Autumn session: Czech and Ukrainian Presidents address PACE, Václav Havel Prize awarded

Strasbourg, 9-13 October 2017

Adopting its final agenda at the opening of the 2017 Autumn Session, the Assembly decided to hold an urgent debate on "The new Ukrainian law on education: a major impediment to the teaching of national minorities' mother tongues" and a current affairs debate on "The need for a political solution to the crisis in Catalonia".

Following the resignation of Pedro Agramunt as President of the Assembly, Stella Kyriakides (Cyprus, EPP/CD) was elected new President. She shall remain in office until the opening of the next ordinary session (22-26 January 2018).

Addresses by the President of the Czech Republic Miloš Zeman and the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko and a debate on two reports calling for a Council of Europe Summit were among the highlights of the session.

The fifth Václav Havel Human Rights Prize – which honours outstanding civil society action in defence of human rights – was awarded to Turkish supporter of the independence of the judiciary Murat Arslan.

Also on the agenda were debates on the situation in Azerbaijan based on two reports – one on the functioning of democratic institutions in the country and another on respect for human rights. The parliamentarians also held debates on promoting the human rights of intersex people, on the use of new genetic technologies in human beings, and on prosecuting and punishing crimes against humanity – or even possible genocide – committed by Daesh.

The Assembly debated new proposals for promoting and strengthening the transparency, accountability and integrity of its members.

Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaorálek, who chairs the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers, presented the communication on its recent activities. The Assembly debated the activities of the OECD in 2016-2017, with input from its Secretary-General Angel Gurría, and Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland held his usual question and answer session with members.