Secretary General meets Bill Clinton and George Soros

23 September 2010 New York

On the last day of his visit in New York, Thorbjørn Jagland met with the former US President Bill Clinton, the founder of the Open Society Institute George Soros, President of Bosnia and Herzegovina Haris Silajdzic and the Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs Karel Schwarzenberg. President Clinton...

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Council of Europe regrets confirmation of death penalty by Supreme Court in Belarus

24 September 2010 Strasbourg

Jagland announced on 24 September that he is “deeply saddened” by news that the appeals of two prisoners on death row in the city of Grodno were rejected by the Supreme Court. Jagland recalled that “the Council of Europe has repeatedly condemned executions in Belarus and called for abolition of...

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Council of Europe calls for constructive and concrete high level meeting for Roma

29 September 2010 Strasbourg

The Secretary General, Thorbjørn Jagland, and the Chairman of the Committee of Ministers, Antonio Miloshoski, invited on 29 September governments of 47 countries, the EU and international organisations to a meeting in Strasbourg on 20 October, to agree measures improving the situation of Roma...

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Council of Europe Group of Eminent Persons: Thorbjørn Jagland and Joschka Fischer launch expert group on '"Multicultural Europe'"

30 September 2010 Brussels

Joschka Fischer, former German Foreign Minister, will chair a Group of «Eminent Persons» including, among others, Javier Solana and Emma Bonino with the mandate to find answers to the current threats from intolerance and discrimination in Europe. Launching the initiative in Brussels today,...

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Council of Europe meeting on Roma

20 October 2010 Strasbourg

European governments act to help Roma Representatives of the 47 Council of Europe countries, the EU and the Roma community who gathered in Strasbourg on 20 October unanimously condemned widespread discrimination against Roma and their social and economic marginalisation. Thorbjorn Jagland who...

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Session of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities

27 October 2010 Strasbourg

Secretary General stresses need to ''bridge the gap between Roma and rest of society'' One week after the Council of Europe hosted a conference on Roma rights, Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland elaborated on practical steps the Council of Europe will take to help Roma...

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Thorbjørn Jagland met with representatives of Fundamental Rights Agency

2 November 2010 Strasbourg

Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland met with the Chairperson, Ilze Brands Kehris, and Morten Kjaerum, the Director, of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, on 2 November in Strasbourg. They discussed the existing close working relationship which could serve as a model for...

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Thorbjørn Jagland met the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon

15 November 2010 New York

Human rights must be pursued with determination everywhere On 15 November in New York, at their third meeting this autumn, Council of Europe Secretary General, Thorbjørn Jagland and United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon recognised the ongoing and pressing need for close cooperation...

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Interview - European Council on Refugees and Exiles

2 December 2010 Strasbourg

Member states should respect ECHR decision on forced expulsions of Iraqis The European Court of Human Rights has recently confirmed its decision to suspend forced returns to Iraq in a number of individual cases against the Netherlands, the UK and Sweden, until further notice. In many cases an...

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Secretary General meets European Commissioner Füle

15 December 2010 Strasbourg

Secretary General Jagland and European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), Stefan Fule have signed today a € 4 million “Facility” in the framework of the Eastern Partnership initiative (EaP): a multilateral tool to facilitate activities in the fields of electoral...

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Conference ''Prevention of terrorism: prevention tools, legal instruments and their implementation'', 16-17 December 2010

16 December 2010 Istanbul

Thorbjørn Jagland: ''Speed up international efforts to fight terrorism'' During the conference, Secretary General has called on member states to intensify their co-operation in fighting terrorism. ''The threat of terrorism remains acute. The Council of Europe has developed a unique approach in...

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Thorbjørn Jagland in Moscow, 9 May 2010

9 May 2010 Moscow

Thorbjørn Jagland attended the celebration ceremonies in Moscow on 9 May, on the occasion of the 65th anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945. On this occasion, the Secretary General published an Opinion article in the 11th May edition of the Russian daily...

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Secretary General participates in EU-Western Balkans meeting in Sarajevo

2 June 2010 Sarajevo

At the invitation of the EU Presidency, Thorbjørn Jagland will attend the European Union Western Balkans High Level Meeting in Sarajevo. The 2 June meeting will take stock of integration of the Western Balkans into the European family of nations. The Council of Europe – which counts all Balkan...

