Nyrup Rasmussen

Prime Minister of Denmark

Speech made to the Assembly

Tuesday, 29 June 1993

Mr Chairman, Madam Secretary General, ladies and gentlemen. Could this Assembly convene in Sarajevo in a couple of years? The question might sound preposterous, but we have to think about the fact that we are in Strasbourg, in a region which has disputed for centuries, with battlefields not far from here where thousands of young Europeans have died fighting each other. Who could then have imagined that the two main opponents who fought for this territory and this town today are closely connected in a mutually binding co-operation that has made war between them impossible and unthinkable?

When we think of Sarajevo and the war in the former Yugoslavia, we are filled with sorrow, anger and frustration, because no matter what we have done or consider doing, there is no true or easy solution. But the good example of Strasbourg, at least, involves a hope. That is my first reflection. The other one is to admit that the degree of difficulty and the complexity of the assignment that we are facing in Europe are huge. Within a short time we have seen the collapse of a world order. Locked and inflexible political and economic structures have vanished. The predictability has also vanished. We now hold hope and possibilities in our hands, but also insecurity and – most of all – a responsibility, which, politically, economically and intellectually, is more difficult than it has been for many decades.

Not only is the international system itself undergoing dramatic change but central concepts such as security, sovereignty and non-interference in internal matters have become subject to modification. Security, for example, has acquired a much larger dimension than before. It now includes risks arising from underdevelopment, environmental disasters, terrorism, waves of refugees, racism and many other phenomena. To meet these risks will of course require additional means of another nature than the military ones traditionally associated with security. That leads all our countries to a general overview of foreign policy.

We notice a growing acceptance of the principles of democracy, human rights and the rule of law, and at the same time a resurgence of conflicts between different ethnic groups and sheer xenophobia. We see a tendency towards increased integration and at the same time a growing regionalism. The end of the cold war has certainly not made things easier and more predictable.

Nowhere are these new international complexities more apparent than in Europe, our own continent. On top of it all, our countries are currently exposed to prolonged economic recession resulting in unemployment and social despair among millions of Europeans. Imagine, as one European politician said a couple of days ago, a new danger for democracy and stability in our political system – the combination of high unemployment, new waves of refugees and growing social insecurities.

Therefore, and not surprisingly, many have voiced their doubts about whether the existing European institutions are at all capable of dealing with this entirely new situation. I believe that they are, but they must be strengthened to meet the challenge.

The Council of Europe is one of the oldest of these European institutions. It was founded on the basis of the high ideals of democracy, human rights and the rule of law, which are the common heritage of its members. Those high standards remain the basis and the raison d’être of the Council of Europe.

But the wind of change has not left the Council of Europe unaffected. After forty years as an entirely western European organisation, the Council of Europe has now grown to twenty-nine members and has acquired an almost pan-European character, which makes the Council of Europe a unique forum for debate. The Parliamentary Assembly is particular y important in this respect.

Seen against that background, it is very appropriate that the Council of Europe will convene heads of state and government to a meeting in October to discuss the new challenges facing us. This will be the first time that a summit takes place in the Council of Europe, but I think that the radically changed conditions now prevailing merit this historical step. We are grateful to the Austrian Government for its kind offer to host the summit in Vienna.

One highly important agenda item for the summit will be the future role of the Council of Europe and its place in the new European architecture. Since the creation of the Council of Europe more European organisations have been established, notably the European Community and the CSCE. They are both active in many of the same fields as the Council of Europe. We must, therefore, ensure a reasonable division of labour between those organisations, and secure for each of them a well-defined and natural place in the European tissue that we are about to create. The aim should be to make full use of their respective competencies and to avoid overlap and waste of resources.

I personally, and my government, are convinced that the importance of the Council of Europe will increase in tomorrow’s Europe. The compulsory jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights and the unrivalled competence in human rights and democratic institutions of the Commission and other specialised organs of the Council are certainly called for more than ever. Within those and some other areas there will be more than enough to do for the Council of Europe in the coming years. The Organisation’s resources will no doubt have to be concentrated on the accomplishment of those most important tasks. We shall all follow that with the greatest interest and engagement. In that connection, let me add my appreciation and support for the Secretary General’s efforts to adapt the administrative structure of the Organisation to the changing international environment.

