President of the Republic of Austria

Speech made to the Assembly

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

I thank you, Madam President, most warmly for your warm welcome and the kind words extended to Austria. The same can be said of your home country, Luxembourg, given its role in and commitment to Europe.

It is true that I return with great pleasure to Strasbourg and to this debating Chamber. I was here in the 1980s and my respect for the Council of Europe in the intervening 25 years has remained unchanged. What is more, numerous issues discussed at the Council of Europe – for example, constitutional issues, democratic development, fundamental rights, minority rights and foreign policy – have always been of particular interest to me as an Austrian parliamentarian.

In essence, all those questions are related. It is a matter of European values, our common perception of humankind, how we build a humane society, the rule of law and ethics in politics, and of the primeval question: how we can prevent the tenet that the end justifies the means from applying in politics and society in general? That is a tempting tenet but it can have consequences. For Arthur Koestler, Manès Sperber, Leszek Kolakowski and many others in literature, it was a major issue.

“It is fairly easy to close doors, but once they are shut, it is far more difficult to open them again”

Austria acceded to the Council of Europe on 16 April 1956 – almost 58 years ago, give or take one week. None of these 58 years of membership has been a lost year. On the contrary, since then Austria has been bound ever more closely to the Council of Europe. Our commitment to it corresponds not least to the conviction, arising from our own history, that the multilateral network of States built up after the Second World War is an important basis for peaceful coexistence in Europe. Active multilateralism, if I can put it that way, is also a cornerstone of Austrian foreign policy, and Vienna is a good place for institutions that serve international co-operation.

However, Austrian membership of the Council of Europe has also contributed to an improvement in our legal system, because the European Convention on Human Rights is deemed to have the same rank as the constitution – something that I do not think is so common among fellow member States. Given that it has this rank in our legal system – the same as the constitution – every new generation of law students in our country learns the Convention as part of their constitutional law. This is a not insignificant factor for Austrian legal culture as a whole.

Our interest in and commitment to the Council of Europe are also reflected in the fact that, as the President mentioned, Austrians have in the past been elected as Secretaries General of the Council of Europe. Peter Schieder was President of the Assembly from 2002 to 2006. I was a close friend of his from when we were both members of a youth organisation. Tragically he died last autumn. He was an ardent and eminently well informed champion of the idea of the Council of Europe and the idea of Europe per se.

Let me take this opportunity to mention a few subjects and results arising from the close relations between Austria and the Council of Europe. The first summit of the Council of Europe took place in 1993 in Vienna. It confirmed the policy of opening up and expanding the Council of Europe, after the events of 1989 and the years immediately following, and created new thematic priorities that fundamentally characterise this institution today – for example, the protection of minorities through the framework convention and the charter for minority languages, and combating racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism, through the creation of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance. Austria’s commitment to Europe is also clearly reflected in the working programme of our current chairmanship – our sixth – of the Committee of Ministers, which falls in an active and interesting period. Based on the three pillars of the Council of Europe, we are on working on such topical issues as combating human trafficking, protecting freedom of expression on the Internet and combating violence against women.

Tragically, human trafficking is one of the greatest evils of our society. In Europe, sadly, it is nearly omnipresent. It is a matter not just of sexual exploitation, but of slavery and forced labour. Often, the victims are legal minors. We took up this problem at a major conference in Vienna in February, in cooperation with the OSCE. The conference considered in greater depth many aspects of prevention, victim protection and prosecution, as well as international co-operation in this area.

The issue of freedom of opinion lies at the heart of democracy. Journalists have a key role in providing information to the general public. You may like the work of journalists more or less, but you cannot have a democracy without an active media society. As the European Court of Human Rights rightly says, journalists are the guardians of society, but guardians also need protection, support and a code of conduct. That is why in December we devoted a special debate among delegates to the Committee of Ministers on the issue of journalists, which led to the specific tasking of the Secretary General.

The protection of human rights and compliance with fundamental democratic rules on the Internet is also a topical issue that occupies us and, I believe, the whole of Europe. When I think one particular country, I think this becomes very topical.

Another subject I should like to mention in this regard is combating violence against women. By devising the Istanbul Convention, the Council of Europe created a standard that is also greatly respected outside Europe, but as you all know, for it to enter into force we need 10 ratifications. At the moment we have eight ratifications. That means that the governments and parliaments of other member States must be called on to act if we are to reach the minimum number of 10 ratifications. I therefore take this opportunity to appeal to others to begin the process of ratification or, where they have already begun it, to accelerate and conclude it, so that this standard can become more effective.

