In the framework of the events marking the 70th Anniversary of the Council of Europe, the Office in Tirana, in cooperation with the French Embassy, within the French Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers, as well as other partner institutions, organized in the University of Elbasan an open discussion with students professors, representatives of local institutions and civil society organisations on the growing challenges associated with hate speech and the measures proposed by the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI).
The meeting, organized in collaboration with "Alexander Xhuvani" University in Elbasan and the Commissioner for Protection from Discrimination, was addressed by the Head of the Council of Europe Office in Tirana, Ms Jutta Gützkow, who shared with the participants the importance and role of the Council of Europe in supporting reforms in various fields in the country. Ms Gützkow stated: "We are here today for two reasons: To launch with our partners the joint Council of Europe and the European Union's Promotion of Diversity and Equality, and to commemorate together the 70th Anniversary of the establishment of the Council of Europe ..."
The Ambassador of France in Albania, Ms Christina Vasak, emphasized during her speech, the importance of recognizing, implementing and monitoring European standards in key areas of democracy development. "European standards are the same for everyone, both in France and in Albania," said Ms Vasak said.
The Commissioner for Protection from Discrimination, Mr Robert Gajda, and the People’s Advocate, Ms Erinda Ballanca, representing two key institutions in the protection and promotion of fundamental human rights, spoke about the efforts made and the results achieved in the fight against discrimination and hate speech, in particular. The Deputy Speaker of the Parliament and at the same time the representative of Albania to ECRI, Ms Vasilika Hysi, focused on the concrete measures suggested in Recommendation no. 15 of ECRI on the fight against hate speech, emphasizing the consolidation of the legal and institutional framework in the fight against hate speech, with the purpose to punish these cases.
Hate speech, wherever it is presented and its impact on European societies remains a major concern for the Council of Europe, often a manifestation of discrimination that leads to other rights being violated. For this reason, the European Union and the Council of Europe have given an important place to the 3-year project "Promotion of Diversity and Equality in Albania" as part of the EU/CoE Joint Program "Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Turkey", which focuses on combating discrimination and hate speech as well as protecting the rights of national minorities and of the LGBTI community.