Latest News (Site updated Thursday, April 17, 2014 | 16:30)
Congress President van Staa informs Federal President Fischer about the work of the Congress
[10/04/2014 10:30:00] On the occasion of the visit of the Federal President of the Republic of Austria Heinz Fischer to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, Congress President van Staa presented the activities of the Congress in promoting local and regional democracy as well as human rights at local level.
President Fischer valued the work of the Congress and welcomed the brochure edited by the Austrian delegation at the occasion of Austria’s chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe as a good example of bringing the work of the Council of Europe closer to the citizens.
Photo: Federal President Heinz Fischer with Congress President Herwig van Staa and Congress Secretary General Andreas Kiefer Link to the Brochure
Presentation of the Congress activities to the Deputies
[17/04/2014 15:00:00] On 16 April 2014, Congress Secretary General Andreas Kiefer gave the Ministers’ Deputies a presentation of the results of the 26th (March 2014) session of the Congress and other recent Congress activities, in one of his regular exchanges with the Committee of Ministers. He underlined that “empowering youth” would be the focus of both Congress sessions and other activities in 2014. He also recalled that in 2014 the Congress was celebrating its 20th anniversary and had held a special ceremony for this during the March Session. An urgent debate had been held on the situation in Ukraine, with the Congress adopting a declaration stating that it defended the territorial integrity of Ukraine. The Congress had declared itself ready to send a delegation to Ukraine, including the Crimea, to discuss the situation there, and was currently preparing an observation mission for the local elections on 25 May. Andreas Kiefer underlined the growing number of invitations to observe local or regional elections as another sign of the relevance of the Congress’ work.
Congress Secretary General Kiefer receives delegation of the Landtag of Salzburg
[16/04/2014 10:30:00] On 14-15 April 2014, Congress Secretary General Andreas Kiefer received a delegation of the Landtag (regional parliament) of Salzburg, which was visiting the Council of Europe and the European Parliament in Strasbourg. The delegation, led by Brigitta Pallauf, President of the Landtag and Gudrun Mosler-Törnström, Vice-president of the Landtag and Head of the Austrian Congress Delegation, included other members of the regional parliament, such as Helmut Naderer and Lukas Essl, speaker and vice-speaker of Austrian Parliamentary Groups. During the two-day visit, the delegation also met with Rudolf Lennkh, Austrian Ambassador to the Council of Europe and the current Chairman of the Committee of Ministers’ Deputies, Elisabeth Steiner, judge at the European Court of Human Rights, representatives of the Congress, the Venice Commission, the Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO), the Human Rights Commissioner’s office, as well as with Paul Rübig, MEP, and Austrian Trade Commissioner Christoph Grabmayr.
Exchange of good practices to improve local governance in Armenia
[15/04/2014 16:00:00] The workshop “Governing by leadership”, held on 8 and 9 April in Dilijan, Tavush region of Armenia, was attended by Armenian mayors who participated in the leadership programme organised by the Congress in the framework of the project “Support to consolidating local democracy in Armenia”.
The participating mayors identified what is needed to deliver effective projects according to leadership and good governance principles. Congress members Matej Gomboši, (Slovenia,EPP/CCE) and Barbara Toce, (Italy, SOC) took part in the workshop to share their experience and to participate in peer-review of individual community projects presented by the Armenian mayors. Participants proposed that the series of upcoming regional seminars, which will be held in the framework of the project will focus on the Recommendation 351(2014) on the state of local democracy in Armenia, adopted by the Congress on 26 March 2014.
Presentation of the ONE in FIVE Pact in Vienna, St Pölten, Linz, Salzburg and Graz
[08/04/2014 11:30:00] On 9 and 10 April 2014, Johan van den Hout, Congress Thematic Spokesperson on Children, will make an awareness-raising visit to the capitals of several Austrian Länder in order to present the Pact of Towns and Regions to stop sexual violence against children. He will hold meetings in Vienna, St Pölten, Linz, Salzburg and Graz, in particular with Heinz Vetterman, Chair of the Committee for Children and Young People of Vienna Municipal Council, and Mr Heinrich Schellhorn, member of Salzburg Land government. The Pact was developed by the Congress as part of the ONE in FIVE Campaign and is designed to promote the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse (the Lanzarote Convention). The series of visits is intended to encourage Austrian local and regional elected representatives to take measures in their own regions to prevent sexual abuse of children, protect victims and prosecute perpetrators, while ensuring full participation for children.
The Council of Europe Congress adopts a declaration on the situation in Ukraine
[27/03/2014 16:30:00] During its plenary session in Strasbourg, the Congress adopted a declaration on Ukraine following an urgent debate, on the situation in the country, on 25 March. The declaration was presented by Marc Cools (Belgium, ILDG) and received 148 votes in favour, 22 votes against and 8 abstentions. The Congress states that it “does not accept the validity of the referendum, held on 16 March last, without the minimum democratic guarantees that should be in place for any vote. This pseudo-consultation should on no account pave the way for a change of borders between Russia and Ukraine.” The Congress declared its readiness to send a delegation to the Ukraine, including to the region of Crimea, to examine the situation. It is also at the disposal of the Ukrainian authorities to take part in a mission to observe the local elections to be held on 25 May 2014. The day before, the Congress Bureau had reaffirmed its willingness to maintain a dialogue with Russia.
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