PACE opens 2008-spring session in Strasbourg

April 14th, 2008 - 8:35 pm ICT by admin  

RIA Novosti
Strasbourg (France), April 14 (RIA Novosti) Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) opened Monday its 2008 spring session, to be addressed by Slovakia’s president, Germany’s chancellor, and Ukraine’s prime minister. A PACE spokesman said Ukraine’s Yulia Tymoshenko is expected to give a speech Wednesday on a range of domestic issues and her country’s foreign policies.

Slovak President Ivan Gasparovic, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner will also address the session, which will run until April 18.

The PACE Bureau has supported Ukraine’s initiative to declare the country’s 1932-1933 famine a genocide by the Soviet authorities.

In the late 2006, Ukraine’s parliament declared the Stalin-era famine known as Holodomor, which claimed the lives of around three million people, as an act of genocide by the Soviet authorities against the Ukrainian people, and urged other countries to do the same.

The Bureau will consider two draft resolutions on the issue, one initiated by the Ukrainian delegation, which proposed commemorating Ukrainian victims only, and a Russian version, under which victims of all nationalities would be commemorated.

The Assembly’s Political Affairs Committee will hold a public hearing Thursday on Chinese developments in the run up to the 2008 Summer Olympics. The hearing will be attended by Chinese officials, a representative of the Dalai Lama, and representatives of human rights bodies.

China accuses the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, of inciting violence in last month’s protests in Lhasa in order to sabotage the Beijing Olympics.

Several European leaders have said they may boycott the Olympic opening ceremony over China’s crackdown on the protests and refusal to negotiate with the Dalai Lama. Exiled Tibetans say Chinese forces killed around 140 demonstrators, while Beijing says only 18 people were killed, almost all of them Han Chinese murdered by Tibetan separatists.

The PACE session has already approved the mandate of the Russian delegation, which was renewed after the country’s Dec 2 parliamentary election. Konstantin Kosachyov, who heads the State Duma’s international affairs committee, remained the head of the delegation, which now includes 22 State Duma and 14 Federation Council (upper house) members.

Andreas Gross, who headed the PACE monitoring group at the Russian presidential election March 2, will give a report on the election.

Gross said in March that unfair access to media put into question the overall fairness of the victory of Kremlin-backed Dmitry Medvedev, 42. He said the election “repeats most of the flaws seen in the parliamentary elections last December”.
RIA Novosti

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