantage of that new partnership. I invite our colleagues from Palestine to keep us to our part of the deal, as we will keep them to their part of the deal and their obligations, because only then will we become real Partners for Democracy.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you very much, Mr Kox. You have 4 minutes 15 seconds to reply to the debate.
I call Mr Pourgourides, Chairperson of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, to present the committee’s opinion. You have four minutes.
Mr POURGOURIDES (Cyprus) – Thank you very much, Mr President.
I congratulate Mr Kox on his excellent report, which deals with a wide range of political and legal issues stemming from the request from the PNC for Partner for Democracy status with the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. The Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights concurs with the Political Affairs Committee that the PNC meets both in form and in substance the requirements set out in Rule 60.2 of the Assembly’s Rules of Procedure. We also support the proposed draft resolution. Any attempt by the Palestinian authorities to be inspired by, to adhere to and to promote the standards of the Council of Europe must be encouraged, and we do so in the first of our proposed amendments.
The report and the resolution, however, highlight a number of areas where there are still significant shortcomings and where genuine progress must soon be made. Five people, for instance, were sentenced to death in the Gaza Strip in 2011. That shows that more efforts must be made to abolish the death penalty, both in law and in practice throughout Palestine. Furthermore, the use of terrorism must be rejected explicitly and it must be actively combated with measures that respect human rights and the rule of law as we stress in our second amendment. Our dear colleague, Lord Tomlinson, will present a resolution on that topic on Thursday.
The development of democracy, the rule of law and human rights in Palestine is an ongoing process that is still some way from reaching its final goal. Conferring Partner for Democracy status on the PNC should promote progress in that direction, as it entails rights and responsibilities. Many political commitments have been entered into by the PNC and, as proposed, a review should be carried out in two years’ time, and we sincerely hope that in two years we will be able to say that we are glad to note that sufficient progress has been made.
Our distinguished collegue, Dick Marty, recalled in the Chamber yesterday morning that as long as the problems surrounding Palestine remain unresolved, peace in the region will not be possible. I fully share that view. Let us hope that today’s resolution is a step towards peace, so I call on all colleagues to support it by voting in favour of it.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Pourgourides.
I call Mrs Hägg, Rapporteur of the Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men, to present the committee’s opinion. You have four minutes.
Mrs HÄGG (Sweden) – Thank you, Mr President, distinguished guests and dear colleagues.
I congratulate Mr Kox on his excellent report, and I fully support the proposal that the Palestinian National Council be granted the status of Partner for Democracy.
Women’s rights are one of the pillars of our Organisation and therefore a core part of the procedure to grant such status. In the Palestinian Territories, much is still to be done in that area. Paletinian women face a number of challenges stemming both from their culture and tradition and from the Israeli occupation. Shortcomings in women’s situation are rife as a result of the law in force in the Territories, and can be seen in family law, succession law and political representation. Violence against women, which represents a severe violation of women’s rights, is also widespread.
However, the PNC appears to be seriously committed to reform. We had an opportunity to meet and hear from Rabiha Diab, Minister of Women’s Affairs in the PNC. She presented the work that her government has undertaken to tackle gender inequalities that still exist in the Territories. The gender cross-sectoral country strategy, as well as the national strategic plan to combat violence against women, which is meant to cover the period 2011 to 2019, are also considerable achievements.
The Palestinian National Authority has signed unilaterally the convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women – CEDAW – which is a political gesture of remarkable importance. Women are disproportionately affected by the conflict but also play a prominent role in peace building, in civil society on both sides, and in some cases in taking joint initiatives regardless of the border separating them. Let me mention two women, Naomi Chazan and Sumaya Farhat-Naser, who launched a partnership between Palestinian and Israeli women’s organisations during the first intifada. This special partnership is called the Jerusalem Link. The two partners’ organisation carry out initiatives separately to address the needs of women on both sides, but they also run various joint peace-building projects. The Palestinians need to continue their reforms and consolidate their democratic status and institutions.
As Mr Kox rightly states, within such institutions as well as in society, women must be given the place to which they are entitled, based on the principle of equality that we are here to promote. The status of Partner for Democracy will be one more instrument in the hands of the leaders of the Palestinian authorities to make progress in that direction.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. I call Mr Hancock to speak on behalf of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe
Mr HANCOCK (United Kingdom) – I welcome our guests and congratulate Tiny Kox on the excellence of his report and on the contributions of our two rapporteurs, who explained to the Assembly why giving such recognition is so important. That 47 countries will recognise the importance of a partnership with the Palestinian people will be a major step forward. It is of fundamental importance that that message goes out much wider than Europe and that it goes straight to the heart of the Security Council in New York, giving it a lead and explaining why and how it should respond favourably to the request that the Palestinian people, through their president, have legitimately made.
On behalf of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, I am delighted to say that we unanimously support the proposal, but we also bear in mind the balance that must be drawn between our enthusiasm to welcome the co-operation between us and the Palestinian authorities and our pointing out to them the commitments that the report asks them to live up to. It cannot be one sided – while the warm hand of friendship goes out, that hand must be greeted with a firm commitment that you will deliver on the promises that you have made to this Assembly. In the past, it has been too easy for people to come here, promise a lot and do nothing. For 60-odd years, the Palestinian people have asked nothing more than most of us in this room take for granted: the right to live and be comfortable within the borders of our own country; to have a national identity; and to have a place that is simply our home. The state of Palestine is long overdue, we should all welcome it, and we should welcome the steps taken now. We can neither reverse time nor look back in anger, as I am sure that all Palestinians do, to the wasted opportunities over the past 60 years. When the state of Israel was created, the Palestinian people were pushed aside and virtually forgotten. The world community did not do enough then, but it is our opportunity now to put right the wrongs of that time.
I welcome this partnership, which is one such long overdue step, and it is encouraging to see the commitments entered into by our Palestinian colleagues. Most importantly, we have a part to play in our national parliaments in insisting that our governments follow the line that the Assembly has taken. We should say to our governments, “Please do the right thing for the first time in a long time for the people of Palestine.” None of us would be comfortable living in the environment in which the Palestinians live, but those of us who have been privileged to walk in the fields and streets of Palestine and who have met the people, will know the beauty of the country and the warmth of the people. Such commodities build real, stable democracies if they are given the chance to thrive. Too many obstacles have been placed falsely in the way of the Palestinian people being able to live up to the expectations that every one of us takes for granted.
There is no hiding place now for the diplomatic world when it comes to Palestine. A solution needs to be found that is fair and equitable, but it must also be matched by fairness and equitability from the people of Palestine to their neighbours. We should expect and demand nothing more, and they should expect and demand nothing less from us than to give every opportunity for every person in that region to be comfortable in their own country, which they can genuinely call their territory without invaders or others occupying their lands. If we give Palestinians the chance to thrive, I have no hesitation in believing that they will do so.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. I call Mr Clappison on behalf of the European Democrat Group.
Mr CLAPPISON (United Kingdom) – On behalf of the European Democrat Group I warmly welcome the report and congratulate its author. Today may be an occasion on which the Assembly can speak with one voice, because I agree totally with the sentiments expressed on behalf of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe by the previous speaker, by the presenter of the report, and by each of the rapporteurs. This is an important day for the Assembly, an important step and precisely the work that our Assembly should do. I offer to our guests, who are becoming our partners for peace and our colleagues, the hand of friendship and an extremely warm welcome. As the previous speaker and others have said, they are embarking on an ambitious programme, and we must work with them towards fulfilling it. In fairness to them, we must recognise, as the report rightly does, the progress that has already been made, as well as recognising that there is still more progress to be made. We have our role in helping you to achieve that and it is to your great credit that you have set out such an ambitious programme.
All the draft resolutions amount to an important programme, but there is one point that is particularly important, as Mr Pourgourides mentioned, and that is the rejection of terrorism, which you firmly stated in your acceptance of the report and which is a very important step. I highlight one point mentioned specifically in the draft resolution that would help us along this road: the freeing of Gilad Shalit. Many families in the region have anxieties about family members and in some circumstances are waiting for those family members today, but the case of Gilad Shalit is particularly poignant. He was an ordinary soldier kidnapped while serving his country and held in inhumane conditions. His case has a lot of resonance throughout the world, and his freeing would be an important step forward in itself. I dare say that if it were up to the members of the Palestinian National Council who are with us today, he would be free today, but there are other factors to be taken into account. However, we must work towards that step, which would give significant momentum towards the peace process, through which the entirely legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people can be fulfilled through a two-state solution, which has been set out again today.
