-(To be checked against delivered speech)
Speech by Janez Jansa, Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovenia
Heads of States,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me first express my pleasure to participate at this Summit. I am particularly glad that it takes place in Poland, a country which has a strong symbolic place in the European history. The implementation of universal values, promoted by the Council of Europe has become possible throughout Europe due to the Solidarity movement that started in Poland 25 years ago, launching a series of democratic changes that eventually brought the Berlin wall down. The history of Poland, and especially of her capital city, is a convincing confirmation of a statement which was written by a famous Greek historian Thucydides: "Happiness depends on being free, and freedom depends on being courageous."
In the last fifteen years, the Council of Europe has made an extraordinary contribution to the reunification of Europe. Human rights, democracy and rule of law are ever more strongly anchored in our societies and ever more thickly spread over Europe. The curtain that for so long kept the continent apart, finally rusted down, and provided us with historical opportunity to construct a brave new Europe without dividing lines.
I am certain the Third Summit of the Council of Europe will lead to defining the role of the Council of Europe in the context of present challenges in our continent. The Action Plan we are to adopt is comprehensive, forward looking and task oriented. It may even look overambitious. On the other hand - Europe is the continent of most numerous standards and institutions worldwide. We must tap our rich expertise, reinforce synergy and make the most out of our resources. There are wide opportunities in the mandate of the Council of Europe for joint, complementary ventures with other global, regional and national organizations to tackle the challenges of vital concern for all of us.
Let me first address the issues that have been at the core of Council of Europe’s mission – human rights, democracy and rule of law. Despite, or rather because of the unique expertise the organisation has developed in these fields, promoting them still stands as a major challenge.
At present, reform of the European Court of Human Rights is one of the priorities. I am pleased to announce that Slovenia ratified Protocol No. 14 to the European Convention on Human Rights in April this year. Upon entry into force, the Protocol will make the Court more efficient in its procedures and more accessible to our citizens.
Slovenia as an EU member supports the Guidelines on relations between the Council of Europe and the EU and the accession of the EU to the European Convention on Human Rigts as an important step towards a coherent system of protection of human rights in Europe.
In protecting human rights we should pay special attention to the most vulnerable groups of our societies. Among them we often neglect the rights of women. Even in 21st century we still can not say that we have reached full enjoyment of gender equality and respect for the principle of non-discrimination.
Slovenia also calls for a clear definition of the right to protection of health for all citizens, particularly those in marginal situations, within the system of protection of human rights. I would like to express my support to the protection of human rights in health protection and to implementation of the strategic integrated approach to the health.
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me continue with issues that new era of globalisation has brought about. The process of globalization is not solely economic, but also political and cultural. There is a growing consensus that globalization must now be reshaped to reflect values broader than simply the freedom of capital. Managing of especially socio-cultural aspects of globalization in wider Europe is also one of the big challenges facing our continent and international organizations like Council of Europe. I think we have to work especially in the domains such as cross-cultural communication or fostering respect among different races, ethnic groups, religions etc.
The Council of Europe with its wide mandate and membership is uniquely positioned to serve this purpose. It has plenty of legal instruments at its disposal. Our common responses must be fully attuned to our values in spite of or, if you wish, precisely because of such threats as terrorism, corruption, organised crime and trafficking in human beings undermine our basic values.
Terrorism is widely understood as one of the most serious threats to international peace and stability. The Council of Europe has created an important arsenal of instruments to face it. The new Convention on fight against terrorism which is to be opened for signature regulates domains that have not yet been included in other existing international documents, whereas the Guidelines on Human Rights and fight against Terrorism clearly chart the border that no country respecting international standards may cross.
We must also reach out in the spirit of mutual respect and cooperation to our neighbors on the southern and eastern shores of Mediterranean, because only together we can defeat hostile forces of terrorism which pose threat to peace, stability and well-being of Moslem societies as well. Our struggle is not directed against noble religion of Islam, but against perpetrators of terrorist violence, regardless of their religious affiliation or ethnic origin.
Fight against trafficking in human beings poses another crucial challenge. We welcome the Convention against Trafficking in Human Beings, which pays a special attention to the protection of victims. Let me also inform you that Slovenia co-hosting with the Council of Europe and the UN in July this year in Ljubljana a Regional Consultation on Violence against Children and at the Yokohama Congress Review of regional committments – Combating Sexual Exploitation of Children for commercial purpose. Both events will include the discussion on the issues of the trafficking in children.
A closely related issue to the trafficking in human beings is increasing number of immigrants in Europe. Considering the demographic trends in Europe, our continent is becoming ever more attractive to people from developing countries. In close cooperation with the European Union, the Council of Europe and its Member States must increase the efforts to manage the migration flows, while assuring the respect of human rights. Nevertheless, we should not get used to the idea that Europe can successfully face its demographic trends only by migration. One of our fundamental challenges is also maintaining a sustainable demographic picture in the continent. Without any delays we should engage in a European-wide reflection on how to create an environment that will stimulate the European society to become younger.
Slovenia attaches special importance to inclusion of sustainable development into the activities of the Council of Europe. Sustainable development and conservation of biotic diversity are very important for preservation of quality of life and represent another key challenge to modern European society. Sensibility to environmental questions is one of the European-wide accepted principles. The Council of Europe is well placed to discuss the mutually reinforcing relation among the sustainable development, human rights and democracy.
This summit is a unique opportunity to assess the achievements and focus to the future. The Warsaw Declaration and the Action Plan define the goals and clarify the priorities of the Council of Europe. Thus they provide the base for the reform process of the organisational structures and working methods of the organization. Such a reform is indispensable for consolidating the role of the Council of Europe as a key partner in the new European political architecture that is successfully facing the challenges of the new century.
I would like to commend Poland once again for its indispensable contribution to the resolution of the key issues during its Chairmanship and convey my warm thanks for the excellent organization of the summit. I would like to take this opportunity also to express to Portugal, the next Chairman of the Council of Ministers, my best wishes for its successful tenure.