Zahlreiche Würdenträger aller Nationalitäten und Glaubensgemeinschaften wurden im Europarat empfangen. Diese Männer und Frauen, die an politischen, sozialen und kulturellen Projekten beteiligt sind oder waren, zeigen die Dynamik und die Werte, welche die Arbeit des Europarates seit den Fünfzigerjahren prägen.
Carlo Sforza (1873 – 1952)
18. November 1950
„Das Geschick Europas liegt in hohem Maße in Ihren Händen.“
Gentlemen, the fate of Europe is largely in your hands. You can, if you wish, become the successors, on this side of the Atlantic, of the men who in America are still called the Fathers. The Fathers sacrificed the wish for independence of the thirteen colonies and on 17th Sept. 1787 wrote the joint Constitution, beginning for the first time with the famous words "We, the people of the United States.''
What a wonderful day it will be for the whole world, but one which must come if we wish to remain free men, when we proclaim at Strasbourg "We, the people of Europe." It is almost superhuman to imagine it. Yet this event will decide whether Europe is to remain Europe or to become the miserable little unknown peninsula of Asia which it was before the miracle of Athens and Rome.
I know that the task is enormous. But if your decide to undertake it, the grandeur of the task will determine the greatness of your deeds.
Heinrich von Brentano (1904 – 1964)
14. Januar 1953
„Er war die erste europäisiche Einrichtung, die sich mit der Schaffung einer europäischen politischen Behörde beschäftigt.“
Herr Präsident, in der Entwicklung, die zu den Arbeiten führte, über deren vorläufiges Ergebnis ich die Ehre habe Ihnen Bericht zu erstatten, in dieser Entwicklung hat der Europarat eine erhebliche Rolle gespielt. Er war die erste europäische Einrichtung, die sich mit der Schaffung einer europäischen politischen Behörde beschäftigt. Bereits auf ihrer ersten Tagung im August/September 1949 hat die beratende Versammlung des Europarats einmütig erklärt, das Ziel des Europarats sei die Schaffung einer europäischen, politischen Behörde mit beschränkten Zuständigkeiten, aber mit echten Befugnissen.
Aus diesem Grunde auch hat die beratende Versammlung vom Beginn ihrer Tätigkeit an immer wieder den Versuch unternommen, die Satzungen des Europarates zu ändern. Der Streit um diese Verfassungsänderungen war kein leerer Statutenstreit, sondern er stellte das ernste Bemühen dar, die Form eines echten Zusammenschlusses zu finden. Er war eine dauernde Erforschung der politischen Möglichkeiten auf diesem Gebiet.
Bülent Ecevit (1925 – 2006)
10. Mai 1979
„Unserer Mitgliedschaft beim Europarat hatten wir es oft zu verdanken, dass wir nicht in die Irre gegangen sind.“
...The main safeguard of democracy in Turkey as in any other democratic country is inevitably the people's attachment to democracy and freedom. But there had been times where our membership in the Council has served as a compass that helped to prevent us from losing our barings. Particularly during the last three decades Turkey has been passing through a period of rapid but at the same time rather disorderly and unbalanced economic development. More recently, the constraints that came with the World economic crisis of the seventies, has had certain shock effects on the economy and the society.
Then, of course, there has been this great migration of the unemployed and the underemployed, particularly from rural areas and from the neglected parts of Turkey, to the highly developed countries of the West. People were transplanted over night from the distant villages of Anatolia, from villages cut off from the rest of the world, to the highly industrialised and sophisticated centres of the Western world. While they did not loose much time in adapting themselves to these new and completely different surroundings and ways of life and culture, they maintained close ties with their villages and towns in Turkey...
Juan Carlos (1938 – )
König von Spanien
8. Oktober 1979
„Es gibt keine Schwierigkeit, die wir nicht überwinden können, sofern wir nur die erforderliche Entschlusskraft und Fantasie aufbringen.“
...Mr President, the unity of Europe and of Europeans is a reality which existed before plans for European union. We Europeans have been aware of it throughout our chequered history. It was this view of European society which induced Francisco de Vitoria to study in Paris and Juan Luis Vives to teach in Louvain and Oxford, while El Greco painted in Toledo and Domenico Scarlatti composed in Madrid, to mention only a few examples from my country. The European fact is the basis for a European plan, a European design. It is to this that the European organisations respond, toward this that the oldest of them, the Council of Europe, directs its efforts, well aware that, in the words of Robert schuman,''Europe, before becoming a military alliance or an economic entity, must be a cultural community.''
