WELCOME BY MR VAN DER LINDEN,

PRESIDENT OF THE PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY
TO MR VUK JEREMIC,

MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF SERBIA,

CHAIRMAN OF THE COMMITTEE OF MINISTERS

(Strasbourg, Thursday 4 October 2007)


Dear Chairman,

The Serbian chairmanship of the Council of Europe is a success not only for your country but also for our organisation. It shows the tremendous potential that we have to do thing together, as a family of 47, while drawing on the talent, vision and capacities of each individual country.

Let me say a special word of appreciation for the decision that was reached by the Committee of Ministers under Serbian chairmanship to proclaim the European Day against the Death Penalty.

This was a landmark decision, since it illustrated how our determination to defend our common values allows us go far beyond what it now possible at the level of the European Union.

Our organisation must and can continue to play such pioneering role. But for this, it needs to concentrate on its core values, to show genuine political vision and leadership. You know how strongly I have been advocating a greater involvement of the foreign ministers in the work of the Committee of Ministers. I would like to praise your own efforts in this respect. The presence amongst us this week of your Prime Minister, Mr Kostunica, was a very much appreciated sign of political commitment at the highest level to the cause of the Council of Europe.

In this connexion, I would like to reiterate how much we need a good, functioning relationship also between the Parliamentary Assembly and the Committee of Ministers. This has to be a genuine partnership, based on complementarity, where each body contributes to the common cause by its own specificity and strengths.

A basic precondition for the Assembly to develop in this direction is to have its own budget and a larger say in its human resources management.

Dear Chairman, thank you once again for the valuable work that you are doing. We look forward to hearing from you about the activities of the Committee of Ministers and about your vision of the future of the Council of Europe. The floor is yours.