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Marking the anniversaries of the Council of Europe and its European Centre for Modern Languages with former Secretary General, Walter Schwimmer, and the FP-AP

Author: Michael Armstrong/08 May 2024/Categories: Show on front page, ECML member states, Council of Europe, ECML programme 2024-2027

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On Friday, 3 May the representatives of the European association of former members of parliament of the member states of the Council of Europe (FP-AP) met in Graz to mark the 75th anniversary of the Council of Europe and the 30th anniversary of its European Centre for Modern Languages.  With Graz holding the distinction of being designated the first Human Rights City in Europe in 2001, the city provided a very fitting location. Under the patronage of the Secretary General, the event began at the Old University. A round table discussion on Ukraine was followed by a video message from the Secretary General, Marija Pejčinović Burić and a series of speeches, including one on the role of language education in strengthening democracy by the Executive Director of the ECML, Sarah Breslin. The afternoon session then moved to the premises of the European Centre for Modern Languages.  

© Christian Schloffer

Bringing together some 50 former members of parliament (Parliamentary Assembly and European Parliament), a wealth of experience and knowledge was on hand to reflect both on the work of the Council over the past years and to look at the many challenges facing the Organisation today. Walter Schwimmer, the former Secretary General of the Council of Europe (1999 – 2004) and current President of FP-AP, along with the former President of the Parliamentary Assembly (1992-1995),  Miguel Angel Martinez Martinez, were among those in attendance. In  total, the FP-AP counts some 11,000 former parliamentarians among its membership.

© Christian Schloffer

The afternoon was devoted to a thematic workshop on languages, comprising sessions on: current challenges related to languages and language education; the ECML's new "Language education at the heart of democracy" programme;  the role of Austria as host country and the linguistic and educational landscape of the host city, Graz; as well as  celebrating linguistic diversity through the Council of Europe's European Day of Languages. The workshop involved a lively range of discussions and exchange of opinions, with delegates fully engaging with the topic.

The occasion proved a unique opportunity to experience the 'living history' of the Organisation,  with a very distinguished assembly of guests devoted to defending and promoting the core values of the Council of Europe :  Democracy, Human Rights and the Rule of Law both on an international level and in their home countries over many years.  Judging by the commitment and motivation displayed at the event,  they seem set to continue to do so well into the future!


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