Much remains to be done in the task of building up Europe. We still have a long road to travel, strewn with obstacles and intersected by crossroads. The important thing is that we have decided to take this road and to follow it, all of us together, since there is no difficulty that we cannot overcome if we show the necessary determination and imagination. And with man as the starting-point and ultimate goal...
As was said by Miguel de Unamuno - a Basque, a Spaniard, a European and a universal figure - ''The final purpose of history and of humanity is man, every man, every one of us... The individual is the ultimate aim of the universe. We who are Spaniards feel this in our hearts''...
Papst Johannes Paul II. (1920 – 2005)
8. Oktober 1988
„Will Europa heute ein Rolle spielen, so muss das, was in seinem Erbe am menschlichsten und am großzügigsten ist, die gemeinsame Grundlage seines Handelns sein.“
...For centuries Europe played a considerable role in other parts of the world. It must be admitted that it did not always show its best side in its encounters with other civilisations, but no one can contest that it did felicitously share many of the values which it had matured over a longperiod. Its sons played a key part in disseminating the Christian message. If Europe today wishes to play a part, it must, in unity, calmly base its action on what is most human and most generous in its heritage.
An important token of the seriousness of that desire for peace and understanding may be seen in the quality of the welcome afforded to anyone arriving from elsewhere, be he a partner from the outset or someone compelled to seek refuge. Christians for their part, who are themselves endeavouring to rebuild their unity, wish also to show their respect for those of other religions present in their regions, and wish to maintain a clear and fraternal dialogue with them.
Peace depends on this respect for the cultural and spiritual identity of peoples. May Europeans found upon this conviction their disinterested contribution to the good of all nations...
François Mitterrand (1916 – 1996)
Präsident der Französischen Republik
5. Mai 1989
„Die Freiheit, alle Freiheiten, die Menschenrechte, alle Menschenrechte“
...Mesdames et Messieurs, l'identité de l'Europe, ce qui donne à notre civilisation sa portée dans le monde, repose sur les valeurs à partir desquelles le Conseil de l'Europe a développé son action. Je dirai simplement, comme vous, et après vous, la liberté, toutes les libertés, les droits de l'homme, tous les droits de l'homme. Comment, en cette année où nous célébrons le bicentenaire de la déclaration des droits de l'homme et du citoyen, comment ne pas saluer le progrès décisif qu'a représenté, avec la Convention européenne des Droits de l'Homme, le droit sans précédent pour chaque citoyen d'Europe de traduire son propre Etat devant une Cour de justice internationale, la Cour européenne des Droits de l'Homme. Ce dispositif ne cesse d'être perfectionné, qu'il s'agisse des procédures, ou de la convention, par exemple, pour la prévention de la torture, qui a été signée en 1987.
Certes, nous le savons, il existe encore sur notre continent des violations graves à ce que nous considérons comme des droits imprescriptibles. Nos pays de liberté doivent être solidaires pour porter une condamnation sans appel devant ces manquements et exiger qu'ils cessent !
Il revient au Conseil de l'Europe, dans ce domaine essentiel, d'exercer une vigilance constante et de servir de référence morale.
Michail Gorbatschow (1931 – )
Präsident des Obersten Sowjets der Union der Sozialistischen Sowjetrepubliken (UdSSR)
6. Juli 1989
„Das gemeinsame europäische Haus“
For centuries Europe has been making an indispensable contribution to world politics, economy, culture and to the development of the entire civilisation. Its world historic role is recognised and respected everywhere. Let us not forget, however, that the metastases of colonial slavery spread around the world from Europe. It was here that fascism came into being. It was here that the most destructive wars started.
At the same time Europe, which can take a legitimate pride in its accomplishments, is far from having settled its debts to mankind. It is something that still has to be done. And it should be done by seeking to transform international relations in the spirit of humanism, equality and justice and by setting an example of democracy and social achievements in its own countries. The Helsinki process has already commenced this important work of world-wide significance.
