Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Edmond Haxhinasto symbolically took today during the 122-Session of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe the direction of this key political organ of the organization. For the first time after 17 years membership in the CoE Albania leads a pan- European body of these dimensions.
Attending the ceremony were senior representatives of 47 member countries of this organization, who discussed the policies of the Council of Europe to the neighboring regions and the contribution of the organization for these young democracies.
Opening the session, British Secretary of State, William Hague, presented the achievements and results of the British chairmanship of the CoE, where the reform of the Court of Human Rights was a key priority of this chairmanship.
At the end of formal session, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Edmond Haxhinasto, delivered a speech that laid out the priorities of the Albanian chairmanship, which will be guided by the motto: “United in diversity”. Intercultural dialogue, education of new generations with the spirit of tolerance and coexistence will be the foundation of Albanian chairmanship priorities.
In his quality as President of the Committee of Ministers, Mr. Haxhinasto informed that 6-month period of the Albanian presidency will end in November 2012 with the organization of high level conference on diversity and intercultural dialogue in Europe. This event will coincide with celebrations of the 100th anniversary of Independence.
In his speech, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Edmond Haxhinasto underlined that another important priority of Albanian chairmanship will be the dimension of regional cooperation, where special emphasis will be placed on strengthening the CoE standards in Kosovo. This will be an achievement for all citizens of Kosovo, an achievement in the way of Euro-Atlantic integration, but also a contribution towards regional peace and stability.
At the conclusion of the meeting was held a festive ceremony with the participation of delegations of all member countries, senior representatives of the Council of Europe and other higher personalities from the country.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Edmond Haxhinasto, referring to the generous and friendly traditions of Albania, donated the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thobjorn Jagland, one popular traditional Albanian costume, which was widely praised by attendees. On his part, after expressed his gratitude for this valuable gift, Mr. Jagland underlined the importance of intercultural exchanges between European countries as bridges between them. Then, Mr. Jagland wished a successful chairmanship for Albania under its motto “United in Diversity.”
During the ceremony the participants were introduced to the Albanian part of the story presented by some Albanian cultural heritage objects such as icons and a few pages of codices of Berat. This celebratory atmosphere was accompanied with Albanian sung by Albanian soprano Oriana Kurteshi, accompanied on piano by composer Genc Tukiçi. The participants enjoyed the characteristic products of Albanian cuisine from different regions of Albania.
At the conclusion of activities, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Edmond Haxhinasto, at the same time the current Chairman of the CoE Committee of Ministers held a press conference with Secretary General of the CoE, Mr. Thorbjorn Jagland and successor Chairman, Mr. William Hague, where assured that Albania will continue work in accordance with the line previously followed by the British chairmanship to further promote the values of this organization.
Likewise, Mr. Haxhinasto stressed that Albania supports the further rapprochement of the Council of Europe to Kosovo and invited the organization to be more present to contribute for the consolidation of standards of human rights in Kosovo for all its citizens, regardless of ethnicity.
Speech of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Edmond Affairs, held in the Session of Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe
Thank you Mr. Chairperson
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am indeed pleased and honored to address this distinguished pan-European body in my new capacity of Chair of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.
For the past 20 years the Council of Europe and its institutions have assisted Albania meet its membership obligations and transition to a fully-fledged democracy. Today, we stand here to provide our own contribution to the cause of human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law that the Council of Europe so uniquely embodies and promotes. Albania is taking take up this responsibility with pride and strong commitments.
Before outlining Albania’s Chairmanship priorities, I wish to pay tribute to the outgoing UK Chairmanship for its commended work at the helm of the Committee of Ministers.
Albania will charter its work to uphold and promote the core values of the Organization and in line with the priorities that the two previous Chairmanships (Ukrainian and UK’s) and Albania agreed upon last year.
As a country which takes pride of its century-long traditions of multiculturalism and inter-faith harmony, Albania has chosen intercultural dialogue, tolerance education, especially for young generation and living together as key priorities of its presidency. This is a major theme for the 21st century Europe as it was released by the independent The “Group of Eminent Persons” rightly pointed out in the 2011 report that this remains a major theme of this century, and this is more true in light of ongoing economic crises, which provides breeding ground for populist tendencies, extremism as well as xenophobic and nationalistic discourse. In this spirit, the Albanian Chairmanship will be guided by the motto: “United in diversity”, and will initiate an open dialogue among all stakeholders: members and observer states, the main international partners, representatives of civil society, the Secretary General and the Eminent Persons.
We will convene in Tirana in November an international high level conference on:
Diversity in Europe, an asset for the future;
Promoting intercultural dialogue;
Role of education of young people towards promoting mutual understanding, tolerance and better integration in society.
Furthermore, this Conference will fully support the on-going action of the Secretary General with regard to strengthening the Organization’s dialogue and co-operation with Europe’s neighboring regions. We strongly believe that the Organization and each of our countries can be of help to their people and societies.
The promotion of the dynamic democratic governance is an indispensible component of the modern democracy. Local and regional democracy will figure high in the list of shared priorities. Our work will be focused in particular on the effective implementation of the self-government principles using the full potential of the Council of Europe as the standard-setter in this field. Therefore Albania will support the first Strasbourg World Forum for Democracy, to be held in October 2012 during its Chairmanship.
Another shared priority of our “extended Chairmanship” is to guarantee the long term effectiveness of the European Court of Human Rights. The Albanian Chairmanship will further proceed for the implementation of measures introduced in the political documents of Interlaken, Izmir and Brighton. The unanimous approval of Brighton Declaration is a clear testimony of the political engagement of all member states for a proper and sustainable implementation of the European Convention of Human Rights. Albania will further encourage the implementation of one very important recommendation aiming at guaranteeing the long term effectiveness of the European Court of Human Rights at national and European level.