The step taken by this Assembly is an important step forward itself in the peace process, as the previous speaker rightly said, and our work with you in taking forward this important draft resolution and in fulfilling this ambitious and onerous programme would be a great step forward for peace in the region. If I can say so as an ordinary member of this Assembly, on some occasions I think that the Assembly casts its net rather wide, but on this occasion we have got it spot on. This is exactly the sort of work we should be doing.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. The next speaker is Mrs Groth, who speaks on behalf of the Group of the Unified European Left.
Mrs GROTH (Germany) congratulated Mr Kox on his impressive report and hoped that the Assembly would give its approval.
She agreed with Mr Hancock that European governments should recognise the Palestinian state and fight for its recognition. Governments of European and non-European countries should work to ensure that that would come to pass. In particular, Angela Merkel had a part to play in that process, which was the only way in which a major step could be taken towards peace in the Middle East.
Some scepticism was necessary, however. The Government of the United States, for example, had warned the Palestinians that any attempt to bypass negotiations with Israel would have an impact on aid provided by the USA. The American and German Governments had said that resumption of negotiations with Israel was a pre-condition of recognition of the Palestinian state. Negotiations had been taking place for 60 years; but without a satisfactory outcome. In the past year, the number of Palestinian houses destroyed by the building of Israeli settlements had doubled. There were plans to uproot 30 000 Bedouin houses from the desert. Houses in one village had been razed 26 times. All that had an effect on the morale of the Palestinian people, some of whom she knew personally, leaving them with feelings of despair, helplessness and hopelessness.
Israel, along with the European Union and the Council of Europe, had a legal obligation towards the Palestinian people. Israel ought to be aware of its responsibilities and should be held to account for its actions. A message should be sent to the United States that a threat to reduce aid was tantamount to blackmail. The draft resolution should be endorsed, and would contribute towards peace in the Middle East.
THE PRESIDENT – Vielen dank, Mrs Groth. The next speaker is Mr Sasi, who speaks on behalf of the Group of the European People’s Party.
Mr SASI (Finland) – Mr President, on behalf of the Group of the European People’s Party I congratulate Mr Tiny Kox on an excellent report. Our goal in Europe is peace and prosperity which we achieve through democracy, human rights and the rule of law. I believe that the same concept can also be applied in the Middle East and could work. It will be a long path but we need to begin at one point.
We see at the moment movement in the Middle East. Israel already has democracy, the rule of law and a constitution that guarantees human rights. In Syria we see that the flowers of democracy have started blooming with the resistance and we hope that change will take place. Especially today I welcome the commitment of the Palestinian National Council to take up the values that we so highly appreciate in Europe of democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
We should not always ask only what others can do but what we can do. The Council of Europe can help in this process. We can use tools such as the Venice Commission to produce reports on legislation, which would be very helpful. Participation in the Council of Europe’s work can show how we think that democracy and human rights might be strengthened in that environment. That is a very good teaching lesson. When you study the conventions of the Council of Europe, you always learn, and agreeing to and being party to them will be very helpful to any society.
Let me repeat the commitments that the Palestinian National Council will make. There must be free and fair elections, which we want to observe next time, which will be very important. There must be human rights, including especially equality between men and women, the abolition of the death penalty and freedom of religion, which is very important. Freeing the solider Gilad Shalit would be a very simple sign that would be very important for the Council of Europe. Of course, an independent judiciary is also very important: everyone must be able to trust that they will receive an impartial decision from the courts of the country.
It is important that the commitments that you will make today are real commitments and that you regularly inform the Council of Europe on the state of progress, which we will very closely follow. In two years’ time there will be a review of the commitments and the process. I hope that we can be glad in two years’ time when we see that there has been great progress, and that we can be satisfied that we have helped to achieve that progress. I hope that the Council of Europe will draw up a programme of how we envisage things will proceed.
Let me state two things that are still important in the Middle East and in this context. There must be a rejection of the use of terrorism by all. To my mind it is also important that you be co-operative with the Quartet and try to negotiate. Negotiating is always better than not negotiating. Please be co-operative when the big powers of the world want to help you.
Honourable ladies and gentlemen, Partner for Democracy status does not guarantee recognition of a Palestinian state but I think that it can be a point on the path that helps you to achieve that goal. Democratic status is certainly more easily guaranteed than other status. I wish you all the best for all that is to come.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. The next speaker is Mr Gross, who speaks on behalf of the Socialist Group.
Mr GROSS (Switzerland) – Thank you, Mr President. The Social Democrats would also like to join all those who have congratulated Mr Tiny Kox on this report. This is not only an excellent report but excellent timing because it allows those of us who were disappointed with what happened in the United Nations to reinforce – I am happy to join Mr Clappison in saying this – the common message of this Assembly that this is an opportunity for us to show that we would like to have two peoples, two states, two democracies. This is a contribution to the building and strengthening of two democracies that are inclusive and respectful of their mutual minorities. In modern society, societies are never homogenous but always multicultural, and that is why we need to respect and protect those who belong to the other minority. This partnership should encourage and support you to strengthen this perspective and these principles, which are also helpful for unity within the community and within the region. There is no other way to establish strong democracies that are inclusive and respectful or to find peace together with others.
That is why the Social Democrats welcome the partnership with joy. It is not a coincidence that the partnership is happening after the partnership with Morocco: it is a reflection of what happened in the Arab Spring and the Arab revolutions. We are sure that it could be a bridge to partnerships with Tunisia and perhaps Egypt.
There is a common commitment and a common message. We are glad that you recognise that that common commitment means that both parties have tasks and missions that we must accomplish in the service of your people and your region and in the pursuit of peace for all in the region. As Mr Hancock said, we have an obligation to do more and to do better, but we need both parties – you and us – to do that together.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Gross. I now call Mr Salles.
Mr SALLES (France) congratulated Mr Kox. He supported the report’s recommendation, by and large, but the status of Partner for Democracy for the Palestinian National Council did not necessarily imply the legitimacy of a Palestinian state, and nor had the Council of Europe the authority to imply that. It was important to establish dialogue through such symbolic actions as a means of achieving peace in the region. That was especially true after recent statements at the rostrum of the United Nations, following the Palestinian National Council’s application for UN recognition. Talks between Israel and the Palestinian National Council were currently deadlocked, but it was difficult to establish dialogue while Hamas refused to acknowledge the state of Israel and continued to engage in violence. The Arab Spring provided hope for the region, demonstrating that authoritarian governments could no longer hold power over their people. The inclusion in the resolution of Gilad Shalit, who was of French and Israeli nationality and had been held for six years without trial, was pleasing.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. I now call Mr Rustamyan.
Mr RUSTAMYAN (Armenia) congratulated the rapporteur. The proposal for Partner for Democracy status for the Palestinian National Council was an excellent way to strengthen democratic principles in that region. It provided a step towards recognition of an independent Palestinian state. The move would also have a positive effect on the achievement of a settlement to conflict in the region by fostering dialogue in line with the principles of the Council of Europe. The action demonstrated the role the Council of Europe could play in other conflicts, such as that in Nagorno-Karabakh, but it was important to ensure that all the parties involved in such conflicts were represented. For example in October 2010, the Assembly had agreed to allow representatives from Kosovo to attend meetings where the matters discussed concerned Kosovo. Northern Cyprus, Nagorno-Karabakh and Transnistria were among other regions that could benefit from such a move. Nagorno-Karabakh, in particular, demonstrated what could be achieved from the Assembly’s playing a positive role, and Palestine would similarly benefit if its representatives were present when its future was discussed. Political engagement was necessary if such ends were to be achieved.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. I now call Mr Rochebloine.
Mr ROCHEBLOINE (France) congratulated the rapporteur. The recommendation reflected the role of the Council of Europe in promoting human rights and peace. It came at a timely moment, following recent opposition to the Palestinian National Council’s application for UN recognition and the worsening situation in the region. The hopes raised by the 1993 Oslo Accords, which supplied an admittedly difficult path to a long-lasting peace, seemed themselves long distant now after years of violence. Israeli governments had made little progress since in moving the process forward, going out of their way to avoid Palestinian political representation. For example, they had turned a blind eye to the establishment of settlements in Palestinian territories. The blockade of the West Bank and Gaza by the Israeli authorities had further fuelled violence.
He favoured granting the request for Partner for Democracy status to the Palestinian National Council, but noted that this would not of itself bring an end to the conflict in the region. It would provide a forum for dialogue that was lacking at present, while still providing an opportunity to be critical of the Palestinian National Council. Such an approach was better than the isolation strategy currently being pursued by the Israeli Government.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Rochebloine. The next speaker is Mr Badré.