I would like to share with you one conclusion that I think should encourage us. I am a vehement opponent of the death penalty. At the beginning of the 20th century, the death penalty was considered more or less self-evident in almost all countries of Europe, so I am very proud that at the beginning of the 21th century it has been done away with in almost all States of Europe or no longer exists. It is also apparent from the most recent Amnesty International report that in 2013 not a single death sentence was enforced in the whole of Europe. I thank the Council of Europe for its efforts in this area, which show that measurable, appreciable progress is possible if we work hard enough for it together. This should be a great incentive for us to continue and intensify our efforts elsewhere. Our goals in the 21st century should be to achieve outside Europe what we managed to achieve inside Europe in the 20th century.

Another important subject that has occupied the Council of Europe since November last year is the situation in Ukraine. As we know, a treaty of association between the European Union and Ukraine was to be signed at the summit in Vilnius on 29 November last year, but five days beforehand, the then Ukrainian President, Yanukovych, came on an official visit to Austria. We had several talks, among them a four-hour discussion. His statements were sometimes confusing and contradictory; it was obviously a very difficult situation for him. However, I cannot say that the atmosphere in the European Union in the weeks and months preceding the planned date for signing was particularly encouraging for Ukraine or indicated a clear wish for the speediest possible signing of the agreement. On the contrary, right up to the eleventh hour additional conditions for signing the association agreement were mooted, including the release of Yulia Tymoshenko, the previous prime minister. Substantial economic and financial support for Ukraine, above and beyond the terms of the agreement, was not countenanced at the time, which in my opinion was a mistake. That was discussed at the most recent ministerial meeting in Athens. We are now aware of the nature of subsequent developments.

As far as I am concerned, Russia’s actions in Crimea have been, and continue to constitute, a clear breach of international law, as the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission has determined. On that point, I share the views expressed by the United Nations Secretary-General and the Secretary General of the Council of Europe.

I noted with interest the observations of veteran statesmen of an earlier generation, such as Helmut Schmidt, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing and Henry Kissenger, on the background to the crisis. In their opinion, and in mine, the situation in Ukraine should not simply be about drawing that large and important country into one camp or another – either the European Union side or the Russian side. You will all know Bertolt Brecht’s “The Caucasian Chalk Circle”. We need a sensible, forward-looking political and economic role for a stable and democratic Ukraine. That would constitute a useful bridge between the EU and Russia. Earlier and more resolute efforts should have been made to achieve that. That goal should still be discussed.

One might object to the goal of a democratic Ukraine with a constitution containing elements of decentralisation and protection for minorities, with close links to Europe in its economic and social momentum, and at the same time good political and economic relations with Russia, which could exercise a bridging role. One might suggest that it is utopian. On that point, however, I will cite the Polish philosopher Leszek Kolakowski, one of my favourite authors. He held that a utopia ceases to be a utopia when it comes into existence. All the States of Europe want good and peaceful relations with the Russian Federation, and the Russian Federation would certainly seek to enjoy a stable and peaceful relationship with the States of Europe, a relationship of trust. That should not be utopian; it is something to be achieved in practice, step by step, through the Council of Europe.

To that end, we must deal seriously with all the concerns of the countries involved in the crisis. Resolving difficult political questions involves viewing a situation from the other party’s point of view. An attempt to bring Ukraine into NATO in the foreseeable future would show a clear failure to appreciate the situation from the other point of view. It is not a sufficiently well-developed approach. Indeed, President Obama made it clear in a press conference on 26 March that Georgia and Ukraine would not enter NATO for the time being, and that will not change in the near future. On the other hand, Russia must appreciate the issues surrounding Ukraine from a European and European Union point of view. Further steps taken by Russia to destabilise Ukraine would be utterly unacceptable.

In that regard, I will venture to comment – I crave the Assembly’s indulgence – on a current issue here: the reconsideration of the credentials of the Russian delegation, which I believe you are due to vote on tomorrow. As I have said, I consider multilateral fora – bodies such as the Council of Europe – to be one of the planks of peaceful co-existence in Europe. In my opinion, dialogue is absolutely the way to approach conflict resolution. There is no way around it. We must keep the opportunities for dialogue open. Closing doors is fairly easy, but opening them again can be far more difficult. I urge you to bear that in mind tomorrow.