Vienna and Stockholm brought it to fundamentally new frontiers. The documents adopted there are today's optimal expression of the political culture and moral traditions of European peoples. Now it is up to all of us, all the participants in the European process, to make the best possible use of the groundwork laid down through our common efforts. Our idea of a common European home serves the same purpose too.
It was born out of our realisation of new realities, of our realisation of the fact that the linear continuation of the path, along which inter-European relations have developed until the last quarter of the twentieth century, is no longer consonant with these realities. The idea is linked with our domestic, economic and political perestroika which called for new relations above all in that part of the world to which we, the Soviet Union, belong, and with which we have been tied most closely over the centuries.
We also realised that the colossal burden of armaments and the atmosphere of confrontation did not just obstruct Europe's normal development, but at the same time prevented our country — economically, politically and psychologically — from being integrated into the European process and had a deforming impact on our own development.
These were the motives which impelled us to decide to pursue much more vigorously our European policy which, incidentally, has always been important to us in and of itself. In our recent meetings with European leaders questions were raised about the architecture of our "common home", on how it should be built and even on how it should be "furnished".
Our discussions of this subject with President François Mitterrand in Moscow and in Paris were fruitful and fairly significant in scope.
Yet even today, I do not claim to carry a finished blueprint of that home in my pocket. I just wish to tell you what I believe to be most important. In actual fact, what we have in mind is a restructuring of the international order existing in Europe that would put the European common values in the forefront and make it possible to replace the traditional balance of forces with a balance of interests.
If security is the foundation of a common European home, then all-round co-operation is its bearing frame. What is symbolic about the new situation in Europe and throughout the world in recent years, is an intensive inter-state dialogue, both bilateral and multilateral. The network of agreements, treaties and other accords has become considerably more extensive. Official consultations on various issues have become a rule.
For the first time contacts have been established between NATO and the Warsaw Pact, between the European Community and the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA), not to mention many political and public organisations in both parts of Europe.
We are pleased with the decision of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to grant the Soviet Union the status of a special guest state. We are prepared to co-operate. But we think that we can go further than that.
We could accede to some of the international conventions of the Council of Europe that are open to other states — on the environment, culture, education, television broadcasting. We are prepared to co-operate with the specialised agencies of the Council of Europe.
The Parliamentary Assembly, the Council of Europe and the European Parliament are situated in Strasbourg. Should our ties be expanded in the future and be put on a regular basis, we would open here, with the French Government's consent, of course, a Consulate General.
Interparliamentary ties have major significance for making the European process more dynamic. An important step has already been made: late last year a first meeting of the parliamentary leaders of thirty-five countries was held in Warsaw.
We have duly appreciated the visit to the USSR of the delegation of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe headed by its President, Mr. Björck. The delegation could, I hope, feel directly the potent and energetic pulse of the Soviet perestroika. We regard as particularly important the recently initiated contacts with the European Parliament. Inter alia, we took note of its resolutions on military-political issues which are seen by the Parliament as the core of the Western European consensus in the area of security.
As far as the economic content of the common European home is concerned, we regard as a realistic prospect — though not a close one — the emergence of a vast economic space from the Atlantic to the Urals where Eastern and Western parts would be strongly interlocked.
In this sense, the Soviet Union's transition to a more open economy is essential; and not only for ourselves, for a higher economic effectiveness and for meeting consumer demands.
Such a transition will increase East-West economic interdependence and, thus, will tell favourably on the entire spectrum of European relations.
Lech Walesa (1943 – )
Präsident der Republik Polen
4. Februar 1992
„Demokratie ist kein Selbstzweck. Sie ist ein Mittel für ein besseres Leben, für mehr Sicherheit und Wohlstand …“
...Poland has always been in Europe. In terms of its culture and civilization. Having accomplished its revolution by peaceful means, she has joined Europe politically as well. Through her own experience, she has attracted the other countries of the central and eastern part of our continent. Putting it in a more graphic way - Czechoslovakia, Hungary, the Soviet Union and other countries have translated the script of the Polish way to freedom. They have turned it to their own use. And now they are carrying it into effects as their strength, possibilities and aspirations allow for it. Freedom and democracy have now become a thing of everyday life in the states of eastern Europe. They are now a standard over there.(...)
