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The News (Site updated Friday, December 10, 2004 | 18:00)

European ministers call on the Council of Europe to boost dialogue with neighbouring regions

[10/12/04 15:00:00] European ministers of culture, education, youth and sport have urged the Council of Europe to consider new measures to boost intercultural and inter-religious dialogue with neighbouring regions - in particular the southern shore of the Mediterranean. This is said in the Wroclaw Declaration, which was adopted earlier today in the Polish city. It has been addressed to the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers, to the governments of the 48 countries covered by the convention for further action and will also be submitted to the Summit of Council of Europe Heads of State and Government, which will take place in Warsaw on 16 and 17 May 2005. (more ...)

[10/12/04 17:30:00] Peter Schieder underlined that the European Convention on Human Rights represents a uniquely effective system of rights protection and that it was essential to defend it: ''The Assembly is determined to give its continuing strong support to the key role of the Council of Europe as the defender of human rights in Europe''
Declaration of the President of the Congress
[10/12/04 17:30:00] ''During last year, human rights were under attack all over the world, including Europe. It is time for a counterattack'' said Terry Davis. He repeated that the Council of Europe must fight terrorism, torture, trafficking in human beings and ''all forms of discrimination, including racism, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia''
Declaration of the Secretary General
[10/12/04 17:30:00] President of the Congress, Giovanni di Stasi stressed the link between human rights and local and regional administration, ''which becomes the first interlocutor of individuals when dealing with individual rights''.
Declaration of the President of the Congress
[10/12/04 16:00:00] ''Human rights are not a luxury, but the essential values on which democratic societies are based'', said Alvaro Gil-Robles. ''Success at the expense of human rights is always a failure'' he added. (more ...)

Special file

Council of Europe makes 2005 the year of ''learning and living democracy''
[10/12/04 10:00:00] Learn and live democracy – that’s the Council of Europe’s message for 800 million European citizens during 2005 – the European Year of Citizenship through Education. The Year will be launched on 13 and 14 December, during a conference in Sofia, (Bulgaria). The conference will be opened by Bulgarian Education and Science Minister Igor Damianov and Council of Europe Deputy Secretary General Maud de Boer-Buquicchio. The Year aims to bring democracy closer to people by showing how important it is to get involved with issues that concern their everyday lives. Press briefings will take place on Monday at 8.45 am and on Tuesday at 5.15 pm.

50th anniversary of the European Cultural Convention
Terry Davis: Our work in the field of culture remains fundamental
[09/12/04 12:00:00] ''The Convention, drawn up in the early stages of the Cold War, was from the outset open to all European States willing to adhere. It became a sort of passage through the Iron Curtain and a stepping-stone for full membership in the Council of Europe,'' said the Secretary General today in Wroclaw taking stock of the achievements of the 50 year-old European Cultural Convention. To meet the challenges of today, the new resurgence of the tension between cultural and religious diversity and identity, ''work in the field of culture remains fundamental'', he continued. The Council of Europe would meet these challenges in ''building inclusive, stable, and peaceful societies based on shared values''.
Note to editors
Press conference
Waldemar Dabrowski: ''The Council of Europe should create a culture- and civilisation-based community''
[09/12/04 15:30:00] In an exclusive interview on the eve of the celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of the European Cultural Convention in Wroclaw, Polish Culture Minister Waldemar Dabrowski speaks about the major cultural challenges in Europe and the role which the Council of Europe can play in facing them.
Speech (Polish version)
Prof Kazimierz Krzysztofek: ''There is a growing understanding among the European political elites that culture is not a burden but an asset”
[10/12/04 15:00:00] Following the conference launching the celebrations in Wroclaw, Poland, Polish professor Kazimierz Krzysztofek gives his views on the convention’s new role, 50 years on. Among other things, he underlines that it was ''drawn up by a different generation. The current generation is less focussed on institutions and uses technologies of freedom''.
50 years of Council of Europe art exhibitions: Poster exhibition in Wroclaw (more ...)
New theme file on 50 years of the Cultural Convention
[09/12/04 12:00:00] On the occasion of the Wroclaw conference on the past achievements and future direction of the European Cultural Convention, starting on 9 December 2004, the Council of Europe has created an online theme file containing useful information on the convention, including reference documents, reference sites, interviews and useful links. The accompaning event file will be updated several times during the conference with speeches, photos and interviews.
Celebration of the 50th anniversary of the European Cultural Convention (more ...)
Press release
Media information
Accreditation form (Word format)

Round table on ''Democracy and citizenship in South-Mediterranean countries''
[03/12/04 17:00:00] In the framework of its Transmed programme, the North-South Centre is organising on 10 and 11 December in Lisbon this round-table on the theme of ''Democracy and citizenship in South-Mediterranean countries'' which will bring together around 20 participants (parliamentarians, representatives from NGOs, etc) from European countries and Arab countries. They will take stock of the current situation and examine the mechanisms available to reinforce the process of democratic reform in Arab countries. The results of the round-table will be used to prepare the agenda and content of a large conference on the same theme which the North-South Centre will organise in an Arab country in the spring of 2005. (more ...)

