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Address- Solemn Plenary Session of the Inter-parliamentary Assembly of Member Nations of the Commonwealth of Independent States

Address- Solemn Plenary Session of the Inter-parliamentary Assembly of Member Nations of the Commonwealth of Independent States
St Petersburg, 27 March 2017

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Honourable Madam Chairperson,

Honourable Speakers,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Colleagues,

It is an immense honour and a real pleasure for me to participate in the Solemn Plenary Session of the Inter-parliamentary Assembly of Member Nations of the Commonwealth of Independent States devoted to the 25th Anniversary of the Inter-parliamentary Assembly.

On behalf of the Parliamentary Assembly, I would like to congratulate you on this occasion and wish you and your Assembly many more years of fruitful and efficient work, for the benefit of the peoples of the Member Nations of the Commonwealth of Independent States.

Dear Colleagues,

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, which I have the honour of representing here today, has been closely co-operating with your Inter-Parliamentary Assembly for the past 20 years. The co-operation agreement between our Assemblies, signed on 9 June 1997, has put our co-operation on a more regular and institutionalized level.

Many of your Assembly's member states are also members or partners of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

Moreover, we pursue the same objectives, in particular:

-     building a common legal space for our Continent, based on shared principles and standards, and

-     promoting parliamentary dialogue.

Our co-operation grew out of a common concern for the respect of pluralistic parliamentary democracy, the rule of law and human rights. It aims at promoting parliamentary dialogue on issues of common interest.

In pursing these objectives, we have organised a number of joint conferences focusing on the issues of migration, inter-cultural and interreligious dialogue, fight against terrorism, as well as the building of a common European space without dividing lines.

Our sectoral Committees have held a number of joint meetings. Let me also highlight that consultations on the spot between the leaders of observer delegations from PACE and IPA CIS have become a common practice, whenever our Assemblies observe the same elections.

This morning, a Joint Meeting was held between the ad hoc Sub-Committee of the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy of PACE and the IPA CIS Permanent Commission on Political Issues and International Cooperation. I participated in this meeting and followed the exchange of views with great interest.

Our discussion showed that in the face of the momentous challenges that our Continent is facing – in particular, the terrorist threat, migration management and the refugee crisis, the erosion of our democratic principles and institutions, as well as the growing populist and anti-institutional trends – the potential for synergies and co-operation between our Assemblies cannot be underestimated.

Therefore, we should continue and develop further our co-operation, focusing on concrete issues and initiatives of common interest.

Let me make a couple of proposals today.

Firstly, as regards counteracting international terrorism, let me welcome the initiative of the IPA CIS and of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly to hold a joint conference devoted to this subject. The members of the PACE delegation will participate in this event and make their contribution, in particular, as regards the consolidation of the international legal framework, so as to ensure that our counterterrorism policies and measures comply with the highest standards of rule of law, human rights and democratic norms.

We should also combat the root causes of terrorism as well as its effects on our societies and our citizens. In this context, I will seek the support of your Assembly – as well as of your national parliaments – to the Parliamentary Assembly's #NoHateNoFear initiative which aims at mobilizing politicians, civil society actors and individuals against the hate and fear that terrorist seek to create.

Secondly, as regards migration management and the refugee crisis, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe will hold, on 28 June 2017, a one-day major debate devoted to this issue. The debate will focus on several reports prepared by our Migration, Political Affairs, Culture and Social Affairs Committees as well as include contributions by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the Director General of the International Organisation of Migration and the Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner. In this context, I would invite the members of the IPA CIS delegation which will attend the Assembly's April and June Part-sessions to follow closely the preparations of this debate in the Assembly's competent committees, so as to explore, as appropriate, opportunities to contribute to this debate.

Thirdly, as regards parliamentary diplomacy and inter-parliamentary dialogue, we should continue holding regular meetings and exchanges of views in the margins of the plenary sessions of our Parliamentary Assemblies. Moreover, we should regularly exchange agendas and work plans of our Committees, so as to foster contacts, as appropriate, between their Chairpersons and Rapporteurs.

Madam Chairperson, Honourable Speakers,

I am confident that these few initiatives will help us strengthen further our already excellent co-operation and I look forward to discussing them further with you during our bilateral meetings.

Thank you very much for your attention and once again congratulations on your 25th anniversary!