CoE Secretary-General Congratulates on Ratification of Istanbul Convention

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, April 17, 2018 – Council of Europe Secretary-General Thorbjorn Jagland on Tuesday commended Croatia’s protection of minorities and congratulated the country on ratifying the Istanbul Convention.

Jagland held talks with Croatian Foreign and European Affairs Minister Marija Pejčinović Burić, at which she presented the priorities of Croatia’s coming presidency of the Council of Europe, and after the talks, the two officials held a joint press conference.

I am glad that Croatia has joined in the fight against violence against women, Jagland told the news conference. He congratulated the government on its position and the fact that it had put aside all misunderstandings regarding the Istanbul Convention.

The Istanbul Convention does not deal with same-sex marriage but with a major social problem that is present in Europe and the rest of the world – violence against women and domestic violence, Jagland stressed. He said that the protection of minorities in Croatia was good. He therefore welcomed the fact that the protection of ethnic minorities and vulnerable groups was among the priorities of Croatia’s chairmanship of the Council of Europe.

In some European countries, nationalists are using the issue of minorities and vulnerable groups for their own ends. I am glad that Croatia is taking heed of that, he said, adding that protection of minorities was one of the Council of Europe’s duties.

Another priority of Croatia’s presidency of the Council of Europe, which it will assume on May 18, for the first time since it joined that pan-European organisation in 1996, is the fight against corruption, Pejčinović Burić said at the news conference.

This is a big honour and a big challenge, Pejčinović Burić said, adding that other priorities were decentralisation through the strengthening of local government and the protection of cultural heritage. She remarked, together with Jagland, that this was a more ambitious programme than the one of the current chair Denmark.

Croatia will be chairing the Council of Europe until November 21, when Finland takes over.

Pejčinović Burić and Jagland also discussed current topics, including the Russian Federation and Turkey. Given the high level of tension between the European Union and Russia, Jagland stressed, while answering a reporter’s question, that the Council of Europe’s mandate was about protection of human rights and that it was not taking part in the settling of geopolitical problems such as tensions between Russia and the West in Syria.

It is therefore very important to protect human rights in Russia because without membership in the Council of Europe 45 million Russians would be left without access to, for example, the European Court of Human Rights, he said.

Jagland stressed that he supported German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier’s position that Russia must not be demonised or additionally isolated. Dialogue should be maintained with Russia for the sake of protection of the Russian people and for Europe’s benefit, said Jagland. The Council of Europe is the only place where Russia has obligatory relations, he said.

Pejčinović Burić said that the issue of Russia’s participation in the Council of Europe institutions was one of the outstanding issues at the level of the Committee of Ministers and the Council of European Parliamentary Assembly. Croatia is all the more willing, during its presidency, to contribute constructively “to overcoming those current issues with Russia,” said Pejčinović Burić.


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