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Parliamentary Assembly Session: 24-28 January 2011

Thorbjørn Jagland: ''The great European project cannot go forward without the Council of Europe''

Thorbjørn Jagland

In his speech to the parliamentary Assembly today, the Secretary General highlighted the pivotal role of the Council of Europe and the relevance of its ongoing reform, aiming at political action on a pan-European level. ''A cold wind is blowing over Europe'', he said. ''Our mandate is to safeguard the moral and legal ground for European unity, not only between states, but more importantly between peoples, cultures, religions''. He also said there should be ''no second class citizens'' in Europe and underlined the organisation’s commitment to the work of the Eminent Person’s Group for improving intercultural and religious dialogue.

In a wide-ranging speech, the Secretary General also focused on 2010 achievements and on the principles of the institution’s reform, that is, Council of Europe’s role in implementing the rule of law, based on democratic and human rights’ standards throughout the continent; its role in building a culture of living together; need for broadening interaction with neighbours, and exploiting the full potential of co-operation with international partners such as the European Union, the OSCE and United Nations.

In his speech the Secretary General also paid tribute to the victims of the Moscow airport bombing: ‘’The most recent tragic reminder of the looming and omnipresent terrorist threat happened only a few hours ago. Media reports speak of at least ten persons killed in an explosion apparently caused by a sucide bomber. We do not yet have more information, but I should like to use this opportunity to express my sympathy and solidarity to the families of the victims and all the people of the Russian Federation’’.