While addressing the question of co-operation between the Council of Europe and other European organisations, let me touch on the co-operation with the European Community and with the CSCE.

It is only natural that the European Community, as the main integrating force in Europe, remains a strong pole of attraction for many European countries. As you know, enlargement negotiations have started with Austria, Sweden, Finland and Norway. At the European Council meeting in Copenhagen last week, we took note of the significant progress achieved so far in the negotiations with those countries. The European Council expressed its determination that the first enlargement of the European Union should become a reality by 1 January 1995. The European Council also clearly stated the perspective of membership of the European Union for the central and east European countries. For those countries, membership of the Council of Europe is an important first step on the road towards further European integration. I underline the fact that the co-operation between the Council of Europe and the EC Commission in assisting the countries of central and eastern Europe in their democratisation process is therefore very important and should be strengthened where possible. Here, when we are talking about the division of labour between the Council of Europe and the EC, we could unify and strengthen our co-operation, so that for the rest of the 1990s, when the Council of Europe says that human rights are not being respected, the European Community could act, using economic and other means. I can foresee an important co-operation, which I look forward to seeing strengthened, and I assure you that Denmark will act decisively to help to achieve such co-operation.

Alongside the Council of Europe’s long history of securing human rights and fundamental freedoms, the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) has an impressive record in the promotion of those values, and valuable work is being done in the two frameworks, which both have important tasks in that connection. Consequently, we very much welcome the fact that the relationship between the Council of Europe and the CSCE has been further enhanced during the past few years. In that context, let me mention the fact that representatives of the Council of Europe are invited to attend and contribute to the CSCE expert meetings and seminars concerning areas of interest to the Council of Europe. Moreover, a representative of the Council of Europe has regularly attended meetings of the Committee of Senior Officials of the CSCE. The Council of Europe has also seconded officials taking part in CSCE rapporteur and fact-finding missions. It is my understanding that both the CSCE and the Council of Europe are interested in further co-operation, and in co-ordination of their efforts.

Another of the items on the agenda of the Vienna Summit – I emphasise this item – will be the reform of the control mechanism of the European Convention on Human Rights. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the entry into force of that Convention, which was signed in Rome on 4 November 1950. The European Convention on Human Rights represents one of the most significant landmarks of the Council of Europe. Through the jurisprudence of its two institutions – the European Commission and the European Court of Human Rights – the Convention has had a great influence on the laws and legal practice of the member states. Its unique system whereby individuals may file complaints to the Commission of Human Rights in cases where they find their fundamental rights and freedoms violated has truly set an unprecedented example in the world for monitoring and safeguarding basic human rights at international level.

During recent years the human rights institutions in Strasbourg have, however, been overburdened due to a rising number of applications filed with the Commission. It is fair to say that that has resulted in an undue extension of the time required for processing those applications. The human rights institutions have therefore rightly been said to have become the victim of their own success. It has therefore been generally acknowledged that an urgent reform of the control mechanism of the European Convention on Human Rights is required. After long and thorough deliberations – to which the Parliamentary Assembly has made a valuable contribution – it is satisfying that it has now been decided to proceed with work on an amending protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights, aiming at a new control system which would, we hope, solve existing problems. Even if there are only a few months left before the summit in Vienna, I hope that the draft for the new protocol will be submitted in time for that meeting.

Let me revert to the question of enlargement of the Council of Europe. That is perhaps the most crucial question facing the Council in the future. I mentioned that the Council of Europe was almost pan-European. I would certainly like it to become truly pan European. I should therefore welcome it if all European countries that met the conditions for membership joined the Council of Europe. We should do whatever we can, individually as states and collectively in the Council to help the applicant countries in their endeavours to comply with those conditions. I am thinking specifically of two applicants from central and eastern Europe. I know and appreciate the big effort of the Council of Europe in preparing and implementing co-operation programmes to that effect. I would also like to thank the members of this Assembly for their excellent assistance in evaluating the applicant countries. That evaluation is a most difficult and delicate matter, albeit highly necessary. I am pleased with the close co-operation between the Assembly and the Committee of Ministers in that respect. One should not forget that not only the process towards membership, but membership itself, when acquired, will sustain democracy and human rights in the applicant countries.

