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Vienna, 9 October 1993
We, Heads of State and Government of the member States of the Council of Europe, meeting for the first time in our Organisation's history at this Vienna summit conference, solemnly declare the following: :
The end of the division of Europe offers an historic opportunity to consolidate peace and stability on the continent. All our countries are committed to pluralist and parliamentary democracy, the indivisibility and universality of human rights, the rule of law and a common cultural heritage enriched by its diversity. Europe can thus become a vast area of democratic security.
This Europe is a source of immense hope which must in no event be destroyed by territorial ambitions, the resurgence of aggressive nationalism, the perpetuation of spheres of influence, intolerance or totalitarian ideologies.
We condemn all such aberrations. They are plunging peoples of former Yugoslavia into hatred and war and threatening other regions. We call upon the leaders of these peoples to put an end to their conflicts. We invite these peoples to join us in constructing and consolidating the new Europe.
We express our awareness that the protection of national minorities is an essential element of stability and democratic security in our continent.
The Council of Europe is the pre-eminent European political institution capable of welcoming, on an equal footing and in permanent structures, the democracies of Europe freed from communist oppression. For that reason the accession of those countries to the Council of Europe is a central factor in the process of European construction based on our Organisation's values.
Such accession presupposes that the applicant country has brought its institutions and legal system into line with the basic principles of democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights. The people's representatives must have been chosen by means of free and fair elections based on universal suffrage. Guaranteed freedom of expression and notably of the media, protection of national minorities and observance of the principles of international law must remain, in our view, decisive criteria for assessing any application for membership. An undertaking to sign the European Convention on Human Rights and accept the Convention's supervisory machinery in its entirety within a short period is also fundamental. We are resolved to ensure full compliance with the commitments accepted by all member States within the Council of Europe.
We affirm our will to promote the integration of new member States and to undertake the necessary reforms of the Organisation, taking account of the proposals of the Parliamentary Assembly and of the concerns of local and regional authorities, which are essential to the democratic expression of peoples.
We confirm the policy of openness and co-operation vis-à-vis all the countries of Central and Eastern Europe that opt for democracy. The programmes set up by the Council of Europe to assist the democratic transition should be developed and constantly adapted to the needs of our new partners.
We intend to render the Council of Europe fully capable of thus contributing to democratic security as well as meeting the challenges of society in the 21st century, giving expression in the legal field to the values that define our European identity, and to fostering an improvement in the quality of life.
Attaining these objectives requires fuller co-ordination of the Council of Europe's activities with those of other organisations involved in the construction of a democratic and secure Europe, thus satisfying the need for complementarity and better use of resources.
In this connection, we welcome the co-operation established - in the first instance, on the basis of the 1987 Arrangement - with the European Community, particularly the development of joint projects, notably in favour of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. We consider that such a partnership in increasingly varied fields of activity reflects the specific and open-ended institutional relationship existing between the two institutions.
We are resolved to make full use of the political forum provided by our Committee of Ministers and Parliamentary Assembly to promote, in accordance with the competences and vocation of the Organisation, the strengthening of democratic security in Europe. The political dialogue within our Organisation will make a valuable contribution to the stability of our continent. We will do so all the more effectively if we are able to initiate such a dialogue with all the European States that have expressed a desire to observe the Council's principles.
Convinced that the setting up of appropriate legal structures and the training of administrative personnel are essential conditions for the success of the economic and political transition in Central and Eastern Europe, we attach the greatest importance to the development and coordination of assistance programmes for this purpose in liaison with the European Community.
The creation of a tolerant and prosperous Europe does not depend only on co-operation between States. It also requires transfrontier co-operation between local and regional authorities, without prejudice to the constitution and the territorial integrity of each State. We urge the Organisation to pursue its work in this field and to extend it to co-operation between non-adjacent regions.
We express our conviction that cultural co-operation, in which the Council of Europe is a prime instrument, - through education, the media, cultural action, the protection and enhancement of the cultural heritage and participation of young people - is essential for creating a cohesive yet diverse Europe. Our governments undertake to bear in mind the Council of Europe's priorities and guidelines in their bilateral and multilateral co-operation.
With the aim of contributing to the cohesion of our societies, we stress the importance of commitments accepted within the framework of the Council of Europe Social Charter and European Code of Social Security in order to provide member countries with an adequate system of social protection.
We recognise the value of co-operation conducted within the Council of Europe to protect the natural environment and improve the built environment.
We will continue our efforts to facilitate the social integration of lawfully residing migrants and to improve the management and control of migratory flows, while preserving the freedom to travel within Europe. We therefore encourage the "Vienna Group" to pursue its work, thus contributing, with other competent groups, to a comprehensive approach to migration challenges.
Fortified by our bonds of friendship with non-European States sharing the same values, we wish to develop with them our common efforts to promote peace and democracy.
We also affirm that the deepening of co-operation in order to take account of the new European situation should in no way divert us from our responsibilities regarding North/South interdependence and solidarity.
In the political context thus outlined, we, Heads of State and Government of the member States of the Council of Europe, resolve:
· to improve the effectiveness of the European Convention on Human Rights by establishing a single Court for ensuring compliance with undertakings given thereunder (see decision in Appendix I),
· to enter into political and legal commitments relating to the protection of national minorities in Europe and to instruct the Committee of Ministers to elaborate appropriate international legal instruments (see decision in Appendix II),
· to pursue a policy for combating racism, xenophobia, anti-semitism and intolerance, and to adopt for this purpose a Declaration and a Plan of Action (see decision in Appendix III),
· to approve the principle of creating a consultative organ genuinely representing both local and regional authorities in Europe,
· to invite the Council of Europe to study the provision of instruments for stimulating the development of European cultural schemes in a partnership, involving public authorities and the community at large,
· to instruct the Committee of Ministers to adapt the Organisation's Statute as necessary for its functioning, having regard to the proposals put forward by the Parliamentary Assembly.
Vienna, 9 October 1993