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Welcome to the home page of the web site of the Unified European Left Group in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.  
 
Bienvenue sur la page d'acceuil du site web du groupe Gauche Unitaire Européenne à l'Assemblée Parlementaire du Conseil de l'Europe.
 

Mr. Tiny KOX (Netherlands) - Chair of the Group.

Tiny Kox (Pays- Bas) - Président du Groupe

 

Secretariat Ms Helena de Assis

Session 23/06-27/06/2014

 

Comptes-rendus des réunions du groupe - Minutes of the meetings of the Group

 

Actualités - News

 

A high-quality civil service is a vital precondition for strong democracy, and any future administrative reform must take account of the interests of citizens and Europe's common values, said PACE today following a debate on a report by Tiny Kox (Netherlands, UEL).

 

Une fonction publique de qualité est une condition essentielle pour une démocratie forte, et toute future réforme administrative doit prendre en compte les intérêts des citoyens et les valeurs communes européennes, a déclaré aujourd'hui l'APCE, à l'issue d'un débat sur la base du rapport de Tiny Kox (Pays-Bas, GUE).

 

 

Commemoration Ceremony of the 100th Anniversary of the First World War.

 

Mr KOX (Netherlands) , Chairperson of the Group of the Unified European Left.-  In the military graveyard in Vladslo in the Belgian province of Western Flanders, two intensely grieving parents look out over the graves of more than 25 000 fallen soldiers. One of those soldiers is Peter Kollwitz, and the grieving parents are his father and mother, Karl and Käthe Kollwitz. Peter died on 24 October 1914. He was 19 years old. A volunteer full of ideals and patriotism, he was called into the service of Germany against the French and British, yet he got no further than the little River Yser in Belgium. He has been there now for a hundred years.

 

I have just described a sculpture by Käthe Kollwitz, in which Peter's parents look towards him every day and night, grieve over him, and feel forever a share in the guilt for his death. After all, they had supported a war - as did so many parents elsewhere - started by their governments, politicians and militaries. Together, between 1914 and 1918, they sent their children into the First World War and out of life. Peter Kollwitz went to war for his ideals and his fatherland, but after his death his mother understood that war is, in its very nature, pure madness. Her dead son gave her and her husband a wound that would never heal, and an understanding that that was how it should be.

 

We say now that the war began in 1914 and ended in 1918, but for millions of mothers, fathers and children it never ended. Even today, millions of people visit the vast First World War graveyards throughout Europe. They are full of Europeans - Russians, Germans, French, Britons, Italians, Romanians, Turks, Bulgarians, Belgians and so many more. The war pervaded even the world beyond Europe, and soldiers and civilians died - Americans, Africans, Asians. The First World War was nevertheless principally a European war, fought out in in the part of the world that liked to be seen as the most civilised.

 

The First World War was not a natural disaster but a catastrophe of humanity's own making. Nowadays we have available to us countless studies explaining how it came about and how it unfolded, but no explanation whatsoever can offer exoneration for this human-made disaster. We people carry the responsibility for it, and principal amongst the guilty are politicians.

 

Ten months before the outbreak of the First World War was the official opening of the Palace of Peace in The Hague in the Netherlands. The Russian Tsar had devised it, an American steel magnate had financed it and the Dutch Government had found a place for the palace, in which an International Court of Arbitration would henceforth deal with all international conflicts and, by so doing, prevent wars. At that time Norman Angell's book "The Great Illusion", an explanation of why war between civilised, developed societies made no sense and served no purpose in modern times, was being read and praised throughout the world. In 1913, it was already in its fourth edition, and in 1933 its author was awarded the Nobel peace prize. By then, however, the First World War had demonstrated that he had not been listened to, and the Second World War was already approaching, proving that he was still not being listened to.

 

While the Palace of Peace was being opened and "The Great Illusion" was being seen as having the significance of Darwin's "The Origin of Species", the worldwide arms race continued. Across the globe, short-sighted military alliances were being forged that, from June 1914, would lead to a catastrophic chain reaction as a result of which millions of people would be killed or seriously wounded, four empires would.be brought down, peoples would be divided, countries would be torn apart and human civilisation would be crushed.

 

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe can and should provide an important platform where, on a permanent basis, elected representatives of the people of every member state can meet and discuss how we can promote the rule of law, defend human rights and develop and expand democracy, in order to prevent all or part of this continent from being confronted again by the madness of armed conflict and war, and in order that we might find a peaceful solution to the consequences of the many armed conflicts that have taken place and those that will continue to divide and tear apart people and countries.

