Nicosia, October 14, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency
By Spiros Sideris
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Ioannis Kasoulides, had a meeting today, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with the Secretary General of the Council of Europe (CoE), Mr Thorbjørn Jagland, in the context of his visit to Cyprus, in view of the Cyprus Chairmanship of the Council of Europe, next November.
During the meeting, the details were reviewed of the preparation of the Cyprus Chairmanship of the Council of Europe.
Speaking to the Press after the meeting, Minister Kasoulides, upon welcoming Mr Jagland to Cyprus, he referred to the assumption of the Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, from 22 November 2016 until 19 May 2017, for the 5th time during its membership to the Organisation.
“The Chairmanship will be carried out under the general theme ‘Reinforcing Democratic Security in Europe’, and our priorities will be rights and freedoms for all people without any discrimination, democratic citizenship and prevalence of the rule of law”, Minister Kasoulides highlighted.
He added that “Cyprus, as a small country whose priority lies in upholding the rule of law and with a great sensitivity to the full respect for human rights, will give its best efforts, through diplomacy, and based on democratic procedures, to support the efforts of the CoE to fulfill its mandate, and lead to democratic stability and human rights improvements on the ground. In close cooperation with the CoE, we aspire to prove our ability to further promote dialogue on such issues”.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs stressed that this Chairmanship is particularly important for Cyprus and especially referred to the many conferences and other high level political and technocratic events that will take place both in Nicosia and Strasbourg, with the participation of more than 1,500 officials of the 47 member states and the Secretariat of the Council of Europe.
He further underlined that “the Cyprus Chairmanship is an ideal opportunity to strengthen the principles and values protected and promoted by the Council of Europe. It is our aim to focus, during our Chairmanship, on making sure that human rights are enjoyed by all, without discrimination, on protecting democracy and on strengthening the application of the rule of law; all leading to reinforcing democratic stability in Europe”.
On his part, CoE’s Secretary General expressed his pleasure for the constructive meetings he held during his stay in Cyprus.
Mr Jagland characterized the upcoming Chairmanship of Cyprus very important for the Council of Europe, adding that Cyprus will deal with a very broad agenda, ranging from the role of education in fostering democratic citizenship, the preservation of cultural heritage, since it has become very important in the international community and also because antiquities are being stolen and used to finance terrorism.
“A number of other issues will be raised during the Chairmanship of Cyprus, for instance the issue of migrants, who are in reception centers and sometimes in detention centers, the rights of disabled people in the social structure of the member states”, he pointed out.
The CoE’s Secretary General also referred to the importance of the agenda of the Chairmanship in the ongoing process for the reconciliation of the two sides in Cyprus. He stressed that “the Council of Europe is not, of course, directly involved in the negotiations that are taking place, but many of the things we are doing may have a positive effect on this process”, such as the teaching of history and the role of education.
Finally, Mr Jagland noted that the European Convention to reach 47 member states, including the Russian Federation, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia, is playing a very important role in creating stability in Europe, “because it constitutes common rights for all the people living in Europe, and, therefore, it is a reunifying convention, which has proved to be very important in many of the earlier peace processes in Europe”.