Ministerial session of the Council of Europe: Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter calls on the 47 member states to strengthen their common values

Press release, 19.05.2017

At the opening of the 127th ministerial session of the Council of Europe on Friday, Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter, head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, called on the 47 member states to strengthen their common values. The Council of Europe has set up a strong protection system that respects the sovereignty of states and enshrines the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms at the continental level, said Mr Burkhalter.

Federal Councilor Burkhalter meets the Cypriot Foreign Minister Ionannis Kasoulidis during the the ministerial meeting of the Council of Europe in Cyprus.

As the leading intergovernmental organisation for the defence of human rights on the European continent, the Council of Europe defines the rules and standards in this field. It encourages member states to apply existing standards by acceding to the conventions it draws up and ensures that they fulfil their commitments.

Mr Burkhalter noted that the situation in Turkey required particular attention. "Switzerland recognises the difficult situation Turkey faced when the dramatic coup attempt took place, and we support a path of dialogue and constructive cooperation with Ankara,” said Burkhalter. He also encouraged Turkey “to pursue the path that it had itself taken in recent years: a path built on the values of democracy, the rule of law and human rights.”

Mr Burkhalter also called for solutions to be found for the inhabitants of regions such as Crimea or frozen conflict zones to ensure that they can also benefit from the protection system guaranteed by the Council of Europe.

The ministers assembled in Nicosia also adopted guidelines for the protection of victims of terrorism and a plan of action to encourage the protection of migrants and underage refugees.

On the margins of the conference, Mr Burkhalter met with several of his counterparts, including the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cyprus, Ioannis Kasoulides, with whom he talked about the settlement of the Cyprus question and the protection of cultural property. The two men also exchanged views on relations between Switzerland and the European Union.

Further information:

Speech by the Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter on the occasion of the 127th ministerial session of the Council of Europe (CoE)

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