Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Minaret-banning Switzerland chairing the Council of Europe

Twittering Julien Frisch was the first to make me aware of the matter, and later I saw Carl Bildt mention it on his blog, Alla dessa dagar. I decided to take a look at the web pages of the Council of Europe:

Switzerland has taken over the chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers, the principal decision-making body of the Council of Europe, for a period of 6 months. From 18 November 2009 to 11 May 2010, Switzerland will focus on 3 main areas: protection of human rights and the primacy of law, strengthening of democratic institutions, and increasing the transparency and the effectiveness of the Council of Europe.

The priorities of the Swiss chairmanship are introduced in the following terms:

Switzerland attaches paramount importance to respect for the values underlying the European identity. Continuing the previous Chairmanships’ efforts, Switzerland will maintain the emphasis on respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law, identified at the Warsaw Summit in 2005 as the Council of Europe’s core objective.

It must be pretty embarrassing for representatives of the Swiss government to chair the decision-making body of the CoE, when the government’s good intentions have been disavowed by its own people.

The other member states may think twice when they hear suggestions along these lines:

Switzerland, a country which possesses a long experience of participatory democracy, undertakes to strengthen democratic structures for citizen participation.

A pretty helvetic confederation, if I may say so.

Ralf Grahn

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