I will make a brief comment on the conflict in the Middle East, which is of great concern to Europe. Last week the Israeli President, Shimon Peres, now in his 90s, undertook a State visit to Austria. It was probably one of his last official visits abroad before his term of office ends. He is a truly experienced statesman, having held important positions for more than 50 years. He is a Nobel Peace Prize laureate. He is an authority. We discussed developments in the Middle East, particularly the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. I believe in his earnest desire, which is shared by many Israelis, to see peace between Israel and the Palestinians on the basis of a two-State solution. He believes that such a solution still has a chance of success. However, only a few hours after he stated his optimism – he claimed that he was far too old to be a pessimist – the talks suffered a serious set-back. Some people felt that it was about to fall apart.

I believe that Europe and its allies ought to act with greater energy to ensure that the peace process moves along a successful path. Settlement building in the Palestinian territories is a breach of international law and must cease. Similarly, rocket attacks and other attacks on Israeli territory must cease. The Palestinians must understand that compromise means moving away from the entirety of their initial position, and the Israelis need to accept the same message. That is enormously important and would have an effect far beyond the Middle East. At this time, when efforts have moved quite a long way, the talks must be saved from collapse.

In conclusion, 2014 marks a number of historic anniversaries: 100 years since the outbreak of the First World War; 75 years since the outbreak of the Second World War; and 25 years since the fall of the iron curtain. We should take all of these dates, and others, and use them to demonstrate that we are in a position to learn from history. However, at this time we should also reflect on the fact that so many realities in contemporary Europe would have appeared utopian to Europeans 30, 40 or 50 years ago. We have achieved genuine progress and that, surely, is a major incentive to continue to tackle problems that appear incapable of resolution today, and to move towards solutions step by step.

I continue to wish every success to the Council of Europe, which very shortly, on 5 May, will celebrate its 65th anniversary. I wish it every success in our collective interest and I thank you for your attention.

The PRESIDENT (interpretation)

Thank you very much, President Fischer, for your address, which made a great impression and showed your great commitment.

(The speaker continued in English.)

We now come to questions. I will call first our colleagues from the political groups. I remind you that you have 30 seconds to put your question and that you should not make comments. The first speaker on my list is Mr Díaz Tejera from Spain, on behalf of the Socialist Group.

Mr DÍAZ TEJERA (Spain) (interpretation)

Thank you, Madam President, and thank you, Mr President, for being so true to yourself. Thank you for your experience and your address, and for calling us to support utopia. Actions can come from military power; financial power can give rise to crises; and technological power is monitoring millions of people. These are all challenges to democracy – and parliamentary democracy is coming late to the table. What can we do to ensure that we achieve effective protection for the human rights of all the people whom we represent here in the Assembly?

Mr Fischer, President of the Republic of Austria (interpretation)

There are questions that you can put in a couple of minutes that a politician could spend his whole life trying to answer. In the area of human rights, in the medium term there have been significant achievements. The Declaration of Human Rights explains what our common goal must be in this regard. Article 1 states that we are all born free and equal and should interact in a spirit of fraternity. It is such a good programme that we ensured that it was hewn into the stone over the entrance to our debating chamber back home. Now it is a question of making that come about.

I do not think that a single country anywhere in the world can claim correctly that it has achieved 100% of that. There are always differences and there is often a kind of pecking order. There is a difference in the degree to which human rights are respected. There are certain competing relations. I know that a greater effort is being made in the United Nations to work on human rights. Certainly the efforts are greater than they were 30 years ago. There is a United Nations special committee on that. However, at the end of the day it is a matter for individuals, and for politicians and their parties, to decide how to address the issue of human rights, and whether they will go along with things such as the idea I mentioned that the end justifies the means.

As a politician, one is often faced with very awkward decisions, and one has to try to find the best solution, bearing in mind human rights imperatives. These matters are imperative on all of us, but there is no panacea. I cannot say, “Well, life as we know it will change and everything will be fine from 1 January” – that will not be the case. It is up to all of us to do what we can to ensure that these things come about.


I call Mr Fischer from Germany, who speaks on behalf of the European People’s Party.

