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17 May 2005
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(To be checked against delivered speech)

Message to the Third Summit of the Council of Europe from His Excellency Mr. Junichiro KOIZUMI, Prime Minister of Japan

I would like to express my sincerest congratulations to Poland, the chair of the Committee of Ministers, and other Member States on the convening of the Third Summit of the Council of Europe, which is held after an interval of eight years since the last Summit in Strasbourg.

Next year, will be the tenth year since Japan was granted observer status of the Council of Europe. Japan, which shares the fundamental values of the Council of Europe, namely human rights, democracy and rule of law, has steadily deepened its cooperation with the Council of Europe as the only observer country from Asia. With such commemorative year for Japan coming ahead, I am pleased that 46 Member States of the Council of Europe are organizing a summit meeting to discuss ‘Europe in the 21st century and its global relations.

Japan highly appreciates the Council of Europe for having actively tackled, in recent years, the new global challenges such as fight against terrorism and cyber crime through deployment of its expertise on judicial system and high-technology gained through its persistent engagement in cooperation among European countries as a Pan-European Institution which includes EU and Non-EU countries. Japan, in turn, is working actively with the Council of Europe by attending meetings, making contributions to the projects for the promotion of democracy in South-East Europe, acceding to the Convention on the transfer of sentenced persons and signing the Convention on Cyber Crime.

Among a variety of activities of the Council of Europe, Japan attaches an importance to the intercultural dialogue to promote international cooperation. Apart from the cooperation within the Council of Europe and Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), Japan takes its own initiatives on the promotion of the mentioned intercultural dialogue. On the occasion of the Asian-African Summit held in Indonesia last month, Japan announced that it would host the World Civilization Forum in Tokyo this July in order to promote intellectual dialogue among civilizations.

Furthermore, to promote dialogue and mutual understanding between Japan and Europe, Japan and EU designated the year 2005 “EU-Japan Year of People-to-People Exchanges.” With nearly 1000 events registered in “The EU-Japan Year” as of the beginning of May, “The EU-Japan Year” is a good opportunity to reemphasize the strong tie and long history of exchange between Japan and Europe. Appreciating its expertise and experiences of the Council of Europe on the promotion of the dialogue and mutual understanding among European countries, Japan supports “Intercultural Dialogue and Conflict Prevention Project” through the steady contribution provided by “The Japan Foundation.” Japan will continue to work together with the Council of Europe in the area of intercultural dialogue, taking advantage of its engagement and experiences in this area.

This Summit Meeting is an important opportunity to show the world the picture of Europe in the future. I am convinced that Europe will further contribute to the peace and prosperity of the world in the 21st century. I believe that the Council of Europe will play an active role in this process. Japan will cooperate with the Council of Europe more closely in response to the handling of these significant tasks.

In closing of my message, I would like to express my sincere hope that this Summit Meeting will be a fruitful step toward the future of Europe.