Mr BADRÉ (France) said that Partner for Democracy status for the Palestinian National Council marked a step towards recognition of a Palestinian state. There was a wish for inter-community dialogue and an end to violence in the region. A meeting in April of international donors had agreed that the Palestinian Authority had passed a critical point in achieving political reform, and Partner for Democracy status would mark a further step in that process. It also set down clear duties that must be met by the Palestinian National Council. However, the democratic fillip provided by such an action would also have to be reflected in statements made by Hamas. There was no justification for the tragedies occurring in the region. Establishing human rights was the first step, as exclusion and intolerance had to be eradicated. A culture of rancour would not aid the future.
In his version of Electra, the French playwright Jean Giradoux had described a scene of despair and destruction, but, at sunrise, had had a character ask a beggar to describe the situation. The beggar had described it as “dawn”, and it was at dawn that the sun rose. The metaphor could equally apply to the situation in the Middle East. There was great hope for the future, but good will was required among people from all communities if the right were to be established that all people might live in peace in the land of their forefathers. It was important to remember that people subject to bombing and violence always aspired to peace.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Badré. The next speaker is Mr Aivaliotis.
Mr AIVALIOTIS (Greece) congratulated the rapporteur. Delegates from the Council of Europe had had an important role to play in the elections to the Palestinian authority in 2005 and 2006. He favoured giving Partner for Democracy status to the Palestinian National Council. Nevertheless, the Palestinian Authority still had much to do. The Israelis also had a right to not fear terrorism. While it was unjustifiable that Palestinians had suffered greatly, Israelis too had a right to peace. Little progress had been made in achieving peace in recent years, and peace without justice was not possible. The situation in the Mediterranean was also deteriorating, with increasing aggression by Turkey. The Assembly should speak out against such aggression to help avoid inflammation of conflict in the region.
(Mr Walter, Vice-President of the Assembly, took the Chair in place of Mr Çavuþoðlu.)
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. I call Mr Avital.
Mr AVITAL (Observer from Israel) – On behalf of the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament, I want to convey our hopes that this step, when and if – only if – its commitments are consistently taken seriously, will in the end prove beneficial first to the welfare, well-being and future of the Palestinian society and, secondly, to the prospect of peace and reconciliation between our two societies.
I also express my appreciation and respect for the work done in the Political Affairs Committee and, specifically, by Mr Kox. I commend his emphasis on presenting in the document the story of Gilad Shalit, and I remind the Council that Gilad Shalit has been in captivity and in Palestinian hands for the past five years, without being afforded any basic human rights. He has not even been allowed a visit by a representative of the International Red Cross. I emphasise that that issue is part of the commitment which the Palestinians take upon themselves in the context of this application, and I commend Mr Kox for including it in his document.
It is, frankly, no secret that in the Israeli Parliament there are voices who either recommend extreme cautiousness with respect to this step or bluntly object to it, yet I make it clear, as the head of the Israeli parliamentary delegation from the Knesset, that I have here today a full mandate to convey to you on behalf of our parliament, and on behalf of Israeli society at large, our hopes and belief that this step, as it represents a general drive in Palestinian society towards democracy and democratic ideals, will indeed prove helpful to the peace process and to the negotiations between our two societies, which I urge Palestinians to join.
A commitment to democracy and to democratic ideals, as all of us in this room know, is an ongoing and demanding process. We Israelis know that very well, as the most recent events on our streets have proven. I am glad that Palestinian society has expressed the will to take this big commitment upon itself, and I wish it success in this important endeavour.
I have no doubt that strengthening the democratic foundations of Palestinian society will prove a constructive and helpful step with respect to the peace process and, I hope, towards a historic resolution of the conflict between our two nations.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Avital. I call Mr Vrettos.
Mr VRETTOS (Greece) – I totally agree with my colleague from Greece who spoke earlier. Mr Kox elaborated on an excellent and, much more importantly, very useful report and draft resolution. We need useful reports here, and this is one of them. There is no doubt that the process of accepting the Palestinian National Council as a Partner for Democracy with the Council of Europe will be a great help to the Palestinian people in their struggle to be accepted by the international community as a free and independent state.
In the Council of Europe, however, what counts more is not the political opportunities of its member states, but the obligations on their political leaders to respect the fundamental political and social rights of their citizens. The Palestinian leaders should orient themselves much more towards the commitment provided by our resolution and, more specifically, by paragraph 12 of the report, which Mr Kox presented so very well.
At the end of this meeting, we will decide to bring the Palestinian authorities into this very important international Organisation, but what counts more is that this decision will greatly contribute to the dialogue between the two communities, which are trying to achieve a permanent and stable solution for their citizens. This report and our decision are, therefore, very important.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Vrettos. I call Mr Gardetto.
Mr GARDETTO (Monaco) thanked Mr Kox and congratulated him on his excellent report. The proposal to offer partnership for democracy status to Palestine was made in the specific context of the Arab Spring, which had placed the Middle East at the forefront of minds to an even greater degree than was usual. Stabilisation of the region was of vital importance. The Council of Europe could offer valuable tools to support dialogue, democracy and respect for human rights.
In creating Partnership for Democracy status, the Assembly had intended to foster institutional co-operation with non-member parliaments that wanted to benefit from the Assembly’s experience. The report highlighted the need to strengthen democratic institutions and the rule of law. Continuing dialogue could be encouraged by granting Partnership for Democracy status. It also provided an opportunity for the Assembly to share its experience of democratic transition.
The President of the Palestinian National Council had given a solemn commitment to continue to work to make happen all that the PNC was committed to do, as defined in Resolution 1680. The May Cairo Agreement was a positive sign, and a transitional government had been established.
He supported granting partnership status to the Palestinian National Council. The Assembly could support peace in that region by promoting the values of the rule of law, human rights and democracy, the essential values, in fact, of the Council of Europe. Similar steps could follow for countries in similar situations, such as Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. The Council of Europe had a part to play at an historic moment for the Arab world, and he would be pleased to vote for Palestine to be granted Partner for Democracy status.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you very much, Mr Gardetto. I call Mrs Trettebergstuen.
Mrs TRETTEBERGSTUEN (Norway) – Today, we should heartily welcome this excellent report and the Palestinians as a Partner for Democracy. The partnership will hopefully be an important incentive to the further development of democracy, but we must also recognise and welcome state institution-building and thus democracy-building that have been accomplished by the Palestinian Authority.
In recent years and, as clearly stated by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, we have witnessed great progress in the quality and functioning of Palestinian institutions, high levels of growth, the restoration of basic living conditions and security in the West Bank and a more hopeful situation for the Palestinian people. That is a remarkable achievement.
Although the quality of the institutions is undisputed, the reality on the ground is different. Needless to say, the effect of the occupation is ruining the functioning of the Palestinian economy which, along with serious donor fatigue, complicates the situation regarding the need for more progress, more democracy and human rights for the Palestinian people.
There has been a serious backlash that does not benefit anyone. The international community and Israel must take responsibility for making Palestinian society, the economy and therefore democracy work. The blockade must be eased to encourage investment and economic growth, and put people both in Gaza and in the West Bank to work, decrease poverty and stabilise Palestinian society. That is not happening despite calls made by the international community for years and years.
On the contrary, it is devastating to hear that last week the Israeli Government announced that it will build 1 000 new homes in a settlement in East Jerusalem. That decision came at a critical time. On the very same day, the Quartet proposed new negotiations, strongly advising both parties to avoid provocative actions. The settlements are illegal under international law and thus undermine efforts for new negotiations.
A future solution for Palestinian society, borders, security, refugees and Jerusalem can only be the result of negotiations – not by UN recognition alone or by partnership. Only negotiations will achieve that solution. The main obstacle, however, to the realisation of Palestinian statehood is the occupation. The Palestinians are otherwise fully capable of running a state and have shown that that is the case for years. They have achieved more than many states that are full UN members and they have passed a tougher economic stress test than many EU members. We must bear that in mind when we make them partners. Building institutions and improving human rights on the ground is very hard when you have so little room for action.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you very much. I call Mr Ghiletchi.
Mr GHILETCHI (Moldova) – Dear Chair, colleagues and representatives of the Palestinian National Council, I congratulate Mr Kox on presenting a good and comprehensive report. Unlike the situation in the Moldovan Parliament, I have had a rare opportunity to congratulate a member of the Group of the Unified European Left. I should like to congratulate the PNC on the proposal to grant it Partner for Democracy status. It will be the second institution to be granted that status after the Moroccan Parliament earlier this year. It is very encouraging to hear that the Israeli Parliament supports the request.
