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Foreign Minister Baerbock visits the Council of Europe institutions in Strasbourg

Foreign Minister Baerbock addresses the Parliamentary Assembly

Foreign Minister Baerbock addresses the Parliamentary Assembly, © Kira Hofmann/photothek.de

24.01.2023 - Article

Foreign Minister Baerbock visits the Council of Europe four months before the first Council of Europe Summit in 17 years. In her address before the Parliamentary Assembly, she focuses on what the Council of Europe now needs to become fit for the future.

Address before the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe

During her visit to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock will meet its President, Martinus Kox, and address the Assembly. The Parliamentary Assembly is the central platform for parliamentary debate and convenes once a quarter for one-week plenary sessions. The Minister intends to use her speech to generate impetus in the run-up to the Summit in May. The Heads of State and Government of the member States will meet then in Reykjavik under Iceland’s Presidency for the first time since 2005. The goal is the strategic reorientation of the organisation following Russia’s exclusion in March 2022.

Foreign Minister Baerbock emphasised the following prior to her departure:

Just like the OSCE, the Council of Europe is more important than ever today as a place where nations can come together and exchange ideas – as a place which embodies the very pan-European unity that Putin wants to destroy. We must stand our ground in the face of this attack. Our response must be a resolute „now more than ever“.

Talks at the European Court of Human Rights

The flagship of the Council of Europe and its human rights protection system is the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). During her visit, Foreign Minister Baerbock will meet Síofra O’Leary, President of the ECHR and the first woman to hold this position, and German judge Professor Anja Seibert-Fohr. Their talks will focus on the current challenges facing the ECHR given the more than 75,700 cases it has pending. One of Germany’s priorities is to improve the implementation of rulings by the European Court of Human Rights. A large number of judgments are implemented, but there are also deficits. Foreign Minister Baerbock:

One key objective for Reykjavik must be to strengthen protection of human rights. Council of Europe conventions such as the European Convention on Human Rights must be consistently implemented, while the ECHR must be supported and its judgments respected. States which fail to do this are denying their citizens their enshrined rights.

Human rights situation in the member States: Talks with the Commissioner for Human Rights

Foreign Minister Baerbock will also hold talks with Marija Pejčinović Burić, Secretary General of the Council of Europe, and Dunja Mijatović, the Commissioner for Human Rights. The main aim of the meeting with the Commissioner is to obtain information on the human rights situation in the 46 member States, focusing particularly on the situation in the areas occupied by Russia.

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