I think that western Europe should support the countries of our region, also in its own interest. You have to realize that your opening to eastern Europe will help this continent's economic potential to grow. Why have I taken this opportunity to speak about it at greater length here, on the forum of the Council of Europe ? It is because I am privileged to be in the heart of democratic Europe, because it is just here that I can hope for an understanding of the obvious truth: it is that without prosperity democracy will have a precarious life. A difficult one, too. Prosperity will strengthen the newly won democracy. Otherwise, the citizens of the Eastern states will start wondering why they have ever fought for it. Democracy is not an aim in itself. It is a means to a better, more secure and more prosperous life…
Jizchak Rabin (1922 – 1995)
28. Januar 1994
„Der Weg in Richtung Frieden führt durch Europa, denn ohne Europa wäre es ein unvollständiger Frieden.“
I come from Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the Jewish people, the city where the prophets proclaimed their visions of peace, to tell you that the Government of Israel knows that the eyes of many millions the world over look towards it in prayer, in great hope, and in the expectation of a new path, a new momentum. I come from Jerusalem to tell you that the Government of Israel yearns for peace and is willing to make peace.
I also want to tell you that we know that obstacles will arise, that crises might erupt and that we will face disappointment, tears and pain. But in the end, we shall arrive at peace. Supported by your blessings, concern and assistance we will do it. In the last decade of our twentieth century, walls of hatred have fallen, peoples have been liberated, and artificial barriers have disappeared; powers have crumbled and ideologies have collapsed. It is our sacred duty, to ourselves and to our children, to see the new world as it is now, to note its dangers, to explore its prospects, and to do everything possible so that the state of Israel will fit into the changing face of this world. I think that in recent years the world has shrunk and no nation can solve its problems alone, and no country should think that it is isolated. Each nation should overcome those feelings and act in world and regional co-operation. We wish our region also to join the movement towards peace, reconciliation and co-operation that is spreading over the globe these days.
I have committed myself and my government to the present peace process and I have expressed on many occasions my hope that 1994 will be a year during which a peace agreement can be reached with our Arab neighbours. We believe with all our hearts that peace is possible, that it is imperative, and that it will come. […] In short, Europe has the laborious task of bringing rivals from enmity to reconciliation, from boycott to acceptance. Europe has to add its input to consolidate peace in its real dimensions, open borders, free movement of goods and people: co-existence and co-operation. The road to peace crosses Europe - for without Europe, peace would remain incomplete.
Jasser Arafat (1929 – 2004)
Präsident des Exekutivkomitees der Palästinensischen Befreiungsorganisation (PLO)
13. April 1994
„Der Frieden der Tapferen braucht Ihre Hilfe.“
On many occasions and in many regional and international forums as well as in my visits to various European capitals I have talked and exchanged ideas and views on the urgent and necessary need to start building the Palestinian national economy and the institutions of the Palestine National Authority, emphasising that we will start from scratch the process of development and reconstruction of infrastructure and other vital institutions. The scope of the destruction and problems experi¬enced by our people as a result of the long years of Israeli occupation require that we start immediately the process of building. This puts on the shoulders of the Palestine National Authority great responsibilities and challenges in repairing the damage and destruction caused by this long and bitter occupation to the Palestinian economy and to the social network of our people. For the Palestine National Authority to be able to deal successfully with these challenges it is necessary to enable the Palestine National Authority to bear the responsibility of receiving and carrying out, directing, investing and disbursing international assistance and support, in a manner which guarantees changing the painful situation in which our people live, so as to improve their standard of living and to solve the many economic, social, health and educational problems building up in front of our institutions. What we are looking for and desire is to achieve this international support through the collective and bilateral co-operation emanating from and based on the relations exist¬ing between us. […]
Europe has a basic role in making peace and consolidating its founda¬tions in the area, as well as in the process of development in its wider context, whether through governmental support or the development of, the private sector, to which we give great attention in all our schemes, projects and contacts, out of our belief in and conviction of its importance and in its great capabilities to create job opportunities, in technol¬ogy transfer and in the activation of the economic process and joint co-operation. […]
Once again, from this rostrum, I would like to appeal to you who rep¬resent Europe, the neighbour of the Middle East, to help us to save the peace process, to save the hope in our souls. I appeal to you to help us in safeguarding the peace process and in implementing what we have agreed upon and signed - we and the Government of Israel - namely the declaration of peace of Washington, which we have signed and agreed upon in Oslo, Davos, Paris and Cairo, and the annexes related to it. These agreements remain until now unimplemented, despite the fact that the fixed and agreed dates for their implementation have elapsed. This is a grave and fundamental issue not only for the Middle East but for the whole world. The peace of the brave needs your support and assistance because we are currently passing through a dangerous turning point in which the process is standing still and where the opportunities for making progress and quick results are waning. […]
No voice should be above the voice of peace and no interest should be more precious than the interest of peace. No effort should be spared in order to achieve peace. A huge, historic responsibility falls on all of us. I call upon God Almighty to guide us and to help us and to give us wisdom, resolution and patience to bear such responsibility to achieve peace - the peace of the brave - and consolidate it.
