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SPEECH BY MEVLÜT ÇAVUŞOĞLU, PRESIDENT OF THE PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY OF THE COUNCIL OF EUROPE,
ON THE OCCASION OF THE MEETING
OF THE STANDING COMMITTEE
(ANTALYA, FRIDAY 12 NOVEMBER 2010, 9H00)
Our meeting takes place immediately after the transfer of the Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to my country Turkey. I therefore take pride in welcoming today the new Chairman of the Committee Ministers, Minister Davutoğlu, who has kindly accepted our invitation to attend this meeting.
I would like to congratulate Mr Davutoğlu on my personal behalf as well as on behalf of the Parliamentary Assembly and wish him good luck with the initiatives foreseen in the programme of this Chairmanship. Let me assure you, Minister, that the members of the Assembly are ready to fully support your Chairmanship and look forward to welcoming you in the Chamber during our part-sessions.
The priorities of your chairmanship largely coincide with those that I promote as the President of the Assembly.
As for the first priority of your Chairmanship – the reform of the Council of Europe – you are well aware that the Assembly fully supports this reform process, initiated by Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland. Indeed, our Organisation must now become more pro-active and politically relevant, whilst increasing the impact and effectiveness of its action. In particular, I welcome your ambitious plan to make the Organisation more innovative, more flexible and more visible. I can assure you that we will fully support this process.
The second priority of your Chairmanship, - the reform of the European Court of Human Rights – is of crucial importance. The capacity of the Court to react quickly to the most serious systemic human rights problems existing in Europe must be reinforced. At the same time, we should not forget that the primary responsibility for protecting human rights and freedoms lies with the member states. We are looking forward to the follow-up conference on the reform of the Court which you will be organising in April 2011 in Izmir and I am confident that the Assembly will make a valuable contribution to this process.
The Council of Europe’s action will only be effective if our standards, Conventions and recommendations are complied with. In this respect, the third priority of Turkey’s Chairmanship – the strengthening of the monitoring mechanisms – is more than welcome. I support your plan to strengthen Council of Europe monitoring mechanisms, seeking to create at the same time appropriate synergies within our Organisation as well as with other European and international stakeholders.
As for the fourth priority – the accession of the European Union to the European Convention of Human Rights, - we approve of your commitment to accelerate the process of accession in order to build a coherent Pan-European system of protection of human rights on the European continent. From our side, we have already launched a discussion with our colleagues from the European Parliament about the modalities under which the European Parliament will participate in the process of electing judges to the European Court of Human Rights. In this respect, consultations about the establishment of a special co-ordination body are ongoing.
Last but not least, I would like to strongly support the fifth priority of your Chairmanship which is addressing the current challenges of multicultural European societies. As you know, I have made of this issue one of the top priorities of my mandate.
I am sure that the Assembly’s recent reports on the fight against extremism as well as on the recent rise in national security discourse in Europe provide a wealth of ideas and concrete proposals for the seminars to be organised within the framework of Turkey’s Chairmanship.
We believe that inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue is an effective tool to combat intolerance and discrimination. In April 2011, the Assembly will hold a debate on the religious dimension of inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue with the participation of religious leaders. We also plan to contribute to the work of the Group of Eminent Persons which is preparing a report on “Living together in 21st century Europe” to be submitted to the Committee of Ministers prior to the Istanbul Ministerial session of 11 May 2011. I thank you very much for initiating this group of eminent persons and important report which, I hope, will benefit the whole Europe and its multi-cultural and multi-ethnic population.
As you can see, Minister, we share many ideas and proposals. The Assembly members are now looking forward to an exchange of views with you on these issues and I give you the floor.