Federal Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle today (19 January) held talks with the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjørn Jagland. Their exchange of views focused on ideas for the institutional reform of the Council of Europe and on human rights developments in the EU’s neighbouring states, particularly Georgia, Belarus and Russia.
During the meeting Westerwelle underlined the special importance of the Council of Europe for human rights protection and the development of the rule of law and democracy in Europe. He also promised Secretary General Jagland support for the necessary reform of the Council of Europe.
Jagland pointed out that the Council of Europe, as the only truly pan-European organization, enjoys particular credibility and influence when it comes to fundamental rights and rights of freedom. This allowed the organization to stand up for human rights standards even in difficult environments, for instance in Georgia, including Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Westerwelle and Jagland both voiced their satisfaction that the Russian state Duma had ratified the 14th Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights on 15 January.
The Protocol, which entered into force with this ratification, provides for major changes to simplify proceedings at the overburdened European Court of Human Rights and opens the way for the Court’s further reform. It also creates the legal foundation for the European Union’s accession to the Council of Europe, envisaged in the Treaty of Lisbon.