Iceland took formally over the Presidency of the Council of Europe from Ireland today at a meeting of the Committee of Ministers in Strasbourg. This is the third time Iceland assumes the Presidency of the Council since joining in 1950. Minister for Foreign Affairs, Thórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörd Gylfadóttir, headed her first meeting as President of the Committee of Ministers and outlined the priorities of the Icelandic Presidency.
“Iceland takes over the Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe at a critical time for the continent. It is a duty that we take seriously and approach with a sense of humility. The core principles of the Council – human rights, democracy, and the rule of law – are under threat as Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine so clearly demonstrates. Iceland’s Presidency will therefore focus on strengthening these core principles and the Council’s critical role as their guardian in the region,” said Thórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörd Gyldadóttir, Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Iceland will preside over the Council until May 2023. The Presidency will end with the 4th Council of Europe Summit of Heads of State and Government in Reykjavík hosted by the Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland.
Iceland’s Presidency will focus on strengthening the Council as a strong and inclusive organisation that guards the fundamental principles it was founded on. Furthermore, a special emphasis will be place on the rights of women and girls, the environment, and children and youth. Last, but not least, the Presidency is accompanied by an extensive cultural programme introducing the best of Icelandic culture and arts.
During her visit Foreign Minister Gylfadóttir met with the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Marija Pejčinović Burić, and the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Tiny Kox. Furthermore, the Minister hosted an informal discussion with the ambassador of Ukraine and ambassadors of several like-minded states on supporting Ukraine during Iceland’s Presidency of the Council.
Minister Gylfadóttir also attended the Council of Europe’s World Forum for Democracy, where political decision-makers, experts, activists and civil society debate solutions to key challenges for democracies worldwide. Iceland’s take-over of the Presidency coincides with the Forum to emphasise Iceland’s commitment to democratic values.