STRASBOURG, October 3 (Itar-Tass) —— The human rights situation in Ukraine and Belarus and a deteriorating situation in the Middle East will be high on the agenda on an autumn session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) that will open here on Monday.
Palestinian National Authority (PNA) President Mahmoud Abbas will deliver a key speech at a PACE plenary meeting, which will be devoted to the current situation in the Middle East. His participation in the PACE plenary meeting is already confirmed, a PACE spokesperson told Itar-Tass. The PACE will put up for voting a partner status for democracy to the PNA this week. The partner status allows sending representatives to PACE sessions but without a vote.
“This issue will be put on the PACE final vote,” Chairman of the State Duma International Affairs Committee Konstantin Kosachyov told journalists on the eve of the PACE session. The Russian deputy believes that it is highly probable that the PACE will approve a broader partnership with the PNA. “I believe that regardless the results of the UN debates the Assembly will vote for a partner status to Palestine,” Kosachyov said.
Meanwhile, the PACE will have urgent debates on the situation in the ‘post-revolutionary’ countries in North Africa, namely Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, as well as the problem of the inflow of refugees from these countries to Europe. The leadership of the Egyptian political parties will be on a visit in Strasbourg at the invitation of PACE rapporteur on the cooperation with the emerging democracies in the Arab world Jean-Charles Gardetto (Monaco). The PACE deputies will discuss with their Egyptian colleagues upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections in the country and the progress of making up a new constitution.
The PACE may have urgent debates on an ongoing trial against the former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko. “Such an initiative was made, but it was not passed to the PACE Bureau yet,” the head of the Russian delegation said. Meanwhile, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Konstantin Grishchenko is to deliver a speech at the PACE session, Kosachyov went on to say. “I do not rule out that he will be asked very unpleasant questions about the Timoshenko criminal case,” he noted.
Meanwhile, the Political Affairs Committee, which is the key PACE body, will study the human rights and freedom of speech situation in Belarus. The PACE committee may also debate the prospects of granting a special guest status to the republic. In the mid-nineties of the previous century Belarus was deprived of this status and the republican presidential elections were recognized undemocratic.
An Estonian deputy Andres Herkel, who is a new rapporteur on Belarus, is expected to deliver a speech at a meeting with representatives of the Belarussian opposition.