Mr A. FISCHER (Germany) (interpretation)

Thank you, President, for the very clear words in your address on human rights, and for your support of the Council of Europe. If you had not expressed your views on Russia and Ukraine, I would have asked about that – but as we are talking instead about human rights, I will ask what you think we can do jointly to give greater support to judgments of the Court of Human Rights.

Mr Fischer, President of the Republic of Austria (interpretation)

The rulings of the Court of Human Rights should be respected, as should the judgments of any arbiter. I have noted cases where people thought that they could simply ignore the rulings of a Supreme Court. However, in a highly developed democracy someone who pursues that path should be left on the fringes and should be very much in the minority. In countries such as Germany or Switzerland, it is simply not possible to ignore a ruling from the Supreme Court. Anyone who does so is first automatically exposed to justified criticism, not least from voters. It might not hurt that much in a truly developed democracy, but if you wish to achieve consensus, the rulings of the Supreme Court simply have to be adhered to. The rulings have great ramifications, and we would transfer some rights to the European Parliament to ensure that certain red lines cannot be crossed.


I call Ms Bulajic, on behalf of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.

Ms BULAJIC (Serbia)

Mr President, thank you for your comprehensive and frank address to our Assembly. My question, too, will revolve around human rights issues. As you are well aware, we have been holding extensive discussions on the foundations of human rights in the face of crises. My question is this: how do you intend to respond to those challenges, especially in the case of the Ukrainian crisis, and what concrete measures would you propose so that utopia can cease and make way for reality?

Mr Fischer, President of the Republic of Austria (interpretation)

As the Austrian President, I would say, first, that we need to become very active in the bodies where we are represented, such as the European Union and the Council of Europe, in order to promote efforts within the community of democratic States and to have a positive effect in encouraging peaceful and legitimate solutions. Of course, we need to look at the economic and social basis on which we are working for these solutions. We cannot ignore the fact that there is a connection between social cohesion and concern for the weaker and more vulnerable members of a society, and that society’s solidity.

Austria has a special bilateral dialogue at the moment with senior representatives of Ukraine, who turned to us and asked if we would be prepared to provide our best offices and explain our experience, for example, of neutrality and not belonging to a specific bloc. We hope to be able to make a contribution there.

Furthermore, Austria has offered Ukraine assistance in framing a constitution. The President of the Supreme Court in Austria has just retired on age grounds and spent a week in Ukraine, where he has been talking to people there about how to create a better foundation for a constitution. This is what we can do bilaterally and what we can achieve as members of the European Union and the Council of Europe.


I call Mr Villumsen, who will put a question on behalf of the Group of the Unified European Left.

Mr VILLUMSEN (Denmark)

Thank you, Mr President, for your wise approach to the conflict in Ukraine. How do you think that we in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe can contribute to finding a solution to the conflict in Ukraine? How can we de-escalate the situation instead of escalating it? How can we in the Council of Europe be part of finding a solution?

Mr Fischer, President of the Republic of Austria (interpretation)

According to the information that I have and my observations, the Council of Europe has already made a contribution in recent months and weeks. The Secretary General of the Council of Europe has visited Ukraine on several occasions. On two occasions, he has done so with the Austrian Foreign Minister. I am sure that that has afforded support to Ukraine, but it is also a reminder to observe certain principles. Both those things are valuable.

Obviously, Ukrainians are seeking security and support, but we need to point the finger at where things may have gone wrong in the past in Ukraine and at what they must be careful of for the future. They have to take account of minorities. They should not make mistakes in language policy. They need to develop their constitution further to address the specific features of Ukraine. One hundred years ago, the western part of the country belonged to Austria, and the situation there is very different from that prevailing in the eastern part of the country. A robust constitution would have to take account of such differences.

Yes, Russia is a member State of the Council of Europe and we must speak in plain language. In my experience, Russian politicians pay heed to plain language; they often speak it themselves. We must keep the channels of communication open. I tried to express that view in my address. The Council of Europe is fully involved in the decision-making process. A constitution is clearly needed and human rights and the rule of law must be upheld, but we must be able to engage in dialogue with the other side. We must be open as well and not take any opportunistic action.

Mr FOURNIER (France) (interpretation)

The Council of Europe, where Austria is now chairing the Committee of Ministers, and the European Union share the fact of being founded on the rule of law and of existing to promote democracy and human rights. However, the European Union has suffered for several years from a crisis of confidence among its citizens. What can the Council of Europe offer the European Union to help to breathe new life into its projects and policies.