The enlargement of the Council of Europe is a question not only of size but of substance and tradition. Many of the new member countries have a different political history from that of the founding western European countries. The Council of Europe is engaged in a vast operation of helping the central and eastern European countries in their democratisation process. On the other hand, one should perhaps also expect that the greater historical diversity among the member countries of the Council of Europe could mean that the Organisation will gradually change over the coming years. That aspect also merits reflection.

Our well-founded eagerness to ensure that future members live up to standards of the Council of Europe should not lead us to be more lenient on the question of whether existing members do so. There must be no double standards.

Lastly, let me touch on two important subjects in today’s Europe: the protection of minorities, and the combat of racism and xenophobia. Both those subjects are debated in various forums and they will also be addressed at the summit in Vienna. I am sure that the debate in this Assembly on those matters will provide a valuable input to the summit.

We have all been shocked and deeply saddened to see new conflicts arise in various parts of Europe, especially in the former Yugoslavia. Those developments have highlighted the need to find long-lasting solutions to the problems faced by national and ethnic minorities in our part of the world. In that respect it is natural that the Council of Europe, with its long tradition and expertise in the human rights field, should offer its serious contribution to the questions on how to solve the problems faced by national, ethnic and other minorities. I look forward to debating the division of labour between the European Parliament and the Council of Europe. I am confident that the work now under way within the Council of Europe aiming at drawing up possible new international legal instruments for the protection of the rights of national minorities could be a valuable tool in that respect. I hope that sufficient progress in that work will be made in time for the Vienna Summit.

The upheavals in Europe have also led to a new influx of refugees from the former Yugoslavia and other parts of the world. A great many western European countries have closed borders. We have not yet developed the right response to the new wave of refugees. In some of our member states that has given rise to a resurgence of the ugly phenomena of racism and xenophobia which are contrary to the very ideals on which our Organisation is based. We must all strongly condemn the recent violent attacks on immigrants. We are all obliged, both at national and international level, to do our utmost to stop those aggressive attitudes and the acts of violence that they engender – unacceptable as they are in our democratic societies. We must learn to accept other people in their own right and appreciate the diversity that different traditions and cultures bring with them. Only through tolerance and understanding will we be able to face and solve the problems that are the challenges of our time. Concerted action on the part of the Council of Europe in that respect is certainly called for.

A couple of years ago, President Mitterrand said that Europe is facing a choice – between taking a step forward to the 21st century or back to the 19th century. We all know what we prefer. But pursuing the goal is not enough – the means are important, too. One of the means certainly is the Council of Europe.

Mr Chairman, Madam Secretary General, ladies and gentlemen. I am grateful to have had this opportunity to speak to you, and I wish you all the best in your fundamentally important future work.


Thank you very much, Mr Prime Minister, for your thought-provoking speech. It is clear that we have a friend and supporter in you. I hope that you will give a favourable wind to our proposals for a revision of the Statute of the Council of Europe to give proper weight to the Parliamentary Assembly.

You have kindly agreed to answer questions from members of the Assembly. I already have a list of thirteen members who have told me that they wish to put questions to you. I remind colleagues that they have thirty seconds in which to put a question and thirty seconds in which to put a supplementary, after which I shall stop them. Otherwise there will not be enough time for all the questions. Time is tight, but I hope that we may have time for thirteen questions. I call Mr Rehn.

Mr REHN (Finland)

The European Community suffers from a democratic deficit which calls for increased powers to be given to Community institutions such as the European Parliament. However, we face a profound dilemma as the peoples of small countries are justly worried about losing their political influence if Community structures are radically altered. What do you, as the Prime Minister of a small member state with a stubborn people, intend to do to guarantee the political influence of small states in Community decision-making in future?

Mr Nyrup Rasmussen, Prime Minister of Denmark

I am pleased to answer your question by saying that you are right in stressing the fact that there is, theoretically, a conflict between democratic deficits and the need to strengthen the European Parliament while securing the influence of smaller countries in the European Community.

I shall give a pragmatic reply. We all agreed at the European Council meeting in Copenhagen that the basis for membership of the European Community for the four members of the European Free Trade Association should be the Maastricht Treaty, and the balance of institutional matters between small and greater countries. I can assure the Assembly that the applications of smaller countries will be safeguarded by the fundamental institutional balance.

