Globalisation and the quest for freedom are the two “transforming forces” of our age, Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland declared today.
He told the 21st session of the Congress of Regional and Local Authorities that: “Granting people the freedom to live in dignity is the best way to avoid clashes and conflicts, between ethnic groups, nations and religions.
“Freedom is a demanding gift – whether in newly born or in long-established democracies. It can only be real if the state commits itself to legally-binding rights and freedoms. And if we as citizens commit ourselves to the responsibilities which accompany these rights.”
In his analysis of Europe’s current fortunes, the Secretary General focused on the importance of social solidarity, the impact of auterity budgest, the treatment of Roma people, the “staggeringly high figures” for youth unemployment and the region’s need for “deep security.”
He referred to the report by the Group of Eminent Persons on “Living Together,” to illustrate his belief that Europe’s citizens from diverse backgrounds can forge common links through an attachment to fundamental values.
Jagland said that societies are now very diverse but that “we are not very successful in managing that diversity.” He added: “We need to create societies in which people will live with each other. Everyone is entitled to maintain his or her identity, but this should not happen without or even at the expense of what holds us together as a society; of our common values which are embodied in and protected by the European Convention on Human Rights.”