Presidents, Prime Ministers, Distinguished Participants,
All over Europe we have just commemorated the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. In those days 6o years ago, and in the years that followed, one thought prevailed in the minds of all European citizens: This must never happen again! Idealistic and innovative thinking arose out of the catastrophe. A number of the European and other international institutions which still serve us well were founded in that period - one of them being the Council of Europe. What was then regarded radical thinking, namely that internal matters in one state could be a legitimate concern for the International Community, is widely accepted today. So is the wisdom that one of the best guarantees for a state to live at peace with its neighbours is that also the neighbours are democratic states, ruled by law and respecting human rights.
Since the fall of the Berlin Wall these fundamental values enshrined in the Statute of the Council of Europe have truly become a common European heritage. Today’s solemn reaffirmation of these values and the commitment to safeguard them by means of reinforced standard-setting and implementation activities are therefore key. Denmark remains committed to this work.
Of key importance is also the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and our commitment to ensure an efficiently functioning Court of Human Rights with its unique protection of the individual. We welcome the decision to establish a group of wise persons to look into the capacity problems of the Court, and we urge all states to ratify Protocol 14, aimed at easing these problems, in order for it to enter into force as soon as possible.
The Council of Europe has done a remarkable job in promoting and consolidating democracy in the states that became members of the Council in the 1990’s. Democracy is a dynamic process for all states, and we all face challenges from new developments. Looking at the Council of Europe’s many activities in the field of democracy, we agree that there is a need for more coherence and probably also a more creative approach. We welcome the Council of Europe Forum for the Future of Democracy and believe that it can, in a non-bureaucratic way, stimulate the ongoing process of improving and safeguarding our democracies. It is important that the Forum will act in close co-operation with the Venice Commission, which in itself has proven to be an efficient instrument offering valuable advice, often under rather difficult political circumstances. Other Council of Europe institutions and activities with the aim to promote good governance should likewise be given our full support. The valuable work of the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ) is but one example.
The Council of Europe has proven to be able to adapt and define relevant responses to new challenges facing our societies. Good examples are the instruments drawn up in the field of countering international terrorism. It is satisfactory that the Council has been able to react quickly and to finalize in time for the Summit two new conventions in this field. These new instruments will make the Council of Europe a relevant partner in the worldwide anti-terrorism efforts under the leadership of the United Nations. We also welcome the opening for signature of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings.
Denmark supports the Council of Europe’s increasing co-operation with other international organisations. The guidelines we adopt at this Summit will refocus the important relationship between the Council of Europe and the EU. We also move forward concerning enhanced co-operation between the Council of Europe and the OSCE, starting in four commonly identified areas of work. We must ensure better use of resources by building on the individual organisations’ key competencies.
Seen through modern management glasses, Europe, with its many institutions for co-operation, may seem to be over-organized. History decided this development. But time has proven the value of these institutions. We have a multifaceted European architecture with organisations mastering special competencies. Let us respect and nurse these important and relevant competencies and never lose sight of the overall context. Our organisations must co-operate and support each other, each one based on its field of speciality. We have come a long way already in getting rid of unnecessary duplication of work. Let’s continue work in that direction. All European organisations will benefit from this!