In the long term, for membership applications from eastern and central Europe we must have a new debate. The basis of entry for the four applicant countries is unchanged: the Maastricht Treaty, together with the Lisbon conclusions of June last year, will secure a balanced institutional scheme.

Mr COLUMBERG (Switzerland) (interpretation)

asked a question relating to the European democratic deficit.

Mr Nyrup Rasmussen, Prime Minister of Denmark

I am pleased to note your great interest in the European Community. I should like to begin with a general remark. In European affairs, politicians should not underestimate the importance of working hard and daily spreading information about the fundamentally important work that we do, here and in the European Community.

There are two movements in world and European affairs. The first, the international movement or tendency, shows us that people like living their daily lives in their own regional areas. Politicians must therefore direct their attention much more to ordinary people’s lives than they have been used to doing.

As for referenda, my colleagues from the Danish parliament and I have a great deal of experience. That experience, which has been good and constructive, has shown the need in the European Community to employ transparent decision-making processes and to avoid myths growing up about what is going on in our European institutions. It is most important that everyone follow the debates and participate in them. Furthermore, decisions must be seen to be of direct importance to ordinary people’s lives.

My advice to Austria will be, when the time comes, to advance concrete arguments underlining the necessity for openness, transparency and democratic decision-making. Such problems as cannot be solved at national level must be solved – be they unemployment, or relations with central and eastern Europe – by European co-operation of the sort in which the Council of Europe is engaged.

Mr GÜNER (Turkey)

Referring to the recent tragic xenophobic acts perpetrated against Turkish migrants, what sort of concerted European action could be taken to cope with racism, which constitutes a major threat to European society on the eve of the twenty-first century? Turkish migrants who have lived for thirty years in some member countries do not even have the right to vote in local elections. Do you think that political rights and dual nationality are the key to the solution?

Mr Nyrup Rasmussen, Prime Minister of Denmark

At the European Council meeting in Copenhagen we decided, as outlined in our final document, to nominate xenophobia as a topic for action in the European Community. We all know that this process will take time. There was no lack of clarity in that final document: we were in no doubt that member countries must take action to counteract racism and ensure equal and fair treatment for citizens arriving in our countries. That was a firm commitment on the part of the European Council to accelerate the process – but it will take time and we should continually work hard at it.

Mr FRANCK (Sweden)

I appreciate what the Prime Minister has said about racism and other matters, but I should like to ask what he intends to do in the short term and in future generally. What concrete action will you suggest or support at the forthcoming meeting in Vienna? In particular, what do you intend to do about organised and criminal racism?

I also appreciate what you said about refugees, but what will you do to defend people’s rights to asylum and to overcome the tendency to impose more and more restrictions on refugees and asylum-seekers, who come predominantly from the former Yugoslavia?

Mr Nyrup Rasmussen, Prime Minister of Denmark

There is no single, simple solution to the problem of racism. It has many faces and comes in many guises – hence, we must be on guard each time we see its ugly face.

The combat of racism must be integrated in all the work we do in the Council of Europe. The theme should run through the agenda in Vienna, too. Each time we discuss new membership, here or in the European Community, the topic of racism should form part of the political evaluation.

Perhaps my questioner was thinking of Germany. My contacts with all that is best in German political humanist tradition have shown me again and again the anger and political horror expressed by the German people in the face of these outrages, and their determination to combat racism in Germany.

We should bear in mind the dangerous combination in Germany of high unemployment and waves of refugees – leading in turn to social uncertainty. It must be said that what the European Community is doing to combat unemployment also indirectly combats racism.

Last but not least, we can use our education and training system. Every generation entering education should be told of the tragic history of racism and of what can be done to counteract it. Those are just some of the themes that we should pursue more vigorously than we have in the past.

Mr ROKOFYLLOS (Greece) (translation)

Prime Minister, the serene optimism and reasonable and purposeful approach which emerge from your speech lead me to ask you a question about the distressing problems of Cyprus.

As you know, the recent negotiations held at the United Nations headquarters in New York, through the good offices of the UN Secretary General, are at a standstill because of the intransigence of Mr Denktash, who is not even willing to discuss the question of confidence-building measures.

