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Michael Roth: ‘At a time when democracy is under pressure, the German chairmanship aims to strengthen the Council of Europe in its core tasks’

Michael Roth, Minister of State for Europe at the Federal Foreign Office of Germany

"At a time when democracy is under pressure, when nationalism, populism and authoritarianism are on the rise, it is important for the German Chairmanship to strengthen the Council of Europe in its core tasks, namely the defence of the rule of law, democracy and human rights,” Michael Roth, German Minister of State for Europe and Special Representative for the German Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, said today.

He referred to different aspects of the rule of law: the protection of the independence of the judiciary, the protection of the rights of persons belonging to national minorities – in particular the Roma – and an effective and resolute fight against corruption.

He deplored Turkey's withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention, especially as the pandemic has shown how the phenomenon of domestic violence has increased. “It is essential to put up barriers to stop such violence,” he said, calling on member States to support the Convention, “an instrument of protection, which must be strengthened, not weakened”.

Noting with concern that an increasing number of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights were not being implemented, he recalled that membership of the Council of Europe required that judgments be implemented and that monitoring missions be given access to all places where they wished to go, where human rights were being violated.

Finally, he welcomed the relaunch of negotiations on the EU's accession to the European Convention on Human Rights. “The fact that the EU will become a party to the ECHR will be beneficial not only for the EU and its member States, but also for the Council of Europe, as it will show what a real gift this convention is for citizens all over Europe.”