Jagland elected Secretary General of the Council of Europe

Photo: www.coe.int

Torbjørn Jagland. Photo: Alban Bodineau/Council of Europe/www.coe.int.

The President of the Norwegian Storting (Norwegian parliament) and the Norwegian Nobel Committee was today, Sept. 29, elected Secretary General of the Council of Europe by the organisation’s Parliamentary Assembly.

Torbjørn Jagland obtained 165 votes (an absolute majority) and Włodzimierz Cimoszewicz (Poland) 80 votes. There were 245 votes cast.

“I believe in Europe! Europe is the most important peace project in history,” Jagland said in his speech of thanks.

“On behalf of the government I wish to congratulate Mr. Jagland and thank both the members of the Parliamentary Assembly for their confidence in our candidate and all those who have worked to see this happen,” Norway’s Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre commented.

Støre said he is very happy to see a Norwegian at the helm of the organization for the coming five year term, and glad to see a Norwegian as secretary general in a major international organization for the first time since Trygve Lie’s period as the first secretary general of the UN.

“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 organization and strengthen its fundamental objective of preserving and promoting human rights, democracy and the rule of law,” said Støre.

“I’m 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,” the Foreign Minister added.

Jagland has been President of the Norwegian Parliament since 2005 and Member of Parliament for Buskerud County since 1993. He was born on November 5, 1950 in Drammen, Norway. He is married to Hanne Grotjord. They have two children. Jagland will be sworn in as Secretary General on October 1, 2009.

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