As head of your country’s government, a man aware of human rights, President-in-Office of the European Community and a convinced European, what measures do you think ought to be taken to overcome the difficulties created by Mr Denktash’s stubbornness?

Mr Nyrup Rasmussen, Prime Minister of Denmark

As you will probably know, my country has supported and has been represented among United Nations troops in Cyprus for some twenty-eight years now. The direct answer to your question, “What can we do?”, is, “Support the United Nations’ Secretary-General’s plan for Cyprus.” That is the basis on which we can work.

Mr ROKOFYLLOS (translation)

Thank you for your answer, Prime Minister, but I would like to know how you feel about the accession of Cyprus and Malta to the Community, either in the immediate future or at some later date.

Mr Nyrup Rasmussen, Prime Minister of Denmark

As was confirmed at the Copenhagen Council meeting, the Commission is working on the acquis communautaire and on an opinion regarding Cyprus and Malta. We look forward to receiving that proposal from the Commission as the basis for the European Community’s approach to further decisions in the Council.

Mr IWINSKI (Poland)

I want to touch on the dilemmas of the world’s largest island. Since 1953, Greenland has been an integral part of Denmark, with two representatives in the Folketing. Given the growing problems – in Europe and elsewhere – regarding the autonomy of different territories and national minorities, would you be so kind as to comment briefly on the effectiveness of the home rule movement in Greenland, on the position of the Inuit and Eskimo populations and on the process of bringing the Greenlander’s way of life into conformity with the new epoch?

Mr Nyrup Rasmussen, Prime Minister of Denmark

As you probably know, we support the Inuit people’s participation in international conferences. When discussing Greenland and its indigenous people, we need to strike a balance between our common political desire to secure the future of the whales on the one hand and to reach an understanding of the Inuit people’s wishes on the other. I repeat, however, that what the Inuit people of Greenland have said in international forums has our support.


To what extent does the status of the overseas territory in association with the European Community that was accorded in 1985 have an impact on the everyday life of Greenlanders, whose situation is so different from that of the rest of the population of Denmark?

Mr Nyrup Rasmussen, Prime Minister of Denmark

Greenland and the European Community have a specific co-operation agreement for the securing of access to European Community markets. I have the impression that Greenland is fully satisfied and content with that agreement. In any case, the agreement is to be renegotiated for 1995 and, in accordance with the wishes of Greenland, the Danish Government is to help to secure a long-term agreement in connection with Greenland’s wishes as regards access to the European Community and market.

Mr AKARCALI (Turkey) (translation)

Prime Minister, Azerbaijan is one of the first countries in the Caucasus to have set up a democratic regime, with the election of a president. This democracy is now imperilled by supporters of the old system.

Is this not a setback to the democratisation of the former Soviet republics and a destabilising factor in the region?

What is the reaction of the European Community and the Danish Government to this paradoxical situation? What joint action could be taken under the aegis of the CSCE to safeguard the democratic regime in Azerbaijan?

Mr Nyrup Rasmussen, Prime Minister of Denmark

Denmark and the European Community fully support the CSCE plan for a negotiated settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. We urge elements in Nagorno-Karabakh to refrain from exploiting the present internal difficulties in Azerbaijan; any offensive operation by whatever side may jeopardise the peace plan. I confirm that both my country and the European Community as a whole fully support the plan.

Mr AKARCALI (translation)

Prime Minister, your reply was not properly prepared. My question had nothing to do with the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. It referred to the attempt by supporters of the old regime to destabilise Azerbaijan in order to overthrow a democratically elected president. I also asked what joint action could be taken under the aegis of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe to safeguard the present democratic regime. It is on these matters that I would like to know your position as Danish Prime Minister and President-in-Office of the European Community.

Mr Nyrup Rasmussen, Prime Minister of Denmark

The answer that I can give here and now is that, in discussing such countries’ applications for membership of international institutions such as this, we must bear in mind the fact that fundamental principles are at stake and fundamental questions of democracy arise.

Mr Akarcali asked about the political conflict in Azerbaijan. I have no doubt that that conflict is leading to a re-evaluation of the country’s democratic principles. I refrain from making further remarks here.

