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17 May 2005
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To be checked against delivered speech

Speech by Adam Daniel Rotfeld, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Poland

Warsaw, 17 May 2005

The 6 month long Polish Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe is coming to its end. Therefore, as the Chairman, I would like to say a word about the tasks we have undertaken during this time.

The main priority of our Presidency was the enforcement of the unity on our continent after the enlargement of the European Union. We concentrated especially on those regions where the values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law were not strong enough, engaging ourselves in helping the countries in transformation.

Since the very beginning of our Presidency Poland has actively participated in reaching the political compromise in Ukraine and has contributed to a peaceful resolution of the crisis. The joint mediatory effort of the Council of Europe, European Union and OSCE in order to support democracy in Ukraine is an example of very successful cooperation .

The main reason for my visit, as the Chairman of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, to the Republic of Moldova was the review of the internal situation after the parliamentary elections in the context of the respect for the norms of democracy, human rights and the rule of law as well as the state of co-operation with the Council of Europe were. The question of finding the resolution to the Transn iestrian conflict in the context of the political changes in Ukraine was the main topic discussed both with the authorities in Kishinev and Tiraspol.

The unity of Europe, especially in the context of the further EU enlargement, requires continuos co-operation among the main European organizations. The declaration of co-operation between the Council of Europe and the OSCE is the result of the efforts for tightening of this co-operation. We have also made progress on the cooperation between the Council of Europe and the ED. A special report on the relations between the Council of Europe and the EU will be elaborated, based on the decisions taken during this Summit, and taking into account the significance the human dimension has for the European architecture. The position of the EU Commission representative to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg has been established. Moreover, the accession by the EU to the European Convention on Human Rights has been agreed once the Constitutional Treaty is adopted.

Human rights are the foundation of the democratic Europe and their protectipn is the centre of attention of the Council of Europe. Continuing the efforts of the Norwegian Presidency Poland worked for the enforcement of the European Court of Human Rights by promoting the idea of signing and ratifying the 14 Protocol to the European Court of Human Rights. Moreover, during her chairmanship Poland emphasized the need for further strengthening of the functions of the Commissioner for Human Rights of the CoE and assuring independence to his office.

The reaction to the terrorist threat and international crime was the preparation of the text of the 3 CoE conventions during our Presidency: on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, on the Prevention of Terrorism and on Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds from Crime. We regard opening for signature of the 3 conventions during the III CoE Summit, as our Organization's success and confirmation of its ability to react against contemporary threats.
Poland is convinced that the intercultural dialogue represents the necessary condition for tolerance and resolving disputes. It is the best remedy for racism, nationalism, xenophoby as well as the threat of terrorism. The 50th anniversary of signing the European Cultural Convention, which was commemorated during the Polish Chairmanship, as well as the Conference held in Wroclaw for that occasion was an excellent opportunity to summarize the achievements in the field of culture and education in strengthening the common European identity.

The logical consequence of actions for the promotion of cultural dialogue was the inclusion the issues of local democracy and transborder co-operation into the scope of our priorities.
Their co-operation should be a significant instrument of preventing new divisions in Europe. Among the conclusions of the Conference of the European Ministers responsible for developing Local Democracy, held on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the European Outline Convention on Transfrontier Cooperation between Territorial Communities and Authorities, it was stated that the legal framework of transfrontier cooperation, especially in Central and Eastern Europe should be strengthened.

Poland paid special attention to the implementation of the 5th priorityovercoming divisions of the past in Europe. In Poland's opinion, it is an essential element on the way to reconciliation and the development of Europe. We consider the reconstruction of the European nations' identity, which, during the XIX century was based on the idea of nationalism, the root cause for the main catastrophies of the XX century, as the most primary challenge for the international community. Unfortunately, we still have to tackle this problem. Our contribution to the European dialogue was the exhibition "Difficult History- Common Heritage" organized in Strasbourg and the seminar of the European Ministers of Education "Teaching remembrance through the cultural heritage" held during the March of the Living.

A more detailed report on the implementation of the priorities of our Chairmanship can be found in the Summit's papers.

On behalf of Poland I would like to thank all the member states of the Council of Europe for their support and active co-operation.

Thank you for your attention.