Moscow sets out five priorities for its Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. Under the motto “Towards United Europe without dividing lines” :
1. Reinforcing national human rights protection mechanisms, the development of human rights education and the protection of rights of national minorities;
2. Creating a common European legal space to protect individuals;
3. Improving access to social rights and protection of vulnerable groups;
4. Democracy, civic participation and good governance;
5. Strengthening tolerance and mutual understanding through the development of dialogue, cooperation in the field of culture, education, science, youth and sports.
Moscow recognises that “Europe has achieved great success in eliminating dividing lines in the continent,” but states “there is still much to be done” since dividing lines continue in societies, between ethnic groups, cultures and religions. This being the case, Moscow sets out its long-term strategic vision and intends to bring this into play in Europe during its Presidency (May to November 2006).
However, while stating that “Russia is fully committed to the common ideals and values of freedom and human dignity and aims at accelerating economic development for these to be realized”, Moscow points out that “Russia’s chairmanship will be marked by cooperation and mutual respect, search for common ground and the avoidance of attempts to impose its own opinion”.
“Russia favours the approach” of a Europe without dividing lines “and the concept of a common European space” and stresses the importance of the Council of Europe for “building a new Europe, without dividing lines and the establishment of a single European legal and humanitarian space”.
Therefore during its Presidency, Russia will remain loyal to the Council of Europe’s guidelines for policy formation, namely “discussion, consensus-building, and joint actions in economic, social, cultural, scientific, legal and administrative fields, respect for and further implementation of human rights and fundamental freedoms”.