At the forthcoming meeting of the ministers of foreign affairs of the Council of Europe (CE) member states to be held on 18th May 2018 in Elsinore, Denmark, the Republic of Croatia will take over the chairmanship of the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers. The Croatian six months’ chairmanship will end on 21st November 2018, and will then be passed to Finland. This will be Croatia’s first chairmanship of this highly important European organization since the country had been admitted to the Council of Europe’s membership on 6th November 1996.
The Council of Europe is the oldest European organization founded on 5th May 1949 in London to strengthen European unity and to promote democracy, human rights protection and the rule of law on the European continent. Following the end of the Cold War, the Council of Europe became the main political forum for ongoing dialogue and cooperation with the countries of Central, East and Southeast Europe in developing democratic societies.
Based in Strasbourg, the Council of Europe currently gathers 47 member states and implements its activities through the Committee of Ministers, the Parliamentary Assembly, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities and the Commissioner for Human Rights. The European Court of Human Rights is tightly connected to the Council of Europe. It is an international court competent for ruling on individual or inter-state applications alleging violations of fundamental human rights and freedoms enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights.
The Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly is the Council of Europe’s main advisory body. It brings together members from the parliaments of the Council of Europe's 47 member states, acting thus as the democratic conscience of Europe. There are currently six political groups within the Parliamentary Assembly. MPs work in the plenary session and in nine different committees. The plenary sessions of the Parliamentary Assembly are held four times a year. The documents which the MPs adopt – recommendations, resolutions and opinions – serve as advisory guidelines to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe and to national governments and parliaments.
The Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Republic of Croatia identified the following priorities of the Croatian Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers:
- fight against corruption
- efficient protection of national minorities and vulnerable groups' rights
- decentralization in the context of strengthening local self-government, - including absorption capacities of the regions
- protection of cultural heritage and cultural routes
During the Croatian Chairmanship, the Croatian Parliament, which participates in the work of the PACE through its Delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, will host several meetings of the Parliamentary Assembly: the meetings of the Presidential Committee and the Bureau (closed to the public) on May 31, and on June 1, the PACE Standing Committee meeting (open to the public: http://website-pace.net/en_GB/web/apce/standing-committee ), followed by the meeting of the Bureau’s Ad hoc Committee (closed to the public). The members of the Standing Committee will be addressed by the Speaker of the Croatian Parliament Mr Gordan Jandroković, as well as by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Ms Marija Pejčinović Burić.
In autumn, a conference is scheduled to take place on 6th November 2018 in Dubrovnik on the topic of democratic safety on the Mediterranean, which the Croatian Parliament will organize in cooperation with the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, in the framework of the activities of the PACE Political Affairs Committee.