E.O. 12958: DECL: 5/4/2019



STRASBOURG 00000009 001.2 OF 002

CLASSIFIED BY: Vincent Carver, CG, Strasbourg, State.

REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)

1. C) SUMMARY: The Council of Europe´s (COE) election for its next secretary general has produced internecine warfare between

resident ambassadors and the Parliamentary Assembly (PACE), with the former having short-listed only Thorbjorn Jagland of Norway and Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz of Poland for the PACE´s vote in June; the PACE voted overwhelmingly for candidates Luc Van den Brande of Belgium and Matyas Eorsi of Hungary (both PACE members) to be including in the June vote. The PACE session April 27-30 criticized Russia over non-cooperation regarding human rights. The COE´s 60th anniversary ministerial in Madrid will focus on the next secretary general´s election as well as the attempted end-run around Russia regarding Protocol 14 and the working of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). An attempt by Swiss parliamentarian Dick Marty to revisit “secret prisons” was unsuccessful. End summary.

2. C) The COE´s Council of Ministers´ deputies (resident ambassadors) held a closed-door rancorous session April 22 to select which names of the four candidates it would forward to the PACE for election in June as the next secretary general.  According to long-serving COE Secretariat official Mireille Paulus (please protect), the session was one of the most contentious in years. After more than four hours of debate and procedural maneuvering, the deputies voted to send the names of  Jagland (Norway) and Cimoszewicz (Poland) to the PACE for the election in June. Both the Belgian and Hungarian ambassadors expressed their frustration to us privately, with the Belgian noting that Belgian candidate Van den Brande likely would continue to lobby for inclusion in the “short list” although he (the ambassador) believed the battle over. Several ambassadors told us that while they recognized both Van den Brande´s and Eorsi´s contributions to the COE as PACE members, they also wanted to respect the Junker Report which recommended that persons of standing, particularly former prime ministers and foreign ministers, should serve as COE Secretary General. Paulus told us that while neither Jagland nor Cimoszewicz had the profile the COE would prefer, they were still more visible in European affairs that the other two candidates and technically met the Junker criteria.

3. C) Several PACE members told us throughout the PACE session April 27-30 that they viewed the deputies´ decision as a “power-grab,” with resident ambassadors wanting to ensure that one of “their” insider candidates, rather than a democratically elected representative (and therefore “less controllable”) of the PACE, become the next secretary general. In fact, the PACE voted overwhelmingly (158 – 1 – 11) for the Council of Ministers to reconsider and include all four candidates for the June election. Paulus told us that Spanish FM Moratinos, as Chair of the Council of Ministers, had agreed before the PACE vote with the leaders of the PACE´s political groups to do so. Paulus stressed to us that Moratinos had agreed to be accompanied at those meetings by Van den Brande and Eorsi, a decision that Paulus characterized as “non-statesmanlike.” The deputies will review the bidding May 6 but ministers themselves likely will have to decide at the Madrid Ministerial May 12 whether to respect their ambassador´s decision or to bow to pressure from Moratinos and the PACE and include all four names for the election by PACE in June.

4. C) On substance, the PACE session focused on Georgia-Russia, with more parliamentarians noting that while Georgia has fulfilled “most” of its COE obligations in the aftermath of the
war, Russia has not. The PACE Secretary General had told us that most PACE members had decided that the situation regarding Georgia-Russia had not changed significantly since the last PACE session in January and therefore the PACE would not take any significant decision on the matter. The PACE did pass a resolution on the humanitarian consequences of the war (vote: 133 – 0 – 13). The Georgian Ambassador told us that he is preparing a call to question the Russian delegation´s credentials – likely in the September session, given that one
year will have passed at that point since the PACE first debated the consequences of the war. The Georgian ambassador told us that he expects more PACE members to be sympathetic to suspending the Russians at that point in time. (Comment: While more deputies may indeed agree, we doubt whether such a move would pass; almost all COE bodies strongly favor continued engagement over sanctions regarding almost every country on any issue. End comment.)

5. U) The PACE also reviewed the situation of human rights defenders in COE member states, with several members noting the difficulties of defenders in Russia, while one Russian
questioned the intentions of some individuals who claim they are human rights defenders. The PACE noted that Serbia had steadily made progress on its COE commitments but that Belgrade still had to take further concrete measures to ensure that all its commitments are fully met. On Moldova, the PACE noted deficiencies in the recent elections and called for a political dialogue among all major political groups there.

6. U) Spanish PM Zapatero, Finnish President Halonen, and Spanish FM Moratinos delivered speeches and answered parliamentarians´ questions at the PACE. Zapatero stressed his
campaign to promote women´s rights and to promote a global moratorium on the use of the death penalty. Zapatero said all countries must fight terrorism but that the international
community must also examine terrorism´s roots. Halonen took a few veiled jabs at Russia, said isolation of Belarus had not worked, and stressed the need for global cooperation and
private-public partnerships in light of the global financial crisis. Moratinos stressed that the COE must pass Protocol 14 (held up for Russia´s refusal to ratify the protocol, which
would streamline ECHR proceedings, thereby allowing more cases – including the thousands backlogged from Russia – to be processed more quickly), and that the world must eradicate terrorism – a phenomenon that poses great security and human rights challenges.

7. C) The PACE passed a resolution supporting “Protocol 14bis,”a maneuver that will likely be approved (two-thirds needed) by ministers in Madrid that will serve most of the purposes of the stalled Protocol 14. The resolution, debated on the eve of the May Day long weekend, passed 39-0-0, with the Russian delegation boycotting the session. Most of our contacts have told us that they expect Lavrov to lobby heavily in Madrid for ministers not to take action on Protocol 14bis, but that most other countries, fed up with Russian intransigence on the issue, will adopt the measure anyway.

8. C) Only a dozen or so parliamentarians signed on to Swiss parliamentarian Dick Marty´s attempt to re-examine “secret prisons” in Europe. The Romanian Ambassador had alerted us in March to Marty´s efforts; the Romanian also told us few member states wanted to re-open debate on this question.


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