Let me first of all take this opportunity to pay tribute to the effective and able chairmanship of San Marino during the past half-year period.
It gives me a great pleasure to welcome the delegation of Hungary, now participating for the first time in the session of the Committee of Ministers as a new member of the Organisation. The rapid accession of a democratic Hungary to the Council of Europe is a happy event for the whole Europe and at the same time it gives credit to our endeavours to become an organization for the whole continent.
Let me also greet, in the same spirit, the fact that since 3 October this year, the citizens of five new "Länder" of the Federal Republic of Germany have become members of this family of democratic nations.
I am delighted to see here present the high-level representatives of Poland and the Federative Republic of Czechs and Slovaks as observers to the Ministerial committee.
The future structures of the European architecture still lay on a drawing board. As material for thought we have ideas and even concrete proposals for new institutions and, at the same time, we have to consider a proper place and role for the existing organizations, which
- like the Council of Europe - have gathered a vast and wildly recognized experience in both inter-governmental and inter-parliamentary cooperation in Europe.
Let me reiterate here what we have said before: Finland regards the CSCE process as the cornerstone of the European architecture and the importance of this process is likely to grow in the near future. Very probably, this process will be strengthened by institutional structures already in the forthcoming summit meeting in Paris.
The proper role of the CSCE is to provide a forum for overall political consultation between the 34 participants on all issues covered by this process since 1975 - security in the military sense of the word, economy and the human dimension.
Nevertheless, we do not see the CSCE as an embryo of a new organization for the practical execution and administration of cooperation in all the fields covered by its large mandate. A new organizational machinery would be superfluous and over-bureaucratic.
I think I share only a common view when emphazising that existing organizations for cooperation have to be utilized in the implementation of the principles and guidelines laid out in the CSCE process. Thus the relationship between the CSCE and our Organization is not one of rivalry or parallellism but rather collaboration and complementarity.
There may be problems here. A major one, of course, concerns the status of the non-member states.
A fundamental idea of the CSCE process is the equal status of all participants - and a decision making process based on consensus. It is therefore, only natural that a satisfactory solution to this question has to be offered at the same time as proposals are made to give the Council of Europe a role formally linked with the CSCE process.
This is true for the establishment of a parliamentary dimension of the CSCE and also for an enhanced role of our Organization in the human rights area, which both have our full support in principle.
I believe that these issues can be solved if good will is shown from all sides and if - I quote the Secretariat - enough "imagination" is used. I can only confirm that we are open to all practical proposals serving this goal and we encourage the Chairmanship and the Secretary General to have further, intensified contacts on these matters with the Governments concerned.
The fact that the preparatory committee of the summit meeting in Paris has agreed to propose on the agenda of the summit a contribution of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe is an encouraging sign that the need for this cooperation and the usefulness of it have been recognized in both groups.
Having dwelt somewhat at length on this item - which I see crucial for the future of the Council of Europe, I wish to make only a few remarks on other topics on the agenda.
It was a clearly expressed wish from all of us that the Council of Europe should play an active role in the process of change in Europe and to develop closer links with the Central and Eastern European countries. Today, we can note with satisfaction that real progress has been achieved. The accession process of Poland and the Federative Republic of Czechs and Slovaks is well underway and the sooner it is a reality, the better.
Nevertheless, progress beyond this does not depend only on us or our willingness to go further. It depends primarily on the developmemnt in those Eastern European countries which have indicated the membership as their aim - but who still have to give substantive evidence of the respect for democratic and pluralistic principles in the political life.
The process of democratisation can be successful, however, if there is a basis for sound economic development, reason for optimism for the future of the nation and a fair chance to be better off tomorrow. It is incumbent upon the Council to assist in a concrete way the emerging democracies at this delicate moment of their existence.
The main burden lies with the economic organizations, and I wish to stress particularly the role of the Group 24 and that of the EBRD (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development). But here also the Council of Europe can do its share in strengthening the institutions and the legal mechanisms that are necessary for a genuine democracy.
Thus, I want to reassure our strongest support to the "Demosthenes" project which is already well underway and bearing fruit.
Let me finally reiterate Finland's readiness to contribute with our share to the increased costs that are involved when we move forward to meet the Council's new ambitions as a crucial and irreplacable organization in the new European architecture.
Thank you, Mr Chairman