Since taking office two and a half years ago Secretary General Jagland has undertaken a far-reaching reform of the Council of Europe, strengthening its political relevance in the European architecture and transforming it into a more effective and more flexible institution. Albania will continue to support the Committee of Ministers in reviewing and rationalizing the Organization’s structure, work and budgetary priorities. In particular our chairmanship will fully support the on-going action on the Secretary General in strengthening the Organization’s dialogue and cooperation will Europe’s neighboring regions.
During the tenure at the helm of the Committee of Ministers we will pay due attention to protection and promotion of human right, with particular focus on the children and women’s rights. As a signatory country of the Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, Albania will encourage the countries which have not yet signed and ratified this instrument to do so, and will attach great importance to the implementation of the 2012-2015 Strategy for Children to be launched during its Chairmanship.
Last but not least all the above mentioned priorities can be duly and properly implemented only if we join efforts and strengthen cooperation with international partners, in particular with the European Union and OSCE. Albania appreciates the advantages offered by the 2012-2013 biennial programme and budget in terms of prospects for co-operation with EU, which provide the main financial support to the Council of Europe’s co-operation programmes in South Eastern Countries and not only. While the OSCE plays a very important role in promoting stability and security in Europe, as well as in promoting tolerance, non-discrimination and protection of the rights of persons belonging to national minorities.
Dear friend and colleagues,
In accordance with its foreign policy Albania will devote special attention to the promotion of regional cooperation throughout its Chairmanship activities. Being a country with a recognized stabilizing and moderate role in the region, Albania is and will remain committed to a broader integration among the countries in the region, and to further advancing the region towards the European integration.
We highly appreciate the engagement of CoE in the Balkan region. I would like to particularly highlight the importance of Council of Europe involvement in Kosovo, in promoting democracy, human rights and the rule of law, with an obvious aim at offering a clear European perspective to all citizens living there. Kosovo should be a multi-ethnic and safe area for all its citizens, where CoE standards have to be continuously strengthened and where the key European instruments need to be fully applied together with the control mechanisms. Our national position is crystal clear. We are in favour of Kosovo membership to the Council of Europe, because only in this case Kosovo citizens would maximally benefit from the CoE and would have access to the European Court of Human Rights. Despite our different opinions on Kosovo status and bearing in mind the neutral statues of CoE for Kosovo, I strongly believe we should all accept a greater involvement of CoE in Kosovo, by supporting the pragmatic Recommendation 1739 (2010) of the Parliamentary Assembly of CoE aiming at promoting direct and significant contacts between CoE staff and Kosovo authorities at all levels.
Finally, Mr. Chairman, let me conclude this intervention by stressing that Albania’s ambitious Chairmanship programme will be guided by the overarching interest of the Organization. The diversity of views of member states will be duly taken care of through continuous consultations and discussions. I would like to extend my invitation to all of you to support our common goals, in order to confirm the concept of unity through diversity.
I thank you for your attention and I look forward to closely cooperate with you in the coming months.
The joint Press conference of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Edmond Haxhinasto, Secretary General of CoE, Mr. Thorbjorn Jagland and British Foreign Secretary, William Hague
The speech of British Foreign Secretary: Now is the right moment for the Chairmanship passed to Albania, which we did two hours ago. I wish them all the best during the next six months. We share the same goals and therefore we offered to Albania support and friendship. I am happy to hand over the chairmanship to Foreign Minister.
Haxhinasto: Thank you very much!
First of all I would express my appreciation to the Secretary General, Mr. Jaglang, for the reforms undertaken by the Council of Europe during his chairmanship, to strengthen the validity of the Council of Europe and its transformation into an organization more effective and more flexible.
Secondly, thank you very much Mr. Hague! I want to greet you, your chairmanship for the excellent work during these six months, also for the support that you give us for our chairmanship.
The Albanian chairmanship will continue to focused on joint priority, supporting a common agenda of all actors of European Council to strengthen local and regional democracy, the package of reforms proposed in Conference of Brighton in order to guarantee long-term effectiveness of the European Court of Human Rights and especially to improve the implementation of the Convention at national level.
The Albanian chairmanship will focused to promote and support sustainable democratic societies, choosing intercultural dialogue, tolerance, education and living cohabitation priorities. For this purpose, we will organize a high level conference in Tirana in November that will be developed with these issues.
Special attention will be given to the regional dimension of the organization, relations with the region. Albania will support a broader engagement of the Council of Europe in Kosovo and will promote direct contacts with the authorities there.
General Secretary of CoE, Mr. Jagland: Honorable colleague! Thank you! As usual you may have questions for the two Foreign Ministers.
Question: Have you any comment on the possibility of full membership of Kosovo in the Council of Europe?
Answer – CoE Secretary General, Mr.. Jagland: I’m not here for the policies followed by member countries of the Council of Europe. On this point I can only say that some member states have recognized Kosovo as an independent and some are not. This was not an issue to be discussed at the Council of Ministers, so do not depend on me to answer this question, but depends from member states to decide on this.
Answer- British Foreign Secretary, Mr. Hague: We as United Kingdom have recognized Kosovo. We are one of 33 states that have recognized Kosovo from 47 countries of the Council of Europe that are total, and from that standpoint we look forward to Kosovo to be included in all important international issues. But, as the Secretary General said, it requires the support not only of the United Kingdom, but also of other countries. So it requires a much wider agreement, which is not currently available.
Answer- Albanian Foreign Minister: The position of Albanian state is for a full integration of Kosovo in Council of Europe, but certainly we should look at how it is the situation and the position of member countries of the Council of Europe and then to look in this space what we can do.