Taking note of the strong commitment expressed by the PNC in the request that was sent to our Assembly, I should like to stress the need for strong involvement by the Palestinian authorities in the process of reform to strengthen democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in the Palestinian Territories. One of the main reasons for strengthening those fundamental rights is the need to ensure complete respect for freedom of conscience, of religion and of belief, including the right to change one’s religion, and to guarantee freedom of association and of peaceful assembly.
It is an extraordinary challenge to achieve full respect for religious freedom in the birthplace of the Abrahamic religions. I am firmly convinced, however, that it is worth pursuing that goal and I hope that Partner for Democracy status will be a strong motivation to move in that direction. Peaceful co-existence by people of all faiths and religions, including the minority religious groups, in the very centre of three major religions is the key to peace in the Middle East. A prayer in the book of “Psalms” urges us to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem”. If we take that in a much broader sense, we realise that peace in the Middle East should be one of the highest goals for the world today.
In conclusion, I call on the PNC to be open and to address all the issues that I have mentioned, including those listed in the draft resolution, to ensure full implementation of assumed political commitments. About 10 days ago, I visited Israel, including the West Bank, and I noticed a longing desire for peace and well-being among ordinary people. In the next two years, it is crucial that we promote deep political and legal reform, including reform to ensure full respect for freedom of conscience and religion. Whatever the challenges and difficulties, I believe that there is hope and a future for the people of the Middle East. I look forward to a successful and efficient partnership between the PNC and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you very much, indeed. I call Ms Memecan.
Ms MEMECAN (Turkey) – Mr President, dear colleagues, it is a great pleasure to attend this historic debate to honour the request from the PNC to become a Partner for Democracy. I congratulate Tiny Kox and members of the Political Affairs Committee for making that possible, and I welcome members of the PNC to our Assembly.
I am wholeheartedly in favour of the proposal. I congratulate the PNC on its courage, vision and its strong commitment to improving Palestinians’ quality of life through the principles espoused by the Council of Europe. Close co-operation between the Council of Europe and the PNC will boost the confidence of the PNC and help to restore the dignity of Palestinians. The expertise of the Council of Europe will empower the national council in its efforts to unite with Gaza and improve its relationship with Israel.
PNC expectations are high, and it should be aware that we are keen on our demands. However, we should remember that, according to the prevailing rules, every aspect of Palestinian existence and movement depends on Israel. Whether Palestinians can travel from town to town, open new business ventures, and visit friends and relatives are things that are up to the Israelis. With all due respect for Israeli concerns about security and safety, which should not be ignored, we call on the Israeli side to create favourable conditions so that the Palestinians can fulfil their commitments to partnership status. It is a pleasure to hear the positive response from the Israeli delegation to Mr Kox’s proposals on this issue.
It is time to urge Israel to remove the inhuman blockade on the people of Gaza in a new beginning. That positive move would resonate well with the dynamic and change that the Arab Spring has brought to the region. It would help the PNC to resolve issues and facilitate unity with Gaza. If we are to support people’s aspirations in this region we must not fail to address the Palestinians’ legitimate call for a state of their own. It is almost 65 years since the UN agreed to the creation of two states, and the solution has been delayed for far too long. I hope the Partner for Democracy status will be the beginning of a new and peaceful era in the Middle East. I also add that Turkey will continue to contribute to peace and stability in the Mediterranean and will not be aggravated by futile, irresponsible provocations.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. I call Mr Eldad.
Mr ELDAD (Observer from Israel) – Israel is a democracy. One voice can reflect the idea of the government, but no one voice can reflect the ideas of the Knesset, which has about 120 different ideas. I can be sure that the ideas of respected colleagues and the head of the delegation did not pass any vote in the Knesset, so I would not be so sure to promise that they are the ideas of the Knesset. However, that is not the main issue. You are asked today to vote for and accept the Palestinian authority as a Partner for Democracy in this Organisation, which is based on values, one of which is to reject racism in all its forms. How would you define the declaration of Mahmoud Abbas, meeting with members of the Arab League, “I will never allow a single Israeli to live among us on Palestinian land”? The only equivalent ambition that I can recall was the plan to make Europe Judenrein – free of Jews.
All of you here who wish the Palestinians eventually to have a state must remember that they already have one. Jordan was created by the division of Palestine, three quarters of which was allocated to Jordan, and 80% of the population of Jordan are Palestinians. When the Arab Spring reaches Jordan, you will wake up one morning with a new Palestinian state. It was the late King Hussein of Jordan, not me, who said, “Jordan is Palestine and Palestine is Jordan, and whoever says differently is a traitor.”
Peace will come to the region as a result of direct negotiation. I am afraid that the Palestinians’ step-by-step attitude, avoiding direct negotiation, with stage-by-stage achievement of recognition as a state as a replacement for direct negotiation, will not lead to peace and will build up expectations in the region which will not be fulfilled and which, God forbid, might lead to another round of violence. We are taking the wrong step today and it will be interpreted by the Palestinians as a recognition of another step towards statehood, instead of direct negotiation.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. I call Mr Koç.
Mr KOÇ (Turkey) thanked Mr Kox for his work on his report, which concluded that the request made by the Palestinian National Council for Partner for Democracy status conformed with the requirements of the Assembly. It recommended that the status should be granted to the Palestinian National Council, and that was welcome. The Palestinian National Council’s request was a legitimate one in the present context. The events of the Arab Spring had shown a great thirst for democracy in the region and that the people of the countries concerned were prepared even to lay down their lives for democracy. A resolution to the conflict between Palestine and Israel remained necessary.
The Council of Europe had a responsibility to grant the Palestinian National Council’s request in order to strengthen democracy and the rule of law in the region. The report listed specific issues that had to be addressed if progress were to be achieved towards democracy and consolidation of the rule of law. It did not, however, mention one issue: the importance of Israel’s being part of the process. Negotiation should be resumed with a clear timetable and on the basis of the 1967 agreement. The release of Gilad Shalit would demonstrate good will on the part of the Palestinians, but it was necessary to emphasise the inhumane situation on the Gaza Strip.
A delegate from Greece had spoken about relations between Turkey and Israel and the Greek-Cypriot community. That was another issue and should be debated at another time. It was not relevant to the debate.
The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank had agreed that the Palestinian National Council was able to function as a state. Some 10 days ago, Mahmoud Abbas had said at the UN that there was no rule of law in the Middle East because there was a state that was missing. Mr Abbas had said that the legitimacy of the state of Israel was never questioned, but that the Palestinian state was missing from the region. Any peaceful settlement should be made on the basis of the resolution of the UN Security Council, which was in accordance with the principles of the Council of Europe. Following the Arab Spring, the wind of change should also blow on Ramallah, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. I call Lord Anderson, from the Socialist Group.
Lord ANDERSON (United Kingdom) – The proposition before the Assembly is a simple one. The PNC has made a request for Partner for Democracy status, and it is for the Assembly to accept that request or not. As politicians, we might be tempted to go down a variety of paths; we might think about the request by Palestine for a different status at the United Nations; we might ask some of our Israeli colleagues why the government of Prime Minister Netanyahu is increasingly isolated in the Middle East and beyond; we might ask why President Abbas is prone to making sometimes unfortunate statements in relation to Israel; we might ask about the new decision on Gilo and the new housing units. All those are interesting propositions, as is the current state of the Middle East peace process. However, that is not the proposition before us, which is a simple one, and which I hope the Assembly will accept with unanimity. The starting point of course is that there should be an endorsement of the progress made so far by the PNC. That is a starting point and I hope that it will continue. In effect, this status will be an encouragement for the PNC by all the European parliamentarians in the Assembly here.
As a partnership, there should be obligations on the part of our Assembly to encourage wherever possible, and sometimes to criticise constructively and clearly. There should be a commitment on the part of the PNC to honour the very clear commitments made, which are set out in the letter from the Speaker referred to in paragraph 4 of Mr Tiny Kox’s excellent report. Those very important commitments give the opportunity to non-governmental organisations within Palestine to use those commitments as a benchmark for their own criticisms of what is not done by the Palestinian Authority. My own judgment is that the NGOs are still somewhat embryonic and are not as critical as one might like, but that may simply be a fact of the occupation and of the wish to achieve a different status by the people of Palestine. That being so, I hope that we will encourage NGOs, including NGOs representing women and religious groups.
I notice that we urge the Palestinian Authority to ensure not only religious toleration but the ability of anyone to change their religion, which is not a feature of countries around Palestine. However, the Palestinians have put themselves to the test and we should very much encourage that.
