In New York this week to attend the UN General Assembly, Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland discussed the Palestinian membership bid with Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian National Authority, who will address the Parliamentary Assembly in Strasbourg in two weeks.
Furthermore, working to promote neighbourhood policy initiatives, primarily with countries in the Southern Mediterranean, Mr. Jagland met with Moroccan Foreign Minister Taïb Fassi Fihri, Tunisian Foreign Minister Mohamed Mouldi Kefi and Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh to step up cooperation with the Council of Europe, from possible accession to Council of Europe conventions to closer relations with the Parliamentary Assembly, the Venice Commission and the Pompidou Group.
The Secretary General also underscored cooperation between the Council of Europe and Tunisian authorities to prepare the election of a constituent assembly on 23 October.
In another meeting, Kyrgyzstan President Roza Otunbayeva stressed her wishes for closer ties with the Council of Europe. A request for “Partner for Democracy” status with the Parliamentary Assembly is under review, for example. A delegation from Kyrgyzstan will attend the Assembly session in Strasbourg beginning October.
Cooperation with the OSCE
Mr. Jagland also issued a statement with the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), strongly condemning the terrorist attacks in Ankara and Siirt in Turkey. [press release]. The two organisations called for increased cooperation in the fight against terrorism, while respecting human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law.
Mr. Jagland was joined on 21 September by OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Audronius Ažubalis, OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier and the Council of Europe’s Chairperson of the Committee of Ministers, Ukraine’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Kostyantyn Gryshchenko.
Memorandum of Understanding with the Organisation of American States
The Organization of American States (OAS) and the Council of Europe signed a memorandum of understanding on 19 September to establish closer ties between the organizations. Mr. Jagland and OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza signed the document to strengthen cooperation on such issues as protecting women's rights, strengthening democratic institutions and fighting cyber-crime.