Mary Robinson (1944 – )
Präsidentin der Republik Irland
26. Juni 1994
„Was die Besonderheit des Europarates ausmacht und ihn von anderen internationalen Organisationen unterscheidet, ist sein Bewusstsein für Werte.“
...You bear responsibilities that could not have been imagined before the removal of the Berlin Wall: to contribute to the construction of a new visionary continent, stretching into the heartland of central and eastern Europe, and anchored by a common attachment to fundamental values. Success in this daunting entreprise will sow the seeds for future peace and stability on our continent and lead to an improvement in the democratic conditions of millions of people.
What makes the Council of Europe special, I believe, marking it out from other international organisations is its concern with values. At the centre of those values is the human being. From this everything else radiates. It is the leitmotif of the Council of Europe. In a true sense, therefore, the Council is the ethical and humanist dynamo of the developing Europe. What better place to hook into the democratic network - that closely woven web of links, exchanges and mutual assistance in Europe in all spheres of human activity and at all levels - governments, national parliaments, local and regional authorities, volontary associations and individuals?
We need to listen to the narrative of each other's diversities so that we can draw strength and not weakness from our differences. In this unique campaign the swinging door of this Organisation is the most creative and forceful answer to the scourge of intolerance and its close ally – indifference.
Václav Havel (1936 – 2011)
Präsident der Tschechischen und Slowakischen Föderativen Republik
29. Juni 1995
„Der Europarat kann diesen Krieg nicht beenden. Aber die Staaten, die ihn bilden, haben die Macht dazu.“
It is a great honour for me to be invited to speak, on behalf of the country which now holds the chair in the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, on this very special day when the Council of Europe inaugurates the Human Rights Building. I firmly believe that this house will soon become a materialised symbol of the values the sharing of which has been the driving force behind European unification.
A few hundred kilometres away from here, a dreadful war frenzy is raging; and we are all helplessly watching, waiting to see who will win – the Serbs or the others. What we are completely forgetting is the fact that this is not just a war between the Serbs and the others. This is a war for our own future – a war of those to whom their tribal otherness is the ultimate value against all those who embrace higher values than the blood group which they happen to belong to. This war is waged against us all, against human rights, against the coexistence of people of different nationalities or religious beliefs, against the civic principle; it is a war for what divides us, and against what brings us together. The war in Bosnia is in fact a war against meaningful human coexistence based on the universality of human rights derived from the universality of the primeval human experience of the universe. It is an attack of the darkest past on a decent future, an attack of evil on the moral order.
The Council of Europe obviously cannot put an end to this war. But the states united in the Council possess the strength to do so. The responsibility of the Council of Europe, a maker and guardian of European and universal values, consists in throwing light on this war, in calling it by its right name, in saying outright that this is a war against all the values which the Council has enshrined in its documents, which it cherishes and which it has tried to nurture and cultivate.
Europe – like the whole world today – currently finds itself at a crucial historical crossroads. It shall either succeed in embracing a new sense of responsibility, or that will grow out of the universal spiritual experience of the human race and heed the moral message which this experience holds for us, or it shall again commit the same fatal error for which it paid such a terrible price twice before in this century – the error of closing its eyes to the emerging evil of nationalism which, like any evil, is contagious.
