After being a member of the Austrian Parliament (National Council) for 28 years, serving as chairperson of several committees (Justice, Health, Housing and Construction) and deputy leader of his political group (ÖVP – Austrian People's Party), he was elected Secretary General of the Council of Europe.
Schwimmer held this post from September 1, 1999 until September 1, 2004. At the beginning of his term, The Economist accused him of being a "timid moral policeman" over his treatment of the Chechen - Russian conflict.  In June 2004 his attempt to be elected to a second five-year term as secretary general failed, like all his predecessors of whom no one was reelected.
Schwimmer is (honorary) Secretary General of the Maison de la Méditerranée/Fondazione Mediterraneo (Naples) and Chairman of the International Coordination Committee of the World Public Forum - Dialogue of Civilisations.
Honours and awards
- Austria : Grand Decoration of Honour in Gold with Sash for Services to the Republic of Austria (2005) 
- France : Chevalier of the French Legion of Honour
- Mexico : Order of the Aztec Eagle (Águila Azteca)
- Romania : Grand Cross of the Order of the Star of Romania
- "The European Dream", Continuum Publishing, London 2004 (translated from the German "Der Traum Europa, Springer-Verlag 2003, also available in Russian, Italian and Serbian).
- Maison de la Méditerranée/Fondazione Mediterraneo
- World Public Forum Dialogue of Civilizations
- World Public Forum Dialogue of Civilizations/Vienna headquarters
- European Democracy Forum
- Austrian Parliament
- "Walter Schwimmer, timid moral policeman.(Council of Europe equivocates over conflict in Chechnya)". The Economist. 1999-11-27. Retrieved 2009-09-15.
- "Walter Schwimmer CV". European Democracy Forum. Retrieved 2009-09-15.
- "Reply to a parliamentary question about the Decoration of Honour" (pdf) (in German). p. 1637. Retrieved November 2012. Check date values in:
|Secretary General of the Council of Europe
1 September 1999 - 31 August 2004
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