 

If we want to prevent war, we must talk about peace, however difficult that sometimes is. To fail is not an option-the price is simply too high. As we commemorate the First World War, we must also celebrate the European Convention on Human Rights, and we must all commit ourselves to upholding its rights throughout Europe, for each and every citizen.

 

Cérémonie de commémoration du centenaire de la Première Guerre mondiale

 

M. KOX (Pays-Bas), président du Groupe pour la gauche unitaire européenne - Madame la Présidente, Mesdames et Messieurs, dans le cimetière militaire de Vladslo, situé dans la province belge de Flandre-Occidentale, un couple de parents abîmés dans le deuil contemple les tombes de plus de 25 000 soldats. L'un de ces soldats est Peter Kollwitz, et ce couple en deuil, ce sont ses parents, Karl et Käthe Kollwitz. Peter mourut le 24 octobre 1914, à 19 ans. Volontaire empli d'idéaux et de patriotisme, il avait été appelé sous les drapeaux en Allemagne, pour combattre les Français et les Britanniques. Mais il n'est pas allé au-delà de la petite rivière de l'Ijzer, en Belgique. Il y repose depuis maintenant cent ans. Ses parents - la sculpture est l'ouvre de Käthe Kollwitz - le regardent chaque jour et chaque nuit, le pleurent et se sentent à jamais coupables de sa mort. Après tout, comme tant de parents, ils avaient soutenu la guerre, une guerre déclenchée par leurs gouvernements et leurs hommes politiques. Ensemble, de 1914 à 1918, ils ont envoyé leurs enfants à la guerre et à la mort. Peter Kollwitz s'est engagé pour défendre ses idéaux, sa patrie, mais, après sa mort, sa mère comprit que la guerre est par essence une folie. La mort de leur fils blessa à jamais cette mère et son mari, et ils eurent le sentiment qu'il devait en être ainsi.

 

Nous disons aujourd'hui que la guerre a éclaté en 1914 et s'est terminée en 1918, mais pour des millions de mères, de pères et d'enfants, elle n'a jamais pris fin. Aujourd'hui encore, des millions de personnes se rendent dans les vastes cimetières de la Première Guerre mondiale, partout en Europe, des cimetières peuplés d'Européens - Russes, Allemands, Français, Britanniques, Italiens, Roumains, Turcs, Bulgares, Belges, etc. Au-delà de l'Europe aussi, la guerre a fait rage et tué des soldats et des civils - Américains, Africains, Asiatiques.

 

Toutefois, la Première Guerre mondiale a d'abord été une guerre européenne ; elle a fait rage dans la partie du monde qui se voulait la plus civilisée. Ce n'était pas une catastrophe naturelle, mais une catastrophe causée par l'homme.

 

Aujourd'hui d'innombrables études expliquent ce qui a mené à cette guerre et comment elle s'est déroulée. Mais aucune explication ne peut exonérer cette catastrophe faite par l'homme. Nous avons la responsabilité de cette guerre. Parmi les coupables figurent les responsables politiques.

 

Dix mois avant que la Première Guerre mondiale n'éclate, le palais de la paix fut inauguré à La Haye. Le Tsar russe l'avait conçu et un magnat américain de l'acier l'avait financé. Le Gouvernement néerlandais avait trouvé où le construire et une cour permanente d'arbitrage devait traiter tous les conflits internationaux et prévenir ainsi les guerres.

 

Le livre de Norman Angell La Grande Illusion, explique pourquoi à l'époque moderne les guerres entre sociétés civilisées et développées n'ont aucun sens. Ce livre a été lu et acclamé partout dans le monde. En 1913 on était à la quatrième édition et en 1933 on a décerné à l'auteur le prix Nobel de la paix. Mais la Première Guerre mondiale a montré qu'il n'avait pas été entendu et la seconde guerre mondiale approchait, preuve que nous ne l'avions toujours pas entendu.

 

Alors que le palais de la paix était inauguré et que La Grande Illusion était considérée comme une ouvre aussi importante que L'origine des Espèces de Darwin, la course mondiale à l'armement se poursuivait et des alliances militaires manquant de clairvoyance étaient créées qui amèneraient la réaction en chaîne catastrophique. Le résultat fut 35 millions de personnes tuées ou grièvement blessées, 4 empires effondrés, des peuples divisés, des pays déchirés et la civilisation humaine broyée.