Overall I congratulate Mr Kox. He has navigated carefully over the reefs and shoals of the Middle East and certainly through the committees of this Assembly. He has done so in a responsible and indeed moderate way. I hope that all responsible, moderate Israelis recognise that this is a very important step and that it is in their interest, too, to have a Palestine on their doorstep that is a state and that is committed to democratic values. This is not just for the Palestinians themselves.
Let us hope that, as Mr Gardetto has said, after Morocco and after the PNC, other Arab countries will follow in a new partnership with this Assembly.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Lord Anderson. I call Mr Árnason from Iceland.
Mr ÁRNASON (Iceland) – I think that there is reason to have great expectations for this Partnership for Democracy with Palestine, which will allow us Europeans to acquire a better understanding of conditions in an area of the world that is important for us and which allow you Palestinians to benefit from our experience of negotiation and co-operation after centuries of violence.
My country, Iceland, warmly supported an independent state of Israel in 1948. Iceland was then a newly independent nation taking its first steps in international politics after the atrocities of the Second World War. However, after the six-day war the public in Iceland, as elsewhere in the west, gradually awoke to the realisation that there were two nations living in Palestine, one of which ruled the other with methods that former US President Carter was one of the first to compare with apartheid.
This summer our Foreign Minister, Össur Skarphéðinsson, visited the West Bank and Gaza and met his colleague al-Maliki and President Abbas. On that occasion he declared his full support for Palestine’s wish to become a full member of the United Nations. He also expressed a desire for the Palestinians to solve their internal divisions, which is an important prerequisite for progress. Yesterday the Icelandic Government submitted a draft resolution to parliament, the Althingi, that would recognise Palestine as an independent and sovereign state. The resolution enjoys a broad majority and is likely to be passed within the next few weeks. Iceland would then be the first country in western Europe to take this step. Mr Hancock, thank you for your advice but we have already taken it.
I personally visited Palestine and was fascinated by the people, the land and the history. I saw many indications of injustice and oppression but also sensed a strong national desire for life and freedom and the perseverance of a long-established nation. On the same trip I visited the western wall in Jerusalem and reflected on the history and fate of the remarkable people for which that place is holy – a history with which we in Iceland and elsewhere in our part of the world become acquainted in our schools and places of worship. It is fully in line with our respect for the state of Israel and our friendship with Jewish people all over the world that we celebrate here and now a new partnership between the nations of Europe and the democratic and independent state of Palestine.
I congratulate the rapporteur on an outstanding report. I am happy to see the representatives of Palestine here in Strasbourg and I thank them for everything that their people have taught us about their right of existence of a small but proud nation. Welcome.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you very much indeed, Mr Árnason. I now call Mr Reimann from Switzerland.
Mr REIMANN (Switzerland) said that it was not easy to list the requirements that had to be fulfilled with a view to the Council of Europe granting Partner for Democracy status to the Palestinian National Council. Mr Kox had been very dedicated in his work on this issue and had brought realism and efficiency to the task. He had solved the problem effectively and had found the right solution.
The International Committee of the Red Cross had been active in the Gaza Strip and had worked with both communities. The committee was aware of the mistrust, fear and despair that existed between the communities. The situation had existed since 1948 and there had been no discernible improvement since. The granting of Partner for Democracy status to the Palestinian National Council would be one step towards improving the situation. The granting of the status should be linked to commitments from the Palestinian National Council, and the Council of Europe should ensure that those commitments were honoured. That was a very important step, but it would not be an easy one. It was necessary that Israel, too, should play a part in establishing a peaceful solution in the Middle East, although the remarks of Mr Eldad had not seemed to signal a move in that direction. A reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah would be a positive step towards achieving a two-state solution.
Granting Partner for Democracy status to the Palestinian National Council would, it was hoped, play a part in improving the situation in the Middle East and be a further step towards Palestine’s becoming a member of the community of independent states.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. I now call Ms Kanelli.
Ms KANELLI (Greece) – Thank you for giving me the opportunity to congratulate Mr Kox. I am not speaking in my language because I come from Greece and, as you know, it is in the middle of an international crisis. Greek people are paying a very high price, plus they are losing part of their independence.
We have different cultures and currencies in Europe, the theatre of the Second World War, where a wall has been brought down, where there have been concentration camps. We are being asked to accept a partnership between the Palestinian people and our European democracy. It is the least we can do. As Europeans, we are already late. We should have done more for the Palestinian people and we should have done it earlier.
I am 57 years old. I have been in the area as a journalist. I was 12 when the Six-Day War started. I felt the terror then and I am feeling the terror now. We should not go for the equation of the oppressor and the oppressed. We cannot meet our obligations by saying that in this way we will have equal rights for the victim and the oppressor. We have to be honest. We give the Palestinians instructions on democracy. Give me an answer, dear colleagues: can any Palestinian these days be sure about his address? Can he have an address, so he can go to a court? We can tell them how to create courts to give justice to the Palestinian people, but they can lose their address, their house and their rights any time, any day, if there is a new settlement.
We should have been more courageous here. I congratulate Mr Kox. He is a realist. He did the best he could do to get unanimity, but let us not tell ourselves that we did everything. We are now starting to do something. We should ask our governments to go to the UN and overturn the American veto and the other vetoes and start a new world with two nations living in peace in Palestine. That is what people expect from European nations and parliamentarians.
We should be more courageous. Otherwise, we will put a price on the blood of the people in the region. We do not have an independent Palestinian state because there is oil and natural gas there. The Israeli blood has a higher price than the Palestinian blood. That is not a partnership. The partnership should be with all the people: their blood should be worth the same. We beg for the soldier to be freed. I agree with that, but we should press the authorities to free Palestinians who are in prison because their blood is cheaper than that of the Israelis.
I have been given awards for my work on anti-racism and anti-Semitism in fighting racism throughout Europe. It was the Israelis who gave me that prize, so I can speak about the price of blood. Let us be courageous and give the Palestinian people what they need: freedom and a state. Freedom and justice will follow.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. I now call Mr Díaz Tejera.
Mr DÍAZ TEJERA (Spain) noted that the Assembly had only three months ago examined the inclusion of Morocco as Partner for Democracy. At that time he was rapporteur for the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights. It had taken only five minutes to conclude the debate on that question. Today, however, the Assembly was reaffirming that Europe represented a community of values and that it was important to share those values with neighbouring regions. It was taken for granted in the Assembly that diverse opinions would be heard, and that fact was part of the Assembly’s strength and a source of enrichment. It was refreshing to hear the contrasting views of the leader of the Israeli delegation and the next speaker from that delegation.
The last time the Assembly had discussed the Israeli/Palestinian conflict was in respect of the fleet of ships providing aid to the Gaza Strip. It was important to remember that only those parties involved in the conflict could work towards achieving peace. Institutions such as the Assembly could assist in the process, but they could not act on behalf of any party. The rapporteur was to be congratulated on his efforts to find a consensus given the range of opinion in the Assembly.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you very much, Mr Díaz Tejera. The next speaker is Mr Leyden.
Mr LEYDEN (Ireland) – I am honoured to support this excellent report and want to encourage unanimous support in the Assembly for the recommendations. I am pleased to support the request for Partner for Democracy status in this Parliamentary Assembly submitted by the Palestinian National Council. Ireland’s former Fianna Fáil Minister, the late Brian Lenihan, was the first Foreign Minister of any European country – or indeed of any country – to recognise the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, living in harmony with their partners and neighbours, Israel.
We also support the Palestinians’ right to recognition at the United Nations, which our Foreign Minister, Eamon Gilmore, who is also the Deputy Prime Minister of Ireland, conveyed last week. I urge all countries represented in the Parliamentary Assembly to support the application by Palestine for recognition by the UN. I appeal to American President Obama to withdraw his veto, which I believe will be the only veto exercised in the Security Council on a legitimate request by a legitimate country to apply for recognition by the United Nations.
Our job today is to accept this application and to welcome the Palestinian delegation to this Assembly. I look forward to the Palestinian delegation working here in this Assembly in co-operation with our Israeli colleagues. We look forward to President Abbas coming here tomorrow and on Thursday.
From my visits to the region, the extension by the Israelis of the settlements is unacceptable, and it must stop, because otherwise talk of peace is irrelevant. The pace of expansion by Israel into Palestinian territory means that there will be very little Palestinian territory left by the time a settlement is reached.
Gaza is an open prison. Action must be taken in relation to the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. In particular, there is no access to Gaza by air or through ports, and people who have attempted to provide aid have been thwarted by the Israeli Government.
