Walter Schwimmer: “Europe has been a successful peace project”

The Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute (DOC) on May 8 hosted a distinguished panel discussion at the Diplomatic Academy Vienna to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the Council of Europe (CoE)

The keynote speech was given by Dr Walter Schwimmer, co-founder and member of the Supervisory Board of the DOC, who served as Secretary General of the Council of Europe from 1999 to 2004. The DOC’s CEO, Jean-Christophe Bas, also took part in the subsequent panel discussion.

In his address, Dr Schwimmer noted that the CoE has achieved many significant successes in its 70-year history, including fostering the emergence of a common European space and European identity through cultural cooperation, the abolition of the death penalty across the continent, and much more.

It continues to play a vital role in preventing the emergence of conflict on the continent, according to Dr Schwimmer:

“If other organisations such as the OSCE are called upon to act as fire brigades, then the CoE can be considered as the fire prevention system.”

“The European reality may be less bleak than it can look today. The European project has been a successful peace project, with important achievements in promoting the rule of law, democracy, and human rights. But we should not take these things for granted,” Dr Schwimmer said.

Jean-Christophe Bas noted the “tremendous role” that the CoE has played in bringing together the countries of Europe since the fall of the Berlin Wall 30 years ago:

“In a way the CoE represents the core values of Europe. This is about democracy, rule of law and human rights, which are the fundamental pillars of what the current Secretary General calls ‘civilised Europe’.

“It’s thanks to CoE that highest standards in the world in terms of human right, rule of law and democracy have been set on Europe because of CoE. This represents the DNA of European core values and European philosophy.”

Other speakers on the panel were Wendelin Ettmayer, former Ambassador of Austria to the Council of Europe; Stephanie Liechtenstein, a freelance journalist writing about international organisations; Alexandre Orlov, former Ambassador of Russia to the Council of Europe and France; and Stefan Schennach, a member of the Austrian parliament and member of the Austrian Delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. The discussion was moderated by Prince Nikolaus of Liechtenstein, President of the European Richard-Coudenhove-Kalergi Society, which co-hosted the event alongside the DOC.

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