Inaugural Address on the occasion of the fourth part-session of the Assembly
Strasbourg, Tuesday 10 October 2017

Dear colleagues, ambassadors, Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Deputy Secretary General, Secretary General of the Assembly, Sir Roger Gale, I thank all the members of the Parliamentary Assembly for their support – those who voted for me and those who did not. I also thank my group, the EPP, and those members who believed in this candidature and what it stands for. I can promise only one thing: I will do my very best not to disappoint you.

This election comes at an extraordinary time for the Assembly – times that have seen our credibility and integrity questioned; times that have lead often to the wrong type of publicity for the work done in this Assembly, leading to the questioning of the principle of transparency and the integrity of all the institutions of the Council of Europe. These are challenges and responsibilities for us all, but mostly for myself as the newly elected President of this Assembly.

My decision to run for the presidency stemmed solely from a firm belief in the Parliamentary Assembly and in democracy, human rights and the rule of law, and from my passion to work tirelessly. Today you have given me the opportunity, with the trust that you have placed in me, to work towards these things. In the upcoming few months, my priority is to bring about calmness, consensus, credibility and unity; to work tirelessly and openly against corruption; and to raise the bar so that we all follow the same principles and codes of ethics. To do that, I will need the support of all political groups, the Secretary General and the staff of the Council of Europe, because this is the reason why we are all here.

I will not tire you – to be honest, it has been an exhausting three days – and I will not list the priorities of the Council of Europe. I will say, however, that I will try to do my best and do as much as possible, always respecting all our member countries and serving honourably and equally for all.

In conclusion, had they been here, I would have thanked my family, who I am sure are watching this online – so allow me to say a thank you to them anyway. And thank you once again for giving me the great honour of sitting in this chair.