PACE President Rik Daems, ending a working visit to Hungary, has welcomed the priorities of the Hungarian Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, and the opportunities it offers to further strengthen co-operation with the Parliamentary Assembly.
The President visited Budapest from 26 to 28 May 2021, during which he met the President of the Republic János Áder, the Speaker of the National Assembly László Kövér, Deputy Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Levente Magyar, Justice Minister Judit Varga, Family Affairs Minister Katalin Novák and the members of the Hungarian delegation to PACE.
There was common agreement on stepping up work to promote the effective protection of national minorities and the fundamental right to a healthy environment.
Discussions also focussed on the Assembly’s contribution to current work on human rights in Artificial Intelligence and the fight against cybercrime, ratification of the Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention to combat violence against women, the independence of the judiciary and freedom of expression, as well as questions related to European integration of the Western Balkans. The President also stressed the importance of actively engaging with, and involving, young people in the work and activities of the Council of Europe and the Parliamentary Assembly.
In all meetings, the President underlined the importance of building on equal standards, finding common ground and adopting a pragmatic approach to make progress. He welcomed the political commitment of the Hungarian authorities to making the Presidency a success and reiterated the Assembly’s full support for these efforts.
The President also took part in a round table on “The Environment and Human Rights” at the European Youth Centre in Budapest, which brought together young people and representatives of Hungarian NGOs active in the field of environmental rights and climate change. The President outlined the Assembly’s work in this area and his vision of the importance of linking the environment and human rights.
He stressed the need to work towards a paradigm shift so that the right to a healthy and safe environment was treated as a matter of “principle” rather than a “policy” issue. The President encouraged participants to proactively engage with parliamentarians and elected representatives to continue raising awareness of the growing climate emergency and the need to address it from a human rights point of view, and encourage political action to find sustainable solutions.