Czech diplomacy chief sets out priorities for chairmanship of Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers

Lubomír Zaorálek, foto: Filip Jandourek, ČRo

The Czech Republic last month took over the chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. In an address to a session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on Tuesday, the Czech foreign minister outlined Prague’s priorities for its term at the helm.

Lubomir Zaorálek, photo: Filip Jandourek
In May, the Czech Republic took over the six-month chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. It is the main decision making body of the Council, which is one of the continent’s top human rights institutions.

On Tuesday the Czech minister of foreign affairs, Lubomír Zaorálek, spoke at the plenary session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg.

In his address, the Czech diplomacy chief highlighted the help Prague had received from the institution in the past.

“More than two decades ago, it was precisely the Council of Europe and its Parliamentary Assembly which, shortly after the fall of the communist regime, guided us carefully on our way back to the family of European democracies. I’m proud that the Parliamentary Assembly’s human rights prize is named after Václav Havel… And Havel’s legacy was a great inspiration for us in preparing for the current chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers.”

Minister Zaorálek said the Czech chairmanship would focus on the rights of the weak and disadvantaged – including refugee children.

“I am pleased to inform you that the ministers have adopted an action plan that protecting refugee and migrant children in Europe, given the specific needs of this particularly vulnerable group.”

Mr. Zaorálek said a conference on this issue would take place in Prague in September. It will look into the legal and practical aspects of the detention of migrant children and consider alternatives to such detention, he told the assembled.

Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, photo: facebook of Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
The Czech minister also took questions on Tuesday. One concerned the wave of detentions that followed last July’s coup attempt in Turkey, which is a member of the Council of Europe.

“As was pointed out, from the beginning it is legitimate that those who have organised and taken part in the attempted coup are brought to justice. At the same time, extreme care must be taking to respect the rights guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights and avoid any indiscriminate action that would target people who had nothing to do with the coup. From this perspective, a transparent, independent and impartial judicial process is essential. The establishment of a commission to review measures adopted under the state of emergency is a positive step.”