Parliamentary Assembly session : 31 March – 4 April 2003 

Speech by the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Peter Schieder at the ceremony of accession of Serbia and Montenegro to the Council of Europe

Strasbourg, 3 April 2003

Among hundreds of thousands of people who, in silence and dignity, lined the streets of Belgrade during the funeral ceremony of the late Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic, there was a man wearing a shirt on which he had written, “You killed the future of my children”.

There is no doubt that this was the objective of those who organised this outrageous crime, but they have failed. They killed a man, a courageous and visionary leader, but they did not succeed in destroying what he and the other leaders of progressive forces in Serbia and Montenegro have achieved, and what those who replace him will continue to work for in the future.

On 12 March, the remnants of the Milosevic regime have made their last desperate attempt to return the country to the darkness of its past. Instead, the resolute response of the authorities and, above all, the citizens has catapulted Serbia and Montenegro into the future.

This is what we are celebrating here today. A tribute to what is best in Serbia and Montenegro. A tribute to its people, who have decided to break, irreversibly, with the past and to turn their backs on the regime which has brought them, and others, so much pain and suffering in recent years.

We are welcoming a country which is oriented towards Europe, and which is strongly committed to our common ideals. This is a country that I personally knew was always there, represented by Serbs and Montenegrins who resisted the destructive lure of nationalism and war. A country that I always liked and looked forward to welcoming in our midst.

In the Parliamentary Assembly, our old friends, members of the Special Guest delegation led by the infatiguable Speaker Dragoljub Micunovic, will soon enjoy full rights and face new responsibilities. We are not starting anew; we are building on close co-operation and close personal contacts, which started immediately after 5th October two and a half years ago.

Today is a great day, and I feel proud and honoured to be here. This is a new beginning, for Serbia and Montenegro, but also for the Council of Europe. We now extend virtually throughout the whole continent. As of today, we represent forty-five countries who are working together, to ensure a better, safer, freer and more just future, for the children of the man at the funeral in Belgrade, and for all the other children of Europe.