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Bern, Press release, 11.05.2009

Federal Councillor Micheline Calmy-Rey will travel to Madrid on 11-12 May 2009 to attend the Committee of Ministers meeting of the Council of Europe. The event will enable Switzerland to prepare its presidency of the Council of Europe, which begins on 18 November 2009 and will end in mid-May 2010.

In Madrid, Switzerland will discuss the main thrust of its upcoming presidency, which will be to focus the Organisation’s activities on its three key mandates: the protection of human rights, the promotion of democracy, and the defence of the principle of the rule of law. 

Various activities are planned during the Swiss presidency, including an international conference in Switzerland to consider long-term reforms of the European Court of Human Rights. The Court, which is based in Strasbourg, is the bastion of human rights in Europe, and is currently experiencing major problems dealing with a massive backlog of cases.  

The Council of Europe has 47 member states incorporating a total population of 800 European citizens. It plays a central role in defending the rule of law and human rights, as well as in the development of democracy in Europe. Switzerland has been a member of the Council of Europe since 1963.  

Further information: Raphaël Saborit, FDFA spokesperson, Tel. 079 335 76 14

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