Vienna, 2 December 2009 Press release

Spindelegger: "Council of Europe: 60 years of consistent commitment to human rights, democracy, and the rule of law"

Speech by Foreign Minister in the Parliament on the 60th anniversary of the Council of Europe

Vienna, 2 December 2009 – "The Council of Europe was founded 60 years ago to confront the communist yoke with a European community of values based on human rights, democracy, and the rule of law. Even after the fall of the Iron Curtain and the accession of the Central and Eastern European states, Europe still needs this identity-building force. The Council of Europe is a unique forum, and its solid foundation of common values is irreplaceable for us. It remains the human-rights and moral conscience of our continent“, said Foreign Minister Spindelegger in his speech before the Parliament on the 60th anniversary of the Council of Europe.

"Since becoming a member of the organization, Austria has made important and concrete contributions to the continued development of the Council of Europe. Many committed Austrians have helped shape the Council of Europe through their valuable work", said the Foreign Minister, also pointing out to the Austrian Secretaries General Lujo Toncic-Sorinj, Franz Karasek, and Walter Schwimmer.

The future has challenges in store for the Council of Europe, not least in view of the large number of member states today:  "In order to continue to fulfil its role as a guardian of human rights, democracy, and the rule of law, the Council of Europe must face up to these challenges, and reform and reposition itself on an ongoing basis". As the Foreign Minister remarked, the relevant approaches taken by the current Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland are pointing in the right direction: "I am convinced that, due to his great experience and personal commitment, the Secretary General will succeed in further strengthening the efficiency and visibility of the Council of Europe and in promoting its work. Austria will do everything possible to support him."

In recent years, new fields of work have emerged for the Council of Europe: "The approach to and regulation of the Internet, the fight against Internet crime, and data protection are topics for which it is necessary to find a balance between security and freedoms. The Council of Europe is the most suitable organisation to ensure an effective protection of basic freedoms and human rights", concluded the Foreign Minister.

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