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New Year greetings from the President

On this first day of the New Year, I would like to wish happiness, prosperity, health and peace to the 820 million Europeans living in the 47 member states of the Council of Europe, as well as to the citizens of the Observer states and to our Partners for Democracy.

Best wishes also to all the members of the Parliamentary Assembly, to the members of the Committee of Ministers and their Deputies, to our Secretary General and Deputy Secretary General, to the President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, to the Commissioner for Human Rights, to the Secretary General of the Parliamentary Assembly and to all the staff in the various Council of Europe bodies.

May this New Year help us strengthen the ties that bind us, so as to make our organisation stronger, more visible and more effective! May we succeed in speaking with one voice, so that our message of peace is more widely heard and heeded! May the universal values of human rights be respected around the world! And may 2014 provide opportunities to find solutions to various major international crises that have brought death and trauma to ordinary people and ravaged countries, as well as solutions to conflicts that have for far too long divided Council of Europe member states.

One of the highlights of 2013 for the Parliamentary Assembly was the first edition of the Václav Havel Human Rights Prize and I hope that in 2014, we will redouble our efforts to protect human rights defenders, the men and women who risk their lives daily to uphold the values that are at the heart of our organisation.

I also hope that we will continue and indeed strengthen our dialogue and co-operation with our international partners, so that the Council of Europe can play its full role on the international stage, alongside the United Nations, the European Union, the OSCE and regional organisations. Let us join forces to achieve our common goal, namely to eradicate impunity for human rights violations and, in so doing, give full meaning to the words ”Peace” and “Justice”. Happy New Year!