In Monday’s address to the Council of Europe Joachim Gauck raised a problem of human rights observance in Belarus. According to the politician, rights and freedoms on paper are not enough; they have to be guaranteed in practice.
“We should also bear civil society interests in mind in the case of two of our continent’s countries which are not yet members of the Council of Europe. I hope that the domestic situation in Belarus will change to such an extent that the country’s accession can be discussed seriously: as a result of the death penalty being abolished there, as a result of political prisoners being released and as a result of farreaching democratic reforms. In Kosovo, the political situation is different. Integration into the international community will provide key impetus for the country’s further development. I therefore wish that all states in the Council of Europe were prepared to recognize Kosovo as a state. People in Belarus and Kosovo also have a right to enjoy the protection of the Council of Europe’s canon of values – indeed to enjoy the pan-European protection of human rights – for example the right to submit complaints to the European Court of Human Rights,” he said.
Joachim Gauck also expressed his great admiration to human rights defenders and representatives of European NGOs: “Without your impassioned voices democracy could not survive. And without your continued very practical solidarity our shared aspiration to make human rights universal and indivisible will remain a mere aspiration and not tangible reality for each and every one of us.”