Colleagues and Friends
Thank you for the invitation to address this conference, and to mark the closure of the project “Strengthening the national preventive mechanism in Kosovo”; as well as the 70th anniversary of the Council of Europe, and 20 years of its presence and activities here in Kosovo.
It is appropriate to talk about the anniversaries on this occasion, not least, as the project embodies a practical representation of what the Council of Europe has offered our continent and Kosovo since 1949 and 1999 respectively.
From our perspective, the Council of Europe has been – and remains – a fundamental element of the rules-based order that have characterised our continent – although with some regrettable exceptions, including in the Balkans – since the end of the Second World War.
The Council of Europe has been an essential forum for peaceful and constructive dialogue, and has made invaluable contributions to promoting the rights of individuals. As one of the 10 founding members in 1949, Norway is both impressed with and proud of how the Council of Europe has evolved over the last 7 decades. We are also concerned that we all do our utmost to preserve this unique system for future generations of Europeans.
Kosovo is not a member of the Council of Europe, but as today’s event demonstrate – both a beneficiary and committed partner in efforts to uphold European standards. We believe that the Council of Europe has made valuable contributions in Kosovo since 1999, and encourage this collaboration to continue.
Norway supports Kosovo’s European perspective, and this is one of the reasons why we provide financial assistance to the Council of Europe’s activities in Kosovo. We want to see a Kosovo that is closer integrated in European institutions, and consider that working with the monitoring bodies of the Council of Europe is a relevant and irreplaceable part of any strategy to bring Kosovo closer to Europe.
Because, Europe is not only about institutions. We would argue that it is just as much about values and standards.
One such standard is the principle that all people shall be protected against torture and acts of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. We know that people who are deprived of their liberty are in a particularly vulnerable situation in this regard. Hence the emphasis on the National Preventive Mechanism.
From our own experience, we know that effective preventive work requires a holistic approach. In addition to regular visits to facilities where people are deprived of their liberty, there has to be an extensive dialogue between national authorities, civil society and international human rights bodies.
We hope that the project that we have supported, and which is closing this month, has contributed to this end – and thank all participating entities for their contributions.
Thank you very much.
And congratulations on the dual anniversaries, and your achievements in this project.