Kasoulides: Cyprus Chairmanship of CoE attaches importance in strengthening of democratic security in Europe

We must take the process further and do our utmost to ensure that the Protocol on foreign terrorist fighters, which was opened for signature in October 2015 in Riga, comes into force as soon as possible, Cyprus FM Ioannis Kasoulides said on Monday, addressing the plenary session of PACE in Strasbourg. He pointed out that the main theme of Cyprus` Chairmanship is the strengthening of democratic security in Europe adding that the Protocol is important because it defines a number of acts, including travelling abroad for the purpose of terrorism and the funding of such travel, as criminal offences.

It also provides, he said, for the establishment of a network of contacts to enable member states to share information concerning people travelling abroad for the purposes of terrorism. Kasoulides also said that the Council of Ministers has always stressed the need to act in full compliance with the principles of democracy, human rights and the rule of law in dealing with terrorism.

He said that the terrorists seek to destroy the values, to which we attach most importance and to breed hatred and intolerance and at the same time they seek through those attacks to uproot the cultural and ethnological connection of the local population from their land; that is, they pursue a “cultural cleansing”.

The Cypriot Chairmanship, he added, attaches great importance to the protection of cultural heritage and will do its utmost to ensure that the new convention to this end, is finalised as quickly as possible. Kasoulides also referred to Cyprus` concerns as regards the quality of life of persons with disabilities and increasing the possibilities for them to take an active part in the life of the community.

Referring to the political matters on the agenda of Cyprus` Chairmanship, Kasoulides referred to the situation in Turkey in the aftermath of the coup d’état of 15 July. He said that we must help the Turkish authorities overcome the difficulties the country is currently facing, while ensuring compliance with our common standards with regard to human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

In his address, Kasoulides also referred to the situation in Azerbaijan, Georgia , Ukraine, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict , the situation in the Transnistrian region of the Republic of Moldova and in Belarus, beyond the geographical area covered by the Council of Europe.

He said that the Council of Europe’s neighbourhood policy and cooperation is more necessary than ever at a time when the numerous challenges facing our continent require an international response reaching beyond our borders. Kasoulides pointed out that Cyprus intends to take advantage of our chairmanship to enhance the Organisation’s neighbourhood policy in the interests of security for all.