Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjorn Jagland will visit Georgia in May, - within the frames of the visit, the CoE-Georgia Action Plan for 2016-2019 will be signed.
The Action Plan and cooperation issues were discussed during the meeting of Prime Minister of Georgia and the Secretary General of the Council of Europe.
Pursuant to the Secretary General, Georgia is a remarkable country in a view that the ambitious three-year Action Plan has been drafted upon the latter's initiative. Respective document will serve as a blueprint of strengthening democracy, human rights and rule of law.
Giorgi Kvirikashvili expressed his gratitude to Thorbjorn Jagland for his personal contribution in deepening CoE-Georgia relationships.
Prime Minister also presented the economic development agenda to the Secretary General of the CoE. The sides discussed the importance of conducting upcoming Parliamentary elections of 2016 in accordance with the highest international standards.
Prime Minister updated the Secretary General about the condition of the protection of human rights in the occupied regions. Thorbjorn Jagland declared that occupied territories of Georgia will remain on the agenda of the CoE.
Our fundamental values may not be sacrificed in the fight against terrorism, says Austrian PresidentWednesday, 20 April 2016 19:47
Speaking on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of Austria’s membership in the Council of Europe, the Austrian President Heinz Fischer underlined the importance of the 47-nation organisation as an irreplaceable platform where new forms of intergovernmental and parliamentary co-operation were and continue to be developed.
Recalling the importance of respecting the values embodied by the Council of Europe, he stressed that these fundamental values may not be sacrificed in the fight against terrorism.
Referring to the migration and refugee crisis, he called for increased cooperation and co-ordination which had to remain high on the European agenda in order to avoid the instrumentalisation of the issue by right-wing organisations, for xenophobic positions or to incite nationalist emotions.
The President announced that he will leave office at the beginning of July. Quoting Willy Brandt, “War is no longer the ultima ratio but rather the ultima irratio“, he concluded by saying that the most important objective he could not achieve during his time in office was to eliminate the madness of war in human society.
The 2016 Europe Prize – the highest level of the Prize which is awarded each year by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) to the town most active in promoting the European ideal – has been awarded to the town of Girona (Spain).
Girona is very active in its many initiatives which demonstrate its strong commitment to Europe. It seeks to be an educational and solidarity-based city and supports projects to raise awareness among the local population of the causes of economic inequalities and to promote tolerance, dialogue, the values of a culture of peace and respect for human rights. Girona received the Flag of Honour in 1984 and the Plaque of Honour in 2013.
Four other towns, namely Bamberg and Sinzing in Germany, Ivano-Frankivsk in Ukraine and Lublin in Poland, were also shortlisted for the Prize, and their applications commended.
Created by PACE in 1955, the Europe Prize is the highest distinction that can be bestowed on a European town for its actions in the European domain. The prize consists of a trophy, a medal, a diploma and a scholarship to be spent on a study visit to European institutions for young people from the winning town.
Eight Plaques of Honour, eight Flags of Honour and 12 European Diplomas – which also form part of the Europe Prize – were also awarded. Full details here.
Addressing PACE, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told parliamentarians: “Turkey is an inseparable part of Europe”. He said Turkey saw the Council of Europe as one of its main partners in bringing about future reforms, and declared that the Council’s standards – including those of the European Convention – constituted a “guiding light” for Turkey.
The Prime Minister also spoke about his country’s commitment to hosting refugees fleeing the conflicts in Syria and Iraq, pointing out Turkey was now hosting the highest number of refugees of any country in the world: “Our country is open to these people and, more importantly, our hearts are open to these people.”
The recent EU-Turkey deal was reducing the numbers crossing the Mediterranean by sea and could save lives, he pointed out, but a permanent solution would involve tackling the root causes of the conflict.
On terrorism, Mr Davutoglu made an appeal for victims of terror attacks to be treated equally: “We should not discriminate between those who lose their lives to terrorism – our reaction should be the same.” He also urged support for the Council of Europe’s new protocol on “foreign fighters”.