Commissioner for Human Rights to visit Liechtenstein (more ...)

Terry Davis at the OSCE Permanent Council: ''Our shared values provide unity of purpose for the activities of both our organisations'' (more ...)

Seminar in Stockholm on the role of the opposition in a democratic parliament (more ...)
Programme of the seminar
Paper by Willem Hendrik de Beaufort
Paper by Leonhard Neidhart
Paper by Guy Carcassonne

The Council of Europe’s values – under threat?

Forthcoming judgments
[10/12/04 18:00:00] The Court will be holding a public hearing on Friday 17 December at 9.30 a.m. to deliver two Grand Chamber judgments in the cases Pedersen and Baadsgaard v. Denmark and Cumpãnã and Mazãre v. Romania. It will also be notifying in writing six Chamber judgments on Tuesday 14 December concerning France, Poland and the Czech Republic and nine on Thursday 16 December concerning Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia and Italy. (more ...)
Judgments this week
[03/12/04 14:30:00] The Court notified in writing two Chamber judgments concerning France and the Czech Republic on Tuesday 7 December and nine others concerning Belgium, Croatia and Turkey on Thursday 9 December. (more ...)

Giovanni di Stasi wishes the legislation amending the election of regional executives in Russia to be reviewed
[10/12/04 16:30:00] The Congress regretted that more consideration had not been given to its proposals during the debate on the draft law amending the election of regional executives in Russia, declared the President of the Congress on 10 December in Strasbourg. He still hopes that the law would be a provisional measure, linked to the crisis caused by acts of terrorism and the desire to strengthen the country's unity and ability to react in the face of such acts. The Congress would like this ‘’legislation to be reviewed, as soon as possible.’’ 'Our institution wishes to continue its constructive dialogue with the Russian authorities on developments in federalism in the near future' concluded Mr Di Stasi. (more ...)

Congress welcomes constitutional reform in Ukraine
[10/12/04 16:30:00] The Bureau of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe welcomed the efforts of the Verkhovna Rada and the President of Ukraine in the adoption of constitutional reform when meeting in Strasbourg on 10 december. The adoption on 8 December of amendments to the Constitution of 28 June 1996 paved the way for an historic reform of the system of local and regional self-government in Ukraine, declared Congress President Giovanni Di Stasi today. He added that the Congress is ready to help Ukraine to introduce administrative reform at local and regional levels, in accordance with the principles of the European Charter of Local Self-Government. (more ...)

Secretary General welcomes action of Ukrainian Parliament and President
[09/12/04 12:30:00] ''I am impressed by the restraint and maturity with which the people of Ukraine have exercised their right to peaceful demonstration. Ukraine, our member state, can be proud of this'', Terry Davis said on Thursday 9 December reacting to the recent developments in the country. ''I welcome the steps taken by the Ukrainian Parliament and President towards the implementation of the Supreme Court decision. The electoral administration must take all the necessary measures to secure free and fair elections'', he added. Council of Europe experts are currently in Kyiv to discuss ways in which the Organisation will assist Ukraine in the coming days. (more ...)

Council of Europe experts mission in Ukraine
[08/12/04 15:30:00] The three experts who arrived in Kyiv on Wednesday 8 December, will have meetings with the Ukrainian authorities and at the two candidates’ campaign headquarters, as well as with representatives of the media and civil society. Discussions will focus on ways in which the Council of Europe will assist Ukraine in the preparation of the election re-run scheduled for 26 December. The mission arrived just hours after the Ukrainian Parliament passed a reform package. Photo: © AFP (more ...)

International condemnation of the crimes of communism
[10/12/04 15:00:00] The Political Affairs Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly is organising in Paris on 14 December a parliamentary hearing for the preparation of a report on ''the need for international condemnation of the crimes of communism''. According to the rapporteur, Manuela Aguiar (Portugal, EPP/CD), it is time to take stock of the numerous crimes of totalitarian communism of the past and condemn them solemnly. Participants include Stéphane Courtois, author of ''The black book of communism: crimes, terror and repression'', Vladimir Bukovsky, former Soviet dissident and Toomas Hiio, of the Estonian Foundation for the Investigation of the Crimes Against Humanity. The hearing is open to the press. (more ...)