Mr BANKS (United Kingdom)

Are you aware, Prime Minister, of the great anger of people in Europe about the cruel and barbarous slaughter of pilot whales in the Faroe Islands? Given that the Danish Government is responsible for law and justice in the Faroe Islands, why is it being so tolerant of those who are clearly breaking the pilot whale regulations – especially those involved in the appalling atrocities of the whale kill at Funningsfjordur on 2 July 1992? Would you care to comment on the claim of the Faroese that they are leaving the International Whaling Commission; and why is Denmark supporting Norway’s efforts to resume commercial whaling, which is contrary to European Community policy?

Mr Nyrup Rasmussen, Prime Minister of Denmark

This issue is both full of emotion and – perhaps most important of all – full of questions about the possibility that whales can survive in the future. I do not want to be misunderstood: I believe that every member of my government wants the whales to survive, and 1 share that wish. Certain regions, however, are very dependent on the traditional catch.

I stress that the matter can be discussed only if we presuppose that any use can be made of whales on a sustainable basis. I emphasise the word “sustainable”. Let me put it in more operative terms. We had hoped for a result in regard to the administrative rules at the annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, no decision was made then; I hope that we shall have a decisive meeting next time. We are engaged in making concrete decisions on the administrative rules.


You mentioned the last meeting of the IWC. Has the Danish Government made any approach to the Faroese Government regarding information about the pilot whale hunt conducted by that country? In view of the resolution passed at the IWC’s 45th meeting, will the Faroese Government provide the IWC with all the information about the hunt at its 46th meeting in 1994?

Mr Nyrup Rasmussen, Prime Minister of Denmark

In a few days, I shall attend a meeting between the prime ministers of the Nordic countries, and we shall certainly take up that issue. At the end of the week, or the beginning of next week, I shall be pleased to answer your question – perhaps in writing.


Thank you, Prime Minister. We look forward to receiving that information, perhaps via your ambassador. I call Mr Talay.

Mr TALAY (Turkey)

Attacks on embassies, bombings of civilian targets and the killing of civilians are repeatedly being used as terrorist propaganda. What do you suggest would be appropriate measures to contain the growing violence?

Mr Nyrup Rasmussen, Prime Minister of Denmark

As the question was fairly general, I will allow myself to answer it in fairly general terms. Let me stress that terrorism whatever form it takes should be combated strongly, whether it is perpetrated on a state, group or individual level. Both here and in the European Community, we should continue to emphasise that terrorism is no way in which to solve conflicts that should be solved in a democratic and respectable manner.


Some countries are taking strict measures, while others are being more tolerant. Do you think that the activities of terrorist organisations should be banned in such circumstances?

Mr Nyrup Rasmussen, Prime Minister of Denmark

We have seen a strengthening of effective co-operation to combat terrorism through international police work. I cannot go into too much detail, but there is no doubt that, in the years to come, efforts in Europe and the European Community to strengthen co-operation and combat terrorism will be increasingly effective.

As for political attitudes and reaction, as I have said before, we all share your point of view. We must not tolerate terrorism, whatever arguments are advanced. Such acts cannot be accepted in democratic institutions and countries. We should always emphasise that: after all, that is the purpose of the Council of Europe and the European Community. Democracy is the way in which to obtain respect from minorities, and to make political decisions.

Mr KONIG (Austria)

As an Austrian representative, Prime Minister, I thank you for your government’s support in the negotiations for membership of the European Community, and especially for the decisions made at the Copenhagen Summit concerning the timetable for access, providing a deadline of 1 January 1995. Do you agree that there should be parallel but separate negotiations involving applicant countries? That would mean that countries that were able to stick to the timetable, and to finish negotiations by the end of next year or the beginning of the following year, would not eventually find themselves delayed by others that could not meet the deadline.

Mr Nyrup Rasmussen, Prime Minister of Denmark

In principle, yes. On the other hand, I believe that it is a general national and international experience that negotiations must always have two parts if they are to produce results. I send that message to my Danish colleagues as well.

My answer to your question about parallel and separate negotiations is yes. However, I think it important to secure the deadline of 1 January 1995 for a response to the position papers. Should you not manage to finalise your negotiations before that deadline, the basis for application will be the same as that which applied to the Maastricht Treaty and the Lisbon decisions made in June last year.


