Andrews Takes Over As Chairman of Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. David Andrews T.D., said in Strasbourg this afternoon that "ensuring a successful Presidency is a foreign policy priority for Ireland". The Minister was speaking at the presentation of Ireland's Presidency programme to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. Ireland will hold the Presidency of the Committee until May of next year and at the conclusion of today's meeting, the Minister formally received the keys of the Council of Europe from the outgoing Icelandic Chairman, Foreign Minister Asgrimsson. Minister Andrews also signed on behalf of Ireland the Civil Law Convention on Corruption.
The Council of Europe, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, aims to promote democratic security in Europe on the basis of democracy, human rights and the rule of law. Minister Andrews set out the main priorities for the Irish Presidency in his presentation:
- Human Rights: Ireland will organise a major seminar in Dublin in March 2000 to promote more effective interaction between international organisations in the field of human rights protection. The Minister said he hoped to make an announcement during the Presidency on the incorporation by Ireland of the European Convention for Human Rights into domestic law.
- South East Europe: the Minister highlighted the urgent need to strengthen dialogue with democratic forces and civil society in the former Yugoslavia. Ireland will seek to develop the Council of Europe's contribution to the stabilisation of democracy on South East Europe but the Minister insisted that the task now is to ensure that that contribution is practical and adequately funded.
- Enlargement: Minister Andrews made it clear that enlargement should be inclusive but not unconditional and said that Ireland hopes that the current applicant countries, which include Bosnia and Herzegovina, will bring their institutions and legislation into line with the Council's requirements and resolve any conflicts between them so that they can join at the earliest possibility.
- 2 -
- Relations with the EU, OSCE and UN: The EU and the OSCE (Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe) share with the Council of Europe the same goals with regard to the protection of human rights and the promotion of democracy and the rule of law. The Minister told his colleagues that "the fundamental aims of the Council cannot be secured in isolation". As an EU member state, Ireland is working to enhance political support for the Council of Europe and is committed to the development of pragmatic relations between the Council and the OSCE. The Minister also recognised merit in the appointment of a special Rapporteur to strengthen and develop coherent working arrangements with the UN.