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Intervention by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Slovenia, President of the Council of the EU, Dr Dimitrij Rupel

Mr Chairman,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is my pleasure to address you here in Strasbourg and to have the opportunity to present priorities of the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the European Union in the first half of 2008.

We are living in a moment of historical importance for the EU. The first Presidency of a new Member State confirms the legitimacy of the decision to unite the European continent and in doing so to overcome its unnatural division. Indeed, it is a tribute to the courage with which both Western democratic nations and Central and Eastern European nations seized the historic opportunity presented by the end of the Cold War.

I would like to thank the Slovak Chairmanship for the invitation to participate in this meeting and reiterate our full support and partnership in fulfilling the roles we were mandated for. We are looking forward to a good cooperation in the forthcoming months. Our gratitude goes also to our Swedish friends for their readiness to switch the chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers’ of the Council of Europe.


Ladies and gentlemen,

The priorities of the Slovenian Presidency have mainly been determined in the 18-month programme, which was for the first time presented by three following presidencies – German, Portuguese and Slovenian –, and by the inherited agenda of the Council of the EU.

On this basis, Slovenia is working on five main priority areas, namely the future of the Union and the timely implementation of the Reform Treaty, the successful launching of the new Lisbon Strategy cycle, climate and energy issues, the strengthening of the European perspective for the Western Balkans and the dialogue between cultures, beliefs, traditions in the context of the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue.

Regarding the implementation of the Lisbon Treaty our main task is to encourage the successful ratification process of the Lisbon Treaty. Together with the other 26 Member states, and in particular with the forthcoming French Presidency, we are determined to lay new foundations for the Union before the elections to the European Parliament in 2009. Slovenia wants to provide a good example and plans to ratify the Treaty as soon as possible.

Ratification of the Lisbon Treaty will be of great importance with regard to the relationship between the EU and the Council of Europe, since the new Treaty enables the accession of the European Union to the European Convention on Human Rights which will further strengthen the system of human rights protection in Europe. Therefore the Presidency continues with endeavors in this respect.

Concerning the Lisbon Strategy, the second three-year cycle of the renewed Lisbon Strategy has started in 2008. In this regard Slovenian Presidency will further promote the strategic priorities in the areas of research and innovation, in the development of competitive business environment, in the adaptation of labour market to meet demographic changes, as well as in the areas of energy supply and climate change, which demand a decisive action by all EU Member States.

We believe that the stability of the Western Balkans is of crucial importance for the security and prosperity of the entire European Union. Bearing this in mind, the Presidency aims at strengthening the European perspective for the countries of the Western Balkans. Slovenia will seek the reaffirmation of the 2003 Thessaloniki Agenda, the possible conclusion of the network of Stabilization and Association Agreements with the countries of the Western Balkan as well as the strengthening of regional cooperation in several areas. The process of enlargement and the European Neighbourhood Policy are on the top of our agenda.

One of the main focuses regarding the Western Balkans is Kosovo. The resolution of Kosovo's future status as well as the management of the post status process, where the EU has expressed its readiness to assume a leading role, should be aimed at strengthening the stability and security of the entire region. This will only be possible with strong and united Europe and with the involvement of all partners. We commend the important contribution of the Council of Europe in Kosovo in the recent years, particularly in the field of election observation, protection of human rights, protection of the cultural heritage, reform of local self-government and crime prevention.

Last but not least, this year has been proclaimed the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue. A consistent implementation of the culture of peace, respect, tolerance and dialogue is an important task that we should pursue while promoting common values on which the dialogue among civilisations is to be based. Intercultural dialogue, based on the protection and promotion of cultural diversity, is indispensable in building a more humane and tolerant Europe and constitutes the foundation of the co-existence of all European citizens. As a part of the intercultural dialogue, it is important to promote mobility, especially of young people. In this regard Slovenia is proud to announce an establishment of the Euro-Mediterranean University and its inauguration in May this year.

Intercultural dialogue is the common ground of our work in the first half of this year as it is also one of the priority areas of the Council of Europe. The White Paper on Intercultural Dialogue which is being prepared by the Council of Europe is of extraordinary significance in this regard. The draft of the White Paper was already presented at the opening event of the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue on 7th January in Ljubljana. We are looking forward to the issuing and presentation of the book in the forthcoming months.



Slovenia is facing one of its biggest challenges in its young history. In 2005 we chaired the Organisation for the Security and Cooperation in Europe. It was a big task but with a lot of work, good organisation and cooperation we have fulfilled expectations and our Presidency was proved to be a success. Now we are chairing the EU and in May 2009 Slovenia will take over the Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. The activities of these three institutions are interlinked and complementary. Therefore it is essential to establish a good and constructive dialogue with all partners.

The activities of the Council of Europe and the European Union have always been strongly connected. The Council of Europe’s contribution to the development of new democracies after the fall of the Berlin Wall is well recognised. It is important that the Council of Europe continues to play a very important role in the field of human rights in Europe and the EU must be the first supporter of its activities. Mutual cooperation was improved with the signature of the Memorandum of Understanding between the EU and the Council of Europe in May 2007. This Memorandum will contribute to achieve greater unity between the European states through respect for the shared values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

In accordance with the Memorandum the two institutions will continue to develop and deepen their relationship in all areas of common interest, in particular the promotion and protection of pluralistic democracy, the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, the rule of law, political and legal co-operation, social cohesion and cultural interchange. The final goal of the Memorandum should be to bring individual citizens even closer to the core values on which the Council of Europe and the European Union are based. In this regard the Presidency will continue to promote the accession of the European Union to the European Convention on Human Rights, which will be possible after the Lisbon Treaty has been ratified by all EU Member States.

We have to continue with the follow-up of the Report, presented by Mr Jean Claude Juncker, the Prime Minister of Luxembourg in 2006. In pursuing the goals set out in the Report Member States will follow the guidelines adopted by the Third Summit in Warsaw calling for the building of a Europe without dividing lines. In this respect the Slovenian Presidency endeavours to further improve the cooperation on all levels – here in Strasbourg, in Brussels and among capitals. Promoting wider attendance of the Council of Ministers of the Council of Europe at the ministerial level also receives a careful attention on our part.

The protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms is on the top of the agenda of Slovenia and of the EU. Our goal is to ensure that human rights of every EU citizen are protected. With this in mind the EU has established its Agency for Fundamental Rights. I would like to express my satisfaction that the Agency is coordinating its activities with those of the Council of Europe and hope that the Cooperation Agreement between the Agency and the Council of Europe would come into force during our Presidency.

The Council of Europe’s human rights protection mechanisms are vital for the defence and protection of human rights in Europe. I would like to underline the importance of the ratification of Protocol 14 to the European Convention on Human Rights by all the members of the Council of Europe, to guarantee that the European Court for Human Rights will be able to ensure protection of human rights for each one of our citizens and to meet the demands of our challenging times.

The forthcoming Quadripartite Meeting between the EU and the Council of Europe in March and the 118th Committee of Ministers’ in May shall be the opportunities to fulfil some of the commitments. Meanwhile we will be working tirelessly on them.


Ladies and gentlemen,

It is clear that the Council of Europe and the European Union are good partners. This was once more confirmed a while ago when the parliaments of EU and the Council of Europe have signed an Agreement on the enhanced cooperation. There is still much work to be done. The Slovenian Presidency will work hard on the enhancement of the co-operation between the two institutions, in line with our Presidency’s slogan "Si.nergy for Europe".

Thank you for your attention.


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Date: 30.01.2008