“It is important that the Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly, as well as the Secretary General, continue to concert their efforts to face up to the numerous challenges confronting Europe today,” said Ioannis Kasoulides, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Cyprus and Chair of the Committee of Ministers, addressing the Assembly. “My country will continue to contribute to those efforts when its chairmanship is over,” he stressed.
Among the issues of concern to the Committee of Ministers, Mr Kasoulides mentioned, in particular, the threat of terrorism, “which continues to claim many victims on European soil and elsewhere”. “We must carry on the fight by making the best possible use of the instruments at our member States' disposal, including those provided by the Council of Europe”, he said, in particular the Additional Protocol to the Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism, which will enter into force on 1 July, and the revised Guidelines on the Protection of Victims of Terrorist Acts which should be submitted to the Committee of Ministers for adoption on 19 May in Nicosia.
The migration crisis is another major challenge for Europe today, according to Mr Kasoulides. “The Committee of Ministers continues to closely monitor the situation of migrants and refugees,” he said, announcing that an Action Plan intended to give child refugees and migrants access to procedures tailored for them, to benefit from better protection is due to be adopted by the 47 Ministers for Foreign Affairs in Cyprus next month.
In addition, Mr Kasoulides evoked a number of political questions including the aftermath of the conflict in Georgia in August 2008, the situation in Ukraine three years after the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation, and the situation in Belarus. Concerning the situation in Turkey, he reiterated the importance of ensuring respect for the Council of Europe’s principles and standards regarding respect for human rights, including the prohibition of the death penalty, and the independence of the judiciary. “The Council of Europe stands ready to continue to assist Turkey in this respect,” he said.