Committee of Ministers Chairmanship – Luxembourg: May – November 2002 

Introduction to the exchange of views with President Fox by Mrs Erna Hennicot-Schoepges

Mrs Erna Hennicot-Schoepges
Minister of Culture, Higher Education, & Research,
Minister of Public Works of Luxembourg, representing the Chair-in-Office of the Committee of Ministers

(Enlarged Bureau with Observer states, Committee of Ministers Room at 10.15 am, on Wednesday, 15 May 2002)

Strasbourg, 15 May 2002

Mr President,

On behalf of the member and observer states of the Council of Europe, I would like to welcome you most warmly to the Council of Europe. Your presence here today symbolises the strong relations between Mexico and Europe that have developed since your country obtained observer status with the Council of Europe in 1999 and the entering into force of the EU-Mexico Economic Partnership, Political Co-ordination and Cooperation Agreement in the year 2000.

These historical events have opened new perspectives for the improvement and consolidation of a mutually beneficial partnership between Europe and your country.

Strong historical and cultural links have always existed between Europe and Mexico but these institutional frameworks have taken the relationship a most significant stage further.
Fruitful cooperation between the Council of Europe and Mexico started in 1995 when Mexican legislators started participating on a regular basis in enlarged debates of the Parliamentary Assembly on the activities of OECD which Mexico had joined in 1994.

Mexico’s interest in cooperating with Europe was also clearly demonstrated by its joining the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development when it was set up in 1989.

In 1997 Mexico began to participate in a number of intergovernmental activities of the Council of Europe, notably in the fields of culture and education as well as in legal matters.

With the accession of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Council of Europe has once again confirmed its pan-European vocation. The Council of Europe has played a unique and unprecedented role in bringing the former communist countries into the European family of democratic nations. Through our cooperation with Mexico and the other four observer states we have widened our scope for cooperation to tackle the challenges that we are facing in an increasingly interdependent and globalising world. We share with the Observer states the values of democracy, political pluralism, the rule of law and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms which underpins the Council’s activities. We would like to cooperate with Mexico in strengthening these values.

We also look forward to cooperating with Mexico in giving a concrete follow-up to the forthcoming EU/Latin America/Caribbean Summit, in particular through our European Centre for Global Interdependence and Solidarity based in Lisbon.

Mr President,

In recent years Mexico has successfully modernised its political and electoral machinery and strengthened democracy. It has also consolidated the legal systems for the protection of human rights and promoted an awareness of the need to respect them. Your country could thus give the Council of Europe the benefit of its political, social and institutional experience.

Given Mexico’s history as a country that offers and accepts cooperation, its experience could be useful to the Council of Europe’s programmes in the area of north-south relations. Your country’s concern with the developing world was also underlined by its hosting of the Summit meeting on the financing of development last month in Monterrey. Mexico’s important role in establishing and running systems for political and economic cooperation with Latin-America is another factor that could be advantageous to the Council of Europe.

International cooperation of like-minded nations is now more important than ever. Over the past months, the conviction has grown that the threats posed by Al-Qaeda style hyper-terrorism and by the other forms of terrorism are greater than ever. They require a rigorous effort over the long term. The Council of Europe was quick to respond to these challenges by defining the added value the Organisation could give to resolute international action against terrorism. Our contribution focuses on strengthening legal cooperation, safeguarding fundamental values and addressing the causes by promoting the intercultural dialogue.

These three elements have in common the conviction that our best weapon is the vigorous defence of the fundamental values of democracy, the dissemination of these and their development.

I am convinced that Mexico will join us in helping to realise these aims.

The Council of Europe main task in the 21st century will be to ensure democratic security in the European continent. Through a wide-range of intergovernmental and interparliamentary cooperation and its various instruments and mechanisms – 185 conventions, more than a thousand recommendations and 13 partial agreements – the Council has made an essential contribution to peace and stability in Europe.

I am positive that Mexico, together with the member states and the other four permanent observers, will help us in the construction of an international order, based on democracy and human rights, in order to deal effectively with the challenges of our time.

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Mr President of the United Mexican States,

I thank you for your attention, and it is with the greatest pleasure that I give you the floor so that you can inform us of your views.