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Council of Europe mediates solution to end constitutional crisis in Moldova

3 June 2010 Chisinau

The governing ''Alliance for European Integration'' (AEI) announced on 3 June that the government will hold a referendum to amend Article 78 of the Constitution (to allow for direct election of the President), dissolve Parliament and call for new elections. This solution was reached as the result...

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Secretary General on official visit to Helsinki, 8-9 June 2010

10 June 2010 Helsinki

Finland supports Roma rights and reform for the Council of Europe As the Council of Europe prepares an international debate on the situation of Roma in Europe for its Parliamentary Assembly session later this month, Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland praised Finland for the priority it has given...

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Thorbjørn Jagland discusses advance of LGBT rights with ILGA-Europe

15 June 2010 Strasbourg

Secretary General held a constructive exchange with Nigel Warner and Evelyne Paradis from ILGA-Europe - a non-governmental umbrella organisation which represents organisations of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons, at the European level. Thorbjorn Jagland and ILGA discussed the...

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Thorbjørn Jagland meets Dosta! campaign ambassador Fanny Ardant

22 June 2010 Strasbourg

The Secretary General met on 22 June in Strasbourg with Fanny Ardant, French actress and director, and thanked her on behalf of the Organisation for lending her voice to the cause of defending Roma rights across Europe. Fanny Ardant is serving the Council of Europe to support the Dosta! Campaign...

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Meeting with OSCE Permanent Council

1 July 2010 Vienna

Complementarity not competition, Secretary General told OSCE Permanent Council In his address to the OSCE Permanent Council on 1 July in Vienna, Thorbjørn Jagland stressed that the Council of Europe's institutions and tools which are indispensable to promote democratic stability in Europe in the...

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Commemoration of Srebrenica genocide

11 July 2010 Srebrenica

Thorbjørn Jagland in Srebrenica - ''never again'' is not enough! The Secretary General together with Mevlüt Çavusoglu, President of the Parliamentary Assembly, attended on 11 July the commemoration of the 1995 Srebrenica genocide. In his speech to those gathered for the ceremony, Thorbjørn...

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Meeting with the President of Slovenia, Danilo Türk

19 September 2010 New York

The Secretary General met with the President of Slovenia, who is an old friend of the Council of Europe and a renowned expert on the rights of national minorities. They discussed the current priorities for the Organisation, the work of the Group of Eminent persons as well as the Secretary...

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Speeches Speeches

PACE Joint debate on Migration and Refugees

Strasbourg , 

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It is a pleasure to welcome you all here today.

But as you all know, tragic events beyond Europe’s shores continue to generate waves of immigration.

People that Europe has struggled to support at the speed and to the extent that would serve the best interests of everyone.

Make no mistake, the migration crisis is far from over.

Migrants and refugees continue to risk everything in search of a better life in Europe.

84,000 have crossed the Mediterranean Sea so far this year: and more than 2,100 of them have drowned or gone missing.

It is not just the volume of arrivals that is staggering but the build-up of people in specific areas and the consequences for specific countries:

Thousands of people remain stranded in the Greek islands and mainland.

Thousands more are waiting to have their asylum applications processed by countries struggling to cope.

And today 3.2 million refugees and other migrants live in Turkey – the highest number of any country.

Too few countries are being asked to cope with too great a number of new arrivals, which can fuel nationalism, populism and xenophobia among their citizens.

And here at the Council of Europe we are as frustrated as anyone at these seemingly intractable problems.

We cannot of course solve the political problems that lead so many people to risk their own lives – and those of their children – in search of a better existence.

Nor is it within our remit to manage migration systems.

But it is our responsibility to ensure that our member states understand and uphold the human rights standards to which everyone among us is entitled.

As soon as an individual is under the jurisdiction of a member state, or sets foot on our soil, they are covered by the terms of the European Convention on Human Rights and protected by the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights too.

In order to do this, governments must take the lead.

Let me start with one of the most pressing aspects: one about which I feel very strongly.

The protection of refugee and migrant children.

Last year, 100,000 children arrived in Greece, Italy, Bulgaria and Spain alone.

Of these, more than a third were unaccompanied.

These young people are extremely vulnerable.

