Croatian minister Marija Pejčinović Burić is the second woman to hold the top position in the Council of Europe and the first person to do so from central and southeastern Europe. Croatia joined the organisation twenty-three years ago and the new secretary general is slated to assume her new position on the 15th of October of this year.
The current Croatian foreign and European affairs minister Marija Pejčinović Burić has been elected to the post of secretary general of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg on the 26th of June of this year. The delegates to the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe cast their votes in a secret ballot to elect Ms Pejčinović Burić, who will succeed the current secretary general Thorbjørn Jagland of Norway. His second term at the post will end in October of this year. Ms Pejčinović Burić received 159 votes, while candidate Didier Reynders, head of the Belgian diplomacy, won 105. Ms Pejčinović Burić entered the race for the post of secretary general facing a field of Mr Reynders, with whom she was short-listed ahead of the final vote a few months ago, former Lithuanian prime minister Andrius Kubilius, and former Greek foreign minister Theodora Bakoyannis. The parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe consists of 324 delegates from the national parliaments of the forty-seven member states. The Council of Europe, headquartered in Strasbourg, has positioned itself at the turn of the past and current century as a synonym of sorts for the highest democratic standards on the European continent, especially in the domains of the respect of human rights, multi-party democracy and the rule of law. The membership of forty-seven countries of the broader European neighbourhood (with the exception of Belarus and Kosovo, and including Russia, Turkey and the Caucasian states) makes the Council of Europe one of the broadest international organisations in terms of its scope, both with regard to what it brings together and its geographic reach, and it now encompasses over 800 million people.
Last year Croatia made a good impression during its six-month stint at the helm of this, the oldest European organisation, said Andrej Plenković, the Croatian prime minister, congratulating his deputy prime minister and foreign and European affairs minister on her election.
This makes the Croatian minister the second woman to ever hold the top position in the Council of Europe and the first person to do so from central and southeastern Europe. Croatia joined the organisation twenty-three years ago (7 November 1996) and the new secretary general is slated to assume the position on the 15th of October of this year.
The key objectives of the Council of Europe, founded in 1949, is to achieve the firmest possible collaboration among its member states, and in particular to promote individual and political freedoms, the rule of law and other principles that are the foundation of every true democracy. Canada, the United States of America and Mexico enjoy observer status in the Council of Europe.
In brief the activity of the Council of Europe is centred around four key principles: democracy and human rights, social cohesion and citizen security, education for democracy, and cultural diversity. It is on these footings that the action plan of the Council of Europe has been hammered out for the current millennium and is being implemented through its various bodies. Over four hundred non-governmental organisations enjoy advisory status before the Council of Europe. This bears witness to the strong partnership the Council of Europe has developed with civil society organisations, which are an ever more present support structure to development and social cohesion. The Council of Europe has some 1,300 employees that comprise its permanent administrative bureaucracy. It is financed by member state contributions following a system that takes into account population and gross domestic product (the budget of the Council of Europe is about 160 million euro). The top body in the Council of Europe is the Committee of Ministers, the chief decision-making body, comprised of the foreign ministers of the member states. The Council of Europe has a parliamentary assembly comprised of the delegates of national parliaments. Also active in the fold of the organisation is the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, which plays an advisory role. To avoid confusion, it is worth noting the difference between the Council of Europe and the European Council (the Council of the European Union) which is a body of the European Union. All of the twelve countries that are home to ethnic Croatian enclaves are also members of the Council of Europe and have integrated into their legislative system the recommendations of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.
By: Vesna Kukavica