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Serbia & Montenegro becomes 45th member of the Council of Europe

Serbia and Montenegro became the 45th member of the Council of Europe yesterday in a move seen as the first step on its way towards joining the European Union. "Serbia and Montenegro, welcome home!" said Council of Europe Secretary General Walter Schwimmer in his key address to participants of the official accession ceremony held in Strasbourg.

The Council of Europe member states will help Serbia and Montenegro on its way to democracy and developed market economy, Schwimmer added. "We are welcoming a country which is oriented toward Europe, and which is strongly committed to our common ideals," said Parliamentary Assembly President Peter Schieder. "This is a new beginning, for Serbia and Montenegro, but also for the Council of Europe. We now extend virtually throughout the whole continent," said Schieder.

President of Serbia and Montenegro Svetozar Marovic said that the country's accession to the Council of Europe is the sign that Serbia and Montenegro only wants peace, stability, democracy, and full integration into Europe.

The country is determined to fight organised crime, harmonise its laws with European standards, improve the protection of human rights, develop a market economy, and take all other measures necessary to achieve democracy and full integration into Europe, said Marovic.

(NewsBase 07.iv.03)

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