Mr Fischer, President of the Republic of Austria (interpretation)

The Council of Europe was founded in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War – it was constituted in 1949 – and it took shape before the process of European integration took off. It is sensational to have the opportunity to exchange views in this way. Indeed, when I was three years in office, I checked when the first Austrian President undertook a foreign visit. Karl Renner, the first president, never left Austria while in office between 1945 and 1950. Körner, who was in office from 1951 to 1957, never left Austria during that period. The third president, Schärf, visited Belgium in the 1960s, as part of a universal exhibition. In 1945, we Austrians were much more inward looking, and the Council of Europe helped us to show interest in other States and open up dialogue with them.

The Council of Europe was therefore a forerunner of the whole idea of European integration. Indeed, it was a forerunner of the European Parliament, which started in an embryonic state. Of course, that was way back, and things have developed a lot since then. The Council of Europe’s unique selling point is its attachment to human rights. That message spreads much further than the European Union. We are talking about 47 member States, rather than the European Union’s 28 member States. We are very active in a number of areas, and we have an active membership with rights and duties. We reach parts of the world that the European Union cannot reach. So the Council of Europe’s role, in terms of its history and its pioneering actives, is something that we can claim as unique.

Mr CLAPPISON (United Kingdom)

Mr President, I extend a warm welcome. You mention the death penalty. We have just heard the news of the imposition of the death penalty on a Christian couple in Pakistan for an alleged offence of blasphemy. Do you agree that the freedom of religion is under threat in far too many places in the world today? Do you agree also that member States of the Council of Europe should emphasise the freedom of religion as a core human right? Do you agree also that our governments should take up this issue with other governments, such as that of Pakistan, where persecution is clearly taking place?

Mr Fischer, President of the Republic of Austria (interpretation)

Of course I agree that the freedom of religion is a fundamental right. Just a few weeks ago, I gave an address at Heiligenkreuz, which is a papal university. I spoke on just that issue and pointed out that, for example – I think that many of you will know this – Austria was the first country in Europe that, 102 years ago, acknowledged Islam as an equal community of belief to Christianity and alongside the Jewish faith. That was a pioneering act when it came to religious freedom, and Vienna is a centre for institutions such as those founded by Saudi Arabia and Spain, including the centre for religious freedom founded by King Abdullah. Some of you may be a little surprised to hear that Saudi Arabia takes part in that, but it has been heavily involved in founding and funding that institution to help ensure the practise and discussion of religious freedom.

Reference was made to certain events in Pakistan, and of course we must completely and unambiguously condemn such things wherever they take place, be that in China or in any of the five continents. We think that freedom of religion is a fundamental right, and such rights are indivisible.

Mr SOBOLEV (Ukraine)

I thank you, Mr President, for your strong support and that of your country in our struggle against Russian occupation. Indeed, your country was the first to arrest one of the most corrupt oligarchs, Mr Firtash, on your territory. At the same time, however, Russian officials, especially Mr Putin, hide Yanukovych and other oligarchs who are engaged in the killing of people and the system of corruption. What can the Council of Europe do to stop the hiding of corrupt criminals in the Russian Federation?

Mr Fischer, President of the Republic of Austria (interpretation)

I think there are several conclusions here. You said one or two kind things about the Austrian position on this crisis and problem, and I have tried to set out the whole breadth of the Austrian position and its support for a peaceful solution on the basis of dialogue. Secondly, you mentioned the case of Mr Firtash. On the basis of a long-existing agreement I think the United States has applied for that individual’s deportation, and the courts are now looking into the matter to see whether the requirements have been met. That is a question of jurisdiction, so a member of the Austrian Government or the President will certainly not intervene. It is a matter for the courts in our country and everyone will have to accept whatever they decide.

On Mr Yanukovych’s stay in Russia, again one can consider that issue only on the basis of the rule of law and a ruling from our court. If someone applies for his extradition, the legal system of the country affected will have to consider that, and the Council of Europe can act as an observer and express an opinion about the ultimate ruling of the court. I do not think, however, that there is any question of the Council of Europe taking a position over or ignoring the courts.

