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The Council of Europe is not an ‘à la carte menu’ where we choose what we want

“All Member States should realise that the Council of Europe is not a ‘menu à la carte’ where we only choose what we want. Therefore, we should not merely enjoy the benefits of the membership. On the contrary, it is necessary to honour and respect its obligations and to implement consistently the decisions made by the organisation in accordance with the rules agreed by all the Member States”, Peter Pellegrini, Prime Minister of the Slovak Republic, said today addressing the Assembly.

The Council of Europe is a type of international organization – he said- that cannot be equally useful for all of its members at the same time. Therefore, “a member of an international organisation should approach it not in terms of whether it now meets its short-term expectations or demands, but whether it serves the whole community of member states from a long-term perspective”, he said.

Referring to corruption as the cancer of the society, he said that “in the struggle to preserve and restore the citizens' trust in the rule of law, we see independent and functioning institutions, an active civil society and free media as our partners. We deem the Council of Europe, along with its experience and know-how, playing a major role in this process.”

Protection of the rights of persons belonging to national minorities is a topic of particular importance for Slovakia – he said – and “the Council of Europe has done a vital work in this regard. I appreciate the event hosted by the Croatian Presidency of the Committee of Ministers last week, where we commemorated the 20th anniversary of two unique Council of Europe legal instruments entering into force – the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. Slovakia, with its diverse population in terms of national minorities and ethnic groups, takes full advantage of the expertise and assistance provided by the Advisory Committee and the Committee of Experts in its effort to improve the protection of persons belonging to national minorities.

Mr Pellegrini also expressed gratitude to the Council of Europe for helping to improve the social status of the Roma in both Slovakia and Europe, including their social inclusion. “Addressing the problems of these communities is a long-term priority of the Government of the Slovak Republic, which welcomes any suggestions from the international community with a positive impact on this target group. I consider education to be fundamental for integration of Roma into the majority society, and therefore wish to highlight the joint project by the Council of Europe and the European Union of inclusive education for Roma children.”