 

Madame la Présidente, cette Assemblée parlementaire du Conseil de l'Europe peut jouer le rôle d'une plate-forme permettant aux représentants élus des peuples de tous les Etats membres de se réunir et de débattre sur la façon de promouvoir la primauté du droit, de défendre les droits de l'homme et de développer les démocraties afin d'éviter que ce continent dans sa totalité ou en partie, ne soit plus jamais confronté à la folie des conflits armés et à la guerre, afin que l'on trouve une solution pacifique aux conséquences de tous ces conflits armés qui ont eu lieu et qui continueront de diviser et de déchirer les peuples et les pays.

 

Madame la Présidente, si nous voulons prévenir la guerre nous devons parler de la paix même si c'est très difficile. L'échec n'est pas envisageable. Le prix en est trop élevé.

 

Madame la Présidente, nous sommes ici pour commémorer la Première Guerre mondiale mais également pour célébrer la Convention européenne des droits de l'homme. Nous devons tous nous engager à promouvoir ces droits dans toute l'Europe, pour tous ses citoyens.

 

May 2014 - Mai 2014

Monday 26 May UEL Chair TIny Kox met in Moscow with State Duma Chairman Sergey Naryshkin to see if and how relations between the Russian delegation to PACE and the Assembly could be improved. Last April the Assembly suspended voting rights, the right to participate in the Assembly's Presidential Committee, Bureau and Standing Committee and the right to be part of elections observation missions, of the Russian delegation. In response, the State Duma decided to suspend its activities until further notice.

Chairman Naryshkin said he was willing to discuss with PACE President Anne Brasseur possibilities to restore relations and ready to come to Strasbourg if needed and if EU sanctions would not prevent him from travelling to France.

UEL Chair Kox met in Moscow also with PACE delegation leader Pushkov, deputy Duma President Melnikov and wit the leadership of the State Duma opposition parties Just Russia and CPRF, which participate in The UEL Group in PACE. Furthermore he met with new Human Rights Ombudswoman, the Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, responsible for human rights, and the Head of the Council of Europe Bureau in Moscow.

 

Contribution of TINY KOX, Chair UEL in PACE in the debate on the reconsideration on substantive grounds of the previously ratified credentials of the Russian Federation.

April 10, 2014

Speaking on behalf of all members of the Unified European Left Group, with the exception of its Russian members, I state that the annexation of Crimea, part of Ukraine, by the Russian Federation, is a clear reach of international law and a violation of territorial integrity of our member state Ukraine by our other member state Russia.

The opinion of our Venice Commission leaves no doubt. The vast majority of our member states condemn this illegal annexation and the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe has taken a clear decision on this breach of international law, as did the President of this Assembly. 

I call upon the Russian authorities and particular the Parliament of Russia, represented by its delegation in this Assembly, to leave the dead end street which it entered by illegally annexing Crimea. If and as long the Russian Federation refuses to do so, it isolates itself from the rest of the international community, which is at the detriment of the Russian Federation, Ukraine and the international community as such. My Group will use all its means to repeat this message to the authorities, the Parliamentarians and the citizens of the Russian Federation.

By this clear and unclaused statement this Assembly does what it should do: protect the rule of law and the human rights of all our citizens. 

Next question is: what should we do besides this clear and unclaused statement now?
I welcome the proposal of the Rapporteur to confirm the credentials of the Russian delegation. We need them in this platform to tell them that they are on the goal wrong track and that they should leave this track as soon as possible.

I respect the proposals of the Rapporteur to suspend until January 2015 the voting rights of the Russian delegation but my Group is not in favour. As long as Russia is a member state of the Council of Europe and the Russian government is fully and unclaused allowed to participate in the work of the Committee of Ministers and in all organs of the Council of Europe, is does not make much sense to deprive Russian parliamentarians from the right to vote in this Assembly and from the right to participate in the work of the Assembly's Bureau, its Standing Committee, its Presidential Committee and its election observation missions. The right to nominate Assembly members to these organs is, at least partly, reserved to the political groups of this Assembly. If we want the Russians to abide agreed rules, we ourselves should do the same.

The members of my Group will closely follow this debate and decide at the end which position we should take on the proposed Resolution.

