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Slovenia concludes the Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe

Strasbourg, 18 November 2009 – The Slovenian Foreign Minister, Samuel Žbogar, handed over the Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to his Swiss colleague Micheline Calmy-Rey in the Palais de l’Europe in Strasbourg.

At the 1070bis meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies, the Slovenian Foreign Minister, Samuel Žbogar, handed over the Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to the Swiss Federal Councillor and Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, Micheline Calmy-Rey. In his address to the Committee of Ministers, Minister Žbogar outlined the main achievements of the Slovenian Chairmanship, which began at the Madrid ministerial session on 12 May. He expressed his satisfaction with the fact that, during the Chairmanship, Slovenia had reached an agreement on enhanced dialog and cooperation between the Council of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly, which enabled the election of a new Secretary General of the Organisation at the autumn Assembly session. Progress has also been achieved on reforming the European Court of Human Rights. Minister Žbogar emphasised Slovenia's focus on children's rights education, the education of Roma and Roma culture, and the promotion and preservation of cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue, with an emphasis on the rehabilitation of cultural heritage in South East Europe.

Numerous delegations, including the Swedish Permanent representative, who made a special statement on behalf of the EU, commended Slovenian Chairmanship, and particularly emphasised Slovenia’s essential role, notably the role of Minister Žbogar regarding the agreement on dialogue and cooperation between the Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly.

Before handing over the Chairmanship, Minister Žbogar presented Slovenia's Chairmanship report on activities in Georgia after the conflict in August 2008. In his address, the Secretary General called on the de facto authorities in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Georgia, and on Georgia itself, to do everything in their power to ensure the supply of international humanitarian aid to areas affected by the conflict in August 2008.

The Swiss Federal Councillor and Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, Micheline Calmy-Rey, presented the priorities of the Swiss Chairmanship for the coming six months. The key priorities of the Swiss Chairmanship will be promoting human rights and the rule of law, the strengthening of democratic institutions, and increased efficiency and transparency in the Council of Europe’s activities.

During the meeting, the Committee adopted the Council of Europe Policy Guidelines on Integrated National Strategies for the Protection of Children from Violence, and took note of the follow-up given to its Declaration of February 2008 on Council of Europe action to improve the protection of defenders of Human Rights and to promote their activities. The Slovenian Foreign Minister and the Swiss Federal Councillor and Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs welcomed in a joint statement the Council of Europe Policy Guidelines adopted on the occasion of the 20th Anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.