Georgian Presidency will contribute to making the Council of Europe stronger

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV.COM Ltd.

David Zalkaliani [Photo: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia]

Georgia takes over the Presidency of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers on Wednesday (27 November). On this occasion, the country’s Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani submitted an exclusive op-ed.

David Zalkaliani is a Georgian career diplomat serving as the minister of foreign affairs since June 2018.

Georgia’s Presidency of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers is a responsibility and a challenge at the same time, since Georgia will chair the International Organization for the first time.

Since the restoration of independence, Georgia has been facing multiple challenges. After the complex process of reforms, there are still many things to do.

However, I can declare with pride that today Georgia is not only a country of ancient history and traditions but a successful state that gained its genuinely deserved place within the international community.

Historically, Georgian people have highly respected European values as a foundation for democratic development and advancement of society honouring human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Even in the beginning of XX century, Georgian public figures were talking about Georgia’s return to European civilization. Today, with the current challenges, the progress based on European values gains even more significance.

Georgia has become the Council of Europe’s member two decades ago. Country’s membership symbolized the aspirations of Georgian people towards the European values and identified the readiness to launch significant reforms in human rights, rule of law and democracy.

I am confident to declare that Georgia and the Council of Europe have been interlinked by effective collaboration for 20 years. Throughout these years a number of important reforms have been implemented with direct engagement of the Council of Europe.

Georgia actively participates in the activities of the Organization and vice versa – the Organization itself is actively engaged in cooperation with Georgian authorities.

70 years ago, creation of the Organization with the aim of unconditional protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, was a huge breakthrough for Europe exhausted by confrontations.

The effective instrument of protection of citizen’s individual rights and freedoms has filled the legal vacuum from that time. This unique system established by the Council of Europe soon became the shared European achievement.

Along with the protection of human rights, democracy and rule of law, the main purpose of establishing this organization has been an effort to develop European cultural identity and diversity.

Through the institutional build-up, the Organization has been seeking for a joint solution of existing problems such as – discrimination of minorities, xenophobia, intolerance, trafficking in human beings, corruption, domestic violence against women and children, etc. Hereby, let me underline the importance of the European Court of Human Rights.

This unique structure established by the European Convention on Human Rights gives access to the hundreds of millions of people to the justice and rule of law.

Georgian Presidency gives us an opportunity to contribute to strengthening the fundamental principles of the Council of Europe. Georgia’s goal is to be a respectable contributor and defender of the system of values established by the Organization.

The current complex agenda of the Council of Europe makes the Presidency even more responsible for Georgia. At this defining time, it is critically important to achieve consolidation around the common values that 70 years ago created a foundation for the Council of Europe and should remain its firm basis today.

The priorities of the Georgian Presidency are Human Rights and Environmental Protection; Civil Participation in Decision-Making; Child-Friendly Justice – Converging Experience on Restorative Justice in Europe and Strengthening Democracy through Education, Culture and Youth Engagement.

The goal of focusing on those issues is to draw more attention to these issues from the Council of Europe in order to consolidate progress.

As a chair-country, Georgia is open for further fruitful collaboration.

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