‘Europhobia is not just against the values of the EU, but those of the CoE too’

“One of the main challenges we all face in Europe is, unfortunately, the rise of populism, radicalism, xenophobia and Europhobia. Europhobia is not just against the values of the European Union. It is also very much against the fundamental values, principles and norms of the Council of Europe,” said Klaus Werner Iohannis, President of Romania, addressing the Assembly today.

“This organisation has a key role in fighting these pernicious phenomena, which attack the very basis of our democratic societies. We have to fight them with all our force, using all the instruments and mechanisms available. Romania will not spare any effort to do so. I’m glad that the recent parliamentary elections in Romania in December did not bring any Europhobic, xenophobic or radical political party into the parliament, which shows eloquently the maturity of Romanian society. I do hope that the results of the various elections which will take place this year in Europe will prove the same maturity of European citizens,” Mr Iohannis added.

As regards the keystone of human rights protection in Europe, the European Convention on Human Rights, the Romanian President said that “it is obvious that the continuous efforts of the Strasbourg Court alone are not enough. States parties to the Convention should be the first protectors of human rights.”

Referring to national minorities in Europe, Mr Iohannis said that “they represent a true, enriching asset of a nation and contribute to building solid bridges between States”. As regards the social inclusion of the Roma minority, he said “we can make the assessment that our step-by-step multi-institutional approach over the past 15 years has produced tangible results”.

The Romanian President said he was “sincerely convinced that the Council of Europe, and its Assembly in particular, must remain a major player in upholding the rule of law and safeguarding human rights against the backgroung of the current challenges”. A new Council of Europe Summit, he concluded, “will constitute an endorsement at the highest political level of the key role that the Council of Europe plays for the future of our continent”.