Sunday, 20 January 2008

PACE president calls for ban on the death penalty

PACE president calls for ban on the death penalty
19 January 2008 - Issue : 765
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) meets Chairman of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), Rene Van der Linden in Moscow, Russia, January 17, 2008
PACE president calls for ban on the death penalty President of the Parliamentary Assembly Rene van der Linde visited Moscow. With this visit Linden’s three year mandate as President of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly comes to an end. During this period cooperation with Russia at parliamentary and governmental levels had been strengthened, he said.
The PACE leader invited the Russian president to PACE’s April session and called on Russia to ratify the Sixth Protocol of the European Convention that provides for the ban of the death penalty and the 14th Protocol of the European Convention. This step would be an important signal not only to Europe, but also to the US, where the death penalty is not banned, he said. “It is a mistake to think that the 14th Protocol is directed against Russia, it is not anti-Russian, it was developed for all European citizens and Russian citizens, inclusive,” he said.
Two presidents also discussed the issue of national minorities and intercultural dialogue. Linden has opposed the policy of double standards at the Council of Europe. The position of national minorities in all European countries must be equal, he said.
Linden also noted that Russia should take into account the critical remarks PACE made on the parliamentary election while preparing for the election of a new president. He said it relates to the opposition, access to the media, and the use of administrative resources. Russia should also ensure election monitoring by representatives of the Council of Europe, he said. The official said such measures will make less likely criticism form the Council of Europe.
According to some opinions, PACE leader attended the Russian capital in order to alleviate Moscow’s frustration over the forthcoming changes in the principle of rotating presidency of the Assembly. A number of PACE political groups reached an unofficial agreement in the early 1990s. In fact, the groups appointed the PACE president once in three years on the rotation principles. This year it was the turn of European Democrats to appoint the president, and the group considered Russia’s Mikhail Margelov as the eligible candidate.
However, another group, the United European Union, which previously did not take part in the agreement because of its small size, has grown and aspired to nominate its own candidate. President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) Rene van der Linden has said the decision by the European Democrats group to cede its presidency in PACE to the Socialist Group does not mean in any way to discriminate against Russia.
President admitted there are some activists within the organisation that have long been trying to tie the PACE presidency with certain countries. He assured the Russian side however, that he would not allow any discrimination against any country to happen within the PACE. Speaking at a press conference van der Linden said that if a new rotation system is adopted, it will have nothing to do with Russia. It will mean that European Democrats will receive the presidency in two years, he said.
A possible change of rules in the election of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe president will not discriminate against Russia, Chairman of the State Duma International Affairs Committee, head of the Russian delegation to PACE Konstantin Kosachyov told press conference on January 17. “Being the head of the Russian delegation to PACE, I see absolutely no problems in the signing of a new package agreement. I do not think that this decision discriminates against the Russian Federation in any way,” he said.

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