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The head of the Estonian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) Andres Herkel finished his two-year term as the Chairman of the PACE Monitoring Committee. The Austrian Social Democrat Stefan Schennach was elected yesterday to succeed him. The Monitoring Committee, which supervises the fulfilment of commitments to the organisation assumed by the Member States, is considered the most influential of the PACE and its Chairman changes every two years.

“I am happy that we have managed to send out a strong signal when things are not how they should be,” Andres Herkel said. “Undemocratic countries lobby with incredible forcefulness to mobilise votes by any means. In this sense we are really dealing with democratic regress. Even now in Strasbourg you can see that the opposing front against Thursday’s report on Ukraine is not organised by the Ukrainian deputies who support the government but by the head of the Russian delegation Pushkov,” Herkel said.

Herkel highlights as the biggest effort of his term the attempt to bring recommendations to the relevant national governments and the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe back into the monitoring reports. Such recommendations are meant to be fulfilled, otherwise the decisions of the Assembly would remain ineffective, Herkel explained.

“Progress has been intermittent, in case of certain reports the recommendation has gone through. Unfortunately there have been many more reports where we had tried to add the recommendation, but it did not pass the vote,” Herkel said. Contrary to a standard resolution, a recommendation requires a two thirds majority of the Assembly to go through.

Out of the 47 members of the Council of Europe, the Russian Federation, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and Montenegro are being monitored to check the fulfilment of their commitments. Post-monitoring dialogue is carried out on Bulgaria, Turkey, Macedonia and Monaco.

The Riigikogu Press Service