Minister of Culture Indrek Saar is participating in the flag-hoisting ceremony of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe marking the beginning of the Estonian Presidency in Strasbourg today, on 25 May. This also marks the opening of the cultural programme dedicated to the Estonian Presidency.
The Council of Europe, which connects 47 European countries, is mainly engaged in the issues of human rights, democracy, and the rule of law, including the topics of the development of education and culture. Minister of Culture Indrek Saar emphasised that a strong democracy is characterised particularly by care and respect towards the most vulnerable groups and persons of the society. “Besides diplomacy, culture has an important role to play in protecting democracy and human rights, as well as finding a common language also during difficult times, which are currently prevailing both in Europe and outside the borders of Europe,” Saar said.
The priorities of the Estonian Presidency are human rights and the rule of law on the Internet, gender equality, and children’s rights. Minister of Culture Saar will meet with Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni and Director General for Democracy of the Council of Europe Snežana Samardžić-Marković in Strasbourg in order to discuss the priorities of Estonia.
The Presidency will be symbolically taken over from Bulgaria at a European flag coloured ribbon cutting ceremony in front of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg in the afternoon. This is followed by a ceremony where the flag of Bulgaria will be lowered and replaced with the Estonian tricolor. In addition to Minister Indrek Saar, Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe Battaini-Dragoni and Deputy Mayor of Strasbourg Nawel Rafik-Elmrini will participate in the flag-hoisting ceremony.
Minister Saar will also open the Estonian cultural programme: as of today, it is possible to see the photo exhibition “We, Gypsies” by Annika Haas in the rooms of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, and pianist Nicolas Horvath will play the works of Jaan Rääts on an Estonia piano. The Minister added that the cultural programme organised for the Presidency is not limited to the building of the Council of Europe. “We want to introduce Estonian culture more widely in Strasbourg, which is the capital of human rights, and in the whole region of Alsace during the Presidency period. This applies to Estonian movies, music, art, architecture, food culture, and much more,” said Saar.
Estonia officially took over the Presidency of the Council of Europe from Bulgaria on 18 May. The Estonian Presidency lasts until 22 November. Estonia joined the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on 14 May 1993 and an Estonian Presidency of the organisation will take place for the second time.
Head of the Foreign Relations Department of the Ministry of Culture
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