I appeal to the Palestinian Authority to release Gilad Shalit as a gesture to this Assembly, which it must do forthwith. I also appeal to both sides to refrain from violence, because the settlement must be peaceful. There must be no more violence from either side, because that would go in the face of our decision here today. There must be an agreed settlement involving a two-state solution, where Israel and Palestine live side by side.
There is an example from Ireland, where we resolved the difficulties around Northern Ireland through negotiations. Now we live in harmony without any violence in the great Irish Republic and the adjoining territory of the six counties. That example shows Israel and Palestine that only peaceful dialogue can resolve the issue, which has tortured us for 800 years. I am delighted to speak as an Irish representative on this particular occasion. I also welcome the balanced views expressed by the leader of the Israeli delegation.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Leyden. The next speaker is Mr Chiti.
Mr CHITI (Italy) strongly supported the report’s recommendations. Granting Partner for Democracy status to the Palestinian National Council would be an important way in which the Council of Europe played its role in moving forward the peace process. After so much conflict, there was increasing hope for the region, following the Arab Spring. The Assembly’s step was significant, too, in light of the current deadlock at the United Nations. Most of those present wished for the establishment of a Palestinian state that lived side-by-side with an Israeli state, with democratic processes in place and mutual respect between the two states. Real peace could be achieved only through democracy.
The report set out important objectives that the Palestinian National Council had to meet, including abolition of the death penalty, the achievement of free and fair elections, and the promotion of freedom of information. In two years, the Assembly would consider what progress had been made.
Recommencement of negotiations was vital but could be achieved only if the Israeli Government took steps to prevent further building of new settlements on the West Bank. Ultimately, the security of the region could not be based on might or force, but must be based on the rule of law and respect for democracy and human rights. That belief was the basis on which the Assembly should make its decision.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Chiti. The next speaker is Mrs Arib. I see that she is not here, so the next speaker is Mrs Beck.
Mrs BECK (Germany) joined those who had congratulated the rapporteur. She was delighted that representatives from the Palestinian National Council were present. The granting of Partner for Democracy status represented a small step in the peace process, but anything that facilitated the achievement of a two-state solution should be supported. Although it would be difficult to achieve, the ultimate goal was the creation of separate, democratic Palestinian and Jewish states. Many obstacles needed to be overcome. For example, Hamas had refused to support the application for UN membership for a Palestinian state, because to do so would require implicit acceptance of the existence of the state of Israel. Her proposed amendment to the report had resulted from that fact.
It was important to recall that both sides faced obstacles. Israeli friends had to face up to the implications of the continued building of settlements. There were security concerns on Israel’s part, but in continuing to build, the Israeli Government gave the impression of seeking to torpedo talks. On the other hand, attacks had been launched from the Gaza Strip against the Israelis. She had been unable to meet representatives of peace organisations in the Gaza Strip because the situation was so dangerous. The fact that Hamas had not set off down a democratic path remained a stumbling block to progress.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mrs Beck. I call Mr Elzinga.
Mr ELZINGA (Netherlands) – Thank you, Mr President, and thank you, Mr Kox, for your excellent report.
I congratulate the members of the Palestinian National Council on this historic day, when their request for Partner for Democracy status with our Parliamentary Assembly is being discussed. I congratulate them also on the results so far, as they have convincingly presented their request with our rapporteur and shown the many steps that they have already taken to get ready for the big step today. I hope to be able to congratulate them further, at the end of this debate and vote, on their accession to our Assembly as a true and full Partner for Democracy, not only because it will mean that people in Palestine, in their early spring, will be able to enjoy one of the first nice days of the year ahead and see one of the first blossom trees bloom in a while, but because I am convinced that the people of Palestine will benefit from this partnership.
Will the rapporteur, Mr Kox, enlighten us on how he sees this step in relation to the Arab Spring in other countries in the region? Will he tell us a bit more about what that spring and, especially, this proposed Partnership for Democracy mean to the people? What effects is it likely to have on civil society organisations and on trade unions, for example? I know that Mr Kox also talked to representatives of those organisations while conducting his fact-finding mission in Palestine.
Many speakers have already pointed out that a partnership is a mutual commitment, and that with the credit for what has already been achieved comes the responsibility for what still has to be achieved. The report makes various recommendations in that respect, and I fully trust the Palestinian National Council to do its utmost to live up to our expectations.
It has to be said again that this partnership is only a first step; many more will follow and have to follow. It is an important and happy first step, however, and I therefore look forward to engaging from our side in the partnership, as I am positive that our Assembly can contribute to and assist in extending the range of our core values – democracy, human rights and the rule of law – to the people in Palestine, if the Palestinian authorities are also willing. I therefore invite the Palestinian National Council to engage in the partnership as well.
Let us be on our way to further steps and to further recognition, but first let us celebrate this important and special day – and a new partnership.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Elzinga. The next speaker I have on my list is Mr Marcenaro from Italy, but I do not see him in his place. Is he sitting somewhere else? That is not the case. I call Mrs Giannaka.
Mrs GIANNAKA (Greece) congratulated Mr Kox on his balanced report, which offered a new opportunity to affirm support for the existence of two states in the region. Important steps were being taken by the Palestinian state towards democracy at a time when the Arab Spring had given much hope for a new balance in the area.
Partner for Democracy status meant signing up to European democratic principles and values. The decision to confer the status on the Palestinians was part of a journey and began a process in which the Palestinians would make commitments to respect for the rule of law, civil rights and human rights, and abolishing the death penalty, establishing equality between the sexes, renouncing terrorism, and freeing the French-Israeli soldier in prison in Gaza. The Assembly must be positive about Palestinians achieving the status. The world needed a democratic state in Palestine.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mrs Giannaka. We now come to the final speaker on the speakers’ list. I call Mr Slutsky.
Mr SLUTSKY (Russian Federation) thanked Mr Kox for a full and sound report. Partnership status for the Palestinian Authority was important for the Assembly and for the Palestinian people. Colleagues from the Palestinian National Council were welcome at the Assembly.
The Assembly could help in solving specific problems in two ways. First, it could help bridge the divide between different Palestinian factions. Elections had to be transparent and democratic. The Assembly had a great deal of experience in monitoring democratic institutions in the Council of Europe countries and could therefore make a specific contribution by monitoring elections, and by holding joint seminars and campaigning to maximise the number of voters. Problems had to be solved at the negotiating table, not on the street. Everything possible should be done to bridge divides between different Palestinian factions, not to widen them. Palestinian unity was necessary if elections were to be conducted to international standards.
Another way to unite Palestinians would be to tackle humanitarian problems. Extremists and terrorists were able to exploit humanitarian problem for their own ends. Work was required to strengthen institutions. Resolution of humanitarian problems would lead to a solution to the problem of unity among the Palestinian people.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Slutsky.
That concludes the list of speakers. I call on Mr Kox, the rapporteur, to reply. You have 4 minutes, 15 seconds.
Mr KOX (Netherlands) – I shall begin with our colleague, Mr Ghiletchi, from Moldova. The report gave him the opportunity for the first time to compliment a member of the UEL. If it is of any use, at least for him, I hope that that will be the beginning of a new tradition. I agree with another colleague, Mr Díaz Tejera, that I am not here to represent a political group. I am a rapporteur on behalf of the Assembly and of the Political Affairs Committee, and I produced a report following the request from Speaker Al-Za’noon for the PNC to become a Partner for Democracy. That is how the Assembly should function.
I owe many thanks to dear colleagues, especially those who spoke on behalf of the five political groups and who showed, in the words of Mr Clappison, that it is possible for the Assembly to speak with one voice. As Andy Gross said, it is a day on which we have a common message for the Palestinian people: yes, we more than welcome you in the Assembly as a new Partner for Democracy. I am proud that the Assembly exists and that it can speak with one voice on the important matter of partnership with our Palestinian friends.
Many colleagues highlighted relevant issues with regard to Palestine, what is happening in the region and so on. We heard about the occupation and the blockade. We heard about political prisoners. Members spoke about the difficult democratic process. Many of you mentioned internal divisions in Palestine. Those are all important considerations and they are all very difficult. However, it is my true conviction that when we want to deal with Palestine as politicians there are no easy answers. It is very difficult, and I praise politicians in Palestine for being brave in this difficult situation and for trying to find new ways of reaching the common goal of a sovereign democratic state for Palestinians.
