Palestine may be partner: Council of Europe assembly head

22nd June 2011, Comments 0 comments

The Palestinian National Council could this year gain "partner for democracy" status at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Strasbourg-based body said Wednesday.

The assembly's Turkish head, Mevlut Cavusoglu, speaking as Morocco gained the same status, said he hoped that "during our next session (in October) we shall also be able to grant the Partner for Democracy status to Palestine and that other countries will soon apply".

The Council introduced the new status last year to strengthen cooperation with parliaments of non-member states that wish to participate in debates that transcend European borders.

The Palestinian National Council, the parliament of the Palestine Liberation Organization, officially applied for the status last November.

Tiny Kox, the Dutch rapporteur for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on the case, visited the Palestinian territories in March when he invited president Mahmud Abbas to address the European body, which may happen at the October session.

The partnership status allows parliamentary delegates from countries from the southern Mediterranean, the Middle East and Central Asia to take part in PACE's activities, though without the right to vote -- which is reserved for parliamentarians from the 47 Council of Europe member states.

Morocco on Tuesday became the first parliament to receive the recognition which comes with certain obligations.

These include the holding of free and fair elections and working for the total abolition of the death penalty.

Kox recently hailed the signing in Cairo of a reconciliation agreement between feuding Palestinian groups.

Three countries have a separate observer status at the PACE; Canada, Mexico and Israel.

© 2011 AFP

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