The Committee of Ministers’ Chairman urges his Italian counterpart to ensure the rapid adoption of individual measures in the Dorigo case
[10/12/04 17:00:00] The President of the Committee of Ministers will address shortly a letter to the Italian Minister for Foreign Affairs with a view to drawing his attention to the urgency to erase rapidly, in the Dorigo case, the consequences of the violation of the right to a fair criminal proceeding, consequences which are still suffered by the applicant more than five years after the finding of this violation. Mr Dorigo is still kept under detention following a conviction which had been imposed on him in 1993 exclusively on the basis of unilateral statements of ''repented'' co-accused persons, without respecting the adversarial principle. (more ...)
The Committee of Ministers welcomes reforms by Greece to comply with the European Court’s judgments
[10/12/04 12:00:00] The Committee of Ministers adopted yesterday evening a Resolution by which it concluded the supervision of execution of the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights finding violations of the European Convention by Greece on account of the administration’s non-compliance with domestic judicial decisions (Hornsby v. Greece and 5 other cases). The Committee noted with satisfaction that following the Court’s judgments delivered since 1997, Greece has adopted comprehensive constitutional, statutory and regulatory reforms to remedy this structural problem. (more ...)
The Committee of Ministers urges Italy to comply with the European Court’s judgments
[09/12/04 12:00:00] The Committee of Ministers has just adopted two Interim Resolutions assessing the state of Italy’s compliance with a number of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights. The first text relates to a series of judgments finding the violations of the European Convention due to the authorities’ failure to enforce domestic judicial eviction decisions in favour of dispossessed apartment owners (Immobiliare Saffi case and 140 other cases). The second resolution concerns a violation of a freemason association’s rights on account of restrictions currently barring its members from access to all posts in the civil service of the Marches Region (Grande Oriente case). (more ...)

Gerry Mangan and Jacob Egbert Doek :''Families today are under a lot of strain, perhaps more so than ever before''
[10/12/04 15:30:00] The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) celebrated its 15th year of existence this year. At the same time, a new Committee of experts on children and families was set up in the framework of the Council of Europe programme ''Strategy for Social Cohesion''. It met for the first time on 8 and 9 December 2004 and launched a new project on ''Supporting parenting in the best interests of the child'', which will make a substantial contribution to the cross-sectoral project ''Children and violence'' due to start in 2005 for a period of 3 years. Gerry Mangan, newly elected Chair of this Committee and Jacob Egbert Doek, special guest and Chairperson of the United Nations’ Committee on the Rights of the Child, share their views on the aims of the new Committee and its cooperation with the United Nations.

Reactions to the Ukrainian Court’s ruling
Declaration of the Parliamentary Assembly President
Declaration of the Secretary General

Council of Europe signs partnership agreement with Roma and Travellers Forum
[09/12/04 17:00:00] On 15 December the Council of Europe is to sign a partnership agreement with a body representing the continent’s Roma and Travellers population. ''This Forum is the result of a personal initiative by President Tarja Halonen of Finland,'' said Council of Europe Secretary General Terry Davis today. The European Roma and Travellers Forum has the status of an international non-governmental organisation (INGO). The partnership agreement will allow the Forum to play a bigger role in decision-making processes inside the 46-nation Council of Europe. A press conference will be held between 11.25 am and 11.45 am in Room 1 of the Palais de l’Europe. (more ...)

European Anti-torture Committee visits Italy (more ...)
People detained by the police in Azerbaijan run a significant risk of being ill-treated, concluded the Anti-torture Committee’s report (more ...)

Media guidelines on how to report on migrant issues (more ...)

The Russian government needs to place more trust in its youth, says the Deputy Minister of Youth Affairs of Ingushetia

Georgia ratifies two Council of Europe treaties
[08/12/04 15:00:00] (more ...)

9-10 Dec: Ministerial conference ''European cultural policy'' - Wroclaw
13-14 Dec: Conference ''European Year of Citizenship through Education'' - Sofia
Warsaw, 16-17 May 2005: Summit of Heads of State and Government
Nov 2004 - May 2005: Poland chairs the Committee of Ministers
Book of the month
Ethical Eye - Biomedical research (2004)

The Secretary General's colloquies
Goodwill Ambassadors
Council of Europe debates