Vulnerable to smuggling and trafficking; to crime and exploitation; and to sexual and gender-based violence and abuse.

Without parental care, they are at the mercy of other people and bureaucratic systems.

And we know that for those granted only temporary residence, the motivation to abscond means that many of these young people are now missing.

10,000 and rising: more vulnerable than ever.

From their treatment on arrival through to building their secure future, these minors have rights under both the Geneva Convention and the European Convention on Human Rights.

And we are empowering our member states to deliver them.

Last months’ Committee of Ministers’ session in Nicosia adopted our new Action Plan, Protecting Refugee and Migrant Children in Europe.

That plan rests on three pillars.

First, ensuring access to rights and child-friendly procedures, including every child having a nationality.

Second, promoting effective protection, with guardianship systems in each member state, measures to prevent violence, exploitation and the arbitrary deprivation of liberty – and the fast and efficient provision of family reunification in line with international standards.

And third, enhancing the integration of children with the provision of quality education and the means to participate in their new community.

We should be judged by our treatment of the most vulnerable in society, and here at the Council of Europe we are determined to pass that test.

Of course, all arrivals – young through to old - should be received fairly, in line with the law.

That means ensuring that the right to apply for asylum is respected in practice and that asylum seekers are not simply pushed back to the border.

It means that those who arrive are accommodated in appropriate reception facilities.

And it means that new arrivals do not end up in detention because there is nowhere else for them to go.

Certainly, it is difficult to consider that immigration detention is in the best interests of the child.

Asylum procedures must also function efficiently and fairly so that people are not left dangling in a state of uncertainty over a prolonged period of time.

It is no surprise that countries experiencing unprecedented migration flows sometimes struggle to meet these standards.

But they must do so: that is the law.

The Council of Europe is taking a range of steps to help our member states comply.

We provide training to border guards and we are looking at ways to strengthen the mechanism for complaints about law enforcement on borders.

The Bank of the Council of Europe is investing in facilities such as the Eleonas refugee camp in Athens where our next speaker, Mayor Giorgos Kaminis, has made real efforts to ensure that new arrivals receive a decent standard of treatment.

And our steering committees on human rights and legal cooperation are working on alternatives to migrant detention and on standards of detention.

Our efforts must also of course take into account recent work done by the Committee for the Prevention of Torture.

For member states struggling to maintain good asylum procedures, we are also providing support through our HELP e-learning course which builds the capacity of those involved in the claims process to meet the terms of the Geneva Convention and the European Convention on Human Rights too.

But immediate measures are no substitute for a long-term strategy.

It is in everyone’s interests that new citizens are able to integrate, adapt and contribute to wider society.

For this we need national governments to provide a combination of social rights and integration policies.

The European Committee of Social Rights and ECRI set the targets for which they should aim.

For example, children deserve decent health care, and education.

But of course so too do the long-standing population.

Grievance, resentment and prejudice are more easily stoked where some citizens feel that others are better cared for.

Where equitable provision of rights and services is provided, that tension is eased.

It is also eased when communities within that society are integrated and pulling in the same direction.

Not enough attention has been paid to this area by every member state.

The Council of Europe has long organised initiatives to help countries give their new arrivals the language skills they need, and there are now moves towards standard setting in this area.

We also give guidance on recognising refugees and migrants’ professional and academic qualifications, so that they can find work more easily.

And our range of measures to break down inter-cultural barriers include teaching democratic culture and intercultural dialogue, training young people to spot and discredit hate speech on the internet and our Intercultural Cities Network through which 120 cities worldwide are pioneering policies that break-down community divisions and enhance security and economic growth.

So the challenge is unprecedented, but the law is clear, and the Council of Europe stands ready to help our member states apply it.

I hope that my appointment of Ambassador Tomáš Boček as my Special Representative on Migration and Refugees is a clear signal of my personal commitment to that.

But today is an opportunity for you to debate not just the action that we are taking – of which I have given you a sample – but of what more we could and should do to ease the pain for those arriving in Europe and ease the strain for those countries doing their level best to accommodate them.

This Assembly has played a significant role in identifying these problems and drawing attention to them to the Committee of Ministers and the Council of Europe as a whole.

I am sure that you will use today to continue that very fine work.