Czechs set Council of Europe priorities

Lubomír Zaorálek, photo: Filip Jandourek

Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek has outlined the Czech Republic’s priorities for its upcoming chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, highlighting above all protection of human rights. Speaking at a conference at the Czernin Palace on Thursday, the minister also presented the Czech Republic’s logo for the chairmanship which is to last from May till November 2017.

Lubomír Zaorálek,  photo: Filip Jandourek
For the second time in its history, the Czech Republic is set to assume the chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. Presenting the country’s priorities for the presidency, Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek said the Czech Republic would focus on the most topical issues, above all the need to protect the human rights of persons belonging to vulnerable or disadvantaged groups:

“It is a very hot issue today. The Council of Europe has been dealing with the referendum in Turkey, and overseeing observance of human rights in Ukraine, but it also deals with some complicated cases, such as in Great Britain.

“I recently discussed with [the Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjörn] Jagland the case of the Czech national murdered in London. The European Court for Human Rights is in fact the only institution we can appeal to if we don’t agree with the verdict of the British court.”

Mr Zaorálek referred there to the verdict of a British court, which set free a British man accused of killing a Czech national in London. He noted that if a country fails to respect the verdict of the European Court for Human Rights, its membership in the Council of Europe should be questioned.

Among other priorities he mentioned is the strengthening of the rule of law, which he said was highly topical not only in Europe but the world over:

“We also want to support democracy on both regional and local levels. One of the topics is promoting human rights education and linguistic skills, which may not seem that important, but is in fact essential for carrying out our objectives. It is also essential for us to boost cooperation with other international organisations.”

On the occasion of the Czech chairmanship, the Czech Republic has prepared a series of cultural events to take place in Strasbourg, the seat of the Council of Europe, including a number of exhibitions and concerts.

The logo of the upcoming Czech presidency of the Council of Europe, three intersecting blue and red circles, was designed by a young student of Tomáš Baťa University in Zlín and symbolizes cooperation between individual member states.