As the leading intergovernmental organisation for the defence of human rights on the European continent, the Council of Europe defines the rules and standards in this field. It encourages member states to apply existing standards by acceding to the conventions it draws up and ensures that they fulfil their commitments.
Mr Burkhalter noted that the situation in Turkey required particular attention. "Switzerland recognises the difficult situation Turkey faced when the dramatic coup attempt took place, and we support a path of dialogue and constructive cooperation with Ankara,” said Burkhalter. He also encouraged Turkey “to pursue the path that it had itself taken in recent years: a path built on the values of democracy, the rule of law and human rights.”
Mr Burkhalter also called for solutions to be found for the inhabitants of regions such as Crimea or frozen conflict zones to ensure that they can also benefit from the protection system guaranteed by the Council of Europe.
The ministers assembled in Nicosia also adopted guidelines for the protection of victims of terrorism and a plan of action to encourage the protection of migrants and underage refugees.
On the margins of the conference, Mr Burkhalter met with several of his counterparts, including the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cyprus, Ioannis Kasoulides, with whom he talked about the settlement of the Cyprus question and the protection of cultural property. The two men also exchanged views on relations between Switzerland and the European Union.
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