WELCOME OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY, MR RENÉ VAN DER LINDEN,

TO MR FILIP VUJANOVIC,

PRESIDENT OF MONTENEGRO

(Strasbourg, Monday, 1 October 2007)


Dear President,

We are very pleased that the President of our newest member State has so soon had an opportunity to address this Assembly.

The accession of all the countries of the Balkan peninsula to the Council of Europe is of crucial importance to both the region and the continent as a whole.

Montenegro’s membership is highly symbolic of your country’s attachment to our common values, whilst also being of great practical importance in helping to ensure effective implementation of those values at home.

At the same time, your place here in our European family is a source of reassurance and support in your foreign relations.

The Council of Europe was established in 1949 to ensure peace, stability and prosperity by promoting and protecting democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

I am sure that it will prove to be just as successful in doing so for its new member States has it has for the older ones.

For the Assembly, perhaps our most direct form of assistance to advancing democratic reforms comes in the shape of the monitoring process.

Our rapporteurs will shortly be visiting your country and I have no doubt that they will meet with full and enthusiastic cooperation from your authorities.

In particular, the Assembly stands ready to provide its full support in the process of constitutional reform, so that the Venice Commission’s recommendations can be fully implemented, in accordance with the Assembly’s Opinion on Montenegro’s application for membership.

A sound constitution will provide a sold foundation for further democratic reform, which in turn will be necessary to fulfil your country’s vocation of full integration into European institutions.

I now look forward to hearing more about these and other issues from you.

President Vujanovic, welcome to the Assembly: the floor is yours.