I pay special tribute to the head of the Israeli delegation. Although I said that this was a sovereign request from the PNC to the Assembly, it was of great help, in Caserta and at other times, to hear Mr Avital say that from the Israeli point of view, it was an important step that could contribute, as many of you told us, to better relations between the Knesset and the Palestinians. Mr Eldad is not in the Chamber any more, but it is his right to say whatever he wants. However, as the Assembly has shown, it is possible for a parliament to speak with one voice. We find that the Knesset can do that on this matter at least, so thank you very much Mr Avital.
Mrs Beck spoke about the problems in Gaza, and I address them in my report. The first nine parts of my proposals to the Palestinians deal more or less with Gaza, but I do not mention a specific group or political faction in my report because I am addressing the PNC, which is our partner. To make it clear, Hamas, too, supports the request. Finally, to answer Mr Elzinga, the most important thing is that the request meets not only our requirements but the aspirations of the Palestinian people. I am sure after our fact-finding mission that we have that agreement, so I tell our colleagues from Palestine that we welcome you as our friends and let us co-operate together.
(Mr Çavuþoðlu, President of the Assembly, took the Chair in place of Mr Walter.)
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you very much, Mr Kox, for your presentation and your excellent report. Would Mr von Sydow like to speak as Chairman of the Political Affairs Committee?
Mr VON SYDOW (Sweden) – No, Mr President, as Mr Kox has outlined the political affairs situation so well that I have nothing to add and merely congratulate my colleague.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you.
The Political Affairs Committee has presented a draft resolution in Document 12711 to which four amendments have been tabled.
I understand that the Chairperson of the Political Affairs Committee wishes to propose to the Assembly that the following amendments, which were unanimously approved by the committee, should be declared as agreed by the Assembly under Rule 33.10. They are Amendments 3, 1 and 4. Is that so, Mr von Sydow?
Mr VON SYDOW (Sweden) – Yes, Mr President.
THE PRESIDENT – Does anyone object?
As there is no objection, I declare that Amendments 3, 1 and 4 to the draft resolution have been agreed.
The following amendments have been adopted:
Amendment 3, tabled by Mr Pourgourides, on behalf of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, which is, in the draft resolution, paragraph 11, first sentence, replace the words “draw inspiration from” with the following words: “adhere to and promote”.
Amendment 1, tabled by Mrs Hägg, on behalf of the Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men, which is, in the draft resolution, paragraph 12.5, replace the words “inter-religious marriages” with the following words: “marriage, divorce, polygamy”.
Amendment 4, tabled by Mr Pourgourides, on behalf of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, which is, in the draft resolution, replace paragraph 12.7 with the following sub-paragraph:
“explicitly rejecting the use of terrorism and combating it actively with measures respecting human rights and the rule of law;”.
We now come to Amendment 2, tabled by Mrs Beck, Mrs Barnett, Mr Hörster, Mrs Hübinger and Mr Wadephul, which is, in the draft resolution, paragraph 9, at the end of the first sentence, insert the following sentences:
“Another obstacle to the rule of law and democracy is the de facto partition of the territory of the Palestine Mandate. While the commitments of international law – like the recognition of Israel – are accepted in the West Bank, Hamas, ruling in the Gaza Strip, does not accept this recognition. Therefore Hamas did not support the request submitted by President Abbas for recognition by the United Nations.”
I call Mrs Beck to support Amendment 2.
Mrs BECK (Germany) had earlier touched upon the difficult circumstances facing the Palestinian Authority because Hamas was not prepared to recognise its authority. This was one of the stumbling blocks to additional talks.
THE PRESIDENT – Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment? I call Mr Hancock.
Mr HANCOCK (United Kingdom) – I am sorry to disagree with a colleague, but Mr Kox gave an eloquent explanation. This is about the situation that is before us today. The report explains the situation on the ground in Palestine, and the proposal is not helpful. The Assembly would be well advised to vote against the amendment, because it does not add anything beneficial to the report. In fact, it raises doubts about issues that we are not considering today.
THE PRESIDENT – What is the opinion of the committee?
Mr VON SYDOW (Sweden) – The committee is against the amendment.
THE PRESIDENT – The vote is open.
Amendment 2 is rejected.
We will now proceed to vote on the draft resolution contained in Document 12711, as amended.
The vote is open.
Dear colleagues, we now have the honour of hearing a statement by Mr Salim Al-Za’noon, Speaker of the Palestinian National Council.
Dear Speaker, dear friend, I am very happy to welcome you to this House.
The Council of Europe has always defended the view that human rights are universal. Neighbouring countries, by applying to become our Partners for Democracy, and therefore accepting to defend the same values, confirm that view.
The Parliamentary Assembly has been following with great interest the developments in the Arab world for the whole of the current year. In its approach, the Council of Europe is not trying to teach any lessons, but offering to share its accumulated experience and to make available its pertinent mechanisms, in exactly the same way in which we welcomed the new democracies in southern Europe in the 1970s and the new democracies in central and eastern Europe in the 1990s. The same approach was used when the Assembly set up the status of Partner for Democracy, just before the beginning of the Arab Spring.
Dear Speaker, let me praise the PNC for having been the second, after the Moroccan Parliament, to request Partner for Democracy status already in 2010. However, our co-operation was intensive even before then, with Palestinian parliamentarians attending our part-sessions and meetings of the Political Affairs Committee.
The Palestinian people have to endure a uniquely disadvantageous situation, which cannot be solved by them alone. Yet you were able to develop democratic institutions and today’s vote of this Assembly to grant partnership status to the Palestinian National Council is an acknowledgement of your achievements. That also means that we have treated you as any other parliament applying for the status, neither better nor worse, and today’s decision comes with a list of requests that we ask you to comply with. We stand ready to assist you in every way we can.
I am particularly pleased that the granting of this status to the PNC comes at a time when the Palestinian people are seeking recognition of a state in international bodies, and I sincerely hope that being a Partner for Democracy with the Parliamentary Assembly will help your people to advance further on the path of full statehood. In that context we are all looking forward to the address that President Abbas will deliver to this Assembly the day after tomorrow.
We now hope to welcome, during our next part-session, as well as in our committees, the first Palestinian delegation composed under the terms of the Partner for Democracy status.
Dear Speaker, before I give you the floor, let me share some good news with my dear colleagues. I have just received an official request for Partner for Democracy status from the Parliament of the Kyrgyz Republic. I am most happy with that development, which clearly shows the interest and the potential for developing our relations with our neighbours.
Dear friend, from today this Assembly is also your home. Please make yourself at home. We look forward to hearing your address. The floor is yours.
Mr AL-ZA’NOON (Speaker of the Palestinian National Council) for himself and for the Palestinian people extended his deepest gratitude and recognition to the Council of Europe for the important resolution it had just passed. He thanked the members of the Assembly, and in particular Mr Kox and the members and staff of the Political Affairs Committee for their report.
The decision was an important historic event that constituted a basis for the establishment of peace in the region. Partnership between European countries and the Palestinian people was based on shared humanitarian and cultural values and gave Palestinians a strengthened belief that peace could be achieved. The Assembly’s decision expressed a deep and honest desire for friendship with the Palestinians and with all Arab peoples.
The Palestinian people looked with respect at Europe’s achievements, both those of its collective institutions and its individual states. European states had supported the Palestinian National Authority by giving financial and humanitarian aid and by taking a favourable political position towards it. The Palestinian people wished to secure the rights to life and to self-determination, and an end to occupation. They wished to establish an independent state, with Jerusalem as its capital; he was grateful to European states for their ongoing support for a two-state solution.
It was vital that the refugee situation be resolved. The Palestinian people aspired to freedom and to participating alongside European institutions in order to strengthen democratic principles. The Palestinians shared those democratic values and had adopted them. Since the development of the Palestinian National Council and the Palestinian National Authority and its legislative institutions, all efforts had been made to implement those values. This democratic commitment was demonstrated by Palestine’s ongoing involvement with EU and regional institutions, by the election observation missions which had taken place in 1996, 2005 and 2006, and, finally, through the report from the Political Affairs Committee. The democratic principles shared by the Palestinian National Council had been boosted by the Assembly’s decision to grant partner for democracy status.
Having listened to the debate and given the commitments made by the Palestinian National Council, at the Assembly and elsewhere, he wished to confirm the commitment of the Palestinian National Council to meeting the requirements of partnership status. He believed that the principles of the Palestinian National Council and the Council of Europe were the same. He wanted Palestine to become an independent state based on the principles of justice, democracy, human rights, gender equality, political freedom, and freedom of speech. He affirmed the commitment to conform with the requirements set out in the Political Affairs Committee’s report. Presidential elections and elections to the Palestinian National Council had been delayed by the occupation and by internal divisions. The signing of an agreement in Cairo in May 2001 had been a first step, and he hoped that the agreement would be implemented soon. There had been attempts to derail the process, and he hoped that the Council of Europe would help to ensure that the agreement was implemented. It would ensure that elections be held and further steps taken to consolidate democracy.
