On 6 November we celebrated a highly important anniversary as Hungary joined the Council of Europe 30 years ago. Following the democratic transformation, our country was the first from the former Communist dictatorships to join the organisation and its mechanisms for the protection of human rights.
The Council of Europe was founded in 1949, in a time when Hungary couldn’t be a part of it. We were locked out, though we felt it ours, it was for us and we identified ourselves with it. The fall of the Berlin Wall on 9 November 1989, accelerated the disintegration of the Communist regimes, the dictatorships in Central and Eastern Europe collapsed, the military regime of the Warsaw Pact and the economic system of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance also failed. After the revolutionary changes the countries of the region immediately and instinctively turned to European structures. The accession of Hungary to the Council of Europe marked the beginning of the institutional reunification of Europe. In 1990, it was already our intention to help other states from the Central and Eastern European region to join and to create a truly pan-European organisation. We believe that the fact that the organisation now has 47 member states gives us a great strength and this pan-European nature should be preserved and strengthened.
In 1987 Marcelino Oreja, Secretary General of the Council of Europe visited Hungary for the first time and a more than three-year period of rapprochement followed between the organisation and Hungary. In 1988 relations with the Parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe were established and in 1989 the Parliamentary Assembly granted a special guest status to the Hungarian parliamentary delegation. In 1989 Hungary ratified the European Cultural Convention and on 16 November 1989 Hungary deposited the first application by a country from the former Eastern bloc for full membership. In the beginning of 1990 Catherine Lalumière, Secretary General of the Council of Europe visited Hungary and in March 1990 a delegation of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe observed the parliamentary elections in Hungary. On 2 October 1990 József Antall, Prime Minister of Hungary held a speech in the Parliamentary Assembly and the PACE adopted its recommendation to the Committee of Ministers in favour of admitting Hungary to the Council of Europe as its twenty-fourth member. On 6 November 1990 Hungary was admitted to the Council of Europe at the 87th Session of the Committee of Ministers, in Rome.
The changes that occurred three decades ago allowed European nations connected by common historical and cultural traditions to work together based on our shared European values in a common institutional framework. The past 30 years have brought many important achievements for both Hungary and the organisation. 86 new Council of Europe treaties have been adopted since 1990, institutions were created such as the Venice Commission, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, the Commissioner for Human Rights and monitoring mechanisms such as those for the protection of national minorities were established. Hungary has signed or ratified 110 Council of Europe treaties and is an active participant in the intergovernmental work of the organisation.
From May to November 2021, Hungary will have the honour to hold the Presidency of the Committee of Ministers for the second time since 1999. We are looking forward to this period with excitement, and are convinced that we will be able to contribute to a stronger Europe based on the cooperation of independent and sovereign states under the auspices of this organisation.