PARIS, November 14, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --
In an effort to enhance cooperation among its member states, the Council of Europe Wednesday decided to establish new rules to its monitoring procedure, while opting for a better division of labour between its institutions.
After discussing possible modalities for enhanced co-operation with the Committee of Ministers, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe - the continent's bastion of human rights composed of 47 member states representing 800 million European citizens - adopted with an overwhelming majority a "Letter of Cooperation" which aims to encourage dialogue and avoid bad sentiments between its member states.
"This is a very constructive method to work with new member states and will bring an end to the 'big brother' approach of the old member states towards the new members," said MP Elkhan Suleymanov from Azerbaijan, a country that is subject to a Monitoring report in January 2013.
The Council of Europe has a special monitoring procedure to observe the level of human rights and democracy in its new member states. Currently, 10 countries are covered by such monitoring, including Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova, Montenegro, the Russian Federation, Serbia and Ukraine. Bulgaria, Monaco, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Turkey are engaged in a post-monitoring dialogue in an effort to ensure their full respect for democracy, the rule of law and the protection of human rights.
Previously, the procedure followed consisted of the referral of a recommendation by the Assembly to the Committee of Ministers, the Council of Europe's executive body, which was then formally involved in the process, creating frictions, formal distrust and an excess of administration. According to the new rule, the Committee of the Ministers' involvement will now only be voluntary, where they will be asked to follow-up on the monitoring report with a "Letter of Cooperation" together with the co-rapporteurs.
"This Letter of Cooperation is informal and not compulsory and thus starts from a principle of good intentions and will generate positive effects," said Suleymanov, who added that he is now confident that the Resolution on Azerbaijan will not be accompanied by a negatively inspired formal Recommendation.
During the debate, the Chair of the Monitoring Committee, Andres Herkel, called for the monitoring reports to be accompanied by a draft recommendation and draft resolution. However, this approach was not endorsed by member states, which preferred more flexible working methods to build confidence and mutual respect between member states.
Only in last October 2011, the Council of Europe was split by the monitoring report on Russia, whose accompanying draft recommendation was rejected following a lively debate about big countries versus small countries, and old countries versus new countries. The new informal "Letter of Cooperation" is expected to create a more constructive environment to tackle problems in new member states while enhancing dialogue and cooperation.
"Today in Paris a huge positive step was made in building confidence and mutual respect between single member states under monitoring and the Council of Europe," Suleymanov said.