Tuesday 29 September 2009

Thorbjørn Jagland new Secretary General of the Council of Europe

After long discussions, Thorbjørn Jagland has been elected Secretary General of the Council of Europe.

The dispute over the election of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe has been going on for a while, as I have covered in the past (here, here, and here).

Today, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, a mainly consultative assembly of the international organisation, in which delegates from all 47 parliaments of the Council of Europe member states meet four times a year, has finally elected the former prime minister, foreign minister, and president of the Norwegian parliament, Thorbjørn Jagland (new photo) with 165 against 80 votes for Włodzimierz Cimoszewicz a former Polish prime minister (see the press release).

The election is not a too big surprise, but I still think that the election of a Norwegian for this post is a particularly good choice.

Since the main task of the Secretary General is to moderate between the 47 member states, including the 27 EU members and most other countries of the continent, including Russia and Georgia, Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan, it is good that the SG is neither from an EU country nor from a country involved in conflicts with its neighbours or in serious human rights violations.

This is also of advantage for the relations between the Council of Europe and the EU, since the present Special Representative of the CoE to the European Union is former Norwegian ambassador to the Council of Europe Torbjørn Frøysnes - so the two might be able to work together in way that will strengthen the relations between both institutions.

Altogether, it was time that the Council of Europe finally got a new leadership - and I am glad that it is a profiled figure such as Mr Jagland who will be responsible for the most important human rights watchdog on the European continent.