Thorbjorn Jagland, the former President of the Norwegian Storting and head of the Norwegian Nobel Committee was voted into the role of Secretary General for the Council of Europe by the group’s members at the beginning of the month. Jagland received more than twice the votes for his opponent, the former Polish PM Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz. Jagland has considerable experience in the European theatre, having previously held the offices of Norwegian Foreign Minister and Prime Minister.
Jagland’s election was welcomed by Jonas Gahr Store, the current Norwegian Foreign Minister: “I am very happy to see a Norwegian at the helm of the organisation for the coming five-year term, and glad to see a Norwegian as secretary general in a major international organisation for the first time since Trygve Lie’s period as the first secretary general of the UN,” the Norway Post reports.
Gahr Store went on to commend the Parliamentary Assembly for their confidence in the Norwegian candidate, and also those who campaigned on his behalf. Jagland will assume his responsibilities immediately and has been elected by the 47 member states for a term of five years.
“The Council of Europe has the longest history of all the existing European cooperation organisations, and it is one of the most important inter-governmental organisations in Europe today. Its 47 member countries and 800 million European citizens need a strong and effective organisation. They need a strong leader who can renew and modernise the organisation and strengthen its fundamental objective of preserving and promoting human rights, democracy and the rule of law,” claimed Gahr Store.
The Minister went on to add that he was “…fully aware that this is a very demanding task, but I am also convinced that Mr. Jagland is the right leader as the organisation marks its 60th anniversary. As a former prime minister and foreign minister and as incumbent President of the Norwegian Storting and the Norwegian Nobel Committee, he is widely recognised as a leading European political figure. Mr Jagland – whom I have known and worked with for many years and whom I greatly respect – has clearly demonstrated over the years that he has the experience, integrity and visions required to guide the Council of Europe in the challenging years ahead.”