In a series of interviews with Brussels and Strasbourg-based correspondents, Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland has outlined his views on recent events in the southern Mediterranean.
Following his visit to Tunisia on 21 February, the Secretary General has offered the Council of Europe’s practical cooperation.
In the short term, if asked, the Council of Europe is ready to propose legal advice on drafting electoral legislation and constitutional changes, building on its experience working with countries in transition.
The Secretary General said: “The first thing to do to help Tunisia is to help the authorities to change the electoral law of the country. After free and fair elections of parliament, Tunisia will adopt a new constitution. The Council of Europe is particularly well placed to assist Tunisia in this way. It has excellent instruments such as the Venice Commission, which will travel to Tunisia from 16 to 18 March.”
“In Tunisia, there is a need for coordination of international organizations (UN, EU, OSCE and Council of Europe). The added value of the Council of Europe is our technical expertise. We do not pursue any commercial, military, energy or geo-strategic goal.”
The organisation is also putting together guidelines to help countries to deal with migration issues whilst respecting human rights, in a bid to avoid the extra burden placed on the European Court of Human Rights.
“The influx of refugees and asylum seekers is a big challenge for southern European countries but also for the whole of Europe,” the Secretary General added. “I presented today to the Committee of Ministers a few tracks for guidelines to help countries address this issue on the basis of and in compliance with our agreements and our standards on human rights.”