I take it that although we are all in favour of finalising the negotiations together and entering the Community together, if difficulties cropped up with an applicant others would not be prevented from going ahead and meeting the deadline.

Mr Nyrup Rasmussen, Prime Minister of Denmark

You have a year and a half in which to finalise negotiations and ratify. I advise you to continue your efforts, together with your three Nordic friends. I hope that the four new applicants will be able to become members at the same time: I stress that it is in your mutual interest.

Mr JANSSON (Finland)

As we have heard, a year ago Denmark said no to the Maastricht Treaty; a month ago, the Danish people said yes, following special modifications. Are you and your government prepared to act in favour of – perhaps to support – solutions enabling the Nordic countries and other EFT A countries applying for membership of the Community to express the same reservations as your country and the United Kingdom?

Mr Nyrup Rasmussen, Prime Minister of Denmark

Allow me a moment to engage my mind in the detail of the debate that we had up until the Danish referendum on 18 May, because Mr Jansson has asked a common question. I am glad to have the opportunity to answer it.

Finland, Sweden, Norway and Austria have asked for membership and each has asked for special negotiating points and exceptions. Sweden is going for the Swedish solution, Finland for the Finnish, Austria for the Austrian and Norway for the Norwegian. All of them are negotiating on the same basis on the acquis communautaire on the Maastricht Treaty so it would not be fair for me to change the Finnish position. You are better able to do that.

Mr RATHBONE (United Kingdom)

Human rights and social rights are indivisible. As with the Convention on Human Rights, the Council of Europe is reviewing the Council of Europe Social Charter and the method of controlling it. Will the Prime Minister comment on how he sees the Council of Europe Social Charter working with the social chapter of the European Community?

Mr Nyrup Rasmussen, Prime Minister of Denmark

Here again, I am sorry to say, I think that Scandinavian pragmatism will get it right. The Social Charter in the Council of

Europe, and the minimum social conditions that we are working on in the European Community, reflect a good scheme for co-operation. The European Community is trying to realise minimum standards on a range of issues in the labour market – better protection of workers against social dumping, better working environments, better control of work by children and so on. Mr Rathbone has defined the principles. The European Community is defining the minimum standards to be protected. As I said in my speech, I look forward to seeing pragmatic but important cooperation between the European Community and the Council of Europe along those lines.


I have a brief supplementary question. There has been disagreement and indeed conflict between those in charge of the Social Charter of the Council of Europe and those responsible for forming the social chapter of the European Community. Will the Prime Minister vouch for his efforts to overcome that friction?

Mr Nyrup Rasmussen, Prime Minister of Denmark

The best way to solve conflicts among democratic institutions is to come together, discuss them in detail and find a solution. I am sure that we can find one. I am aware of the conflicts, but the best thing that we can do is to safeguard our own institutions. I was glad to have the opportunity to discuss with Madam Secretary General today in more detail how we can strengthen co-operation between the European Community and the Council of Europe, not least on the matters we have raised here today. I confirm my efforts and those of the governments to contribute to that line.

Mr GALANOS (Cyprus)

Earlier, Mr Prime Minister, you talked about the enlargement of Europe to include eastern and central European countries, and we are expecting the four Nordic countries to enter the Community, or at least to start final negotiations, by 1 January. However, there was no mention of Malta and Cyprus, although you answered a question from Mr Rokofyllos of Greece. We are expecting the opinion from the Commission in a few weeks’ time, perhaps next week. Do you think that the fact that Cyprus is under occupation from another country will be an obstacle to proceeding with that application? If it is not an obstacle, would it not reward the continued intransigence and the lack of progress towards a solution?

Mr Nyrup Rasmussen, Prime Minister of Denmark

Allow me to restrict my answer to two observations. First, each and every applicant will be evaluated and treated individually. Secondly, I can confirm that the Commission will shortly present its opinion vis-à-vis Cyprus and Malta. The Council will consider the applicant countries and participate in the process that will be necessary after that opinion. Each and every applicant will be dealt with individually, just as we have always done.


May I express to you, Mr Prime Minister, the warm gratitude of the Assembly both for your address and the patient and humorous way in which you responded to our questions. Your answers were brief but factual, and far more helpful than any of the long-winded answers that we have been getting from other visiting speakers. Thank you very much. We much appreciated it.