The 123rd session of the Committee of Ministers was held today in Strasbourg with Gilbert Saboya Sunyé, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Andorra, in the Chair.
At the end of the meeting, the Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers was passed by Andorra to Armenia.
The heads of delegation of Council of Europe member states congratulated Armenia on assuming the chairmanship of the organization, assuring that they will provide full support in the implementation of the priorities of the Armenian presidency.
Armenia will chair the Committee of Ministers for the next six months.
Statement by H.E. Mr. Edward Nalbandian
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia, Chairman of the Committee of the Ministers of the Council of Europe
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is with distinct pleasure that today I am taking the floor as a Chairman of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, the oldest and the most renowned organisation on the European soil.
Assuming for the first time the Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers since Armenia’s accession to the Council of Europe is an important task. It is an opportunity, a challenge and a big responsibility.
It is an opportunity because Armenia for the next six months will be at the forefront of our common efforts to contribute to democratic development of Europe.
It is a challenge as we all are facing numerous problems on the continent, which can create difficulties in consolidation of our fundamental values.
It is a big responsibility because the success of our common efforts not only depends on individual contribution of each and every member state, but also on the leadership in streamlining our joint activities. Armenia, as a nation, whose European identity has been defined and shaped by common values, ideals and heritage, confidently takes this responsibility.
Mesdames et Messieurs,
Pour moi c’est un honneur et un grand plaisir de prendre la parole en tant que Président du Comité des Ministres du Conseil de l’Europe, l’organisation la plus ancienne et l’une des plus renommées sur le sol européen.
Assumer pour la première fois la Présidence du Comité des Ministres depuis l’adhésion de l’Arménie au Conseil de l’Europe, est une opportunité, un défi et une grande responsabilité.
C’est une opportunité, parce que pendant les six prochains mois, l’Arménie sera au premier rang de nos efforts communs visant à contribuer au développement démocratique de l’Europe.
C’est un défi, parce que notre continent est confrontés aujourd’hui à de nombreux problèmes qui peuvent porter atteinte à nos valeurs fondamentales.
C’est une grande responsabilité, car le succès de nos efforts communs dépend non seulement de la contribution de chaque Etat-membres, mais aussi de la capacité de diriger nos activités conjointes.
L’Arménie, dont l’identité européenne prends ses racines des valeurs, des idéaux et de l’héritage communs, prend cette responsabilité en toute confiance.
Our Chairmanship priorities have been defined in response to the challenges that we – as member states of this Organisation – are facing today, with specific focus on issues, which we consider the most pertinent and require immediate action. We will endeavor to bring our contribution also to strengthening the capabilities of the Council of Europe in addressing those challenges.
We will continue supporting the ongoing reform process of the Council of Europe, initiated by the Secretary General, as we believe that this is the right way to raise the effectiveness and responsiveness of our Organisation.
The Armenian Chairmanship will pursue the goals of combating racism and xenophobia in Europe, of promoting European values through intercultural dialogue, of strengthening European standards on human rights and on the rule of law, of fostering democratic societies and of reinforcing the role of the Council of Europe in the European architecture.
Intolerance and xenophobia violate human dignity and challenge the cohesion of our societies. We would like to focus our attention on the hatred and intolerance, racist and xenophobic rhetoric used in political discourse as a tool for political propaganda, which contaminates the souls of the people, incites distrust and creates images of public enemies and leads to hate-induced crimes. The Armenian Chairmanship will contribute to the efforts by organizing a High-Level Conference on Combating Racism and Xenophobia and Intolerance in Europe.
The Armenian Chairmanship will also support the activities within the framework of the No Hate Speech Movement, as we consider the Youth project on combating the hate speech on-line as a timely response to these threats.
Promoting intercultural dialogue is an effective tool for forging greater understanding in European societies. Diversity is the strength and richness of Europe and we should spare no efforts towards maintaining and preserving our distinct cultural heritage. Armenian Chairmanship will host the 2013 Exchange of the religious dimension of intercultural dialogue.
The setting of standards for the human rights and the rule of law is the area of excellence of this Organisation. We need to further strengthen the application of the European Convention on Human Rights, especially at national level. This is a necessary precondition for securing the rights and freedoms of all citizens.
To further reflect on the European standards on the rule of law, in continuation of the efforts of the UK Chairmanship of the Council of Europe, in the framework of the Armenian Chairmanship, the Constitutional Court of Armenia will organise a Conference in Yerevan. It will focus on the role of public administration, notably, the scope and the limits of the States powers’ discretion in designing, implementing and interpreting laws.
Local democracy has been a priority area for a number of previous Chairmanships and we will continue their efforts in this regard, as we firmly believe that local democracy is a crucial element for the democratic advancement of the society. We will focus mainly on the aspect of citizens’ participation and the ways to increase that participation in the decision-making process on matters of local and regional concerns. This issue will be addressed in detail during the conference, which will provide an opportunity to reflect upon all the relevant aspects in order to draw a comprehensive picture, in particular, with regards the best practices, as well as on policies applied in member states of the Council of Europe.
The Armenian Chairmanship will also pay special attention to the problems of the capital cities and their role in overall development of local democracy, given their weight and influence in political, economic, social and cultural life.
Education will also remain within the focus of the Armenian Chairmanship and we will contribute to the cooperation and policy dialogue in the field of higher education. This Organisation has carried out important work in support of the implementation of the Bologna Process, which is currently led by Armenia. Although tangible results have been achieved, nevertheless, there is a need to consolidate the implementation and to further build on the progress achieved.
Armenia will also pay special attention to the area of education for democratic citizenship and youth participation. In this regard we will organize a Youth Policy Symposium in Yerevan, which will serve as a platform for exchange of views and in-depth discussion on youth participation.
The Armenian Chairmanship attaches great importance to the cultural dimension of the Council of Europe activities aimed at raising awareness of European citizens about rich and diverse cultural heritage of Europe.
The Armenian Chairmanship will also contribute to furthering Council of Europe’s cooperation with other international and regional organisations. Such cooperation is essential for better synergies of activities, for an enhanced effectiveness and impact of efforts. In this regard, we will closely follow the process of accession of the European Union to the European Convention on Human Rights, which will further strengthen the protection of human rights and will contribute to the creation of a single European legal space.
During our Chairmanship we will work closely with the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and the Congress of Local and Regional authorities. Two major events of these institutions are planned to take place in Yerevan in the next six months.
We will ensure the continuity of efforts in areas identified as shared priorities and we will be in close cooperation with previous, Andorran and next, Austrian Chairmanships.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Armenia will cooperate in good faith with all member states who are willing to engage in constructive dialogue on issues, which are the competence of the Council of Europe and who wish to contribute to the realization of the objectives of this Organisation.