Let me conclude by voicing my enduring hope that human reason, decency, solidarity and preparedness to seek understanding and to live together in fairness will triumph over everything which threatens them. I have no doubt that the Council of Europe and its various institutions, including those to reside in this Building, will make a major contribution towards achieving this – not by using instruments of power, which the Council does not have, but by pursuing further the great endeavour which it undertook several decades ago, that is, by continuing to promote, intensify and spread a good spirit of co-operation among nations.
Helmut Kohl (1930 – )
Kanzler der Bundesrepublik Deutschland
10. Oktober 1997
„Der Europarat hat einen ganz wichtigen Beitrag für die europäische Integration geleistet.“
Bei unserem letzten Treffen in Wien vor vier Jahren zählte der Europarat erst 32 Mitglieder. Diese zwei Zahlen im Vergleich zeigen die dynamische und höchsterfreuliche Entwicklung, die wir in Europa zu verzeichnen hatten, zeigen die große Anziehungs- und Ausstrahlungskraft des Europarates, zeigen auch, wie hier diese Idee lebendig wird, nämlich die geistige und kulturelle Einheit unseres Kontinents deutlich zu machen.
Mit der frühen und konsequenten Aufnahme der mittleren und osteuropäischen Reformländer hat gerade der Europarat einen ganz wichtigen Beitrag für das Zusammengehen für die europäische Integration geleistet.
Meine Damen und Herren, bei unserem ersten Gipfeltreffen in Wien haben wir weitreichende Entscheidungen getroffen, und auch von diesen Tagen hier in Straßburg werden wichtige Impulse ausgehen. Ich nenne beispielsweise die bevorstehende Einrichtung des ständigen Gerichtshofes für Menschenrechte. Dies ist ein enorm wichtiger Schritt für eine weitergehende Verbesserung des europäischen Menschenrechtsschutzes. Wenn man einen Moment innehält und überlegt, ob einer von uns in diesem Kreis vor zehn Jahren an eine solche Entwicklung geglaubt hätte, dann sieht man erst, daß wir entgegen allen Pessimismus, der in Europa umgeht, einen gewaltigen, positiven Schritt nach vorne gemacht haben.
Ich nenne die Initiative des Europarates zur Bekämpfung von Rassismus und von Fremdenfeindlichkeit, das Rahmenabkommen zum Schutz nationaler Minderheiten, das bald in Kraft tritt.
Die uns zur Verfügung stehenden Möglichkeiten müssen jetzt wirksam angewandt werden, sozusagen vom Text der Verträge umgeformt werden in das Leben der Menschen, damit Menschenrechte und Demokratie als Grundprinzipien unseres Zusammenlebens in Europa auf Dauer gesichert sind. Dabei sollten wir auch weiterhin, und ich halte das für wichtig, auf eine möglichst enge Koordinierung mit der Europäischen Union und der OSZE achten. Nur gemeinsam können wir der Herausforderung unserer Tage begegnen.
Die jüngsten Ereignisse in diesen letzten Monaten, wie Albanien, und manche Erfahrungen früher in Jugoslawien zeigen, daß der gemeinsame Einsatz für Menschenrechte und für Stabilität nötiger ist denn je.
Boris Jelzin (1931 – 2007)
Président de la Fédération de Russie
10. Oktober 1997
„Ich bin davon überzeugt, dass der Europarat im neuen Jahrhundert verjüngt und zukunftsorientiert sein wird.“
It is now a year and a half since Russia joined this venerable organisation of European democracies. This came about as a result of positive changes in the Russian Federation and throughout Europe. The triumph of democracy in Russia and Russia's accession to the Council of Europe have significantly enlarged Europe's "realm of freedom", which now covers twelve time zones. We are now poised to begin building together a new greater Europe without dividing lines; a Europe in which no single state will be able to impose its will on any other; a Europe in which large and small countries will be equal partners united by common democratic principles.
This greater Europe can now become a powerful community of nations with a potential unequalled by any other region in the world and the ability to ensure its own security. It can draw on the experience of the cultural, national and historical legacies of all of Europe's peoples. The road to greater Europe is a long and hard one but it is in the interest of all Europeans to take it. Russia will also help to realise this goal.
I confirm here and now that Russia will honour all its commitments to the Council of Europe, and it will do so despite the fact that within Europe and outside there are forces which are trying to isolate Russia and place it on an unequal footing, forces which refuse to understand that Europe without Russia is no Europe at all. I am addressing these problems here, at the Council of Europe, because this organisation has managed to rid itself more quickly than others of ideas left over from the Cold War.