It was necessary to overcome problems caused by the fact that individuals who had been elected were being held prisoner, alongside deputies of Jerusalem and 6 000 others. He called for the release of those prisoners so that they could be with their families, just as others had called for the release of Gilad Shalit.
In two days’ time, Mahmoud Abbas would address the Assembly for the first time, following his historic speech to the UN Assembly. This demonstrated his great respect for the people of Europe. In the name of the Palestinian people and of the Palestinian National Council, he hoped that the Assembly’s resolution could be the basis for a more active relationship between Europe and Palestine and that it would help to lead to Palestine’s becoming a fully sovereign state, like all the states of the Council of Europe.
2. Date, time and agenda of the next sitting
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for your address. Dear colleagues, the Assembly will hold its next public sitting this afternoon at 3 p.m. with the agenda which was approved yesterday. May I remind members that the signing ceremony for Partner for Democracy status for the Palestinian National Council will take place in the foyer of the hemicycle immediately after the end of this sitting.
The sitting is adjourned.
The sitting was closed at 12.35 p.m.
1. Request for Partner for Democracy status with the Parliamentary Assembly submitted by the Palestinian National Council
Presentation by Mr Kox of report, Document 12711, on behalf of the Political Affairs Committee
Presentation by Mr Pourgourides of opinion, Document 12738, on behalf of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights
Presentation by Mrs Hägg of opinion, Document 12736, on behalf of the Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men
Mr Hancock (United Kingdom)
Mr Clappison (United Kingdom)
Mrs Groth (Germany)
Mr Sasi (Finland)
Mr Gross (Switzerland)
Mr Salles (France)
Mr Rustamyan (Armenia)
Mr Rochebloine (France)
Mr Badré (France)
Mr Aivaliotis (Greece)
Mr Avital (Observer from Israel)
Mr Vrettos (Greece)
Mr Gardetto (Monaco)
Mrs Trettebergstuen (Norway)
Mr Ghiletchi (Moldova)
Ms Memecan (Turkey)
Mr Eldad (Observer from Israel)
Mr Koç (Turkey)
Lord Anderson (United Kingdom)
Mr Árnason (Iceland)
Ms Kanelli (Greece)
Mr Díaz Tejera (Spain)
Mr Leyden (Ireland)
Mr Chiti (Italy)
Mrs Beck (Germany)
Mr Elzinga (Netherlands)
Mrs Giannaka (Greece)
Mr Slutsky (Russian Federation)
Amendments 3, 1 and 4 adopted.
Draft resolution contained in Document 12711, as amended, adopted.
Statement by Mr Salim Al-Za’noon, Speaker of the Palestinian National Council
2. Date, time and agenda of the next sitting
Representatives or Substitutes who signed the Attendance Register in accordance with Rule 11.2 of the Rules of Procedure. The names of Substitutes who replaced absent Representatives are printed in small letters. The names of those who were absent or apologised for absence are followed by an asterisk.
Francis AGIUS/Joseph Fenech Adami
Pedro AGRAMUNT FONT DE MORA
Florin Serghei ANGHEL*
Miguel ARIAS CAÑETE/Gonzalo Robles Orozco
Viorel Riceard BADEA*
Pelin Gündes BAKIR
Gerard BARCIA DUEDRA
Meritxell BATET LAMAÑA
Alexander van der BELLEN/Christine Muttonen
Ryszard BENDER/Bronislaw Korfanty
Brian BINLEY/Lord Tim Boswell
Rosa Delia BLANCO TERÁN/Alejandro Alonso Núñez
Piet DE BRUYN*
Patrizia BUGNANO/Giuliana Carlino
Mevlüt ÇAVUSOGLU/Ahmet Berat Çonkar
Desislav CHUKOLOV/Petar Petrov
Ann COFFEY/ Donald Anderson
Agustín CONDE BAJÉN
Carlos COSTA NEVES
Giovanna DEBONO/Joseph Falzon
Joseph DEBONO GRECH
Armand DE DECKER*
Arcadio DÍAZ TEJERA
Klaas DIJKHOFF/Tuur Elzinga
Gianpaolo DOZZO/Giacomo Stucchi
Earl of Alexander DUNDEE*
Josette DURRIEU/Françoise Hostalier
Baroness Diana ECCLES*
Arsen FADZAEV/Oleg Panteleev
Daniela FILIPIOVÁ/Dana Váhalová
Axel E. FISCHER
Erich Georg FRITZ
Martin FRONC/Tatiana Rosová
Tamás GAUDI NAGY
Gisèle GAUTIER/Marie-Jo Zimmermann
Obrad GOJKOVIC/Snežana Jonica
Francis GRIGNON/Laurent Béteille
Ana GUTU/Valeriu Munteanu
Sam GYIMAH/Ian Liddell-Grainger
Håkon HAUGLI/Anette Trettebergstuen
Andres HERKEL/Indrek Saar
Shpëtim IDRIZI/Kastriot Islami
Denis JACQUAT/ Rudy Salles
Michael Aastrup JENSEN*
Birkir Jón JÓNSSON
Antti KAIKKONEN/Sirkka-Liisa Anttila
Stanislaw KALEMBA/Marek Wikinski
Tülin Erkal KARA*
Michail KATRINIS/Liana Kanelli
Jean-Pierre KUCHEIDA/Frédéric Reiss
Dalia KUODYTE/Egidijus Vareikis
Gennaro MALGIERI/Giuseppe Galati
Jean-Pierre MASSERET/Christine Marin
Meritxell MATEU PI
Sir Alan MEALE
Ermira MEHMETI DEVAJA*
Ivan MELNIKOV/Sergey Egorov
Assunta MELONI/Pier Marino Mularoni
José MENDES BOTA
Andrey MOLCHANOV/Vladimir Zhidkikh
Juan MOSCOSO DEL PRADO HERNÁNDEZ*
João Bosco MOTA AMARAL
Alejandro MUÑOZ ALONSO
Felix MÜRI/Maximilian Reimann
Fritz NEUGEBAUER/Edgar Mayer
Cora VAN NIEUWENHUIZEN
Claire PERRY/Roger Gale
Johannes PFLUG/Annette Groth
Gabriëlle POPKEN/ Peter van Dijk
Marietta de POURBAIX-LUNDIN
Cezar Florin PREDA
Gabino PUCHE RODRÍGUEZ-ACOSTA
Milorad PUPOVAC/ Gvozden Srecko Flego
Valeriy PYSARENKO/Volodymyr Pylypenko
Carmen QUINTANILLA BARBA*
Maria de Belém ROSEIRA
Volodymyr RYBAK/Oleksiy Plotnikov
Joan SABATÉ BORRÁS*
Džavid ŠABOVIC/Ervin Spahic
Giacomo SANTINI *
Stefan SCHENNACH/Christoph Hagen
Arune STIRBLYTE/Birute Vesaite
Björn von SYDOW
Melinda SZÉKYNÉ SZTRÉMI*
Lord John E. TOMLINSON
Mihai TUDOSE/Florin Iordache
Ahmet Kutalmis TÜRKES
Konstantinos TZAVARAS/Konstantinos Aivaliotis
Peter VERLIC/Zmago Jelincic Plemeniti
Klaas de VRIES
Renate WOHLWEND/Leander Schädler
Michal WOJTCZAK/Janusz Rachon
Karin S. WOLDSETH/Geir Pollestad
Jordi XUCLÀ i COSTA
Karl ZELLER/ Italo Bocchino
Guennady ZIUGANOV/Oleg Lebedev
Vacant Seat, Bosnia and Herzegovina*
Vacant Seat, Cyprus*
Vacant Seat, Turkey*
Representatives and Substitutes not authorised to vote:
Liliane MAURY PASQUIER
Partners for Democracy:
Humberto AGUILAR CORONADO
Ildefonso GUAJARDO VILLARREAL
Hervé Pierre GUILLOT
Valentin GUZMÁN SOTO
Carlos JIMÉNEZ MACÍAS
Yeidckol POLEVNSKY GURWITZ
Francisco Arturo VEGA DE LA MADRID
Representatives of the Turkish Cypriot Community
Ahmet ETI, (In accordance to Resolution 1376 (2004) of the Parliamentary Assembly)