WELCOME BY MR LLUĺS MARIA DE PUIG,
PRESIDENT OF THE PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY
TO MR CARL BILDT,
MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF SWEDEN,
CHAIRMAN OF THE COMMITTEE OF MINISTERS
(Strasbourg, 15h00, Monday, 23 June 2008)
I have great pleasure welcoming you in this Chamber for your first communication to the Assembly in your capacity of Chairman of the Committee of Ministers.
Let me say a special word of gratitude for the generous hospitality which the Standing Committee received by the Swedish Parliament during its last meeting in May. The presence of your Minister for European Affairs, Ms Cecilia Malmström, contributed to a very fruitful and valuable exchange of ideas.
At the same time, it was a very much appreciated sign of political commitment of your country to the cause of the Council of Europe.
In this connection, I praise the priorities of your country’s Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. The Parliamentary Assembly and the Committee of Ministers have a common endeavour to strengthen our Organisation’s core objectives and to show genuine political vision and leadership for Europe.
We need, first of all, to constantly improve the human rights protection system for Europe’s citizens. But we also need to find adequate responses to several crisis situations and trends: world conflicts; soaring petrol prices; the ever increasing cost of life; climate change. In many instances, we see temptations of governments to back down on human, social and civic rights. We are also witnessing the current difficulties of Europe to move forward towards further integration.
Therefore, the leading role of our organisation in strengthening democracy, human rights and the rule of law is more relevant than ever. However, there is a basic precondition so that our core values are a reality in Europe: appropriate budgetary means. And the foremost problem facing this Organisation is the current “zero growth” budgetary impasse. Our member state’s commitment to the Council of Europe must be better reflected in our budget.
Dear Chairman, with a harmonious and balanced partnership between the Parliamentary Assembly and the Committee on Ministers, I am confident that we are on the right track.
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.