Switzerland takes over chairmanship of the Council of Europe

Bern, Press release, 18.11.2009

Switzerland today took over the chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers, the principal decision-making body of the Council of Europe, for a period of six months. Federal Councillor Micheline Calmy-Rey, head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), took over from her predecessor, the Slovenian Minister of Foreign Affairs Samuel Žbogar, at a meeting of the Delegates of the Committee of Ministers in Strasbourg. At this meeting the head of the FDFA presented Switzerland's priorities.

From 18 November 2009 to 11 May 2010, Switzerland will hold the chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. In her  presentation of the priorities of the Swiss chairmanship to the representatives of the Committee of Ministers in Strasbourg, Federal Councillor Micheline Calmy-Rey stressed that Switzerland attached the highest importance to respect for the values on which Europe's identity is based. She stated that in line with the undertakings made at the Warsaw summit in 2005 and with the efforts of the preceding chairmanships, Switzerland would focus on three main areas: protection of human rights and the primacy of law; strengthening of democratic institutions; increasing the transparency and the effectiveness of the Council of Europe. 

In this context, Switzerland will pay particular attention to the future of the European Court of Human Rights as the guarantor of human rights and of basic freedoms in Europe. This institution is confronted with extraordinary challenges, which far exceed its current capacities. In order to discuss necessary reforms and the implementation of a long-term strategy, Switzerland will invite representatives of the member States and of international organisations to a high-level conference at Interlaken in February 2010. The Swiss chairmanship will also continue to promote the rapid ratification of protocol no. 14 by all member States.

In her speech, Micheline Calmy-Rey also said that she was looking forward to working together closely with the new Secretary-General Thorbjørn Jagland in order to increase the transparency and the effectiveness of the Council of Europe and to strengthen dialogue and cooperation between the Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly. 

In keeping with tradition and to mark the start of its chairmanship, Switzerland is presenting an exhibition on the Swiss Design Prize 2009. It was officially opened today in the Palais de l’Europe, in the presence of the head of the FDFA and of many guests. 

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