In 1999, at the close of the 20th century, the Council will be celebrating its fiftieth anniversary. I firmly believe that it has every chance of entering the new century revitalised and looking forward to the future. Our common aim is the well-being of all Europeans and the whole of Europe. Let us work together in pursuit of this noble goal!
Bronislaw Geremek (1932 – 2008)
24. Juni 1998
„Der Europarat hat das Glück, über die gesamte rechtliche Sprache der Achtung der Menschenrechte zu verfügen: die Konventionen und der Gerichtshof.“
The approach to the Council of Europe from behind the Iron Curtain was somewhat different from the one practised in the Western world. There, at a certain stage the Council of Europe became almost an ordinary institution, an institution proclaiming respect for democracy, human rights and rule of law, but appearing in its Western context as a monument without a definite purpose. Then in 1989 the other Europe's awakening to freedom completely altered the situation. The whole of Europe suddenly realised this institution's potential importance thanks to its proclamation and its philosophy of human rights and rule of law, the concept of democracy, and also the body of conventions in its keeping. But for we others in the other Europe, for the democratic opposition in the countries of central and eastern Europe, the Council of Europe was precisely the institution that presented us with something like a Sèvres porcelain figure of European freedom, and it can be said that this was our dream. This time, however, the dreams had some substantial content.
In surveying the long history of the Council of Europe, it must be realised that the Council's philosophy of action was built up over decades and that the Council of Europe acquired its full lustre and its magnificent potency after 1989 through the encounter with the mighty human aspiration of the peoples of the other Europe.
The Council of Europe did not accept the 1989 elections as democratic - with good cause, because the elections on that occasion were more contractual than democratic. Not until after the 1991 elections did the Council of Europe decide that Poland had achieved an adequate threshold of political maturity.
I consider it very difficult to see how this concept of human rights can be given real and definite substance. To my mind, the solution hinges on the idea of civil society. When we say civil society, it is not quite certain what we are talking about. Institutions, yes. The Council of Europe has its Secretary General and administration; the telephone number is obtainable. But the telephone number and the directory listing of civil society are hard to find. In fact civil society is the citizen taking part in public affairs, knowing his rights and how to fight for them, and it is also the non-governmental organisations.
At the time of Communist rule, civil society was a way of saying, "All right, they hold power but we are society and as such we organise ourselves outside all the power structures."
I believe that the Council of Europe is most fortunate in possessing the complete legal language of respect for human rights in conventions and in the Court of Human Rights. The Strasbourg Court lends a certain force to the concept of human rights and to the entire action of the Council of Europe, and so this legal language is united with the social action directed at creating civil society, local initiatives and non-governmental organisations. This is the context where the Council of Europe would find a place in the networks of European institutions upholding the cause of peace in Europe. War is so remote from us that we tend to forget the true role of this entire framework: securing peace.
Anna Lindh (1957 – 2003)
11. Mai 2001
„Die Mitgliedschaft beim Europarat ist eine große Verantwortung.“
...The Council of Europe of 43 is, indeed, different from the Council of Europe of 25, ten years ago. The challenges are different and greater. So are our responsibilities to meet them. The efforts of the Secretary-General towards reform and setting priorities have the full support of the EU. The main task of the Council of Europe is now to uphold, develop and ensure implementation of our common standards and principles.
Membership of the Council of Europe entails great responsibilities. Responsibilities towards the citizens of the state concerned and towards other member States and Council institutions. We all carry the responsibility of safeguarding our common values.
The European Court of Human Rights plays a central role in making the provisions of the Convention for the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms a reality for the people of Europe. The effective functioning of the Court must be guaranteed despite and because of a foreseeable increasing number of cases presented to the Court. In this spirit, the Member States are ready to consider all means, including a possible reform of the procedure before the Court, in order to ensure the efficiency of the mechanisms of the Convention...
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Der Menschenrechtskommissar hat seit 1999 als unabhängige Einrichtung die Aufgabe, den Schutz der Menschrechte und die Sensibilisierung der Öffentlichkeit für dieses Thema zu fördern.