Mr SZABÓ (Hungary) (interpretation)

The process of integration for central and eastern Europe, and also for the whole of Europe, was about the victory of democracy. Do you think that might be possible for other countries as well? Recently, some people have been opposed to that and their voices have become much louder. Anti-democratic voices are being raised loud and clear across the rest of Europe. What is the danger of that in your eyes?

Mr Fischer, President of the Republic of Austria (interpretation)

I am pleased that you have raised the issue of the western Balkans. That is an important issue and we think that 2013 was a year of considerable progress. Croatia joined the European Union and Serbia made considerable progress – just two or three weeks ago the Serbian President was in Vienna and left a very good impression regarding the positions he has adopted. Progress is continuing in Kosovo, and I hope that Albania will soon conclude an association agreement. Montenegro is a front runner in its relations with the European Union. Bosnia remains a matter of concern – perhaps I can put it as bluntly as that. There will be elections shortly, which is great, but it means that until well on in the autumn there will be complete inertia on the political scene. Overall, however, the western Balkans are on the right track.

On the question about extreme or nationalist right wing movements, the process of European integration as a whole is an act against chauvinism and extreme nationalism. If we consider the articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that we mentioned about equality and fraternity, I think that the type of nationalism that looks down in a condescending way – or worse – towards its neighbours may be linked to some kind of racist philosophy and the idea of a hierarchy of races that are more or less important. That philosophy caused such awful suffering in the 20th century that I would certainly distance myself from it. None the less, there are such trends and an attempt to exploit certain forms of nationalism.

Time and again, however, those attempts run up against certain limits. That was the case in France, Sweden and in Austria, and the huge majority of differing political opinions are able to contain that form of extremism. Sometimes one experiences a setback in one respect or other, but overall I do not think there is any future for those nationalist ways of thinking, and in 10 or 20 years’ time we will have learned to deal better with such forms of extremism than we have so far been able to do. That is my opinion.

Mr IWINSKI (Poland)

Mr President, you are not only an eminent statesman with great political experience but you also worked as a scholar for many years. For that reason, I kindly ask you to comment on the specificity of Austrian neutrality when compared, for instance, with that of Sweden and Finland.

Mr Fischer, President of the Republic of Austria (interpretation)

It has changed considerably in recent times. At the beginning of the 1990s, Austria, Sweden and Finland, the three neutral countries, had a lot of contact with one another because of the new situation after the fall of the Iron Curtain. We discussed whether we were in a position to accede to the European Union. The issue was hotly debated in all three countries. I remember discussions with Ingvar Carlsson from Sweden, Paulo Ripponen from Finland and other friends. We decided to accede as neutral States. Since then, Sweden and Finland have considered themselves non-aligned.

Although Austria remains a neutral country and has not made any major legal changes, we have made minor modifications. Our declaration of neutrality of October 1955 is a brief text. It says that Austria is bound to perpetual neutrality, will not accept any external pressure and will not accede to any military alliance. That short declaration has remained in force unchanged since October 1955. When we acceded to the European Union we said that our neutrality would remain, but we have changed some provisions in our constitution so that we can take part in European discussions on defence. To my mind, that has proved its worth.

Around the year 2000, both major parties – the Social Democratic Party and the Austrian People’s Party – were at loggerheads. They found it difficult to negotiate to form a coalition. The Austrian People’s Party wanted a statement saying that Austria retained the right to accede to NATO. The social democrats refused that. Since then our defensive doctrine has been hammered out through a consensus between all parties. Its essence is that we are a neutral State, but we can take part in the process of European integration.

In Finland – although I am sure our Finnish colleagues can explain this better – there are discussions about potential NATO membership. Similarly, in Sweden there is a wide range of opinions on that issue. But that does not stop us going down the avenue that we think has proved best for us and that is accepted by our population. If there were a referendum today on whether Austrians wanted to give up their neutrality, a large majority of the population would vote in favour of retaining it.

The PRESIDENT (interpretation)

Thank you, President, for the way you answered –

Mr GAUDI NAGY (Hungary)

I want to ask my question.

The PRESIDENT (interpretation)

I am very sorry, but unfortunately the protocol is that we have to finish at 1 p.m.

Mr GAUDI NAGY (Hungary)

Madam President –


We have very rigorous timings here. I am sorry, but we have to finish.

(The speaker continued in German.)

On behalf of the Assembly, I thank the President most warmly for his address and for the answers given to questions. You have allowed us to benefit from your tremendous experience.