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Interview with Annelise Oeschger, President of the Conference of INGOs of the Council of Europe

15 March 2005

Question: INGOs of the Council of Europe is to hold an extraordinary meeting on the eve of the Summit of Heads of State in Warsaw. What are your expectations as the Summit approaches?

Annelise Oeschger: We have two main expectations. Firstly, we want the Summit to reaffirm the actual role of the Council of Europe, because the Council is very important to European citizens, defends their most important rights and is the ally of all those who are already working to build a more human Europe.

Secondly, we want the Summit to enhance the Council of Europe’s capacity for action, both in the area of social cohesion, where the Council has an approach based on access to human rights for all, and in the field of sustainable regional development, where the Council of Europe has all the assets needed to act as a driving force for a concerted Europe-wide effort in this respect. In addition, we want it to have further scope for action in connection with education and culture, for they are at the very heart of the grand design for Europe. We also want the Council to step up North-South dialogue through the North-South Centre.

Lastly, we are hoping that the Summit will send out a clear signal in favour of INGOs, because the Council of Europe is the only international organisation in the world to have given INGOs a role and status within the actual organisation. A clear message from the Summit could make INGOs better able to give the Council of Europe a higher profile, promote its values, ensure that its conventions are applied and, in particular, elicit new enthusiasm for its grand design for European society.