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

Speech byTerry Davis, Secretary General

of the Council of Europe, at the Closing session of the Third Summit of Heads of State and Government

Warsaw, 17 May 2005

Mr President,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

The 1993 Vienna Summit of the Council of Europe is now called “historic” because of its groundbreaking decision to open the doors of our organisation to the then fledgling democracies of central and eastern Europe. This Summit will go into history as the Summit of European Unity. For the first time, 46 European democracies – almost the entire continent – gathered under one roof to reaffirm your commitment to the core values of the Council of Europe.

But you have also adopted an ambitious Plan of Action which confirms the Council of Europe’s leading role in developing democracy, defending human rights and advancing the rule of law on our continent, and in promoting our values in a broader sense – the values of democratic culture, tolerance, justice and social cohesion.

Twelve years after the Vienna Summit, it is clear that the tree of democracy has taken solid root on European soil. Our ambition today is to make sure that it grows high. The task of the Council of Europe is to spread the culture of democracy throughout our continent, because without a genuine democratic culture, we will not be able to build a Europe of Citizens, a Europe of Justice and a Europe of Social Cohesion.

The Council of Europe has a clear mandate to carry out its mission.

But a mission statement alone is not enough. We need political will, we need support, and we need the means. Let us look at what we are taking away from this Summit.

We have three new tools to fight terrorism and trafficking in human beings.

We have made a step forward towards the entry into force of Protocol 14 to the European Convention on Human Rights, bringing us closer to implementing the reform of the European Human Rights Court. You have instructed a future Committee of Wise Persons to come up with concrete proposals to ensure the long-term effectiveness of the Court.

You have decided to give higher priority to democracy at all levels in Europe, by creating the Council of Europe Forum for the Future of Democracy, tasked with advancing a genuine participatory democracy, bringing us closer to attaining our goal of a Europe of Citizens.

You have given a new impetus to our work on culture, and in particular in the field of intercultural and interreligious dialogue, both inside Europe and with our neighbours in Central Asia, the Middle East and southern Mediterranean.

You have decided to launch a dedicated effort to prevent torture, inhuman or degrading treatment and all forms of racism.

You have adopted a challenging Action Plan, and of course, we cannot achieve all these goals in isolation. We need close co-operation with our sister institutions, and I therefore welcome the signing earlier today of the Declaration on enhanced cooperation between the Council of Europe and the OSCE, and the adoption of the Guidelines on the relations between the Council of Europe and the European Union. They provide a basis for new projects and common action.

As Secretary General of the Council of Europe, I can assure you that our Secretariat will do everything it can to make sure that the Action Plan is implemented with transparency, and to ensure that the taxpayers’ money with which you have trusted us is spent efficiently. At the same time, I trust you to provide us with both political support and the budgetary means to put the Plan into practice.

For all of us, the Declaration and Action Plan are not the end, but the beginning.

Before I finish, Mr President, I should like to thank you and Prime Minister Belka for the way you have presided over the Summit and for the arrangements you have made for it. I should also like to thank all the people who have contributed to its success. We all know about the work of Minister Rotfeld and Deputy Minister Truszczynski, Ambassador Pomianovski, Ambassador Klinger and Ambassador Kocel. But there are countless other people in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs whose names we do not know, and others - from police and security to interpreters and people working here in the Royal Castle. I should also like to thank all my colleagues in the Council of Europe Secretariat, especially Mireille Paulus, who have worked tirelessly over a period of months to contribute to the success of this Summit. And perhaps, above all, we should thank the people of Warsaw whose lives have been disrupted.

Thank you.