On this first day of the New Year, I would like to wish happiness, prosperity, health and peace to the 800 million Europeans living in the 47 member states of the Council of Europe, as well as to the citizens of the Observer states and to our Partners for Democracy. I also address my best wishes to the 636 MPs who are members of our Assembly, to the members of the Committee of Ministers, to our Secretary General and to the Deputy Secretary General, to the Secretary General of the Parliamentary Assembly, as well as to all the officials and staff working for different Council of Europe bodies.
May this New Year help us consolidate the ties that bind us, to make our organisation stronger, more visible and more effective! May our voices and messages for peace be better heard and respected! May the universal values of human rights be respected around the world! May the shameful violence that women and children still have to face every day be ended! May solutions quickly be found to put an end to the conflicts between Council of Europe member states, as well as to those in our immediate neighbourhood; conflicts that create dramatic situations for broken families, displaced persons and refugees!
I also hope that our relations and co-operation with the various bodies of the European Union, the OSCE and the United Nations be further strengthened so that we can achieve even greater efficiency and more concrete results in fulfilling our specific mandates, focused on ensuring that peace and justice do not remain just words but become a reality.
Happy New Year!