The Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjorn Jagland, praised the Bulgarian chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers, the organisation’s decision-making body, in a speech at the annual session of the Committee in Sofia on Wednesday.
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Jagland noted that Bulgaria had successfully pursued the priorities of its six-month chairmanship amidst challenges to Europe’s democratic values.
The session of the Committee of Ministers of the member states of the Council of Europe was opened by Bulgaria’s Foreign Minister Daniel Mitov.
At the end of the session Mitov handed over the rotating chairmanship of the Committee to his Estonian counterpart, Marina Kaljurand.
“The Bulgarian chairmanship was successful and beneficial for Europe,” Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev said in his address to the session. He expressed his confidence that the organization will carry further Bulgaria’s efforts in the implementation of good initiatives under Estonia’s chairmanship.
During its tenure at the helm of the Committee of Ministers that began in November 2015 Bulgaria has focused on protecting children’s rights and vulnerable groups, widening access to culture for young people and protecting the media from external influence, Mitov said at a joint news conference with Thorbjorn Jagland and Marina Kaljurand after the session.
In line with these priorities, a number of significant events had been implemented and important documents had been adopted that set guidelines for the work of the Council of Europe in the coming years, Mitov said.
He added that the activities of the Bulgarian chairmanship had been aimed at strengthening democratic security in Europe.
“Dear colleagues, given the scale of challenges before us, what we have done over the last six months is far from over,” he told Council of Europe foreign ministers and other officials during the transfer of chairmanship ceremony. He made clear Bulgaria looked forward to continuing the work done during its presidency in Estonia and Cyprus, its successor from December 2016.
Estonia would continue the successful work of Bulgaria in the field of protecting children’s rights, which will be among the priorities of the Estonian chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers as well as the country’s presidency of the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, Marina Kaljurand said at the news conference.
The rule of law in the online environment and gender equality will be the other two priorities of the Estonian chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers, Kaljurand added.
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