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The most important task of the Council of Europe (CoE) in the coming years will be to restore European unity, Zsolt Németh, the head of the Hungarian parliament’s foreign affairs committee, said.

The body faces challenges as great as those at the time of its establishment 70 years ago, Németh said, after a one-week meeting of the CoE’s Parliamentary Assembly. The Fidesz lawmaker, who also headed the foreign affairs committee’s delegation to the assembly, said the divisions between East and West ran deep in the CoE, just as they did in the European Union and European Parliament.
With its 47 members, the council “reflects a Europe of nations and represents the ideal that Europe can be united again. We Hungarians are ready for that,” Németh said. The CoE had a major role in integrating central and eastern European countries after the fall of communism 30 years ago. This facilitated their accession to the EU, Németh said. Therefore, the 70th anniversary of the council’s establishment is as important for Hungary as the 30th anniversary of the fall of communism, he said. The European political system, rebuilt “from the ruins” 70 years ago, has ensured peace ever since, Németh said. The CoE had an important role in that, he added.