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17 May 2005
16 May 2005
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-(To be checked against delivered speech)

Speech by Sergey Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation

Warsaw, May 17, 2005

The European Architecture
Mr. President,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

The concept of the European architecture encompasses not only organizations operating on the European continent, but also the full range of relations between peoples and states. We are for cooperation and complementarity. No one is challenging these aims, it would seem. Moreover, in the conditions of globalization, the reverse side of which, unfortunately, is globalizing risks and threats, the demand for a qualitatively different European engagement is great as never before.

Reality, however, is such that the established system of European organizations and institutions so far is insufficiently effective and does not in full measure correspond to the requirements of the times. The Council of Europe faces the danger of becoming a junior partner to a more dynamic, but also a compositionally narrower structure - the European Union. There are serious problems of a geographical and functional disbalance in the activity of the European organizations, of duplication and parallelism in their activity leading to a dissipation of the resources that we need so much. More often than not, the recipes of assistance offered to states do not correspond to their real requirements and wishes, and are also sometimes intrusive. Yet the authority and efficiency of international organizations directly hinge on the extent to which the member states need them. In our view, the need is ripe for a serious and all-round discussion of the entire range of European architecture problems, inter alia at a high political level.

We welcome the proposal that the current EU President Jean-Claude Juncker should head up the work to prepare a report on relations between the Council of Europe and the European Union. It is important to develop a dialogue with the OSCE too.

We consider that the Council of Europe should be one of the initiators and organizers of a thoroughly and comprehensively prepared "summit of Europe" with the full-fledged participation of all the European organizations and institutions. The aim of that summit is seen by us to strengthen the unity of the European continent for upholding our common ideals and principles.

One of the specific areas of harmonization and efficiency enhancement of the activity of all the European structures may be the adoption of a convention on general principles and criteria for the conduct of democratic elections, whose draft has been transmitted by us to the Council of Europe.

Russia is ready for effective partnership with all countries in tackling global problems - from the search of effectual answers to the deterioration of the environment to space development, from the prevention of technogenic catastrophes to the threat of the spread of AIDS. And, of course, for a uniting of efforts in the fight against international terrorism, transfrontier organized crime, and drug trafficking.

As to the Council of Europe, we feel that it cannot become somebody's instrument or mediator. In order to remain being relevant and called for, the Council must stick to its historically justified positions of a builder of a common European legal space, a strict and just zealot for uniform high standards for all Europeans in the field of democracy and human rights, including, of course, the fundamental right to life and security. In order to uphold its role, the Council will require courage and wisdom, but this is the only worthy path for an organization with which millions of Europeans continue to associate their hopes for a better future of our continent.

It is our common, and urgent as never before, task to do everything necessary to ensure that the Council of Europe continues to build up its contribution to the construction of a truly Greater Europe without dividing lines.