121st Session of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe
11 May 2011, Istanbul
Statement by Estonian Foreign Minister Mr. Urmas Paet
Mr. Chairman, Dear Colleagues, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me begin by going 50 years back in time and recalling the important role the Council of Europe played in supporting Estonia’s quest for regaining our freedom. Twenty years after the violent incorporation of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania into the Soviet Union, in September 1960, the Parliamentary Assembly adopted a historic resolution condemning this forceful and illegal act.
Today, when all European countries are gathered here to discuss the challenges that face our continent and its neighbourhood, I would like to use this opportunity to reiterate our gratitude.
Rapid changes unfolding in the countries around the southern rim of the Mediterranean remind us of our own recent history. Yet another part of the neighbourhood, Central Asia, needs more specific attention as well.
Estonia, therefore, appreciates the Secretary General’s very timely proposal for the Council’s own Neighbourhood Policy that sets the focus on reviewing relations with our neighbours while taking into account the differences between each individual partner country. We are looking forward to concrete actions and we stand ready to share our transition experiences from an authoritarian regime to democracy and liberal economy.
Estonia particularly welcomes the objective to reinforce and enlarge the regional action on combating trans-border and global threats, including cybercrime – an area in which the Council of Europe has been a pioneer.
Ten years ago, the Council of Europe’s Convention on Cybercrime – a groundbreaking convention that has remained the only functioning anti-cybercrime instrument across the globe - was initiated by several member countries, including Estonia. By today 30 countries have enforced this unique piece of international legislation and we urge all countries that have not yet done so to sign and ratify it. As a sign of Estonia’s continuous engagement, we pledge to continue making donations to the Council of Europe’s anti-cybercrime project, which is dedicated to introducing the Convention more widely and providing countries with specific legal aid.
Today, another substantial international instrument will be opened for signing – the Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. We regard this step as very timely and relevant as violence against women, including domestic violence, is one of the most serious gender-based violations of human rights in Europe today.
These two conventions are excellent examples of the ability of our organisation to adapt and to meet the challenges of the XXI century. In this context I am pleased to note that all the issues of particular importance to Estonia, including those related to the use of new technology - such as cybercrime, for example - are incorporated into the Secretary General’s reform priorities.
However, we should utilise this momentum more vigorously in order to become a more innovative, more credible, and more visible organisation. I am glad that most of you share this view.
Currently, dedication to the peaceful resolution of the Georgian conflict and ensuring the basic human rights of its victims is the litmus test of our credibility and political will. Alas, as the incomplete agenda of today’s meeting reflects, this is something, in which we have failed. Let me make the point that the present status quo is not a solution!
Estonia, therefore, reiterates its call for granting humanitarian workers full access to the occupied territories and to proceed with the Geneva talks with full respect for the principle of Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity recognised by international law. It is crucial to stay committed and to proceed with the submission of regular consolidated reports by the Secretary General, which Estonia highly appreciates.
Mr. Davutoglu, it is my pleasure to thank You and the entire Turkish chairmanship team for your effective work, and to wish my Ukrainian colleague and his team every success in the coming six months.