Trying to answer them will be the most difficult task of my trip to Ireland.
Concerning Russia, it is true that we must keep open the corridors of dialogue. We can also learn from Ireland about how it met challenges during its history and overcame serious crises through dialogue. On the one hand, there must be sanctions but, on the other, there must be dialogue. One must speak and listen to one another, even if one does not agree. One must try to understand the other argument and sit down to find solutions. Dialogue only works, however, if both sides want to find a solution and, of course, we cannot force anybody to do it.
Azerbaijan has taken over the chairmanship. I was very critical of it in my opening address at the standing committee a fortnight ago in Baku. One must be critical but I also see the chairmanship as a window of opportunity for Azerbaijan to accelerate its reform process. The country has lots to do and we must address the situation. That is not patronising, just helping countries to reach and cope with the commitments they undertook when they joined the Council of Europe.
The important issue of vocational training was mentioned. I am glad the Council of Europe took up the issue because we need people in Europe who are hands-on and know how young people treat things. One can delocalise jobs in other parts but there is work that must be done on the spot which is where we need qualified people. I believe in the importance of vocational training and I am glad that we are going to adopt the resolution of Mr. Wach.
With regard to human rights in 1949, our predecessors had a vision. They understood that the Second World War was the result of not finding the right solutions after the First World War. After the Second World War they sat down and decided to have a pan-European organisation that would defend democracy, human rights and the rule of law. We tended to take that for granted. When we look at what is happening today, one can see that it is more important than ever to focus on that. One cannot have stable countries and strong institutions without a democratic system. One cannot have a democratic system if one does not have human rights and a system based on the rule of law. We must continue to work together to defend this.
I was asked how the situation between Russia and Ukraine will develop. I do not know, and nobody else knows, but there is some hope. I hope that we continue the dialogue in order to find solutions.
Members spoke also about the neighbouring countries and Moldova. In a fortnight's time, after the session, I am going to Moldova to meet the people because it is important that they feel the support of the Council of Europe. I do not pretend to solve the problem of Transnistria but I want to assure them that they belong to the European family.
In regard to relations with the EU, I always say that the Council of Europe cannot be seen as a waiting room for the European Union. We have to focus on our core business which is human rights in the 47 member states which means the whole geographical Europe, except Kosovo and Belarus. While the European Union decided to join the European Convention on Human Rights we still have some way to go. That is important. We have also agreements where the European Union is funding action plans of the Council of Europe, especially in neighbouring countries in, for example, the Maghreb states.
On the achievements of the Council of Europe, there were serious crises in countries such as Albania where the opposition refused to sit in the parliament, making it impossible to work, because it needed a qualified majority in order to get started. As a Council of Europe and as a parliamentary assembly we went to Albania and spoke to the people and we contributed. We did not solve the problem because they had to solve it themselves but we contributed to finding solutions. The same happened in Romania when they tried to force President Bsescu to step down. We also made a contribution there not to mention all the conventions.
On the issue of finances, it is true that the Council of Europe is getting less money because we have a zero nominal gross budget but we have to continue to get money. I do not think the Russians will withdraw and not pay any more.
There was a question about the OSCE. I called on the Secretary General of the OSCE as we have to maintain relations. The OSCE is responsible for security issues and we are responsible for human rights. We cannot develop human rights without security and we cannot have sound security without human rights, therefore, we have to continue to work closer together.
Several Senators raised the issue of the extremists in Europe. That issue is more than worrisome. I appeal to all democratic parties, despite our political differences in many areas, to stick together in order to combat extremism because that is very dangerous especially with the economic crisis in all our countries. As that is easy for all those populists, so we have to come back to that issue. We know how it worked in the 1930s where people said it was not that dangerous. One has only to look at what happened in Greece to the Government's own party. I was told that was because of the economic crisis and protest voters but it made 16% in essence at the local elections. Therefore, we must stick together in order to combat extremists.
I turn to children's rights and protection. Ireland can make efforts to join the conventions to make them even stronger. The role and future of the Council of Europe is to focus on structuring human rights. I come back to Ukraine where one of its the problems is that it has very weak institutions and weak institutions are not able to provide answers to a serious crisis. It starts with a constitution, corruption, and the justice is not independent. This shows the importance of having those core values deeply rooted in every country. Through its instruments this is where the Council of Europe can help those countries. The No Hate Parliamentary Alliance is also linked to the extremists, therefore we have to stick together.
The last report of the Commissioner for Human Rights of 2011 dealt with Traveller community rights but time does not permit me to go into its details. However, it points to some of the ways to tackle the issue. I advise the House to work on that issue as well on asylum seekers and refugees. The migration issue should be a focus of all member states where a common policy is needed, otherwise this also will help the extremist parties to get more support. Given that it has been stated that migrants are responsible for everything, we need to find an answer to that question.
The final question is territorial integrity, self-determination. How far can it go? Ireland is a neighbour with Scotland. If it agrees that the forthcoming referendum there is fair and meets all the requirements that can be a solution but it has to be in the framework of the constitution, in line with all international requirements and not left to an upcoming populist party which would split a country and make it weaker and more vulnerable.
I have tried to answer all the questions. I wish to close with one word in Luxembourgish, Villmols merci, go raibh maith agat.