Marh 2014 - Mars 2014

MAJOR CONCERNS SURROUND UKRAINE

 

March 31, 2014 . After the February revolution in Kiev and the annexation of Crimea by Russia, the situation in Ukraine remains extremely unstable. The new government has little authority, the country continues to be divided and attempts by Russia, the United States and the European Union to increase their influence there are only making the problems worse. Support for a thoroughgoing democratic, economic and social reform of the almost bankrupt country ought to be the priority. That goes also for continuing to seek a diplomatic solution to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. If that doesn't happen, the consequences will be unforeseeable and perilous. These were the observations of Senator Tiny Kox, Chair of the Group of the Unified European Left in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, after a fact finding mission of PACEs Presidential Committee, from 21 - 25 March.

'After talks with the acting President, the Minister of Home Affairs, the new governors of Donetsk and L'viv, every political party and a wide range of social organisations, I have ascertained that there are enormous fears that things are going to get further out of hand,' warned Senator Kox. 'A lot of the people I spoke to are afraid of fresh Russian interventions. In the country's east there is very little confidence in the new government. And in the west, for example in L'viv, what I heard was incomprehension of what's happening in the east. Following the removal of President Yanukovych in February, a political vacuum exists in the east of Ukraine, where he had his power base. For this reason neighbouring Russia has a certain appeal, as wages and pensions are higher there and the government appears stronger.
'Also, mostly in east Ukraine there are fears of the direction the new government in Kiev is opting for, in which the extreme right is playing a significant role. There is a threat of enormous spending cuts, while so many people are already in poverty and lack any prospects of improvement. At the same time corruption is rife, the economy is in ruins, social relations are unjust and relations between the Russian and Ukrainian communities are here and there tense. In Kiev and the west there are demonstrations against Russian aggression, while in Donetsk, on the other hand, I heard demonstrators chanting 'Russia, Putin!'' 

Kox hopes that Ukraine will quickly receive all necessary support to restore the domestic order through free and fair Presidential elections in May and Parliamentary elections in the autumn. In addition a new constitution must be adopted, one which does justice to people's wish for more influence and decentralisation of power. Other priorities are the fight against rampant corruption and for an independent judiciary. 'The better Ukraine functions as a society, the more difficult it will become for the country to be used as a geopolitical football,' he says. 'But to make this clear in a country in which mega-rich oligarchs pull the strings everywhere and politicians put their personal interests before the public interest is unimaginably difficult, certainly if you take account of the fact that Ukraine has existed as an independent country for a mere twenty-three years and has to date never been properly unified.' 

What's needed is for the international community to condemn unequivocally the illegal annexation of the Crimea by Russia and take appropriate measures to call President Putin to order, Kox argues. 'It's extremely dangerous when powerful countries allow themselves to alter internationally recognised borders,' he says. 'If we permit that, it will be the thin end of the wedge.

At the same time the European Union and the United States should reconsider their attempts to take Ukraine into their economic or military sphere of influence, as Kox asserts. 'All the fuss about NATO membership must be dropped, just as the President now acknowledges. And the conclusion of an economic Association Agreement by the EU should also be looked at closely. Russia sees both matters as parts of an encirclement.'
Kox adds that 'it's good that everything is being done to reduce tensions and bring about an agreement. It's involved a deal of back and forth from a lot of people. When I arrived on Friday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon was in Kiev and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier was in Donetsk. During our visit we also met with representatives of the UN and of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe - the OSCE - of which both Russia and the US are members. The Council of Europe, in which all European countries, including Ukraine and Russia, are represented, can give expert assistance about the reform of the legal system and making democratic elections possible. Effective cooperation between international organisations can perhaps open spaces which are not yet available.'
At the beginning of April representative of the parliaments of the forty-seven Council of Europe member states will decide whether or not to hol dan urgent debate on the functioning of democratic institutions in Ukraine. Also on the agenda of the Assembly will be the question of what measures might be taken against the Russian Parliament in response to its support for the annexation of the Crimea. 'That's difficult to determine,' says Kox. 'Violating international law is not open to discussion. Excluding the Russian Parliament from participation in the Council of Europe's work offers, however, very few prospects, certainly when it comes to the necessary parliamentary diplomacy. These are difficult debates, that's for sure!'
 Article published in SP International http://international.sp.nl/bericht/118946/140325-kox_major_concerns_surround_ukraine.html