Austria and the Council of Europe
After the signing of the Austrian treaty of independence, it was a great opportunity for Austria, the home country of Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi, the founder of the Pan-European movement, to actively participate with other democratic European states in a process that would lead to a political unification-process within Europe.
Austria always interpreted its perpetual neutrality as an exclusively military one and never applied it with regard to the recognition and fight for Human Rights and the principles of a pluralistic democracy.
By actively co-operating within the framework of the Council of Europe, e.g. by contributing to numerous European agreements/conventions/treaties, Austria was able to lay the foundation for its further European integration.
Therefore an active commitment in the Council of Europe has always been of high importance for Austria, with a special - still ongoing - emphasis on Human Rights, cultural activities, education, and social matters such as Children’s Rights, Women’s Rights and the Freedom from Violence, as well as in the area of the international fight against terrorism.
The Council of Europe’s Centre for modern languages in Graz was created trough a partial agreement of the Council of Europe in 1994. Up to this date, 33 states have joined this treaty. The centre provides a base as a meeting point for teachers, trainers, program-organisers, authors and experts, which work in the field of providing education, establishing syllabuses, evaluation and language-teaching.
The Council of Europe is the international organisation, in which Austrians could distinguish themselves as in no other. Austria provided three Secretary-Generals (Lujo Toncic-Sorinj 1969 - 1974, Franz Karasek 1979- 1984, Walter Schwimmer 1999-2004), two presidents of the Parliamentary Assembly (Peter Schieder 2002-2005, Karl Czernetz 1975-1978) and one President of the Congresses of Local and Regional Authorities (Herwig van Staa 2002-2004). From 2002 to 2004 the three most important positions were held by Austrian (Schwimmer, Schieder, van Staa), a unique constellation within the organisation.