In November 1996, becoming a member of the Council of Europe, Croatia joined the eldest European organization whose principles have remained unchanged since its founding until today – the promotion of ideals and standards of democracy and the rule of law, as well as the protection and respect of human rights. As a true pan-European organization, the Council of Europe - even during present Europe's fast and far-reaching changes - consistently strives toward a Europe without dividing lines and represents a group of countries encompassed by – at the universal level – unique mechanism of the protection of human rights arising from the European Convention on Human Rights.
On its path to the membership of the Council of Euorpe Croatia had to fulfill a long list of commmitments and obligations entered into when becoming a member of the Council of Europe. In the process of fulfilling these obligations during the past 20 years, Croatia's perception and position in the Council of Europe has changed significantly – today this is an image which reflects evident results of general democratization of society as well as the results of persistent efforts of resolving specific issues. It should be mentioned that this image has, in many aspects, been created through the work of this Permanent Representation and the Croatian diplomacy in general, as well as the work of the Delegation of the Croatian Parliament to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. This image is entirely in accordance with the fact that Croatia today is a stable and active member of the Council of Europe, whose principles it does not only implement at the national level but also actively promotes them at the broader European level.
The Council of Europe remains to be of exceptional importance in today's Europe for the reason that through its activities and active role performed in accordance with the principles of our organization it most efficiently achieves the implementation of numerous standards which the Council of Europe also shares with the European Union. With its active involvement in diverse activities of the Council of Europe, Croatia has been a living example of the „transformatory power“ of the Council in the context of the process of achiving its membership in the European Union.
It must also be kept in mind that the European Court of Human Rights operates within the framework of the Council of Europe, which is the only international legal mechanism in the world that enables individuals to complain against a country for violations of their human rights. The number of filed charges by persons before this Court shows its enormous importance for the protection, development and promotion of human rights.
In the period between 18 May and 21 November 2018, Croatia will, for the very first time, chair the Comittee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, as the key executive and decision-making body of the organization. This certainly represents not only an important challenge for our country, but also a significant responsibility in the context of leading the organization as well as its processes and activities. We remain convinced that Croatia will perform this demanding task at its best, while the work and the activities of the Permanent Representation will also have an important and concrete role in this framework.
The Permanent Representation of the Republic of Croatia to the Council of Europe operates in Strasbourg since 1996 (since 1993 as the Mission of the Republic of Croatia to the Council of Europe and the European Parliament). As Croatia's role within this organization was changing, challenges that our Representation had to face and still encounters changed as well. I believe that these pages will contribute that at least a part of the numerous activities of the Permanent Representation and the Council of Europe will be brought closer to those interested. This will also be a contribution to fulfilling one more principle of the Council of Europe – the transparency of the work of public institutions. I hope that – in compliance with this principle – you will recognize these words as a welcome and an invitation to get a better insight into our work.