Strasbourg – Michele Nicoletti (Italy, SOC) was elected President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). Taking over from Stella Kyriakides (Cyprus, EPP/CD), he is the 31st President of the Assembly since 1949 and the second Italian to hold this office. There was only one candidate. Under the Assembly’s Rules of Procedure, the President serves for a one-year term of office, which may be renewed once.
In his inaugural address, the newly-elected President called for increased unity of the Council of Europe “as the only European institution that brings together 47 countries around the values of human rights, democracy, the rule of law and acceptance of its European Court”. “At a time of great and dramatic challenges – from terrorism to migration, from poverty old and new to mistrust in representative institutions, from the re-emergence of racism and xenophobia to the desperate solitude of so many people – we must offer a response to nationalist and chauvinistic temptations to close ranks, to centrifugal pressures and to conflicts by reasserting the need for peace and justice on our continent,” he said.
”As a pan-European political forum and a statutory body of our Organisation, the Assembly should fully play its role in addressing these challenges. This requires the active involvement of all members and delegations from all 47 member States. In this context, I regret that the Russian Parliament has not put forward a delegation for the 2018 Ordinary Session. Nevertheless, dialogue with Russian parliamentarians – as well as with all other delegations – continues, with due respect to our rules and obligations.”
“This reflection on our identity, which the Assembly will decide how to develop, appears to me to represent an extraordinary opportunity for our institution to reassert forcefully its own role as the guardian of European unity. I strongly believe that all member States of the Council of Europe must participate in this process,” the newly-elected PACE President underlined. “In performing this task, we must not cease to openly denounce any violation of human rights committed in any part of our continent and by any authority. There cannot and must not be any free zones. However, this defence of human rights will be even stronger if we are able to combine it with an ever increasing unity between our peoples. We must tirelessly seek to emphasise what unites us,” he said.