Making a Difference - An Agenda for Cooperation, Commitments and Reform
1. The Council of Europe has the longest history of all the existing European cooperation organisations. It remains one of the most important inter-governmental organisations in Europe today, and plays a unique role in safeguarding the rights of the individual citizen, promoting democracy, the rule of law and human rights throughout the European continent.
2. Today’s challenges can only be met by working together, across national, cultural and institutional borders. The Council of Europe has an essential role to play in building peace and stability, and must consolidate its rightful place among European institutions.
3. Our aim should be to build a Pan-European network of cooperation that involves all member countries and fosters greater unity, on the basis of human rights, democracy and the rule of law. This cooperation should be based on the principles of equality and respect for every member state, and on the strict observance of all the commitments the member states have undertaken.
4. The basis for this enhanced cooperation should be our common values, which are enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights. We must never compromise on our commitment to uphold human rights, democracy and the rule of law. The Council of Europe must remain the reference point for human rights in Europe.
5. In a steadily changing world, we must secure the Council of Europe’s flexibility and adaptability. We need to focus on our own fulfilment of the core principles and objectives, as stated in the Warsaw Summit Action Plan. And we must strengthen the Council of Europe’s political mandate, by responding effectively to challenges and threats to our common values. Dialogue, including between cultures, and building understanding should be our main tool for conflict prevention.
6. Closer cooperation between the Council of Europe and the European Union is of particular importance. Taking advantage of their relative strengths, we should better coordinate our efforts, develop joint programmes and intensify the political dialogue between the two organisations, on the basis of existing agreements and the visionary report by Prime Minister Juncker of Luxembourg. At the same time, we should seek to enhance cooperation with the OSCE, and the UN and other relevant organisations.
7. A comprehensive review of the Council of Europe’s activities, structures and working methods, in line with the Warsaw Summit Action Plan, can help us become even more effective, relevant and visible. Successful reform depends on clear prioritisation, cost-effectiveness and robust budget control.
8. The role of the European Court of Human Rights is crucial, and we must ensure that it is allowed to function in an effective manner.
9. The interaction and partnership between the Parliamentary Assembly and the Committee of Ministers is the nucleus of the Council of Europe. The Parliamentary Assembly has shown time and again that it is an important driving force for the promotion of the Council of Europe’s core values, while the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities has a central role in promoting local democracy.
10. Norway is a strong and uncompromising supporter of the Council of Europe. The values the Council of Europe represents, protects and promotes have shaped my character and guided me in my political life. They will continue to do so in the future.
It is my belief that together we can ensure that the Council of Europe, and the values for which it stands, will play its rightful role in the shaping of the new Europe – and the new world.